This just-messing-around, poetic-calisthenics poem is a tribute to the work of poet Jericho Brown: specifically, his poem Heart Condition, the first poem of his that I happened upon. Go find it. Read it. You won’t be sorry. Better yet, buy one of his books. Here I play with everything at once, like he does. And I stick closely to the form and playfulness, even the language, of Heart Condition, because I’m a new poet, I’m learning to be as trusting and as honest as him, and I just needed to hold his hand for a little while. Thank you, master poet, for awakening hearts and poets…


Jericho Brown Awakens Hearts

I don’t want to hurt a man either, but I like to hear one vacuuming.
Two people touch twice a week, before he leaves for Seattle on the ferry
And again when he comes back to the island. I don’t dare call it
Long distance, though it feels that way. I wander the beach
Alone. Completely. Alone to ponder the fall of man, ponder privilege,
Ponder my shattered family.
Content to have pain filled conversations
With myself the trees and the sea every god damn day. Every amazing
Blessed day. To solve within myself what I cannot solve out there. Alone
In our too-snug beach boots, my mother, within me, listens to my pain.
Quiet. Patient. Curious to hear what I work out for myself. My grandmother
Insists on good food and doing all the work herself. I hate to say it, but I
Am them. The bad, the good. I shed myself for mom’s Alzheimer’s disease.
None of her. I lose none of her. I gain more of her each day. Pull more of her
Up and out of me where I can see her. I wish somebody had told me
We could do that. And while I’m at it, why could no one tell me that
I’m a poet? Until my new island neighbors showed up this year, did just that.
God gives to each a body. A heart that breaks, falls apart. Women
Live in more than one body. We’re all within each other’s bodies. I wish
Somebody had told me that too. When pain mounts in my overworked body,
I hurt others. I research yoga classes, talk about writing less, exercising more.
Buy a wrist guard for the failing wrist. Keep writing. Keep talking
About doing yoga. My vocal cords are smokin’ hot right now
In excellent shape from all the talking about exercise I plan to do. One day
Soon my back pain will drag me kicking and screaming to that class. Or
My man will. What are you when you leave your man worried
About your self-inflicted pain? Who leaves their own wrists screaming? Jesus
Christ. I do not want only the weight of our ancestors for us. I want their levity
Too. Their weightlessness. Want to float in our collective sky, creating. So I
Grow wings. Become the person who asked for help and received it. That
Fabled being who asked for forgiveness: in asking receives it. Become
Ok with going on long walks while my man vacuums. With coming home sweaty
Alive. Ready. Fall into housework-strengthened arms. My name is Alone and
Strong. I come from planet Kick Ass. I am here to learn to love myself
As much as I love you. Here to change our name to Team Jinda,
Improv Troupe #35,142.