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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sacred Items 8/8

385/ pulling on a mask of Pan, the human face fades into thick brambles of unkempt hair and goatish whiskers, with dual curved horns to balance the autumn moon

Sacred Item 7/8

384/ —or the gift of a golden-green pear in sunlight: it transforms to an image of the Buddha curled in waves of meditation

Sacred Item 6/8

383/ a branch of laurel leaves hangs over the front door— inviting the god of the sun to come within— an open invitation

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sacred Item 5/8

382/ two strangers lean close together in the dark of the alley; his nervous hands slowly undressing the trembling form before him

Sacred Item 4/8

381/ crossing the footbridge over a shallow water, we slip into night— as wearing a worn, old coat with empty, faded pockets

Sacred Item 3/8

380/ pomegranates waiting in a glass bowl—gathered in a tight present tense moment, the full moon drawing out the blood hunger within —

Sacred Item 2/8

379/ the moment just before a cobalt pony exhales swells of air, scented with cut grass, sunflower saplings—
the unfolding day fading

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sacred Item 1/8

378/ the hesitation of a temple bell-ringer’s hand, moments before the tidal motions pull him forward into the still night

Friday, December 27, 2013

Silence Falling

377/ at a loss for words, a heavy silence falling complete, absolute—so I rise, wash my face—rubbing in vocabulary

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Beside Me

376/ he curls beside me as I read aloud a book my father once read aloud to me— my son’s warmth expands under cold bedsheets

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Oleanders, Luminous

375/ watching the day fail from windows without curtains— imagining wild oleanders, luminous in the grey winter twilight

Friday, December 20, 2013

Coven of Winter Sparrows

373/ the moment unfolds itself, becoming something other— an object inverted within itself: broken infinity loop
374/ finally, after waiting a year, a coven of winter sparrows visit the backyard feeder, scattering seed everywhere

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Closing Another Book

372/ closing another book— laughter falls from upstairs— confirmation of distance between our lives motioning forward

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Lost Conversation

371/ down the hall the sound of a closing door, firm, yet almost hesitant— as a lost conversation— or your hand shifting away

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Moment Hidden

370/ there was a moment hidden in the alphabet, hidden in obscure phonetics, sounds of release and restraint, forbidden noise

Friday, December 13, 2013

Blue Hour

369/ unexpectedly a ghost of the past rises as she draws the blinds close, blocking out the blue hour, the past failings of the day—

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Broken Branches

368/ concentrating, he scrawls a design made of lines, green diagonals paired with blue— they lean forward to the east— broken branches

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ramblings

Frustration rises lately when images do not fall into an established order— or syllable counts fail to match the cadence of my natural stride— due to the brief nature of tanka (waka) poems, one expects the internal voice to replicate a quick scene without the need for revision, without altering word or verb tenses.

Partly the frustration dwells in the expectation for a strong sense of autobiography in the daily verses— taking a moment from the current frame of time, then expanding on the experience beyond a casual epiphany— twisting a reality into an unreality, a tension between fact and subtle invention, partial dream.

With restrictions such as these, the burden to find something to write intensifies, and then, flees into the underbrush of the blank page.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Midafternoon

367/ midafternoon, we trim back my hair on the back porch; a day after my forty-ninth birthday—almost a midcentury mark—

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Night is Mine Alone

366/ for a brief moment I convince myself my words were already down on the page, set in blue ink, and the night is mine alone

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Casual Brevities


There is an unexplainable difficulty with writing short verse. More often than not, I tend to create long winded poems with elaborate details— rather than follow a terse format. In particular, for me, there is a difficulty with the process of generating tanka poems.

Salado, Texas

As of this week, after a little more than two years, I reached a milestone moment by finally completing three hundred and sixty-five verses, all of which loosely follow the general definition of this form. It was in June 2011 I began the project as a means of cataloging aspects of my writing, in a scattered fashion, to show the building process of larger works. This project intended to present itself as a daily experiment, a daily writing exercise. Unfortunately, frequently there were moments when a scuffle manifested, a confrontation between myself and the blank page. Even now, afterwards, I still struggle with rationalizing self-imposed hurdles and roadblocks associated with this genre of poetry.

Generally, I seek out the casual, fragmentary notions of the mundane for these poems: a forgotten cup of coffee on the desk, a torn page in a notebook, a dropped cigarette, my son’s sudden laugh from across the house. In the process, an ordinary event is celebrated and elevated to an extraordinary occasion. However, often what occurs, due to the use of obvious, commonplace images of everyday-living, a sense of intense, irritating repetition falls into place. The creation of personal clichés becomes apparent. The creation process in turn bogs down with the need to prove the relevancy of an average image within the poetic form and at the same time adhere to expectations and limitations of the syllable count. And then, likewise, in the act of seeking a specific commonplace event, I begin seeking an elaborate scene from a routine day, wanting to locate an outstanding moment with a loud, obvious epiphany—which of course is not the initial intention of the form.

Consequently, having reached the closing of a great clutch of tanka poems, the flow of posts will be reduced: a reshaping of emphasis towards other projects falls into place. With the apparent winter unfolding around Cypress, it is rather appropriate— allowing for a meditative series of days to find new forms to explore. One possibility lies in the prose form of flash fiction or hint fiction— those suggestive sentences of vignette scenes— yet, even fracturing these even more into smaller chunks of fragmented sentences, casual brevities. In this manner, a return to the original purpose will be achieved: the generation of a thoughtful moment, yet without an intense restriction to the end-product.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Unexpectedly

365/ unexpectedly, poems cluster within my palms, closing out the day— I lie down with too many words and phrases in my bed

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pumpkins Rotting

364/ carved pumpkins rotting a week too soon, all due to an unplanned rainstorm— the gourds pull within themselves, a haven for gnats, biting flies

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Sign on the Door

363/ a sign on the door restricts admittance, and yet, a hole in the roof grows large enough to allow the full night to slip inside

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Casual Turn of Phrase

362/ a casual turn of phrase— as a cigarette, colloquial words sprayed across a brick syscape, smoke lifting under streetlights

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

As a Corruption

361/ —as a corruption, tarnished metal left exposed to the elements— fractures of thoughts forgotten— a book with missing pages

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Gold Ring

360/ —as a lost gold ring suddenly found, hiding in the top drawer of the night stand, in the back, crouching under old papers

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Cigarette in Twilight

359/ rather, the pulse of a casual street light, the falling ashes of a cigarette in twilight, his shirt waiting to be washed—

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Revising Tanka

358/ revising tanka with autumnal satellites falling across full twilight— the side table lamp sputters in a strange morse code—

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Triskaidekaphobia



An odd situation opened itself after the recent completion of my October writing exercise— a lingering question of presentation. This latest poetry experiment originally was set up to be displayed in a chronological fashion— that is, each numbered stanza represents a day from a quick series of thirteen days, thirteen chronological stanzas posted to a Tweeter spreadsheet. In this order, the ancient building shown in the poem is slowly constructed: from absence to presence.

However, the embedded theme suggests the chaotic nature of discord, disharmony: as a faulty record of personal recollection. At a reading performance, the intention was to shuffle between the various sections in a non-linear fashion, without an established pattern. With this notion, it seems more appropriate to place the individual sections in a random order, without any adjustment for the haphazard results.

To take this up another level, displaying the lines backwards produces an unusual, additional item of consideration. The theme of disorder and failure of recorded time shifts the reality of the situation: unrealized presence to anticlimactic absence. This in turn develops into a deconstruction of the shrine's image, a slow erasure.

The Holy Discord of Thirteen|| Fragments

iii. (random)

06/ through the glory of ruins the chaotic number thirteen surfaces

11/ here was the altar; here, the nave; here, the thirteen candles burning in a row of perpetual lights—

02/ An absence made relevant. Persistent. Thirteen meters wide. Thirteen meters deep.

05/ at one time a full collection of thirteen columns supported the rough pediments

08/ thirteen temple priests once carried thirteen tallow candles, chanting in unified processions

10/ the more you look, the stronger the shift from absence to presence, the foundation refurbished, reconstructed from fragments of stone,

03/ as if a shrine was once built to the holy discord of thirteen, then erased over a series of thirteen days, thirteen weeks,

09/ beside the corner stone, thirteen blind and hairless field mice squirming in their nest of woven grass

13/ left unfinished, without resolution, the thirteenth hymn fading from the page,

12/ as a row of temple bells, ranging in scale, yet flawed, the last tone in disharmony intentional discord rippling, an arthritic thirteenth note sounding—

01/ thirteen steps through the grass fields lead to a void in the grass fields

07/ mosquitoes breed in the remains of the marble font— the rim still encrusted with thirteen black onyx stones

04/ erased at the thirteenth hour, only the foundation remaining and one, solitary, red marble column

The Holy Discord of Thirteen|| Fragments

ii. (backwards)

13/ left unfinished, without resolution, the thirteenth hymn fading from the page,

12/ as a row of temple bells, ranging in scale, yet flawed, the last tone in disharmony intentional discord rippling, an arthritic thirteenth note sounding—

11/ here was the altar; here, the nave; here, the thirteen candles burning in a row of perpetual lights—

10/ the more you look, the stronger the shift from absence to presence, the foundation refurbished, reconstructed from fragments of stone,

09/ beside the corner stone, thirteen blind and hairless field mice squirming in their nest of woven grass

08/ thirteen temple priests once carried thirteen tallow candles, chanting in unified processions

07/ mosquitoes breed in the remains of the marble font— the rim still encrusted with thirteen black onyx stones

06/ through the glory of ruins the chaotic number thirteen surfaces

05/ at one time a full collection of thirteen columns supported the rough pediments

04/ erased at the thirteenth hour, only the foundation remaining and one, solitary, red marble column

03/ as if a shrine was once built to the holy discord of thirteen, then erased over a series of thirteen days, thirteen weeks,

02/ An absence made relevant. Persistent. Thirteen meters wide. Thirteen meters deep.

01/ thirteen steps through the grass fields lead to a void in the grass fields

The Holy Discord of Thirteen || Fragments

i. (original)

01/ thirteen steps through the grass fields lead to a void in the grass fields

02/ An absence made relevant. Persistent. Thirteen meters wide. Thirteen meters deep.

03/ as if a shrine was once built to the holy discord of thirteen, then erased over a series of thirteen days, thirteen weeks,

04/ erased at the thirteenth hour, only the foundation remaining and one, solitary, red marble column

05/ at one time a full collection of thirteen columns supported the rough pediments

06/ through the glory of ruins the chaotic number thirteen surfaces

07/ mosquitoes breed in the remains of the marble font— the rim still encrusted with thirteen black onyx stones

08/ thirteen temple priests once carried thirteen tallow candles, chanting in unified processions

09/ beside the corner stone, thirteen blind and hairless field mice squirming in their nest of woven grass

10/ the more you look, the stronger the shift from absence to presence, the foundation refurbished, reconstructed from fragments of stone,

11/ here was the altar; here, the nave; here, the thirteen candles burning in a row of perpetual lights—

12/ as a row of temple bells, ranging in scale, yet flawed, the last tone in disharmony intentional discord rippling, an arthritic thirteenth note sounding—

13/ left unfinished, without resolution, the thirteenth hymn fading from the page,

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hidden from View

357/ hidden from view in the east windows: a full moon rising— still damp from his bath, wrapped in a towel, my son curls close in my lap—

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Full Rising Motion

356/ but then, consider the full rising motion of the moon in autumn— the same arched path as before, wandering across your window

Friday, November 8, 2013

Full-Empty

355/ hands in his pockets, he motions through town center, bearing the full weight of the closing day— empty hands in full-empty pockets

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Silence Pools

354/ silence pools on the floor, creating new continents, amorphous shapes without real definition— until you shut off the lights

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

But Wait

353/ —but wait, silence rests in unlikely places— it lies hiding under the mute tongues of lost shoes, or within a discarded shirt

Monday, November 4, 2013

There is a Distance

352/ there is a distance— even between the intake, then release of air— as one steps forward walking on water-based memories

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Shift Between

351/ yet, perhaps he knows, in reality the shift between, as notions of light to shadow— or from land to gulf water: changes

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fresh-Rising Discord

350/ naked from his bath, the boy with a wooden spoon knocks on temple bells, laughing with the loud clamor, at his fresh-rising discord

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

An Old Black Cat

349/ an old black cat curls in the corner of the couch, as if unaware of the season, unaware of the drifting sunlit hours

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Plague of Briars

348/ a plague of briars arches and knots their thorns, slowly, an infestation, motioning along old streets— blooming with blood red flowers

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Wolf Within

347/ the girl spreads open her room’s blinds— the wolf within shifts underneath; she craves the full, slow sun rising— his eyes blind with quick glances—

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In Her Nervous Hands

346/ she unpins her hair, then twists it back, a tight braid within her fingers— the remains of a fine rope coiling in her nervous hands

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Alone In Bed

345/ alone in bed he spreads himself out, watching the moon slipping slowly over the far edge of sheets— pale light blurring the senses

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mundane Act

344/ in memory she spreads out a white cloth, smoothing away creases and folds which crisscross the fabric, wrinkles which build valleys and ridges

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Swallow Perhaps

343/ soon you will turn the page to a photo of a bird, a swallow perhaps, or a chimney swift— wings spread open in midflight, lifting—

Friday, October 18, 2013

Waiting for the Hour

342/ waiting for the hour, the pulling of afternoon into awareness, into the moment realized, with both hands spread wide open

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Your Whispering Voice

341/ your whispering voice repeating assurances, phrases which you do not necessarily have faith in— yet, relate aloud

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An Irregular Pulse

Summing up an intended three hundred-odd day project remains difficult. Over a year’s time, the development of a daily haiku may prove in itself to be inconsistent. An irregular pulse. An inconsistent moon.

For the most part, although presented in sentence form, the intentions of the verses were to follow the traditional formula for haiku: seventeen syllable count broken into 5-7-5 phrasing, a reflection on nature rather than the self, promotion of a theme of witness rather than participation. At first, I rarely stepped outside of the restrictions. Gradually however, a shifting of purpose fell into play. Despite their hasty structure, often what generated was the sketchy beginning of a larger piece of work. The initial short sentence became the foundation of tone or image or language later used in a multi-stanza poem.

In addition, the full collection developed its own personal sense of commonality; with all three hundred and sixty-five entries differing series of under-currents developed, some themes concentrating more on abstraction of a mood, others promoting the fragmentary nature of memory and recollection. Yet, all together a selection of similar attributes can be seen. This of course is the expectation of sudden writing, the emphasis on immediate response and impulse reaction cultivating unexpected results. The material develops its own pattern of behavior. Such writing is not a static process.

___________________________________
Ten of my personal favorites:

373/ With threatening skies— a hummingbird stitches up the midmorning hour—

404/ barn swallows rebuilding their mud nests under the state highway bridges

408/ An abandoned field— here, the ghost temple bells peal— only crows listen.

427/ Fat housefly beats against my closed office window: a lonely haiku.

459/ Tonight I learn a fox in disguise has been shaving my head weekly.

498/ A ghost of the past walks into my poem— carries bundled sunflowers.

547/ Tonight, while carrying my small son, he calls the halfmoon an apple.

576/ the drone of a fly, sounding in an empty room— unclear memory

599/ a heavy metaphor of silence descending— my hands lie empty

602/ before sleep sets in, my boy clings tight to my hand— apple-scented breath

646/ at first: a shadow cracking nuts against the wall— and then the grackle—

___________________________________



His Body Trembling

340/ the manner a child wakes with night terrors, panicked, his body trembling with the heavy memory of undefined loss, unnamed—

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Blue Cranes and Wild Horses

339/ —and perhaps paper folded to origami, various blue cranes and wild horses cluttering table tops with gray newspaper—

Monday, October 14, 2013

An Afterthought Emerging

338/ the crescent pivots low across neighbor’s houses: a scrap of paper, an afterthought emerging in your sleeping awareness—

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Wasp Burrowing

337/ consider the fig, the soft browning of the flesh, handfuls of yourself, fully contained in the palm— a wasp burrowing within—

A Spring Moth, A Young Girl Dancing, A Burning Cigarette: Reading Jane Rosenberg LaForge


Book reviews often reveal a great deal of information about the reader as well as the reading. Case in point: over the past few weeks I began devouring many volumes of poetry, both contemporary and historical writers. There exists a comfort for reading poetry, due to the abstracted notion of sequence of verses. One can read three poems from any specific source, then pause, and then shift to another selection, pause, then read a third grouping and so forth, a voracious circle of reading without producing an expectation or habitual formula from one particular author. This was the scene which unfolded across my reading desk recently while waiting for resolution for my sick laptop, resulting in a process of reading alternatively between four books at a time.

One book that stood out in particular was a collection of poems by Jane Rosenberg LaForge: With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and all Women. Originally I mentioned her writing as seen in a recent publication of The Meadow, a product of the Tuckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada. In the book With Apologies—, she often opts for an experimental edge, building abstract connections with the English language, which in the end take individual readers into diverse territories. The reader therefore channels his/her own epiphany moment from the verse. Each poem generates a strong meditative moment for reflection and exploration.


