For Poetry


That’s what the memo on the check said.

“For Poetry.”

Indeed.

I just got paid.

I mean.

Holy crow.

I GOT PAID.

I was not expecting the amount that I received.

I am beyond words.

I am literally, speechless.

I yelped in surprise when I opened the card.

Then I teared up.

Then I laughed.

I think.

Then I thought.

Oh fuck, I can get that scooter sooner than I thought.

I have never been paid this amount for my work.

I am, as my friend said when he dropped me off in front of my house, “a professional.”

I don’t know about that.

I don’t know if poet can ever been considered a full-fledged profession.

But writer can.

And today I was paid to write.

My first real professional gig.

My first real paycheck.

I have been published before but not compensated.

The compensation was receiving the book with my work in it (no it was not a pay to be published anthology of America’s Best Poems by 6-10 year olds either, it was and is a legitimate publication, though small press, in Paris). The compensation was being published.

That in and of itself is worth noting.

But this.

This makes my heart so full.

First there was the fact of being asked, to be considered, to have had an affect on someone, that my words have affect, means something to me, as an artist.

Validation.

I am doing what I am here to do.

Amongst other things.

I am a poet.

I am a blogger.

A nanny.

A fellow amongst fellows.

A woman.

A graduate school student.

An artist.

A paid artist.

A commissioned artist.

A woman with a $1,000 check in her wallet.

$1,000.

My god that feels crazy to write that.

Astounding.

This morning I wrote, in my affirmations, the things I always write, the first one on the list being: “I am a brilliant, prolific, highly paid, published author.”

Any one who knows how hard it is to get paid to write will appreciate what it means to be paid a thousand dollars for ten sonnets.

That’s one hundred dollars per poem.

That is something else.

I am over the moon.

I am listening to the Orb, to help hammer that home.

Also because I was listening to it when the writing was stirring in my head, that and Freud and dream analysis, and of course, Burning Man.

Playa magic.

Who knew?

I mean, come on, who could have guessed that standing in line to see Mike Garlington’s photo chapel piece I would have struck up a conversation with a complete stranger, someone who as it turns out was at his first burn, someone who is an artist, someone I felt compelled to share a little piece of myself with and recite a poem.

Just one more poem under those starry dust clouds simmering under the moon, just one little connection.

Human connection.

Art.

Love.

The crucible of that place and the magic that it draws out and gathers in then blows back out into the world, all the little ripples.

I have decided, I was pretty much decided after I got back the response that was so positive, that I would go to the ARTumnal, even if it is a school weekend.

I may need to see my work next to the photographs that he is putting together.

I need to see him in person and not just thank him, but also hug him.

And.

Also, recite the damn things to him in person.

I mean, that would appear appropriate.

Hell.

I would get up on a table and recite them to the whole damn affair if that’s what he wanted.

I am so happy.

Not just for the money.

There is that, don’t get me wrong, it feels so good to get paid for my art.

My art.

I am an artist.

That fills me with such joy to say that.

I am an artist.

I say it again.

That’s also on my list of affirmations.

But.

There is also the gratitude I have for the collaboration.

That I was asked, that someone saw something in me that would be a compliment to his own art and work, that would mean so much to another person, that my art has affect.

That it lands.

That is the gift.

Acknowledgement.

Validation.

Approval.

These things are amazing.

And the money doesn’t hurt.

I am just filled with gratitude.

I was reflecting as I thought about my evolution as a poet, as a writer, as a woman, about how I used to do open mic poetry readings and I would drink to get my courage up.

Or I would use and hold you hostage on the edge of the patio at the End Up reciting something to you, some word magic that would hold me enthralled perched on the railing, cigarette falling out of my hands, cocaine coursing through my blood and dusting my face, the sun pushing up over the edge of the building and all the dancers on the dance floor losing themselves to oblivion in the music.

Feeling oh so alive.

And ashamed.

And abashed.

Again.

My words would fly out of my mouth, directionless like pigeons hurling themselves against the sky.

Like the numerations of swallows on a summer twilight evening over the corn fields, knee high by July, and float over the milling city cosmos, hung up on the corners of the Defenestration building on 6th and Howard, the Inner City Home graffiti, the shifting, slanting love light, bursting out of my heart to push at the boundaries of the SOMA when I first danced and my love, it knew no bounds.

Because I had no boundaries.

No limits.

And I burnt myself down.

The skeleton of that love, the wrought embers, the hot coals, the trial by fire, the rendering of fat off my soul and the loosening sleeves of dawn bright on my face.

I am no longer a woman sitting on a piece of cardboard behind a car parked in an alley off of Minna Street and 6th smoking crack with a stranger who I met in the streets after a night of too much wine tasting at work.

No.

I am coined anew.

The poetry in my heart never leaving, the muse, always there, the words settling down to roost until they needed to be sprung forward into the Universe.

And then.

The practice.

The constant showing up to the page.

Here, now, always.

I almost want to frame the check.

Almost.

I will stick it in my savings account.

And maybe I will wait just a little longer.

And get a Vespa.

The abundance of the Universe is apparent.

I might as well ask for what I really want.

Which has always been a Vespa.

I’ll just make sure it’s not made in Vietnam this time.

And though it may be fueled by gas.

In my heart.

I will know that it really runs on poetry.

In other words.

Love.

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