Catch Some Wide Eye

An Elder’s Story


what we find
depends on what we seek
and how we seek it

A Couple of Meditations


folding you into my thoughts is a luxury
smooth skin on freshly laid linen

Let Us Be Wary


we all grow old
and die a thousand deaths
before we live a single life

Parents Batting for Home


your hands hit hard
your example hits harder

PTSD: To the Soldiers I Love


the dead stay dead forever
and promises are never
more than a bluff
ripped up, stolen and rough
i’d be your teddy bear
with this eternal stare
but you’ve torn out the fluff
maybe’s never enough

yes, i’ve caught the disease
in the battles we seize
hearts are drowned and they freeze
down in dark memories
enemies in the wire
we’ve come under fire
come on take me higher
with every puff
maybe’s never enough

Vision in Wine


two distant poles
dilated
bloated with dilapidated dreams

Rewrite


give me your poison and fatten me up
i suck out the words but the wound’s filling up
so i push on the keys and light another up
just a midnight melody and you’ve made the cut

chewing up, choking up climb to the top
i’d write your heart reckless but that’s not enough
light up and fill up and fatten me up
i’d think this was love when you’re feeling me up
suck out the soul but my brain’s filling up.

so star in my play and have all things your way
you’re the beautiful, wonderful almost broadway
spinning my memories, feeling them up
you’re off again, on again, claw to the top

chewing up, choking up, climb to the top
i’d write your heart reckless but that’s not enough
light up and fill up and fatten me up
i’d think this was love when you’re feeling me up
suck out the soul but my brain’s filling up.

now you’re the director just chewing me up,
the stage lights are staring, the audience is glaring
the audio’s shrieking, my headaches are leaking
the fuzz sets in again, off again, choking me up

is this your line or mine, and is anyone here
can anyone hear the venom you laid
all typed out page by page

chewing up, choking up climb to the top
i’d write your heart reckless but that’s not enough
light up and fill up and fatten me up
i’d think this was love when you’re feeling me up
suck out the soul but my brain’s filling up.

Suitor to Queen of Hearts


follow me.

i need some hearts to break.
feast on my discontented echolalia
take a swig of the vinyl
to drown out the noise.

fall in love with me
again.

Surrealist


Dream girl
poems are like dreams
twisting, writhing, swimming
from one nonsensical dilemma
to another

Summer Hobbyist


rust peels off
chisel chink chink

time slipping round the ankles
footsteps laugh into the distance

Sotto Voce


beyond my fate
the note spills from my lips
filling the spaces between spaces
in the words between words
until it spins into silence
and dies

Expectancy


A bubble.

 

here is my heart
the stretched
bloated bubble

 

and here is the pin
sharp
gleaming, glinting

 

On the Meaning of Poetry


Preamble to this post:

Whereas POETRY, being defined by Merriam-Webster as “writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm” and by Oxford Dictionary as “literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm; poems collectively or as a genre of literature”:

And as LITERATURE being defined by Merriam-Webster as “writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest” and by Oxford Dictionary as “written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit”:

Therefore, I will commence to perhaps finally introduce myself to POETRY, thereby to determine whether or not my creations are, indeed, to be considered poetry.

Emotion is something I’m good at. Too good at, perhaps, a bit tipsy at, even. I’ve tried to educate the emotional out of me, to view everything through slowly formulated, data-specific stiff, logical answers. But there, did you see that? Even sticking a little word like ‘stiff’ into that sentence makes the whole idea take on a negative tone. Corpses are stiff. Living things are fluid, malleable and adaptive.

Emotion is something I’m good at, at least in myself. I don’t know how the emotions relate to you because I’m not you. Sometimes we’re similar, almost the same. Most times, we’re very different. It’s hit or miss every time I take the keys. Intensity, though, that’s something I have. At least most days, because life has taught me that that, too, is not a venerable trait. Too intense, too deep. These things are not good, people say. Balance. One must always have balance.

Distinctive. Artistic merit. Those are things I struggle with. Do I use up all the big words I used in big-people school or dumb it down for the general consumption of the masses? Is “dumbing down” an insult to humanity or a tool to communicate broad ideas in sweeping brushtrokes? Is there broccoli in my teeth? The choice to be precise and articulate or vague and abstract spins about in my mind like the needle of a compass, wobbly and dependent upon where I am standing.

Expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest. I can do that, right? The brushtrokes. Pain. Death. Love. Creation. These are things all humans understand, but would a thirsting child in a war-torn world be interested in my poetry? Would a hummingbird pause to hear my musicless song? Can poetry ever do such a thing, and is that to be our chief aim?

I think, in the end, then, we are all failures. From nobel laureate to ten-year-old lyricist, Wolf to Shelley to Dickinson and back again.

