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that i was one of them

February 2, 2012

Last night, I attended my second open mic for the week. This one was Caffé Lena’s monthly poetry reading (the first Wednesday), and it was packed: something like 22 readers and two features (Paul Pines and Stu Bartow)! I hadn’t been able to attend since I featured there in November.

It’s always a wonderful time, a supportive crowd with diverse styles – both rhyming and free verse, both seasoned veterans and new-comers. As a bonus, it felt like spring in Saratoga (as in the rest of Upstate), and there was a new seasonal Sam Adams on tap at the Irish pub just up the hill.




In my natural state, I am a sea creature. This landlocked locale is a bit too much for me to take. Land on all sides? Dear God, I’ll go mad. Sometimes the only way I can breathe is to find a horizon with two features: sky and water. I am dreaming of summer, already, and planning a couple escapes to one of my happy places: Ogunquit.

The boys love it, too. They really love it. And so I’m using a week’s vacation to take the boys to the house we’ve rented a few times before as a family of five. They’re excited to be going, but worried about their father not coming along. Their delight is tempered with sadness. I hate that it’s something they’re having to learn at 8 and 10 and 12.

They’re greeting this change (separate vacations), this part of the process, as they have all the other parts — with suspicion. Though they say sometimes they can see that I am happier or that my ex is, they’re not happier yet. And what else is there in a kid’s world? Not much.

I know my job isn’t to do whatever makes them happy, and I know my job isn’t to shield them from all difficulties. It would be far easier to tell them it could be fixed than to tell them, the only thing we can do is go through it. And we will be fine, of course. More than fine. But they don’t know that for sure.


Fortune cookie with today’s lunch:
Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley.


I call 2011 my “Year of Not Writing,” because that’s what it seems like to me. I did absolutely no revising and no submitting. I did manage a few dozen poems, I think (I haven’t counted officially), but it still felt like I “never” wrote or that most of the time I “couldn’t” write.

I’m learning now that maybe it was more likely that the rhythm of the writing and the writing sessions was changing, that the energy for the process was either less plentiful or more scattered. But my perception of it as a year of not writing holds. Despite that, something I never gave up was poetry readings and open mics. I kept at them even if I had to read older stuff or repeat myself as I did this week (reading the same pair of poems on Wednesday that I’d read on Monday). Being around writers and hearing their work made me feel like I was still “in it.”

I was partly worried that I was so frustrated with my own process that if I retreated from readings I would be able to convince myself that it was all a ruse, this business of being a poet, that it was a fleeting, foolish endeavor. And so I knew to keep putting myself in places full of creative people pursuing their work. I knew they’d keep reminding me that I was one of them.


I am going through a divorce, I announced at the microphone last night. It may have been the first time I’d strung all those words together (out loud, anyway), and I did so in front of an audience. I am going through a divorce. Over every mountain there is a path, though it may not be seen from the valley. I am a sea creature. Sky and water remind me that I was one of them. The only thing we can do is go through.  Shiver all night. Dear sons, dear poets: we’re more than fine.

  1. February 2, 2012 10:40 pm

    Note also that you write about not writing in your Blogs, that you write Blogs, on FaceBook, etc., that you write at work, even scribble in your notebook/journal — that perhaps the need you have is to write, not necessarily to write “Poems” but just to write, putting pen to page, & it is all the same thing, one good word after another. Just keep at it. Don’t worry what to call it.

    • February 2, 2012 11:01 pm

      some of that’s *possible,* but highly unlikely. 🙂

    • February 2, 2012 11:24 pm

      I’d just like to second Dan’s advice.

      • February 2, 2012 11:27 pm

        strange to have surrounded myself with brilliant people only to realize none of you know what you’re talking about. 😉


        i do know you’re right. just coming to it in carolee fashion: kicking & screaming.

  2. February 3, 2012 3:19 pm

    Maybe instead: I am climbing over a divorce.

  3. February 4, 2012 12:28 pm


    love your sea creature. and your poem.

    and all that kicking & screaming? exercise!! 🙂

  4. Margaret Bryant permalink
    February 5, 2012 8:01 pm

    Agree with Dan W. Completely. Even your jottings read more inspired than much of poetry published as such! Keep on surprising us, Carolee.

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