Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Draft: A New Saint Poem

61º ~ the aftermath of last night’s storms still on the windows and in the gray-white sky, tornado warnings at 2:00 a.m., huge trees down around town, power outages abound, several houses with trees through roofs, our house unscathed

I’m drafting this post in Word because our cable/internet has been knocked out by the storm.  Last night, before the storms, I attended Alan Michael Parker’s reading at Hendrix college (expect more on that later).  Our styles are quite divergent, as his relies on a piercing wit and poems laced with humor, but still, the evening energized me and reminded me that there are so many diverse voices in poetry today. 

Last night before bed, I flipped through the journal to the page where I’d pasted the notes from my trip up north a few weeks back.  It’s just a list of nouns that I associate with the Midwest, but I thought it would be good to get things simmering.  I’ve been wanting to write a barn poem, perhaps as a haunting or cautionary tale, as barns hold some fear, for me, that I’d like to explore.  So, I went to bed with that.

Sleep was interrupted by the above mentioned tornado threat and I wasn’t sure what frame of mind I’d be in come the morning.  While both C. and I were a bit slow to start today, and my normal routine was a bit mixed-up due to oversleeping, I’m happy to say that I did write a draft.  Yippee.

I sat down at a newly organized desk, with everything removed except my journal and my packet of poems in progress.  Feeling sluggish, I began by reading over the two tales I am still revising.  (I’m happy to report that all of the other tales are out there in the world looking for a home.)  I did some tweaking to the two poems and felt satisfied.  I cast about for how to begin a new draft.  I flipped back to my Midwest words and settled on the barn.  After drafting two pages of barn memories, trying to capture this feeling of darkness, dampness, and danger, nothing clicked.  Sigh. 

Nevertheless, I persevere.

I happened to flip past the word bank from last week.  These were words from Traci Brimhall’s amazing book, Rookery.  I thought, what the heck, let’s try that again.  At the same time, I was thinking about the recent publication of my work in Escape Into Life.  In that publication, two of my older saint poems reside next to two of the newer tale poems.  (All of this was just percolating at the back of my mind.)  I looked at the word bank and realized that I don’t have access to the internet, so no to generate pairs.  Instead, I flipped from the word bank to a my new page in the journal and jotted down whatever word caught my eye.  In whatever mysterious way this works, after I had about a dozen pairs, lines began to form on the page.  Suddenly, I realized that I was writing a new saint poem.  I happened to remember “The Winter Saint,” and since these new lines were about summer heat and grain elevators exploding, I made this one “The Summer Saint.”  It’s about a man who escapes death three times in three days (grain elevator explosion, lightning, hornet swarm) and how his neighbor’s force him into sainthood.

When the draft felt as finished as it was going to be today, I set it aside and the barn kept bugging me.  While I didn’t draft the poem, I did realize that it needs to be a haunting tale and not a fairy tale.  A leaping off point for next week’s draft, perhaps?

For now, I’m thankful that we have electricity, although I know I could have written the poem without the computer.  I’m thankful none of our half dozen massive trees fell on our house and that our roof didn’t lift off the walls.  I’m sending thanks to the crews working to remove the debris from our roads and restore electricity to those without.

Stay safe out there, friends of the Kangaroo.


Kathleen said...

Glad to hear about this new work.

We had tornado warnings and hail in central IL, but it was way worse in NC.

Still, a beautiful gold moon looks down...

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Kathleen. Glad that you and yours are safe and sound.