“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” (W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Poetry Project

    I am one fifth a poetry group based out of Milwaukee(one of the poets is a transplanted Milwaukeean living in Chicago). We try to meet once a month on a Sunday when the C__ poet returns to the fairer city to visit his parents. Currently we are in search of a name, the leading choice so far is The Jacklight Poets. This has been an excruciating exercise for five pretty creative guys -to sum up the whole of our parts has not been easy as we are all very different stylistically and demographically. Anyways this was all to tell you that three of us "younger" poets came up with a project for each of us to create a poem using a list of ten words or action images from the other two lists and if compelled, to also create one from our own. What follows is a piece I created using one of those lists(not my own). I will include the list after the poem(no peeking). It turned into a prose poem, but I realized afterwards that it could also be considered what is being called flash fiction or short short fiction these days.


    On waking from an eerie daymare (or was it a series of daymares?) in which my roles were many like an accidental master of disguises, changing appearances for each baleful act of a sad opera.

    In one, I play the emcee of a three ring circus who has forgotten the names of all the animals. "The large, grey, wrinkle- skinned creatures, what are they called again?" I ask repeatedly. The appelations escape my memory no matter the number of replies from nonplussed contortionists and troop of French acrobats. Now in the center ring, microphone in hand, I try to introduce the first act in which a man leads a pack of dancing dogs dressed in pink tutus and bows on their heads, but the words will not come. The spotlight's halation grows exponentially, filling the tent until the light is all I see, then nothing...

    Another has me impersonating the captain of a great ship, lost at sea. A storm has just passed and now the sun is watching us between parting clouds. The men rejoice for having survived but soon turn to anger and worry when it is discovered that we have been blown off course. Days are spent, as is the food and drink trying to resume the previous passage. When the murmurs of the crew turn mutinous, the captain(me) now weary and a little "touched" from lack of sustenance is pressed to make a decision. Once again the words escape me, unable to give voice to East or West, sail, mast or boom; the men begin to swarm around me, beating and kicking until I am subdued and bloodied. Now bound with rope, I am tossed overboard and above the cheers and exhortations of my crew, I hear my former first mate's voice rise above the rest, just before hitting the water,"Let him go and sleep with Davey Jones!"

    Now, I am a dour teen wallflower in the waning minutes of my junior prom. My date, really my best friend since the sixth grade, hovers near the dance floor with a gaggle of giggling girls. Meanwhile I stand off to the side, toeing the floor, hands in pockets. She approaches with two friends towing behind. Feeling bold, I offer my hand, hoping to walk her home. She looks at my extended arm, then back at me and says "Brad invited some of us to a post-dance party... you don't mind if I go, do you?" As I return my sweaty-palmed hand to its pocket, the two malicious girls behind her begin to snicker. Lowering my head, I look at the floor, searching for the words I want to say to her, mainly that I love her, that I have always loved her. I open my mouth but no sound escapes. Time starts again when she breaks the silence, saying "I'm gonna go' 'Ok?' 'See you later." She leans into me and quickly pecks my cheek before turning to leave. As I stand there touching the spot where she pressed her lips, the music stops and the gym lights come on. "Bye," I whisper to her back.

    My last performance has me playing a sort of robot or android with a glitch. It seems that my creator, who fancies himself a modern day Gepetto, is really nothing more than your classic tinkerer. Unable to figure out why my bionic self has trouble coming up with the correct words or phrases at times, he resorts to slapping me on the back of my metal-worked head whenever I get something wrong. For example, he tries to get me to learn to say good luck charm- "fluke magnet," I say in a tinny voice (slap). I try once more- "kismet amulet" is my offering (whack). Over and over this scene plays out until finally, I regurgitate the phrasing he wants to hear, and then it starts all over again with the next one. Utterly frustrated with his flawed machine he walks out of the workshop, leaving me sitting on a tabletop rocking nervously back and forth, muttering repeatedly, "remorses."  I watch him pace outside the door as he contemplates my future.

    I come to with my wife shaking my shoulders. "What are you mumbling?" She asks me. "Nothing," I tell her, attempting to stand and wiping the side of my mouth. "Well...?" I wanted to know, "what did the doctor say?" "He said that you are going to be a father," she said beaming. I stand there dumbfounded, staring at her."Well? Aren't you going to say anything?" she asks. Finally, after a long silence I return her smile and say,"if it's a girl, I think we should call her Kismet."

paramnesia- title

daymare- 1st paragraph
master of disguises- 1st

halation- 2nd paragraph

storm- 3rd paragraph
go -   3rd

post-dance- 4th paragraph

glitch-    5th paragraph
bionic-   5th
fluke magnet- 5th

1 comment:

  1. I liked this one when I read it the first time. Like it even more now. Glad you shared it.