Saturday, June 1, 2019

#106 Backstory of the Poem "i sold your car today" by Pamela Twining

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***This #106 in the never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific poem and how the poet wrote that specific poem.  All BACKSTORY OF THE POEM links are at the end of this piece. 

****All images are given copyright permission for this CRC Blog Post only by Pamela Twining unless otherwise noted
#106 Backstory of the Poem
“I sold your car today”
by Pamela Twining

Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form?

     My partner, Beat poet Andy Clausen, lived for 12 years with poet Janine Pommy Vega, who died in 2010. Andy and I came together at the end of 2011 and merged our households. We now shared 2 cars, my Toyota and a Subaru inherited from Janine. Poets are chronically short of funds, thus we decided to sell one of the cars; the Subaru was the choice as it was older and in slightly worse shape. We finally found a buyer who came to pick up the car; in my mind, I imagined what Andy might be feeling, as he parted with a large part of the material life he had shared with Janine.

Where were you when you started to actually write the poem? And please describe the place in great detail. The car was parked at the back of our driveway. We had cleaned it out, scrubbed and polished and shined for the new owner. The young man came to drive her away and a brief look, somewhat indescribable, crossed Andy’s face as the car he’d driven for the last few years, one of the last material possessions shared with Janine, disappeared out of the drive and down the hill, out of sight. 
     The title and the first lines of the poem popped into my mind, as the somewhat presumptuous idea of defining the depth of another’s feelings about a relationship I’d had no actual part in occurred to me. But something very powerful was calling me to explore this moment in the secret heart of my lover, a profound depth he might not even have been aware of at the time.
What month and year did you start writing this poem? We sold the car in 2013, in June I believe. As I said, the title and the first couple of lines occurred at that moment, and I mulled them over for a few weeks, thinking of Andy’s relationship with Janine and also what I knew of her, from her poetry and prose books, as well as stories Andy had told me about her life before they met and their lives together. It was in July, when for some strange reason, many of my Strongest and Most Beloved poems have been written, that I actually sat down and began to write.
How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? (And can you share a photograph of your rough drafts with pen markings on it?) There are two things to mention here: the first is that I am a strong proponent of Kerouac’s concept “First thought, Best thought”, thus my writing style is pretty much Stream of Consciousness and, as in a story attributed to Oscar Wilde (Below Right), my revisions often consist of spending all morning removing a comma and then all afternoon putting it back again. Which is to say that my poetry basically springs fully-formed from my brow.

     The second thing I would mention is that these days I do most of my streaming on computer, eyes closed and fingers flying. I Love composing with my eyes closed! There are a few times, when I’m out and about, that I write the first draft, the streaming, in my notebook (always carried with me) Left then transcribing when I reach home, which perhaps becomes a second draft because I may make a few changes at that point. 
     I don’t compose on my phone, as many of the young people do, because the format is too small and I don’t type so well with a texting keyboard. There’s a part of me that regrets this movement away from pen & paper composition, for this very reason, that there is usually no relic of the process, with crossings out and notes to self, as I have often appreciated earlier poets’ work, the indentations of the pen on paper felt with my fingers, homage to the work itself rather than just the “final” product. I always feel that a poem is Never “final”, until the poet is dead. And even then….

