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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Last Winter Tanka

fallen brambles || Lake Travis, TX
Rain-slick December.
At wet cross streets a sudden
cypress flames out rust
red against the winter mist.
Only my mother sees this.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Poets Totally Get Cognitive Obstacles

Found this old link-draft page sitting in the blog's dashboard— a sign to always double check one's settings at least once a week. It is old news from the Poetry Foundation— yet the relevancy remains.

As a writer it is important to set obstacles in your path to test the limitations of your creative theories. Why else would I torture myself composing nightly haiku and the occasional tanks verse? To discover other phrasing. To invent a new language. To rediscover experience.

Read full article: Poets Totally Get Cognitive Obstacles : Harriet Staff : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Gray, Insecure Century || Fragments

My boy, Brendan, sleeps— offering time to catch up quickly on random blog commentaries. The signs show he is going through a growth spurt: change in eating habits, shift of sleeping schedule, and increase of curiosity of the workings of his new world. This morning in fact I caught him swinging from the window blinds à la Tarzan's boy. Which caught me off guard. A frozen moment in time and panic. How he managed to work his way from floor, to couch, to window in less than five seconds is beyond me. To put this in clearer perspective: he only reached his first birthday earlier this December. I was not anticipating the terrible two phase for another six months. Naive me.

His first birthday itself was a milestone event for the family for numerous reasons. A multitude of justifications, too many for explanation. Suffice it to say, his adoption served a dramatic moment in our lives on many levels. Worthy of a Charles Dickens novel. As a writer myself I tend to hold back revealing intricate plots in an abrupt journalistic fashion. Situations sometimes need further examination, further desensitization before even considering putting them into print.

Yes, even though I maintain a blog, a casual reader may pick up on the fact I often do not delve into extreme details of my personal life— there is a notion of discomfort displaying my private self, allowing it to mix in with my public persona. I want the poetry to do the creative talking, not my day-to-day impressions. Some bloggers can achieve a nice balance of honest-disclosure with their audience— and in fact I enjoy reading of others' adventures in this wilderness. These types of journal-blogs allow for a commonality and a sense of security in this gray, insecure century (to paraphrase Charles Simic). However, for now, for me, a little silence is good, until we get to know one another better.

Rejections from publishers seem rather absent these last few weeks. Roughly speaking, five or six manuscripts of poetry are floating around the ether of the internet, patiently waiting for an editor to open a file and show a sign of interest or quick "no, thanks." My methods for finding a printing house appear lacking. I will be the first to state this out loud. Even in casual living I tend to hesitate, pause, hold back too often. I question my talents too much; I react too late to offers.

The current project regarding my boy has a tentative title of Grackle, Fox, and She-Bear. Odd how titles often arrive sooner than poems. Titles for me act as a point of reference, an established goal. My muse seems to think in fragments and allows me for stitching and revision along the path.

In this case, this project motions in a different manner than other writing— I am used to poems falling out in a rush or in a necessity to be put on the page— the current words slowly work across the notebook paper... a fractured long poem slowly working together over a number of weeks and months. This is of course due to the fact the full series of poems sit in plain view, the full amorphous work wants definition, shape, embodiment.

—and now the boy awakes. Demanding voice. Today will be a fragmented journal as well.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hydrant 23 || The Manner Language Stumbles at Night

Ivy and Brick

The goal of freewriting projects often falls into the territory of discovering self. Or falling into memory to define one's self. Through a rambling pattern of words and imagery. Broken phrases and de-constructed sentence forms. Which is why I often use these hydrant photos as a starting point— almost none of the photographs can be traced to a specific epiphany moment. I can meander through any odd assortment of phrases— a sea of language. My newest project deals with folktales, or the logic of magic realism, set in a current, a stream of social thinking from a fictitious village somewhere in Europe, thatched roofs and white plaster walls, seaside location perhaps— but not a relevancy for the plot because I want the character to wander on foot through the typical wooded conflict— confusion of shadows and tricks of the light, lack of light, when mice and beetles roam, owls and bats. The manner language stumbles at night when the mind is sleepy, hesitant. Waiting for to idea to find you, not the other way around—

So I pick up a book at random, Stephen Dobyns Heat Death, remove the bookmark from the title poem, page 67, section eight: a reaffirmation of a fragmented, older idea which corresponds to my current reality, (but taken out of context):
think of it as a child in a red coat. Think of
that child on a flat acre of woods and the whole
acre pried and cut from the earth like a table top
—that child is my newest poem series— that child is my son on his adventure— that child explains my new direction in writing.

