the seven wonders of the world are tired
& a touch familiar
mourned by scholars who dream
the ghosts of slim naked Greek boys
men who put a beer into a belly that is dead
one tree is like another, one hill the dead spit
of the next

I am bored & more than a little perplexed
it is the time of statistics, when all is
become billboards, sound bites & flash
the moment poetry slips into embellishment
clichés set my teeth on edge, make my skin
crawl, my blood boil, put a lump in my throat,
a pain in my ass
why does that strange inland sea
make no sound?

in the camera of my eye depicts row-houses
& row-lives
(mother said to call her if the H-bomb exploded)
when the sniper aims to window the brain w/bullets
when politicians offer circuses instead of bread
when they come to hang Xmas from the plastic tree
we applaud mechanically
not knowing what else to do

Questions and Answers

What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?

I think I read something about the fact that people are more tuned in to pop culture—ie: television and reality shows—than ancient history, and that the Seven Wonders of the World were losing their appeal as well as deteriorating for lack of care.

What poetic techniques did you use in this poem? How much attention do you pay to form and metre?

My technique is generally based on collage (along with the practice of conceptualism)—hanging various images around a central theme and finding ways to break the narrative flow so that the reader has to stop and consider the individual building blocks and how they connect (or not). As for metre, I go along with Charles Olson’s notion that we each have our own particular manner of speaking (and breathing) that we can use to add our own rhythmic signature to the poem.

How did your writing process unfold across this poem? How did you write, edit, and refine it?

I basically gather together lines I want to use and keep ordering and re-ordering them (eliminating the deadwood) until I manage to wrestle them to the ground and they fall into an order I find attractive. Then I go back and concentrate on the sound and rhythm, so that it’s pleasant to my ear.

What did you find particularly challenging in writing this poem?

What’s challenging is trying not to fall into the trap of explaining everything. Leave the poem open as opposed to closed. Allow the reader room to explore and define. Deciding what to leave out is as important (maybe more) as what to leave in.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.