“Words are the voice of the heart.”
~ Confucius, Chinese scholar and philosopher
As anticipated, today was pretty much a hell on Earth kind of scenario at work, but we all survived by the skin of our teeth. (Which is not a skin by which I am fond of surviving by, but it beats not surviving at all, I suppose.) I apologize once more for the delay in getting this prompt up, but at least it’s the last one, so I don’t have to freak out over doing them early in the day for a while. I hope that the exercise has been helpful to you overall; I probably should have followed them along during the month, but it was enough of a time challenge to write anything, let alone write to the madcap mayhems that were these Recursion things. If I do this again next year, I’ll probably take a page from some wiser person’s book and auto-post, so I can breathe a bit easier.
But I do think that, even if you haven’t been reading along this whole time, you can always go back and do them at your own pace. The key thing about these prompts were that they were meant to flow into one another, each one borrowing from what came before. I wish I could say it was some kind of character-building exercise for me to come up with them and post them, but I think I’ll have to look long and hard and find time to think about the process before I make that kind of assessment. The river metaphor didn’t carry quite as well the whole time as it hoped, but it was nice to have some kind of driving theme for the series. And all rivers must, eventually, reach the sea. (Or a salt lake in an endorheic basin, I guess, but who’s counting?) So I wanted to meditate for a bit on releasing some work into the wide, wild world.
Although the current of river water carries far into any final body, and scientists can track the currents long past their terminus, we’re going to treat it the way we would looking from overhead: the water is blissfully lost into that bay/gulf/ocean. Like yesterday, I’d like to recommend looking back at everything that’s floated downstream from the very start of the month until now. Try to separate out all that stuff that was caught around the reefs and shores of yesterday’s prompt: since I had suggested single words/phrases that centered on images and the like, I imagine what you’ll have left are underlying feelings and vague notions, diluted into the chaotic whole. Make a list of them and see what stands out the most to you. What bit of poetic flotsam rises to the very top of the list, and how do the other elements support it, buoy it up? If you find yourself focused on ghosts, and you have fruits of the forest, grandmothers, a focus on scent running through a lot of your work, maybe there’s something about a dead grandmother’s blackberry tarts that you want to write about. The final statement of April doesn’t have to be significant, or universal, or, my pet peeve, about endings. Every ending is a beginning when you look the other way.
Allow the poem to be shapeless and free (verse), dissolving into some larger poemscape; try to keep its edges undefined. But still allow it to be powerful enough to have a bit of that feeling come through that you’ve worked all month cultivating, even if you weren’t aware of it. You can let theme fall away; now, hold on to nothing but tone as your life preserver. I won’t make a very strict requirement for the shape and structure of the poem, I only ask that you be honest, but I will add another process requirement. Release your poem into the wild, be it on a postcard tacked to the corkboard of your local coffeeshop, graven into the sand before the tide washes it away, or spray painted on somebody’s windows. Share with a friend, lover, enemy. Try singing it at an open mic, or (gadzooks!) posting it on the comments section here to share with us. The last lesson I want to thread its way out to the great oceanic gyre is that you have a voice, and you must be true to it. For poetry, more than perhaps anything else, that might be the most important unspoken lesson of all.