A few packets ago, my MFA mentor sent me Jim Simmerman's Twenty Little Poetry Projects as a prompt to shake my style up a bit, since I tend to stick quite firmly to a particular rhetorical structure when I write poetry, and find it difficult to break out of it. It was mind-bending, and difficult, and interesting and fun - the best sort of prompt. (I'm actually going to send it to my online group of pals I workshop with on occasion, it was that much fun.) My result, "Brilliant as Fog," is below. it's not quite up to snuff, but I think there are some very nice salvageable gems in here.
Brilliant as Fog
I’m lucky like a quarter left on the tracks.
I was never born.
The dull glint of nickel, the feel
of a cold, sharpened coin against my wrist,
the smokestack smell of a just-passed train
and the howl of cars jolted
from the safety of the rails - - home.
Warm metal tastes like a punch in the mouth.
Talia never came back to Brentwood once she escaped.
She could never leave, either.
Powdered sugar from the Entenmann’s plant
mingled with our cigarette smoke halos
(and only punk-ass bitches didn’t smoke).
We chambered our rounds
with ruthless efficiency,
so we never feared cancer.
Bootin’ black tar heroin, held hostage
by the scuffed peddlers of temptation
offering spoiled salvation neatly wrapped in Ziploc
from lice-infested pockets
where the train cars went to die.
We were brilliant as fog –
we rode bareback down dirty streets, eyes closed,
and sang the world flat again.
Roadhouse broke all the rules – some of them twice.
She’ll always be waiting around the next concrete corner
until we answer for our crimes,
until we find the Greater Pattern,
until we find the milky shadows of possibility
in the I-Ching maze of our track marks.
Our addictions set us free.
Eso si que es, mi hija.
The tarry rail ties stain the landscape, pointing the way out.
The whistle moans that it’s too late to leave
because even now, a coin sits on the tracks
and waits to gain an edge.