Cathexis Northwest Press
Humdrum; Ouroboros; Driving Partner
By: Annabelle Bonebrake
Waiting for the frogs to call. Counting frogs, counting calls. Awry in spacious waiting, we are always near the early hours with low bodies of fog and nobody to talk to. There’s a mummy whose eyes seem to open and shut back up again, but it’s only the sun, the earth moving it like a blink across the sky. Which magic do you choose? Someone thought to put up the chimes, and now the wind is here, and it’s time to listen.
Bee brain, lavender has begun to buzz in remote locales. Brain making up the gap in fantasy when the music stops and the loud room tingles with what’s left over. Generative brain becomes bloated and full after hunger for too long, bloated like before birth. Space enough to taste like the morning salty tooth powder, sharp pomelo. Birth brain, the edges grey and fuzzy like a common moth humming, like the flower that follows you with its color.
He doesn’t want to talk, but sometimes when a hawk flies over the highway, he points low with his forefinger. It’s a gesture made for long haul travelers like me, who stick around to learn the signs for the corner of the eye. One can learn to like bitter tastes like drip coffee or vodka grapefruit. Eight hawks deep, and there’s a wooden cross on a bed of sedimentary rock. There’s a Kansas Christian in memory, if not in my blood. Ten hawks down, new music and an empty barn. Twelve hawks, he’s only rolled his eyes once, and soon he’ll show me a place where the water has turned to varnish, and squeeze my arm.
Annabelle Bonebrake is a Los Angeles poet, born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. She is currently writing and teaching somewhere between the mountains and the city. Interview with the Poet: Cathexis Northwest Press: How long have you been writing poetry? Annabelle Bonebrake: I think poetry has always been a creative impulse for me. Like many children, I used to pretend to write before I knew how to form letters. I also coerced my father into writing down poems and songs that I dictated to him. I started getting serious about poetry as an adolescent, and I’ve been writing ever since. CNP: Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems? AB: Jim Harrison and Galway Kinnell-- both wrote with fearless sincerity and reverence for the natural world. I’m most fond of the late work by both authors, especially their final publications. Strong is Your Hold (2008) by Kinnell plays in fantastic realms while always remaining grounded on earth. In Dead Man’s Float (2016), Harrison makes pain and mortality tangible. His poems are as harsh as they are tender, funny as they are heartbreaking. I like poets who don't suffer nonsense, including that of being “too good” to address holy trio of suffering: love, sex, and death. CNP Can you share for us a little bit about your writing process? Any specific rituals that get you in the zone? AB: Poems begin in all sorts of places for me. I often hear a line in my head while I’m doing other things, especially reading a good book. I also find poems in the space between one activity and the next, when my brain takes a break. Ultimately, there’s nothing more valuable to my writing practice than walking. Lately I’ve been hiking in the hills near my house and recording poems as I go. I'll come back to the audio files later to type or hand write them. I like this process. It lets me speak first and edit later. Being away from a pen tempers my mercurial side, which I think is important in the early stages of a poem. CNP: How do you decide the form for your poems? Do you start writing with a form in mind, or do you let the poem tell you what it will look like as you go? AB: Usually I develop the form as I develop the language of the poem. I also do a lot of formal experimentation in editing. On occasion, I'll completely change the form just to see what happens to the message. It's a fun way to stir things up and get unstuck when a poem isn’t coming together. CNP: Any advice for poets who have yet to find their voice? AB: Read and write all you can-- that’s the English teacher speaking in me. Don’t be afraid to mimic your favorite authors and pieces to practice. Most of what you write won’t be made for publishing, but experimentation is invaluable. Read your poems to people you trust. Out loud. Are you saying the things that you want to ripple through the world? CNP: What is your editing process like? AB: My editing process is very fluid. Editing is my playground. I try new things. I do a lot of rewrites. Sometimes I take a piece of one poem and stick it into another poem. Sometimes I’ll just change a single word and be done. I see value in Chogyam Trungpa’s (& Ginsberg’s) “first thought, best thought,” but I think of editing as an equal to the first draft in the creative process. For me, some poems don’t really exist until they’ve been through the editing process. Revision and creation are one in the same. CNP: When do you know that a poem is finished? AB: It’s like when I finish a good meal, or when I finally clean my desk after months of papers and junk piling up. It feels right. It’s satisfying. It’s also the feeling that if I were to change anything in the poem, everything would fall apart.