Thursday, December 21, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
So, I find that all of my school-work these days involves writing poems, reading poems, and writing about poems. I love it. Love it. Even during finals week. My study breaks consist of reading poems that are not assigned... So, while attempting my take-home Modern Poetry exam, I set aside Frost, Stein, H.D. & Co. in favor of a little quality time with Rumi. I love his poems. I love The Essential Rumi volume that sits on my bedside table even more. The translators, Coleman Barks and John Moyne, have grouped Rumi's works into incredibly artful and inspiring "chapters," each of which begins with an "introduction" I find as ellusive and elucidating as Rumi's works themselves. Just listen to this...
CHAPTER 10--ART AS FLIRTATION WITH SURRENDER: WANTING NEW SILK HARP STRINGS...
The design on the curtains is not what they conceal. Artists love shapes for enclosure, the chained cup beside the waterfall as a way of tasting the waterfall and maybe even the presence of someone meditating in the cave behind it. Forms keep splitting their chrysali, but the old harper wants one more set of silk strings. Some sufis have seen the beauties of art as something that can slow down soul growth. Art gives a teasing taste of surrender without full experience. Beautiful poetry can keep one on the verge of the oceanic annihilation in God. Rumi says, we've been walking in the surf holding our robes up, when we should be diving naked under, and deeper under.
All of this introduces a section of poems that I find especially tantilizing. Here is one of my favorite excerpts from the poem, "Chinese Art and Greek Art":
In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art.
Drumsound rises on the air,
its throb, my heart.
A voice inside the beat says,
"I know you're tired,
but come. This is the way."
Are you jealous of the ocean's generosity?
Why would you refuse to give
this joy to anyone?
Fish don't hold the sacred liquid in cups!
They swim the huge fluid freedom.
(The questions being asked here are enough for me... They are enough. Is art the illusion? Or is art the freedom? Ah, Rumi... )
Friday, December 08, 2006
This is my Poetic Sequence Final Project! I have been publishing the drafts of many of these poems to this blog over the past six months or so. While the poems are not "finished" by my (impossible) standards, they are in final forms, of a sort. Enjoy!
follow this link!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
1) A device that gave you caffeine intravenously would be very well received by college kids world-wide.
2) Final Exams are not a test of knowledge or skill, but rather a sort of decathalon. In other words, its not how fast you can sprint, but whether or not you are still standing after thirty miles.
The quest for good grades generally comes down to an ability to discipline oneself, and to go without sleep, food, or normal social interactions for days or weeks on end. I have written upwards of seventy graded pages in the last two weeks, and I have yet to enter finals week itself.
I am supposed to be hammering out another ten of them tonight, about Critical Analysis of the poetry of Mary Wroth, and an explication of one of Ben Jonson's strange little poems. I had better luck making nonsensical genius out of Gertrude Stein yesterday...
My professors seem to like to give us life-lessons around this time in the semester as well. Mostly, they keep reminding those of us who are plugging away in academic buildings cracked-out on coffee all night, that only about a third of PhDs in literature receive tenure-track positions at universities in this country. For those of us who have designs on academia, this hurts. So, to give up the dream is out of the question. But, ten years from now...or more, if I have a doctorate in literature and no job, what will I have made of myself? What will it matter that Lady Mary Wroth, Ben Jonson, Gertrude Stein, and Louise Gluck every teased my brain, or made me shiver with instantaneous understanding?
I want to teach. I want the energy and creativity derived from such a place as this. So on the cusp of finals week, I am sending a cheers out to those of you who are students cramming your brains and denying your bodies...and those of you who teach us, and are buried under mountains of ungraded papers, unwritten recommendations, and an administration breathing down your neck. To you, we say: thanks for the knowledge. It does not go unheaded.
Hopefully that has warmed up my brain a little. Back to the old grind...
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
It's been a week or so since the last time I put down any thoughts here. Actually, I spent all of Thanksgiving Break writing a massive research paper for my Poetic Sequence Directed Study, entitled: "Louise Gluck's Meadowlands: The Palimsestic Mimesis of the Human Impulse to Create." Sounds riveting, no? It is supposed to make it to cyberworld on our class blog, so don't worry your little heads...
So, I find that in enersing myself in literary criticism and theory, I am unable to write my poems. Or if I do allow myself even one tiny moment of revision of my creative work, hours are snapped up in no time, and I have forgotten to eat, sleep, swallow, or do any of my other homework. So I banned myself from my own poems for the duration of Thanksgiving Break and hammered out twenty pages of genre theory instead. Sweet. Hence I haven't been blogging. I have been thinking about my blog, however, and how it will soon undergo yet another metamorphesis of purpose. I am spending 5 months in the lovely city of London, beginning in January. So, this space will hopefully expand accordingly into an ongoing multimedia travelogue, without losing its creative, poetic edge...
