Friday, June 29, 2007

Caption Contest: Speak for Dick

Go ahead, put words in Dick's mouth. Thoughts in his head.

What is the Sultan of Sleaze, Dick "The Piece of Veal" Cheney saying, thinking, wishing:

I will announce the winner some time next week. Grand prize ... beating other captions.

Spilling Some Beans

Brent tagged me to share 8 things about myself that no one asked me to share (except Brent I guess).

1. I was caught skinny dipping with a few friends in a whale shaped pond at Cranbrook Art Academy in Detroit while attending a fiction writing seminar many years ago. I have not been naked in public since.

2. Of Mice and Men was the first and only book I have read that made me cry.

3. I wanted to be veterinarian when I was young but discovered I am too miserably incompetent with math to see the dream through. I kept the animal love part and scrapped the math.

4. I was caught shoplifting once – taking rawhides for my dog.

5. I really like David Ducovnhy.

6. I had a cat give birth to the first two kittens of her litter while she was sitting on my lap.

7. I have a decent singing voice that can handle some Sinatra and also crunch up enough to sound like Robert Smith (The Cure).

8. My favorite song is Somewhere Over the Rainbow – in fact, many of my favorite songs are childhood songs: I Love Trash, When You Wish Upon a Star, Bare Necessities.

I tag Robert and Mary.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Face It - Animal Behaviour

How's that pot belly?
Got sagging pectorals? Feet that belong on a goat or some mythical half human half beast hybrid? Who cares. Experts say the face is the make or break feature - especially with da guys. Good news for those with a half way decent mug. But alas, in studies like these some feelings are bound to get hurt.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Gay Stealth

Tonight on the way home from work I heard about Tim Gill for the first time. His "gay stealth" agenda, as one conservative ass head called it, is the best news I've heard all day. Pro family and love vs. pro fear.

In pursuit of their own stealth agenda, the GOP works hard to fuck over the worker - again.

NOTE: I apologize for the gratuitous use of "ass head" and "fuck" in this post, but I recently discovered I only have a PG-13 rating and think I am really intended for mature audiences so I am trying to boost my rating.

All I Need is the Air That I Breathe?

What the hell?

A bad air advisory here in Akron. I am glad my family is out of town and does not have to breathe the soot and 'particulates' - whatever hell those are.

Particulates. Sounds vaguely cancer causing to me.

I would rather wear the blow fart inhalation suit I read about a few weeks back than breathe unspecified 'particulates'.

Caveat Emptor - Dog Haze of Summer

Christ, the puppy arrived and looks nothing like the photo the breeder sent. I gather it was a rough trip from Indianapolis for not only has the puppy aged terribly, the breed has changed. Be weary my friends. Don't get taken in as I was by cute puppy photos from unscrupulous breeder fakes. Makes the naming task a lot easier.

God, I love the Internet some times. Cosmetic surgery for dogs? "Here at my clinic I would never attach an artificial testicle."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Well, I Guess I'll Go to Hell Then

How now, Jim?

Two of my favorite friend stories (that's a thematic oversimplification to say the least) are Of Mice and Men, and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Thinking of Huck and Jim, through the lens of King Lear which is always on my mind, I am struck by a fun parallel. Jim is the Fool character to Huck, the lost kinglet. Of course, in Lear the Fool is no fool at all, dispensing sideways wisdom left and right. In addition, there is the journey parallel: Jim and Huck on the river, Lear and his Fool in wilderness. The tenderness of the friendships between Lear and the Fool, Jim and Huck, are among the most moving I have read. In that moment when Huck decides he is not going to turn Jim in, believing it means damnation for him, he says "Well, I guess I'll go to hell then." A great moment.

And then ... George speaking calmly to Lenny at the river and asking him to describe the rabbits, how their life is going to be as he puts the luger to the back of his head. The compassion and bond of these characters in each scene wrings out my heart to no end and reminds me why the classics are classics.

And why I am glad for the few duable friends I have.

Dog Day of Summer

My wife Laredo and our son are in Texas until next Tuesday. The weekend following, we are going to finally get our puppy. Here is a shot the breeder sent us.

We are in the process of making a name list. My wife wanted Kevin. I think it's funny and perfect, but our son does not.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Radiant, Terrific - Spider Bites

I admit it. There are some bites I like.

And then, there is the SOB SOMEWHERE in my bedroom that has bitten me twice now in one month. A brown recluse spider or so say the authorities. I think they are right. My first bite had the same Target shopping center pattern as you see here.

