Monday, August 16, 2010

Poem: Everyday I Write God a Letter by Way Of Maintaining Connection & Lessening Rage

One friend will not discuss politics or religion on social networking sites. I navigate both with a sense I'm fighting for something beyond me. Not so with two other topics, the value of M.F.A. programs and valuations of specific writers or lists of "best" and "worst."

After the latter two debates I often feel small and petty. More often than not I'm airing a grudge, and grudges need excorcsm not a clothesline.

A blog may be a clothesline equivalent, true. Then again (in reference to this poem, especially Part 2), a writing friend, Toby, assessed it as being about becoming a writer. The title is the thing, or a thing.

Part 1 of 2 Parts: Every Day I Write God a Letter
by Way Of Maintaining Connection & Lessening Rage

Dear God: Txs for letting me think
I was returning to the source
by going to Sarah Lawrence
for an MFA in
Now we say “my” MFA as if
it were a credit card or young child–
I charged new linens on
my Visa –or– my David
is such a good eater.
Source because I was born here in
New York
where Uncle David
wrote the Times about
what to call citizens of the new country
(“Israelians”) and
Uncle Norman’s milk route
trailed opium dens in
Why aren’t there more skinny people
with big personalities?
Again, txs for that MFA in

Part 2 of 2 Parts: Background to “Every Day I Write
God a Letter by Way Of Maintaining Connection & Lessening Rage”

Louis Simpson
is one of my favorite poets
though when I tell people
they say “Who?” and
Louis Simpson shrugs
“I told you so.”

1995My first craft class in
graduate school, the prof.
stepped away from me.
“I’m no scholar.” Later,
“I’m not paid to talk to you.”
I made her nervous though
I’m not sure I like being
close to me, myself.
Grad. school was different for her.
“It’s one of your girls!”
That her mentor’s wife,
maybe shouting up the stairway.
I’m not a one of anyone’s
girls type of girl, which
explains me taking a step
away from myself, myself.
She talked about
conscience or privilege:
something alive in hearts of
New York City’s tenured poets,
about side-stepping, no, stepping over,
the homeless after a movie
with friends. Again
she looked at me and to this day
I swear I saw guilt. I was 47.

1993-1995My reading was tailored,
me living a few blocks from
Seattle’s poetry bookstore.
Keats Rilke Dickinson
and so on were assumed and
Simpson I’d discovered
on my own in ‘85.
“Herons and Water Lilies”
in The Kenyon Review.
I spent a lot of years wondering
if I wasn’t likely to end up
a guru like Charlie.
I wasn’t writing poetry in 1985.
When I took to Bill Knott
the bookstore owners’ hearts swelled.
They’d been to Iowa.
It would be careless to list
more names but impossible to
leave off Shirley Kaufman
on her elephant or Dan Pagis
surviving in his brain.
Bill Knott sent hand-made chapbooks.
I’ve lost affection for suffering.
When the bookstore owners
heard I was going to grad. school
they pressed Jean Valentine on me.
When I’d told them I was thinking about
it they’d asked “Why?”

1996Craft in poetry but I was in fiction.
One night at a rare event
where faculty had to mix,
my dept. head looked me
damn straight in my eyes.
“What do you think about this?”
You. She walked away before
I could answer.
It’s been hard to keep this stuff in.

2007St. Vincent’s Hospital
ran a post-9/11 meditationand
acupuncture clinic, and once
I unloaded to a guy there.
“And she walked away
before I could say a word.”
“Harsh.” He was her student
at a different college.
“A lot of people have trouble
with her. She has mother issues.”

1973My mother got a little
black knob on her chin.
A dermatologist
could burn it off in a flash.
Mom was a Christian Scientist.
Twenty yrs. later
she was tricked into
an operation.
Those twenty years
cancer grew over half her face,
slow mold under bandaids.
After the operation
Mom looked like someone
took a hammer to
one cheekbone.
Things evened out over the next
ten years.
She was blackballed by
Christian Scientists
for getting the operation.
No one visited her.
No C.S. rest home would admit her.
Thank god. Imagine rooms of
sad and untreated old people.

1949-Life is impacted resentments
historic earned and useless.
To navigate, detach from fury.
Forgive. The monster will return.
Begin begin begin.

I lost poetry for quite a while.
Clever and angry, sidestepped
indifference and wrath.
Got my heart back maybe four years ago.

2008Writing fiction
finally became a form of meditation.
It’s the laptop, cafes, blocking out
noises, right?
What else can I learn that will sustain
word-flow and release me
to grow wild and natural.

Neither wild nor natural.

by Sarah Sarai
Included in The Future Is Happy, available at Amazon and Small Press Distribution.

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