Susan has written a few articles and poems for the Low Density Lifestyle website. Her most recent article was Go to Where Your Spirit is Invited to Open Up.
Susan is a poet who lives in Saratoga Springs, NY. She runs writing groups in therapeutic and community settings using poetry as a tool for exploring life issues and healing.
Susan teaches writing and advises students for Empire State College and has had her poetry published in several journals and books regionally and throughout the country, including Big City Lit, Parnassus Literary Journal, The Hudson River Anthology and Metroland, among others.
Her website is www.saratogapoetryroom.com.
Talking Physics With Friends on a Winter Evening
We talked at the pub tonight about quantum physics. How,
in the nonlocal realm of pure potential everything is happening
at once and we can choose what we wish to experience now.
It’s true, I’ve seen it happen. Only I wish I could make it happen
more, like if you were to tell me what you were really thinking,
I would choose that, or maybe I could choose to know what
what you’re thinking. And while I’m at it, I would fast forward –
no, I would choose to hear our next conversation right now,
or yesterday. This is how it works in the quantum world,
and I believe it in my other mind, and really in this one too.
I just need to become more conscious, focus my attention,
increase my capacity for perception so I can step into one of
those other dimensions, lean down into your room, listen
to the way you think and see the way you feel. Then I would
know what I think of you and if I want you to kiss me
and if you want to kiss me or dance around me like a stray
electron for the rest of our earthly lives. Which brings to mind
the question of anticipation and the difference between
that state and the state of occurring. Are they one in the same?
If so, why do they feel so different? This now is different
than that now. Kiss me now and I’ll prove it.
when the evening is slow and tight
like a long jazz riff, all possible lives
and outcomes dance in a jar of night
where the saxophone relaxes
and the swish of a drum
and low hum of a voice
are the only things still going.
that won’t quit, an almost
seduction, almost enough
to close the stretch of miles,
the long stretch of miles,
between the places
where two people live.
The Poetics of Relationship
Lately, when I think about relationships I think of complexity. If there is anything I’ve learned about relationships it is that they are not meant to be completely understood at an intellectual level, but that their complexity can be embraced at a soul level.
When I was younger I preferred, like a lot us I suppose, to keep things simple or at least pretend they were. I hadn’t learned how to respond to, or perhaps even recognize, complexity as the opportunity it was. I hadn’t yet learned that it was part of the whole idea and that the contradictory, paradoxical aspect of people and relationships are what makes them interesting, albeit challenging, and if embraced can lead to the greatest intimacy.
I can say I’ve grown closer over the years to accepting and even loving complexity in relationships, be they friendships, sexual relationships, work related, or familial ones. I can’t say it’s always fun; it takes courage to, first of all, face how you are really feeling and then share this with someone in a way they can hear. Then if you are lucky you start to break down the artifices of your protective outer layers to reach each other’s hearts. You don’t always know if the other person wants the same challenge, but I think it’s worth trying. The alternative is often a half hearted, half conscious facsimile of a relationship.
At a writers conference a couple summers ago in Vermont, I was blessed to have a poetry teacher whose background was both physics and poetry. He was adept at weaving together ideas from both fields, as well as Japanese pottery, Navaho rug weaving, and many other areas. He told us that ‘plex’ from complexity, as in complexity theory, means to braid. He liked to apply this idea to poetry, where there is often a weaving together of two narratives.
These narratives, with their metaphors and imagery, often seem oddly juxtaposed or even contradictory like the layers of a person’s psyche or the intricate strands of a rela-tionship. You don’t always know where things are going, but you go anyway. The author Thomas Moore writes in his book, Soul Mates, that relationships, especially deep love relationships, are “an evocation of one of life’s greatest mysteries, the weaving together of many different strands of soul.”
The process of weaving together seemingly unrelated ideas and metaphors does not always make rational sense and can feel disconcerting, but it usually leads to a much richer poem, or relationship. As its images are woven together, they become something else altogether. The words take you to a deeper and more resonant place.
Some poems, like some relationships, go a step further and make unexpected leaps. They tap into what the poet Li Young Lee calls universe mind, or the hum beneath, and travel through time and space to a place that encompasses what came before but at the same time moves beyond it. If we can accept the more mysterious aspects of a person or a relationship, the ones that cannot be explained or even understood, we just might get somewhere amazing.
People, like poems, are full of paradox and uncertainty. This doesn’t mean we should accept frequent erratic or immature behavior, especially if it is dishonoring. We have a tendency, though, to wish that relationships were simple and predictable. And at times, thankfully, they can be. At least for a while. But if we can embrace the uncertainty factor, and know that no dynamic system stays the same for long, we will gain much that we wouldn’t otherwise. A well crafted poem becomes a container that can hold and make meaning, even beauty, of paradox. A well crafted, loving and soulful relationship can do the same thing.