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

Saturday, April 30, 2011

348/365


Stumbling with new verse—
yet the stillness of the house
promises deep sleep.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Song of a Reformed Headhunter: "Eve's Fault"


From one of the many blogs I follow: Songs of a Reformed Headhunter. The poet, Jee Leong, lately has been connecting many Renaissance female writers to modern notions, current threads of thought. My favorite so far was posted today.


Song of a Reformed Headhunter: Poem:

"Eve's Fault"

Not Eve, whose fault was only too much love
—Aemilia Lanyer,
“Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum: Eve’s Apology”

Though she has left the garden, she does not stop loving them.

God won her when he whipped out from his planetary sleeve
a bouquet of light. They watched the parade of animals pass.
He told her the joke about the Archaeopteryx, and she noted
the feathers and the killing claws, a poem, the first of its kind.
On a beach, raised from the ocean with a shout, he entered her
and she realized, in rolling waves, that love joins and separates..."

black-eyed susans


black-eyed susans, originally uploaded by d_g_s.

For a number of weeks I noticed this dark blue hydrant squatting in the middle of his domain of a ragged meadow; over a few days the undergrowth emerged as a slow developing flame of colors, a prairie brushfire growing out of control. Despite the drought in the region these wild flowers are burgeoning everywhere— the landscape burns overnight.

Fortunately, the road has a level embankment so I could park the car, throw on the hazards, and step out of the way of on-coming traffic without much effort. What surprised me: on the edge of the field were wild berries, already with a scattering of red-black berries forming. Driving on the road of course one cannot see the various plants. Everything blurs into a impressionistic green, brown, or yellow, depending on the season.

347/365


Another night, full
with a suspicious lack of
strong epiphanies.

Goodbye, typewriter!



Goodbye, typewriter! Learn the love story that helped create the typewriter | The Hot Word | Hot & Trending Words Daily Blog at Dictionary.com

Thursday, April 28, 2011

345/365 - 346/365


04.26.11
A soft peace exists.
Feeling sleep take hold of me.
Cat calls from closed door.

04.27.11
Indecisiveness:
to take a blue pill again
tonight. Or then. Not.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

344/365


You begin snoring.
Almost immediately
the cat leaves the bed.

Item of Interest || Interpretation vs. Sentiment


From a recent blog by Josh Corey, who tackles the subject of poetry's intentions through a recent publication by David Orr: Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry —and through other various critcal material.

The problem [...] is that we are never completely outside interpretation, just as we are never completely outside politics: the claim that poems need not be interpreted simply sets up the existing interpretive framework as the unmarked case, a "good" universal approach next to which all other approaches are particular, "academic," and "bad."


Corey provides a link to an important essay by Susan Sontag, "Against Interpretation," published in 1964, which is still relevant today.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cypress, Texas


Cypress, Texas, originally uploaded by d_g_s.

Rust and red paint.

Cypress, Texas


Cypress, Texas, originally uploaded by d_g_s.

For some reason the lighting and shadows for this basic photograph work beyond the mundane scene for me. Rather like the results.

343/365


For most of the night,
baby refuses to sleep—
we rock, back and forth.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Six Word Haiku Challenge || 342/365


From a variety of literary resources open to me at the moment, I read a creative writing challenge: generate a six word, traditional haiku. At first my reaction was negative. Felt a viable poem shouldn’t be put under such severe restrictions. Yet...

Since that moment, I wrestled with the concept, despite the fact I lost the original source for the prompt. A plan formed on its own. The math set up the pattern. Every line would have two words.

Or better still, begin with concentrating on multi-syllabic words, pulling out various phrases with a stronger complexity of phonetic makeup, but words within the common vernacular.

For instance, with the logic that a five syllable word could open and/or close the poem, in order to control the word count, I began listing possibilities:
liberalism
celebratory
vocabulary
reactionary
existentialist
transcendentalist
voluntarily
involuntary
territorial
agricultural
inevitable
strategically
conservatively
dilapidation
exasperation
exhilaration
accelerating
exuberating

With that said, retaining the syllable/wound count created a stronger frustration than expected. Perhaps I tried too hard to maintain a purist approach. The poem which resulted lacks a sense of the poet-individual and lacks a true epiphany moment. The form is correct; the theme is weak. In the upcoming months I may play with the idea some more.

