19 December 2004

Carol Peters

William Stafford and Marvin Bell wrote a series of what they called correspondence poems: one poet wrote a poem and sent it to the other poet; the other poet wrote a poem that was in some way a response. They went at this for some time. Eventually they published the result, Segues: A Correspondence in Poetry, published in 1983.

Thom Ingram, http://poetguru.blogspot.com and I are going to try our own sequence of correspondence poems.

We're writing in form (however-many tercets; 11 syllables per line, stress on the penultimate syllable; rhyming optional but encouraged). Thom says we'll each produce a poem every other day. I say we'll alternate at whatever pace we can manage.

Yesterday Thom wrote the seed poem. Here's my first response poem.

The Mistakes That Led Up to It

Saturday morning, I thought to make pancakes.
Pancakes are for Sundays, but the bread ran out—
you need to know the details—flour, salt, sugar,

mixed with egg and oil—no milk—I used water,
so it goes. All I ate were two small ones plus
a smaller one, then I decided, yes, bike ride—

but my tire was flat. Junior’s fault. On Monday
he warned me off my route, seven flats he had.
Straight-up jinx—one long sharp kiawe thorn—pssss—

no air. Chain-greased fingers broke the back wheel free,
but at the bike shop, I’m fainting, an air-head
seeing floaters and stars. Go to the warehouse,

the clerk said, two blocks down. Bitch to repair it,
the first new tube was a dud. Tire off, tire on,
tire off. I prayed for the fix, paced the sidelines—

my mind dimming like a spent bulb, stampeding
dark shadows, black spots, downshift aimed for coma
until I could get some food. That long thorn saved me

from a low-fuel spill, a braindrain on empty,
spared me the pain of my ass in the gutter.
So yeah, joy, greetings, count my blessings, will ya?

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