Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Moment Recalled, Shouts Out its Living

For this week's poem, we were given Claudia Cortese's poem, "What Robots Mean to Me" to read, enjoy and write off of.  It's a stunning poem and I got caught up in one of her lines and another one of her images.  Here's a draft of my poem where I play with those and the idea of how amazing Ancient Greek was as a language because of the way it was able to contain the emotions associated with experiences.

A Moment Recalled, Shouts Out its Living

On the muddy hill where we live the rains
have returned something fierce.  We were all parched.

Beneath fog wreaths floating on green redwoods,
our living sparkles like fairy lights.

Great Grandmother Inez who lived well into
her 90s was always thirsty enough

She planted a raw memory in my
mind that opened up when I visited

Tucumcari NM. It was
paper thin, a wet Japanese lantern
The rain drenched streets slurred in lit neon each
business flowing into the next like time.
Because my grandmother was conceived there
Because the rest of my memories of

my great grandmother shoot off of this one
like tiny insatiable sparks—

It took only four days of rain to parch
the idea of drought, to swath the hillsides

in green memory too brilliant to name.
No wonder that in Ancient Greek no one
needed words for this -

green, hillside after a much needed rain or
memories ability to keep the dead alive.

Monday, February 03, 2014

After Hearing Two New Poems of Sappho Have Been Discovered

The assignment was to write an acrostically inspired poem, based loosely on another which was an assignment loosely based on a poem by Camille Dungy called, "Because it looked hotter that way" .  All week, I couldn't get the discovery of new Sappho poems out of my head, so, I wrote about that. What struck me most about the news were not her poems, but the articles about the poems and how they focused almost entirely on how these poems would help fill in the biographical gaps (about Sappho's brother, etc.).  And I thought, really?  We have re-discovered poems by one of the best poets who has ever lived and we are most excited about how they will tell us more about her history? 

Last night, I had the great honor of coaching two high school girls in the Poetry Out Loud county competition for Sonoma County.  It's a national program I've been participating in as a coach for the past four or five years.  And what I saw, what the whole audience experienced as the girls recited their poems, was not Emily Dickinson's secrets about her recluse life.  They weren't Theodore Roethke's dismal tales of his battle with depression.  They were universal threads of some lyric tapestry that we all share and feel.  Why on earth would we give a shit about biographical gaps when we could listen discover this?

So, here's my draft, which take's H.D.'s "Oread" as an acrostic base. 

After Hearing Two New Poems of Sappho Have Been Discovered

Rise up, text! After so many years sunk under the wine dark sea—ballasted by
the idea of a girl constructed of bone and flesh.  Rise up!  Conglomerate of
bedrock. Lava wound. Rock constructed of voice poured over voice. (Lava cools rock hard).
No one’s fault the centuries are thick and slurring their words. History is, after all,
a Wikipedia page featuring corporate edits—When the papyrus is found it has gone mute behind glass.  It  decorates a marble hallway.
Why is it that when the ballast gives way and the words rise like lost wooden ships, we search their rich dark hulls for biographical gaps? Why not, instead, climb those threadbare sails, feel the Sirrocos winds warm our skin and look out toward s glittering sea, we’d though we’d lost the language to breathe.