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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A River of Fractured Thoughts

Managed to sleep for almost ten hours in a row during the past three days. A shifting towards my old habits, before Brendan, before early morning classes on the other side of town—
He has watched The Wizard of Oz every night for the last week. However, Brendan has become obsessed with every scene, every fantasy element in the film. I would not be surprised by the fact that he could recite the dialogue, word-for-word. Gesturing with the actors.
Determined to end the year with more declratives, positive closures— even mundane actions: bird seed spilling over the feeder, discovery of a new poem on-line, an idea sparking before night falls full—
                               but sleep is approaching. I feel his presence in the room, encouraging me to turn off the lamp. He strokes my hair out of my eyes,
Tonight, in a few hours, I still need to set up the Fractured Lines Project within Twitter. One line per hour. The beginning of every hour for every day. A river of fractured thoughts for the upcoming year.

Image from: dreamsteep

One debate lingers: leave the lines as momentary, numbered examples received in the readers' head, briefly— or record the entire result, week-by-week here, on the blog. For the curious or those who may have missed a day or two of entries, the later is preferable. It suits my sense of wanting to establish a mark in the literary world. The fickle industry of words.

So, I pull down the physical dictionary from the bookcase, The Oxford American College Dictionary (2002).
fracture n. the cracking or breaking of a hard object or material [...] typically a bone or a rock stratum. • the physical appearance of a freshly broken rock ir mineral, esp. as regards the shape of the surface formed [...] • [as adj.] (fractured) (of speech or language) broken. (531)
Nothing new or extraordinary about the status of the word— it exists how I viewed it: as a means of snapping poetic verse to suit a given situation— as in this case, fit the format of 144 characters per entry. In the end I'll simplify the titling of the full concept: "Fractures"— curt and minimalist. To the point.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Delicate, Soft Tansformation

Driving to pick up Brendan this afternoon I kept waiting for a line or broken phrase to approach me at the stoplight, at the random lull of traffic— but my attention kept faltering. Continually stumbled over tasks and not technique. Even now, at this moment, in the momentary stillness of the house—
In the dry of winter, even here, Southeast Texas, my skin cracks along the wrists, knuckles. As if I bareknuckled an opponent— the skin blisters into red flakes, festers.
I fear the next few days will revolve around the same mundane realities as today’s posting: weather holidays, laundry, insomnia. Beginnings of a cycle I suppose. As my list of fractured lines develops, increasing over time, I begin expecting all forms of writing to reflect a stronger purpose— that is, move beyond casual complaints. Setting myself up for the close of the year. The responsibilities of change.

—as if I bareknuckled an opponent— the skin      blisters
His personality shifts closer and closer towards a mirror image of my younger brother— Brendan, I mean, he motions closer to an image from the past, meaning Lane. The transition lies as a haunting— a delicate, soft transformation. Not a harsh metamorphosis from Greek dramas, but a suggestion of tender emphasis. There are moments I fall into memory, as a transposition, similar to E. B. White’s essay “Once More to the Lake.” Yet, in this case I become my father, Brendan becomes Lane, not my younger self, not the me. So the blur of pronouns becomes even more confusing.


He translates to either persona or subject. The potential for abstract analysis heightens as the moment surrounds the two of us and I become lost in the jungle of identity. We end with a confirmation that the past is always with us. The future becomes history in the present tense.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Bloody Waltz

I do not know what to make of recent events: The escalation of violence. The denial of authority. The loss of an individual’s status.
We seem to circle the same issues in smaller circles— bring out the same angry retorts in a bloody waltz against each other.
Under my tongue, a cough drop burns. And I rest, wanting to find a moment of exceptional poetry within the course of the day’s events. An epiphany out of national happenings.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Perpetual Metamorphosis

Lately, I have collected more fractured lines—numerous phrases—an ongoing project for the approaching 2015. The flow of information gathers in repetitious waves—more so than I originally planned. A thread of thought expressed earlier in the litany of phrases reappears later in the series, taking on a new casual reference.

