with no help from me

August 12th, 2012

for Jena

I can’t remember when we first talked
the middle of March, end of September
before a shower, after walking the dog
third cup of coffee gone cold
beyond the particulars
of hot and cold
before and after
March or September
You must be so busy
she might have said when she called
because everyone says that
She asked questions
that weren’t the real questions
And one more thing
I answered without answering
what, I can’t remember
but she remembers
everything, that is,
with the kind of memory you don’t keep
the way the old message floats up from an empty pad
ghost words birthed by a pencil rubbing
Don’t miss this
the way the ancient turtle returns to shore
a heavy bellied resurrection
against the tides of extinction

I always invite folks to get in touch with me, and some do. Accept invitations, that is. Jena Strong is one who does. I honestly can’t remember the first time we talked. There was a second time, and maybe a third, and then two meetings, one on each coast. Whenever the need or opportunity arose. Sometimes it sounded like we were talking about writing, or ambition, marriage, money, career, or children. But we weren’t really talking about that. What passed between us—what passes in-between the words—is truth.

Jena is a poet who wrote poems nearly every day while believing she should be doing something else. Isn’t that what we do? Endure the life we think of as kinda-sorta, not yet real, a stepping stone, a holding pattern? And then one day she stopped believing she should be anything other than who she was. She just published her first collection of poems, Don’t Miss This, a memoir, with no help from me.

This poem is a tribute because she reminds me that we’re all poets. If you read, you’re a poet. If you write, you’re a poet. If you speak, listen, shout, cry, rant, sing, live or die, you’re a poet. Every moment expressing the eternal truth beyond the particulars.

As a writer, I like to give away books. But I like it more when someone buys them with no help from me,  so please don’t miss this.

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  1. Beautiful poem, lovely review, and I’d love to read more. I write poems almost every day, always believing I should be doing something else. Jena is an inspiration. Thank you, Karen.

    Comment by Maria — August 12, 2012 @ 6:46 am

  2. Love this 🙂

    Comment by tonya lococo — August 12, 2012 @ 7:02 am

  3. Beautiful image and poem!

    Comment by Deborah — August 12, 2012 @ 7:25 am

  4. “So tell me, what has become clear to you since the last time we met” Emerson

    Comment by Alan — August 12, 2012 @ 7:29 am

  5. I think I quoted that right. Forgive me if I did not…

    Comment by Alan — August 12, 2012 @ 7:31 am

  6. Feeling like I should be doing something else leads to an anxiety freeze that prevents me from doing anything. Look forward to reading Jena’s poems and have no problem purchasing it for myself. If I am chosen, I would gift the book to someone in need of a little poetry!!

    Comment by Erin Wheatley — August 12, 2012 @ 7:47 am

  7. I would love a copy–I am always looking for new poetry to know.

    Comment by Carolina — August 12, 2012 @ 7:49 am

  8. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Comment by Lorilin — August 12, 2012 @ 8:01 am

  9. how absolutely sweet of you is that! poetry is so so good for the soul, if you ask me.

    Comment by karen — August 12, 2012 @ 8:06 am

  10. […] don’t just take my word for it. Head over to Cheerio Road to see for […]

    Pingback by Beyond the Should « jena strong — August 12, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

  11. so beautiful, mae

    Comment by wendy — August 13, 2012 @ 3:01 am

  12. She’s pretty awesome! Her poetry is inspiring and opens my heart.

    Comment by Nichole — August 13, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

  13. Good news, i have it downloaded and am devouring it.

    Comment by Chris — August 13, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

  14. Maezen, this is why I think you are so amazing. The way you speak about people and the way you believe in people is .. well .. I don’t even have words for it actually. It’s sheer love.

    I’ve begun writing my book for real now. Just as you put it, I’ve stopped believing that I’m anything other than who I am. That, I did with your help 😉

    Comment by Roos — August 15, 2012 @ 2:11 am

  15. […] that same day, after talking with Maezen, I re-opened the door to an opportunity here in Amherst. Long story short, I decided to be […]

    Pingback by Hatching « bullseye, baby! — September 2, 2012 @ 8:20 am

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