I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. A lot of processing. Reevaluating my identity. Here’s a poem I heard today.
This is not the post I wanted to write. That post is saved in my drafts where it may never see the light of day. There’s so much to say about the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but I am not well-versed, and I know that I misspeak (or type).
I won’t be taking a step back from the blog, but the content may change.
You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise. —"And Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou
I don’t want to talk about Uvalde. I don’t want to talk about the thwarted Patriot Front riot. There are half-written, angry-sad posts talking about Uvalde in my drafts. And none of them will see the light of day. Because it’s no my tragedy to talk about. It’s not my story to share.
It’s difficult to talk about it without bringing up what I was doing that day. And how the news gnawed at the back of my head.
Instead, I leave you with Andrea Gibson’s poem, “Orlando.”
Let my fortune be rich in stories
shared on quiet nights
as we lay in bed
drifting into sleep.
Let the inheritance I leave to you
be the sounds of our laughter
as the whispers of your childhood.
Let both be comprised of our memories
as we took walks through my childhood
neighborhood, as I navigated you through
places long since erased.
The origin of this poem started when I first heard the news about the Quintanilla family releasing a new Selena album, three decades after her untimely death. It was a mixture of fascination and disgust. That’s the only way I can describe the feeling of seeing a family continuing to exploit the work of their deceased sister. And I wondered what sort of things I’d leave behind for my son to find.
I never intended to take poetry outside of composition books. And I never intended to take it off the stage. And now as I’m in the last year of my thirties, I’m wondering why not? There have bumps and hiccups along the way. Events that pushed me out of the local poetry scene. And while I’ve allowed myself to be angry about it, and possibly will hold on to this grudge for a while longer, I think it’s time I just pick up the mic and where I left off a decade ago.
So what do I intend to leave behind for my son? Memories. Written. Recorded. Penciled in the margins of my books where he will find them should he one day decide to read them. I want him to remember our stories and share them with his children – should he have any, that is.
I want to encourage him to follow this music path where it ever it leads him, just as I followed my poetry path for a while.
Normally, I record an audio and slap it on stock video but this is still in a rough draft process. I believe this is the eighth attempt to write this poem. And I liked it more than the rest. But it’s not quite finished. Not quite yet. And the title isn’t the one I intended but it’s the one that made the most sense at the time of this writing.
So maybe one day I’ll break out the old Yeti and record it.
A friend of mine read Not a Lot of Reasons to Sing, But Enough by Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre, and it reminded how much I love his work. I’ve used his poem “Consent at 10,000 Feet” to celebrate National Poetry Month 2020, the year I decided to embark on this endeavor.
All roads led back to Button Poetry, it would seem. At least for me. When I first learned of the channel on YouTube, it introduced an entire world of new poets for me. Poets that might have gotten swept under rug for me. Poets that probably get swept under the rug for several people, actually. Because while their talent is obvious, poetry gets a bad rap. And I can spend a day and a half explaining why academia is a disservice to poetry, but that’s not the point of celebrating this month.
For a later date, maybe.
Remember when I said I love the parenthetical after? How they’re doorways to other poems? This month, I read H. Melt’s On My Way to Liberation and There Are Trans People Here which led me to other poems. One of them was Ross Gay’s “Sorry Is Not My Name,” from his collection Bringing the Shovel Down.
And while you’re at it, pick up copies for H. Melt’s work. Because honestly, their words are powerful and important to the conversation at large. Especially with the laws being passed and pushed in Florida, Texas and every red state. I haven’t been able to find any recordings of them reading their work (as of this writing).