     Collectively they mimic each other.
Nothing remains the same throughout the exchange of ideas. A perpetual metamorphosis.
The artist M.C. Escher proves to be more of an influence on my writing than previously imagined. The patterns moving across the page as water, as mathematical equations. Honeycombs. Pixels of color. A row of birds shifting to young boys shifting to water oaks.
In the same sense of a clutch of dried, potted geraniums— the ones on the front porch— tightly enclosed fists. Yellow lion heads.
Collectively they mimic each other. Yet individually each blossom exists independently of its neighbor.
A metaphor on metaphors.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Full Sense of Self Lingers

Building the second phase of the Metamodern poems written by my English 1302 classes. Although the semester ended early December, I am still constructing the idea outside of the performance of the poem’s recital.

Aside from moon imagery, I also carry an obsession with visual representations of the pomegranate.
For the approaching Spring 2015 term I need to streamline the concept— have images prepared in advance of the students’ participation.
Sleep may be hard tonight—drank coffee late in the afternoon. A full sense of self lingers under the ribcage. A pulsating awareness of identity slip within the organs, under the flesh, hidden within my pomegranate heart.
—and then, to my annoyance I left a scrap of paper in the car containing brief ideas for future short poems. Which now I cannot recollect. Repositioning of previous ideas, yet rearranged into a new sequence of thought. There is time of course tomorrow to walk the short distance between desk and garage, to redistribute the process. Yet, despite the hour and the wet wind— Yes. Hesitation is one of my greatest “skills.”
Reread Paul Celan’s “Death Fugues”— An example of the importance of abstraction in poetry. Why surreal images matter. Bitter reminder of the dangers of complacency. The opening line's use of "black milk" always prepares the reader for future themes of disorder and confusion.
Aside from moon imagery, I also carry an obsession with visual representations of the pomegranate. The fruit by itself contains an extreme cultural and mythical history—by itself it demonstrates the links to humanity’s early understanding of metaphor and symbol.

In part, aside from the mystical themes it carries, the whole nature of the secrets each leathery orb contains suggests prospects of literary elements. The multitude of seeds, in the end, become each a diverse representation of the whole fruit.

Metaphorically it easily becomes an image of a blood-moon, heavily cratered, broken shell of a forgotten history.

It represents poetry. The bitter-sweet translations of ideas. A creative process.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Folding Shirts by Iambics

There are times I wonder how I became so domesticated. Take this moment: waiting for the dryer to finish its cycle so laundry will be folded before tomorrow morning. At least with Brendan asleep upstairs I can have a few moments alone. Time to close out the day within the silence of the house. Try to center latest projects on their goals—
The unnamed ghazal is almost finished. It lies in front of me without a title. Seeking a strong identification. So, I play with impressions, vague references to John Keats “Ode on a Grecian Urn”— but in this case “Ghazal on Shards of Clay”— (No. No. No.)

Ghazal on Found Fragments
Ghazal on an Aegean Vase
Ghazal on Fragments of an Aegean Vase
Ghazal on Shards of an Aegean Vase
(?)
In this case, because the poem is only thirteen lines (six couplets and one lingering line) a long title seems appropriate—
The effects of another cold might be coming on— My mouth feels abnormally dry, a mild desert unfolding under the tongue. Sucking on a cough drop helps slightly.
Again, reread Keats ode—wanting to quote some small phrase or broken line— “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard / Are sweeter” (ll. 11-12). —but his theme follows a different intention. His ode motions towards issues of immortality, endurance of art, and throws in a paradox of artistic dependency on the living— with ancient figures frozen in place, eternally unmoving in time or physical space. On the other hand, mine uses a persona seeking closure by looking over shards of pottery which displays one god, scarred by time, yet maintaining a sense of distance and indifference due to his immobile status.

