Here’s a draft of the poem I’m writing in response to David Adix’s Native Figure #70. The poem’s title comes from a classic adage about creative invention from the middle of the last century: “No ideas but in things” (William Carlos Williams). I’m sometimes moved to push back against this insight, but I always find myself coming back, with pleasure, to the physical world while making poems. Native Figure #70 is literally stuffed with things: a smorgasbord for someone like me. I keep finding new morsels there to taste.
The unfinished poem now hangs alongside the sculpture in downtown Douglas, Michigan, in Water Street Gallery’s It’s a Matter of Opinion exhibition. Click here to read more about how this came about. Thanks, Water Street, for including me in your first Expressions in Ink event.
[work in progress]
If I had a box of sky-blue puzzle pieces
Lincoln Logs, Legos, beads, Scrabble tiles, bottle caps
playing cards, wooden pencils, embroidery floss . . .
I’d see the toy closet in my cousin’s house
board-game cupboard at my grandparents’
junk drawer at 800 Sunningdale Drive
where I learned to hold onto the smallest pieces of things
because you never know . . .
even drapery hooks, safety pins, and paper money
dull as dust
if not exactly discardable
Nothing lusterless here
in this body stuffed and lanky both
Native Figure #70
clutch of bits collected
wired as if electrified
AH then ON
and a bright red ladybug
for a heart
Any one might
start blinking, humming
A Philips-head screw might
break into opera
A stick-and-hook finger start tracing
pictures in the air
I love seeing work in progress from you and I love ekphrastic poems. This one made me want to go find a piece of art and write my own. Perhaps this weekend.
Indeed: “you learn to hang onto the smallest of things”
(and from these, make poems.)