If you’re like me and find mazes and labyrinths fascinating, go read the latest issue of Coffin Bell. It’s chock-full of dark takes on the theme of Labyrinths, including my poems “The Banquet at the Center of the Maze” and “Hooves on Gravel, Like Teeth on Bones.”
I got the idea for “The Banquet at the Center of the Maze” from a scene in a jigsaw puzzle (which, if you’ve read my story “Sasha’s Pattern, Sonia’s Edge,” shouldn’t come as much of a surprise). My kids and I were working on a puzzle called Lost in a Jigsaw, a hedge maze of various scenes in diagonal perspective where each non-edge piece is the same shape (!), so you must first decipher which pieces make up which scene, then how the scenes fit together to form a cohesive maze (which I swear isn’t an oxymoron), and as I’m typing this I’m thinking of all sorts of metaphors for my writing process. Anyway, one part of the puzzle shows a table set with food. Empty chairs. No banqueters in sight. It got me wondering, who would go to all that trouble in the midst of those twisty hedges?
For my poem “Hooves on Gravel, Like Teeth on Bones,” I wanted to try a pantoum. It seemed like a great form for a maze poem, winding back upon itself like one giant dead end. The title popped into my head, so I plugged it in as one of the lines and built the rest of the poem around that.