The speaker-persona seeking solace from an inanimate-image.
Reconsidering domestic chores. Trying to use the patterns of folding clothes to break down my blocked thought process. A sense of chaos falls into order: two sleeves thrown inward, bottom hem pulled up. Amorphous shape becomes a rectangle. With iambics. Ghazal/written/on shards/of an/ Aege-/-an vase. Yes. "Ghazal Written on Shards of an Aegean Vase."
—and so it lies. With this declaration as the title, the basic purpose of the piece is twisted into the slightly abstracted lines of the poem itself. An expectation is established for the reader. Perhaps now I can call the project closed.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Continuous Burning

The horizon line is burning— I never noticed until today when the grey morning helped accent the orange flames of cypress trees. They shift to rust on the hillsides surrounding the house, clusters of them haloed in midmorning sun.
A continuous burning as the weather shifts unseasonably within its temperatures—
And odd, despite the cold front moving overhead, the rabbits from the neighboring fields scatter across the subdivision’s perimeter. Driving at night, they flash and dive between bushes bordering the houses, leap between the car’s headlights as I cross the alleyways leading up to our house.
Yesterday, Brendan handed me a burgundy red leaf, a narrow growth from a young tree. Perhaps oak—

Friday, December 19, 2014

I must Remember to Breathe

Forgot what I wanted to say for today. The thread of a conversation is misplaced. At one point the statement existed as strong evidence, explanation of character.
As for the now moment: a large pillar of anger emerges. I almost do not want to dwell on the negative energy—the rage circles, a rage built up from little incompetencies, the lack of attention to detail— at Brendan’s school the teaching assistants misplaced his brand new winter coat… or allowed someone to take it off the school grounds— all in this heavy winter, temperatures close to freezing.

— a moment detailed by what it is not: a moment without angels or holy intervention
Even now I feel remnants of the anger lifting from the pit of my stomach. So, I must remember to breathe. Focus on something else. I want to sleep tonight and not fume or stress over the uncontrollable.
For the folktale poems, the Boy-Hero:
First person narration about the epiphany, the moment of transformation which transports the character to a higher level, from beneath the canopy of an ancient magnolia, Spanish moss, large nocturnal blossoms the size of dinner plates— a moment detailed by what it is not: a moment without angels or holy intervention, just a realization— this after the voices, the sidestories from Fox, Grackle, and She-Bear. Retain a lack, however, a lack of narration from an authoritative voice, an overseer of action. Limited grounding is fine.
Revisit Seamus Heaney’s Sweeney Astray.
How much of Sweeney's madness is a result of anger as opposed to mental instability? Consider the passionate rage.
Image from: University of Cambridge

The full force of the storm in the head. Rational thoughts misplaced. Moment of weakness, moment of anger. The face pulsing with blood, possessed by a demon. Shakespeare's Caliban. Or King Lear. Righteous anger turned within itself into something monstrous. — or alternatively foolish. —or lack of air, turning the body pale-blue.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Necessity Irritates

For an unknowable reason I needed glass after glass of water. The mouth and throat seemed insatiable—unsatisfied for numerous moments, frequent returns to the faucet for more, always more.
Experiencing one of those blank moments, when the page controls the flow of consciousness. That is, the blank page overwhelms, results in a blank mind. Too obvious a connection? Perhaps. But the day developed along a typical mundane path: Visited church service. Drove to the grocery store. Had lunch with my folks. Graded papers at school for a few hours. Read the newspaper after dinner. So, now, a weighted irritation lowers over me. An expectation I suppose. How to become more aware of the time? That fragmentary element which pulses loudly one moment. Then lies silent.
For three or more days my grandmother’s wall clock has been stuck at three. Every so often I step up to wind it for another series of hours—but something distracts me from finalizing the thought: phone call, secondary chore, the cat whining in the hall.
Burgundy red pears. Violent color in the market. Luminous. Amorphous patterns hulking in their crates. Cycles of repetition. Poems unto themselves.

Brendan rubbed both of his hands across my three-day-old beard— rubbing the unshaven white burr of hair into a static notion. Don’t shave this, he said. Then laughed.
In the fold of my arm, a bruise expands. Dark purple stain.

