Tuesday, April 12, 2016



Who was surprised out of her wits when she checked for today's prompt and saw this! Thank you to whomever zeroed in on this poem and to all of you who visited my blog, and for the comments. You made my day.

"Our featured participant today is Purple Mountain Poetry, where the poem for Day 11’s blend of small, accretive details with a seemingly unconnected end results in an unsettling juxtaposition. It’s not a “happy” poem, but it is one that makes you think of both the distance and the connections between us all."

And now, what has today got in store? The prompt: "Have you ever flipped to the index of a book and found it super interesting? ... Today, I challenge you to write your own index poem. You could start with found language from an actual index, or you could invent an index." 

So I'm not within reach of a lot of books, here in our little home away from home, and most of the ones here are novels (think Hillerman; think Lee Child) and don't have indexes. The only one I can find is one we brought down that I've been meaning to take to the bookstore, and I will, after I've perused its index. (I love the title).

Turns out most of the words and phrases in the index are proper names of places or people or whatever, so I've done what poets are always doing, it seems; I've messed with it. I turned some of the words into ordinary nouns. The words I stole from the index are in italics.  

The Exxon Valdez as Touchstone

Abalone shells glitter, litter beaches, 
become bear eyes, cormorant wings,
whales' tails, oolichan ornaments and more,
a marine scene balanced precariously
on the edge of global warming.

We're caught up in phoney fisheries,
federal faux pas, surveyors logging
foxy tides of international longing,
so confused we can't tell 
a spirit bear from a salmon 
unless it has a label on it. 

Tides are out and so's the jury,
hereditary chiefs in this graveyard of the Pacific
try to make sense of the environment
we've managed to turn into a 21st Century zoo,
and the railway, once queen of this land,
once the keystone of us all, 
no longer transports humans, only freight.

Perhaps we need to plan a potlatch,
present our greedy guests with hellebore
to cure the madness born
from throwing dilbit dice
at the the ghost of past travesties.


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