"To bring the poem into the world / is to bring the world into the poem."

Sunday, November 6, 2011



I'm looking at people differently, trying to have more compassion when someone is unkind in the grocery store; maybe this is a hard trip, full of difficult decisions. Feeling blessed for having food stamps while I'm unemployed; making fancy dinners is now a routine, it never was before. I'm writing differently too; having to take on more & more awful technical and bland article writing jobs to pay the bills, which will be going up (heat in winter in the Rocky Mountains is tricky; we collect a lot of firewood too). Technical writing feels more like long division than actual writing, so I keep my real notebook close at hand throughout. Oh yes I should mention I've been without a real job, that you go to every day, for two years and change. I finished my MFA last December, am around $80 grand in debt and have just applied to an art education BA program, because it seems like federal aid to students is about to implode and this may be my last chance to take more classes. And I do need them, to drag my life's work of collage and book making somewhere else, out of boxes to a more joyful place, a high school classroom maybe. And also, I'm desperate for health insurance, like some fifty million other Americans.

“corporate personhood,” 2011 gouache painting by Erin Virgil



It's affected my poethics more than my poems. I was just in Washington DC visiting an old friend, and we passed by and talked with many people camped out, Occupying. I wanted to embrace everyone there, for being so brave—I can't stay out in a public place overnight, old neurosis and flashbacks return quickly: run-ins with authority, juvenile offenses, etc—I really feel that people standing up and shouting, especially across generations and other social boundaries, is the crucial path out of this corporate owned hell we're in. A nice older lady in our co-op yesterday: "It's going to be just like the French Revolution, I can't wait!" Writing is important too; letters to the editor are still extremely useful mind openers, and so are poems. I just haven't written that many yet, maybe because I've been so weighted down with technical writing junk jobs.



I wrote this one a few weeks ago:

Yellow aspen

are the only visible evidence of the month.
The heat and exhaust are the same
as they were before Solstice
fear & worry lines all around the grocery store
    no aisle without a pursed mouth.
Afraid of the transition, not the end. The lessening, what will
    be lost, caught on a nail and abandoned.
On the sidewalk a woman with a basket rushes by:
relief when it’s empty. This is a new reckoning. Babies never made me sad before.
    Scarcity means less things and more time to miss them.
    September means ‘seventh month’ of the Roman calendar
which further confuses the chronology this afternoon.

I want to report that as the aspens slowly went bare
the people too, changed gradually

Calming pushing back
against all that is unnatural.



Erin Virgil is a poet and collage artist living in northern Colorado. She's got one book ("Poems, Volume one") published and available at Amazon, and has a little blog too, http://emvlovely.wordpress.com.


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