Saturday, September 10, 2011


Yeah, I'm still here. Slowly easing my way back into poetry, and since this is supposed to be the blog in which I talk about mostly poetry/writing-related stuff, I think maybe I'll be easing my way back into blogging too. I hope so - I do miss it, and the community I found via blogging.

I've had a couple of readings lately - a featured spot in the Brick Street Poetry Series up in Zionsville, IN (really fun), and a spot on the Spoken Word Stage at the 4th Street Festival of Arts & Crafts last weekend (fun, but it was 102 degrees and the "stage" was in the middle of the street in full sun, which meant only the truly dedicated stayed to listen). I'll write a post soon about the new anthology that's just come out, And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana (it's really, really lovely). That's about all the poetry news 'round here though.

I've about had it with the media blathering on about the tenth anniversary of 9/11/01. There's little new to be said, I suspect, though if it can be cathartic or healing for some people, then I'm glad for them. Instead of adding to the 9/11 blather, I'm going to post my poem about 9/10, and that desire we all have when something terrible happens to go back to the moment before and hold on for dear life. The sestina seemed like an appropriate form for this one, since you keep going back to the same end words and using them over and over again, holding on to them. (Sorry 'bout the small font. I'm trying to keep the lines from breaking all over the place. If you have trouble reading it, you can enlarge the text in most browsers by hitting control-+ on Windows machines; I'm sure there is a Mac equivalent...)

9/10/01: Sestina

It was the day before.
I rode six miles out to sea to look for whales.
As we drifted nearly out of sight of land
we spied a small whale in the distance
alongside a larger whale, its mother, diving, lifting flukes.
As we approached the calf began to breach.

The morning sun struck the back of the calf, shining, as it continued to breach.
The boat drew closer. I’d never been so close before.
So often, as the boat pulled near, a whale would dive with one last thrust of flukes
but the morning of September 10 was a good one for watching whales.
The seas were calm, Provincetown’s monument familiar in the distance –
a reassuring glimpse of home, of land.

That small whale buoyed me as I flew home that night, my plane the last to land.
I could still feel waves rocking me, a breach
in the solid wall of my landlocked life. Traveling such a distance
alone – something I hadn’t dared before –
felt as brave as those whales,
as graceful as the lifting of flukes.

I’d bought a silver necklace shaped like flukes.
I clutched it like an amulet all the next day as news broke about “war in our own land.”
Provincetown seemed a lifetime ago, the sea, the joy, the whales.
Like everyone I stood stunned, complacency utterly breached.
What to say? How to respond? All the words I’d used before
fell away silent into the distance.

All I wanted was to return to that distance,
sun glistening on morning seas, the curve of flukes.
I held on so hard to before.
As events unfolded I felt lost in my own land,
each day’s news trumpeting some new security breach.
But somewhere out to sea there are still whales.

Part of me stayed out there with those whales,
the calf leaping into air, others in the distance,
the way he hung there for a moment mid-breach,
pure bone and muscle, fin and fluke.
I want it not to matter, what happens on distant land.
Somewhere it is always the day before.

What did I know, before I saw whales?
I was a land mammal dreaming of the distance.
Now I clutch the grace of flukes, the animal exuberance of the breach.

-Anne Haines
published in Breach (Finishing Line Press, 2008)


Lyle Daggett said...

Hi, Anne. I remember this poem from Breach -- thanks for posting it here.

That 102 degree reading sounds like a true test of will, or of spirit. I have no doubt it was fun, though yeah I would guess only the truly dedicated would stick it out under those conditions.

(I was in Albuquerque for a few days at the end of August, and spent time at a couple of poetry readings, one of which was in a space with somewhat "iffy" air conditioning. And though it wasn't quite as hot as the Indiana reading you talk about it, it got fairly warm during the days, and it take take a certain determination to stay through the events. But definitely good and worth it. :)

This past evening I wrote in my blog about various stuff related to (and in opposition to) the 9/11 mania that's pervading the corporate news media right now. The blogpost is here, if you care to take a look.

Lyle Daggett said...

Eek! I linked to the wrong blog article in my previous comment.

The blogpost I wrote this evening, related to 9/11 stuff etc., is here.

(The link in the previous comment actually might be relevant too -- it's to the blogpost I wrote recently about the Albuquerque Cultural Conference, the event I said a little about in the previous comment.)

Collin Kelley said...

That's one of my favorite poems in Breach. xo

Anne Haines said...

Lyle, Collin - thanks so much. :)

dee gee bee said...

I had this same day visiting Nelson Bay, NSW, Oz. Great post :-)