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A Little Bit about “Fall Risk”

As a blind poet, the things I look at every day look pretty much the same to me. But fortunately, since I did not go completely blind until later in life, I can still conjure up visual images from my memory from the things I once saw to use in my poems. But I must admit that I do indeed miss seeing that everyday poetry that exists right under our noses as we go about our daily business. For example, the title for my poem “Fall Risk” came to me immediately after my wife, Amanda, described the bracelet to me that the nursing staff at the hospital had attached to my father’s wrist, which I later describe in the poem, “where the letters in the phrase Fall Risk blaze black / against the amber face of your bracelet” (lines 12-13). At sunset that same evening, which also was the winter solstice, Amanda and I went on a walk together. During our walk, she described one of the most beautiful skies that I had ever heard, which I turned into these lines from “Fall Risk”: “Just beyond solstice’s greedy, falling shadows, / strips of yellow ribbon still wrap the sloping sky, / surrounding twilight with cotton candy clouds” (19-21). Not all imagery, however, no matter how intriguing, will work in our poems. For me, the imagery must connect with the content or themes or contribute to the movement of the piece. For instance, during our walk that night, Amanda also pointed out a pizza that someone had dropped next to our neighborhood dumpster. Initially, as a result, these lines found their way into my poem: “Its sauce like blood splattered on December asphalt.” Even though I loved that image and wanted to expand on it, after my final edit, I deleted the line. It just did not work. I would not be surprised, however, if it did not crop up in a future poem. On the other hand, I was able to use the cotton candy clouds to transition into a childhood memory about my father: “Remember cotton candy, dad? Remember? / At the circus? How I picked at its beehived hairdo” (lines 22-23)? Sadly, dad passed away on May 20, 2022, just six months after I was first inspire to write “Fall Risk.” We miss you, dad. But I know that you are with Amanda and me as we go on another winter solstice walk tonight.

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