Inarticulate
words inevitably
fracture the language.

Scottish Poetry Library: Postcards to Japan


From the Scottish Poetry Library blog, Our Sweet Old Etcetera...
Express your support to the people of north east Japan by sending original A5 art work postcards. After the major earthquake and tsunami in north east Japan on 11th March 2011 power supplies, land lines, mobile phone networks and internet access went down, making it extremely hard to contact family and friends to find out if they were safe. The post office were quickly up and running again and in many cases the first news that loved ones were safe was by postcard.
• Click the paragraph for more details... >

Thursday, April 21, 2011

340/365 - 341/365


04.19.11
No hesitation—
my notebooks march steadily
towards a new silence.

04.20.11
Waiting for a word
to descend from the night sky—
or enter the room.

random entries


04.16.11: A scant few moments ago I knew what I wanted to write out—a short dissertation on poetry or memory or the latest book I ordered — but now the brain is too numb from grading all day. Grading basic cause and effect patterns of research leaving my brain cells foggy, an abstraction of nothingness. To make matters worse the short list I scratched out for retention failed to pull out any clues…

04.17.11: Over the weekend I brought a wooden trellis from outdoors into the garage, not knowing a praying mantis pod was fastened to the bottom edges—by midmorning today the eggs hatched— twenty or thirty baby mantes were climbing over the walls and ceiling— tiny mechanical creatures exploring the limits of their territory. Spent a good half hour brushing them into a plastic cup, dumping them back into the wilderness of the bushes along the property line.

04.20.11: An odd idea launched without warning or planned strategy: creation of a scene with the personification of a metaphor or epiphany walking into a room with intention of seduction—as a domineering act rather than a flirtation— the realization embodied in a porn-star in a sense, the aggressive “fuck you” sneer: unshaven, unkempt, cigarette smoking garage mechanic—words made into a symbolic blue movie from the sixties or seventies: grainy, ill-timed, gritty, bad lighting, raw footage.

Poets.org link || Paul Celan


Death Fugue
by Paul Celan
translated by Jerome Rothenberg

Black milk of morning we drink you at dusktime
we drink you at noontime and dawntime we drink you at night
we drink and drink
we scoop out a grave in the sky where it’s roomy to lie
There’s a man in this house who cultivates snakes and who writes
who writes when it’s nightfall nach Deutschland your golden hair Margareta
he writes it and walks from the house and the stars all start flashing he
whistles his dogs to draw near
whistles his Jews to appear starts us scooping a grave out of sand
he commands us to play for the dance


Black milk of morning we drink you at night
we drink you at dawntime and noontime we drink you at dusktime
we drink and drink
There’s a man in this house who cultivates snakes and who writes
who writes when it’s nightfall nach Deutschland your golden hair Margareta
your ashen hair Shulamite we scoop out a grave in the sky where it’s roomy to lie
He calls jab it deep in the soil you lot there you other men sing and play
he tugs at the sword in his belt he swings it his eyes are blue
jab your spades deeper you men you other men you others play up again for the dance


Black milk of morning we drink you at night
we drink you at noontime and dawntime we drink you at dusktime
we drink and drink
there’s a man in this house your golden hair Margareta
your ashen hair Shulamite he cultivates snakes


He calls play that death thing more sweetly Death is a gang-boss aus Deutschland
he calls scrape that fiddle more darkly then hover like smoke in the air
then scoop out a grave in the clouds where it’s roomy to lie


Black milk of morning we drink you at night
we drink you at noontime Death is a gang-boss aus Deutschland
we drink you at dusktime and dawntime we drink and drink
Death is a gang-boss aus Deutschland his eye is blue
he shoots you with leaden bullets his aim is true
there’s a man in this house your golden hair Margareta
he sets his dogs on our trail he gives us a grave in the sky
he cultivates snakes and he dreams Death is a gang-boss aus Deutschland


your golden hair Margareta
your ashen hair Shulamite

Writers Beware Blogs: Plagiarist Redux


Victoria Strauss recently reports from her blog:
Last October, I blogged about David Boyer, a self-styled author and publisher who was discovered to be committing extensive plagiarism, publishing stories and books both under his own name and his many aliases.

