Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kicking Gravel Re-Boot

Why Kicking the Gravel?

1. Look to where the gravel goes once it's kicked: it is a sprayed action. Once the dust settles, there is little that has changed. To kick gravel is to make a mark that goes unnoticed. Each pebble is likely to make sense here as it is here. Little is changed when gravel is kicked, unless the gravel is thin and the foot's mark is noticeable. Symbolically the gravel represents poetry. If this blog makes a mark we'll know that poetry is exceptionally thin.

2. The gravel I kick may go entirely unnoticed, but for You, who may or may not have stumbled here to watch the splayed action of a kick, or perhaps kick a little yourself. The kicking motion immediately makes transient what wasn't before, but very quickly it goes unnoticed. Your eye tilts back upward to the web address, in search of something else. Generally you only kick gravel when by your self, or with someone so close as to kick gravel with you, also your self. This is such a place for me.

3. "Why do I feel no shame, kicking the loose gravel home?"
~ Richard Hugo, "White Center"

4. There are two ways to kick gravel: the first is incidental, the second is with purpose. The purposeful kick is often done on the walk that is to go no where, on the saunter, as it were, and the moment of kicking gravel is a moment to affect the physical world because one has nothing better to do. The other option of the purposeful kick is catharsis, and I guess on a blog that might happen too. Whatever emotion is pent up in the self is expressed by the scattering of pebbles forward, which clearly become invisible in the gravel they landed in so that whatever emotion might have been in them as they flew forward, whatever energy was expended at that time is no longer noticeable and the eye moves to the next page. I do not intend for this to be a place for that sort of catharsis.

The incidental kick is whatever one does on a walk -- we are consistently, as moving objects in the world, affecting the world in which we live. A stumble, a shuffle, a leg moving forward can easily kick without intent. Just as any word placed onto the world wide web has its own place, incidentally, it can be pointed to for meaning, although lost in its surroundings.

5. The gravel road is a road that straddles the city and country. It straddles the natural and the artifice. It is itself a hybrid of what is natural and artificial. Unlike concrete, gravel gives the peripatetic a feeling closer to the Earth; unlike earth, gravel is a man-made process, however close it might be to what a river can do. Poetry also balances between its artifice and what it represents. Entirely man-made, it seeks to be as close to what artifice it is rather than be wholly (concretely) with man.

Not every poem is really that way. Some poets have made poems that are closer to concrete than to earth. That will be a subject of a later post.