The Wild Heart

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beach find

 So, there are things to work out, yeah? We all have things to work out. Deaths, breakups, awful traumas, stints of depression and anxiety. Here we are, friends, swimming in murky water. Here we are dancing. This morning I woke up and walked on the beach with the great blue herons and the red-beaked white ibises. I swam in perfectly clear, calm ocean. That’s one way to wake up. I’ve been writing a little. Looks like I have a new manuscript of poems on the horizon. In addition to actually readable poems, I had this batch of maybe 30 poems that I never wanted to see again. I printed them out and started culling lines from them. I took the first line or so from each and made a poem. Then I took the next line or so from each, another poem. Then I took random lines from each, a third poem. Three poems into this process, I remembered why I love to write poems: chance & mystery!

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my roof

I had a really bad day on Friday. I’m talking full-on anxiety attack. Couldn’t drive, couldn’t think straight, cried a lot. And then I got through it, with the help of some dear friends. I woke up the next day a little better, but still panicky. I slept through the night, and woke up the next day a little better. Better enough to write poems again. This is important. You remember who you are when all the detritus has been stripped from you, but it sure is effing painful to be stripped down.

The epigraph of Clarice Lispector’s novel Near to the Wild Heart is a quote from James Joyce. It reads:

He was alone. He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life.

On Loneliness

I’m at a beautiful artists retreat. I look out my window at the ocean. I walk the beach. I work on poems and try my hand at writing short stories. I read Alice Munro stories. I do some editing work. I talk to friends online. My phone feels like a lifeline. Friends will visit. My mom and grandma and cat are nearby. There is one other artist here, and I hope we’ll crack open a bottle of wine together soon.

But mostly I’m alone.

Being lonely is different than heartbreak, but they’re inextricably linked. Continue reading

Ugh. More Confessions from the Broken-Hearted

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Tonight I had make a stand of sorts. I had to stop hoping for reconciliation with Ben. In the process (maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever done or will need to continue to do), I had to stand in the mirror and say, Who are you, and what the hell have you been doing?

Part of this is trying to understand what it means to be a drifter. My dictionary tells me a drifter is a person who is continually moving from place to place, without any fixed home or job. Apparently, it’s also a fishing boat equipped with a drift net. I could construct countless metaphors on that front. Synonyms are wanderer, traveler, transient, roamer, itinerant, tramp, vagabond, vagrant, hobo, bum.

I guess being stranded by my love/partner, without home or job, without any plan, has left things pretty effing raw. Continue reading

DiPerna’s Body (Poems Save Lives)

This poem is from the July/August issue of Boston Review. You can also see it online here. God, that last line kills me.

Where My Body Has Been
by Regina DiPerna

 

I lay on the cream shag carpet with my brother
and argue what a kobald is, and is not. I am nine.
Behind the oblong dresser in the basement
is a white stub of chalk with a wolf spider
crouching on it. It does not know I am about to pick it up.

When I am twenty-one, I clutch a cold ten dollar bill.
The gas attendant has a gold tooth.
Says, what are you all dressed up for, missy.
I smooth the gray wool of my bridge coat.
A bell chimes and my shoulder blades flinch.
I cannot see the snowflakes melting into my cuffs.
No eyes watch my body shuffle back to the car
across the ice, no witnesses.

Years later, a lover’s shadow traipses diagonally
across the floor of the limehouse. He’s just told me
he didn’t fall in love with me. The moon in splinters
across the stack piles of buildings. I open his refrigerator,
gulp milk from a glass bottle.
There is nothing left for me to do.

My brother has been dead for nine years. A kobold:
a kind of sprite with thin, ivy-colored arms.
See, he is not here to dispute this.
This is what I think when the lover asks why I am
so quiet. My body shaped like a C at the foot of his bed.
My fingers coiled in blankets. Thick and coconut white.
I miss everything.

Some notes, a month away from 37…

Well, I’m back in Englewood. Reunited with my beautiful cat, who has just launched himself onto the bed, purring like a maniac. I’m so happy to see this creature that I could burst. He feels like the one solid thing in my life. Everything else is a movie happening underwater.

Every time my phone beeps, I look for Ben’s name on the screen…

Continue reading

Writing Blog Tour

I was invited by the wonderful Caroline Cabrera to contribute a post to the Writing Blog Tour, so here goes. Caroline’s post is here, and is not only full of interesting details about her writing process and projects but also has pictures! Thanks to Caroline for tagging me in.

 

  • What am I working on?

 

I’m working on just being able to write every day at the moment. I remember in grad school one of my teachers told me that she was going through a period in which she just couldn’t find her way into writing. At the time, in the blissful ignorance of my early twenties, I thought she was crazy. How to not write? Then, about 5 years ago, life began happening at a pretty insane clip. I wrote a lot through it and have a ton of material to play with, but right now I’m in a sort of stagnant aftermath of all of that. I try to write a short poem every morning, but sometimes even that feels too grand. I’m revising two or three manuscripts in small doses.

I have an essay/memoir manuscript that I wrote during this rough time, too. It needs to be rewritten, and I can almost see how I want it to look. I just haven’t been able to sit down with it for long because it’s painful stuff. In a couple weeks, I’ll be staying at the Hermitage Artists Retreat. I’m hoping that kind of space will help. Not to mention, it’s on the beach. And there are sea turtles.

 

  • How does my work differ from others of its genre?

 

I think I have a fairly sincere take on being human, not very ironic at all, and probably that translates to the poems. I’m interested in both the intricacy of language and it’s mythic power, how smashing together seemingly unrelated things creates new understanding. So, coupling those two things makes my poems. I’m certainly not unique in that, though.

 

  • Why do I write what I do?

 

Probably because I’m wanting to work things out. I look back on old poems and see how I was subconsciously dealing with issues in my life without knowing it. I’ve also simply been jazzed by language since I was tiny. I get a little high when I read poems that I love, and I feel that high when a poem of mine is doing the good work.

I wrote the above nonfiction project because I wasn’t going to get through the nightmare of my dad’s Alzheimer’s without purging it daily.

 

  • How does your writing process work?

 

I sit down, and I write. Sometimes I’ll have a line or a word I want to play around with. Sometimes not. Sometimes an idea. The other day I was thinking about transfers of energy and deep sea bioluminescent fish. I came upon a term I didn’t know: counterluminescence. It’s when certain glow-in-the-dark fish can use either sunlight or moonlight to change their glow. Anyway, that’s how my writing process works. I get interested in shit.

Revision is really the place where I pull out strands of importance, tighten language, and shape the poem. I do even more revision once the poems are in manuscript form, where I can see how they call to each other.

 

Okay, that’s it. I am working on getting more people to participate, but so far next up on the Writing Blog Tour is Jeff Hipsher, one helluva poet, whose poems’ eeriness and mood are a rare treat.