from 'Off the Grid': Fifteen Elegies, with author’s note
FERVENT LOVE FRAMED WITH DEATH
CREMATION (HER BODY REDUCED TO ASHES)
KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF
I HAVEN’T CRIED I INTEND TO CRY BUT I HAVEN’T CRIED
THEY TOLD HER SHE’D HAD A STROKE
INCREMENTS OF THEN
POOR WOMAN WHAT A HORRIBLE BUSINESS
(FROM DIAGNOSIS TO DEATH)
PINWHEELS OF DEATH AND SOLITUDE
A GREAT SADNESS OVERWHELMS ME
IF I CAN’T HAVE THAT
AS IF YOU WERE WITHDRAWING FROM ME
SCORPIO AND SAGITTARIUS
STUNG WITH STINGS AND SHOT WITH ARROWS
I composed each of these pieces in a template in Microsoft Word, a table of twenty-five columns and thirty-three rows of square cells. The typeface I’ve used is Courier New, because all the characters are the same width, ensuring exact vertical alignments.
Typically (but not always), a phrase will come to me and I’ll decide to build a piece around it by filling cells in the table with single characters, usually starting with the word or phrase going left to right or up to down. Often, I’ll look for ways of hooking words/phrases together based on shared characters, like a crossword. But some pieces don’t involve this kind of hooking together, and some pieces have words/phrases going right to left or down to up or diagonally.
If the finished piece doesn’t occupy the whole table, I’ll delete any empty rows and columns and then, as a last step, make the grid lines invisible.