Intention

This entry is part 40 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11

“There is a silence in which there is nothing, a silence in which there is something; and finally, there is the silence of no-self, and the silence of God.”
—Bernadette Rogers,
The Experience of No-Self

Absence of proof is not proof of absence,
said Carl Sagan on the possibility of intelligent
life— a line quoted in an opinion piece about these
latest rampant shootings, about how easily one
could walk into a supermarket to buy bullets
just as if they might be cans of tuna or bottles
of shampoo. The writer reminds that guns,
not knives or garrotes or poisoned arrows,
were used in some of the most famous
assassinations of our time: Martin Luther King,
John and Robert Kennedy, John Lennon,
Benigno Aquino; and that people like you
and me loaded ammunition into the chamber,
pointed, clicked, fired. It may be more
comforting to think, as Sagan might,
that if there are aliens out there in the far
reaches of space, they’re not necessarily
checking their crosshair sights every day,
getting ready to nuke us— because they have
intelligence and therefore (or so we want
to assume) the empathy required to see
how we would really much rather stay alive,
despite our pains and miseries…
Who really wants to hear of another
suicide bombing, another body sailing off
a bridge, another random group of friends
and strangers perished at a food court
or mall? This morning the cold, unscripted snow
is my newspaper too: in the bitter night,
a white-footed mouse bounded unerringly
from the corner of the wall to a hole 20 feet away.

Luisa A. Igloria
01.23.2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry and an article at Inquirer.net, “The state of the state of Arizona,” by Luis H. Francia. The epigraph comes from a comment at The Morning Porch by Bob BrueckL.

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Additional comment by Luisa:

All of this makes me think about the gleaning and gathering process that goes into the writing of poems— whether or not they’re ostensibly collaborative projects, whether or not they’re part of any desire to rise to any mandates to write poetry on a daily or other regular basis. Just speaking for myself, I try to bring as many levels of experience as possible to the process of creative germination and writing— they range from whatever I am physically doing (or not doing, since memory very much is part of the process) at the moment I sit down and begin to compose, whatever I am reading or have just read or seen, what I hear, what I smell, taste, touch… There are poems that people call “found poems” in that they’re like collages snipped and pasted, bricolaged, whatever you call it— into some arrangement pleasing and/or meaningful to the one who’s playing with these pieces. I like to do those too, because like a magpie I’m drawn to shiny stuff, language winking at me. I’m inclined to think that this is really the area where we work hardest to mine that “originality” that is so highly prized. All this of course has something to do with notions of appropriation, and can often lead to the question of how comfortable writers might feel in “taking” or “taking over” lines, words, language priorly or in some other form used by others. Someone famous was once reputed to have said, “Good writers imitate; great writers steal.” It’s a tough job because all our cultural and other conversations are so rife with intersubjectivities and intertextualities. I think I much prefer what happens to my writing when an interesting bit of information, an arresting line or image that I’ve found, triggers the desire for a deeper kind of poetic engagement and I find some entry point, some latitude to invent and explore its complexities further.

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3 Comments


  1. Luisa’s last line here describes my preference as well. It is the given line (the proverbial ligne donne) and the “magpie’s shiny stuff” and the “winking language” and the interplay of contextual images, that trigger “the desire” to create that “Porch Poem” with all its complexities. Nothing stolen, nothing imitated really. Almost like consensual in vitro pregnancy.

    I, too, am planning to write more extensively on this process when the “surprise pregnancies” I am experiencing level off to a gestative hiatus.

    Bravo for the ars poetica, Luisa. See you on the porch.

    Reply

  2. Luisa, I love how you describe your process. I find myself nodding and agreeing that yes, that’s very like my process of gathering together visual material and concepts.

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  3. I think this bringing together of disparate things, this drawing of connections is a vital part of poetry’s function in the world. To take an example from Luisa’s poem, we are all subjected to this barrage of so-called news, often with little real context, and we all — poets, artists, everybody — face the same daily quandry: what to make of it, and how to avoid letting the depauperate narratives of the spinmeisters colonize our imaginations. This is why I’ve become such a big believer in what we now call remix culture, and why I’m so happy to be a part of it. I’m still thinking of attempting some sort of found-poem project using diplomatic cables from Wikileaks…

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