I don’t usually explain my poems unless someone asks about something specific. When that happens I always answer as honestly as I can. This first poem, however, has a pretty cool story behind it.
I was a speaker at the Type-A conference in June & told the audience about my friend & former sister-in-law Cate Peterson. Cate asked me about it on Twitter after the event and I replied, “you were a part of my speech.” At this point Laura Hope-Gill, an Asheville poet & writer, said that I needed to write a poem using that line. So often we say things that we don’t realize are profound if looked at from a different perspective. I thanked Laura for pointing this out to me & jumped at the opportunity to do the line justice. I hope that I have done just that. read more →
Life smacked me in the face
while I was looking the other way
and he said I should be watching
where I walked.
I should be careful what I say
and the silly games I play
‘cause the ones who never listen
I said he didn’t make much sense
and that I’d build myself a fence
so he’d have to get the hell
out of my yard.
He smiled, then he laughed
and he said I was a blast,
then got serious and said,
“Let’s play some cards.”
I thought it was a joke.
I nervously lit a smoke,
then invited him to have
a cup of tea.
But I guess he was no joker
‘cause he dealt a hand of poker
and he said the stakes were going
to be me.
If I win, the world is mine.
There’s no hunger and no crime
and I’ll finally make a living
with my words.
But if I lose then I won’t write
and I’ll never sleep at nite
and whatever my pen bleeds
will be absurd.
When I looked at what he dealt
I couldn’t hide the way I felt
‘cause I figured he could never
beat my straight.
Life didn’t bat an eye
but he sighed a peaceful sigh
and I wondered just how tight he was
Then he said, “Well it’s been fun
but I’m afraid that you are done.”
and I said, “You know it does no good
He said, “You just don’t understand,
your life cannot be planned.”
And to prove it he laid down
a royal flush.
Then he smiled just a little
and said that every life’s a riddle
and the answer is to follow
where it goes.
Every road has many turns,
it’s not where they lead but what you’ve learned,
and when you succeed it’s only you
So I’ve been here awhile
But I’m way out of style
And it seems I will never be vogue.
And my van’s still half-packed,
Old regrets in the back
And mementos of all I called home.
And I sit here and write,
But I’m losing the fight
To be who I thought that I was.
Cause the girl in my eyes
Lost all thoughts of the prize
When she found the one boy she could love.
My dilemma’s quite clear
Where do I go from here?
Should I write something
When nothing is wrong?
And if I really am happy
Will my thoughts come out sappy
Like all of those teeny bop songs?
Will my friends think it’s treason
If I forgo rhyme and reason
And write only of flowers and birds?
Will they think that I’m spun
And my career’s finally done
Or I’ve expended all my favorite words?
Or is that the true sin?
That I may just give in
And speak like a top 40 tune?
If I find that’s the case
Then I’ll crank up the bass
And find a nice mattress-filled room.
So I think that instead
I’ll shove the voice from my head
And write of the truths I believe.
So I guess I should start
I’ll just write form the heart
Of all I have tried to achieve.
Do I lead with my hopes or the fears that I choke?
Do I scream all my secrets and sins?
It all seems so easy
Unless the person you’re pleasing
Is the critic who’s living within.
Should I strike the next line?
Does this voice smack of whine?
Cause I get on my last nerve a lot.
Should I try to bedazzle
With a chaos unraveled?
Obfuscate with some Pynchon-like thoughts
So what do you think
Should I just grab a drink
And fall into a dull drunken void?
Cause I’m more than confusing
And quite less than amusing
And I’m certain you’re getting annoyed.
Should I write of my past?
And how long would that lost?
Would it interest a soul besides me?
Or go back to the attic
And the words much more tragic
And invite you all over for tea?
Where’s the Benchley for my table
And why aren’t my thoughts more stable?
Why is comedy found only in my glass?
And does anybody care
That my words have led me here?
And I landed on my head and not my ass?
Should I finish with a smile
Or commend my lack of style
And tell you that I’m sure I’ll be okay?
Or should I be more honest
That I don’t know how far I got us
And I’m sitting here with nothing else to say.
so if you’re going to visit, you’ll want to bring a broom.
And I guess that I should let you know, I’m a little bit confused,
but I’m sure you won’t be bothered, most people seem amused.
See, sometimes I still see myself as this brilliant, sweet young girl,
until somebody mentions how I look upon the world.
Yeah, jaded is my color now, I must look great in green.
But I’m afraid I’m a little bitter, and I’m scared I’m being mean.
So bring a good strong vacuum with when you want to come on by,
so you can suck up where I’ve broken off while I drink and smoke and cry.
Yeah, it’s fun for everybody, a smashing good old time.
Did I mention that I smash things while I scream and yell and whine?
I can tell just what you’re thinking. How did I end up like this?
And really, more importantly, are you, yourself at risk?
Well I know just how it started. I can pinpoint that sad day,
when a stranger sauntered up to me and I didn’t know what to say.
So I started to get worried, and I pondered and I thought.
I used to know just who I was, but I guess I just forgot.
So I looked for help from others, you know, girls about my age,
I guess I wanted references. Some sort of “woman’ gauge.
And I watched all of their TV. shows and I read all of their books,
and I started to get worried about the way I really looked.
From that point on I lost it. And I tried so fucking hard,
but I’m too poor to be a woman, for new clothes and a perky car.
That’s when I succumbed to all the Pretty People lies,
like I’ll never be truly confident unless I have thinner thighs.
And I questioned what my value was without the perfect dress,
and would I ever get that far with these preteen, tiny breasts?
And who do I go asking then? And why would they ever care?
‘Cause my bible’s name was Cosmo and no one heard my prayers.
I soon tired of the life I led, and the low-cal, fat-free food.
I was sick of my appearance and my weary-broken mood.
I couldn’t listen anymore about why my wardrobe’s wrong,
or that some fantastic makeup will make me beautiful and strong.
Now I’m boycotting the companies who can’t do ads without nude chicks,
do they think that I won’t buy their shoes unless I see a little tit?
I don’t want another sleazy ad by Hardee’s and Diet Coke.
All I’m offered is body work when it’s my engine that is broke.
Why does society do this to their women and their girls?
And what do you do as a rag doll when you live in a Barbie Doll world?