It’s been one of those days when everyone seems to be having a rough time of it, except for me.
Maybe this will help lighten the mood.
What are we made of?
What is this puttylike substance?
Doesn’t anybody notice
We are ridiculous.
All stretchy faces and brightly colored insides
With two bright eyeballs in front
A wide mouth below
And the nose!
An absurd protuberance
Set far outward
So you can stick your shelf nose right over stuff
And vacuum up smells.
We’re not God’s finest work.
We’re awkward creations.
We’re the hairless cats of primates.
When excited, we bray laughter.
When we age our teeth fall out, our skin gets baggy.
We wallop each other with closed fists
And break our silly noses
Right across our stretchy faces.
Our trunks split into limbs split into digits
Which splay and wiggle and toy with things
Which pick and slap and pop zits.
Our toes are stubby.
And we do stub them,
Sometimes we break them repeatedly,
Through stubbing alone.
Sometimes they break
Because we collided with another clumsy person
Who accidentally landed on them.
Sometimes we break them
Because we were moving a couch,
Filling a nest with worthless treasures
We found and attached value to,
Which we then dropped on our foot.
A careless hand
Tossed seed hulls out the window.
A sunflower grew there
Piercing the well groomed lawn
Loomed over by bureaucratic bricks
Yet always facing the sunshine.
A little bit of wildness
A flash of bright orange
Had forced its way through.
In the name of homogeneity,
Somebody mowed it down.
Now a squash is growing along the standard landscaping wall.
Curling neon green tendrils,
A line of coral blossoms
In bright flagrancy.
Hey, all you geniuses. And all you hard workers who surpass geniuses. And any random armchair critic with an opinion. I’m talking to you!
I suck at titles. How do you come up with titles? Usually with poetry I can cheat and use the first line, thus not having to really title anything at all. I’ve only ever really written one title of which I’m proud. Everything else has just been a filler line to remind me of what the contents are, and has no real impact or meaning to the story.
If it helps you to have an example, this story had no title. I literally blanked out and gave up. That was my process. What would you title it? What is your thinking process? How do you do it!?
Sometimes I enjoy doing things the hard way
The long, difficult way
Without advanced tools.
It connects me to the past
To ancient humans
Struggling to make ends meet
To those who worked hard perfecting a craft.
I tried to saw dovetails with hand tools
When I made my desk.
It was hard work.
It took days.
I was sore, my carpal tunnel flared
And when I finally tried to hammer the pieces together
It didn’t fit.
But I learned
how much work
Every piece of furniture should be.
I can appreciate
The ease of modern living
Machine made items shipped to your home.
I can appreciate too
What we’ve lost.
You forge a connection
With things you built
With food you grew, harvested, and processed.
Even doing something as simple as washing your car by hand
You learn more about the state that car is in
Notice its scratches and weak points
Restore the sparkles in its paint.
I processed five gallons of grapes by hand.
When I sat in my kitchen
I mimicked the motions of my ancestors.
Women have peeled grapes
Into bowls in their laps
For thousands of years.
They spent hours upon hours
Processing the bounty of summer
To stave off winter’s bite.
They told stories while working
And some just worked
Alone, in quiet thought.
Every grape I handled
Taught me more about this food.
I learned to tell a wormy one by feel
Its rough scar tissue
Sent a shudder through my marrow.
I learned what every color tastes like.
I learned to love the Concord smell
Rich and strong and sweet and tangy.
If I’d used tools
I wouldn’t have had to stand at the sink for so long.
I wouldn’t have had the quiet thinking time
I wouldn’t have been able to practice my working posture
Relaxed enough to fight fatigue, yet always moving.
I noticed I was taking much longer than necessary
Due to my need to get every grape, save every grape, not waste
And I knew someone watching me would have felt frustrated
Just as I felt
When I watched my mother process peaches for the freezer
Always graceful, always painfully slow, yet inevitable.
After two days of work
The peaches would be all blanched, peeled, sliced, sugared, and frozen.
I felt her echo in my slow fingers
Of her, and a million women before her
All of us preparing the harvest
So we might have something sweet
My muse is feral.
She will not be trained.
She refuses to do tricks.
Everything is on her terms.
I try to encourage her to stay
I’ve installed a muse door
Leave food out every day
On lucky days, she shows up
Sits beside me, soft and comforting
Humming pleasant new melodies.
Sometimes she takes the pen
Right out of my hand
And scribbles fantastic things in the margins.
She lets me hold her, but not too tight
Never too tight.
She’ll bullet out of there
If you love her too much
If you lose patience with her
If you don’t scratch under her chin
The way she likes.
She loves you
You are a means to her
And she will not hesitate
To abandon you
And visit a different artist instead
One with better food
One who always leaves the door open
Who spoils her with everything she wants.