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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Waiting for the Waiting to Cease

Strange bundle of moods. Raw emotion.

Maybe a mundane story can explain the catalog of feelings— surging up to the surface of the skin. Wanting to shift towards more optimistic, creative, expressions. Focus on the positive.
Brendan practices unbuttoning and buttoning my work shirts. He almost has the method down, the motions of both hands going in opposite directions, taking the coin-shaped disk and slipping it under, then, through the fabric.

He prefers me in casual pullover clothes— he dislikes shirts with buttonholes because they signify “work” and an absence of a parent's presence. T-shirts mean chases around the room. Horseplay. Building caves out of furniture cushions. Walking to the park.
127/ Watching the clock tick forward. Waiting for sleep. Waiting to wake up. Waiting for the waiting to cease. Waiting for the constellation of Orion to pull forward, above the horizon. Waiting for the iris blossoms to open, to break free of the stalk, to expand. Waiting for the moon. The sea. Acknowledgment.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hunter as Archetype of Fate

A bow hunter in red was seen merging with the sparse woodlands of our neighborhood. Aside from the fact the territory here is considered a wildlife preserve, and hunting is off limits, the full region is public land, with homes and yards, and children home for Summer vacation. My mind wanders into various plausible tragedies due to careless people.
hunter as aggressor / antagonist / archetype of fate
126/ in winter, he boils scented potpourri on the gas stove: a harvesting of apples. The bluegrey rooms echo with the ghosts of a former wilderness, phalanx of trees crowding out the inner city flat.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Power, Finance, Fertility

Reworked a poem while Brendan swam. On occasion his voice peaked up: Lookatme! Lookatme! Seeking approval and reassurance as he jumped off the pool's edge. He loves the danger of sinking, full submersion in the waters, rising with a piercing squeal, then a heavy laugh.
As a result I reworked haltingly on the poem I began recently as a short phrase in a freewrite, self portrait as the golden calf. Quick research revealed important facts I have been overlooking. The calf itself is considered a male deity, cast as a young bull. This echoes the ancient cultures using a male heifer as a status symbol of power, finance, fertility.

My first draft ultimately produced a brief metaphor using a disembodied voice, the disgruntled persona speaking with a heavy tone of rejection. However, what was missing: the sense of story or identity, personality of the writer-self, the purpose behind the voice.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Persona is a Mask

Another experiment. Twisting the notion of a previous entry back on June 13, 2014, twisting the notions of a self-portrait into another form of autobiography. Or to put it yet another way: if a pesona acts as a mask the poet wears, then the persona-mask-voice speaks of its personal history and not necessarily with the writer-poet’s-voice. (I am working through a defense of the idea in this paragraph; refining the notion.)

So. If a verse is titled “Self portrait as X ” then the subject X gains control of the theme, and not necessarily the author him/herself. The poet therefore is not required to reinvent the theme to suit the actual autobiography of the poet.

The writing, in other words, does not serve the purposes of a confessional poem, but rather becomes a fiction, a warping of reality to suit a theme.

Perhaps these statements are drawing out the idea too thinly across the page… How much of this would be considered common knowledge? Works I have in mind are T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and Sylvia Plath’s poem “The Cut” or even “Lady Lazarus.” Both Plath and Eliot denied the poems were from their own personal histories. Plath in secret used confessional methods, but did not acknowledge her technique.
125/ In the back seat, the child’s head bobs with the drag and surge of traffic; half awake his eyes flow on nothing but the blur of the landscape running beside the car, slipping under his feet, carrying him to his expectations of the hour.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Guilt of Milkweed

The milkweed stalks finally went to seed for the first time: five pods cluster on various plants, ready to splinter at any given moment. And still the growth continues adding new layers, new inches. I broke one sheathing open, spilling fleece-like fibers and seeds across the gardenscape— a few meandered across the fence, caught on the slant of evening.

Received word that Minetta Review accepted “Saint Brendan and the Whale,” one of my more experimental poems. There is a satisfaction knowing my instincts were correct when constructing and reworking the splintered imagery; a mixture of the saint’s reality with the humpback whale’s environment. I look forward seeing it in print—mainly due to the Whitmanesque stanzas draw out beyond the average line length for today’s style of writing. The construction is worth reusing for other projects.

