Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chapter Five - Part Two - Land Use

Filling my field with poetry seeds feels a little bit like growing flowers. It's nice. It's pretty, but, but, but, other than making my life beautiful for a season how is it going to help my sustainable future? Can I afford not to worry about it? This should spell out how jittery I feel about my writing. Often I find myself wanting to abandon the field altogether, for a job in the city, but I've always found myself thrown back into the field, and so this time I'm going to try to stay in it until I know what the land is good for, and if I offer anything that can be sustained there.

So, I suppose I could go Dutch. I could imagine myself as the great tulip grower. The tulip has been my personal symbol since I was in middle school after all. Anyone who has seen my signature has seen the crazy scribbled tulip "trademark" at the end and speculated about it. Maybe all along I've been meant to plant pretty flowers. Have you ever seen fields of tulips? They are amazing. When I lived in Oregon I made a yearly trip to see them near Salem. Fields and fields of tulips of every size, shape and color. My favorites are probably the French tulips with their elegant long stems, their pointed turned-out petals and often variegated colors.

Interestingly, tulips don't grow very well in Southern California. That's kind of funny, isn't it?

Here's a poem I wrote last fall about screenwriting:

Double-Edged Metaphor
Copyright © 2009 Amanda Morris Johnson

Follow a flowchart down
Through the thicket of films already made
You’ll find the stones of this chart
Well-marked, well remarked, will tell
You everything you ever wanted to know
About writing a screenplay.

Of course, it will ruin movies for you.
Like stale popcorn, the craft actually
Sticks to your teeth unavoidably
And there you are picking at them at every showing,
Sometimes for days, and longer,
While you consider the rationale.

Yet what is a movie without popcorn?
What is a script without this well-timed craft?
What is a thicket without a lot of trees?
You’re told under the florescent grow lights,
It is a duty to ingest the stuff so that everyone
Is happy at The End when the girl gets kissed.

The thicket, the films that crowd
Un-weeded, robustly around your brain
Are timed to be fully-popped.
Perfect white kernels, variously flavored.
But, being a thicket, include many bags
That are full of un-popped kernels.

I rather like the un-popped kernels.
Who is to say they are unrealized trees?
Small, hard, and brown, their refusal to pop
Wins my admiration every time. Maybe they
were supposed to challenge the mouth
to actually chew on them for a while.

It’s the burnt kernel, the stinkin’ overcooked
popcorn that smells up a place for days like a forest fire
Leaving its layer of ash on the window sills,
Making you rewash that once clean pile of laundry
Ruining the whole damned bag that
Rages through a perfectly good thicket of films

And before you know it, you find yourself
Unable to bear watching the bag
Inflate in your microwave of a brain
Forcing you to leave the flow-chart,
The timer, and the copse for poetry that
Will never make you six figures.

It is tulip season on the Front Range in Colorado. They are hardy, withstanding wind storms, and snow. When I see them in their bright colors, then I know the hope that was planted last fall is paying off.

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