Usually with language poetry, a harsh distance is built between the poem and the audience. When hastily executed, such poems create a widening gulf between perception of reader and intentions of poet. Beautiful, abstracted language is welcomed, but a notion of emotive cause and effect lessens the poet’s experience for the audience. In LaForge’s case however, by selecting references both from history and pop-culture, a sense of grounding is achieved for the reader, allowing a conversational connection to be made. Such titles of her work reflect this notion of a casual interchange: “Rock Star Watching,” “Putin,” “With Apologies to Dylan Thomas,” and “With Apologies to Mick Jagger,” suggesting a worldly perspective of the here and now, further allowing in the end for the poems to extend into their strangely wonderful metaphors and hyperbole.

One strong example is the poem “Verbs,” which makes use of different associations in the four, numbered stanzas: Biblical, Natural, Spiritual/Psychological, Physical. Each section utilizes a quick reference to the outside world as a drop of a stone into a large pond. The words ripple across the surface.
Section 1 reads:
I have no knowledge of Hart Crane,
and his flight over water, nor of the
Snake River and the baby that comes
back as God’s hostile bequest. I was
not born to symmetry or the movies
or a benighted soul of breath and yet
the want of desire, the patterns and the
consonants, speak of something so much
different.
The paradox of the opening line is a gentle joke. LaForge utilizes the facts of the death of Crane: his drowning while traveling across the Gulf of Mexico, under the heavy influence of alcohol; she twists him into a metaphor of poetic-drama, shifting his form into a flight of fancy, an ascent and escape, rather than descent and repression. She knows enough of the situation to turn it to her advantage as allusion and transition to the next topic: the northwest coast and the Snake River, which in turn subtly references the archetype of Snake and God with a casual nod and a drop of loaded words: “bequest,” “born,” “soul,” and “desire” — all of which trigger responses to the biblical story in Genesis.

Furthermore, her strategies of odd enjambments and interesting word-choice encourage private associations to be uncovered by the reader. In “Metaphor/Moth” the extended metaphor bridging from a pale-white insect into the image of the poet, echoes the intentions of Virginia Woolf’s “The Death of the Moth.” As Woolf makes personal connections between a dying insect and herself, then spirals out to include all humanity, LaForge begins her work with the collective pronoun “we”—
We remember not with our anatomy,
but with our impulses: A precious
curtsy, the last cigarette, the grind
of ashes into wine and sand.
As a result, LaForge works in reverse, moving from the collective to an individual stance, to coded autobiography. She continues:
And if I was adventurous; if I was young
as only a spring white moth is, I’d set
a pretty little circle around what beats
like a harlot’s desire as it diminishes,
raw but unembarrassed […]
She ties close a collage of images with commonalities: a spring moth, a young girl dancing, a burning cigarette, the almost too-bitter voice of an adult reminiscing. One finds a strong self-contempt within this particular work, a harsh-voiced persona struggling to find solace in her life, but instead discovers ash, sacrifices, restrictions. The extension of the metaphor: cigarette-moth-self — this strategy works because it emulates the universal self-doubt in everyone.

In the end, LaForge confirms the use of abstraction to enhance the reader’s moods. The point of abstracted-decoration becomes more paramount in these verses, rather than typical story-telling formula which burdens some contemporary poets today. Each stanza within the poems stresses new imagery, new sensations which build up to a larger surreal connection of ideas. One can be left with questions after each reading— but it is important to realize a lack of resolution opens up further conversations after all. Jane Rosenberg LaForge produces a series of personal analysis which in turn causes readers to speculate in closer detail their lives and their intimate surroundings.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Erotic Tension of Bees

336/ erotic tension of bees, stumbling up, over your exposed forearm— the face caught in expressions of release, the mouth parting—

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fabric Patterns

335/ for instance, fabric patterns reduced to blockings of colors— landscapes altered to quilting squares or star constellations— splinters

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The River


island of the dead || 02
•••

01/ when a river is not a river

02/ it transcends to metaphor, to elaborate currents of water channeled downstream, past the river’s source of Myth, of Unknown, of Question

03/a blank notebook is a river unto itself— the absence transcending the perimeters of the page

04/ even a dead rat snake mirrors the flow, the shape of a river overrunning its banks

05/ or the flood trails winding throughout our bodies, the red rivers within

06/ into a warm muddy river they took him—“this was your life,” they said

07/ on bridges across nameless rivers, fishermen always leave small mementos of themselves: a rusty hook, skeleton remains of unwanted fish, tangled fishing line, wrappings of a half-eaten sandwich—

08/ handsome young fathers chasing their sons and daughters on the sides of rivers

09/ there is a moment caught between insomnia and deep sleep—when one is neither awake nor dreaming, just floating in a river of between

10/ there is a moment suspended in casual time: the milliseconds hovering over a child, before it draws in the first lungful of air, before it is plunged bodily into the ammonia-river of life

11/ from the courtyards of the orphanages, blood red kites fly by the banks of nearby rivers

12/ cluster of minnows dart in the shallows of a summer river, constant motion, constant flux

13/ a dry riverbed runs beneath the city’s cemetery

14/ the metaphor of a river transcends to a dry river bed

15/ the river of your life cannot be calculated

16/ the first time the child was held and carried into the Gulf, it felt lost in its life, the broadness of the blue-gray horizon always just out of reach

17/ he views his life as a river on fire

18/ of this river, peel back the surface layer to reveal the Hidden, the Unseen

19/ she dreams of crawling across the surface tension of a nearby reservoir, following the source of the underground river, releasing her life to the elements

20/ she dreams of wolves running in winter alongside a river of ice, their breath steaming

21/ she dreams the river is her father, muddy tones to his every word,

22/ thick ooze of river-bottom mud still caked in his hair, stains of earth coating his thighs and arms

23/ the symbol of the river transcends to social commentary— a flooding of contradictory opinions, riots in the streets

24/ drowning out the ruins of an ancient city built along the river banks

25/ a river of anguish,
a river of fears,
a river of language,
a river of incomprehension,
a river of silence,
a river of resistance,
a river of intolerance,
a river of acceptance,
a river of prayer,
a river of repetition,
a river of possibilities,
a river or memory,
a river of rationalities

26/ just beneath this layer of ice, the river current still motions

27/sometimes there is no river

28/ the still surface of the non-river simply exists—nonmoving

An Unlocked Gate

334/ —or an unlocked gate into a private garden— translations of the body into another language, into other metaphors

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

An Afterthought

333/ or as the rising of dough over night, lifting under a tea towel in the warm kitchen, stalling, an afterthought for morning

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Trembling

332/ on bathing the child, his slender body trembling under the sway of lukewarm water and your hands, constant and purposeful

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Gravity's Stepchild

331/ shattered on the floor, the ceramic vase becomes gravity’s stepchild— on the edge of the desk a new poem lies half unfinished

Literary Works Create Empathy

Interesting read from Scientific American.
Popular fiction tends to portray situations that are otherworldly and follow a formula to take readers on a roller-coaster ride of emotions and exciting experiences. Although the settings and situations are grand, the characters are internally consistent and predictable, which tends to affirm the reader’s expectations of others. It stands to reason that popular fiction does not expand the capacity to empathize.

Literary fiction, by contrast, focuses more on the psychology of characters and their relationships. “Often those characters’ minds are depicted vaguely, without many details, and we’re forced to fill in the gaps to understand their intentions and motivations,” Kidd says. This genre prompts the reader to imagine the characters’ introspective dialogues. This psychological awareness carries over into the real world, which is full of complicated individuals whose inner lives are usually difficult to fathom. Although literary fiction tends to be more realistic than popular fiction, the characters disrupt reader expectations, undermining prejudices and stereotypes. They support and teach us values about social behavior, such as the importance of understanding those who are different from ourselves.

