I thought about writing up a massive overview of 2019, poetically speaking, but on examination, I think I have covered all the highlights already in blog posts, so I'll spare you the self-aggrandizing horn blowing. Suffice it to say that 2019 was one of my most satisfying years as a poet, and 2020 looks to be on a par.
We started with a package on the doorstep on January 1, and Love's Compass has continued to not only sell well, but has enjoyed an awful lot of attention around the interwebs and beyond. It's a book I'm very proud of, and I'm happy that others are enjoying it too. One of my goals in writing at all is to speak to others about our commonalities. The details may vary, altho usually not as much as one might imagine, but the basic emotions, motivations, and outcomes are very consistent. One of the ways I stay on a relatively even keel (aside from my therapist) is poetry, and I'm glad that it often has the power to connect with others instead of just being a place for my brain to let off pressure.
There is the art of it as well. Those readers who have known me since the Hills School know that I was a visual artist as well as a writer from my earliest days. I have a theory that I actually drew the most before I learned language, and that makes sense. I am not much motivated beyond needlework and the occasional self-published chapbook to do much visual stuff, but poetry and writing in general has proven to be tremendously gratifying. Nothing is ever perfect, nothing is ever finished, but learning to live with that reality has been a life lesson in itself.
Today is Valentine's Day, and for years I wrote poems for my Beloved in honor of the occasion. Somehow that tradition has fallen by the wayside, as with so much else when the fires of new love burn down to steady coals. I have always prided myself to be able to write on demand, but I am more selective about my subjects now. Here's a poem from early on, wrong season but right sentiment. Enjoy all your loves, every day:
It is hard to be Romeo after a day at the shop,
smelling of tires, black-uniformed, exhausted,
hard to keep awake in the dim trailer light,
Martha Stewart declaiming her pumpkin spoonbread
in her helpful, monotonous way.
It is difficult, Manny, Moe& Jack aside,
to work up a spark, but you did,
our long separations gasoline to light
a few short hours on a Friday, several Fridays in July.
It is hard, too, to be Juliet without poison,
long drives after cubicle days,
Great Gildersleeve riding shotgun,
Jack Benny soothing Carmichael in the rumble seat,
Juliet with no nurse to run interference,
while I slip into something easier
to take off again, Juliet who can tell by now
Barrymores from the understudies,
Juliet of the ample belly and speckled thighs,
Romeo of the hand-rolled smokes,
twelve-step clubs and weekend father’s taxi.
The Thruway our balcony,
our masked ball a couple of plates of chicken fingers,
popcorn and a video, our hopeless romance
aroma of a discount candle,
wooden fish dangling from curtain rods,
smoky blue eyes hovering in bedside lamplight,
rimmed with sleep, slipping to the edge of the stage,
no encores, the merciful knife of night
ending our drawn-out scene.