Word Perv
(noun): One who takes delight and is skilled at constructing, writing or saying naughty phrases or dialogue.
April 22, 2015

Organ Donation

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Eleven years ago today my mom got the best birthday present ever – my dad got a new kidney.

My dad has a kidney disease that rendered his kidneys useless. He was on dialysis for over five years before he finally got a donor kidney. While I can’t speak for my siblings, I know why I never offered him one of my kidneys. I was scared. My dad’s disease is hereditary so there was a chance I had the same disease that plagued him. At 25 I wasn’t yet ready to face my own mortality so I didn’t get the DNA test to determine if I had the disease. Without the DNA test I couldn’t donate a kidney to my dad. I know this is cowardly and selfish. But I also know that’s how I felt at the time and my parents never pressured me or any of my siblings to donate a kidney. Of course now having seen how wonderful it is for an organ recipient I would be much more comfortable donating a kidney. And I’m an organ donor – when I die I want them to take every useful part they can.

When my dad got his “new” kidney he got a new lease on life – and given that living donor transplants (as was my dad’s case) last an average of 15-20 years I’d say he’s got a few more years left to enjoy it. Every year on the anniversary of his transplant I am reminded that I was too afraid to get tested. I was too afraid to offer up my kidney because it meant the possibility of finding out I had the same disease. I no longer feel guilty about it and my dad certainly never made me feel guilty about it but none the less it inspired this poem.

Filter                                                                                   

He’d been dying for years

when they finally pulled

the scalpel across the pale

of his body. Unzipped

his skin and stuck their gloves

inside, the heat steaming up

as they pushed aside organs,

finally shaking hands

with his kidneys before

clipping them clean.

The new kidney sat

in a stainless steel tray,

cooling in an ice bath,

red-purple with blood

it glowed in contrast

to the gray, cyst-filled organs

they gingerly lifted out.

In the waiting room

four healthy, grown children

and his wife wait,

their blood pumping fiercely,

their kidneys filtering

their fear and shame.

April 20, 2015

Seeing Andrea Gibson

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Last week, my friend Caitlyn and I saw Andrea Gibson. Her poetry and her performance were amazing. She has such a fierce presence on stage, you forget she’s a tiny little thing.

She did an hour of poetry – an hour! Of the poems she did I especially loved this one. Before she read it she said, “This is the best love poem I’ve ever written.”

After the show Andrea autographed my books for me (I have two of her poetry collections) but when I asked her to take a picture she grabbed my hand and said, “I’m really sorry, normally I would but tonight I have a migraine and so I have to decline pictures.” Having suffered through a six-month headache in 2014 I assured her I absolutely understood. Then I told her I loved her poetry.

Caitlyn was patiently waiting beside me with her camera in hand to snap a picture of Andrea and I. While we didn’t get that picture, Caitlyn did snap one prior, she calls it Standing Party to a Conversation Between Poets.

Standing Party to a Conversation Between Poets

Standing Party to a Conversation Between Poets

 

After the reading Caitlyn and I headed back to my place, talking about the reading and poetry in general. After hearing Andrea Gibson read her letter to her dog I knew I needed to write another poem to my beloved pooch, Daisy. I wrote her a poem for her 11th birthday, but she’s awfully special to me so she deserves another. This poem is based off something that happened a few months ago when my dog ate pot brownies (they weren’t mine and they were for medicinal purposes – it doesn’t really matter to me but I thought I’d clarify).

The Day My Dog Ate Pot Brownies                                                                     

You started knuckling

as we walked, unable to control

your limbs, your paws flipped

over, the pads toward the sky.

Useless.

I scooped you up and ran.

Depositing you inside you began

to seize, setting off an earthquake

in my heart.

When I handed you to their waiting

arms I felt like I was handing off

my child.

 You weren’t born from my body

but you were born from my heart.

You are the best parts

of me without any of the heaviness

to hold you down.

 When they finally let me see you

you stumbled forward, the drugs

racing through your veins to counter

the ones you’d consumed.

Even in that drunk-high

state you staggered forward

at the sound of my voice.

I held you till they pulled me

away. I paced the floor,

the aftershocks rippling through me,

till I knew the heart

in your chest would keep pounding.

 One day, when I say goodbye

to you forever, I’ll weave

through the rubble you left

in my chest and the city I’ll rebuild

will be stronger because of you.

 

 

 

April 16, 2015

Mango

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Recently I read this amusing post by Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess. Go ahead and click on the link and give it a read, I’ll wait.

Okay, you’ve read it now? Good, now the rest of my post will make sense.

I was already familiar with William Carlos Williams’ poem This is Just to Say and I actually really like the poem. Jenny Lawson’s reaction to it made me laugh because she quantifies how a lot of people feel about poems on a larger level. They read them and then scratch their heads and think, “What?…” As a poet it is my goal to never leave readers scratching their head in confusion. While I know sometimes the deeper meaning of poems isn’t always clear or obvious, I never want to write a poem that is so cryptic no one has any idea what the hell I’m talking about. Rather I want readers to keep reading, to dig deeper and keep turning the pages as they spiral into the world of my poems.

Jenny Lawson may not like William Carlos Williams’ poem about eating plums but maybe she’ll like this poem I wrote, about eating mangos. =)

Mango

He said the fruit of a mango

reminded him of flesh –

the way it gave slightly

under light pressure,

how it was at once

fibrous and stringy and solid,

how it glistened and shone

with wetness.

Now, as I eat the flesh

of a mango,

sticky sweet juice dripping

down my chin, I cannot help

but think of him.

Last week, on April 2nd, the second day of National Poetry Month, I received my contributor’s copy of Pudding Magazine. My poem, The Vernon Game, is published in there, this is the first time that poem is in print!

My poem in print!

My poem in print!

It’s always exciting to get an acceptance letter – well, they’re usually emails but they are still exciting to get, but even better than the acceptance is seeing your writing in print! My poem is in issue #63, a special issue dedicated to the founder of Pudding Magazine, a woman named Jennifer Bosveld. She founded the magazine in the late 1970s and passed away in 2014. Issue #63 was dedicated to her; I am honored to be a part of this publication and part of the dedication to a woman who provided poetry to the masses.

Pudding Magazine #63

Pudding Magazine #63

Their mission statement is pretty awesome: To promote the poet in all of us, to encourage revision of perception through the creative process, to elevate our poetic sensibilities through sharing language, and to provide a sociological looking glass through poetry to identify challenges and solutions at significant moments.

I hope you’ll buy a copy – subscriptions are $30 (4 issues over 2 years) or you can buy individual copies for $10. Here’s the link to buy a copy of the magazine. If you’d like me to sign your copy send me $12.50 via PayPal (send it as a GIFT to courtney(dot)birst(at)gmail(dot)com), along with your mailing address and I’ll send you a signed copy. If you want to bundle it with a copy of my poetry chapbook, Words Meant to be Spoken, send me $22 via PayPal and you’ll get a signed copy of both! I hope you’ll consider buying a copy or two and supporting the arts!

April 6, 2015

Me & Megan Falley

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A couple of weeks ago I drove up to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland so I could see one of my favorite poets, Megan Falley, perform live. Her reading at the school came shortly after I finished my one-on-one workshop with her so I was super excited to see her in person and chat with her.

She read poems I’m familiar with (I have both her books), and a new one about Lana Del Ray. Then she and Olivia Gatwood did their poem Collapse the Economy which is so damn good.

After the reading I was able to talk with Megan for a few minutes and snap a picture with her.

Me & Megan Falley

Me & Megan Falley

If you have the opportunity to see Megan Falley on her upcoming tour I highly recommend you go. You won’t be disappointed.