Monday, January 25, 2010
Feature: T.M. Göttl Day 2
Out of the Desert
A liar and a cheater,
like a crayon-painted road sign
melting waxy puddles through
tomorrow afternoon, I
never quite believed
in men with wings—
big and great golden eagle wings,
growing from their shoulder blades—
no. I never quite believed,
although I said I did.
Because I always watched my brothers,
carrying the weather on their backs,
past the blue welding light,
scouring the steam-loving cranes
until they burned and bled and
cracked all the gunmetal nightlights,
lifting iron ladders, girders
crossed into star-shaped flowers
worshiping a dead and contrived
And I said no.
I painted neon pink and silver
over all the attic drywall,
called it Heaven, climbed those eighteen stairs
every afternoon at four o’clock,
said my prayers, almost
thought I heard the saints
talking back to me.
And then I stood on the crystal jukebox
declaring, in forty different tongues
like a knighted prophet in
leather sandals and a corduroy tunic, that
yes, I believe
men can grow
glossy wings from their backs,
crossing canyons and vaulting the rapids.
I had to believe.
But I never quite believed.
And the doubt? I knew it,
a chewing nest of carpenter vermin
drinking the ink out of prayer books
and clipping black eyes to the curtains.
They chased me from the cathedral,
from the railroad, from the statehouse.
They chased me from the school and
from the grocery, from the park.
They chased me to an old garage
underneath an old factory.
And there, without fish-tail testimonials
or a porcelain-faced audience,
there, I found
a man, with wings,
who showed me how
to find my own, auburn and burgundy-feathered,
crossing lakes and vaulting
the heroic moon I’d never met.
And finally, finally, I believed.
© T.M. Göttl (previously published in a Saturday Night with the Poet's Haven PodCast and in Stretching the Window, (c) 2007)
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Q: When did you discover you loved to write? And is this something you’ve done since you were young or something you discovered as you got older?
A: I actually started writing creatively in kindergarten or first grade. I don’t know if it’s still in existence, but there was something called the Young Authors, where kids in grade school could write, illustrate, bind and submit a “book” that they’d written. Writing has always been with me.
I started writing poetry in high school—the angsty kind of stuff that teens write. Then in college, I took a poetry workshop, and it completely altered my approach to poetry writing and the way I think about it. It’s been with me ever since.
Q: You have a very deep affection for little furry creatures. Where does that come from? Do you think maybe you may have been a squirrel in you a past life?
A: The squirrel affinity actually grew out of a conversation several years ago when I was trying to explain the way that I think in comparison with a squirrel. A squirrel will run half-way across the street, hesitate and turn back. He might eventually get to his destination, but it takes him a while to get up the nerve to go all the way. It seemed to be a good metaphor for me at the time, and the squirrels have kind of stuck with me.
I also had pet rabbits when I was younger, and I have a Syrian, long-haired hamster now, named Zora.
Q: You have very clear themes that appear in your writing and poetry. Can you tell us a little about that?
A: I’d like to think my readers would be better at telling you about that. So often I’ve heard that artists are the worst people to interpret their own work, and I know it’s true in my case. But since you asked, I’ll give it a quick attempt.
The most common response I’ve had to my writing, especially in Stretching the Window, is that I’m “searching”. For a while now, I’ve felt like I’ve been in a very transitional phase of my life, and whether consciously or unconsciously, that’s worked its way into my poetry. And I think most people can relate to that. We are all searching for something, because if we’d found it, we wouldn’t have a reason to be here anymore.