Today I begin another course of antibiotics for the bite on my thigh as the previous bite on my bicep is in the final stages of healing. I have always preached to my son spare the spiders, they're useful, they're not hurting us. I think of Issa naturally - and I am about to fail where I suspect he stuck it out. If I find the bastard I am taking him out with whatever is handy. Shoe. The Nation. My foot, etc.

Note to self: no more sleeping in the buff.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The World is Full of Fair Unfinished Things

After my son Rainer died – he was all of six weeks old – we hung the yellow and white knit cap he wore on the mirror of our dresser. He could not regulate his body temperature (among other things) so he needed a cap to help keep his head warm.

It sounds pitifully sentimental in hindsight, but throughout the day or night I would pick up the cap and breathe in the smell of his head and hair – that wonderful baby smell. You hold on however you can, eh?

Eventually the scent faded.

Here is a poem from a book-length collection of sonnets, Mimma Bella, by Eugene Lee Hamilton, on losing his child.

Lo, through the open window of the room
That was her nursery, a small bright spark
Comes wandering in, as falls the summer dark,
And with a measured flight explores the gloom.

As if it sought, among the things that loom
Vague in the dusk, for some familiar mark,
And like a light on some wee unseen bark,
It tacks in search of who knows what or whom.

I know 'tis but a fire-fly; yet its flight,
So straight, so measured, round the empty bed,
Might be a little soul's that night sets free;

And as it nears, I feel my heart grow tight
With something like a superstitious dread,
And watch it breathless, lest it should be she.

I, too, would be breathless before the spark. Godamn those empty rooms.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Book from Greg Rappleye

Greg Rappleye gives us a peek at Figured Dark, his new (and third) book of poems.


Reading Blyth's wonderful haiku series, ordered so nicely by theme, I recall the one subject that the books are lean on is sex/eros -- besides the famous one about burning smoke to keep the mosquitos away. Not sure who wrote that one. I imagine there are more than I remember, but in general I think bugs, weather, landscape, etc., get far more ink. As they should, being time honored themes of the haiku tradition. That said, I was happy to come across this book.

Reading through much of the Ameri-ku that gets into print, sex is a frequent theme. Jane Reichold has many available online. I did read the collection below by Chiyo-ni a while back and recall that it had many very sensuous haiku.

I have tried to write my fair share of haiku on sexual themes. One or two turned out. When I save up a few pennies I think I'll order the Erotic Haiku book and try a few more. If I had the heart of Rexroth I might write long erotic poems, but I am into understatement where sexuality is concerned. Haiku fit my libido just fine.

Here are a few that I found in a review of Erotic Haiku:

doing nothing
but feel
— Stanley Pelter

Without clothes
it's a different
— John Brandi

she leaves —
a curled hair
in my soap
— David Walker

on the car seat beside me
the sun
light on her thighs
— James Tipton

on these finger

— Giovanni Malito

Much Ado About Gormflaith

In a kingly nutshell.

In King Lear's Wife (see below), Lear is hot for Gormflaith, one of his dying wife's nurses. Not just hot for her, they're having an affair. In one scene, as the Queen lies dying -- and unconscious Lear believes--he sits in the room with the nurse on his knee. There is kissing, cuddling, and at one point Gormflaith takes the queen's crown off the peg and puts it on. Ouch! The Queen sees this has a relapse and soon dies. But not before she has a long conversation with Goneril.

Goneril corners Gormflaith, ushers her out of her mother's room, and whacks her.

With her hunting knife.

Last but not least, we find out Cordelia was not a love child, the Queen only had her to keep Lear from chasing other women. Clearly, it did not stop him.

Plenty of adultery and mental cruelty to go around. All this sets the stage for Shakespeare's Lear - which ( I think Ciardi once called) the story of a man going sane. How perfect is that?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

King Lear Prequel

Goneril, a sweetheart, a doting child.

Genuinely loving. Speaking true words of affection, not the honeyed, ass-kiss praise we know from the greatest play ever written – King Lear.

I am no knave but to believe it thus makes me feel knavish.

Yet ‘tis true.

In what one might call a kind of King Lear prequel, George Bottomley, in 1915 wrote King Lear’s wife. I am reading it of late. As we know, in Lear the Queen is dead.

Thus to our grief the obsequies perform'd
Of our too late deceas'd and dearest queen,
Whose soul I hope, possess'd of heavenly joys,
Doth ride in triumph 'mongst the cherubins.

