Yesterday, I talked about the composition process, the act of creation by telling the story of a poem I had created. Let me try a variation on that theme today by composing, as I stand here, a prose poem out of thin air:
The man on the lawnmower has shifted it into a higher gear. He rides in concentric squares. They spiral inward. For a moment I wonder how he will escape. Then I remember that I'm watching grass be cut. It's not paint or my mother's freshly mopped floor. At the end I know he will simply turn the wheel. Maybe raise the mower deck. And drive off toward where ever it is he keeps his lawnmower. What happens next is where my interest should lie. Will he secret a drink from a bottle hidden in the garage? Make a call to his girlfriend or to his wife? Pull down a book of prose poetry from between a lawnmower manual and the holy book? I should be thinking of these things. Dreaming a life for him. Plotting all the ways that he will move forward in time and space. But no. I'm just watching the squares tighten. I'm wondering how he makes the increasingly sharp turns. And what, I want to know, is he going to do when he has reached the center and his mother tells him don't you even think of trespassing on my clean floor you stupid son of a bitch.
So there's a draft of a poem, typed pretty much straight through (with a few backspaces for typos) in under three minutes. I just typed it and haven't read it yet. I'll do that next and see what's there. There is something in the concentric squares but I have wandered off in the middle and I'm unsure about the ending (much as I like it). I also like the comparison of the "I" in the poem and "The man on the lawnmower" but don't like how clearly the "I" is me. I don't want to biography or memoir in this and right now it has my fingerprints all over it.
My idea was to start with anything at all (in this case the freshly mowed field outside my window and the memory of Dan the maintenance guy cutting it earlier). I had also noticed the darkening clouds and thought I would use them but thankfully things went another way. It would have been a clunky reminder about darkness. Instead, I like that the man on the lawnmower is choosing between two dark ideas in the garage and this fool's gold of prose poetry (which is between the manual and the Bible). I'm happier with that.
I don't have a title because I don't know what the piece is yet. That's okay. Having done a quick draft, I now have time to work it. I'll print and mark the hell out of it with a pen trying to figure out what I want to say. Some things (like the book of poetry) will stay in there while others (such as the mother's last line) might have to go or at least be transformed. That's okay. It isn't fully formed. It's just a blob of clay right now.
Still, as blobs of clay go, I'm happy with it. The writing of it was a pleasure and revising it is just the kind of work I love. Publishing it to the blog for readers will be good too. The next piece to put into this puzzle is to have an editor who will push me to a higher level and help me get things out to a wider audience. While I understand how to do the earlier steps, that last one, at least for the moment, is a bit outside my wheelhouse. Still, it's worth a swing, especially for someone who so often says, write on.