Okay, so a while back I was talking about concrete poetry, a poem that looks like the subject it is about and I gave my pear poem as an example. That form translates off the page and into the world of electronic publishing with no problems because most platforms will allow you to center your text. Unfortunately, as I have been working to prepare my upcoming book, Icons & Action Figures (Batteries Not Included), for e-publishing this spring, I have come across some annoying problems.
It turns out that although I rarely write concrete poetry, I do from time to time tab words and phrases away from the regular text line to suggest, say, fog or leaves or, in the example I am thinking of, foxes bouncing around a restaurant. “Fox Games” is one of my favorite poems because I achieved something that I love managing: conveying with words on the page the colors and dynamism and message and story that I see in a piece of visual art (ekphrasis).
The poem is based on a photo of an installation of the same name by artist, Sandy Skoglund. I attach the whole picture and some close ups to show the details of this vivid masterpiece.
I originally wrote the poem in two styles, alternating between sections with regular lines and sections about the foxes, where words or phrases mimicked on the page what the foxes were doing all over the print. To reproduce the effect without being able to do anymore that left-justify or center the pieces is impossible; I might be able to manage that here in a blog post, but if you try messing with styles in an e-book, you end up with…well, a mess. So I am stuck with only left-justification. So I had to choose to go for only the sound of the action, rather than sound, look and feel. Sigh. But I still love the poem. Here is the second half of it:
He begins to speak of himself. She can’t help looking at him,
imagining his face in forty years of soft folds, his voice
crinkling newsprint. Time, she thinks,
fades us to this grey. Time,
she thinks, her face blank pink attention. There is never enough
time to learn to speak in color. There’s so much we can’t say
with our bodies. We need
at tearing out
each other’s throats
among grey tablecloths
while we sit in our grey corner speaking of the blush
of the wine about to be poured out by our waiter in his grey vest,
wine that holds itself back, corked for rational inspection, grey
bottled up, wine that knows itself
ready to bark
Skoglund, Sandy. “Fox Games.” Cibachrome print. 1990.
Spilecki, Susan. “Fox Games.” Kimera. June 2001