What I really wanted to talk about was a post I created back in the late summer on this blog announcing the departure of my mentor for another university. I have been elated to find out that he is returning, for love of the institution, and I couldn't be happier. The relationship of a mentor and a truly connected student is not a thing to be held lightly. The last year and a half of my undergraduate academic career looks like the most promising yet. Stay tunned...
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Zen masters are to be
like the tracks of birds in the sky,
untraceable, always their own—
not self-consciously proclaiming
That was our beginning.
Five-hundred miles from me, you talked,
drinking only one cocktail before calling,
to calm your nerves, but keep your wit.
You read Buddhist philosophy aloud.
Eventually, leaving the drinks,
and claiming a dimension
you saw in me, in us.
I could not see.
We didn’t know each other, yet.
I preached the
distinguish between your insights:
it is all meaningless,
or meaningful. No. I said.
we would change opinions, our minds
shifting like air.
(I told you once, the child I was wanted to be
a feather-footed Indian, hunting.
But my walk is heavy-heeled.
No number of feathered willows caught around my hair
made me silent.)
all I know to tell: what I understand
to be universal, and my suffering.
dropping like breadcrumbs—
once each footfall,
And you follow, bird.
Slipping down from your tracelessness
to swallow what I’ve left there, not knowing
that there sometimes is
poison in the tales.
I trail him
in my lost sleep, and imagine
that his breath still comes evenly at night,
begrudging him that peace.
You follow and cradle me.
I know you hope
that your hold might
chase him out.
You don’t know
how many times you have driven me down the street
where he still lives
in a brick house.
I don’t tell you all things.
But, surely you notice. I fall silent,
fingers clinching palms, eyes
hopelessly tracking the alley
where he collapsed me. Though, it was him who left
with bruises, bloody teeth marks on that day.
I could not hold my rage at his words,
ripping my hair and screaming, while the world
swirled closed around me.
Then, I ran nowhere
along root-broken sidewalk.
Surely you hear the crack of pain?
And can still see my colors fly down the sidewalk,
as I can? And see,
see the wreckage running a river
out my soles?
On the day he left, I was wearing
the lavender scarf I let you borrow, yesterday.
It is the one my grandmother gave me
the Christmas before I knew him—
a shield against the cold
I would feel anyway.
When that night fell
I found him, drunk and angry.
There was a bandage over his arm.
And he would not talk or look at me
as I sat down, begging to stay
in our bed. He lay down, clothed. Recoiling, even in sleep,
from my touch. Nauseated,
I lay in hell. Except that I was not dead,
and could not rest.
The days have spent themselves, with some effort,
for a year. The birds went, and came again,
re-teaching me to eat and sleep,
read, write, and sing.
To come upon you, feathered,
and eager to forge a path unfollowable.
I find myself as yet, unable.
You ask me daily to release my legs, the ground beneath,
the street, the alley, for wings
and the tracks of birds.
We could each make our own way, you say,
stopping only to rest together, to hunt and gather,
Then, set soaring again,
one by one,
Saturday, November 18, 2006
I have undertaken a new hobby in the last three months or so...crafting and embellishing all of my clothes with a few simple tools, needle and thread, fabric paint, and markers. Go to a thrift store, buy something second hand and create the text you want to wear... It's inspiring. And fun! I am going to start posting some of my TEXTiles to my blog. It's art, that I wear.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
He talked endlessly of the birds
of San Marco’s square.
But, you’ve never been there.
The birds, from a height, look like
living carpet, like so many grey hands,
fingers spreading and closing,
grasping and holding.
And from that height,
the spikes fang up in the foreground,
over gold mosaics of
of men brown-bearded as you or him.
I hate the stench of that place in summer,
putrid water found charming,
too many blown glass sculptures,
too much refracted light, colors.
I hated that his woman before me
was Italian, brown-skinned, dark-eyed.
And her name ended in the warm, soft whisper
of -ggio, -ggio, -ggio like wine thick on the tongue,
and a sigh of pleasure.
I hated that he could not love me
except that I had been there. I could tell of the stretch
of cathedrals through a grey, late spring sky.
That’s how we met—
I parted my lips to talk of St. Peter’s
to a room of half-sleeping American children.
He pursued me, that day. The next. The next.
After that, he walked me down the steps, every day,
faking a need to go where I had to go.
I hate that the woman with him now
has hair long, dark brown.
he calls her bella,
the thing he once called me,
I wrote letters—
one a day, postmarked to
Do not go missing…
I’m afraid that you are dead…
Or, have you fallen away?
I am no grotto, no duomo,
nor scaffolding to keep the pigeons at bay.
I have seen these things.
Still, I do not own them.
I cannot find a way to wrestle Venetian stars,
I am not so glittering as they are,
nor so near, in your eyes.
I cannot empty my head of heard voices,
sweet and cajoling, over your shoulder,
across this ocean.
