We are weather�
the cumulative unless
as it is sunny
unless the sky
I am here
unless I am
there. Fog unless
sun. Your vein
is not particularly
We are weather�
whether at or less
to add to my loss.
Less you, I am rain,
less through with
sane. Titter that tat,
pitter me pat.
is not particular
sunshine. Your hands
are not particular
cold. You are more
unless you are less.
My Street, an Old-Age-Home
bal�loon (bə-lōōn�) n. 1.A spherical, flexible, nonporous bag inflated with a gas lighter than air that causes it to rise and float in the atmosphere. 2.A rounded or irregularly shaped outline containing words. 3.To expand or swell out.
I�ve come to cheek you out, Ms. Bellotte,
you who brings hell to my doorstep.
I saw your fault before you showed it--
I�ve caught your cat before.
To Mrs. Thomas, Harris, and March
who sit on porch swings and sip
and watch QVC. You let your
tv�s fizzle�their electrostatic mag-
nation turns on my microwave
I live cement. I hate this street.
Old ladies whose bagels are mouths
are o�s, let�s take out our teeth
to get a sense of humor. Watch me
watch mayonnaise, watch anything
you can get your hands or beards on.
I�ve heard you, Caliente, verse recite
at the top of your lungs near daybreak�
your childhood poems make me want
to take your baby and crack.
You think I knot write well
i doughnut fink in verds.
What if i were a bag of wands,
a vag-a-bond? Take a left
at Johnson Drive, a right at Howard
who sits in his wheelchair in the middle
of the street. You cannot around him get.
I fashion inflatable out of your pee-bag,
Ms. Hampton. I begin: I balloon
helium, bag, lift (ah)
I've been in a bit of a slump lately--and this last poem is probably the evil-est thing i've ever written...whatever that means--i've been having to write a statement of poetics for my workshop and i think it's fucking with the way i write....so i've added what i have so far on the statement that sucks as well...i can't always be perfect i guess..HA! i'm having a diction problem...ugh
This paper is my attempt at defining a personal statement of �poetry� and how my own poems work within this vein. I do not plan to write on my own �poetics� because as Robert Sheppard, author of �The Necessity of Poetics,� has stated, �writers are notoriously bad at reading their own work.� Yet �poetics� is, at times, interchangeable with �poetry.� A definition of poetics is needed, then, in order to understand poetry as a separate entity. Poet and critic Andy Kissane writes, �It seems that any statement about poetics is necessarily provisional and out-of-date. I do not want to keep writing the same poem and so this statement is more about what I have done in the past than what I will do in the future.� Poetics posits itself between two realms�that of the process of writing and the reflection on that writing. Poetics is always speculatively casting into the future as a dialogue with the activity of making or creating. Poetics refuses to claim poetry; that is, poetry as the zen state of here and now as poetics meanders between past and future. In a letter to Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop writes, �It seems to me it�s the whole purpose of art, to the artist (not to the audience)�that rare feeling of control, illumination�life is all right for the time being� (EBLet 350). Bishop�s stress on the present tense in art is analogous with poetry. One cannot imagine the interchange of the word �art� with that of �poetics.� Poetry, then, is �art� while poetics is not; it is apoetic as it runs the risk of operating as self-justification.
Yet these are slippery terms, especially when one uses the singular of �poetics,� �the poetic.� Poetic seems to fit more closely into the realm of poetry than it does with that realm of poetics as the poetic can refer to a singular occurrence of poetry in the present state. If one takes into account the quote by Adrienne Rich that �the writing of the text itself can be in some ways a negotiation of place, a negotiation that the text itself enacts in order to make itself at home. �Home� is understood finally not as a given, essentialized location, but a consciously constructed relation to place,� then �poetry� and �poetics� is both negotiation and negation. If one sees poetics as creating a home, it posits itself in the present tense just as the reader of this paper is in the present and, maybe, unaware that actual time is slipping away. I write �actual� time because �internal� time seems something different, something more inherent to the mental process in creation than to the large clock at the city�s town square. Somehow I have strayed from my original intent to define poetics versus poetry. In my getting nowhere, it seems that this debate is always open and changing and so I leave it to more articulate prose writers.
If poetry can be likened to a home and a place of the present, it is also a place of experience or a home for experience. In this �home� words and ideas die and are revitalized, not necessarily in that order and not pertaining to an after-life for words (although I�m sure that there is one). My poem �My Street, An Old Age Home or Balloon� attempts to touch on this�the rejuvenation of ideas and words and their locale in generation. But, poetry is also about re-decorating and building onto that home. It was Anne Bradstreet who wrote, �there�s no new thing under the sun: there is nothing that can be said or done, but either that or something like it hath been done and said before.� Bradstreet�s use of the term �something like it� points to the re-decoration of this poetry house. The tenants or owners before you may have lived in the exact same house, �no new thing under the sun,� yet it is your decoration of that house that makes it separate and new. Poems that create different boundaries through the pretense of switching genre do re-decorate or build. �Split Infinities� and �Outline� try to work out this affectation of genre. Specifically, �Outline� asks about the limits of poetry; it asks if it can build a door leading to a brick wall or a new wing onto its house without contracting a builder while �Split Infinities� changes decor style from classic to modern. How much genre-switching can a poem withhold before it is not a poem? Likewise, how many rooms can be added to a house before the foundation collapses? And if the foundation does collapse, what kind of house should be built from the debris? Maybe we shouldn�t re-build a house at all; maybe an apartment building is suitable. How many poets does it take to screw in a light bulb? This is a bad joke (to which I do not know the punch line), but hopefully, you see where I am going with this poetic-house metaphor as it has numerous possibilities in explaining poetry, as does the evolution of language. My poem �Uninvited House Guest� struggles with the world of poetry in a disturbed poetic-house metaphor.
Writing is re-naming. Adrienne Rich writes, �Human lives are full of fantasy�passive day-dreaming which need not be acted on. But to write poetry is not to fantasize, or to put fantasies on paper. For a poem to coalesce, for a character or action to take shape, there has to be an imaginative transformation of reality which is in no way passive.� Not a single one of my poems is reality. I have never lain in a dried-up lake behind my house nor had sex in a bathroom stall. Yet each poem carries its own reality�they are transformations not fantasies, as I do not want to have sex in a bathroom stall. In transforming reality, I re-name that reality similar to imagining a doppelganger. If I were to lie in a dried-up lake, it would not have the same power of reality that poems carry. Poetry, then, is its own authenticity of a reality and it is this authenticity that creates a landscape of new �under the sun� personal experiences.