The good news is that for a while, I can stop talking about how abundantly fertile March 2009 was for me as a poet. This piece arose later that spring, on April 17, 2009, and was revised into its current form during the following summer, on July 22. The bad news is that I can’t remember too many of the details of its creation or revision.
Here’s what I recall and what my records reveal:
I had cooled my jets by mid-March. When I started writing again on April 4, I kicked out a poem a day, maybe a few a day, maybe one every few days. No more days like March 8, 2009, when I wrote twenty-three poems in two sittings (only one of which, though, would ever see publication).
On April 12, I wrote a few poems, ending with one inspired by a Tony Hoagland passage in his collection of essays, Real Sofistikashun, one that would get me in trouble eventually, one that I’ll discuss at a later date. Maybe. Anyway, that last April 12 poem kinda shut me up and made me withdraw for a few days.
On April 16 or 17, I read a list poem based around reiterating a common idiomatic saying. I can’t remember the saying, the poem, or the poet. But I remember on April 17 wanting to write my own list poem based around another common statement or question. I struggled to think of one for a while until settling on “What are we going to do now?” I started writing answers to that question. I got stuck. I Googled the question, saw what kinds of responses regarding what kinds of issues came up, and grabbed the best statements and ideas. (I still feel guilty that I didn’t annotate my poem with citations leading each appropriated line back to its original inspiration. But writing poetry is not the same as scholarship…that’s what I tell myself, at least.) Those search results definitely supplied my lines about click fraud and polar-bear advocacy.
The resulting poem was okay; I let it rest in The Files for a while, until another writing bug flew up my ass in late July 2009. I wrote a poem I really liked — longer, with more sustained ideas, less of a brief quasi-Brautiganian burp — on July 21. I wrote another poem I liked on July 22. While I was waiting for another fresh bit of inspiration, I looked through The Files and rediscovered “What Are We Going to Do Now?” Now I had a better handle on it. I increased its length by about fifty percent, with lines entirely from my own mind. I also rearranged all the lines so there was more of a thematic progression, more interplay among the various list items. I added an ending; it’s not a great ending, a little corny, perhaps, but then, I always struggle with endings. Whatever. Done. Ready for takeoff.