poetry

Sixth Week

Jordan Cox Week 6I went camping recently and I realized that because people don’t bring their technology, camping is a way for people to become closer without interfering barriers. Technology plays a big role in human separation. It allows us to talk to our friends who live on the other side of the world. It also allows us to talk to our friends that live down the street so we don’t have to walk over. Technology has created distance in our society. People say that it’s also made the world a smaller place.

Anyway, I went camping with a couple people I knew well and a couple that I didn’t know well. I felt as if it was a way to see a different side of those people and that there was a distinct lack of separation between us. We removed ourselves from the rest of society and only concentrated on each other.

A Description of the Night

The thin walls shake with the wind
like a wolf is huffing and puffing,
blowing our tent down.

I wake every couple hours
to laughter and the rattle
of aluminum poles.

My mind is as taut as the strings
on her cello. She sleeps
next to me, eyes like box flaps.

My thoughts bash around, stuck
in a loop of dream then the sight
of green and tan overhead.

When my alarm finally blares
at me I see flecks of snow,
but I’m warm with her beside me.

Learn more about my project.

 

 

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Fifth Week

Cox - Fifth Week photo

Models: William Boyajian and Annabelle Lee

This week I thought about a more specific theme: physical manifestations of emotional problems. The idea for this theme started with a dream. In the dream, I was walking in a muddy ravine. Below were white crashing rapids. Leaning against a tree were several paintings that my mother had made. As I walked toward the paintings, they started slipping. I moved toward them faster. In the dream, my mother was dead so I didn’t want to lose these precious remnants of her. I noticed my sisters (don’t have any in real life) on the other side of the bank. They watched as I pushed the paintings up with my hands. My feet slid in the mud. I knew that I was going to fall into the ravine with the paintings while my sisters simply watched.

I decided to adapt this dream into a poem. The ravine acts as a physical manifestation of the emotional distance between the point-of-view character and her sisters. I wanted to go a step further than the separation being displayed through the surroundings. I wanted the difference between the sisters to be shown in how they looked – as in their exteriors revealed the difference between how they act. I chose for the P.O.V. character to look not as human as her sisters. Maybe she is ascending from the human condition. Maybe because the poem is told in her perspective, the accounting of events aren’t as accurate as they might be.

Here is the draft of this poem:

Our Mother Leaves Us

I step, jump from one wooden plank
to the next. On my tongue is the song
my mother hummed when I was a baby.

The bridge sways under my weight.
The rope hops in my hand, chafes skin.
My bare feet are soft on the rough

wooden grooves. On the other side
of the ravine, her paintings lean
against a spruce tree. I step, jump

until I’m there, stroking her blue oil
painted cheeks. Rain drips down
my cheeks like tears. I’m as cold

inside as any glacier. My sisters scream
from the other side of the ravine.
They cross their fingers at me. Demon,

monster, they yell. They’re tyrants.
They should be the ones with antlers
sprouting from the sides of their heads.

But it’s me being cast out before
the streams of blood have dried
around my antlers. One of them pulls

out a knife. She smiles as she cuts
up the bridge. The other sister
is saying, bye bye. Her eyes are averted.

I don’t make a run for the other side
as the twine parts under the knife.
There’s nothing for me over there.

They don’t notice when the mud gives
and the paintings slide down the slope.
I grab at them. My fingers stab through

the canvas of one. The rest keep going
out of my reach, to the river far below.
My sister finishes with the bridge.

It rattles as gravity takes it to this side
of the ravine. The leave without looking
at me. I feel pain in my head as the antlers

grow another inch. I look at my fingers
pushed through the painting. They look
like worms pushing up through the ground
during a storm. I know they’ll drown anyway.

Learn more about my project.

Fourth Week

The theme that I focused on during this week was smoking. Intrinsically humans understand that there is separation between those who do and those who don’t, but we forget about some of those divides that we see in every day life. Smoking is a public activity that creates a visible divide between people. There are those who smoke and those who don’t mind interacting with those who smoke. There are those who act elitist and preach the dangers of smoking. There are those who scrunch up their noses when they walk past smokers. There are those who are apologetic because they themselves do not smoke. There are those who were raised with grandfathers and fathers who smoked so they smoke too.

