Grateful for James Tate

I was really upset when I read that James Tate died this week.  I saw the news while I was at work, and it made it so that the last thing I wanted to do was work. I texted my husband something like, “I just want to read his poems and think about life.”  So, that’s what I did for awhile.

A therapist of mine first introduced me to James Tate.  She said, “I think you’ll like him.”  And I did.  And I loved that therapist.  I moved away from her and now only occasionally write her emails.  But, for some reason, only when things are good.  So, it’s been awhile.  James Tate’s passing made me think of her.  And of how rare to have someone who knows you well.

The other thing I did after reading James Tate poems and thinking about life for awhile–I wrote a poem.  I haven’t been writing much lately.  Probably for the same reason that I haven’t been sending emails to my old therapist.  There just doesn’t seem to be much to say.  Much to feel excited about or grateful for.  But of course there is.  There always is.  And James Tate’s poems remind me of that.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse/181/4#!/20606038

http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/it-happens

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/179853

Missed Connection: The People Painting That Building They’re Tearing Down In Your Sketchbooks

To The People Painting That Building They’re Tearing Down In Your Sketchbooks:

I know I didn’t say, “I want to be your friend,” as I passed on my way to Trader Joe’s, and then purposely walked on the other side of the street on my way back so as to avoid walking by you again, but…I want to be your friend.  Because I want to be friends with anyone who would take the time to sit across the street from that building they’re tearing down and paint it in a sketchbook.

I said, “Are they tearing it down?”  And you guys said, “I don’t know.”  Then I walked away.

I bought ravioli if you’d like to come for dinner.  I don’t own enough chairs to accommodate you, but you don’t seem like the kind of people who would mind.

IHOP and Snail Anatomy: Please read my content

Yesterday I shared an excerpt of a web series.  It felt good.  The web series makes vague mention of a snail, so I included an image of a snail that details its anatomy in…detail.  And that felt good, too.  So much content amasses when you write.  And when you write poetry, so much poetry amasses.  Because so few people really want to see it.  Which I completely understand and respect.  Most days I would rather image search “where is a snail’s lungs and vagina?” than read even my own poetry.  Just kidding.  I always want to read my own poetry, I just don’t want to read anyone else’s.  Just kidding.  Everyone is important and should spend all of their time reading their own poetry.

Oh, I was talking about the amassment of content.  I have never used the word ‘amassment’ before because only a snail’s vagina would use that word in their BLOG POST.

So, the amassment of content.  It’s rife.  I have more content than yesterday’s HuffPo.  Well, almost.  HuffPo is a very active site.

I’m just saying that I have content the world will never see unless I post it here on this BLOG POST.

So today, here’s an excerpt of a poem I will likely never publish with HuffPo or anyone else.  I hope it brings you more joy than a snail’s vagina.  I will never again say ‘snail’s vagina’ or ‘amassment’ because they are equally offensive to the world.

It’s too soon to say where I’ll have my ashes spread, but…IHOP?

The Pacific Ocean today and
Santa Monica today and Caleb, Tim,
and IHOP today. The first time for
all of those people, places, and things,
except for IHOP. I’ve seen IHOP before.
I’ll see IHOP again. A croissant that
looks like a waffle and is filled with
various things. My husband ordered one and
I am proud of him.

The YOLO Twins: An unreleased web series

I wrote three episodes of a web series, and now I will forever have three episodes of a web series living in my cloud.

The premise is confusing. I came up with it in the middle of the night and it solves the problem of: “I don’t have any friends to make a web series with.”  The premise is I have a twin.  But she’s not a real twin.  She’s just a version of me that exists outside of time.  And we talk to each other.  Via Skype, I think.  We encourage each other.  We denigrate each other.  We don’t have any friends.  But we have each other.

I just looked up ‘denigrate’ to make sure it means what I think it means.  It does in fact mean what I think it means.

I filmed one of the episodes of the web series and I’m really happy with my acting performances in which I play these versions of myself, but I don’t think I’m going to release it.  The series needs more development.  Or, I need to make some friends.

But please enjoy this excerpt from my web series titled, “The YOLO Twins.”  It’s a really good title.  Before that title it was temporarily called, “Friends (You Can’t Call It That).”  Which is also a really good title.

