they’re all staring at me though they haven’t turned their heads (still i know they’re watching) they’re waiting for me to trip slip stumble fall everyone always it call me paranoid call me insane (promise i don’t mind) (heard it again and again) over and over record on repeat “no one would grab you up off the street” but it’s happened to them it could happen to me if we want to know freedom constantly vigilant that's how we have to be that woman, she knows where i live sitting there, you see her? blonde hair, big front they? she follows me home sometimes (not all the way, just enough) she put the cameras in my bathroom she sells the tape online she’s laughing while i’m flossing she’ll never do the time the police, they won’t arrest her, they ask me just to go away ask me if i need help (ask me to help myself) help? i’m begging for it! open my vents, i feel them you’ll find the cameras there two screws! just remove them! they laugh me out the station (they laugh at me with the nation) “you’ve got screws loose” my mother tells me but she’s not my mom by birth i was stolen at the hospital or mixed up by a nurse sure, we looks the same but i simply can’t be hers my eyes, they’re the wrong color and her personalities much worse i told my (not) mom about the cameras she told me she’s concerned asked me to meet with doctors they want me behind tightly locked doors handfuls of colored pills they want to force them down my throat want to kill me with colorful toxins ruin me break me decay i will not let them destroy me my lips will remain sealed they say there’s nothing there they don’t understand the big deal somehow i’ll tell the world! (though there’s no one i can trust) who knows what’s out there hiding (a secret alien race?) surely it wants to kill me surely! it’s what i face
[mks_dropcap style=“rounded” size=“100” bg_color=“#606060” txt_color=”#ffff8c”]P[/mks_dropcap]oems are hard. This is a fact of life, really. Even if you find someone for whom words flow easily, the truths of their poems are hard to share, and for others, poems are difficult to read, their universally applicable meanings hitting a bit too close to home. Sometimes, poems make us feel lonely, but they can also make us feel lovely, as if we aren’t walking on air, but instead floating joyfully through the vacuum of space.
(Hey, that might now sound like fun to you, but some of us wanted to be astronauts growing up.)
Poetry has power, full stop. There are times- like newsletters, press releases, dictionaries- where words on a page are just that- ink on paper with concrete meaning. Nothing hidden behind the doors of symbolism and metaphor, where the field of wordplay is barren and the well of wit is all dried up.
This is not so with poetry. Should poetry ever fall to the level of meeting minutes and clickbait articles, I fear for the world.
Poetry is, in reality, the antithesis of all that. Poetry is words given meaning so deep we cannot survive at its level, and instead can only hope to grasp its hand and let it pull us as far deep as we can understand.
Perhaps, you might argue, not all poetry is that immersed in meaning.
My favorite TV show, The West Wing, touches on this briefly during an in show discussion about the National Endowment for the Arts.
“‘Slut’ is a one-word poem by Jules Woltz. It’s stamped in scarlet on a piece of 40 by 40 black canvas.”
There are people everywhere who would argue that surely, this poetry cannot have meaning. But as I reflect on it, one can already make the claim that it, and also the word slut, is the modern Scarlet Letter.
By and large, poetry is grand gestures and deeper meanings. There are outliers, haikus and limericks, but even in their own brevity, they can convey a complete message. If six word memoirs like “for sale: baby shoes, never worn” can make us feel the sadness of a lost child, of stolen potential and ended life, and “the experience was worth the risk” can help us feel the elation of a profitable investment, successfully asking the uncomfortable and uncertain questions, if this can be, then even the shortest poems can hold the deepest meanings.
When I write, I am more for the image of emotion. While some prefer the deep, complicated meanings a poem can have, I simply wants to convey abstract emotions, perhaps the way I’m feelings or the way I want someone to feel. I also love to tell a story, to show how emotions change of times both long and short, but my love of chronology is best saved for another post.
Screw Loose is an attempt to convey what paranoia feels like. Not, “is that woman looking at me?” paranoia, but bone deep, heart stopping fears that there are cameras in your bedroom, and your mother is not your own. Paranoia is a special for of narcissism, to me, even as someone who suffers from paranoia.
(Parts of it were written once my paranoid episode ended, so they may feel out of place, but while I will do a great many things for art, I will not induce a paranoid state.)
The main point of all of this, though, is that poetry is about emotion. So it you’re having trouble writing, try doing it during periods of strong emotion. It might not work for everyone, but I find I’m at my most verbose, then.