“Lessons Unlearned”: A Bad Survivalist Poem by Colby McAdams

Bad Survivalist: Colby McAdams

Lessons Unlearned

It’s true, in order to stay relevant
I try to learn one new skill every year
Naturally, I must forget one too. My memory, lacking resonance,

picked-over and ebbing. I was a reader one spring, and a writer the next,
Then suddenly I (blissfully) wasn’t either. I’m telling you, for years, ducking in and out of traffic,
struggling towards
a receding shore, I wonder if I am able to learn (blushing) hubris
and unlearn self-awareness in the same season. To make a flower bloom twice
you must cut off its fading head. Here, we (I) learn there is grace in execution.

“Interesting but too intellectual!” says a three-star Amazon review
of Sharon Olds’ 2016 collection. Not to be pornographic, but we’re getting closer to
a double-edged core, a handshake of unequal grip strength. Building rapport
with an echo. One but never the other, or at least not at the same time.
Here we learn, the flower’s purpose is to produce and die. I’m singing my own
Ode to Hoping. But never to the Dirt. We cannot grow if we are not
born we cannot be born if someone does not die, really, there are two and a half
births per deaths every second[1]. Two sides of the same weighted coin,

A bruised palm. This year, I am learning tennis, last year it was love, the year before
It was recognizing the obvious while unlearning how to run from it. Isn’t it funny
that I can read everything and not remember any of it.
No good for literature,
no good for yee yee politics or science or explaining
why I’m a feminist, why an abortion
versus not an abortion.

That’s just how I feel. Next year I will learn how to
(remember). And the year after that I will learn how to
drive stick shift, nurture a garden, suture earthly wounds. I don’t know
if I make the rules
so I plead to whatever does

Is it lessons unlearned or is it
simply forgetting? How permanent is the echo
is an echo is an echo until told otherwise

Ode to Next Summer Not Sucking.
On this starry night
I will make chaos of a life straightened out using my bare hands.
As I pray for sleep to claim me into the complete sea, I weave solemn promises like
Tomorrow I will learn how to do a drop shot and the day after
I will unlearn salient truths about myself, I will become interesting but too intellectual
And then, I will fling parts of myself into the chorus and bury others in the garden.

I will do it over again.


[1] (You don’t believe me?)

Colby McAdams is a writer from Connecticut with a Bachelor’s in English from UConn and a Master’s in Professional Writing from NYU. Her poetry has been featured in Ghost City Press, Potluck Mag, SeaFoam Mag, Vagabond City, and Long River Review. Colby’s hobbies include dominating the aux cord at parties and inviting her demons to dinner with a bottle of wine. You can find her on Twitter @Coco_erin.

Image: indieretronews.com

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