Posted by: Bruce Proctor | June 2, 2016

The Gray Book pages 6-10

page 6

The research over, to feel the diverse details begin to align. Yet the teeth-grinding frustration ahead! And also that the finished poem will never be as magnificent as the half-formed vision of it.

the lavender colt’s foot, the magenta rye

nothing of worth today

On the train to Astopovo, near death, remembering great sweeps, naturally given. And the rhythms of memory, in a unifying chant.

14 hours later, I have the approach, 20 lines, and the direction.

I am still inking odd inklings, names and coined words, what ifs and descriptions, titles and dreams, images and connections, strange and distracting bits.

freshly typed miscellany and penciled. . .

page 7

Sparks fly off the wheel, but you couldn’t cook with them.

Half a bushel of scribbles my wife put out as garbage.

odd sorts, unremarkable faces, a series of asides in life.

they were almost all of them poets, as well as critics.

day and night for a day and a half

  • the anguished boyhood of a possessive and mercurial mother and an erratic
  • drug use, manic depression, frenetic womanizing, his startling suicide.
  • “1/3 blackguard, 1/3 lunatic, 1/3 genius”  (-Arthur Koestler)

disarray becomes dismay

Page 9

“To assemble found lines from celebrity autobiographies into a poetic narrative.” – Will it be meaty and/or banal?

To remain in “the very drama at the center of living.”

sporks and spens

torpedoes and tadpoles

the Internet “was an open range and barbed wire hadn’t been invented yet.”

“Any deed without risk is also without honor.” – Pindar

writing in traditional sentences, capitalizing things that should be capitalized, punctuating as one might expect.

page 10

“I’d be happier writing fewer poems if they were better.”

Being “sick” often means saying “no” instead of “yes.”


The alligator dragon with his accordion pleats
dragging its ass in the Yangtze,
iridescent, green scales flashing,
the air above filled with its
entourage of yellow butterflies and the
angry, clacking mandibles of dragonflies,
great, white summer thunderheads
growing moment to moment

Reflected in the magic painted screen in
the Emperor’s dressing chamber, the attendants,
eunuchs, the bustling court, faces all averted together
like fields of sunflowers turned to the sun, his reign
over all, bestowing a thousand daily blessings
magnanimously upon the wide world.

Fishermen crouched in the river muck,
peering into murk, lances
poised. The heron on one
leg, still, its yellow bill sharp
and thin as a spear.


posthumously and anonymously


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