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Suburban Undulations Justin Bauserman

INTRODUCTION Wallace Stevens writes, in The Necessary Angel, that “the subject matter of poetry is…the life that is lived in the scene that [poetry] composes” (25). When taken literally, this idea proposes that poetry creates a linguistic environment or representational scene, in which it is situated. The scene is representational because it is only based on the reality that exists outside the created poem, and, within this scene, poems develop their own reality, which can vary between being different or wholly congruous with the external reality that encompasses both the subject matter and whatever life the poem has to offer. A poem’s life is created within the reality of the poem’s scene when, as Steven’s suggests, reality “adapts itself instantly” (25). The key issue, then, is that poems, after creating a representational scene, can change or adapt within this scene, forming a reality that diverges from the external reality the poem represents. In using the word life, I am pointing to the fact that, within the scene, the poem and its words are doing something (they are actively changing), and this change through divergence from the external reality forms the subject matter of poetry. These three ideas—reality, adaptation, and life—form a basis on which the subject matter of poetry can be discussed. The scene developed points to the use of objects and artifacts as a means of finding the reality of the scene the poem creates. A poem must create a scene for which adaptation can generate life, revealing the subject matter. One of the ways in which poetry finds a way of creating life is through a re-vision of represented reality, and the life, then, becomes the ways in which the poem’s reality can see-again. I am using a


hyphenated form of revision because I want to emphasize how the word can mean to “look at again.” When using the term re-vision, I am only interested in implying the ability to look at objects again, re-examining reality. In contrast, revision, without the hyphen, means to look for places of change or addition. It is true that re-vision within poetry can lead to change, but the catalyst for re-vision is the chance to see again what the poem’s reality actually represents. Within the poem, though, re-vision implies a more honest interpretation of the reality than previously conceived. If things are viewed with honesty, the re-vision can offer new insights that must remain wholly congruous with the truth of the represented reality—an inevitable benefit of re-vision. Inherently, a re-vision will look at the represented reality again in a way that is entirely different from how it has been previously viewed or how it exists in the external reality the poem represents. Poems present the life within different constructed scenes in a multitude of ways. Poems can recall memories with honesty and forthrightness, examine objects with scrutiny, or relate processes that uncover a truth about the scene. “Oysters,” by Seamus Heaney, reflects on a past moment as a means of understanding the life the scene can offer to him in his current situation. In the poem, he enjoys a delicacy with his friends, and the sense of resentment for lost opportunities pervades his thoughts. Heaney considers how this reflects on the loss of the past. This loss results from what Heaney sees as an inability to move forward with purpose. The poem reconsiders his current reality and offers a new means for understanding a purpose, saying, “I ate the day / Deliberately, that its


tang / Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb” (139). In light of the reality recollected in the poem, Heaney prods himself to start anew with purposeful action. The shared delight with friends demonstrates an opportunity that was ignored, and the poem now finds action more appealing. Heaney finds this new understanding through re-vision.

For Heaney, the reality within the poem’s

scene creates the opportunity for meaning to be developed, and the adaptation spawns his awareness of what lies ahead of him, revealing the poem’s new reality. Re-vision, then, is a way for Heaney to discover and accept, through the poem, a new outlook on personal actions as a means of dealing with the present. This self-awareness leads to a personal reaction, prodding him to deliberately change his course. Adrienne Rich explores a different reality, one consisting of the truth objects offer. In “Diving into the Wreck,” Rich explores how objects have been obscured by the constant application of what others have said. The poem is keenly aware of how others have shaped and molded the views the diver has about the particular wreck. Rich explores how she overcame trepidations and myths to actually converse, touch, and haunt the object sought. The water, to the diver in the poem, is encompassing, and the poem considers how the unknown must be breached to gain real knowledge. When actually faced with the wreck itself, the poem says, “the thing I came for: / the wreck and not the story of the wreck” (164). The “book of myths” inadequately prepared the diver for what was waiting under the waves (162). The reality created by the poem, then, represents the means by which knowledge is attained. Reality, in this


