Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse.

In recovery news: I’ve been good! Better. Normal life resumes in a week. We did have to cancel our travel plans for Thanksgiving, unfortunately, but the bright side is that there’s always next year.

The last time I went out was when I stopped by Target after going to the doctor that day I got my rest orders. It was funny… I had to ask a young Target employee a question and then apologize for my low and raspy voice when I realized that I was barely comprehensible. She replied, “That’s okay. Were you screaming at a concert last night?”

I was vaguely pleased that someone would think I’d been screaming at a concert rather than recovering my voice from laryngitis.

Anyway, I wanted to share a poem today, but something different.

I have an old and intermittent habit of browsing Craigslist’s Missed Connections section for its wonderful, quirky lines of poetry left by people who don’t realize that they’re poets. Just scanning the first lines down the entry list reminds me of the Exquisite Corpse exercises we did in my graduate creative writing program.

I thought it would be interesting to put together a little Exquisite Corpse poem authored by strangers who left these first lines on Craigslist. I copied a random line, pasted it in, then quickly scrolled to another line (without thinking of the previous line) and copied it to paste in after the first, and so on. I grouped the lines into couplets, but I changed nothing. I didn’t add or take away punctuation marks or caps. I left the wording alone. All I did was copy, paste, and group the lines in twos.

The result… a poem written by strangers:

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse

The Cowboy
Tammy plus 20 years ago

I miss our connection
Remember me?

Cowboy in St. John’s…
Noticed each other driving, said what’s up

Guy 58
You were drunk, dressed like a unicorn and hopping on one leg

Spirit Halloween store Salvador Dali
Looking for the DJ from the Freakshow

AZ warrior
Neon on a Friday

At the airport…
back after long summer

The girl with the pink hair
queen creek blonde pink streaks

Looking for girl at Wild Horse Pass
Your car broke down. You used my phone.

 

 

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From the “new poems” file. (Haiku 18: Regime)

Two years ago, I started writing haiku (poems) in sets of four. I stopped when I started work on my novel, and I’ve picked it up again now that the novel’s finished… in addition to the longer poems I’ve been writing, that is.

These haiku sets adhere to the classic three-line, 5-7-5 syllable count, with the four haiku centering on a single theme. This is just the way I’ve been working with the form. I’ve taken liberties with it. With each theme, I’m basically writing a poem with four stanzas that happen to follow haiku structure.

