Poem for Poetry Thursday

(I'm reposting this poem from earlier in the week because not too may people saw it, and my parents are in town so I just don't have time to write. Hope to get to as many blogs as I can for Poetry Thursday later tonight. Happy Holidays everyone!)

The Editor Speaks

There is flow among the elements
on a page. Word buttressing word,
lines asleep on a featherbed of 80-pound stock.
After all, the newsletter you’re reading
is an ecosystem for language,
and there you are preening and sorting
someone else’s natural selection. Your hands part
the cool water of the page’s surface,
splashing letters in your face—
every voluptuous character, every minuscule glyph
rolling down your cheek as beautiful as tears.
Yet all that negative space bends to
the wind’s slightest rustle,
keeping the kerning in sync with the leading,
the tracking aligned with meaning.
Everything gives off a vibration—
just listen to the callout box and what it calls:
Helvetica opens its beak to Galliard,
while the serifs bloom their impossible hues.
They fling themselves against the synapses of the brain,
until something frilled and pithy is born,
something elemental but not original.
The trick is not to care about any of that.
You hold your red pen like a torch
as you run through a forest of thickly settled text
only looking back to see what branches
you have burned.

I love the feeling of completion.

This is the poem I wanted to submit for Poetry Thursday. In fact, I got up two mornings in a row to finish it and I'm only finishing it now. So this baby is new. Feedback appreciated.

I am obsessed with poems about work; I hope to write more of them. I mean, we spend so much time at our jobs that I relish the challenge of making office life poetic. As you can guess, many of the terms in the poem relate to editing and publishing: 80-pound stock, character, glyph, negative space, kerning, leading, tracking, callout box, Helvetica, Galliard, and serifs. Tried to work in the word, "pica" but couldn't find a spot for it.


I tried to comment here on your Thursday poem, but blogger's a bugger! I LOVED the picture of your kids btw, and tried to say so then, too; anyway...I think this is a fantastic poem--you deserve to have a book out, and I will be the first in line to buy it!
January said…
cbPepek, you are the best! I'm hoping all of this hard work pays off in 2007.

You and our fellow bloggers make the writing worthwhile.
January said…
I'm having trouble with the blogger beta, too
Catherine said…
There's a lot of poetry in words related to occupations. I like the ones you have used. Dana set me off thinking about chemistry words, I didn't think of them as poetic when I was doing chemistry, but now I do. I'll see if this comment works - I didn't change to blogger beta, but I've been having trouble leaving comments on those who have.
my backyard said…
I like this, too. It puts editing on a higher plane. Makes me see the beauty in it.
Marilyn said…
LOVE this--beautiful. And I love the idea of making our work life poetic...'cause, hooboy, is THAT tough to do sometimes. ;)
I'm another person interested in trying to find poetry in work topics, never seems easy. I like this poem and could relate to it as part of my job involves editing a newsletter. I edit a poetry magazine blog too but that's different....
I just reread this. Oh, January, you are so good....
I, too, am obsessed with poems about work. I have a long poem called "Love Poem from Officeland" which pretty much is what it seems like.

Anyway, I love this series, the rhyme, rhythm, adn meaning - so well done:

"Yet all that negative space bends to
the wind’s slightest rustle,
keeping the kerning in sync with the leading,
the tracking aligned with meaning."
twitches said…
Yes, blogger is screwed today.

Love the language in this. Very clever but not too clever - still poetic.
chiefbiscuit said…
I love that you're using those words and the way you describe the words the editor is reading like a forest she / he has to slash through ... and yes I think it's time more poems were written about work - go for it!
January said…
Thanks, everyone, for the feedback!
Paris Parfait said…
I love the poem, with the possible exception of the line about the callout box and what it calls - I like the "what it calls" but the "callout box" meaning isn't clear. Otherwise, it's brilliant! Glad you reposted, as I've been in London, then ill with food poisoning and am behind in reading and commenting. Wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays and a bright new year! xo
ecm said…
This is great! I loved the last two lines especially. I find I learn things in revision.
January said…
Tara, thanks for the feedback. I'll take a look at the "callout box" and see what else I can do with.

Hope your food poisoning is a thing of the past.

EMC, hope all is well with you and you've enjoying the holidays.

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