Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm finally free from my self assigned Kentucky poetry

I finished, today, a 7 day series of poems based on Kentucky. It became progressively more difficult to think of a new way to approach the subject, but I think a few of them turned out pretty well. I started the series because I find myself, fairly often, in places wanting to rep my state, and while I have some Kentucky poems, they never feel ‘right.’

In other news, I am still unemployed (8 months now. My debt is ridiculous, and my savings destroyed). This is essentially, of course, my own stupid fault, but a part of me revels in the freedom it grants me to write, every single day.

And I have; every day since April I've written at least one poem. Also on my schedule:

  • Reading a certain number of blogs.
  • Reading a certain amount of poems from a list of online publications, to get a sense of the market.
  • Learning a certain number of new words (hey, that GRE is coming up).
  • Writing, about every other day, an article for Examiner or a blog entry.
  • Doing all the house work for Regan that I can.

But this very involved schedule drains me quite a bit each day, and it doesn't help any that my spirits are in a constant state of depression from being unemployed. I need a job, any job, and soon, or barring that, to remove some of the things from my heavy schedule.

I will admit I am not the most focused person in the best of times, but I haven't really been able to read regular (see: print) books, or write short stories.

Here's the last poem in my series, inspired by Third Street Stuff, an Affrilachian hangout in Lexington, KY:

An Escape to Third Street Stuff

The walls are brushed in ocean-water pigments
and copper-red paint, dried grape sheen
and sunflower-liquor rouge. And there, set
in the creases, are seashells removed from some
far away sea, each of them deliberately laid.

We walk through the doors, past
the benches, and notice how they bow
a bit for the weight of artists. They
express interest in the newest display:
framed photographs of dangerously
attractive men; a drag show in wide-
shouldered glory, set unabashedly to film.

We are met with apothecary bottles of loose
leaf teas at the counter, order coffee and
bottled drinks. Then we walk—holding our
hot and cold stories—past the makeshift
poems on the wall, to a set of seats resting
on the black checkered tile. We silently watch
a wavering white ghost escape from its bleak
espresso, and hold softly these tables,

or absently grip a gently kissed bottle
of Ale-8, which is sweating sweetly in the air.
Ensnared by the atmosphere, we've forgotten
about the traps that hold to us outside, those
obese clouds rolling this earth, the world
that awaits darkly at the end of our rides,
back at whatever we choose to call regular.

Isn't this some slice of Kentucky?


  1. An excellent poem. We do fetishize coffee and coffee shops, it is so true!

    I have been writing a daily poem (weekdaily, at least) for over a year now, and I do not exaggerate when I say it has completely changed my views of myself as a writer. Now I wake up itching to write something--I'm so much more disciplined than I was a few years ago, when I was in grad school.

    Good luck with your search for work--just be persistent, especially in following up, and something will open for you.

  2. Thanks!

    I have noticed, in the months that I have been doing a poem a day, that even if I can't tangibly gauge my progress, that I FEEL as if I am miles ahead of where I was. I think it's know that whether or not you have written a poem that is better than the ones you wrote before, that you understand the process in some new or different way.

  3. Hi, Keith. I read your poem last week and wanted to come back to read it again. It is beautiful, and I love the music. I especially admire the form. The third stanza is my favorite, though it's stupid of me to pick a favorite. I love the pacing in that. Of course, I like what it says to me, too. The ending is powerful. That last line hits me with a thump.

    I get where you're coming from with the unemployment. Seven months for me. I'm even getting turned down by fast food joints. Ugh. It's humiliating. People with jobs keep giving me useless advice...ha! They have good hearts. But they don't have a clue what it's like.

    The good side is also the same as yours. I'm freelancing a bit and doing day jobs when I can find them. I unloaded an 18-wheeler truck full of boxes yesterday. The guys on the truck got a kick out of a "gal" hefting boxes (gal being their word). The lines to that poem were forming in my mind as I worked. A new poem comes every day. There's something about sweating that really makes my creative juices flow.

    Thanks for sharing your work. I look forward to reading more.

  4. Julie, thanks so much for the feedback, and I'm not just saying that because it was positive. :P

    I 100 percent believe that 'getting hired' is it's own skill. I, like you, have gotten turned down from jobs I just shouldn't have been turned down for, and I know others who seem to have new jobs every couple of years. Good ones.

    It's something like those friends of mine who I know are so smart, but who fail so many standardized tests.

  5. It was the alliteration of "sweating sweetly" that made me want to read the poem again. I had a cafe haunt back in my college years. This poem reminding me of how dear to me all the colors of the wall, the furniture, the drinks and company. Thank you for reminding me of that memory. That's why I posted it on my blog.

    It's not the daily writing where I stall. It's the sending out, the submitting of poems where I rest.

    Perhaps the Examiner articles will lead you to a writing job.