For the full article visit: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=novel-finding-reading-literary-fiction-improves-empathy

Friday, October 4, 2013

Apples Translated

330/ —apples translated to the room’s perimeters, boundaries reduced down to a handful of yellow-reddish fruit, perceptions changed

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Warm Room

329/ just as silence supplying a warm room with sense of presence— warmth of your sudden language, your body still beside me—

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Roosting Crow

328/ For now, close the book, shift the pages together as a roosting crow. Turn off the lights, room by room. Let the night settle within.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Innumerable Crows

327/ After a short walk, we turn back, take a different path home. From the fields a spiraling storm transforms to innumerable crows.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Shifts to Ink

326/ Seabirds or ravens— two nurses, distanced, translate me to object: blood, urine, body fat. It all shifts to ink across paper.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

This Rain

325/ Even in this rain, developers level out the landscape, leaving a solitary maple, and one darkly vagrant bird.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Divorced Couple

324/ A divorced couple: you can hear their argument swinging back and forth with accusations in public. Barbed words litter the cold air.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Crow Appears, Laughing

323/ Driving through downtown, windows fogged over, the world drowns, full white on white—until the moment a crow appears, laughing in mid-air.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Three Constants

321 / These three images remain constant elements: a crescent moon, thin-lipped on the night’s horizon; crows winging through a still life;
322 / and maples burning their dark illuminations through the silent neighborhood — the pen pulling out each icon with new purpose.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Surrounded by Flocks

320 / On the porch again, we trim my hair to the skull. I am surrounded by flocks of these last few days—small reminders of the past.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Waiting for the Moon

319 /—at night your eyes change, darkening deep as wild flights of ravens, moving in furious close circles, covens waiting for the moon

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Elijah in the Wilderness

318 /— to descend as crows over his sleeping body, an acknowledgement of his cause, the internal nightly wrestling with angels—

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Elijah in the Wastelands

317 / give me the fury of fallen angels, that force within Elijah struggling within the wastelands waiting for the Word of God —

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

three feathers

316/ another moment: three feathers tumble across the back porch — crimes of neighbor’s cat— but now, he sleeps as Buddha, in the sun’s lap

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Your Haunting

315 / unexpectedly, a slight rain starts, the same way your haunting descends on me, without warning— a sudden mist on this old crow.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dark-Lit Satellites

314 / with vague intentions we drive to other cities, pass dark-lit satellites perched on the thin border of the star-deep horizon

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Lunar Eclipse Creeping

312 / from the front doorway, we watch the lunar eclipse creeping slow, a drunk old man in a crow-dark coat holding the whole of the moon

Friday, September 13, 2013

Calloused Fingers

311 / with calloused fingers, the spring full moon pulls open stalks of black iris, their heavy mouths bruised with the violent purple of ravens

Thursday, September 12, 2013

His Dark Wings Animated

311 / February first and already a dead crow appears in the road his dark wings animated with wind from passing autos.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Crow Tanka

310 / Every so often in the middle of the night my body startles awake—as an explosion of crows shuddering from trees.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cut and Paste Poetry

In midst of the negative chaos from losing my computer for a few weeks of repair, I fortunately gained time for finalizing some writing projects. Case in point, for a number of months— or even longer to be honest—I stalled working on an idea which began merely as an association between two elements: a humpback whale and the Celtic Saint Brendan. In past posts, vague references were made to the existence of the work, but no real progress achieved itself until late August with the combined reading of poetry from the likes of Yannis Ritsos, Arthur Sze, and Galway Kinnell.

The resulting piece has been almost finalized as of this weekend— after a few hours of physically cutting and pasting the portions of the stanzas in a fresh order. Simply titled “Saint Brendan and the Whale,” the poem displays both realities of the mammal and the human, juggling perceptions between the two, motioning back and forth in an equal exchange of ideas.

The full story of the saint’s journey to the New World includes an encounter with a larger-than-life-whale, the animal’s presence confused as an actual island by Brendan’s followers. Only through a dream communication with God does Brendan realize the circumstance, so he himself is not as alarmed when his fellow voyagers discover the island is not an island. It is the saint’s calm acceptance of the situation which attracted my interest in the first place—he does not question the surreal notion of the facts before him: he simply concedes the Divine’s position and then moves forward into further adventures.

The notion of submission to a higher authority often follows most saint’s and martyr’s hagiographies. Similar to the European folktale formula with an extremely passive, moral protagonist who endures dramatic circumstances to prove a devotion and high code of ethics, Brendan endures severe levels of hardship to prove his loyalty to God. This devotion, tied to his curiosity of his Sixth Century C.E. world, provides much inspiration for creative writing.

The closing two stanzas of the full piece linger with a strong sense of irresolution. They purposely waver, hesitant. The intention lies in the motion of ocean tides themselves, that slight drag of waves which suggest a resulting stillness will develop sometime between high and low tides. Because little is known about the monk Brendan, aside from folkloric tales and speculations, the poem closes with only a suggestive scene: himself in his scriptorium, daydreaming over a text. This scene allows for a sense of transposition, a physical metamorphosis between the figure of the whale in his environment and the monk in his private cell along the Irish coast. In this fashion, readers draw their own conclusion and apply their own personal epiphany to the full work.

Dream of Crows

309/ What is left to say? A list perhaps: rain lingers on the evening’s hour. The cat curls within himself. I will dream of crows tonight.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Merely Waits

308/ Sometimes he merely waits. Other times: he becomes the fire. His one chair. The walls of ghosted limestone. The fall of fresh snow outside.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Crossing the Frozen

307/ Crossing the frozen river deltas, shadows shift within the grey ice— they flicker as pale dragons following the cold current.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Soft Tread of Glaciers

306/ Sometimes at night he hears the soft tread of glaciers shifting across the landscape, cutting their way through the frozen ocean’s tundra—

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dragon Birthmark


304/ There are times he will pull back his worn overshirt seeking the dragon birthmark on his pale torso— assurance of recent past.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Gathering the Garden Together || Fragments


01/ a locked gate to the garden

02/ a forgotten key, shaped as a raven’s wing, lies in the bottom drawer of a writing desk

03/ —the garden waits impatiently,

04/ a persistent flowering even in the folds of the body—spreading beyond borders of garden walls, the gestures of flirtation—

05/ or the territories of your body beside my own— in bed as ruined temples, the forest invading, slowly covering the convent’s garden paths,

06/ you become my garden, my early paradise of figs, pomegranates, a territory established with order, measured restriction, a gated orchard ripened,

07/ the garden of your body transformed

08/ to acreage of wilderness unclaimed, to the world as all field, your body shifting to garden, to a copse of trees, to a gravel path

09/ even the garden of your name exists within the realm of possibilities and obtainable goals

10/ the map of your body leads to unseen gardens, locked gateways, blocked passageways— and I grow confused

11/ the monks of a saint with an unpronounceable name often sit in their garden at vespers

12/ your mildest gesture echoes the spiritual silence of a holy book, closing in the prayer gardens of Cypress

13/ or the sound of a page turning over, a leaf drifting, the garden gate’s latch connecting

14/ There is a sense of completeness when the moon rises out of folds of ivy in an abandoned garden

15/ your shadow clings to the garden of my name


A New Temple


303/ Sputtering oil lamp. Crack of damp wood on the fire. Weak tea on the tongue—with wild dogs barking outside, he plots a new temple.



Friday, August 30, 2013

Tracks of Stray Wolves

302/ Once he recorded everything—anything that was supplied to him: tracks of stray wolves circling, patterns of frost across stone.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

First,

301/ —establish the scene: his room ghosted limestone, an Old Man and his fire. A world brought down to winter— lines of continuous snow.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Metaphoric Pyre

300/ He burns questions for a source of warmth, piling words and phrases, every syllable of the language, in a metaphoric pyre.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bundled Winter

299/ In an act of transference—of repositioning—he becomes as one lost in bundled winter, as the bundled kindling itself.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Nameless

298/ There are days he feels nameless— he remains simply ‘the Old Man,’ gathering kindling: broken oak branches, bundled scraps of stray papers.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Unfolds the Night

297 / He unfolds the night, watching satellites fall— random sparks flashing near the sparse horizon line, before full cloud cover returns.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Early Morning Dream

296/ from an early morning dream, before the family awakes: the hem of your dress collects stray seeds from the fields between our houses—

Friday, August 23, 2013

My Father's Pulse

295/ the insisting tide pulls forward, matching rhythms of my father’s pulse, matching the slow ache of my mother’s persistent worries—

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Ache of the Gulf

294/ the ache of the gulf pulls across the horizon—invisible line of one’s history unspooled from a casual gesture—

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Just as Sleep

293/ just as sleep takes hold, the clock downstairs chimes the hour, muffled tones ringing—yet our son sleeps on, soundly, unaware of passing time—

Monday, August 19, 2013

Taking Root

292/ as a dark blooming—the growth of a mole radiates from the center of my father’s shoulder blades—a strange flower taking root—

Sunday, August 18, 2013

After the Ocean

291/ after the ocean, the taste of raw salt lingers— even my father’s coarse hands are coated with a fine layer of sediment—

Friday, August 16, 2013

Reassembled Observations of a Fence, Disassembled


01/ a division onto itself, an act of undoing, the splitrail fence splintered to disrepair across the landscape

02/ the territory fractured into divisions, property lines stitched between the momentary fences, the casual barricades

03/ the divisions built overnight between us, fences of indifference,

04/as a symbol, a fence serves only as an archetype of protection or a restriction

05/ after nightfall, a she-bear wanders closely beside a fallen fence, rubbing her back along the bottom rails, seeking the source of her itch

06/ silence constructs itself around a fallen fence

07/ —until a fox moves under folds of ferns in the shade of a broken railing

08/ a fence dividing itself from itself, shifting definition,

09/ —a discarded plastic bag caught along the bottom rails

10/ as a cell separates, building molecular fences between its halves, then quarters, territories split into infinite divisions of self, the body whole, a collection of boundaries and fenced properties

11/ the collective cells become a boy, a young man repairing a fence—

12/ a fence is not always a fence. Even with a grackle preening from the top rail—

A Paleful Sundress

290/ she wears this old house as a paleful sundress— flower prints fading even as she walks hallways murmuring to herself—

Monday, August 12, 2013

Distracted by the Pause

For over thirty minutes I have been staring at a blank computer screen: an endless electronic field of fresh snow leading the rational mind-set to fall into a pattern of random daydreams and wandering speculations. A small-scale tundra consisting of a layer of rime, frost.

