For far too long now I’ve had a recycled salsa jar about 1/3 full of small slips of paper kicking around my room. At some point earlier in my life I had decided this system of writing down and randomly choosing ideas would be my means of staying fresh as a writer, of staying disciplined and busy. I had thought I’d started the jar in my late high-school years, but judging by the content of the slips I’d say this was contemporaneous with my late Martin Espada phase and my time at Bread Loaf. Say, six years ago.
I never made use of the jar — aside from putting things in, I don’t think I ever cracked it open. Systems like that have a way of frightening me off once I devise them. So I’m getting rid of it now, but I thought I’d post the contents for the sake of posterity and a good laugh.
Some of the ideas seem laughably dumb as writing topics from this vantage point. “Elegy for a grey Chihuahua” was going to be about a dog I became particularly attached to at the Humane Society, and it wouldn’t have been anything but maudlin. Except that these were the Espada years, so it would also have been political (even worse). “An Excuse to Eat Butter” was something Martin once said about lobsters, a one-off joke — I can’t imagine what I was going to say about that. The “puppies on the beach” poem would not have been worth revising. It only meant anything to me and a few high school friends. And I should clarify I don’t have any kind of authority to write half those ruined love poems.
Some are just mysteries. What did I want to write about Jake and Javier? Who was Doug? (oh, no, now I remember.) What was it I wanted to say about the incident where a kid got kicked out of my junior high school? What was Last Resort?
Others I actually did write about, even though I hadn’t opened the jar. The Florist’s Daughter got mostly written; it was a piece of fiction. So did the poem about minnows, blow jobs, and the spa, which I still remember fondly although I imagine if I went back to re-read it now I’d find it hopelessly jejeune. One or two things I think got written about in some form on the blog: the rubber hamburger incident, and the sunflower seeds, which got written about twice as they’re a rather formative experience in my life as an educator. I guess this is a good thing: the jar never worked, but the blog certainly has been impetus enough to keep me excercising my writing.
The Florist’s Daughter
Ode to Sivvy, incl. the line “thinking myself born into the world/ an androgynous leaf-bud”
revise an old one
day of seven dead squirrels
Walking with Caruso
Check the last few pages of your Norton Poetry
Returning to Maine for the 1st time + learning you live where you are/ you’re from where you’ve been
Ruined love poem: Distance
Ruined love poem: Abusiveness
What comes down from the teachers is…
Rework the puppies-on-the-beach poem
Ruined love poem: Revulsion
The Cliff’s Notes for…
Ruined love poem: Emotional drift.
those sunflower seeds
revise an old one
Miki, Ben, and other boys who left ****
Will sd: each prof thinks his own field best. Writers have best of all worlds: expert so long as we speak well
elegy for a grey chihuahua
Ruined love poem: Married men.
An Excuse to Eat Butter
You could write about Greg I**** and the rubber hamburger… maybe not a poem?
minnows, blow jobs, + the spa
Ruined love poem: Gay men.
Ruined love poem: Lutte des idees.
progress had the decency to fix what it broke: distance/travel/email
looking for a father
one thing (a story w/o lists + ands)
Ruined love poem: Jealousy
Rework an old poem
ode to ink
walking around wearing breasts and a skirt