Tuesday, May 30, 2006

translations of Chinese poetry...


This link is to a section of the website "China the Beautiful," a site published out of China (and therefore censored by the government) that is dedicated to the arts in Chinese heritage. The page I have posted features translated works by "Great Chinese Poets." The work interests me on several levels: First, it is poetry. Therefore, I am entranced. Second, it is translated. The added context of the poem because of translation is facinating...layer on the meaning, the tone. The poems sound fragmented, in a refreshing way, ringing with simplicity and profundity (much like the language of children). Thirdly, the poems are approved by the government. Good to know what the Reds are giving the nod to these days...

I find the works somewhat difficult to infiltrate, but worth it. Ah, culture.

"The Killing of a Flower Births a Woman"

“The Killing of a Flower Births a Woman”

You remarked on his
apparent perceptiveness.
Both our heads pressed into pillows,

in the morning, or, more likely, the
early afternoon, of a Saturday
in spring.

Without a doubt, your eyes
are sunflowers—the yellow eclipsing
the green, with exposure to light,

(and the narrowing of a
centered darkness)
, you said to me,
looking long in my eyes.

I blanched. Accompanied, surely,
by a small sucking of breath.
You yielded to his ghost.

He called me ‘Sunflower,’ I said.
My mind tearing through months
I spent craning my neck, tracking

his emblazoned sky-trail,
bowing my yellow petaled head at the darkness:
his (omnipresent) absence.

I called him ‘Sun,’ and fancied him,
Apollo. Salvation Eternal, Romance—
A Cloud-spun Cradle of a god.

In early fall, when god fell,
my blossoms dried,
withered, and were cast in the fire.

My spirit: elusive, vaporous,
as smoke rising from the fields,
or metal forged in fires,

sank under lit-orange autumn trees.
And I acknowledged the irony,
the appropriateness, of this flower-metaphor.

I plead release, and was found,
fallen into your bed by spring (a phoenix).
May the flower sink into the ground?

I blinked, against remembrance,
rolled away from you, across sheets,
to face a shadowy wall,

not the light of a window.
My crooked spine, straightened,
and wordless, spoke a lesson to you:

Never again will I descend to the being
of a sunflower,(once I am made woman,
forged in self-love, and too tall for craning.)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Image Issues, but not of the usual sort.

Ladies and Gents, the men of the post below:
left: David Ford in his calling-card hat...check the harmonica around that boy's neck. sweetness.
above: Ryan Adams, badass extraordinaire.

Thanks for the (Ongoing) Inspiration...

Serious music...in a minor key, of course.
I dare say my taste in music has gotten fairly predictable here lately...if you followed from the last "featured musician" post on this blog to this one, you may find parallels. I hope, as a result, you won't overlook the depth I hope to be striking by following this particular musical trail, dear reader...

These two are all I have been listening to: around and around and around. They are haunting me...during trips to the beach, in the kitchen over cooking noises, while i draw, paint, dabble in this or that. This is the soundtrack to my life right now. And though I am sitting comfortably (as much as mortality and awareness allow) in my own skin these days, Ryan Adams and David Ford are giving me chills, peeling back the edges of this painted face with a palate knife of arresting honesty...
The music is quiet: most of it is accoustic guitar and harmonica, with the exception of a few belted bar-scene songs that require rolled down windows(Ryan Adams' "Shakedown on 9th Street" or "To Be Young (Is to be sad, is to be high)") or extremely passionate rants reaching feverish pitch (David Adams' "State of the Union"). I find it intricate, and real...a full range of the sadness and joy of life, everything tempered with reality, stunningly so. The music may be called "sad" but if you require truthfulness, then perhaps it will bring you the joy it has brought me...
I hope you listen. Cheers! And thanks for the inspiration.