But maybe we weren’t meant to succeed. Maybe it’s not about succeeding at all, but about stabbing about with emotional intensity for the heart of a thing until it stops beating in our ears.

Identity Complex


Matchbox Twenty

Sit back and grab a coke because this is going to be a long one.

Comfy? Okay.

As many ‘ethnic’ people in the U.S. know, it’s not easy being in two worlds. There’s always a sense of duality and differentness. Do you belong to one people group or another? Are you more American or more [insert racial background here]? Sometimes earlier generations make this decision for us, raising us in a “traditional” style that somewhat alienates children from their current environment, or opting for a more assimilated style of rearing in which cultural ties are slowly decayed until ultimately lost.

Matchbox Twenty

I’m pretty sure I’m in the latter group, although the line is fuzzy. My mom, as any devout Hispanic Catholic mother would, often kept my brother and I from doing things that were too American and might, thereby lead us to sin in her mind. She told us that we weren’t American, we were better than American. But we never associated with other often closely-knit Hispanic communities, and she would turn up her nose in disgust whenever people displayed flags indicating their culture of origin. We’re not like THOSE people, she would tell us.

This left me with an inherent moral dilemma. My mother, the one who bore and raised me, who breathed life into my bones and taught me the art of stories had defined my life story as being neither American nor Hispanic. Being a devout Catholic, I also hated myself because every step was a sin, in my naive sense of theology I was sure of it. Thus being so alienated from my peer group and every culture, I convinced myself I would never be loved by anyone and therefore I could not be married. So, at the ripe age of fourteen, I decided I would become a nun.

Matchbox Twenty

After a briefly zealous induction into a Southern Baptist church and an equally zealous reversal into agnosticism, the fact that I ever considered becoming a nun is absurd to me now. However, somewhere in my troubled teen life where I was both dealing with societal exile, an incurable and embarrassing skin disorder and an as of yet undiagnosed mood disorder, music breathed a world of relief and hope into my battered mind.

Matchbox Twenty

I can still remember first hearing the song on the radio, in the days before Youtube and iPods, back when MTV and VH1 still played music on the air. There was an opening wail of an electric guitar gliding above a driving drumbeat. The guitar waned in and out accompanied by a piano playing a series of chords I can play with my eyes shut, the harmonic progression of my people. The only word for this sense that comes about when you hear the voice of your people is “orgullo.” It translates into “pride” but feels so much more powerful to me in my mother tongue.

When the chorus of this riveting, tantalizing song came in, I was swept away. The voice, a very much American and non-Hispanic man went on about the beauty and complexities of moody, volatile Hispanic women. I could have died. Here, here were the words that understood me so well! And not only did it give me a small sense of identity and belonging, something which I so desperately needed, but it painted us beautiful. Not the shallow kind of solely sex-driven beautiful that is always all over the media, pressuring the many of us who don’t fit the stereotype in the least, but the lyrics of this song reached into the soul and heart of Hispanic nature. And it made me feel, for the first time, like I could be something beautiful.

Matchbox Twenty

I’m not gonna lie. I get really distracted by shiny things.

The song I’m talking about, of course, is “Smooth” where Carlos Santana* showcased and aided the career of a very young Rob Thomas. The latter musician then went on with his bandmates at Matchbox Twenty to produce album after album after album, even to this day. However, at the time, that honestly didn’t matter much to me.

Then she gave me the cd. We were sitting in anatomy class, and I can’t remember why she decided to give it to me in the first place. Maybe I had been talking about how much I love the song “Smooth,” even if I didn’t entirely understand why at the time. The case was cracked, but the cd wasn’t scratched and still ran well in my stereo. If it were a book, I would say I read it cover to cover. Something about the words, the words understood me more than people did.

I ended up buying every album they had. I was never much of a fan girl, wanting to be a nun and all, but something about Matchbox Twenty’s music spoke so deeply to my core that I couldn’t let it go. They were with me through nights of prayer. They were with me through studying for exams and reading for classes. They were with my before my first car crash- in fact, my radio refused to play the next track about ten minutes before my poor little silver 2000 Volkswagen Beetle was crushed like a bug. They’ve been with me through every crush, every break up, every piano performance, every day of teaching, through everything.

Matchbox Twenty

Naturally, when my brother told me late last year that they’d be coming to Savannah as part of their North Winter Tour, I about hatched an egg. Through decades of rigid piano rehearsal, choral rehearsals, classical concerts, jazz concerts and general musical study, I had never, EVER been to a rock concert. And I never, EVER thought they’d come down here. Ever. I immediately bought a ticket for myself and my brother [an outstanding musician in his own right], and surprised him with the news later.

