My friend, artist Kevin Grass, does a wonderful thing by showing his work in progress on his artist Facebook page. That's brave and generous of him, as it's sort of like taking your clothes off in your front yard and saying "this is what I start with!" While I promise not to disrobe amongst the Shepherd's Needle and Beach Sunflowers, I will start a poem here and see what happens. I imagine you'll see all the old scars and unsightly bulges as well as muscle and bone in the process. I'm hoping the poem will end up well-clothed and trim before too long.
I was working on an air cleaner for my '66 Ford pickup when these lines came into my head:
It is not because we are afraid of losing
It is because we know how much there is to lose.
Those sound like they may make the last two lines of a poem. Or maybe they're overstated. Or maybe they say rather than show. Or maybe the idea is good, but the lines are not. I know that the "we" I'm referring to is middle-aged men (I'm 51). And I'm thinking about how younger men are comfortable taking chances, how they will look at old guys like me and misunderstand the caution one develops for tenuousness or cowardice. But it's also what makes older guys ready to fight harder for certain things.
Well, that's a lot of ideas and, as Stephane Mallarme said to Edgar Degas, "poems are not made out of ideas, they are made of words." So, rattling around in my head are early thoughts of what words and images might fit the ideas here. But I'm not going to try to purchase them from the Image Store, but just wait and see what comes up. I'm pretty sure there's something concrete and mythic hiding in the shadows that fits this, and when it knows I'm receptive, it will come forward. I hope so, anyway. I'm also thinking a little about the meter in those lines I wrote. I won't trouble it much now, but I have my eye on it.
And what does the air cleaner for the '66 F100 have to do with this? Probably nothing. I like working on my truck, doing carpentry, going for long rides on my bike, fishing, lots of things that are fairly solitary and physical, I guess. Sort of like Wordsworth's going on long walks. Or Clint Eastwood (among many) who says "you get your best ideas in the shower." I've learned to let an idea take hold and then to concentrate on something kinesthetic and non-verbal to let those ideas come together on their own.
More later! I'm looking forward to seeing what happens.