Clareified

Where does the good go

Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

Mirrors mirrors on the wall, don’t make me have to smash you all

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010 by Dawn Summers

When I was younger, like 6 or 7, the mirror was my best friend.

I would stare into the glass for hours; I practiced to cry, studied what my face looked like when I laughed or yelled or frowned. With my mirror, I doubled my GI Joe combat forces in order to successfully capture the smurfs and destroy their village. Oh, how the mirror and I laughed and laughed as Papa smurf pleaded for mercy.

The mirror and I had serious conversations too. Spelling was hard. Ms. Bilboul was mean. Where is our right glove?

Frankly, I blame Snow White. Not the girl, the movie.

I assumed that everyone talked to mirrors.

My mother would ask who I was talking to and I would answer “the mirror,” and carry on as I were.

To her credit, my mother never said anything else.

Or…um…to her complete and utter failing as a parent. I can’t decide.

Anyway, I guess I stopped actually conversing with the mirror in my early teens (or by nine…whatever age is perfectly normal for one to stop conversing with mirrors. Cause I am normal. Nothing’s wrong with me. Get away from me with your white coats!) That is, assuming that rehearsing my monologues and speeches don’t count.

And then, one day, I was either 18 or 19, I was staring into the mirror and I saw a grey hair in my head.

What. The. Fuck?

I brushed it furiously with my hand. Clearly I had had some kind of flour mishap. This could not be real.

It was. I yanked it out of my head and washed it down the sink.

I stared accusingly into the reflexive surface.

“How DARE you? After all we’ve been through.” I turned away from that backstabbing mirror and never looked back.

I spent the rest of college in mirror less rooms, my apartment in law school only had a mirror on the medicine cabinet. I certainly didn’t carry one with me. Ever.

My former confidante was now a turncoat tattletale.

“There’s a hair sticking out of your chin!”

“Laugh line? Ha! Ten years ago maybe, ya wrinkled crone!”

“You’re so fat!”

Oh, mirror, I hate you so very much!

And then, the other day, I stumbled across this poem and I literally laughed out loud.

First, because it so exactly hits the nail on the head, but also because it’s by Sylvia Plath and I usually hate her!

So, as we speed toward the close of another year, let’s take a moment to reflect on our common enemy.

Reflect. Heh. See what I did there?

You’re welcome.

Mirror
By Sylvia Plath

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful-
The eye of the little god, four cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

Short and sweet

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 by Dawn Summers

Pearatty was supposed to do poetry Wednesday today. However, I think she’s trying to teach me a lesson about liking people even though they’re not perfect.

She clearly hasn’t read my tweet about what kind of student I am.

Anyway, in a pinch, I provide you with a little Robert Frost. This opens the new-to-DVD movie Twilight: Eclipse. And I love it. The poem, not the movie. NEVER watch that movie.

I think the answer is ice.

In my experience as long as there is fire: whether from passion or anger, there is feeling. Emotion. Life. When that dies out. There’s nothing. And that’s the end.

Fire and Ice
by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Gratitude eternal

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 by Dawn Summers

My mother decided to take in my teenage cousin, Kue, rather than let the girl end up in a foster home.

Kue probably doesn’t remember this, but it’s the second time she has lived with my mother. She was no more than seven months old the last time. I was away at college and my aunt had thrown her, her four-year-old sister and her mother out of the house in the middle of December upon discovering she was once again pregnant. This would be her fourth child in five years.

My mother let the three of them stay in my room until I returned for Winter break.

Kue and my mother butted heads from the very beginning. She wasn’t doing her homework, she wanted to leave at 10 pm to go to parties on a Wednesday, she has a 40 year old “boyfriend,” who may or may not be her pimp… yeah, no bueno. But my mother tried to make her feel comfortable. She got the computer in her room fixed, stocked the house with her favorite foods, bought her a new winter coat.

But the whole arrangement was just supposed to be temporary. Kue’s court date was on Monday and she would likely be returned to her mother’s custody. Last Wednesday, her “boyfriend” called to say he was taking her upstate for the holidays. My mother informed him that trip would probably be uncomfortable with her foot up his ass and suggested he never call her house again if he enjoyed chewing solid foods.

Kue threw a temper tantrum, but my mother placated her by deciding to have an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner – complete with a whole turkey, which Kue said she’d never seen in real life. (It was thusly, I ended up eating two Thanksgiving dinners on Thursday and pleading for a swift death on Thursday night.) Everything seemed fine. They were in the home stretch and nobody had gotten stabbed! And then, on Friday, Kue left to go to her “uncle’s house.” And never returned.

By Saturday night, my mom was calling the police to report her missing. On Sunday, Kue called from her “boyfriend’s” number to say she was fine and my mother “better not call any fucking cops or else.” On Monday, she showed up with a posse of teens and threatened to kill my mother. Neighbors called the police. Kue and her friends ran.

Ironically, I had spent much of the weekend thinking about whether I was an ungrateful person. I’m not quite sure I had come to a definitive conclusion before talking to my mom about Kue last night. I’ll tell you where I got stuck: If someone is kind to you for a month and cruel for a week, are you still to be grateful? The good is never undone, but now that bad has been done, what are your options? I don’t have it in me to be this guy. But I couldn’t quite figure out where the line was. I suppose Kue felt justified attacking my mother once she felt cornered… still makes her ungrateful, doesn’t it?

Is that simply a function of how close in time my mother’s kindness was to Kue’s hostility? I don’t know.

Anyway, the whole train of thought reminded me of a poem I read in college… shortly before I abandoned the English portion of my double major in political science and English.

I can’t believe I’ve been doing poetry Wednesdays for about two years and not yet done a Shakespeare poem. Crazypants! Well, with four weeks to go, I remedy that oversight. All hail El Bardo.

Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind
William Shakespeare

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho! the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
Thou dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember’d not.
Heigh-ho! sing heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho! the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Whooo-ooo are you? Whoo-oooo oooh ooooh

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010 by Dawn Summers

It’s the day before Thanksgiving!

This wretched year is almost over.

I get to see my beloved Patriots on my big screen TV ftomorrow for the second time in five days!

I’m actually almost kinda somewhat feeling optimistic. And optimism always makes me think of grass and outdoors and Americana and… da da da Walt Whitman.

I actually had to write about this poem in AP English in High School. It’s always tricky remembering poems I studied in school because it’s hard to separate what I really thought about it from what would get me an A.

But I do love this poem.

The fierce way the speaker is fighting for someone that has, apparently, given up on themselves. My favorite line from my “To You” essay is “The protagonist insists on paying full price, even when his love tries to sell herself short.”

I was awesome!

Sigh, would that spinning a turn of phrase reap such dividends in my current life.

Anyway, I wish you all a great Thanksgiving and despite my Debbie Downer post on my other blog, I do hold you all in the utmost esteem. Not you, you literally suck balls.

Whoever you are! claim your own at any hazard!
These shows of the east and west are tame, compared to you;
These immense meadows–these interminable rivers–you are immense and
interminable as they;

Happy Turkey Day!

TO YOU

by Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman To You

O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are–you have slumber’d upon yourself all
your life;
Your eye-lids have been the same as closed most of the time;
What you have done returns already in mockeries;
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in mockeries,
what is their return?)

The mockeries are not you;
Underneath them, and within them, I see you lurk;
I pursue you where none else has pursued you;
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the accustom’d
routine, if these conceal you from others, or from yourself,
they do not conceal you from me;
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure complexion, if these
balk others, they do not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deform’d attitude, drunkenness, greed,
premature death, all these I part aside.

There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied in you;
There is no virtue, no beauty, in man or woman, but as good is in
you;
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you;
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits for you.

As for me, I give nothing to any one, except I give the like
carefully to you;
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than I sing
the songs of the glory of you.