Despite being publicly exposed, generating quite a bit of online discussion, and inspiring an anti-plagiarism blog devoted largely to mocking him, Boyer did not, apparently, give up his borrowing ways. And he got ambitious. Not content with filching fiction from non-famous members of the horror community, he decided to plagiarize (using one of his aliases) someone really famous: Dean Koontz. For this, there may be consequences other than mere ridicule.

The evidence—including an excerpt from Koontz's original story, an excerpt from the plagiarized version, and a letter from Koontz indicating that he's considering legal action—can be found at The Horror Zine, along with a list of Boyer's known aliases, and links to information and discussion about Boyer and his exploits.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

337/365


04.16.11
Books piled on my right—
yet I'm too tired to read.
Night settles. Heavy.

Creation of a New Hagiography


I have been tracking my blood pressure lately; the numbers accelerate into higher levels, despite my efforts to lower the stress. Slow escalation on a daily basis. Sometimes I can feel the pressure peaking: blood heating up in my ears, the pulse within the wrists speeding up for no apparent reason. Even with a prescribed medication, the only result is a dry cough and a need for water.

Sunday, April 10: Just after we settled in for the night, Brendan woke up at 9.30 pm, hungry and desperate for food. Fortunately we had yet to fall asleep or even feel drowsy—within five minutes he swallowed the full formula and collapsed back into an exhausted slumber.

Saturday afternoon I took time to work in the backyard, briefly weeding, watering, arranging pots for future plants. Even began the process of removing a dead bush along the property line—trimmed away the smaller branches and put a bird feeder behind what remained of the stump.

The poem “—To A Former Lover in Minneapolis” has turned into a bitter, angry rant. Which is not what I want. Painfully honest—yes. Bitter accusations—no. I need to rethink the word choice in the closing section. The scene with Bob choking in his sleep, due to over-drinking—it ties in with the theme ironically. Curb back the resentment and redirect towards the original intentions.

Monday April 11: Nothing soothed the baby today—after class I held him securely, wrapped tight in both arms, and paced around the house for over an hour and a half—only this kept him quiet and at ease. At any moment, if I rested him in his cradle, the crib, or in his walker—the frustrations would erupt, angry tirades over being a baby—so we paced the house, over and over, until Ricky arrived and then he took over, calming the storm.

The poetry journal Assaracus accepted seven poems of mine for future publication in January 2012. My store house of verse is now dwindled to a handful of words. The pressure of needing to create more material causes a sense of numbness. A blank white wall. Sometimes I panic, fearing the extended writer’s block I experienced in the Nineties has returned. Breathe. Always remember to breathe.

Three new poetry books arrived in the mail—my library clutters with new reading—last few weeks have felt a lack of motivation to write, to read. The everyday existence catches you off guard sometimes. But now with the new reading material perhaps I can refocus. Regroup. But right now, this moment at 9:40 pm on Friday April 15, my energy fades. With the baby asleep in his crib and Ricky reading, my sense of responsibility shuts off. Responsibility to self I mean. The flow of poetry in my head grows quiet. Earlier today I managed to find Galway Kinnell’s “St. Francis and the Sow”—understandably I want to create a new hagiography entry for St. Brendan, expand the story of the voyage and the whale itself—obviously this should be a series of poems and not just one piece. I do not want to mirror Kinnell’s work too closely. Emulate his intentions in some fashion, yes. A crisp mirroring, no.

Another Article of Interest || Where and when did language begin?


