Your heart is an accordion
Looking back with gratitude at the last month, an absurd new intention, and a poem by Mahogany L. Browne.
One time I wrote a poem that started “Whether you like it or not there is science happening inside of you,” which I forgot about until recently and only came upon, thank god, because at some point in the last month—and I know exactly when it was even if, for the sake of this very long sentence, I’m being deliberately obtuse—I got it into my big stupid head that I want to, for the first time in at least ten years, make some poems more than what they are on their own, including that one I talked about way up there at the beginning of this sentence that started one thousand years ago, maybe more, which is to say, I’d like to write a book.
So maybe I will. Maybe I won’t! Maybe what I’ll do is try and along the way come upon some other gravity or obsession, or maybe I’ll lose steam entirely and end up writing nothing new ever again, or maybe the moon will fall on us tomorrow and the life we’ve lived thus far is the one we’ve got to go with wherever it is we go when the moon falls down on us at last.
It’s not for me to say what will or won’t happen. But I know what I’d like to happen next, or at least a direction of travel.
The point is: it’s been a cool month.
And by cool I mean intense and at times overwhelming, also terribly sad in small moments and some big moments too but more often—or at least more significantly!—interesting and energizing, even thrilling and, yes, lovely and serendipitous and joyous or joyful (whichever you prefer) and promising. It’s been another month on earth and it’s filled me full of my little ideas and I’m grateful for all of it.
I am grateful for the six days we spent in Mexico City with a cohort of artists and writers and beautiful weirdos from Chicago and Mexico as part of a festival hosted by MAKE called Lit and Luz, which I hope will live forever or as long as it wants.
I am grateful for the five weeks I spent in extended conversation with seven tender and talented poets, each of us with our habits and curiosities and budding new projects, as part of a daily practice workshop led heroically by Mathias Svalina (an experience, should he offer it again, that I recommend with a whole, beating heart to any writer seeking inspiration or accountability or camaraderie or just enough structure or you know, a bit of fertile ground for planting some seeds).
I am grateful for the way this little newsletter has, through a different month-long program, brought me into a small, loving writing group with some truly top-rate human beings spread across five or six time zones, whose generosity of spirit and thought I have been so moved and motivated by.
Good god I am so grateful.
For how the community Shira Erlichman has built through In Surreal Life has continued to nourish and hold me long after my last go-round with it, how many poets I’ve met and fallen in love and kept in touch with through it. How we all want to read and praise and push one another, how we share what we know and think and find and suspect others might enjoy, like a recent craft workshop called Building a Manuscript offered by Ada Limón, who as it happens is one of my top ten favorite poets for at least 15 reasons, not least of all her ability to string words together in a way that brings the whole world into focus one fleeting, exquisite moment at a time. I took notes, of course, if you’re interested. I’m always taking notes.
I am grateful.
I am grateful.
I am grateful.
For how when you decide you want more poems in your life and you say it out loud “I want more poems in my life” and you start making choices that might make it so, and miraculously, sometimes, it works.
I said two years ago I wanted more poems in my life. I’ve tried to make choices to make it so. I think it’s working.
So now I’m saying it out loud, again, because that’s the way my life has taught me I start to make it real: I would like to write a book.
Now all that’s left to do is everything.
Wish me luck.
Here’s a poem for your trouble.
This Is the Honey
by Mahogany L. Browne
There is no room on this planet for anything less than a miracle We gather here today to revel in the rebellion of a silent tongue Every day, we lean forward into the light of our brightest designs & cherish the sun Praise our hands & throats each incantation, a jubilee of a people dreaming wildly Despite the dirt beneath our feet or the wind pushing against our greatest efforts Soil creates things Art births change This is the honey & doesn’t it taste like a promise? Where your heart is an accordion & our laughter is a soundtrack Friend, dance to this good song— look how it holds our names! Each bone of our flesh-homes sings welcome O look at the Gods dancing as the rain reigns against a steely skyline Where grandparents sit on the porch & nod at the spectacle in awe of the perfection of their grandchildren’s faces Each small discovery unearthed in its own outpour Tomorrow our daughters will travel the world with each poem & our sons will design cities against the backdrops of living museums Yes! Our children will spin chalk until each equation bursts a familial tree Rooted in miraculous possibilities & alive
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