Monday, August 04, 2008

Walking on a wave's chicane

When I was younger (so much younger than today), I used to be a real poet. I'd stop dead in the street or at parties or during any show to write down what was filtering through. I wrote hundreds of pieces from '82 to 87. Then more got triggered when I was in my MA writing program in SF in the mid-90s. Stuff has been relatively slow coming since then.

A phrase would get stuck in my head...and I'd walk around for hours (or sit around for hours) chanting it mentally, then later when I got the chance, getting it all down on paper---whipping into shape what had already appeared subconsciously. (Back when I was a kid and stuck in my country home, the TV on in the background at 3am would provide inspiration.)

The older I've gotten, the less such "muse gifts" have just appeared magically to me. I've been doing other stuff, concentrating on work, or hard relationships, or the Joan website...I haven't devoted very much time at all to poetry, emptying myself for it. My receiving gifts have suffered accordingly.

A couple of days ago, though, a title started showing up in my head: "Ghost of a Suicide." Followed by "Rust of a razor blade/Slip of a knot." I knew all of it came from somewhere else. Probably Plath. Most of my books are still back in my mom's garage in Texas, so I couldn't immediately look the references up. But in the meantime, I started working with what I had. Here's something very rough, maybe one-quarter of what it will eventually turn out to be:

Ghost of a Suicide

Rust of a razor blade, slip of a knot
(or of your tongue--
ham-sandwich gag for your throaty laugh)

They fished you out of the ocean once
Rusted trident in your side
Plastic drink-rings embedded in your bloated wrists

What things have slithered past you as you slept.



After writing this, I found the Plath poem "Electra on the Azalea Path," with the lines:

I am the ghost of an infamous suicide
My own blue razor rusting in my throat...

I'd been channeling, but not quite copying. I wanted to put "walking on a wave's chicane" in my poem, but that's already been done, in a beautiful song by ELO:

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