This is where I am right now. This post may be a bit messy and jumbled and all over the place, but like I said here is where I am. A few days ago I received this Rumi poem from my mom:
An empty mirror and your worst destructive habits,
when they are held up to each other,
that's when the real making begins.
that's what art and crafting are.
A tailor needs a torn garment to practice his expertise,
the trunks of tree must be cut and cut again
so they be used for fine carpentry.
I have wanted to write to her and thank her ever since. I have wanted to write something about it, but after a week it has simply floated in my subconscious, and now I offer it to you. I am not sure who you are any more, but I realize now that you have the power to take my job and restrict my freedom. Funny, cause I thought no one was reading these words, and now you are so ever present in how I think, feel, write, and live. I am no longer free.
I am not angry at you any more for taking away my voice, because, really, you have helped me find it. I repeat myself so many times here that even I get tired of it, but I am sorry if I offend. I am not sure what is so offensive about trying to understand peace. I suppose those hell bent on war find peace offensive. There is nothing I can do about that. Remember the enemy is within don’t confuse me with him.
Speaking of Elliott Smith, I have been listening to him a lot lately. I also received this email from my best friend last night:
People can offer sympathy, direction, answers, but we know all of this amounts to little. It's easy to draw connections and sharedness to people through their emotional states, but in the end sadness, depression, anxiety are terribly isolated (and isolating) events that we work out (and through) alone. Whatever i can do to be there for you, please let me know, and if its just this all the better.
It makes me feel good in the same way that Elliott Smith does. I locked myself in my room today with the following books, my guitar, and wrote three songs. Here is the first one called River. I hope to have the others recorded and on a Youtube near you this week.
I couldn’t sleep last night because of my back pain and some kind of weird dehydration. So I sat at the computer and wrote this poem:
my mind is full of indecisions
not mine to not make
i can’t piss
because of dehydration
or urinary track infection
or some other unexplainable
abuse of my body
my back still stress aches,
i sit in my underwear freezing
in an overly air conditioned house
in the desert
drinking cup after cup
of ice cold water hoping
i can piss it all out and get some rest
the words drip out one by one
i drink my water,
and read Bukowski poems
they have been the only
thing to ever make things right
I am not sure, should I apologize to you for using the word piss? Where has my freedom gone? Are you still there? I figure that I am paid to teach poetry and sometimes in poetry people use the word piss. If that is not appropriate, I am sorry. Don’t blame me. Blame the poets.
I have been reading a lot of Bukowski. Is that okay? Some people go to the Gospels for guidance, I go to ole Hank. Here is what he had to say:
nobody but you
nobody can save you but
you will be put again and again
into nearly impossible
they will attempt again and again
through subterfuge, guise and
to make you submit, quit, and/or die quietly
nobody can save you but
and it will be easy enough to fail
so very easily
but don’t, don’t, don’t.
just watch them.
listen to them.
do you want to be like that?
a faceless, mindless, heartless
do you want to experience
death before death?
nobody can save you but
and you’re worth saving.
it’s a war not easily won
but if anything is worth winning then
this is it
think about it.
think about saving your self
your spiritual self
your gut self
your singing magical self and
your beautiful self
don’t join the dead-in-spirit
maintain your self
with humor and grace
wager your life as you struggle,
damn the odds, damn
only you can save your
do it! do it!
then you’ll know exactly what
I am taking about.
So there you have it. Writing poems, songs, while reading to Bukowski and Elliot Smith. It ain't pretty but it gets the job done. Now, it is 1:56 pm. I am thirty-three years old and waiting for my daughter to wake up, so I can take her to water our garden and play in the water. It will be about 105 degrees and our first tomato may be ready to eat. I have been looking forward to that for three weeks. We will listen to something happy and cheerful. We will get wet. We will dance. I will wonder if there is anybody teaching my students, right now, in my classroom to:
think about saving their self
their spiritual self
their gut self
their singing magical self and
their beautiful self
But then, I remember that nobody taught me how to do that. I just kind of figured it out on my own, with the help of some friends, family, books, and my freedom to write and make mistakes. So I am sorry if I offend, but like Hank says- there is a lot at stake here. This is my life and it is the only one I have. I have chosen the power of art to save me, and I am not about to give up on it now.
Check back tomorrow, I am sure I will be some place else....