Poetry from James Valvis appears in the January issue. He writes us a poem, talks about breaking and entering into poetry and more.
1. Describe how you break into other people’s poems and steal from them to create new poems. Please include equipment, sidekicks, and samples of pithy dialog.
It all starts when my sidekick, K, drives me to a secret location called The Library that only me and a few others know about. (These days the building fronts as a free internet and video rental place.) Once there, I use this magic card that allows me to view and withdraw classified documents called poetry that are quite wonderful, though nobody believes it.
Making my getaway, I decipher the work with a decoder ring, called a Que. K always reads the new poems first. “Crap,” she says, which means they’re good. If they were bad, she would probably divorce me. She’s more of a Kato sidekick than a Watson or Robin. In fact, let’s face it, most times she’s the hero.
2. Why last lines of poems and not first lines or fifth lines?
Purely an accident. I was studying how Dean Young ended his poems by typing them out. Soon the lines began to take shape, form themselves in a way that suggested their own poem. I showed the result to my wife, and she liked it, so I sent it out. The second place I sent it to, Confrontation, took it. So I decided to write more, limiting myself to last lines.
But that’s not entirely accurate. In the early 90′s when I was just starting to publish, I was reading Bukowski and I realized whenever he didn’t know how to end a poem, he simply wrote: “And I waited.” Or some variation on that theme. This was meant to look profound– look, Mom, no conclusions!– Â but it was really a copout, a failure. It started to annoy me after the fifth or sixth time I saw it. Then one day I saw some Buk-wannabe do the exact same thing. And I waited, he wrote. I almost threw up on my contributor copy. Ever since I’ve paid close attention to last lines.
I think last lines are where many poets (and other writers) try to pack a punch. Thus, the idea may be that if one last line is good, ten or twenty is better!
3. Would you create for us a poem based on the last lines of The Cure’s Disintegration album? If not, why?
Poem Composed Entirely with Last Lines in The Cure’s Disintegration Lyrics
all my pictures of you
fill my heart with love
and we shall be together
I will always love you
down on fascination street
how the end always is
4. What does the milk of childhood taste like? Where does it come from? Where can we buy it?
The milk of childhood is located under baby teeth. As they fall out, it pours into the mouth. Sadly, you can’t buy it. When the last tooth falls out, there is no more. It tastes like blood.
5. Can a smart boy find his way out of anywhere?
No, but if he’s lucky, smart, and bathes regularly, he can sometimes find his way into the things that matter.
6. What pop song would you want to hear Sinatra sing?
White & Nerdy.