The Making Of the Making Of a Poem about Islands
Regarding the Poem Called, "The Too-Long Grass, the Silverback, the Legendary Pockets of Naked Crusoe" [in issue #47, just released!]
Which Contains the Following Suppositions:
That Crusoe himself is an island. That any animal on an island is an island, and the hair of him is his grasses. That the grasses of an island learn both their greenness and their ripple from the sea; that the grasses also drown and they learned this from the sea. That Friday is an island, with all the minutes of the day licking its square shores. That Friday is an island made of island. That the minds that consider “The Island” are islands.
Exploring the Island of My Obsession with Islands
Why be obsessed with islands? I was born in America as a baby colonialist, made of the land and myself the land, with grasses growing on me, with all the animals of the world roaming me, for I was hospitable to them, with animals parting the grasses of me, with breadfruit whatever breadfruit is growing thick and ripe on me, with ships sailing to me, with ships bound for other places going aground on me, with the water surrounding me, with Wallace Stevens vacationing on me, with Wallace Stevens angry that Hemingway is also here, how can there be enough room for them both, and Hemingway is hunting all the animals, oh no, with a palm rising up in the middle of my mind. How will I escape the island finally, and what larger island will I sail back to. Will I build a raft from the trees of me. Will I have lived on the goats of me all those many years. Will goat mostly make up my body then. Will I lie on my back on the raft that I made, all the goat that makes me up sizzling even in its afterlife on logs.
Is this an addiction? Is an addiction to islands genetic, does it run in the family of man?
Is the background of a poem about islands yet another poem about islands?
And the final question, for one million points:
Still Writing about Islands They Ask?
Not for 431 days, sometimes at night I sweat
isolate sweatdrops and on Wednesdays I go
to a group and hold hands and make jokes
about how no man is, and then make another
joke about how puns are the “lowest form,”
and we all imagine a legless joke first crawling
up on shore, shore, and too late! we all ache
for our islands. I went to an island finally
and I could not tell where it started. I thought
I would feel a click in my feet, or a ribbon
breaking across my chest, I thought the breeze
on the beaches would be doors slamming shut
behind me, I thought as soon as I stepped
on the island a new kind of finch would be born
inside me, a finch that could happen nowhere
else, I thought I’d at last be biodiverse, I thought
the improbable cure would be somewhere
in my treetops, I thought I would feel ships sailing
to me and I thought my largest lived-on landmass
would be named after a woman, but none of that
happened and I was the same. I was so disappointed
I barfed—I thought barfing would feel different
too, like evacuating maybe for a hurricane, but no,
it was just plain barfing, and I collapsed on the yellow
sand and cried and the absence of an island was in
my stomach and “August 1st: Me tummy hurts,”
this must be what plagued Mr. Darwin, I thought,
and the light of knowledge shone so hard that baby
sea turtles crawled toward it, and of course
the gulls swooped down and killed them, and I
felt alone at last and miles from any one or where.
Patricia Lockwood's poems "have gonna appeared" in Gulf Coast, Black Warrior Review, VQR, Rattle, Poetry, American Letters & Commentary, and elsewhere. She blogs [hilariously: Beth's addition] at http://emperoroficecreamcakes.blogspot.com/.