Okay, to be honest, the time frame established is a lie. In reality, the time interval averages out to a scant thirty days without product or completion of a project. Thirty days of mild frustrations and irritations have passed without major output. The small spark of inspiration which leaped into fruition at the close of July remains a miniature ember of creativity by mid-August. In fact, up to the middle of the year, I have allowed a heavy sense of apprehension prevent me from formulating any development towards my search for a publisher. It is easy to find excuses and blame circumstances, blame outside influences, rather than blaming the primary source— but here I am, once again complaining about past actions, over-dwelling on recorded events and not focusing on dramatically changing the course of habitual patterns.

This process of inactivity seems common. The Twitter account of @Poejazzi posted a laughable-precise pie-chart about inspirational projects. Created by Shaun Lynch, the diagram exposes the full experience of Artistic Creation.
The diagram (even in jest) proves a point: we all avoid processing out our ideas in full detail. We are easily distracted by the pause, the hesitation between actions. That brief inaction after placement of a period on the page. The moment a pen touches down on a blank page or a laptop opens out a empty document screen. Terror sets in.

For me at least, that brief moment, that terse pause starts a cycle of analyzing, reanalyzing, dissecting, and reexamining— rethinking the whole point behind a project’s main intentions. However. This week a more positive shift occurred, with clear opportunities falling into place for sending out query letters and for bundling manuscripts out into the cold world for editors’ eyes. I have to remind myself to seek out the positive possibilities which exist in almost any situation, rather than sit and stare at my laptop for hours on end, thinking only of the rejections.

And too, more poems were produced this year using new writing exercises. These new poems produce a strong feeling of completion. They stand out on the page as book poems; words with a voice. —with a purpose. An aspect of the greening which breaks through the arctic ice, revealing a hidden continent below.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Falling to the Inner Self

289/ Full bearded, he stands before the mirror wanting to trim excess years, falling to the inner self, the hidden identity—
Today’s post and the last five verses relate through a loose connecting chain of events. Suffice it to say, a small idea has been brewing in my head, a social commentary/fable dealing with ramifications of human interactions and the Natural World.
Through Winter
Trembling
Ruined Bell Tower
Remains a Constant
Collective Overcoat
The issue at hand remains is what format to present the plotline, slim as it is at the moment. For now, the Old Man is nameless. His landscape is buried in winter. The timing of his century undisclosed, yet hints towards a medieval period. He remains an isolated individual, locked in memory. Through the ramblings of recollection his story is told with an indirect moral of the present.

Perhaps it will remain a casual experiment.

A Collective Overcoat

288/ He wants to wear hours— a collective overcoat— random memories stitched without a full pattern, a quilt of past lives recalled—

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Remains a Constant

287/ All he has ever known is winter— it persists eternal, complete: a rime of snow remains a constant, infinite fact—

Friday, August 9, 2013

Ruined Bell Tower

286/ To gain shelter from the north winds, the old man sits a moment on the key stone of a ruined bell tower, talking to himself—

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Trembling

285/ The old man trembles before his fire, either from the intense cold or from his number of years— he cannot yet decide which—

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Through Winter

284/ The old man trudges through winter— a bundle of kindling on his back; fresh snow starts to fall, just outside the city’s gates—

Monday, August 5, 2013

As Witness

283/ the empty table alone as witness— in a square of sunlight, the picture hangs crooked on faded autumn sunflowers—

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Ghost Memory

282/ by the window, a ghost memory lingers in the abandoned house, watching the advancing pines slowly take over the yard

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Knot of Cypress Trees

Reading a collection of poetry by Yannis Ritsos, titled Monochords. The works are set as terse phases, fragmented sentences, or clusters of words with surreal arrangements. I had forgotten how much an influence his work impacted my own writing.
4— The words left out of the poem are sacred.

228— The Greek line of the hill. Its missing temple floating in the air.

250— All right, heaven. Even if it doesn’t exist.

270— Mounted on hazardous scaffolding, we are cleaning our temples’ pediments.
Likewise I forgot how much Ritsos helped formulate the patterns I utilize — specifically for haiku or tanka situations. Sparse details, without background exposition. A stress placed on imagery. Allowing the reader to provide personal reactions to atmospheric objects, actions.
281/ a knot of cypress trees lean forward slightly in the midday rain; from back of the house, the sound of steam rises off damp laundry

Friday, August 2, 2013

—overnight

280/ —overnight: a loaf of bread, a cup of coffee, or even a glass of wine. Forgotten items set on the kitchen counter.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Body Reclines

279/ in the folds of sheets a body reclines, pausing in moments between waking and sleep, transitions between past lives and the unknown—

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Asleep Upstairs

278/ the family lies asleep upstairs, while I lie downstairs trying to write—in the silence, no poems filter across the hallways—

Monday, July 29, 2013

Spare Acorns

277/ my toddler-son brings home handfuls of spare acorns, dropping them carefully into the center of my upturned palm—one by one—

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Fragmentary Note

276/ —for instance, the fallen nature of an acorn, the pull to the earth’s core, as we resist the grave and the urge to sprout saplings—

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Paring Back my Nails

275/ paring back my nails; a thunderstorm sulks over the horizon line—with closed eyes I can feel it inching closer. Then closer still—

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Broken Words

274/ —or a bowlful of frozen grapes, each one pearling individually, clusters of different colors frosting over—broken words—

Monday, July 22, 2013

Syllables Blur

273/ too tired to think— syllables blur together; a basket of figs in the night’s humidity— water beads on their faces—

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Becoming the Bed

272/ folding back bed sheets—the act turns on itself, khaki sheets poured out over the bed becoming the bed: translated, transformed—
Wanted to play with repetition— casual echos reshaped between lines, phrases becoming something other than their intended form. The same manner the domestic act of changing the linen of a bed is more than just making up a fresh mattress. In the end, you become the bed, the bed altering its identity to you and who ever sleep between the warm covers—

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Scarecrow

271/ we move the scarecrow across the back gardenscape to startle new flocks of haiku out of the ground— a gathering of new words—

Friday, July 19, 2013

a story

268/ afterwards, she braids her hair into tight knotted circles, wanting to keep the memory of him within, as a close embrace—
269 / before, when he left, his backwards glance provided more words than his voice could ever provide— even now his memory runs deep—
270/ his lingering scent still clings to her hands, her hair— a casual turn of the head brings it all back: his voice calling out in sleep—
Experimenting with notions of fiction with the short verse form, other than autobiographical references. The latter is more expected— composing material based on an actuality, rather than a fantasy or imagine scene. But lately, my days have slipped into a level of deeper habitual patterns even beyond the average, mundane reality.

