Monday, May 31, 2010

STILL MORE SHORT POEMS

BIFOCALS

Bifocals, having never found love,

saw my sixth-grade face and said

get me all over that.

*

EAR PULSE

Listen! My heart

has gone creeping up

into my ear again.

*

A TOAST

May you sip your rosewater tea

at seventy five and read every blurred name

scrawled into your ankles and arms.

*

TOAST

Jesus came back

for some peanut butter

not thinking you’d notice.

*

COWLICK

Cowlick on my right temple,

postal clerk says I can hold my temper.

*

...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

BRAIDED CREEK AND MORE BREVITY

I'm at the point where I'm realizing, yes, my mind is going; this penchant for short poems and mild skepticism of longer pieces is not just a phase. My attention span is no longer under construction. It's just busted and we're going to have to drive around.

I'm not at the point where I'm worried just yet. So many good short poems out there! So much fun to be had! So much to read! I'm in Seattle right now, and the day after I flew into town I made a beeline for Half Price Books, where I picked up a $5 copy of Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser. I like it so far. If anything, brevity provides a more subtle deadline to acknowledge while writing; yes, we may not be able to write past a project's due date, but in brevity, we also cannot write past what the tiny page allows. We have to make every word count. (And yes, this IS a picture of me, thoughtfully reading text. Look at me think!)


Sometimes I wonder if Kooser gets away with more, though, because he's so old. This might be true. (Joking. Kind of.) Anyway, the book is set up without much guidance. The reader has no sure way of determining which poet wrote which poem, and all the pieces are roughly four lines. After a few pages, I started putting together a small list of people I might ask to do a similar project, mailing each other VERY short poems (this time not associated with any specific postcard image) and keeping a tiny thread connected between each of them.

Let's start with a couple I jotted down last night, as I pretended Harrison and Kooser were conversing with me through their poems. Anyone want to leave their own response in poem form? I'm open to starting my own "braided creek".


* (Wednesday night, May 26th)

I liked him better when I thought
he was talking about muffins
not coffins

*

Everybody matters eventually.
If you're a boy you must wait
until you're a man. If you're a girl
you have to wait until you're dead.

*

Even God wishes he had
a goat to keep the yard
in check



...

Friday, May 14, 2010

POSTCARD MEMOIRS

So, this isn't my great idea. It's actually stolen from the lovely brain of Sonja Livingston, who manages this awesome project called Postcard Memoirs. (It helps even more that Sonja is one of those super-sweet-in-person, writes-in-multiple-genres people. I got to hang out with her at this year's AWP conference, and I just love her.) I highly recommend you check this link out, as it will probably inspire even the busiest writers to start their own postcard project.

Some of us have seen postcard poetry prompts before. They're used in productive workshops because they work perfectly for both professionals and beginners. The idea is to keep things short, concise, precise, and of course, visual. These are tiny poems, usually written on the backs of postcards or photos, that make the image 'pop' just a little more than the eye can manage alone.

Anyway, Lish McBride, my writing buddy in Seattle, posted a link to Postcard Memoirs a couple weeks ago on facebook and I've been thinking about it off and on since. My first thought: who buys postcards? Where can I find some? Well, I found a couple snapshots I thought about using, and that could work just as well as an actual postcard. However, I drove into Denver today and stopped at the Tattered Cover to peruse the poetry section. (I sifted through all authors V-Z, thank you. Quite productive.) They have a stand of postcards there that I hovered over like a moth at a lamp post. I found seven great images, all of them connected in some weird way. My favorites were prints of Quint Buchholz's work, and I googled him when I got home. Totally. Awesome. Here's a link to one of his pages; it's auf deutsch, but I think the site is (visually) explanatory enough to navigate. His best works, in my opinion, are the ones that show the impossible looking simply accomplished.

Okay. So, the point of this post is, I think I'm going to take part in Sonja's postcard project, albeit from a distance, since I can't attend the workshop. I have a blank journal that a friend of mine gave to me for my birthday that hasn't been used yet. I dug it out of the YA section of my library (what was it doing there?) and it's currently sitting on the table, next to my stack of postcards, demanding to be written in. (Of course, it's also sitting next to a couple bills, my textbooks for this summer, three cookbooks, a lit journal, a pile of pens that don't work (why am I keeping these?) and two empty water bottles. I may consider organizing myself tomorrow.) I'm going to keep looking for postcards (I'd love to find more of Buchholz's stuff) and put them on opposite pages from the short poems I'm writing. I'll keep the poems written in pencil so I can edit as needed later, and the journal will just be for my own satisfaction. Unless, of course, someone insists on publishing it later. Heh.

Here's tonight's first (tiny!) poem in this project, which is linked to THIS painting by Buchholz. (I really hope the link works. The painting is awesome.)


ROOFTOP COWS

For an extra fifty dollars

a night you can book

our penthouse suite

which includes access

to our rooftop garden

and resident dairy cows.

Enjoy the view of the city

and feel free to smoke;

try not to speak directly

to the cows, however,

as they are constantly

wanting to know where

they are, and we find

keeping them unaware

is part of this great

establishment’s charm.


...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

PACKING PEANUTS

Well, Napowrimo has been over for twelve days now, and I'm just sitting down to post another poem. I thought April was a productive month, writing every day, even if I wasn't 100% thrilled with every poem I came up with.

Updates in writing: the next reading for the Colorado Springs Writers Reading Series is scheduled for Friday, May 21st, at 7:30pm. It's being held at the same place as April's event, the Inner Space studio at 322 N. Tejon. (See the blog for more updates: www.cswritersreading.blogspot.com) Our featured reader is poet (yay!) Jessy Randall. I'm looking forward to it! Because the event falls smack in between Spring and Summer terms for the local colleges, I'm hoping to get the word out to students via email, blog, loud shouting, whatever.

Here's a poem from this evening. Maybe tomorrow I'll post some more... I've been coming up with very, very short poems lately. Hopefully this isn't a sign of my attention span diminishing even further, but I've been really pleased with all the shorter poems I've been reading lately. (Namely, those of Jessy Randall, plus Aaron Belz, Pamela August Russell, and Campbell McGrath.) Maybe it's because it's the end of the semester and my brain is half fried from the grease of final essays and portfolios. Maybe I'm succumbing to the appeal of instant gratification. Or maybe these poets just rock.

Either way, I'm writing, and I guess that's what matters. Thanks to all y'all who have been sending me comments on facebook. You have no idea how excited I get over feedback!


PACKING PEANUTS

My next door neighbor left a cardboard box

full of packing peanuts on the curb to be recycled

but forgot to put a rock over the lid to keep it shut

and we had a huge windstorm which I understand

couldn’t have been predicted but still

there are packing peanuts all over the neighborhood

now and even the birds seem disappointed

and look bored when they pick at them

outside my bedroom window which is a gutter

and it’s full of white and yellow and pale green fluff

like it’s been snowing egg salad and every morning

the first thing I do is brush my teeth so this morning

as I brushed I stared out into the gutter wondering

if I’d have the balls to tell my neighbor he’s careless

if he and I happened to lock our front doors

at the same time today but more importantly

who’s dying those packing peanuts different colors

when they aren’t even meant to be seen?



...