Monday, November 9, 2009

Contemporary Lit. Imitation Assignment

Consider Mary Oliver's poem When Death Comes and her Wild Geese poem. (Both good examples of her work.) Then look at Matthew Dickman's poem:
When grief comes to you as a purple gorilla
you must count yourself lucky.
You must offer her what’s left
of your dinner, the book you were trying to finish
you must put aside,
and make her a place to sit at the foot of your bed,
her eyes moving from the clock
to the television and back again.
I am not afraid. She has been here before
and now I can recognize her gait
as she approaches the house.
Some nights, when I know she’s coming,
I unlock the door, lie down on my back,
and count her steps
from the street to the porch.
Tonight she brings a pencil and a ream of paper,
tells me to write down
everyone I have ever known,
and we separate them between the living and the dead
so she can pick each name at random.
I play her favorite Willie Nelson album
because she misses Texas
but I don’t ask why.
She hums a little,
the way my brother does when he gardens.
We sit for an hour
while she tells me how unreasonable I’ve been,
crying in the checkout line,
refusing to eat, refusing to shower,
all the smoking and all the drinking.
Eventually she puts one of her heavy
purple arms around me, leans
her head against mine,
and all of a sudden things are feeling romantic.
So I tell her,
things are feeling romantic.
She pulls another name, this time
from the dead,
and turns to me in that way that parents do
so you feel embarrassed or ashamed of something.
Romantic? she says,
reading the name out loud, slowly,
so I am aware of each syllable, each vowel
wrapping around the bones like new muscle,
the sound of that person’s body
and how reckless it is,
how careless that his name is in one pile and not the other.

and this poem from Eliot Wilson's book This Island of Dogs.

Swans: Against Mary Oliver
Did you, too, see it, falling through moon-hung mists to the black mirror lake?
Did you see it in the silver morning, drifting down, swinging into the wind,
a bough of magnolias, a bustle of satin white spun from the moon,
a votive whiteness, testing the air, trumpeting the dawn with its ebony beak?
Did you hear it, clarion clear, its feet and wings
making a cross of cascade as it lands
by your pallid decoys
as you slide back the pit cover?
And did you hear the guns of your buddies pounding
around you as you pull up on the closest swan, a young gander, and fire?
And did you see it crumple like a blasted pillow?
And did you see it, wounded, weakly try to escape
the dogs? And have you reloaded?

1 comment:

  1. These should give you a sense of how you might work the ideas of parody or satire into your imitation, if you are so-inclined.