Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Calf Pasture

I am eight, and my family

Is on the pier at
The beach. I see the swells

Of Long Island Sound, the

Seagulls emerging from air

And land and sea in a raucous

Chorus. I smell the air wafting

From the cold seawater, and the

Distinctive must of the pier’s old

Weatherbeaten wood. My dad is

Pointing out the islands, and

Grandma is correcting him with

Kind amusement and telling us

Of her own adventures at

Different beaches, in different

Times. And her white glasses

Mimic her white hair as she

Laughs, her purple-weined hand

Clutching a cane, and I

Smile now, in the remembering,

Even though she won’t swim

With us ever again.

Regarding Your Jeans

I tried to stop myself, I really did try

but the water was so inviting

and the air was so humid

and I knew they were your jeans

that you had bought just

two weeks ago from our

favorite store

and I think most of the

saltwater smell will come out

in the wash. I’m sorry.

Next time

you should jump in with me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Tuesday evening, around 5:45 pm:

I’m screwing up.

No, really; you don’t understand how bad this is.

My brain is about to implode, collapse in on itself like

One of those fancy chocolates from a box someone gave you on a holiday--

That one chocolate that you expect to have a hard center

But instead smashes under slight pressure,

Saccharine filling oozing out in pain and defeat,

The fragile shell surrounding my volatile psyche breaking apart

Into splinters of cocoa butter and shriveled efforts curling up into the fetal position.

I’m waiting for this to be over.

My voice teacher told me the other day,

“Keep the energy spinning, let it vibrate.”

Well, my energy right now is spinning

Like the engine of my mother’s car,

Eating itself to death because of a cap left carelessly unscrewed--

My energy is dying, along with most of my desire to do anything but what is required from me

But I can’t even do That much,

So all my self-sabotaging thoughts converge on me,

Circling me like we’re about to start some cheesy tango

In an overdramatic, nationally televised dance competition

And they intend to dance me till these fingers hurt,

Till the pressure building up in my temples explodes and my

Thoughts and fears drip down all over long black stage curtains and fellow musicians,

The ones who know what they’re doing,

The ones who have no reason to feel scrutinized or embarrassed or ashamed.

I want to reach higher levels of musical ability, but how can I do that when

Exhaustion and frustration butter the rungs of the ladder going up to the little control panel where I turn on the “mental processing” switch?

My fingers and my brain have ceased communications,

Old friends who suddenly stop talking over some trivial disagreement

And cannot seem to resolve their tiff until years later when it’s too late to matter anymore.

I can no longer sing through my fingers;

They cannot speak intelligently, with all their information locked away

In a coat closet corner of my brain.

They do not traverse the black hills and ivory valleys like the frequent fliers they are;

These travellers somehow develop vertigo,

And I have little to no control over where they decide to wander off to in their

Drunken, unthinking stupor.

The mental haze settles in the back of my eyes,

Rendering them next to useless in trying to read or fake the next tricky chord changes.

What is wrong with me? Why didn’t I do this

Yesterday, last weekend, ages ago?

I’m a disappointment to myself,

To the people around me who thought we would sound better but

Aren’t sure why we don’t.

My prior arrogance embarrasses me, makes me regretful.

I just need to get through this moment, and the next two hours of moments like this one.

Maybe just once,

I’ll play something decently enough

So I don’t stay completely grim for the whole rehearsal.

But then I just have to rely on muscle memory and luck.

I just need to pull myself through the swamp reeds

To the promised land of water and shelter on the other side of the river.

Falling Off the Horse/Not what I wanted to Say

You question me, and all of a sudden

Without my consent

Without my desire my voice

Slips out of my control

And the words Im shouting

In my head--

Strong words, confident words--

Are trapped behind my voicebox like...

Like fumbling actors looking in vain

For their lines, like...

Like tall men awkwardly trying to

Tip-toe through a labyrinth

Full of broken glass; all of them

Hesitant, no matter how much

They wish to save

The play or run

Through the maze with

Heads held high and proud

And so even though I struggle and

Fight to keep the frightened horses

In check, the reins

Slip, the rider cries out and falls, and I,

Left on the ground far from my

Destination and without a horse, am

Left with no control

No control! None at all!

And that frustration alone,

More than anything else,

Forces the words stumblingly,

Haltingly out from where they are

Clenched between my teeth

In an ugly drip-drip of words

Slowly calcifying in brittle stalactite spears,

Easily crushed in the careless vibrations of your

Voice, telling me louder, louder! I cant hear you!

Crushed to the marrow-yellow dust of my weak words

And even more mortifying I can hear the

Agonizing onerous pace of my

Struggling speech, dragged out to tortuously

Slow proportions-- god, a child of two could

Express herself better than I at

This moment-- that makes you relent,

Because you think

Im going to cry.