Dear Younger Me: Relax, you’ll turn out OK

youngerself

What would you say to your younger self?

Dear Younger Me … A letter to myself
Sunday, Nov. 6, 2-3:30 p.m.
Latitude 53, 10242 106 St, Edmonton

Six area writers have been invited to pen letters to their younger selves, whether as children or as young adults, and share these aloud with the audience, followed by a Q & A session. The event includes a silent auction, cash bar, and desserts from Cafe Reinette donated by The Writers’ Union of Canada. Proceeds go to our kids camps and sponsoring youth in financial need from Edmonton and rural Alberta to attend.

Marilyn Dumont, Minister Faust, Mieko Ouchi, Thomas Trofimuk, Thomas Wharton and Laurie MacFayden are the featured literati letter writers and presenters. They’ll have copies of their books available for purchase.

Tickets are available at the door for $25.

things that make me crazy

first crazy

snow.
snow in april.
snow in may.
snow that gets in my eyes, on my eyelashes,
in my boots
and under my skin
snow that gets into my heart
and refuses to melt
mosquitoes.
dampness.
toffee when it sticks to my teeth.
magpies yapping.
chickadees mourning.
crows cackling.
dog hair on the rug.
white dog hair on black pants.
people who talk on their cellphones while driving.
cellphones.
people.
people who take up two seats on the bus
and grunt when asked to make room for someone standing
buses that are late
buses that are so early you miss them
(rare but it does happen)
forgetting.
forgetting how i made a certain paint colour.
forgetting the names of people whose names i swore i’d never forget.
forgetting keys in doors
forgetting to lock doors.
family.
feeding the cat.
the cat.
the cat’s indifference.
when there’s no milk for the coffee.
racism. sexism. homophobia.
anti-feminist assholes.
modern jazz that feels metallic and disharmonic and headache-inducing
and i know the reason it makes me crazy is because i don’t understand it
and i hate that.
not understanding makes me crazy. not getting it.
not being connected.
being too connected.
the internet
the computer
the cable company
the system
the election
the spammers
the spam
the starbucks baristas who ask if i want room for cream in my coffee
and then don’t leave any room.
(yes i once made one cry)
the chaos in the tupperware cupboard.
anything loud.
anything digital.
turnips.

things that make me crazy in a good way:

chickadees
crows
magpies
cats and dogs
that perfect shade of blue, trying to re-create it
water
poems by just about everybody
email
‘the artistic temperament’
potato chips
coffee rings
coffee culture
coffee
sunrise. sunny days.
don draper.
ipod photo apps.
breakfast burritos.
road trips.

(warmup write, sometime in 2013)

hoarder

i filched quarters from my dad’s change pocket
saved them in my baby blue plastic coin purse
i kept letters from a high school boy for far too long
i still have my mother’s thimble
long after my father tossed her recipes
i rescued a purpleblack magpie feather from my cat’s backyard
preserved it in a crevice on the stucco landscape of my little house

i kept my aunt verna’s poodle pin
and the niagara falls teacup from my grandma (another verna
but from the other side of the family)
i cherished the pewter candleholder my mom brought
from finland in 1974 and the brown corduroy beatles cap
my brother surrendered that same year.
i still have the candleholder but gambled away the hat
somewhere between barrie and alberta

for months i saved beer caps that my first love mailed to me;
mementoes of parties he’d been to, 12 years after he first asked me to marry him
under the grapevines when we were five and betrothed for life
eventually i threw out his beer caps
with the cool white jeans i’d bought with my inventory money
to wear when i finally saw him again
i never saw him again

i saved a memory of the polkadot curtains my mom sewed
for my room on no. 2 sideroad; the first room i didn’t have to share with my brothers.
yes, virginia, my first room of one’s own.
my daddy built me a desk for that room and painted it white
and i cling to memories of that furniture, still.
we moved one year later and i wondered if another little boy
or girl would sit at the white desk my daddy made for me

i rescued a wounded baby rabbit
but it was not destined to live a long and happy life
i have hung on to rodeo pins; pins that say schol and copenhagen on them
because those are brands that cowboys chew. baseball players chew, too,
they call it dip, and i will always hold memories of tobacco juice
like grasshopper blick
ending up on my batting practice stenographer footwear.
i have retained the olfactory experience of the clubhouse
its weird blend of liniment and shoe sanitizer, shower steam and old spice
i am cloaked in memories of john ducey park and its dilapidated press box.
a year after i stopped covering that team they tore ol’ ducey down
and replaced it with a new diamond: telus field.
it lacked character and cachet, and instead of hot dogs and popcorn
those cold steel bleachers just smelled like money

i have kept my dad’s red tartan christmas shirt
and my brother’s soccer jersey
they all think i’m a fool for saving these things.
i have trouble letting go.

july 2014

turn

Prompt: Why should you turn? Louise Glück, ‘Portland, 1968’

is this about the earth,
this planet we have come to know and weep over?
why should the earth turn?

why should you turn? for the same reason you should tango
for the same reason you should quiver with delight
at the sight of the northern star, the first robin,
at the way the red and white polka-dotted dress
hangs off your 14-year-old’s confident girl-child hips

why should you turn?
why shouldn’t you turn.
why shouldn’t you stomp.
why shouldn’t you race to the edges
and screech to a halt
just before the cliff meets the sky?

