Thursday, February 22, 2007

Poem for Poetry Thursday

Happy Poetry Thursday, everyone!

I decided to combine this week’s prompt (“the body knows…”) with last week’s prose poem assignment.

For the record, I love prose poems. Long ago, I studied with Galway Kinnell, Sharon Olds, and Phil Levine—masters of the form. So I wrote a lot of prose poems early in my writing career. I enjoy writing narratives using all of the tools poetry has to offer. But lately I’ve been drawn to a less linear, quirky narrative form; three writers who do it so well are Stephen Dobyns, Bob Hicok, and Charles Simic.

So onto this week’s poem. Still very new and written very quickly, but it could be the start of something.



What the Body Knows


The body knows it is part of a whole, its parts believed to be in good working order. It knows how it gets old, years ticking off like pages on a desk calendar, your doctor’s appointment circled ink red. Try not to picture the body sitting alone in the waiting room. The body creaks up and down like a hardwood floor, you tell your doctor this; he says your breast is a snow globe. Inside there’s a snowstorm—my job is to decipher a bear from a moose. He flattens the breast with a low radiation sandwich press. The body wonders if its parts will turn into Brie cheese, if its fingers will fuse and become asparagus stalks. He says it’s possible, but don’t give it a second thought. He says insulate your body with seaweed. He says true understanding of the body will enable it to live long and live well. But the body knows when its leg is being pulled. The body is a container of incidental materials. If it listens carefully, it can hear its own voice making the wrong sound.

23 comments:

Jone said...

Wow, these images are amazing...the idea of our parts turning into brie cheese, the years ticking off like pages, and the asparagus stalks. I loved reading and re-reading this. Wonderful. I like the prose format as well.

Becca said...

I like the way you've linked the images of other natural things - like vegetables, and snow, and seaweed- with the image of the human body, reminding us that our bodies are "part of the whole" natural spectrum of the universe.
And yet we do so many "un-natural" things, like being prodded and probed by doctors, when perhaps we should just listen to oure bodies.

Wonderful prose poem :)

Brian said...

Great prose poem. The body telling you one thing and the professionals saying something else. I love all the words you bring together in this poem.

Emily said...

I really liked this...i liked how your images were so surprising and worked so well: snow globe, moose/bear, brie cheese, asparagus, seaweed...and the way you worked in pulling of the leg. Great ending. Great poem.

paris parfait said...

I love this poem and how you've made even an uncomfortable, unpleasant experience have meaning and play a role in our lifetime's health. Really well done!

Crafty Green Poet said...

So many ways of looking at the human body, so many great images!

strauss said...

A breast as a snow globe and inside a snowstorm.
This poem was truely wonderful. Such fabulous imagery. I really enjoyed reading it.

gautami tripathy said...

Very beautiful imagery. I loved this prose poem. You excel in that.


gautami
In-between state of consciousness

Poet with a Day Job said...

J- SO MUCH good stuff in this poem. I like your use of the prose structure for it, too, I think it matches well with the content. I really love "He flattens the breast with a low radiation sandwich press. The body wonders if its parts will turn into Brie cheese," UGH! The poem so gets going for me here, as if it were a motorcycle revving up until then, and we shot 0-60 in .02 seconds flat. There's something about turning the body into product at that point - but not just any product: food product - it just goes so nicely (and I mean terribly) with the sickening mammogram - that kind of procedure really does make you feel like pieces of something else. Definitely stick with this poem more - it's talking to you!

Regina Clare Jane said...

"But the body knows when its leg is being pulled."
This was my favorite line out of this incredible poem. All I wanted to do was read it over and over!

Catherine said...

I love the surrealness of this (is that surrealness a word?)

jim said...

Okay, January, now you're showing off!

I love this hugely, and the way it works for me is on the goofiest and most literal of levels (and here, it makes way too much sense for me).

Patti said...

I love a good prose poem, well done! "the body knows when its leg is being pulled" loved it.

Colorful Prose said...

I love the low radiation sandwich press.

twilightspider said...

I was so excited to find that you had posted something new here and you did not disappoint. Can I just cop-out and say I loved the whole thing? Because I did. Beginning to end.

chiefbiscuit said...

O wow! Love love love it. It really picks up pace about the middle and ends beautifully. (like a body?)

January said...

Thanks for the comments. I'll just say that I had my first mammogram this past week and I was thinking about the prompt while at the dr.'s office.

Looking forward to reading your poems this week.

G said...

This is great, January. I love it as much as everyone else does!

And good job for getting your mammogram.

wendy said...

a bear from a moose!!classic... I also like the image of insulating with sea weed.

This body, a temporary vessel. Broken down..But all I gots!

Bravo dear.

Carol Anne said...

Neat doctor/patient conversation! Why doesn't my doctor talk with me - haven't experienced the press yet. Nice food/body links!

Clockworkchris said...

Wow, the last line is awesome. Prose really works well for you. I was reading the section above and wish I could say I know who those people are that you studied with but just reading the poems is usually too much for me. This was in the top three of everything I have read in a while. Great job!

Rethabile said...

"The body is a container of incidental materials." I like that.

Rethabile said...

Chris is right, this: "If it listens carefully, it can hear its own voice making the wrong sound," is awesome.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails