Self and reality. Symbol and language. Myth and image. Memory and consciousness.
Dream and unreality: locus communis.

Friday, February 25, 2011

283/365 - 287/365

Shades of almost sky.
As a watered down blue.
Compressed. Trashed. Bottle.

Nothing comes to mind—
the full day's events control
the full scope of thought.

Snap the line in half.
Releasing images of
the verse trapped within.

After the tantrums.
After the midnight feedings.
We watch for the moon.

Forget these phrases.
Erase the words from your mind.
Burn the dry papers.

without words, temporarily

Earlier today I read a blog from Roxanne Gay. At a time I should have been sorting paperwork. Or writing poems. Or grading papers. But I needed a break, so I roamed through the various subscriptions on my dashboard. The last paragraph in her latest entry indirectly, unexpectedly, hit hard. I am still digesting the cause and effect of the text.

She discussed in a frank, painfully honest tone the ramifications of obsessing over the past. Seeking out someone in her past. Finding someone from her past on-line. Then deciding what to do with the information.

As I stated in her comment section:
"After reading your observation regarding the past anonymous friend, I thought, ‘why not?’ —typed out my own Google searches on college connections. Result: instant baggage. The face I sought out passed away in November 2010. Left behind a tacky obituary image and misspelled name in the town paper. No heirs. No possessions. Buried in a nondescript small town in Iowa. And he was a year younger than myself. Athletic. Charmer. Academic plus."

So now I sit, type, wait for the reactionary waves to fade. Leaving me wondering how to handle the information. A few months ago I dreamt about him, one of those alternative timestream type of dreams that act as if time had not passed: we still were rooming on the Drake University campus in the beat up room we once shared, yet the two of us were older. A simple moment, without logic or consequence: he simply rose from his bed, shirtless. Without seeing me on the other side of the room. Looking for a tee shirt to wear.

I could romanticize the moment and say the dream fell in November on the day he died... but life does not often work that way. My dream occurred in late December, after he passed away in Minneapolis. Long after we lost touch. Went down our separate paths.

Eventually, I will move forward. Eventually I will put something more into print. Now I am lost in a Joycean-paralysis wondering what to do. What to feel.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

update: ffrrfr

The premiere issue is up! Take a moment to visit the first issue of ffrrfr. Along with three short prose pieces of my own, in addition appears a flash fiction piece titled "ORE" by author Miranda Mellis.

In a previous post I mentioned the editor's goals and motivation for the journal. His concept follows a recent on-going, on-line, blog-dicussion by Christopher Higgs regarding experimental literature versus traditional prose. His introduction essay in the series brings up issues of "open" versus "closed" texts. Going by the manner he presents his research, ffrrfr falls into the category of "open" text: works of experimental leaning, psychological driven, leaving room for interpretation and higher involvement from the reader.

At one time, I beat myself up for following the less-traditional routes in writing. Lately however, I discovered the need for more abstraction in my own style: avoid the non-figurative and use more illogical extremes. As I posted earlier in the month: close your eyes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Despite the drive for sleep I pulled out a few good lines for a new poem—a quicker concept to work on until I get around the limitations of the Ruth project. Based on notes scratched down a few days ago: Brendan and myself framed in a crooked mirror and the haiku resulting tonight—after midnight, late feeding when I am still asleep, barely functioning. Bending to his insistence for milk, for the new soy-product. The calm afterwards. Looking up into the crooked mirror. The flowered design with crescent moons. Brendan sleepingi n my arms. All warmth.

In the darkened room
we stand, our image framed in
a crooked mirror.

notebook entry 02.13.11

Robert Hass. Page 284. “After the Winds” — this. This is the approach. Begin with a point, a blur into the theme with various connections. Rather than setting them up as separate numbered stanzas—blur them as one. Likewise his second poem following. Page 286. “For Czeslaw Miosz in Krakow”— but twist it to your sensibility, your magic-realism: “For Ruth Dawson Doty at the River Lethe” — an element for mysticism to enter. For modernism. For an avant-garde moment of extreme language, imagistic.
Today was hard. Brendan expressed a strong frustration throughout the morning into the afternoon and into the early night. He barely slept, just kept whining or crying out, arching his hard, little body as a landed fish—but not in pain, just frustration—as if he were restrained from swimming away, or tied back, unable to fly. At last, around eight, he exhausted himself and now slumbers, deep. His arms gesture slightly every so often.

notebook entry 02.11.11 and 02.12.11

Ricky and I did some research, discovered within the Irish traditions there exists a Saint Brendan, patron of whales, due to an elaborate story detailing a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Much debate remains focused on the accuracy of the tale—perhaps it can help generate more child-Brendan poems—build a connection with his koi-like mouthing, asking for food and the Saint's adventures on the seas.

Ironic. He called out just then, before I completed the final word. As if knowing our world tilted around his presence, his satisfaction. At the moment, before sleep holds me down again, I’m considering creating a poem centered around the midnight feedings—as just now the two of us swayed softly in the crooked mirror in his room, cradling his half sleeping form into a tight rhythm of security and formula. Is there folklore discussing crooked mirrors? Ours cannot be straightened due to a designer flaw in the back of the metal frame—still, it captures the image: father and son, reveals a portion of my new self I thought would not form. The course of the new path leads to a strange location, which sounds as a forced line, doesn’t it? The analogy needs reworking—but I like the notion of multiple applications for the definition of ‘course’—

course of current
course of fate
course at dinner
of course
school course

We stand reflected within a crooked mirror: father and son…

Stumbling in dark / until afterwards, framed within the crooked mirror, / self and baby

dark: unknowable, un-seeable, sullen, hard to understand, gloomy

277/36 - 281/365

A new book arrives
in the mail. Words and phrases
scatter— drift upwards.

With the bedroom door
cracked open, I wait hours for
a poem to slip in.

The time falls after ten oclock and I should be sleeping, but I feel a pulse of poetry, a metronome in my head, counting off syllables, intricate soundings of consonants and double vowels—

Brendan will not remember this late afternoon. A moment when he looked intently in my face and seemed to understand who I was. Clearly. For the first time. A means of differentiating Daddy from Papi, me from Ricky. Brendan smiled wide from his cradle-swing. Wriggling as my water-baby, limbs jerking as babies startle, arms and legs flung out without caution or speculation of effect—

Is this what I want my new poem to discuss? Or is it intending to go on a different direction?

Coiled as a crescent,
my koi-child in his crib turns
to face me, laughing.

The hive of ideas
grows quiet tonight—sleeping
full, within itself.

It's bound to happen:
some nights I hate poetry,
hate paper, pens... words.

Friday, February 18, 2011

week 5: property line

property line, originally uploaded by d_g_s.

A moment of divisions. Binary polarity.
left / right
yes / no
agression / passive
static / flux

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Close Your Eyes

Charles Simic is one of my favorite authors.
Here, in the following article from the blog site of The New York Review of Books, Simic discusses current notions of poetry.

At one point early in the essay he states: "As any poet can tell you, one often sees better with eyes closed than with eyes wide open." A statement which jarred me slightly. Over the last few weeks, due to the on-going habitual haiku project, I seem to have fallen into a sense of reporting a scene, detailing an accurate moment in seventeen syllables— rather than developing an emotional abstraction or reaction to a personal event. As if the event is more important than my reaction. Which is not the case in my writing style. Sometimes using personal coded symbols and abstractions of reality help embellish a poem, forcing the work closer to its lyrical roots.

A resolution to follow within my newest poems.
A new motto to carry in my pockets:

close your eyes while writing.

Where Is Poetry Going? by Charles Simic | NYRBlog | The New York Review of Books

Monday, February 14, 2011

274/365 - 276/365

Morningtide, early.
Broken down on the backroads.
A half moon hovers.

The world expanded—
in broad, wider dimensions;
your first views outside.

Sky. Almost cloudless.
A boy dressed in a black shirt.
Walking his black lab.

Friday, February 11, 2011

week 4: close of day

week 4: close of day, originally uploaded by d_g_s.

The actual ordinariness of an image sometimes appeals to me the most.

notebook entry 02.08.11 and 02.10.11

The answer is obvious. The answer sits in front of me as I sit oblivious to its presence. That is until now. Begin with mice. The mice plague which invaded our garage. Due to new construction in nearby fields. How I would find them later in the glue traps, terrified, not yet dead, squealing for mercy. A cruelty on my part. Just as avoidance is cruel. Silence can be cruel. But my point. Spiral from mice to nursery rhymes to Ruth. Introduce the rhyme as a lecture. Perhaps. A poem divided into three themes. Three equal sections.

without Ruth = ruth-less; without showing mercy

I wanted to say something about showing no mercy
I need to say...
I was going to say...
I should say something...

How many different ways to explain the same phrase? Words I want to use go unexpressed due to a heavy reservation, resentment. Now I am tired. Drained. I should be trying to arrange today's haiku. Breaking down the poem for Ruth. Reading from the series of books on my reading list. The numerous litany of names—

268/365 - 273/365

A bag of lemons
rests on the kitchen counter—
a day not wasted.

White feathers litter
sides of pavement—suddenly
a lifting of wings.

Broken willow strands
cross walkways in cursive script—
illegible words.

Too tired to think.
Fan hums, mumbles to itself.
The night settles down.

The mirror reflects
back an empty wall, falling
lights, angled and arched.

I should be looking
for new words and fresh phrases,
yet I close the book.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Recently received an acceptance notice from an up-and-coming, on-line magazine called ffrrfr —yes, that is not a typo, the name is spelled ffrrfr, no vowels— which will publish three of my prose poems in March. On their web site, the magazine describes itself as: “a relatively new literary journal devoted to creative storytelling and intriguing uses of language in the tradition of Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics, Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Donald Barthelme, Anais Nin's Under A Glass Bell, etc. ffrrfr is a journal for readers and writers interested in advancing the literary traditions of magical realism, surrealism, ‘experimental’ storytelling” ( The three pieces they chose of mine are strongly invested in the realm of magic realism and unreality, a major influence in most of my work as a whole.

The following passage is an excerpt from one of my favorites called “Things That Do Not Disappear.”
In the mornings, when Kythleen walks through the flowering dark-eyed sapphos, voices buzz in her head, a storm of locusts flying between her ears. Through shut eyes, they spark, light tallow candles in her mind. We are the lost dead, they say. We dance our tangos slowly over the hidden streets that even the priests cannot see. And though we are invisible and our hands, our eyes, our feet cannot be seen, we carry the things that do not disappear…
The figure of Kythleen appears in more than once in a variety of my compositions, a frequent presence showing solidarity and self-reliance.

I’ll post more details once the page is live.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

notebook entry 02.04.11

A sudden thought— a manner of approach for the Ruth memorial poem is to transform a fairy tale into a stronger dreamscape. Sounds redundant. In other words, heighten the sense of the modern scene, then reinforce the psychological unreality, the illogic.

Robert Haas uses an approach similar to what I envision— similar to his "September Notebook: Stories"— use fractured notes and passages converted to "accidental" poems; use embellished fragments from Grimm Brothers' magical-realism.

Mix in repetition of phrases which warp and falsely echo themselves. In triplicate. In other words, retell the story three different manners— the way memories replay and shift to something other. As W. S. Merwin's prose-poem "Phoebe" ...

The idea is more based off an energy and less off a specific technique. The more I try to place the concept to words, the more it refuses to be penned down on the page.

• No. Not fairy tale. Use a nursery rhyme. One of the more barbaric ones. Uncommon. Surreal.

• Exposing somewhat the patterns of perplexity, complexity and redundancy of life.

264/365 - 267/365

No inclinations
for writing out poetry;
yet the moon still breathes.

Huddled in the cold,
students shuffle cigarettes
to winter's chapped lips.

A dull ache pounds tight
on the edge of my temples;
winter shifts outside.

267/365, originally uploaded by d_g_s.

A moment defined.
Grackles scatter everywhere,
scattering winter.

Friday, February 4, 2011

week 3: art of the mundane

art of the mundane, originally uploaded by d_g_s.
Walked out into the 30 degree afternoon after the mild ice storm. A few icicles remained on automobiles and few branches, but little evidence existed warranting the school closings and the media buzz. Still, the full neighborhood stood strangely silent. Few cars moved about the streets. No one ventured outdoors but myself and the grackles gathering in bunches by the community pond.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


263/365, originally uploaded by d_g_s.

Wind tossed. Abandoned.
Scraped from the neighbor's gutters.
Hive of paper wasps.

A little too literal and specific, perhaps, once the verse is partnered with the image. Yet, every once in awhile a less abstracted look at the world is fine—


262/365, originally uploaded by d_g_s.

Floating aimlessly.
A spotted bullfrog paddles
near the green surface.