Phoenix’s Orangutan

by | Jun 11, 2019 | CNF, Issue Nine

She was putting together a poetry manuscript about putting together a manuscript. She needed a break from line breaks. She needed to know how one decided capitalization. Poetry had its own rules. She used to be someone who followed the rules and then she broke a rule here. Broke a rule there. She wanted to call a friend to run things by, but had used up her quota. She was allowed to call a friend only once, but sometimes cheated. Calling ten times in a row, till her stomach was queasy.

            The line breaks weren’t happy either. The punctuation had been taken out. The stanzas couldn’t stand it.

            When her mouse jumped all over the page, she blinked, her eyes following a lone acrobat on trapeze.

She was one of the stay at home writer collective members who stayed at home. She communicated via email. She could Skype, but didn’t want her image broadcast for the world to see because what if it went astray? Instead of going right, it went left? Instead of straight, it curled in a curlicue, a jagged zigzag jiggety jog? She might end up where she was not planning.

She was still trying to find her way from college. Stepping with care as a rock skittered. Her thoughts scattered. Gravel sprayed every which way. She was trying to find a foothold, the path rocky downhill, rocky uphill, rocky rocky.

            In college she thought she might like to live in Phoenix; many years later, she turned into a phoenix. Life was full of surprises like her poems, which went around in circles or orangutan. That was not the right word, but the right word escaped her, so orangutan would do.           

Did it matter that her sentences did not make sense? She was stuck on autopilot with the pilot she met en route to Costa Rica.


Slow down.

She had to return to her manuscript. She wished for a manual. How did poets decide about page breaks, line breaks, capitalization, punctuation, and page numbers? Where did everything go? Where was she going? How could she find her way if she didn’t know where her poetry was going? Didn’t one dictate the other?

            Octagon. That was the word she was thinking of. Not orangutan. Though maybe orangutan was a better fit. Much like the orange truffle she popped into her mouth.

Read more CNF | Issue Nine

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