I’ve reposted, I Am Not Your Syliva, once again with a few modifications that came from preparing for my reading. I wrote this poem about four or five years ago, and I feel like I can say with as much humility as possible, I think this poem kicks ass. I really like it. I like it as if someone else wrote it because most of the time I don’t feel like I wrote it. I think it stands separately from me. I don’t know if that makes any sense, yet even with it being separate from me I am fiercely prideful of the work, and I think if someone doesn’t like it then they can just go to hell. I wish I felt that way about everything I wrote.
I performed this piece and two other works at a fundraiser that I organized for myself. I am working to raise money for a Masters of Writing program. The program is almost $3,000.00 for a year. This is amazing for a Master Writing program, but it might as well be $10,000.00 for the amount of money I make on a daily basis. It is not accredited and is a certificate program so there are no government loans, but I don’t want a loan, I want to pay for it myself so I had a fundraiser. So far I have raised $1,040.00 and I will make my first payment ahead of time. But the fundraiser isn’t what I am writing about here, I am writing about what it was like to read this poem out loud for the first time to an audience. It was probably my most powerful piece and my most uncomfortable. It is the right kind of uncomfortable. I know I didn’t read it the way it was written, not how it is meant to be read, how it originally tore onto my paper. It tore onto my paper, I was pissed off.
I had three comments: One was from an acquaintance who thinks he knows me, but doesn’t know me at all, “I liked your angry one the most,” he said, “I like the dark stuff.”
He only caught the surface stuff.
Two: A stranger
“I appreciate how willing you were to show yourself up there how honest you were.”
The poem is not really me completely anymore, a lot changes in five years, in fact the poem has, but that is performance. It is difficult to separate the author/actor from the words.
Lastly: My friend’s mother who has only met me one time before, she is probably about 63. “I wanted to let you know that your first poem really resonated with me.” She stopped and looked at me for a second then said, “My first husband was a writer, that is how he made me feel, he forgot I was an artist too.”
That was the comment that struck me, she understood the poem.
It is funny in an age when it seems that people have cameras attached to their bodies, I never get any recording or footage of any work I do. I was lucky that someone brought a still camera. I am technology toy impoverished. Maybe the next time.
I hope to get a chance to read it again and I hope the next time I read it with the defiance and fierce confidence it requires and demands.
I am nothing like her,
except the blonde hair.
The men, the pain, the education
“Crazy girl, crazy is the muse,” You said.
I was supposed to be honored that you wrote me in a poem.
Your words painted me
an exquisite portrait.
A masterpiece! A museum.
Muses are like children, silent till spoken to.
“The woman sits on the edge of the poet’s bed
she is putting on her bra as he teases.”
against your guitar.
You were the poet. I am the woman.
You wrote this late,
hiking solitary mountains,
pen in hand,
whiskey in thought,
writing of our last evening together:
My warm legs wrapped about your body, my flesh pressed to your (notion of lovemaking).
Come to me,
Scribbled in pencil.
(I’m thinking about sex,
the way it drives everything. The way it controls—
everything gets complicated
once you get naked.)
Naked— nude— fuck…
We can’t do this anymore, you said
because I become too attached.
Attached? To my body?
Yes, my body that held a part of your body.
Perfect material for the next prose.
(I kept expecting something more,
some incredible release.
An inner body experience
my flesh folding in, on, and over you.) You wrote me in a poem
immortalizing my white bra,
and my bare ass
on your cotton sheets.
and this was poignant.
With each fresh letter you loved me more.
Yet, the taste you imagined to be mine
was something else rising out of the pulp,
like wet paper.
I felt a pulling, a taut thin string— no shit.
When we are rolling around tied in a knot of skin
and liquid am I the only one in the room?
Why is it that I feel like I am in this game alone?
(It is not as romantic as all that)
I told you once—
I was drawn to Tomas, Kundera’s character,
his dark eyes and face
his desire to be with every woman he met.
He wanted to know their secret,
their secret smell.
I felt so heavy.
I wanted to know what it was to be light
even if it was unbearable.
I told you this once—
Across the table with coffee and later beer.
You locked the door
trapped me inside with language and lies.
You said you were like Tomas,
It was how you identified yourself,
You were light and I was unbearable.
When we were new I wanted to peel your skin back,
slit you open, step inside and wear you—Wrong thing to say,
too afraid that I wanted to steal your soul like a succubus.
Or would I be an incubus?
And where were you, poet, when I crashed?
When I was drunk,
hallucinating, hearing voices?
Calling me a train wreck I suppose.
Writing about me in your bed,
Running an imaginary finger down my translucent spine
loving my memory?
Holding your pen tight,
Ready—for the muse?
Here I am!
I’m the one who punched the glass and walked over wet train tracks gripping a piece of two-by-four wanting to smash your face, my rage like an engine:
“I think I can,
I think I can—
make it to the other side of this mountain.
For a second I fell in love with a bi-polar boy,
he suffered from psychotic episodes.
I wanted to ride his nightmare. (Such a pretty horse to those of us watching outside the fence.)
I didn’t want to fix him I liked him broken.
Like all the sick romantics, but I knew the danger.
I let him go.
But here is the clincher in this jugular confession:
I was hoping to take a little bit of his madness
and make an excuse for my own.
I am not your Syliva, not your muse.
But, I am something like her.
I too look into mirrors and carry stones in my pocket.
Where are the tape and rope? The gas? The children?
Not this time,
I’m taking myself back,
stripping the canvas,
smearing your paint,
and leaving my hand prints.