As I work on my Redwood manuscript, I thought it might be a useful exercise to go back through some of my previous work and see what ideas I can draw from it. I’ve found that the best writing I’ve done is sometimes beyond my immediate apprehension. During the process of writing, I don’t fully understand why or what I was trying to accomplish. I’m always straining the limits of my thought, my technique, my intimations about sound and sense. To go back through and recover something useful might help me find my way through this current creative process.
This is the first poem in my book Figments, a collection of poems written from about 2017-2020.
I love the word figment. It comes from the Latin figmentum, which means “something formed or fashioned.” It’s also related to figura, or “shape.”
Figments are the ephemera of the mind. Illusory figures whose echoes are thoughts and ideas. They exist in the theater of the mind as simulacra generated out of our interactions with the external world. Do we form them ourselves, or are they imposed, impressed upon us?
This poem, and the subsequent poems of the first section, “Of Language,” set up the major themes of the book. Here is the first bubbling up of the physiological process of a mind generating figments of its imagination. The microscopic world of electro-chemical signals in the brain that give rise to visions of reality.
I really like how dreamy the end rhyming is here. I hadn’t even realized until rereading it that I’d managed to link every line together. Again, when we’re in the process of creating, the meaning is often hidden even from the artist.
Dawn of Man
The stickiness of consciousness
the spthlink spthlink of unlinking polymers
emulsifying in soupy darkness
The viscoelastic creep and tear
of a brain remembering where
it was impressed in elastic presence
Measure it by the mucous trail of its laws
and you too will become like soft plastic