Thursday, November 10, 2005


"Feathers" is the poem that I performed this week at the "Five Wednesdays; One November" reading for the Raving Poets. It is part of the Sometimes Sinister sequence. I have it at one point in the plot of the series of poems that the wreck of the woman just leaves the protagonist. One morning he just wakes up and she's gone. I've hit on that part of the series with an earlier poem called "Vapor Trails."

Anyway, after the reading Adam Snider came up to me and asked me if I was recycling lines from some of my other works. At the time I said no, but after I had left and was given some time to dwell on it I do believe that he was actually on to something. I have used some of the elements in "Feathers" in previous poems and now I'm sure of it. What "Feathers" then becomes, in essence, is a complete redraft of those earlier poems. What I wanted to really incorporate into this one were the images of the "molted plumage," the idea of the protagonist openly admitting that he is making a project of the woman he loves as opposed to just loving her, and some of the imagery associated with the truck stop clientele. I guess it all just goes to show that Adam pays attention. I totally forgot that there were elements in "Feathers" used elsewhere in my work, but I think that with this incarnation of those elements I am a lot happier with the outcome.

Also, on Ron Silliman's blog there was recently a discussion regarding line breaks. As I sat down to write this draft of "Feathers" I was cognizant of where my line breaks were and I was thinking about how the poem would sound when read aloud, bearing in mind that each line ends with a slight pause. I actually consciously sought to place the line breaks in places where they would be rather unnatural in my typical work and I kind of like the results here.

So anyway, without further ado. Here is "Feathers"...

I keep looking for your molted plumage caught
in an updraft or
dancing in warm blasts from
central heating systems down
among these mouth-breathers,
these heavy set knuckle dragging shamblers,
sloped foreheaders,
Nascar enthusiasts.

And all I find are nosebleeds and
racing hearts and sciatica,
big belt buckles
Everything is bigger in Texas
and Pepback pills.
In every truck stop
and 24 hour diner,
bar and grills
where cocaine residue makes
mime time of
counter tops, makes
that public washroom smell of
every room
just a little more toxic,
a little more forbidding and
electrically charged.

this is where instinct tells me
to look for you.

Make a project of
a woman,
let her become your
and when that weight is
lifted or vanishes
where do you go except
to drift through
galleries of abuser and users,
shift jockeys and pushers?

To say
I miss you
doesn’t capture,
doesn’t compute.

You gravitational core.

Sometimes I’ll catch
a feather lofting gently to
a coffee stained tile floor,
hear the buzz of a neon beer sign
and know
I’m not that far behind.


Selina said...

heart-breaking..a really lovely follow-up to Vapor Trails...

Have you considering archiving the poems separately? It would be a pretty nice little online collection by now, I think.

MG said...

I concur. A heartbreaking piece, Mikey. Thanks for posting this.

brodie said...

Yea, I agree with the above posts. Me and Kristin really enjoyed when you read this on Wed.

The image of the anchor being lifted and drifting between users and abusers was very powerful.

Good job.

Adam said...

I agree with your assessment that "Feathers" is a more "complete" redrafting of some of the earlier poems in which these themes and words appear.

The darkness and heartbreak here are palpable, but somehow remain understated. Very nice work, Mike.