Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Tag: erasure poems

Dear ladies of the Mothers’ clubs

see your son

see your son
a gun in his hand

belt of shells
around his waist

disarm that boy
teach him—

find diversion
without annihilation

///

Erasure poem from a letter written by M.B. Davis of Waco to the Texas Congress of Mothers in 1910 regarding the widespread killing of grackles by children who were encouraged to hone their marksmanship skills

Source—“A History of Austin’s Love-Hate Relationship with the Grackle” by Andrew Weber on kut.org

The Wreck of a Century

titanic erasure

The Wreck of a Century

this graveyard of metal
its attraction so strong

so cold so deep
one coward radioed

the future, drifted
to our modern world

everything so wondrous
came crashing down

Erasure poem created from “Unseen Titanic.” National Geographic. Apr 2012, pp 87-88

Driftwood at Right Hand Pointing

My erasure poem “Driftwood” (from a page in Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher”) is up at Right Hand Pointing. It’s an honor to have my poem included in this fine issue celebrating found poetry. It was originally posted here along with a photo of the page I worked from including my marks and highlights. Thanks, Dale & Howie for publishing this one!

My Headache (Erasure 5/5)

Tell-Tale Heart Erasure Poem 5/5

 

My Headache

I talk freely
I talk fluently
I talk to God
I swore, and the noise arose

I thought I was better
than those smiles,
this heart

///

–Erasure Poem made from Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” One poem per page from The Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Barnes & Noble, 2004)

This is the final erasure poem from Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart.” It’s been an interesting experiment creating these. I chose the story because it was short, I knew I’d have time to do it, and I know the story well since it’s a freshman lit standard. I wanted to escape the story, but Poe’s deranged narrator made that difficult and so the poems came out appropriately dark.

Poe was also a tricky subject for his elevated use of language—them fifty dollar words, if you will. I made a semi-conscious effort to avoid some of that to get a more natural, modern sound to these.

I liked doing the actual erasures what with the physical manipulation of the materials. It really felt like I was making something. I typed them, though, because I would find such things annoying to read if I had to read very many of them and also, I would like them to be able to stand on their own as a series, if not singly.

I also need to give major props to Dave Bonta whose ongoing Pepys’ Diary erasure series inspired this. Speaking of Dave, be sure to check out his beautiful new chapbook Twelve Simple Songs.

A New Sound (Erasure 4/5)

Tell-Tale Heart Erasure 4/5

 

A New Sound

my hand upon
the heart was stone

you conceal
the night in silence

when four o’clock came
I entered the night aroused

to search for my own dream,
the wild beneath my ease

///

Erasure Poem made from Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” One poem per page from The Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Barnes & Noble, 2004)

The Wind Crossing the Floor (Erasure 3/5)

Tell-Tale Heart Erasure Poem 3/5

 

The Wind Crossing the Floor

You, the spider
gazed upon a dull old man’s face

directed by instinct
my heart kept still

told me to refrain
(I thought)

///

Erasure Poem made from Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” One poem per page from The Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Barnes & Noble, 2004)

A Ray Upon the Eye (Erasure 2/5)

Tell-Tale Heart Erasure 2/5

 

A Ray Upon the Eye

it was impossible to work
when day broke

you would have been mine
had I perhaps said:

lie down, listen–
night after night
the world’s a dreadful echo
of folk traditions
in the walls of old houses
tapping

///

Erasure Poem made from Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” One poem per page from The Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Barnes & Noble, 2004)

Disease Sharpened in Hell (Erasure 1/5)

erasure-scan-heart1

 

Disease Sharpened in Hell

you entered my brain

love never wronged me
for I had no desire

a vulture fell upon me
take nothing with caution
I was never old

closed, closed, you laughed
so wise to conceal light

///

This is an erasure poem made from Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” I’m doing one per page from the 5 pages that comprise the story in the 2004 Barnes & Noble edition of The Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. The idea was inspired by Dave Bonta’s erasure series based on Pepys’ Diary, and after doing one of my own from Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” I wanted to go a little deeper into Poe and erasure. I took the titles from the text and allowed myself to use some of the editorial footnotes.

Driftwood

Driftwood

 

Driftwood

For days unmentioned
I dreamt the speaking guitar.

Darkness poured forth
the physical radiation
of solemn hours,

the wild air, the last waltz,
the compass of words,

the utter simplicity
of attention.

–Erasure poem made from Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”

///

This is inspired by Dave Bonta’s erasure project based on Pepys’ Diary. He’s been at it for a while coming up with some interesting stuff, and so I figured I’d give it a go after rereading his post about his working method. I grabbed a Poe collection that was nearby, flipped to a page from “Usher,” made a copy and started working. I used a highlighter to find the words, typed the poem, played with line breaks, cut some things out and then crossed out everything that wasn’t used.

Later I tried this with one of my creative writing classes, and they really enjoyed it. It was the kind of thing that inspired a lot of gripes, complaints, and this is too hards, but by the end of the period most of them were surprised to have enjoyed it and more importantly surprised by what they found lurking in the pages of their books.

For my part, I enjoyed working within the rules and how it pulled me a bit away from my own head, words and thoughts. This might get addictive. Stay tuned.

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