For the last week, I’ve been working with high school students in Austin, Texas. Specifically, I (along with 11 other great teachers) am teaching 39 students everything they need to know about current events and public speaking. It’s my fourth year here in Austin and I’m having a hootenanny, however… IT’S TOO DAMN HOT. A couple of days ago, the high was 104, a record. I grew up in Dallas, Texas. Several of my poems reference memories of trying to cook eggs on the sidewalk because it was just that warm outside. My childhood memories of summer are rife with droughts, water restrictions (don’t water your lawn, except on Tuesdays and Fridays, etc.), and the joy of playing with water hoses because no one in my family could afford a swimming pool.
With that being said, I don’t live in the South anymore. And each time I come back, I feel less and less like a Southerner. I’ve made my peace with that reality. Now that I’ve gotten that rant out of my system (seriously, it’s been wearing me out), it’s worth mentioning that I really haven’t had the time to write or read since I’ve been here. I’m working with the students from 9:30 am until 10:30 pm. And when I do have free time, I’m usually too tired to think lucidly about poetry, much less put words on paper. At first, like the heat’s oppression, this had me a bit panicked. I’m working on my thesis this summer, which is to say I’m in the process of writing 45-60 poems. For the last two months, I’ve been living, breathing, and obsessing over these poems. After some meditation though, it occurred to me that that obsession is exactly why I needed to come here. I needed a break from writing so intensely. It’s not that I’ve stopped thinking about my work. Quite the contrary in fact. I can feel new images & ideas churning in my creative subconscious. Being back in Texas (or Tejas, depending on my mood) has reminded me what heat is & what it does to you. It’s a theme I’ve written about already and apparently, still want to write about — if, of course, I don’t die from heat exhaustion.