Mood: All is calm
It’s the night before Christmas, and I have a secret to tell you.
It’s a secret about poetry, about my kind of poetry, so really it’s not all that scintillating or scandalous. It’s just this: Happiness is bad for business.
What I mean is this…I write better poetry when I am miserable. My kind of thing calls for some anger, some angst, some awful atrocities, whether real or imagined. It just brings out the juice, the muse, the inspiration. My favorite poets had awful lives. They were depressed and drunk and suicidal. They were alone and lonely and had only their genius to keep them company. And they were brilliant. Their words are amazing.
(Rabbit Trail: I remember when I was getting ready to get married, I kept feeling like I was choosing to give something up. Not the “freedom” or whatever of being single, but the possibility of being a Great Poet. Something inside me kept saying that if I chose Boy, if I chose to make my life with a man who loved me and was willing to put up with all the melodrama, all the bullshit, all the darkness that I dream up–and all the darkness that I don’t–if I was choosing that kind of life, I was going to sacrifice something when it came to writing. I was going to have something besides my pen to assuage my pain. I’m not saying that if I had kept on going alone that I would have been this phenomenal genius. It just felt like a very real choice at the time. And I’m not unhappy with my decision. I do have both…my muse didn’t leave me when the ring slid down my finger. And I may write less poems per month than I used to, but I still write. They still come on their little cat feet, and that is all that matters.)
About this whole happy poem thing, though, I will confess that I have written a few of the smiley kinds of poems, but I usually keep them hidden in the drawer. I think I have one or two that actually work, that I’ll let out of the house.
It’s just that, to me, a lot of happy poetry ends up sounding like Hallmark. All schmaltzy and saccharine. And Hallmark might work for a certain type o’ people, but it doesn’t work for me and mine. When I’m happy, I don’t need poetry the way I need it when I’m not. When I’m not, it’s only the mainlining of words, the delicious drowning in ink, that keeps me sane.
So on this tranquil and bright Christmas Eve, I am incapable of writing a decent poem. At this moment, sitting in the half-lit living room beneath a pile of blankets, I am deepy, completely content.
I’ve got my wicked little laptop all glowing at me on the couch and my sleepy dog with her adorable paws smelling of Fritos. I’ve got my beautiful Boy sleeping in the other room. I’ve got a tank full of fishes all lazily floatin’ around and a tree full of white lights and ribbons. I’ve got cool socks that say “Drop Dead Gorgeous”. I’ve got a camera full of irreplaceable photos from the day just spent. I’ve got a tiny bit of sunburn from the beaches at Pt. Reyes and some leftover sand in my shoes.
I’ve got a full moon in the sky. I’ve got the N-train rolling past, full of Christmas Eve-ers with presents. I’ve got a week full of promise ahead.
I’ve got my parents on a plane on their way here to see me. I’ve got my sister coming my way, too. I’ve got my darling little C coming back from Chicago and phone messages full of glee from Miss Diddley-doo to return. (She knows who she be.)
I’ve got an Ugly Doll from S and a feathery red purse from the B’s. They both know me well enough to get a gift that ain’t on the wish list and completely delight me. That’s a rare and wonderful thing.
I’ve got dangly, spangly earrings and the ticking of a grandfather clock. I’ve got shelves full of books and a freshly-painted house. I’ve got everything I need and then just a little bit extra, on the side.
This is happiness, pure and complete. This is contentment. This is the moment. And I will relish it and wallow in it and tuck it away in my pocket so I can pull it out and stare at it when things look a bit more grim and gray.
Christmastime. I used to dread it for so long. It always seemed to be so lonely and disappointing and terribly futile. And here I am all grown-up and giddy and full of good cheer. I definitely cannot write a poem tonight.
-Lo, who, in addition to peace and tranquility, seems to be really into alliteration this evening, as well.