Wednesday, July 11, 2018


The chord of D major went sounding

from my fingers and plastic; clammy.

The brook trickled;  I stood on the tree's brow,

pulling at my shirt.

Leafing through a file of papers about my Spanish mortgage, I found this unfinished poem from 2003.

The poem doesn't make its statement: I never discovered what I wanted it to say.

Fifteen years later I'm scrutinizing it, but not with any thoughts of finishing it... Indeed it seems to me as unfinishable as our past histories are unchangeable: an action photo of a poem forever in mid --  Well, mid-what?  That's the question.

The image of a leaping deer brings to mind another cliché : the unfinished poem is "fair game". Having failed to develop its own congruence, it cannot put up much resistance to reckless interpretation: everything, in that line, is permitted.


The tree's brow, I do remember, was supposed to mean the knobbly surface-roots around the base of the trunk. That expression doesn't really work, though if a brow connotes intelligence, well, they say that plant intelligence is located in the root surfaces.

So here I stood, evidently no longer playing the guitar.  (D is a particularly easy chord.) Perhaps that first half of the poem is a teenage memory. At least the sound rang out, however empty-headed and solipsistic, however badly executed.

But now I'm pulling at my shirt, hot and bothered, recalled by the word trickle to my own discomfort; or perhaps, as I think now, with a sense of having swallowed some awkwardly shaped object I needed to accommodate -- a paving slab, for instance. The self-absorption remains, but no longer the expression. The poem gets jammed, half a line short.


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