Friday, May 12, 2006

This is something I started in my new visual poetry class at Poet's House, with Jill Magi -- who is the greatest. I'm still working on it. I'm gonna paste into an ancient book of kids stories and chop it and sew it, mebbe. The class seems like it's really fun.

(Remember whoever makes the most comments this week wins a chapbook.)

Naming the Animals

when I turned 21 my father told me
his real name

he taught me names are heavy keys
sour to the tongue

3 locks in a row down our door
bluebeard says to call him something new

the key is hidden under the doormat
the doormat says WELCOME bites
you fingers when you reach for it

my brother buried my name under a stone
when he was five

he was hoping to protect me, the Tonka Trucks
and plastic swords made feeble guards

now when autumn comes I sleep all day
fur sprouts down my spine

sometimes I wake up sniffing the animal
tracks to the window

our phone has never worked
the words catch in our throats
and all we can do is point

-----

We were asked to write about an important experience we had with language growing up. Mine was my dad telling my his real name. I never knew the name he went by normally was made up. Both my parents changed their first names (independently, before they met each other). This freaks me out more the more I think about it.

2 comments:

Michael said...

Great story and I kove how you used this as a springboard for your poem.

I love the line: he taught me names are heavy keys /
sour to the tongue

Funny how we can set and think for so long about a topic to write on and then an exercise like this comes along and opens flood gates.

Christine said...

Thanks Michael! I'm still digesting all this.