Week 22: On the Way Back Around

She lost something warm and dear out there
Somewhere in the movements of the planets

Too long to wait for an old hope
It’s more easily left behind and forgotten

If it’s still in orbit on the way back around
She’ll blow a kiss and wave as she shoots on by

Author’s Notes:

The idea of reencountering people or places or things that were important to you at one moment in your life is interesting because there is always a temptation to try to recreate something that is gone—to try too hard to relive the past or recreate something that is gone. I think being able to encounter the past gracefully, with joy rather than feelings of loss is admirable. But at the same time, I have some ambivalence because I think there is a version of doing this that trivializes and ornamentalizes the past in a way that is just a way of denying loss by saying it’s not that important. I’m not sure which I think that the subject of the poem is doing.

Despite my paragraph that perhaps over-explains my thoughts about it, I think this week’s poem is simpler and more accessible than last week’s, and I feel more comfortable with it, so I’m happy.

Favorite Line:
Somewhere in the movements of the planets

Saddest Line:
It’s more easily left behind and forgotten

Week 21: Arrival

Inverted horizon, pearl-green sky
I look up and see a shape, a human form
a white silhouette falling from the upside-down moon
streaking silently across the sky
but motionless—like a feather frozen in ice
falling for eons, or maybe only seconds
and then landing without a sound, miles away
beyond the curve of the world

I take one step and suddenly I am ripped away
transported, now standing above him
he is curled up in a ball, slender and pale and glowing
plain brown hair touched with a hint of fire
perfectly still, like a fawn sleeping in a bed of flowers
I watch as his eyes slowly open and instantly
I am not me anymore—I am him, on my back looking up

There is a black silhouette towering above me
and it begins to bend over, dripping down like ink
and I begin to panic, but I feel something soft
like a feather brushing against my cheek
or kiss landing gently on my forehead
and slowly the features begin to resolve
a chin, a forehead, the hair dangling off her brow
a set of eyes, a nose, a faint look of confusion

And now I am floating above us and I wonder
what conspiracy of forces, natural or divine
has designed this strange arrival.

Author’s Notes:

Ok. Well this is one of the weirder, more surreal poems I’ve done. I like the ambient feeling it creates and the mysterious, unresolved story, but I do wonder if it’s one of the poems I’ve done for the project that is more likely to fall flat for some people. Frankly, I wanted it to be something else, but it ended up this.

I like how the poem starts off-balance right away, and how jumping between perspectives makes it difficult to get your footing (that is probably the weakness of the poem too).

Overall, I personally like a lot of things about it—particularly the feeling of uncertainty and anticipation it creates—but I’ve felt better about the punchier, more concise poems I’ve written (last week’s, for instance, was a favorite of mine). I think part of it is when a poem is short, I feel like I can be more daring, without as much risk of losing the reader’s focus.

Favorite Line:
but motionless—like a feather frozen in ice

Most Odd Line:
beyond the curve of the world

(the reason this line is odd is that ‘beyond the curve of the earth’ is clearly more natural sounding to me, but given the nature of the poem, I didn’t want to be locked into it being Earth)

Week 20: Footfalls in the Dark

Fireflies swirling, you are more beautiful
Listen for footfalls in the dark
We are alone until the curtain goes
Smile again, my cheeks will burn away

Glasses fog in the cool air
A quivering lip says more than a tongue
Your eyelids don’t keep their secrets well
I won’t waste my breath on questions

The moon is snow and ice tonight
It will weep if it ever learns
the cruelty of its beauty.

Author’s Notes:

I’m very happy with this. It’s pretty and mysterious and I think you can read it in a few different ways. I’ve found I enjoy doing these little vignettes that focus on a small moment, without building much context around it. Like looking at an old photo of people you don’t know anything about, one snapshot is enough to provoke your mind into reflexively generating a meaning and context that is relevant to you.

Favorite Line:
Your eyelids don’t keep their secrets well

A Line I Find Slightly Cliché, But Still Like:
Fireflies swirling, you are more beautiful

Week 19: Wash Away

Letters left on the beach to wash away
a song sung into a cassette recorder, a box
of player piano rolls lost in an attic, Polaroids
tossed on a dashboard, edges curled by the sun

a stack of diaries in the basement, a manuscript
stored away in the back room of a museum
a mural painted over in white, ashes delicately chalked
onto the walls of an unexplored cave

a wish whispered to the stars
a postcard lost in the mail
a message left on an answering machine
and never heard

Author’s Notes:

A classic ‘list of things’ poem. This is the first week I’ve had trouble landing on a name for the poem. My practice has always been to pull text directly to use as a title (which I did end up doing here), but it really seems like ‘Washed Away’ would be a better title. I’m not sure, but Polaroid might be the first Brand that I’ve mentioned so far in this project.

I’ve been experimenting with something called enjambment recently, which is when a line ends uncompleted and continues on the next line. I like how it can add a bit of energy and flow to this type of poem that might otherwise seem really flat.

Favorite line(s):
a song sung into a cassette recorder, a box
of player piano rolls lost in an attic

A line that I removed, but still like:
An ancient echo, wandering its canyon like a ghost

Week 18: Veil

Wash of color on the driveway
purple shadows longer than the trees are tall
eastern sun, a veil of mist
a mourning dove calling from the wire

a loose brick in the sidewalk
a beam of light that appears from nowhere
there is something in the works, I can feel it

you may be warm and tight beneath your covers
but I am out here on my toes, shivering
waiting for something unexpected to appear
waiting for church bells to ring without a reason
or a bushel of apples to drop from their stems all at once
or a giant peony to bloom just below the surface of the earth
and open to the sky like a secret, velvet cave
and swallow us together into its ruffled folds, you and I

Author’s Notes:

This week’s poem very much fits into a style that I seem to have developed—create a setting using gentle, placid imagery that lulls you back, and then toss a pebble into the pond and watch the ripples.

The poem doesn’t totally resolve, which I sort of like, because it’s a poem about anticipation. I’m curious if it reads as being full of excitement or dread. I was trying to make it ambiguous, but I suspect that it will feel like one or the other depending on the person reading it.

Favorite Line:
and open to the sky like a secret, velvet cave

A Word that I add in and then deleted about 6 Times:
Light: [Light] wash of color on the driveway

Week 17: Vacancy

Look up—here is a monument to vacancy
a beacon floating bright above the motel
but then, a moment later, flip the sign
the last key is taken
all rooms are occupied, tired traveler
drive safely through the night
I hope you find a place somewhere
with a sink and a lamp
and a well-made bed

Author’s Notes:

This week’s poem is a little vignette. To me it feels like the motel itself is the one speaking to the traveler, which I like.

Favorite Line:
all rooms are occupied, tired traveler

The Line I Spent the Most Time On:
I hope you find a place somewhere