[the Writing of Kuypers][JanetKuypers.com][Bio][Poems][Prose]




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burn it in

Once I was at a beach off the west coast of Florida. It was New Year’s Eve and the yellow moon hung over the gulf like a swaying lantern. And I was watching the waves crash in front of me with a friend and the wind picked up and my friend just stared at that moon for a while and then closed his eyes. I asked him what he was thinking.

He said, “I wanted to look at this scene, and memorize it, burn it into my brain, record it in my mind, so I can call it up when I want to. So I can have it with me always.”

I too have my recorders. I burn these things into my brain. I burn these things onto pages. I pick and choose what needs to be said, what needs to be remembered.

Every year, at the end of the year I used to write in a journal, recall the things that happened to me, log in all of the memories I needed to keep, because that was what kept me sane. That was what kept me alive.

When I first went to college I was studying to be a computer science engineer. I wanted to make a lot of money. I wanted to beat everyone else, because burned in my brain were the taunts of kids who were in cliques so others could do the thinking for them. Because burned in my brain were the evenings of the high school dances I never went to. Because burned in my brain were the people I knew I was better than, who thought they were better than me. Well, yes, I wanted to make a lot of money, I wanted to beat everyone else, but I hated what I was doing. I hated what I saw around me. Hated all the pain people put each other through.

And all of these memories just kept flooding me, so in my spare time to keep me sane, to keep me alive, I wrote down the things I could not say. That was how I recorded things.

When I looked around me, and saw friends raping my friends — I wrote. I burned into these nightmares with a pen and yes, I have this recorded. I have all of this recorded.

What did you think I was doing when I was stuffing handwritten notes into my pockets or typing long hours into the night?

In college, I had two roommates who in their spare time would watch movies in our living room and cross-stitch. I never understood this. In my spare time, I was not watching other’s stories or weaving thread to keep my hands busy. I was sitting in the corner of a cafe scribbling into my notebook. I was sitting in the university computer lab slamming my hands, my fingers, against the keyboard because there were too many atrocities in the world, too many injustices that I had witnessed, too many people who had wronged me and I had a lot of work to do. There had to be a record of what you’ve done.

Did you think your crimes would go unpunished? And did you think that you could come back, years later, slap me on the back with a friendly hello and think I wouldn’t remember?

You see, that’s what I have my poems for, so there will always be a record of what you have done. I have defiled many pages in your honor, you who swung your battle ax and thought no one would remember in the end. Well, I made a point to remember. Yes, I have defiled many pages, and have you defiled many women? You, the man who rapes my friends? You, the man who rapes my sisters? You, the man who rapes me? Is this what makes you a strong man?

You want to know why I do the things I do.

I had to record these things. That is what kept me together when people were dying. That is what kept me together when my friends went off to war. That is what kept me together when my friends were raped and left for dead. That is what kept me together when no one bothered to notice this or change this or care about this — these recordings kept me together.

I need to record these things to remind myself of where I came from. I need to record these things to remind myself that there are things to value and things to hate. I need to record these things to remind myself that there are things worth fighting for, worth dying for.

I need to record these things to remind myself that I am alive.




U.S. Government Copyright
Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
on all art and all writings on this site completed
before 6/6/04. All rights reserved. No material
may be reprinted without express permission.

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