I CAN'T TOUCH MY POEMS

(AND OTHER THINGS TOO)

CHLOE ARNOLD & Illustration by kyla kavanagh

I have learned to leave a lot be.

I have learned to leave a lot be. Actually, I have always let things be, but I don’t know where I learned it. The title of this piece is already written: I Can’t Touch My Poems and Other Things Too. The title is another thing I will leave be.

 

I have been working on my poems lately. At this time last year I read a book of poetry that electrified my creative system. I was a dead car battery just waiting for that moment, only I didn’t know it yet. The book was Uptalk by Kimmy Walters, and it’s still one of my favorite books to date. Reading Uptalk was like reading about things I might have written about if I thought that I could. Here is the important part: I mean could as in allowed, not could as in able to. It made me feel like my thoughts/feelings/words were all good enough to exist, not just in my mind but manifested in my art, without twisting them into some sort of confine other people might approve of. The poems I wrote directly after reading Uptalk are still some of my best to date because I was candid and honest for probably the first time in my life. I am usually a very closed person.

it’s dark outside

not terribly dark, scared-of-the-dark dark

there’s enough light

to reflect on the sliding glass door

 

So, I am working on my poems again. I sort them in folders. To get to them:

drive> writing/zines> poems> not shit> best ones~

 

My problem is this: I can’t touch my poems very much. I will move them or read them or fix the spelling, but I can’t allow myself to touch them. Most of my writing is self centered and frantic, like a micro-time capsule. And that is true of everything I’ve written, not just poems. The poems are the hardest though, because my language is particular to that moment too.They are part of a mindset I no longer inhabit. Sometimes when I read my own words I don’t recognize them as mine, I can’t even remember what I was thinking when they were written. I feel so distant when I try to decipher them in the way a stranger would. I can’t ever slide back into my keys like I was before. I can’t make them better because better now is so terribly different from what better would have meant then.

 

and my dog thinks her reflection is

a friend or a lover

stuck just on the other side

the tv plays some stupid show

I can’t touch my books very often. If I have read them once then I almost never will again, my experience is just as important as the words inside. I think of books in a bird’s eye view: I watch myself read them, remember where I sat, for how long. I play through them like measures of music.

 

I can’t touch my room. I’ve wanted to take down a poster for over a year, but I don’t have the heart to break it to my gentle self from two years ago that I could do that. I have accumulated more posters and keepsakes than my wall can handle. I don’t want the way my walls look to change,  it takes away from the place I carved out for myself.

i have learned to speak stupid

but i’m not sure why

maybe it’s because

saying the words wrong

feels more right than anything else i make

because getting it wrong on purpose

is better than a constant try-fail-try-fail-try-fail

 

I can’t touch The Breakfast Club for fear of being fifteen.

try hail

instead of cool night air

via a show put on by an overworked ac

try hail

and call it golf balls

bouncing of mini vans

trying to find a secret hole in

one car or one life

to slide and melt into

I can’t touch my journals. They are records I have no interest in reading.

 

I can’t touch the tv even though I do. The channels are different now and it takes me so long to even settle down for ten minutes of watching. I am always breaking the remote or the box just by existing.

 

I can’t touch the badminton birdies I’ve left on the roof because it is physically impossible.

 

I can’t touch my thoughts but I wish I could touch my brain. I wonder what it would feel like. I wish my head had hinges so I could be opened up like a cartoon.

 

I can’t touch my ego my pride my happiness my hurt my spirit my soul and I’m not sure if I believe in half of that anyway.

it’s dark outside

but i know it’s the morning

because i just do

the sky is a color between black and blue

bruising easily with a deficiency no amount of people can fix

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Have a dope day and keep rockin'.