Where and when did language begin? A remarkable new study may have the answer | The Hot Word | Hot & Trending Words Daily Blog at Dictionary.com

Story-telling


from Jed Alexander's blog, I Apologize in Advance:

At a recent Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrator's conference that I attended, an accomplished writer outlined for the audience the standard formula behind the majority of the stories we read: place the character in some kind of jeopardy--whether moral, emotional or physical, the character is placed in a situation where they are compelled to make a decision. How they choose to deal with the dilemma reveals something about their character or is reflective of who the character is. How they come to the decision, their journey, is even more important than the decision they make, because often in some of the best stories the answer to this dilemma is pretty predictable.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

336/365


Late mid-afternoon:
trimmed back the honey suckle.
Cutting back useless days.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

335/365


Defiant, the cat
climbs on your side of the bed—
starts cleaning himself.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

334/365


Middle of the night:
sounds of a pen on paper
fill up the bedroom.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

333/365


04.11.11
Beside the back door
a dying cricket stumbles
against the baseboard

Monday, April 11, 2011

331/365 - 332/365


04.09.11
My right foot cramps up,
coils within itself, as I
seek new poetry.

04.10.11
Not a sound motions
in stillness of night, only
paper magnolias.

Poem-A-Day: Dean Young, "Scarecrow On Fire"


From the Academy of American Poets daily e-newsletter,
on April 11 they sent the following verse:

Scarecrow on Fire
by Dean Young

Everything is brushed away, off the sleeve,
off the overcoat, huge ensembles of assertions
just jars of buttons spilled, recurring
nightmare of straw on fire, you the scarecrow,
the scare, the crow, totems gone, rubies
flawed, flamingo in hyena's jaws, noble
and lascivious mouth of the gods hovering
then gone, gone the glances, gone moths,
cities of crystal become cities of mud,
centurion and emperor dust, the flower girl,
some of it rises, proof? some of it explodes,
vein in the brain, seed pod poof, maybe
something will grow, another predicament
of bittersweet, dreamfluff milkweed,
declarations of aerosols, vows just sprays
of spit fast evaporate, all of it pulverized
as it hits the seawall, all of it falling snow
on water, flash of flying fish, breach and blow
and sinking, far below creatures of luminous jelly
constellated and darting and baiting each other
like last thoughts before sleep, last neural
sparks coalescing as a face in the dark,
who was she? never enough time to know.

More information regarding Dean Young is available at Poets.org.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

330/365


A labyrinth of problems for three short lines. It begins yesterday with myself running a quick errand; the weather conditions are perfect for a walk, for experiencing the reality of summer nights, but I am on a mission. The scene which results:
• 1. a father pushes his young son, about eight, in a stroller
• 2. the son sleeps with his right hand raised up in a claw-like pose
• 3. the son is obviously physically or mentally disabled, there is no other way of saying it, his small body is wounded from some trauma
• 4. but the father tenderly, affectionally reaches out and strokes his son's dark hair the second I pass the two of them; the father's sense of responsibility and tenderness encompassing the two of them, leaving me overwhelmed with the moment

Which leads me down the labyrinth. Only three lines, and a scene, with an extended series of events, that needs to be addressed— even if I subtract sense of myself from the equation.

Do I concentrate on the father specifically? —or the son?

Do I mention the stroller as an element at all?

Is the background act of the two characters essential in this case?

How safe is it to use a fragmented view of the scene?

How much "sense" can be eliminated for the sake of seventeen syllables?

Ultimately can this concept survive as a haiku?

What results, a scrambling of lines:


plausible #1:
the father strokes back
the hair of his small wounded
boy curled as a fist.

plausible #2
a father strokes back
the hair of his small wounded
boy curled as a fist.

plausible #3
stroking his son's hair
the father pushes his small
wounded boy homeward.

plausible #4
curled in his stroller
a small wounded boy sleeps with
the father watching

plausibe #5
A small wounded boy.
The father stroking his hair
without bitterness.

plausible #6
in a red stroller
a small wounded boy sleeps
curled as a crescent

plausible #7
curled in his stroller
a small wounded boy sleeps with
the father watching.

Friday, April 8, 2011

a development, an irony, an epiphany, another development


a development: Every so often one of my writings gains a history of bad luck—ill timing to a journal’s mailbox or editor’s desk—misplaced by the post office—or sent off with too limited stamps—or the magazine folds unexpectedly. Currently the curse seems to linger over a particular short story / pseudo travelogue I began in the late Nineties. The text exists as a reinvention of a trip I took to London, UK on my thirty-third birthday, a solo journey to find myself, find an aspect of my identity. Today, I still find a strength in the phrasing—a confidence emerging in the persona’s decisions and his creative word play.

