I have the great pleasure of knowing many poets who work and live in my city(Milwaukee.) I have the even greater pleasure of working closely with four of the best poets to hail from or transport to the area. Elliot O. Lipchik, Stephen Anderson, Steve Pump and Paul Enea have helped me to grow as a poet and as a person with their careful guidance and honest critique. My brother Chad has also been a great influence and collaborater. One of the things we do as a group to keep our workshopping fresh and fun is collaborative poetry. We have tried to do some pieces as a large group but I have found that the writing is smoother and seems more cohesive when it is only two people working together. It feels easier to find a groove as a duo, it becomes a real partnership with give and take and a natural feeding off of each other.
So unbeknownst to my fellow poets, I sent two starting lines to Paul, Steve P. and my brother, Chad Austin, asking each of them to do a collaborative piece with me using the same starting lines and set the parameters at one or two lines at a time and twenty lines total. It was very interesting to see where the pieces varied and also where they seemed to follow a similiar path. I will be posting my collaborations with each of these poets as well as any revised pieces I may receive. The first one completed was the poem done with Steve Pump, it follows here...
I can't wait to remember
all the things I've forgotten.
early in the morning, half-asleep,
one palm open to receive
my daily dose of heartbreak,
the other closed around what's left
of the night, dream-glass, dust
and tattered pieces of the shadows
that keep me company in the loaming.
yet I must wait in stations
underground for trains to arrive from
distant nightmares, carrying
anonymous, faceless passengers.
I must wait. and when the skeletons detrain,
how will I recognize them, ghosts without eyes?
these drifting vagabonds huddle together
as if bracing for some cold that I cannot feel.
in bed for an hour, suspended between forgetting
and not forgetting, waiting, and unable to wait
the weight is unbearable