Saturday, June 25, 2011

Having a Coke With You *

*The original version of this blog was written on the back of a copy of 'The Waking' by Theodore Roethke.

I had never before heard of Frank O'Hara.  But.  I do have a guilty pleasure for bad, I mean truly awful, tween romances and sometimes it pays to be idealistically and naively invested in the idea that movie love can be honest and somehow translate in real-life love. That is to say (rather ashamedly) that the other day I watched "Beastly." Starring whatever young Disney pop-royalty is currently making pre-highschoolers drool, it is terrible.  Really.  The only reason I won't say "don't waste your time" is because this terrible film managed one moment of goodness (well... two if you could the use of Deathcab for Cutie's "Trasatlanticism" in the soundtrack) when it introduced me (and probably millions of pre-teens who can't possibly appreciate it's subtlety) to Frank O'Hara's 'Having a Coke With You.'

What this poem did for me- the reason I am waxing stupidly profound on it- was two-fold.  It made that leap from movie love to real-life love and it reminded me about poetry.  Could I be a little more vague?  Probably. But I will try to explain.  This poem captures the iridescence of love- the shimmering silly sweetness; the rarity of it; and the impression of revolution- literally, the world revolves around this love that you feel and the person for whom you feel it.  And what's really important is that 'Having a Coke With You' is a poem- it's the real thing written by a person who (I sincerely hope) has felt these real feelings.  It's not Hollywood, it's hope. It's hope that people can love (romantically, platonically, whatever) with depth, power, and a fullness that seldom seems possible in us human folk.

Perhaps I am too young.

Then there is the poetry part.  In my musings and movings-around, my rush to be everywhere all the time, I had forgotten this other love of mine.  I have read, enjoyed and written poetry for ages now.  It is wonderful, fine, short-form literature that has the short-form capacity to challenge tremendously what you know and want desperately to be true.  And then my love changed a bit.  It grew, developed; mutated into a beast of unfathomable consequence.  Who knew I, the Ice Queen, could FEEL?

In college (after my deeply wounded departure from organized religion) I bought a small, paperback TS Eliot reader.  It became my bible.  Eliot's 'Gerontion' made sense to me in an unusually visceral way.  Ash Wednesday blew my mind.  The power of his work is fairly universal but for me it was also ferociously personal.  A case of "right time, right place."  Derek Walcott came next, in all his post-colonial glory.  Carl Sandburg (I kid you not, 'Have Me' defined love for me.  It should be the dictionary definition); William Carlos Williams; don't even get me started on Rilke and how alarmed I was on finding myself craving his densely religious work.  I don't believe in his God, but I do believe in his words.  God, Rilke!

All of these poets crowded into my heart and my brain.  They made me THINK.  And I did them the ultimate injustice.  I forgot.  I forgot to pick up my books, their books, and love them.  I forgot to have my breath stolen.  I just forgot.

And then I was reminded... ironically enough, by 'Beastly'.  Seriously.  But you take what you are given right? I was given a Coke.

Cheers, my dears.

See that?  I'm a poet.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Salt and Beauty

I went to the beach today (Coquina Beach on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore), for the first time since Australia.  I listened to the waves, absorbed the sun, enjoyed the sensation of the sand shifting beneath me.  I could hardly concentrate on the book I need to read for work; I was too distracted by the feeling of peace.  The page goal I set for myself slowly fell away- 'I've got loads of time,' I thought, 'I may as well swim while I can.'

So I hopped in the water.  It was cool enough to be refreshing but not life-threatening cold.  Which is what I prefer- sorry New England, purple just isn't my natural lip color; it just doesn't suit me.

I waded in, slipped under a wave, and allowed myself to be overwhelmed by the feeling of connectedness inherent in ocean-play, in the way the world sounds under water.  I have done this same thing since I was a child.  There is something primitive about letting a wave crash over you.  I become part of the salty sea, it tightens its grip on me.  When salt water fills your ears you can actually hear the beating and beautiful pulse of the ocean swirling around you.  It is what perfection sounds like (fear not my non-beachy friends, the mountains are still my heart.  If I could slip beneath a mountain and listen to it as it crashed over me, I would.  But there are some logistical problems with that one- me and the mountain both being solids and all... and the fact that a mountain falling down on top of me would probably have some negative results... like death).

There are literally too many ways to describe the duality of peace and power inherent in the sea.  Lucky for me I have an entire season here to think about it.  That is, when I'm not thinking about the sign changes (clearly meant to inspire deep psycho-spiritual self-debate (flagellation?)) from the Jesus Christ University- because apparently the fun just doesn't stop there.

For you folks playing the home game:

Last week let us know that "God wants full custody, not just weekend visits."  Pat's favorite so far.

This Week: "Judgment day is near, settle out of court with Jesus."  This one took me a minute or two.  Until I realised that they didn't mean "church" when they said "court"- they literally meant Gods Almighty Court of Judgment Day Where the Big Screen of Your Life and Plentiful Sinning Plays for ALL TO SEE- or "Rapture, Inc." as I like to think of it.

Cheers, friends.
Come see me if you get the chances- milkshakes, mosquitoes, and supernatural warnings await you!