The poem, the night before

I was listening to The Tragically Hip and they appeared in my poem, the night before we found out from the media that the lead singer, Gord Downie, has terminal cancer. At one point when I got a new laptop and then downloaded an update on my writing software, this poem along with all of my edits disappeared. So weird to me that it was only this poem along with my final version after rewrites – I was lucky to retrieve all of my work on this one. I’m now on the fifth version of this prose poem and it looks and reads quite differently. Now, I feel like sharing. But, just the first version – because it says “tragically hip tunes.” Still wondering what made me write this when I did. Ever wonder that sometimes?

untitled Version I

I can fill my page with letters, syllables, words, lines, metaphors, conceits. It may be conceited of me not to share my space with the light. I prefer the wind and the winding. As I sit by the front window, on my couch, rocking to and fro to tragically hip tunes filling my page. The light is going down in the east, right in front of me. I don’t reach out to touch it. Instead I lean as far as I can toward the screen door but since it’s way over there I can feel the wind from the fan sitting on the floor. I reach out to touch the wind from the fan. I resist talking into the fan. I don’t think my words are there. I want to stand out on the deck, lick my finger and hold my hand, finger pointing high into the air. See if the wind is up there. That is where my words will come from. They will wind their way to me. Winding all the way from the windy alit skies, all the way down to me to the page.

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My first car should have been recalled

NaPoWriMo Day 29
Prompt: A poem based on things you remember

My first car should have been recalled

I recall my first car.
Hyundai Pony, army green.
Trailed Florida sand all over Ontario.

I recall using a choke start
to get that car
going.

I recall my dad and I thinking we could change the rad.
We did but when it came to the part where we needed to bolt the new one in,
we didn’t have the right tools.

I recall taking up to six hours on transit just to get
to and from university.
That’s before I got my crappy, army green car.

I recall the love notes my husband would leave for me
under the windshield wipers in an attempt to desperately
make me go out with him.

I recall being stuck in the middle of nowhere.
It was pitch black and my car broke down.
Neither my boyfriend nor my father would or could pick me up.

I recall my brother
denting the hood of my car
when I was on vacation.

I recall Grandad painting
all of the rust spots on my car
with just the right paint.

I recall my engine freezing a few times over the winter
and leaving my car to sit in the driveway
until it thawed out.

I recall
not cleaning
my car.

I recall replacing my passenger side door
at least three times
for various young and dumb reasons.

I recall thinking that 11 am
was morning
to the mechanic who started at 7 am.

I recall not lending my car to my girlfriend
because she couldn’t get a rental
and the debate she had with me.

I recall the snowstorms I drove in,
passing all of the other cars in the left lane,
wondering what was wrong with all of them.

I recall forgetting to pay for the $5 that filled my tank with gas.
My mom answering the door at 2 am thinking what do the cops want
with my brother now. Completely surprised it was for me.

I recall that other friends
still have memories
about my car.

I recall driving my friends
all around,
all over Ontario.

I recall my girlfriend and I almost spontaneously grabbing our passports,
packing a bag, to then drive across the border to do whatever.
I don’t recall what stopped us.

I recall
numerous drives
to the cottage.

I recall boosting my car
and even boosting
a dump truck with my car.

I recall as much of my youth through that car,
the one my dad bought for me, the dad who doesn’t talk to me anymore.
And, I don’t talk to him.

© 2016 by Colleen Knight

Let it

NaPoWriMo Day 26
Prompt: Call and response

Let it – Version I

Still nightfall
Let it begin

On bedrock
Let it come

My underbelly
Let it arrive

It is
Let it park

Hallucinate it
Let it idle

© 2016 by Colleen Knight

the day I watched death drive on by

NaPoWriMo Day 25
Prompt: A line from another poem, not necessarily verbatim

I can’t recall Emily Dickinson’s poem about death and driving. I’m so removed from the lines and the poem that usually capture my attention simply because it’s so profound. All that I could come up with is the line that is my title which was plenty to launch my own poem.

the day I watched death drive on by – version I

accelerated up the ramp
flakes coming down around
on the hood

wipers wiping
snow covering gray
three lanes deserted

pedal pressed
with a spin
I spun out

overcorrecting
I turned the wheel
against the rotation

car righted
sigh out
only to circle back the other way

like a children’s fair ride
I reeled
repeatedly

smucked the barrier
stunned I stared
at the wheel moving nowhere fast

as cars avoided me with their straight line
turning my head
funeral signs every other vehicle

© 2016 Colleen Knight

Write a poem, leave me a link

It’s National Poetry Writing Month.

Poet newbies or established, please leave me a link to one of your poems in the comment section here, so that I can read it, perhaps I can click “like,” perhaps comment, and we can maybe follow one another.

Go!

Yeah, okay Mullen

NaPoWriMo Day 24
Prompt: Use overly poetic and everyday words

This exercise was to try and get me to keep my poetry grounded. My poetry is abstract and I’m writing a bit like Mullen the last couple of days and in this particular way, even after I’ve told people that I despise the use of the three periods in poetry because it reminds me of poorly written text messages.

