Wednesday, February 10, 2010

TEA WITH WIVES

Some of you know that I'm married to an infantry officer, and that his job sometimes requires me to spend time with women I wouldn't typically meet on my own. I want to make it clear, right now, that I don't think badly of these women. They lead unusual lives that the general public doesn't always understand, and the majority of them are incredibly strong-willed. However, I don't typically travel onto military bases unless I have to (Tom and I always live in the city) and I can't seem to help sudden bouts of shyness when I'm forced to attend pre-deployment (or mid-deployment, or post-deployment) meetings. The military lifestyle is not mine, but it does affect Tom, so I stay involved from a polite distance.

Well, Tom's getting ready to leave for Iraq in a couple weeks. I'm less than thrilled, but I'm hoping it will be tolerable this time around, considering it's not his first trip to a combat zone, and I definitely have enough going on here with my writing and teaching to keep me busy. Anyway, the get-togethers for us "army wives" are starting up again. I'm asked to familiarize myself with the other women I will need to stay in touch with during Tom's deployment in case of emergency.

One such meeting happened last night, when a group of about ten women gathered at a local bath & body shop to mix our own bath products and scents. It really was a creative, fun idea, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to do something besides talk about our husbands and their jobs. (I made three bottles of liquid handsoap: one in peppermint, one in Eternity for Women, and one in oatmeal, milk and honey. Wonderful!)

The night did involve lots of talking about the military though, and I felt lost and confused through most of it. I realized I'm not even a fraction as familiar with what Tom does all day compared to what these women know about their husbands. I know Tom is a captain and he goes to base every day. I have a vague idea of what he's responsible for. And I know he works out a lot. Other than that? I'm pretty content to float absently in the outer space that is my own life. I write and teach and read like crazy; I tune my violins and clean the house and go jogging and edit poems. I help Tom study for various tests (do YOU know the firing range for a Bradley Fighting Vehicle??), try not to wash his flame-retardant uniforms with the Downy ball, and help him do voice-overs for our pets.

Anyway. The point is, Tom's job is Tom's job and my job is mine. I'm much more familiar with who he is outside of the military than who he is within it. And the day he has to go to a departmental meeting for English adjuncts (with full knowledge of everything I do and every person I interact with) is the day Tom starts taking some serious notes.

I went to Montague's Tea Parlour today and wrote a poem, now that I've had some time to think about how last night went. (Many thanks to the waitress who brought me a few sheets of paper.) FYI: Look into how poets approach truth and beauty (and music) simultaneously. They don't always have to match up in order to communicate the right message. Not all circumstances are exact in poems like these because I don't write to offend. It's a sub-culture, basically, the "army lifestyle," and should be viewed only with an open mind.

(poem pulled for submission purposes!)


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Thursday, February 4, 2010

I've been diving and re-surfacing over and over again (lately) in my dry spell. It seems, the more I try to write daily, the more crap I write consistently. So I'm experimenting with taking some time off. I know, it's rough, but someone's gotta do it. : ) I'm posting a poem below that's been floating through my brain for the past few days.


In other news, however, I've recently started a public readings series in downtown Colorado Springs. I found a venue that's happy to donate space (as well as help with advertising), and, if things go as planned, the Colorado Springs Writers Reading Series will showcase its premier event on a Friday evening in March! This will be really special, I think. The happy hosts are the folks at Inner Space, a very quiet, lovely open room most often used as a Yoga studio. However, it's also been used for small concerts, and it will make a perfectly intimate setting for those creative writers in the area who want to publicize their work.


The format will be much like the Arden Student Reading Series I attended in Columbus. (Obviously, I really liked the way CSU did it.) The first half of the evening will be dedicated to Open Mic, where writers will sign up to read beforehand. (Those students of mine who have expressed interest? Plan on being bombarded with my requests to participate.) Then we'll have a short break, during which I will bribe people to return with some awesome vegan delicacies, and the second half of the show will feature a designated reader--a local writer who is either in the process of publishing or already has a book out there.


This is a fantastic opportunity for the whole town to familiarize themselves with what local writers are creating... plus, this is the perfect date night. I mean, Inner Space is directly upstairs from Rico's Wine Bar and Coffee Shop; get some dessert, some coffee, wander around Poor Richards bookstore, then head upstairs for a stimulating evening of literary fabulousness. It'll give you something to talk about on your way home!


And that's about all that's been happening lately. I hope that the local writers (particularly those students at Pike's Peak Community College and the other local schools) will turn up for it. And, you know, if any of my family members in different states want to show up to cheer me on in general? I'd be up for that too.


Finally, here's one of the poems I haven't tossed from the past week. Enjoy! (Well, it's kind of strange. Enjoy, but in a weird way that makes it okay to get swallowed up by birds.)



IN THE TURKEY’S BELLY


He swallowed me whole when I told him he lacked the ferocity

of a national bird, and now I’m regretting that statement


not only because it is dark and the walls of his body smell of burnt daisy,

but also because I was quite wrong, and as I barreled down his throat


I saw he is very much a cruel animal, with strange guts, so silken

they seem to be able to take anything inside and digest it.


Already my hair has fallen out. My fingernails are gone. He is a good monster.

Worthy opponent, the turkey! I wonder, if I were to survive until November,


would I be released in the backyard by my wife, who will surely

assume the role of slaughter master for the holidays?


If she takes the animal where I’ve always taken them before,

I will most likely be freed beneath the diseased apple tree furthest from the road.


No one eats from it, the apple tree, with its blistered fruit

and bark like bread dough. I’ve told my children it’s because of the blood


that runs into the ground there, where we’ve taken the animals on holidays.

Nothing that drinks blood can be natural, I’ve said.


It’s only now, after having some time to reflect, that I see

we’ve offered the tree nothing but blood all these years, and it probably


has nothing better to do than rot itself with bad fruit.

I suppose it isn’t right to neglect the trees in one’s yard,


nor is it wise to be so brutally honest with one’s holiday dinner.

It occurs to me that I should speak out loud now that I’m repentant


and perhaps my captor will forgive me. I wish he would drink some water.

I put my face where I think his throat begins,


where I think my voice might carry toward his brain.

If I survive until November, I say, calmly, the first thing I will do is salute you


as you lie open on the ground. Worthy bird! Now, let’s move us toward

the water pail, shall we? but we do not move forward or backward.


I feel him shift his feet and sigh, the way a pregnant woman does,

the way a turkey might if he swallowed a man.


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Ugh, I wish I could figure out the formatting on this blog site. But I can't. Anyone know how to get it to stop double-spacing itself, especially when you're copying and pasting from a Word document? It also gets a kick out of ignoring my requests on font sizes. Weird.