When I was a kid, my sisters and I were obsessed with playing a game called “Little People.” That name now carries extra cultural and literary meanings. But to us, the title was both literal and imaginative. We created tiny limbless people from pieces of clothesline. That kind of clothesline, prevalent in the late 1950s, was sheathed in a plastic substance and stuffed with white fiber. If you cut discarded pieces of that clothesline(no, Mom, we would never destroy your laundry supplies,) into pieces about an inch tall, the result was lovely “people” whose long white hair we could stain with berries or iodine and style into long and short coiffures. We named each creation and built them homes all over our acre, using concrete blocks, garden pavers, and tree roots. Their communities were also named “Flower Bed,” “Red Wood,” and “Rose Bush,” depending on where their little subdivisions cropped up. We sailed those little people down creeks in hickory nut shells, made doors and back walls for their side-ways paver houses, and built bark and moss roofs for the cabins we nestled into tree root spaces.
I am reminded of that architecture in these times when we have to recreate our environments on a smaller scale with materials available to us while still maintaining safe distance. Today I watched the season debut of “Let’s Make a Deal” which included socially distanced cubicles for the reduced number of contestants on set surrounded by Zoom-like screens where screaming contestants participate from their homes. And then followed Drew Carey with “The Price is Right,” reimagined in his quarantine beard. We’re living little, using our spaces and imaginations to navigate a reshaped reality for now. Now is very different from then, for the time being.
Then, when my new chapbook arrived in late September, I would’ve scheduled an in-person reading at the Falcon Theatre as part of the Poet & Song Series. I would’ve shared some light refreshments and some fine musical guests with those who supported my book through their generous preorders. Now, I fashioned 5 little time-released capsules of individual poems from my new book, Touchstones, into two kinds of presentations that I have been sharing on fb and my website. For the past month, I have been sharing a video reading each week of one of my poems accompanied by musical compositions created by my friend, Richard Putnam who lives in North Carolina. I’ve been trying to teach myself to build something small and close to transcend this time of distance. In addition, Richard mixed my voice reading the poems over his music into some lovely audio files that are performances in themselves. I have been adding them to my website as I post the accompanying video projects. If you’d like to take a look and listen, you can find them at Line Breaks. I have one more to construct before “Line Breaks” is its own little building.
Then, I would’ve continued to write mostly personal narrative type poems in Pauletta Hansel’s Draft to Craft community (offered through Thomas More University.) But this fall, I needed the tight container of a poetic form, like the 7x7, to hold my outrage at the war waged against journalism. The resulting poetic sequence is entitled “Witness for the Mainstream News,” for which my poetic colleagues will offer some helpful feedback in this week’s final class.
So for now, I continue to live little. Which, in fact, is living reimagined for the now. It is enough.
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