for Amy King
This project takes a little planning before going through with it. Select a place from your past which no longer exists. It could be a favorite clothing store, comic book store (in my case), building-turned-parking lot, park-now-building, river-now-dried, prairie-now-mall, or such. You will need to take at least one physical item which reminds you of that place: a picture of that place now missing, a picture of yourself from that time, a comic book from the time (in my case), a sandwich, wear the clothes you purchased there, and so on. Also, you will need a book of poetry from one of your favorite poets. The one I borrowed from was Amy King's _I Want to Make You Safe_. I asked her permission before moving forward, as well as checked with her about my end result.
The project is part somatic, part immersion, part write-through. Make sure you are hydrated, as a sense of loss might come over you in your excursion.
Go sit in that place for a while with your things, including pen and paper (the immersion part of the project). Sit embedded in that atmosphere, noting whatever is happening. Allow your thoughts to wander and close your eyes. Open your eyes if the mood strikes you, looking at your artifact of that time (the somatic part of the project). Think of what is missing, the emotions around the time--happy, sad, and mixed--while doing your best to stay in that moment.
Note: If something is too overwhelming, please know you can stop and take good care of yourself instead of writing now.
While you have these image-memories, set out to the poetry book you brought and look for the poem that resonates with where you are. Read that poem. Then begin writing.
As you write, if you search for a word, search the poem for a word to use, the one that resonates with what you want to write (the write-through part of the project). Continue writing in this manner, while your soma-memories are guiding the poem and words from the poem you found create bridges.
Afterwards, move slowly and take your time returning to the now, the present. Drink more water. Be good to your heart, as you have re-covered and recovered an important part of yourself in a new way.
I used Amy's title poem from her book for my project, and it turned out to be the longest poem from my writing. There was a lot to uncover, as I went to Campus Center at 17th and Washburn to write about Comics & Fantasys. I soon thought about Twisters (a calzone restaurant) and going to both places with Brian Nightingale when we were in middle school. He took his life in the fall after our high school graduation, so the happy memories mixed with survival and loss prompted this one.
Here is the beginning of the poem:
Do I thumb through the right avalanche
that brings me circa whatever,
or turn the handle mistakenly
because of the wine I drink
at Flying Monkey, because
across the street Brian continues
playing that pinball game
while I read comic books, waiting
for one of my mothers to come
to pick me up? How can I already
be chained to each stupid day
back then, pulling apart
my mind’s clothing? With thirst,
I need water to break my dehydration
of 1984, 1991, and 2004, at least
I think those years marked
by dandelions, my rolling
across the grass. I sit in corners
here, come find me
in a ball flipped by flippers.
Those dandelion seeds fall
out of my hands’ skin, scatter
as I shout to my boys
not to touch them. How can I hide
dung, bells ringing, mission
drums, crucifixions? Carrie asks
about a place outside of this
country. Even rabbits
can’t make it across this boundary
I wear in silence, shoulders
sloped, my coat’s armor
shields out wind, rain, beast,
you, and this includes
me. What is my coin
of the realm doing
down the well? An arm
from that white rabbit
reaching up to take my
numbered memories? Days
trees get knocked down
along with abandoned buildings
to make way for new apartments,
commas, ellipses, waiting
to see death? I get up, shake
off my face, bury
costumes, drink wine, stagger
past houses, scream my policecar
siren and climb
up its vibrations. How could I
imagine never seeing you all again,
ghosts? I die
again, a drunk mummy
staggering to search for a new
tucking behind night. Romans
did this, so why can’t the USA?