Yesterday, the Universe decided that what I most needed to do was fall asleep, not press “publish” on the poem I wrote late last night. And I think that was a good decision. I wasn’t loving the poem I wrote yesterday. So tonight I scrapped a chunk of it and wrote something else. And it’s early enough that I should be able to stay awake long enough to publish both this rewrite of yesterday’s Golden Shovel and tonight’s brand new one.
Hard to believe this month of poetry is almost over. It seems have gone by really quickly. That shouldn’t be surprising, though, right? So much of quarantine feels as if it’s been on some kind of cosmic bullet train, whizzing past before I can catch hold of anything. Why should this second pandemic April be any different?
The source text for last night’s poem is actually two texts: “leda 1” and “leda 2 a note on visitations” by Lucille Clifton. The three “leda” poems are so painful and sad and powerful. I really wanted to use lines from them, but so many of the lines lend themselves to writing painful, sad things, and I was trying to lean away from that. So I messed with the Golden Shovel form a little, expanded it a little, taking a line from “leda 1” and a line from “leda 2.”
Out of my window ... there --
slowly drifting across my vision is
a half-deflated mylar balloon, freed, full of nothing,
flitting up, down, side to side. Luminous
in the sun, trying to be about
its business but instead left to this.
Which is the way life goes sometimes.
I strive, make my plans and then another
path unfolds I find myself following a different star,
find that I am not the one who chooses.
The source text for tonight’s poem is Clifton’s “1994,” a piece that keeps calling to me, here in the second half of my 58th year. This Golden Shovel has nothing to do with that, of course, but every time I read through the poem as I look for the lines I want to use for one of GShovels I am wowed all over again, struck by the serendipity of discovering this poem only now when I am at the exact age she was when she wrote it.
The Ugliest Bits
I know, of course, that you
write your lines, that you have
ideas about what comes next, what your
moves will be, that they will be your own.
I know. Of course. But I still try to craft the story,
try in spite of you
and because of you, because I know
that you always insist on telling the
bloodiest bits, the ugliest, the saddest,
and I am cunning at adept with pretty lies.
National Poetry Month 2021: the Golden Shovel
As I’ve done for the last forever, I’ve chosen a poetic form, and I’m going to try to write a poem in that form every day for the month of April. I don’t always succeed, but I always give it my best shot. The “Golden Shovel” was created by Terrance Hayes in tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks. I learned about it from my friend Sonia (aka Red Emma). I’ll be using Lucille Clifton’s poems as my starting point this month. Here are the rules:
- Take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire.
- Use each word in the line (or lines) as the end word for each line in your poem.
- Keep the end words in order.
- Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).
- The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.
If you pull a line with six words, your poem would be six lines long. If you pull a stanza with 24 words, your poem would be 24 lines long. And so on.
Should be interesting!