Bottomley’s play, it’s short, revolves around the Queen’s last days before she succumbs to illness. I am not far into it, but already am startled by a good Goneril. I imagine the play will attempt to tell the back story of the Queen’s demise in so far as it sheds some light on how two otherwise sweet daughters from the kingdomly burbs could become such wretched, blood-thirsty wolves. Is this a necessary dot to connect? Not to me. Goneril and Regan are such delicious villains precisely because (like honest Iago) they are just plain mean. This is not to say they are one dimensional characters.

Perhaps Bottomley will plant the idea that they blame their father – somehow – for mom’s death. Who knows. I have yet to find any information on Bottomley’s motivation for writing this play. Cordelia barely figures in the play, is simply a whiny voice off stage calling for her daddy. In the timeline of the play in relation to Lear, I suspect she’s about 5.

Impossible not to see similarities between Lear holding Cordelia in his arms, and Goneril speaking this at her dead mother’s side:

This is not death: death could not be like this.
She is quite warm -- though nothing moves in her.
I did not know death could come all at once:
If life is so ill-seated no one is safe.
Cannot we leave her like herself awhile?
Wait awhile, Merryn. . . . No, no, no; not yet!

The "no, no, no, not yet" with Lear's 'never, never ..." etc. And various and sundry other parallels. What, I asketh, is next?

Young Lady MacBeth and the Bad Court Jester.

So, if you are a fan of King Lear (come on now, who isn’t?) you might find the Bottomley play a fun piece of the puzzle.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Easy Sarcasm

A new Bush appointee with a "combative style" Wow, that's something you don't see in this administration. Much.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Carl Douglas vs. Optimus Prime

Rush Hour 3 or 4 is coming to theaters soon and my son saw the trailer with me at Spiderman this weekend.
In one scene Chris Rock does a little dance and sings "Everybody was Kung Fu fighting!"

Then, for the remainder of the day, my son was puttering around singing that line over and over and over and over - in his squeaky voice and with great gusto. It drove me crazy and I almost broke down and gave him this Optimus Prime voice changer helmet I've had stashed thinking it would stop him from singing Kung Fu fighting, but then I imagined he would just say it with the helmet on which would be more freaky. Optimus Prime doing Chris Rock doing Carl Douglas.

P.S. Picked up our Transformers movie tickets - advanced sales. BLAM!

P.S.S. Did you know Carl Douglas has a Greatest Hits? That, too, is freaky.

Grab Your Lute

Those oldies but goodies, they remindest me of you. If it's your thing, here's a great site (linked to Norton I think) of Renaissance (and other) Lit.

On a related note, just put reserves on five books on the sonnet through the University of Akron. Not anthologies, but studies of the form, it's origins and evolution. These seem to be the books that are referenced again and again in every piece of sonnet scholarship I can find on the Internet.

Damn, I love the sonnet and I don't know why. The same way I love conifers more than other trees and don't know why. A deep attraction I don't really care to understand.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day and Books No One Wrote

Father's morning, day, night.

My wife and son served me breakfast in bed this morning. Scrambled eggs, link sausages w/lemon wedges, jelly toast and coffee. Once I plopped out of bed, I read sonnets on the porch for a while, then wrestled with my son in the attic which is too hot to be in, played hall soccer (our name for kicking this inflatable back and forth in a narrow stretch of hallway) and then went to see Spiderman - 3 again. My wife has a pan of Blueberry Boy Bait cooling on the stove that we will all much on later this evening. I am happy all over, top to bottom.

Here is a shortened list of imaginary Titles of Rejected Children’s Books...from an anonymous source off the Internet. I culled the list down to my favorites. I think these made the rounds some time ago, but they might be new for some of you.

You are Different and That’s Bad

The Boy Who Died From Eating All His Vegetables

Fun four-letter Words to know and Share

Hammers, Screwdrivers and Scissors: An “I-Can-Do-It Book:

Kathy Was So Bad Her Mommy Stopped Loving Her

Curious George and the High-Voltage Fence

Some Kittens Can Fly

Grandpa Gets a Casket

Whining, Kicking and Crying to Get your Way

Things Rich Kids Have, But You Never Will

The Man in the Moon is Actually Satan

Your Nightmares Are Real

Where Would You Like to be Buried?

Why Can’t Mr. Fork and Ms. Electrical Outlet Be Friends?

Places Where Mommy and Daddy Hide Neat Things

Daddy Drinks Because You Cry

The Surprise at the Bottom of the Pool

If It Feels Good, Touch It!