When it came to the actual night of the concert, I was a complete wreck. Relationships were getting strained at work, I had been through no less than six suicidal bouts, and my brother was super anxious over his master’s composition recital. In fact, there is absolutely no way I would have even made it to the concert without my brother. Downtown Savannah was already crowded with tourists getting ready for St. Patrick’s day celebrations, and all of my fears about being seen in public by people I know, getting into car crashes and being around strangers were in full force. Somehow, despite all my anxieties [both rational and irrational], we wound up in our seats.

Matt Hires

That’s when Matt Hires took the stage. I immediately picked out which two bandmates were brothers, something which soothed and calmed me because I had also grown up in a family of musicians. Being able to create music with kin is an indescribably wonderful experience, so I prodded my brother on the knee and pointed out the brothers. Then we shared one of our quiet grins, the kind where we don’t have to talk because we’ve known each other our whole lives. That, too, is indescribably wonderful, and I was proud to have been able to share this moment with my little brother.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The man behind us is all like “wha-?” 🙂

The music which Matt Hire’s band played was hauntingly familiar, and at points I found myself already memorizing choruses and softly singing along- even harmonizing. Prior to the start of the concert, their bassist had taken the stage and practiced a few runs on his instrument. I could sympathize with the pre-concert excitement, the need to get everything just right.

Matt Hires

Stare at the fingers. Pretty fingers.

They also came across to me as a relatively young band. Though members were fluent in several instruments, I could tell [by my own training] that they weren’t always masters of them. Part of that may be from the self-admitted pre-St. Paddy’s day celebrations, but the eyes-glued-to-where-fingers-are-going thing kind of gave it away. Did they play wrong notes, bad chords or sing out of key? Absolutely not. Their songs were elegantly lyrical in a singer-songwriter kind of way and, had the crowd had a more confident sense of who was actually performing, I think many listeners would have been spell-bound.

Matt Hires

My right hand is magical. And I’m a rockstar. Wee! 🙂

However, when Matchbox Twenty came on the stage, the crowd immediately leaped to its feet. This was somewhat unfortunate for my brother and I, as well as the eleven year old girl who wound up sitting next to me, because we are all incredibly tiny. I don’t even clear five feet. All things considered, though, we WERE in the seventh row [starting after the VIP section] and if I held my camera high enough and used the zoom, I could see everything clearly. And what I saw was amazing.

Matchbox Twenty

I hadn’t realized until that night how many other people Matchbox Twenty had affected, or even how much they had impacted my own life. I knew every single word to all but four songs they performed over two and a half hours. A college-aged girl a few rows behind me also commented that this was her first concert ever. There were teenagers and older adults bopping around alike.

Matchbox Twenty

This lady. She’s a whole head taller than me. And I have a lot of pictures of her. -_-

Yet the band’s reach, like their lyrics, goes a few levels deeper than surface value. They truly sang through their instruments, literally conversing with one another with both excellent showmanship and great respect. You could tell that this was a group of musicians that had listened to each other and grown with each other, experimenting with new sounds rather than stagnating- all without losing their identity.

Matchbox Twenty

Doesn’t he look like a rabbi in this one????

Identity. There’s that word again. At the beginning of the concert, above roars and screams, Rob Thomas described the tone he wanted to set for the concert. We were there to share a moment. As people. As human beings. And we were there to celebrate life. As someone, again, who struggles often with mood disorders and suicidal thoughts, this call to celebrate life rather than give in to it was a phenomenal thought for me to take in. Not only that, but you could tell, here, too, was a man who had been changed by his music, his wife and his fans over time. There is something almost reverent about the way we sang, danced and generally, in every sense of the word, celebrated- and I was at times taken back to my short stint as an evangelical Christian. It had every fiber of excitement of a worship service, but not in a heretical sense. We were praising joy, music and life itself.

Matchbox Twenty

Pastor Rob. I like it.

Both Kyle Cook and Rob Thomas commented on the fact that Savannah was their first official southern concert and proudly described themselves as southern boys. This, of course, elicited a roar of applause, but it gave me a sense of pride, as well. Perhaps after all these years, despite the many moves all over the world, I, too, have become a southerner. Though this is an idea I am still wrestling with, the sense of emerging identity is one filled with warmth and celebration.

Matchbox Twenty

This man has talent oozing from his pores. Listen to him. Listen to him now.

Exuding that warmth, the band has reached out to their fans through various social media outlets, inviting them to share pictures and experiences. This, of course, meant that many a cell phone was waved in the air, grabbing as much footage as it could.

Matchbox Twenty

This lady. And her cellphone. *throws hands up* At this point I just went with it…

At one point during one of Kyle Cook’s solos, Rob Thomas reached down into the VIP section and took somebody’s cellphone, recording all around Kyle as he played as well as the entire band and audience from the stage’s viewpoint. Paul Doucette would often strut onto the side stairs while playing a stringed instrument, or he’d bang the toms as flamboyantly as my ex-boyfriend played the bongos- hands reacting to rebound by bounding well up to the shoulders before crashing down again. This juxtaposition of harmony and anger, quirkiness and mastery is part of what makes them so lovable.