poem, consists of how the diver disregards what is known in order to have the ability to experience the reality of what is gained from observing objects as they are. For Rich, the wreck is old, damaged, and worn from the waves, but the wreck itself offers life because of how the reality of the scene adapts to a new idea: the wreck has the power of knowledge. This adaptation is the re-vision the experience embodies. The poem looks again at how objects can be mutated by not having been actively observed. The wreck needed to be seen differently, as a sought-after relic or artifact, which teaches Rich the meaning available when it can stand alone. “Mending Wall,” by Robert Frost, offers a re-vision focused on the ritualized spring event of rebuilding and maintaining the wall dividing his neighbor’s farm from his own. The process unfolds on an appointed day when the two neighbors actively replace the stones of the wall together, each walking on his side, replacing stones that fell. Frost writes, “And on a day we meet to walk the line / And set the wall between us once again. / We keep the wall between us as we go” (47). Frost undertakes this process, ritually, after the months have slowly eroded the wall’s height, and he and his neighbor actively rebuild a physical barrier that doesn’t seem to stay erect naturally. The first line, which is repeated, shows how something apparently wants the wall to come down: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall” (47). It is interesting how Frost and his neighbor continually fight against the inevitable process of the wall crumbling. The poem’s re-vision of the simple spring event draws attention to the wall’s impermanence. The two neighbors want the wall to stay put, a sign of


being good neighbors, but other forces actively destroy their work. The re-vision focuses on the compulsion the two neighbors share in maintaining their contrived barrier, certain they are keeping things out. In “Mending Wall,” the ritual is a repetition of the same task, and the re-vision looks at the ritual differently, reaching a different conclusion. Their ritual’s perceived protection becomes apparent as the poem demonstrates the two have nothing to protect from one another, allowing the poem’s re-vision to reveal the truth behind the wall’s existence—it is the only thing the neighbors share. By looking at processes, objects, and memories again, poetry explicates the ways in which poetic scenes create, offering the opportunity to reveal deeper truths, engendering better self-awareness. My own poem “Banana Tree” presents a re-vision of how the daily tasks of life function as a path for understanding the consequences of personal habits. The first eight lines depict the ways in which habits accumulate: “Straighten one painting, / another leans….He lets / papers pile / one-inch thick on the desk” (27). The painting will always need adjusting, and the piling papers will always need organizing. The poem displays the consequences of neglecting the continuous results of daily living. As the poem progresses, the male subject begins to reap the consequences of his inattentive habits, focusing on a particular object within the scene. However, the male subject is given the opportunity to understand: The hook he screwed into the bottom of the cabinet to catch bananas


claws at his knuckle. (27) The clawing of the knuckle is the first sign pointing to the need to heed the accumulation of all of the things ignored. The poem shows how the male subject receives the chance to gain self-awareness, but he considers it only an isolated incident, ignoring the poem’s focus. But the incident begins to demonstrate a lack of reflection. Consequently, the male subject does not act, and the rotting skin is the result of the male subject’s inability to accept the re-vision presented in the poem. The rotting skin indicates the degree to which the male subject has ignored his surroundings. More importantly, the opportunity offers the subject an opening for understanding the ways in which these habits can prove destructive. As a result, the re-vision focusing on the objects of the scene shows how the signs were all present for the male subject to see and understand. The banana tree is adapting, within the represented reality, to the need of the poem, creating life with the truth given by its representation. Although a menial warning, the skin hanging from the gallows allows the speaker to become more self-aware and evaluative. The resulting self-awareness consists of the ability of the poem to create understanding through looking at prevalent, seemingly innocent, objects. While finding ways for re-vision to create life within different scenes, “Humming” relates an examination of how external forces can create new environments through subtle adjusting processes. The only character mentioned in this poem is the neighbor, and his bass guitar shifts the way in which the poem’s environment is understood. In contrast to what the speaker may have thought about having this background music, the constant sounds change the


perception of all sounds. As the neighbor’s sounds build, the poem says, “The low strums/ build an ambiance, / rationalizing the walking dishwasher blues” (23). The electronic noise to which he becomes accustomed develops into an innate part of the environment. In addition, the rationalization indicates how the sounds become harmonious within the scene’s confines. Becoming an unavoidable part of the environment, the noise allows the speaker to come to a different understanding of how noise is now functioning, and the poem relates the increased awareness of sounds. The noise has become comforting due to its continual presence. The poem concludes, and insomnia ensues unless the carpet emits its humming white noise. (23) Noise creates its own existence, shifting the reality of the scene the poem presents. ”Humming” leads to an awareness of how a personal environment can be shaped by outside influences. The poem shows an awareness of how influential noise can be, and the non-silence present in his apartment can develop a better understanding of true silence. Once the subject matter creates a life within the created scene, poems must find ways of accentuating the different moments and ways in which revision occurs. Throughout the collection, I use two different aspects of language: short lineation and active verbs. The short lineation, usually between four to seven words, builds poems with simplified ideas in each line. Shorter lines induce a concentration of words which build to complex ideas. The accumulation