why shouldn’t you kiss the stranger on the train
why shouldn’t you drink the deep-fried carnival koolaid
why shouldn’t you trust in gravity and the tides?
why shouldn’t all the songs be sung
and the dishes left until later?
why shouldn’t the nightingales?
why shouldn’t the dogs go on barking
and the cats go on ignoring
and the morning go on perfecting that precarious hue of crazy blue
just for you?

why should you turn?
because.
because you are the key, the wheel, the corner.
because the crux of the turn is the sweetest hullabaloo.
because turning the turn is living the question
not being slave to the answer.

of course you should turn.
you should turn, and turn again,
and turn again and again and again.anna turn
and when the turn
becomes a spin
that begets a fizz
that whisks a twirl
into your most familiar pounding tribal whomp,
you should turn again.
to the dawn,
to the light,
to the circle,
to the wind.
turn to the great self-sustaining bonfire
burning inside of you
and gulp that blessed flame.

turn.

catching up / coming up

i have not exactly been under a rock of late, but people have been asking me what i’ve been up to in the painting and writing department. so here is a brief summary, with links to various cool and/or curious things:

i spent the better part of a year working on pieces for this.

(update: amy willans and i have been asked to take fighting normal on the road. which is exciting. and terrifying. at the same time. stay tuned.)

on sunday, april 21 i will be performing in this, to help kick off edmonton poetry festival 2013, word nation. the artery, 2 p.m., hosted by holger peterson. yes, a blues mashup dealio and yes, you need to find a way to get there.

i got a nice shout out here (praise be to malaika aleba)

and two of my poems were featured here (thanks to the lovely shawna lemay)

and i signed up for this  WriteRight-Sending_Headers-06

in june i will be hangin’ around at this

and, oh, i sent a poetry manuscript off into the wild blue yonder (see terrifying, above)forget subtlety c

and i have been a collaging fool:

and as i am currently fixated on (gentle term for OBSESSED WITH) the intersection of image and text, i am laying the foundation for a body of work inspired by the dharma bums.

“Happy. Just in my swim shorts, barefooted, wild-haired, in the red fire dark, singing, swigging wine, spitting, jumping, running—that’s the way to live. All alone and free in the soft sands of the beach by the sigh of the sea out there, with the Ma-Wink fallopian virgin warm stars reflecting on the outer channel fluid belly waters.” ― Jack Kerouac

also? i shoveled a hell of a lot of snow.

 

blueprints

my feet

we amuse ourselves with retro cameras
take midnight photos of naked feet
e-kvetch that we’re not sleeping and it’s cold
know tomorrow brings a game of hard stones

the shrieking of the trees is piercing
so many lovers have swapped wildness for safety
thank god there’s someone to remind me of the beauty in chaos;
that creating without restraint is the whole point

she texts if the desire to change
is not accompanied by behaviour that creates change,
the desire is not to change
.

i reply: making the same mistakes over and over again
should get easier, shouldn’t it?

we crave the same things: a reason, mostly, and a warm bed.

after deliberating i hit SEND on: i can’t stand it anymore,
i have to live near water.
she pauses, calls my bluff: what are you waiting for?
why stay in that godforsaken climate? find a place
where the tides don’t drive you crazy
and a clump of trees you can call your own

in herspeak, this translates as
I LOVE YOU I WANT YOU TO BE HAPPY YOU WITH YOUR
MANIC INKWELL AND OBSESSION WITH LAUNDRY
GO DO THE THING YOU NEED TO DO AND DO IT IN A PLACE
THAT WAS BORN TO CONTAIN YOU

breathless. this leaves me breathless.
i know that by contain she means hold without holding you back

we share the demon november.

i give to her glass buttons,
some dream scenarios, silly small pep talks,
the fragile currency of paper
and blueprints for a new planet.
she reminds me again to just do the damn thing
and not spend another 10 years talking about it.
eventually the happy will stick.

yes and eventually the abstract will give way to the concrete.
i confess to her that concrete makes me anxious. so do the words
borders, boundaries, schedule, project management.
assessment
forces me to lie down.
group project causes me to hyperventilate.

i go back to my dark sad room and make a list of joyful things
starting with marc chagall. his stained-glass genius
rescued me in chicago and france.
also, i bought a banjo at a yard sale; music can save lives.
did i do something i was previously afraid to do? ever?

sometimes she is she, and sometimes she is me.
we know the terrifying things are getting closer.
do we just stand still and let them pummel us?
maybe if we start eating better
maybe if we lower our blood pressure
maybe if we use more yellow ochre and less risperdal

maybe the chaos is in the water, and in the treetops too,
and all those things that one time felt calming
are proof janis was right: it’s all the same fuckin day, man

maybe tonight there will be another instagram of curled toes,
chandelier and ceiling blurred in the background,
grainy blue softness at the edges.
maybe this is the photo she will send me when the zooming stops.
maybe striped socks.
maybe she will accidentally hit REPLY ALL.

maybe this is the night the lifeboats arrive.