“I forgot I knew whose cats grabbed the cruelty.”—what a wonderful line. That’s just one of many that grab attention from three poems that Jim Leftwich wrote while “reading”—reading is in quote marks as the poet calls it “moving through”—MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION. Jim says,
I call them "extraction poems". I think of an alternative way of moving through a page of text -- a reading route other than left-to-right top-to-bottom -- and follow it loosely until I have something that looks and feels and sounds like a poem. It's procedural, a set of rules to follow, but I permit myself to ignore those rules whenever I want to. I've written like this a lot, a whole lot, for over 20 years now. I suppose by now I have trained my intuition to do what I want to do as a poet.
I’m delighted to share Jim’s resulting poems below.
I’ve been intrigued—and moved—by how folks engage with MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION. In addition to seeing students in two classes at Berkeley High School engage with them, I know of people using lines from the book as prompts, not just for writing new poems but, to diarize. I’ll be taking the project to Sonoma State University next week and I look forward to how those students will receive MDR.
In fact, I also have been using the poetry database in the book for generating new work, including visual poetry (a series called “The Community of Vowels” is forthcoming in Otoliths). MDR just keeps resurrecting itself.
Anyway, my thanks to Jim Leftwich for his poetry. I believe MDR is not about my poetry but yours/the readers' (thus reflecting "Kapwa Poetics"):
I forgot I knew whose cats grabbed the cruelty.
I forgot the glint of separation behind shadows.
I forgot the shoreline vomiting over the border.
I forgot memories perfumed by the horizon.
I forgot any reason was a span of eyes into the home.
I forgot machines my skyscrapers had whitened.
I forgot how much its small bowl is ineffable.
I forgot there may not be a turning towards myself.
Purple from the running I forgot.
My attention I forgot reminds.
I forgot his orange blooms and coats.
I forgot emptied flowers are luminous.
I forgot directly into the luster.
I forgot not hiding to another such gloom of hovering doors.
Steps encouraged by hope.
Stranger from a past I forgot.
Each gift is context I also forgot.
Coconuts have hairy water.
I forgot wings as faces reciprocating debris.
I forgot crumbling roadsides under nothing I forgot.
Narrative I Forgot
As much as water tree in air I forgot.
As much as stay whip horse unanimous I forgot.
As much as con ur gold por looking I forgot.
As much as resignation from lies I forgot.
As much as under myself I forgot.
As much as the "Other" taught me I forgot.
As much as their lips the sun he wandered like a heart.
As much as thigh mortality.
As much as detached dreams.
As much as I forgot.
As much as brown diamonds the demeanor of water I forgot.
As much as its red snow.
As much as were soothed by candles by travel.
As much as the limits of I forgot.
As much as nerve pale I forgot.
As much as a pawing narrative I forgot.
the plasticity of fingertips
from air whose perfume the hair i forgot.
the same space intently each face i forgot.
the joy thinned by a star on your breasts i forgot.
my lips orbit your logic, hosting books.
mote the om you wanted i forgot.
my body the empty planet i forgot.
i forgot evolving into i forgot.
a molten honey i forgot.
a poem dragon.
celery and sage.
i forgot the rolling years
curdling to a self.
i forgot rose houses.
i forgot lines fered themselves.
whose comb always tastes opened.
were milk and mint of optimism.
dream of a room puddle on national wine.
i forgot swallowing the same rett bearing a sun.
open cents attempting i forgot.
huge and entire gold shade i forgot.
i forgot a table i forgot.
i forgot a mirror an appropriate "i forgot".
i forgot pepper water becoming memory like the inevitability of forms i forgot.
i forgot the sun the plasticity of fingertips i forgot.
gods whispering to my ankles
discerning the feathers i forgot a private affair.
with chastened veins i forgot a permanent dust.
drowning in crushed midnights i forgot trees waiting behind a labyrinth.
cave hair amnesia i forgot dragonflies with bruised dimes.
i forgot familiar rience light.
i forgot tion yielded crop.
centuries of limbs, exaltation of stares,
i forgot ing myself penetrated gered i forgot.
relevant velocity in Guatemala, orchids the weight of fertile mountains,
i forgot the burning metaphors,
the yawning money-scientist,
hancing sterility i form molten fish.
to warriors i forgot branding air.
for hits of failure i forgot craving division.
necks utter dying i forgot.
over water where i forgot interfering with mud i forgot.
over no excuse for history i forgot writing i forgot.
i forgot the sublime the biting calculations
gods whispering to my ankles
I forgot I forgot.
I forgot eagerly surroundings when I forgot.
I forgot where perfume I forgot.
I forgot young need often survive I forgot.
I forgot and I forgot.
I forgot which land I forgot.
I forgot from me I forgot.
I forgot onset of I forgot.
I forgot every mitigate I forgot.
I forgot ankles sharply the hide I forgot.
I forgot I forgot.
I forgot other wiry I forgot.
I forgot excrement ing I forgot.
I forgot stantly could I forgot.
I forgot home invading I forgot.
I forgot she would visit I forgot.
I forgot loved them fore they I forgot.
I forgot they rumbled I forgot.
I forgot is missing in I forgot.
I forgot tiently gritty.
I arriving ing I forgot.
I forgot trembling at I forgot.
I forgot through I forgot.
I forgot gazes like no price I forgot.
I forgot where I forgot.
I forgot tour of not I forgot.
I forgot visible ding I forgot.
I forgot ashamed I forgot.
I forgot ever-occupying I forgot.
I forgot then poem I forgot.
I forgot I forgot.
I forgot sharply I forgot.
I forgot rotten bananas I forgot.
I forgot gum lage I forgot.
I forgot stantly I forgot.
I forgot savored I forgot.
I forgot I forgot within I forgot.
I forgot I forgot exchange for I forgot.
I forgot weak I forgot dence.
I forgot seawater I forgot.
I forgot lowering the I forgot.
I forgot world to ruin I forgot.
I forgot love I forgot.
I forgot failed I forgot.
I forgot the sky I forgot.
I forgot my bones I forgot.
I forgot prominent Marys I forgot.
I forgot watered I forgot.
I forgot discovering I forgot.
Jim Leftwich is a poet who lives in Roanoke, Virginia. Recent publications include Volumes 1 , 2 & 3 of Rascible & Kempt (Luna Bisonte 2016, 2017, edited by John M. and C. Mehrl Bennett), Tres tresss trisss trieesss tril trilssss: Transmutations of César Vallejo (Luna Bisonte, 2018) and Sound Rituals, collaborative poems by jim leftwich & billy bob beamer (mOnocle-Lash, 2018, edited by Olchar Lindsann).