I finished a poem last week, it was seven pages long. I’d typed it in one long paragraph from notes and lines of possible poetry in a notebook and my Morning Pages over the previous week when I was on my way to and then in San Diego
with my wife Susan, visiting her parents.
I’d typed the long paragraph late in the afternoon, a clear cold day with an east wind howling outside our Portland windows, and before going up the basement stairs to handle dinner I’d begun my process of hitting the “Enter” key on the keyboard to create a new line — the next line — when it felt poetically proper to do so. I got maybe a quarter of the way through my lengthy mess. During and after dinner my wife Susan and I watched four episodes of NYPD Blue Season 11, though I nodded out here and there during the last 42 minutes. So when Susan was heading up to bed (and one of my most favorite things is to get into bed while she’s still awake and look at her in the dark and giggle) I truly meant it when I said I was too tired to do anymore work on the poem and was simply going to turn off the computer.
I came back up the basement stairs out of a trance 45 minutes later, then cut up and ate my mandatory (reflux) before bed every evening apple while watching “All the President’s Men” on HBO — it feeling kind of relevant these days — and so I found myself quietly slipping into bed in the dark beside my now long-dreaming wife at 11:19. One opportunity missed — and I don’t take that lightly — and another seized — ditto.
The poem is “San Diego Say So” and the plan is for all seven pages of it to appear within the next volume of poetry I publish sometime in early 2018 (on the cheerful assumption we’re all still here).
For show and tell purposes — and maybe serving as a teaser — within a short section of the poem, this became this:
“We’ll pass the San Diego airport which I like, the one runway, the in-bound planes approach in wide arc out over the County, in fact fly just over the in-laws home, descend in a straight line 13 miles they pass so low, eventually, over India Street (in Little Italy) San Diegans can look into oblong plane windows at the wide-eyed expressions of young boys and their parents reaching for smart phones. I’m not a native here, but I’ve been on the street and seen those faces. And, in the air, been seen as one.”
Became This —
We’ll pass the San Diego airport
Which I like,
The one runway.
The inbound planes approach in wide arc
Out over the County, in fact
Fly just over the in-laws home,
Descend in a straight line
They pass so low, eventually, over India Street
(In Little Italy)
San Diegans can look into oblong
At the wide-eyed expressions of young boys
And their parents reaching for smart phones.
I’m not a native here, but
I’ve been on the street
and seen those faces.
In the air,
Been seen as one.