Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm Your Butcher, Baby

I have been working with my brother to revise a sonnet that he wrote. We worked on it a few times, but he wanted to submit it as part of his college application. The catch was, it could only be eight lines. So I harkened back to Molly Peacock's lecture on the magical proportions of the sonnet and started hacking. In other words, we tried to keep the 8:6 ratio (roughly) while leaving the heart of the poem intact.

Here is the most "finished" version (the lines are really long):

DNA created me. I am one plus one, the reaction of an act not correlated with a thought of me.
What am I if not a continuation of people who lived before my creation? Accident or surprise,
no one hoped or planned for me. If I were a part of God’s plan, then I should have purpose.
But I could find so many purposes, meaning falls away.
I lean toward nothing.
I am not thankful for the happiness belief brings. Absolute Truth breeds division.
What am I but another organism on the chain whose links make up existence?
I am everything and nothing. I refuse treatment for my cancer.

Both of us were pleased and amazed with the results. The original was far more wordy. Almost an essay. Now the lines pop, especially the short one at the turn.

It was a good exercise. If only I could be as ruthless with my own work. I aim to try.

Happy haunting,

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lunar Eclipse

Here's a poem I wrote in February of 2008 which was just recently published in the Autumn 2009 Issue of The Midwest Quarterly. I hope that it will speak to you on your own terms; but, for me, this poem represents an early phase in my discovery and initial investigations of secular humanism. Thanks for reading,


Lunar Eclipse
February 20, 2008

I like how you throw your cigarette to the grass
and leave me with the wooden rocking chair,

the wetness of you breath lingering
in the frozen air after you have shut the door.

I imagine you, going from room to room,
turning off lights, shutting the cabinets

I have left open. See how stones from the river
enter the eyes of our children? What beautiful

stupor sleep ushers. What will I give them?
The night is theirs, this shadow passing

over the moon makes everything around it
explode. I will not pray tonight. To pray

is to confess solitude. I am not alone.
To pray in gratitude is to confess coincidence,

to admit to luck or chance, but everything
here I have made, or helped in the making.

To pray in exaltation is to celebrate
that which is not your own. To pray in

petition is to beg. I will not pray tonight.
I beg for nothing. I have seen the light

between each star brighten as the red moon
goes dark, then bleeds, then goes dark again.