by Gennarose Pope
On Freeing Myself from Codependency
The coffin nail, the spike that anchors the dog leash, the lobotomy pick—
These are the tools of men, and the tools of women who
Have not been cursed with the violation intense enough
To shake them free from their tree place and upside down like me.

It’s just me here,  upside down and pedaling backwards
With the tree trunks whizzing by like tree tops and leaves
But all I can see is dirt.  Old soda and beer cans, used condoms,
The feet of men who think they’re standing straight up.

But I’m standing straight up, they’re upside down. 
Who is it who can defy expectation and transcend what’s carved for us
As a menial existence?  All I want
Is the chance to rebirth myself through someone who wants more.  Idealistic.

But the feet of men I see fly by are sticking out of coffins hanging from those trees.
They protect themselves with death as the only change, the
Only chance for something new.  They lack the tools required
To spit me, gooey, sprawling into another life.

So here I fly by, left to my own upside down devices (no, not a space pen,
Because they are a tool of men, too) with a chance, at least,
Of achieving something—halfway there—if I could only
Disentrance myself from the rubbish and feet and lose the fear of falling on my head.
See it there, the movement, the moment
Where it could have been, will have been, but isn’t
In the circumstantial way it exists, transient
Like death

And it hangs there
In delayed momentum and I grab at it
But it defies me
At the very instance that I realize it

Twists, lurches, seizes, shoots
Like the seed of all comprehensive being just above
Where we can physically, psychically reach
Preaching itself

But, overreaching, we seem
To miss it every time, build goals and games
And philosophies
And music and lives around it

Where ambition misses, passion compensates
And fails as diligence struggles when
Discipline gives it the ole’ college try but
Falls short of it—so close to it—

Seems we’re full of it while every day losing it
To the competition
Of instant gratification and impatience and humaneness
And the like

Like children, laughing, recalling
Spelling bees, pep rallies, proms, job interviews,
Promotions, first loves,
All culminating in an ever-elusive instant

So we bow low to it in our daily pittances
And cycles and efforts and die
Without knowing it was with us all along
Plainly laid beneath the splendor of the quest.
On Reconciling Past and Future
I feel the rain
From some disproportionate sky
And sometimes then the feast commences
With lime twists and tangos
Lurches with the way life procures it
And it secures
The angles of a time never spent
Coinciding with the nostalgia that comes of it.

With a skewed vision to guide me
Quiets me
And the experience is enough
To make the scheme anew
Turns twice themes that I've harbored so long
But with a freshness
That confounds them all
Without an "it happens all the time" to fall back on.

It spins again
From syndicates of memory besides
For the new-spangled breath of reason
Redistributing skeins
That the neighbor's cat can play with
And all I've done this year
Is a jig for a small season
That wouldn't have come at all if I hadn't asked.
On Building a Legacy
Has it become you yet
The pearls of praise and prejudice strung together
In a gin and tonic haste
Dripping from elders' lips at the top of the stairway
Nay and aye-saying
With that memorial day smell
Conveyed easily on the hazy barroom air--

But you're only just learning now
And jewels sit heavy on your wispy neck
And one has a hard time telling it
From the scraggly strands of silver
That adorn your head
With all the grace that you've put forth
And all the gore that you've put up with
Come repelling down in piles spread before you
So know:one can say either way
What you are or what you will have been

Pause awhile, here
While you still have hands to stroke with
I'll make myself willing
Because, my liege, everyone needs much practice
It can get slippery here
But not as slick as the ways out there
The ever-pressing by-ways and prose-ways
Can become leaden and tedious
And you'll remember this nest--
This many-chambered feather nest--
For its labyrinths and maplessness
And foul smell for lack of soap, glitter, garland
The stuff you can quite put your fingers on
Quick! The sooner you leave
The sooner the vice grip will re-grip
And crush the armament of footprints you'll leave behind.
On Writing
Changed priorities ahead
Of a small inconsequential pair of poised lips
Dangle like the fruit
Delicate, red,
Sincere and demanding like
A how-to manual inscribed in code
And coded for those
Already ahead one play.

No entourage to shuffle me through
While the others have to feel it out
Well, we're in the same yacht now.
I used to hate them.
But the old woman on the sail talked me into it--
A strange little thing
That liked to gorge herself on brothers and sisters--
Taught me about it.

I've called on brevity
And he was in a meeting
Insulting, but
I knew it all along in an early way
Seemingly indifferent
But that planner I wore through (the laughed one)
Was full of more than laundry lists
And the to-do's
Were figures of destiny--
Unclear and they enclosed me
While I thought to wait in ambush.
My inspiration: