Wednesday, April 29, 2009

easing into this... piece.

alright, so i was in LA earlier this month and wrote this prose poem as the response to a writing prompt given by a professor and in part served homage to some reserved and frightened girl within me. i wrote a lot in LA about childhood and dreams I remember having as a child. some of the free writes focused on these places i wish to see in the complexity of screen memory, specific moments we remember and recreate according to our emotions reflecting on them. i think i've learned a lot about the fracturing and reworking of self in recent months. i'd like to think there is this grand philosophical idea of how i see self as self and in relation to others, the "othering" that takes place in the situations of most conflict. because we've been almost programmed to fear conflict and yet conflict is how we come to resolution, to understand each other. specifcally to the context of this idea--in contrast to who you are not, i believe you learn who you are.i say all of this to say, in applying a past conversation with a professor, when someone is recounting a memory or an experience one should always be aware of the construer. in fact when someone is most angered or moved to emotion in the telling of a story or situation, one should always look to the construction and not the situation or person being talked about, you can tell an awful lot about a person through this, their usage of certain words, gestures, emotions. it says much more about the person than the people or things they are speaking of. in reference to this poem, perhaps it will help you to know that I hope it reveals more about how i construe verses what it may be that i am saying about the person/s in the poem. it is a work in progress, maybe not even a prose poem, may even change entirely, it came to me more like letting the faucet run. in this sense, treat it like fiction, like some other womans story, which i am certain it is. poetry has allowed me to experiment with self in this way and the engaging of others in this respect. a person's narative should never be disregarded or ignored if you truly are concerned with them, in fact it should create a great deal of understanding about how one exists. i assume i am speaking to a much larger discussion than this poem, but i figured i'd share it and also the wandering in my thought process pertaining to my writing...i feel like i'm rambling incessantly. so let me just share ... any way, enjoy. (fyi:the formatting was changed thru the copy and paste)



My mother kept torn photographs of her and my father behind her bed frame. When I was three years old I found them and gathered the broken village of them into my hands. She caught me one clumsy evening trying to put their pieces together, hoping to find an image that resembled a man with my face. I imagine some God kept her from whooping the skin off my backside. She simply stared at me like some fresh-born creature, some ghost of their past. I remember through the creases and wrinkles of ripped parts, her smile sprinkled across her body in his presence. It made me wonder of that man, the one she rarely spoke of, only when she cried and her lips would turn into a maroon crescent while her face spread like the night’s arms gathering me up into lullaby. Her sobs taught me womanhood too young.

When I was six years old, I sat on a subway bench next to the man whose face remains a distorted portrait of my DNA. I have spent the rest of my life searching for the joy I felt sitting next to him under flinching fluorescent light. I wanted to know the simplest things about him: his favorite color, food, smell…and I remember wondering where he worked, what type of magic he made of the world. He smiled and told me he was a construction worker, said he built things—playgrounds. I felt a tiny wiggle of pride sprout in my belly, pretending my daddy made great things. Of course by this time he was my daddy, again. Suddenly, it did not matter to me where he was, when he was gone, or why he rarely ever seemed to miss me, the way I sat by the windowsill beneath the dust of night, speaking to him through the lit eyes of some God in the sky. I was with him then-- imagining my father a glorious conductor of light furling in his hands. And the next day when he dropped me off at school I entered the halls, a sparkling gold star singing from the throat of a fragile pride--there is no dance like the dance of a daughter twirling on the thought of a father’s love, to be a princess of this kingdom. It is no wonder I became a shattering fairy tale when I later learned the language of liar, of tales and myth.

The first letter I wrote to my father while he was in prison was more like a suicide note. The words were scarred wrists and a strange freedom was born there. The small reach of light rusted in my body, grew in my eyes like a last breath. I had grown into a self-righteous teenager, and I learned of the” street medicine” my father sold, more explicitly of the several habits he couldn’t kick. There was no childhood magic beautiful enough to ignore the emptiness in his mouth. The eleven or so teeth that had fought to be there, survivors of war, resembling soldiers with horrifying stories—poor, unappreciated veterans sitting in his gums, mourning the loss of their friends. Last time we saw each other, I remember most, the smell of alcohol on the laughter of his breath, the sillyness in his drunk stumble. And it was then, that I saw him tear into the pieces--photographs my mother kept around the corner of her bedpost.


  1. That was very brave, for you to be that vulnerable in this piece

  2. i understand completely. almost too much.

  3. Anonymous6:50 AM

    i truly enjoyed reading your poem. i saw so much of myself in it...thank you for sharing

  4. whoa. that is real/talent. amazing. I wish I could write like that!

  5. this was beautiful aja.
    absolutely beautiful.