Friday, September 18, 2009

Life Is Wearing Me Down

Prompt given in-person by Hilde Holmes on Tuesday, September 15th at lunch:
“Life is wearing me down.”

Voyage by Keith Badowski

Cordage frayed in my weathered rigging,
the roll about my hull sunk with the anchor,

my poopdeck rotted from the rub of swabs and
my cabin flooded from the splash of waves.

No port to embrace this buffeted boat,
no more to plunge with salmon

amid the perilous seas.
A life surrendered to chaffing and pounding,

waterlogged wet and glare glazed sight,
enfolded in tides, tugged by currents.

The barnacles of memories fastened
although I swam swifter than any whale.

Note: The conceit of a rundown ship came from the word “cordage.” This was the word I blindly pointed to while randomly flipping pages in The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara edited by Donald Allen. Other words from O’Hara include “salmon” and “enfolded,” as well as a few others. Throughout writing the poem I sought the guidance of randomly selected words, but in many instances could do nothing with the word my finger landed on. Still having O’Hara’s words nearby gave me the confidence that I could find another word to keep going, especially once I settled on the language of ships and the sea. Words like “poopdeck,” “swab,” and “barnacles” came naturally to mind. Oh, and for the record, my own busy life that wears me down didn't allow me to work on Hilde's prompt until today.

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