Were there any lines in any of your rough drafts of this poem that were not in the final version? And can you share them with us?  No, there were few changes made in the poem, as it spilled out of me. Maybe a word or two, but given that I mostly work on the computer, (Right), drafts rarely get saved. Cut & Paste is the enemy of earlier drafts. Sometimes, if I make major changes in a “completed” poem, one that hasn’t jelled yet, I will re-save it under a numbered title, but that didn’t happen in this case.
What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem? Often, when I read this poem in public, people chuckle at the title, then find that the subject is much deeper and more serious than they had imagined, a breakup poem perhaps. The subject of the poem was a poet, a seeker, a lover, and sometimes a hermit. I like the complexity of emotions that I see crossing the faces of listeners, as the poignancy of memory unfolds. I hope readers/listeners experience the beautiful interplay of remembrance and loss, as well as the endurance of Love and the ways that Love manifests in our going forward.
Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why? Janine and I have lived very different lives but there are many similarities too. Aside from the obvious, that we are both poets, we each started out as “nature poets” and became more political as time and events informed our lives. We both revere the Mother, in All her manifestations, and seek each in her own way, to convey that reverence in Life and Work. And Andy has loved us both. Though I know it’s foolish, it always pains me a little to think of him with another woman. It’s not as if I haven’t had other lovers myself. But it occurred to me, in the lines “i still sometimes wear your skin/see through your eyes/walk journeys my legs have never traveled…” that this poem is perhaps a relationship between Janine and myself, as well as between Janine & Andy. And it’s about my relationship with Andy as well. And Oh! I Do Love Them Both!

Has this poem been published before? And if so where? “i sold your car today” appeared in The Café Review, Vol 25, Summer 2014

Anything you would like to add? There are times that I struggle to write and have to force myself to Sit Down and Just Begin! In those instances, I often have to throw away the first paragraph, as it is more Settling In than Getting to the Meat of the thing. This poem just came to me as I wrote, the words burning a hole in my pocket, ecstatic to be brought forth. That happens sometimes, not often enough. And mostly in July.
i sold your car today       

as i slough off another piece of you
i still sometimes wear your skin
see through your eyes
walk journeys my legs have never traveled
               on the wings of your tales
deep in the jungles, high in rock-strewn wildernesses tapping
into the rhythms and bowels of the fertile Mother
her vast wastelands throb of waterfall and avalanche
               clear purity of uncharted Nowhere
Amazon basin to Sagarmatha’s unconquered heights
too hungry for words
and words are all existence, no digital flatness
words are flesh and winds have teeth
to tear from you everything familiar
-- which was the point –

where are the Loves? the forgotten children?
placentas of the Word giving birth to meaning
future artisans molding the clay of our belonging
from the flesh of our words

possessions once so dear to you
only dear to me now because of you
and every hour every day a little more
              another bit
                             floats out of reach
your face, the feel of your skin against mine
found now mostly in dreams
sometimes all i want to do is sleep
have you come again to fill my days and nights
with the small pains and pleasures that we were
             and know for once the essence of you
                          so deeply hidden in the Wanting
life attachments and detachments wrestled screaming
to earth in marching meditations
for a heaven unattainable until the ashes spread
and sink again into the body of the Mother
               you always sought
offered in a blinding jewel to the chariot of the dawn

i ache with the loss of you
whose heart was never mine
whose spirit dodged and danced among the aromatic green
the Orinoco fronds and heavy air so wet and fragrant
               you could drink it
who scaled unnumbered heights
stone fingertips piercing through the bellies of clouds
making no obeisance to the sky
their craggy fingers grasping Light
a scissor slicing deep into the vitals
hot nutrients for those seeds
those words
that flesh

i lost another piece of you today
but still i sometimes wear your skin
see through your eyes
taste your words in my mouth
and kiss them forward

 PAMELA TWINING has traveled the US with her partner, poet Andy Clausen, performing her work in California, Colorado, New York City, Michigan, Wisconsin and places in between. Her work has appeared in Big Scream, Big Hammer, PoetryBay, The Café Review, Napalm Health Spa, and Heyday!, among others. With Andy Clausen, she is co-curator of “The Invisible Empires of Beatitude” page at The Museum of American Poetics ( 
 Pamela is a co-sponsor of the annual Janine Pommy Vega Poetry Festival, held in Woodstock NY every summer. In addition, she is author of three chapbooks, “i have been a river…”, “utopians & madmen” and “A Thousand Years of Wanting; the Erotic Poetry of Pamela Twining”. She is working on a new book, entitled “Duck n Cover n Other Poems” as well as a prose/poem memoir entitled “Ecstasy Pie”.

