* a revisit, prose poem thoughts, & thanks

Footnote – James Schuyler

 

The bluet is a small flower, creamy-throated, that grows in patches in New England lawns. The bluet (French pronunciation) is the shaggy cornflower, growing wild in France. “The Bluet” is a poem I wrote. The Bluet is a painting of Joan Mitchell’s. The thick blue runs and holds. All of them, broken-up pieces of sky, hard sky, soft sky. Today I’ll take Joan’s giant vision, running and holding, staring you down with beauty. Though I need reject none. Bluet. “Bloo-ay.”

Tiny_Bluets

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about James Schuyler’s “The Bluet” which he references in the prose poem above. I just discovered the above poem in a prose poem anthology I’m reading for my exams. I marvel at how much of Schuyler’s human fascination comes through in both his poem and “footnote.” The added information here, both of pronunciation (I’ve been saying it “blue-it” as in I really blew it with that pronunciation) and of Mitchell’s artwork, adds layers to Schuyler’s ongoing meditation on the bluet. Both in lyric and in prose, the flower is turned over, “running and holding” for both Schuyler and reader.

Earlier this week, I posted about the release of my collection Everything We Think We Hear (available for purchase on Amazon). In discussing the project with friend and poet John Sibley Williams on Facebook, I found myself realizing something about the ambition of the project in its turns between prose poetry and microfiction. At one point, I wrote:

So much of what we do in a poem, prose or lineated, is about what’s unspoken, while microfiction lends itself to more narrative completion. The most apt metaphor I can think of at the moment is those jeans and hoodies that come pre-scuffed up and torn, a narrative holding but frayed.

There’s a great quote from Robert Frost about poetry books where he says that if a book of poems has 25 poems, the book as a whole should stand as the 26th. This quote has long been an inspiration behind the strategies I use in putting a manuscript together. This quote also points to the way projects can have pockets of the same idea, varying shades of the same color. In the spirit of Schuyler’s takes on the bluet, I hope variations in form and intent work out an added layer to the reading experience in Everything We Think We Hear.

Thank you to all who have reached out with kind words and good wishes on the recent publication! Thank you to everyone who has bought a copy or plans on doing so (you totally should)! And lastly, thank you to John for getting my brain thinking 🙂

Happy bluet-ing!

Jose

P.S. After all that, it’s still a painting command in my head: “blue it!”

* solituding with james schuyler

One of the most moving things about being a poet and sharing the work I do has been hearing feedback from people. I remember years ago after performing at a poetry slam, I had a woman come up to me and quote a line from one of the poems I’d read: “Why are men only honest during the slow songs?” Then she hugged me and said, That’s it, that’s exactly it.

Another time I was working at a coffee shop and had posted some poems (my own and by others) on the community board in celebration of National Poetry Month. It was a lovely surprise to hand off a latte to a young man as he smiled and said: “Solitude feels like fire sometimes.” Did you write that? That’s a good line.

My reaction in both situations was a mix of smiling and mumbling, eventually landing on a thank you.

In the three years of running this blog, I have been moved to similar moments of smiling and mumbling gratitude by comments made here, Facebook, Twitter, and email by those of you kind enough to read and reach out. While writing and reading may be solitary acts, there is a special kind of communion that happens in those moments of sharing lines and insights. Thank you for making me feel heard!

This week’s poem – “The Bluet” by James Schuyler – connects this type of communion via poetry with that available in the natural world. In those moments of reading a line and considering it, we read with the kind of attention and listening that “breaks/[us] up.”

* quaking *
* quaking *


The Bluet – James Schuyler

 And is it stamina
that unseasonably freaks
forth a bluet, a
Quaker lady, by
the lake? So small,
a drop of sky that
splashed and held,
four-petaled, creamy
in its throat. The woods
around were brown,
the air crisp as a
Carr’s table water
biscuit and smelt of
cider. There were frost
apples on the trees in
the field below the house.
The pond was still, then
broke into a ripple.
The hills, the leaves that
have not yet fallen
are deep and oriental
rug colors. Brown leaves
in the woods set off
gray trunks of trees.
But that bluet was
the focus of it all: last
spring, next spring, what
does it matter? Unexpected
as a tear when someone
reads a poem you wrote
for him: “It’s this line
here.” That bluet breaks
me up, tiny spring flower
late, late in dour October.
***
The countdown to the December 1st release of my full-length collection, Everything We Think We Hear, continues. Here is a link to my poem “Letter to Rainer Maria Rilke from NYC” published in The Acentos Review in 2010. It’s the piece where the “solitude” line quoted above appears.
Happy solituding!
José