When Dreams Swim With Cities of Men
Pipe dreams, they’re called, leading to nowhere,
steps off a parapet, a leap into the chasm,
that trill in the chest
that pause before one silent lift.
Rushing temples burn a heart,
rush of a city, wind against skin,
a place you had forgotten until now.
Pressed against invisible threads the clouds hiss,
don’t go too high. Scents of pine and laurel rise
from humus beds, sending soft, beguiling
messages of comfort —
an urge to burrow competes
with a cirrus-streaked bowl of sky.
Moisture glistens against panes,
scratching branches etch gaunt wraiths of the past.
They coax you down from the stratosphere
to ring the sentries, shatter glass,
wrestle slights, travel
into a channel riddled with crevices,
a game of blind man’s bluff into depths
charted or unknown.
A contest that wills you to expose roots
lost under melted glaciers,
entwined in the hulls of shipwrecks
where liquid dreams turn on a dime.
Relish worlds deep and salty, blur the line
between breathing underwater and taking flight.
We started this work with a desire to create and collaborate together, but no clear idea of where and how exactly to start. Our intent was always to have fun, and to not worry about the finished project. As long as we were poeming and creating, we didn’t care (too much) what the finished product looked and sounded like. Deb was interested in learning about the video pieces Christine had been doing and that seemed a good jumping-off point. Christine edited some film clips she had and Deb free-wrote for five minutes in response to the images, not knowing what Christine had in mind.
Deb took the free-write, developed a first line and Christine followed. Alternate lines created a 16-line poem, of approximately 16 beats per line, initially broken into 2 stanzas.
Christine took the first revision (with Deb’s heartfelt gratitude) and broke the lines, reshaping the poem into what is presented today. A few minor word changes were made here and there but the language of the poem is nearly identical to where it started from.
We both agreed that one part of the video didn’t fit the poem and so it was cut (with a promise from Christine that it will reappear some time in the future as part of a different work). Deb sent Christine a link to her Flickr page with a number of sky images that Christine could work in if they fit. Then the hardest part (as far as Deb was concerned): did the read poem match the length of the video? Deb recorded the poem in 2 parts and Christine mixed the recording, the images and added background music. (Deb is going to learn how to do this too, she swears.)
Christine and Deb communicated via email and Google documents. They’ve never spoken or met (and both look forward to doing so some time. Maybe AWP 2010).
Watch the completed video here. –Eds.