Thursday, October 30, 2008

More Manuscripts in Progress

Merrily steaming along, I have two other manuscripts underway, though neither are quite near the finished stages. One is tentatively titled Gone Things That Stay or just Gone Things (not quite sure if that's a keeper of a title yet - "Things" is a word that tends to annoy me for its vagueness - but it captures the theme of the collection nicely so far, and I hate not having a working title). The other is still very much a work in progress, there are only about 12 pieces in it so far. It's in a rougher voice than I usually use, more rhythmic and spitfire style - not sure if there will ever be a market for that one, but I figure I need to get those pieces out of my system anyway, and they may as well be collected together. No firm working title for that second collection yet, though Love Letters from a White Woman or Train Track Child Comes Home may end up the working title.

I'm thrilled at the prospect of God in my Throat coming out with Bellowing Ark, and as soon as I have more news on that front, I'll report it here.

For now, I'll leave you with a draft of "Train Track Child Comes Home." The prompt that started this one was that it had to be a love poem (with "love" defined however you wish), exactly 21 lines long, with the lines as evenly matched as possible length-wise. I took some liberties on the length of the lines and broke the prompt a bit, and I'm not thrilled with the long tercets, so the next revision will change the form a bit. (Actually, the long tercets didn't fit into this blogform well, so I've broken the 21 line rule. The wording is much the same but the line breaks are different.) I wrote a second poem that I'm not including here that is more of an actual love poem - this one was an attempt at writing a love poem for a place that I both despise and am drawn to, the place where I grew up.

Train Track Child Comes Home

I’m lucky like a quarter left on the tracks, coming back
to the dull glint of nickel, the feel of a cold, sharp coin
against my wrist, the smokestack smell of a just-passed train
and the howl of cars jolted from the safety of the rails.

Warm metal tastes like a punch in the mouth, and I’m home,
where powdered sugar from the Entenmann’s factory mingles
in morning air with cocaine and our cigarette smoke halos, back
where love is cold, hard and brittle like weak iron. Home,

where I spent years chasing dragons, held hostage by scuffed
peddlers of temptation offering spoiled salvation neatly wrapped
in Ziploc from lice-infested pockets where train cars go to die.
We were brilliant as fog, riding bareback down dirty streets,

eyes closed, arms open, serenading the homeless, singing love songs
to dim streetlights while our fathers beat our mothers in silence.
I can see the self I left here to die, a half-ghost drifting across
Brentwood Road, two blocks past the carnicerĂ­a, wearing slutty clothes,

cracking cinnamon gum in defiance. She waits, chases me
around concrete corners, reminds me of old crimes, dares me
to find the milky shadows of possibility spelled out in the I-Ching maze
of track marks I let scab over when I left, when I let myself forget.

But Brentwood never forgets, she rips those raw scabs open
and they’re thirsty as soon as I cross her borders, I can feel her whisper
echo in my bones - eso si que es, mi hija, nadie puede escaparme.
Tarry rail ties stain the landscape, pointing the way out,

but the firewhistle moans that it’s too late to leave this time,
I’m home for good and she doesn’t plan to let me go. I sit like a coin
on the tracks with a needle and flame, waiting to gain an edge.

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