Ghazal for Poetry Workshop

I submitted my first form poem for poetry workshop tonight. It’s not a strict ghazal, it may even be derivative, but I really love what spilled onto the pages. Writing in form is so intimidating but I’m finding that I really like the challenge, and the restraints guide my writing to places I might not go to otherwise. I’ll be getting feedback for this poem next week so I may come back with revisions in a new post. As always, thanks for stopping by. I hope the words bring calm to your night like they did to mine. ❤


Ghazal, 11.12.18

Time slows down, ceases to exist,
is a drudgery, when the trees rot.

The piano keys fall loud and minor
and the soul is dark and tired – when the trees rot.

The singer’s ears go deaf
but only slightly, when the trees rot.

Our feet sink in sucking mire –
will we ever come free – when the trees rot?

Can anything grow again?
Will I remember what roses look like when the trees rot?

A house is a haunted thing,
a thing to escape – when the trees rot.

A sling can’t hold a heart in place,
hold a mind in place, when the trees rot.

Pale ghost fingers and a pale ghost face try to warm by a fire,
saying ‘please God’, when the trees rot.

Nails bitten down to splinters and blood
and ‘just wait’ when the trees rot.

I’ve realized I still remember what roses look like
and I believe they’ll grow again when the trees rot.

Sadness is a precious thing –
if you learn to give it its proper place – when the trees rot.

A mind can rest in death,
a heart in dead earth, in trees that rot.

In one part of the world, my name means Serene
Even when the trees rot.

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To Vincent

Will you
tell me just
one thing?

Did you
ever wonder
if it was normal
to feel
every stroke
of light
and dark
as it fell
on every mundane surface?

Did you know
with every pat
of yellow oil
that you had
a gift and
thus were cursed?

Did you feel
the tremor
in your heart
as you lay
the blue down
on the canvas?

And did it let
the blue out
from your veins?

A List of Ten Things I Saw or Did Over The Last Week: An Exercise and Invitation

The List

  1. Visited my aunt at the hospital, but she was asleep.
  2. Drove to the wrong hospital.
  3. Cried at work.
  4. Sincerely considered if I was about to get mugged at an out-of-town Starbucks parking lot – I didn’t.
  5. I read over fifty pages and half of them were Plato & Aristotle.
  6. Went to Target with my boyfriend to buy chocolate milk.
  7. Moved into my sister’s bedroom.
  8. Watched way too much Bachelor in Paradise.
  9. Discovered a new true crime podcast.
  10. Watched a movie about Ted Kennedy with my dad.

 


The Exercise

My creative writing professor had us do this exercise a few days ago. Writing the list was strangely cathartic? After I read it over I had this feeling of compassion and a gentle little love for my piece of humanity in this world.

After writing our list we had to take on an objective, detached perspective and write a few lines about what kind of person would write such a list. This was a lot harder than I expected. But here’s what I came up with (revised because I’m finding my in-class work sometimes lacks a bit of personality? I don’t know.):

This may be a person who seems to value family and relationship. A person who is a little on the broke side. A bit of a homebody, spending their time reading and watching trashy tv.


The Invitation

This exercise worked on so many different levels. For one, that kind of list-type journaling is very therapeutic. Two, it showed us how things (or people) can be interpreted in so many different ways if enough context is not given. (Some of our lists made us sound like terrible people! But we’re not terrible people! I mean, my classmates don’t seem like terrible people!)

If you’re still here, I want to invite you to try the exercise. Reading my list made me wonder about other people’s lists. It made me wonder about my friends’ lists. What would they put on their list? My mom – what would make her ten? And then I started wondering about strangers. The barista at Starbucks that was a little snappy today. My student the other day who took the time to make eye contact and ask me how I was doing. What would her list look like?

Because when I talk to my friends and family I tend to give the highlights – the things that I have deemed actually significant. But what about the rest of it? The little things that make up the day-to-day? Because, in the end, aren’t those the things that make up the stuff of life?

So. I want to see your list, if you’ll share it with me. Wherever you are – whether we know each other in person or not. Take out a pen and paper or open up your notes on your phone and then hit the comment button above or email me at ak.chapa@gmail.com.

