What is it about poetry as opposed to other genres?

I guess it’s the wordplay; the truly infinite number of ways that exist for using language and syntax in poetry that other genres don’t allow. Poetry by its own nature adheres to something ineffable and far more embracing than the Chicago Style Manuel. Restrictions that hinder creativity annoy me anyway. Poetry, on the other hand, is viscerally and emotionally freeing.

As a long time choreographer and teacher of improvised performance arts, I learned from the very beginning that any individual’s freely flowing and naturally occurring continuum of creative thought and action is hindered only by their own private wounds and learned or imposed behaviors. Most teaching of improvisation actually involves unlearning habitual patterns. And all writing at its inception is improvised. For me writing poetry is remedial work for the creative spirit. I love that work. The need for it, is at the core of my driving interest in writing poetry for the last 20 years.

Parachutes have risen
and structures of fashion
have shifted in the foyer.

Prestigious and versatile,
the concierge collects
luxury gifts. She drinks
the beverage before her,

sucks air too loudly to sigh.
A carnage of orchids
dries on Spanish tile. A red
pepper turns in the bowl.

You say you haven’t been sleeping much. What do you do in the middle of the night when everyone else is snoring? 

That all depends on what’s going on around me and whether or not I am really awake when I get out of bed. I once got in my car and drove down Silver Ridge Avenue. I woke up at 5am, in the parking lot of the Astro Cafe right off the 5 freeway, in my nightgown, shivering! A huge rig pulled in next to me.  I will never forget the vibration of those particular eighteen wheels. That… woke me all the way up.

More recently I woke up and painted my bathroom blue. So much of what we do in life has no end, even when it’s over, the ripples continue to pop up and surprise us. Sometimes, I just need a task that has a clear sense of completion.  When the wall is done, the wall is done.  The next morning, I realized that I had painted water base over oil. My daughter looked in the mirror and said, “Mom, I feel like I’m combing my hair in the sky!”  Then I didn’t care so much about the paint snafu.

On a more average sleepless night, I light a candle, pour a glass of water, and write.

 

I want the dark matter of night to stay all day
while embers of you comb through my hair.

I want your promise to ignite the cowardice
of sugar, blue cave of tongue.

Remember the horse of fire that rode
with us where plums fell and rivers were god?

I want the succulent sword of you to split
this kiss of hawk—already on its way.