Another day, another draft!

This challenge has not gotten easier yet. Sometimes, disciplined practice leads to a certain ease or confidence–that’s always the hope, anyway, that I might find amid the drafts something wonderful. My model here would be someone like William Stafford, who sat down every morning to draft at least one poem (and sometimes they were wonderful). The Poetry Foundation’s site says:

Stafford reports that he sits alone in the early morning and writes down whatever occurs to him, following his impulses. “It is like fishing,” he says, and he must be receptive and “willing to fail. If I am to keep writing, I cannot bother to insist on high standards…. I am following a process that leads so wildly and originally into new territory that no judgment can at the moment be made about values, significance, and so on…. I am headlong to discover.”

At the end of this National Poetry Month, I will give myself a reckoning as to whether the NaPoWriMo process has been at all helpful to me as a poet. It may be it proves beneficial in some other way…



Her friends died young when she herself
was young and unbaptized in the realm of dying

Yet you would think her better prepared–for there were
car crashes, suicides, fires, the blood plague taking
its long and steady toll

There were the risk-takers certain of their immortality
who drowned or fell from cliffs or grace
through the needle or the drug or drink and those
whose hearts took upon themselves
a need to hurry beyond the body’s balance and
whose breastbones could not contain them

You would think her ready for the news that someone
loved or once loved or otherwise connected
(Milgram’s six degrees of separation theory)
had died however people do when they are young–
embolism, cancer, accident, murder

Slow or sudden–it’s not as if the difference
though there is one, matters
because you’d think, by now, when she is no longer young
the facts of gone and after and remembering
the evidence of dying and grief’s enormous cosmos
would have carved for her a familiar space

A kind of purifying trauma–as if the bulla and procession
could protect her or her community from harm
when harm is what the world offers now and then
and we must bid it enter even if we are young

Even when it is unwelcome.



* Lustratio was an ancient Greek purification and protection ritual for children or for cities, farms, and other precious items; in the case of a male child, sometimes it was a naming ceremony at which the baby would receive a small, gold bulla (charm in the shape of a bull’s head) as a blessing or for protection. Ancient historians describe it in several ways, but most frequently mention a procession and animal sacrifice.