29 April 2008

Web Workshop

While Mr. Ramsay tries to make it to R from Q and Mr. Reznor insists that he needs your discipline, I suggest that I need your help—yes you dear reader—in tightening up these scribbled lines from several weeks ago when my tire blew out and my meds had run out and I was unable to teach class. I think many of them are good. I do not know which words to remove or which words to add, and I know that some of you who read this blog have fine poetic and editorial sensibilities. See Dennis Doherty's poem "Swagger (For Hemingway)" for the source (unconscious at the time I wrote these lines) of the section on sentences in need of mending. Also, I am aware of the homosexual overtones in the second stanza. They weren't there in real life, but I feel the language I use in that section is true to what happened, physically, with the car parts, so I don't know what to do there, either. So, from my little notebook:

With blown tire and raw red hands
Roadside gaping, grasping for agape
Not to be found in men
It's all crushed Busch cans
and rusty barbwire fences
Pestilential dust of last year's leaves
Rust and metal that does not give
And cold that will not leave

One good man stopping makes all the difference
Back and forth between my white beetle
and his black pick up truck until
the nuts bust and give and the
defeated husk of black rubber
collapses like the cloak of an evaporated
witch.

One tries to attend to one's duties
In these unexpected blowouts.
Phone calls placed are not enough.
Confused students scratch heads and
shuffle back to dorm rooms.
Secretary calls back to point out
"Time is of the essence," "Leave your
classrom number and section next time,"
and all the work she had to do on account
of your sloppy negligence.
(As your toes freeze and you knock knees)

Your empty orange bottle haunts you.
Is this an omen of things to come?
How will the rest of this day unfurl?
Last night, you were alternately afraid
and exhilirated at the faceless
ordinary day ahead of you,
On the other side of the river Styx of sleep.
ghosts alsways emerging.

(Father in absentia.)
(Ex-girlfriend "don't touch me.")

Supplicate the mystery to fill you,
to ring through you, to make
of you one exquisitely resonant chord.

"Are you croyant?"
"At night." I try, I reach, I see,
I lose.

The bell that tolls is Dasein
And all I hold is the memory of
the wretch with the busted heart
blacking lungs with Lucky Strikes.

Your family was kidnapped by
time, distance, and stupid, obstinate
inertia.

On the roadside in the morning cold
You feel useless and alone
Even after your partner stops
by with gloves.

The sentences you will mend today
Show no more promise of holding
than these tumbled rock walls
running uselessly through all of these
New York woods.

On the way to work, new tire
in place, the vultures pull
violently from the same half-frozen
corpse.

5 comments:

noiselessinfinity said...

-First stanza has "leaves" and "leave" within three lines. I'd consider swapping the "leave" for something else, "depart" or "withdraw" or something. However, I like the flow of it as it stands. Flip a coin is all I can tell you.

-capitalize the "b" in "Beetle"

-"...the lug nuts give...," cutting out "bust and"

-Second person perspective in the fourth stanza shifting to first person in seventh and eighth. Pick one and stick with it.

Perhaps more ideas when I look at this again. Otherwise, I really like this. Fantastic imagery, especially the last stanza.

KLA* said...

Thank you, Chris.
Your feedback is always useful and your compliments are always appreciated because of the sincerity and the taste behind them.

Good solutions and proposals.

frankie teardrop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
frankie teardrop said...

i second all of chris' suggestions.

otherwise, though the poem starts strong enough, it really picks up steam halfway through. the urgency and emotion in your words really takes meaning, especially with the knocked knees (favorite line of the poem) and the river styx imagery, which always gets under my skin in a good way.

after that section, it does seem to lose steam a bit. the last stanza is perfect, but the ones preceding it are a little weak, and might do well with some reworking. i'm not one to rewrite other folks' poetry, but perhaps some cutting and combining and rewording there might make it tighter to keep that momentum.

i do love it, though, even as a series of scribbled lines.

KLA* said...

thanks. that's valuable feedback as well. I'm glad to know you like t.