Friday, October 15, 2004

My dad and stepmother are visiting, which means frantic apartment cleaning and making a potroast. Both missions were successful and they've returned to the B&B round the corner where they're staying; Emily and I are zoning out in the living room with the dog under an afghan. The Ithaca College students are on break which means it's quiet, and a light rain adds to the feeling of peace and somnolence.

Thinking about the longish poem I'm writing. How to structure it? With a long poem that's generating its form as it goes from impulses of the moment, as opposed to filling some sort of container, any ending point seems arbitray. Think of Zukofsky deciding "A" would have 24 sections, or Pound writing the last Canto as the last Canto, "whatever I may write in the interim." Trying to beat death to the punch. Endings always have to do with death; submitting to the predetermined ending of a compulsive form like the sonnet or sestina is like racing against time, whereas iambic pentameter or page as field always has another blank page behind the one that's filling with text—you will never outrace that blankness. I suppose I could orient what I'm doing around content and stop when I'm done saying whatever it is I have to say. But that's just another arbitrary imposition on the generation of writing, which as a poet is a large part of how I define my existence. If I'm not writing I don't cease to exist but my existence is somehow less than it was. Writing or saying comes before and after content; content is no fit jury for my task.

I don't think much about audience. I just don't. I've read poems and had powerful responses to them; I think I can tap into the mode of discourse or verbal production that produced those effects in me, and it seems reasonable to expect that it might produce similar effects in others. I write for myself while at the same time fully expecting that what moves me will move at least a few other people. Call it audacity, call it temerity, call it elitism, call it boring—why not, if it bores you. Or call it a dumb faith in my basic kinship with other human beings who speak English, and who recognize that English is both a medium to swim in and a phenomeon in itself.

Here's a poem. I don't post much poetry here, but here's a poem that hasn't yet appeared anywhere else; it just might be the last Severance Song:
Caught wanting makes an end of the secret spine
stitching bass to treble, ass to the warbling throat
out of which secret airs sting and stem themselves
like sheets whipped in the rain. Lifted bodily
by an urge that is my body’s homeless home,
but no sound can be found to anchor heav’n to.
Isn’t it just the messenger we seize in our hands,
subject to kingly whim, while the message withers
in the space between two ears? Avenge
these saints slaughtered on the crossed lines
of my sex: don’t let the Lord be lord to me.
Nor let there be an end to the blood whir of my wanting.
Story is a given and finish is a gleam, but
attachment’s what gives way to the glint of making eyes.

No comments:

Popular Posts