by Jennifer Rodriguez
A cool chaotic breeze in a stagnant world
You shook my leaves to the ground
Bare and exposed
Coursing like fire through my roots,
you fueled me
Winter invaded the world
Everything tumbled down
While you held my ground
The endless static noise was all so familiar
Until you whispered your song to me
like a seductive bird,
with your voice like honey
my insides contorted and intertwined inextricably
An overpowering storm
You showered me whole
The crash of lightning loomed nearby
A sudden fear of finalization
A winter’s breeze left me trembling
When the darkness envelops me
The fear of loneliness invades me
Yet, you shine your presence silently in a billion ways
Will you be there when the darkness is all I have?
Engraved in my trunk is the story we shared,
A collection of scars and tattoos inexplicable to others
When the darkness swallows me whole,
I’ll glance up once more to see your fading light smile bright
To have known you was a pleasure
But to have loved you without having you was like
that of a majestic wave relishing in rising happiness
until it collides with the ground in a loud crash and returns to nothingness.
First published by Drunk Monkeys 2019.
Jennifer Rodriguez is a Latina writer with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and a minor in Spanish from California State University of Fullerton. Her work has appeared in Palabritas, Drunk Monkeys and Memoir Mixtapes, among others. Visit her at www.jennifer-rodriguez.com
Of her style, Jennifer says, “My style of poetry is free verse and it is shaped by my invasive thoughts, differing emotions and shifting perspectives. I love the way that Mary Oliver described it: ‘Free verse is not, of course, free. It is free from formal metrical design, but it certainly isn’t free from some kind of design. Is poetry language that is spontaneous, impulsive? Yes, it is. Is it also language that is composed, considered, appropriate, and effective, though you read the poem a hundred times? Yes, it is. And this is as true of free verse as it is of metrical verse.'”
Jennifer and Bekah were published together in the January 2019 issue of Drunk Monkeys. Here is our interview with Jennifer.
Q~Tell us a little about the poem we’ve included with your interview. Was it easy or hard to write?
A~This particular piece was my first poem to get published, which is why it’s very close to my heart. It shook me out of bed one night, as if demanding to be written. I couldn’t go to sleep because it kept reverberating in my mind. It’s one of those rare pieces you cherish because of the way it was born and the space it holds. It illustrates my endless pursuit to interweave these illusive visions that vary from being soothing sensations to agonizing recollections. It came surprisingly easy to me, as if I was simply freeing it out of me. The words an extension of myself. I don’t know how long it took for me to finish this piece, but it was all done in one sitting. I was absolutely transfixed in the process. Of course, not all pieces are easy to write but there’s nothing like that special, glowing moment when such a poem comes to life.
Q~What’s one piece of advice you want to share?
A~My advice would be to continue writing regardless of whether your pieces are published or not. Publications should not be a determining factor of whether your pieces are valuable or not. Of course, validation from literary journals and other outlets is great but it shouldn’t be the motivating factor. If you love a piece and believe it will resonate with others, then work on getting it out into the world, whether it be through the submission process, self-publishing, reading it at an open mic or any other method. There can’t ever be enough art in this world. It’s something we all need and if you can create it, then you should.
A~I have written poems for as long as I can remember so it has become a natural reflex of comfort for me. Poetry allows me to make out the obscure images in my mind without limitations. I also love that poetry is open to all interpretations and there is no “wrong” way to perceive or connect with a poem.
Q~Do you find yourself returning to certain themes or subjects in your work? What are they and why do they resonate with you?
A~Yes, I always tend to gravitate toward the themes of love and death. These are powerful topics that go beyond our own understanding, they push us toward unexpected places and propel us to grow in numerous ways. As a result, I find myself using nature’s extremities to best represent such complexities. I have always found great solace when looking up at the sky or staring out into the seemingly endless ocean. Those are two places I always find myself circling back to. They’re endless to me, the way love is. They both come full circle, the way life and death does.
Q~What’s your writing process usually like?
A~I wish there was a specific process that I followed, but it’s always very scattered. I’ll have lines that pop up in my mind, so I’ll either write them down in my notebook or in my phone. I prefer to write on a piece of paper but that just means I end up with various pieces of paper at the bottom of my purse that say differing things that don’t make too much sense.
Sometimes I’ll I begin to hear lines form in Spanish. Afterward, I’ll translate it to English, but I feel like it loses some magic in the translation process.
When I have time, I’ll make it a special thing to go out to a coffee shop and focus on writing. Typically, I’ll have a couple of ideas swirling around my mind but if that’s not the case, I will observe the people around me for inspiration.
Q~Who are you reading now?
A~I’m reading a couple of books simultaneously: “The Order of Time” by Carlo Rovelli, “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” by Haruki Murakami, and an assortment of poetry books on my nightstand.
Q~What is the poet’s role in society?
A~It’s the role of any artist – to help make life worthwhile and meaningful. Through the use of words, we craft images and stories. We relive moments, immortalize people and revisit life differently every time. Through poetry we can connect with others, help them feel understood and know they are not alone in their journey. It’s beautiful to read poetry that resonates with you and there’s nothing like being able to do the same.
Q~Where can readers go if they are interested in reading more of your work?
A~My personal website is the place where it all comes together and it includes my latest published pieces. My Twitter and Instagram handle are @Jenrodgz. I’m also on Goodreads for anyone who wants to send along some book recommendations.