Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A poem

I wrote this one a while back when they were starting the construction to move the railroad tracks to accommodate the new twins stadium. I don't think I like the title, and I'm not really sure where I want to go with it. Any good ideas?

The Maintenance of Progress

Between the tracks, eternal parallel lines
(and all lines, we know, are circles):

To the right, a hobo’s blanket soaking in a puddle—
plaid flannel smeared with grime,
besmirched with mud and corruption,
limp and defeated under a sky of cold steel.

To the left a sapling, two seasons old—
a thin stem whipped with trans-American winds
dusted with coal particulates,
baked under the hardening sun,

and marked with an orange nylon flag,
while orange paint poured out like blood upon the ground
cuts cross-ways in a jagged perpendicular
between clumps of splintered wood.


Cabeza said...

I'm not sure where to go from there. You certainly do an effective job painting a stark picture, though.

Do you intend progress to be ironic in the end? Is the poem more about the costs of progress? Is the end result progress, or is that concept nullified by the process you vividly describe?

JKC said...

I think characterizing the theme as the cost of progress might be right.

The tracks to me invoke a sense of earnest 19th-century manifest destiny progress, constantly pushing west. But now, in an age where the Golden Spike has been driven, there's nowhere left to go, nothing but to maintain conquered territory.

But it comes with social and ecological costs. I think the poem is ambivalent to the progress (the circle image in the second line---is it a reflection of eternity and truth, or does it show that it gets nowhere running in circles?). But regardless of the ambivalence to the progress, it takes a negative attitude toward the costs.