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

Friday, January 31, 2014

Tender Lies of Protection

In the margins of a book translating Taneda Santōka’s writings, my past self scrawled a note in pencil: What is a good example of lying (untruths) through your body—What false words does the body tell? Tonight I cannot recall what I previously questioned.
29/ Overtime he finally realized the full range of small deceptions his body supplied him on a nightly basis: miscounted steps to the temple grounds, lost tokens of affection from past lovers, blurred hues of blueing shadows within the wilderness of his childhood— all a collection of tender lies of security given to him in small dosages—

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Our Hour

Writing by feeble light tonight— a temporary rearrangement of sleeping quarters forces me to share the guest room—and I am used to falling asleep with a book, a fan, myself slowly fading. Through half closed blinds now I watch the blackness of the neighborhood settle against the lingering houses with random Christmas decorations still. Sleep evades me tonight.
Earlier. While sharing a nap. Every so often, through our hour together, Brendan softly fingertips the curve of my jaw or the bridge of my nose or the outline of my brow— confirming in his sleep that I remain lying beside him.
28/ a castoff shirt tossed on the side of the bed, shoes slumped against each other, an opening book, the neighbor’s barking dogs circling their yard, a phone vibrating against a table across the room, the clock shifting numbers across its face —broken silences

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Perhaps a Flawed View

Lately I have been working on short verses, poems of three or four brief stanzas— a radical shift from the longer works completed in the past. It is obvious a strong influence for me derives from Eastern poetry—and the months I spent producing daily writing exercises. I have noticed, as well, editors seem to prefer shorter poems these days—a casual observation on my part, perhaps a flawed view— yet, from the latest selection of submission guidelines I’ve visited, the material from online journals shows a preference for what one may call short lyrical ballads as opposed to longer narrative expositions.

Nonetheless, m recent short poems focus on brief moments of my son Brendan’s development—occasional pieces attempting to make a mundane event more than ordinary. He has stepped into the role of a muse, unknowingly. Every achievement he gains seems to necessitate celebration. Even his fits of anger and temper outbursts provide material for consideration, brief contemplation. These vignettes of reality, in turn, shift to a larger, universal message—finding identity, exploring environment, claiming ambitions, concise moments which anyone can relate.
27/ ruins of a temple

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Failure of Structure

For more than a hundred years we nurtured the concept of vampires— but for what means? What purpose No. Need to address something else. A new monthly fragment perhaps. Discussion of hesitancy. Or of experience. Experience of dilapidation, failure of structure. Lately I have felt a disconnect with the daily writing exercises—no full reason, only a lack a content to utilize. In the halfdark the thought process is more sluggish, slow-paced. My memory keeps falling back to the sentimental image of a bird’s corpse, an image of the natural process unexplained—I want to show something less stark, less depressing. Like the boys I saw at twilight lighting left over fire crackers, popping their arsenal down the empty streets of the subdivision, no authoritative voice demanding them to reconsider their motivations, their moment consumed with flashes of light, the momentary bang from lighters and fuse. Leaving charcoal on the grass and sidewalks.
25/ Down from our house, for the last three days on the far bank of a shallow man-made canal, the body of a blue marsh heron lies decomposing.
26/ In defiance of city ordinances, three teenagers spark out against the night with damp matches and weeks-old firecrackers—

Monday, January 27, 2014

Listen,

—because it's Mozart's birthday today. Reason enough. www.youtube.com: HalidonMusic

Vampire Sonnets ii

In fact, what a vampire sonnet confirms is the temporary values and methodologies of past generations are not entirely forgotten. The undead walks and romances the current history/society as a means of stealing its vitality, its energy— mosquitoes, biting flies, leeches, rabid dogs, the litany of typical associations. Are such verses suggesting memories cannot be forgotten? The past is retained forever in the head: experience cycling.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Vampire Sonnets || Possible New Project

—or perhaps even vampire sonnets, verse to explore a different relationship, a different longing, the various levels of creepiness entailed with bloodletting and leeches and goth-girls piercing their bottom lips, noses— with tattoos running across their chests in strange medieval script—

Friday, January 24, 2014

Constructed, then Deconstructed

The other day I mentioned utilizing pop cultural topics for poetry— specifically sonnets. What I have in mind follows the chain of poems such as David Wojahn created back in 1990, with his book Mystery Train. In this gathering of work, he utilizes a “common” topic of several rock-n-roll cult celebrities from the American landscape: Buddy Holly, Elvis, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, just to name a few.

