Shards of Glass (Not)

The new issue of Albany Poets‘ periodic magazine, OTHER:SEVEN, is coming out soon and will contain some of my work. (Not sure how much . . . I submitted three poems and had work accepted, but I don’t know if they’re running all of the pieces or just one or two of them). The magazines tend to get snapped up pretty quick when they hit the street, so keep eyes out at the locations noted on their website if you’re interested in them. I’ve read some great work in their prior issues.

This is the first time I submitted anything to them, so it was nice to get some pieces placed. In fact . . . it’s always nice when I get pieces placed, because I tend to be somewhat out of synch with the more publicly prominent movements in contemporary poetic circles: I don’t write my poetry with any expectation or intention of ever reading it aloud, and I enjoy working within formal rhyming and metric structures far more than I enjoy writing free verse.

I find there’s a delicious sense of discipline and reward to be gained from grabbing my tattered copy of Lewis Turco’s New Book of Forms, randomly opening to a page, reading about a form, and then trying to communicate some point within that form. It’s interesting to see how forms precede content: certain forms suggest certain themes through their provenance or widespread practice in certain parts of the world.

I have favorite forms, of course, that I return to fairly regularly, but some of my best poems (recognizing, as I say that, that writers are the worst judges of their own work) have stemmed from ad hoc, what-can-I-do-with-this sessions with Turco, wrestling with a form I’d not encountered before.

I also tend to be out of synch with a lot of contemporary poets in that my thematic landscapes are usually external instead of internal: I don’t write a lot about my emotional states, be they ecstatic or roiled. I’m more of an observer or lyrical storyteller than I am a psychologist, self-directed or otherwise. I like penning murder ballads and ghost stories, tales of the creepy Low Country, things dripping with mordant humor, Spanish Moss and chiggers. Biological things. Sticky, icky things with lots of legs and teeth. Boogiemen. Haints.

I once wrote a formal English sonnet about remoras . . . and got it published. My “Slime Mold Sonnet,” on the other hand, has yet to find a printed home.

So I get bored sort of quickly when people (self included) wallow on and on about their innermost pains and pangs. I guess that may make my writing soul-less, but I’m not really inclined to try to convince anybody how deep and troubled I am, since I’m actually pretty surface-oriented and happy, all things considered. I just like to write. Can art be made by happy people? Maybe.

CREED

It shall never come to pass
that I shall write of shards of glass.
Unless I break a windowpane,
in which case that would be germane.

I commit and promise this:
I’ll never write of psychic mist.
Clouds will not obscure my way,
unless it is a foggy day.

Never will I drink your eyes,
nor liken dairy to your thighs,
nor feel my atoms blown apart,
nor pierce your soul, nor touch your heart.

I shall work hard to avoid
the deep abyss, the empty void,
the burning flame, the blowing wind,
the anguished cry, the final end.

Never will I lose myself,
then find me later, on a shelf,
beside a broken mirror there,
reflecting me, beyond repair.

I will write of many things,
of turtles, bridges, ghosts and kings.
But it shall never come to pass
that I shall write of shards of glass.

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