Jeff proposed today that blogging poets post their favorite of their own poems, and posted his own excellent Raku to kick the idea off. I took a quick look across my own published works* and was immediately reminded of a poem from BJ Ward's Gravedigger's Birthday, "The Poems I Regret in My First Book", which begins:
Irretractable, obnoxious children
having tantrums on the dog-eared tabletops
of these pages, screaming out
in an otherwise classy joint.
Turns out that of the couple dozen poems of mine that have appeared in journals, I'm happy with about half. I wonder if that ratio holds true for others.
Anyway, it seems like a good idea to think about our own work from time to time and remind ourselves what we like about it, and why we think we're any good at this scribbling business. I picked this poem for this exercise because it still, 15 years after I wrote it, surprises me - first that I conceived it, and second that I can hear in it a little of what I eventually matured (I think) into some of the elements of my voice.
(this poem first appeared in Grasslands Review**)
I dream of Lincoln lately
limping from his ancient attic
hand on whitewood handrail
softly moaning of peace.
Curtain clouds conceal
both the man and any reason
for his choice of me to see -
I'm no Illinois schoolboy.
Tonight, asleep, I'll call
upon the wispy words of Adams
whose honor lay in anger,
whose wars I understand.
* so limited in this exercise because I still think blogging = publishing.
** but is updated in form here slightly, because I just can't stomach initial caps in my own work anymore.