• he bundled himself inside his guilt nightly, as in a worn quilt
• guilt hides within fractured milkweed seed pods
• the act of conjugating a verb results in the act of guilt
• guilt / silk: connected by odd rhyming
• every cannas is guilty of blooming
• the screen’s cursor hesitates, flickers through its guilt
• a mouse is guilty of its fleas
• guilty poems exist in print, bound to each other
• the right hand is guilty of association with the left hand

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fragile Closures

Item of importance for English 1302:

Interesting article about closures in novels.

Endings are such fragile things. The slightest exposure ruins them completely. As a result, we are very protective of them—and possessive, too: under no circumstances are they to be given away. “Spoiler alert!” is the now-familiar cry: proceed at your own risk.
http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/queen-of-the-gypsies/

A Fractured Triskelion

Spent the day (survived the hours—) on only one cup of coffee. Now the weight of afternoon lingers in all of my limbs, my joints. I even skipped bathing, rolling in the scents of my own skin. Finding that inner self, bottom core of being human.

As well: reworked an old, old project, at least twenty years old, a poem sitting in a file drawer waiting to be revived, exhumed. In its beginning stages I simply titled it “Triskelion,” referring to the Ancient graphic symbols showing three tree branches or three human legs emerging from a central core, forming a wheel shape. Various cultures used the design, from Ancient Greeks to the Celts.


From the recent changes a new title emerged: “Triskelion: Herakles to Antaeus”— one more poem to add to my re-interpreted Herakles cycle. Even now I am not fully satisfied with the results—the initial concept dealt with braiding three modern sonnets into one form, cycling and repeating into itself. Or in other words, a short orchestration of three movements. Capturing the seconds before Antaeus, a son of Poseidon (Water) and Gaia (Earth), dies in Herakles' arms during mutual combat. I wanted the three sonnets to be presented in a visual knot of phrases, mimicking the notion of the graphic pattern. At the moment, I have the full work presented with the lines centered on the page, rather than flushed left, my standard format. The awkwardness of using centered text, with limited punctuation, seems to justify the rough phrases themselves.

By playing music composed by Austin Wintory, The Banner Saga, actually helps. In particular, the track “Thunder before Lightning” uses militaristic tones, heavy use of drums and brass instruments. It matches the drama unfolding between the two figures of Greek myth: the (im)mortal Herakles and the demigod Antaeus.

Here is the opening section as it stands at the moment. Comments? Suggestions?

Fractured Triskelion: Herakles to Antaeus

1.
afterwards, you lie as a dying Gaul
of knotted desire, still locked in my arms

as a remote angel, with an uncalm
body taking in air, winded, a scrawl

in the margins between heaven and earth,
between what you have and what you are looking for,

leaving me distant, a blur in a photograph.
This last time, your face turns away, your mouth

opens, a wound, like the sprain in my thigh
from your careless touch—and it’s odd, even though

I am aware of someone else in your life, how
he holds close your shuddering form during those nights

you allow him over you, allow his cast out
touch as replacement to mine, even this does not—

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The beginnings of a rite of passage.

Brendan tells me this morning he wants to go to the moon like Little Bear, the character from Maurice Sendak's illustrations and Else Holmelund Minarik's prose. I read these stories repeatedly when the skill of reading first clicked in my head. Even today I feel the influence of the ink drawings and minimalist plot development.
Despite the pain in my knee (or because of it) I walked slowly along the man-made canal, the vein of water drifting through the neighborhood. Despite the fact that summer heat leaned over the houses on the midday hour, I walked the perimeter anyway. Brendan was at school and I had a few free minutes, perhaps for the first time since he was born three years ago. Hopefully this exercise will prove habitual.
124/ A heavy lack lies next to him at night as he sleeps with the shades drawn open, allowing the night to slip into the bedroom through the unshuttered windows, a drowning of blue-black liquid. A coldness. A lack of warmth as he sleeps uncovered, undressed. An awkward body on a single cot slowly disconnecting from the hour.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Standing Behind the Stars for Protection

