I am a 21st Century Confessionalist poet and I write about the things I experience. I am first and foremost a survivor, am extraordinarily fortunate to still be alive, and that is what I try to project in my work. Though much of my work is rooted in specific personal experiences, I strive to write so that others can relate to the feelings and message in my poems as a part of the universal human experience. Life is life. When you have it, don't give up on it or yourself, no matter what, damn it!
Jules Gates is an Associate Professor of English in the Department of English and Modern Languages at Angelo State University, where she is the director of the English Education program, and has worked with colleagues since 2002 on the annual ASU Writers Conference in Honor of Elmer Kelton, conducting the conference interview with Terrance Hayes in 2009, and chairing the conference for 2 years when Mary Karr (2010) and Art Spiegelman (2011) were the featured writers. She is the faculty sponsor of Oasis, ASU's student art and literary magazine. Dr. Gates has published poetry in Amarillo Bay, Blue Bonnet Review, Carcinogenic Poetry, Concho River Review, Voices de la Luna, Visions with Voices, and Red River Review. She has presented poetry and creative nonfiction at the South Central Modern Language Association Conference, the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers Conference, and the Langdon Review Weekend.
I've too long worn this threadbare, tattered shift
Saturated with the smell of stale sweat
Spotted with specks of random blood
And unidentifiable splotches of sauce,
Long since cooked, played with, and dumped.
I am more gray than this brown sack cloth
And just as brittle and crinkled,
And crack and crumble after the years
Of too painful scorching sun
And freak ice storms.
The Santa Anna winds are sweeping through,
The tumbleweeds roll past,
Dust fills my face and feet,
And it is time for me to return
To the earth.
Sometimes things go sour because they've expired.
There's no solution, cream, or sweetener
to reverse the process.
The constitution of what it once was
has turned into something unpalatable,
and no amount of stirring, mixing with new spices,
or simmering at different temperatures
can restore the original concoction
to its succulent freshness.
To the back burner it goes
or into the trash,
or stashed in a forgotten zip lock bag
in the back of the freezer,
where, 3 months from now, unrecognizable,
it will be chiseled out from iced-over resistance
and casually tossed into a garbage can
in the steaming summer sizzle,
where, after broken brittleness, it will soften
and finally putrify.
Wisdom is setting the ship assail,
or seeing it depart on its own from port,
never to return,
and then climbing aboard
the security of your individual yacht,
sailing in your own direction,
with the impassable sea
between you and the massive ship
that once overshadowed your smaller vessel.
blue, silver, gold, and transparent.
I used to have a brain
but it withered to straw
right about the time
that the little big man behind the curtain
hacked into my steel chest
snatched my heart out
and shoved it in the mouth of the lion
who had no balls.