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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Empty Hands / Full Hands

Empty hands. Found myself standing in my office, forgetting why I walked into the room. My empty hands only served as a reminder of need. I needed something. My empty hands curled. Expecting.
Slight moment of inconvenience earlier today—Ricky habitually locked the back door as I sat talking on the phone on the porch. He took Brendan to the grocery store, a gathering of the week's necessary supplies, leaving me without a means of getting back inside the house. Thankfully, I had scrap paper with me—and a pen. Passed the time generating fragments. An irritating itch formed along my right index finger.
A mouse has found its way into our garage. As I parked the car tonight, the slender shadow of a rodent slipped across boxes and folded canvas chairs, traveled over the edge of my stored work table which leans against the wall. Heavy sense of guilt bloomed—knowing a trap will be set down soon.
Bathing Brendan, I watched his lithe body trembling within the lukewarm water. He laughed with the application of soap, the damp flannel crossing his face and chest. Every opportunity allows for splashing. For slippery escapes, seal-like adventures across the tub. A stronger sense of his independence emerges nightly. Yet, I hold him firmly in my waiting hands.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

His Anger Pitted Against the World

A knot of anger sits in my gut.


An unresolveable frustration blocking any chances for rest or sleep. It all stems from the child not taking a nap this afternoon— which causes late afternoon fussy behaviors, which escalates into tantrums by evening when he doesn’t get his way over childish matters.

He is almost four, I remind myself, but he knows how to manipulate, play emotions to gain favors, play out a scene to his advantage. Tonight Ricky pulled his back, leaving me to pull Brendan out of the tub, simply dry him off, carry him upstairs. None of which fit into his schemes. Papi was supposed to do the chores, only Papi can carry him to bed, only Papi was allowed to move beyond the second landing— Brendan would not listen to words, to angry tones, to stern phrases— he bawled, squirming on the path to his bed, almost falling out of my grasp more than once.

So of course, I lost control of my temper. So of course, now I cannot sleep. All I can focus on is his resistance. His refusals. The anger he pits against the world for no predictable reason.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Motion Your Wings

—as simple as that, after one more night of twisting phrases, I believe the ghazal is complete. At least now, this morning, I have a finalized full draft. Part of my earlier frustration dealt with hesitancy towards bending traditional rules. For example, stanzas 4 and 5 are composed with iambic hexameter, rather than the other stanzas' construction in iambic pentameter.

Yet. By maintaining the expected refrain phrase without elaborate experiments, and then using a softened, occasional, random rhyming within key couplets— I gave myself permission to play with other traditional elements. Make the form my own, in other words.
The closing stanzas now read:
          (compare with the earlier entry this week)

as photos of a summer god, found on clay shards
gesturing with open arms, flinging back his wings

in a divine wind— yet, the god’s face is obscured,
full features blurred, erased by time’s casual wings.

He leans forward, as if to speak my name
from the laptop’s blue screen: motion your wings,

He says: motion, forward.
The title… now that is another complication.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

From the Laptop's Blue Screen

As it is with such matters, after a peak of frustration: tonight a break-through. By eliminating one small three-letter-word (his, )the flow of information within the ghazal project readjusted, shifted an emphasis to the resulting new line, and then motioned the poem’s rhythm forward, down the page. The river was no longer choked.

By removing the possessive pronoun, a stress of subject became placed in a generic, universal ideal, not locking the secondary theme to an objective subject… it is still unclear why this process hindered the writing— yet, there it lies. An overly rational reasoning for an instinctual change.

Perhaps in the next day or two the full work can be finalized.
Ghazal on Fragments (Shards?) of an Aegean Vase
Meditations on Fragments of an Aegean Vase
Ghazal on Found Fragments
Ghazal on an Aegean Vase

As if numbers matter, six egrets wing (5)
over the house while Brendan sleeps, his wings (5)

of summer translucent in his dreaming, (5)
his softened countenance on sheets of wings. (5)

He mirrors more my brother’s face than mine, (5)
my brother who still haunts my words, spreads his
          out wings(,)— (5.5)

as in photos of /as
(as) images of a summer god found on broken clay (6)
          shards of clay
gesturing with open arms, (wings, flung back) flinging
          back his wings (6)

in a divine wind— yet, the god’s face is obscured, (6)
by time, full features blurred, (as in a photograph) erased
          by time’s casual wings. (6)

The winged god (he) leans forward from the computer screen as if to say
my name, as if to say my name


He leans forward, as if to speak my name (5)
from the laptop’s blue screen: motion your
          (own) wings,
(5)

he says: motion, forward. (3)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Soft Pornography of Wikipedia