Using this topic from everyday reality, Wojahn then motions beyond the casual experience. For the most part, everyone knows of these people; everyone has an opinion on these entertainers. Wojahn’s narration uses an amoral tone, showing the human personality behind the celebrity image, the human wearing the mask of a celebrity singer.

What I have in mind for myself is the wide ranging commercial aspects of “professional” wrestling circuits— from the circus-like entertainment, to the odd, truthful athletic stunts performed, to the surreal characters who sometimes defy logic, defy interpretation or analysis. On one end of the spectrum, such scenes are pure cartoonish violence shown in short films of Tom and Jerry or the obvious Three Stooges. On the other end, these matches exist with a strong theatrical parody of good versus evil played out in operatic costumes and soap opera plot lines. The industry contradicts itself in many ways, just as politics or professional football mocks themselves.

I plan on playing out this project slowly to see what poems can be constructed— then deconstructed into a sense of the meta-modernist approach. I am hoping the restrictions of the sonnet form will prevent a loose presentation of the various scenes. Yet, by upholding the traditional sestet/octave relationship required in the poem a balance will be achieved against the commercial wasteland one can find themselves falling into if not careful.

24/ The commonplace object easily fits into the center of a shaky palm: handful of salt, clipping of rosemary, yesterday’s forgotten bus fare, the gold plated ring purchased in New Orleans as a gift.

Opening Screenshot Changes

After stalling for a few days, the first week in January I changed my web site opening screenshot, then promptly changed it a little more.

For the curious, here is the image from the site during 2013:

Ironically, over time I have forgotten where the photo was originally taken— presumably from a location in Houston more than likely. The overgrowth of wildflowers provided a nice contrasting vehicle of motion within the solidity of the hydrant. They appear almost as a fireworks explosion —or as a shifting of stars.

After leaving this picture up for over a year, with 2014 upon us all, I took the time to post a newer image:

This location I do recall. It lies in a new development of streets, empty lots waiting for builders to erect houses. The sun flare was accidental. Usually I try to avoid bursts of light within portraits. From what I understand, the formal photography industry has an ongoing debate whether or not if such elements are "artistic choices" or mistakes to avoid. In this case, I liked the after-effects.

Ultimately, however, after a day or two I decided the rigid lines and abstract, angular look was too extreme for a opening image. With a little tweeking in Photoshop, this is the end result:
The digital-brushwork adds a more commercial appeal to some extent— working with the sun flare and barren wintery background.

Hoping this action will push me to change the shot on a routine-monthly basis. Help to keep the content up-to-date as well.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Bones of a Random Moment

After roughly two decades I have returned to writing sonnets— experimenting with the form once more. In the past, using a deconstructionist approach, the resulting poems produced an extreme abstraction of reality. Further, rather than using a persona reflecting on one relationship, the various verses provided a series of memories centered on two or three failed affairs. What was presented ended up a history of disconnections with society and with the self.

Currently, the sonnets scattered in my notebook form a collection of various voices, various experiences represented by a random collection of group memories. In this fashion, the series is not limited to one perspective or one basic storyline, but rather it is open to multiple commentaries on society as a whole. In addition, the themes are centered on casual, pop cultural topics—rather than multi-layered metaphysical definitions of “love.”

At this stage they remain primarily as experiments—testing ground for future developments.I want to play with the form more before sending the work out to editors' eyes.
23/ Stitched with golden thread in the inner lining of his winter coat where the bones of a random moment of time, the tailor daydreaming of Egyptian fabrics dyed with Sapphic purple.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Cathedral of Grackles

A male grackle when courting often calls out to his intended with a voice mimicking the rhythms of a farmhouse screen door in disrepair—a scratchy, crackly, static murmur impossible to replicate with the human throat. Yet, imagine this as the voice of angels, a cathedral of them gesturing, casting out proclamations, or one casually at rest on the shoulders of some saintly scribe, dictating verses of God, harsh bird language to carry the Divine’s wishes—
22/ this morning, two feral cats argue over bones of a heron by the side of the canal

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Litany of Images

A family acquaintance once made a comment off hand, without knowing my interests in writing, saying no one would ever write a poem for him. Ever since then I have approached the statement as a challenge— a potential moment for developing new ideas. Yet, a hesitancy always appears whenever a pen comes to hand— despite the fact I know the writing should continue from earlier fragments:
21/stone          psalms          pomegranates          codex          blood          mosaic          bookbinding          scriptoria          scribe (lithurgical)

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Dead Man; Contemplations on Marvin Bell's Poems

By accident I discovered the “dead man” poetry series by Marvin Bell. Last few days I have been reading these many verses, admiring how they rely heavily on collective images. —clusters of various scenes all focused on a central, surreal figure of a metaphoric dead man. —who goes about his waking life, alternatively unaware/aware of his symbolic/biological death. These carry a strong alternative motion for the themes attempted in my own work.

