Monday, February 17, 2014

Punch and Get Out

Complete blizzard today. The internet goes out temporarily, so I default to pen and ink, clipboards full of unfinished poems. If I have a style I would have to say it is post Beat/Confessional small press narrow line poems. Tons of enjambment. Very light on adjectives and descriptive language. In general a twenty-five line limit, because believe it or not, I hate reading my own poetry every bit as much as you do. My tendency the past few years has been to resort to even shorter length constraints, like the haiku. I figure if I only have enough of a kernel for one image, why not just get it down on paper and get out before I ruin it. Or as boxing referee Richard Steele used to say repeatedly "Punch and get out." I'm also enjoying the idea of minimalism quite a bit. Not saying very much. What is there to say really after all this time? Here are a couple I'm working on during this Thundersnow.

Day Off

On Thursday after the garbagemen
Throw my castoffs in the landfill
I am not a poet
So I drag my empty cans
Out behind the compost heap
And begin filling them again.

Not a very good or interesting poem. I have another one. I didn't enjoy reading the Best American Poetry this year as much as I have in years past. The age of the workshop poem seems to be passing into the age of the academics finally discovering they can write about base and vulgar subjects like the rest of us era. Except when they do it we're expected to see it as profound and bold. Sort of an intellectual gentrification. Take something organic and transform it into something overwrought and intellectualized. Poets have been using the word "fuck" for over fifty years now, you don't get any special boldness points for doing it in 2014.


An inefficient way
To ferry tourists
or advertise
Chesterton brand
Rat poison.

That scrap of a poem really has nothing poetic about it except the unstated, but implied allusion to The Good Earth, and G.K. Chesterton. Lately I find myself writing, and to extend the metaphor, the way a tired boxer keeps his hands up and keeps throwing jabs. I don't feel the need to write. I really don't have anything to say I can't express in 140 characters on social media. I keep hoping eventually I'll stumble upon something worthwhile to say. And say it well. Maybe even if I fall short of that I can say something that has meaning to a few other people. I don't think I'll be able to do it.

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