Whoever you are! claim your own at any hazard!
These shows of the east and west are tame, compared to you;
These immense meadows–these interminable rivers–you are immense and
interminable as they;
These furies, elements, storms, motions of Nature, throes of apparent
dissolution–you are he or she who is master or mistress over
them,
Master or mistress in your own right over Nature, elements, pain,
passion, dissolution.

The hopples fall from your ankles–you find an unfailing sufficiency;
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest,
whatever you are promulges itself;
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided, nothing
is scanted;
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what you are
picks its way.

This poem seemed apropos…

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 by Dawn Summers

given that I am dying of coveting:

Hunger by Emily Dickinson

I had been hungry all the years;
My noon had come, to dine;
I, trembling, drew the table near,
And touched the curious wine.

‘T was this on tables I had seen,
When turning, hungry, lone,
I looked in windows, for the wealth
I could not hope to own.

I did not know the ample bread,
‘T was so unlike the crumb
The birds and I had often shared
In Nature’s dining-room.

The plenty hurt me, ‘t was so new,
Myself felt ill and odd,
As berry of a mountain bush
Transplanted to the road.

Nor was I hungry; so I found
That hunger was a way
Of persons outside windows,
The entering takes away.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 by Dawn Summers

I don’t handle change well. And I’m not just talking about the bucket full of quarters, nickels and pennies weighing down my favorite handbag because there is a tear in the fabric and coins always manage to slip through. I’m talking about the fact that I am so irrationally attached to that bag that won’t give it up, even though it weighs a ton and takes FOREVER to get through airport security.

Every morning, in the weeks following the end of Daylight Savings time, I squint at the sunlight streaming through the window, peer quizzically at the clock and then realize “oh, yeah. It’s really 8:28, now. Not 7:28.” Then, I pull the covers over my head.

Except, it’s not. It *IS* 7:28 now. But if it were 8:28, I am very very late for work and why on earth am I going back to sleep?! Reason #1,567,896 Dawn Summers fails at life.

It’s been a very “time to accept change” few weeks in the Summersverse.

I found my usually stoic emotionally detached self knocked on my ass and discovered a number of amazing things. A girl, who just a couple of years ago was only one of my “invisible internet friends,” has become a really good “IRL friend.” A guy I wanted to stab in the throat at the poker table because he was mean to me, really is one of the sweetest people I know.

Sadly, I also realized that a few of the people I thought would be forever and evers have somehow slipped into the realm of I wonder what happened to.

I will never pretend to understand how these things work. There are people to whom I couldn’t have been more cold and disinterested, but for some reason they stay and it’s good and I’m glad. There are people to whom I couldn’t have been kinder and more generous, yet they kicked in me the face till my teeth fell out in shattered pieces. And they’re gone, but that’s good too and I’m glad.

But the key, and the part I struggle against every day — sometimes hourly — is recognizing the change. Accept the new shoulder to cry on; avoid the boot heading for your face, familiar though it may be.

Remove the covers. Get out of bed. It’s a new day. It’s a new Dawn. And I’m feeling fine.

Trouble With Love
Miguel Pinero

There are things that never change
And we are not one of them my dear,
Trouble with our love is here

The trouble with our love is around
When you can’t look me in the eye, and lie
When you run so far away,
That you forget where to go back …
Now, you are what you never want to be,
Go ahead,
blame me …

There are things that never change
Now we are two strangers with a past
And a future,that ain’t gonna last
And that is a trouble with our love,
Last night we saw things like we never did,
We both went our way, and hid …

Ashes to ashes

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 by Dawn Summers

For the most part, I think a Christian society has a lot of trouble dealing with death. On the one hand, there’s the idea that the baptized, repented dead will eventually be called to Jesus in heaven where they will live forever with, as I understand it, premium cable channels, cupcakes and personal snow cone machines for everyone. Seriously, I cannot state enough how important snow cones are. Every family should have one.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, death in Christianity. But then, on the other hand, someone is dead. And while the theology of it may be all “hallelujah! Gone to glory,” it’s hard to be smiley happy whilst staring at a coffin. It’s an inconsistency I noted very early on in my Catholic upbringing. Unfortunately, I noted this inconsistency before developing the “no talking during funerals” filter. Though, I still maintain that telling Mrs. Hall that her husband is “lucky he gets to meet Jesus” was adorable. Come on! Have you seen what a cute six year old I was? Have you?

