Thursday, September 25, 2014

64 x 49 (Derivation)

Like wood, in which
a story can be read
in texture and grain
and finish, regardless
of its final shape or function,
so words carry with them
their closet histories, their subtle
over- and undertones:
reflection a bending back,
inspiration a held breath,
poetry a making,
juxtaposition placing one thing
next to another, all the way back
to iugum, the Latin word for yoke.

Process Reflection:

I've been thinking for several days about a poem by Robert Francis that presents a series of compound words stacked together like logs in a woodpile. It's been a favorite of mine for many years, not least of all because of its audacity. It's a poem that invites attention to the shapes of the words, as well as the unstated but fairly obvious denotative and connotative, as well as formal, connections between them. I was also thinking tonight of a conversation I had with my granddaughter about the derivations of some words she was studying for a spelling bee. And, of course, since I've gotten my workshop set up I've been thinking about wood. Yesterday I found an old gnarled root in the back of the recycled-wood pile and brought it home. All of these factors were in play as I began writing tonight's piece. Here is the Robert Francis poem:

Silent Poem
backroad leafmold stonewall chipmunk
underbrush grapevine woodchuck shadblow 
woodsmoke cowbarn honeysuckle woodpile
sawhorse bucksaw outhouse wellsweep 
backdoor flagstone bulkhead buttermilk
candlestick ragrug firedog brownbread 
hilltop outcrop cowbell buttercup
whetstone thunderstorm pitchfork steeplebush 
gristmill millstone cornmeal waterwheel
watercress buckwheat firefly jewelweed 
gravestone groundpine windbreak bedrock
weathercock snowfall starlight cockcrow

No comments: