Not long after Front Man was published and I did a slew of readings to promote the chapbook, I started wondering what next? What should I work on now? The poems from the chapbook, overall, have a distinct voice and focus on a particular music scene and the ideals that go with it. But I knew around the time I finished the book and it was accepted by Big Table Publishing up in Boston that I said all I wanted to say about that subject and it was time to move on.
Near the end of writing Front Man, I started drafting some new poems, with far different personas and even some different forms than the poems of my first book. I started to heavily explore the issue of relationships, of first meetings between friends, crushes, lovers, and what’s left after relationships unravel. I think some of this came from what I was reading at the time- a lot of Kim Addonizzio’s poems (which often deal with love, sex, lust, and loss), and Sam Hazo’s marriage dialogue poems, which explore how each gender communicates in a relationship. I also read Major Jackson’s new collection, Holding Company, and that collection has had the biggest influence on my newest work. In his third collection, Jackson leaves behind the hip-hip references and longer narrative poems. For Holding Company, he created a series of tight, 10-line, sonnetesque poems, many of them dealing with a broken marriage and new beginnings/new relationships. I was especially impressed with the collection because of the leap forward he made as a writer, how he broke from his familiar and probably comfortable personas and forms.
I have a good portion of poems written (probably 15-20 solid drafts, just a few shy of a second chapbook manuscript). So far, it’s been exciting to take on new subject matter, new forms, and new personas. Finishing Line Press wanted to publish Front Man after it was accepted by Big Table Publishing, and recently, they told me they are very interested to see a second manuscript and will give it close consideration. But right now, I’m enjoying the drafting and revision process, figuring out how these poems will fit together and speak to each other. I’m in the process of sending poems out to journals, just like I did for Front Man, before it all came together. It’s refreshing to be back at the early stages of a new manuscript. Here is a new poem from the new collection I’m working on.
He answered her motel call for company,
pulled her close, wrapped her in his long arms,
the same arms she used to imagine
caressing when she watched him swing bats
at their high school ball field.
For two hours, she made up for months
she ached to be touched,
nights she pulled a pillow close,
pretended she could feel his facial stubble prick her cheeks.
The old lovers finished, sparked cigarettes,
sat on the deck. They knew that come daybreak
they’d gather their clothes,
bathe and leave because she had her New York job,
and he his hometown carpenter work.
He liked to remember her moans,
his name loud in her mouth,
and she the strength of his hands
tracing her curves in the dark.
They always left before sunlight revealed
growing streaks of gray in their hair,
fine lines near their eyes,
bodies sore and tired, in need of rest
before meeting again.