Bell’s collection challenges logical assumptions in unexpected fashions. I admire the conversational tone he utilizes in all of them—which relieves the burden of abstraction embedded in the style.

They operate as Zen riddles, individual subtopics falling from the uber-riddle: “Live as if you were already dead.” (Bell himself credits this statement as a Zen admonition.) Words declaring a meditative mantra in a sense; a contemplation.

Can these help me out of my stalled strategies?

20/the bones of an idea scrawled across scraps of paper—

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fossil Remains of Leaves

19/ imprinted in cement—their bones outline the contour of a history untranslatable—

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Rough Canticle of Affirmations

18/ —then perhaps a sanctuary can lie within the array of bones that makeup the human ribcage, series of columns adding up to a support system for a submerged cathedral, leaning drunkenly under the heavy weight of an ocean’s gravity, embracing the layers of holy artifacts which travel through a lifetime of failures and epiphanies or couplings with strangers in alleyways, their rough fingers stroking across the torso, the altar of human progression, their palms hesitantly raising electricity of a moment, hands roaming under rich fabric, elaborate designs, both of you seeking resolution through a collection of new psalms, new homilies, and a rough canticle of affirmations, soft private moans, murmurs surging in a partner’s ear, confirming every motion, every gesture across the flesh—

Friday, January 17, 2014

There is a sacredness that exists—

17/ —between two empty palms, a sanctification in the absence of possession, a holiness in the presence of need—

Thursday, January 16, 2014

This Silence

16/ —it drags out, carries across hours, this silence, this empty tone in the head, a drone of an organ humming a perpetual note—

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Bones of the Past Collect

A night without anything to say.
15/ Under the houses, beneath the streets, the bones of the past collect and wander in memories.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Misplaced Hours in a Coat Pocket

—whereas the She-bear character presents herself as guardian, shaman, religious order, tradition. A metaphoric quilt maker. Bee-keeper. A strong bulk of a woman. Not careless as her past ancestors may have been. A victim of circumstance, perhaps.
Trying to find my bearings tonight. Lost in a sense of placement in the unfolding month— by vague forgetfulness, I lost track of the day, twenty-four hours misplaced in a coat pocket perhaps— or in the back of the pantry shelves. Need to be more cautious.
14/ Impurities rest in the bones.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Fox as an Idea: Character-Sketch

Struggling lately to develop a fox as a character within a modern fable— symbol/allusion of one well-read, yet flawed somehow (insecurities/lack of direction/lack of personal faith) — yet, more presented as metaphor for inspiration, not lack of motion. To give this project wings, it needs a stronger grounding in my head . At least as a means of fleshing out the character itself. Himself. Listing of expectations. Atmosphere. Tone. Quick paced. Crafty.

The fox is an idea. As a scrap of writing, folded over twice and forgotten in a large volume. (and therefore—) The fox chooses you. On his own terms. At night, he will curl at your feet in the woods. The fox sleeps as you sleep. Follows you halfhidden as you walk a disheveled path. Slipping under shadows of trees and behind gnarled roots. Half in bramble, half in light: figure of darkness, as a giver of light. Comet-tailed. Watching you watching him. Fast as a thought. As a guide, not as a prize. Crazy as a fox. Transformative. Shape-shifter. Yes. From this point, develop from here and make allusions to the hidden, to the mystery—over time, the full poem will offer the grounding background story whenever necessary. As a poet: suggest.
13/She wore her mistrust as a formal corset, with ribbing firmly made of whale bone and white muslin. She moved as if underwater, bitterly indifferent.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Blue-Gray Goats Wandering

It has been almost two years since I had my vision checked— consequently at night when reading or writing a major portion of the page falls into a soft blur, a fog of letters merging into different soundings and shapes. Even now my handwriting lapses into hieroglyphics or magical incantations of a nomadic Nordic shaman blessing a flock of goats before a winter storm— my words as the goats that is, small domestic, blue-gray goats wandering a landscape with permafrost, bells on their collars clanking softly in the night as they return to familiar territory—

Halfblinded in this fashion the mind wanders off by itself, free association with phrases and occasional Freudian slips of the tongue. An excuse for not scheduling time at the doctor’s I suppose— creative justification for avoiding the issue.
12/ One house remains on the block with full Christmas lights bubbling neon throughout the night: perpetual celebration in red and green. —

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Brittle Bones of Memory

I am forgetting something.

