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4/28, National Poetry Month - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
4/28, National Poetry Month
Hmmm. I just joined a poetry workshop that prides itself on being really tough. The "hmm-ing" comes from the fact that, while I rarely lurk for the prerequisite amount of time anywhere, I do hang out long enough to get a feel for what kind of place it is, and even since I joined, I've seen four or five people join, try to post in the high level groups where it's specified that you're supposed to have extensive experience, and bitch about negative critiques. It's not like the site is in any way unclear about the fact that they will be tough. What's with shock and outrage when they are? Do people really not know that they're not brilliant on their first time out? Even when I was only eighteen, I knew I couldn't get into Intermediate Fiction without submitting work and having it judged worthy of skipping beginning fiction by the Intermediate professor. (I made it, but it wasn't a sure thing.) Advanced remained touch-and-go after that, and had to be auditioned for. (I was less patient with that, because a good writer of my acquaintance was turned out for having the nerve to write--gasp--science fiction. I didn't get much out of Advanced Fiction. The professor never could make a distinction between point of view and authorial voice, which disturbs me even more in retrospect than it did at the time.)

I digress.

I think I'll write again tonight. First draft.

Copley, by drum
The stick flies upward, twirling
against a sky that's a stained glass ocean waiting
to be broken, and comes down with a


beat of the Square is a Nandi epiphany
(everyone's Kenyan where marathons end).
Tortoise and hare wait in endless caesura be-
tween faith and science, beneath mirrored walls. And the
people who cross there see only the sidewalk as
vital news calls their attention away, and their
cell phones have grown from their fingers like tumors but
even so focused they still feel the beat and high
heels clack a rhythm on bricks red as Georgia and


hard granite flagstones that amplify every step,
echoing cadence in canyons of glass, and the
veiled ladies watch them with tarnished brass apathy.
Skateboarders rocket toward certain destruction, but
at the last minute glide down on a prayer past the
indigent man with his sign made cardboard that
promises he just wants money for food. But he's
not begging now; he's just digging the day, and says,
"Sister, why can't it be like this all year?" and she


waves to him cheerfully, grins at the sun, and goes
on with her day, and another blows by with the
phone on her ear and her eyes wide and focus-blind.
"What do you mean?" she demands with a glare at some
mythic opponent, and crosses the street toward the
tunnel below. And the drummer can see her now,
passing his nest, as she crosses her finish line
headed for home, so he gives her a flourish of
cymbal and


passes on angrily; can't win them all. And the
poet drops money and then disappears.


12 comments or Leave a comment
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: April 29th, 2006 06:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I like it! It doesn't look like it will have meter, and then surprise! it does. It's neat to see in poetry what we've already seen in your pictures and description.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 29th, 2006 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I'm glad it caught the sense of the descriptions and pictures!
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: April 29th, 2006 06:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that's neat. And about the meter, it kept making me think of something I couldn't quite place.... The last couple of syllables always were just a little unexpected and then plunged into the next line.... After some thought, I think I was being reminded of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and e. e. cummings and... maybe something else too.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 29th, 2006 01:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know I've seen drum poems before, but I'm blanking on them at the moment!
satakieli From: satakieli Date: April 29th, 2006 01:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love it! Can't have a poem with drumming and no meter. I like the form, and I like the story. Did you consider mixing it up a little from stanza to stanza or line to line with the meter, like an interesting drum solo?

and a small typo I noticed because it broke me out of the rhythm--the indigent man with his sign made cardboard needs an "of".
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 29th, 2006 01:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Did you consider mixing it up a little from stanza to stanza or line to line with the meter, like an interesting drum solo?

I did, actually, but it kept falling into those dactyls, so I went with it. ;)

Thanks on the "of." Grr. I heard it in my head, so pretty much filled it in while reading.
matril From: matril Date: April 29th, 2006 01:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very nice! It makes me happy to live in Boston.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 29th, 2006 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I often find myself happy to live in Boston, even when it's nuts.
singingtopsy From: singingtopsy Date: April 29th, 2006 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love it! Lots of enjambment=crazy fun! I've discovered this year that I really like free verse (this is free verse, right?). You know, this poem really does look like something I'll probably write to on the AP test next week. Skilled as a prose writer and a poet, is there any form of writing you can't do well ;)?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 29th, 2006 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Note taking. I really, incredibly suck at note-taking. I almost failed math because they graded notebooks. :)
erised1810 From: erised1810 Date: April 29th, 2006 05:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I liekd it .I had to read ittwiceto find otu it was all mages of one event (i'l admit, the other comments helped too).
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: May 1st, 2006 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, I just saw this while perusing the friends list from the weekend more carefully. I really, really like this—I'm a fan of unrhymed poetry of this sort and I'm big on rythmn. This made me read it out loud in my head, if that makes sense, to crash down on the short bits properly. Copley is *such* a mixed up and odd place, isn't it? You must see many, many things to write about, working right there.
12 comments or Leave a comment