Sunday, March 23, 2014

The weird and the wordy

When I was having one of those getting-to-know-you conversations a few months ago, I mistakenly included - in the list of things I'm into and spend my free time on - the phrase "I write poetry". To which my conversational companion at the time replied "Poetry. That's weird." Heavy emphasis on *weird*.

I hastily added something about how I know poetry isn't for everyone and that's why I think it needs to be accessible and people tell me my poetry is fairly accessible blah blah blah like a defensive poet in a socially awkward situation (oh wait, that's not a simile).

My feelings closely resembled those of a person who has been unexpectedly slapped across the mouth. And I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. (Probably doubly so because this was a person of the male variety whom I already held in some esteem and felt attracted to. How typical.) I resolved anew to stop telling new people about my secret strange life as a poet.

I've always known poetry is not a typical occupation of time or a mainstream form of self expression. Hell, go to any poetry event and you'll hear wryly self-deprecating comments about the kind of people who go to poetry events. But I don't think I've ever had it pointed out to me so plainly that poetry is weird and apparently reserved for the weird.

Today I met a poet friend for lunch. We swapped poems and talked about poetry and the writing of it and it was all wonderfully word-nerdy. Then we went to a poetry reading and listened to more poets talk about poetry and share snippets of their innards with us. I looked around the room and observed the motley collection of humans that had assembled to share in this thing called poetry. And I realised my metaphorically-face-slapping companion was right.

Poetry is weird, and the people that write it are weird, and the ones that like it are weird. They're often quiet and have odd mannerisms and wear closed shoes with no socks. Some are extroverted and quirky and juxtapose the crudest of swear words with reverent references to the many deities of the world and thankfulness for fucking.

These people understand the world in the same ways that I do and they are able to articulate it. They can reach into others and stir them in ways that some may never experience.

So here it is, my coming out:

Hi. I'm Nicole, and I'm a poet.

Great expectations

I ask my lovers to pick
locks so old I have
forgotten where I
left the key

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A question of volcanoes

The only men who tell me
they love me are my cat
and my somnolent brother

The first by rolling around
in my sheets when I make
the bed and making me sit
cat-lapped still when I have
things to do and butting his
grey-masked head against
my shins and my ears - that purr!

The latter by rolling around on my
sofa bed all weekend and every night
patting my head when I'm feeling
feisty and laughing at my choices
in men, wishing I could see myself
He likes kissing my forehead and
each cheek when I'm tired and
strung out like frayed flannel

The others don't know what to
do with me - I can see it in
their postures and their poems
they turn my name into a question
I'm afraid to answer until
I'm sure and I'm never really
sure so I keep my volcanic
desires tightly to myself
waiting for the earthquake
that will bring me undone

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lightning on the horizon

Tonight I wanted to escape. I left the house thinking it would be enough to wander the aisles of a supermarket. To drive that familiar distance and back again.

But it wasn't enough. I needed to breathe. So I kept going until I found a place where air and water and land met under the night sky.

I wanted someone to escape to. I wanted to call you and say get up, get dressed. Come find me where the moon is bright on the water like the spilled veil of a bride. Where there is lightning on both horizons mimicking the inevitability of my desire.

I wanted you and your hands and your velvet voice and your straightness, your precision to balance out my swelling tide and moon madness.

I thought about you pressing my angry body against the unyielding trunk of a tree and holding me there until I grew still. Without any intention of compression or seduction, just to help me quell the fever of my mind.

I needed to breathe and I didn't want to breathe alone. I wanted to lean into your shoulder and talk in darts of frustration and snippets of poetic nonsense and lapse into long silences and press these feelings I've been hoarding into your skin until they stayed.

But I didn't call you so you didn't get the chance to decide if I was crazy or just passionate.

I left my phone at home and walked alone past couples standing on the sand and sitting on park benches and peering covetously at a silver Aston Martin. And trios of men with American accents and wafting cologne and fishing off the pier. I walked until I remembered how to be steady and un-impetuous. Until what was trapped in me started to flow out.

And tomorrow, or the day after, and the ones after that, I will see you and breathe. And the lightning will stay on the horizon.