Cox - Woman Smoking on Craig St

Woman smoking on Craig Street

Clinger

We walk down the stairs.
Her heels don’t clack,
just tip tap against the brick.
Her hand flourishes out

from her heart into the open
air swirling with dust.
She turns to the light
lined doors. She reaches

across her body into the grey
purse printed on with cat heads
and dog feet. She pulls out a pack
of cigarettes. I could go

to the classroom, wait for her
there while trying not to stare
at the eyeless boys and girls gasping
for breath. I don’t want to look

into their empty dark eye sockets.
I move with her to the light, hoping
that afterwards I won’t smell
like burnt nicotine.

Third Week

Cox - Week 3

Model: Olivia Fin Lynn

I wrote about isolation this week. Isolation is typically when a person is separated from the rest of the world physically; however, humans mentally distance themselves often every day. When someone says that she “zoned out” she isolated herself from the conversations and activities happening around her. She went within her mind to a place where there was only herself and her thoughts. So isolation doesn’t have to involve physical distance. It can also involve emotional or mental distance.

Isolation is a quality that we relate to being animalistic. When a person separates himself from others, he is called a “lone wolf.” This poem contains a woman who is related to a bear in hibernation:

The knock on the door stirred
her from the hunched
position over her book. She reared

up, straightening her back. It cracked
at the same time that the fist again struck
the wooden door. She lumbered

while the floor squeaked. She prepared
apologies to reject the magazine
salesman. Her paw wrenched

the door away from its frame.
She jerked back as she smelled
home on the woman who stood

knee deep in snow and plastic bagged
newspapers. It was her sister
who had been a brown bobbed cub

when she left. Anger was tucked
in the lines of her face. Her excuses
for leaving died before they were born
like unfertilized eggs.

Learn more about my project.

Second Week

Cox family .jpegI think that family often comes up when discussing separation. Children leave home and their family behind as they make a life for themselves. You have a bond with your family, given to you through your birth, yet you go away from them. It’s an interesting kind of separation, because the physical distance also becomes emotional distance that allows you to become your own person.

This poem that I’m working on brings up these themes of family and distance:

Teenager

She describes the way she eats
with her parents as bolting
down food. She leaves the table
before they have finished slicing
up their dripping beef.

Her parents sit, eyes locked
on her empty chair. They feel
that she stabs them in their hearts
with her fork, rinses off the blood,
and places it in the dishwasher.

They pretend that their love
isn’t hardening into lumps of ice
as they shovel broccoli
into the maws of their mouths,
but they wonder if raising
a child is worth this pain.

First Week

Cox hummingbird.jpegHey there,

I’m Jordan and my project is about the separation between people and the lack thereof. I’m examining separation through essays, poetry and fiction. My fabulous adviser is Gerald Costanzo.

The essays are about people who live far away from me that I’m in regular contact with. The first essay will be about a friend who lives in Malaysia. He’s planning on joining the French Foreign Legion and is leaving his home to do so. The second essay will be about a friend who lives in Sweden. He’s shy and private, yet I who live thousands of miles away know him better than many people in his life. I specifically chose people that I don’t see in person because I have a different relationship with them than I do with people I see every day. I’m not able to do activities with these people; we just talk.

The poetry will be bracketing the essays and stories within my manuscript so that the poems have more weight individually. The poetry will examine separation on a more personal scale. One of the poems will be about the differences between walls.

I’ll be writing two stories. The first story will be about a group of girls who were sent away to school. The main character’s family is back in Korea and they’re unaware when she begins to act out. She and the other girls stop going to school and exclusively try to one-up each other in a game that they’ve created. I chose this idea because it shows what can happen when young people have minimal supervision and feel the effects of peer pressure.

The second story is about how every person in the world is part of a “pair.” This person is your other half. Most people never find the other half of their or realize that this is someone close to them already. The pair in this story realize who they are to each other at first sight. The main characters of this story are generally isolated in their environments and at first feel that this bond between the two of them is unnecessary. This story will be more about a lack of separation between two people.

That sums up my thesis. I’m excited to begin work!