For the #Trust30 writing challenge, I have decided to use the “prompts” as opportunities to develop my poetry chops. In a more honest sense, they represent for me duels with the Resistance. I have some work to do on this front, so I’m drawing my sword in a topically guided battle against all the forces that prevent me from shipping my poetic work.
I can’t say I will follow the direction of the prompts in a strict sense, but I will at least begin with them and see where it leads. For this my first #Trust30 poem, for instance, I worked off of an idea derived from the post instead of following it literally. Gwen Bell wrote:
You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.
1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.
While this is a fabulous exercise I will certainly try sometime, I took another road. Imagining the experience of “fifteen minutes to live” got me thinking about the idea or possibility of a pure end: something after which there is absolutely nothing. I typically don’t have much time for speculative philosophy–in technical jargon this would be an issue of teleology–but it was only 15 minutes. And besides, this was an exercise in writing, not philosophy.
Here’s where I went with it:
There is no that here,
This closing scene with
no credits, not even a
fade to black,
no wondering whether to
slip into the flow of the crowd or
sit and hold hands in silence while
the theater drains,
no analyzing the actors, the characters, the craftsmanship
of it all,
no weaving the plot into the fabric
of your understanding,
no this way or that
to go home.
This is all
we have, if indeed
the end has come,
if that which
Note: the opening stanza is a reference to Lucille Clifton’s blessing the boats.
Image via fliegender.