So I must think I'm a pretty decent poet, right? Well, maybe I am; I'm pretty damn prolific, anyway. I'm written approximately 3625 poems as of April 15, 2005, and I've published in more than 100 journals (including most of the really good ones in Canada), though no major American magazine (the New Yorker, Poetry etc) will touch me with a ten-foot pole. Why not? Well, maybe it's because I just suck after all, but maybe, just maybe, it's because I like some rhymes here and there in a poem. Frankly, I just don't know what to say in a poem unless there's a rhyme to lead me from one line to the next. It's just that simple. If I have a sermon to write, or an essay to compose, or an argument to win, I'll write prose. I guess I still think that's what prose is for. Poetry needs some slide in its step, for me. Rhymes just grease the skids that get me to the bottom of the ride. Call me a formalist pig, if you like.
Anyway, the point is not to complain endlessly. The point is to write more and write better, so I'm starting this blog to get comments on poems I'm still working on and fiddling with, and hoping to put in my second book someday. I'm also making this part of my commitment to visiting other poets' blogs and commenting constructively on their work. I value and try to offer criticism that goes beyond a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down, that points to specific lines and phrases as well- or ill-chosen, and suggests alternative strategies or words.
I do want to make this a place where people can post their work and make comments, so please feel free to add a poem or two in the comments section and I'll post it with my own remarks in due course. This blog isn't going to go away; I write almost every day and comment on others' writing for a living, so I have an endless capacity for producing and processing words.
So here's the poem I wrote last night and this morning, with the aid of a dictionary that pointed out the parts of a horse's anatomy.
The Fighting Horses
One, embraced by the other, nips
a throatlatch taut, its stifles flexed
with fetlocks cocked at pointed hips
and straining neck. The movement vexed,
the horses part and prance, rear back
on hock and tendon, spring from croup
to cannon, curvet to outflank
the other barreling beast. Hooves scrape
on shoulders, pummel pasterns stretched
with whinnying, flail to winnow blown manes
bravely, fight free. Forever unhitched,
they canter back blamelessly, limping and game,
to live together beyond human terms,
their bodies gone awkward: hostile yet disarmed.
My concerns are:
a) that it smells of the lamp (i.e. sounds bookish and over-technical)
b) that it is confusing
c) that no one will get the point, because it's a bit obscure (without people on them horses seem awkward, and their violence kind of monstrous, despite all the military-sounding names we've given to the parts of their bodies).
What do you think?