The sixth volley launched itself out from the Pacific Northwest (“Sestina in Seattle”), across the continent far to the south and east, over to South Florida. John had suggested they try three-line stanzas for a change, offering as a beginning the following lines on June 25, 2009: “Versace graffiti frog-marches across the industrial garage door, / otherwise burned and unnoticed, a humid tin easel with tats / cloaking Colombian ordnance and a Sea-Doo in drydock,” along with the Dante-inspired title “The Tenth Circle of Miami.”
On July 1, Martin at first responded with, “The gates open to a sun cigar poking sugar sand to coals, / sweating hard bodies and bandages from Brazilian butt / implants blazing in the hellish ring, hackysacking gull // skulls.” But he soon commented in a follow-up email:
Because we cannot use the I voice, I think we should edit some of our work to be more concrete and understandable….adding more around the couple in the Boston poem comes to mind….And I think it might be worthwhile to look at the Miami poem and perhaps frame the beginning for more reader accessibility…
This made sense to John. After a spate of further emails and revisions with a couple of false starts, John’s initial lines became the fourth stanza, Martin completely revised his first contribution to the poem and moved it to the end, and they decided to employ Martin’s idea of having ten stanzas altogether. Several more weeks of revision passed; e.g., verbs changed form, prepositions shifted, the line in Russian about salad-tossing was transliterated into the Roman alphabet. “The Tenth Circle of Miami” reached its final form on August 2.
“The Tenth Circle of Miami” was accepted for publication in The Binnacle, the literary and arts journal for the University of Maine at Machias, on April 8, 2010. That issue was scheduled to be completed by mid-May of last year. John and Martin still await their contributors’ copies. John tentatively blames the recession.
“The Tenth Circle of Miami” is the twenty-fifth poem in the final sequence of Poets’ Guide to America.