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

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.

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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—

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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.