Dancing to Songs About Death
In 2018, I put together a collection of poetry called Dancing to Songs About Death. The title is in reference to my struggles with anxiety, particularly health anxiety. My goal was to make a book that was half memoir and half poetry collection, with a dose of stream-of-consciousness prose. The book opens with poetry about my childhood and then continues on into my 20s. I write about my anxiety, but I also write about failed friendships, romantic relationships, motherhood, fear of the passing of time, and my futile dream of becoming an actress.
by summer warner
For my first blog, I’d like to share 5 of my most treasured pieces from that collection, as well as a newer piece that I most recently wrote.
The Garage Sale Writer
When I write my flea market poems When I dictate my clearance schemes I’ve noticed, in fact I ignore, without tact punctuation beyond commas to breathe Why won’t I input a period? I love dashes and semis and such I draw the squiggly lines like the lyricist I am not Why can’t I just type a dot? A question mark was accepted! I suppose I can’t end my lines I guess I can’t complete my sentences when my metronome thoughts are keeping time like a marching band of apprentices
Anastasia, your ghost swings higher than all the trees Anastasia, it flies across the bars and the slide Past the fence asking, Why? Anastasia, you linger If only I could just grasp the tips of your fingers, or the sound of your laugh The wind is whispering The grass remembers you, Anastasia And, when they bury you cold and underground this place will always hold the sound -- your name echoing from cloud to cloud Anastasia.
This is a song of water Blue, and rippled, and clear The deep and the shallow, the wavy and the slow The only place where I always stay afloat The only place where I’m not trapped below I was once, though, remember that time I nearly drowned But, the water, it carried me to the top carried my kicks, my splashes, my sounds I am afraid of everything except water
(I Am) Too Much
Aquarius rising Sagittarius shining Thrashing Cancer moon I am drowning in emotion behind a shield of orichalcum In the stillness of the wild sea, there swims Atlantis and me
Dancing to Songs About Death
I like the way the palm trees reflect in your sunglasses I like the sound of the ocean as it roars against your eyes Go ahead, turn on that radio Let us compromise I won’t say anymore and you won’t pretend to hear Another song, another fear I’m dancing to songs about death again I’m grooving to a tune about disease I’m clapping to a rhythm that’s terminal I’m singing with the greatest of ease Vivace! Vivace! Presto! Presto! Play it lively and let it swell I like the way my heart beats like it's the last time I like the way the chills travel down I’m twirling to songs about death again So dizzy, I’ll never touch the ground
If I could go back in time If I could try on my possible lives like different, old cardigans -- what would I see? I spent my childhood watching Carol Hathaway Her strength and power in a television hour You watched her and wanted to be a nurse; I wanted to be an actress I’ll never be who I wanted to be I kept thinking that I had more time I’ll never meet all of the people who I wanted to meet I kept thinking that these dreams were mine I am not ready for time to keep moving I need the clocks to stop Turn around, take me back down to the room in California with the television set Teach me, somehow, to forget.
Summer Warner is the prose editor at Violet Margin. Her work has appeared in multiple publications- including Scary Mommy, Medium, and The Mighty.
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