Here are a couple of poems I’ve written recently, which have been rejected by several publications. It’s entirely possible that they’re just not very good, but I still feel a kind of affection for them, the way you would love your kids even if they were funny-looking. Poetry is not usually my main thing, but I do enjoy dipping into it every now and then.
The Penitent Magdalene
We don’t all get someone who walks into our lives and casts out our demons.
I take my pills with coffee every morning.
I eat lunch every day.
I light candles at night.
I tried a DIY exorcism, is all, with whiskey
and a razor. I didn’t want to die. Maybe
I didn’t want to die. Maybe I wanted
to cast off this body with its sweat and its hair and
its constant moaning hunger. Maybe it was an act
of penance. Maybe I just wanted to see my blood
and find the source of the disease.
I vacuum my apartment floor.
I change the cats’ litter box.
I do not go outside much.
We don’t all get writhing ecstasy before the face of God.
Sometimes I’m brushing my teeth or sitting on the balcony
with a cigarette, and a little thought forms, and it feels like
a moment in time that could only exist within me. It feel like
this small, particular gap in the universe is mine
and mine alone.
Sometimes when my thoughts are running towards a cliff,
I talk to myself. I’ll say, Now look here, darlin’.
(One of my favorite things about being Texan
is that I can employ a soothing Southern drawl
when I need to.)
Some days can be harsh. Some days I talk to myself
more like a tense parent about to snap. You can’t.
You can’t. We’ve been over this and over this.
It’s the voice of a hand raised, the kind of hand
that may or may not strike. How many times
do I have to tell you? How many times?
And there are days that are terrible, sure.
Days that are a bit unhinged, like the young woman
I met in a psych ward, screaming down the phone.
Fuck you. I hate you.
But look: sometimes I put my right hand on my left shoulder.
And sometimes I talk like an old woman in a diner
offering cherry pie. I can see it’s been a long day.
Here, sugar. Here. There are moments worth
hanging in there for. I think. I can’t promise.
Here, baby love.