Epic Adaptations of Evolution

The Drive
by David Bankson
 
Not poetry but query.
More conjecture than linguistic beauty.
Riding in a sedan, smartphone in hand,
I wonder over the nature of invention and innovation.
Skinny pines spin past the window.
Their needle evolution was as thoughtless as their location.
Most things could claim the same,
but humans are the species of anomalies,
fighting for control of destiny.
 
At a fast food drive-thru window now,
attacked by the visceral scent of cooked “meat” by-product.
Did meat evolve to be delicious,
or did we evolve to enjoy it?
Surely the latter, for being consumed has advantage
only to the seeds of flora.
What of pink slime, formica, waxy paper cups?
Did it evolve from our hands,
hands created through natural means,
or is invention exclusive of evolution? Does it matter?
My cup, it so happens,
has become empty as a banker’s soul.
 
I’m crossing the state line,
into not a different land but a different paradigm.
We think organically, rationally; they’re the same.
What then of the artist’s role?
Solution creation, or a baring of the proletarian soul?
Again the same,
for both sprout from illogical connections.
The artist stands in the middle of the public freeway,
daring anyone to trample their pedestrian ideal.
And the vehicles of dissent will come,
testing their mettle and hers.
 
What problems does this enduring artist solve?
The problem of showing the unshown,
explaining the inexplicable,
relating feelings unrelatable.
An epic adaptation of the human condition,
hinging on new patterns and connections.
 
Refilling the fuel tank before the journey’s end.
Even the artist must run dry of his fuel eventually.
How many millions of years do we require
before inspiration is replenished with such ease?
Insert pump,
lift handle (perhaps),
and inspiration is impregnated to the brain-tank.
Then again, ideas are cheap as convenience store booze,
found even in every podunk American town in spades.
I don’t have the answers;
indeed, this is not poetry but query.
 
—————-
David Bankson was raised in the piney forests of Texas and Louisiana, where he has studied and written poetry for 20 years. During years of moving and dealing with several divorces beneath his parents, poetry offered a much-needed outlet. He now resides in Texas with my lovely wife, son, and Siberian Husky.

Poet Interview #25 – David Bankson

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?

Prose and poetry were both automatic hobbies for me by age 13. I’ve always spent a great deal of my time reading, writing, or hanging out in the woods. Much of my early writing was influenced by fantasy novels and nature. My first two poems were actually about dragons! As I got more serious about writing and read jaw-dropping poetry from the last 200 years, my poetry gravitated toward modernism. I get much of my influence from William Carlos Williams, John Ashbery, and Kenneth Goldsmith. Emily Dickinson is a profound inspiration.

How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come? Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?

The majority of my poetry is written on my smart phone. I note down phrases and juxtapositions I notice throughout the day, and I mix them up when I have free time to see if anything sparks. I’m always in “On” mode for writing, that way it feels less like work, more like play. Anything you see or sense can be your “muse”…I once wrote a poem about my laundry basket.

Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?

Absolutely. As a teenager, I thought of poetry as a medium for excessive sentimentality. Now I see the truth: poetry is a way to make meaning through form, despite the subject matter. I learned from Ezra Pound that what you write in poetry must be possible only through poetry. If my poetry could have been presented as prose then I know I haven’t been creative, at least not as a poet.

Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?

Facebook has been a great boon to my writing quality. I am in a few critique groups there that have helped transform much of my work, including the groups “Wordsmiths With Lizard Skin” and “Rattle’s Workshop.” Having a community of fellow writers to interact with daily is a motivating and uplifting force for me. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.

I am almost finished with “She Sees Metaphors” by Bryce David Salazar. It’s one of those books that makes a writer say, “I wish I had thought to write that!” The main character is forced to see everyone (but herself) as a literal metaphor, but nobody knows she has this “curse.” It’s a fascinating story that I recommend everyone read.

What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?

Read more poetry than you write. And don’t be afraid of honest opinions on your work; remember, it’s a critique of the poem, not of you as a person. Above all else, remember to have fun! Without that, creativity doesn’t happen.

Coughing up Sparks

Three poems
by Anna Girgenti
 
 
Life is Like a Jar of Olives
 
Standing in the kitchen
at 2:38 a.m.
I open the olive jar,
scoop out the best-looking one and
bite
down.
My jaw cracks on
sharp surprise—
pit.
Now I am older and I choose
the olives
carefully
feel them in my hand,
hollow or whole
sink my teeth in
with slow
caution.
 
