Welcome to Post-weekend Poetry and the twenty-fifth poem in this series. This week’s piece is by poet and short story author Salvatore Buttaci.
From Work Tables They Raise Pine Voices
I am a fugitive from a puzzle factory,
a jigsaw piece in plywood rebellion,
a misfit bored with pat expectations,
odd-shaped and deemed incomplete,
definitely not a team player, but
a fugitive in hiding who
from where I peer from dark corners
I can see the gloved worker at the lathe
singing forest-nymph songs,
blowing sawdust from the jigsaw buzz,
assembling an entourage
of the awkward, the ungainly,
those chips off some old block
who cannot, will not, stand alone.
From work tables they raise pine voices,
“You complete me.”
In their separations, they chant jig sonatas,
but even the worker behind his mask,
even his quick and nimble hands.
even the pieces present and accounted for,
even the gathering and the fitting,
even these irregular shapes
hoping to be shaped,
facets of a compound eye
yearning to come together
in this artistic seascape gestalt,
locking into willing indentations,
even with all this,
still I will insist
my choice of absence
(half a red sailboat far
from a choppy plywood sea)
is a life lesson to be learned:
Integrity comes from within.
I asked Salvatore what prompted this piece and he said…
Like most writers I keep a pocket pad and pen handy at all times. It’s too easy to think up the start of a poem or story, only to see it flutter away like the stuff dreams are made of. I’ve filled many a little pad with notations that spurred me onward to write an eventual complete piece of writing.
This poem is a good example of an idea in the form of a line––the first one!––which I jotted in my pad and then not long afterwards developed from the notion of being “a fugitive from a puzzle factory” to what it means to be part of the whole, but alienated somehow from the complete picture: the oddball in the gesthalt of life. All those encountered by this loner have all fed him the same lie, “You complete me!” He has learned perhaps the hard way to stand his ground, maintain his integrity no matter how seemingly essential he is to the seascape puzzle. He decides to go into hiding, to let “half a red sailboat” be a statement of his individuality by being conspicuously absent from the puzzle.
As with all poems, the levels of meaning here go beyond the obvious. Digging just a bit deeper we find ourselves confronting our own need to be more than just a number and a name. We want our lives to matter in the grand scheme of things.
Thank you, Salvatore.
Salvatore Buttaci is an obsessive-compulsive writer whose work has appeared widely in publications that include New York Times, U. S. A. Today, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, Cats Magazine, The National Enquirer, Christian Science Monitor, A Word with You Press, and Six Sentences. He was the recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award in 2007. He was also one of the winners in the 2011 Franklin-Christoph Fine Writing Instrument Poetry Contest.
A former English professor at a local community college and middle-school teacher in New Jersey, he retired in 2007 to commit himself to full-time writing. In addition to fiction and poetry, he has written full-length plays for educational theaters and maintains several blog sites on the Internet. An activist against Italian American media bias, he has lectured widely on “Growing up Sicilian.”
His two flash-fiction collections 200 Shorts and Flashing My Shorts were published by All Things That Matter Press and are available in book and Kindle editions.
Buttaci lives in West Virginia with Sharon, the love of his life.
If you’d like to submit your poem (40 lines max) for consideration for Post-weekend Poetry take a look here.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with romance / erotica author and editor Sue Swift aka Suz deMello – the three hundred and ninety-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays.