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Spacing Out (Revision 1)

Spacing Out

I lie on my back in the cool crisp grass
one summer night and I stare into the deep blue-black
that smears itself out before me, mottled here and there
with bright dots.

My mind begins to wander,
drifts away from consciousness and passes into a dreamlike trance.
As I stare they begin to change shape, from stale white circles
into all means of other things.

One enlarges and bloats and becomes a strange craft
zooming towards the earth, covered in brightly colored lights.
Another starship spirals behind, firing brightly colored beams of energy
in attempt to destroy its foe.

Another twists and turns and stretches out into the arms of a satellite.
Blipping and beeping and spinning round,
taking pictures of the Earth’s surface and contemplating
the weather.

A third explodes in a massive burst of color that spirals round
and sprawls lazily into plumes of gas and chemicals.
Brilliant patterns of color and form stretch out and consume all around it
until there’s nothing left.

Yet more slink and connect, forming strange creatures
known to all children, the gods of the night sky
where dragons can slither in between raging bulls and dancing fish
and fierce warriors fending of fiends to protect his lover.

And then as my mind drifts back down from space I remind myself
that such silly contemplations couldn’t possibly exist.
and as I rise to leave I take one more look just in time to see
a shooting star streak violently across the sky, and I can’t help but smile.

Original post by Psycho Jackal


For my outside reading project, I read four of Robert Wrigley’s books. I began with Earthly Meditations (2005), which is a collection of 19 of his newest poems, with selections from his previous books. I moved onto Moon in a Mason Jar (1986) and What My Father Believed (1991), two of Wrigley’s earlier publications packaged in one book. Finally, I read Reign of Snakes (1999).
Since I began with Earthly Meditations, I got a feel not only for Wrigley’s most modern work, but also a sampling of what he has done throughout his career. This sampling, I think, facilitated my interest in his work, because I saw something you don’t typically get to see (at least in my experience) when you read selections and anthologies: change. Though the changes were subtle, and I imagine I came across more than I ever could have noticed, they were apparent. Most obviously I saw change with Wrigley’s subject matter. Although his poetry would sometimes engage and employ the natural world in his earlier work, in his later works it is a dominant, overwhelming force in the voices of his speakers. You can even see this at work within the titles of his books; his earlier pieces, Moon in a Mason Jar and What My Father Believed, make no reference to nature or the natural world, while Earthly Meditations and Reign of Snakes are quite obviously referencing nature.
Nature becoming dominant in his work is perhaps symptomatic of his own self-discovery as an artist. I imagine he came to realize, after a number of years of publishing several books, that his nature-related poetry was where his true voice was being exercised. This is my own perception, of course, but I felt that his works that dealt with nature held more ineffable nuggets of beauty and more resolute inspection than those that did not. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy Wrigley’s works that aren’t specifically nature-related; don’t get me wrong. I have simply found more enjoyment and more Wrigley in his nature poetry—but don’t write him off as a nature poet.
My recommendation, for those of you interested in nature poetry, would be to pick up Reign of Snakes. Almost every poem engages nature, in fact, I’m sure they all do. The themes are complex and numerous, and are often dark. He frequently engages Genesis, and the biblical implications of the serpent. I’m having a hard time recalling the details, because it’s been a few weeks since I read the book, but it would be tremendously reductive to simply say the book engages nature, employs nature metaphors, and employs the implications of the serpent. There’s more to it than I could write in a simple review, but know that these are a general smattering of the themes and subjects. I picked a quote from a poem about a man who is ice fishing. The simplicity and the sound, coupled with the abject imagery, made the final lines of this poem stick with me. Here they are:

Then the man will stand
and take his stool and the tool
for the ice and the tool

for the fish and the fish and leave.
Only the low, late coals of his fire left behind,
pinkening down toward pure black ash,

the hole scabbing over already with ice,
where the dark below blows a kiss to the night,
by the blood-freckled cheek of the evening snow.

For those who are more interested in gaining a general idea of Wrigley’s works, I would recommend picking up Earthly Meditations. His latest poems engage a variety of subjects, most notably what I found to be my favorite 9/11 response poem. Those are probably words of doom to a lot of you, but know this: he speaks only for himself, and his poem speaks only of loss—in a way which manages to engage the subject while wholly avoiding anything but his own feelings of loss in relation to Philip Levine. It sounds weird, but give it a shot.
Reading Earthly Meditations also grants you a wider view into Wrigley’s works, so that if you enjoy the poems from any of his particular books, you can go out and read that next—instead of starting with an entire book that you may not enjoy.

Not quite the cigar… More like a cigarello.

Marine’s Corps

The sand invaded my underwear weeks
Ago. Sweat is now a second skin; water’s
Become an odd rarity having slipped
And slid through most of my summers. A beach
Is exactly what this place needs with girls
In bikinis. Or at least calendars.
Grass would be nice, too. Trees and some god damn
Shade. Nothing could beat heat better than leaves.
Burnt yellow was the only color this place
Could make; flowers were only potted on
rooftops. Hidden away from a guy on
Riding up in a turret on a Humvee,
Watching for glints and flashes signaling
Danger. A bird flew overhead, landed
Front and center, rolling towards the truck.
It stopped, pulled-pin, a shadow on the ground.
I went down to greet it, give it a hug,
A long lost friend coming to take me home,
To leafy oaks next to enduring creeks
Away from sulfurous deserts and suns.

-Started writing this for an exercise in the Poetics Seminar, but it had other ideas… It’s not where I wanted to go with it necessarily, but it’s close.

Original post by klyphe


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