I cannot kill the birds
landing on your arms. I am no spike
swiveled up, hanging bloody bodies
that would crumble our hallowed dwelling—
So, be prudent.
Damn it; do not drown our love out.
You are just foolish enough
to cover what’s sacred
with the shit of birds.
I lay face down in your bed.
I sleep this way, turned under,
though it bends my neck, crooks my spine.
I dreamt of him again,
last night, of birds.
I cannot speak or look at you,
through my pallor.
The spikes are wrenching up
my chest, or heart, an ache
that never quite quits,
coming in waves.
You want to take it from me,
but I won’t let you see the source.
You’ve never been there.
It is an ocean away.
I am angry
that a year has not taken the pain
He’s still here,
a spot on my happiness—
like someone writing words
after the composer has died.
You are playing—
my head in a pillow,
eyes on a book, or
the space just over it,
the cat a warm vibration,
soft against my exposed foot.
It is too cold to sit outside,
and now too dark.
The sun sets over a few leaves
clung on trees, and wires,
dead from breaking
off too many tender things.
You don’t sing
when you play your guitar.
Not while I’m in the room.
You hum the melody, maybe.
Concentrate the world away
while your slender fingers
count their way up the frets
and down, and up,
and down, making
that delicious sound-between-sounds
of a finger drawn along
a nickel and steel string.
I am angry
that he is here.
Though, you mostly don’t hear him.
He spits through words clanging across
an interruption, ghostly,
of the harmonies we make
when I am forgetting him,
I am rarely forgetting him.
I am rarely listening.
Though you go on playing.
And I am here, hearing.
One day. One day soon,
I will forget to speak,
the way you do when your fingers
alight and rise, in turn, eyes shining,
of the very air around you.
I want to forget to speak.
And I will not need the words you do not say,
which cause you so much pain.
No more pretty lies, no more ghost.
Music isn’t written that way.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Friday, November 03, 2006
I attended a reading of Ms. Voigt's in Richmond yesterday, to celebrate her upcoming book, a culmination of a lifetime of poetic achievement: Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006 .
I cannot say enough about the melodic quality of this woman's incredible voice. As she was reading, the poetry lilted into a new life on her "southside Va-gin-ya" tongue. She recited, more than she read, looking deeply at a packed room of students, professors, community members, and others. Her eyes are a pale blue, and her shock of white hair is like the crown of an egret. She is an impactful pressence, but she exudes warmth, kindness, and laughter.
She spoke briefly, to preface the "new cache" of poems in Messenger about the nature of poetic sequence. I am trying to write a poetic sequence now. And, I am beginning to see sequence everywhere. Voigt spoke to an increasing turn toward the sequence among contemporary poets, away from the shapely volume, or perhaps, as a sort of mutation or progeny of the latter. She claimed her own fascination with the form of poetic sequence, with what happens when you "lay lyrics next to each other" and they begin to speak, one to another, to the reader, to the writer, to the literary tradition. Sometime in December, I will have an entire sequence of poems to lay end-to-end on this blog. Many of them exist in draft-form here already.
The reading also provided an interesting snapshot of a local literary community. Among the audience-members were professors from several universities in Virginia, including Mary Washington's own Claudia Emerson, winner of the most recent Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. And, the young woman who happened on an unpublished, heretofore unknown, Sylvia Plath poem, was also in attendance. The politics of literature, like the politics of any profession can be daunting to an up-and-coming, such as I hope to be. Social strata are interesting animals, and word-of-mouth is a powerful tool. I always wonder, where genius and interpersonal struggle meet? How do they combat each other? What escapes into the cracks as a result?
In short, read Voigt. You will be richly rewarded.
Also, here is a recording of her reading of "The Feeder," a prize-winning poem published both in her new book, and in "Blackbird," the literary journal sponsoring last nights event. Happy listening: http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v3n2/poetry/voigt_eb/index.htm
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
How innocent were these Trees, that in
Mist-green May, blown by a prospering breeze,
Stood garlanded and gay;
Who now in sundown glow
Of serious colour clad confront me with their show
As though resigned and sad,
Trees, who unwhispering stand umber, bronze, gold;
Pavilioning the land for one grown tired and old;
Elm, chestnut, aspen and pine, I am merged in you,
Who tell once more in tones of time,
Your foliaged farewell.
- Siegfried Sassoon
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
"Locks of Hair"
I will cut your hair.
But I will not wind it
around my wrist, nor shut
it up in my great-grandmother’s locket.
(It is a gleaming, ticking heart,
longer-lived than her pulsing one.)
I am too afraid of you,
making me your captive, Love.
would make my life endure longer
than I would have it.)
I cry out, and claw.
His russet locks snake,
waving, crashing, imbibing me. Now,
his hairs choke my mouth,
in the way that he claimed mine
clotted his breath, when he
lay in our bed,
Through closed eyes, tears still
swell to wrinkle my brow, and drop
from among my painted lashes.
