Railspur Alley Park (Slimverse – The Journey, Episode 3)

Railspur Alley Park.

a humid
lion house
hogo hangs
on the air

dogs and trees
dogs and trees
free jazz, jazz
for free, the

bass player
leans like a
drunk around
a lamp post.

After hearing this one, I asked Slim if he found this verse form, this 3 syllable line too confining. Did he not want to escape its shackles and roam free, go for 5, 6 syllables or even stretch a line across the width of the page. “Au contraire”, he said. He actually said that, “au contraire”, which I thought was a bit effete, a bit foppish for a bald guy of his heft, his corpulence.

“Au contraire, in fact I find it liberating to escape the tyranny of free verse, the endless decisions – upper case, lower case, line length, is it really a poem or is it just chopped up prose, if I am writing a poem about a flower, should the poem be in the shape of a flower, should I rhyme or not rhyme, what is doggerel anyway? This is like fundamentalism, religion, the boundaries are clearly defined, this far and no further, you have 12 syllables per verse, make the best of it!”

Well, that answer was a bit more than I needed or wanted, if I owned a watch I would have been looking at it.

“Got to go, Slim” I said.

“Hang on” he said, “I am feeling a vague fin de saison ennui, a certain je ne sais quoi and I have this urge to use every hackneyed French phrase I know in a pathetic attempt to sound world-weary, like I’m sitting in an outdoor café, a scarf knotted at my neck, smoking a Gitane and nursing an existential crisis, out on

a rain swept
pier, a lone
tourist bends
to the wind.”

Episodes 1 and 2 are here and here.

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal.

15 thoughts on “Railspur Alley Park (Slimverse – The Journey, Episode 3)

  1. kim881

    You’ve captured jazz tones in this poem, Jim. These lines remind me a little of Tom Waits:
    ‘bass player
    leans like a
    drunk around
    a lamp post’
    and I love the image of the lone tourist ‘bending to the wind’.

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    Reply
  2. earthweal

    Back in 1999 I started a “verse autobiography” of my musical ambitions and failings — for years I thought I would hammer out a career as a guitarist — a cycle of poems from the first stirrings of that music in the toy guitar I used to sing to Big Toad in a plastic bucket at age 3 and all the way to the vanishing Takamime acoustic that drowned in my new underground career of verse. Sorry for all that intro but I decided to use a three-syllable line for it, with all the freedoms that came from it (I styled too after Archie Ammons’ run-on use of the colon to forget paragraph stricktures too.) Anyway, every day for 18 months I wrote that “beastiary of guitars,” and got it all down in a line three beats wide and 23 miles tall. A rickety phallus of a poem, fer sure. Enjoy the freedoms but remember the breeze. Anyway … concision here in your poem keeps the device from overwhelming the work. – Best, Brendan

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    Reply

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