“Sisyphus” by Anis Mojgani
Poetry Lunch S1E8
Reading an excerpt of “Sisyphus” by Anis Mojgani from In the Pockets of Small Gods, Write Bloody Publishing.
Well that’s the way poetry goes, isn’t it—an inkling, a bit you remember and lots you don’t, something that draws you back and then bam! A huge wave of feeling washes up and over as you start reading. It’s a basic way I interact with poems but they never fail to surprise me how true and trusting they hold things too hard to feel on the daily. Such a safe space they make to hold and let go because you know you can revisit.
Gratitude to all the writers who write from grief for all us grievers to get to read.
Special big thanks to the great heart who wrote this one, Anis Mojgani. Go find his work!! A good place to start: thepianofarm.com.
It is possible to be wild and kind at the same time. It is possible to be both alone and be loved. I have known this to be true. In others. In me. To be loved. And to also still be alone.
One of the main things I remember about making this print is absolutely agonizing over the justified text. I set and reset it, moving coppers and brasses with tweezers to adjust the spacing between words bit by tiny bit to get the best optical alignment on the right with the least amount of gappy or squeezed in feeling around the characters. So much goes into so much that you don't see!
A friend told me today that “Agonizing over details is actually your magic ingredient” while also, gently, giving me permission to move forward with the decision at hand. I run into this predicament often when designing, particularly arranging the space between words and between a text and its margins. A battle between tending to deep details and knowing when to let go. It's a theme I don't expect to ever leave me but I do feel less agony and more curiosity about the magic as time goes on.
I underlined a lot of lines in In the Pockets of Small Gods. Here's another I printed from the same poem. It comes a couple stanzas later:
Goat of my heart, everything in me you eat.
When I first read this I had a physical response, a sharp intake of breath like when you get hit and then a literal shout out loud. My eyes got real wide and I can't explain it exactly but still, every time I read this, I feel seen. I have no idea what it means. Obviously it conjures big feelings for me and that in itself I find really useful.
After some years of living with it, I realize I have a notion of anxiety associated with this line. I imagine my anxious self as goat eating and eating at my insides sometimes and well, it's a highly uncomfortable image but it imparts some compassion and gets me to slow up and breathe. And laugh sometimes too, at the damn goat continually eating.
It also makes me think about grief, how it can eat away at you in ways seen and unseen till you're threadbare in places you didn't know you needed. But all that eating feeds other things too. You never know what will grow. Loss can't be fixed but it can be incorporated and making space for it, taking time to feel it, helps. This poem, and many others, helps me do just that.
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