of ideas is a way in which the lineation can accentuate the moments of re-vision. In “Brittle,” readers understand, from the start, what kind of chair is actually being described. The first five lines contain only twelve words and within the first three lines readers are given few words that seem out of the ordinary. In line four, the poem offers the first instance of personification. When reading “have grown thin,” attentive readers will start to wonder how chairs can actually grow thin. The lineation lends itself to accentuating subtle changes because “thin” appears at the end of a line, and the poem initiates the subtle accumulation of ideas that will shape the final lines. The lineation also enables short pauses without losing the connection of thoughts, something that is imperative to the ways in which I use this as a tool for enhancing the cumulative effects of the ending. Within the final lines of “Brittle,” the re-vision is completed quickly as well as smoothly. The short lines allow the conclusion of the poem to appear sudden. The lines can be read quickly, but, in order to understand the entire meaning, the four lines must be thought of as one piece, adding complexity to the meaning of the poem’s final re-vision. I write, I wonder if it will keep sliding bursting through the chair’s emaciated ribs. (46) The lineation does not force the poem to its conclusion, but it can be seen as hastening the completion of the reading, but, with the literal completion, the way in which these four lines work together create the scene’s reality. The chair’s


human aspects can be seen as the result of neglect. The reality of the scene is accentuated by the way in which the short lineation allows lines to be considered as blocks of lines, not as individual thoughts. Within this collection, lineation also adds momentum, which is often undercut or resolved smoothly. In “Radiology Waiting Room,” the resolution comes on the heels of the speaker’s apparent contempt for the inanity of waitingroom conversations. The poem focuses on the conversation being overheard, and the middle portion equating the conversation to a scene from Forrest Gump in which Bubba and Forrest are cleaning floors, boots, rifles, and toilets, all while Bubba lists all the ways in which shrimp can be cooked, pulls readers more quickly towards the conclusion of the poem with its shorter lineation. I write, you can’t turn to another person, who is also listening in, to comment on the inanity. Staying mute, merely looking up now and then, I desperately hope someone will interrupt me. (41) The momentum gained becomes mounting interest, leading readers to the end of the poem, which has an understated, oddly-wistful resolution. Without the shortening of lines through the middle of the poem, the re-vision would not be carried through to the end with the same momentum. The momentum gained by the lineation adds to the effect of the re-vision, which is focusing on the lack of verbal connection. The speaker becomes aware of how judging the conversation


forced him into his self-imposed silence. The reality, although excruciating, explains how isolation can become a double-edged sword as the speaker sees how joining the inane conversation might have enhanced the experience. In addition to the lineation, the use of varied and different verbs allows readers to drift into a more surreal experience with subjects that are commonplace. The verbs offered in “Evergreen” begin to shift the traditional view readers may expect. In the first six lines, the poem uses one regular verb and two interesting expressions of the ways in which things can happen. I write, Bouncing off evergreen leaves on the little shrub outside my window, snow flakes like rain, graying crows. (39) “Bouncing,” in the first line, begins the poem with energy, and “bouncing” offers direct action and realistic depictions of the ways in which snow can actually act. In lines five and six, though, the “snow flakes like rain,” which leads to “graying crows.” Normally, snow is seen as flaking, but rain is rarely seen in such a light. The use of flake as a verb causes readers to consider why either the snow is behaving uncharacteristically or whether rain can do something unusual in cold weather. This re-vision of watching the snow offers the speaker the chance to look at the characteristics of the snow and how they are coloring and affecting perceptions. The awareness of something out of the ordinary becomes the origin


