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What could we do?

Today’s prompt is to write a “reply poem.”

I’ve had this inexplicable love for Mark Doty’s poem “Tiara” for the past 5 years or so. Mark Doty was the first gay man to reject my lesbian ass, metaphorically, of course, by rejecting me from his poetry class. His rejection led me to embarking on a 7-semester journey of poetic discovery. I even wrote about him last summer.

Anyways, as I said earlier, for the past 5 years, “Tiara” has stood out to me as a powerful peace. I first heard of Mark Doty when I heard him read this poem at the Dodge Poetry Festival in 2008, and it was the first time I could connect the words “queer” and “writer” together.

So, watch this video of Mark performing “Tiara.” My poem really has hardly anything to do with his.

 

“What Could We Do”

“…what could he do,
what could any of us ever do
but ask for it?”

It is incredibly moving
to realize the power
of words left unspoken.

When words are left unsaid–
or, perhaps,
unsaid to their subject–

what power is stripped away
from both the speaker
and the current topic?

To think the subject is unaware
of the mere commonality
of being a conversation piece

is, plainly put, stupid,
but they continue to beat on
against the rhythm of their own stupidity.

When callous words are spoken–
perhaps out of fear, or misunderstanding–
the power of the words are stripped.

Inquire, desire, dive into the truth,
whether it be through a questioning
or through small talk,

and fulfill your needs
to know the truth
without being cruel,

for the cruelest of moments
happen
in the most innocent passings.

Speak your truth.
Defy the heartless.
Rise above the rest,

and stay at ease with an open heart.
What can any of us ever do
but ask for that?

I want to hug 11.5 year old me.

Last year at this time, I was student teaching. I taught a lesson on September 11th to my students, and, while I may be mistaken, I’m pretty sure I was required to.

This year, there was an announcement on the PA system commemorating the anniversary. I had to force my students to be quiet during a moment of silence. The moment passed, and nobody seemed reflective of it. They seemed pretty unaffected by it, which is normal I suppose– to them, September 11th is something that happened in history. They were too little to understand or even remember it, and that’s how it will be every year that I teach.

So, instead, I started our Culture unit in World History with a lesson on cultural groups, stereotypes, and diversity, and, as my students worked in groups, I ended up silently reflecting on my own experiences over the past 12 years.

I’m 23.5 years old. For more than half of my life, I have lived in a post-9/11 world. I’m part of a generation who is one of the last generations to remember a time where airport security wasn’t beefed up, when September 11th used to just be another day in the first or second week of school, and when the Twin Towers were part of the NYC skyline in real life, not just in “old” movies.

When September 11th happened, I was scared. I was convinced World War III would be starting, and I spent much of the months following September 11th believing unexpected warfare and death was lurking around the corner. I also said “God Bless America” a lot, even though I wasn’t a particularly religious or patriotic child. I think, like a lot of Americans, the phrase provided some sort of unity and comfort that I needed at that time.

I was a scared little girl, and I coped the best that I could– I discovered writing.

So, for the generations to come that will only view September 11th as a day in the History books, much like I grew up viewing Pearl Harbor, I share with you my diary entry from September 11th, 2001, and my follow-up entry on September 11th, 2002. There were plenty of panicked entries in between, and I tried very hard to write like a journalist– I think I was attempting to create a time capsule of some sort in case the terrorists “got us.”

I wish I could give 11.5 year old me a hug and tell her everything would be okay, just a new sort of normal, but I don’t think a hug and words of reassurance could have calmed my nerves. September 11th, 2001  was– and is– a scary, emotional, life-changing day, and my raw feelings are something that my students will never be able to understand.

So, hug a loved one tonight, and remember not only those who were lost, but the moment your life was changed or touched in some way.

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Somehow, I thought this spiral notebook would survive the end of the world. I really thought my words would be a time capsule for generations to come in a post-9/11 world.

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When you change your routine…

…shit happens.

For example, let’s say you decide to go in to an extra day of work, starting earlier than you usually do.

Because you’ve gotten a parking ticket before, you decide to take the bus.

You decide to get off at a different bus stop instead of waiting 20 minutes for the bus to reach the stop by your work. Walking it in ten minutes is quicker AND is a form of exercise…aka DOUBLE AWESOME.

You’re not used to listening to music as you walk because your ipod hasn’t worked for a while… but you have an iphone now so you can listen to Bon Jovi, full blast, while dancing your way to work and drinking coffee out of your Wawa mug. (Yes, I am a Jersey girl. Go with it.)

You spend the whole day at work, about 10 hours, because you decided to stay late.

When you finally decide to leave work you realize you don’t have your apartment key.

You tear apart your bag. You tear apart your coat. You retrace your steps in FREEZING temperatures.

And… NOTHING. You now have to pay for a new key all because you changed your routine.

Oh, and when you bitch to your biffle about everything, she tells you, once you get in to your apartment, to watch Lily Allen’s “Fuck You” and dance. You listen to her, and decide to make a music video with your stuffed unicorn Chaaaarlie because you’ve reached a breaking point and it makes sense.

 

Oh, and then you order the pizza you won with the Super Bowl promo at Papa John’s, as well as a dessert pizza with the money you saved.

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It could be worse.