“Coffee House” is the name I have given my series of online poetry readings. I will try to keep up with this every week. This piece seemed fitting for the beginning of Lent and was inspired by a particularly vivid dream.
Alright, dear readers. I hereby bare my soul. Here are a couple pieces I recorded.
Please pass them along to the people you know who love words.
Greetings, readers. I wanted to share another piece with you all, continuing with the theme of winter, along with a few paragraphs scrawled recently about loss.
I think I’ll fly to Barrow.
No one there throws anything away.
I try not to email you about this,
As nothing tangible has ever stemmed
From our occasionally thawed surface.
Do you even understand
As I think you must understand
Why I need to translate
The Arctic Ocean into poems?
Does the same quiet dance like us
Through sixty-seven continuous days of darkness.
The village of Barrow has a new name but my poem does not know that…my apologies to Utqiaġvik.
In Alaska, we are obsessed with weather. We talk about it all the time because it is endlessly interesting. There is always something to say. It is never small talk. I love that about us.
By August, even those of us with a great fondness for sun begin to weary and long for the deep reflection of January. Snow falls with silent abandon. And you have done that. You have become snow, the silent, absorbent purity which traipses and intrudes over everything. Every surface exposed to the fresh cold has lost its identity in this blanket; you can only be moved by an active effort. And then, I have to bring you inside, I gather you in my buckets and warm you by the fire and drink you and bathe in you and wash with you.
Your face intrudes like snow, upon everything. I can’t go anywhere until I patiently push you out of the way. I shuffle to my car (which is life, you see) and the wipers are sealed to the glass and the mirrors are covered, because there you are. Back into the cold you take me, and I lightly drag my brush over everywhere, watching you fall away and reveal the color again (vehicle, life…try to keep up with me).
I miss you. I miss you so much. It is easy to say this from January. The winter has no end. The cold you are is harsh, there is snow all around. Some days, I sail so easily in the dank grey, feeling pleased with myself for continuing on with life in a meaningful way. Then a thought starts to override it all and I’m utterly consumed with the thoughts of you. They hide in the form of physical tension, tight shoulders, a constricted chest. I begin to swell with anger and pain and it’s not clear to me at first until I open my inner eye and realize you are right there.
A figment of my imagination, a little brain piece that won’t shut down…though I need for it to atrophy…become small and useless, even countermanding. I’m still choosing to buy into this idea that the brain has physical cells which each hold something. It gives me hope that the cell or two containing your memory can be spliced away with a laser or enough intention. But if the brain is actually holographic, I am doomed.
A soup fog yesterday, leaving behind an appearance of candy on the trees. Chunky wraps which appear solid but easily shake away with a jutting finger. Or maybe they appear like corral, as though we are encountering an ancient reef and yet we give a shake and the entire edifice crumbles, its existence as fleeting as petals on a rose. And you want to take a picture to share this beauty with anyone, but a picture cannot capture its delicacy, and anyone who’s not from here will ever understand why this moment matters. There are a thousand brief moments in winter which cry out for capture but doing so is impossible, it simply must be savored in the moment and then let go. You see, there’s a metaphor here for everything. You are winter. I am the trees.
In another rotation around the sun, I suspect I will be well over you. At New Years, I opted to hibernate. I wished them well, I blessed them on their way. They can celebrate freely, I will never drag them down into my cave. I am the mama bear in every way right now, I want sleep, I want quiet, I want the dark. I want growth but will have to waste away for a while, and then wake up renewed and anxiously looking around in the very space that I am for food. I will feast on what is freely given, I will forage among the growth and the life around me, rather than sniffing among the dead.
There is nothing in the past for me. You have chosen to rot like the carcasses of salmon, and I can’t eat that, apparently. The wisdom of my foremothers grabs my chin with her pervasive hand, slaps me on the face, blinds me to the past. Let it go, let it go, she whispers in her wisdom. I beg her to let me sleep in my cave with these thoughts. She gives me a few moments and then tosses me back out into the daily hunt for peace.
