Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Busy, Busy!

So much going on that I am, at times, befuddled. I have too many sticky notes on my desktop, too many projects that are not related to creative work, and too many domestic projects, not the least is planning for another move at the end of April. And April is poetry month! Being my own boss is lovely, giving me the option to schedule life with more flexibility than I've had in the past when students and/or patients required me to keep appointments and schedules. But the world runs on schedule, whether the trains do or not. (If you don't get that allusion, go to Wikepedia and look up Mussolini.) However, I do not get bored with such a list of things to attend to: civic responsibilities, teaching classes, taking part in poetry readings, editing contributions soon to be aired by The Cafe Review, and writing! I am still working my way through a pile of culled poems and finding what's worth saving, reworking, revising. This is deep work, challenging myself to see why a poem failed originally. Often it was laziness, haste, cowardice, little things like that. What I saw today when I dug deeper, was a pose that hid the anger over being "uncool" but loving my own life.

Here's this morning's revision, first the early version, then the latest:

Tired of Good Behavior

I want to throw away
this nodding smile,
this commerce and 
swap meet of courtesy 
for once. Be a punk.

Stop matching my socks.
Bras could go.
Tidy files could go,
rules and schedules.
Bag the day book.

Punks take pain
and ride it--
nose rings and tattoos.
Tear their clothes,
mix drab fabric.
Don't smile
or mind their mothers.
They break
windows and bones.

They don't shop around
because you can't save
what you don't have.
I'm a quarter punk now,
ready to take on
the constant chaos
that frees us.

The Uncool

How do you do? I have holes
in my earlobes, none in my tongue.
My jeans are intact. They fit at the hip.

I'm not even one quarter punk,
but descend from a tailored tribe.
We match our socks and

do not love pain, not even our own.
The family crest flaunts
a black day book on a white field.

We shop around, atavars
of the gatherers we were. We purr,
swap smile for smile, trade hello

and how-are-you, dare to open
fists and doors. We vote. We don't
enlist in the army of chaos.

We have evolved beyond the age of
mutilation. It's not all about God,
but where you left your keys,

where you left your kids and not
dragging dead bodies through dark halls.
We are the diurnal middle class.


Sharon McEachern said...

Keeping in mind that preferences do not mean best or better, I prefer your early version "Tired of Good Behavior." It flows smoothly, unmuddied by tumbling rocks of over-think. I can bait my hook and catch my limit easier in these clear waters. Very nice!


Karen Douglass said...

Thank you! Well said.

Karen Douglass said...

Frank! When I tried to publish your comment, it disappeared into cyberspace. Come on back!

Colorado Poets said...

The word "avatars" is misspelled in the first line of the fourth strophe of "The Uncool." (I know it's an old post, but...it's still posted, so!)