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From turbulent spaces, on tiny notepads


I wrote all of these poems either on a noisy plane, bus or in the few moments I had time off from work in my hotel room. At times it's been a really uncomfortable experience and this class has challenged my writing in new ways. I've never written a poem on command before nor have I tried to write while traveling, but I'm very grateful for how this has made me grow and I hope my writing keeps evolving. And although the picture doesn't go with the title of this chapbook, I think it goes well with the various moods of the poems I wrote ( I also took the photo myself - in Morocco :) )

This one is an imitation poem inspired by Anis Mojgani's "The Branches are Full and These Orchards are Heavy" http://www.rattle.com/poetry/2009/04/the-branches-are-full-and-these-orchards-heavy-by-anis-mojgani/

How many mountains must we break until the earth caves in?

She barrels and quakes with each belligerent storm

While we chisel away her untamed body

And make graves of her sylvan curves

 

Deny her protests, we dig more landfills

Drilling deep into her skin to quench our thirst for oil 

 

As if there is never enough waste, we manufacture more styrofoam and plastic and tin foil 

Only to spit it back at her when our mouths are full

And if there is a single inch of unclaimed space, we make plans to build a mega-mall

We profit off of her ruination because she's amenable

 

And we leave all worship of her splendor to the superstitious

The hippies and the outcasts

We have no need to be thankful

For if the gods really gave us this earth, we were meant to conquer her

 

In the body of this world lie some simple truths that we will never hear over the sound of our drills 

But if you lean in close, you will perceive her melodies in the rustle of leaves

When you hold still, you can discern gentle light making shadow puppets on the ground 

Yeah, when you really get up close, you will inhale her salty breath watching seagulls kiss the sea

 

But we carry on spoiling, dipping our toes in freshly spilled toxic waste each day 

Paying homage to our material cravings, we enslave our own brothers and sisters in labors we could never love

And they stand there wasting away in factories, fast food chains, and superstores just to get by

 

we will never be satisfied

so long as we are addicted to fulfilling our every craving 

we will never know justice

so long as we believe in pursuing our desires at any cost

we will never find peace

in the black clouds of our consumption patterns

But she will get through to us 

And on that day every mother and child, preacher and salesman, poet and killer, scientist and saint will stand completely still

 

This next one was an assignment to write a poem while listening to a song on repeat. I chose “Waiting for a Superman” by Iron and Wine

Layla and Isaac string together indigo paper cranes
Holding their breath each time they prick their tiny hands with a needle that they were never supposed to hold in the first place
They carry on, blowing their hopes and dreams into the creases of carefully folded wings
In each crane is contained a cure for every ailing, an end to every war

Layla and Isaac wrap the growing wreath of cranes around their necks like a winter scarf
They laugh in fits as the wings tickle their throats
Prepared for take off, they raise their arms perfectly perpendicular to the floor

Isaac and Layla race around on wooden floorboards, shuffling their socks through the room
Not knowing that each prayer holds weight, the birded wreath is getting heavy
And so they unravel themselves, setting their cranes down

Then Layla has an idea that Isaac has never heard before
She begins scribbling furiously, crayon to paper, a proposal for superman
Cause he hasn't dropped them, forgot them or anything
It's a good time for superman to fly in and carry their winged entreaties through the sky
Cause it's getting heavy
and he'd know just what to do

I tried to do a persona poem here mixed with a chorus

We don’t know where we’re going

If you’ve ever been here, holding your hollow memories up like a tattered map pulled over on the side of the road

You’d hear these branches snapping beneath your swollen feet

And no amount of retracing your steps will get you back to where you started

 

Here you are

Trapped in that far away look she gets when you try to hold her hand

If you’d ever really been here, you would know

It doesn’t matter how many times she kisses you, in what way, or where

You’ll keep saying that this is not where we’re going

 

Because she still has your favorite sweatshirt, lingering with the faint scent of your broken body

And that mixed tape she meant to give you back in July

You need to tell her what it means to hold her before you fall asleep at night

Even if none of these excuses can keep her here, you have them all prepared

 

She’s setting fires off in your head

While you stand here frozen, watching her fade

This must really be where we’re going

Like boxes of love letters tucked away

You shove it all down

 

Small poems from writing exercises (30/30)

 

All that is sacred, true, and just in this world

Are not the colors, languages, myths, tastes nor creeds that divide us

But the space between our seemingly separate fingers that enjoins us

We are particles of one universe

Tongues of one fertile cheek

 

At the bottom of this universe you’ll find a perfect mirror image of everything inside you

Blue and red blood vessels rushing to their destination

Traffic jams forming rivers on the high way of your mind

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