When I put the frozen waffle box On the counter, our second son likes To wail, “WAAAAFFLLLLEEEE!” And hold on to your socks Because he howls with force. After the “yikes, You’re loud” passes through my brain, I remind Him we have to wait for the toaster to do Its magic. “WAAAAFFLLLLEEEE!” “Wait” isn’t the kind Of word this one-year-old likes. Me neither. You? I always think about God during waffle screams– How there God is, toasting a nice blueberry Breakfast treat, perhaps getting the ice cream Scoop from the drawer (!) for my fave frozen dairy. I’m convinced God must be holding out, And God’s just warming syrup while I pout.
Front porches have been on my mind, the hours I spent taxing the chains, bolts, and grease Of Papa and Grandma’s front swing. Flowers (Lilies, shamrocks) and boxwood sat near. Peace And quiet visited like Preacher Tom bringing Tomatoes. One day I sat alone on the glider, And Grandma opened the screen door. Wringing Out a rag and clearing a trespassing spider Web, she said, “You see, if you were in The city, you’d have a neighbor right there and there. You couldn’t do anything. You couldn’t even poot.” Her grin Played under her glasses, and she sat in the rocking chair. Front porches are the place we meet our guest And share our drinks and food, and both are blessed.
On interstate 85 just outside Gaffney, South Carolina, there’s a peach- Shaped water tower. When you ride By it’s hard not to notice, nay, reach The objective conclusion that this lofty H2O Holder looks like a yellow-orange butt. Peaches are also a fruit known to grow Well in Georgia. They’re delicious cut Into wedges or baked in a cobbler. We had peach Trees in our yard as a child, and my parents put The ripe fruit in homemade ice cream–each Spoonful heaven–chasing fireflies barefoot. I think also about the wasted fruit That fell and rotted, stones that couldn’t root.
Lately moss has been confronting me With green, quiet significance. It boldly grows In pavement cracks, on unseen bark, free To sit still and soft on a stump or rows Of stones that used to be a wall. I see These viridescent carpet patches lying Meditatively still–infinitive to be– Beautiful and enough, giggling at all my trying. These microcosm forests–I think what one Cell must look like, how infinitesimal And necessary it is, chloro-filled and sun- Avoidant, ever-leftward moving decimal. It was childhood–my love for moss began to grow Because it’s not grass. That you have to mow.
How many times did you hear, “That didn’t hurt,” “Don’t cry like a little bitch,” or “Nobody cares About your moaning.”? Enough to rub some dirt On it, get up and keep limping? There are prayers In the Bible that are mostly weeping– The kind of howling that would confine most boys To the permanent penalty box. No one’s keeping Little pussies on their team–all that noise And snot. So when that shit starts to surface, shove It hard, and crush it down like a car compactor. You won’t be able to hear the roar for love. You’ll strut and fret, a you-obsessed bad actor. The first smoldering shut-up detonated the lies That piled like concrete rubble on stifled cries.
She’s the one who told me how to write A sonnet. I got to take the class she taught, And I fully expected Mrs. Whatsit it to alight Before the blackboard and comfort all us fraught Meg Murrays with soothing words about how Writing would be the tesseract to link Us back to all that gaping space now In need of saving. She took us to the brink Of repair–cantankerous tenacious–saying things Like, “Don’t go looking for pain. Pain will find You,” and, “Fighting for peace is like fucking For virginity.” This near-octogenarian blasted my mind. Ms. L’Engle you taught me that writing is a gift For author and reader to spell a universe shift.
O brutal. Full of specious cries for clamber, Waives of brain. Usurpal–mounting travesty Above the muted pain. Ameri… Amber Waves were meant to image majesty And plenty for all us huddled masses yearning For free breath, space to grow a vine And fig tree. Oh say, can you see the burning Bombs bursting the image of the Divine Right out of our knowing? The only spark of God We strike in our neighbor is the wrath we ignite accusing Them of demonic identity. Angels’ feet trod By the river’s margins, their futile hubris losing. Please God submerge us in that crystal stream. Wash our eyes of the soul wasting dream.
I have an Epiphany for us today, and it’s Something I know from experience, so it’s firm In my understanding: I’m calling quits On the expectation that my lizard brain won’t squirm Its reactive way under every sunny rock In the personal wilderness we call us. My kid just threw a book at nap time, and “Knock Him on the head!” Was the clear preconscious Directive from my nervous system. I amble Down the stairs hearing one boy scream And the other whine. I regard the scramble Of my cerebrum, useless nipples, and ear steam. So, my Three Kings Day advice is this: Be kind and unsurprised when you surely miss.
It’s the first thing we forget to do When we sing or get stressed. For many Of us those can be the same. Too Many to count–thats the total uncanny Times my guts locked or voice cracked In front of paying people, so I know What it is to shut down the allow, backed Into a stifled corner by the foe Most formidable–unchecked brain chatter. Melting your chompers, opening your lips And letting some oxygen through: “How can that matter?” Your survivor insists, mis-naming tummy flips. Blow out and open your mouth just a smidge. Thoughts are just currents, and air is the bridge.
First thing I’d say is know your lines. Your eyes look different when you’re reading cue Cards taped beside your laptop. Other signs You’re not prepared include inserting new Text into Chekhov or actually choosing A speech from Vanya in the first place. I don’t even understand misery-musing Russian plays, and I’ve done my face- to-my-navel share of introspecting. None Of us are old enough for that. All right– Here’s the actionable counsel: when you’re done Learning your words and gotten your images tight, Open the door of your heart and say, “Come in.” The gold of you shines when there’s nothing to win.
(And it takes forever to learn because it feels like you’re not doing anything.)
(And there’re about 58 other things you need to be good at to do a monologue well, but at 18 years old, start by laying off the Chekhov.)