Read a poem. Everyday and out loud. Watch it blow your mind wide open, seeing an icicle or grief or a creeping, crawly insect for the first time. Poems never fail to introduce, to transport.
In the mornings, on my way to the coffee pot, I pluck a book off the poetry shelf, flip the pages and randomly stop. I read, aloud, revelling through the author’s imagination. My day takes on a lyrical hue, balancing out my lists and paragraphs and the order I’m imposing in my daily routine.
What I’ve yet to do in this ritual is pen my own. I used to. Often and with passion. I took classes at the New School in New York, crafting words from the recesses of my mind. I dreamt of standing on stages and performing at poetry slams. I went to readings and pined for particles of courage that I heard before me, but was too shy to overcome.
I found one of my poems today, probably written a decade and a half ago. I restrained myself from updating it, choosing instead to share the words of a younger self.
Finding I Ching in a Bowl of Alphabet Soup
She throws her sticks and starts her day
to the gods she begs
for relief, for resolution
of her retreat from life.
vain preparations begin
vibram soles not gripping
the earth underfoot, skidding,
she lives in a melting ice age.
probing ancestor’s maps on shredded handmade paper
no floral gift-wrapped starter kit
for a lady-in-waiting.
The sky pitches a tantrum, wailing
its legs on the earth’s green carpet
screaming for her to understand.
does she miss the day?
burrowing into paperback romances,
into dirt analyses,
crawling the subterranean labyrinth,
lingering in line
for a license, a blood test, an endurance
reading the myopic letters,
ignoring neon proclamations:
she glances down at tomorrow’s soup
at last, startled by the Ouija broth,
a message of what her life is not: