Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Brain, a Heart, a Home, the Nerve

A Brain, a Heart, a Home, the Nerve

Out of nowhere, we’re human,
and some need burns in us.
How do we find the fire,
and how do we know

to keep feeding it, to protect it.
Maybe we have many fires,
and only so much kindling,
so some flames flatten,

barely blackening what they used
to burn. How do we know
what we’re good at, is it
only that we are told

by others, or that our bodies obey
certain fires with movement.
There is fear around
our strongest fires,

that they will subside or wander
away, we will be forced
to refer to them as an
old flame, not ours

any longer. Or fear that the fire
in us will never match the
mountainous blaze so
surely in others.

Add to it anyway. Give it what
it wants. If it ever goes out,
so what. Find a new place
that can hold a flame.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Two Thousand And

Two Thousand And

Once upon a time, time
weighed hardly anything:
three digits set in a line,
barely a row. Assembling
the years helped to recall
how long since that prophet
emerged from people,
how long since he left.
From the beginning, years
have been love letters
to things that disappear
and remain. We better
trust time to tell us when
big stuff occurs, how else
can anything happen
if we are not here to help
future Earthlings know
what we did before they
got here. We will go
because time stays,
gets too huge to budge.
We built numbers to fit
time as it goes up and up,
as we back away from it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Audio: What Panic Wants

The title of this poem
reminds me of this movie, "What Women Want," and for some reason that really makes me laugh...that makes this poem the neurotic sequel, I guess.

While writing this poem, I was thinking about what behavior panic prompts...usually, we feel frozen by panic. I really wonder why this is--I interpret it a defense mechanism (maybe thanks to our ancestors who were scared of being eaten by saber-toothed tigers, so they held still and thus had babies who also knew to hold still in threatening circumstances....isn't that how evolution works?).

Hope you enjoy the audio of "What Panic Wants," and wishing you a calm, rejuvenating weekend!

Listen to the Mel Gibson-less audio here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hold Your Horses

Hold Your Horses

Hold your horses,
count to ten and breathe
slowly. Counting shows us
that time continues without us

but that we can see
it if we look with the right
lens, with numbers that are
given to us before we can speak.

There is so much
to know, we will never
know it all. We are angry
for the wounds in others and

the wounds we have
and make. Let us try
not to shoo our anger away,
it has a story for us to listen to.

What could we ask.
What are you hungry for,
or What pain do you know
that you fear has been forgotten.

Hold your horses.
Wrap your arms around
their bodies, talk to them
because they know your voice.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Now What

Now What

Some of us are pulled into
secondhand shops.
We wander and touch hems
of other people’s skirts
hung on a silver rack a bit
above waist level,
like a line of invisible girls
pushing anxiously
forward. In the used bookstore,
we go to the scariest
room, the room in which towers
of books threaten to
bury us if we choose the wrong
book to yank from
the pile. We look for the thing
that speaks to us, as if
it has been waiting for us, there
is something in it
we need to be told. In museums,
where the colors
of the walls and the frames around
the art point like arrows.
On the bus, a person stepping on
or deciding to leave.
In the cafe, in the cookie we buy
because it screams
at us through the display case,
on the radio station
or in personal ads or job postings,
isn’t someone seeking
what we have.
Keep watching your email inbox,
most of us keep
waiting for a message from that
sender who has
worked so hard to make contact.
There are only
so many places for the future
to hide from us.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Making Sense

Making Sense

Suppose we’d been given no senses,
or only one. Suppose we could only see.

Would we resist time, frightened to see
nothing one day and then for forever.

How attached would we be to the surface
of experience, the colors, the faces,

this life papered in shapes. Watching
the pieces go would excite us, distance

and depth made out of brightness
and also absence. The senses allow

us to structure being around the hour
and the day. Our mind is aware

of the truth: that we invented the word
forever knowing that it is a myth.

That we will not always be here, that
here will not always be here.

That humans need time, and the senses
with which to paddle through it

and navigate, and to get lost in the water’s
response as we push and kick.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Video: Your Neck of the Woods

Multimedia Friday has arrived, and with it, this video poem for "Your Neck of the Woods." I was doing quite a bit of traveling over the last couple of weeks, and thinking about places. Airports, planes, and hotels all have that locationless and disorienting feel to them. That sort of wondering/wandering quality inspired this video.

The music was fun for me...I'd been wanting to experiment with "electric guitar" (well, my lo-fi version that I cobbled together!).

Hope you enjoy the video, and that things are grand in your neck of the woods.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nearest and Dearest

Nearest and Dearest

In your internal solar system,
what beings have you selected for planets,
sent ricocheting within you.
What fiery thing do you clutch tightest
as it revolves, Mercury.

We inch the beloved close
to us, closer. Does it come from us, or
are we thrown, a yo-yo,
from it. Fondness is the attempt to dissolve
the distance of our forms,

the feet and the arm’s lengths
that prove a dual set of rules, outward
and inward. The space nearest
and dearest to your heart, notice what
you have invited to nest there.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Menu

The Menu

Here are your options. To begin with,
what will you try. What will be the first
thing you ask for, and the first thing
you put in your mouth.

