06 April, 2009

pome-a-day, schmome-a-day, what are these deadlines ...

I always catch myself doing things I said I'd never do: Getting a tattoo, running a marathon, opening a bank account ... so, when I scoffed at a bunch of you last year or the year before when you did that 'pome a day for a month' during April (which, they tell me, is 'national poetry month), well, you knew me, and you knew you'd live to see me eat crow. Robert Brewer is hosting one of these pome-per-day shindigs on his blog and, for some reason, I have found myself rattling off little pieces for it, almost daily.

Now, I am an incredibly lazy writer. I mean, poor Matt Barton was on my ass for the better part of the second half of 2008 to write a piece on some mural at St. Paul's by the end of the year and I got it to him, I think, some time around January 10. All was well ... some of us have a different sort of clock for some things. I'm not always bad with deadlines -- I mean, I have dabbled in journalism, and was pretty good at getting that stuff wrapped up right & on time & whatever ... it's the creative stuff, though ... I don't rush it. Needless, I think it's at the very least a good excercise, so here went ...

The way this particular thing works is as follows -- each day, the blog directs the participant to a new 'prompt,' and the participant then constructs a pome around that prompt. Pretty simple. Anywhoo ... 5 or so days in, I've decided to post my entries to this point. Are they precious, little, talent-laden works ready for smarmy, ivory-towered literary honors? I don't think so, but they are sort of a nice window into process, or at least my process. anyway, here goes (I may have gotten a couple days out of order here, but you get the picture) ...

1 April (prompt = "origins")

AUTOBIO 101, lecture notes

Don’t hesitate
to embellish. “Born in a barn”

reads more interesting than
hospital reports to grab

the reader
as does conflict

btw. one’s parents’ in-law
conveys caste

from the cradle establishes
angle early. Chapter 1 is

all you’ve got. The best
writers began

as journalists.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

2 April (prompt = alienation/being an outsider)


found out for tipping a jitney in the sticks
of Long Island – ladies up from The City
for outlet mall shopping, who’d shared the backseat
from the depot w/N & me, ourselves there
for her friend’s wedding -- people I didn’t know
decked out in heavy taffeta bridesmaid gowns
in July’s hard, Atlantic humidity
tree-line wall around the Hamptons, private beach
ill @ ease, my neck raw from starch & sweating
unstable having forgotten vitamins
& my forced, two days too late apology.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

3 April (prompt = "the problem with ____________")

(I have yet to finish this one -- see, bad with deadlines, but they do give you until May 1)

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

4 April (prompt = Animal)


24 yrs. old, riffing on Melville
to impress a woman @ a party
after the bars have closed one Fri. night
& my friends from other bands are drinking
in the kitchen, taking turns picking out
new releases from Matador Records
to spin until sunup, when they might sleep
finally, or at least disperse & then
if the Melville reference does the trick
maybe she’ll accompany me to bed
ratty twin mattress on a ratty floor
of my old apt. @ 3rd & High
if she doesn’t stay, if she gets away
we’ll just call the flirtation ironic

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

5 April (prompt = Landmark)


we leadfooted down U.S. 68 past Dunkirk
headed to Columbus for a wedding
20 yr. old music from my boyhood
shuffling under the big W. OH sky
clear & cool @ noon on the 1st day
of spring & nearly blew by it to spite

our eyes peeled for it, anonymous, almost hidden
out the passengerside window, just beyond
the irrigation ditch, hemmed in by distant
treelines not yet leaved & the rumble of
tires on gravel in reverse to pull into
its dirt driveway, disembark & photograph

its sun & weather-bleached box office marquee recalling
tornados on Katie’s birthday, June ‘89
broke off & carried away the bigger part
of its whitewashed plywood screen, still unmended, to leave
the few who do come to see squinting
as if watching their grandparents’ portable TVs

appearing oblivious, it would seem, to the advances
of kids like me, there to lose/take cherries, now as then & back
in the now we frame the marquee, this
tumbleweed, if you will, to that cobwebbed corner of
my sentimental mind & take cover behind
the driver’s side door to skirt wind-kicked dust, resume driving

& sign aliases in an antique café guestbook
down the hwy in Kenton & marvel @ the unchanged
farm machines foreground to the yellow thaw
19th, to be exact, since I last blew through &
left behind & Stipe’s voice filling the car rings
apropos: Take a picture here. Take a souvenir.

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