April is National Poetry Month, and I can’t be happier to admit that I know that. Four months ago I wouldn’t have known there was a National Poetry Month, let alone know WHEN it was.
It was my eighth birthday when I realized I loved writing. Someone, (sorry awesome family member who gave me this life changing gift but this was before I realized how important it was to document such things) gave me a tiny diary with a little lock. It was the invisible friend I always wanted. I wrote everything in my diaries (technically after age 10 I never owned “diaries” only “journals”).
I wrote short stories, poems, rants, fantasies, dreams, my darkest moments, my sexiest moments, my highest moments. That first diary started my obsession with words. I was always shy, being the true baby sister hiding behind my siblings and cousins. Only my journals kept my true personality- my true feelings – my true self.
When I started college writing became something else entirely. I decided to take this passion that felt more like my alter ego, and try to perfect it as the A personality that I am. I took several creative writing classes, but it was my poetry class that became my first memorable college experience. I was surrounded by peers who had such pride in their writing. They wrote as poets. I only wrote as a way to stay sane. I found my voice, my art, in that class. I made my first college friends, mostly pot heads who could recite Shakespeare and knew all the hottest spoken word poets of the time. They were obsessed with Def Poetry Jam and drunken writing games, and so was I.
I wrote freely. It was my best work, and my worst work. I was young; in love with a boy who only loved destruction; and I fought constantly between being a scholar and being wild. That class in community college made me fall in love with poetry in a way I never knew I could. Before that when I thought of poetry I thought Robert Frost , Pablo Neruda and Sylvia Plath. The classic artists who used rhyme and meter to sculpt their genius. I didn’t think of Nikki Giovanni, Allen Ginsberg , or Jill Scott.
I didn’t know how free poetry could be. I didn’t realize how free I could be until I stood at a mic and let my words without rhyme take over the crowd with all my emotions and all my fear present for the world to see. My father standing proudly in the center of it all with my sister- my 2 biggest fans. Hearing me use curse words as I ranted about President Bush and a war of lies.
Poetry stayed in my life through my undergraduate years. I majored in English and Sociology- thinking I’d write passionate books about different cultures, as I spent my weekends in SoHo bookshops reciting my poetry to a room of willing artists.
But that never happened. Instead the logic of my A personality took over and I needed security. I needed a 401k. I needed financial freedom. OR maybe, even more truthfully, I walked away from writing and poetry because I knew I would never be Jill Scott. The perfectionist in me said “writing won’t pay your bills, go find a career that will.” And I did. I kept my passion for culture and community but left my passion for words behind me.
Now, 13 years later and I find myself completely lost from logic and with the inability to stop writing. Stories, poetry, rants, recipes. Words are all I can see now.
So as an ode to National Poetry Month and to college Zette; who would recite poetry while standing on her dorm room bed; here is a little piece of what my poetry looks like today.
I wrote this a month after my grandmother passed (2 months after my father passed). It was the darkest time of my life and the light is only now starting to creep in. To all my lost poets out there—I hope you too find your words again
Published in my profile on Prose.
The Soulless Robot
A month ago today my world died
Only a handful of us survived
God didn’t spare us
God didn’t raise us to His kingdom
He left us in the rebel
The dust & darkness
Survival consisting only of bad music
And mental video reels that haunt us
More than they can ever offer us comfort
Masochist that I am
Only pain makes me whole
God ripped out my heart and left me
With a craving for destruction
I can no longer feel the air in my lungs
A robot of human proportions
No dog to lick my face
No Abuela to adore me
No father to rescue me
Only sad soullessness
Human robots who dream
Of a world they lost
While they were sleeping
We all understand each other
We share tears, hugs,
And fake words of encouragement
Lighting candles, wearing crosses
Loving Church with no prayers to chant,
No favors to ask and
No family to be thankful for
When they left the skies cried
And we drowned ourselves in tears
With a soulless body now I must move on
Go to work
Buy a house
Enjoy my whiskey
Rules of the soulless robot