Excerpt from The April Book
July 1, 2022
From The April Book by Jennifer C. Weil
An unedited diary of at least one poem per day, from April 5,1984 trough April 5, 1985
The April Book originated in the Mile High City with a Dedication to my husband. In 2019, I made a codicil. They follow here:
It is April 5, 1984, and I can neither eat nor sleep. I have no need to wander the halls in search of space or some diversion; the hotel room feels very large. He snores gently; I listen alternately to him and to the efforts of my heart to fashion wings ...
THE APRIL BOOK: NOTHING'S BLACK OR WHITE arose from (and occasionally revisited) insomnia. It is, without being a diary or journal, a chronicle of one year in a particular lifetime. With no small love, I offer it to you in the best way I know: from my heart.
There was no commitment to make these poems profound, no compulsion to produce the best I would ever produce. I refused even to look at what I had written. In the long years since the end of the year, I have resisted editing these pages, even when they made me cringe. Except for the purposes of correcting formatting differences from the original software to the one used for this edition, my only requirement of me was to communicate daily with myself and with you, whom I have imagined again and again, and whose face I have seen recognize itself in the pages of this book. Your changes are my changes, your dreams and deeds are mine, and so too is your poetry.
-- Jennifer C. Weil April 5, 1985
NOTE: There is no table of contents. Each poem bears the date on which it was written. In rare instances, a date may have two short poems. Those pages are the exception, the only bending of my rule.
June 9, 2019
July 1, 2022
I thought at first to take the pieces from the manuscript, a simple chronological approach to sharing this long-ago work. On reflection, it seemed too journalistic, instead, I chose to take poems at random and alter them as I wish, then write one for today. How uncanny that the first one is titled “Comparison.” Now, you just come along and decide whether the old woman’s take is stronger than the young woman’s. Perhaps you will say, “Why didn’t she leave it alone!” You might say, “They’re both _____________ (fill in your adjective(s). And as for the current one, well …”
This is naked stuff I’m putting out here. You can be naked, too, in your response. I do like honesty without vituperation; yet, it’s not my place to tell you to be nice or civil or show restraint. Welcome to the warehouse.
January 24, 1984 July 1, 2022
Our house was quieter; That house was somber;
we never threw things we never threw things
or raised our voices or raised out voices
without feeling guilty. without a fugue of guilt.
Our house is volatile; Our house is volatile;
words are projectiles words, sharp projectiles
bouncing off the walls nicking the walls
around our guarded ears. around our guarded ears.
Our house was too careful, That house built of eggshell
left us unprepared rendered us unschooled
for these later wars for these later wars,
without nice rules to keep. absent useful guidelines.
Our house is too hurtful, Our house is strong built
yet within its bonds a fortress of both hurt
gentle words have lured and gentle syllables to lure
my leaving heart back home. my leaving heart back home.
Our house imitated love That house imitated love
it could not feel; so earnestly, a love it could not feel;
Our house courts our pain-- our house courts our pain.
and neither place is mine. Neither place is mine.
July 1, 2022
We adopted a gallery of walls
with doors to match
and windows looking
Views of trees,
of sand and beach
and hills of parch
On wheels we came to places
that begged our residence,
where our hearts then pleaded
of the places, Let us go!
Each residence, a school;
each room, a lesson,
teaching the math of variance
to seek not a sameness of passion
for this or that
but for the truthful answer.
Walls expanded and contracted
Remained, but relocated with us too
when we moved on;
and so had little need to mourn.
We took our rooms, our places
everywhere with us;
we listen to them laugh at us,
at bickering whose power reigns
at forgiveness that waterfalls,
at love that knows the frail houses
of the past
built to last.
One prudent (I hope) observation: A poem written many years ago sprang from the perspective of one who since has likely grown. Myriad experiences informed a new person, in a way. Enveloping the old, to be sure, this new poet will not write the same poem today. As a piece of one’s personal history, the original work will bear the date of its creation, and so will the rewrites its poet makes.