There are times I need Brendan more than he needs me. Stating this phrase, here, in my notebook, only intensifies the thought. When he was born, I foresaw this moment would emerge. But preparing for the event never lessens the realization. I have known too many dysfunctional relationships. I always thought I would be able to avoid them, flatten out the rising negativity before it could form in front of me.
Yet, tonight, as a counter-example to the above paragraph, while Ricky took extra minutes to clean up and relax, Brendan and I lay in the guest room’s early twilight, whispering to each other. Flashing lanterns at the ceiling, making new patterns of constellations. Stand behind the stars for protection, he’d say, shifting the light around the two of us. Let’s be invisible, he’d add, curling into a fetal position in my arms.
When he takes short naps, we lie down together, side-by-side: father and son. His restless small body shifting, as one with insomnia, resisting the need to sleep. Finally he gives up, his small fists pressed next to my ribs.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Self Portrait as the Golden Calf

The stone in my knee, the pain which gathers and collects over night will be removed in late August. In the meantime, I carry the burden of its existence wherever I go. Even now, I am aware of its presence, a dull creek stone worn down over time. It has become necessary to count steps and measure distances, before walking across the street, down the hall. It sits as a solid fact, an element to contend with daily, nightly.
123/Self Portrait as the Golden Calf.

As Eve. As Adam. As Adam and Eve.

As Orpheus. As Panoptes Argos.

As Io and Isis and Mary.

As the mold forming on week-old tortilla.

The film that forms on the surface of milk.

Crust of calcium forming on the bathtub water spout.

Dung beetle. Cockroach. Water beetle.

Kafka sweating under the woolen sheets of his mother’s house.

A dropped phone call.

The sporadic static crossing the television screen.

The hesitation between a question and the reply.

An actor who has lost his lines on stage.

Burnt coffee grounds lingering in the base of a paper cup.

A child’s balloon, lost and deflated.

Unpopped kernel of corn.

Broken vase on the kitchen floor.

The forgotten apostrophe in a contraction.

Franz Marc’s blue horses.

Myself in a funhouse mirror. In a cracked mirror. In a tarnished mirror.

Lost line of poetry.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The theme of meandering is meandering.

Moments exist when concentration evaporates quickly, ideas dry up —fade. Tonight for instance. The blank page demands to be filled, an because an expectation lies in hand, words stall. Vocabulary stumbles on the tip of my tongue.

Something tells me I used that I used that analogy in the past.

But it does serve a strong purpose, motivating the text forward in a sense, positioning the letters down slowly, preparing them for a metaphor, something slightly sophomoric, perhaps, a steam engine, gathering itself together, coiled pressure tightening within, waiting— however. The pen pauses. Stumbles. Mind searching for anything to relate, other than this foggy landscape. Dense. Thick. Blank.

The page is still blank. The theme of meandering is meandering. Without purpose. Without a safety net to catch us in the end. Just the falling body. Icarus failing into the form of a comet. Shifting from a personal tragedy, a possessive melodrama—night deepens outside.

Monday, June 9, 2014

With Golden Wings

For over a year a few projects have tumbled, repeatedly, across my notebooks; one in particular, a simple poem referencing my son's nightly bathing. The verse argued with me frequently— the page motioning forward at an extremely primitive pace. Partly my intentions exceeded the basic point of the piece: celebration of independence, vitality of a young boy after his third year.

Unintentionally, I was over-thinking the process, wanting to extend the metaphor beyond its breaking point, pulling it to a grander conclusion, an epiphany moment with golden wings, blinding the reader.

However, the reason for the poem’s refusal to transform lay in the fact the short fifteen lines were all that were actually needed. It exists now almost as a quiet, unrhymed sonnet.

[fade to soft grey with the turning of the page]

Brevity sometimes is the best answer.

A lack of resolution can act as a form of resolution.

Metaphors do not need clarification.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Gifts

Yesterday I submitted a long poem which was written on the death of a former lover, who had been living in Minneapolis. I submitted the verse to the online journal McSweeney’s knowing within a short number of weeks they will, in turn, reject the confessional style piece. In part, the act of submitting doomed material to a journal lies in the region of a gentle, subtle nudge to their editorial board that a slight change to their submission guidelines is in order.

Yes. I read their complete agenda carefully. Cautiously. I respect the magazine for the diverse nature of their published material. I respect their concepts of themed sections on the website. One section I regularly read requests “open letters.” Humorous, sarcastic prose-pieces addressing a person, or object, or abstract concept that will never respond in kind. This notion, in fact, is the stabilizing groundwork which most poetry is based: talking to someone in the past. Sending irritating odes to historical figures. Or melancholy rants to former lovers. Even allowing a chance to get the last word against your parents’ values.

