When I was writing the collection of poems, Cathedral Square, I was reading and studying all different types of poetry and formats. The first poem in the book came to me as this disjointed piece that felt like it was zigzagging all over. I felt like I was hearing connected stories that all felt like they were going somewhere and never fully got there. It reminded me of connecting trains. The stories were like taking a train from one short destination and getting off at the next. Together, they sort of came together to make one train ride, but it’s a bit disjointed as there were many legs on the train ride. I wanted the reader to question the narrative, to wonder because it’s a bit disjointed and fragmented, if the person who is telling it actually heard all these stories and if there was some accuracy to them. I also wanted the reader to try to construct why this narrator would tell these stories together. The narrator sees them as a direct route to one another, overlapping, but does the reader? I think it was an experiment in how we hear information and perceive it. There are many times in listening to stories that you’re left wondering why the individual associates things together. In that person’s mind, though, the associations are important to one another. The magic of our brains is that it begins to try to configure these fragmented stories into some sort of collective story or point, as it’s seen in the eyes of the person who is telling it. There are so many associations that are linked in our memories. The person could be associating everything via a time in their life, despite the stories having little interaction or interface with one another. It could be a word, a feeling, a sense. I named the poem Hiawatha because it’s the name of the brief commuter train that I’ve taken so many times between Milwaukee and Chicago. I felt the poem was a series of commuter trains in the narrator’s brains that he/she linked together to tell one long story or trip. So this is Hiawatha.
I hear church bells..
Followed by a long train ride,
where the stillness of our human form
even by wax beings in Madame Tussaud’s.
In a jean pocket, the stub
of three hours, on a night three years ago.
If you had to leave it all behind, what would you be headed towards? I’m interested.
A lot of wonderful things used to make me run.
For years, my friend bought different mattresses,
convinced he was allergic to all of them.
His eyes swollen as if he rubbed sand in them every morning.
He needed a place to lay down and dream.
I guess he found it a few autumns ago-
He never lays in any bed too long.
They sat in empty car by the river,
so he could grieve openly and privately.
You know there are words that sound so similar
It would be almost impossible to read someone’s lips accurately?
They intersect in sound but lay in different parts of the city,
in regards to meaning, if placed on a map.
Amen and Amend
I wandered, as if lost or delirious, every day that summer.
It’s the kind of walks you want to take by yourself.
Ok, but don’t get lost on me.
It is all detail in the grand scheme of things- still-
I have these images of you..
We ate strawberries on a mattress
It could have only been June because they were so ripe?
I remember feeling like you saw summer in me.
My eyes so green. What exactly did you see?
Every moment is a piece of time, is a thing only felt by you.
You are with me now, as are others, yet I am alone in this poem.
The windows of the hotel/apartment where I live open all year.
The way your arms felt (as only I know them).
The feeling of touching each other to ensure we were still there.
I often go outside at evening and allow the gnats to halo my head,
to make me dizzy. Down by the river I’ll sit in the car
Allowing the static on the radio to go into a frenzy,
as our hands did under each others clothes.
Did you imagine me, that car, and a waning moon?
Is that a part of how you imagined your life would turn out?
It is the questions people ask that makes a person.
The questions that ask, is this someone they want to know?
You were blonde with blue eyes that my fingers
got excited by, like when you’re a child and you hold a globe,
spin it and imagine your life could end up anywhere.
The beach is still there and the church in the square has not moved
And my friend found the right mattress when he stopped needed something.
Where is this all going? Where were you?
We spent so much time by the water, but we never went in.
The moods of lake still lay sleeping in my body.
I’m telling you it’s not as cold as they say. It’s quite predictable
If you know the weather situation.
Today it’s calm as my ADD mind on stimulants.
There’s strawberries again, there’s a job I need to get to,
prescriptions to take, messages waiting to be responded to.
Empty water bottles. A lot of activity that my speaks to my body’s needs.
It wasn’t a long time ago…
I hear the church bells that rang through the streets that day…
I’d love to say they sound different,
but really, they have