Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Julie Platt

Today's poem comes to us from Julie Platt. It's our first sestina in this year's Tattooed Poet's Project:


I traveled to this place to earn this sentence: The last blue

tiger stood stoic, slate-blue, stone-blue, still, behind my gun’s

mouth and I did not take him. And yet I only half-believed

the whispers that the blue tiger’s singularity could stay

wickedness, and make god stand still. The thicket, infinite

has caught me…Say you bought a pouch of stones

soaked in tiger piss—to lure him. Then more stones

divided and divided from the trail you left, pointing at blue

shadows everywhere. You might think you had infinite

luck; you could squat under the leaves, polish your singular gun

and think that if you learned the land’s tongue you could stay

awake here, blending into bramblescapes…You trust that to live

is to represent in your heart what is impossible, and to believe

it when it steps outside. This is why I had to go back for the stones,

each and every one, lest the tiger follow…I stayed

with some dark-skinned people for a while, and they offered blue

ochre for my face, and frowned, then laughed at my gun

as if I had been fashioning a trap for something infinite,

some god-animal with petrifying eyes. Still I had infinite

patience, I had a gun, I had that bag of stones and a live

wire from my mind to something edgeless there, and I was gunning

for the prize, and for its blessing. But those dreadful stones

divided, multiplied, obscene miracle in my hands, the blue

unwieldy flood of them and their stink, and I couldn’t stay

under cover. I ran out into the tiger maw and stayed

there, and prayed for just one…Do you think the infinite

machine is kind? Do you think it folds you in its blue

shade like a papoose, uncovers your eyes slowly, lets you live

with each expanding rapture, as with a single stone?

Never, stones are never one in number…I had my gun

cocked a thousand times in my mind, I had my gun

and I had to take the tiger when it pawed out, I told myself to stay

awake, I had my dream of a singular god, I had the stones,

I had the stones, the stones had me, the god had me, the infinite

and me and all our steadfast muzzles diving and dividing, still alive

in the dividing, how can I say the sentence that I’ve earned: O blue

one, look how I slide my gun into my mouth to mute my infinite

tongue, tiger, stay where I can see you singular, take me alive

tiger, and roll these stones away, their numberless, horrific blue.

Be sure to check out Julie's tattoo over on Tattoosday here.

Julie Platt was born and raised in Pittsburgh and now lives in Michigan. Her print poetry chapbook, In the Kingdom of My Familiar, was published by Tilt Press in 2008. My mini e-chapbook, Imitation Animals, was published by Gold Wake Press in 2009. Two poems from
Imitation Animals were selected to appear in Dzanc Books' Best of the Web 2010. My work will also appear in the forthcoming e-anthology Poems to Sweat By: Hungry Young Poets 2009, published by VanVinkinroy's Indie e-Book Emporium.

Thanks to Julie for sharing her poetry with us here on BillyBlog!

[If you enjoyed the sestina form, I will shamelessly plug my own entry in last year's Tattooed Poets Project, by linking my "Maiden Sestina" here.]

No comments: