Poets Online Archive
The rain falling on a night
If I prompted you to write something about giving a dead battery a jumpstart, you may not have thought it very poetic. Still, that's how the poem, “The Same City”, begins. Now, whether or not Terrance Hayes ever really connected those jumper cables to his father's dead battery is irrelevant to me. I love that image and all of the figurative possibilities it holds.
The heart of his poem, is, for me, the lines:
But to rescue a soul is as close
There's a complex writing prompt here full of fathers, sons, children, forgiveness and reconnecting that I will not ask you to try - mostly because I can't easily express it myself. (Feel free to try it on your own!)
The other thing that caught my attention in this poem was the structure. There are 2 poems here. Version one and version two. They might be able to stand alone (stanza one more easily than two) but they really need both parts for their full effect. That structure is what we will look at in our writing for the next prompt.
Write a poem that contains two versions of the same poem. Now, I don't literally mean submit 2 drafts of the same poem. But why might a poet begin over again in writing a poem, but then include that restart? (Rather than what most of us usually do - scrap drafts for the final version.) This is harder than it might seem at first.
There's more about this prompt and the opportunity to post your own comments on the Poets Online Blog.
His honors include a Whiting Writers Award, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a National Poetry Series award, a Pushcart Prize, two Best American Poetry selections, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.
He is a Professor of Creative Writing at Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his family.
Let me begin again.
Margaret A. Dukes
I’LL SIT NEXT TO YOU
I’ll sit next to you.
To start again.
A HAIKU FOR TONIGHT
A single leaf
The night disappears
BLUE RIBBON MAN
Every day the gatekeeper draws a careful rim around her eyes
But when the big man passes by
MY THERAPIST CORRECTS ME
The world is getting worse every day.
Maybe it's my fault.
I suppose I'm nostalgic for the past.
Can I be nostalgic for the future?
I just know that now is not a place that I want to be.
I need you to give me some direction.
FALSE START BETTER THAN NO START AT ALL
The sofa-bed creaks the same
Bullshit. What I mean is
You fit here somewhere,
into the clothes I used to wear,
when niether of us was looking.
I’ll be the fat man with the ink-
We’ll lie down on this paper.
All the saints are here
1870 sits on a stoop with 1913 who brushes the hair of 1948
and a bluebird cries and makes the sky blue.
A whistle of wind sings through low grass and carries, uphill, a heavier chorus
though roots push at heads with milky knuckles
Today I came to visit. You were still okay,
Jesus stands alone.
Ants tool around on flat-grounded headstones,
on tiny highways where all roads dead-end, dead-end,
with her own caravan of ants. I'm still wondering
I feel like an ant carrying a tiny burden up and down M's and W's
I feel most at home here.
Twilight fell on a fallen