The evening valiantly teased rain
a slight shift in the wind wheezing through
desiccated leaves of trees awilt
offering neither respite nor reprieve
A rogue cloud pushed through the smokiness
flicked five faint drops echoing Cetus
against the soot-encrusted window
Before they could trace the constellation
with their blackened cracked and blistered fingers
it faded into insignificance
All around them the fire ate the world
smug in its inevitability
licking at the fields and the forests and the sky
still unopposed by any long-blinded witness
Written for “Poets in Response to Peril” upcoming event (April 2022). Hear my reading and see video below (posted by Rico Sitoski).
Event details here: https://www.rsitoski.com/event-details/poets-in-response-to-peril
She was backlit
By the flames
Of the burning bridges
the .410 bore was perfect
full choked for partridge
either perched or flying
he’d dropped another one onto the small pond
getting his feet wet
when he’d stepped through the ice
he dressed it - wings tucked then yanked quickly -
and placed the breast in waxed cardboard
the carcass tossed aside for any hungry vixen
walking the path that ribboned through pines
he picked up boughs and cones
to decorate the hunting shack
smoke from the rusted chimney
carried wintergreen and blueberries
mixed with breadcrusts ready for stuffing
his uncle looked up from the woodstove
woodspoon in hand
white beard streaked from sampling
“Looks like you got yourself soaked…
take your socks off and hang ‘em
in front of the fire.”
They sat together sharing a bottle of port
telling stories and retelling memories
eager for another perfect holiday meal
Through the woods
in late afternoon in autumn
as the colours
they blindly rush
leads them away
to the hollow
flask of scotch
Originally appeared in “Gorilla Pamphlets”
Some experimenting below. I thought it may be interesting to append to this post. This would be a good exercice à la Beckett to achieve that “detached” vibe in one’s writing.
I did not start the day expecting to hike for an hour or two, but an errand brought me close to a Provincial Park so I popped in. After a long, boring, nothing-to-do kind of day, this excursion totally reinvigorated me. A change of scenery — and some good old nature — does so much good.
I’ve been meaning to stop and take shots of these for a long time. Conditions were just right, so I pulled over and snapped a few pictures.
Whenever an artist, a craftsperson, a chef creates something identifiable as his or her own, the underlying differentiator is the story. Forget the words, brush strokes, hammer marks, tool grinds, ingredients; the only thing — the only quality — that matters is the story. What remains from the creation is not only ‘object,’ but ‘narrative’ of why that object has come to be. The creative thing does not exist without the story lest it become a mere commodity, a castaway one-use bobble, ephemera.
The very reason your Mother’s Spaghetti is unmatched by spaghetti in a can or from a restaurant is because the concept of “Mom’s spaghetti” is inseparably linked to the background tales, memories, made-up family tidbits that surround the spaghetti itself. These will survive the death of the Mother. These will transcend the small changes made to the original recipes by daughters and sons. These will be the insoluble essence of Mother’s Spaghetti. The old jokes and reminiscences will be as important as the metered amounts of flour and egg, tomato and spices.
The same holds true for Grandfather’s razor, Dad’s walking stick, Aunt Elanors’s watercolour, whatever heirloom making the rounds in a family. Without the built-up mystique of oral / written / photographic history, the heirlooms are just things: junk or trappings for garage sales.
The same should hold true for good writing. Without background, without an anchor in the writer’s actuality, without a link to the time and space around it, a story or poem or novel is nothing but a bunch of words. A writer should be cognizant of his or her place in the oeuvre of the age, whether he or she fights against or plays into it. Without acknowledgement — positive or negative — of its place in the whole, a work can only fall flat, existing outside any traceable ancestry, words on a page for the sake of themselves.
When writing, build differentiation, flavour, the story behind the story, placing it in the here and now, making it relevant, making it memorable.