For years it sat unfinished, half complete. In 2010, with it finally completed to my satisfaction, the submission process began—some physical mailings, some electronic. Favorable comments returned, but no acceptances. This month in fact it came close to being published, twice. And last week, one of my favorite online magazines, Fraglit, wrote to tell me they considered using it—but the journal stopped production indefinitely. The past issues appear to remain archived, so I encourage others to visit and read the material. The editor Olivia Dresher notes that they may return in the future—so I will be paying close attention to the site for future developments.

Once again, I must hit the directories, seeking a plausible fit. The major difficulty I realize is the fact the story is based on a fictionalized-personal history—making placement difficult. Do I consider it more pseudo-memoir or personal essay embellished with fictitious details or full short story or fragmented confessional or even an extended flash fiction?

an irony: writer Roxanne Gay today posted material on the same subject regarding separation of author and persona. She writes (the italics are my emphasis):
Today, I read on campus to a small audience. A few of my colleagues were in attendance and I read the first chapter of my novel. It was stressful. I still get so anxious when I read. I also prefer to read in front of strangers. Because of my writing style, people assume every story I write is autobiographical. There’s definitely truth in everything I write but not everything I write is true. I talked about this a bit over at HTMLGIANT. For example. my novel’s protagonist is married, has a son, is a lawyer. She is entirely made up. And yet, there is a whole lot of me in her. Some of my experiences are hers while some of her experiences are her own. It’s all quite blurry but my novel is not a memoir. I don’t think I will ever write a memoir that I will choose to publish. That much exposure feels too dangerous.

an epiphany: Random song on the radio, random lyrics, yet the random nature moved me into a direction finally after weeks of silence for “Dream Poem to a Former Lover”—My focus was centered on a reality, not on the surreality of the trauma of death. If discussing an irrational death, sometimes the emotional expressionism carries more impact than a matter-of-fact naturalism.

another development: one of my strongest poems remains unpublished—“ Fragments: East St. Louis 1996.” Over the last ten years the stanzas have altered slightly, word choices tightened, imagery restructured—but overall the piece remains the same theme and explorations of abandonment and self identity. This is not to imply on a steady monthly basis I have sent the work out into the world. A span of at least five years it stayed encased in the computer files, motionless. Yet Wednesday I received a half-rejection, half-acceptance letter from a magazine I respect highly—on the whole they may use it after the April theme is produced. Usually I do not have luck with themed journals. All of my poems seem to fit in any random titled collection as far as I am concerned—in this instance the editor tells me how much she appreciated the tones and sense of loneliness embedded in the lines. She wrote:
Staff and I have spent a lot of time considering your long poem, and we're all admirers of your tone, craft, and message… There's a profound sadness that floats about your expressions and images of depression that seem to us even more appropriate for (the)August (issue)
—which of course generated a strong sense of pride and reassurance, even if in the end it is not accepted. Yes, I know. I shouldn’t have to rely on these comments from editors—but I do rely on these comments from editors. These words act as a sense of recognition. Acknowledgement.

326/365 - 329/365


04.04.11
Careless, I forget
where I placed the scrap paper
showing today's words.

04.05.11
Charging up my phone—
in the dark of the still house—
beads of light flicker.

04.06.11
Can you tell me why
I shake and stammer under
the lowering moon?

04.07.11
Cars swerve to avoid
a plank of wood in the road—
a broken-down truck.

stoic


hydrant 14, originally uploaded by d_g_s.

Somehow I was overwhelmed these last few days—skip posting the images I found last Friday, and almost forgot about this week.

This moment the baby is crying in his cradle, a soft fussy whimper. Distracting me away from any sense of commentary I could possible type. He has reached a new stage as well, blowing bubbles, drooling, chewing on fabrics. It's odd how on an hourly basis he seems to grow, inching towards a toddler stage rapidly.

last week


hydrant 13: last week, originally uploaded by d_g_s.

