I am making a piece called Charnal Grounds, a sort of mixed media thing which is almost finished except for the printed text. For the text, I have collected four short poems/fragments of poems written at different times when I felt like I was facing the worst life could throw at me. I'm pleased to report that even at these times of feeling like death would be a blessed relief I could write about it with a sense of humour.
Anyway, on Sunday, I was composing the type with Jim Morrison, an amazingly generous, talented and fun teacher of printing. We got three of the little poems in the chase in 10pt Roman italic (I don't want such bitter, dark words to be too easy to read!) and then realised there were only two 'e's left in the e-compartment. I searched the rest of the case and found two more, but four 'e's were not going to be enough to make up the fourth poem of the set.
It was nearing the end of a long afternoon so Jim and I, (along with Peter Strong, another helpful printer who has offered to help me out) locked and proofed what we had. We talked about printing the page in two separate runs in order to recycle the 'e's we do have but in the end I decided I would rather write a new poem, with only four 'e's and print the whole page at once.
Revisiting the feelings of Charnal Grounds when my life is in pretty good shape means there is some dissonance between my emotions and my experiences. It's a useful lesson in the immateriality of feelings. And out of feeling a bit yucky for no real reason other than paying attention to old hurts I was able to summon a new Charnal Ground poem using only four 'e's.
on the hot high plains of humiliation
my skin shrinks and pricks
hairs twist viciously in my follicles
my eyes parch and throb
as tears fill my mouth:
if I try and talk, I'll cry.