August 3, 2011KR BlogKR

Products Wednesday

This is the final installment of Materials Wednesday, in which I attempted to produce catharsis for myself and entertainment for you by sharing some images, ideas and methods that I have tried and failed to make into poems of my own. Last week, I wrote my way into a kind of realization — that our jobs as poets are in many ways about the careful (or obsessive) refinement of materials — a very different job than the blogger’s, which is more often to tell a story.

So considering that I am supposed to be a blogging poet, here’s the story: low self-esteem, basement-dweller-style poet decides to guest blog on his failure to write certain poems, has a grand time sharing everything that has vexed him in the last several years, and then during a montage finds the energy and courage to finish work he’d long ago given up on — the orphanage is saved! Everybody he knows stands in a semicircle and cheers. He stands in the middle, turning slightly left and right and nodding to all the happy people, and the applause goes on a lot longer than would be comfortable in real life. But that’s okay. It’s Products Wednesday — all is permitted.

Speaking of movies, the first piece I finished found the form of a series of movie poems I wrote last year — partially because Sniperball as I came to imagine it required a lot of exposition. This had been a problem I’d encountered when I was playing with the poem the first time through — the result seemed explanatory and flat. When I went back to it, though, it seemed like a natural fit with something I’d mentioned in the electricity post — the relationship between the Ecstasy of St. Theresa and the un-storiness of good prose poems. Therefore:



In the ecstasy of St. Theresa, God dreams of employing and then consuming the best and lithest things in the world. Sincere, focused children dream of exploding, the crowds sparked and boiling like acid, a shaft of force coming down into them from the rafters above, and I am the smiling angel plucking at their garments. My rifle is a specialty piece, my rifle is not for shooting my way out of the post-game revelries, I have a regular handgun for that.

I will explain it to you like this; to my grandchildren, I will explain it in statues, a man flipping a long ponytail of blood back over his shoulder like a new lover with that good itch. I paid thousands of dollars and they slung me from the rafters. The pop music they played was from Hungary, I think, it went keen, twitch, keen, twitch, and built like a ray of vertical transfiguring light. I aimed downwards, between my knees.

Two red rubber balls per competitor, two competitors locked into truck-sized plexiglass boxes. A three-dimensional, two-handed, double-ball dribble that they had obviously been bred to perform, and had screwed down and practiced ever since they were resolute children. At the whistle, the laser dots floated across the bodies of the players like shoals of crimson fish. At the whistle, the honey of our attention floated across the bodies of the players like a dream made real.


The breakthrough I had with regards to this second piece, which also came out of the electricity post, is a little simpler: don’t write a poem. Take a picture, and then screw with it.

That’s just a working title: if you have a better one please do let me know. Many thanks, too, to my photographer, who was very game to help out once I convinced her that I was not going to try to trick her into recording my own electrocution.


The last piece is the newest, and still feels the most like an exercise — but maybe they’ll let me keep my KR login, and I can sneak back in and revise it a few months from now. It comes out of the Santogold stanza in this post, the writing of which actually helped me visualize, and then reproduce, the rhythm of the passage. Once I was able to do that I learned that 1) stacking spondees is both difficult and jarring, and 2) the double-choriamb is harder, but more interesting and variable, than the single. So I wrote fifty or so double choriambs and fifty or so single choriambs (without worrying about that extra spondee) and mixed and matched the result with some free verse lines, all of which ended up like this:


After the Debt Limit
(and Santogold)

Partiers grab sad for the bar. It was a good run in its way.
Now the tragedy of unused toys: sit in the parking lot after last call,
pretend the cans burst in their grip. What without win and lose
could they do but get in the basket of the storm, sullen and scared,
force one last vote. They bay at the penniless moon:

Rent out the park. Call off the dogs.
Breaking our bread. Burrowing blind.
Burning our bread. Billowing flume.
Boycotting bread. Boy, are you screwed.

And us out here, we want a hard bright life of vines. We’ll have
neighbors we borrow chairs from, stately debate, pinkish the scars
from hands on hands. We survive, are still now knuckling in light,
recycling the favors, the ember has breached high in the air:
there’s a flash. The old obligations flail like falling ash.


That’s all! Thank you for your attention, thanks to KR for creating such a sturdy and inspirational platform, and please do feel free to email or comment.