HONEY AND JUNK: For the last month, I've been unable to write anything new. Even the Memphis series of poems dried up. I have more to say about Memphis, but finding the precise words has been difficult. When I can't write I turn back to revising work, which keeps me busy, but doesn't help generate anything new.

While in London, I started writing two poems. They were shit. I tossed both of them into the shredder when I got home. Ideas and images for poems were circulating in my head while I was in London, but I just couldn't seem to grasp onto anything solid -- a line, a word, structure. Then, on Wednesday evening, all those ideas and images seemed to crystallize. In a near trance state I wrote six...yes, SIX...poems in four hours. And one of them, hold on to your hats, is a sonnet. Sure, they all need work -- some more than others -- but I went back and looked at them again today and they are in pretty damn good shape for first drafts, even the sonnet.

I guess the muse needed a vacation as much as I did and we arrived home at the same time. I also have to give a little thanks to Karen Head, who constructed an amazing poem out of lines she found in a J. Peterman catalogue while in Paris. I decided to try an exercise along that same vein to see if I could put together a "found" poem. I started by trolling my junk email folder and, sure enough, there was a poem in those subject lines. That seemed to open up the floodgates for the poems that came afterwards.

When my old friend Christoper passed away over the summer, I was unable to write anything to memorialize him. It took a rainy London day in a cinema to trigger the words I needed for the poem. It will probably never be published, but I needed to write it for both of us. The title: "Atonement." The sonnet is Marilyn Hacker-esque and about sex, which seems appropriate; another was inspired by walking to my friend's house in Greenwich called "What I Know About the Air"; and another is about a crack whore who propositioned me in the drive-thru at Taco Bell on Monday. You can't make this stuff up.

I've never written six poems in a sitting. To create one even remotely worth coming back to is usually a hard won victory. This is an embarrassment of riches. Of course, I probably won't have another creative spell until spring. Now I'm curious to know what some of you do to clear your writing blocks. Comments, please.

And here's the "found" poem from my spam catcher. Each line is from the Subject of the email:


Your family
becomes completely happy with your breasts
a great opportunity to give real pleasure
feel like you're 20 again
nothing feels as good as personal pussy.

Feel young, energetic and revitalized
quality medications can be cheap
it's time to enlarge your penis
live life to the fullest
you can increase the time of your sexual acts
gigantic, heavyweight, king-sized
your new cock is waiting for you
most intimate problems can be solved.

Start a new life of success and happiness.


Dustin said…
love the found poem. love it.
i agree, the found poem is hot
Rupert said…
Hilarious. "You too can have a huge poem!" Reminded me of Maxine Kumin's poem where she simply repeats the warnings re Grizzly Bears in a Nat'l park. . . "Do not attempt to outrun a Grizzly." - which, is pretty darn close to perfect iambic pentameter.
Anonymous said…
Finally, a good use of junk mail.

Lisa Allender said…
Coll, I really adore this poem---shout out to Karen Head with her "found poem" ideas, and YOU--for such a quirky use of spam-my stuff!
What to do when words won't come:
use the "circle" paradigm.Simply put ALL words/feelings/thoughts down, that are connected to ONE word, with the one word in the CENTER. It(words, lines, etc.) tends to increase quickly, after that.
DeadMule said…
Hi Collin,
I love your "embarrassment of riches." Here's my poem (so far) as a result of starting there.

Opening the Floodgates

Perhaps, open floodgates
are reason enough for the tears,
having come at the end of a drought,
as the end of a drought, as a storm.

We fight, war or no war:
hot war or cold: (even over the
weather, whether it’s good or bad,
not merely needed or unneeded,

as the case truly may be).
Truth is, the fighting remains,
as does our history of violence
and our embarrassment of riches.

Helen Losse
Collin said…
Very cool, Helen. Glad I could help you jump start something new. :-)
An amazing piece, Collin. That really works.

By the by... Criterion's Breathless is simply amazing. The special features - though there's no commentary - rank among the best for any of their films.

You must have it.
Collin said…
Breathless is on my Xmas wish list. :)

Glad you liked the "found" poem, Sam.
excellent job with the found poem, Collin.
Brent Goodman said…
I wish my family was completely happy with my breasts.

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