Thursday, May 05, 2005

warning: absolutely awful poetry

Somewhere in the blog world I saw a challenge to post the first poem you ever published, no matter how awful, no matter where it appeared.  If I remember correctly, this is mine:

{Warning, this is really terrible...}


At night
when the t.v.
Plays the national
I rush to change
The channel
For fear of
What lies
After the song
Is over

--published in Living Jewels: A Treasury of Lyric Poetry, Fine Arts Press, circa 1993.

Oh so very deep at the age of 19.  It appears in this anthology which wasn't quite a vanity press (ie they didn't require purchase for publication, but still didn't give me a free copy.  It was a couple years after publication when they were clearing out their stock I managed to snag one for $6.) The production values are shoddy, more than one poem crammed on a page. It's perfect bound, but the cover is flimsy red card stock /w gold lettering, and does have poems tucked in there by Emily Dickinson and Poe, who surely are in perpetual rotation in their graves.

Lest you be fooled by the zen like mediation of that little ditty, here's something else that was written and published around the same time. Note the existential crisis of the "i".

snow today
it will snow today
i know it will
for i have heard it on the radio
when i was lying in bed
drifting somewhere between being
asleep and awake
secret and silent
creeping in at cracks
sending a white shroud
covering the sled-hill
glazing the trees like glass
and many will spend the day outside
white powder stuck to their mittens
leaving a puddle in front of the furnace later
but me, i will stay in bed
for lifeless trees leave me melancholy
lonely and sad
they are only abandoned wood
glittering with rhinestones, not diamonds
and i will leave no footprints upon the hill
but keep my feet enveloped
in blankets where they are safe
and cannot venture out into the cold
for it hurts me, though do i
envy those who can
it should comfort me to know
it will melt though i endure
long and morose, but
empty, remember that spring
will arrive though she
drags her heels long the icy path.

The Feast, Rockford College Journal of the Arts, 1994.

Shame on me for writing it and shame on them for publishing it.  Of course, if I remember correctly, there were tons of bad undergraduate poetry floating around on campus and, believe it or not, I wasn't the worst.  I will, however, spare you the rhyming poems that came afterwards and appeared in later editions of that journal.  I think it took me until I was 22 to finally get myself to the point where I would actually claim anything I wrote as my own (and then only rather tenuously.)

What I would consider my first real publication didn't happen until 1999, after a couple in college lit mags, a couple simlar though significantly cheaper vanityesque anthologies (that's what I get for seeking places to submit in Writers Digest) and a subscribers annual for a short lived journal in 1998. I was so fucking clueless and naive it embrasses the hell out of me.

This actually is less terrible, written just after my work suddenly took a turn for the better my second year at DePaul, or as I like to think of it, my Eliot induced epiphany, the moment when I finally started getting it.
Hast thou forgot me then, and do I seem now in thine eyes so foul once deemed so fair?" --Paradise Lost
The goddess of infinite sadness
Many hounded portress
Poised upon the precipice
Absent of father, author, lover
Her keys lost, her beauty stolen
The promises blackened by the low creak of the gate
Headborn of sttractive grace
She dream of that other Eve
That other place
In sleep disturbed by insistent barking, the constant
Kenelling within her womb
She awaits the eath's coming darkness
A smile on haunted lips
The slow twitch of her stinging tail

Moon Journal, 1999

Granted, I didn't get it completely. Some days, I'm still trying

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