Thursday, September 29, 2011

Connecting the Dots - Explaining the Poet Process

Lips lost in shadows
Nape of neck
Beneath pale yellow glow of Gibbous Moon
Tongue sears flesh

Those that follow my Twitter or my Facebook posts may have seen that already, and all of you will see it again when I do my next Quarterly #MicroPoetry recap, but I wanted to use it to play connect the dots.

A week or so ago one of my friends who has been very complimentary of my #MicroPoetry posts asked me where I get them from…where the words come from. It is a question that I am frequently asked. As per usual, I responded with something along the lines of, “The words are always in my head. I am just glad to have an outlet for them.” That is a true statement; however, it is a cop out. There is more to it than that. There is a process. Sometimes the process is as close to Chaos Theory as one who does not understand Chaos Theory and can only reference it because he saw Jurassic Park can come. Other times, this time, there are dots that can be connected.

My mornings begin at 4:00, actually 3:57. I am kind of freakish about numbers. I like 7s, 4s, and 3s. In my head, if I set my alarm for 3:57, I will be more likely to wake up than if I set it for 4:00 on the dot (No. I do not really believe this theory; however, I still apply its principles). I get up early so I can make it to the gym by 4:30. This is a two snooze process. The first 9 minutes are used to fight pains, keep my eyes closed, and take deep morning breaths. The second 9 minutes are used to check texts from overnight, Twitter, Facebook, and E-mail. God forbid something important waits more than the 5 hours I slept to get a reply. It is during this time that I start to gain cognizance, and my mind herds all the images and words from my paradoxical sleep into cohesive, logical, thought. When I wrote that poem, my mind could not stop saying new moon, so I went with it. Over the next hour, while my body was enduring a series of sweaty and pain inducing exercises, my mind wrote, but it did not put words on paper, it spoke the words. It switched out words, restructure lines, and tweaked them until there was a flow. By the time I left the gym, I knew, just about, what I wanted to post, but I was not done.

While I am a believer in “first thought, best thought” (a famed Ginsberg quote), I am also a fan of “Check yourself before you wreck yourself” (courtesy of Ice Cube). – At times I can get so wrapped up in the rhythm, the meter, the flow, that the words will not make sense (see rant about Chaos Theory above...I liked the flow and the comedic bend; however, when read closely, it doesn't really mean what I had intended to say, but I left it in there to prove this point...yes I am jerk for making you go back to re-read that). During college I was a member of the Griffin Literary Society. We were sharing work one day and Ryan Buller called me to task on it, on the fact that while a piece I had written had incredible flow, it wasn't accurate. One of the few critiques that has stuck with me. – The reality is I didn’t exactly know what a New Moon was. I knew it was part of the lunar phase, but not which part. Thanks to Google and Wiki, I learned a New Moon ain’t illuminating shit. Google also reminded me that it was part of the Twilight trilogy, something I wanted to avoid. I like entendre as much as the next self-absorbed writer, but if the allusion is to a teen-centric pop-culture phenomenon, thanks, but I will pass. By this time I was fixated on the nape of the neck, about how it looks with soft light of midnight moon breaking blinds to illuminate it, as hair and face, shoulder and arm, disappeared into the dark corners. I needed a different moon to accurately create that image. I could use Full Moon, but, much like Twilight, I did not want to make any blatant Werewolf references, so I opted for gibbous. With the brush and colors determined, I set off to paint my picture. The majority of my morning poetry posts come out of this process.

But why moon; why nape?

Well, this is where I speculate, where I try to uncover the secrets of the subconscious mind. As you probably know, I drive a convertible, and I LOVE driving top-down. I worked late last night. My trek home was a peaceful journey lit by headlights and moon glow. Another contributing factor could be my drives to the gym. The world is amazing in the 4 o’clock hour: still, silent, dimly lit by Closed signs and moon light. Those moments of calm have a tendency to ingrain themselves in my memories; they create multiple traces, causing quick recall. As a result, they often find their way into my writing.

Originally I thought "nape of neck" was just my love of literary consonance, and that definitely played a part, but then I remembered this picture my friend Jessica Hayley recently posted. Jessica is in the band Bye Bye Blackbird and is an amazing singer; she also acts and often has the best damn profile pictures on Facebook, not just because she is pretty, but because they are artsy. They have good composition and are emotive. Here is the shot:

The image made an immediate impression on me. The darkness of her hair and black shirt juxtaposed against her lightly sunkissed skin and the textured white backdrop. It was as if a painter was using chiaroscuro to provide dimension, to direct our focal point, and my eyes went to the triangle, the shadow of hair on neck, the tender skin between neck and collar bone. It was mesmerizing. It wasn’t until today, when I revisited the photo, that I realized her shirt was low enough to misguide eyes, driving them to another triangle, the dark shadow separating lust from love. This is also where poetic license comes into play. The photo did not feature Jessica's nape, but "side of neck" just doesn't have the same ring to it. But why now? Why some fifteen days since I originally saw the photo did it find its way back to my psyche?


That image was being tossed around on Facebook yesterday. One of my friends posted it, and I shared it. I saw several of my friends share it, and I got a TON of likes on it. The statement obviously resonated with many people, and it really touched on a core belief of mine. Media and industry have done an amazing job of misrepresenting what is beautiful, like their sole purpose is to create unobtainable ideals that are only attractive to the fringes. Women (and men) are slicing themselves open at an alarming rate, stuffing plastic pillows in chests and asses because to a weak mind that is going to make them prettier, going to give them confidence, but their definition of pretty is so incredibly skewed by an industry that has it wrong, that never asked the consumer. I am sure there are several plastic-bros that will disagree with me, but the nape, the tender flesh hidden by hair, is so much more alluring than a set of inflatable double Ds which are completely demystified by an in-your-face culture that has been putting tits on display to sell products since there was an open market, but the nape…oh the nape is sexy, sultry, and it deserved it’s time in the moon light.

For the record, we are far less concerned with the size of your breast or your weight than whether or not you are fun to be around. Sure we have preferences, but I have yet to meet a breast I wouldn't play with.

1 comment:

  1. So sincere and mature all the way through... then you throw in the part about playing with titties.