NaNoReMo – June 11-14

June 11 – Wind

Falling behind, largely because of work.Beginning the catch-up.

Poems I didn’t read this week:

Wind

Oh yes, this is one of the better ones. Maybe it’s the echoes of Eliot that I hear in its lines, like here:

Wind shook the dead but not-yet-fallen leaves.
Wind tugged and plucked and rattled the dead leaves,
the wind entreating
come and the oak leaves,
already dead, saying
no to death, no,
for that was what the wind through brown leaves was — death —
and I was afraid

and here:

………………………………………I longed
to be the wind, which is the deep, untroubled
inhaling or exhaling of our god.
But I was not the wind, or the leaves wholly,
riding without knowing what it was,
the in-breath or out-breath of the Lord.

or maybe it’s the take on this ordinary thing, that wind is death, that wind is blowing all humans to death, and life is leaves clinging desperately and doomedly to the bough.

This is the Hudgins I hold my breath for.

A little taste to close:

I loved the hard wind, loved it, loved the huge
steps I strode when the wind’s muscular hand
clamped upon my back, and thrust me before it


June 12 – Supper

We’re back to the ocean-of-meaning-in-a-drop sort of poetry, and this one, dealing with human relationships, predictably, doesn’t excite me at first glance.But rather than get caught up in the content, let me take a look at the craft for a moment, see whether I can be fairer to Hudgins, give this a less partial review.

The speaker writes of a candlelit supper. There are two candles (it’s not specified, but by implication there are two flames as there are two diners). There are also two shadows. The shadow and the flame (and, presumably, the speaker and the partner) are twinned, mirror-like. The twinning of the flames appears to pair the light and dark sides of the speaker and the partner too, which works pretty well.

A description of the flames, which works for me:

They bowed their heads, then snapped upright —
a ripple in the gases’ fluted yellow silk,
blue silk, transparent silk.

and of the shadows, which works even better, IMO:

But the dark flames reached out, licked the meat,
licked the plate, the fork and the knife edge.
They licked our faces and our lips — a dry unfelt tongue,
the shadow of the flame consuming nothing

and the ending, which, in this case, I think works as the blurb claims Hudgins’ endings do:

……………………………………….How ardently it hungers
because it cannot have us.
How chaste the bright flame, because it can.

Conclusion: having engaged with the craft, I’ve changed my mind. From not being excited, I now like this poem.

Who knew?


June 13 – The Daffodils Erupt in Clumps

Another daffodil poem. I am going to have to apply myself to craft, etc, to get past my irritation.

Trying.

The poem is another paean to the flowers, and, predictably, it’s about the flowers, and about life and death. It’s written in the broken-line form that Hudgins has been employing with some frequency in this book. At some points it recalls Eliot and his Waste Land approach to spring, most notably the way present participles at the ends of lines balance adjectives on the verge of action, hanging them on the end of the line, opening up possibilities but not closing them.

But I’m not convinced by it. Daffodil poems have to work hard to make me pay attention, and the last one worked much better — the daffodil armies was arresting and has stuck with me. Here, though, the focus is more predictable:

The daffodils erupt in clumps
so think they
…………………………lift a block of dirt
above their heads, raising
…………………………………dark soil
in exultation, offering
wet earth
…………….to wet March air.

As usual, the poem’s about life and death, and death in life, death at the very moment of most life, and the cycle of that life; Hudgins spends several lines talking about the daffodils’ work as they supply bees and moths with nectar.

The ending becomes a little more intriguing. The N. cuts daffodils for the table, and then writes:

I’ll study them as Nero studied
the corpse of Agrippina,
…………………………………..handling
the suddenly compliant limbs,
admiring
……………….one arm, faulting
……………………………………………one.
“I hadn’t known,” he said,
……………………………………“I hadn’t known
my mother was so beautiful.”

By linking the daffodils not only to death, but to murder and madness and power-hunger and mother-images (but what a mother! what a son!) he lifts the usual image of daffodils-spring-regeneration-life/new life to a different level altogether, one that links life with, well, madness and murder and a perversion of the aesthetic of beauty.


June 14 – We Were Simply Talking

This one straddles, I think, line between the conversational meaninglessness that I don’t like and something more significant, and I’m thinking it’s working. It’s about a moment when, while talking, the narrator loses control of the car he’s driving, and he and his wife spin out of control and face a similarly out-of-control tractor. In the moment the narrator prepares for certain death, he’s overcome with love. And then it’s all over; they slide into a ditch, and they are still alive. The poem balances speech and silence, love and estrangement, life and death, and seems, in my mind, to work. The language is very prosaic, which is one strike against it in my books (but not necessarily in anyone else’s), but there are some bits of it that appeal to me for one reason or another. For instance, there’s this:

I saw my wife and was overjoyed that I had married her,
though our marriage was already falling apart

and this:

………………………………………………….I loved
every molecule of breath I wasn’t taking

And then there’s the ending:

Fine. We were fine. But what was “fine,” I wondered,
and why do we always, always have to speak?

The jury’s still out, but I’m not inclined to hate this one. Not at all.

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