Time management is something that I’ve been having trouble with as of late. School terms are very short, merely fourteen weeks, and there is always a plethora, an abundance, of books to read and notes to learn. I want to say that these last two weeks have been complete emotional vertigo. My poems were published on Lambda Literary just a few days ago, but I’m still feeling as though I’m some kind of impostor who cannot write–who only gets lucky. This all has to do with the anxiety I have towards showing my creative work in class. The possibility of someone doubting me fills me with doubt, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I feel a nervous fire running through my bones, or something more akin to electricity. My thoughts are muddled, ideas are insipid and slow. When I want to create something I only have to clear my mind enough that the associations seep in, and the poem almost writes itself. Self-hypnosis videos for stage fright have been helping with this. Regardless, it seems that no matter how hard I work, I can’t express exactly what it is that I’m trying to say, until the very last moment: the night before. I can’t do this anymore, and I haven’t yet figured out a way to work that fully takes advantage of my time.
Lately I’ve been thinking about Bill Moyer’s interview with Joseph Campbell. The interview is primarily concerned with the archetype of The Hero. Campbell says that the Hero accepts a challenge that he is big enough to face. We are all the heroes of our own stories, and I feel this idea of facing up to a challenge is very pertinent to my school situation. Choosing to go to school at Bennington has forced me to call upon Internal resources I didn’t know I had. I have had many accomplishments, yet the last stretch will require me to push even harder: whatever accomplishments I have yet to achieve won’t fall into my lap.
Two week periods of total anxiety and turmoil, then two weeks of strength and concentration. This has been a consistent cycle for me my entire time here. I’m having an upswing now, so I’m going to take advantage of everything that I can glean from it. Seasons have also been having an effect on my mood. I’m growing impatient with Winter. It had rained warm rain for a few days, but now it’s snowy and cold. We are back where we started, and I feel trapped in Earth’s outer designs.
Last thing: I found a really cool blue sweater, with a beautiful design of chickadees in a playground. I’ve been wearing it consistently as a reminder of Spring. I’m also hoping to hatch the new poem.
You stab all your impressions onto paper in illegible loops, until the words start falling off, until the pages start curling away and you’re left staring at the violence you’ve committed against your notebook. And like a medic who attends to a helpless and dying amputee, you have to sit with it, with all its torn pages deposited like lost souls into what you thought was the bottomless fount of the garbage. Guess what? It has a bottom. And all the papers are rising like stones to the top.
“Ashley, if I told you everything I had been thinking about since I stepped through the door till now, you wouldn’t believe me.”
Even as I have finished the last word in the sentence, my mind has made its one-thousandth revolution. Already it threatens to topple over. Like one of Yeats’ ever widening gyres, I can’t stop learning. I practice the same repetitions, the same exercises, without break: open the book, extract information, apply it to life, while also paying the price for wisdom, knowledge, and secrets. My muscles have atrophied like flatulating balloons. I eat less. I’ve grown weak. My vision has blurred, too.
People leave cigarettes to lay like confetti
while mists of dust motes touch,
falling from fire escapes to form aureoles
on trash strewn around.
In particular, bottles of Svedka.
They catch the moth light, as in a cistern.
And aborted hoops of gold earrings
lie like a trail of bread crumbs
on steps that go all the way down,
descending into hell.
There the alley cat’s vulva
bursts with new kittens.
Underneath the canopied bed she deposits her embroidered slippers, the ones with the frayed rose petals and the cotton nose of rabbits and mice. She is content to finally put the brush away. She will slip into the Viennese coverlet, quietly, but all the servants, the butlers and the maids, will experience a quietude that is short lived. Because their duty is to attend to every need, even the slightest sigh travels through the canal of the oreille. She is turning, always turning as she endeavors to sleep, haunting them when she makes sound the intimate communion between silk and lace. Then the sheet wraps around her waist, crawls down her thigh and extends past her feet forming the shape of a crinoline skirt. She is ready to venture out again, her lower half restless compared to anything else, with the legs always in motion, freeing one to guess at the content of her dreams. Is she bicycling? Or are they the hurried steps of Daphne? When the feverish rustlings end, she regains composure. Before the ordeal, her hair was a black, inky tentacle, but when the head turns, the lump of mass shatters into tendrils. Dew drops cling to the ceiling. A vast curtain of darkness blows in from the windows. A divine darkness, a darkness full of stillness and loveliness that would only serve to make one afraid.