Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Here's a new poem. Very much a draft -- I'll probably erase this soon and come up with a new version.

Wash Day

the next thing you know I’m covered
with fur and all the windows
are broken, someone’s in the corner
crying with her apron over her head
the fire has gone dead
fingers burnt with bleach at the core

everyone’s pale and glaring
the kettle bubbling black
overflowing, spilling on the dirt floor
the twig brooms ruined -- sticky

scars appear on my arms
cracks on my scalp
the light starts pouring out
mixing with the black clouds of her breath
viscous soup or soupy fluid
the soap slipping between my hands

my lips part gasping
like a soap-eyed fish
the fur spreads to the fire
the ceiling , September
is melancholy for most

the urgent thing I’ve forgotten
finger tips in the ungent
jars and jars of squirrel tails and rat brains
ancestral lizards slide down
the bannister, I pick
fur from between my teeth

we are all ready already
ankles crossed, bows brushing
our strings, the sting of hornets
red-faced, fevered, jungle beneath the city,
green sky, abscess under our feet


Jim Murdoch said...

I struggled with this piece. The opening stanza made me think of werewolves, suddenly being covered in fur, broken windows and someone crying in the corner, but the tone is friendly, like a children's tale. The next thing the narrator is exploding from the inside, light pouring out of them, like something from an animé film. But they don't explode, they're washing. The jars evoke witches of course.

I tried to impose meaning on the piece bit I couldn't pull the disparate elements together in my head. The lack of a proper sentence structure didn't help (I do like my capital letters and punctuation) and I couldn't see any underlying form to explain why you chose to break the stanzas where you did. Also "ungent" is an odd word (it looks like a typo since you've just used urgent), "ointment" might work better.

My gut feeling is that this is what my wife and I call a "decoder ring" poem, i.e. you need one particular piece of information, which is not in the poem or the title, and then everything falls into place.

Interesting. Has possibilities. Needs work.

Christine said...

Thank you, Jim. That was a very thorough and useful response. I like the "urgent" and "ungent" though -- I like a little part that stumbles.

Jim Murdoch said...

If you need to keep "ungent" then I would think about dropping the "urgent". People will think it is a typo - I certainly did, I'd never heard the word before - and most people will assume that, whereas if you use it on its own I think it stands a better chance. Just an opinion. It's your poem.