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

Friday, November 25, 2011

102/365 - 113/365 || Twelve Conversations with a Winter Moon

The analogy
should be made obvious. Clear.
The words in the book
become the voice in your head.
My voice repeating my words.

You hold a pebble.
The pebble aches to increase
in size, move beyond
perimeters of your hand,
or notions of being owned.

Sometimes you appear
after a long night drinking,
blurry-eyed. Wrinkled.
A dark edge of unshaven
whiskers on your curved features.

What was— is now gone—
burnt out embers, cold ashes.
Circumstances change
overtime— the stove once hot
transforms to a stone-cold shell.

— and even your eyes
carry the ghost impressions
of your former past.
Shadows which cling at your heels
distort in the morning light—

A shirt lies empty,
forgotten on the unmade
corner of the bed—
transforms to ghost memory
or a mere speculation—

As an empty plate
left on the table’s worn edge—
unspoken symbol
or expectant metaphor—
you pause—an apparition —

A lamp left burning
on the darkening side street,
as unfinished poems
piled on a desk top by
the window with open blinds.

Outside each window
your face shifts between the glass,
a ghostly voyeur
witnessing each falling word,
each failed gesture between us.

Other times you fade
in the background as a blur
in a photograph,
a forgotten phrase pausing
on the tip of a blunt tongue.

Like the time you tripped
walking up the stairs, drunk on
experience and
returning home with someone’s
breath still warm inside your mouth—

You linger palely
resting on the horizon
as a vague notion,
or a sight hesitation
I cover up with one hand.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Treading slowly through the Labyrinth

Hagiography or Folktale?

As it is with most projects, a current idea has begun, quite by accident. Recently my boy fights falling into sleep; he effectively resists the plunge into slumber by holding firm to a strong resentment, most often during the period of his mid-afternoon naps. His anger lashes out, all energy channeled into defiance and independence. As a logical means of calming him down, I chant repetitive poems, or sing foolish songs I learned from camp, or casually talk about the day's events— anything to distract his moods away from rebelling against rest.

Recently, I found myself building a story from scratch, assembling a rough adventure typical of the Grimm brothers containing talking animals, dense forests with darkened paths, and a recognizable plot pattern of basic conflict-resolution. As I stand holding him, swaying, the rhythm of my motions often picks up the construction of the narrative, the phrasing of language basing itself on my shifting arms. In a sense, the story transforms around me, becoming a challenging labyrinth of information, forming itself slowly in my head of its own volition, even as I stand in the act of recitation.

Often in a caffeinated rush I visualize the full project in a formulated draft: three or five sections of verse, each division standing on its own, yet working together to form a plot, a hero's motion towards a successful denouement.

Originally I had planned beginning a modern hagiographical retelling of Saint Brendan and his adventures with the whale— of course based on my boy's sleeping habits and our whole adventure in the adoption process. But, now I find myself swept up in a sudden fantasy world of its own making— a hybrid concept stemmed from Galway Kinnell's The Book of Nightmares and Anne Sexton's Transformations. Perhaps, carefully, treading slowly through the labyrinth both projects will formulate themselves.
Three of my poems have been posted by The Fertile Source this week. I am excited mainly because this trio of verse are all relatively new works— composed in the last two to three years. All three deal with Brendan in some fashion— as a background character, as a metaphor for my collective writing, and as direct conversation to his future-self.

Read the full poems at:

Friday, November 18, 2011

96/365 - 101/365 || Blood Releasing Itself within Itself

We walk everyday
among our ghost memories,
wading through past tense
experiences, misplaced
moments. Poems never written.

I feel my worn hands
grow dry in the night, casting
off moisture, slowly
transforming, shifting into
copies of my father's hands.

A young, displaced hawk
balances on suburban
backyard boundaries—
his savage poetry leans
from the fence— then leaps forward—

Tonight a ringing
in the ears, a pressure change—
or blood releasing
itself within itself. Yet,
the pace of the night maintains.

An old dog wanders
along the garden stone wall
pausing long enough
to leave traces of his name—
small, watery graffiti.

Clear night overhead.
The chimes likewise are quiet.
Only one light burns
in the house, here beside me—
and the sounds of you breathing.

