Man on the Subway: A Transcript

On November 5th, I was on a packed subway and I found poetry in an old man’s mouth. The following are not my own words – they are his.

74 year old man need help.
Live to be 74 years old and come back to find another man in your bed.
I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself right now. I need help.
I need help.
Need a psychiatrist on this train.
There ain’t nothing wrong with reaching out.

It hurts.
It hurts real bad.
It hurts real bad.

Come home find another nigger in bed with your wife.

It hurts really really bad.

71 year old man there getting up for you you lady.
If I were you I’d read the sign up there. Priority for people with disabilities.
Give him space. 71 year old man coming through. He’s getting off. Give him room.
Thank you for talking to me. God bless. God bless…

Not crush, I’m crumble.
I got a new word for it.
I’m not crushed. I’m crumble.

Things He Missed in Eight Years

IMG_20141106_084227Losing my virginity.

Falling in love with his best friend’s son.
Graduating high school.
Getting a big girl job.
Anorexia.
His son’s graduation.
Going to college.
Anorexia again.

Getting my heart broken,
though not for the first time.
Going to college
(for real this time).
College, college, acting, writing,
friends.
Coming out as bi.
My second girlfriend.
Oxford.
First publication. Second.
Literary award (shared).

His son’s ambitions,
to PhD and beyond.
His love, his happiness,
his cats.
His engagement.

Moving to New York.
Looking for work.
Writing. Writing.
Falling in love.
More cats.

His wife’s decision to move.

His retirement.

Found Poetry – Big Boggle

July 12, 2013 Big BoggleMy mother and I often play Big Boggle (5X5 tiles, not 4X4), which, for those who don’t know, is a word game in which you have a limited amount of time and you have to write down as many words as possible. Since we got to be too good at it, we decided a couple years ago to limit ourselves to four-letter words, eliminating the endless and obligatory three-letter words that show up way too often and make the game repetitive (tea, eat, ate, rat, art, tar, pat, tap, apt, etc.)

Tonight, for whatever reason, this list I made seemed to work very well as a slightly sinister, possibly political (class and gender commentary?) poem. It wasn’t on purpose, but as I was reading the words out, it just seemed to work out that way. So, as you see above: my first ever piece of found poetry. Read it however you want – with the crossed out words or without, across or top to bottom, it works out somehow. I’m quite proud of the bizarre and happy accident (less happy about sharing my atrocious handwriting, but, there you go.)

My first bit of spoken word poetry

I can’t afford WordPress’s space upgrade at the moment, so I’m going to post a link to where you ca hear me reading it if you’d like to. I apologize – I usually don’t link out from here to other blogs. I will note, however, that the Tumblr I’m linking to is my own, and that if you have a Tumblr, I do spend a lot of time procrastinating there because it is a very quick and easy way to time-waste without needing to think very hard for too long.

 

Click here to listen to my first attempt – one I enjoyed writing, more than I knew I would – at the spoken word poetry form.

Rock Star

Rock Star, Rock Star,
Take me in your box-car,
Drive me under night skies,
Fill my ears with sweet lies.
Rock Star, Rock Star,
Show me where your locks are,
Teach me how to pick them,
Tell me I’m your best femme.
Rock Star, Rock Star,
Take me to the milk bar,
Ply me with a stiff drink,
Show me how to not think.
Rock Star, Rock Star,
Twinkle bright and afar,
Stay a wishful nightmare;
We would make a bad pair.

Expectations

Prepare for liftoff. Count down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Feel the beat of blood through veins. Hear the thrum of an engine. Taste the stale air of unfulfilled expectations.

Empathy can go too far, and yet George Eliot had it right in Middlemarch when she tried to teach her readers to feel for the whole of unsung, everyday humanity. So what if the growing of the grass is deafening and overwhelming? So what if being able to read another’s thoughts on his face is searingly painful? Isn’t it worth it?

Scratch a pen over paper. Scratch over written words but don’t forget that they existed. Chalkboards don’t leave behind a trace – they waste words. What if there were a finite number of letters, syllables and words in existence? White boards are just as bad.

Fly with the aid of an umbrella from the roof of a doghouse, but nothing higher. Jump off a tree but only if it’s already been cut down and is lying on its side. Crawl along the ground and look at the busy ants in their long lines. Try to imagine what the sunshine is thinking as it bathes the cold-blooded lizards in its warm rays.

Expect to be disappointed. Expect to be happy. Expect to be sad. Expect things to change. Expect the earth to turn, the sun to rise, the moon to shine, the wind to blow, the ground to shift, the sea to overwhelm. Expect people to be not what they seem, to become different than they were, to throw you off guard. Expect people to be disdainful. Expect people to love.