Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Another kind of wildness

(Sonnet. Words yanked from "returning the books to their shelves" by Bernadette Mayer)

city          Feeling far from the city finally in Desolation.
time         Time to walk and stretch and swim and think until
19            19 o'clock in the evening
stream     when I hope we will eat a big fish you caught in the tide stream.
taxi          It's running so fast gulls taxi by
it              on blocks of driftwood; wing back; do it
mulch      again. Scent of kelp sea urchin and dessicated crab mulching
then         on the shore. The dog sniffs, then pounces cracking
window   shells with her teeth, each delicious crab leg a window on
nothing    another kind of wildness. Nothing can take this from her.
books       Like I here with my sketchpad and books,
cold         feet slippered against the cold, disregarding
phone      the insistent phone, opening turning
shelves    emptying the shelves of ordinary life.

I finish reading the 25th anniversary edition of Bernadette Mayer's wonderful Sonnets (Tender Buttons Press, 2014) while we are anchored in Desolation Sound. Despite their distance from where I am, Mayer's urban words and images suffuse my dreams, and I tap away at her lines, trying to understand how they fit together. One of Mayer's projects in particular, undertaken with Philip Good, strikes me: a list of fourteen words finds its way into a sonnet, one word per line (66). I decide I will try to co-compose with Meyer, by pulling words from another of her pieces that I love very much, a love sonnet entitled "returning the books to their shelves" (67).But as soon as I've decided on this method and pulled the words from Mayer's poem, I think, I can't make a poem from these words! I'm north of 50 degrees north latitude--what have I to do with cities, time, taxis, windows, phones or shelves? But as soon as I let the poem begin with that dilemma, the rest follows: being where I am lets me empty these words of their ordinary contexts and make other associations. Evidently, the neighbourhood is everything, no matter where you are.

Image: reflections north of 50.

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