Are you asking? He possesses my dreams;
though, in waking, I am with you.
He visits me, always, as a crier of cruelest
prophecy: that I will not love you.
And I wake to the smothering, traitorous weight
of having seen his face, but
having drowned amongst your tresses.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
“One Youth Dead”
Find her, made tiny by the looming rocks.
Clamor to embrace, like the weed that wreaks
its putrid smell of death in her hair.
You will find no trace of her beauty here.
You will find no trace
of a youthful truce.
You will find no trace, no trace of beauty.
At death, it escapes, taking youth’s bounty.
You will find no trace,
The form! The form! Ah, her empress locks,
her slender hands, her eyes do look!
At nothing, nothing, formless being,
Time has sent her spirit begging.
You enclose your eyes in ample shade,
and refuse to look at the unmade maid,
hoping her beauty (her life!) be restored
upon the washing of the shore.
Ah, wash! Wash! She is no more,
and all her beauties were taken before,
before her tender heart knew love,
before her faith had took its leave!
Do you find, redeemed, her departed soul
before her youthful cheeks grow cold?
Do you sing a song to make angels come
to witness twice the death of one?
Do you sigh for one who has been so lost
because of her beauty, her youth, your lust?
Dare you cry upon her chest, grown still,
when war from millions more does steal?
Saturday, October 07, 2006
You have turned me back--
to a face feverish.
and tearful, with
the coming dawn.
I, who pled invincibility,
who bribed happiness--
for a moment's
dwelling in the
You have turned me back--
without fingers; with
only your snaking words,
whose venoms crept
along my shield, my spear--
and, lo, they disappear!
I, who swore--
You have turned me back--
among the mountains'
Inscribe me with
sonnets to Love!
(proprieter of death)--
and to Lust!
(mother of my dull,
which turns me
You have turned me back!
And I cannot go
This poem stylistically and thematically invokes H.D., one of my new favorite poets. Enjoy.
(for more about H.D.: http://www.imagists.org/hd/)
Hang us, heavy,
among the leaves--
drying, turning, burning.
than the orchard's
smite us! We wait,
heavy, for the ax to fall--
for the burning--
and the woodsmoke
find us! Nude but
in the first garden,
or the first
We have died!
We have died!
in waiting for
to rinse us, cleansing.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
This sonnet is part of the sequence. It is speaking to me write now, through my writer's block and recent difficult musings about ethics and intellect, and the reasons we write...
Come, let me write. And to what end? To ease
A burth'ned heart. How can words ease, which are
The glasses of thy daily vexing care?
Oft cruel fights well pictured forth do please.
Art not asham'd to publish thy disease?
Nay, that may breed my fame, it is so rare.
But will not wise men think thy words fond ware?
Then be they close, and so none shall displease.
What idler thing then speak and not be hard?
What harder thing then smart and not to speak?
Peace, foolish wit! with wit my wit is marr'd.
Thus write I, while I doubt to write, and wreak
My harms on ink's poor loss. Perhaps some find
Stella's great pow'rs, that so confuse my mind.
-Sir Philip Sidney, Sonnet 34
Monday, October 02, 2006
The Tiv of Nigeria believe that witchcraft, and the invocation of evil spirits to injure beings, can only be accomplished by those close to a person. I find that this is true. Only those close to us may truly hurt us.
I wish that stubbornly protecting myself did not mean hurting others. I have bowed out because I cannot rest well while inflicting pain on others, even if it means swallowing my own self-respect.
Perhaps my conscience will be free to write again now.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Sunday, September 17, 2006
A cooler wind blows down
Off Canadian planes, hits the
Water and stalls.
The season of scrolling iron
Gates revealing themselves
Behind baring trees
Is near. And I find carcasses,
Butterfly wings, rubbed
Raw of color, everywhere.
Remember when you
Pled with me, to be of
Some fiber stronger?
So that my color would
Not come off at your
Touch. You wanted no
Responsibility for feminine
Fragility. I lied and promised
Not to melt. And tried
To harvest a calloused
Shell. But it was spring
And life lent itself
To wings, of powdered
Creation, of dusted and
The window is wrinkled,
Old, thick, glass and
Closed. The being flings
And smashes, flutters,
Crashes, and if you listen
Closely—screams in its
Flapping. “What are you
Asking? That I shed my
Colors now? Make myself
Inert, and rip away my wings?
Or else give them patches and
Make them falsely whole?”
You no longer touch me;
Yet you insist that I fly against
The window, bash off
The stripes of history
Which bear your likeness also?!
I will not.
I cannot undress
Myself of words, or
File off the scales and
Colors that are hers!
Monday, September 11, 2006
“winter always follows”
There’s a man painting the door
to my soul. It needs repairing,
or at least redressing. And I see,
scrawled on a napkin, slanted
prose inside the bathroom stall:
“Warning: this is broken. Handle
with care, or the cover may come
off!” I find humor in this sadness,
passing my reflection on the dingy wall.