Matchbox Twenty

Derp faces make me happy! 🙂

After multiple standing ovations, Matchbox Twenty decided to close with a nod to Georgia’s musical heritage. They broke into the opening strains of a familiar REM song, (“from back when they were good, as my musically astute brother noted”) when the music jerkingly ground to a halt as Rob Thomas let loose a slew of harsh words. Though I, and other fans who have exchanged stories over Twitter, are still not entirely certain as to what happened, it seems that an inebriated audience member had begun causing trouble- and perhaps harm to fellow audience members.

After the tense moment was cleared and the offender taken safely away by security, Rob Thomas did something that most artists wouldn’t even think about doing. He apologized to the many little ears in the audience for the profanity. I think that says a great deal about Matchbox Twenty as a group: a true musician makes every effort to respect the listener’s ears whether in harmony or in silence, in music or in words.

Matchbox Twenty

Much peace to each of the band members, technicians and families involved. I hope you have a safe tour and that the album “North” continues to garnish success.

* See first few comments for a discussion on this. 🙂

You’ll Never Reach Her


Star Trails Northern Hemisphere

I dip my hands into oblivion,
and find myself clasping stars

Sketch No. 103


English: A woman wearing stay-up stockings hel...

These are my people. From the blackened and hallowed abyss of ashes, they rise like curtains of raindrops to my mind. I have a people, a sense of belonging to something somewhat wider than myself.

My words are but a number.

I was born in a place devoid of words, my mother twisting and squirming in the dry, heatless desert of anonymity. My father was a blacksmith, I do believe, but he never came around much. His title, as his occupation, I suppose a dying breed in this modern age of disconnected popularity. My mother was a Youtube star. What, exactly, she starred in, I would never know because she never let me see such things. Said it was too mature for me, whatever that is. I didn’t have any brothers or sisters and, as is true of any teenager of the digital world, I grew up very much alone.

Then Henry came to town.

If I shut my eyes tight enough, I can still see his hog’s breath smile heaving down on my from his six foot something frame. He was a country boy through and through, and when he moved into my neighborhood it was peeks and smiles through the window. I didn’t know well enough to be scared of him, my mother having homeschooled me for fear of what I might find out about her illustrious career. Henry and I would go swimming in the river whenever he skipped school, which was quite often, and chuck pebbles into the water trying to make them dance on the ripples. He even tried walking on water once, said he saw it on the internet somewhere, and I could swear he made it a full clear three steps before sinking with a splash into that cool, clear water.

I never really did believe what they said about him in the papers. Still don’t believe it. I mean, if he really had done all those horrible things, wouldn’t I have been able to smell it from my house?

Makes no difference now, because these are my people. I stand and stretch my arms to embrace the whole crowd as I stand at the podium, my toes itching in my too-tight shoes and nylon stockings. I take a deep breath and begin to speak.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the Republican party…”

Pressed


Detail of the Guanajuato mummies, Mexico. Blac...

i cannot by the pale worm rivers
my coffin bed creep
upon the midnight day
suffer the blankets of maggot strewn dust
to bury my love away

Nothing to Wear


I wasn’t a very socially acceptable teen. I mean, I got along with everybody well enough, especially when they wanted help with homework, but I wasn’t into the rabid fan, fashion shopping spree, squee, painted nails, up all night convo, boyfriend gossip party…ness. In fact, I can solidly say I pretty much gave up on boybands when I was ten.

Now I’m almost thirty and about to attend my very first rock concert. Ever. Mind you, I’ve been in music education for nearly a decade already, but I’ve never officially been to THE quintessential American musical experience- a crowd full of thrashing, hormonal, screaming fans cheering on screaming guitars and drums. But…

A band that I’ve respected since my college days has finally made it low enough in their careers to consider going to my city- and I couldn’t be happier. Well, maybe they’re not “low” in their careers, just a bit older and not as single as they used to be, therefore not making thirteen year old girls and boys break into a sweat over the mere mention of their name. And that’s alright with me, because they are some of the most poetic, musical rock musicians this side of Muse.

I’m angsty, nervous, excited, and haven’t a single clue what to expect. I will, undoubtedly, bring you many, many pictures. Wish me luck.

Ascent


I made it
but I don’t know
how

Bitter Exhaustion


13: Natural History

I’m the queen of good intentions when my kingdom turns to dust
ancient pallisades and bastiens sinking in the molten crust
dazed reflections of tomorrow in the shadows left before
knotted hands are left to borrow until there is no more
infection sinking deeper than all else ever will
the climb gets only steeper until I am eternally still

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