Saturday, May 5, 2012


(This is the penultimate post in a series of 26. Each post centers on a topic suggested by the next letter of the alphabet from the previous post. The posts all have to do, directly or indirectly, with teaching and learning.)



Fork in the road; a decision to be made.
Seedling. Sapling. Calisthenic.
Dowsing rod. Handlebar. Plumbing joint.
Funnel. With "A," a teenager. With "the,"
a place for swimming or squash. With 2K,
the millennium. Affirmative (opposed to N).
Core interrogative; existential lament.


Yacht. Yahoo. Yam. Yankee. Yardstick.
Yarn (thread or tale). Yawl. Yawn. Year.
Yearn. Yell and yellow. Yes. Yesterday.
Yielding (Yin), but Yang as well. Yoga.
Yoke. Yolk. Yoni. Young, youth, yoyo,
yuck. Yuppies in yurts. And the one
I would never actually leave out: you.


Why yellow? Why not blue or green?
Why this instead of that? Why now?
Why is that art? Why do you hesitate?
Why not give it a try? Why do you act
this way? Why would I want to do that?
Why have I lived this long? Would you care
for some peppers? Well sure, Why not?

Process Reflection:

Okay, for those of you who have been following this blog for a while, all three of you, you know that this is the kind of dance that I often like to do. Give a child a box, and watch it become a cave, a train, a general store. It's not about the box, it's about the fun you can have inside of it. This whole series of posts, and this post in particular, have been boxes of a sort, and I'm the kid who gets to climb inside and start playing.

Each stanza above is the documentary record of a certain set of fairly transparent mental moves. The first is a pure brainstorming around the letter itself. The second is the result of some time spent scanning the Y entry in the AHED, with a very) little joke thrown in there at the end. The third section is the one that was the hardest and took the longest, given the virtually infinite number of "why" questions that might have been asked. I kept substituting and changing and rearranging the list. At one point I had it completely reformatted as a dialogue, and then wiped that out and went back to the seven-line stanza. (Originally I had eight lines in the first, and seven lines in the second. As I started the third, my first thought was to make it the same length as the first two, but when I saw they were in fact different lengths I cut one line from the first. Why? My tendency, in writing poetry, as in art, is to watch for patterns to emerge and then work into them. At least until it seems strategically useful to break the pattern.

The Mark Rothko painting shows that process at work as well. There are several explicit and implicit points of connection between the poem and the painting, arising in part from the fact that I had selected the painting before I even started writing the poem, and there it was, sitting there, exerting its silent authority over everything that happened under its aegis.

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