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April 28, 2013

The porch was quieter than usual.

Whatever sympathy there was

that contrived to lift the continuous things

from the things of no importance

—it didn’t last for more than a second.

You hadn’t realized that you had

a little headache from the light dinner 

of boiled flowers and the heavy

vases of moonshine. To rouse yourself

into a closer, more quieted solicitude,

you answered the question that, just

a minute or so ago, you had sharply driven away:

“Under the hard inactive starlight,

what is saffron to silence? What duty

is gaily rising to the open door?”

You were waiting for the short moment 

of good-bye to go lisping behind the weather

and to return as a monosyllable, deceiving

sorrier, more substituted sounds to escape.

On the haphazard canvas of memories,

fragments zigzagged into a dumb sort of

coherence, the shape of a life that isn’t your own

only in the sense that it was made manifest

in the false and vociferating trap of dangnation.

You read the palm of your hand 

like the back page of the evening paper,

putting back into your mind

the little bit of conviction that was left

of its uncertain souvenir. “Arrest me,”

you said, disregarding no one in particular.

“I’m not sorry at all for tossing my penny

into the other side of the night.”   



[Note: This poem comes from a sequence which grew out of a 2013 National Poetry Month initiative sponsored by the Found Poetry Review. Entitled “Pulitzer Remix,” this online and ephemeral project entailed 85 poets posting new poems every day based on the language of the 85 books which have won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. After volunteering to participate, I was assigned Booth Tarkington’s Alice Adams (1921), a comedic novel of manners set in the Midwest. I proceeded to craft a 30-part long poem, whose words, with no exception, were derived from Tarkington’s book, and all of the 30 sections of this sequence were composed daily throughout the 30 days of April. The sequence became, in essence, a document of my
life as I lived it in April 2013 through the obsessive reading, re-reading, and remixing of a single book, an experiment of what happens when a life makes poetry, at least the writing of it, a priority for 30 continuous days despite all else.

Many of the poems from this sequence (not including this one) are collected in my chapbook Fruits and Flowers and Animals and Seas and Lands Do Open (2015), which was the winner of the 2014 Burnside Review Chapbook Contest: http://burnsidereview.org/fruits-flowers-animals-seas-land-open/.]
Posted 03/20/15
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