Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Day 3

As you may have noticed, today is the 5th of May, so my count seems to be a bit off for my Pushkin project. The truth is, I didn't begin writing until Sunday, which means, from my perspective, this is really Day 3. I hope you will forgive my whimsical figures. Like much about Art, my numbers bear only the most ridiculous relation to reality. Besides, it's hard enough to write a stanza a day without worrying about my math.

So far, all I have done this morning is revise what I wrote yesterday, which I include below. I have added some puppies and some galaxies to go along with my podiatrist, Dr. Silverman. Everybody craves a little companionship now and then, even podiatrists, so I hope these additions will not be rejected as superfluous by the reader. I have also tried to tighten a few lines and generally smooth over some vague patches I noticed on the train last night.

I do have another verse in the works, which I promise to publish later in the day, as a rare second-in-a-day posting. As this was (is?) one of those unusual events prophesied by Nostrodamus, this will not come as a shock to you. I include the information here solely for those readers schooled more in science than mystical Medieval lore. I understand such creatures do exist. And I do my best to make this blog accessible to everyone. So, I crave your indulgence.

Anyway, here is today's damage:


Today, as I was paring my toenails,
I had a startling poetic thought:
Since I have started fabricating tales,
Once I am finished with my toes, I ought
To tell a story totally in verse,
Like Alexander Pushkin. What’s the worst
Thing which could happen to me, if I do?
I waste a month, while trying to pursue
A dream. Not a great sacrifice to make.
But digging deeper, under my big toe,
To get a stubborn piece of sock, I go
And stab a capillary by mistake:
Administering a pedicure is not
The time to be developing your plot.

Although a pint of blood, I’m sure, will prove
Indispensable to me later on—
Blood being second only to true love
As an essential element of fiction;
Beyond the story of Philoctetes,
Penned by Pulitzer winner Sophocles,
Western literature is rather weak
When it comes to treating injured feet.
There is Achilles, yes, and Oedipus
Translates from ancient Greek as ‘swollen foot’—
But is my toe the basis for a book,
Except for, maybe, my podiatrist,
Dr. Silverman? It’s tough to say.
The man hates poetry. He says it’s gay.

I mention my podiatrist because—
As you have no doubt noticed here so far—
Underneath the sterile square of gauze
Stuck here to stop my bleeding toe—there are—
I hesitate to call them ‘flaws’—a few—
Let’s try the phrase—‘slight changes’—that will do—
Which I’ve made to Pushkin’s sonnet scheme
Less fatal to the work than they might seem:
I add a fifth beat to his four foot line.
You may regard the act as criminal
Or revel in the extra syllable
Like puppies playing out in the sunshine.
Pentameter is kind of hard to ditch
If your first love in life was Shakespeare, which

It was for me. There’s not much I can do.
If Pushkin’s relatives should get wind
Of my two-timing ways, I doubt they’ll sue.
They’ll probably ask an unemployed cousin
To slit my throat when I’m asleep in bed.
I guess I could get used to being dead;
As long as you can promise what I wrote
Continues living in your heart, I’ll cope
With fame and martyrdom quite well. But
If anybody offers me some cash
To shut up, I’ll consider it, as
I’m always short. And having your throat cut
By former agents of the KGB
Does sound a wee bit painful, actually.

Life’s full of choices. I propose a truce
Between my critics and their allies in
The Russian mob. I’ll borrow—not abuse—
A bottle of champagne from the horizon
Bequeathed to me—to gawkers everywhere
Who’ve gulped at galaxies we might compare
In liquid brilliance to a sparkling word
Of Alexander Pushkin. It’s absurd
To carry the comparison further than
A single word: our metaphors break down
To burps and bubbles—particles of sound
That do not look like galaxies, or stand
For much of anything, beyond noise.
It’s hard to fit the stars into your voice.

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