Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Day 6: Untitled Hate Poem #57 for Jack London

For today's poem I had to write in response to the prompt: "Untitled Hate Poem #57".  Since my project this month is to write a poem-a-day about Jack London, I had to write a hate poem about Jack London.  This prompt made me think about the complicated relationship I have with Jack London's biography and how, by becoming a writer, I had inherited expectations about reading and writing practices from my earliest literary influence.  Writing this poem was definitely a strange exercise.  Here is my draft.

Untitled Hate Poem #57 for Jack London
The path that I'm walking is well worn. Peels like manzanita. Sky blooms blue even through the reach of thick armed oaks. And at first following you I felt strobbed in light. I'd place my foot into the muddy print you'd carved out and walk on. But lately, I've gotten caught in the mud of you. 
The shining cover of your new biography caws from tree branches, like an agitated crow. Reminds me how as a child I could grow into you: learn to sleep less, write more but now life has snuck into the scene. The children won't sleep or I need to pick them up from school, or we are out of milk/eggs/bread/time.
How you breathe down my neck these days Jack London! This year, I will be 40, the age you were when you died and still I stand in the shadow of your life: how many books have I written? Surely, not even a fraction of yours. How many words do I write a day? Does marking up student papers count Jack? How about emails back to my students? Or, to my sons' teachers? Does it count if I watch Homeland? It has a really intricate plot!

What do I need to do to walk away from you Jack London? Leave this landscape that seeps into me the way it seeped into you? Or keep walking on the moist soil until it peels enough for me to see it.

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