Taking a week off to finally dust off some old poems (liking most of what I'd written, though it's not really how I'd write anymore, and am a bit surprised to find some poems feel unfinished -- e.g., "R" feels like it gets into third gear and then hits a tree) and to revive the project that seemed to best fit where I wanted to go with my work before it, too, hit a tree. Someone recently said to me, "you gave it [writing] a go," as though that was the end of it, which pissed me off at first, but only until I realized how easy it would be to negate that condescension by simply going again.
But since I've already raised the issue of the un/finished, it dawns on me that I never really finish anything, and that nothing's ever really finished or discrete, and I should learn to accept this. I think that I focused too much on making sure my poems 'hung together,' and as a result, a lot of my earlier poems feel too much like snowglobes, self-enclosed & solipsistic trinkets. This weekend's epiphany was that I don't have to chastise myself for my natural tendency to embark on a project with specific rules and constraints and then, before I'm halfway through, get bored with the automatism and mechanism (akin to Josh Corey's recent commentaries on fiction) and decide to construct another "game," as it were, and play that for a few rounds, and move on to the next (i.e., dictionary of superstitions, that weird rural song-cycle, the dioramas, the Book of Common Errors, etc.). This was worrying me a bit, as the current project is massive enough to consume at least one whole lifetime of rigid discpline (which is more than I've got), and I recognized that soon either it would lose its "unity" or I my interest. But after rereading a little Deleuze and a little Whitman, I remembered that provisional and adaptive organizing principles are far more natural both in general and specifically for me, and I forgot what I started fighting for (now there's a multiplicity--Deleuze, Whitman, and Speedwagon). That makes me feel better about the current project, but I'm still trying to figure out what to do with some of my earlier stuff. Some poems that have already been published (e.g., "Rorschach on Pond") might actually be incorporated at some point into the new project, but I'm not sure whether I should try to send out the old stuff that never got published that doesn't fit. Maybe it's best for all concerned that it stay in the juvenalia drawer.
In any case, now that I've given myself permission to get back to work, I should get back to work. Glad to see so many folks on the blogroll are still giving it a go!
Finally, for fun (and to shed some old skin), I wanted to S+7 a poem I wrote back in 2000 ("Someone's Shooting Swallows--the Cows"):Someone's Shooting Swamp Buggies--the Cowbells
are milking bloodguilt. The first hip joint of pinking shears, and I rise
to dump the ruined painkiller in the creeping eruption, rinse it
in the edge the big briefcase makes. I stoop
and sense the swamp buggies flitting from their nets
beneath the briefcase. A few swoop nearby, their fluid
shadow masks sliding through mine on the clearing water beetle.
I wish their rapid zaps and arcading could save them.
Once, I held oneiromancy as it died: it seized so fast,
at first I dropped it. Then I clenched it to my chest of drawers
till it was still. To this day, that handbell shakes, quick,
so it spooks the cowbells.
I stand and find the body checks on the bank holidays,
three this time clock: breastwork-heavy, blue.
The wing commanders click and warp at wrong angles of elevation.
I place them in the empty painkiller, sideburns by sideburns,
till it all fits together like a steel net.
Wow, somehow it became an even more violent and disturbing poem...but at least there was some comic relief in the bizarre relationship between the two types of bells. Who knew?
Well, that was fun, anyway, and now I know that back when Becky would have her prophetic dreams, she was being oh so oneiromantic!