—so, now, a weighted irritation lowers over me.
Nurses had drawn blood for routine tests for an end of the year follow-up. Despite the causal nature of it all, the necessity irritates.
The light on the front porch blinds, spills over into the bedroom. Glaring presence. Insistent message.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Becoming the Past in a Present Moment

He told me to lie down with him, so I slipped between the quilt and sheets, cradling my son in the darkness of early Thursday morning. For a short time I felt his small feet pressing up against my sides— a confirmation of my presence, a reassurance that I remained, until he fell asleep, breathing rhythmically, a heavy pulse of slumber.
Finally began reading W. Faulkner’s Intruder in the Dust this week. Falling into his lengthy sentence structures and insistent interior monologues. The same fashion Gabriel Garcia Marquez influences my thought— alterations of reality, the matter-of-fact-descriptions, an unfolding of dream logic.

      Taking the language from experience to recreate experience.
And, also, I just finalized my reading of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. Now the time is almost midnight. I am drained. Weary. The story of an unreliable narrator devising a surreal breakdown of plot and character, impractical details— I have to soak in this one for awhile.

Yet, a nagging feeling keeps pestering me—that I read the book before this week—years ago I mean. Some of the scenes echo in my memory: the comparison of bombed-out Dresden to the lunar surface. The mention of multiple sex partners as procreation practices for the race of aliens from another dimension. A heavy déjà vu hovers over the reading lamp.
My fractured lines grow in quantity. Daily. I have reached 669 entries to be posted in 2015— I aimed for much more by the end of this month— a limit perhaps out of reach— but the important element to keep in mind, the clichéd fact of quality-over-quantity. The direction of these lines merge towards the perspective point’s horizon line of one long Whitman-esque, Faulknerian poem played out over an extended timeline.
There are moments when I stand on the bridge looking down at my reflection moth-dark in the water beneath me— inspiration I mean, reflection as meditation. Not mere repetition of what is in the past, but rather becoming the past in a present moment.

A convoluted statement, yes. Yet intentional. Taking the language from experience to recreate experience. Circle within a circle. Gears. Clockwork actions exposed to daylight. Symphonic aspirations.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Contrasts of Reality

Back in mid-October, Ricky flew to Puerto Rico for the funeral of his mother. He took the full event rather hard, breaking down on the phone often while talking to me or to Brendan. I'd be aware of the grief responding in tides, listening to it surge over unexpectedly, swallowing him whole. The death of a close family member is always hard to accept— even when a logical sense tells you to accept and move on with your own circumstances—
So my parents and I took Brendan to a fall festival, a community gathering— keeping the boy occupied so he does not dwell on the absence of one parent—we wandered about in the midday heat of Indian Summer, taking in the expected scenes: booths, bouncy houses, animal exhibits, pumpkin carvings, and balloon creatures. Before we left, Brendan sat for a face painting session, barely moving as the woman carefully stroked silver paint across his forehead and cheeks—recreating him as an alien astronaut, mimicking a seventies glam-rocker with metallic overtones. Later he laughed at himself while looking into a hand mirror. Enjoying the full theatrics.
Contrasts of reality: a funeral. Ceremonial face-painting. Autumnal rites.
She offered to paint my grey whiskers with a neon-red dye. Momentarily pushed me back to the eighties, when Ruth commented on the red tones in my beard, a rust red pine she had said then, smiling.

Friday, December 12, 2014

An Instant Thought is not Necessarily an Instant Poem


At the Lone Star- CyFair college campus where I teach English Lit. and Composition courses, I closed out the term with a common brainstorming exercise used to warm up an author’s writing synapses. Each student was supplied a random word: epiphany, poetry, or pomegranate. In turn, the students defined the word in personal, expressive fashion— building metaphors or allusions to explain their individual reactions. Afterwards, the class read their lines one-by-one, a collective poem— multiple ideas blurred into one final work.

Earlier this year, at the close of the spring term, I used a similar idea, with positive results.