The YOLO Twins: Episode Three

Maribeth In Time
it was raining, which was amazing in and of itself because it so rarely rains in southern california. and i’m walking by the sheraton, which is a hotel chain, and there’s a snail crawling on concrete. and it has its own shell on its back—a shell that it created itself. and so i took a picture and i texted it to my stepmom and i said, “i made a friend!”

Maribeth Not In Time
then what happened

Maribeth In Time
well she never texted back and that made me want to cry, but i picked up the snail, which was really difficult because it did not want to move, and i placed it gently into the dirt right under a shrub. and it seemed really happy. it started crawling immediately. and i sang it a song.

Maribeth Not In Time
i’m really glad you went outside, but this story is awful. you’re the only connection i have to a living breathing thing, and you suck.  what happened to you?

Maribeth In Time
nothing.  i was just given the impression for many years that everyone was more important than me, and so now i tell myself that i am valid. i am valid.  i am valid.  i say it just like that.

Maribeth Not In Time
you’re invalid.  you’re invalid.  you’re an invalid. you’re an invalid.

Maribeth In Time
you’re not a nice person. but you are valid.

Maribeth Not In Time
thank you.

Artist Writer Mashup: Week One Questions

Here’s some context for you, courtesy the fine people of Lamplighter:

Lamplighter’s 2015 Artist Writer Mashup is featuring the illustrations of New Jersey artist Lauren Clarke. Each participating writer is paired with an illustration. Throughout the project, writers are given a series of prompts, contemplations, and questions. Each participating writer is to compose some work of fiction, non-fiction, or poetry inspired by the illustration. Here are today’s questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What is your experience with writing?
  • How did you find Lamplighter?
  • What do you expect to accomplish while participating in the project?

My name is Maribeth Theroux.  Tomorrow’s my birthday.

I don’t want to say, “I always knew I was a writer,” but, really it’s the only thing I ever knew for sure–even when I had never written anything of my own.  Then, in high school, I wrote an extended epilogue to George Orwell’s 1984, dramatically titled, “The Love Child,” and that really clinched it.  So I moved from Massachusetts to New York City, attended college, enrolled in a poetry course, felt confident going into it that, “I am not a poet,” and have proceeded to write poetry ever since.  I also write one-act plays sometimes, including one that I performed as a one-woman show.

I found Lamplighter last year through editor-in-chief Patrick Boyle when we were both participating in the same Poetry Month project through the Found Poetry Review.  I was living in New Jersey at the time, and the project called for us to use our local paper as source material for the found poetry prompts, so it was really cool to connect.  I think we were both using the Star Ledger.  I live in California now, but my heart is very much still in New Jersey.

I don’t have a lot of expectations for what this month and this challenge will bring.  I’ve written two poems inspired by Lauren’s illustration so far, and I’m really enjoying the process.  Because I’m drawing from the artwork, I find that I’m not worrying about approaching the poetry in ways that I normally do, which is liberating.  Normally I use my own life as a jumping off point, so it’s interesting to use the artwork as the jumping off point.  To that end, I guess I just hope that I continue to write all this month so that at the end I can really get a full experience!

Artist Writer Mashup begins!

Hello, it’s me. My name is Maribeth. This is a blog post on my website. I disabled the blog for a long time but I just now enabled it because I’m participating in this really cool thing! It’s an Artist Writer Mashup! It’s facilitated by Lamplighter Magazine of New Jersey! Which is one of my all-time favorite states and one I dearly miss! I’m going to transition away from exclamation points to periods! Right…now.

Let’s start over. Hello. I am participating in Lamplighter Magazine’s Artist Writer Mashup. I will be spending the month of April writing poems (or other things) inspired by an original piece of art by artist Lauren Clarke. I have already written one poem and I plan to write more! After the project is over there will be an exhibition of Lauren’s art and a reading of the writing it inspired. I unfortunately live in California, but there are airplanes, so maybe I will attend and maybe I will see you there and Lauren Clarke there and all of the wonderful people at Lamplighter, including Patrick Boyle, there.

I’m sorry. It’s the end of a work week and I don’t know what I’m saying. So, okay. That’s the deal and in addition to the poems and other things I write and I will also be posting (here) my responses to prompts about the process.

Here is my response to the first prompt! (Here is my response to the first prompt.)
Continue reading “Artist Writer Mashup begins!”

