Sunday, October 20, 2013

On Feeling a Certain Age

That’s me in the photo. I was 19, performing in a Juilliard dance concert. My partner, Mark, was not looking at my ass; he was looking at my supporting leg, making sure that he was supporting me en pointe. I’m posting this photo of me at 19 and these poems because I don’t feel strong today, and in the tradition of Emily Dickinson’s “This is My Letter to the World” sometimes you just want to throw it out there. I have some nerve including poems of my own with one of Emily’s, but there you go.

This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,-- 
The simple news that Nature told, 
With tender majesty. 
Her message is committed 
To hands I cannot see; 
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me! 

Emily Dickinson


Wanna,wanna, whoop de loop.
Hold my baby, kiss my mom,
dance the way I used to do.

Desktops, blacktops, cut and paste,
speed down hills, learn the rules,
Sister Saint Marion, married to Christ.

Sixteen, life-green, pink tights, Swan Lake,
an Italian summer, a Venetian romance,
NYC my campus, Matisse, Philip Glass,
then mountains, desert, New Mexico’s gold, 
headstrong, headlong, swayed by applause,
wandering through canyons colored by God.
A year spent in England, the Isle of Wight,
rock seafronts in Cornwall, Land’s End of the world,
a pause for the Maritimes, soft greens, booming tides.
Then my bearings got lost. I was drunk on the street--
had nothing but loathing till they lent me a hand.

Wanna,wanna, whoop de loop.
Hold my baby, kiss my mom,
dance the way I used to do.

My mind’s got some fluff but she copes well enough. 
I’ve foundered in Florida with its heat and humidity, 
glorious beaches, and churchy stupidity.
I have a sick heart so I do less and less, 
but I write at an old French writing desk.
I could use a cruise, a steadier step, 
a long walk in Paris with Johnny Depp.
It appears gone for good are dramas and bothers, 
threats and therapists, drunk, needy lovers. 
And... lovely, lovely, lovely is my cat’s furry belly.

After Another Reading of Raymond Carver's "All of Us"

Young, strong, brave me, doing all that!
Dancing, teaching, performing, making this,
making that. I drank great draughts
of art, all kinds, you name it.
Used the fine work out there
to define, refine, defend my being,
my sincere effort to soar.
It was almost glorious.

There was, of course, a catch. For many
of those nearly triumphant years, I slogged
through a swampy mess each night.
Yes, every night. I'll stand by that.
Same old, same old. So and so loved me, but
I wanted you and you wanted her, then her.
And for all that time I couldn't get free,
couldn't toss you off, over, away, used Scotch
to dull my fury and so became more pitiful.

From here, out of all that, well-rested,
I can see that awful catch of mine
has a place at the table, in fact, near
the head, across from the almost glory.
My foolishness can be read, watched,
listened to, painted. And it has been.
Will be. Now it's time for some lunch.

Alice Turns Adam Down

"So, you see, you are simply the wrong partner
for this part of the dance. I'd thought 
someone in a blue shirt, with a side part 
in his blond hair, and your hair is red. 
So even if you changed your shirt to a blue,  
I wouldn't, simply couldn't, choose you.

Dance with someone else, why don't you?
You could dance with the woman over there 
wearing that very long string of pearls.
Or how about that woman in the long red dress. 
Do you like long dresses? Or someone else?

Oh. You often wear blue shirts, do you? 
You don't care for long dresses or pearls? 
You like my green eyes and so choose me? 
But that doesn't matter, to me, you see. 
You’re simply all wrong for this part of the dance."