of the re-vision, and looking at weather differently develops the changing perceptions the scene considers. Further, the use of “graying” as a verb, in line six, begins to raise more questions for readers. “Graying crows” are not normally seen. Crows are jet black and prey on already-dead animals. When crows are graying, the black is being softened, and if carrion birds are softening, maybe other aspects of what they represent can soften as well. Can death be softened? Do readers pick up on the graying of the crows and the re-vision the verb offers? This re-vision offers insights as to how overcoming the gloominess of winter can actually happen. The re-vision consists of gaining awareness of how graying crows may work as an advantage when attempting to stave off winter-induced depression. This awareness, though not offering any evaluation, proves useful for the speaker’s future. The crow being softened allows readers to consider the ways in which the speaker did shape the effects of winter to inhibit the gloominess it can bring. By using graying as a verb, the poem presents a re-vision of the ways in which winter can affect personality. Through the reality of the represented scenes, the collection brings to light many different re-visions, all having their own ability to evoke self-awareness or self-evaluation. The extent to which the poems deal with the result of the revision varies, but what each offers opens up possibilities. The collection begins with poems that offer a particular scope dealing with the speaker and a few other select individuals. These poems show re-vision as it can function within the personal relationships between the speaker and those around him. Poems such


as “Homes,” Apartment 34,” and “Presently” show a re-vision that involves the speaker and how the things that have built his current surroundings developed. The self-awareness becomes apparent when the speaker realizes that the life he knows has developed not only because of his own actions, but because of others, as well. The collection then offers poems that develop a more introspective revision that becomes important for the speaker’s personal self-awareness. Poems such as “Bastion,” “Execution,” and “The Gym” develop how the speaker interacts in more impersonal environments. With these, the re-vision focuses on how much the speaker actually does accomplish without having felt like he was successful. Also, the awareness consists of how isolation can push the speaker toward different degrees of action. The poems’ re-visions allow the level of personal action to be honestly revealed. The collection again delves into more personal poems involving the personal effects re-vision has on his own identity. Poems such as “A Spider in the Bathtub,” “Eating Berry Sherbet,” and “Hammering” show the ways in which very personal actions are affected by truths about personal character. The collection deliberately cycles through personal expressions of reality to broader, more relatable scenes, allowing the poems to grapple with the multiple ways in which reality can represent reality. The collection’s ebb and flow between intensely personal re-vision and a more subtle, broader re-vision develops into a cycle or frequency of thought. This frequency developed into the title of the collection, Suburban Undulations, and the way in which readers read through the undulating waves of scope is part of the process


of reading the collection. The collection is meant to be read as one piece because of these undulations of re-vision, and the poems develop a complete picture of how common memories, immediate surroundings, and simple actions can become a means for more effective self-awareness and understanding. Suburban Undulations is a collection devoted to understanding and becoming aware of the realities of different situations. The truth behind the actions is brought to light with varying levels of scope. The poems begin to unravel how I came to exist within my surroundings, a question that others grapple with, as well. The recollected memories become a terminus with the completion of the re-visions. The end of things that are in the past or have been a part of a consciousness for a while emerge as a point where I can choose to set to rest these motives and accept the ways in which others or myself have shaped and engendered my life. Being a terminus also offers the collection the ability to create a solid base on which future paths can be tread. The awareness and level of evaluation create the collection’s opportunity to move forward in life while maintaining personal honesty. The self-awareness creates new possibilities for the previously-accepted realities, and the collection reflects a contemplation of an external reality through poetry’s ability to see again its composed scenes.


Homes My agenda runs through my mind as I decide where to stop first. Who will get the most of my pie? Two nights to spend harbored, and I won’t know who wins until I head back on Sunday. First, I see my family, who waits for me at the large house, talking about their jobs, what makes them pissed, what someone else should do, and what they are going to buy for Christmas. Stefanie joins us after dinner. The round-table laughter only drones for hours; we disperse to meet our friends. It always ends the same: in the bed of our home du jour— hermit crabs deciding on a place to sleep.


Apartment 34 Collecting matter, for years, to plug it up. Surrounded by recliners, an entertainment center topped with global beer vessels, mirroring bottles and cans in the fridge. Within, a rectangular dinner table bumps against the kitchen wall. Being only a large storage space, I constantly walk between it and the love seat. I plop between the two cushions. The supports start to sag; I depressingly sink down. Wherever the sinkhole, my footstool remains a pile of books, spread across floors, tables, chairs, bookcases, skillets and plates. Building furniture out of itself, the piles form a paper house stronger with each repetition.


Presently Smelly city v. nappy city, not endearing terms, but it doesn’t matter. Besides, you start to defend, in small ways, where ever you happen to reside. I’ll stay here this weekend, wasting time, reposing in inertia. My dogma remains intact as Stefanie conforms to me, wrapping herself in my insulation. Eventually finding libations to ease us home wallowing in temporary companionship, books are forgotten as she captures attention, offering reality, currently creating stories, filling my dishes.


