I didn’t want to ask for man-help because I couldn’t figure out how to put the ink cartridge in my new printer. But that was just the beginning of a day of little disasters, and by disasters I mean doing nothing right, and basically feeling like a stupid fool.
Books have been known to save me from myself. I can go through a list of when the right book levitated into my sight at the right time, and I grabbed them and they have become like points of light along a smudged life line.
But poetry is much more elusive, much more intimidating and misunderstood. I fell for poetry in high school English, attracted to the writers who wrote the unexpected like Carl Sandburg’s Chicago and Edgar Allen Poe, who stroked my melancholic spirit. Obviously he made an impact because the Tell-Tale Heart is the story that my blog is named after.
Okay, back to stupid fool day. I went to Good Morning Chiang Mai café for my poetry class. You see I have met an amazing group of women though the all-women’s writers group, and Sandra is one of them. Her poems are – just damn good. So when she told us she wanted lead a poetry workshop, I soared at the chance.
Because if you look under the tag “poetry” on my website you will see that I’ve puttered with poetry before. I fear I’m not very competent. Poetry to me is a much more raw form of communication and I have been rejected by literary magazines before, so all this to say, I assume folks cringe when they read my stuff. This is okay because I try to have fun, and I don’t consider myself a poet.
At the urging of the ladies, I read my homework, my “I am” poem:
I am a pillow
and I have always
I like to be held
and cried into.
I like to wear
Talk to me
practice kissing on me
take me on holiday
and let me hold your dreams.
don’t put me in a corner.
admire me from a far
hug me close
I am a pillow
and I have always
I’ll tell you why I chose a pillow. I started keeping a diary when I was 14 years old. My first one said, ‘Crusin’ and it had a 1950s Studebaker on the front, and it was silver and pink and blue. It had a little key too so I could lock it, which I did.
I knew I was supposed to write ‘Dear Diary’ but that seemed impersonal and unnatural. So I started to think what or who would be a more suitable person-object to address?
Who comforted me? Who listened? Who was always there? Who did I go to? My pillow, of course!
A couple of years ago I was checking out the art galleries on Charoen Pratehet by the river. I remember stepping into one of the bigger shops and making my way through the gallery when I saw it – an oil or acrylic painting of a pillow on a bed. I laughed and laughed.
I’ve never had that happened before. I’ve smiled at a painting but never laughed non-stop. I asked about the artist. He’s Thai and he has done other pillow paintings which I saw that day but I don’t think the gallery is there anymore and I certainly can’t remember his name. But that is the gift of art, I think, to give.
The poetry group ladies gave me an excuse to step away from that blasted printer, so I could return to it and realize I was force feeding the ink cartridge the wrong way. (I am brilliant.) And playing with the poetry exercises and reading the different forms was just the extra oxygen that my brain needed to feel semi-functional again.
I don’t care what everyone else thinks, living abroad is not unlike living in your passport country. You need art. You need to reconsider office product purchases. You have bad days. And you certainly need a god damn pillow.