44º ~ tornadoes and high winds last night heralded a cold front returning us to cooler temps, wild skies remain
Wow. A draft! Let me tell you, Dear Reader, I was sitting at my desk this morning, following my routine, knowing that as it was a Thursday, I would go into work an hour later than I do on MWF, but not really conscious of why. As I read through the blogs and saw a lot of NaPoWrMo posts, a wee bit of lightning struck me upside the head: "It's Thursday! That's drafting day."
And this is what I mean about courting the muse and not waiting for her. I have put a pattern in place, and usually, I focus consciously on that pattern so that I'm thinking "draft a poem, draft a poem, draft a poem" on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. At this point in the semester, things are starting to fall apart, the gyre is definitely widening (check out Yeats' "The Second Coming" if that's a new one for you). But, despite the chaos, the pattern remained.
As I stated on Monday, I've been haunted by the news of a missing girl in Arkansas, and she keeps coming up in drafts, but I'm uncomfortable about two things: 1) the ungainly narrative/clumsy prose nature of what I drafted, and 2) telling a story not mine to tell. This morning, the angry sisters returned and said, "We've got this. We're mad as hell, and we're going to take over." So, the new draft begins:
In the woods,
the angry sisters search
That's the line that sent me spinning to my journal. I hadn't done any of my normal routine of clearing the desk, reading poetry by others, etc. I was simply looking at blogs and Facebook and Boom! The lines also came out in ragged indents, short, compressed, clipped. All that I'd been longing for in that burdensome earlier draft.
I owe Traci Brimhall yet another debt of gratitude because her work reminds me that there can be brutality and ugliness in poems, and I mean that in the best way possible. So, when the angry sisters wanted to get ugly about bodily rape and emotional violation (which sadly, is very often the story when young girls and boys go missing and stay missing like this), I took a deep breath and didn't turn away, as I have in the past. It definitely helped that the angry sisters were speaking. Their persona allowed me to say what I had been struggling to say in that earlier draft. Their persona also allowed me to fictionalize the situation beyond this specific case in Arkansas right now.
I have often wanted to write what might be considered political poems, but I've never been able to put those ears on the table as Carolyn Forche does in "The Colonel." (And she does it with the most limber, gymnastic prose poetry ever. Damn.) "The Colonel" is one of those foundational poems that rocked me to the core as a young undergrad and made me want to write. Perhaps I shied from the overtly political, though, because I didn't understand my own need for persona to do so. Who knows? Maybe this is just another angry sister poem or maybe the angry sisters just discovered their mission.