Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lifeline as a Wordle

Wordle: Untitled

You'll have to click on the image to see what it actually looks like.

Wordle is a fast visual way of finding words you've used a lot, which can be a way of identifying recurring themes. I see "road," no surprise. "Red," also no surprise, given that it appears in the titles of two of the sonnets (and gets used a LOT in "Red Thorns.") Less predictable: "white," "wind," "dust," "knife," "scars." ("Like," "turn," and "across," also very common but not so interesting.)

If I go ahead with the idea of using this as a connecting thread in a chapbook-sized collection of similarly-themed poems, these words may help point the way. Or not.

Strong presence of agricultural activity, both literal ("Winter Rye") and metaphorical ("Father Time's Flail"). Also, almost all of the poems mention roads, highways, driving; sometimes metaphorically, as in "Cutter," but mostly literally if tangentially. I thought of this originally as a series of poems about things one might actually see or experience while driving I-5, ("Neon Horses" was the first one that started to take shape in my mind) and it's held fairly close to that.

What there's surprisingly little of is... rain. The original, and the first few components, were written over the last few weeks of summer, but we've certainly seen plenty of rain as I was writing the last half-dozen or so. None seems to have made its way into the poems.

What strikes me more, on re-reading, is that these are not what you'd call... happy poems. There's a lot of fear, pain, and real danger involved. Even "Novak's," which is mostly humorous, is about the risks of driving while hungry and/or tired. "Land of Bread and Wine" celebrates bounty, but at the same time alludes to the possibility of catastrophic flood.

On the whole, I think they took their tone from the original. Phantasmagoric and vaguely threatening.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

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