Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Few More Fold-Out Postcard Sonnets - 5/21

A Few More Fold-Out Postcard Sonnets were written over a bit less than three months in 1996; the date on each poem indicates when it was written. I remember them as being pretty spontaneous overall, & while I’m sure I envisioned more than seventeen sonnets, I think the seventeenth sonnet, dated August 1, 1996, brought the sequence to a good end point. The sonnets will be posted here, one per week for the next 17 weeks!

Some people assumed at the time the sonnets were being written that the character “Marlowe” was literally intended to be Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe character. Tho I am a big Chandler fan & read him a lot around this time, this was at most a piece of the puzzle. I liked the name in general, & I also had the (reputedly) dissolute Elizabethan poet in mind as well as the fictional LA detective. There also are both autobiographical & imagined details contained in the character quite separate from either of those two figures.

One final note—just because I liked the way it looked, I abbreviated state names in these poems: VT=Vermont, VA=Virginia, etc. When I gave readings I would say the state name, not the abbreviation. The streets referred to are in San Francisco, mostly either in the Mission or the Western Addition (or betwixt & between the two.

The first sonnet was dated 5/21. Here it is:

5/21


A badminton net in a VT backyard afflicted with a
Rosicrucian sunset & an outbreak of communist mosquitos
buzzing a Manachevitz buzz in Mr Marlowe’s a-
symmetrical ears— & a transistor radio

perched in a scotch pine sporting superfluous
shades & crooning Blue Bayou— which is likewise
superfluous— as Baltimore Orioles
swooping into the hedge to roost make Marlowe think

Descartes was right for no particular reason
except he’s cadaverous drunk & shouldn’t be lounging
in the tattered green & white lawn chair after all

his eyes floating westward plasmic inside a spectacular
bronze Chevy Malibu 15 miles east of Needles
where shuttlecocks & fortune cookies are likewise dissolving

© Jack Hayes 1996-2010

4 comments:

Sandra Leigh said...

Cadaverous drunk, eh? Mighty descriptive, John. Marlowe sounds dissolute indeed, and the poem as a whole has a very sultry air about it. I like it, and I look forward to following the series.

John Hayes said...

Hi Sandra: Thanks! I posted about half of these on RFBanjo last spring, but then stopped mid-series for complicated reasons. I'll be catching up with you blog-wise either this afternoon or tomorrow--hope your trip's going well!

Dave King said...

Obviously I must come back to the Days of Wine and Roses! Wine here, rather than the roses, I would have thought.

John Hayes said...

Hi Dave: Thanks for stopping by. Perhaps I should have called the collection "The Days of Wine &/or Roses"!