First of all, my sincere thanks to Vince Gotera, who featured this blog and my poem from yesterday on his wonderful poetry blog, The Man with the Blue Guitar. His write-up of my efforts here is the funniest thing I’ve read all month. I’m tremendously grateful to Vince for his generous feature.
For today’s poem, I followed a complicated prompt. My workshop group, a lively cadre of Bellingham poets calling ourselves On Assignment, tasked ourselves to write a poem incorporating the following words or concepts: maps / getting lost, stochastic, lightning, and diacritical marks. Crazy, right? Here’s what I came up with:
THINKING OF LENICE
You taught parachuting
and rode a seal-bay racehorse named Éclat
across Cascade passes.
You said you loved the sky,
its ecstasies where it met the earth.
You said one time, Éclat’s steel shoe
scraped a rock and sparked a fire.
You stomped it out but Éclat took flight.
You both knew ways back to Mazama
and met there by nightfall.
Later that summer your skydiving partner
mispacked his chute and jumped off the map.
Éclat sliced a tendon on a downed electric fence.
You moved to Las Vegas,
took up day-trading with a man
you suspected had murdered his wife.
You called me once, told me you’d got rich,
laughed that this kind of success
was stochastic as lightning.
Years later, I still glimpse Éclat from the freeway
grazing with the other retirees
in the tree farm on the floodplain of the Snohomish.
And I picture you pacing somewhere
in a darkened apartment in an opulent city
glancing out the windows
to check on the clouds, tightening
the screws on all the switchplates
and waiting for something dangerous,
something dazzling, to strike.