It still has to catch up to me sometimes, the rage at how my internal imperative to be good gets thick and syrup and it’s the coating, the grease-the-gears movement yes tip your gloves into your lap and restraint. Restrain your tongue your Mary Poppins your poppet preacher’s wagging.
Write about being good, about the stink-eye I shove down into my socks, the one I coolly pocket when the tide is rising in your tone, when there’s an impulse to scream and I quell it with quills and ink. Where is the end of elliptical acquiescence? Even now, after all this time, after all this.
When I go looking for God, this is when I feel the vibration in the soles of my feet, this buzzing connection to my body: it’s in my body god is in my body. god is good orderly direction god is Self is God is self. All one, deep in the crevices I always move toward the dark, makes the bright brighter and I’m a fighter. My lips are still burning from the flames I birthed in my living room on Monday night. I find myself cooling in moist chocolate soil, worms for hairbows, respite for this cracked clay. The sun bleaches me lemon, tart and tangy, when I go looking for God. It’s in the woman brazen, hips squared, fist raised.
I find God in the Feminist.
Shae is just one letter away from Shame, heartlock hairpins, all the shavings, my life the pencil.
I speak my name into circles, its letters link like cuffs, like diamonds in the rough, sometimes on, sometimes off.
The tunic of my name fits just right. The Goldilocks Zone is a ring of planets whose conditions closely approximate what is necessary for the survival of earthlings. Scientists are watching, calculating, and this earthlink, the letters of my name, are like the periodic table of my elements: S, H, A, E.
A always speaks of achievement and my Aries uprising, making the grade, growing allegiance, strive strive strive for carrots and mercury, carry liquid metal in my veins and charge through the steel innards of my urban artistry.
H is a whisper, a table, a way to grow soft and congeal beneath the elevated visions of A; to make bed, make featherpeace with everything towering on the shoulders of my head.
SSSS: snakes. I am so fond of Jezebel, the sassy queen, the torque of the Celts, the snake of infamy because of its link to buried Goddesses. Snake as in cycles and belly-to-the-dirt gyrations, sex, slither inward and coiled.
And finally E as in Everybody does good–every one, each, earth, ear, energy. E is the mystic of the bunch, but syllable-ized in ecstasy, the gorgeous elixir of she, E, Shae away from Shame. Shade the essence with an ocean’s worth of umbrella, drink in the hurricane: this funnel can contain it. E for Even If. Effervescence. How everything really bubbles just under the surface.
My name in lights, it’s a frightwig, a scaredy-cat. Getting published means yes once and for all it’s true and real and tangible that I am a writer. Snakes curl around my wrists, my desk juts out from a cliff and I am the Hermit, left alone to write and toss rocks down into the crashing waves and the sky’s a funny lavender, a cat purrs at my ankle, wraps its raccoon tail around my calf, I wear one of those navy-and-white striped crew-neck T-shirts, like all the French artists and this is all legitimate, not a hoax.
Getting published means pouring buckets of wet cement–its heavy its matriculated gunk its depth n weight–the HULK of it plopping and slumping around the feet of my writing, rooting it: this poet’s not moving. Just TRY to blow me off the page.
Getting published means I’m head and shoulders above the rest (in my sharkier moments), means there’s plenty of space to rest once I’m done being a busy ant about proving myself. It means an in, a welcome, that my feet will wipe the same mat as Jan Clausen and Patricia Smith and all the rest of the relatively famous poets and I can pick up my glass of lemon water and raise a toast to all of my labors.
Getting published means I can stand here, another rejection letter in my flaccid hand, my head pounding, my gut burning and my eyes iron-curtained and say it matters not because I am a poet.
Home is hollow but beached and crafty, down in the mucket the bucket of crawdaddies. How is home a lilt, box of squares of Sonic drive-in, french fries and everything with bacon. Hang my hat on the county line, the one they’d cross each Sunday to buy beer, bible syncopation understepping days. Sun was harsher then: each July saw reddened shoulders, blisters if I wasn’t careful, a clay-bottomed lake that squished between my toes.
Why, when I write about home, is it always summer, never fall, never spring. Transitions gone just one solid bar of I don’t remember those times. Just the cemetery, the fresh flowers and headstones, me sitting on the mausoleum steps with cigarettes, the horror stories someone’s older cousin would tell us about rabbits nailed to cottonwood trees.
Where is home except Kansas, even now with these roots in the Puget Sound, home of the rare six-gilled shark. Even now that my skin pales beyond the white and turns on the cloud-covered axis of mist and Douglas Fir. Where Mount Rainier threatens to blow her top.
How is home carried like red dirt in my bones. How is the hand held up as a stop sign the emblem of my memory. How do the crickets keep creaking away, and here in my coastal city I can’t stop longing for the Kansas winter night, the cold certainty of the stars, my breath finally visible.
Why does my homeland feel like the chunkest blocks of real, concrete and coke bottles and bottle rockets and trailers and brown-watered fishing holes and fried chicken. Plainfaced plainspoken people, the plains, gingham, fields, green alfalfa, endless lonely highways, country music, 4-H in the high schools. Now, not then, creationism is taught in the schools and sex ed is abstinence-only. They still dissect frogs, swallow rapes, huddle around tailgates in the parking lot of football games.