I heard a new word from a new friend, Zach. Custom composition is his full-time job, as the one-man maker, performer, and visual-literary artist behind “poemstore.” Zach crafts exquisite zips of curbside poetry on his manual typewriter for lucky passers by. Name the subject and Zach with architect you a poem, asking only for a donation and a photo of the poem for his website http://zachhouston.com
So, the new word: “Coinsequence” — when a coincidence happens in a sequence. Sort of like synchronicity on a spree. You dig? If you use it, please thank Zach and send him your story.
Here is mine…
It involves a poetry dinner that my buddy Ben hosts, in which he and I invite a handful of others who also love poems to gather, revel, and swap favorites. It’s invariably an eclectic and electric happening. I come away charged by the power of words and dazzled by the force of the current from which they flow. For me, putting a pile of poems in the center of the room has the same effect as a punchbowl laced with LSD. It opens, expands, lifts, and loosens separate selves enough to stir a sensation of collective consciousness.
Is that what Ben, Zach, Jacqueline, Ana Teresa, Haley, Michael, David, and I experienced last Thursday? This I know: ‘twas groovy. One minute, we were sharing poems, and the next thing I see is Ben rolling out a cage full of bingo balls tattooed on the blank side with different pen-drawn words. We each selected one and started writing. From prompts like “paradise,” “change,” and “angst” our stuff sprung. These flash poems were in turn funny, sexy, profound, touching, weird – and they contained some rather obscure phrases and references that oddly enough mirrored one another and repeated in totally unexpected ways. Were we all on a similar wavelength? Clearly. Yet beyond that, I think perhaps coinsequence masks a deeper truth. Let me tell you why…
Five days later, in the weekly poetry circle that I host at an assisted living community, it happened again. We began in the usual way, catch-up talk, followed by me reciting poems. Then, Walt interrupted to say that he and Ray had spent the better part of the morning in discussion about our meetings. “We need to start writing more,” he declared, “not the whole time, but we should get our own thoughts and responses down, poetically.” Walt and Ray explained that all this poetry was unlocking their imaginations in a way that felt great. They wanted to release those ideas for themselves, but also to show others like them what poetry could do to revitalize and excite in ways that their weekly bingo games didn’t. Bingo is fun, they said, but this is something more potent and it needs to be shared. Jai Ho!
The other side of the bingo ball was again showing its face. And we started writing. And it was a marvel of an afternoon.
I had recited T.S. Elliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” at the beginning of our session. By the end of it, we had an answer to Prufrock’s overwhelming question: DO I DARE DISTURB THE UNIVERSE?
Yes. Over and over and over. Coinsequence calls out to us everyday.
Explaining an Affinity for Bats
That they are only glimpsed in silhouette,
And seem something else at first – a swallow –
And move like new tunes, difficult to follow,
Staggering towards an obstacle they yet
Avoid in a last-minute pirouette,
Somehow telling solid things from hollow,
Sounding out how high a space, or shallow,
Revising into deepening violet.
That they sing – not the way the songbird sings
(Whose song is rote, to ornament, finesse) –
But travel by a sort of song that rings,
True not in utterance, but harkenings,
Who find their way by calling into darkness
To hear their voice bounce off the shape of things.
~ A. E. Stallings