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Moving Mountains


I was thinking the other day that I wanted to write more poetry. To be honest, I've written fairly little, and nothing particularly recent.


I remember once, early in the age of internet, when going online involved a modem, minutes of waiting for AOL to connect, and the only phone line you have being used in the process (thereby rendering the ability for anyone to contact you completely impossible) receiving a poem from some random guy titled "Are You Red?"


He was searching for a girl, one with red hair, who he had met or been in love with, or had a fleeting connection with. I think she and I may have shared a first name, or some passing resemblance, maybe a birthday. Not sure. In any case, I found myself inspired to write him a poem back, "I Am Blue." It was my favorite color at the time, my eyes are blue, so, you get the drift.


We talked a couple of times online and off. He was in New York, I was in California. It was friendly, no sparks, just... interesting. He had studied poetry, so he mansplained to me what I was doing wrong in my poetry. This was, of course, a turnoff.


By all means, stir my interest by telling me what I'm doing wrong. Does that ever work for anyone?


And despite the certainty deep inside me that poetry is, and should remain, intensely personal and unique, it caused a ripple of uncertainty in me that, thirty years later, I still struggle with.


The internal monologue goes something like this...


I want to write a poem. But it should be good. You know, rhyme or maybe that iambic pentameter shit, whatever that is. Perhaps I should look up iambic pentameter. Nah, fuck it. Remember how I got assigned to write a haiku, and realized that writing haiku is comparable to a stint in hell and the antithesis of creativity. It's Christine Kryptonite! Who can be creative in a rigid space like that? But you know, maybe it's just ME. Maybe I'm the problem here. Maybe I should just stick to my lane, which, let's face it, is all over the goddamn map already. Sci-fi? Nah, non-fiction. Romantic thriller? Fuck it, I'll write psychological thriller/horror. Dystopian. Self-help. Stay in your lane, girl. Even if there are no lanes. Because maybe there will be someday. Lanes, that is. Ones that you should stay in. But back to that poem. Yeah. They'll hate it. Or love it. Or just tell me I fucked it all up. Write the poem. Or don't. [long pause] Maybe it's time to fall down an internet rabbithole and avoid writing altogether.


Internal monologue aside, here is the poem.


I read something today

That reminded me of mountains

On top of more mountains

This woman was climbing

One step at a time

Her brother, her mother, on her back.

An impossible thing.

It made me think of all the impossible things we do each day

Like laundry and folding socks

While you hold the rolling crash of grief in.

Or oil changes and grocery shopping

After holding your parent’s hand in hospice.

Bills to be paid,

Graves need dug.

A dollar pressed into the raggedy man at the corner’s hand

Steady voice now,

Read to the child and speak not of loss.

How are you, the question is asked.

It’s complicated, is the answer.

But that’s life.



I hope that last line doesn't sound flippant. Or smart-assed. It isn't meant to. I think so often about how we still have to do all the shit, even when grief or depression or stress is damn near killing us. Especially women. Mothers. Daughters. Bills don't wait. Life doesn't wait. Not for a second. Not for anything or anyone. And sometimes, that's the hardest part. I mean, seriously, tell me that there hasn't been a minute in your life when all you wanted, ALL YOU WANTED, was to just scream until you couldn't scream anymore? Scream at the hard parts, hell, even the joyful parts. But you don't. Because, well, folks seem to get all upset when you do shit like that. Apparently it remains socially unacceptable. I can't help thinking that if we just normalize dropping our shit and screaming in the middle of, you know, traffic, or a line at the bank or grocery store, folks would be more mentally chill overall. Kind of like a teakettle letting off steam.


And suddenly I imagine a scene where a character hears women screaming in the middle of nowhere, comes running, only to find one of those scream clubs going down. You know, the ones that use it as therapy?


Yeah, okay, I'm going to go back to writing now.

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