October 11th. In a sense, a waste of a day: took Brendan to early soccer practice. Watched an animated film after cups of coffee and a sugar roll with my parents. Took a nap with Brendan— then when he shifted into a deeper sleep I wandered through the internet for a few hours, half looking for a sense of a poem, but in reality distracted myself by following basic hunger drives. The soft pornography of Wikipedia: film plots, synopsis of graphic novels, background histories of comic book characters. There are times when the brain need to decompress—
Facing writer’s block over a ghazal. The poem leans too close to sentimentality— over drawn emotion. In part a ghazal requires such sense of loss, of absence— but I am trying to extend and twist the expectations towards a different perspective, which complicates the strict formula. And yet—
Slow responses from publishing houses only complicate matters. One would think my acceptance of others’ rejections would be less painful. A mere shrug of shoulders. A hand gesture through a small cloud of gnats. However, I have to take time out to complain in my journals. Waste minutes whining over lack of support.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Wasps, Hornets, Bees, and Needles

Unexpected emergency this past October: a wasp stung Brendan on the underside of his right forearm, the soft tissue swelling up at the reaction. From my office in front of the house I heard him screaming in the back yard, traveling across the downstairs rooms— a shrill whistle of pain and fear. We both held him, running cold water over the bite, holding a cold compress on the swelling— and ran to the emergency clinic down the street. By the time we arrived, Bren was less frantic, more curious, scientific, asking questions about wasps and hornets and bees and needles— items with evil intentions, sharp bites of pain—

On the hospital bed he curled next to me, wanting to hold my hands, head propped against my shoulder. Valiant little soldier. Observant judge.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Dancing Mania and Cicada Shells

My son has begun collecting cicada shells, as I did at his age, hunting for the hollow husks on the coarse bark of evergreens, seeking out the other-worldly-exoskeleton as they hang beetling in abandonment of self— Brendan’s fingers roughly tug at the papyrus remains, almost tenderly, casting the carcass aside in a shallow bowl—
dancing mania: a hysteria among the people of Europe, the Rhineland, figures grouping in circles to leap and prance in spontaneity, around churches and streets of the cities— dancing to excise demons, cast out evils, like the mad women dancing after Bacchus, forever moving, gesticulating their bodies for hours (Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, 334).

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Text Keeps Unfolding Itself

During the past series of weeks I have kept constructing various fractured phrases, collections of broken ideas loosely brought together by random themes, similar sounds, or vague word associations. Because the basic concept has no set repetitions, no set line count, the text keeps unfolding itself, adding new dimensions and shapes off the original twelve lines. What began in August has spread out over the last two months, almost on a habitual basis. A poem in a poem about a poem wrapped around a poem. Diamond facets mirroring each other, endlessly.

Apparently I work best in morning— when caught in mid-rush hour traffic. A vague subject exposes itself. Deconstructs the former day’s notions. The seemingly incoherent connections actually prove useful—since three or four projects have stalled out, I have been seeking new associations to build off old images.

A library of clay shards. Untranslatable cuneiform cylinders. Scripted ideograms. Possibilities.

Monday, November 10, 2014

As an Afterthought

Yesterday, by nightfall, after hours of reworking ideas in my notebook, I resented the developing ghazal. It irritated me, as a sore tooth, a constant reminder of an unresolved issue. Throbbing. Waking me up in the middle of the night. Motioning into awareness, out of strange dreams, alien landscapes with foreign suns.
So tonight I purposely ignore the concept. Avoid the notes. Attempting to forget the full point, momentarily. Allow some time to subconsciously rework the full broken bridges of phrases—
At the bottom of the nightstand drawer— a button. Blueblack. Ordinary. Yet. I have no recollection of the shirt it belongs to. Or if I found it on the stairway and just brought it into the bedroom as an afterthought. A casual act instantly forgotten.

Friday, November 7, 2014

lunging once more— the same mile

Late in the summer we went to the community pool, the three of us, Brendan swimming with Ricky as I stayed under the awnings trying to shape a modern ghazal into being.

