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found poem: Practice



1914 - D on burroFor the third year, I am participating in the August Poetry Postcard Fest. It works like this: you sign up, gather 31 postcards and stamps, then on each day of August you write a postcard-size poem onto one of the cards and mail it to the next person on the list. In turn, you receive poetry postcards, somehow always a surprise and a delight, even though you anticipate their arrival.

The send/receive ratio is not always perfect, but I take the challenge seriously and write a fresh poem each day, rough drafts to be sure, usually inspired by the image on the card.

After last year’s fest, I decided to continue the daily practice, sans postcards, each morning drafting a tiny poem inspired by whatever is on my mind or in my sight. Among those 300-some poems I may later discover something worthwhile, some words that merit further attention, that will perhaps find their way into a new poem. Meanwhile, it’s simply a practice in the many senses of that word.

Today, hoping to pick up my ragged thread of family stories, I found this photo of my mother. Appropriately, it’s a postcard.

we are bundled both
in our winter coats
uncertain strangers
holding very still
warming each other
this moment of love
we will not remember


see bear ~ j.i. kleinberg

See, we were instructed: See Dick. See Jane. See Spot. The arm outstretched, the finger pointing, then the word directing attention to the bear and the pear, the pigpen, pansy and owl.

How stunning that we have language that can do this, can yank us from vase to wells, from pipe to pie, and that so much of our understanding — and misunderstanding — of the world is built on this airy foundation, these weightless building blocks: words.

trying to write…

practicing the MöbiusMy father believed in the value of practice — that a thing could be understood, mastered, seen, with sufficient study and repetition. In his workshop he made sketches in pencil and crayon, and sometimes puzzled out a complex form in pieces of scrap lumber before setting chisel to wood.

The Möbius band, with its exquisite simplicity, appealed to his aesthetic sensibilities and his engineer’s precision. It was a form he contemplated and returned to for years, practicing its infinite curve in paper, rubber, metal, plastic and wood.

The sculpture eventually emerged from the sketches: a small stack of Finnish birch plywood, given to him by a friend, was glued and clamped into a solid block, then carved and filed and sanded and sanded and sanded to a glossy twist of magic. In his sketchbook, the finished piece is recorded in his neat engineer’s handwriting with a date (1986) and number (451) and a pencil sketch with an erasure that shows he was still mastering the geometry of the thing.

As I write, my tapping fingers twist another scrap of fabric into a Möbius of words, practicing, trying to understand, looking for the form, the beauty, the truth hidden within memory and mind.

LRK - Möbius 1986
In the top image, the sculpture in progress is shown third down in the middle row. The finished piece is 8.5″ x 12″.

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