However. McSweeney’s does not want poetry submissions in this section. Only prose. McSweeney’s wants overt humor. McSweeney’s wants a specific word count.

In itself, humor is subjective. Generating dark humor is difficult and even more subjective. Least of all in poetry. My cover letter discussed this small series of fact. I was polite. I was respectful. I was (hopefully) humorous. Sarcasm and humor are not my greatest skills. I just wonder what form the rejection note will take.

fabric swatches
worn thread
faded spool
rusty needle
tarnished bell
calligraphy brush

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Feeling Lazy at Midday

122/ The cat sleeps in my lap, all electronic vibration, her motor humming as a casual steam engine, vibrant energy in repose, pause mode.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Greenblue Mayfly || A Fine Frost

In an easily calculated fashion, my interests of rearrangement and organization and construction shifts from the gardenscapes to the interior landscapes of my bookshelves. Even though last year I joined the ranks of e-book readers, our house still lives in the early Twentieth Century with an intense library of material, which spreads from room to room, floor to floor. In vain I seek a concise order to the flow of encyclopedias, anthologies, tomes, trash reading, and graphic novels I’ve collected over time. I want to achieve a system of order which enables me to glance up at a moment’s notice and find the book I need without pause or frustration— but where to start?


120/ A greenblue mayfly stitches the air before his front door. A prediction of dissatisfaction? —or a sign that a letter with good news will arrive in the mail tomorrow?
121/ In the change of seasons, he lets whiskers take root around his face, a fine frost emerging.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

the blood has a name

Bloodwork from the doctor’s exam revealed my blood sugars are climbing— so as a result, now I am borderline diabetic. Of course, ever since this disclosure of numbers, I have begun craving all the foods on the Avoid List: waffles drowning in syrup and whip cream, strawberries dipped in thick coats of chocolate, fistfuls of double-stuffed Oreos, cherry soda loaded with ice and condensation dripping, banana-hazelnut-mocha malt shakes, and salt-encrusted fries beside a small cup of ketchup (and just a dash of jalapeño sauce)— my stomach desperate for extra helpings of refined processed sweets.

untitled

1
the blood has a name that it carries through the body

2
it pools within a body’s nameless alleys of being, the blood that is

3
blood is stitched within the veins and arteries of our name; tissue and muscle of the body carrying the full burden

4
the body as a cardboard suitcase; blood as—

Monday, June 2, 2014

The River

For a few minutes I worked in the back gardenscape— rearranged border stones one last time, then raised the ground level a few inches to prevent trapped water, breeding pools for mosquitoes. A song in my head repeated over and over.

In bloom

Then the remainder of the day: reworking syllabi for upcoming classes. Adding information to lectures. Channeling a new approach for freshman composition—considering a small additional group project, on the same scheme as the group-poem project last term.

The over-laying theme this time would have to be less decorative and more functional. In other words, it would need to carry a purpose beyond examining experience of a persona— perhaps using a social commentary on technology or progress. Education or future goals.

Even a basic prompt, fill in the blank: No one knows I am: _______. Then juggle the resulting cards around so when read aloud not one person owns the statement. Writing is: _______. Last night I dreamt: _______. But then the experience falls into heavy territory of creativity and less into analytical research. Will need to think more on this.

119/ Nothing less.

1
A river floods in the blood.

2
The pulse, the tides of a moment escalating.

3
Our bed as a river.

4
The radio shivering across the room with currents of an unseen river.

5
The doorway fills with the absence of your form; a stone, seconds after it’s dropped into a river from a bridge.

6
Teaching our three-year-old son to float into the river of his own life.

7
Brown-green water rising and falling nightly, daily.

8
Your glance drowning me.

9
The memory of a river; memory is a river.

10
You and I are the river of this moment.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

the scent of lavender

116/ […]

117/ […]

118/ Weighted silence. Nothing more.

—or then again

wait

the scent of lavender on her fingertips

under her nails

sunlight glancing off her auburn hair

the city outside lazily leaning against her apartment's windows, tail arched

a recollected laugh

her Argentinian smile