Saturday, April 23, 2011

Many Thoughts, Little Time

Alas. I had hoped to be a more regular presence in my own space. In fact, I have a longish entry to this blog that has been sitting in draft for over a month now. I've been out of town. I've been working. I've been sick. Simultaneously. So, on my first weekend to actually rest up without the aid of heavy medication, I--- attempted a cento. A cento is a poem made up entirely of lines taken from other poems. A poet, Danielle Pafunda, got some very experienced poets to act as judges, and in celebration of National Poetry Month and the Academy of American Poets, launched a Cento Contest. She tweeted one line from seventy-five different poems/poets on April 21, and anyone who wished could make a cento of any length of them, with the contest ending today at noon. The rules were very generous, with any use of the line allowed: split, whole, differently punctuated, spliced to pieces, partially used or discarded. I don't know what got into me; I gave it a try. I can immediately see from the more experienced entries (or what I assume are more experienced writers), more control: they used fewer lines to more coherence and sharper effect. The last one in the gate (as of now, but I think they are finished posting), called "Dementia Canto" is one such. Another is called "The Mistress." Mine is next-to-last-in-the-gate, but I have put it in below, with a few changes I wish I'd made (the deletion of a line and an extra "the" that never should have been there). I own up to working on it with more than a little effort. I am mostly pleased, but, naturally, welcome anyone's thoughts. The original entry is here, and the lines writers were given to work with are all at the end of all of the entries, or directly here. Also, check out 30 Poems in 30 Days, also from the Academy of American Poets.

The beautiful and intriguing lines from the original poems have opened up many new voices to me. More reading awaits in the longer, warmer, and sunnier days to come, glass of wine in hand and feet up on the porch.

Humbly yours on this Easter weekend,


Were they pearls

Sleep-fallen, just jars of buttons spilled
recurring naked in your dark hair,
implicit with stars;
plunge me deep in love,
the whole cathedral,
put out paper sacks stuffed full of orange
weighing the harvest
when my eye nearly failed.

You have lived and lived on every kind of shortage,
little corners of a kind of ham;
count out sherry, and ripe plates crash at your back---
and the trick is the pungent oranges and
bright green wings to make it personal.
It was not really necessary to eat the food:
one could breath it, the mystery of
---now I hear the clock snap just ten---
that. I became
hard to lift: my own bags were full of salt

which made them shifty in our hearts.
Hoist their nets,
sleepily indifferent,
we’ll kiss a hundred times
kiss the kiss to open your tiny beak-mouth
each kiss other, consider:
what you’ve said that looks as if it would never open
the magnolias
and not April
the wild, protected, liminal woods
the naked man;

in the glaring white gap,
in a carousel-sweet dress
I’m drunk,
each one a treaty, each one a place
where, glisten’d with wet,
I stand on the porch,
the reflected gleams
myself conjectured.

Alternate last stanza, which does not play so precious with Emily Dickinson's line "Myself conjectured were they Pearls---:" and replaces the segment of the Dickinson line with part of one from Gerald Manley Hopkins. I wanted some kind of ring composition effect, I think, to begin and end with Dickinson, and to do it by reversing the line's halves, but don't know how much sense I made of it, whereas this seems more straightforward.

in the glaring white gap
in a carousel-sweet dress
I'm drunk,
each one a treaty, each one a place
where, glisten’d with wet,
I stand on the porch,
the reflected gleams,
were they pearls,
to rescue one.