Another poem in the Guided Tour through Zero Gravity
Poem on the Equinox (page 56)
This is a 14 line poem that dates from around 1984 originally published in New Contrast. Like most of the earlier poems, the first letter of each line is capitalized (a practice I no longer follow). The poem has a sonnet-like structure, four unrhymed couplets followed by two tercets.
I was born on the equinox (March 20) and used to ride a motorcycle and after riding home through a particular vicious storm the poem suggested itself, imaginatively inspired by the Catholic idea of transubstantiation as a form of divinely creative imagination and by the knowledge that my name (Damian) has religious, mythological and popular cultural connections with both good and evil (three Catholic saints called Damian, and a derivation that has in common with demon/daemon, and the name of the Devil-child in the Omen). A secret model for the transubstantiation motif is Alexander Pope’s Cave of Spleen section in The Rape of the Lock.
The poem is meant to mix a sense of the apocalyptic with a irreverent sense of the absurd, exploring the idea of divinity, magic and ultimately poetry as a kind of special magic that might link to the divine. The last religious echo is one of the calling — the calling and Damascene conversion of Saul/Paul stands behind the poem as the model of the calling and self-transformation that writers and poets all go through. Lastly, in the idea of the “rain” of frogs and fish etc., I explore as vividly and alliteratively as I can the idea of the way in which language runs away with itself, follows its own “higher powers” but also has the power to change things. That metaphor can change the world.