– Patti Smith, Horses (1975)
Contrary to the alleged wisdom of Roget’s Super Thesaurus 1995 edition (what deemed it “super” the tome never explained): “poetry” and “prose” are NOT synonyms. Thirteen-year-old me did not realize this. I trusted the almighty power of the printed word. Old notebooks now hold embarrassing hand-lettered titlepages. Of course, by “hand-lettered,” I mean letters cut from Seventeen magazine like a ransom note.
Full disclosure: I don’t write poetry very often.
Any more at least. Between the ages of twelve and seventeen, I filled nearly a dozen hand-written journals with my awkward, adolescent odes. In some of the earlier volumes, I hadn’t even mastered the dexerity required for elegant cursive writing. And I consulted the aforementioned thesaurus far too often, believing this great book to be the key to it all, thus peppering my poems with endless malapropisms.
I don’t think I’ve gotten better with age.
I’ve written a total of about four poems in the last seven years. Two are terrible. Another two, not so bad.
One of those not-so-bad two, Madrid, Before a Recession, appears in Ataraxia Vol. 4, available here.
When I first wrote this poem, nearly six years ago, it was simply titled Madrid.
I sat on it for a while. Years passed.
Looking at it again, it suddenly became something of a time capsule. (Like a thesaurus from 1995.) And a rather accidental one at that.
Thus, the renaming.
Because maybe it’s time I start learning something…
“Look at the longing, the anguish of a sad fossil world / that cannot find the accent of its first sob.” (Frederico Garcia Lorca)
the sound of the trains comes thinly
hand in hand with rain
shivering into droplets against the smudged glass of the window
two handprints on the outside, small and light
vowels seem redundant
but esses less so
in these days of much
i have a tripleword score lined up ready to win
but sometimes i just make up words and no one would ever really know
i would know
until i chose to forget
the floors creak more loudly than i remember
the words whistle in a whisper
dubyas are four points
I love my magnetic poetry… not the regular kind, but an “indie” magnetic poetry (which is to say, not legally endorsed by the makers of Magnetic Poetry[TM]) called William’s Wit Kit: Create Your Own Shakespearean Insults. I rearrange the words on my fridge and pretend I’m wearing tights and a cod piece while slinging verbal fisticuffs with Christopher Marlowe.
—So what’s your slant?
(He’ll start and end with this question.)
The bus winds slowly up a hill…
slowly back down.
—like sardines, he jabs.
The cynicism rolls off his shoulders and
lands with a sickening thud.
I’ll appreciate it less every day.
We—the hundred collective—cling to
something like prison bars to keep afoot.
— So what’s your slant?
I shrug. Still,
But slightly prouder of my ambiguity.
I wear it like a badge.