For this post, composed of three different writing sessions, I wanted to create a series of poems centered on the figure of a woman, living in an indeterminable era, yet motioning through her liaisons with a contemporary logic. Her perspective of a current lover as she goes about her day—

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Language Unreleased

267/ a poem forms beneath the branch of my swollen tongue, language unreleased—waiting for the right moment to break away from silence—

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Discarded

266/ discarded across a chair, today’s clothes waiting for a new moment— a slow moon rises outside, his eyes closed to the nightwind—
Summer. Late afternoon. Walking across the neighborhood. Brendan reacts to ordinary objects made extraordinary: common blackbirds arching in the dimming light of day or drinking from water collected on sidewalks— the act of their actual being surprises his sensibilities— the newness of life.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Empty Vase

265 / in this old, warm room, the empty vase by the bed blooms with absence—a dense light circles tightly inside its cold, empty belly—

Monday, July 15, 2013

Five Darkly-Red Plums

264 / five darkly-red plums wait in the icebox—handfuls of a bloody rage, impatient in their orbits around cartons of fresh milk—

Saturday, July 13, 2013

For a Second Night

263 / for a second night this week, I wake at midnight pissing out remains of the full day— then lie back, unable to sleep—

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Over the Front Porch

262 / shadows of water oaks spill over the front porch, even as I lie in bed willing the night hour to lengthen, stretch out minutes—

Found a list of of quilt patterns— new idea for my “She-Bear” poem: create division subtitles based on these abstractions. Metaphoric representations of landscapes. Household situations. But twisted into new phrases. Different labels.
Quilt Pattern Designs
Down on the farm
Weather vane
Corn and beans
Rose of Sharon
Puss in the corner
Log cabin
Hen and chickens
Broken dishes
Bits and pieces
Cherry basket
Sunbonnet Sue / Overall Bill
Flying geese
Double wedding ring
Nancy windmill
A hole in the barn door
Road to Kansas
Grandmother’s desire
Bow tie
Cutglass dish
Kansas troubles
Dresden plate
Cake stand
Clay’s choice
Whirlygig
Old maid’s ramble
Robbing Peter to pay Paul
Star burst
Queen’s petticoat
Double Irish chain

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

tanka variations

260 / we watch barn swallows— their midday epiphanies— arching emotions across approaching thunderstorms, blue on the horizon—
261 / we watch barn swallows arch their wide epiphanies across approaching thunderstorms, smears of bluegray resting on the horizon—
In the middle of prayers at church, the deacon recites a phrase which triggers a literal, linear reaction in my right brain— I forget now what the chant said— all I know, an epiphany merged in the center of my head as an answer to a poetic problem which has troubled me for over a year. An issue of abstraction versus conventional expressions. How to push creativity and still maintain logic. The poem series in question fell into language poems without channeling emotion or purpose. In other words, my persona was on stage talking within a surrounding, specific undisclosed environment— and I expected (wanted/wished/hoped) the audience to understand the character’s full hidden back story without supplying any necessary information. This was dangerous to the music of the poem and the struggling themes hidden in metaphor.

But now, now the cycle shifts forward again— no hindrances. The grounding element these works needed was a hint, a suggestion of autobiography to show the writing process. Through text, adding a subtle reference to the creation process adds an element of personality of the writing— the style’s roots exposed, so to speak. The Poet acknowledging to the Audience that the words are musical tracks and poetic metaphors— creative expressions and not elaborate symbols.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Curled, As If Asleep

259 / without words, this week lingers on the edge of the mattress, curled as if asleep— yet, closely watching me, with his half-opened eyes—
Spent a series of days flat on my back with another viral infection— again, the same effects: without warning dizzy spells, high temperatures, chills, night sweats— the silence of this carries a resonance as a lingering false echo. At the moment I do have the compulsion to write, but the words and phrases themselves do not show. Time to revisit all projects— nightly exercises. Splinters of notions.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Sleeping Child

257 / he falls into sleep, not even sounds of mowers wake him as he is lifted across the rooms, then carried up two flights of stairs—
258/ as simple as that, the child falls asleep in broad daylight, exhausted— at the corner house, barking dogs rise in tempo— still, he sleeps—

Friday, July 5, 2013

Over-ripe Peaches

256 / over-ripe peaches, spotted with bruises— the bowl becomes the full room— or as the full weight of day, breaking through the drawn curtains—
Tonight I wanted to aim for a greater sense of abstraction— blurring three images as one. By juggling the traditional syllable count to a pattern of 5-5-7-7-7, my habitual rhythms were thrown off, allowing a stronger sense of mixed impressions.

—all based off a paper bag of fruit my parents gave us from their trip from Plano. After a few days the bottom layer of peaches grew too soft, broke open oozing a syrupy liquid over the kitchen counter tops. The peaches became the room, their presence confirmed in sunlight.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Turning Off the Side Lamp

255 / despite the late hour, he is determined to write at least one tanka before calling it a night and turning off the side lamp—

Monday, July 1, 2013

Midmorning

254 / our son, unaware, singing— we pass a grackle rearranging the corpse of a snake, middle of the parking lot, midmorning—

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Abandoned Mud Nests

253 / gaped mouthed—in ruins— abandoned mud nests of barn swallows clustering under highway overpasses—hollowed by midday sun—

Saturday, June 29, 2013

In the Back Garden

252 / in the back garden— remains of the day linger among the pale leaves of irises, still waiting in pots to be transplanted—

Friday, June 28, 2013

Three Tanka

249 / a finch falls against the living room’s back windows— upstairs a father naps with his son in his arms— heavy weight of memory—
250/ the moment a finch unfolds itself against the house, transforming to something else: knotted thread, newsprint origami, a motion—
251/ as falling into a looking epiphany, unexpectedly, the after-shock leaving you stunned, shaken to the core—

I already mentioned the small gold-crested bird which fell into the back windows of the house recently— yet, the action allows room for further conjecture, multiple metaphors. How many different ways can it be expressed: the repetition of Nature unintentionally merging with the Human made constructions? That is, and still maintain a sense of independent poetic expression for each fragmented sense of the scene.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Opening Oleander

248 / three nights without words—there’s only a persistent buzzing in the ears—the sound of oleander opening in the rain—
Feels longer than three days— feeling aggravated. Caught in a rut of complaints. Focus instead on the positive. Summer break is almost here. Alternative hours for organizing manuscripts for submissions while B. is at school. Getting lectures ready for future terms.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Hour Folds Itself Up

247 / the hour folds itself up into strange, new patterns, origami shapes: nesting cranes, floating carp, or a poet seeking new words—

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Child Refusing

246 / a child refusing to sleep— just like that— wait, no— amplify the tears, the wails, the face crumbled as tissue— give me that resolve

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sumer is icumen in

Experimented with the tanka form the other night— reversing syllable count to 7-7-5-7-5 for the opening verse. A simple idea, yet opens a different manner of thought, a whole new perspective. In this fashion a more abstract poem is laid out. Less clinical and less static.
On the elevator the following morning the lift shuddered midway to the top floor— pulling out an instant flashback when I flew from New Orleans to Des Moines for college, my first solo trip, the weight of the plane's cabin shuddering with occasional turbulence. Then a half second later, a flash to a pseudo prediction of a plausible future: myself lying flat in a gurney at an undeterminable age, being transported from home to hospital, some random emergency—

—a blend of three time streams, braided events of identity transposed and misplaced—

ghosts in the machine:
elevator • airplane • gurney
present • past • future
individual—blurred interior
Summer solstice. The longest day of the year.

Feel like I should do something pagan-isque: dance around a bonfire in a mask of a Picasso-styled animal— or maybe quietly compose prayers on strips of rice paper, releasing them over the canals by the house. It is a want of acknowledgment of the time passing: letting the child realize he is growing up, recording a sense of memory for future recollection. Something other than the mundane ritual of everyday existence.
244 / nightmares of blood on your hands, rooted from the back garden, stones in your pockets— you wake— dirt under your nails, a sense of regret
245 / hands curling on sheets, then uncurling, hesitant, lost between action and sleep— as the wind rattles the windows, shakes the whole house—

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cat Piss

243 / the smell of cat piss permeates the back closet— the stench clings to shirts, jackets and slacks, scarves and cloaks— tonight I dream of subways—

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Lamp Left Burning

242 /a lamp left burning in the living room, under my grandmother’s unwound clock,—stalled at an obscure hour— her ghost shucking spring beans—

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Mocking Bird Calls

A late afternoon thunderstorm lowered over Cypress with heavy rains, continuous cracklings of lightning. We lost power for three hours by nightfall, leaving me restless, occasionally reading by flashlight or smart-phone glow—

Brendan slept soundly without his usual white noise from the fan, but I lay in bed staring at the ceiling, listening to the thick summer night motioning outside—
241 / afterwards— morning steam rises off wooden planks of the backyard fence—somewhere a mocking bird calls out his morning prayers, three times—

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Extra Blankets


239 / you unfold extra blankets for the beds tonight— wait for the cold front— afterwards, you find the scent of mint hiding on your hands—
240/ he runs in circles— through unseen ghosts of orchards— forgotten pear trees; I have no name for this mood lowering as a warm quilt—


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Three Tanka

Tonight Brendan mentions he wanted to play a game of dominoes with the paper maché moon we have on his top bookshelf: I held the bearded half-circle crescent adjusting the board around B.’s moves, his instinctual matching skills with color and numbers.