I saw your baby sister walking
down my street today. She wore
the sweater, no expression, that ties
me (physically) to an afternoon on the
beautiful (as he does now. Do you still?)
in your sister’s sweater, with orange
sunlight making my teeth white, blue
water, moored boats, my jeans ripped
wide, until smoothly flowed my thigh,
framed in fabric, from which you became
unwilling to release me. Now, you look away
when I pass. Call a dog, laugh with
friends—too loudly, with too much gusto—
and I bury my face between scarf
and book of poetry. I await my newly
crowned king. He stoops to the
bench, and kisses me. I watch
--wearily—as the color drains from
your face, across the fountain.
It is a small drama, before I retreat
to the cool, damp trees, to remember
and repeat the thud of language
in my mind. The place where my
mentor was married is the same
place where I made my final stand,
told you that you were deceitful,
and had (in moments) treated me inhumanely,
and, that knowing all of this,
I sill loved you desperately. The place
where now a blonde girl, and
a brown boy hold each other,
listening to rustling leaves that will
fall away soon, and make the trees
bare, broken, beautiful—to sway,
ill-at-ease with their deathly lot,
knowing spring will come, with
new love. But in the memory of
their rings they keep my secret:
winter always follows, with its bereavement.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Swallowing pills, tiny, blue, white, yellow,
I lay down and my body twists
to smoke, to choke itself, inside out.
He cradles me, my warm tears sliding
through his beard and down his neck,
our bodies intertwined, long and lean as skeletons.
"The visions and revisions"* haunt me.
Once I was so happy, and happy again,
the ghosts of old pierce my back and numb me.
The physical pain of a mind half-chained
to a body which fights itself is frightening,
soaking up moments of an otherwise brilliant being.
The widower, Death, crawls along my spine
and turns off the power to my hand,
Frightened, I heave and sob, pressing harder
into him. And then a voice, "hush, baby,
breathe. you're okay. please breathe." and
from this bed of lovers rises a memory
of a mother and child, slung over,
like a tiny doll, face blue with absence of meaning,
and the mother, pleading, "breathe, baby, breathe."
Sunday, September 03, 2006
“This is not Feminist Empowerment” (the pill dilemma)
I remember now
Why I stopped taking
These rows upon rows
Of tiny blue pills
So I would not have
The loss of cells
the emptiness of womb
the trickery that is
over bodily functions
and for what purpose?
To what end?
Lust and bad decisions
The envelopment of
Arms which I do not
And my sacrifice is a
Loss of nature
To feel in my belly
The germ of humanity
Hopeful, then wasted
Better to waste it
Than to not have it
"Ode to first feelings of Fall"
The tiniest hairs
Along my arms
Stand on end
To go outside
Cool and wet
The world is today
The first cicadas
And dead leaves
Belly-up on the path
Until beaten to death
The world is
Cool and wet today
A line of Canada
Going home to
My own womb
Spread the sky
Like a tilde
Above some señorita’s
like the trees:
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
he told me once
that his bass
was sexed like a woman-
all sleek hair,
and graceful neck
with a hollow
where her voice
moved with long strong fingers
with strangled hair
and creased cloth
pouring over top
of her slender frame
with the calloused, scratched
touch, she sings,
with the animal smell
of a man,
or so many men.
all of them converging
in one fountain head
all of them surging
with dark hair
that blends with night sky
and long fingers
and varying degrees
of attentiveness or indifference
finds herself reconcilled to a corner
to a station between
wall and books
where she starts again
beneath the dust
she catches light upon her strings
and the men circle
their fingers hungry
and the picks pull
at her taughtness,
can you hear her music
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
("Sight Out of the Window")
Wave the glass of ages-
Magnolia leaves ripple
with wind and with time.
I can see blocks of color,
on a body,
run up and back,
catch, release, catch.
It is him.
whom I have waited days (or was it weeks?
years?) to see:
Tense with the dreading
of his profile, his walk, his voice--
He whom I once loved
Though there can be no "with" or "in" (love)-
for he is elsewhere, outside,
Running, in waving glass frames,
And I am here
on the inside
with someone new
someone kinder, gentler, more beautiful.
With whom I am not "in" love.
but whose long frame fits mine,
curved to my curve,
and not rigid,
like windowpanes (pains) of glass.
but, twisting and touching --him to me--
I ripple under blankets,
(clear and fragile)
sigh with pleasure,
"Somewhere, somehow somebody
Must have kicked you around some
Tell me why you wanna lay there
And revel in your abandon
Listen it don't make no difference to me baby
Everybody's had to fight to be free
You see you don't have to live like a refugee"
A return to my third (gasp) year of college, to the life of the mind, to a place full of people as young, vigorous, stupid, inexperienced, heartbroken, depressed, horny, excited, and lost as I am... Ah. I do love school.
