Saturday, June 12, 2010

4: Jacob McArthur Mooney

I Have Many Banjos
(after Gary Barwin and Heinrich Heine)

I have many banjos.
I play the banjos when I’m lazy,
or the moon is full.
I let my brain’s proud smoulder
pull tendrils of thought.

I let my brain drive my shoulder through the banjos.

I let my shoulder smoulder out my proud thoughts.


I have many banjos.

I’m wretched and lying
like an old poem.

There are doors where my ears
and mouth should be.

But I never regret a full moon on my bed.
A banjo. Some memories, for songs about regret.
Or a poem in my head if I’ve no memories.

I have a foolish heart. But what does that mean?
That I have many banjos.

And I play them when I’m lazy
or the moon is full.

Notes: Something about Gary’s version of the poem reminded me of David McFadden, so his was the voice in my head here. Not sure where that title phrase came from, exactly, but I ran with it. I probably reshaped the ideas of the poem quite a bit on my second draft, but that’s likely something this exercise encourages. And the central “aboutness” of poems tends to be much more malleable than people think, in my experience. I’ve always kind of made the point of the piece up as I went along. Another observation: my draft stretches out a bit more than Gary’s. I’ve definitely added some more white space to go with my English title and the circling-back to the first lines with those final two couplets. There's a casualness to the first draft that I wanted to foster with a lot of empty lines, like the words in the poem just come to the speaker as s/he speaks them.

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