Poem-A-Day 2021, Day 3: Paige Poe

I think we’re cultivating a theme here, aren’t we? It feels like our zeitgeist has embraced an added layer, one that is never guaranteed but must be claimed through active choice. Renewal after loss, rebirth after trauma, clawing our way back from horror, finding peace and maybe even solutions when you emerge from the season of teeth and judgment. (And thanks to Bucky Rea for that memorable phrase which I have been referencing since college and will probably continue to refer to for another twenty-five years, at least, because human condition.)

This soothing poem from Paige Poe feels right for today.

Simple Measures for Desperate Times

When the world sullies your soul,
Gather the grass stained knees, sweaty half-moons
Down to the river Lethe and scrub
Until the swirling waters erase your pain.

Find an open field. Stretch out your heart strings.
Pin up the soaking, ragged edges and watch them
Billow with each heavy breath, drying
In the morning glow,
under a cornflower sky.

Your worries will rise with the butterflies
And recycle someday as rain, falling into
Your curiously outstretched palms.

As you fold, tucking arms under body, sleeve to sleeve,
Try not to think about the horror beyond
The chore’s horizon, the circle of pain
That brought you, kneeling, to the river’s lip.

Repeat as often as needed.

This poem was originally published in eleven40seven spring 2018.

***

Paige Poe is a feminist poet, wordsmith, and movement teacher based out of Houston. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 2018 with a degree in theatre and English, and her work has been published in Vamp Cat Magazine, eleven40seven, Texas’ Best Emerging Poets of 2017, and Brave Voices Magazine. Currently, Paige works as a freelance ghostwriter and editor. She also teaches yoga and creative movement, and her physical practice deeply inspires her art.  You can find her at paigegpoe.com and on Instagram as paige_outofmybook.

Poem-A-Day: Paige Poe

It is always fun to include a poem in this series written by one of my former Creative Writing students. Tonight’s poem comes from Paige Poe, who has gone on to write excellent poetry, among other things. This poem in particular resonates with me because its smart defiance reminds me of my daughter, whose birthday we just celebrated. Can you believe the Orange-Belt Fairy Princess has turned 15? Tonight at dinner we had a serious and logistical discussion about driver’s ed. Tempus fugit and all that.

While I wait for my head to stop spinning, please enjoy Paige’s poem, which was published originally in eleven40seven in 2016.

girl culture

I pinky-promise
I will punctuate my sentences
with like forever, and I will
never stop up-talking.
my thoughts do not
soak like old paintings
hung in my mind’s palace,
some stuffy intellectual ideal
imposed on writers
to swell their egos.
I will proudly admit,
I think in pink
sparkly gel pens on colored paper,
doodles of hearts and flowers,
memories like bright stickers, shiny
and eye catching,
and my mind is always scribbling
like age 13 with baby angst and
diary locks,
every “I” sporting a heart, sentences
using like as punctuation,
words like Grrrl, rad, bitch,
whatever scrawled in the margins.
so yeah, when I consider theories
and literature and complex ideas,
they show up in glitter ink.
Is that a problem?

***

Go to this month’s first Poem-A-Day to learn how to participate in a game as part of this year’s series. You can have just a little involvement or go all the way and write a cento. I hope you’ll join in!

***

Paige Poe is a feminist poet, writer, and theatre artist based out of Houston. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 2018 with a degree in theatre and English, and her work has been published in Vamp Cat Magazine, eleven40seven, Texas’ Best Emerging Poets of 2017, and Brave Voices Magazine. Inspired by Mary Oliver and the confessional poetry tradition, she strives to present modern femininity, mental illness, and her rich family history in her artistic endeavors. Currently, Paige is working as a freelance ghostwriter, editor, and administrative assistant at her family’s business. You can find her at paigegpoe.com and on Instagram as paige_outofmybook.

Poem-A-Day: Paige Poe

It’s important to feature not only established and mid-career poets in this series every year, but also emerging writers who are just coming onto the scene or who have been published but don’t have a book out — yet. Paige Poe is one of those authors to be watching for.

War Paint

Conceal insecurity
and blot blemishes,
Set with flour dusted
From the hands
of your mother’s mothers.

Take a fistful of soil from the nearest
crossroad and trace
the hollows of your power starved cheeks,
your burdened temples, the contour
Of your family nose.

Stain your lids with glamour,
Paint your lips like blood,
Pack on enough glitter to blind your enemies,
Enough color to distract a predator.

Practice a smile, then a grimace,
a giggle, a growl, a war cry—
Practice saying no
and then practice throwing punches.

***

Paige Poe is a feminist poet, writer, and theatre artist based out of Houston. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 2018 with a degree in theatre and English, and her work has been published in eleven40seven, Texas’ Best Emerging Poets of 2017, and Brave Voices Magazine. Inspired by Mary Oliver and the confessional poetry tradition, she strives to present modern femininity, mental illness, and her rich family history in her artistic endeavors. Currently, Paige is working as a freelance ghostwriter, editor, and research assistant.  You can find her at paigegpoe.com and on instagram as paige_outofmybook.