David Ford's official website (http://www.david-ford.com/) had this to say about his debut album (and i couldn't agree more):
"Consisting of nine songs that explore the unnerving emotional terrain where characters are surprised by their own capacity for betrayal, where bad faith somehow migrates from the personal into the political realm, and where the passage from dizzying hope to stunning disappointment occurs in some unknowable way, I Sincerely Apologise presents itself, ironically enough, with no apology at all. It is a work of genuine depth by a songwriter of striking authority. Its effect is spellbinding. "

Now, have a free listen to Ryan Adams' new cd, "29": http://www.ryan-adams.com/29.html. I recommend highly his "Heartbreak" Album, also. Among other reasons, it has a song entitled "Oh My Sweet Carolina" (can i get a "hell yeah!"?):

All the sweetest winds they blow across the South
Oh my sweet Carolina
What compels me to go?
Oh my sweet disposition
May you one day carry me home
May you one day carry me home

And this is a blog dedicated to Adams' music: http://www.ryanadams.org/. I'll let his more dedicated fans do the talking.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

a semester's worth of work...

Cloth Memories

(this is a more stream-of-consciousness work...it is just the rough product of my thoughts on looking at some of my clothes strewn around, and having some memories triggered by specific pieces...)

“Cloth Memories”

Colorful clothes, discarded skins
I pile in puddles
On the sun-raked floor,
Rumpling the afternoon’s
Geometry of light and dark
Across the floor,
Piling up to the drawer,
I open, and find
Blooming, the garden
Sensual, adornment of body,
Gathered, over time,
Seduction intended
Always for different men,
And colors, fabrics,
Now suspended in
Hush, harsh memories,
Those bitter to my recollection,
Acrid as unwashed clothes.
Wrapping and unwrapping
My self, frail-feeling frame,
These cloth signals of present,
And continuous past,
And limited, unknowable ‘to be…”
Resist my memorial-ization
Very little, only with the weight
Of present moment, self-respect,
Budging, lovely shapes create,
As though suspended in the breeze,
Drying in due time,
Pushing their heft, color, shape, size
Against the air, accordingly,
Suspended, waving, to hypnotize.
I plunge a hand into the tangle of lace,
And think of the many
Willing to love or lie of love,
To receive The Promise kept
By clothed and unclothed
Womb’s Immortality, or,
At the least, to write a memory
In the fabric, and disturb my peace.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

“Driving West on SC Hwy.74-76.”

"Driving West on SC Hwy. 74-76"

The haze of summer draped
From the sky, above pine
Trees, still, like the laundry
Strung from the shack
To a tree. Backs to the ocean,
We three drove homeward:
My brother, mother, and me.

She tells us bits of both stories,
Both births: black-haired,
Crying babies, naked, we
Were, on the first day.
She turns to me: “Tuesday’s
Child is full of grace,
You had wise eyes, my girl,
And Daddy pronounced you “purdy,”
But you looked like an Indian baby
That I did not recognize
As mine,” she likes to say.

The wheat has “headed up”
My brother interrupts, his dark
Eyes taking in our loveland:
“It’s God’s country,” Moma says,
Just before she unwraps her

“That’s so apt,”
She tells the radio, “You just let go,”
My eyes roll, but she doesn’t know.
“tell Jesus, you can’t do it anymore.”
‘And He lets you see golden
wheat, forever,’ I silently mock.
She doesn’t hear, her deaf
Ears turned away, so
Long as shaved legs, and
Painted mouth make their
Way to redemption come Sunday.

“…babies are God’s way
Of sayin’ that the world
Should go on going-on,”
She says. With this, I know
Just how much has passed
With the decades since
My first days. And what
Has “headed up”? Twenty
Wheat-crops, and one woman’s faith
In a black-haired baby’s grace.

(God, give me a discerning
And inquiring heart, I pray.)

CHINA IN THIS MANY...(na-na, na-na, boo-boo.)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

“A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month's study of books." (Chinese Proverb)

Lots of blog-worthy life experiences lately, and no time for blogging...isn't that always the way. ..

I had an incredibly wonderful conversation yesterday with an old friend. We talked poetry, philosophy, travel, love, friendship, life...for a couple of hours. I filled her in on the dramatic turns in my life in the last 10 months or so. She looked at me, listening intently: ready smile, empathetic eyes, piercing concentration. Her mannerisms are unchanged. Isn't that refreshing? She is nearly 30...a former teacher of mine, actually. She dispensed more empathy than advice...and shared of her life also.

