The Poetry Project

Writing Prompt

Rebekah Smith & Asiya Wadud

Tomaž Šalamun, Terrance Hayes & ‘taking stock’

Read Tomaž Šalamun’s “III”(below) and Terrance Hayes’s “How to Draw a Perfect Circle” back-to-back with just a small breath between the pieces.

In “III” and in “How to Draw a Perfect Circle” a sense of ‘taking stock’ and counting (two candelabra, a second skin, I can count everything) fill the space. Maybe a calm, extended taking stock grants a kind of assurance, a measured certainty— this is there; this is how it got there, and its purpose could be this.

What can you take stock of in your own life— what can you count? What could you never count (or would never want to count)? What can you count on, or count until? For Hayes, the counting in “How to Draw a Perfect Circle” is an endurance of the ‘O’— it is a question of the many ways to name and give credence to the ‘O’. You could think about this, too, while you write.

III by Tomaž Šalamun

Sometimes there are cobwebs on words.
Sometimes threads, sometimes salt.
Now there’s bark and gnarls and a squeaking
knife. I always come clothed here,
not naked. I pretend
I know how much wind my head can take.
The truth is, I don’t have a clue. Sometimes I throw
the knife into a veil to retrieve
the veil. Under skin there’s a second skin,
under the second skin there’s a third skin.
I see the end of the street. I can count
everything: two candelabra. I see
a lattice made of Sol LeWitt’s grid

(Originally published in On the Tracks of Wild Game(UDP, 2012, translated by Sonja Kravanja)

Submit your responses, epistles, and poetic experiments to HOUSE PARTY to be considered for publication in an upcoming issue here.

House Party #3