Blog: The Open Door 


001  December 29, 2017
Margo Berdeshevksy’s “12-24”

002  January 08, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “82 Miles From the Beach, We Order The Lobster At Clear Lake Café”

003 January 12, 2018
Barbara Crooker’s “Orange”

004 January 22, 2018
Sonia Saikaley’s “Modern Matsushima”

005 January 29, 2018
Ellen Foos’s “Side Yard”

006 February 03, 2018
Susan Sundwall’s “The Ringmaster”

007 February 09, 2018
Leslea Newman’s “That Night”

008 February 17, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher “June Fairchild Isn’t Dead”

009 February 24, 2018
Charles Clifford Brooks III “The Gift of the Year With Granny”

010 March 03, 2018
Scott Thomas Outlar’s “The Natural Reflection of Your Palms”

011 March 10, 2018
Anya Francesca Jenkins’s “After Diane Beatty’s Photograph “History Abandoned”

012  March 17, 2018
Angela Narciso Torres’s “What I Learned This Week”

013 March 24, 2018
Jan Steckel’s “Holiday On ICE”

014 March 31, 2018
Ibrahim Honjo’s “Colors”

015 April 14, 2018
Marilyn Kallett’s “Ode to Disappointment”

016  April 27, 2018
Beth Copeland’s “Reliquary”

017  May 12, 2018
Marlon L Fick’s “The Swallows of Barcelona”

018  May 25, 2018

019  June 09, 2018
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020 June 16, 2018
Charles Rammelkamp’s “At Last I Can Start Suffering”

021  July 05, 2018
Marla Shaw O’Neill’s “Wind Chimes”

022 July 13, 2018
Julia Gordon-Bramer’s “Studying Ariel”

023 July 20, 2018
Bill Yarrow’s “Jesus Zombie”

024  July 27, 2018
Telaina Eriksen’s “Brag 2016”

025  August 01, 2018
Seth Berg’s “It is only Yourself that Bends – so Wake up!”

026  August 07, 2018
David Herrle’s “Devil In the Details”

027  August 13, 2018
Gloria Mindock’s “Carmen Polo, Lady Necklaces, 2017”

028  August 21, 2018
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029  August 30, 2018
Mary Harwell Sayler’s “Faces in a Crowd”

030 September 16, 2018
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031  September 24, 2018
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032  October 04, 2018
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033 October 13, 2018
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034  October 17, 2018
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035 October 23, 2018
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036  October 30, 2018
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037  November 04, 2018
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038 November 11, 2018
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039  November 00, 2018
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040 November 16, 2018
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041 November 20, 2018
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042 November 22, 2018
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043  November 27, 2018
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044 November 30, 2018
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045  December 03, 2018
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046 December 06, 2018
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047 December 11, 2018
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048  December 14, 2018
Frank Paino’s “Laika”

049  December 15, 2018
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O50  December 19, 2018
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051 December 23, 2018
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052  December 27, 2018
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053  December 28, 2018
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054  December 29, 2018
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055 January 2, 2019
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056  January 7, 2019
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057  January 10, 2019
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058  January 11, 2019
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059  January 12, 2019
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060 January 14, 2019
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061 January 19, 2019
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062  January 22, 2019
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063  January 25, 2019
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064  January 30, 2019
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065 February 02, 2019
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066 February 05, 2019
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067  February 06, 2019
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068 February 11, 2019
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069 February 12, 2019
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070 February 14, 2019
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071 February 18, 2019
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072 February 20, 2019
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073 February 23, 2019
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074 February 26, 2019
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075 March 4, 2019
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076 March 5, 2019
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077 March 7, 2019
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078 March 9, 2019
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079 March 10, 2019
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080 March 12, 2019
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081   082   083    March 14, 2019
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084 March 15, 2019
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085 March 19, 2019
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086 March 20, 2019
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087 March 21, 2019
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088 March 26, 2019
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089 March 27, 2019
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#098 April 19, 2019
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#099 April 20, 2019
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#100 April 21, 2019
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#104 May 09, 2019
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#105 May 17, 2019
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#106 June 01, 2019
“i sold your car today”
by Pamela Twining

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