Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Poem Behind the Novel

When I gave my reading to the Morgantown Poets a few days ago (which was a delight—I really “got into” reading a segment of the novel and four of my poems), I announced that I’m writing a prequel to The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes (tentatively entitled In a Suspect Universe), plus a sequel, and a collection of poems supposedly written by the protagonist of these novels, Mykol Ranglen. 

An unexpected 4:30 a.m. awakening several days later allowed me to dabble in writing for these works, and I completed a Ranglen poem that explores his personality.  Think of it as the open-ended background material one would write while developing a character for a book—but it’s poetic, so not fully explanatory, which is appropriate for the character involved.  It came about after the fact of the book because, though he’s much at the center of the novel, you always want to know more about him (he’s not very revealing about himself, for a number of reasons), and even with the prequel focusing on a major and personal event of his earlier life (which it will do) you still want to know more. 

So think of this as an addition, an appendix, to the novel, just to whet your pondering about my hero.  (When the poetry book gets written, it will appear there.)  As you can see by the length, I thought about him a lot that morning. 

The poem is entitled—no surprise—“The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes”: 

He’s more the lone derelict
That turns away in space,
An alienated activist
Who doesn’t want to be bitter,
Though he has said hastily,
“Landscapes are more important than people.” 
He doesn’t know if he’s in exile
Or just self-isolated.
He’s shocked he has a conscience.
His relationships are strictly one-on-one
Though he dreams of ardent longing
And a heart that feels heat.

He thinks he “needs a mission,”
But he rejects them when offered. 
First-person narration
He invariably avoids. 
He dreams of Ghost Worlds
In a haunted private universe.
He seeks caged flowers,
Spin vectors, lattice vanes,
Barrier gates to illusion jewels,
Caves, maelstroms, oceans with lids.
When he's too much into self, 
He wants to dissolve and be lost
In an alien landscape
That’s unbearably new. 

He fills his house with demons
While opening it to lovers.
He builds new romances
From the remnants of a “you.” 
Space should horrify him
But he finds there new worlds. 
He says, “I’ve built butterflies
But destroyed whole universes.”
He doesn’t understand
The potentialities of guilt.
His heart is in winter
Surfing avalanches of change.
He knows he masters
Only interpretations. 

He seeks Affected Earths,
Realities gone wild,
Abstractions he can know
While building his ideal,
His Gray Lord’s identity
For behind his Black Knight. 
His ships are all plague ships.
He fears he’ll be told,
“I’m not the only enemy you have.”

His father, a rationalist,
Was a drinker but never drunk—
He had moments of profound
If defeated wisdom
Within his implacable
Concrete stubbornness. 
His mother, too sensitive,
Was too terrified of life,
Was an artist without training,
And a desperate manipulator
Though everyone loved her,
And yet she always feared.
He inherited the best,
And worst, of both.

He dreams of flying saucers
Half buried in icefields,
Spaceships that disappear
In the wide Galactic Reach,
Crew-members vanishing
One by one on alien planets,
Dancing twisted trees,
Huge glass coins, icebergs,
Emeralds, volcanoes,
Lyres singing and beckoning
In snow-covered mountains.

He doesn’t feel he’s aging
And maybe he is not.
He’s been to so many worlds
That time’s become space.
He lives for forgetfulness
But knows he’s afflicted. 
He carries secrets
That he’d secretly discard.
He’s seen “the other side” . . .
He’s seen several of them. 
He’d rather not see more. 

He’s solitary, stoic,
Withdrawn, and alone.
His attachments unravel,
Become fugitive, free.
He perpetuates the riddle
That, in the end,
He’s the one abandoned,
And he’s scared he’ll never have
What he sees so widely owned—
A place, a harbor, an anchor,
A home. 

No comments:

Post a Comment