Intentional, strategic repetition invites a stronger lyrical reading process. A greater sense of ebb and flow is brought to the details. As swimming. Motioning across the racing stripes balanced on the surface of the water. Repeated trips down the same strip of water. Circling back across the water, then lunging once more— the same mile.
series
The few hours in the sun left me drained. Even in the shade, with a mild wind, I feel a heavy exhaustion from the day. Fighting off sleep for a few more moments.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

At night my vision blurs

At night my vision blurs in an extreme fashion— even with my glasses angled oddly on my nose, shifting the bottom territory of the lens higher within my eyes’ reach. Even now I watch the motions of the pen across the page, the soft textured lines waving—not the words, nor the language. I can only hope my word-choices translate clear into the readers’ consciousness—no confirmation of my ideas making clear sense.
Need to find academic commentary on Allen Ginsberg’s American sentences. I only have second hand information from a web source, a web site frozen in the previous decade. And I have not researched beyond this fact. Time to do some formal digging to allow a better idea of Ginsberg's methods.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

50 to 25 / 2014 to 1989 [in progress]

(Minneapolis)

As always. It comes back. It always comes back. At odd times. Strange intervals, the glance of a boy in the college commons, inciting the falling between, the constant limbo of indecision and lack of motivation: the winter storm, travelling across midwestern tundras. The car close to failing more than once. Tires iced over, the accumulation of winter building over us— burying us. Singing aloud with the car’s speakers: oh you got green eyes, oh you got blue eyes, oh you got grey eyes. Caught in a loop of existential loss. No direction. Snow blinding the road. We drove thirty miles per hour on the highway, aiming south. Ever wandering. We both sang loud, shouting into the winter:
And though it hurts me to see you this way
Betrayed by words, I’d never heard, too hard to say.
Up, down, turn around,
Please don’t let me hit the ground.
Tonight I think I’ll walk alone
I’ll find my soul as I go home.
Bob, you never found your way back home. You were always wandering, a ghost in a blizzard along the highway. The manner you still haunt me. Your past figure influencing the present tense. Perhaps even more so than my brother these days. There were times we whispered together in the alleys between the warehouse bars. Two figures in heavy coats, two ravens hunched over in the wintering. Our dried voices meaningless; our bodies gestured without motioning. (See T. S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” ).
25 to 50

Remember to keep your desk by the window. Not as a distraction, but as a confirmation. The fat oaks pulsing. And myself, I exist as a constant reminder in the back of your head. The thin, slumped boy. Misdirected. Isolated.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The hum of blood is thick in my ears tonight.

The hum of blood is thick in my ears tonight. As slices of warm bread. When I walk through the house at night, after everyone has gone to bed, the silence builds thick about the head, plush dough, vibrating with the rising moon, intensifying across the hours. The heavy lack of words, deafening.
Found a copy online of Maxine Kumin's "On the table"— a modern ghazal. Making its own rules and structures. I admire its loose existence. Without a rigid form. Yet. I still would like to create a short series of these verses based on a stronger connection to the original expectations— although the refrain alludes me at the moment. Running off downstairs, startled by my sudden movements across the room. All I wanted to do was turn off the side lamp. Glance at the night sliding across the windows. Wait for the idea to approach me. The cautious word, ever careful.

It does not help that these last few days I have been grading papers. The ever present composition resting along the curves of my desktop. Thomas Jefferson. Keystone pipeline. Racial intolerance. Same-sex marriage. Charlie Bird Parker. A sundry of diverse topics to select. Shifting my focus.

Like Eliot's stray cat, brushing across city streets and fallen fences between back alleys— Wandering across machineries humming to themselves. That ever present hum in the ears.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Brendan Woke Early

Brendan woke early this morning, before sunrise. He climbed into my bed, half awake, curling like a ball of blue yarn against my chest and belly— almost a full four years of warmth coiled beside me.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

My self-imposed exile is over.

My self-imposed exile from social media is over. Just under a month of avoiding responsibilities of Tweets and web logs, tonight I have a rare moment, a rare hour, to pause. To look at my handwriting form on the paper. Watch the ebb and flow of an idea form out of scripted letters.

That is— not to imply the weeks have formed a deserted terrain, a dry landscape of silence. However. Time has been scant for long, in depth conversations with myself. Just a small minute here. A brief minute there. Too many hinderances emerged into the daily schedule of things. Corrections or clarifications. Maybe if I were a hardcore insomniac hours would appear more readily, moments of. Isolated freedom for finalizing a formal essay or two—
sometimes organization is a distraction. sometimes it is otherwise. sometimes organization is a distraction.
sometimes it is otherwise.
sometimes—
Idea: perhaps back to sonnets or ghazals? Five pornographies. Dry commentaries of the scripting of blue movies. Various decades, various role play— frank. Painfully honest. Five rooms. Five couples. Tangled scenes of various lives. As an abstraction by Picasso. Cubist impressions of two people. Their warm room. Disordered sheets. Rumpled clothing. Unkempt hair. Uneasy breath.