These three poems were written over the past week. The experiment was to write down everything that comes through your head while you are thinking about writing this poem, and then to copy it as exactly as possible without self-censoring or editing later on. Taking the three pieces together, it’s an interesting way for me to look at the past week. These poems capture moments where I was sitting at Philo, when I was taking notes in a Sociological Research Methods course, and when I went home for dinner over the weekend.
Typically, in my writing, I like to edit and rework pieces several times so that I can feel like I have used the most exact and precise language. Outside of this experimental writing course, I am also in an advanced fiction writing seminar. That course is one that highly values the very conscious efforts made to edit and pare down drafts to get the best work possible, so having an exercise that thinks that the first draft is the best draft is a very different approach to writing.
Write a poem where you don’t edit anything out
Where everything that is there is there to stay
And we transcribe our thoughts of the process because the process is interesting and the keys are moving and the sound in the ceiling keeps a metronome that we structure our lives around and we can’t find where it’s coming from or going to but we want it to stop –
Augustus is in the chair next to me, his yellow laced sneakers on the table and the black pants that he likes so much on his tall legs as he laughs about something that I can’t hear
Jack Kerouac says not to use periods but that’s a stylistic choice I don’t agree with. Whenever I write in chats and text messages, I make sure to use them bountifully. There’s a remarkable sense of finality to the messages when they come in short bursts like telegraphs or telegrams or telekinesis through the static hum.
The truth is, I’ve never read much by Kerouac. Back when I used to commonplace (taking down the small finite details of words and reading, scribbling into a marble covered notebook my favorite quotations, as if rote memorization of these shards of literature would be enough to pepper my speech with eloquence. [and, truth be told, it worked. At least, to some small degree.]) I included a line or two that talked about scribbled secret notebooks, for your own joy, and I liked that. Because these are secret scribbles, the kind that you trace across someone’s shoulder blades at nighttime like they’re fragile (they, being the words, but maybe also the person) or that you store in a jewelry box when you are a child, only to find and release years and years later.
I used to store my memories that way in boxes. I never wanted anything to expire, so I’d put them piece by piece into boxes with layers of tissue paper to keep them delicate and would exhume them regularly enough to feel and touch and want
And I got your email
So we’ll talk about it eventually if I layer it carefully enough and put it into the right earmarked folder
But no promises because my digital persona is just as hectic as my flesh and bone body and maybe even a little bit more reckless. But come to think of it, much less reckless, because I can still feel the ways that my fingers move and I can never figure exactly how or why that happens.
In the absence of this storm, the storm is not the only thing that would be multiple causes of branches
The storm was not a necessary cause – things fall apart for a bunch of different reasons.
It was neither a sufficient or necessary cause, but a cause nevertheless, and we call it a precipitating cause (precipitation cause, cause cause cause)
The social world is much more complicated. Happiness has many factors and causes and when we figure out everything that contributes we will learn the deterministic relationships and bottle them up and sell them. In the absence of X you will not have Y, our tagline as a product, marketed as “Deterministic Happiness”, recommended by sociologists.
I wonder if having more happiness would cure my tonsils – they are walnuts at the back of my throat, I wonder how they are doing, I think about tea and granola bars and the Nyquil that I have been drinking from a plastic measuring cup, drink it like a shot of espresso and wait for it to hit me with the opposite clarity of caffeine.
Happier people are more attractive people, time ordering should be a criterion of a causal relationship.
There’s always ambiguity.
My cousin’s car was stuck in the driveway and so my brother and I ran to the train station together so that we wouldn’t miss the regional rail – he had class in the morning, I had no pressing desire to get back to my dorm but kept pace a few steps behind him all the same as if I had the same urgency.
When we were standing on the platform – he was under the overhang, but I was worried that the trains wouldn’t see us, so I stood out where the snow was falling into my hair and speckling my black peacoat with damp.
James says, I forgot what it is like to be quiet.
And I think, with all of the snow and all of the softness, I forgot about some of it too. And we stand and appreciate the sound of very little happening at all, until the electric grind of the train can be heard but not seen, until it can be seen and heard, and seen and heard and felt as it throws snow onto us when it stops, and then the moment is over.