Burn the Bedlam, a Sestina

burn-the-bedlamIn these days of rage and reflection, I question everything, everything more than I ever have. One question, always gnawing at the loaf of bread that may be my brain is ‘why do I write?’ And now, blog. Answering this questions is a life’s work for many writers, why? What drives us to do it? What tells us to stop? And start again? Here is one answer, that I wrote a while back, and realize it needs a sequel. That is forthcoming, but for now…

Burn the Bedlam
     a sestina to boxes and boxes of journals

Last night I cuddled under the covers, and nibbled on rows
of latticed words, scribbled lines
of poetry in wilted old notebooks. I read
like a weevil in a pantry wanting to know
how to roll out the dough of this pie,
my soul, it was late, I crumbled into my bed.

I pondered the pages of words embedded
with ink, black as raisins, journals examining how I rose
to the episodes of youth, so troubled, so happy,
each party a maneuver, each day a re-alignment
of family, friends, my head. Coffee and pastry. I know
now things I then refused so readily.

At eighteen I absorbed self sufficiency; ready
for freedom I found books on baking, and I grabbed
fresh ground flour and herbs from the shelves filling my nose
with the smell of independence; and grainy brown bread rose
in a borrowed bowl absorbing the certain lines
of sunlight stretching through the window, January happy.

But buttered toast, however sweet, could not teach the recipes
for men, women, or mending my heart, on my sleeve, bright red.
That loveless love, sprinkled across the thousands of lines
from ample records about being twenty, high and always in bed
at the wrong times, made me cling to the quilt, the body, I rose
to knead the morning into another hour of getting to know

better how to create perfect bagels without a package. It’s no
easy feat, even though kitchens are familiar, comforting, easy as pie.
A broken heart won’t be quiet like bread dough that just never rose.
Let it harden, break it up and toss it to the blackbirds.
These baker’s notes push me into my crumpled bed,
then twist my legs. Full of crumbs. I am a jumble of lines

revealing how many times I burnt the rolls, how lying
was never a possibility for me, the black bottoms always no-
ticed. Who is this girl baked into these pages? I am be-
dazzled by her ability to stay alive, all in one piece,
all in one book, on one night freed
from my memory by passages of yeasty prose.

I wake with lines on my face, tossed and turned, grumpy.
Should I read through this entire crate of words, forty years,
or just burn the bedlam, toss a rose on the ashes, and go to sleep?

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