For my poem, I decided to pull inspiration from William Blake’s “London.” However, I decided to take it a step further and not only use his poem as a source of inspiration, but also recycle some of his words themselves. This style of recycling an author’s words is coined “found poetry” and is a contemporary way to pay homage to both past and present authors. While some say found poetry isn’t truly found poetry unless every single word comes from the original author, I think what’s truly important is pulling out key words and phrases (like we often do in class when making our word clouds). The words and phrases I am recycling will appear in bold. This poem is also non-traditional because it is written as a prose poem, which is my favorite form of poetry. Furthermore, it’s in the second person, which is also a less commonly seen speaker perspective choice.
The place I have chosen to write about is Lake County, where I am from. It’s a tiny place with big problems, especially with people struggling in terms of alcohol, drugs, unemployment and welfare. For those of you that don’t know, I go home every other weekend and these are kind of the emotions I go through and the pressure I have from family to come back home, despite how awful it is there.
Lake County, 2017
You wander down uncharted streets, pot-hole riddled, like the faces you see flickering above the flame of lighters, hard at work boiling chemicals. It’s half past midnight and you’re in the bad part of town, but it could be 2pm on Main Street when you see the man covered in marks of weakness, who shrinks away from you in fear. You sigh. You know he was youthful, hopeful, like you once, but those days are gone for him, like so many of the others you pass by, plagued by the blights of missed opportunities. It seems like everyone here bares marks of woe. Scratching away at scabbed faces, they stoop on the steps of churches, feet blackened, praying they don’t come down from the high before they can find another fix. You sigh. You know (like maybe they do too) that every fix is only temporary. Like this place. Like this time. Where reality is measured by the grade of meth coursing through their systems. Where paranoia plagues their minds, keeps them bound by the manacles of delusion. They don’t look you in the eyes. They can’t. Their blood runs cold. It flows slow, thick, and vile, like their voices as they echo through the empty palace of your heart. It appalls you. They appall you. You, so hardened, so coarse, have no heart for them. For the harlots. For the hypocrites. For the hapless hordes of people who remind you of who you never wanted to be. But you can’t deny where you’re from. Joined in marriage with the madness though you groomed yourself for better. Forever you bare the curse of acquaintance, of association. Their reflections show in your face as you stare into the lowly lake, poisonous and patronizing. The lake, so long forsaken, longs to love you, you who left to drown your sorrows elsewhere, in the pages of poetry and leaves of literature. In a school, so far, far, away. A place, they say, of harlots, of hypocrites, of the hapless hordes of people they say you’ll never be. Prodigal son, the lake cries, tears of mercury, of murky memories once your own, Know your place. Come home.