Here’s how “The Poem I have Yet to Write” came to be . . .

Here’s how “The Poem I have Yet to Write” – one of the poems included in my new book, THE LAST JAZZ FAN AND OTHER POEMS – came to be. People seem to be reading it many different ways, but – for me – it began as a tongue-in-cheek response to a comment by the late, great Philip Levine, who said:

“One of the aspects of my own poetry I like best is the presence of people who don’t seem to make it into other people’s poems. Much of our recent poetry seems totally without people. Except for the speaker, no one is there. There’s a lot of snow, a moose walks across the field, the trees darken, the sun begins to set, and a window opens. Maybe from a great distance you can see an old woman in a dark shawl carrying an unrecognizable bundle into the gathering gloom. That’s one familiar poem. In others you get people you’d sooner not meet. They live in the suburbs of a large city, have two children, own a Volvo station wagon; they love their psychiatrists but are having an affair with someone else. Their greatest terror is that they’ll become like their parents and maybe do something dreadful, like furnish the house in knotty pine. You read twenty of those poems and you’re yearning for snow fields and moose tracks.”

So, here’s what I wrote:

The poem I have yet to write

will arrive
fully formed
except for one small
truth tucked into
the smoky recesses
of the unexpected
caesura that waits for you
somewhere beyond
the deep green pond
that cools
the second stanza
and gives up
rippling reflections of
an image we encountered
in the first in which
a solitary figure
can be seen casting
cerulean sensibilities
across a meadow
where wildflowers
and metaphors bloom
like approximations
of redemption or like
tiny epiphanies
bursting into flame
among the spindle trees.



Copyright 2018 Kenneth Salzmann


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