Archive for September, 2011

Community Poetry Corner

We’re all laughing. Car full of boys, literally boys, none older than 18. I’m driving them to the carpool for the reading tonight. We’re having a blast. I know these kids. I’m as much as part of this supergroup of kids as you can be at 25. When we get there we have more than enough time to shoot the shit before we have to organize into the cars and head out. There’s precious few drivers, three tonight including me, all together the group ranges from 12-20; I get to ferry everyone to the drop off point. I chose to, I’m not doing anything else and it makes me feel alive to have a community. They call me Charon, but they pronounce it char-ON instead of KAR-on. I’ve given up on correcting them; I’m happy that they know the reference in the first place. I don’t even know what I’m getting myself into.

When we get to the café there’s enough time to order drinks and sit down. The lights dim, spotlight on the stage, and the kids start going up. The happiness and the excitement from when we were dividing into the cars is gone, but the vibrancy of these kids is undimmed. There is no list, no predefined order, they just go up when they know its their turn. They go to the mike and they unburden themselves of their pain, their troubles. The pour themselves out in word and song, rhyme and instrument, rarefied for it. So much pain… I can’t help crying after one particular poem:

And it hurt, and it hurt, and it hurt
until,
until it became math,
until it became
simple subtraction.
Pain became numbers at some point.
It became “I have lost this much.”

The crying is cathartic, helpful. Other go up, and these kids nod and sympathize. The group takes on the burdens of the individual and as a whole purges them. It is beautiful and bittersweet.

My friend comes up to me afterwards, she is the organizer. She is holding a notebook to her chest, the cardboard back covered in pen illustrations. When I ask her about it she tells me they are doodles that she was drawing while the kids performed: an abstraction of their words. The drawings are intricate, detailed, impossible to conceive she could have done them in the span of each performance. I praise her skill and pull out my phone, I’ve made notes of each of the performances, quick typed one-liners to remind me of the pain these kids bear…

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Lost

“So I’m going to be moving mid-October…”

Ouch. Wait, why does that hurt? I mean, yeah, he’s a friend who is moving away but… this is new. So new it’s almost unreal. I don’t have romantic feelings for him, and it’s not like I would die for him (realistically, there’s other people I’d die for). Man, I’m acting like a kicked puppy, or someone who got just dumped.

Yes, I’m serious when I say I don’t have feelings for him. Not even bromance. Maybe it’s the year and a half of Sundays spent in class together, the rituals done together. Just a side effect of the learning process? Is it really that weird that it would happen after graduation? Maybe that’s it, maybe the whole thing is just out of context because I’ve graduated and haven’t moved anywhere and he’s moving long after most everyone else is.

Maybe I’m just sick of losing people. For all the good that’s going to do me. I lost a friend so many years ago I’d forgotten it could still hurt fresh as though it happened yesterday. Especially when you’re driving around and a song about dying after a short life comes on. And the lovers I’ve shared flesh and heart with and how many of them are no longer around, physically or euphemistically. I realize now that losing people is something I’m familiar with, and the last time I felt this way I was a wee-child leaving the earliest friends I remember.

We’re not even that close. I’m not even sure everything he knows about me, but I know little and less about him. We just don’t talk about ourselves like that. I mean yeah, I bitch to him about my problems, but… actually I can’t think of a time he’s reciprocated; unless you count telling me about moving. Speaking of, we do talk about stuff, or more accurately I take time to ask him what he’s doing and up to and getting into his business so I can give him some advice. We do hang out and spend time together, we have our in-jokes just like anyone else, but it’s not like we go barhopping, or even out at all. We have, and we’ve been drunk together, but not having a job makes both of us want to stay at home.

Maybe we’re more alike that I give us credit for. After all, without caller ID, I don’t know how many people would really be able to tell us apart. People call us by the other’s name all the time, a slip of the tongue. Or maybe we’re just closer than I thought.

And we’ve been here, at this crossroads. He said he was moving out a while ago and that never happened, so why does this time seem different? Is it because I knew it was coming? Isn’t that supposed to make it easier instead of more real? And what do I say right now, “How could you”? Trite. “Don’t go”? Needy. “I’ll miss you”? Maybe later. I know…

“So… guess we’ll have to send you off with a party!”

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