You Can’t Help It If You’re Stupid

Patty Went Splat! (Don’t YOU Forget Your Seatbelt)

Bullies Deserve To Die

Mommy’s Got A New Baby To Love

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Book of Questions

I have a few questions on my mind.

1. When will I hear back from the two remaining pubs who have my poems. Tick tock tick tock.

2. When will I ever get to go fishing again?

3. When will I write the next poem?

On a more poetic note, here are a few questions Neruda has:

If all rivers are sweet
where does the sea get its salt?

How do the seasons discover
it’s time to change shirts?

Why are winters so slow
and the aftermaths, volatile?

How do the roots know
they must climb toward the light?

And then greet the air
with such colors and flowers?

Is it always the same spring,
repeating the same role?

Pablo Neruda, from Book of Questions

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Thread - Vagabond Reading Habit

Here is how it all unravels together for me.

A few months back I was reading Sam's Book by David Ray.

Bertrand Bonhomme,who's opinion I trust, recommended the book for the poems dealing with the death of the poet's son, Sam. A theme achingly near and dear to my heart.

In many of the poems, there are lines from or allusions to a great many of Robert Frost's poems - the poems not taken you might say; that is, not the first poems that pop into my mind when I think of Frost. The lines and fragments were powerful enough that I went back to my Collected Frost (see post below) and read the poems in their entirety.

This is typical of my reading MO. One poem leads to a name which leads to an essay which leads to a story which leads to a death which leads to a song which leads to a lake which leads to a ... you get the picture. How impossible it is to stay with a book when I come across a reference that grabs me, an epigraph that's so right I must read more of that writer. It is no surprise I feel as though I have never finished any one book of mine.

I follow the threads. I leave one unfinished book for the next and jump off at the first exit. A name, a place, an event. I go where the thread goes. In this sense, all books are one book, eh? one book that each of us cobbles together on the path to knowing.

I wish I had thought to keep track of where different books took me. I mean, know the books at my bedside, Ruefle, Edwin Muir, Frost, Charlotte Mew, but I can no longer remember how they got there. If you get my drift.

Heavenly Lostness

Here is a favorite poem of mine, sparks nicely with the Frost that follows.

The Unforeseen

Lord never grant me what I ask for.
The unforeseen delights me, what comes down
from your fair stairs; let life
deal out before me all at once the cards

against which I must play. I want the shock
of going silently along my dark street,
feeling that I am tapped upon the shoulder,
turning about, and seeing the face of adventure.

I do not want to know where and how
I shall meet death. Caught unaware,
may my soul learn at the turn of a corner
that one step back it stilled lived.

By Conrado Nale Roxlo (Argentina, 1898 -?)

I have been rethinking Frost lately and going back through the collected poems, and falling for a lot of poems that never caught my ear and eye before. This is one of them, and it makes a nice companion to Roxlo's. I'd go so far as to say the close reminds me of Rilke.

Lost In Heaven

The clouds, the source of rain, one stormy night
Offered an opening to the source of dew ;
Which I accepted with impatient sight,
Looking for my old skymarks in the blue.

But stars were scarce in that part of the sky,
And no two were of the same constellation —-
No one was bright enough to identify ;
So 'twas with not ungrateful consternation,

Seeing myself well lost once more, I sighed,
"Where, where in Heaven am I? But don't tell me
Oh, opening clouds, by opening on me wide.
Let's let my heavenly lostness overwhelm me.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Roethke, Down and Dirty

Reading through Roethke’s Words for the Wind again, I am struck by the poet’s longing for, the urgent desire for, physical change, his wanting to awake into a new, pure form. From "The Snake":

I long to be that thing, / the pure, sensuous form

How now Proteus? Time and again, we’re given images of a kind of slop soup: weeds, compost, muck, roots, seeds – the breaking down of plant material on its way to its next form.

Weed Puller

Under the concrete benches,
Hacking at black hairy roots,--
Those lewd monkey-tails hanging from drainholes,--
Digging into the soft rubble underneath,
Webs and weeds,
Grubs and snails and sharp sticks,
Or yanking tough fern-shapes,
Coiled green and thick, like dripping smilax,
Tugging all day at perverse life:
The indignity of it!--
With everything blooming above me,
Lilies, pale-pink cyclamen, roses,
Whose fields lovely and inviolate,--
Me down in that fetor of weeds,
Crawling on all fours,
Alive, in a slippery grave.

Why such a emphasis on changing shape, and shapes changing, being born into a new body so to speak? I read Roethke and line after line is filled with sensuous descriptions of the body embracing nature, literally soaking in it at times. It all sounds so pleasurable, and yet the speaker wants out. I have a hard time reconciling a speaker who delights so physically in nature against his skin, with the urge to leave the body behind.

