Another day, another draft, more delight & surprise & gratitude. Again, the draft spilled quite easily from my fingers once I got a grip on where it wanted to go. I used two different inspiration cards this morning, a bit of a dream/nightmare, and without re-reading them, the memory of two Charles Wright poems from his collection, Country Music, one of my top ten poetry books that now bears re-reading.
I've included a picture of the two cards here. The bits that made it into the draft are these: the words "Urban Archaeology" became part of my title, "Urban Archaeology: 2027"; the letters and the flicker made it into the poem; the religious imagery of the gold-leafed door made it in, but not as a door, as an icon; and the "renegade secret" became "the secrets of renegade prophets." I really wanted to use the bluebird but felt that the flicker was enough bird for this one poem.
So, I started looking at the cards and remembering a dream I posted about on Facebook. In the dream I had night before last, I cut my cat's claw too close but instead of it bleeding, my upper molars started bleeding, not from the gums, but through the enamel on the chewing surface. Highly disturbing, but weirdly no pain in the dream. As I recalled that, I remember a Charles Wright poem that begins with a litany of four lines that all begin "Year of the... ."
Here is his poem:
Year of the Half-Hinged Mouth and the Hollow Bones,
Year of the Thorn,
Year of the Rope and the Dead Coal,
Year of the Hammering Mountain, Year of the Sponge . . .
I open the book of What I Can Never Know
To page 1, and start to read:
"The Snow falls from the hills to the sea, from the cloud
To the cloud's body, water to water . . ."
At 40, the apricot
Seems raised to a higher power, the fire ant and the weed.
And I turn in the wind,
Not knowing what sign to make, or where I should kneel.
As I said above, I didn't re-read the poem until after the draft was finished, and I'd forgotten the turns the poem takes in the second and third stanzas. My draft is a four stanza litany, with the first two lines of each stanza beginning Year of the... or Year we... variations. The third and fourth lines of each stanza are indented right now. I think I'll need to add some kind of turn and remake a different ending during the revision process.
My first line right now comes from my dream and is "Year of the bloodied tooth and torn claw." That set the tone of violence for the rest of the poem. I'm not all that comfortable with violent poems, so this was a new direction for me. Then, somehow, I blended the above Wright poem with another, "Self-Portrait in 2035," which obviously has a futuristic quality. I toyed around with setting my poem in the current year, "Urban Archaeology: 2010," but it wasn't clearly based on real events of this year. Then, I remembered Wright's future-looking poem and decided to set my poem in the future as well...thus 2027 in the title.
Here's the other Wright poem:
Self-Portrait in 2035
The root becomes him, the road ruts
That are sift and grain in the powderlight
Recast him, sink bone in him,
Blanket and creep up, fine, fine:
Worm-waste and pillow tick; hair
Prickly and dust-dangeled, his arms and black shoes
Unlinked and laceless, his face false
In the wood-rot, and past pause . . .
Darkness, erase these lines, forget these words.
Spider recite his one sin.
I love Wright for his lines, which lengthen and fragment in his later works, but I also love him for his use of ADJECTIVES, of which I'm always being told to be wary. I can't quite believe that I have seven drafts to show for eight days of work. I FEEL LUCKY TO BE ALIVE IN THIS WORLD!
Support a Poet/Poetry:
Buy of Borrow a Copy of this Book Today
Country Music: Selected Early Poems
Wesleyan/New England, 1991