My daughters were supposed to be getting ready for bed when I walked into their room and found my four-year-old naked, kneeling on all fours with her butt in the air, her older sister slapping her bottom.
What are you doing? I asked.
Playin’ the drums, my older daughter said.
And though part of me was relieved to see my four-year-old finally using her butt for something other than a wind instrument, I immediately stopped the show and escorted her to the shower.
Last night, I was brushing my teeth when I noticed a pair of socks in the toilet.
Why are your socks in the toilet, I asked my four-year-old.
Mama told me to put them away in my drawer, she said.
So how did they end up in the toilet, I asked.
In the first creative writing class I ever took, we workshopped a peer’s story called, Tidal.
I wrote a long review of the piece describing its ebb and flow and how its two references to the sea served as a low-key motif for the stormy relationship between the two main characters.
It wasn’t until I referred to its title – Tidal – aloud in class that I caught onto the joke. I felt duped and thrilled at the same time.
I like to play with my poems the way I play with my daughters.
We invent elaborate games with ever-shifting rules. We treat familiar objects as if they were not familiar. When we wrestle, it almost looks like we’re dancing.
The problem, though, is that other poems – poems I’ve never even read before – love to run over and join in on the fun, start trying to grab my thumb or pull the glasses off my face and before I know it I’m surrounded by a pack of little rough drafts all wanting to play slappy-slappy.
Vonnegut wrote his master’s thesis on his theory that all stories could be graphed by computers – with good- and ill-fortune on the y-axis and time on the x-axis.
He believed novels were ultimately about how characters get into and out of trouble and that plots – no matter how varied their premises – could be represented by a mere handful of simple shapes.