Friday, November 01, 2013

Poem-a-daying in November! (I keep looking up from my desk and seeing ghosts)

Well, once again it is November, and once again I am beginning the daily practice of writing a poem-a-day for the month.  For two months out of the year each year I try and keep this practice.  This year my poem-a-daying comes with a project in mind.  I'm reading Earle Labor's new biography of Jack London Jack London, An American Life  and teaching my favorite Jack London novel, The Valley of the Moon.  So, I'm entering the month with a poetic project in mind: a digging into the idea of Jack London that I've carried with me since I was in sixth grade and first visited Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen.  It's an image I continually revise (and will continue revise likely, throughout my life). Today, we were given the prompt: I keep looking up from my desk and seeing ghosts.... Here's what I wrote as my draft in response.   

Jack London, Biography


Out the window: breathe
of ghosts spindled on tall trees
only glass between

There is image that hangs on a museum wall.
Then, there is the ghost the presses against the glass for years to come.
Hot breath. Fog by day. Steam that twists through dreams at night.
In between the images rise up to the surface:
thought to memory to metallic silver
a stop bath on time
stitched together out of the thick thread of chance
a life cobbled out of pieces.

There is also the land to consider.
There is the shell of building out of rock.
There is the stories about these buildings.
There is the walking on the soft earth between buildings
and the smell of the earth as you walk (which must be the same scent?)
There is the shadow of light as it passes through the Scrub Oak and Manzanita.
There is the fog that lingers on the terraced side of Sonoma Mountain.
And in between, there is the glass of time
without passage between the life lived
and the life found again in the fragments
we gather up.

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