And then maybe sometime later we can try the second part of the exercise. For now, let’s just take some time to slow down and give space to the little things, however insignificant, or even terrible they might feel. This is the meaty life-stuff, my friends. I want to learn to love it.

Introductions.

It’s been a while, and I’ve gotten rusty, and I feel guilty about neglecting this little space so I felt it was time for some re-introductions!

So, hello! My name is Ana. I teach English Literature at the most magical little high school in Texas (that’s a fact). It’s the best. I have always loved stories and writing and have dreamed for a long time of becoming a published author. I have an undergraduate degree in business management (which is a long story), and in just a few days I will fulfill a long-time dream as I begin my graduate career in Creative Writing! I’m nervous, of course. While I’ve been writing stories pretty much since I could write, I’ve never taken a creative writing course in my life, and up until that university acceptance letter (which doesn’t really feel like it counts, honestly), I had never gotten any formal feedback for my work. Still, words can’t describe how happy I am to be starting this journey. Six-year-old Ana is heaving a big sigh of relief. Finally, she says, We’re doing the thing.

And, of course, the thing is writing. Writing for fun, writing because it thrills my heart, writing because it helps me make sense of the world I live in. But this feels like the inciting incident in my journey to becoming a legit author. You know?

I also love school. I always have and I think I always will. I love new notebooks and well-crafted pens. I love textbooks and reading and note-taking. I love listening to professors – listening to their stories, their experienced perspectives, and their take on their content matter. I loved it as an undergrad studying business. I can’t imagine how great it will be studying literature and writing. If I could, I’d do like Buster and just go to school forever (Arrested Development reference, my apologies). But alas, ain’t nobody got the time (read: funds) for that.

I’ll be turning twenty-six in just over a week. Typically, I love birthdays. They are a sense of grace to me, always a time of reflection, starting over, and feeling very, very alive for a few weeks. I’m feeling a bit unenthusiastic about this next birthday, however, because for some reason I’ve spent the last year thinking I was already twenty-six. I feel like I missed twenty-five and now twenty-six is here for real – which, really, is not true at all. Twenty-five very much happened and it was a deep and magical and rough and wild year. It was good. “A rose by any other name…”, right? Yeah, twenty-five happened, and maybe I called it twenty-six a whole bunch of times, but it happened and I was there for it, and it was good.

I am the oldest of five daughters and my sisters to me are the most precious, most interesting, most beautiful humans to have ever walked the planet. I love my parents more than anything. My relationship with them is probably the one I’ve worked on the longest and hardest and I am terrified of the day they’re no longer here.

I have a boyfriend named Aaron who is the kindest, good-est person I’ve met in my entire life. I used to hear people say things like that and always thought it was so sweet but I think I’ve met the one who really is all the good things. He really is.

I am a romantic who has for seasons preferred to live inside the beautiful epics and dramas of her imagination rather than look reality in the face and do the work to make it beautiful. But I am learning to love both – to not neglect one or the other. I am learning to care for and nurture my mind that can dream up so many wonderful things. And I am learning to be brave and live with my eyes wide open, and to coax my little hands to do the work to make dreamt-up beauty a reality.

I am excited about this new season. After all, it really does feel, in the words of Mr. Fitzgerald, as if “life starts over again” in the fall. And I can’t wait to write it all down.

If you read this far, thank you. I really can’t say how grateful I am. Also, will you tell me a little bit about you? You can write me in the comments or to ana@awilderwhim.co.

With love,

Ana

 

Hasty Propositions (Nonduplicity)

Crack me open and look inside.

I give you permission.

But do it quick, please, before I change my mind.

Don’t say you’ll wait for me – that I can do it when I’m ready.

For who could ever break a bone, still attached,

when it well protects all the soft and tender flesh

from the shame and thrill of being known?

So crack me open and look inside.

I’ll close my eyes and you can even touch.

But do it quick, please, before I change my mind.

an artist is born.

The artist finds her voice in creating. So I will create. I don’t know what my “point-of-view” is yet. I’ve tried to blend in for a long time. Point-of-view is dangerous when you’re trying to blend in.

But no more. The artist finds her voice in creating, and so I will create.

And also, I will call myself an artist. No kind-ofs, sort-ofs, maybes. From this moment forward, in the mirror, an artist stares at me unblinking, square in the face.