Moral Shadow

Every act is
A runway
To where a god is
We are the ones
Being timed
And Confounded
By all the joists
And trusses.

We are animals
By heartbeat
And bunched thoughts
Nothing a god would
Do with a rightful mind
Only the origins matter
The end always the same
Birth the seamy coincidence
The moral shadow
That follows us
As we fall in with the others.

Questions and Answers

Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?

My mother at the piano singing a song she wrote. She wrote many songs and encouraged me at a young age to write poems. Years later in my last year of high school I listened to the album “”The Songs of Leonard Cohen”” every day. Those are two of the key moments that inspired me to write poetry.

As a published writer, what are your tips or words of motivation for the aspiring poet?

Read a lot of poetry especially those poets whose work really speaks to you. Write often, preferably everyday and revise often. A good poem requires many drafts. Rarely is the first draft a completed poem. Most important: submit often. Now you can do that electronically so that makes it much easier. Someone recently said they aim for 100 rejections a year because that will also lead to acceptances too. I really believe in that. The more often you submit the better your odds will be. Don’t let rejection stop you. Be fierce about that. Every great writer has been rejected and often famously so. Take solace in that. Above all persist and believe in what you are doing and keep writing and revising. Learn from your rejections as they are often your best learning tool.

What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?

I consider this one of my metaphysical poems. I write different types of poems (including love poems) and I am often drawn to metaphysical concerns. Namely in this case the notions of time, God, and morality. I don’t believe in moral relativism even though my poems may convey that at times. I strongly believe in clear notions of right and wrong. Still each of us as beings is born into this rush of time and with little to make sense of that rush beyond our perceptions and what we are taught and learn. This poem is my attempt to make sense of all the goings-on we call life. I am also often drawn to exploring notions God and in this poem I see God as a force greater than us but still required to obey same forces as us. Above all as the poem declares, I believe in the moral shadow that follows us from start to finish.

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

This poem, like many of mine, started with the title, which suddenly appeared and I then wrote the poem to try and make sense of the title. I do believe still in Keats’s notion of Negative Capability but only as it applies to the first draft. The initial draft involves the corralling of words by an internal rush. However it is by revising the poem over time that makes it a finished poem. Revising requires cold-hearted scrutiny and many drafts (and I like to do many drafts of each poem) to get the poem right. For this poem I used the same method I use with all my poems: I completed a first draft and then left it for a year and then revised it. In my second draft I cut out the unnecessary words and refined the poem as best I could. Then I left it a day or so and revised again and this time I read it aloud to catch more subtle errors. Then I left it for a few more days and read through it again and made final changes. I left it one more time and then read it for a final time and decided it worked. At this final stage it is also important to admit when a poem is not working and to abandon it and move on.”

This poem “Moral Shadow” originally appeared in Meanwhile, Home. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 232 (Spring 2017): 81.

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