On the radio, a man speaks of the sky.
Something is falling, something is falling.
The evening news drifts down the alleys
scalloping the delicate fire-escapes.
Outside the red neon of the bar,
sugar, like music, fills the gutters up.
Tonight’s bankruptcy hides the traffic lights
blinking yellow in the abandoned town.
Politics melts on the tip of your tongue.
Each corporation has six points.
The houses are banked deeply by wishes.
The yards thicken and soften with answers.
Out in the country, memories of dead friends
edge onto the highway in fingers and fringes.
Silver buffalo lie down along the road,
shifting in their sleep in the dark wind
which also eats away at the thick banks
of commerce filling and swelling the fields.
An immense acceptance lifts and settles
in small hollows around the trunks of trees.
Half-dreams sift through the broken barn roof.
Love cuts at the bare branches of the windbreak.
The sky settles to the ground around the house,
the ground lifting itself lightly into the sky,
someone in the house talking over and over.
(Midwest Quarterly, 2004)
This poem ‘started’ as I listened to a TV weatherman and wanted to write a line that would be slightly off; thus, instead of speaking of “snow” he speaks of “the sky”. Once I’d used ‘snow’ as the title, I found I could write about snow in the whole poem without mentioning it. Instead of snow drifting, the news is drifting. I then wrote on, finding or brainstorming abstractions or generalizations (bankruptcy, politics, wishes, answers, memories, etc.) to use instead of the actual subject ‘snow’. This awakened a strange feeling in me as I wrote, not only about houses and dead friends and commerce but about the snowfall itself as the images relentlessly poured out. A poetic ‘problem’ with this kind of poem, which could go on and on as there is no logical structure, is how to end it. In this case, I brought it back to the ‘sky’ which brought in the beginning of the poem, making it a kind of circular meditation.
Regarding the form of the lines, I was working with a loose 10-syllable line, varying it on occasion. Many of the lines are end-stopped (i.e. in sentences) as I moved from one idea to another.