REM Stage 6: A Poetry Blog || julie niklas

The Irony of Prose: Chemistry and Poets
05/21/2011, 7:09 PM
Filed under: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , ,

The basis is reaction, equilibrium, stability, maintenance of a potency-per-word-per-line ratio, trial and error and error and error to find something pleasing. Structure: can two words collide with the required orientation and energy and form something that will evoke feeling in the reader or listener? Smoothloomingly? What did e.e. cummings know and not tell us? Inspiration is the root of synthesis, the midnight craving and the spontaneous lurching into a notebook.
The line is in constant tug of war to propagate mood and connotation and syntax. An ill-fitting word or syllable can render a poem useless—it can combust unexpectedly and leave the writer blackened in the face, dignity bruised. On the other hand, controlled combustion is what we’re looking for. We pay to watch flares light up night skies, we pay to have endorphins and ideas dislodged from the mucky parts of our brains and rushed through our bodies. We pay for the “oh my God” moment and the breath of air when all of the energy contained in the bonds between the poem’s stanzas, lines, words, concepts is released, and the products catabolized on the tips of our tongues like coughdrops.
The poet seeks stability and solidity and precision in their language. Occasionally a neutralization, when something has to be “just-so.” Play with a poem, read it thirteen different ways, turn it upside down and observe its flow. How words can waterfall into one another(cadence), drop you off of cliffs (enjambment), or leave you nowhere (limiting reactant).
The metaphor is the optimal muck-up tool, the disruption of order that branches your mind into smaller and smaller capillary networks and soon there is nothing but vast space and thermal barriers. Inspiration is also the root of decomposition, the other end of the spectrum where the poet wants to destroy, confuse, rearrange, edit. Clinchers—we purposely stick those in at the ends to appease our little electronegative whims, to create that dipole so somebody somewhere will pick it up and read it (those are the kind of bonds that matter).
The premises of poetry and chemistry are the same as the premises of life. Survive, maintain homeostasis, keep in equilibrium with your environment, have a dipole moment, get into heated arguments with your fellow reactants, react, form relationships, disturb the universe (do you dare?), keep up with trends then break them, synthesize something beautiful, give someone a reason to live.


The Amoeba Learns to Love
12/05/2009, 4:01 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

You are a universe.
Every one of your cells is a galaxy, spinning
like a bead on a crystal chandelier
hung in some dim, drafty hallway—
microscopic, luminous,

turbulent. I could spend all
day looking through windows for you,
poring over high-power lenses,
prodding slides of you until I break open one of your

lipid membranes, peel back the layers
of your speech. I will excavate white dwarves
from your gums, uproot the sapling blackholes
in your internal organs.
I will exhume the remains from your chest
to see if poetry died in you,

or the other way around. I will stain you with
Iodine, color you amber and Bromothymol blue,
resuscitate ink in your lungs.

You will inhale, one deep airless
gasp and collapse in on yourself,
and I will pry the pulsars up
from your skin like beauty moles, set them aside
in jars for you. Light-years from now,

you will find them on your dresser,
run your fingers over the holes
punched in the top, and release them

into the night, barefoot and swaddled in terrycloth,
wishing on your own stars. That is how
everything will end—you in your back yard,
gazing at the sky, me transcribing your

amino acid sequences onto my
palm with the nib of a star,
writing you into the constellations.