I’m not particularly well versed on how other religions treat death, I think I vaguely think I learned something about certain religions believing that if you lived a terrible life you were reincarnated as a dung beetle…though, I may just be remembering something from the Simpsons. I do that. Oh, so there is apparently this game called “Simpsons: Scene It,” and I think I could make a living challenging people to play me in it for money. This game very well may be my calling. Now, I just have to buy one. And find people willing to play it with me for money.

Wow, my train of thought is especially scattered this morning. 4:15 counts as morning, right? I can’t rightly say. I no longer sleep like your human species. I have evolved. Or devolved. Not sure, should probably take some cognitive tests. And now I am moving my index finger in front of my face to see if I can follow it with my eyes. I can.

But never mind all that, Avery used to say that when you die, you watch a movie of your whole life. For his sake, I hope that isn’t true. Who wants to see the DVD of a flick you walked out of not even half way through when it was in the theater?

Anyway, today’s poem touches on these thoughts, so everything is wrapped up in a neat little package. You’re welcome.

I died as a mineralby Jalal ed-Din Rumi

I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels blest; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones, ‘To Him we shall return.’

Happy Halloween (by guest blogger VinNay)

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 by Dawn Summers

The Cats
H. P. Lovecraft

Babels of blocks to the high heavens towering
Flames of futility swirling below;
Poisonous fungi in brick and stone flowering,
Lanterns that shudder and death-lights that glow.

Black monstrous bridges across oily rivers,
Cobwebs of cable to nameless things spun;
Catacomb deeps whose dank chaos delivers
Streams of live foetor that rots in the sun.

Colour and splendour, disease and decaying,
Shrieking and ringing and crawling insane,
Rabbles exotic to stranger-gods praying,
Jumbles of odour that stifle the brain.

Legions of cats from the alleys nocturnal.
Howling and lean in the glare of the moon,
Screaming the future with mouthings infernal,
Yelling the Garden of Pluto’s red rune.

Tall towers and pyramids ivy’d and crumbling,
Bats that swoop low in the weed-cumber’d streets;
Bleak Arkham bridges o’er rivers whose rumbling
Joins with no voice as the thick horde retreats.

Belfries that buckle against the moon totter,
Caverns whose mouths are by mosses effac’d,
And living to answer the wind and the water,
Only the lean cats that howl in the wastes.

When I read this poem, I imagine Dawn wandering the streets of a late 19th century Brooklyn.

She is alone.

Her stage coach has broken down, and her driver has run off. She wanders the streets calling out for help, hopeless and realizing that she has spurned all her friends. As she begins to run, she hears the howls of the cats. At first, just one or two.

More follow.

Soon dozens of eyes light up the streets. One claws off her powdered wig, narrowly missing her neck. She makes a poor choice and turns down a dead end alley and becomes surrounded by hundreds of feral felines. As she looks to the stars and screams, they attack en masse. Bellies full, the cats are lean no more.

Happy Halloween!

You can’t buy happiness and other retarded things retarded people say

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 by Dawn Summers

My cousin called the other day to ask if I would “lend” her five hundred dollars to hire Yo Gabba Gabba characters and a circus for Sammy’s second birthday party. Now, once upon a time when I earned a lot of money, I would cut these conversations off with “how much do you need? Come by my office at 3 to get it.” It was a lot easier to hit the ATM than deal with the unfocused ramblings and empty promises of repayment that my family is known for. When I made less money, I would have a number in my head of how much I was willing to give to end the conversation, if the request was equal to or less, I would extract the promise for repayment and tell them to pick the money up from my mom. (I would tell my mom the deal and say that she could keep how ever much of the money she could get them to repay.)

