Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Poet Walks into a Bar. . .

So there I was, sitting at the bar in the restaurant at the NJ Performing Arts Center surrounded by (among other amazing poets):

Patricia Smith, four time National Poetry Slam individual champion, and
Natasha Trethewey, the current US Poet Laureate, and
Nikky Finney, the 2011 National Book Award recipient for poetry

If you know me at all, you know I'm not a name-dropper. I am not the kind of person who brags about who she knows. But this was pretty freaking amazing. 

Dodge was pretty freaking amazing. There is something magical about spending several days in the company of people who are passionate about the power and majesty of language. It inspired me to get back into the habit of reading and writing poetry regularly.

I also tend to forget just how important hearing the 'music' in poetry can be and how different words on the page are from words spoken aloud. Reminder number two: attend local poetry readings!

This is a draft of something I wrote on the train, heading down from Boston to New Jersey. 

Tickets, Please
(Dodge Poetry Festival, day 1)

On the train, my mind spins as fast
as the wheels. Fall unwinds itself.  Leaves
leap back to tree trunks, green siphons
off the reds and golds. When we slip
past coastal Connecticut, water finally
reminds me of the tide of my own breath.
I want to keep moving. Away from the place

I left in the cold hours of a mid-October
Boston morning, not nearly in the place
my ticket spells out: Newark, New Jersey,
my destination, a city with more
to prove than my adopted home. I wonder
what I have to prove. That I can make it
here alone, suddenly motherless at forty-nine?
I am no longer balanced between
generations anymore. This is introductory
geography, basic arithmetic. Simple. Like childhood
is simple, meaning the confusion is somehow
straightforward now. No matter what, the dead continue
to remain dead. Leaves don't fall up,
and at each stop, some people get off this train.


  1. I like the last two sentences of paragraph two and the final paragraph the best. For me, that's when you get to the meat of the poem, but then, what the #*&% do I know? I never read poetry unless it's a friends or I read it in school.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.