236 / he plays dominos with the crescent moon— bone tiles spread out evenly on the table between them— magnolia buds twist outside—
237/ a solid maché moon in my lap, as night descends— bones on the table shuffled between players— the moon laughs at my weak hand
238/ pokerfaced, the moon leans close to his new hand of dominoes, thinking over his meager options— sixteen swifts tongue the night sky

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Twelve Conversations with a Winter Moon

This week in the mailbox, I received a copy of the recent issue of The Meadow, a product of the Tuckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada. Three of my poems appear in the publication— including a very recent work "Twelve Conversations with the Winter Moon." This piece is rather important to me due the process which developed its final form. Portions of the verse appeared within blog entries as fragmented exercises, experimental lines to use within a larger work. Odd the theme in the poem is off-season; I realize of course that a feeling metaphoric-winter can descend on anyone, even in the middle of July, but a strong irony exists in the timing of the publication. The cover image of the journal itself contains a haunting quality— without overly shocking the viewer.

Many of the poems here fit the well together as a collection; in particular Noel Sloboda's short poem "Self-Portrait as a Stoat" stands out with its stark qualities, and the poem "Blood Less Language," by Jane Rosenberg LaForge, carries a heavy emotional tone of resentment, an element I need to study further in her abstracted phrases.

For more information about the magazine, or to submit your own material, visit: The Meadow.

New Rhymings


Without purpose, opened my old copy of the Random House Dictionary to find any word, a casual selection based on chance; landed on loft, loggia, and logic, firm sounding syllables, practical phonetics. Words that lift off the tip of the tongue. Originally I hoped circumstances would provide a short poem from a brief visit to the text— only silence tonight.

Brendan wore himself out today— running in circles, chasing the old cat, dancing with the children’s programming on television— afterwards, carrying him upstairs, he half whispers, half sings: “Twinkle, twinkle, little star—.”

235 / lifting him to bed, half asleep, he whispers in my ear new rhymings— his sweet weight grows heavier in my arms with each new step —

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bitter Weeds


Foul mood. Irritable. Three days of redaction. And poetry sounds flat. Bitter weeds. Bile. Piss on a toilet seat at a roadside park, collecting germs. Tree branches rub across the vents on the roof. No moon overhead. Syllable counts resist meaning. An ache develops across my upper thigh. And I keep rearranging words within phrases, looking for a particular "sound" or "beat."

Which tricks the ear in a stronger sense of music?
—cruelty of April lingers in the blood, —or—
—The cruelty of April lingers in blood,

All rhythms in today's verse seems slightly off.

The cruelty of April lingers—

234 / —the cruelty of April lingers in blood, fingers, in exact motions across perimeters of this fallen house, without words—

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Box of Silence


233 / —a box of silence left opened on the kitchen table—sunlight drags across the wide, gapped-toothed mouth, pouring out left-over hours—

Thursday, May 30, 2013

From My Insomnia


232 / —middle of the night— wild sunflowers emerge from my insomnia— I feel them pull upwards from the sheets, rising off my chest—

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Two Moments


230 / with half-lidded eyes, my two year old chants his rhymes, swaying in circles— afterwards, his hair carries the scents of tart green apples—
231 / —the moment opens again: I lie with closed eyes, wanting to forget the day, forget the stitches removed, forget the slow itch—

At the doctor's office, the stitches were removed from my back in a matter of seconds— a soft tugging-sensation, then nothing. The closed wound now resembles a mouth, rough reddening of the skin. A mild itching runs across my shoulders every few seconds— as a slight shiver.

Brendan sang "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" this afternoon, sitting on the stairs, holding his half empty milk glass. His phonetics are less garbled these days, a purer sound emerges with he speaks 'star,' drawing out his vowels as he exhales.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The April Moon


229 / he runs through the house, waving a bell overhead— chaotic music— from all the commotion, the April moon pauses midflight—

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cluster of Nurses


228 / cluster of nurses outside the maternity ward smoking, stone-faced— their nervous hands still stained with memories of afterbirth—

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Viewing Memory


227 / viewing memory instead as a swollen creek— layers of mud, silt covering the end of days, final moments before night—

Absence versus presence.

There are moments when an absence allows its presence to be known. It declares itself as a missing note on a scale. The interval between the ticks of the metronome. The lack of a footfall on the stairwell.

A moment once existed before the first note, when his eyesight hovered over the keys of the clavichord sizing up the intensity of it all.

The shadows of his fingertips would first strike the keys and then the weight of intention. The weight of possibilities; the instinctual notes in his head,

His house missing the weight of his daily inspiration building a bridge between concept and actuality—

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Senyru • Climbing into Bed


whiskey on his breath, disheveled, he climbs up back stairs, holding shoes and coat—

226 / climbing into bed, smells of nicotine stain his undershirt, his hair— why do I now remember the nights of his rough embrace?—




Sunday, May 19, 2013

Burn to Memory


225/ burn to memory the child clinging for comfort, the rising motion of water birds, the falling of day: recall these often —

Having slight difficulties finding material for the nightly exercises. In the past I would use the lack of motivation itself for a poem, but over time I have collected many similar-voiced writings. Wanting to find something new to consider— perhaps the specifics of today, this afternoon: walking with Brendan across the neighborhood; egrets ascending every few moments, and small water birds startling off the edges of the canal. Brendan seemed preoccupied, thinking on his own matters, impatient to get to the playground.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Bright Opal


Carp Moon

224/ he reshapes the moon tonight into a large-mouthed carp, a tangible prize to catch and hold closely to the chest— a bright opal —

Another moment with Brendan and the moon. Half asleep while being rocked he murmurs that he wants Daddy to hold the moon— and that he wants Papi to hold the moon likewise— his expression insistent and troubled that we will forget by tomorrow our new duties— for a half hour he persists in re-visioning the satellite as an object of possession, a source of responsibility and care—

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Room's Iconography


223/ after the ninth hour, the room’s iconography begins murmuring, the mattress creaks with the weight of their angelic voices—
Afterwards. Reviewing the experience of closing out a poem. For me, this is the most difficult part of the writing cycle. I want to feel the influences of classical music, with the dramatic certain finality. When writing, I look for that sense of flourish, that staccato pulse of instruments permitting a clear close of text. It remains difficult explaining the intonation, the rhythmic certainty itself. Part instinct, part strategy, part winding down. Even now, with a minor journal-entry, I am seeking a slow exit from the stage allowing the curtains to fold back in place,

—but the certainty is lacking. Perhaps this moment is a forecast for the inevitable end that is to come in the future. A rambling hesitation without purpose. I'll end up one of the ghostly figures wandering the hallways, uncertain about what was meant to be accomplished in life. Mumbling under my breath with cold drafts from the windows about purpose and obscure poetry.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Slightly Inebriated


222/ too tired to think, even the aging night leans against this dazed house, slightly inebriated— stumbling and singing loudly —

Due to the stitches along my upper back, I can only sleep in odd positions— my night reading as a result limits itself to scant phrases from a seated position from the edge of the mattress. However, within the last twenty-four hours I manage to lie on my back without feeling pin pricks in the flesh; blood does not pool on the sheets when I wake in the morning. Perhaps tomorrow I can return to my list of books for reading this year—

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wounded Present Tense


221/ three stitches knotted tightly across shoulder blades, constant reminders of the past self I once was and the wounded present tense —

One of those ritual, habitual days—minor details: after church service we went to get coffee, drove home. I organized files, setup a quick informal essay, and graded papers. Off and on Brendan and I spent time together, outside in an alternating system of wintery chill, then warm sun. The sky shone with a crisp blue and a lack of clouds.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Folding Back


220/ folding back morning newsprint— he becomes aware of a fragment of kale lodging between molars; annoyed he sucks on his teeth —

Feeling apathy toward today’s tanka— it sits in front of me in an awkward pose, a child with an ugly expression on its face, intentionally distorting his once beautiful features into disagreement, out-right rebellion. Lately my whole attitude of writing falls into negation— that downward spiraling effect into self-criticism.

