Self and reality. Symbol and language. Myth and image. Memory and consciousness.
Dream and unreality: locus communis.

Friday, March 12, 2010

moment.05 || possibilities

During the last few days I have been playing with my "Litany" poem. The free write spiraled the piece into a stanza format without complication—individually the stanzas operate in a fashion that suits my idealistic style... however, the manner the stanzas work together seem to be problematic... this is in itself the main issue with sundry lists; a writer struggles to prove cohesion exists, when in reality there is none.

Obviously, I do like utilizing a "collage" approach, blending a variety of elements together: motley themes, blurry memories, conflicted concepts—forcing constrasting ideas into a sense of commonality. This technique adds a stronger, diverse message—something unexpected for the reader. Susan Mitchell uses this technique frequently; her "Havana Birth" is a strong example of how to combine multiple, radically diverse elements into one piece, successfully. In her case, she uses the notions of the self-awareness of a poet with actions of the world around herself, plus the perceptions of her mother being fitted for a dress.

The opening three stanzas read:

Off Havana, the ocean is green this morning
of my birth. The conchers clean their knives on leather
straps and watch the sky while three couples
who have been dancing on the deck of a ship
in the harbor, the old harbor of the fifties, kiss
each other's cheeks and call it a night.

On a green sofa five dresses wait
to be fitted. The seamstress kneeling at Mother's feet
has no idea I am about to be born. Mother
pats her stomach which is flat
as the lace mats on the dressmaker's table. She thinks
I'm playing in my room. But as usual, she's wrong.

I am about to be born in a park in Havana. Oh,
this is important, everything in the dressmaker's house
is furred like a cat. And Havana leans right up
aganst the windows. In the park, the air
is chocolate, the sweet breath of a man
smoking an expensive cigar...

—and she moves on from here to express the emotional impact of becoming aware of poetry in her life, utilizing the images of her environment: pigeons, sugarcane workers with machetes, and later—"a prostitute in a little calle of Havana dreamed/the world was a peach and flicked / open a knife."  Mitchell mixes the mundane with the extra-ordinary.

This thechnique is what I am aiming to achieve in the latest poem. Blurring the realities into one work.

Litany of Sundry Images, Overused

—as a collection of stones
gathered across my desktop,
or handfuls of rock pulled

from swollen creek beds,
each raw sphere tumbled smooth
from overuse, the personal cliches

lined in a row, or repetitious images
beside my typewriter, spread out—    {lap top? key board? seems to modern
(as) my habitual tarot deck

with worn corners and individual,
cryptic titles: the sudden flight of egrets,
the half open window, the constellation of Orion rising.

Or desire personified, curled in my lap,
stretching his four legs while slumbering.
Whiskers twitching.

Let someone else find pleasure with
the double O in moon, the twist of the lips
in witch, and the layers of phonetics,            {layering?

with the clusters of seeds embedded
in the red shell of a pomegranate,
sweetly tart on the tongue.                              {tartly sweet?

I let go my claims over:
blossoms, tattoos, modern jazz,
and the unbound language of crows.

The words lift away from me,
fireflies in august twilight,
glorious abstractions growing smaller
falling into the distance, until I close
the blinds. Move away from the page.
And prepare myself for sleep.                       {for a long winter sleep?
                                                                             ... that sounds too familiar....

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