Apple, F: Six Exercises in Self-Plundering
My primary excuse for not blogging much this month was that I was working with my editor to finish up the new manuscript, with the plan to formally submit it to copyediting this next week. Having spent so much time with it, I’ve developed something of a parental interest in locating and describing it’s personality. This urge (common, I imagine), coupled with the modern practice of editing on word processing programs, has allowed me to easily do things like figure out which among a set of fairly-common nouns is the book’s favourite. The book, being loosely thematic and concerned with a handful of recurring motifs, reuses a lot of words. My Apple + F searches through the instances of these words led to the following little accident. The below poems are self-plunders, they were all created by searching for a certain word, copying the surrounding sentences, lines, or phrases every time that word appears, and relineating the result. The result was an interesting editorial exercise (it led to a couple minor edits). Anyway, here are six poems, each named after one of Folk’s favourite words, containing every instance the word appears, in order of appearance.
As a key: Bold means it’s a title. Italics means it was italicized in the original (usually signifying dialogue). Line breaks not recreated in the plunders are represented by slashes. Most of the punctuation is as I found it; I may have made a couple changes.
This first plunder is mostly from the same poem (the first one in the book). I like how the last two poems share the same final lines.
You and I were born on an impossible island.
The island drew a perfect circle on the sea,
suggesting that the island was not quite a circle.
Parliament discussed renaming the island.
All this and proper planning brought the island
new prosperity. Refugees from other islands aimed
their boats at our beaches, attended speeches
that were heard on every island in the chain
Fill from poorer islands/ was lifted in by planes.
And it asserts/ that the first island in/ get infamous.
Vanguard. Bellwether. Introductory/ island.
The only business an old white man and an Island women
could have with each other. This island/ has a zoo.
There’s two points of observation in the middle of the island
Sprawled out into the country like cracks, it flits
through a sprawl of sand or threads
through the rocks. By seven the sun has sprawled itself
clear across Toronto. Privacy and Sprawl.
Publicness and Sprawl.
A Surface Normal (Five Points in the Life of a Wave).
But their beams build a registry/ of every wave’s arrival.
No waves complained. What would have withstood
such a shockwave as the one the plane became?
A wave flattens out for a flicker at its apex. Run the motor
until/ the waves cut your momentum. Waves so high
they forget you in the trough. Alkaline tongue/ and heaving torso
attempting/ to downwash the heatwave. The First Wave
of Malton Housing Units Fail, drowned by insulation,
the gaps/ between/ waves. Our Lady of the Airwaves
on York. Wave off commuters enraged on bagels. We can loop
our finer points into/ a brainwave and replay them,
but the Where of us will always win.
Land (excluding “Island”)
The wife has moved to the mainland. Muse aloud
on backlit landings. The headland bends to its tides.
Spend your landlocked nights taking survey: those who arrived
with graduate degrees/ ready to lie fallow on the land.
Another portrait of a landscape/ held fast within a frame.
A gloss along the landscape/ one molecule thick.
Press the land into a photo/ of the land. The last continental
landmass. Drop something off the mainland and the current
will deliver it. A little hermeneutical/ oomph for out flatlands,
these species only landed where their gliding gave them up.
Accuse the neighbours of infringing on your land. The subplots
previously imagined for the land, the inventory left to us
by landscape. Wait and I’ll wink you/ onto land. Diversionary
Landing. All poetry written by landlords.
I just dreamt that an airplane had landed,
have someone tell Greenland the news.
After time, velocity,/ body counts and the empty/ Injured column,
walk up to the dead and lay your body on their bodies. Somebody,
sometime’s, gonna write a book about all this. What can anybody do?
Gliding on inertia and/ the body-lock of dread. Everybody’s scared
of this place (and staying away). Cul-de-sac people don’t need anybody.
Not needing anybody, just talking to themselves. Nobody
talked about the birds. Two perfect circles left untouched around
each body. Busybody. Crazy bitch. Someone said it was a miracle
that nobody was killed. As nobody trusts the word nation anymore,
we’re happy to be living without it. Nobody recognized the people
who stepped out. Nobody is watching you sing. Break a piece
off your body and bury it for roots. We’ll double check everybody’s math.
We remember that somebody discovered them their names.
Everybody reaches for their name and forgets.
This Space Reserved for the Names and Addresses of Victims.
Name: Whose name they knew. Every name got printed
in the paper. Up the unsupportive pile to where pebbles
became gravel without learning either name. Don’t take
your names for granted. Namesfolk. In the fifties they expanded
this peripheral strip and changed its name. Mouth the names
of authors on the new arrivals shelf. Now we’re allowed/
their eighth grade victim’s name. His name is Rage Ghost.
His name is Weight. Alien names like Le Marchant, Coliacovo.
I have no name for this building I rent the western half of.
We could try to name the birds. All three hundred names
for blue. Look-up-we’ll-sing-the-names-of-all-the-pictures-in-
the-stars. The first lesson in possession is learning your name.
The first lesson in possession is learning your name. The first
lesson in possession is learning your name. The first lesson
in possession is learning your name. The first lesson in
possession is/ learning your name. Come here, your name
is Nature. Your name is Possession. I just dreamt about an ocean.
It refused to say its name. They made me tell them all my names.
The driver’s name is Dave. Ask an arsonist is shaman to give
smoke another name. Play this name game nightly as you
thread yourself home. We remember that somebody discovered
them their names. Everybody reaches for their name and forgets.