Anyway! I know I’d said I would no longer publish new work here, but it seems I’ve been doing it again, so here you go – today, I’m sharing “Regime,” one of my recently written haiku sets.

~~~~~

Haiku 18: Regime

Kristi Garboushian, August 11, 2018

 

1.

Vision: thresholds lost,

kindnesses overtaken,

old pockets ripping.

 

2.

Possibly, maybe

likely – blind faith severing

children’s daisy crowns.

 

3.

Redwoods on fire.

Semiotics gone awry.

Glass of cabernet.

 

4.

Otherwise in thrall.

Spinal columns buried deep

beneath lost cities.

 

roses (23 August 2018)

 

 

 

 

 

“Fallen Meditation” (Sharing an original poem.)

I write poems when I’m speechless, or otherwise at a loss for words whether spoken or not. This one is a re-write. I’ll just leave it here.

 

Fallen Meditation

 

I sit down to write a letter.

 

What I know from experience,

comfort a step off O Luxurious

a posteriori

where the realm of having-done

remarks to the inner sensibility

sensible enough to ask,

 

How is this known. How is that known.

 

– what was known before.

 

The door may offer possibilities:

it may swing open, or shut, or it may

start to close, then stop,

fall off its hinges into the “room of things known”

 

open for inspection, analysis,

asking what is this. An answer

tearing quietly through the air we breathe

toward how is this known, how is that known.

 

Other things coming through the doorway:

A nudge of ants.

A file of drizzle.

Second-hand smoke.

 

I sit down to write a letter.

 

What I know from experience:

Train. Open window. Night.

Unconscious and literal, the answer might be

my desk next to the window, a railroad

track going past, which I’ve come to expect,

love, the shaking of its rails

east, west –

 

What I mean to tell you is this:

when I sit down at my desk,

the window next to me is already open,

already the cool and dark star-glint, and since

I’m in some state of undress when writing at night,

all flickering finds my skin

open to gusts passing

probably to Quartzsite.

 

Anyway a train

stirs the air and the three become sublime –

train, open window, night – and then

I know why

 

and what I wanted to say.

 

What I do know.

What the aperture in the wall excludes from oblivions

more realized and independent of anyone’s

search for answers.

Nothing some particular.

Nothing some concept,

what kindred body of problem – what

passes through here, what filled the room before passing,

no longer known.

 

Look at it looking at itself –

 

then the phenomenon losing interest,

wandering out,

leaving muddy footprints where rain

moistened the tile.

 

(collage I made c. 2003)

Jack Reacher! Finally getting my annual Lee Child fix. (Also, a limerick by a guest poet.)

File this under “Writing Updates Postscript.”

I mentioned on Tuesday that I’m digging into the submission work phase now that I’m happy with my manuscript. I forgot to mention what else I’m doing: I’m catching up on terribly overdue reading, starting, of course, with the new Jack Reacher (The Midnight Line, 2017). My Lee Child fix, at last!!!

I’ve only just begun, but a page has been dog-eared, so my copy’s been authenticated.

 

Lee Child’s 2017 Reacher (more than six months later)

 

My tower of books To Read is ten tomes high, so I’m not going to be wanting for reading material anytime soon. Lee Child comes first. OH Stephen King has a new novel out… make that pile eleven tomes high. And I just remembered that I’d ordered two others from Amazon the other day. Thirteen. Thirteen unread books, guys, all over the literary spectrum.

I’ve said that books and t-shirts are the bane of my minimalism efforts, and I wasn’t kidding.

Speaking of minimalism, I’m still planning a huge second sweep through the house. I have to wait until after I send 50+ queries, though, so that’ll be sometime in September.

So much to do. It’s fabulous. My list is jam-packed with household stuff, but I’m also looking forward to writing a new poem or two, and planning my next big writing project.

Speaking of poems, for those of you who joke that my poems are “15 levels above” yours, keep reading. One such joker has submitted to me a limerick with which he took creative license to bend the rules of limerick just to lampoon Yours Truly. I’m honored. His limerick is one part complimentary, one part inside joke, and one part smart-ass, which sums him up perfectly. He is an expert at playful lampooning (basically defining ‘limerick’).

I had to share it. If you “only understand poems that have the word ‘Nantucket’ in them,” then Ron’s got you.

Background: I texted him on Thursday last week to say that I wasn’t going to Body Pump because I was “indisposed” (e.g. tunnel-visioning my way through my final manuscript read-through). Here’s his text reply:

There once was a poet from Nantucket,

her talent was no drop in the bucket,

she’s indisposed but the shine on the rose,

“Though there is body pump today I’ll just duck it.”

