A poem about playing house

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abandoned Overlook Hotel near Woodstock, NY

Playing house

When it doesn’t go as planned, I curl up in the empty
tea cup and sleep. When I wake, restless,
I tip the tiny ship into the sea and turn my fate over
to a god who’s mostly absent, sail with whatever holy trinity
I can manage. Today: fox, octopus and curiosity,
a Mars rover. It is no longer possible to rely on this world.
I dream so much about rabbits and hounds, every night is a blur
of chasing and being chased. We travel entire continents
looking for love and return home to sniff out what’s right
in the backyard. There’s a kind of comfort in being a body
on a mattress, wrapped so tightly by eight limbs
the only way to see coupling is as creation
of a large knot in the belly of a hotel bed. Every time
we slay loneliness we’re left sweaty and breathless.
In the scene they’ll paint depicting the moment we believe,
falsely, is our triumph, a sea creature stretches
its tentacles across the decks, reaches up for the masts,
drags the vessel down to its den, as dark as
the farthest depths of space, as hard to reach into
as the cage surrounding the human heart.
It’s impossible to breathe. Only the fox is free
to roam the field. The wind passes over the corn stalks,
and a little girl unpacks her tea set for the next set of guests.

* * *

This is the first poem I’ve posted in a while, but I don’t think it will be the last. As I mentioned in a recent post, Collin Kelley has decided to start posting poems again on his blog. He’s publishing them as part of what he’s calling “New Poetry Project” and has committed to posting a total of eight poems by the end of the year. I’ve been inspired, as a result, to get back to doing the same thing. I’ve labeled the few poems that still survive here with the category “Bad girls publish new poems on their blogs,” and I’ll post new poems with that same label. (They don’t have to be good. They just have to be fresh. LOL.)

The point is to buck the gated system a bit and share some of the work publicly just for the joy in it. (Kudos to the many poets I know — Dave Bonta, Dale Favier, Hannah Stephenson and others — who’ve been doing this consistently for years.) Like Collin, I’ll continue to write other poems that I keep off line with an eye toward “official” publication via that very same system. I think that’s going to create great energy for me while also providing balance.

* * *

The photo in the post is from the remains of the Overlook Hotel near Woodstock, NY. I hiked up to it recently, and although this poem wasn’t inspired by it necessarily, the location has seems to be providing the bones for a new poetry manuscript.


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