Item # 123-45-6789 From the Suffering Person Catalogue
Life is suffering.
But you already knew that,
didn’t you, Diane,
you learned it in the orange groves,
you learned it playing piano,
you learned it from the motorcycle mechanic
who stopped coming home.
It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn again and again,
like remembering to check the date on the milk
first, before pouring it into a glass.
But when I write my narratives,
my timeline updates and Facebook profile,
I never just say that I
am a suffering person. That I suffer.
I suffer joy and I suffer longing,
I suffer sadness, I suffer tedium,
I suffer worry and I suffer exhilaration,
I suffer desire,
for the past, for the future,
for what the Welsh call ‘hiraeth,’
for the moments that aren’t now,
Writing, too, is a suffering.
And all us suffering people,
we write our suffering, our status updates and tweets,
we narrate all the effervescent joy,
the incandescent sorrow,
we make constellations and catalogues
of our selves, our suffering,
and we know that somehow,
everything won’t be okay one day,
because it always,
Today’s Prompt: “Make or alter an advertisement.” The first thing that popped into my head was Diane Wakoski’s fantastic poem “Item 556-50-8853 from the Perishing Person Catalogue,” in her 1973 (I think) collection entitled Smudging. I wanted to write an imitation poem, and I tried to find the poem online, but I couldn’t (my copy is at home). So I began drafting and scribbling, and kept Googling (and discovered that Diane Wakoski is on Facebook, so I friended her!! She accepted!!!). This poem is my tribute/homage to Wakoski. And, technically, there is now a chance that she could see this poem. So, if you’re reading, Diane, please pardon the areas that need revision. You are the bees knees. And thank you for every word.