Thursday, August 20, 2009

As Yet Untitled (9/17/08)

If I were alone
on a desert island

I would pick at my lips
all day long.

I would sit underneath
the only tree

with no one
to judge me.

I would drink my own blood,
so I never got thirsty.

And when I got too sick
to raise my hand to my mouth

I would only be hurting myself.


If I were alone
on a dessert island

I would eat Mounds bars first
and York patties second.

I would follow carrot cake
with angel food

until the magma lava
caught in my throat

and I had to wash it down
with muscat.

When I got too sick
to raise my hand to my mouth,

I would roll defiantly over
and eat myself into a dark hole.


If you and I
were alone together,

we might not survive
the island.

I might believe
we should raise a flag

but you might want
to burn the vegetation.

You might knock me out of a coconut tree
breaking both my legs,

so you could drink
more milk yourself.

You wouldn't know how
to treat an infection.

When I got too sick
to raise my hand to my mouth,

you would never get
to the root of the problem.


When I am alone,
I am still with you.

You feed me everything
I eat.

You write me everything
I read.

You stick in my head
like a song I'll never hear again.

When I get too sick
to raise my hand to my mouth,

maybe one of you will kiss me
and say you understand.

I'm a little creeped out to have written this one. It's an exploration of a bad habit I have of picking at my lips when i'm bored or stressed. It's an odd, embarrassing and somewhat violent habit, as I imagine a lot of such things are.

So the poem is about different aspects of this habit: the fact that it's very solitary and takes me (literally and figuratively) into myself; the satisfaction of it -- it's sort of a physical overindulgence the way eating too many sweets is; the conflict it creates when i feel like other people are taking me away from it.

The last section is more of a meditation on the intrusion of other people into one's life generally. I'm not sure it totally fits with the rest of the poem, but I think it's important to acknowledge that we never escape the influence of our surroundings, our culture, upbringing, etc., and so are never totally independent.