She gave me the name of a couple of "poet's poets": craftspeople, masters of philosophy with a human face...A.R. Ammons, and Elizabeth Bishop. Bishop I have encountered anthologized, by fragments. But I have never sought her out. And I plan to do so now. Ammons was un-experienced by me all together. My friend described his philosophy as exploding with Nietzschean intensity and ideas, only with a human face...bringing the unhinging idea of The Ubermensch to the laypeople, as it were, softer, more approachable... (for an explanation of Nietzsche's concept of "Ubermensch" or "Overman, Superman, etc." follow this link: http://personal.ecu.edu/mccartyr/great/projects/Knowles.htm)

This is kind of disjointed information, but here is a poem by A.R. Ammons to get you started, fine reader:

Walking is like
imagination, a
single step
dissolves the circle
into motion; the eye here
and there rests
on a leaf,
gap, or ledge,
everything flowing
except where
sight touches seen:
stop, though, and
reality snaps back
in, locked hard,
forms sharply
themselves, bushbank,
dentree, phoneline,
definite, fixed,
the self, too, then
caught real, clouds
and wind melting
into their directions,
breaking around and
over, down and out,
motions profound,
alive, musical!

Perhaps the death mother like the birth mother
does not desert us but comes to tend
and produce us, to make room for us
and bear us tenderly, considerately,
through the gates, to see us through,
to ease our pains, quell our cries,
to hover over and nestle us, to deliver
us into the greatest, most enduring
peace, all the way past the bother of
beyond the finework of frailty,
the mishmash house of the coming & going,
creation's fringes,
the eddies and curlicues.

from Poetry. Copyright © 1994 by A. R. Ammons

More on all of this stuff later...very exciting.

Monday, May 22, 2006

I only plug musicians I LOVE...

Follow the link to good music, and amusing black-and-white cowboyness:

(The music video for Josh's most recent single "Lillian, Egypt" off of his latest CD: "The Animal Years.")

I find all of Josh Ritter's music most inspiring right now. I have Golden Age of Radio, Hello Starling, and The Animal Years. Go to his website, and listen to the free downloads! You will love!

Just where it now lies I can no longer say
I found it on a cold and November day
In the roots of a sycamore tree where it had hid so long
In a box made out of myrtle lay the bone of song
The bone of song was a jawbone old and bruised
And worn out in the service of the muse
And along its sides and teeth were written words
I ran my palm along them and I heard
Lucky are you who finds me in the wilderness
I am the only unquiet ghost that does not seek rest
("Bone of Song" lyrics)


This much I know is true: I love "Yella" Long-Leaf Pines. (Though, they are neither yellow nor have leaves of any kind.)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The first of two very recent ones, unedited:

"Books In Boxes"
(or, "The Letter I feared Finding")

I labor over boxes and boxes,
Books and books, marvel
At the security of the papers
surrounding me again.

My hands, dry from the cardboard
brushes, the dust and muggy
attic air, stiffened like
my bones at finding this--
one small relic, I fear:

Folded, folded paper,
Your ink stains, crowded
words I read breathlessly
five months ago, a kind of
Final goodbye you dated
December but handed over
later. I got no satisfaction
from the late-coming praise,
the "things you should've said."

I don't weep this time around
I don't flee. I shake, softly,
And read, with distance, the
marks of Your hand.
white as the paper--
"It was a difficult winter,"

you write. I acknowledge
this truth in late spring air,
Fold papyrus, four
times--a small square--
buried in books, and boxed,
bound by volumes, banished,
confined, to keep company
with your words. The cause:
"I find they inspire me no more."

The Meaning Question. (You know what I'm talkin' about...or do you?)

I must believe that the universe is microcosmed within a single human being.

Because, as a patterned fact I am relegated to just that: no real connections, promises to keep, hands to hold, or stable relationship in emotional space to the things (Read: people) around me.

I am spinning, bouncing, whirring like the atomic particles that build my frame. I crave stillness; yet, with it, I would die. I want rest. "Rest In Peace." Bah! (No, I take it back! I want motion! Motion!)

I want life, and it exhausts me. I tread water, constantly, constantly...constantly? Constantly I find that nothing and no one remains constant. They bounce, slide like glass beads on a thread, suspended in my constellation. I am the sun...the big yellow bead in the middle. (In my middle, anyway). And I realize, in terrific glimpses, that mine is not the only solar system, that an asteroid might knock off one of my planets (or even that they move--cyclically, seasonally--toward me and away from me), and that one day I will blow up...poof! Extinguished! (And I don't know when.)

