Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Voyage to Netherland

Several damning computer crashes lie between me and my youthful years as a high school student. Countless Word documents, and yes, WordPerfect documents, have been lost to the annals of time - including my most infamous writing composition ever.

It was December of 2002. I was studying Grade 12 English, licking at the heels of Grade 11 English via summer school. As one of our major assignments on poetry analysis, we were asked to compose a poem modelled after another. The model poem was entitled, A Hemisphere in Your Hair.

A Hemisphere in Your Hair
Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen

Long, long let me breathe the fragrance of your hair. Let me plunge my face into it like a thirsty man into the water of a spring, and let me wave it like a scented handkerchief to stir memories in the air.

If you only knew all that I see! all that I feel! all that I hear in your hair! My soul voyages on its perfume as other men’s souls on music.

Your hair holds a whole dream of masts and sails; it holds seas whose monsoons waft me toward lovely climes where space is bluer and more profound, where fruits and leaves and human skin perfume the air.

In the ocean of your hair I see a harbour teeming with melancholic songs, with lusty men of every nation, and ships of every shape, whose elegant and intricate structures stand out against the enormous sky, home of eternal heat.

In the caresses of your hair I know again the languors of long hours lying on a couch in a fair ship’s cabin, cradled by the harbor’s imperceptible swell, between pots of flowers and cooling water jars.

On the burning hearth of your hair I breathe in the fragrance of tobacco tinged with opium and sugar; in the night of your hair I see the sheen of the tropic’s blue infinity; on the shores of your hair I get drunk with the smell of musk and tar and the oil of cocoanuts.

Long, long, let me bite your black and heavy tresses. When I gnaw your elastic and rebellious hair I seem to be eating memories.

And so it began. Frankly, I had no idea how to model a poem like this. It was not like rewriting a song, where merely the rhyme and syllable structure needed to match. This had the feel of a complex piece of literature.

So I thought. I thought a lot. I took notes on the themes and the structure - how the poem began wide in scope and then closed in on a single cozy cabin. Then I began.

I began with a word. A single but generous word, with plenty of attributes to play with. Galaxy. Galaxy was my solution to Baudelaire's hemisphere. I needed something that had an equally expansive set of substructures as half the planet (a hemisphere) from which I could draw, and a galaxy certain met that criterion. Furthermore, galaxies involve space, which tickled the fancy of the science fiction geek in me.

Then my second conundrum began. A Hemisphere in Your Hair was an illustration in alliteration. To accurately model it, I too should alliterate. So I furrowed my brow and began brainstorming bodily parts that began with "G." Gee gee gee gee, baby baby. Gonads? No, too explicit. Gubernaculum? I hadn't even learned that word yet. Groin? Mayhaps...

At the time, I was participating in a two-day business competition with DECA, my all-time favourite high school club. I still remember sitting there at the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto, wrestling with the idea that I had just concocted. In the end, I took the plunge, and A Galaxy in Your Groin came to life.

Days later, back in class, I approached my teacher for advice. I should preface this with a bit of context. My English teacher was a terrific educator, and I learned so much about English from him. He was also the first openly gay man I had ever met, and it was apparent. From his feminine tone, to the hissy fits he would throw at students he disliked, he set off the gaydar in spades.

Now, I was still not particularly comfortable with my poem. Sure, I felt like I had done a good job modelling the original, and yes, I had an amusing time doing so. But still, I felt like the racy content of A Galaxy in Your Groin would bite me in the ass come marking time.

I paused before my teacher's desk. "Mr. Z, I wanted to ask you a question about our poetry assignment. What if our poem isn't exactly... appropriate?"

Mr. Z's head jerked up. His eyes narrowed, and his eyebrows twitched with suspicion. "What do you mean appropriate?"

"Well, here let me show you," I stammered, shoving a lined piece of paper onto Mr. Z's desk.

Mr. Z read through the poem with great attention, and as he did so, the scowl faded from his face. The taut stress lines eased, and he looked back up at me with a smile. "Andy, your poem is very sensual," he replied, "You shouldn't be ashamed of that." Then he added, "Your poem makes me blush."

I almost choked and died.

I got a perfect score on that assignment.

17 comments:

Riona55 said...

OMG your poem was so....

I have no words.

(I blushed too)

Riona55 said...

that was michael

Joyce said...

LOL... omg...

(speechless as well)

shirls said...

WoW

The anecdote was golden! It made me laugh and so does the title of your poem.

Who was your English teacher? I can't recall any male instructors who was openly gay.

don't you ever look at my groin said...

you were under-age yet..... ur vivid descriptions.... and all those allusions... "milk way", "shooting stars"... something white and projectile.... sounds messy..... too much admiring, not enough action... just go "immerse your body" already...

Gaye Martha Focker said...

Dear blogger of Andyland,

The very kind poster above urged me to visit your blog and read your masterpiece on "Andy the explorer and his Pleasures in THE GROIN". Forgive me for re-titling your poem, I just thought that fits much better.


I must say your talents are unmatched in my decades of experience as a chief editor of my literature magazine. My team sincerely wish to recruit you to head a new section in our magazine - "Of Boys and Men". We strive to examine the psychological turmoil going through adolescents in this modern age when this age group is bombarded with so many messages everywhere. Trust me, you will flourish here. I see the potential in you.


Yours sincerely,

Gaye Martha Focker

Chief Editor of Erotica Now!

Awards:
#1 most popular erotica literature review
#1 creativity award for maximal reader arousal
#2 voted by fan-fiction enthusiasts

and many more...

Catalogue of Queens said...

Censored version: This line disturbs me most. "Peppered with shooting stars"? "Peppered"?! I will never put pepper on my food again. *sobs*

wish to have no assoication with this blog said...

and i think the perfect theme song for this would be Aladin's "a whole new world"

haha

Michael said...

Incidentally, we (me, Mello & Yuffie) were also discussing the timeline of this poem.

When you were in Grade 12, you would've been dating [_____].

In which case... well, yea. I learned more about a certain someone than I needed to know. Seriously.

XD

brutalturtle.blogspot.com said...

I almost choked and died too reading this.

a_ndy said...

@Michael, Mello & Yuffie: Hey losers, first of all I wrote this in December. Second of all, I wasn't in Grade 12 in 2002, I was in Grade 11. I was just taking Grade 12 English. Seriously, get your mind out of the gutter... as much as you can do so while reading my poem, that is.

mr. anonymous said...

let me propose that andy had a case of delayed puberty..... with identity crisis before the testosterone finally spiking in gr12, at which point all poems take a 180 degree turn for pussies instead

sandlot said...

I don't know whether to be more stunned by your poem or the comments that you've received for it.

I'm going to go back to studying now...

Jerry said...

Well, Andygen, I have to say, you have definitely impressed me - not only because you are a keener who finished Grade 12 English in Grade 11, but also because you wrote such a "sensual" poem for your course and got away with it lol

It's too bad you are in medicine...you could be the next John Milton...though of course different...for obvious reasons...

a_ndy said...

Who is John Milton...?

Michael said...

Dude, how did you manage English 12 without knowing John Milton? He's the poet that wrote Paradise Lost... only the greatest fucking epic since Homer's Iliad!!!

And well, you're not far off. After all, Paradise Lost was about the Fall of Man to sin....

a_ndy said...

Thanks for the tip, Bad Horse.