Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #393 - "Exploring Arcadia Creek: downstream," a poem

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #393 - "Exploring Arcadia Creek: downstream," a poem

Hi Mom,

It seemed the right time for this poem as it mentions July, which just ended.

I used to like to walk the Arcadia Creek, which ran underground from Kalamazoo College to the Kalamazoo River, probably close to a mile, maybe a bit more. I could probably use Google Maps to measure the exact distance but that seems like a lot of work for a simple fact.

I tried the walk once in November with two friends; we turned back as began to enter a tunnel in which the water was up to our chins. It seemed a bit dangerous.

I feel another connection as Warren Ellis just posted a short prose thing on his Morning Computer blog about walking along a creek in his home town.

I wish I had pictures of the underground creek and its tunnels. If I had a smart phone back then I surely would have pictures. How different my teen years would have been with a smart phone.

I like this poem, though it's a bit long. There's some nice figurative language. I think it could be much shorter and would probably be more effective if I slashed the middle out. However, there's a part that stood out as I re-read the poem for the first time in maybe 20 years.

Reading along about tunnels and being underground and then suddenly as if out of nowhere this: "We rut like cougars and worship the underground dark."

It seems out of place. Who is rutting? Do cougars rut or is that just deer? And yet, I sort of like how jarring it is, how it takes the reader out of the tunnel for a second, how it doesn't fit with the rest of the poem.

So, here, we go...


We wait for July's rainless weeks
to sleeve ourselves
in the water of Arcadia creek.
My friends and I know
the language of the city's

City planners want to bring the creek
to the surface where people can stroll
its banks day and night,
feeding ducks or maybe swans.
But for now, it's still tombed in earth.

We slue beneath Kalamazoo's streets.
The water fingers our ankles.
We don't find snakes,
spiders, or snap-jawed fish;
only water passes by.

Underground, the tunnels change size and shape
every hundred yards,
like the tubes inside our bodies.

Cornices of the brick-arched tunnel
flare like starched whiskers;
the smaller tunnels cape at our shoulders.
Our spines current along
the ceiling's bow of stone.

We rut like cougars
and worship the underground dark.

The current moves with a speed
that would carry us down,
but we remain sure-footed.

In each tunnel,
we build miniature buildings
from the city's jetsam: matchsticks,
cigarette butts, all kinds of wrappers,
bits of red-brick.  We mark our territory
with these reliquaries of the city's discards.

We are the flotsam of the city.

Our skin scrapes along the concrete tube
as we move, hunched in single file.

We multiply from two to hundreds
of nimble Arcadians chanting, making sacrifices
to the water, to the darkness, rubbing
our hands on tunnel walls until both are dark grey.

Our holiness must be earned, or
else we must begin again.

Finally, Arcadia Creek's throat opens fifteen feet
above her sister, the Kalamazoo River.

Others cast off like lemmings,
a herd on flight, flocking back to the surface.

I will not jump from the tunnel.

I return upstream, clothe myself
in brick arches, the concrete tunnels.

Alone beneath the streets,
I replace spiders and fish
that cannot abide the current.
I cling to damp walls;
I honeycomb the tunnels with my webs.

-- christopher tower
(re: 9404.09 13:29; re again: 9405.18 16:27)


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 395 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1608.03 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.
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