Friday, December 9, 2011

115/365 - 119/365 || Five Grackle Tanka

— with fractured language
falling from a blueblack beak.
Stuttering vowels,
split phrases. Cacophonous.
Raw words costumed in plumage.

The moment fractured—
an acorn splintered, broken
segments all representing
past, present, future motions,
the day hunched and fragmented—

The moment hovers,
circling with iridescent
wings, suspended close—
an unfolding overhead
as a dark epiphany—

The night once fractured
into fractions of the flock—
jab and clutter, full.
One voice echoed the many—
now there is only silence.

We were a gesture,
a completeness undefined;
yet we shaped the wind,
the patterns of elm branches
crossing over the sky.

Friday, December 2, 2011

114/365 || One Last Conversation with Winter Moon

Three days after posting the "Twelve Conversations with the Winter Moon" a new tanka emerged in my notebooks. At the risk of going back and editing a finished post, for the sake of coherent chronological records I'll leave the individual thirteenth verse as an isolated post. Maybe if in the near future a formal publication is achieved, the official title will become "Thirteen Conversations with the Winter Moon." Somehow the association of the number thirteen works well with our satellite.

your image returns at night
when I least expect
it: a cliched metaphor
in endless repetitions.

Items of Interest || I am Compelled to Share Anything Woolf-ish

One of my favorite literary blogs, but.if.and.that., recently posted material regarding Virginia Woolf, one of my favorite authors— and of course I am compelled to share anything Woolf-ish.

The Same Dirt Road through the Woods

Failed to mention that this last November, I was interviewed by The Fertile Source. One question in particular struck a chord with me due to the nature of the query.

FS: In “As A Figure of Hermes” the narrator open with the writer’s dilemma: “A moment of confrontation: me and the blank paper,” dilemma enough without the presence of a child to raise and love and imagine a life for over the rest of one’s days. Eventually the narrator latches onto the metaphor of Hermes, sliding into reverie about mortal son. Can you speak to the relationship between fatherhood and writing? How has fatherhood come to bear on your writing life?

DGS: With the experience of becoming a father last year, and the whole process of the adoption of our son Brendan, I quickly fell into a mode of redefining myself. Almost immediately a whole new understanding of my goals and aspirations emerged—I know it sounds cliché, but once the title of Father is attributed to you, a strange mindset develops without warning: no matter how much mental preparation you are supplied.

The poem in particular was a projection of a future possibility once Brendan reached his middle teen years—written before a birth mother had even matched with us. What I find interesting, although the projection of him as a dark-haired boy is inaccurate, my fear of a loss of communication with him is very similar to the fear of losing touch with my creative energies. Once, in the mid Nineties, I experienced a long spell of writer’s block, partly self-imposed, partly circumstance. My fear of the blank page echoes my fear of Brendan not understanding the creative energy of a writer-father.

At the time I left my answers somewhat short— however, ironically, more than once a full multi-page essay could have been generated as a response. As an example, I realize my fear of writer's block is the same fear of possible failure as a father— and until now— I never connected the two feelings. My above reply limits my reactions in a self-centered manner, that is, I address Brendan's emotions towards me, rather than addressing my emotions returned to him. To be more balanced I should add that of course as a writer I have a relationship with my poetry, just as intense as my relationship with my son. At one time I thought the two were separate from each other, running different paths, heading off in different directions. Now of course it is plain that the two elements run along the same dirt road through the woods, the same goal, the same resolution. My son has become my poetry, more-so than any metaphor could express.

It all comes down to identity and definition of the self. The titles of "poet" and "father," even "partner," "son," and "brother," braid together within the components of self awareness and creative output; these multiple labels in the end are all reaffirming who I am today.

Read the full interview: