The Book Life

Monkey Tea

April 13, 2011
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It’s so hard to write poems about friendship.
What I want to say is simple,
it is “I love you” and “You’re wonderful,”
but this poem wants to be
more subtle than that.
So perhaps I’ll begin with an apology
for not remembering your name the first time we met.
I cataloged you in my phone by last name only
until I caught you introducing yourself
to someone else. By dinner three days later
we were exchanging gynecologist stories
and lamenting skinny jeans. Later,
(regarding your relative forwardness, your fearlessness)
you said “I just decided we were going to be friends.”
And I would just like to say that I am grateful.


There Are Four Ways to Approach a Body Other Than One’s Own

April 12, 2011
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1.
The first is not so much an approach
as an invitation. As if via magnetism (so channel that).
This is how you do it.
Begin by discarding everything.
Books, the clothes on your back,
every word you’ve written or heard,
all baggage. Put everything down.
You will not miss it, with all you will attract.
Then find a field of any kind.
Stand in it. Try to be naked, but that’s not essential.
Don’t lie down. Open your arms out to a T.
Look at the sky. Now choose a personal way
to announce that you are ready to be approached.
However, this is not the time for subtlety or glances.
This is not a time for eyelashes. You are ready.
Open your mouth and tell them.

2.
The approach outlined here
will be easier if you have less to carry
so those instructions from part one
still apply. Put it all down. Deep breath.
Look around. Make a choice, and run.
Quickly, before anyone can walk away.
This is the speed/surprise combo.
What it lacks in grace it gains in success rates,
although admittedly on a short-term basis.
When the surprise fades and speed slows
not much tends to be left, and thing can get
weird. Back away, and repeat as necessary.

3.
Stop wearing headphones.

4.
The final method requires the very most care.
Nothing in the way of preparation is expected, but awareness
is essential. The ability to watch for the signs.
This method only works in specified situations
and signals have been arranged for your convenience.
For example, an open tulip. Perhaps a gap in passing clouds.
A coincidence or plain deja vu. It’s not a science.
Just subjective intuition. In fact, retract the comment
dismissing preparation. What you need is exercise
in trusting your gut. Start small, with menu items.
Work your way up. At some point, there will be a sign.
Don’t worry about missing it. There will be more than one.
Then you approach. Gently, slowly.
With care and carrying all you own and are.
Deliberately, walk forward. Approach each other.

Posted 4 poems today, because I’ve been less than perfect about writing absolutely every day. Regarding this poem in particular, the title is a line from a book about science called The Canon, which I read last summer. I kind of ran with it.


I Told You It Wasn’t Sad

April 12, 2011
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This is not the saddest story ever told.
This is not even that sad of a story.
Boy meets girl or the other way around and she,
at least, knows better. Knows it’s trouble from the start
and that’s part of what draws her.
Tired of the safety of her life so far
she just runs. Runs right at him.
And it isn’t so much that he runs away.
That isn’t it.
It’s more of a standstill. His standstill.
Watching her, vaguely bemused.
Like he finds her antics cute
in a zoo animal kind of way. Nothing he’d
take home. And he stands still. And she comes back.
And back. Always headed right for him.

The most that could be said is that he sidestepped.

Like I said, though, not the saddest story.
Smart girl, smarter than you’d guess
from the semi-desperate race she’s running.
Not a quitter, but it seems now she’s learning to do just that.

She keeps moving. Continues past safety where possible.
Not learning every lesson. A different target every time.
She knows better than to hold her breath
for someone to turn and keep pace. Smart girl.
She keeps breathing. I told you it wasn’t sad. She keeps breathing.


Early

April 12, 2011
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I’m letting
you in just
a little
at a time

like last night
when I opened
my eyes and kept
them open
a few seconds
my forehead
pressed
to yours

and though I was
too close
to see
I could feel you
grin

me, finally meeting
your eyes
like opening blinds
so slowly in the morning
because the sun is so bright
after night


Spit

April 8, 2011
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It’s been wordless lately.

Not me. Just the music.

Words won’t capture me or this mood
and the string sounds
I cannot describe at all
just catch me, stop me,
leave me gasping or at least open mouthed,
fully figurative hands on either side of my face,
someone standing in front of me screaming
and my eyes full of tears.

An excess of feeling.
This is what ails me.
A lack of places to put it.
I need more containers
and sometimes the feelings
don’t fit into the poems.

Because I do not understand it,
cannot take it apart and cannot make it,
the string sound draws out what’s left in me,
bits too small or too awkwardly shaped to go anywhere else.
Draws them out with a straw and then spits them out
on the sidewalk for someone else to step in.