Poem: Art of Survival

This is another example of how much better my poems are after input and suggestions from my critiquing group.

I didn’t even like this poem and almost didn’t take it to the group. For one thing, the subject matter is painful, and it didn’t feel like it was working.

The new title made a big difference, and now I feel it says what I needed to say. The painting was part of the inspiration. I painted it the day I stayed home with 29 stitches in my leg, and really did paint it with my hands, which was wonderfully liberating. Its title is “Wild and Precious,” from Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day”: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Art of Survival

You work a low-pay job
while completing a degree
projects overdue
the car breaks down
bank account empty
you order pizza on the MasterCard…

Pipes burst, flooding closets
whose contents fill apartment rooms
no place to bathe
you fill buckets from the pool to flush
and it’s the holidays…

Glass door snaps,
shards tear down your calf
like pebbles across a pond,
29 sutures embroider your leg…

Leave the dishes and the trash:
get out easel and canvas
paints and brushes. No—

slap and smear
viscous color with your hands.

Wild and Precious

Wild and Precious


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