I’ve always been happy on the internet with my imaginary friends.
Okay, less imaginary than… invisible? Intangible? I’ve met every single one of my Poetry Sisters only because ONCE we all managed to be at ALA at the same time. ONCE. Six years ago. It hasn’t ever happened again. One of my very best friends, and any of my other good acquaintances I’ve never met in person at all. And, introvert that I am, that seems… normal.
Since I’ve enjoyed reading The Toast for a long time, and because as of today, July 1, they’re kaput, I’ve been thinking about how sad I am to lose… yet another group of imaginary friends. So, when I thought about this month’s P7 assignment, and how we’re writing in the style of the brilliant Marin poet Kay Ryan, I knew that she would be able to do justice to the topic of transient friendships, and intangible losses and imaginary loves in her inimitable, sneakily rhymed, wordplaying, slanted style. I… tried. With mixed results.
Kay Ryan is a deep, deep pool to get into. Depending on the time and how familiar we were with her work, some of us skimmed, and some of us haven’t yet come up for air. A few of us wrote in the style of Ryan’s “All Shall Be Restored, while others of us played with the wording of Turtle, asking, “Why would anyone be X if she could help it?” Despite this being the month when all of us are scrambling – packing, slogging through summer school, kid wrangling, swamped, under the weather and me scraping and stretching to find the turning point for my current WIP — this was some of our most intriguing writing. We bemoaned not having enough time for Kay Ryan. The cure for that? Reading lots more Kay Ryan. I know I’ll be doing that, as the summer continues, and I’ll be ready for this assignment, when next it comes around.
Unmaking The Toast: A Lament
(Vaguely) In the style of Kay Ryan’s All Shall Be Restored
The molecules shall be
stilled; no longer bumping
fractiously ‘twixt ion and atom,
demanding rigidity of this densely
The separate slices, softly,
Yield. No segregation slows this
seeking to succumb.
And, the whole –
The whole of the thing,
-unbaked, unleavened, unmixed –
Shall be undone.
And then, unkneaded – unneeded –
the viscid rebound of the dough.
And then, unseen, unsought,
the settling of the restive sea to salt.
Cessation of this sustenance calls
for no half-measures; untake this bread,
undrink this cup, undo this thing. The cell,
Withered, unremarked, this ruled march and sweep
of fields; here, no amber waves of grain,
no vast pure reservoirs,
no sowing into fertile
soil, no seed, no
not so grandiflora
In the style of Kay Ryan’s “Turtle”
Who would be a rose who could help it?
A fragrant flutter of petals, fragile flora
grown to be gifted in fawning fealty
to females indifferent,
or flung away in elegant arcs
by brides so burdened with beauty,
that despite dethorning
– stiletto exchanged to sweetly spineless –
its weight is wounding.
Even basic blossoms – hedgerow not hothouse –
Soon appear unpalatable, a predictable perfection
tossed off in impotent apology
And presently, putrefying. To grasp
the thorn you also bring the rose,
though the rose – inbred, innocuous – is
In the style of Kay Ryan’s Insult
Beaters circling shrubs
Raise but dust, and queries,
Such as: Is there a point to
this useless maundering,
And, For heaven’s sakes,
could you get
To the point
or maybe dinnertime?
Neglecting to flush
A single syllable of
substance is not virtue;
lovers of truth will,
Like a cheetah on its first kill,
Run it to the ground.
As I said, Kay Ryan is inimitable. However, we gave it a shot even if I did get called *cough* an overachiever for my repeated attempts! It still isn’t quite Kay – I missed her sly internal rhymes, – but this month, we all agreed: it’s about PROCESS. And the process is a gift! Andi for that gift, gave us mosquitoes; Sara found herself poem-ing about poetry once again, Tricia spun words beautifully, and Laura’s unsold house house was added to a rhyme analyzer — I’m afraid to even put my poems in there. Liz explores the dichotomy of the smooth, featureless egg, while Kelly pushes our roundup – uphill – to a close with a poem she “doesn’t mind.” Which is, indeed high praise.
Want more splendid poetry for this holiday weekend? Page through the selections at Tabatha’s.