Now, that I pretty much make no money, fifty bucks is my ceiling. Obviously, $500 way exceeded that…though, she could throw a slamming 12th birthday party for him with Yo Gabba Gabba…though I suspect by then he won’t so much be into it. Heck, he’s not even TWO, I doubt he’s much into it now. I tried to impress upon my cousin that Sammy would be better off if she took a hundred dollars and bought him a winter coat. Or found money to pay for the specialist his pediatrician suggested to her. (Random fact: He has the same pediatrician I had when I was a kid!)

But no. She has it in her head to have a huge carnival party for him in my aunt’s one bedroom apartment and she cannot be dissuaded. And as crazy as it is, part of me understands, the part of me that was so sad about my poverty that I bought a snowcone machine to cheer myself up.

Not having money sucks, not having the things you want sucks more. And so, I chose today’s poem mostly because if I ever meet this dude, I’m kicking him in the nuts. Anyone who romanticizes poverty should be robbed and kicked in the nuts. Fine, maybe not robbed, but definitely kicked in the nuts.

Poor men’s hearts aren’t light; they do not laugh. Their hearts are heavy and they cry. And their kids don’t ever get to go to Disney World even though they have memorized every word of every Disney World commercial because they spend all their free time watching TV, because it’s too dangerous to play outside. And the kids fantasize about sinking buzzer beating three pointers to win basketball championships because THEN you get to go to Disneyworld for free! But of course, that’ll never happen because you are a girl (And are barely five feet tall.)

The world without money is a bleak place of terrible choices and awful decisions and you’ll foolishly squander hundreds of dollars to see your son smile for a day because…well, because you know his life will probably suck in unbearably relentless ways for a very long time.

I get that. I do. And I wish I could throw money at them like I used to. Alas, I cannot. And that, my friends, is why I invented the vodka snowcone.

Money – W.H. Davies

WHEN I had money, money, O!
I knew no joy till I went poor;
For many a false man as a friend
Came knocking at my door.

Then felt I like a child that holds
A trumpet that he must not blow
Because a man is dead; I dared
Not speak to let this false world know.

Much have I thought of life, and seen
How poor men’s hearts are ever light;
And how their wives do hum like bees
About their work from morn till night.

So, when I hear these poor ones laugh,
And see the rich ones coldly frown–
Poor men, think I, need not go up
So much as rich men should come down.

When I had money, money, O!
My many friends proved all untrue;
But now I have no money, O!
My friends are real though very few.

Tricks of memory

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 by Dawn Summers

I trust my memory above all things.

Its images and words are crystal clear to me. For particularly memorable moments, I can recall whole scenes, word for word; gesture for gesture at a moment’s notice. They can make me laugh or cry as sincerely as they did as those episodes unfolded in real time. I often have to remind myself that 1. Not everyone can do this and 2. It’s kind of weird and I really shouldn’t go around acting like stuff that happened ten years ago, is still real or relevant. No matter how vivid it is to me.

Elana once made me laugh in that “ouch, I better laugh or else I will cry” kinda of way when she said that she has the same problem sometimes.

“What do you mean you don’t remember that we had lockers next to each other in the eight grade? Oh, you’ve married, graduated from medical school and had three kids since then…right. Understandable.”

Yep. That’s just about it. Memories are great, as long as you remember that they are frozen in time, not you.

But, when the time is right, it’s cool to be able to hit “slideshow” in your mind, sit back and enjoy.

In D.C. by Elizabeth Alexander

In D.C. there are black women
with golden Afros and African-
print jumpsuits. Sidewalks sizzle

in summer, a languid,
loving fizz, a Hey Girl
hissing from the streets,

ambient, hey girl on all sides. Walk
up and down Georgia Avenue
or Florida Avenue or Columbia Road:

How you doin’? Hey.
You never know what you will miss
when you leave, what will call you

back, what will disappear
forever, or what was never there
quite as you now see it, hear it, write it

in memory’s poem.