If you’re into drama and the sob-story of a broken cookie, I’m all about that today. If you’re here for the poetry, skip to the end…
Yesterday I was hoping to send my thesis preface and manuscript revisions off early in the day. You know, release myself from the hold it had on me. But it did not happen until much later in the day and once I did pull the trigger on that communication, I was not released. I could not let it go. I was still toiling in my head over certain sentences and the end and the worry that I had repeated myself too much somehow in my explanations. I need to let it go.
Even as I tried to sleep, I was plagued with ideas and little bits I want to change. It’s a good thing it was just a draft and not the final. The preface is 17 pages of elaboration about my personal journey and the internal and external influences that were important to the development of the manuscript contained within the thesis.
On one hand, 17 pages is a lot of words to string together in a succinct and organized fashion. On the other hand, it’s very difficult to condense so much into that space. It’s like saying, there’s so much more, but here’s the highlight reel. It’s not easy.
Making the cuts for the manuscript was very much like that too. Of all the hundreds of poems I’ve written, these are the very best and also the most relevant to the story I want the reader to experience.
See how I just can’t stop thinking about it or writing about it?! Insanity. I had intended to pivot this morning and write about something completely different but my brain hijacked itself. Good grief.
I was going to write about the document-drama Jim and I finished watching last night, Manhunt. It’s the story of Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) as seen mostly from the perspective of the profiler and linguistic analyst who put the puzzle pieces together in order to solve the case. It’s such a well made show— I highly recommend it.
The last episode was so moving, I was on the edge of my emotional seat and teary-eyed through the last 15 minutes of the show. Some of that was the way the writers and directors set up those final scenes, but more than that it was the thought provoking nature of the entire story. Did I say I recommend it?? Yeah, put it on the list.
Thinking about it right now is giving me chills. It’s so tragic. And I’m not talking about the bombing victims (which is of course horrific). I’m talking about Ted and his life—his ideals and his misused intellect, the disturbing psychological experiments he was subjected to as an adolescent, and his subsequent lack of empathy and compassion. That a person can be so broken is hard to wrap your head around.
For me, the ideas he believes in hit pretty close to home. And he didn’t just believe them, he lived them and maimed and killed compete strangers to make a point and get his message, his manifesto out into the minds of millions of people. I know only the sliver of it that was portrayed in the two shows I’ve now watched on the subject but it makes me want to read the manifesto.
From the shows, the essence of the message is that technology is the root of evil causing a downfall of society. And that if we turned our back on it and pursued a simpler way of life, we would all be better off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this same thought.
And who am I? Just some girl sitting on her couch watching a show. I’m so afraid of the destruction humans are causing to this planet. I’m afraid for my children and future generations that will certainly see the polar ice caps completely melted, the rainforests reduced to flatland, creature extinct, and not enough clean drinking water.
Can tech solve? Or will humans have to change? Can we invent our way out of this fix or do we need to really heed Ted’s warning and change our way of life? Will we evolve or will we die?
And just like that, I look up and see myself in the mirror. I cut my own hair yesterday and could not help thinking about how good it looks this morning. How in the world can that be? I wrote about a year ago about the same exact experience and here I am, and it’s happening again. I’m reliving that moment. That’s unnerving.
It’s an anchor poem in the final section of my manuscript. The evolution of self and the poetic voice is one of my central themes and my manuscript preface gets pretty far into describing that theme and the aesthetic aim of this particular body of work.
See, just like that, I’m back thinking about that damn preface. I’m stuck in a viscous cycle. I want to go with the flow, but when your flow seems to be circling back on itself, it’s tough.
This damn pandemic is not helping. People need people. But sometimes those people also need to be alone. For real. This morning I listened to the news on Alexa and when they started talking about what is happening in New York, I just stood there and cried. And other major cities are not far behind. Soon New Orleans will be at the same point that New York is now, the healthcare system taxed beyond its capabilities. I can’t even think about it without becoming emotional. Here I am worried about my thesis and my hair and whether or not I will actually get to go outside today and people are suffering and dying in mass. My God!
I have to stop there, you know, I’ve already gone on way to long again. I’m ending with that poem “What’s in the Mirror” which was originally written May 31st 2019 and is now a 6th draft. It certainly does not adhere to some of the “rules” that govern this craft, but it is an accurate reflection of my experience.
With Much Love and Virtual Hugs,
What’s in the Mirror
It’s morning again and I’m looking in the mirror.
Natural curls cling to each other in fluffy waves
on top and tight, smooth spirals underneath.
I flip it forward,
check the length,
and flip it back.
I admire how it looks better after waking up
but something’s not quite right.
Something inside is throbbing
and aching—winding up and unwinding.
Could it be my heart—too heavy?
Or my mind stretching
to get around some grief
like the sky being too big
or the possibility of a world without a sky—
existence where the words “blue”
and “rain” and “clouds” have slid
away from lips
What if it’s not me at all
but a different girl, Sarah,
who I barely know.
She was raped on a date last week
and wrote a poem about it
and posted it on Twitter.
I’ve laughed with her
over giving the finger to the moon.
I want to reach out to her
and stand next to her in solidarity.
Or just hug her.
But what if it’s that other girl, Kala,
who I used to know.
She died of the cancer
that crept through her body
and sank its teeth into her bones.
When she died she left
two babies behind.
They will only remember
their mom as a person fighting
for her life. They will never know
the bright, fiery strawberry blond
who hung out at Billy Frogs on Fridays
after work drinking cheap vodka crans.
We laughed at our co-workers
and split nachos. I can’t reach out
to her or hug her
because she’s gone.
It could be that it’s that other girl, Z,
who I know so well
because I gave birth to her
and she’s getting ready to fly
and the sky is impossibly vast
and could collapse in on itself at any moment—
strands of air clinging together as they spiral down
and crash into the earth
and leave her drowning in a dirty brown sea
with nothing blue or green to hang on to.
My mind flinches and stops
on that ominous dead end street.
I can’t stop time
or un-melt the polar ice caps.
I can’t save anything or anyone
from the certain doom that happens naturally
when human beings are involved
because they are inherently selfish
and sometimes only think about
how their hair looks
when they wake up.