Nobody Hears Me Crying

I responded to my old friend and she wrote back, using none of the responses I imagined in the mental conversation I had with her while writing. In fact, it was a good response, one that made me glad I’d not shied away. Moving along now….

SOMETIMES THE LINE IN MY HEAD is not one I want to work with,
but there it is,
my lump of clay
and I’m not being given another until I make something of it.

Sometimes I feel
like nobody hears me crying.
There it is,
that’s the line,
and I’ve got plenty to work with
to develop that, but
like I said,
sometimes the line given
doesn’t appeal.

Does it count
if I just used it here,
or is that cheating?
Can I get a ruling on that?


1,300 Words Left Sitting

after “the night I did everything wrong
so I had none to chase.

I got off two letters to inmates,
one of them female,
a detail I always feel compelled to add.

I wrote one one day,
the other the next,

then found sitting in my scribbles folder
1,300 words written
while drinking coffee in Seneca Park 2 weeks ago.

I’d titled the draft “Fear of Exposure,”
only because I had too many documents named “Untitled.”
It started

I’m not sure where it began, whether it was . . . but at some point in my childhood, I started to associate being in the spotlight with something bad happening and I learned: Do not stand in the light. Do not draw attention to yourself. The lesson stuck.

For a writer, that’s a problem.

The words had been swirling for some time.
I kept hearing them as the intro to a talk,
but maybe it’s something I’ll end up writing about.
Or maybe it’s what I’ve been writing about all along.


The Need to Add a Positive Spin

Hitting “publish” on that last post was tough. Here’s why.

Hitting ‘publish’ on the previous post was tough because it speaks of an unhappiness and for years I couldn’t write publicly about an unhappiness, not without hastening to add a positive spin.

I could speak about an unhappiness. I could write about it, too, but only in a journal or in a private exchange with a friend. Nothing public.

And while I think a good deal of the world could benefit from a dose of reticence, for a writer, this self-muzzling can turn into a huge creative block, what with a fence running the length of one’s life, posted “No hunting allowed!” What if there’s something worthwhile over there? Because, as my friend Diana points out, the detours are often where the story lies.

But I digress.

My Mom, I discovered late in her life when I was paying more attention, shared this inability to write anything negative. Seeing it in her taught me much.

I had always thought, in that way grown children have of knowing exactly what’s wrong with their parents and how to fix it, that if only Ma, who loved to write, could offload some of the negative, she’d feel a lot better.

I’d say, ”Ma, it’s okay if you’re in pain to say ‘ouch’!” and she’d look at me like I’d been raised by wolves. Golly, I miss that look now.

She simply couldn’t do it. There was an inner prohibition.

Sobriety was elusive. For Ma, I mean. It took a lot of years for her to cobble together a good chunk of clean days, which turned to weeks, which turned to months, years, decades. When she finally started to share her story and saw others acknowledge it, she saw the power in it.

But I digress again. This post isn’t about the power of story. It’s about the inner prohibition.

Back to what I started to say, hitting “publish” on that last post was a milestone.

The need to offer a positive spin is also a creative straitjacket. What’s the big rush to offer a positive spin, a redemptive arc? Isn’t it enough to hold fast to faith there is one, even if the details are still unknown? And to walk before all the witnesses to one’s life, free from thinking your story has no value until you can tie it up in a ribbon?

Bit of a ramble there. I wanted to tell you that backstory.