From the first day of kindergarten, something about the first day(s) of school has given me a feeling that could be a direct translation of that very word...a garden of children. A garden for children. (It's not Herr Whitney...don't get upset with my translation).
It is the starting over that I love, it is the wind-in-your-hair, driving-too-fast, musty-gluey-smell-of-books, the touch of paper, the glide of pen, the gleam of educators in their relentless enthusiasm. Le sigh. I love all that is the intellectual arena of this country (the world?). I love the tides of bodies across campus, everyone pooling in and out of Georgian buildings, gates of brick and column.
It is a relief that this freshness is still here. Going to a small (I repeat: small) liberal arts university has its negative social ramifications, and the imperfection, collision, heartbreak of my life to date certainly was reason enough for my apprehension at returning to school. But, surprise(!!!), I don't have to run away, burn bridges, be a refugee...
Memories too are experiences of the present moment. And the present moment seems to explode in flora and fauna everywhere I turn. Old friends, new lovers, lovely asthetics, nature, art, words, creases of human flesh, calling of names, baking of sun, aching feat, heaving sighs...that which is HERE, NOW...and gone, fleeting, flux, winding, running, flowing, stretching, contracting, moving, moving, moving...
So, here we are. We can be no where else. Cheers!
Friday, August 25, 2006
bye bye, love, i'll catch you later/ got my left foot down on my accelerator/ and my rear-view mirror torn off/ cause i ain't never lookin' back...
I just vacuumed half of Carolina Beach out of my car, loaded it with shtufff (a.k.a. my wardrobe/bookshelf...the bare essentials, of course), washed it, gassed it, and collapsed into this chair. I am gross/sweaty. ...whatev.
So.....back to school? Hmm, here goes nothing: 18 credits*, new boy toy, new advisor, independent study, 239492340972 books (and almost as many papers), lots of ideas for poems that i haven't written, an aspiration to learn how to play the guitar, a half-finished philosophy book, a sneaking suspician that coffee is going to become a part of my routine again, concert tickets, my loving amigos, a few people i'd rather not see for the rest of my life, and a new obsession with crafting my own clothes...
phew! I love school. And as my new "clothing line" boldly proclaims: THE WORLD IS AS IT SHOULD BE. Relax, live the moment, be the experience. If I never make it to Fredericksburg tomorrow, I am living mindfully right now. And..............GO!
*subject to change, upon the return of my good sense.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
(Concentration camp of sorts. I am searching for my dead grandmother, Isabel Blackwell Roberts.)
i have fallen from my family
and eat dust on the road
where is she, many strangers?
where is the matriarch
for whom I pine?
I have lost her (not to death)
but to the negligence
the vision is of a decade I never saw
(in this lifetime).
i comb the graceful
and the dingy stalls.
where are you,
blood that runs in my veins?
(they say every dream-person is the self.)
To give vent to these psychological wrestling matches, I decided to make notes on them each morning, and slowly convert the notes to verse. I entitle them "The Visions" and as yet, their final number is undetermined. But I will publish them here, prefaced with mini-plot-explanations, simply as a way to make them more docile, less haunting visions for me. And if you peruse them, dear reader, all the better...
pale moon over many nights
has brought me visions
with the twilight--
visions of its pink ghost
rising on clouds,
of the flat blue
and the svelte pines
framing my night mares
(the marring of my nights).
Friday, August 11, 2006
my writing has taken the form of a lot of verbal correspondence as of late. this has been an interesting time for me, where i have attempted to write less...as words can sometimes be a classification of things, making things objective and otherly from the self. It is better not to have this seperation of self and other. For, no self really exists as seperate from the world at large. Or, so the Buddha says.
I have been reflecting a lot on my dreams lately (which have been wild and fantastical, very vivid, complex, colorful, and long). I am trying to experience them entirely first...only describing them after some lapse of time. It is difficult.
So, I have not produced much poetry lately, to my chagrin. And i am trying not to resist this lull in creativity, as it is a natural part of flux and therefore of life. This is counterintuitive (or maybe not counterintuitive, but rather counter-whatever-i-think-of-as-my-intuition-that-is-actually-socialization). Difficult, nonetheless. Also, it saddens me to have somewhat abandoned my blog (a convenient excuse for which is that I have been working alot lately...and cultivating a new and unexpected friendship.).
Anyhow, patient reader. I have been taking a lot of pictures lately, as a new experiencing of my life, rather than an interpretation of it. (As per the written word). So, here are the fruits of my non-labor:
Saturday, August 05, 2006
We will miss you, collegue, mentor, friend, fellow soul who dwells in the life of the mind. Happy trails. Visit often. There are not enough thank-yous for the inspiration, guidance, and beauty you have shared. Here's to the way of the world: flux, impermanence, insecurity, and change!
