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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? I was sitting in a small park in Rockville, MD, on a break from my job (then, as a bus driver), when I started thinking about love. It wasn’t specifically romantic love on which I was musing, but my mind immediately went to the image of a swan, known among most people as a symbol of romantic love because they mate for life. I had been through a separation and divorce in 2009-2012, and I was the one who got dumped. I was still alone in 2014 when I wrote the poem, and my experiences relative to all of that influenced this piece. I recall seeing an image in my mind of a swan falling, just as I describe in the poem, and that image inspired the rest of it. My decision to make the act of the archer (me) a pointless act, was intentional. I wanted conundrum to be at the heart of the piece, to reflect the most mysterious, yet ubiquitous, emotional state known to humans, in general. There were no rewrites. I wrote it in my iPhone notes app, where I do most of my writing. I wrote each line in order, and then it was done, in about 15 minutes. Rarely has poetry (or prose) come to me so clearly. (Above Right: Todd Franklin Osborn in 2021. Copyright by Todd Franklin Osborn)
Where were you when you started to actually write the poem? And please describe the place in great detail. The park where I wrote this poem is small, a neighborhood park, with swings and slides, and tennis and basketball courts. It is situated near a community center, and the park leads away from the center and then narrows as it continues toward the other end of the park. It was a beautiful, clear afternoon. The sun was shining, but it was cool. It must have been Spring or Autumn of 2014. The park has many tall trees with thick foliage, and that day they swayed in the slight breeze. The sky was light blue and dotted here and there with some small and some wispy clouds. (Left: The neighborhood park where Todd Franklin Osborn wrote "Swan" Credit and Copyright by Todd Franklin Osborn)
What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem? I want anyone reading this to be struck by the how the imagery matches up with what they feel emotionally about their experiences of love, whether that is romantic love or general Love.
Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why? The idea that love was already dead, but that I felt I needed to kill it again, so to speak, is an emotion that mystifies, and yet psychologically it might make sense. Despite it being a logical dilemma, with certain passages being contradictory, I think many people feel this way about love, especially regarding previous romantic relationships. (Above Left: Todd Franklin Osborn in 2008. Copyright by Todd Franklin Osborn)
Has this poem been published before? And if so where? I published it myself on https://bibbit.com/read/the-nature-of-knowledge
It is also on my own blog, which is more a storage system than a blog: https://toddfranklinosborn.blogspot.com/2020/07/swan-dive.html
(Right: Above Right: Todd Franklin Osborn's writing space. Credit and Copyright by Tood Franklin Osborn.)
Love is falling from a great height, plummeting toward Earth at high speed,
yet it's taking forever from my particular vantage point,
where I stand poised like a Greek archer with my bow,
arrow pulled back, awaiting the perfect shot.
She falls as gracefully as she lived, her long neck pointed straight down,
and lovely white, feathered body stretched out behind her. I can only watch.
I can't save her, nor was I the one who made the kill.
My arrow, tuned to my one open eye, follows her descent, ready to seal the deal,
my arms slowly adjusting the angle downward from my original position,
the right angle attitude straight up toward heaven,
as much directly away from Earth as it could possibly be.
Is she always falling, eternally? Will she ever reach the ground?
My flexed muscles are taught, holding the arrow in place, cocked, fingers cramping,
the tension running from my arms through my shoulders, down my back and into my legs.
I feel this tension everywhere at once, and even my mind blazes with my irrelevant task,
to deliver this load into the lifeless, falling corpse, like a gun with only blanks in a movie,
like a staged fistfight where the blows are faked, yet the audience flinches,
believing that one of the fighters is the victor, and one the vanquished.
Somewhere in the distance, and at some time in the future, Love must strike the horizon,
but I never get to see, and I never know it's done.
I stay fixed to my target while I still have life, stretched in purposeless, quiet agony,
always waiting for the moment when I'll know when to release.
All rights reserved. ©2019, 2020 Todd Franklin Osborn
Born in Ashland, Kentucky in September 1964, and growing up mostly in Phoenix, Arizona in the late 70s/early 80s, Todd Franklin Osborn has been an amateur songwriter/musician/performer for most of his adult life, striving to find artistic situations that would earn him a living. Currently married and living in Bethesda, Maryland, he is father to two kids from a previous marriage. Becoming serious about writing fiction after working toward, and obtaining, a BA in English in 2011, Osborn tries to push narrative boundaries with his writing while creating relatable, compelling stories focused mainly on the limits of subjective experience. (Left: Todd Franklin Osborn in 2021. Copyright by Todd Franklin Osborn)