Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Poem: "The Fundamental Unit"

Some brief introduction to the writing process first: feel free to skip straight to the poem below.

During May, Darlene Young--one of my favorite Mormon poets--organized an event she called Mormon Poetry Writing Month (MoPoWriMo), modeled loosely on National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Basically, a bunch of us committed to try to write a Mormon poem every day for a month. Many of us also shared our drafts with each other at the time. I really love seeing people engaging with our faith with their full imaginations and I love what can happen when you take ideas you care about and put them in a poetic register: it was great to have a reason to write and constant inspiration from what other writers were playing with. 

I missed a few days--which meant that I finished the month with, I think, 27 poems. To put that in perspective, that's about as many poems as I'd written in the entire previous year. Thanks to Darlene, I've got enough now for a second collection to follow up my 2015 set Let Me Drown with Moses. This weekend, Nicole and I printed out all the possible material to include on 1/4 size pages and shuffled them around to find an order and a title. I've got some revisions to do, need a cover, etc., but I'm anticipating that Phoenix Song will be ready to release by the end of the year.

To give you a short glimpse at my MoPoWriMo work: here's a poem I wrote during May and later posted on a Facebook thread by the ever engaging Michael Haycock. Today, Walker Frahm asked if I could post it in a more share-friendly place. Here you go: 

The Fundamental Unit

Before we were a Church
that strengthened families
we were a Church
that built cities.
Back then

was the
fundamental unit
of society.

And in that
dreamed of city
it wouldn’t matter
if a quiet kitchen
happened to be yours
alone, because
even the streets
would be holy
to the Lord. 

They took
that away
from us, like
a child tearing
the legs, one
by one, off an

So maybe the pain
you feel is not from
God. Not some Saraic
trial. Maybe what you
feel is the phantom
pain of a kingdom
that has lost
its limbs.

1 comment:

  1. Loved the poem. Wrote one in response.

    Even if Zion was dismembered, even if
    The fundamental unit was a holy
    City and they took that away from us,
    diluted by the envy,
    The angry words,
    The lies of greedy gentiles,
    The snake-like insinuations and
    The invasions of armies and cold-eyed judges

    Even if

    Even though Zion is scattered about the world
    Gathered on Sundays in little enclaves
    Huddled around the faith-fire
    Piping music to each other in small voices
    Of small victories in kitchens
    Against the street rot

    Even though,


    The grand victory awaits
    Straining against the years, months, weeks, hours, minutes
    That hold it back from us.
    Dismembered limbs may be sown on
    again, if reattached immediately,
    And maybe live.
    But the miracle of long-dead olive
    branches re-grafted to life
    and long-waited dreams appearing in day
    and the long-cried-for kingdom
    that holy city
    is yet
    to come

    Will come.



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