Friday, April 13, 2007

NaPoWriMo 12: Celluloid

I went a slightly different direction with this one to my last. I let myself use words this time around! I googled 'celluloid' and came across a wonderful website about New York on film. That got me thinking about the experience of travel, and of being a stranger in a strange land.

I'm still finding NaPoWriMo to be an interesting discipline. It both reveals a writer's weaknesses (their crutches, their bad habits, their weakness of form), and pushes them out on new adventures. When you are under pressure to publish every day you can't keep doing what you've always done.

The last couple of poems I have written have been stories about imaginary people rather than poems about my own life, or poem-as-therapy. It's a divide I'm particularly happy to cross, as I didn't want it to look like I have no imagination. Believe me - I have a very healthy imaginary life!

You got the little town blues
so you thought you’d take on the world.
Now you’re small whitebait
on the wrong side of the shark net.
The skyscrapers seem bigger
with no gorilla hanging off them.
Te Awamutu never aspired
to anything so grandiose.

You queued for an hour
to be jostled for fifteen minutes
somewhere in the stomach
cavity of a national icon but
you were more impressed when you
ordered a quarter-pounder in a
country where imperial measures
still actually mean something.

New York cabbies aren’t really gabby
and whole blocks of traffic
don’t really stop on queue
when you run out in pursuit of
a blonde woman who for just
one second you thought might
perhaps be the one true love
of your life but she just flashed
the rock on her ring finger at
you and walked off down 5th Avenue.

You thought you could live this
city through the split frames of
celluloid but reality has a habit
of being dirty and hostile to
strangers, particularly ones that
sound Australian but don’t respond
to muggings by smiling and
pulling out a real knife.

So you’ve decided to go back
home to your small town,
with its one traffic light.
Where people smile at
sheep jokes and myths are
told about whales and pianos.
Eccentric poets become
national icons and a hobbit
rules the Kingdom
of Hollywood.

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