Hear the man sign off in his own words:
I wanted to add something of a peaceful vantage point on this event and all others in life. I found a few very appropriate, inspiring and yet sobering passages from Alan W. Watts' book The Wisdom of Insecurity:
On the subject of the beauty of poetry:
“There is more in this beauty than the succession of melodious images, and the theme of dissolution does not simply borrow its splendor from the things dissolved. The truth is rather that the images, though beautiful in themselves, come to life in the act of vanishing. The poet takes away their static solidity, and turns a beauty which would otherwise be only statuesque and architectural into music, which, no sooner than it is sounded, dies away. The towers, palaces, and temples become vibrant, and break from the excess of life within them. To be passing is to live; to remain and continue is to die. ‘Unless a grain of corn fall into the ground and die, it remains alone. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.’
For the poets have seen the truth that life, change, movement, and insecurity are so many names for the same thing. Here, if anywhere, truth is beauty, for movement and rhythm are of the essence of all things lovable. In sculpture, architecture, and painting the finished form stands still, but even so the eye finds pleasure in the form only when it contains a certain lack of symmetry, when, frozen in stone as it may be, it looks as if it were in the midst of motion.”
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The aesthetics of beauty
And according to an old man
Are worth tipping for:
Quarters in a cup,
On his half of the table
I work for.
My mind rests
On a sink carpeted
By floating tomato heads
And the red, red, red
That begs a picture, bobbing,
In a frame of stainless steel.
And my mind rests
With the sleeping
Girl-child, the firstborn,
My parents crept in
Every night, several times
Sliding a finger beneath my
Nose, holding their own
Breath to check for mine.
Is she sleeping?
Is it death?
In fear, (or is it love?)
Always feels threatening.
My mind rests
On a Great Exhibition
In a London I will never know
For I am not my grandmother’s
Grandmother, after all.
I can see the glass
Hall, framing sky,
Probably grey and rainy,
In keeping with the city way.
Amongst the dials and dapper suits
There would have been a carriage
Pulled by kites.
And the marvel
Of a metaphor (so well suited
Visits me, amidst my mind-rest.
And I find that beauty
(Upon which the mind rests)
Is floating tomatoes,
Is a girl-child,
Is a carriage
Drawn by kites.
Friday, July 21, 2006
"Word Flood" ("Stitch the Seams Together")
Stitch the seams together
If you can
With thoughts of
Withered, winter trees
Nothing to do with
The summer breeze,
My windows down
Chased by bowing leaves
And a thousand thousand greens.
Stitch the seams together
If you can
With the words that finally
Torrent down from my
Dripping to the brain
From a page,
To a page, singing
My way home.
Ah, the relief
Of the many-tongued mind,
Of the urgency
With which the words
Are pressed upon me.
I no longer feel
That I have nothing to say
Or that my story
I go out,
Fresh with words,
Walk the dog
In the rain,
Think about the woman
With one closed eye
Who rules my days,
And the story of Chinese
Enchantment that swells
Until sleep’s closing,
Hems words with oblivion
This one is unedited, inspired by a character I met under odd circumstances after a long day at work. I went home and scrawled these shortly before falling into a hard sleep. May they make sense, or have at least one image transpire...
“Chaos and the Water-Whisperer”
I met a man today
To his water.
Whispering to the clarity
Allows it to
Absorb intention (illumination)
And attention (like the direction
Of the illuminant).
He became a minister
For legal reasons.
He laughs in all
Looking in his eyes
Than what I thought
To find behind
Breast and longish hair.
The eyes were not old
Enough, though he
Told (through) me
Much of “Suffering
As the Character of Life.”
(in the blue pools danced
His drugged, injured brother,
Comatose, and visions
Of the flipping, fiery car.
And what Redirection of The Universe’s
His peace was disarming,
Not at all
Like the snake:
Twirling viciously with
The snake cuts loose its own tail
To the dog’s mouth.
(Let The Injury scar the being,
But let it also
save the being.)
His was an understatement
To be natural,
Not at all like a heaving
Green-glass sea, or
Brazen orange moon.
(like my spleen chakra
Nor was he the overstatement
Of a storm cloud,
Rolling violet and gray,
Or a painted bird
Flitting and diving,
A bunny hunched and
My universe looks
Is it truly
In my foolishness
I cleansed the body of one man
With the body of another
I began to tally my human contact.
Twice a week
I pay a man to put his hands on me
Professionally, not sexually
He rubs his brow, widens
His eyes, runs his mouth,
Fingers pulling my arms
Holding my hands
Running down my spine,
Around my neck
Across my buttocks
My beads, threaded
Are tangled in a heap
On my dresser, where I
Have left them for weeks.
