Purple light backs the drummer, and from his left ear dangles a single feather, swinging wildly with each wallop of the snare. I’m drinking again - it’s fine - and my beer is sour and its name involves a pun. Women of all ages dance around me, and I get lost in their details. Don’t you just love it when women - do anything - the gauzy billows of their shawl sleeves and their smooth waists and rivers of black hair giving in to gray, the perfect way women join hands with each other to exclude intruders, how their eyes closing under A minor slows down time. I light a cigarette and inhaling careens the moment into beautiful focus, into chrysalis; that eternal becoming, the honeyed between. Outside our swaying patio, the world loses sense. The jokes are dwindling, the parties canceling, events delayed until summer. We slowly realize we may be in the midst of something which affects us all. The band closes with Dead Flowers, which everybody knows, and so, become collectively drunker. The stars stow away the sharpness of our edges, bodies soften. A young woman in a white crop top stomps her feet and sways, loses focus, flutters into a lap, a down feather fallen from a nest. Soon she is pulled to standing again by a rosary of light which flows between her cupid’s bow and each depleting chord, streaks of purple swim nomadic, up and down my retinas, cobweb behind my eyes, the drummer asks me what do you do?? his pupils two black swirling moons. I steal his cowboy hat and look down my nose, don’t ask people that, I say, and we decide to ask what do you make? from now on. people are leaving and the night now fits in the palm of my hand. Everything is chaos, but when I set aside my guilt, I can admit that the world’s end lacks the kind of grit I expected it to have. I turn down a ride to walk home alone, south on 4th, taking the hairpin path to avoid the neon. Everyone has been using the word surreal so much, it echoes, ohs, ohs. Morning sparrows sing in the darkness. I pause for a while to watch the train glide parallel past Toole; carrying who knows what, going who knows where.
3 Questions for Avery
What was your process for creating this work?
All three of these particular poems were written for assignments given in a Tucson Writer's Studio workshop, in which we were to emulate a specific craft technique. Fortunately, that allowed me to get some good critical feedback during the editing process. Other than adhering to the constraints of the assignments, my writing process typically looks something like: 1) choose an idea, or seed of an idea based on things I've been thinking about lately; 2) free write prose to generate the raw material of the poem (what I like to call "poetry kindling"); 3) organize the prose mess into a form that makes sense given the content and mood of the poem; 4) share and edit!
What is the significance of the form/genre(s) you chose for this work?
The form/genre chosen for these pieces attempts to match or balance the content and mood of the poem. For example, "Dear you, in March" was based on a journal entry I had written the previous year, which had taken on a new significance given the global events that followed; given the themes of disorientation and nostalgia present in the poem, I felt that a sort of rambling prose was most appropriate. The other two poems involve rather heavy material, which seemed to demand a more restrained form to balance the melancholy and lyricism.
What is the significance of this work to you?
The significance of these pieces for me is simply the gratitude I feel that we have the ability to draw from both individual experience and imagination to create little worlds of our own (poems!), and explore areas such as mental health, loneliness, nostalgia, and life's absurdity in a way that, hopefully, resonates with others. Whether this is done through writing or art or music, I think it is a pretty cool thing about being human.
Avery Lane is a poet from Tucson, AZ. She has an MA in Anthropology from Washington State University. She is currently editing a collection of poems written while thru-hiking the Arizona Trail.