Monday, April 4, 2011

324/365 - 325/365


04.02.11
Another moment
echos the past: writer's block
slips into my hands.

04.03.11
On my father's knee
two purple bruises emerge:
yesterday's short fall.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

323/365


04.01.11
It's 9:46.
The locked gate to my sleeping
breaks open at last.

Friday, April 1, 2011

317/365 - 322/365


03.26.11
The room's only light
falls from four cactus blossoms
set in the corner.

03.27.11
He cries in the night—
somewhat inconsolable—
then sleeps in my arms.

03.28.11
Sleeping beside me
you breathe the night deep. Fully.
Despite my writing.

03.29.11
From the other room
I hear you talking softly
to yourself. Alone.

03.30.11
I've said this before:
the weight of sleep descending
follows swelling moon.

03.31.11
Dull throbbing headache.
Words, phrases begin to blur.
Shift out of focus.

declarations


a consideration: All of a sudden I notice people are using the word redacted— as if a meeting were held while I was on break and consequently missed the announcement. My understanding is that it applies mainly as a legal term— but now even in casual writing it emerges on a more frequent level. I admit the phonetics appeal to me for some reason. And as a definition for erasure, removal, or even purging, redacted holds a firm and encompassing representation of these conditions.

Would it work for the new project? In other words: “to the very end / you redacted your life to shadow. / Slow erasure of living—” which translates life to text, self editing notions, passages of past and present…

my definition of death: a closed book on the table, out of reach, or rather barely out of reach. But then what I am referring to is what symbolizes death, not what defines death. It is after all an absence. Shadow without substance. Or the reverse: substance without shadow. A cut stem of a magnolia blossom—or gardenias shifting to golden brown in late spring. Images which carry a hidden nature.

And really it is not death which contrasted between myself and Bob—it was life. He was reckless, on edge. I cannot find the right metaphor—

a definition of life: Brendan—my son—grows nightly; he transforms overnight into a fatter cherub or Italian putti overflowing my arms with plump limbs and a round moon-face. In just three short months he fills out both my arms, a healthy little Buddha smelling of soy formula, wet diapers, and that particular scent of baby rising from the crown of his head. Now he sleeps with arms flung out on either side, gentle breathing, occasional snores of contentment. When he is awake, and looks directly in my eyes—recognizing my presence— the shock of awareness spills out in full force. I have said that before now, yes. In so many other words. Still, the sense of being a parent holds quick to the core of my identity, a snap of a lit match fuming in the darkness.

We shave my head today outside. Clumps of hair fell everywhere, clinging to my pants, my neck, the base of your shirt. The wind stutters, without much interest. Nothing scatters.

Much to my surprise all of the weeds in the back flowerbed are in fact shoots of milkweed. Hundreds of green sprouts scatter across the dark mulch, echoing the more established plants from last spring. My procrastination paid off this time. At one point I was prepared to get down on my knees and dig out all the growth—an obsessive, meticulous, perhaps over-zealous gardener.

The week slipped through my fingers without warning—I wanted a new epiphany to unfold around me so the second half of my memoir-poem would be complete. No luck. Of course it would help if I’d read more—but the last few days leave me wasted. Exhausted. Even as I write this I fight to stay awake long enough t complete a thought, finalize a raw sentence…

a definition: Recently, as part of the submission process for a print journal based in California, the editors ask writers to submit a non-traditional biographical paragraph— they request for the poets to detail why they love poetry

Frankly I was taken aback: from an early age I have always felt the instinctive need to write verse. I never questioned the desire; I always followed where the voices lead me. So now someone point blank asked me to define the un-definable.

Fortunately, after the panic subsided, I remembered back in 1994 another journal proposed a similar approach. In part the following emerges as my informal manifesto. This is my declaration and I am sticking to it:

From earliest memories on, poetry has persisted sounding out in my head. I experience days where the creative urge murmurs frequently. It remains with me as a small blue dragon coiled among my organs, one of his hands poised, making the sign for water, the second arm gesturing, as if reaching out for an unseen pomegranate. A third tucks a violin against his belly, while the last raises a bow. At night as I sleep he whispers images into my head, the myths of past dreams, the lost and wandering nightmares of children. Sometimes, in the early morning hours, I can catch him strumming softly on his little violin, playing out a new melody of his own making. Pushing me to get it down on paper.