More than a decade ago, my grandfather told me that no one was going to pay me to sit around and write poetry, and he hoped that I had a contingency plan. I didn’t actually believe him. Why couldn’t I make a living writing poetry? Why couldn’t I cross the country, eating diner apple pie, discussing the Black Mountain poets, exploring the revolution of imagist language?
I still dream about living in a cabin in Maine, spending my days gathering firewood, and lyrics. Taking hikes through some forgotten forest—without fences, or “No Trespassers” signs. These days I’m more practical. Now I write fiction.
Here’s a poem from grad school. Last night, I woke myself laughing, and this poem was at the forefront of my mind:
Your head is a pitcher tipped and tumbling.
A jeweler’s scale, garnet-heavy,
spill-slanted. A teeter totter
on its unsteady descent. Hovered above your face
like a prop plane, she’s drowning
tissues, the woven blue
of your sweater, her sleeves. At the ceiling
the fan shudders. Shatter, you think,
she’ll shatter. Her staccato breathing. The brown
of your hair confused in her fingers. Your jawline
inventoried–this silver-hooped earlobe, that bike wreck
scar above your eyebrow. She wants to keep
this: hold you together. She is all palm, draped
over you, a collapsing tent in a sand storm.
Without hinge or pivot, her nipple so near
nursing, she’s a cradle. A determined rocking
horse. Her stance strict as a construction crane,
she’s a joist: her wound is yours.