Monday, February 20, 2017


Troy's Work Table reads new poem "Gilboa" at the Creative Colloquy open mic. Photo by Jackie Casella.


A few lines from section five (of seven) of the early draft of "Gilboa."

Saul stands atop Gilboa

and Samuel’s words clamber
up the mountainside

following its rivulets and ravines

like dark demons summoned
forth from the land of the dead

seeking the retreating king.

Copyright © 2017 by Troy's Work Table.


At tonight's February Creative Colloquy Gathering, I read a rough draft of my new poem "Gilboa" during the open mic. I've been trying to write this poem off and on for the past five years, but was unable to find a form that worked. I may have finally found its form.

I think it mostly worked, but it felt really rough. There is a line that is repeated in five of the seven short sections, and then echoed in the final section to end the whole thing. When I read the last line for an audience, even though I had read it aloud for myself multiple times at home, all I could hear was the rhythm of the last line of each stanza of Poe's "The Raven," although "slant-wise" (as Emily Dickinson would have it).

The last time I uttered "Gilboa" I could only hear "nevermore." It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, although I felt a bit stunned by such a revelation. The seven syllables of the echoed lines in "The Raven" and "Gilboa," similar consonant and vowel sounds in each, and a similar rhythm caught me off guard at the microphone.


Before each open mic or reading in which I participate, I listen to music that I listened to while writing the poems I intend on reading or songs that feel of a same spirit. For instance, whenever I read any of my "Black Psalms," I listen to songs by Kvelertak. When I read poems influenced by Moby-Dick, I listen to Leviathan by Mastodon and/or sea chanteys. As I drove into Tacoma to read "Gilboa," I listened to "Superunknown" by Soundgarden over and over.

So I started the evening with "Superunknown" playing in my head and ended it with "The Raven" crying "nevermore."


The next step for "Gilboa" is revision. We'll see what stays and what gets left behind in the next draft.


Tacoma poet Michael Haeflinger reading poems, some of which also appear on his spoken word album Let's Don't Be Crazy, which you can listen to at

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