Updates and a new(ish) poem: How the Game is Played

Okay, guys, it’s time for another Happy Happy Update post. I know I’ve been a terrible blogger recently, throwing up things mostly at random and not at any sort of regular clip, and once again, I am grossly behind on my blog-reading, too.  I think we’ve all realized at this point that the latter can’t be helped; no matter how much I try to become a person who keeps up-to-date, I’m a chronic binger. I ignore a thing for ages, and then absorb massive amounts of that thing all at once, so given my almost complete absence, a blog binge is probably pending. So is the recording and sharing of a song I wrote thanks to binging on science articles. And, another song that I’m still ironing out. And, ANOTHER song, that came out of a poem I wrote as a teenager. I’ve got a few photos, too, though not as many as this time last year, since we have had a very wet, humid summer, and for reasons I don’t quite understand, I’m just not handling the heat well this summer, which has reduced photo ops. Penny pinching has also reduced how many concerts I’ve gone to this summer, so I haven’t really had as much of that to post about, either.

I’d like to say, “I have a whole bunch of stuff ready to share with you right this very second!” But, I don’t. I’m diligently at work, though. The third poetry chapbook is just about ready to proof, so will likely be out in about a week or so. The second is already out, and I was negligent and don’t think I posted about it when I released it. (It’s available on Amazon.)

I did my due diligence and made a few purchases on bandcamp last night, when they were doing their Transgender Law Center benefit. I know I’m probably breaking some rule of blogging that will attract an army of trolls for saying so, but whatever, I delete offensive comments anyway, because I just can’t be bothered with that sort of petty shit. Besides, bandcamp is awesome, and I’m of the opinion that once you believe that every human being deserves basic human rights, and once you acknowledge that some groups of people are at higher risk than others of having those rights taken away, then, frankly, buying your independent music on a Friday instead of a Thursday to see that some of that money goes to the cause of protecting those higher risk people is kind of a no-brainer . (In the interest of full disclosure, I am not trans. I’m not even non-binary. I just think it’s as good a cause as any, given the current state of things.) That’s my soapbox on the matter. Back to the usual music/art/poetry rambling.

Today, I’m going to start work on the 4th chapbook. This is a really wild process, in a way, because so many of the pieces that I’m including are really old, or sat on my computer unfinished for years, or, I discovered, were actually songs in disguise.

When I was a kid, I used to fill notebooks with terrible song lyrics. I didn’t play any musical instruments, so I would write these ‘songs’ and then not remember what the melody was or have any way of recapturing it. Over time, that evolved into me writing poetry. Now that I have a guitar and an ukulele, there’s a way in which I’ve sort of come full circle, but some of those pieces from the original transition, where I thought ‘I’m not a musician, maybe I should write poems’, that period of maybe four years in high school and early college, when I revisit those pieces now to pick them apart and edit them into something more polished, sometimes, I discover the thing that’s hiding in my clumsy teenage verses is a song in poem’s clothing, or a poem that wants to be a song, but isn’t, not really. I guess what I’m saying here is that, right now, I’m going through this strange process of collaborating with my younger self. Sometimes, that self has already collaborated with her younger self, so I can end up looking at a piece that 20 yr old me edited that 16 year old me wrote, that 24 yr old me took a third pass at, and that me in 2017 thinks still has potential but isn’t what it ought to be, and takes another pass at. Other times, the process is more fluid – ideas sketched out in my mid-20s that I never polished into anything. Or, a piece I started to write 2 years ago, but, at the time, didn’t really know what I was trying to say, so couldn’t finish.

On that last note, I think I do have SOMETHING, I can share with you. When I was working on my 2nd chapbook, ‘Just Saying’, I joked that I should rename it ‘This is the Book That Will Get Me Trolled’, because it was full of all the pieces that touched on subject matter for which the discourse is still alive and heated. There’s what I jokingly call my ‘angry feminist poem’ in there, and another piece that’s really popular in LGBTQ+ circles that’s kinda/sorta about gender identity (and actually, I think might be my most popular poem), another piece is about bullying. There are a lot of sore subjects that get touched on in that chapbook, so I ended up calling it ‘Just Saying’ based on that thing we all say as a get out jail free card. How, any time people say something controversial, they’ll tack on ‘I’m just saying…’ at the end as if that removes all culpability.

The trouble I ran into with that book though, was that while I had several reasonably strong pieces in the mix, reading it felt like a ship lost at sea. It needed something else I couldn’t quite put my finger on to anchor it. There was just something missing. So, I started sifting through the folder on my computer of stuff I have that either needs major edits, or just plain isn’t done, and I found a piece that was rough, but close to complete. It just needed a bit of fine tuning and a good, strong push in the right direction, so I got my head into finishing it. Once I did, it turned out to be just what I was looking for to complete the book.

So, that’s what I’m going to share with you today, an Old-New Piece from ‘Just Saying’ called ‘How the Game is Played’. I’ll get back to sharing songs and photos you a little later, once I start to see a little daylight on the other end of this poetry project.

 How the Game is Played

All this pick-a-team
has left me so pink and blue
that I’ve turned purple.

I am walking wounded
from all the teams I’ve been shoved onto.

They say the average toddler,
has learned to pick gender-appropriate toys
by the time they’re three.

I was late.

And thank god for that,
because some days I’m shirts,
some days I’m skins,
and every day I have to be ready for battle.

Because everything I say puts me on a team,
and it’s practically a capital offense
when that team changes.

I am tired of sneaking across the line
to the appropriate side in the dead of night,
so that no one has to see me as I am in the light of day.

But, someone is going to hear my words
and apply a label to the middle ground,
as if putting me on yet another team There solves the problem
when they’re all still keeping score.

I am not a convenient extra member
for either side of an argument
that’s constantly coming up short-handed.

And I am not okay with being told:
“You belong Here.”

Because I didn’t choose to play this game,
and I don’t have a favorite team,
but I’m forced to fight or flee
because every time I say nothing when I’m put Here, or There,
it all starts over again
and I am tired of playing a game that I can’t win
so escape is my only option
and I am looking for higher ground
on a leveled field
where the hits keep coming
and the hands are heavy enough to leave scars,
and I have to do something,
because if you don’t do something, they’ll make you bleed
then tell you that it’s a small thing,
that you’re okay,
that that’s just how the game is played.

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