My fashion halted,
I am starting to wonder if
I was groomed to carry
You can overdo it in both ways
Too involved of a mother
And I am suffocating
I am strained, and strange.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
I went to see a movie tonight: Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth...you know, the documentary about Global Warming. I went with my mother. She squeezed my hand and cried at the ruination of our earth. Image after image of ice floes rifting and crashing into the ocean, floods, cracked deserts, hurricanes, tornados, graphs, maps and charts...are woven with the touching (private) story of a (very public) man who cares deeply about this cause (acknowledgeable, no matter your political affiliation). It rips you from the inside out.
We are blinded.
We are out of harmony with our world.
Try clicking here, for starters:
(Please, take a moment, and listen to Rumi's words:)
"Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo.
You might say, "The world outside is vast and intricate.
There are wheatfields and mountain passes,
and orchards in bloom.
At night there are millions of galaxies and in sunlight
the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding."
You ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up
in the dark with eyes closed.
Listen to the answer.
There is no "other world."
I only know what I've experienced.
You must be hallucinating.
(excerpted from "Wean Yourself")
Also, if you have positive, healing energies to lend, I ask that you send them to the family of a man named Steve. He was a lifelong friend of my fathers with a wife and two sons. Steve died this morning in an auto accident.
Om. With right understanding, things are as they should be.
Things are as they should be.
Things are as they should be.
Perhaps soon, when I get some time off from my menial job, I will edit more and publish a few original poems to the blog. I know it's been awhile...hang tight.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi was a Persian poet living in the 13th century, in modern-day Turkey. His poetry is absolutely AMAZING...and is only now being translated into English, some eight hundred years later.
I just found it, at the recommendation of a new friend. It is completely off-the-charts, out-of-this-world, beautiful, and essential...the simplicity and profundity are staggering. It is incredibly spiritual, without being heady or overwhelming... It is unlike anything else I have read.
He taught Sufism, and once he attained enlightenment, he could speak only in poetry for years, according to legend. A scribe followed him around, writing down all that he said. Read it for yourself (there is a poem below)...and if you are interested to know more, I suggest the Wiki article about Rumi:
(If you read this blog, maybe Rumi is enough to make you want to jump up and down too. Ah, the beauty of the human mind and heart and soul and body...)
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.
I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let's buy it.
Daylight, full of small dancing particles
and the one great turning, our souls
are dancing with you, without feet, they dance.
Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?
All day and night, music,
a quiet, bright
reedsong. If it
fades, we fade.
Monday, July 10, 2006
When I look back, I am so impressed again
with the life-giving power of literature.
If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of
myself in the world, I would do that again by reading,
just as I did when I was young.
~ Maya Angelou ~
(*le sigh* if only i could make reading on the beach a lucrative enterprise, i would be happy... needless to say, my first day off in a while was splendidly spent doing exactly what i love. now is one of those times i wish i were a cat, because people can't purr.)
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Satori. Satori. Satori. This is a new word for me. It is one I encountered today while reading, of all things, a book on personality disorders. (i read whatever doesn't read me first.)
I like it a lot.
Rather than a goal of "enlightenment"...a state of enduring euphoria, understanding, peace, what-have-you, satori is everywhere, in everything, at everymoment. And, it seems approachable. Doable. I have experienced it, in the small moments of clarity, of peace, of harmony. Hoorah! Buddhism approaches me after all.
Here is a Wiki on "Satori": (enjoy!)
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
The poetic embrace like the carnal
while it endures
forbids all lapse into the miseries of the world.
I enjoy fireworks for two reasons:
1) the rattling of one's ribcage...the mimesis of death, the feeling of sound...is both mildly terrifying and exhilerating...
2) i don't like the way the colorful, lighted display itself looks, so much as the smoke-spiders that linger in the air after the flames have extinguished...)
Happy Independence Day, and all that jazz. My July 4th was blissfully both uneventful and lucrative. I spent the night sitting in a delicious house, set a couple blocks off the river downtown, admiring the grainy wood floors and antique light fixtures of every room. I watched the sunset, and twilight set in, feeling the house's personality out. It's the kind with such a lack of "yard" that one feels completely enclosed inside of a birch tree when in the house; branches and vines brush every thick-glass window, scattering light. My little charge was a (mostly) sleeping 10-month-old girl: Sophie. When the fireworks began assaulting the house, she blinked her brown eyes at me, rolled around and "Ugh-ughed" until I swung her up on one hip and did a walking-tour of the house. She quieted, then drifted off again.
Between exploring the house and watching the baby, I finished reading Black Dog of Fate, Peter Balakian's memoir. He is of Armenian descent, and the book vividly captures his suburban childhood, his poetic conquests in academia, and then a crashing awareness of the Armenian genocide. He got inside my head and spoke. When I finished it (I have spent the better part of (all of) today reading the last half of the book), I felt startled. Also, I felt his person absent. That, in many ways, is the measure of a good book: if you miss the narrator, the way you would miss your closest confidant upon a sudden, total absence.
With the booming fireworks, the startled baby, the sensuous house, and the closing book, I feel I have had an eventful and satisfying holiday, if not a traditional one.