Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Written Collage for Polly Jean

While I was a student at the University of Kentucky in the mid nineties I had the tremendous opportunity to study under the great poet James Baker Hall. I was in my early twenties and got to take a number of courses Jim taught over several semesters. The late James Baker Hall was a wonderful man, teacher and writer. He was everything a professor should be and so much more. Simply put, it was an honor to be involved in those intimate round table classes and I will always cherish those memories. 
James Baker Hall (photo copyright Sarabande Books)
Most of my writing from that period has been lost, which is probably a good thing as I am sure most of it was fairly lousy, but a few pieces have survived including this little oddity that was featured in the 1995 collection small, Hard Braveries (sic).   It's a bit surreal looking back at these pieces that I wrote nearly two decades ago.  They bring back a lot of memories and remind me of the guy I used to be.  Honestly most of my creative writing just embarrasses me but I have gotten to the point in my life where I can accept it as being a part of me, so I thought I might share a few of those surviving pieces here. 
These words were obviously inspired by PJ Harvey, an artist who I am still as enthralled by today as I was back in 1995.  My only real memory of this piece is that Jim was extremely enthusiastic about it, which meant a great deal to me and that part 1 was lost long ago.  
 "A Written Collage of Words for Polly Jean (Part 2)" see you
     I stare into a bright WHITE LIGHT for as long as I can stand
then close my eyes tightly.
With white light reflections, I see you
sitting in your house,
sitting by your stereo
sipping on breathe-easy tea.
It's a stormy Tuesday afternoon
with Captain Beefheart's Bat Chain Puller
playing in the background.
You're waiting
for your brother to arrive
for your weekly Scrabble match.
You're sitting
your left leg tucked underneath your right
which is pushed out over the wooden floor.
-Black lace bra and FADING BLUE cut off sweats-
tight around your thighs,
bare feet (chipped-polished
Your eyes scan the lyric sheet as you listen to the music,
black hair falling on warm white skin
as each song
into the invisible distance.
Each word slips slips off the page
as you push aside
your unwashed hair
and brush an itch off
your left cheek.
Between songs your paranoid glance is directed
to the kitchen.
Is the stove off?
Are the lights out?
Will those lit candles eventually burn you down?
You smile that brilliant grin at this thought and
your hair back
with that grey-purple scarf hiding
that picture of me
 in front of the fireplace
feet away from you. 
Polly Jean smiling her rare smile
on a stormy Tuesday afternoon
left leg under the right
the body in the bedroom
Captain Beefhearts's Bat Chain Puller on the turntable.

-Jeremy Richey, originally written in 1995 (revised 2013). 

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