 
The Wold and I
 
The wolf meets me every Sunday
under a lamp post,
midnight
we take off our shoes and
run across this
abandoned city.
He undresses me,
“animals don’t wear clothes.”
I wrap myself around his
wasteland soul.
 
The wolf holds a knife to my throat.
I shave his fur to kiss his scars.
Monday morning I wake
to find these
bruises spilled on my milk white skin
these bruises
swirl under a thin ice
hidden galaxy—
windows to the universe inside of me.
“Maybe,”
but no,
dreams don’t leave
marks like
these.
Last night,
the wolf picked me up in his mouth
and carried me to the highest rooftop.
I am foaming at all openings, I swear
I am
awake now.
When you love a dirty thing
he eats you from the inside out, Child
he will show you
what you taste like.
 
 
Burnt Out
 
There’s a light switch in my mouth
that you can flip with your tongue
You used to
do that
all the time
 
to make my body glow
fluorescent
against the heavens,
but
since you left
the switch is broken
in the night I
run my tongue over
the inside of my cheek
and blow a fuse
somewhere within my transparent
lungs
I cough up sparks on my pillow,
gasping at the
shards of a light bulb
caught in my
throat.
 
—————–
Anna Girgenti is a 19-year-old sophomore at Saint Louis University in Missouri.

Dreaming into the Distance

Two poems
by John Grey
 
THE OWL
 
Eva, when the owl hoots
from your bedroom sill,
oblivion follows.
 
Sleep deep into the truth
of ancient legends,
dark hoots of raptors.
 
Pass softly into forests of the night
where boughs of trees
sprout many owls like fruit.
 
Their chorus fills with moonlight.
They bear you up with
round black eyes.
 
Your body is a rotted trunk
into which the earth rips
with wet, metallic fingers.
 
But for years yet, a faraway bird
lifts its eyelids, opens its beak,
whoops the distance you’ve become.
 
THURSDAY
 
I’ve acquired the night, its wretched star-dust,
far off and burning brittle and gaudy.
 
The Greek invented love. It’s been taken
to extremes but the heart didn’t hold.
 
What was fusion is now fission.
And curious marks in the wallpaper.
 
I lie here, weary in my death,
tired of waiting to meet the dawn.
 
Like the coffee I sip, I am nothing more
than where I am, bitter and alone.
 
Drunk on solitude, and those firework ashes
in the sky, this is the golden age of bronze.
 
To others now, your hands are offered, pointed,
to where your children and their future have a place.
 
—————–
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Big Muddy and Sanskrit with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Owen Wister Review and Louisiana Literature.

Poet Interview #24 – John Grey

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?
 
I started writing as soon as I learned to read, typically in all the blank border spaces of the book. So that was somewhere around the 5 or 6 mark. It wasn’t until my teenage years however that I produced anything both legible and not too embarrassing. Certainly reading and solitude were my first inspirations. And I always did have a busy imagination.
 
Most of my early writing was poetry and also songs (pre owning a musical instrument) with the melodies carried around in my head.
 
As for personal favorites, just like most of us always return to the songs of our youth, I’m that way with poets. So it’s the dead white male brigade from my school days such as Coleridge, Poe and Blake that are my cornerstones.
 
How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come? Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?
 
Now that I’m in a position where I can be a fulltime writer, I write and perform all the other tasks associated typically between seven in the morning to seven at night weekdays with the usual coffee breaks in between. Not just poetry but also short stories and I’ve even been working on a novel. I write pretty much exclusively in my study where I am surrounded by a fascinating array of books, magazines, music, etc. I am at the point now when just about any line I read or picture I look at can trigger a poem even if the end product has nothing to do with its initial inspiration. And, thankfully, with a little prodding here and there, the words do just come.
 
Regarding the last question, I try to stay away from definitions of poetry. I’ve read too many magazine and poetry site manifestos and guidelines that attempt to define poetry and, in doing so, eliminate about 95% of the stuff that’s been written and continues to be written.
 
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
 
Social media and I are not a good fit. I do have a Facebook account but I don’t really have time or inclination to post on it. I appreciate that it is a good way to keep up with what friends and family are doing. And I do do that at least.
 
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?
 
I have belonged to writing groups in the past but, these days, I prefer to fly solo.
 
Much of what used to be reading time is now writing time but I do continue to have at least one work of fiction and non-fiction going at the same time. Right now, I’m reading Washington Irving’s Sketchbook and a reprint of Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon comic strip from the 1940’s.
 
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
 
Believe in what you’re doing and develop a thick skin.