Friday, March 18, 2005

Scraps Of Me

Scraps of me make it into my poetry. Little pieces creep into the cracks between the lines from every angle. The inverted inventory segment of "Dull Five" began as a list of things important to me that I could do without.

respect for anyone
a thousand didactic love songs
ambitions for greatness
a honey tongue
care for the world
blind faith
senseless love and admiration
the urge to get things done right the first time
time to talk about your problems
anything worth writing down
a wicked knuckle callous
a picture of the face that launched a thousand ships
how I feel about Rigoletto and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
the guts to treat others as I treat myself
a chaste disposition
the will to stay faithful
a way to make myself heard
this list

I long sometimes to see the world in numbers; words hurt too much. Beneath every face, I crave a summary. I want to insist on odds in the caption of every photo in the newspaper. I want more sense in the world before my muddied senses and ever more altered memory. I long for cold, hard logic to prevail with proof while I can still enjoy it. The scraps of me in my poetry should be hidden by a wider pattern of code; instead, I build ugly frames for the windows to my torment. Sometimes, I imagine my poetry as a well-read, regular newspaper column that chronicles my daily existence. I imagine that everything comes in cycles, that things have been worse, and that my column will be less burdensome later. Mostly, that version of the truth prevails. On rare occasions, I can put these local trends in long-term context. A picture can be worth a thousand words; I don't draw, so I work with the tools I'm given. I see a photograph of my face on page six of the metro section of the newspaper. The same picture has been published before, but without any accompaniment: no story, no caption, nothing. In this newspaper, however, the authors and editors have more to say. My poems stretch out around the picture, skipping over column breaks, folds, headlines, and into the hair of anyone stupid enough to notice the picture and stop to read what's next to it. The caption reads:


Those are my odds, folks.

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