Take these lines for example. With Roethke, the rather tame Eros of Wordsworth’s poems, pressing his check against a mossy stone in Nutting, becomes much more charged. Here's a grab:

Running through high grasses,
My thighs brushing against flower-crowns;
Leaning, out of all breath,
Bracing my back against a sapling,
Making it quiver with my body.

I am always a bit reluctant to buy into backward looking poems (memories I mean) that ascribe a kind of sexual undercurrent to experience like this. But what the hell, it’s Monday. I can believe anything today. Still, Roethke hates his “epidermal dress” after all.

Epidermal Macabre
Indelicate is he who loathes
The aspect of his fleshy clothes,--
The flying fabric stitched on bone,
The vesture of the skeleton,
The garment neither fur nor hair,
The cloak of evil and despair,
The veil long violated by
Caresses of the hand and eye.
Yet such is my unseemliness:
I hate my epidermal dress,
The savage blood's obscenity,
The rags of my anatomy,
And willingly would I dispense
With false accouterments of sense,
To sleep immodestly, a most
Incarnadine and carnal ghost.

Again, in The Far Field poems (by far my favorite), the urge to transcend the body; poems and passages are full of “becomings” and “beginnings” and journeys out of the self.

“I, who came back from the depths laughing too loudly, / Become another thing;”


“Believing: / I’ll returns again, / as a snake or raucous bird.”

Roethke remains for me and always will be a very influential poet. The poems of The Far Field especially, with their cataloging of flora and fauna, give me something of map for writing about the sexy fields I ran through.

A Poem by Goram Simic

The Apprentice

Half a lifetime I’ve been looking
for a language so perfect
that everything will come to good
in the moment when my pen meets the paper.

Shadows taught me a little, a little I got
from monuments; sometimes, in the search
for beauty, this “beautiful” language, I kept
the company of ghosts.

These days, I spend more time at funerals
than I spend at my desk … A book of fairy tales
burns blue-green in the frozen stove
as I warm lime-tea for my sick child.

He sips the tea. The sudden colour
in his cheeks is beautiful,
the colour of health;
and the lime-flower is more beautiful than the rose.

Goram Simic, b. 1952 - trans. David Harsent

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Entertaining Shooting in Wisconsin Leaves 6 Dead

This makes me sick to the core.

Shouldn't there be some kind of sentence or fine for stupidity and gross insensitivity to this degree? Valadez, 27, stayed outside to watch the police to their work following a shooting in a home that left six people dead and a 2-year old infant with a bullet in its chest. Jesus Valadez was quoted as saying:

"It's kind of scary," Valadez said. "Exciting, don't get me wrong. Better than watching TV."

Thanks for clarifying Valadez. And I don't worry, I don't think I've got you wrong.

Friday, June 8, 2007

World Poetry Site

Here is another site dedicated to poetry from other countries. Quite an extensive list of writers/countries.

Roethke Outtakes - 4

Here is one more Roethke poem for the day with an early version of the last stanza in da middle. Also, two versions of "the carriages" line in stanza one. The early version there in parens.

On the Road to Woodlawn

I miss the polished brass, the powerful black horses,
the drivers creaking the seats of the baroque hearses,
the high-piled floral offerings with sentimental verses (,)
(-As the carriages passed you smelled sweat and flowers’
The carriages reeking with varnish and stale perfume.

(Now, as if performing a task that disgraces,
the black-flagged cars, filled with anonymous faces,
hurry to where a man’s last resting place is.
--As if in the cemetery there was no sufficient room.)

I miss the pallbearers momentously taking their places,
The undertaker's obsequious grimaces,
The craned necks, the mourners' anonymous faces,
—And the eyes, still vivid, looking up from a sunken room.

Roethke Outtakes - 3

More Roethke. Not one of my favorite poems, but from a craft/diction standpoint you might be interested in some the edits he made: your thoughts/the thoughts. Here is an early and final version of Reply to Censure.

I remember that Bly essay wherein he talks about the fur of words - which I thought silly when I first read it. But not so much now. Defamers, defilers? Makes you really want to dig down to the root of the words with the OED and find out why maybe one is more precise than the other.

Reply to Censure (Early Draft)

Expect the staring eye,
The insolence of hate,
The churlish pedantry
Of those inveterate

Defilers of the good,
They mock your deepest thought
And jeer the fortitude
Whereby the good is wrought.

