In looking to come up with new poems to place into my thesis manuscript, I continue to write things which don’t relate too closely, either by voice or by theme. This, needless to say, is frustrating.
I have no solution, except the solution damp ink, sweat, and tears create of paper. This is also not an ideal solution. Print them, and revise. There is no forcing the poetry muse.
There is no forcing of poetry.
Is there time? No. A product is due. A cohesive compilation of cruelly qualified poetry. A manuscript. How many days? About 40. How many pages? About 55 (of poems). What’s “Completed”? About 35 pages.
This is not a bad thing, necessarily. I just have the urge to start over right now. That, however, is not necessary. There is a deadline which separates the included from the excluded. There is a theme (which I think is obvious if you’ve read this blog) which separates the included from the excluded. There is love which grows poems at its own rate. The unspeakable written. The horizon lingers whether or not the sun is up.
And so, to learn to force a way through. To keep writing, whether they are part of this mix tape or another or none at all. This is what I am learning right now. Which branches to prune, which to plant in a separate pot, and which to invest in Right Now. Whichever way, they get their attention, or they will in time. The grind time. This is where a writer is born, though if you tell that to the muses, they might be offended.
The cauldron of the MFA. I think it may be better suited to the prose writers. One reason I say this is something my wife said, and I think she’s right. In revision, especially in poetry, one finds it easy to get caught up in his own voice, his own mind.
I had thought that at least a simulacrum of a chapbook was present at the beginning of the summer. Given the responses for revisions (all good advice), however, I see it more and more as a scrimmage. As a war game. Blue vs. Red and no one wins.
This, too, is frustrating. Would you care if I dropped it on your lap? All 40 pages of it? Probably not. Why not? None of us have the time for poetry, even those of us writing it. Should I be surprised care is a rare thing? This, here, is bitching. The real question is whether or not the poems live for you, the reader. Whether they mean anything beyond the ink upon the page and the surface denotations of the words. Whether the bonsai has fulfilled its form. And I mean that in a spiritual way.
What? No. My “beliefs” have not changed. I am the same ignoble atheist who started this thing. But the poems have changed. And for the better. I think.
I am still the man who misses his wife. I am still the seeker of stars. I, too, am the bonsai trimmer, the wheelwright, and the lens. I am the gravitational mirror, the streaks outside its focus, and the disturbance in the force. I am the uncertainty, the pleasure of new discovery. I am still, however, the man who misses his wife. Sometimes I can’t sleep nights because of it. I am still the argument against doctrine, the jaws against dogma, and I still can’t sleep for it. I am still looking for a new way to view myself. How small and how grand amongst the stars. All a part of them, and all parts of me.
American Exceptionalism is dead. Human Exceptionalism is dead. It is the path to our own death. If we are exceptional, then there is no reason not to destroy our home. And if we are not, then there is every reason to preserve it. Organized religion, Doctrine, and Dogma do not lead us to this conclusion. But there is no forcing of this. No relief immediate. No god to do the hard work.