Nights of Alcohol and Cigarettes

After eight months of drafting and revising a poem I finally finished the last stanzas— and revised the title from "A Dream-Poem to a Former Lover in Minneapolis." I have mentioned in the past how the work often faltered, stalled out without warning. The title itself changed three times. The phrases kept meandering without an sense of closure, no ending nor grand emphasis or moral to wrap up my point. Currently it sits with seven distinct sections— the only commonality between them all is the fact they are composed in tercet stanzas, and a loose chain of a story-line. Overall it sums up my understanding of a failed relationship during my college years— a brief five year span which left me wounded.

Even now a large sense of regret lingers. A sense of waste: R. often fell into a series of weeks filled with drunken binges, angry nights of alcohol and cigarettes. Material for poetry he would claim during calm sober afternoons. Before the binges began again.

The catalyst for the poem of course is R.'s early death last November, his sudden leap into finality.

A portion of Section 3 reads:
I never understood
why you wanted Death to rise
within your life, personified

as a trick in his late twenties.
Glassy-eyed. Coked up.
His right arm flicking ashes indifferently

as he lay next to you
in the dark. Without emotion,
as he breathed in smoke,

considering the hairline cracks
running along the ceiling—
considering your t-cells spinning languidly

in thin-walled veins. Sometimes while you slept,
he would curl beside you, caress your forearm,
and tap inside the elbow to raise

the lines of green-blue channels,
to loosen out a casual
bruise for a matter of days.

He would watch it fade
from a dark violet to a sickly green...
At least now he has the closure he always sought— leaving me with many unanswered questions and speculations of my acceptance to the news.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

92/365 - 95/365 || Malleable Words

A silence invades
my notebooks— heavy winter,
without stain,— smothers
words, all languages erased.
All that remains: vast brightness.

My mind wanders back
and forth, shifting words around,
reshaping notions
of the verse. Malleable words.
I hear chimes in the distance.

I hear chimes. Off key.
A night wind drifts without goals.
The night itself pulls
overhead without purpose—
sudden memories flood close.

Rocking you to sleep:
every few moments, you glance
up, open slow eyes
to verify I still stand,
shifting with you — back and forth.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A New Masthead Design

Blogger has been adding some new templates lately; I have played with a few, much to my disappointment. The concepts do not fit my plans for the site. At any rate, I did change the headline photo to an ink illustration I completed last year. It seems appropriate for a writing/poetry themed blog.

Fractures and Personae || Publication Updates

Originally I planned on developing a formal rant regarding a recent rejection letter-- I always reserve the right to be angry over editorial comments; my expressionistic rumblings may still hit the laptop this month-- however, positive news was delivered to me over the last series of weeks. As I tell my students, the old adage: focus on the positive; ignore the negative.

First, The Centrifugal Eye has posted their recent issue. On page 27 a long poem of mine is shown: "Fragments: East Saint Louis, 1996." This work in particular went through numerous revisions and changes over the last few years, due to the number of literary magazines which rejected it. Thankfully, the original intention remains, a theme of psychological dilapidation and ruin. The stanzas themselves are fractured shards. --as a fallen ceramic vase or a dropped glass ornament. I should add, this poem is an example of the poet talking through a mask of a bitter poet-narrator. I channeled a very bitter moment in my own life while I lived in Saint Louis, then spiraled the feelings into a dark voice. It is interesting how reality blurs with fiction and speculation... Within the reality of the poem is a scene of the downtown portions of the city which still maintain the crumbling early Twentieth Century architecture-- still beautiful in their decorations and scroll work along the edges of the buildings' structures. One section of the city contains an old brewery which I remember being a part of the Lemp Brewery chain... details are not clear for me at this stage. All recall is the levels of brickwork and dusty decay of the older sections of the factory. A full cityblock of early history of Saint Louis.

Likewise, in mid-November, the print version of And/Or will be available. They accepted three of my more experimental works which deal with different personae and their interior monologues. In particular, my long poem "9 Fugues for Jazz Piano" was selected for this issue. It also involved a memory of Saint Louis from the Nineties-- but less personal, more fictitious. The voice is that of a jazz pianist lost in a break up, which results in his decent into a drunken state of denial and resistance to the situation. He was an interesting character to channel-- difficult to maintain, but based on reality of loss and refusal for change.

To date I have never read these out loud; I may attempt to get a reaction from one of my higher-level writing courses near Winter Break. It would be nice to discuss these characters in-depth with a collection of opinions.To get a reaction from an audience regarding their acknowledgment of another person's pain.