Thursday, June 08, 2006

SAFE CROSSING

I have a seed of poetry this Thursday to share about something overheard...something observed. This is how I have learned to write dialogue for my fiction--by sitting in the cafe with my notebook and copying whole conversations from people around me. I don't use these words--I just study them. The cadences, the pauses, the syntax, the slang...I have also been assigning "Found Poetry" activities to my students for quite some time, inspired by the quote from M.C. Richards, "Poetry often enters through the window of irrelevance."

My entry point to poetry this week came from a crossing guard at the bookstore--in full uniform, browsing gardening books. Here is my first draft of "overheard poetry". So rough--literally, my initial copy from the notebook...but, here it is anyway:


On Seeing Him

The crossing guard browses between
Stacks of books
a glossy missive about tulips
rests beneath his left arm
a gleaming silver whistle
beneath his right.
"Excuse me," his words and
his shock of white hair
sunglasses nesting in place...
All he doesn't say about
protection for darting innocent eyes.
Gin blossom blooms
in its gentle purple way
across the discolored acreage
where his nose used to be.
You cannot tell me he doesn't know
about the very real need for
safe crossing...
He looks both ways when he traverses the pavement
a slight limp betraying his past,
his instinctive reaching for the whistle
--mid-street--reveals a present state of thought.
The book he's now purchased...
The earth-encrusted bulb on his face...
A buried dream
Of his flowering future.

--by C. Delia Scarpitti, 2006--
Link

18 Comments:

Blogger abhay k said...

Loved the last lines " A buried dream of his flowering future..
a thoughtful poem..

9:38 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

incredible (rough? hardly!)

9:48 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Wow, yes this is lovely and not rough at all. Such hope that we are more than our station in life. Loved this.
a.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Endment said...

What a great capture of a moment in time!

9:55 AM  
Blogger brittany said...

don't change a thing--it's perfect.

10:00 AM  
Blogger January said...

I like the words, "excuse me," because, in a sense, that's what we're asked to do as readers. We see him as the narrator, so your poem is doing it's job

There's something exhilarating about posting rough work and drafts.

"Safe crossing," "discolored acreage," "traverses the pavement" -- your use of phrasing is delicate and exact.

10:01 AM  
Blogger January said...

Drat. I meant to say, we see him as the narrator does, so your poem is doing its job.

Sorry for the double post.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Holy crap. That is your first draft? This image is killer:

Gin blossom blooms
in its gentle purple way
across the discolored acreage
where his nose used to be.


I didn't expect it. I can totally see it. I love it. The entire poem is gorgeous.

Also, I adore the first paragraph of your post, about the found poems and where they come from and about writing down people's conversations and noting the rhythm of the language. Picking up on that rhythm is so important to good writing ~ certainly with fiction, but I would argue the same it true for poetry.

10:52 AM  
Blogger deirdre said...

This is so good. First draft, huh?

11:21 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

Wow! You are so good!
I could see it all so clearly. he looked like someone I know.

:)

11:24 AM  
Blogger sheela said...

This is what your first drafts are like? Wow! So, so lovely.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Tammy said...

That's a rough draft? You are VERY good!!! I can see that man :) Brava!

11:35 AM  
Blogger jim said...

I'll echo most everyone's praise here, really terrific imagery and I like the misdirections.

A few soft, abstract phrases seem stilted, even unnecessary, to me, and I'd give "darting innocent eyes" and "present state of thought" reconsideration as I'd revise.

9:31 PM  
Blogger AscenderRisesAbove said...

wonderful poem; enjoyed the cadence.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

Ughh...I had the worst time with blogger yesterday.

I love this poem-and that you followed the prompt.

The poem is terrific-even though you say it is just a rough draft.

8:12 AM  
Blogger wendylou who? said...

"very real need for a safe crossing
that is my favorite of this very good poem...

12:41 PM  
Blogger paris parfait said...

Beautiful! So thoughtful and creative. Well done!

3:27 PM  
Blogger susan said...

beautiful poem. your writing is so deep.

8:33 PM  

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