Obliviate

obliviate

(after Gayl Jones)


the guitar speaking your name
she's twanging oblivion
she's twanging oblivion
he's going to kill his girl
I'm a girl
I am calling myself a girl
I say, “I'm a girl”
he sits in the dark
his mouth never moves
she's twanging oblivion
he says something
she's twanging oblivion
“yes, I'm a girl”
I want to know you
I know
I want to know you
I know
he picks up his phone
the guitar is speaking your name
I tell him to
turn on the light
he makes marks
he makes hollow marks
that I can't understand
he is a stranger
sometimes he is a safe stranger
sometimes he is a dangerous stranger
I know
Created with GIMP

When I read Gayl Jones’s poem Deep Song if felt moved to write my own version of it. I loved the way she played with the blues strophe, a style which is very different from anything I’ve written before. I took her poem as a template and transposed an experience of my own onto it as a poetry exercise. I quite like the result.

Old teeth smacking disdainfully

Collage art depicting a mouth full of teeth with red stripes radiating outward.
White and pink, a whole mouthful of old teeth smacking disdainfully. They covered a bright hole.

In the introduction to The Summer Book, Kathryn Davis writes of an “island’s allure—that sense it gives you of being in the presence of something that has no need of you.” As someone who has been chronically ill for more than ten year, it struck me that this is how I feel, or have been made to feel, about society. As a chronically ill person it is hard not to end up in the margins. Looking in from the sidelines you feel ignored, left out, and even vilified and disbelieved.

I’m trying to express those experiences in my found lines of poetry and in the collages. But I also want to go beyond the negative and search for resilience and hope. I hope you’ll take this journey with me.