Bastion More reading, which means more books. I think I could build a fort out of my collection pillaged from the library. Maybe I will. A fort of super-reality, ready to appear strong, composed of incoherent doodles which harpoon Platonism scrawled on a coupon after vacantly conversing about the weather. My fort’s not sufficient; I must venture out, collect more books, appease my fragile ego while it grasps for letters.


Push Pause How long can it be sustained— wearing a Joker’s smile? Every Friday, try turning off the Ferlinghetti tape recorder before two in the afternoon. Hopefully, cartoons will be on— then, it comes naturally. I’ve learned so much from MTV, proud because I remain part of the laity. Every time, the rolling rusty wheels creak, worrying about Monday.


Execution Hanging from a branch, the snake’s dawning moment arrives on the heels of an unaware, lumbering bear which looks for berries to engorge its belly. Enlightening moments abound, yet the snake’s execution lacks vitality. The passing kill waves goodbye; the snake’s fixation attaches to a writhing, wounded sloth.


The Gym Here three days a week, without fail, I don’t know anybody, but I keep seeing the same ESPN personalities. Releasing loose energy, hoping to hone what is left to chisel through the dishes stacked around me. I wonder, is 165lb enough? Monotonously pushing inanimate objects, pinned in a stifling room, works to an extent, but all I really gain is energy to restlessly read Hemingway. The real reason I am here remains shapeless, unless I take stock of why I try to add weight each day. Slamming the bar into its rests pushes me to try 170.


Humming A neighbor funks his electric bass in spite of common silence. Stealing his heat through barely-insulated common walls is the only way to repay his gift of music. The low strums build an ambiance, rationalizing the walking dishwasher blues. The TV’s imperceptible bump when changing channels deafens, now, and insomnia ensues unless the carpet emits its humming white noise.


Waiting Punching through the drooping limbs, my snow peppers the yellow grass. I’ve waited so long, looking up, for a chance to pelt a car with snowballs, I’ve forgotten what snow is for. Maybe I just wanted to lean against the formidable snowdrifts forming around my ankles— sand rippling under the waves. With effort, a few reasons might make the leap, spilling from my musical snow globe.


Tools ’99 Ply. Neon, low miles, clean, great stereo, wheels, 5spd, tint.

Efficient gas mileage is essential for the suburban nomad. Camels are no longer needed, but the storage hump sits on the passenger side. Cluttered, the car facilitates driving demands floating between the bar, three homes— cogitation, trepidation, and retardation. Devoted and dependent, I hope something common, well-worn, allows me to fly under everyone’s radar.


Hermit Crabs My mom sedates people with food. Stef and I have an affinity for roasted meat. Stef’s parents watch TV— sometimes I can’t seem to turn it off. In my small apartment, single servings, handed down in hopes of becoming a shell, as my mom’s night-stand lamp resting on my new end table wait for Stef and me to consider their adoption.


Banana Tree Straighten one painting, another leans. The milk-jug ring laying on the counter will be replaced by another. He lets papers pile one-inch thick on the desk because it’s too distressing to give in. After not cleaning under the coffee maker for thirty-seven days, he reaches for the plug to move it onto already-cleaned counters. The hook he screwed into the bottom of the cabinet to catch bananas claws at his knuckle, but he doesn’t unscrew it, despite the new, wooden banana tree resting on the kitchen’s sill with an over-ripened skin hanging from its gallows.


Incessant Noticing my soggy tire, pulling out the noisy air pump wedged in my trunk, I feel the blood rush through my body, waiting to boil on my skin. This same tire’s been losing air for three months, but it’s lazier to keep money in my pocket by refilling the radials. I sleep at night while the air scampers off with serendipity, endangering my fragile frame. And every time I leave the house, I am stabbed in the back, by the wire fraying from this spiral notebook— the same reaction evoked from looking down a street of six stoplights with every other one red. Poked everywhere I plod, I know its pangs also result from its emptiness.


Weekend I’ll go visit Stef, not wanting to waste the time. We choose to stagnate, for the night. No wallowing or conforming, more of a mutual appreciation of how the small canopy of her room is rapidly enclosing us in its hot breath.


Stagnate Stagnation does not imply negativity. Don’t look, see no progress or development, and dismiss. Instead, imagine a single loon alighting on unmoving glass, the ripples dissipating into the shore’s arms, all becoming somnolent.


