Tuesday, July 3, 2007


I've been giving some more thought to the Bemsha Swing/Jonathan Mayhew angles of approach—particularly the idea of suggesting instead of telling or even showing. I love that! I think that I probably almost never get there in my own work.

And I realized that as I'm working on this narrative, made-up-myth series, I'm spending even more images telling. It's a story. At five in the morning, when all I could find to write on was an old pizza take-out menu (why did I have a pizza take-out menu in my nightstand?), my rambling musing led me to this muse:

My secret fiction writer lives
in a shoebox under my bed. Instead
of a decoder ring or a slim self-help volume,
I have this muse I seldom use.
And she is crafty, revising
her cardboard home with silks
and stories, then sneaking into my dreams.
She wants more, wants to stir a plot,
tell all, find out how it ends.

And then:

A poem is the death of sleep—
each image dragging me toward morning,
the futile repetition of each line
building into the next,
as though I could save them
until I found a pen.

1 comment:

Judith Skillman said...

I like the idea of suggesting instead of telling. This is kind of a longshot, perhaps, but tonight is a stressful one for me, and, like Joannie, sometimes I can't sleep. One surefire thing that sets me up for a sleepless night seems to be my mother--do I have matriphobia?--saying to me "Sleep well." Now why should that be the cause? I think it is because she said it all the time when I was growing up, and the more she said it, the more i tried to "sleep well," and the less I slept.

As antidote I am going to tell myself to sleep very badly. The thing about suggestive is that it is subliminal. Poems can also work on a subliminal level. It's as if someone said to you "Whatever you do, don't think about elephants." Of course then all you can think of is, duh, elephants.

What I think I am trying to say here is that two poems need me to write them: "Matriphobia" and "Butcher Paper Wrapping." I can't write them because I am obsessed with the quality of sleep I'll have tonight, and it's already too late, and a big family event is happening tomorrow.

So I am posting this comment to try and address in a very roundabout way the way "suggestive" has so many different ways of cropping up in our everyday life, and hoping that by doing so the muse might condescend to pay me a visit sometime in the future, after the event about which I am obsessing and which is being suggested to me by each and every visitor, gesture, and object in my house, points toward on a lazy summer night--lazy for the trees, the garden, my mother sleeping in the guest room, my husband snoring in the next room, and suggestive of insomnia for me.

Food for thought...can a suggestion become hypnotic? Can writing about a suggestion change a lifetime of difficulty around a particular, simple act like sleeping or not sleeping? Can just the thought of interfering with one's obsessions by slightly altering particles so small their magnetic charge has to be measured by devices that cost a billion dollars work at all?

I don't know...but it's worth a try.