A casual phrase, a broken word. Commentary on modern poetry. I run through a library of random possibilities, but nothing registers. Let’s blame Edward Hirsch. I have been reading his verses the last few nights. Examining the nuances of his style and his various allusions, references to Greek myths, his father’s slow dementia, calamities of World War. And then, one can blame the clump of papers dropped into my schedule, material needed to be graded—it’s only certain some items will be lost, vocabulary forgotten. Yet,
11/ A blank page easily irritates. A hesitation frustrates. On the other hand, a lost thought burns. The brittle bones of memory— always on the verge of breaking, snapping as a dry tree branch, under the heavy weight of midwinter—

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bones of an Hour

A persistent itch lingers along my right leg, by the inner side of my knee. Dry skin. Proverbial irritation. Constant ire. No amount of rubbing the outer surface allows a sense of relief. I feel as if I am settled in a case of pins and needles. Prickling annoyances.
10/ The bones of an hour are revealed slowly, with soft flesh becoming angular, tense, abstracted against the histories of the room, the tongued stories in the walls—

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Wild Coven of Sleeping Marsh Cranes

Odd moment this morning, following the same path as always, same streets— the sun not yet risen, shadows left a blue winter tone, a cerulean hue across the lawns and gateways of the subdivisions. I passed by a public park which contained a small human-built pond with a faux-island in the center, usually over-crowded with mallards and drakes, one or two Egyptian geese for variety— but today, within this brief span of seconds, the miniature circle of land contained a wild coven of sleeping marsh cranes, thirteen luminous shapes glowing out against a severe blueness of the hour. They all hunched over with their heads drawn in, bundles of feather and quill, as if arranged, facing in various degrees along the compass points. No means of recording the visual image, only through words, awkward phrasing, dangerously sentimental. Because I was running behind schedule I could not turn around to take a quick photo with the phone— the day swallowed up the scene—
09/ Some moments refuse to be catalogued for later use—

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Saltwater Cranes Gathering

Even in early winter you can still see the saltwater cranes gathering across the neighborhood, under the foot bridges— then the birds’ arched flights appear suddenly, without warning, as intuitive origami sculptures, crossing low over marsh-canals in midday.
08/ An epiphany hovers, frozen midair indecisively—

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pan with Pomegranate

07/ A confusion of days— the reality shifts to a different time, a different “now” moment: pen in hand, staining the paper with words, as pomegranate pulp blurring across the ancient god’s face, Pan drowsy in the shadows of an autumnal pine, eyes drooping from midafternoon, his countenance of a teenage boy—contrasting with the thin layer of ice and rime outside my window, coating a clutch of pines caught between the broken water lines of the subdivision’s sprinkler system—

Monday, January 6, 2014

Another's Reaction to Loss

06/ still halfdrunk, he immerses his head in the sink, soaking his lack of sobriety under running cold water
Halfway finished reading translations of the Japanese poet Saitō Mokichi, lines written during the death and resulting cremation of his mother— intense, personal moments brought down on the page. Collectively they read almost as a stream of consciousness technique, a fast paced river sweeping over the reader, a drowning in another personality, in another’s reaction to loss—
Morning cold, frost formed on mulberry leaves, getting closer to mother, the train runs
[•••]
Mulberry fragrance drifts blue at daybreak, it is unbearable, I call to my mother
[•••]
I come alone, stand in the silkworm room, and my loneliness becomes extreme

Sunday, January 5, 2014

By Accident

05/ by accident I discover the name of a small blue-ish flower: columbine— suddenly I dread the world my child will inherit

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Between the Sobs

04/ a brief silence lies between the sobs of a wailing child, his skinny, hard body heaving to understand a parent’s insistence of control

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Arc of a Falling

03/ the arc of a falling autumn cypress follows the same math of a North American dung beetle planting her eggs in balls of fresh manure

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Arc Running Within His Mouth

02/ A language of silence lies heavy upon him at odd intervals— a lapse of words falling on the tip of his tongue or the arch running within his mouth; even his hands falter, as blank books caught in a heavy wind, pages fluttering wildly

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Contours of His Sleeping


Overall I am not one to create resolutions every new year. However. Through hindsight I often discover I hold myself back, unintentionally making frequent excuses, then sidetracking my goals too far out of sight. Now exists the time for change, for stronger organization, for following conscious choices of tasks at hand. Perhaps in part this reaction relates to a mid-life crisis. Or it could be something other.

In the end, labeling the concept does not help its presence. What matters: everyday motion forward.
01/ —the moment unravels as a Mobius coil unbraiding itself. A knot released. Your hand slipping across the contours of his sleeping, that unmapped territory where the horizon line blurs against a gray-blue sky.