© 2017 Mindy Goorchenko All rights reserved
Greetings from Alaska. Winter endlessly fascinates me…she is my muse. I am excited to announce that my first collection of poetry, The Latent Talent of Conception, will be published later this year, so keep visiting this blog for updates. Enjoy.
The Selfish Act of Winter
No matter how it falls,
Snow can never fall hard,
And that is the posture
I now adopt,
The occasional pine
Dusted with snow.
Hester’s wedding dress,
Exposing all her secrets.
I beg in three seasons now.
Spring finds me pleased with color.
Summer wilts me with my own heat.
Autumn begs to differ until
Blessed winter comes again.
I can quit roving the grass—
The hair of the earth
As Whitman said.
I make of you dirt,
Baked fields of warm sod,
While you assert
That you are ash,
Charred remnants of holiness.
How can I argue with that?
As different as fall and spring,
Pointing in some
And which is worse?
That you always sound
Or that I’m still
This stalled facet
Of my inner life,
A brave faction
In the face of all
As unlikely as the spring.
© 2016-2017 Mindy Goorchenko All Rights Reserved
That title may be unceremonious but, in general, I continue to be largely bored by my fiction-writing attempts, and I’ve gained a few insights along the way.
- Back story is not the same as a good story. As I write on a daily basis for at least an hour each morning, I’m realizing that most of what makes it to the page is back story about the characters, not the actions in which they are engaged. Thus, my sense of boredom is very real…because they are not doing anything. I am getting to know them better and that is entertaining, but as far as compiling a story with these people, not much has actually happened yet.
- A literary style is probably more my thing. One of my pieces from earlier this month is largely a string of consciousness with key events mentioned along the way, giving it structure. Poetry’s my girl. Can I just write poems in story form?
- A process has emerged that works for me. I think. Mostly, my first drafts are proving to be boring beyond boring. Going over them a second and then a third time, rewriting paragraphs and making the language more interesting, accurate, and descriptive along the way seems to be working for me. However, this only addresses the writing style, not the actual plotting of events. Any tips on plotting would be appreciated. I keep waiting for the characters to come alive in my mind and start doing things. I will give myself over to you and let you write yourselves into life, but for the love of all things, don’t make me do it for you.
- I need to read more. My life has revolved around textbooks for years. It’s no wonder my imagination is shit right now. A synthesis of interests and artistry will be good to have, eventually. Reading Toni Morrison these days is watering my brain in all the right ways.
So, one month in, there has been improvement, insight, and all that exciting personal growth stuff. (yikes!)
It has been one month today since undertaking the goal to complete 52 short stories in 52 weeks. I am nowhere near meeting it but I do feel encouraged by what has happened in the past 29 days.
- 3 & 1/2 rough drafts of stories on their way to completion
- 2 drafts of poetry
- 1 submission of poetry to HOOT literary magazine
- 1 sketch (a portrait)
- 1 plan to self-publish my first manuscript of poetry, The Latent Talent of Conception
- Participation for the first time in a “write-in,” six of us scrawling/typing a total of 8,114 words in each other’s company
- Only one half of one book read: Sula by Toni Morrison
- Subscription to Duotrope for manuscript submissions and tracking
- Subscriptions to Glimmer Train and Alaska Quarterly Review
- So many cups of coffee and Americanos. Black.
I continue to find fiction more challenging than enjoyable to write. However, a process is unfolding and it’s getting easier and even fun!
Last night, during four separate sprints in which we wrote continuously in chunks of 20 minutes, I hashed out about 400 words at a time and then returned to add layer upon layer of detail and interest until I could read it without dying of boredom.
As evidenced by my list above, I have a problem finishing stories. On a side note, I write boring plots and characters; I have little imagination.
However…it does seem to be getting a teeny bit easier and the writing has improved.