Tuesday, September 04, 2007

comments on “Rush Hour”

After “On the Edge/Four Addresses” I was intrigued to find another poem of second person address, this one to a street. I wrote it the same busy month of February 1985 (but in a new notebook, one titled This is important!). “On the Edge” was addressed to a person. Only in revision, the versioning I did on the blog, did the speaker address nonhuman elements of the scene. Yet here is a poem written shortly after “On the Edge” that speaks directly to an inanimate object, a poem I had not rediscovered before I started the new work on “On the Edge”. It’s a fun coincidence.

“Rush Hour” is not a poem of much interest. There are nice bits: phrases – “jerk jerk jerk ever forward slightly” – and word music – “queasy stomached cars” with its k sounds …

I have no idea what to do to make it a better poem, not because it’s a good poem to start with but because the scene is utterly banal. Rush hour traffic. … uh? … the one element that suggests something to me is the notion that the street itself is responsible – “miscreant street”, “a street that doesn’t breathe” …

This is a different challenge than the one I posed myself with “On the Edge”. I thought “On the Edge”, though ultimately unsatisfying, had a power to it, was a poem. “Rush Hour” has no power, is merely an exercise. I felt responsibility toward the original “On the Edge” not to lose what it started. What does “Rush Hour” have? At best a few phrases to be used in something else?

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