It comes down to this: the mundane nature of the poem irritates me. The scene succeeds in portraying a boring reality of the every-day-existence, producing an irritation, like the filament of kale itself. Yet, I find myself annoyed at the persona’s annoyance. An overwhelming ambivalence. When closing a poem I want to feel the closure as an experience. As taking off a winter coat— creating a feeling of carrying through of an action. Completion. Here, however …
So I shaved last night— rather, this afternoon, time rests in an awkward presence in my head today, events fall out of order like a dropped deck of cards— but my point, my point is I feel colder, more aware of my countenance, my jawline— no longer exists the leathery resistance of whiskers. A new sense of buoyancy falls within every step.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Nothing Motions


219/ a book lies unread on the counter of my desk— constant reminder— outside the skies threaten rain, yet nothing motions forward —

For a week I refused to shave, allowing an autumnal frost to spread across my face— grey whiskers rising out from unknown depths. In a sense they exist as proof of a mild transformation, a shift into middle age, an unplanned journey—

The stitches in my back prod the skin sometimes. They’ll remain intact, embedded for another week, prickly counter points sticking out of the collar of my work shirts. I rub across the wound absent mindedly; same sensations as brushing over a clutch of thistles. Unexpected needles. Thorns arguing with flesh.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Saintly Vernacular


218/ not wanting to sleep, I wait for a clarity of words to descend— a saintly vernacular to slip within my shell ears—

Bach’s birthday, 328 years ago (born in 1685)— is this the bridge for latest poem? —the connection?

Rather bridges as the bridge. Plus Bach.

Begin with him a the clavichord (or harpsichord) then spiral, unwind, cross over.

Hands/fingers hovering over keys.

Then transitioning to Morgan, a girl just over nineteen. New York city motel.

Creek bridge— wood planks / trunk of tree
Railroad ties— railroad grid bridge

a transcription of Bach’s Concerto in D Minor
transcription: in music this is the act of arranging a composition into a new medium, new form.

Piano bridge— clavichord, harpsichord > translated/transcribed into verse.

Pauses/hesitations/regrets—

Bach built the bridge for the concerto / fugue based on key of D minor. In classical music, a bridge commonly appears in fugues. Used to transition between two themes, smoothing out a shift between ideas.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Into Memory


217/ a book left open (falling into memory) the center page spread with photographed landscapes (this room of endless winter)—

Memory fades
Memory distorts
Memory fails
Memory burns
Memory mapped

A student loaned me a copy of the film Memento. A strong, surreal ride through one major psychological tragedy— the protagonist falling into the rhythms of short term memory loss and an inner drive to solve his wife’s murder. The notion of telling the story through vignettes in reverse chronological order, a heightening of suspense and conjecture— the more the audience learns the less the protagonist recalls—the more the audience is forced to push limitations of recollection—

Small Garden


216/ a numbing silence lies between my hands tonight— untranslatable— I count out numerous weeds in my neighbor’s small garden—
Trying to wake up— still groggy, discombobulated, disconnected with the self. On a mundane level: having the car serviced, drinking coffee from a styrofoam cup, sitting across from a thirtyish woman talking to a sixtyish man about Oprah’s favorite things, whereas myself, despite the radio blaring pop culture, I sit seeking out a better sense of poetry: can the woman over-made-up with makeup and blood red nails, can she be made into a poem— translated to verse on the spot? If not the woman, perhaps her cup, with the remains of lip stick repeating more than once across the Styrofoam rim—her lips kissing the lips of the cup— her presence confirmed, firmly placed in realtime with proof of existence, of reality—

Friday, May 3, 2013

As a Laying on of Hands


214/ five black nettles hold the slow wound in place— body transformed to cloven pine, with abscessed knot removed— can we call this spot sacred?—

As a laying on of hands. Went to the doctor to remove a sebaceous cyst from the top of my spine, digging out the demon from my shoulders— a sea of blood clotting thickly on the sheets beneath my numbed back, the doctor’s pressure from scalpel and forceps pulling out the glob of fat, human tissues exposed.

Let’s make this site holy, the foundation for a new temple— the body reinterpreted.

A Blurred Past


214/ hands slightly calloused, or with a torn nail, perhaps— over used symbols— finding hints of a blurred past crumpled within a jacket —

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fumbling Hands


213/ or unbuttoning a shirt, slipping off old shoes, even this flashes back to the first transforming kiss in the dark, fumbling hands —

On a subject unrelated: We received word that Brendan’s birth-mother passed away in February. She was in a hotel— and the maid found her body collapsed on the floor.

Ricky is taking the news rather hard. He was working a Sunday conference when he answered the phone… How else can one react? Knowing she was only a girl, just over nineteen, and that her life filled itself with so much tragedy. On a slight level, she was a stranger, an unknowable child. But on a higher level, she gave birth to our son, our child. She selected us to take care of her offspring.

Need to build a poem out of this— a resolution needs to be reached. Daily stanzas constructed toward the circumstances surrounding her life.

What metaphor to use? A telling of beads? A laying on of hands? Or is this a scene which a tarot deck explains the unfolding of a life?

Ironic connection, the image bridging: hands fumbling into prayer, from pockets to prayer— to steal outright from the above poem and the earlier tanka "Hands Fumbling"— memory as prayer as consolation—

Friday, April 26, 2013

Wild Angel Mane


212/ so, we nightly weave out new recollections, new reminders of an ever present now, as it unfolds around us gently—

When Brendan wakes from a nap his hair transforms to a wispy, unkempt series of curls— wild angel mane, aurora of the sun. He appears as a heavy-eyed Apollo, a baby sun god of luminous light.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hands Fumbling


211/ we wear thin layers of memory, the outer surface of the skin— worn coats of faded fabric— our hands fumbling in pockets—

Monday, April 22, 2013

Robes of Fire


210/ dressed in robes of fire, as Gabriel, as Ginsberg— the spirit descends, leans, and whispers poetry, tongue and words buzzing my ear—
Setting Brendan in his car seat this morning he notices the waning crescent moon directly overhead. “It’s broken,” he says pointing upwards. “Daddy, moon broke.” His two year old voice heavy with a tone of worry.

I say, “Well, maybe Granddad will fix it for you.”

He smiles. “Yes, Granddad fix moon.” Everything resolved. Problem erased.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Small Hauntings


small hauntings

209/ enveloped within this poem are wounded phrases, words recalled from past conversations, small hauntings that still linger closely— yet,

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Manner Memories Fracture


205/ the manner memory lapses over itself— you suddenly recall your first awareness of the moon— its endless falling—

206/ —viewing memory as an unmade bed— under layers of fresh sheets lies the hidden self, a map to a lost ancient city—

207/ —in the manner memories fracture, a shattering of a mirror— fragments of a whole idea— pomegranates split open—

208/ —or how memories, ripped apart, expose clusters of seeds, hundreds of bittersweet seeds; your fingers stained with the sticky, ripe pulp—

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Descending Moon


204/ —or the brief moment the cusp of the descending moon leans a little closer to the horizon, mere seconds before contact —

Monday, April 15, 2013

All That Remains


Due to an unexpected bout of the flu I have been knocked off my feet for three full days: I slept restlessly with nausea as a bed companion for roughly thirty-six hours. Various periods of waking consciousness limited themselves to weakness, incoherent communication. Time played out by motions of light across the ceiling— one waking moment I was aware of the sun at severe angles to the shutters, then followed an immediate moment, pale street lamps broke patterns overhead in the dark. The consciousness skipping across a river bed of awareness.

Repeated cycles of broth, bread, juice, sleep. Mashed potatoes. Sleep. Broth. Sleep. Rice warmed with a little butter. Sleep.

I have used the analogy in the past: the whole experience is remembered as being underwater. Of wanting to move through the vast wetness of ocean, watching flickering surface details, out of reach.

And even now I am still weak after crossing the room. Or placing a phrase on the page. What is different today, however, this afternoon specifically, I feel the fading influence of the sickness. Concentration happens without as much effort.
At one point, somewhere in the rambling blur of recent events, within the rare cohesion of waking moments, I composed a short verse—it opened on the page as a Swedish music box, something formal and intricate, heavy with baroque designs slipping along the edges. Yet, to contrast the restraints of tradition, in my mind’s eye I held it on a scrap of paper— it existed as maybe five lines, maybe seven… an odd number of irregular rhythms and musical patterns of syllables. I repeated it three or four times, over and over— an effort of recollection, attempting to burn to memory the mechanics of the phrases.

As you can guess, the retention of the poem vanished as soon as it was realized. That is the way of these matters. The memory itself is limited to a vague haze of abstraction. The shape of the lines is all that remains. Outlines of ghosts. White on white.
Ironically, coincidentally, today’s tanka fits somewhat the theme of retention and loss. All memories are caught between possibilities of actions— in the end, as much as memories shape who we are, we shape memories to be who we want to be. Sometimes we get caught in the middle of the tug of war. Placed in a limbo of hesitation.

203/ the hesitancy of a stone skimming close the water’s surface— caught between rising and falling, acceptance and denial —