Saturday, October 11, 2014

What Potions Will I Make with These? [poem]

What Potions Will I Make with These?

Harmless loss from a bluebird’s wing,
frail, vibrant centerpiece some brush away
into garbage on a Sunday night,
with the pears that have rotted peacefully.

And wet, gray slivers that look sickly,
longer than a dove’s misgivings,
regal, thin-boned, finery to swallow up
ink and spit out a Constitution. 

A black crescent, slit like a clown’s smile,
place mark a page in a powerful book,
slick and greasy, sorcery and worse. 
Beware, lovers! I collect feathers. 


I collect feathers.

I see them in the street, or off the side of a walking trail, and in that moment they look like special magic, and I pick them up and put them in my pocket and carry them home.

This poem started off as another character sketch story type of thing, where I take a detail of my life and spin a story, a total fiction, around it. That looked like this: Someone, a man, brings a feather home, then more feathers, and the feathers begin to take on magical properties, then the feathers turn sinister and dangerous.

That's the poem I was writing, but it wasn't working. I was struggling.

That poem wanted to be a story. Not just a story-ish poem, but a story. Or maybe a poem, but a poem like Poe wrote poems. Poe-esque.

But I wasn't up to that.

Something had to change.

I walked outside and let the dog pee, sniff for particular bundles of grass.

I tried different voices.

For a few moments, I considered a "we," and not just an intimate "we" of two people, which I think I do well, but also the more peopled "we" of humanity, which I don't do well. In fact, I become a sanctimonious, proselytizing egomaniac. To my ear.

So "we" wouldn't work.

So I worked my way to me. I told myself:

Just use "I." Just do it.
Own it.
Let everyone know you're the weird-o who collects feathers and thinks they maybe could be magic.

So I wrote that poem.

The thing I've found about feathers, and poems, as I've noted before, is that there's something about storing them that makes them lose their magic sometimes.

Sometimes I come across a feather I've saved, and I think, Why did I keep this? It's ratty. Did I feel sorry for it? Quite possible.

It will be interesting to see which poems from this project last (if any?), and which turn up looking ratty after a while.

I wrote this poem on October 11, 2014 as part of Tupelo Press's 30/30 Project.

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