On Being Okay With Dying

The steps for writing a poem are as follows:

1.  Don’t write a poem for a year or so, only use previously written poems when people ask you for one, and wallow for that year in your inability to write anything quality.  Feel crushed.  Consider becoming a stripper to pay the bills. Buy only lettuce to try to channel and bask in that “starving artist” mentality.  Give it up cuz lettuce sucks and eat an entire pizza.  Feel briefly and primally satisfied.

2.  Stay up way too late one night so your brain is a mess of emotions and words and stanzas.  Read Dickens.  Turn out the light and listen to your bird make his way over to his perch in the darkness.

3.  The inspiration comes: it’s often just one line that just makes you want to take your muse by the shoulders and whisper sweetly

you are brilliant you are

 

(because apparently I can’t get through a post without including a Doctor Who gif)

4.  Your heart rate increases dramatically.  Gotta get the adrenaline going in order to make the trek across your room to notebook and pencil.  Much to the annoyance of your bird, you turn on the lamp again.

5.  Then you write.  It’s like how whittlers say the shape of whatever they’re carving is already in the wood, and they’re just coaxing it out–in writing a poem, you want to feel around in the corners for every scrap of imagery and line that’s supposed to be a part of it (I’m very spiritual about this okay) and make sure it all gets there somewhere.

Usually at this stage my mind is 90 miles ahead of my hand and sometimes words get combined or even whole stanzas.  Afterward I have to go back and disentangle them.  The important thing is just getting everything down.

6.  Stay up for another hour or so, heart still racing, unable to sleep because you’ve penned the Great American poem,  you feel it, and won’t your mother be so proud?  (It’s midnight now so you can’t rush to her and brandish it under her nose.)

It’s always much worse when you wake up, but, eh, it’s something.

Without further ado, I guess: the poem I wrote last night.

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On Being Okay With Dying

Maybe, someday, kids everywhere are gonna have to memorize your name

cramming first and last, middle initial, basic life stats

down their throats the night before History finals.

 

Maybe, someday, you’ll be a scorch mark in a family ledger

that obscure branch of the tree your nieces can’t quite remember

because, as far as they can recall,

it bore no fruit.

 

Maybe you’ll crawl into bed with someone some night

and to them your smile will taste like lemonade spritzers, watermelon sangria

and your laugh is like orchard workers tossing apples to each other from the tops of ladders

The way you move to turn off the lamp is peach brush strokes on a gray canvas.

 

Maybe you’ll start spending too much time in cemeteries

swaddling yourself in black and buttons and a scarf thrown over your mouth

walking with the crows and mostly trying to avoid one grave in particular

because you know how you’ll scuff your toe along the empty plot next to it, thinking,

Mine.

And who’s to stop you digging into it now,

folding earth around you like the cloak of a magician

performing his final disappearing act?

 

Instead you waltz, alone

slowly and gimpily

the way they never quite managed to teach you.

You can see your breath suspended in the chill

and you start to laugh

because you’re quite literally dancing on your own grave

and then you stop because you wonder if it’ll still be funny

down on the receiving end.

 

Maybe, someday, they’ll dig up your diaries

and you’ll be a relic, and a legend

a little girl in a checkered dress

imagined in sepia,

scented like yellowing old books and dust and sunbeams in an abandoned house.

Not watermelon sangria.

 

Maybe they’ll dress like you and your friends

at a theme dance at a middle school.

 

Maybe you’ll do extraordinary things with your life.

 

Maybe you won’t.

 

Maybe you’ll go down in textbooks.

 

Maybe you’ll go down quietly in the obituary section of your town newspaper,

circulation 800,

like a late-summer peach no one notices shuddering and bumping to the ground.

 

Maybe someone catches you before you bruise;

maybe something comes along a few days later

and leaves

with sticky whiskers and paws.

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So…that’s all, folks.  As always, things are ©The Girl in the Orange, BUT if you luuurve (or hate?) things then any feedback or sharing (via reblogging, Twitter, Tumblr, email, shouting from the rooftop of your school gymnasium, etc) is GREATLY appreciated.  I’m pretty serious about this writing thang; every bit of constructive criticism/exposure helps.  Happy Sunday! 🙂

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