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Showing posts from May, 2020

VIEW WITH CAMEOS

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View with Cameos

Above the calm air—immaculate, actually— a more restless, nervous air accumulates and knocks the highest limbs of the tallest trees startling birds, snarling invisible ropes of sky, I know it by the barely audible swishing sound over the rapids’ racket, which if I had my ears plugged like everyone else I’d miss, too. None of this however touches me, strolling gently the gravel paths down low by the river if by touches I mean on the skin, and if by skin we don’t include the eardrum. Little tympanum, I love what you give me in a typical day, wind I’d otherwise only know by chill or eye, birds deep in cedar. And who alert to the stink of arrival hasn’t heard a shadow? But look— this spring the standing waves— glassy-skinned, vociferous— push higher than ever into the air under the wind, into liqueous wind. The eddies gleam like rubbed shells, each with the shape of another dear friend lost or departed, carved in relief, full of intent and vortical pull, our lives.





from Twenty Views of the…

DODGE AND BURN: ON REVISION

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Eons ago, I took a short course in darkroom photography. Chemical baths, tongs, wires with thick photographic sheets clipped to them; the whook sound of the paper coming out of the tray and hung on the line to dry.

One of the techniques we practiced was dodging and burning: manipulating exposure during the print-making process. With dodging and burning, or tone mapping, the printer can reveal details or create new effects, increasing clarity and depth.

Sometimes I go back to a recent poem I thought was pretty good when I wrote it and see a run of words that strike me as a little muddy: over-familiar, or general, or in some other way not quite as pretty good as I first thought.

Doubt like this often turns out to be a portal into a deepening of the poem. It's not just that the language needs freshening. It's that the language is placeholder for something not yet written, an image or thought or not-quite-graspable shadow.

Not all poems are kin to pure photography. But bringi…