Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Not going into my canon

We just spent a few days in Austin, where Mrs. R was giving a talk. For the first time in a long while I spent a day the way I used to during my write-a-book sabbatical year: walking around looking at stuff and then writing a poem about it all. The following refers to a tree that Mrs. R associates with the city:


Zexmenia, and its grape jelly smell,
Call to the Tourette's in every poet:
Concord, radius, ulna, elbow, six
Degrees of anything and opposite,
The map of all minds' metrics a hopeless
Scribble, a knot of labyrinth threads.
The tree's purple blossoms rhyme, sort of,
The lavenderly iridescent slipcovers
On the chairs in the rough-hewn coffee house
Near the capital and its Confederate
War Memorial where you've stopped for a rest
On your first-time visit to the city
To see if you'd want to move here, a place
You'll probably soon leave, never to return.

We picked up the Latin name from a label in a garden exhibit of local and ecofriendly plants. The poem (or rather draft) certainly seems difficult, and it's unapologetically sonnet-like in its 6-8 construction, but it perhaps expresses something about how we live in our heads and our lives. Sadly, when I looked on the web for images of the described blossoms (and to think about "lilac" for "purple" and so forth), I discovered that Zexmenia is an orange-flowered shrub and the plant in question is actually the Texas mountain laurel, euphoniously linnaeusized as Sophora secundiflora.

Sometimes one starts a poem and it ends somewhere and one realizes it didn't arrive anywhere worth going. Sometimes a tweak in direction along the way will redeem the effort. Rather seldom have I written something to find that the first word is just wrong and the whole enterprise hopelessly muddled thereby. (Well, there's some of that here.)

Anyway, that's why the above draft is posted, not sitting in a drawer awaiting a rewrite and, hopefully, eventual submission somewhere.



Post a Comment

<< Home