In both cases, the writing experience helped break down barriers and helped build a closer relationship between student and text.
The supplied links below break down the current product of the three classes from Fall 2014:

• Lone Star–CyFair College:
English Composition & Rhetoric 1302-5009

• Lone Star–CyFair College:
English Composition & Rhetoric 1302-5011

• Lone Star–CyFair Colleg:
English Composition & Rhetoric 1302-5014
Using jazz as my own metaphor: I love the fact that once they are collected together the student's instinctive voices merge in an improvisational range of themes. A mixture of harmonies. Range of rhythms. A clutch of wild flowers. Out of the conceived chaos of individual ideas, a structure of community presented itself, stressing the unique, personable phrase.

Since we had spent approximately a month examining connotation of words, unreliable personae, and basic phrase manipulation, my aim for this last assignment was to provide students a better understanding of the creative mindset itself— moving their thought process from strictly academic rhetoric to an unpredictable, energetic metaphor.

Admittedly, for some people switching gears like this produces frustration— but the experience of such irritations equally serve a strong purpose, just as being able to break down a writer’s philosophical argument. People often overlook the fact that a casual phrase may have to be developed over many weeks of wrestling with words.

An instant thought is not necessarily an instant poem. Strong ideas need to be developed slowly. Hesitantly and very carefully.

Prompt / Poem / Pomegranate

[A Collective Meta-Modern Poem]
from Students in a Writing Course at Lone Star–CyFair College, English Composition & Rhetoric 1302-5009


preface: Afterwards. Bittersweet. Within the leathery husk moments pearl. Cluster. A gathering of grackles, or maybe—
1. Poems are experiences that are filled with emotion. They can be confusing, up-lifting, or relatable.

A poem can unlock even the toughest safe.

2. Eyes wide
a gasp
warmness all over due to it
a million singing cherubs and heavenly
trumpets
the clouds parting
moving a mountain
tears of everlasting joy
jumping like gazelles

There! There it is!

3. Poems were created by bored writers.
Not knowing what to do in life.
Purposely trying to cause headaches.
Trying to be artist of writing.
Confusing readers using wordplay, igniting
angry emotions.

4. A pomegranate is a very versatile fruit in the culinary world because you can eat the seeds of juice it. With its juice you can turn the sauce into a gel. The pomegranate’s flavor is versatile because its sweetness, tartness, and bitterness compliments other natural flavors and pairs very well with foods such as corn, Brussel sprouts, and fois gras.

5. As when an apple fell on Newton’s head. A quick thought ran through his mind. Why does everything fall downward and why not upward. Epiphany.

6. An explosion causes Anarchy and Tranquility.
Chaos births expression.
From that expression comes powerful freedom.
Freedom craves no structure only balance.
Balance is good and bad.
Every action receives an equal reaction.
As do the talking of poets.

7. Pomegranates are sour like an old man after being forced to take his medicine.

8. Baì văn (or) Baì tho’

9. Falling from the sky to the world’s earth. Reading to eat as it has brighten like a dying sun. Taste not of this world though it was born here. A sensation of mixture of flavor from both worlds of sweet and sour. Reflecting the object in space in form.

10. Poetry is the expression in which you take the flight of imagination. It makes you sad or happy because you connect with past and be hopeful to think about future. A poem brings out the soft untouched portion of yourself. It has the ability to link up so tightly with the harsh reality of life, as well as to disconnect and disorient yourself from yourself.

11. Red outside, juicy inside. Seeds all around, squirting as they come out. Big-like butt, hard to get the stains out. Glorious fruit, colony of deliciousness, that is time-consuming. Creatures trapped inside want to be released and swallowed as whole by giant whore.

12. The one who tends to be last all the time in life will find guidance in the life changing moments they experience. The realizations that open a new view or feeling will lead to a different life. God delivers epiphanies when He sees one is needed.

13. Going up a building to floor one, continue to two, three, and keep going to the top.
Enjoying the moment,
Reaching the top of the mountain.
Enjoying a superior success.
Living the best moment of my life.

14. A pomegranate is a vessel that holds new life as with earth. We, as people, cannot naturally move beyond Earth as with the seeds. The pomegranate that is healthy and ripe keeps the seeds or the people prosperous. Nature recreating itself in various forms of the Earth itself.