Thursday, June 19, 2014

What, precisely, is your procedure?

The farmhouse of old dreams of permanence is about to fall down. Yet, in early summer, white daisies adorn the grass. And sandhill cranes come for a short visit.  In a little while, they will lift into the air together and fly away, calling to each other their bugle-call.

I have been reading the biography of John Updike today. The author, Adam Begley, has been giving lots of samples of gloriously-written sentences from early Updike work. This has made me inspect my sentences (like the first two above) with alarm. But no matter, sometimes I manage something that pleases me. And I always find something else to think about when I am writing or typing out the poem.

Here, as I promised last night, is the rest of last night's poem.

The challenge, to start
not with theory but with tangible performance

You and others, approaching

We shall be asked for a way out

             to be fed

             to keep warm and dry

Starting with experience, magic
genuine science

More than once we have been lost
in a trackless wilderness

dwarfed and shadowed by mighty buildings
subway trains wild as elephants

One goes blindly back to one's desk

These moments come, their dark

We glimpsed control 
and more tragic waste

We entered with 40,000,000 warriors
with the dignity of cathedrals

The lake is upon you
You have two canoes, your tent

You have your axes

What, precisely, is your procedure?

Anna Moschovakis, from YOU AND THREE OTHERS ARE APPROACHING A LAKE, Coffee House Press, 2011, pp 30-31.

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