A Spider in the Bathtub A typical Indiana spider— body as large as a mouse pellet, legs long enough to make its delicacy its downfall— dropped from the ceiling to the opposite, drier end of the tub. Watching it attempt to struggle its way up the side of the tub I considered its demise. I could block the water from reducing it to a doused speck, or I could unleash, what would seem to be, a torrent of biblical proportions, accompanied by rushing winds easily overpowering its weightless body. Arachnophobia always takes control.


Eating Berry Sherbet Sherbet straight from half-gallon, cylindrical tubs. I’m always just as reluctant to stop as I was to pull it from the freezer. Wrapped in towels, shielded from its frozen cardboard, spoons, larger than normal, drill through the center, neatly forming conical indentations. The core sample shows future flavors. Leveling out surrounding areas in tightly-spun circles, leaving behind newly-uncovered strata. The process continues until I can’t stare into the tub any more. Refreezing for another dig, I will have to even up excavations later.


Hammering I know there are studs here; tapping the wall for sounds will work. Putting paintings on a wall is more difficult with improvisation as an impetus. I just want to look at the at colors when I walk up to my front door, anyway. Standing on the couch, rapping with the blunt end of a screwdriver, nails hanging from lips, I hastily decide where to drive nails. Four attempts later one nail is in a stud, one merely punched through the one-inch wall.


Covert Skulking among rungs of a chair, clever in supposed anonymity, side-stepping twigs, Heaney’s purpose appears between the shells. Peer through lines on the laptop, hope the mindset will change, knowing it all remains neon white, and the broken China is your unmistakable calling card.


The Perils of a Roving Eye I touch everything walking through stores. If it has moving parts, I will actually stop to dismantle it if I can. Battery-operated back massagers hanging car DVD players, four-foot plush snowman, faux fur woman’s collar, two hundred dollar crystal. Touching helps me understand, figure out, entertain myself by pulling all available threads.


Tenuously Being on time is not a priority. Bills stamps themselves the day due, new phone bills seem to be from a different time zone, boiling an egg takes an extra week, and you should lend a hand only if you don’t need it for a month. Subtlety comically stubs his toe as he bounds through the door, fashionably late.


Why I Cannot be a Barber Trim the bush ‘til it’s square with slightly-rounded corners—easy enough. My dad has an electric, inverted-alligator mouth trimmer. An Edward-Scissor-Hands frolic. I ripped scissoring blades over the flat hedge-top. Shaved layer of leaves, squared edges, rounded corners— hopefully I’ll get to trim that bush again. After shaking leaves from the air I saw mangled twigs, not a suggestive topiary.


Running Drops from a downpour, clamoring to join comrades who drift into collecting ponds. Relic of a fence, bent, crackled, weathered, leaning over, watching the parade flow. The drops, in mock veneration: “Why stand so firm? There’s joy to be taken, and feats left undone.” The post, with benevolent eye, “I’ll gather dust from here, deeds forever incomplete,” watching how they din into swarms.


Evergreen Bouncing off evergreen leaves on the little shrub outside my window, snow flakes like rain, graying crows. When I read, retention is a problem. I never recall details unless it’s read four times. When I think about last week blank screens appear. Forgiving and forgetting is not a problem when you have fresh snow to roll everyday. I wonder if winter cause me to lose my leaves, limbs drooping, or if I can force ice pellets to congregate on windshield wipers.


Colored Reddened by another stoplight, in a hurry to get home and rock in my chair— little to do, much to wait for. Glancing at my backpack, WABASH, drawn in black while sitting in History 210, stares back and cracks, spilling newspapers onto my windshield. I see the Pacers lost again. When I finally unwrap my porthole, the light greens, but because the next yellows, I still sit waiting to boil.


Radiology Waiting Room Everyone has something to read— To Kill a Mocking Bird or a three-month old magazine. Everyone is begging to be interrupted, but if you are going to interrupt me, please, make it worthwhile. Hearing people discuss soup, I eavesdrop in hopes they have higher purpose. They only talked about different types of soup, like Bubba and Forest cleaning a latrine. The worst part: you can’t turn to another person, who is also listening in, to comment on the inanity. Staying mute, merely looking up now and then, I desperately hope someone will interrupt me.


