Missing you

By way of a tentative re-entry into the blogosphere, I share this poem I wrote a couple or several years ago. Wrong season, slightly off-kilter sentiment for a “hey, I’m back” greeting, but why would I let that stop me? Sometimes you just have to say something, right? Consider this a versical throat-clearing prior to the full-on bloggification to follow.

Missing you

Summer slides by,
Blue skies and buttery days.
I remember when the sun wasn’t
An enemy,
When we lay under a canopy of oak leaves,
Faces freckled with light,
And ignored the future.

Five ways to eviscerate your stress

As I sit here contemplating the mixed joys of returning to work tomorrow after a rather tumultuous and not-so-fun-filled vacation, it occurs to me that I might not be the only person who’s going to be needing a mega-strength de-stressor or two over the next few days. Or possibly weeks. Not months, surely? (Ignore me while I sob into my virtual hankie.)

Well, I can’t offer you valium or xanax, either because I’m greedy that way or because I don’t have any. One or the other, I’ll leave it to you to decide which bloggy factoid is most likely to be true. After reading the first couple of paragraphs you might be excused for assuming that the former was true until I consumed the entirety of my valium/xanax collection, rendering the latter true. It would certainly explain the rambling.

As I was saying, though, I can’t (or won’t) offer you the happy drugs, and I can’t honestly claim that my plundering of the interwebs has churned up the mega-strength de-stressor we all yearn for. (Oh, don’t give me that guff. Of course you yearn for it too, and if you don’t, well, kindly keep your well-balancedness to yourself out of consideration for me and my neurotic compadres.)  I did, however, manage to dredge up a few little tasty ideas for you on keeping the stress monster safely under the bed where it belongs. (Hello, nightmares.)

Allow me to present Five Ways to Eviscerate Your Stress. 

1. Do Nothing for Two Minutes

First up, let’s start by dipping our toes in slowly, slowly. Try doing nothing for just two minutes. (I admit that I failed repeatedly for a good ten minutes before I could stand to keep my fingers off the mouse pad. Oops. But I did finally make it through the full two minutes. Felt good!)

Do-Nothing-for-2-Minutes

 2. Write it out – Journal 

Journalling is my go-to strategy for drowning my anxieties. I just sit down with my notebook open to a blank page and start upchucking words–about what’s pissing me off or scaring the bejesus out of me or how very much I’d rather be canoodling with a pitt viper than doing what I have to be doing. I write until I feel better. It doesn’t mean that anything is fixed (although it often feels more fixable by the time I stop), but it’s satisfyingly cathartic.

3. Put it in a Poem

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’ve never written a poem or your poems suck or you think all poetry sucks. It doesn’t matter. Just try it. There’s something about the discipline of scaling the verbiage back, of trying to distill your deepest or most frantic thoughts into the fewest, most incisive words that helps a person get to the heart of their angst.

Not sure where to start? The Poetry Foundation has an interesting article on How Do You Begin a Poem. The excerpt that resonated most for me was Matthew Dickman saying, “some sort of celebration in my chest wanting some words to understand itself, some sort of grief needing a body.”  You may also want to have a look at these idea-tickling prompts over at Ploughshares.

4. Laugh

Did you know that rats laugh? They do, they really do, especially when they’re tickled, apparently, according to this fascinating article in Scientific American. Okay, so the article isn’t saying that rats have a finely honed sense of humour, but still I think we can agree our wee rodential buddies are onto something. Laughter feels good, plain and simple. Just trot over to YouTube and watch Kristin Bell’s “Mary Poppins Quits” video to see how good it feels.

5. Listen to Rain on a Tent

Or, when all else fails, why not just kick back for eight hours and zen out to the sound of rain falling on a canvas tent. Go on, I dare you. Maybe you could even knock off a few poems while you listen.

Do feel free to share your own stress-busting strategies in the comments. I can use all the help I can get.

Poem: I remember

I was poking through my Google Drive documents and came across a poem I wrote a few years ago. My daughter, Azaia, was in her late teens at the time, but I still hadn’t given away all her baby clothes, so I’d just done a major cull, sorting things into piles of “save for Azaia’s baby,” “give to thrift store,” and “oh, my god, I can’t believe you kept this, it has a stain the size of Vancouver Island down the front, it’s garbage already!” (And, I confess, one secret little pile of “I can never, ever, ever say goodbye to that sleeper, even if it is stained and torn, she looked so freaking adorable in it.)

Holding and folding and stroking those old, familiar, deliciously tiny garments took me back for a few minutes to those complicated early days of motherhood, to the joys and frustrations and terrors, the celebrations and the surreal sleeplessness, the loneliness, the wonder, the whole messy, messed up, constantly changing, constantly challenging, beautiful unpredictablility of it all. This poem was the result.

I remember

I remember
your little fingers pinching
My tongue
Trying to pull out of me
The mystery of words

I remember
Long nights and longer days
Of not knowing what you wanted
Of not knowing what you needed
Of wishing
You would shut up
And stop drilling
My failure home with each shrill cry

I remember
Touching your cheek
With my finger
Softer than velvet
You were,
And warm like a
Little bag of rising dough

I remember
How you needed to be held
But not hugged
How you needed to be
In motion
Always
In motion

I remember
Understanding how easy it would be
To jump off a bridge with you
To fly off a skyscraper with you
Into the sleepless night

I remember your hungry eyes
Always open
Always alert
As you learned the world.

Poem: Walking to work

I wrote this for Ruth Long’s Poem Walk 2012 Challenge, but I read the rules a couple of weeks ago and completely forgot that the entries are supposed to have a horror/suspense/uncanny theme. Sigh. This poem does not. There is mist and fog, and even a dash of crawling greyness, but you’re not going to find any horror or suspense or uncanniness here even if you squint. Unless you consider going to work to be particularly horrific, of course..

I’m posting it here anyway, just not adding my link to the challenge. Good luck to all who participated correctly!

Walking to work on a foggy morning

I take the dip-down route,
Avoiding the rushing crankiness of morning commuters
To walk along East 8th Avenue,
Past the still-sleeping park, the light industry,
The houses hidden behind noise-muffling hedges.
The city is wrapped in fog,
A glooming, looming greyness crawling up from the inlet
Obscuring the mountains,
Swallowing the seagulls, spitting out their plaintive cries.
The chill of fall is sharp in my throat,
Belying the bright promise of the improbable late fall pansies by the park bench.

The rumbling hum of buses and trucks
Rolls down the hill from Broadway. A squeal of distant air brakes
Punctuates the baying of the lone dog in the doggy daycare,
Counterpoint to his lonely displeasure.
Four crows pecking and bobbing like chickens
Through the dead leaves outside the coffee shop
Stop and eye me as I enter and exit,
And resume their pecking.
A man in stained green coveralls hoses down a driveway,
Sending the smell of damp dirt up to mingle with the
Bittersharp coffee, gasoline and the faint reek of cat spray.

And now the traffic thickens
Entry ways and loading bays
Erupting with vehicles,
Fellow pedestrians emerging from pockets in the mist,
Purpose or resignation in their steps and spines,
Coffees, briefcases, umbrellas in their hands.
Two men with too-short pants and wheelie bags cross my path,
Scrubbed, buffed, red-faced and shiny, looking
Like they’d smell of soap and Old Spice and stale alcohol,
Ready to sell you your grandmother.