A grinder is when a bunch of poets put themselves to the grind, to produce a poem a day for thirty days, sharing collectively through an email exchange. There is no commentary, just put it out there by midnight, and have nine other never before seen poems delivered to your mailbox from all over the country/world. The idea I gather is to keep dropping in with the muse, much like you practice the piano each day with the hope of getting a little better…moving a song, or two forward.
I’m enjoying the process, letting myself play with form, and as was suggested trying to explore a particular topic over and over again. I am focusing on grief. Grief: so omnipresent, and so hidden. That juxtaposition is rich. How to normalize and hold sacred is something I find myself sitting with a lot recently. A conversation with a good friend has brought so much up for me on the subject. Grief is not just about death-deaths, but about grieving that which you never had, or in some cases the shadow of that not having, is the grief around what you had instead?
As you might imagine, some of the poems feel slightly dangerous as a result. So this semi anonymous “grind” is helpful on that level too. (I was brought into the collective of ten poets through a friend I made at the residency, who I largely know online.) I find I am using the space to share poems I might not offer to my friends or family, or readers because the content chronicles my edges, and not my center. But that makes me feel a little fraudulent somehow. So, to that end I offer one now. It is a foray into a familiar, and darker place.
Holding everything in
My nine year old son
said it was his intuition that woke him.
I was alone, in the dark, weeping.
Weeping is such a pretty way to put it.
(Weeping conjures up Catherines and Heathcliffs)
I was alone in the living room, regretting.
I should call it the yelling room,
or the cat puke and the dead mouse under the couch room,
or the I can storm out and ignore you too room.
I was sitting in the worn out chair with the ugly
sheet in a room that we can’t afford to heat anymore,
but do and how do I ever come clean that I haven’t paid the mortgage
and don’t think I can this month?
It was there that my son found me curled up crying,
but more like leaking.
Earlier that night I called my son an asshole, at 7:34pm.
I saw the clock change to 7:35 behind his head.
When I crossed that horrid line and time kept going and it wouldn’t stop.
But then there he was, standing next to me in the dark.
His brown skin holding everything in.
Mommy, I just knew you needed me.
I scooped him up, and bawled.
He put his head on my chest, and said-
You are crying because you are the asshole, not me.
I read the poem to Sammy, and he said it was OK for me to publish it. What does that mean exactly to him, and us, I don’t know. But I wanted to ask him before I did. It is part of our collective story.
Last week I took another risk, to publicly ask you, my long time, and newbie readers to consider making an anonymous, or not so anonymous contribution as a “benefactor” may have done a few centuries ago. I was absolutely stunned to receive a generous donation from an old friend who wrote; “You go, Cat! My faith in you & your incredible insights is strong. Love your work!” Her $100.00 contribution appeared just like that, and I am working on a lovely thank you letter, and a copy of the best poem I have written in months.
I found myself even more committed to my voice, my responsibility to continue to write. It was as if the sound of applause followed me around for the day. I wanted her to read that here, and to say thank you to all who support the artists in all their lives with reminders of any and every kind that their voice, their insights, their work has a PURPOSE. I am still holding out hope that a millionaire transracial adoptive single mama who might be a movie star who went to the same high school as my family might decide I am worthy of her support. (Yes Sandra, I am talking about you…) The picture above reminds you of her doesn’t it?
How to become a MamaC benefactor:
Go to Square and email me a donation of your choosing. There are no fees, and according to my brother it takes about three minutes to set up. All you need is my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org For $25.00 you get the complete poem (In tact), and one poem a month for the next eleven months. For $50.00 you will receive the poem (In tact), and two poems a month for the next eleven months. For $100.00 you get In tact, two new poems for the next eleven months, and a bound and signed copy of the collection by May 2015. For $500.00 you get a poem a week and a photo montage along with a bound and signed copy of the collection by May-June 2015. Creating abundance and support for my work one bold ask at a time. For $5.00 I’ll send you the poem and all my gratitude for believing in me.