This is as grounded as I seem to get. I’m in my happy place.

And, I’m going to argue for using verbs ending in “ing” alongside verbs that don’t end in “ing” – end of argument, mine anyway.

Yeah, okay Mullen

Catatonic Ann uses…Her stupendous oatmeal must taste…she says in her speech
about wanting…While she walks…The brewery is a colossus monument
to think…Corral in the morning for her trip to fly…In her knapsack, while loping…Depressed and romantic, her oracle is speaking…Her computer inherited by losing…She wears a fleece around and wanders…She’s shrewd as having…Folktales ran…All circular as diving…Chinchillas drank…

Sonnet under my bonnet

NaPoWriMo Day 23
Prompt: Sonnet

The unstressed followed by stressed beats may need a little work, but it’s good enough for now.

Backstage – Version I

In seats the bums of people fill the hall
As stage crew’s headsets getting every
One in position, for the curtain call
The stage is managed, singers reverie
Are well, they are, so nods the artistic
Director, take a pill and sit now still
The one bulb in the sconce is no biggie, Rick
With iron might the SM keeps good will
The opera singers bustle backstage
In full skirting, sound check, lighting check, ready!
Madame Butterfly it is the rage
O darn, the headsets a-buzzing, O Freddy!
The lights then go out and all is quite calm
We’re set and now the show must now go, bomb!

© Colleen Knight, 2016

Earth & some Star-Trek

NaPoWriMo, Day 22
Prompt: Earth Day

Earth, the final frontier

Earth –
precious, pressurized sphere
the orb to care for
Earth the –
bless
touch
do no harm
final words
on climate change
global warming
Earth the final –
frontier before us
we’re the pioneers
the latest dwellers
Earth the final frontier –
catch a stone
catch a rock
catch a tree
catch a wind
catch the world
spinning
turning
growing
dying

Count from one to 10

NaPoWriMo Day 21
Prompt: One to 10 words, 10 lines

ways than one

no
words for
fake fall for
a dream wanted us
things in common, sexy as
fill my soul with one century
time and its technology, ourselves in deeper
no words for a relationship that never started
relationship of common soul cameras, I have no words
for a relationship that never got started, falling for dreams

Sleeping with the Dictionary – Review

Sleeping With the DictionarySleeping With the Dictionary by Harryette Mullen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Sleeping with the Dictionary” by Harryette Mullen is the poetry book that I’m opting to choose to write about during National Poetry Writing Month.

It’s because it speaks to me. I embrace the avante-garde, abstractionism, the strange, the weird yet wonderful types of poetry that some people do not find as intriguing. But, there are many of us around who do love it all.

I’ve been lectured at since university about how to review or critique a work of art. I’m supposed to tell you who Harryette Mullen is and what she may be about. Out of the number of books she’s written, I’m supposed to tell you which one this is. I’m to give you some history and some present connection from the text to the world in order to help you understand why this is important to us. But, as I’ve also learned in Modern and Contemporary American Poetry, affectionately aka ModPo, that if I choose, I can choose to buck all of those tendencies in a book review and just tell you what I just want to tell you. So, today, I’m going to do what I want to do.

And as an aside, there is power and there is greatness in doing the opposite of what you’ve been taught to do and taught how to do well, your entire life. It is freeing and it allows me to have my own voice heard. Try it sometime.

There is meaning in poetry that seems on the surface to be meaningless ramble. For me it is about playing with language, words, lines, sentences, poems, sounds, rhythm, beat and musciality. You can likely see on my blog that I don’t always write what most people would think a conventional poem would read as one should. For me, there are no shoulds. And, in “Sleeping with the Dictionary” there is an extensive play on words through OuLiPovian, abecedarianism, puns, what’s called N+7 – there’s just so much. I was introduced to Harryette Mullen through ModPo, in particular “Any Lit” really captured my attention for the pure joy of playing with abecedarianism. And then I also had a chance to read the prose poem “Sleeping with the Dictionary,” same name as the book.

For me to take a text and abecedarian the heck out of something and then take it further by flarfing on it or OuLiPolianing the heck out of it makes words so much fun for me. And what I do seem to find is that this form, instead of forcing me to tell a story within its constraints, in the end surprises me with the story that it tells me. So the poem speaks to me just as much as Mullens’s poetry speaks to me. I don’t think she was necessarily trying to tell us something, although when I do a close reading I can intellectualize it, categorize it all that I want and read about Mullen and knowing that she’s an African American woman I can recount line by line what something may mean and I can reference some of the choices she made back to African American traditions which are highly intriguing to know about. But, I take exception to this straightforward type of interpretation and close reading of poetry that is seemingly playing with language, words and sound.

If I’m going to sleep with my dictionary, if I’m going to fuck around with it, I’m essentially going to play as an adult, and I may take my time, or I may just go for it, and quickly. For the love of pleasure, this to me, is poetry.

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