how poems come

how poems come
Elliott batTzedek

For myself, a poem emerges by itself, like something developing in a dark place.
Fanny Howe, “Bewilderment”

someone has taken a photo, photos, has not wound the film forward all the way, or too far, imprinting overlapping, underlapping, multiple exposures, images piling up, separated, blank space blank space blank space normal human turned devil-eyed by the flash

someone has taken photos and handed me the camera

i studied photography for two months in high school, which was a long time ago or maybe never but i take the camera and go into the dark room

dark has a smell and it is chemical and acrid and wet and anticipation and frustration and elation and oh the sorrow of the lost century that digital has no dark and no dark smell

that i go into because someone has handed me the camera. i have some experience and some control and some likelihood and no patience none at all so maybe they took a great photo, maybe it was the best photo ever taken and if so, why the fuck did they trust the film to me? i’m just a poet and seeing my life so far i wouldn’t trust me with a great truth because the image is only as good as the filter and, honestly, i suck as a screen, i like to live with all the doors and windows open and dirty laundry hanging everywhere

because washing clothes is not a priority, i’d rather be in the dark

where much to my surprise, and with my gratitude or my unwarranted and unlicensed and gossamer cock-sure arrogance, a real stunner comes out of that liquid bath from time to time. Shadow and light, time and eternity, detail and universe, I and thou, word and sound, so balanced that just for a flash unbalanced ceases to be possible.

“You must have shadow and light source both, listen, listen.” Damn mystics, damn poets, damn darkness that i want more than i want anything because hunkering down and bending over and peering through the wet veil while praying one sharp image will develop is the most devotion-like motion in my muscles’ memory.

Give me the camera, give me the damn camera already, i can promise you nothing but oh

oh how i will serve you if you just keep the cameras coming


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