Friday, September 9

Works in Progress, 28

maneuvering around car-sized potholes
designing legal strategies
speaking solely in terms of racial justice
examining burial pits and naked skulls

sticking to issues that directly affect them
bemoaning the cautiousness of today's athletes
co-opting the arguments of their opposition
tracking Latino immigrants at the border

supporting any effort to unionize
failing to generate meaningful responses
feeling the centipede in oneself
getting some good poems out of it

rewriting the country's labor laws
seeing a psychic map of our obsessions
building electoral coalitions that will win
emphasizing the overlapping interests of the affluent

slumbering until nightfall
setting this brain of mine afire
reaching irritably after fact & reason
shunning easy consolations

subsidizing extinction industries
helping women victimized by male violence
doubling the sign-up bonus for volunteers
supporting the troops while doubting the war

naming the dead
waiting for him to break silence
descending the steeps of the soughing twilight
assimilating foreign cultures

freeing the slaves
admonishing those who do evil
stamping out political brushfires
democratizing the US

getting in touch with the cable guys
swinging the birches
testing the waters
pushing radical music agendas

getting out the vote
fetching water from the well
educating the masses
confessing to our personal demons

clearing minefields from past wars
laying them for wars yet to come
staying executions, pardoning the innocent
blurring the boundaries, the borders

reading maps in the dark with the top light off
folding them all back up rightly
cramming them into the glove compartment
getting moving again in the right direction

cooling our heels
voting early and often
keeping our fingers crossed
paying full-price for our journey

assembling a glossary of oft-used phrases
keeping silent while the tea is poured
maintaining an inventory of our beliefs and belongings
finding time to clean up around the house

making the world safe for plutocracy
clearing the minefields and cow pastures
converting analog files to digital
rereading An Anatomy of Melancholy

fighting the high cost of prescription meditations
comparing the works of Proust, Gide, and Sartre
putting something aside for a rainy day
asking for another user's name and password

scanning the shelves for news
cleaning up after the latest tsunami
taking care of our parents
looking forward to end-of-life decisions

reassessing works already completed
exterminating the brutes
removing the snow from the car
rebuilding the old road from Fredrikstad to Skjeberg

getting more bang for the buck
setting something aside for that rainy day
worry about what to really worry about
getting back to the Bang, the Big One

teaching the Chinese how to speak English
learning more about Purim
cashing in on Homeland Security
making that list of things to make lists of

deciding whether or not to escape to Canada
enhancing revenue without raising taxes
learning more about hematology
mapping talk-free zones in public parks

making the punishment fit the criminal
recovering our senses
fitting the glove to the hand
dialing for (four) dollars

laying mines at the Prose/Poetry border
celebrating the rebirth of death
transferring data from
counting the years from start to finish

unpacking after the last long/short journey
saying goodbye to the dead
finding trusty pocket tools for indoor use
pleasing others in letters

recouping ancient losses
moving data from there to over here
scanning the text as rapidly as possible
keeping Kandinsky in mind

replacing old maps with new ones
preparing the cat for summer camp
paying the bills in advance
brushing up on our Spanish

stealing stones from the temple
building a nearby church
stealing stones from the church
building a nearby bank

filling the sandbags
repairing the levee
spreading democracy around the world
counting and bagging the dead



John Thursday said...

I just finished reading and re-reading your work in progress. I think it is helpful that you allow the reader to view the poem in its evolutionary progress. I have scanned the earlier versions, and acccumulated some knowledge on revision by noting where you made revisions.

Also-- stanza 27 is amazing. It has a linear movement and profundity which forced a careful re-reading.

I wondered about the line in stanza 3 that reads: "feeling the centipede in oneself." I wondered if that was somewhat akin to Eliot's "the skull beneath the skin." Or simply a reference to numerous legs, and our utilitarian value.

In stanza 8 you wrote: "admonishing those who do evil". I wondered if this might be a criticism of society. Because I feel that "admonishment" certainly does not 'fit the crime,' if the crime be pernicious, or evil.

And "finding time to clean up around the house." -- A declaration of masculinity?

In stanza 23 you wrote: "laying mines at the Prose/Poetry border." This interested me, as I'm inclined to write "prose poetry," rather than run-of-the-mill prose, or crafted verse. I suppose I am juking in your minefield.

Overall, I just want to express my gratitude toyou for posting your poem, in its progress, on your blog. I enjoyed my time with it.

There's no need to respond to this post. I'm just talking. And that, at 3:44 AM. I look forward to your next post.

Halvard Johnson said...

Thanks for your remarks, John. I appreciate them.

Hal (just responding)