Saturday, I found some poetry that I wrote 20 years or so ago. First, though, a little history.
I have been purging my house. The process started a few years ago, when I decided to participate in keeping a neater house. For the very longest time, I took no interest or responsibility in that kind of maintenance. But with some outside help, I found myself developing better habits, slowly but surely. Each week I complete certain parts of the ritual myself, and then I also have some help. This change has helped me to shed some of the depression which has so affected my life.
Back around the beginning of the year, I began a job from a list I’d had for twenty years — weeding through my clothes and removing everything I hadn’t worn for a month. I divided the job into two tasks, and while I’ve cleaned the drawers and the closet, I still have the storage closet to go. You can read about this here; this link will connect you to the beginning of the process.
I started a new project on Saturday. A box has been sitting by my bed, for years, that contained bills, correspondence, and financial paperwork from my two-month hospitalization after my bypass surgery. I’m not sure why I hadn’t worked on it before, but I started sorting and shredding this weekend, and finished with the medical stuff Saturday night.
In the bottom of the box, I had placed some of my schoolwork from seminary, 1988-1990. I found a couple of spiral-bound notebooks which contain the very last handwriting I ever used — drafts of papers I later typed, and notes from classes. In the margins of some of these were little snippets of poetry, and eventually I came to a section in the notebook with was all kinds of attempts at poems, although no copy of the one I did submit, which was returned to me by an editor with a note that said I should seek psychological counseling.
As I read and reread different attempts to write the same poem, trading words, and repeating phrases from one draft to the next, I could see what the editor was saying. These were desperate cries for help. Here are a couple of examples:
Made a desert –
A hateful, hurtful thing
Where green things grew,
The wounds and their scars,
The dead and
The sand in my bed –
Justify the oasis
I have known you for
29 years, or 29 lives,
Or 29 centuries.
What did you say
Your name was?
Really sad, awful stuff. And I have a lot more of it. I am torn between having a ritual bonfire or simply shredding it and being done. I will do one or the other — these words need a decent burial of some kind.
Now, having seen these two examples, you may understand why I am nervous about publishing anything in the genre. This blog is a safe place, though, and is likely the best chance I’ll ever have to put those times behind me. I’ll write poetry again as soon as they are gone.