Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Poem: Precipitous

In your poetry, you make great use of surreal imagery. Do you have a hard time getting your students to take similar “flights” in their work?

“They are not used to using imagination. Most have plenty of it, but they are embarrassed by it, so my job is to convince them it’s all about taking chances, risking making a fool of oneself and going for broke. Otherwise, why write?”
--Charles Simic, poet


Long before I intellectualized

the world into a
windstorm of rods and cones
I recall

standing in the rain
watching a slick of oil as it
snakes down the gutter like a
long, liquid cypress tree

Framing the surface to a
lunchbox-size lake,
I spot a single pockmark landing and
reverse the telescope

winding it back on a
kitestring to the clouds
where it balances in the vapor like an
English riding champion
waiting for gravity to deliver its
unassailable marching orders

Around the corner my gutterstream
breaks loose, a centrifugal fan
fingering the asphalt for flaws and seams
tracking south to an unseen ocean

I picture myself on a beach
six months later.
I spy my single drop on a
sea lion’s nose and exclaim,
“Friend! How are you?
You’re looking well.”

At what height did I stop
watching the rain?
Five-two? Four-foot-eight?

Short enough only today, only now
to set aside my junk mail
see a thing for a thing and
inventory the small dramas at my feet.

First published in Terrain.org

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