Rapidly Closing I’ve always wanted to hit an animal with my car, nothing large, never on purpose, but just to experience the sensation of futility in rodent form. I might have, in the past, and I’ve never known. Unavoidably staring down a squirrel— hoping it will run or stay in one spot or at least help itself out— seems like a useful skill.


Stuck Eagerly standing, waiting for Mardi Gras beads, anticipating a happiness collected only from gathering her organic laugh, spiked leaves, floating, infuse the ordinary with pleasure. Like collected piles, the only thing left is to belly-flop onto the colors, knowing they will not let go of my fleece.


Breakfast In the morning I shock myself awake. Setting my coffee to brew, carefully eye-balling each spoonful, transporting with equal heapingness. 1 steals my energy, 2 offers no backbone, 3 and I partially savor, 4 fulfills my tastes. Just one more, heaped on top, produces bitterness nothing sugarcoats— a mug of ridiculously black words. It is my quiet time, when the neighbors are off at real jobs, and staring out the window seems more satisfying as a bird on a branch supersedes breakfast. Through scribbling poetry, I feel fulfilled, starting my day by setting roots in the couch with my back to the apartment.


Tool Box My backpack is a crutch, filled and humped incessantly. It carries my work: Papers and anthologies. My compulsively organized files hold a wealth of wasteful words. It carries my attachments: a padlock and pair of shorts, a cell phone, spare change for coffee to affect maturity. Knowing I will not use my bag, I still carry it to ease my uncertainty and abate my apprehensions with our heated conversations. If all else fails, the silliness of some quarrelling coffee beans will certainly pull me back to laughter.


Brittle Once large, bulky, weighty, these wooden chairs have grown thin, scratched up, and I can move the rungs on their backs up and down half an inch. The joints squeak and the seats slide a little to the side. In slinging my heavy bag, I wonder if it will keep sliding, bursting through the chair’s emaciated ribs.


Locked Doors I have the bad habit of leaving my parents’ utility-room door unlocked. When I leave, the house looks locked— no one would think to check. People surrounded me, spent time instilling a locked door’s importance, indoctrinating me with an unthinkable idea: consideration is a lost art.


English We are supposed to choose something we love because it’ll make us vomit by the end of the semester. No problem. I’ll choose something I never tire of. That didn’t quite work out, not because I no longer enjoy the book, but because its tail is nailed to the floor; it paces in nervous circles while others serenely circle above waiting for a chance to pick it apart.


BIBLIOGRAPHY Bishop, Elizabeth. Geography III. The Collected Poems 1927-1979. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1983. Daniels, Jim. M-80. Pittsburgh, PA: U of Pittsburgh P, 1993. Ferlinghetti, Lawrence. What is Poetry. Berkeley, CA: Creative Arts Book Co., 2000. Frost, Robert. North of Boston. Early Frost: The First Three Books. Ed. Jeffrey Meyers. Hopewell, New Jersey: Ecco Press, 1996. Frost, Robert. New Hampshire. Complete Poems of Robert Frost. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1957. Gluck, Louise. The Wild Iris. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. Grossman, Allen, and Mark Halliday. The Sighted Singer: Two Works on Poetry for Readers and Writers. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1992. Hall, Donald. “Goatfoot, Milktoungue, and Twinbird: The Psychic Origins of Poetic Form.” Claims for Poetry. Ed. Donald Hall. Ann Arbor, MI: U of Michigan P, 1985. Heaney, Seamus. from “Feeling into Words.” Finders Keepers: Selected Prose 1971-2001. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2002. --. Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1998. Hugo, Richard. The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing. New York: Norton, 1979. Justice, Donald. Night Light. Middletown, CN: Wesleyan UP, 1961.


Kinnell, Galway. Mortal Acts, Mortal Words. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1980. Komunyakaa, Yusef. Neon Vernacular. New York; Scribner, 2001. Merrill, James. Yellow Pages. Collected Poems. Ed. J. D. McClatchy and Stephen Yenser. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001. Rich, Adrienne. From Diving into the Wreck. The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems Selected and New 1950-1984. New York: Norton, 1984. Simic, Charles. Walking the Black Cat. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1996. Stevens, Wallace. The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination. New York: Vintage Books, 1942. --. Collected Poetry and Prose. New York: The Library of America, 1997. Wordsworth, William. Selected Poems. Ed. George W. Meyer. Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 1950.


Suburban Undulations  

This is the final copy of my thesis

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