In conclusion:
1. I am always alone. I am always connected. I am always craving both aloneness and connection.
2. Therefore, either every thing means Everything, or nothing means anything.*
3. I don't know the right answer to number 2. This bothers me a great deal.

*What? Play it back...slower:
(ah, how the language speaks the truth, the complexity: "thing" is in all of the important words above. How frustratingly mimetic of life! And "Nothing means Anything"?! Read it: N o t h i n g (No things) means A n y t h i n g (any thing? any one thing...or every thing? Nothing means everything?). Ugh. How we tell the truth without knowing we know it!)

Words for life. Yeah.

Just a Reminder for the Blessed 3 Billion: Love your Vagina (in verse, when especially inspired).

The only woman who is able to be
Is she who knows that the dawn of her life begins now

She who marks out her own domain
Not with tears but with arrows

Who resorts to no prayers
Who states opinions and lifts her head and moves her body
And is tender without shame and tough without hatred

She who has unlearned the alphabet of obedience
And walks erect
Who does not fear solitude because she has always been solitary
She who forgoes grotesque howls of violence
Uttering them rather with grace
She who frees herself in bounteous love
She who loves

The only woman who can be one
Is she who sadly and simply decides on her own
To emerge from her past history

- Bertalicia Peralta

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Due to some technical difficulties, these images are a seperate post. Sorry! (Hey, whatever it takes to get the visual aids, I always say!)

Dillard, China, and a Metaphor You Can Try at Home...

I'm drained and headache-y from too much sun today. I went to the beach, and count my Saturday well-wasted. The proof of my existence today: new tan lines. Transient, but present. Progress of a convoluted kind.

Oh, yes. And I ingested some new knowledge during my few hour bake-off with young families, retirees, and tour-ons (my own linguistic blend: tourist + moron. i am obligated to loathe them for clogging up my living space with directionless cars, and tasteless apparel. Plus, it is sort of family tradition to live in a beautiful climate, resent people who occasion it, and turn a profit at their expense. Voila: tourism is what came after cotton in the South.). Tangent. Sorry.

I am reading Annie Dillard's Encounters With Chinese Writers. For two reasons: First, I leave for a visit to China (Shanghai, Beijing, and Xi'an) two weeks from tomorrow. Second, ANNIE DILLARD INSPIRES ME WITHOUT FAIL. I love her. Love. Her. She is my favorite writer (mark my tense muscles...extreme passion, extreme restraint)!!! If you haven't, read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. You will never look at the world around you in the same way. And it won a Pulitzer. Amen. Alleluia. I'm done.

Back to Encounters...it was written 20ish years ago, about Dillard's intellectual pow-wows with Chinese writers, in China and the U.S. They are anecdotes. And I am not looking for Chinese truths in them. I know Dillard's style: she zooms in on life, explodes intricacies by lacing them with incredibly interesting bits of trivia, factoids of an unbelievably appropriate nature. This book is no exception. She tags Big Questions with keen observation and scientific fact.

For one thing, no Chinese history or political science exposition would teach me a better, clearer way to look at trees or soil in China. The land itself, which I will find to be a golden loess, is as elucidated as the skin of the people that walk on it, according to Dillard. Don't miss the facts either: CHINA IS THE ONLY ONE OF THE WORLD'S GREAT EARLY CIVILIZATIONS THAT STILL EXISTS. I need no convincing of the importance of gorging my imagination on this antiquity, this exoticism for a few weeks. Dillard just hands me evidence at every turn.

I leave you with a metaphor we can all try at home:
"If you look at your right palm, you see a map of China; the rivers flow east, and most of the rest is high and dry; the arable land is like dirt collected in the lines of your palm." (Dillard, 23)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A view of the Intercoastal Waterway from my Twomoma's dock in Garden City Beach, S.C.

A new blog for a new season...

So, I crapped out on my last blog. Tell me something I don't know.

I am trying again. Empowerment, creativity, beauty, community, badass-ness...(the things i need to cultivate in my life right now) might come through this blog. Right? I hope so. Plus, I rock. I have stuff to say and show...poems, paintings, books I'm reading, trips I'm taking...

So, here goes nothing. Stay tunned, ye of little faith. My badass, blogging, doppleganger version of self is BACK.