the thing about erasure poetry is you don’t get a blank page to stare at
but if you keep looking ideas will emerge like deer trails in the woods, some petering out after a few dozen yards, others leading you to things you never would’ve seen otherwise
today’s raw material for erasure was short and relatively lacking in concrete imagery so my choices seemed few. interestingly for a process that might appear to be pretty far removed from anything confessional, it was only when I allowed myself to express some emotional honesty that it turned into something like a poem. or at least something good enough to blog
finished Charon’s Cosmology so it’s on to Simic’s next title with Braziller, Classic Ballroom Dances (1980)
this is one i don’t think i’ve read more than once before, and a long time ago at that—the least familiar of Simic’s early books. that’s what a difference it makes never to have owned it
on this current Simic binge i’m paying attention to how and how often he writes about the natural world. a lot of straightforward ecopoetry bores me after a while but the people mixing in surrealism often don’t appear to have much to say. when Simic writes specifically about nature he does appear very much to have seen or heard what he’s writing about, and there’s usually a point of view being expressed. and he uses language from natural history in poems that aren’t strictly speaking about nature, such as “Species” in Charon’s Cosmology — not prominently but it’s part of the mix
The bird who watches me
from the branch of an apple tree
A black bird
for whom a strange man
in the ruts of the road.
And among the willow trees:
before water made up its mind
to be water.
My sister says if I drink
of that water I will die . . .
That’s why the heart beats:
to waken the water.
Charles Simic, from Classic Ballroom Dances
i have strong feelings about the whole peaceable kingdom thing a purely colonialist ideal of a tamed and sanitized nature devoid of wildness but Simic’s deceptively simple poem exposes the violence and danger that always lurk just beyond the frame. and also the possibility…
the ending reminds me a bit of the way the legendary blues pianist Jimmy Yancey would always switch from whatever key he was in to B flat for the last few notes of a piece: less dissonance than wildness, an opening toward something other
i used to spend a lot more time in the woods after dark. but some time last summer i got tired of being snorted at by deer, squeaked at by weasels, chittered at by flying squirrels and once even run into by a fox (i think). the night creatures need time without what must be the incredible stress of having humans close by
so i still go for walks at night sometimes but i don’t sit out in the woods nearly as often after dark and mostly stick the porch
just as i finish that sentence the barred owl says who! as in who do you think you are
(which is slightly unfair because they are the friendliest of owls)
I don’t like to write about poetry i don’t like so i guess i won’t, other than to say that whether or not a book has been widely hyped seems to have little relation to whether i’ll end up liking it, except insofar as the hype is based mainly on what the poems say rather than how they say it. i don’t care if we align 100% ideologically, if your poetry is too didactic i will stop reading
such a serene experience taking a leak in the nearly full moonlight
gray rat of a cloud get away from my moon
a dove cries out in its sleep