When I first re-read what I had created here I thought: I can never publish this poem. I was appalled by the self-pity, the oh-woe-is-me, so full of judgement against the self I presented in this new poem. I felt sick, and sick of myself. As I said, "Not the world./My world" and somehow it felt so wrong to be so sad in a big world full of big evil and big sorrows. I want to honor this new endeavor, this new magazine created by a poet I respect. I thought hard about honesty on the page, and what it really means to reflect on something one has written, and chosen, finally, to be public with. So—read it aloud or on the page. Read it with understanding, read it with self-awareness, read it as if you know it is an angry, hurting poem, it is not a poem that feels particularly respectful of certain kinds of poetry. It is, finally, at least today, totally respectful of the writer, in the sense that she did not tell any lies writing it.
Don't write about trains. Put them in a collage.
Save all quotations about everything, and then the ones about trains.
Forget which notebook, because you are leaving behind at least seventy.
I always imagine the fire.
Now don't be so sorry, such a sorry sight.
This is how the world gets smaller. I feel it. Not the world.
My world. If you can't learn you can't do what you have to do
So maybe just stop doing what you have to do. Clear choice
today on a clear day. You are still good at walking, but not
like before. You are nothing like before.
So sick of self. The railway bridge crosses over our new street.
I've walked the tracks to beauty, but to get there you won't feel safe
but you want to walk the tracks because they are out of service,
discontinued. People with some power talk about a greenway.
I prefer the tracks wrecked and not used and not perfect not full
of manic bike riders who are so healthy and always want everyone
out of their way. I guess I hate a lot of bikers. Do you?
Anyway, the one word spelled out as you pass under the train track bridge
that sometimes you walk across even though it scares you, that word is
WHERE, which is how you feel today, and too often every day.
Deborah Keenan is the author of ten collections of poetry, and a book of writing ideas, from tiger to prayer. She teaches privately, and at The Loft, and lives by the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers.
Deborah's Book Recommendations
She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks Marlene NourBese Philip
The Terrible Stories Lucille Clifton
Both books feel available, truthful, wise, sharp in their form decisions, serious, and important.