Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Poem of the Day:
"Prose Poem" by James Tate
Selected Poems

This evening I took my first ballet class in six months; needless to say, my form was a little rusty. It felt so good to dance though. My brain was slow with the combination of movements but my body knew, for the most part, where to go.

After coming home, exhausted from my day, I came to the conclusion that I have a passion for various things. I didn't say it was a selfless conclusion; certainly, my realizations tend towards the ego-centric.

I love to read, I love to write. I love to dance. I love listening to music. I love yoga and tennis. Most days, expended passions in hand, I find myself exhausted.

Tate's work is unique among poets. From what I have read of him it is clear that he finds pleasure in the bizarre, though "Prose Poem" is less absurd than most. Tate begins the piece by writing, "I am surrounded by the pieces of this huge/puzzle: here's a piece I call my wife, and/here's an odd one I call convictions, here's/conventions, here's collisions, conflagrations" (lines 1-4). Slowly, it becomes clear that this "puzzle" is his life. And, the "pieces" he chooses to highlight reveal how he feels about the various parts of his existence; "Such a puzzle this is!" (line 5).

So how does he solve this puzzle? Tate's speaker ignores all conventions surrounding puzzle solutions; he does not try to fit all the pieces of his psuedo-life back together. Instead he "grease[s] up all the pieces and pile[s]/them in the center of the basement after/everyone else is asleep" (lines 6-8). Then, he jumps head first into the array of freshly oiled segments (of a whole?), kicking and strangling a few pieces in the commotion (lines 8-10).

His method seems to work. He brings order to his life; in the morning "it's all fixed!" (line 12). Apparently force, rough physical coercion, can mend the broken or disparate pieces of a life.

I do not really have conflicting "puzzle" pieces. I just love to do a lot of things and at times I have had to give up some of them to make room for more. Sure, I went about it less forcefully than Tate's speaker, but maybe there's some merit in greasing up life and performing a "savage resurrection" (line 14) in order to make it take on a semblance of cohesion.

Mostly though, Tate's poem only tires me more. Did the poet ever put together a simple Disney-themed puzzle?

A Poem A Day Audrey


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home