We all return; In the fetid heat; Ideal-o-matic
By: Kent Weigle
We all return
by a salt rusted dawn exhausted
first thaw brings
budded fat flies hazin a cloud
of thought on slow drip
from my nose
at the bottom of a ditch
dug along the orchard road
he is risen
from the silt caked
body of a doe uncovered
by first few days of warm weather
its mouth heaves dusted light
from ribs draped
by a gray sky of skin
new wound like the old wound
feed these stale prayers to the ants
so come all ye cornfed
and breath the wildfire
you hornet bastard
you sugar feeder
keep your blood from my water
In the fetid heat
of the metro
I painted her in milkweed sap
as the prophecy willed
we agreed to no absolution
we agreed I should
be more willing
to commit myself
to a room of white light
and ego death
something cute to hang
on the walls
like the snapper
that took three of grandpa's fingers
he said he thought he pissed himself
when the water got warm
though he can still
hit a cat at a hundred yards
right between the eyes
gave me the skull for thanksgiving
and I stick my pinky in the hole
of the old times
iconoclastic wrapped in plastic
I know that boy coughing alms
into Death's chromed bowl
oh Dionysian lesion become
my love my meat mechanic
I'm desire blossomed upon your lip
I'm bought and entombed in a chest rumble
didst thou feel pain?
asked the lecher the tank the preacher
the purple headed pop vulture
go ahead pick a calf
I await with the syringe
I lick moonlight
from the barn wall
Kent Weigle comes from the South but has lived in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, and the Northeast. He received his MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop.
Interview with the Poet:
Cathexis Northwest Press:
How long have you been writing poetry?
Since my intro to creative writing class during my first year of undergrad. I had other focuses while growing up, and the idea of writing down what pass for ideas in my head didn’t really click until the TA for the same intro to creative writing told me I should think about majoring in creative writing. Didn’t care much for poetry until I was introduced to writing that wasn’t desiccated and kept behind glass for a high school class to get bored with.
Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?
Not the exact poem, but I remember being enamored by Dean Young and juxtaposition of imagery. I also remember K. Curtis Lyle’s “15 Predestination Weather Reports” making me think differently about the vehicle that poetry is for ideas. If I were to claim any poem as THE POEM THAT MADE ME FALL IN LOVE WITH POETRY, I’d go with Frank Stanford’s “Battlefield Where the Moon Says I love You.” I like to think my poetry is a continuation of its lineage, that they share genes. It’d also make me a late bloomer since I didn’t read it until the senior year of my undergrad days, but my work up until then was unfocused.
Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems?
Frank Stanford and his “Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You.” Tim Earley and “Linthead Stomp.” Abraham Smith and “Destruction of Man.” Rebecca Gayle Howell and “American Purgatory.” Carolyn Hembree, Sherwin Bitsui, Thorpe Moeckel, Kevin Goodan’s “Anaphora”, Oliver de la Paz, Greg Glazner’s “Cellar Testament.” Forest Gander’s “Life of Johnson/Upside Your Head.” C. D. Wright and “Deepstep Come Shining.” Cathy Park Hong and “Dance, Dance, Revolution.” Sabrina Orah Mark. I tend to only remember the titles of long poems, so all the listed titles are long poems. The list is by no means exhaustive or in any particular order.
Can you share for us a little bit about your writing process? Any specific rituals that get you in the zone?
I’d describe it as weeks of hoarding ideas, images, lines, mental obsessions. After a certain point, I do my best to refine the clutter. That’s when the poem appears. The one long poem might become multiple shorter poems, or it might not. I’ve just found that people respond better to my work when I chop it up and cut out the excess fat.
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?
I don’t put any conscious thought towards form. I’d consider myself a lazy poet in that light. Poetry is more of a way for me to work through ideas or explore my personal phenomenology—to me poetry is more effective at that than any other genre. Any form the poem has after several editing sessions comes from a desire to emphasize certain images or elaborate on an idea. This laziness might come from my lack of background in poetic forms. I somehow got out of taking that class.
Any advice for poets who have yet to find their voice?
I feel uncomfortable giving advice, but I think there are a couple platitudes that work here: read voraciously and examine/emulate the authors that you like. If you’ve been in any type of academic setting, you’ve probably been told some form of those at least a couple times.
What is your editing process like?
Whimsical, undirected, and capricious. Usually involves a lot of pruning.
When do you know that a poem is finished?
I don’t have a good answer for this question. I will say that I know I’m done editing a poem and I’m gonna send it out when the words on the page run together and become television static. This is my mind, muse, aliens, or whatever saying it’s done dealing with this poem and it’s time to move on for the time being. The well has run dry until the next storm.