NaPoWriMo #11: One Question, Several Answers

Originally uploaded by Steve Rhode

Barb first put me on to Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishnan’s excellent poem “One Question, Several Answers” back when she was working on her Black Jesus poems, part of her Poems for the City That Nearly Broke Me series. (Yes, I know the poems are no longer there but I’m linking to remind folks that you best read a poet’s blog ASAP or else you might miss out on some of that necessary poetic goodness.)

Kageyama-Ramakrishnan’s poem is so evocative, alive with crisp details and haunting in its refrain. I really dig what she is doing with a very simple but personal question and how it shows the true power of anaphora.

In contrast, the poem I drafted (using the same form and structure but a different question) has a more menacing presence about it.  Right away I started thinking about when I’ve heard that same kind of insistent questioning and I was drawn away from a spiritual place and right smack dab into a police state.  Interesting how the City can impose itself like that, how the questions surrounding us are very external.  I’m also trying to work on a follow up based on a true life incident involving me and one of my old homies.  It’s difficult to write because the story/poem is equal parts humor and menace and driven by an eavesdropped conversation, which makes it a better candidate for poetry than it does prose.

Enough tangent sidestory, here’s the poem:

After the poem by Claire Kageyama–Ramakrishnan

[Poem was here.]

Author: Oscar Bermeo

Born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, Oscar Bermeo is the author of the chapbooks Anywhere Avenue, Palimpsest, Heaven Below, and To the Break of Dawn. He lives and works in Oakland, CA.

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