Hahaha!! I love this. I should donate $5.00 to charity each time someone texts me an original limerick; that might get me a collection of guest poets (yes, Ron, you’re a poet now) to feature here. Limericks are cool. They’re underrated. They’re the class clowns of poetry, and we need them.

That’s all I’ve got for now… June Favorites coming your way next week Tuesday!

“The Beast of Romance” (Sharing an original poem.)

I re-wrote an older poem of mine and thought I’d share it here today.

Let me re-phrase: I didn’t “re-write” this poem. I added two words… two words that I’d originally included, then removed at the suggestion of one of my MFA committee members. Reading it decades later, I wondered why I’d acquiesced. In most cases, I saw the light when a professor brought it to my attention. In other cases, I resisted. Acquiescing after resisting doesn’t mean that you want to do it. It means that you do it even though you don’t want to. You finally just do it. It’s the path of least resistance. Years later, you might look back and feel exactly the way you did before you acquiesced.

Especially if the matter was something profound, like two words. If it’s just giving in to Chinese food when you wanted Mexican, not so much.

Here’s the restored poem. The pic beneath it shows the printed version minus the line… the line missing its words.

 

The Beast of Romance

 

The camel fills what she emptied by lifting

a hoof, sand leveling the prints

across the dune to a vanishing –

the risk on the left with the right’s deflection.

 

When I decided to remove

myself from all of your embraces,

the sky wore its palm-stricken eclipse,

the circular ghost breaking into song, lunatique,

pallid Clouds of Eleven

careening to our old green and white names.

 

Weighing-in takes precedence:

readable things stowed away like water

in her bony satchel of a hump.

 

There is always this necessity.

 

She relinquishes what

she has stored. She comes to court

with all the evidence

locked tight in the file of her flesh.

 

[The Beast of Romance 1st version, Kristi Garboushian, early oughts]

 

The End.

“…Nor There” (Sharing an original poem.)

This one is from 2011.

 

“…Nor There”

 

…Nor There

 

Mid-morning, the groom waits for the arborist

while gifts begin to arrive.

Two days ahead, the wedding sways the house,

 

the green sputter of early spring

draping the tree.

 

He knew he’d get caught in the scrolls of rain

running down to the roots. He wants the tree scraped clean.

He’ll ask the arborist

(if he ever shows up)

to make a quick peel of the bark

before everything dries.

 

He spends the next day

turning from the rustic to prepare the wedding

ceremony, rinsing his shirt,

wringing it on the rail, because it’s all he can do.

 

There’s nothing to be done

about the brassiere, the lacy red one,

her last conversation with him

hooked around the handle of the remaining suitcase,

his…

 

at least she didn’t take all of her.

She left the halo of her voice,

her braided hair,

purple mouth, genitalia.

 

He thinks it happened

when she recognized the painted eggshell

as a favor.

He tries to take it back,

 

but she’s flown to the Himalayas

where she found ice reflecting a bride

poised with her soaked lungs

fueling the despondency of mountain goats.

 

In the crevasse, brindled in the cold,

she sets a lien on her bones

in the name of the groom

still waiting for the arborist’s call.

She separates her tendons,

weaves them into her shawl.

“Scene from a Traveling Play” (Sharing an original poem.)

I woke up thinking of this poem I’d written several years ago, then thought I’d re-write it and share it with you. This is my day: go to the gym, re-write a poem, feed a tortoise, play with a cat, work on a novel. There could be worse days.

Oh, and look for February Favorites next week Tuesday! The month ended before I could prepare. (Read: my time-management game left much to be desired these last few weeks.)

On with the poem, then.

 

Scene from a Traveling Play

 

Imagining you as a child: happy, climbing

a tree where you sit above the campfire

where your mother stirs

sunrise into wood beneath the flames.

 

If I were to sit next to you, I’d find the branch

no heavier with your lean form,

the pause before you take off like hundreds of birds,

weightless as sparks from the fire.

 

Years later, you’ll remember the moment you recognized

punk undertones in an Eagles song.

 

Later yet, you’ll find yourself startled to see the narrative

you’d left – you thought it’d flown off,

too, but it came back

before the wind could tear away the part

describing the fullness of the voice

your mother tried to keep.

 

You might be as tired as the ribcage of a boy

reaching upward through water, or tired with your eyes

dry in the desert city,

dry like horses

wild as news from town, the last thing you saw

before your canine pierced your tongue-tip –

dry like the cracked tooth, the crusted blood, the scarce rain –

dry like sepia grit and blur of hooves kicking to dust.

 

Dry like the hands of the last generation.

 

One thing’s for sure: you’re not an ember

burning slowly from air into the blindness of earth.

You’re the smolder of an oar dipping beneath

the water you’ll never forget.