Monday, April 14, 2008


So, guess what? when you write a poem a day, you can't necessarily wait around to be, y'know, inspired. Or even "inspired," like, fake-inspired. You have to manufacture the poems, by whatever means necessary.

So today, I ran across a note in my notebook which contained the word "syzygies." It was from some notes I took at a meeting of the editorial committee of this press that I'm a part of--I saw it in the manuscript of some religious book. I wrote down the word because, seriously, what a weird word, and there had to be some way to do something with it.

So I did what there was to be done, what any poet worth her salt would do: found a definition, looked up the etymology [Origin: 1650–60; <>syzygia <>syzygía union, pair, equiv. to sýzyg(os) yoked together (sy- sy- + zyg-, base of zeugnýnai to yoke1 + -os adj. suffix) + -ia -y3], then went about assembling synonyms, blah blah blah. From this alchemy is supposed to arise a poem.

However: instead of following the thread of union, merging, etc., I somehow got off on a conjunction kick, related, sure, but unenlighteningly so, and by the time I realized I was kind of off on a tangent, all the fun had gone out of the toy squirrel, and I had nothing. Boo. (There may still be a poem in that mess, but not tonight.)

So I did the other thing, which is to find ten words. I picked up a copy of Tainted Blood, which is another version of Silence of the Grave, both extremely morbid titles, come to think of it, one of those Icelandic books I've become so very fond of. I took ten words at sort of random and out of that, made something very like a poem.

It's starting to feel a little grueling, I confess. But I feel determined, why I'm not sure. Grim, teeth gritted, by God I will have my 30 poems.


  1. I love this poem. For myself, I just keep lowering my standards.
    For you, I try not to "hate on you because you're dope." (that's a bit of a paraphrase from Step Up 2: The Streets).
    In any case, I think the point of writing 30 poems in one month (which I'm waaaay behind on, so I don't include myself in this), is that you have to get beyond inspiration (which for me is about one poem a year) and get into the grueling force-yourself (myself) part of it.
    Which, for me, results in at least a few surprising poems. Which is good. And all I can ask for.
    Maybe this summer we'll do the one-week poetry manuscript?
    (that's only 49 poems. Or so!)

  2. I love the idea of the one week poetry manuscript! Yes. We will do it. And a few surprisingly good poems--or poems you can work on later--that's what's good about doing this.

  3. i enjoyed that poem...very random. very enjoyable. you my friend are talented!! by the way, what is that "s" word anyway??

  4. All right, I'm ready for the old, non-poetry HTM posts. Sorry to be a poetry pooper.



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