Friday, April 15, 2005


I just started reading a book of poems by Al Purdy, The Woman on the Shore. I was finding it a bit difficult to concentrate - Enterprise was running a sex episode - but once the TV was done I began to focus and enjoy the smooth way his poems read for me, even the way they look to me, and although not many of them thrummed, they still tasted creamy. Suddenly, I realized something - no commas!!!!!

Hold it right here. No commas! Here is a poet who has, what, 32 published books of poems. Certainly that qualifies him as a respected writer - no? and he doesn't use commas.

In almost every poem I've ever posted, the very first crit will refer to my lack of commas, or maybe I put one or two in out of guilt and then that's bad too, so I try to put them all in and then the poem reads yukky so I mess around with the line breaks and well its just messed.

I've said it before: I understand the need for punctuation. Let us lead the reader, guide him truly through the experience as wel have created it.

or not!

I want the reader to breath where he/she needs to breath
If there's a pause that really must pause, hell, I'll put in a line break
otherwise, have fun.

SO herein I resolve to not use commas unless I want to.
Now, this resolve goes into the bag of other resolves that include: I resolve to use the word I in my poems if I wish; I resolve to use a simile if I like it; I resolve to use 'ing' words when the sound good; and I resolve to break the lines where I catch my breath.

This hour is a wedge
imbedded in the chest of night
the deep night when all the rugs go soft
and blankets mound like children
murmuring sweet vows sweet
promises. This hour is a spade
digging in the mudflats
chasing clam spouts cracking
shells spreading the meat
like any crazy bird
lifting her wide feet from the skin
of the sea. This hour is the prow
of a tin ship dusty pointed north;
a shard of common quartz
in a velvet bag. This
hour is a breath
then sixty counts
before the next
in a green room
where everyone waits.


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