And so it begins…

Alleluia, Christ is risen!


April Fool’s Day seems as good a time as any to finally begin using this blog I signed up for once upon a time. Especially when April Fool’s Day appropriately falls on Easter Monday!

I’ve decided that I’m going to begin posting poetry. (Scroll down if you want to just read the poem and skip all this other chatter.) To start, I’ll post old poems from the three books I self-published (as zède publishing, Detroit) in the late 1990s, since those books aren’t generally available anymore. (I still have some, but as I don’t care for about half the material anymore, I’m not eager to give them out, you understand, except to very close friends and other poor saps…) Often as posted here, they will be modified a little from the books. First, I’ve abandoned the old convention of capitalizing the beginning of each line, because it’s just silly. Second, I will often have made modifications in punctuation. But there may also be more substantial changes. So if you have the books, see if you can spot them! Yeah, that’s not going to be a terribly fun game.

So here’s one of my all-time favorites. It’s from my second book, When Midnight Comes Around. A bit of explanation first.

I enjoy reading biographies, especially biographies of creative persons, because I’m fascinated by people and their creative processes. Usually, when I finish, I’m left with a lot of images that coalesce into a poem or two. I would never claim to be writing about the person whose biography I’d just read, so when I post these biography-triggered (the word “inspired” is over-used) poems, I’m normally not going to say whose biography it was. My poem is not about them, usually.

So this is one of those biography-triggered poems. It’s a pantoum, the only one I’ve ever written – and a form I highly recommend trying. It’s like doing a crossword puzzle. All you have to do is look at one (my model was Baudelaire’s “Harmonie du Soir,” although at the time I was unfamiliar with the form) and you will know what to do: 8 lines, each repeated in a pattern to form a 4-stanza, 16-line poem. As you’ll see if you follow that link to Baudelaire’s poem, there’s a bit of leeway: you can keep the repeating lines identical, and sew it up neatly like I did (being a perfectionist and all), or you can allow some slight modification to the lines that repeat in order to place them in their new context. You can also, as Baudelaire did in “Harmonie,” leave the poem open-ended by not repeating all the lines.

I chose to fully close my poem, but only because of my perfectionist bent. I didn’t know what I was doing at the time, but it worked out perfectly because it creates just the claustrophobic feeling that this poem needs. I hope you can perceive the transformation that takes place as the “incantation” (to use the description from the poets.org link above) circles in on itself.

There’s also a small allusion to an image in Sylvia Plath’s poem, “Contusion.” It’s an image which, in her poem, is somewhat inscrutable to me, but I get it anyway. So I used it. It fits in with the central image of my poem of feeling walled-in. Please feel free to say anything in the comments, whether it be criticism, suggestions, or questions. You might even be able to get me to reveal my sources…I have often explained where this one came from, so many of my readers will already know.

Happy April Fool’s Day, and Happy Easter. This poem may seem strange for the start of the Easter season, but I think you could argue it actually fits.


40

Must this dark picture be my destiny?
In your penned note, I hear my own voice call…
The windows change to mirrors at night-fall
as I act scenes from your blind prophecy.

In your penned note, I hear my own voice call—
the woman you were, I will one day be.
As I act scenes from your blind prophecy,
I watch my life drip slowly down the wall:

The woman you were, I will one day be.
Here, in your last words, you describe it all—
I watch my life drip slowly down the wall;
I grope to salvage what is left of me.

Here in your last words, you describe it all.
Must this dark picture be my destiny?
I grope to salvage what is left of me.
The windows change to mirrors at night-fall…



PS – A fellow by the name of Jeremy Mullins (Optimist Park) took up my challenge on hitrecord.org to set this poem to music. You can hear his excellent work here.

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