Thursday, August 11, 2016

Percolating Poetry--QM

'Chaos Theory' '04 by Queena Yoder
I'm writing a poem, wrestling with the thing, begging it to ripen into something grand.

I want to pour my poem into people's cups like rich coffee, dark and bitter, a kind of legal drug that will keep them up all night. I want to give them the gift of Poincaré's coffee, drunk before the magical night about which he said "ideas rose in crowds; I felt them collide until pairs interlocked, so to speak, making a stable combination." With that shot of caffeine he saw order condense out of chaos (page 192) and--if only I could pull the words together--I think that's the kind of poem I'm writing.

Right now I fear the order will never come, that my poem will betray me, and that polite readers will surreptitiously toss even more than the dregs into the bushes. Or worse, I'm afraid that I won't be willing to pour out the rawness and ache I've brewed.

I need to finish this poem.


(In lieu of my own unfinished poem, here is a gem I found on page 196 of the book cited above.)

The Writer

In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back, 
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten.  I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.
From New and Collected Poems, published by Harcourt Brace, 1988. Copyright © 1969 by Richard Wilbur. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Briggs, John, and F. David Peat. Turbulent Mirror: An Illustrated Guide to Chaos Theory and the Science of Wholeness. Harper & Row, 1971.

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