A general announcement involving Stormtroopers

I would like to casually announce that I will be driving across the United States when I move from New Jersey to Los Angeles in a couple weeks. With my brand new husband! And our overweight cat!

WP_20140918_002

(That angle is particularly alarming, but please know that I have recently developed an eating plan for her and spoken to her veterinarian, and she is working on it. Well, I’m working on it. She’s just being angry that she can’t eat everything she wants anytime she wants.)

That was all just exposition for the main part of the announcement, though:

My nine-year-old cousin recently gave me and my brand new husband a gift of custom-painted Lego Stormtroopers. Mine are detailed in red, because that’s my favorite color. My husband’s are detailed in green, because that’s his. And we also have a blue one that is supposed to represent my cousin.

In response to this really loving gift from a child that I don’t know all that well, I plan to treat the Lego Stormtroopers like the traveling gnomes of this cross-country journey. I will take photos of them along the way, in front of exciting places–like the Grand Canyon, and the Las Vegas strip, and a perfect replica of the Parthenon in Nashville, TN.

Perhaps my cousin will not care about the journey that his Stormtroopers are on. But maybe he will. And if not, maybe you will. Since I plan to also post them here. And that’s the announcement:

Check back here for photos of Lego Stormtroopers in front of places I stop between New Jersey and California.  Here’s them in front of what I hope will be their least exciting backdrop.

I like this*

I like when you set out to write a sestina and then you get to that second stanza and the poem is like, “Nah, I ain’t a sestina.  I ain’t even a sestina.  I know you thought I was a sestina, but you dead up wrong.”  And then you get to know the poem and by the end of it you don’t even remember that you were setting out to write anything other than whatever it ended up being.

Also, I like that I just bought a copy of Things I Didn’t Know I Loved, and it was not that expensive but I still checked my bank balance because I could not be absolutely sure.  *I like that this very new practice of cataloging things I like has already resulted in the purchase of a book of poetry I did not previously own.

I like that lines of a poem made me feel better about the world today.  Made me feel better about how sad I feel about the world today.

 

I like this poem

I’d like to start cataloging what I like. I have this fear of having to list my favorite poets and poems, or books and songs, or movies and TV shows. And since I don’t often talk about what interests me, what inspires me, I often find only vague, nonspecific words or examples at my disposal when it does come up. Like, “You know, funny stuff. And sad stuff. And stuff with Tom Hanks.”

So I’m going to make a concerted effort to regularly put here what I like. Or even don’t like. But the following poem I like. More than like. It makes me feel hopeful and sad and less alone in a large, confusing existence.

Doing this on a bus. If the formatting is a mess, I swear I’ll fix it.

On Living Nazim Hikmet

I
Living is no laughing matter:
you must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example–
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation.
Living is no laughing matter:
you must take it seriously,
so much so and to such a degree
that, for example, your hands tied behind your back,
your back to the wall,
or else in a laboratory
in your white coat and safety glasses,
you can die for people–
even for people whose faces you’ve never seen,
even though you know living
is the most real, the most beautiful thing.
I mean, you must take living so seriously
that even at seventy, for example, you’ll plant olive trees–
and not for your children, either,
but because although you fear death you don’t believe it,
because living, I mean, weighs heavier.

II
Let’s say we’re seriously ill, need surgery–
which is to say we might not get up
from the white table.
Even though it’s impossible not to feel sad
about going a little too soon,
we’ll still laugh at the jokes being told,
we’ll look out the window to see if it’s raining,
or still wait anxiously
for the latest newscast. . .
Let’s say we’re at the front–
for something worth fighting for, say.
There, in the first offensive, on that very day,
we might fall on our face, dead.
We’ll know this with a curious anger,
but we’ll still worry ourselves to death
about the outcome of the war, which could last years.
Let’s say we’re in prison
and close to fifty,
and we have eighteen more years, say,
before the iron doors will open.
We’ll still live with the outside,
with its people and animals, struggle and wind–
I mean with the outside beyond the walls.
I mean, however and wherever we are,
we must live as if we will never die.

III
This earth will grow cold,
a star among stars
and one of the smallest,
a gilded mote on blue velvet–
I mean this, our great earth.
This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space . . .
You must grieve for this right now
–you have to feel this sorrow now–