Poetry Workshop

June 1, 2011

You never know what will work. You may think J.D. Salinger describing at length the poems of Seymour Glass in Seymour, An Introduction, but not publishing the poems themselves would make a great class. We could write the poems that were never written, using Salinger’s riveting details as the template. Just think of the possibilities—an unhappy wife living near the Metropolitan Museum, coming home late at night after a tryst, her lipstick smeared; she walks into the bedroom and finds a green balloon on her white bedspread.

No arms like his arms,
even if you, Russ, the kids
hear me clicking in.
Calder’s circus blurs,
slide to bed where who left this
park balloon to hug?

There is a description of a widower on his lawn in Connecticut late at night, unable to sleep, looking at the moon, and his imperious white cat comes up to him and bites his left hand.

Unable to sleep,
our angora doyenne Cloud
rolling in raked grass,
biting my ring hand—
your mother-of-pearl hairpins
to make the moon flinch.

Seymour is on a plane to Miami, and a girl on a few seats ahead, turns her doll’s head around to look at him.

Her doll’s blue plastic
eyes and puffy head turned to
a clown and nothing.

And it did work. We would write a poem together with volunteers throwing out lines, then the students would write their own poem, without thinking, on 11 x 17 inch paper, writing the 17” way (landscape) with a fat Sharpie, and just letting it ride for six lines. Then we would combine the best lines, the best opening line, the best last line, and various lines from the poems until we had a solid six-line poem. Then on to the next description. It was fun and remarkable, “Mohammed Ali would look good in this robe,” “biting the finger where my ring used to me.”

May 2, 2011

Poetry Workshops with Chilmark Poet John Maloney

Chilmark  Public Library
522 South Road
Chilmark, MA

Wednesday, May 4 at 5:30pm
Wednesday, May 11 at 5:30pm
Wednesday, June 1 at 5:30pm
Wednesday, June 8 at 5:30pm

The workshops are free. Try a single workshop, or enjoy the whole series. All are welcome—No experience is necessary.

For more information, call 508-645-3360.
2011 series sponsored by the Friends of the Chilmark Public Library

The Fireplace

May 1, 2011

We’re building a Rumford: the mortar receives each brick
and the courses absorb moisture in a running bond
of waterstruck mattes. We use the attraction, the bed
soothing imperfections around the kiln stamp.

In Colonial winters, houses burned twenty cords
of split oak and elm, wind shaking bubbled glass.
Below the windows, batts for insulation and protection;
wattling holding slung trowels of heavy plaster.

We begin slight curves on both sides of the fireback—
like upraised arms of a televised minister, pointing
us on the path to salvation, his intention so cynical
the hollow columns are more believable. Give me

festivals through streets lit by candles, dollar bills pinned
to St. Anthony of Padua, songs and hymns, gelato
and lemon ice, carts of fried dough and hot sausages, aunts
in black brocade and daughters in communion dresses;

smoke of apple wood blowing above the ridge, the flame clinging
and curling, drawn to surfaces, the shiny creosote
and smooth clay, channel of air along the plank floor
that sends it heavenward, incense in the chancel’s stars.

Rejection Slip (Thoughts while opening a SASE)

April 1, 2011

This packet becomes a finalist for the worst
manuscript submission ever received at this address
OR at our previous editorial offices,
though we easily tossed out reams
of bright copies in the move. Thank your
“centuries of stars” and all other Light & Power images
roughed into these scabbed on notebook jottings,
that our last “editor emeritus” was canned
before volt testing these bundled entities. Rhyming
“artifice” with “Artemis” (virgin goddess of the hunt & moon),
though not technically prohibited,
perpetuates a misdemeanor of aggravated insult.

Sprinkling The Irish Times online weather forecasts
throughout Roman numeral numbered selections
diffuses the desolation. We’re now inured to surveys
of barren skies that change from prolonged rain
to isolated showers to risk of drizzle, though bare
for The Burren is brilliant, if it were only yours.

And we will never assent to reverent inventories
of leather carryons, nor perpetuate pieced together
ransom notes of patched together reports
and paginated attempts at collage. All titles drizzle
this impression, a lost wax theory of poetics,
candle liquefaction into stalagmites, mining nothing.

Kennings of cold ones, the hammer, and road to paradise
slide off the stanzas like pond-deer on cloud-streets.
Please, no found poems in the tax code, no six-line poems
of Seymour Glass from Salinger’s descriptions; for bathos
is just a letter flipped upside down from pathos
on the wrong refrigerator.

If only there were spooked horses, slapped together skids,
braced stalls, if we could see the years
of bites and scratches as the ewes pushed for a place.
Give us a yard sale saucer on top of an icebox,
a rusted biscuit tin, instead of mourning
another star lost in a far galaxy culled from
the science section of Tuesday’s paper.

Thank you for your interest in the press
and continued cohesion in your industry,
so little recognized.

Spelling And Grammar, A Relationship

March 1, 2011

Who would read this poem, so full
of fragments never considered
for revision: wreathes of seashells
hanging in the marshy air,
with chipped syntax
and lower case errors
beginning most lines—
messy ofs and withs, instead
of the suggested Oafs and Foes
And Wits never dealt with.

So much ignored, options pooh poohed
more than once, “changed to”
so little. Still sticking with enamored,
which I love, instead of the heavy-
handed “unarmored” with
plaques of acrylic fish, but still
plagued by “possible questions”
never anticipated.

How many rules can be skipped?
How many agreements between
noun and verb can one dismiss,
even if only printed on light?

Tell me again, if a word is not
IN the dictionary, we can actually
ADD it to the dictionary?

At one time you counted my words,
and that made it seem the reverse
was true, even with your insistence
otherwise with oscillating lines.

“The check is complete.”
Someone pays, someone walks.

And so we close, grammar
a nightmare, participles tangled,
timid hyphenations, always
moving on to the next sentence,
the next disjointed
piece of typing . . . with
extra space between words,
never undoing an edit.