Saturday, October 14, 2006

blippity blue

Here's the first draft of a poem I wrote for class... (the assignment being to write a poem about/in response to a museum). When I was in Germany, I took a trip to Prague and got to visit the Kafka Museum. It was fabulous... and the poem is a kind of ... chaos as it stands. The usual. But the indentation is all wrong. Blogger doesn't let me do my crazy indentation the way I wish it would. Alas.


Die Verwandlung and you—
we can imagine what it means, we can know it by your words
this kaleidoscope jags through
alleyways, staircases, mountains, castles and snow.
More snow—virgin pure snow—
of white light spun into dark webs, a man becomes
a Käfer.

How to make a collage of literature? How,
but to string words along walls; to push against a happy canopy
with alley-way staircases of reflected light and dark:
the dark sum of feeling attached to the Käfer—
a beetle, whose metamorphosis spurs
the revaluation of prose:
der Vater-Sohn Konflikt; the body-soul conflict;
the lust-love conflict; the male-female conflict;
the genitalia conflict. And you never married

your lovers, did you?! Sick,
but not simply sick. Afraid of illness,
or the decay that proliferated
out of cells touching cells
touching your legal mind’s cells;

Temptation that never left you
to write your heart into combustible stone
until it wrote itself out (preserved itself atop this hill of your city; metaphors that may
be of a fever, of a gash
in the face that was much more than a gash—
the Country Doctor, the lusting crispness of a maidservant and you!).

You willed—never that this would happen: words,
yours, flashed out on walls,
bound and wrapped in your second tongue,
my tongue, in your mother tongue, not
ah, that there could have been some union, some award
swarming these details: drawers full
of light and drawings of
stick-figures in single black lines—
from overhead, from forward and behind:
the mirror that you were back then
never shone so clearly as it does today:
that you were lonely the brilliant
sojourner of the castle.


Manisha said...

Okay, Bethany, I've read this over a few times, and only now do I feel quasi-competent to comment on it.

As you pointed out yourself, there is a lot of chaos, but here it seems to serve a purpose--the chaos in the form of the poem reflects the chaos that seems to exist in the work displayed in the museum (knowing Kafka, this is not at all surprising). What I like is that, at certain points throughout, the poem itself seems to try and take control of itself and impose order (like the gem of a line: "How to make a collage of literature?").

I also like the attempt you make to get into his psyche (I love the differenciation between "in your mother tongue, not/ the WRITING ON THE WALL tongue"--reminds me of another line from one of your other poems that talked about "home home"). The ending is beautifully executed, drawing back and revealing him as "lonely the brilliant/ sojourner of the castle".

The only thing I would recommend is cleaning up the beginning a little bit. Like I said, the chaos has a purpose, but is almost overwhelming at the start. Then again, maybe seeing your line breaks would be clarification enough. Well, you know best. Think it over. Great poem!