Sometimes you find yourself thinking that you don't have the tools for what needs building, for what needs repairing. But if you look around hard enough sometimes you'll find the next best thing. Not a hammer but a crow bar could do. You make it work. The worst prisons sometimes are the ones we build for ourselves. The hardest part of release is letting go of what put us there.
Here's a torn chapter of what happened, and the missing piece could be a blank page. The fearful pen in pocket, the courage to write something from the other side of all the breakdown.
Why me, why not me? Turn it over, there's always another side. Good, bad, an endless dance. Do you know any other steps? We work our way in and out of the light. Gotta sleep sometime. Gotta carry it till your arms go numb, gotta lay it down, gotta learn the rhythm and the lack of. Every misstep is a step nonetheless. Don't matter the direction, never good at following them anyway, most of us, gotta learn the hard way.
You lose enough you become thankful for whatever's left. Not the storybook version of November thanks, but the good-god-how-in-the-hell-are-we-still-standing kind of thanks.
Do you know any other steps? Was there an easier way? If so, what would you have learned from taking it? What kind of mercy would we have found had we not fallen so hard along the way?
Sometimes thankful just means you know what the empty tank gets you; nowhere. You've lost, you've gained, you look around, use the next best thing. It works just as well. You make do. You aren't owed as much as you think. You know what broke and what you somehow put back together. There's mercy in the makeshift. In the cobbled together pin point of light.
You're here now. Was there an easier way? We'll never know. We do the steps we were given, we make it our dance, we miss a few steps, we pick up the rhythm along the way, hard turns, bad bends, here it comes again. The next best thing is you're still here, making it work, in the dark, in the light. What choice do we really have?
I want to thank my dear friends and new co-editors, Elisabeth Horan and Amy Alexander, for accompanying me on this journey. At a moment when I was feeling depleted and burnt out, they kindly offered to step in and lend a helping hand. I was on the verge of letting this journal go. Three years becomes a long stretch of time and we can all too easily forget our purpose in the thick of it sometimes, and so their kindness has been like the hand of an old friend on your shoulder at the dark hour. I thank all of you as well who have entrusted them with your poems and your CNF. Community is, I think, the answer to what ails us. There's never been a sorrow, a bend in the road that wasn't known also by someone else. I give thanks for not being alone, for your words, your voices, your irreplaceably belonging, beautifully aching selves. The table may have grown, but I'd like to think the food here is the same stuff of the heart as it always was.
All Soul's Day often gets the tired mental debris of Halloween, but I am one who pauses to dwell on it awhile. I like the day when we honor the dead and sense them among us. This month's creative nonfiction lives in that same space, with meditations on what it means to lose precious ones and the ways we hold on, because we must. I am extraordinarily grateful to the people who were willing to send in their stories, in all kinds of different forms. Since James has been so kind as to allow me the chance to support this wonderful magazine, I feel called to be part of the defining of creative nonfiction. So many have asked, "What is it?" As a poet, I like to push forms and I think creative nonfiction is crowning. Let's push. One of our pieces this month is laid out like a play. And yet, in it, the author comes through saying something directly to the reader. Perhaps, after all, that is what separates creative nonfiction from fiction--The desire of the author to be with the reader, not as a narrator, but as flesh and blood. That real presence coming through the art is also, I think, what defines AHC. I certainly hope that I have served that mission well.
Coming on as Poetry Editor at Anti-Heroin Chic in October was surely one of the best gifts and privileges I have been granted in my fledgling poetry career. I felt I had big shoes to fill, reading and choosing poems for James... I didn't look for a particular theme, or school or aesthetic - I did what I thought James would do... listen to my heart. And these poets filled it --- with pain, from Bola's beautiful and heart-wrenching "See Mississippi With Folded Arms", to the ekphrastic precision of F.J. Bergmann's craft filled genius - I felt blessed to be awash in such talent and visionary poetry. The thing these poems all have in common - is passion, craft, uniqueness in voice and being unafraid to write about that which matters to the poet. The voice and vision of the poet. To be brave, to dig deep, and to not forget one's craft in doing so. To me --- the mark of genius.
I hope you love the work in this issue. I am very proud to share it with you.
With love -
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.