What beverage will you request.
Will there be condensation on the glass
when it arrives. Do you pour it yourself.

Choose the pieces of your meal
by finding the center. What is the focal
point of your food.

What does it come with. What are
the ingredients. How is it prepared.

What would you like it without.
How will you alter the food you want.
How do you know you want it,
in spite of the changes you have requested.
How inconvenient is what you want.

In the kitchen, who will touch your food.
Whose hands graze the bread,
and whose fingers lift the parsley
from the bowl, and drop it over
your plate.

How will what you have ordered appear
in front of you. Will it match your
expectations. Will it satisfy you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Out of the Office

Out of the Office

I will be out of the office until next week,
and unable to access email until then.
If it is an emergency, you may call me
if you have my cell phone number.
If you do not have my number, you can
call one of the following, according
to your urgent situation: your boyfriend/
girlfriend/lover/spouse/significant other,
your sister, your neighborhood pub,
the electric company, your landlord
and his adult daughter, the photographer
who took your toothy fifth grade picture
while you gripped a flimsy black comb,
your former hairstylist, the wrong
number who dialed you yesterday
twice. If there is nothing significant
about what you had hoped to say to me,
but you still want to say it when I return,
go find a sheet of paper with at least
one corner clean, make a note to tell
me because, most likely, I very much
want to hear what your strange neighbor
told you while mowing the grass
with a sombrero on. Another option
is to sit on the floor, close your eyes,
and think of me very intensely.
Imagine I am sitting across from you
and we are talking. Go ahead and talk
to me. There is a slim chance I will
hear you, even while I am on the other
side of the country, often I experience
words or ideas given to me, which
could be exactly what I’m recommending
to you, dusting off your inner walkie-talkie.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Audio: Clubs (and Process Talk)

Happy Friday to you, readers--how are you today? How's summer sitting with you so far?

My classes are finished (they flew by!), and this summer I'll be focusing on freelancing (I do editing and consulting--if you need any help with writing/communications projects this summer, don't hesitate to get in touch!), tutoring, some exciting collaborative projects (muahahaha...I can't wait to share these with you later), and submitting my manuscript to many, many places.

I have some audio for you today---I experimented a little and included some comments about why I wrote this poem, and what I was thinking of in working on it. I may keep doing it this way--do you prefer audio of poems with or without shop talk? Does it interrupt the experience of listening to a poem, for you?

Have a listen here:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Electric Slide

Electric Slide

Where there is a DJ and reception hall,
there will be the Electric Slide.
It’s less embarrassing to flail around
when we do it in sync, on purpose.
To learn it, stand behind the group of girls
who run onto the dance floor
when it plays, their heels rapping against
the parquet floor like gum
being snapped. Do not listen to the words,
the voice that rolls lazily over
them. Be ready to turn. The trick to it
is to swivel on one leg while
you hitch the other up. The song is ugly,
so don’t listen too closely
to the synth blasts, the male vocals hollering,
vaguely enthusiastic, It’s Electric!
Once your body borrows the sequence
of steps, look at the dancers
around you. During his grapevine,
notice how one man claps,
and that woman over there, she spins,
the hem of her dress spreading
around her like water. This is a safe dance,
a dance of camaraderie.
You will want everyone around you
to know the steps,
and one day, you will yell out to them
what you have learned--
what they can expect, when to turn.

Monday, June 6, 2011



One gallon of gas = twenty-four miles.
Twenty-four miles = twenty to thirty minutes.
Twenty to thirty minutes = seven songs.

Twenty to thirty minutes = one load in the washer.
One load in the washer = $2.25.
$2.25 = ten quarters.

$2.25 = a ride on the bus.
A ride on the bus = thirty blocks.
Thirty blocks = fifteen chances to ask to leave.

Thirty blocks = eighty signs.
Eighty signs = the city speaking to us.
The city speaking to us = voices from offstage bodies.

The city speaking to us = time travel.
Time travel = our return to a place.
Our return to a place = the pleasure of recognition.

Our return to a place = a commemoration.
A commemoration = it happened; it’s happening now,
and if we keep trying to make it happen
maybe we can stay here forever.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Audio: Holding Back

This week’s multimedia post goes out to Angela, friend and artist, and to anyone who feels like parts of you are in different places.

Listen to "Holding Back" here.

We all toggle between cohesiveness and chaos. Where do you fall in this spectrum right now?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grand Opening

Grand Opening

The new bakery opens.
They hang a red banner
beneath the awning,
Grand Opening Today!

Two weeks later, the sign
still dangles, a half-smile
spanning the storefront.
No cars in the parking lot.

One month, two months,
a season later. The sign
screams about the grand
opening. It’s happening,

the ovens clutch matter
within themselves,
transforming it. Cakes
and bread fill the cases.

Here in this bakery
is hope, bread held
by real human hands,
boxes of yet-to-be folded

boxes stacked in the back.
Customers come in, buy
wedges of cake, brownies,
cookies shaped like flowers.

The owners look out
through the front window.
The bottom of the red sign
hovers in their field of vision.

They cannot cut it down.
They worry that the world
will not notice what they do
if they don’t point to it.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.