Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Years

Dawn Potter

            Dreamy as Tarzan, the years murmur
their old tune as we stride away from them

into our spotlit lives. Like fathers, they armor
themselves against loss, hawking phlegm

into coffee cans, scratching their scaly pates,
though a Nehi odor lingers in their cough,

faint as sour cream. Behind their rusty agate
stare slides a slow-rolling map of sloughed-

off days along the river. Scabby grapevines
grip the porch rails, courting light. A peahen

chitters in the weeds, and on the clothesline
the half-yellowed shirts of sweating men

sag like idle hands. The years hum our quavered names.
We clench our fists: panicked, ruthless, dumb, ashamed.

[from Same Old Story (CavanKerry Press, 2014)]


Baron Wormser tells me that he is planning to use "The Years" as a prompt poem in a workshop, and I keep wondering exactly what his writing prompt will be. I know he'd tell me if I asked, but for the moment I'm enjoying the curious sensation of pretending that I'm an outside observer of my own poem. What would you take as a writing prompt from this sonnet? I am having trouble thinking of anything at all . . . mostly because all I can focus on is what prompted me to write it in the first place: reading Woolf's The Years, reading Ford's The Sportswriter, copying out all of Shakespeare's sonnets, remembering my great uncles sitting in the grass on a Pennsylvania hill in the twilight, meditatively spitting chaw juice into old dog-food cans. . . .


Carlene said...

I can think of two ways I might approach the "prompt" for this poem (although that feels kind of weird!):
One way would be to really focus on textures in a static scene
Another would be a bit more whimsical, wondering what the tune is for a similar scene in your own mind

Either way, this is a poem I really want to use for dictation in class, too...it is so rich!

Maureen said...

I read it as a wonderful comment on refusing to accept getting old.

David said...

"...it is so rich"--I agree completely, Carlene: "hawking phlegm//into coffee cans"; "a slow-rolling map of sloughed-//
off days along the river"; and that wonderful closing: "panicked, ruthless, dumb, ashamed." Beautifully done, Dawn. (Although sorry, no guesses/suggestions about a prompt. Probably rich pickings in there, though.)

Ruth said...

Maureen, I agree, I read it that way too. Interesting to read it with the line breaks and then without them when you click on Click on Original Post!!! Now I am wondering how that changes every so many poems. Oh dear, I should probably take a nap now.

Anonymous said...

I have a suggested writing prompt. I don't know if it makes any sense to anyone else, but I've begun!!!

Ruth said...

will that would be me!!! oops

Ruth said...

Well......what can I say........