a consideration: All of a sudden I notice people are using the word redacted— as if a meeting were held while I was on break and consequently missed the announcement. My understanding is that it applies mainly as a legal term— but now even in casual writing it emerges on a more frequent level. I admit the phonetics appeal to me for some reason. And as a definition for erasure, removal, or even purging, redacted holds a firm and encompassing representation of these conditions.

Would it work for the new project? In other words: “to the very end / you redacted your life to shadow. / Slow erasure of living—” which translates life to text, self editing notions, passages of past and present…

my definition of death: a closed book on the table, out of reach, or rather barely out of reach. But then what I am referring to is what symbolizes death, not what defines death. It is after all an absence. Shadow without substance. Or the reverse: substance without shadow. A cut stem of a magnolia blossom—or gardenias shifting to golden brown in late spring. Images which carry a hidden nature.

And really it is not death which contrasted between myself and Bob—it was life. He was reckless, on edge. I cannot find the right metaphor—

a definition of life: Brendan—my son—grows nightly; he transforms overnight into a fatter cherub or Italian putti overflowing my arms with plump limbs and a round moon-face. In just three short months he fills out both my arms, a healthy little Buddha smelling of soy formula, wet diapers, and that particular scent of baby rising from the crown of his head. Now he sleeps with arms flung out on either side, gentle breathing, occasional snores of contentment. When he is awake, and looks directly in my eyes—recognizing my presence— the shock of awareness spills out in full force. I have said that before now, yes. In so many other words. Still, the sense of being a parent holds quick to the core of my identity, a snap of a lit match fuming in the darkness.

We shave my head today outside. Clumps of hair fell everywhere, clinging to my pants, my neck, the base of your shirt. The wind stutters, without much interest. Nothing scatters.

Much to my surprise all of the weeds in the back flowerbed are in fact shoots of milkweed. Hundreds of green sprouts scatter across the dark mulch, echoing the more established plants from last spring. My procrastination paid off this time. At one point I was prepared to get down on my knees and dig out all the growth—an obsessive, meticulous, perhaps over-zealous gardener.

The week slipped through my fingers without warning—I wanted a new epiphany to unfold around me so the second half of my memoir-poem would be complete. No luck. Of course it would help if I’d read more—but the last few days leave me wasted. Exhausted. Even as I write this I fight to stay awake long enough t complete a thought, finalize a raw sentence…

a definition: Recently, as part of the submission process for a print journal based in California, the editors ask writers to submit a non-traditional biographical paragraph— they request for the poets to detail why they love poetry

Frankly I was taken aback: from an early age I have always felt the instinctive need to write verse. I never questioned the desire; I always followed where the voices lead me. So now someone point blank asked me to define the un-definable.

Fortunately, after the panic subsided, I remembered back in 1994 another journal proposed a similar approach. In part the following emerges as my informal manifesto. This is my declaration and I am sticking to it:

From earliest memories on, poetry has persisted sounding out in my head. I experience days where the creative urge murmurs frequently. It remains with me as a small blue dragon coiled among my organs, one of his hands poised, making the sign for water, the second arm gesturing, as if reaching out for an unseen pomegranate. A third tucks a violin against his belly, while the last raises a bow. At night as I sleep he whispers images into my head, the myths of past dreams, the lost and wandering nightmares of children. Sometimes, in the early morning hours, I can catch him strumming softly on his little violin, playing out a new melody of his own making. Pushing me to get it down on paper.


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