I wrote some poetry today. It was coming out in full prose sentences, instead of trippy snippets, little short sentences that I felt inclined to snip apart at line breaks. Scrolling back up to read some of what I had just written, I noticed too many gerunds (-ing endings) and use of to be’s.
The lines looked weak. They’re were not compact with surreal images nor were they spacey and elusive. They were basic like “It’s May 5” and “the cruisers pull up.” I aimed to depict an exact scene based on a memory (of course).
I think in this poem, because it was a story, I stepped away from psychedelic imagery. I felt nervous almost. I hadn’t written a story in so long. It is a poem, but this particular poem needed to get its story out to work. During the process, I was fixated on conveying this tiny tale effectively–clearly.
The last time I wrote a story-poem, it made people cry, but the majestic and talented poet, Li-Young Lee pointed out to me, that he as well as the others in the workshop didn’t really understand what was going on. Normally, I could care less if someone can’t tell what’s going on in a poem, but A.–this was Li-Young Lee, and B.–its whole purpose was its story.
So, today I obsessively tried to be as basic and undemanding as possible. After writing down today’s memory with organic, but well-measured line breaks, I realized it’s a stupid piece. It’s a a pebble of a recollection from when I waited tables. It’s not about oppression or dolphin captivity or the darkness in a garden. I left the studio thinking that I had just wasted the last two hours writing like a child about a childish thing I did once.
It’s night now, and I thinking about what happened at the studio this afternoon. By compartmentalizing the poem into pure memory-action-depiction, not emotion, just what happened, I’m forced to tell a true story. My laced thoughts are not sewn sneakily between sections. Readers can decide to feel whatever they want while they read it for once.
When I first heard about the Obama Putin drama, my interest piqued; my eyeballs rolled from left to right, then right to left and back again, over and over, following the lines of flamboyant headlines like Obama’s and Putin’s differences sharp and dangerous that scrolled down my mini ipad screen like a fast and thick alphabet waterfall. I read about five or six articles. More than a few essentially portrayed Putin as a bada$$ and Obama as a pu$$y– Beni Avni for the NYPost starts his piece off with, “The baton was officially transferred Monday to the world’s new sole superpower — and Vladimir Putin willingly picked it up.” Of course I read more.
I Flipboarded and YouTubed all the clips I could find on the Obama Putin reunion. I decided after looking at the nauseating collages of crap and the videos of reporters telling me what happened rather than hearing it for myself, I found all of Obama’s speech to the UN. I watched it closely, sort of pleased throughout the forty minutes. It was nice how he emphasized American values like the freedom to be an individual and how young people will inevitably step up to the plate. It was a great angle. Freedom. It’s who we are. We may be living in a cocktail party, but we are having fun. Obama reminded me of that. How sweet it is to do a lot more than the rest of the world can do, and to do it freely. He got my attention. I’ll admit. I tasted the syrup for a moment. President Obama was my hero for just a second.
Then, the headlines came back to me. I remembered them differently. They were now much more suspect, as suspect as Obama’s speech. It hit me. Obama is Hollywood, glorious, romantic, beautiful starry Hollywood. It’s as though he were Denzel Washington, Cary Grant and Martin Luther King Jr rolled up in a tortilla. Then there’s Putin, sort of short, balding and stalky, however, still sturdy like a man who has eaten well his whole life, walks quickly and most certainly smokes cigars when he celebrates. He is the gangster. He is the magnetic bully in the playground.
With all these high profile glamourous discussions of two men in suits that influence the currents of everything, I almost forgot about the deaths and the smoke and the little kids living in it or running away from it like small dolphins escaping the Cove slaughter. Who doesn’t want to live and swim freely, coming up for air at one’s own and private pace?
The next morning’s headlines: all about Russia’s first air strike. How it hit anti-Assads rather than ISIS, how it’s propping up Assad’s domain, how it’s puppeteering around the structures and flight plans of the US aircrafts. Amidst all these dominating headlines, I suddenly felt like crying. The airstrike, Putin’s plan of action, his slap in the face, his loud and clear message that everyone was jabbering about was actually a moment of silence which lead to a day of silence until I figured out what I would say to both Obama and Putin as well as the rest of those war enablers. I thought I’d say, “You’d better stop all this before I take away both of your lollipops.”
The lives that were lost can never be camouflaged by strategic rhetorical devices.
Recommended listening, Manly Hall on the Western Paradise