Monday, June 2, 2014

A Poem for the Second Day of Hurricane Season

I have so little time to write today, so it seems a good day to post a poem.  Yesterday, I was looking for hurricane themed poems and came across this one. 

I wrote it years and years ago, probably during 1998 or 1995, very active hurricane years.  I can read the poem and remember the weather folks talking about all these aspects of hurricanes, which then made me think about metaphorical possibilities.

I hesitate to post it here, even though I think it holds up well.  It uses first person, which I have learned by experience means that many readers will assume it's autobiographical.  It is not.

I used to write in first person, regardless of the subject matter.  I thought it made the poem more immediate.  Then, when my first chapbook came out, people talked to me about my heart attack, and I realized the pitfalls of first person, since I've never had a heart attack.  What other aspects of my poems do people assume are true? 

When I write poems, I feel free to change anything I want, to adopt any persona I want--in short, I approach poetry writing in the same mindset that I do fiction writing.  But I know that people these days tend to assume that no one is making anything up and that many people think that poetry is somehow more true.

Still, I'll take that risk in posting the poem here.  And again I'll say, this poem is not autobiographical.

It was published in Journal of Florida Literature.

Hurricane Me

I wrap my warm fury tight around the white hot
eye of my anger.  As long as I keep this storm hidden,
harbored out to sea, you’re safe.
The warm ocean of your indiscretions,
your indifference, feeds me, fuels
my growth.  Those who know how to search
the skies can predict the stormy explosion
of my approach.  Feeder bands of squall
lines haunt our civilized arguments.
You see no hint of the coming storm.

To your eyes, I clothe myself in calming blues
of Prozac forgetfulness which seem to keep
me placid.  You look at me and see
a smooth, glassy-eyed surface, a Caribbean
calm, without a whitecap to break
the monotony.

Soon you will not recognize this coastline
of our marriage, our shared life.  I will howl
and shriek so loudly that you will have to pay attention
to me.  I will rip apart all the buildings of lies
we have constructed through the years.  My pain
will crash against the sand,
ripping chunks of land out of the earth, sucking
them out to sea.
You will not know the landscape left behind.

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