Though passion is reviled
And cravens cry you down,
Delight keeps undefiled
A wisdom of its own.

Hope has a toughened skin
That keeps sufficient store
Of dignity within,
And quiet at the core.

Reply to Censure (Final Draft)

Repulse the staring eye,
The hostile gaze of hate,
And check the pedantry
Of those inveterate

Defamers of the good,
They mock the deepest thought
Condemn the fortitude
Whereby true work is wrought.

Though just men are reviled
When cravens cry them down,
The brave keep undefiled
A wisdom of their own.

The bold wear toughed skin
That keeps sufficient store
Of dignity within,
And quiet at the core.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

West Xylophone

Speaking of far away places (see below), here is a link to West Xylophone which we first heard about in the song Alphabet of Nations by They Might Be Giants. For those of you with kids, if you do not know about the kids stuff they do (although plenty of the non-kid stuff is wonderful for kiddlings too) you should check it out. The smartest kids songs I've ever heard.

What Gets Found in Translation

Recently, I read a post in which someone wondered if they were missing much by not reading (by choice) poetry in translation. I forget the exact nature of their aversion to it.

The 'hell yes' list of poets I would offer as a response would take an hour to type. That said, here is a link to an interesting web site with reviews, excerpts, fiction, poems from younger voices from all around the marble. Called Transcript.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Meet Joseph Stroud

He has four books out now and he is from the West Coast. Lives in Santa Cruz. Signatures and Sleep of Rivers are his earliest two books, followed by Below Cold Mountain and now Country of Lights. The last two on Copper Canyon. He has his fair share of poems to Li Po, Tu Fu and Han Shan. Why not? I mean, if you're going to converse with a poet across the years, those hermitreclusepoets are always good listeners. And more grateful than most for the company I think.

Here is a short poem from one of his earlier collections:

The Singing, The Darkness, The Earth as Language

But how to accommodate death?
Tsang-kie invented writing, it is said,
by observing bird tracks around the lake.
From their prints he could tell what songs
had been there. But the night birds
leave no tracks. The owl under the sickle moon
glides quietly through the dark,
touches down only to seize its prey.
We know its home by the droppings
of skulls
and bits of powered bone.

Monday, June 4, 2007


Wordsworth wrote nursery rhymes apparently. Actually, it's from the Prologue to Peter Bell, but it has an unbearable nursery rhyme sweetness to it. Of the Romantics, I have spent more time with WW than any other and this stanza still surprises me when I read it. I wish my son were three again so I could sing it to him. I might just put it to a tune and sing it anyway.

THERE'S something in a flying horse,
There's something in a huge balloon;
But through the clouds I'll never float
Until I have a little Boat,
Shaped like the crescent-moon.

Also, happy birthday to my son RW.

Seferis and Friend

Here is a little grab from Seferis' notebooks about his cat. He looked at the fire. Right on.

“ … grieving for Ramazan. He was my only friend in Ankara, a friend of my own. I can’t explain the hyperbolic, the unexpected, the irrational state into which the loss of this small creature has plunged me. It is the circumstance of this little death perhaps; as if he waited for us before dying. Then, I don’t know, such a death makes you see the void—that place of his on the grape arbor—from another angle, smaller but clearer, in a more naked way; it is another thing, the ghost of an animal; without resurrection; an absolute loss. The earth seemed horribly inhuman Friday afternoon. Such dignity in the way he went off to die. He sought the sun constantly, he looked at the fire.”

Friday, June 1, 2007


Digging 'round in my old notebooks I found a few nuggets on writing from Jorie Graham that I copied out. The first echoes Stevens, the poem resisting intelligence. The last three all circle around the same idea of positing a listener to guide and shape your voice or voices. I get a lot more mileage out of her thoughts on writing than her writing itself these days.

1. You want to not understand your poem for as long as you can, because as soon as you start understanding it, all you can do is shape it into the simplest form of your understanding. You end up writing a poem that is an interpretation of the original poem.

2. If I am talking specifically to my mother, or to the butcher, or to Emily, I have a complete voice governed by vocabulary, tone and range of references … totally woven into each other by the fact that the listener is constant and imaginable.

3. Too general a sense of audience and the poem wavers between different registers of your own voice.

4. To write differently, posit a different listener, in order to expand the range of experiences that come into the poem. I have to speak to someone I not have spoken to before.

I was torn between which photos of her to use (there are so many). I skipped all the "chin in hand" (too yearbooky) photos and went with these which range from stormy Jorie to blue Jorie to fiery Jorie.
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