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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Prompt / Poem / Grackle

[A Collective Meta-Modern Poem]
from Students in a Writing Course at Lone Star–CyFair College,
English Composition & Rhetoric 1302-5002


"Boat-tailed Grackleon sanibel Island, Florida" by Peter Wallack - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

preface:
Feathered hymnals lie heavy on the tongue of an individual grackle.
(D. G. Smith)

1.
A thin layer of oil lies on water which lies on a shimmering grackle.
(Samuel Solis)


2.
I'm a freckle on the face of the sky,
Raven haired, the black of one's eye,
I travel to far places with those in my covey,
Living for 13 years...if I'm lucky.
I follow the rest in diverticula.
Quiscalus quiscula
.
(Olivia Kern)


3.
As a grackle flocks together,
Holding together a bond more red then a females red hair strands grouped together.
The female with rich brown skin.
The greater the bird the greater the flock.
Peeking at the smart device looking for something to feed her mind.
Increasing the belly with information.
Vying for gossip on the latest trend in an urban setting.
On the telephone line in a noisy area not bothering anyone.
(Nicole Riley)


4.
The herald of the morn
          Awakes me with its snarky song
(Carla Erwin)



5.
Unsophisticated beauty, bliss and eternal happiness is a grackle softly stirred through the everlasting winds of heaven.
(Karla Gorski)


6.
A grackle is a free soul, and it is an interesting example of what humanity should do. A grackle would stop at any moment of its life, and stare at random stuff to examine, think, process, in a way its mind would forget everything that is going on around them, and focus on the beauty of meditation. Humanity should do that every once in their lives, just have a "stop sign" to tell us forget reality, and be a free soul, and go enjoy the beauty of nature.
(Juan Arzate)


7.
The grackle wails when it feels endangered. It warns the others, what is around and let's them know to avoid the area. The grackle warns the other grackles.
(Daniel Araiza)


8.
Soaring above our heads, it watches our every move. At every turn of the corner, it sits there waiting for you. A grackle is a security camera, for it stalks your being.
(Chris Nguyen)


9.
A human's darkest sins can be reflected upon the dark flocks of grackles.Grackles make a mess of things, with their massive flocks
(Yomayra Benavidez)


10.
Its mouth opens and gives a sound of cruel laughter,
Its eyes blank, staring into the soul of other,
Its hunger is an unquinchable thirst,
A black plege, soaring through the air,
No matter what season it may be, it is always snowing, there's no need to defrost the windshield, for its already liquid,
Its color, empty of light and life, leaving shades upon the ground.
(Pedro Jarquin)


11.
A winged work of art, on who's canvas natures relies on hues of sadness, shrouded in colors of the twilight sky. Eyes that stare simultaneously at nothing and everything, with all the emotion of a corpse that loses its soul unexpectedly.
(Jared Dotson)


12.
In the evening the power lines grow fatter and hang lower. Talking to each other with a shrill screech scorching the silence and producing an orchestra of devilish noise. When it is time to flee they blanket the skies with black clouds.
(Luis Martinez)


13.
A dwarf among the clouds, but a giant when placed in a choir. Their cries for acknowledgment are often confused with shrieks of terror.
(Zachary Townsend)


14.
I am one of almost 1,000,000 up on 1 million.
The beauty of my metallic body is blinding.
It is almost sickening that I am unbelievably unique.
I identity is one egg out of a billion.
I flee the scene of the streets, because I am a thief.
Hiding amongst duplicates of a feather.
I am the last of many lasts.
(Jesseca Galan)


15.
Alone they are annoying, taking up space, getting in the way and signaling death to the vegetation around them. Grackles are nothing but dead leaves; soaring around on the wind. Ugly and simple in color, all they do is provide problems for others, especially when they are in groups. Every day they appear on your lawn and property, dirtying up the place, forcing you to come remove them yourself. Once they come it is almost impossible to get rid of them all at once. However upon closer inspection they have their own unique simplistic beauty. They create the giant masses towering above our heads, the very same masses people consider “the beauty of nature”. Children love to play with them, often sending them back to the same winds that brought them here. Grackles are nothing but dead leave; plentiful, irritating and beautiful in their own plain way.
(Lamar Woods)

16.
Colorful with dark shiny wings, but small and fragile. Always looking around trying to find something to eat with its beautiful long beak.
(Yazmin Grepares)


17.
I have a rainbow colored precedent body, glazed with clear nail polish added with a touch of pitch black night. A crime littered, dirty city, with an amazing view, unsophisticated beauty.
(Nesho Stajich Diaz, Jr.)

18.
A thief in a blue mask anticipating the moment in which food from another of its kind eaves their home. They have no song, but instead the imitations of power lines which has yet ti be anything but pleasant to the ear. Fluffed up hands and tipping hands, in order to keep the other flocks of men away in the spring and let his reside in beak-to-beak, a practice of procreation for his kind. He only breaks the law because he can fly and that is why the thief is set aside.
(Tyler Toombs)

19.
Soaring through the wind, quietly in the background
Not affecting people's daily lives yet creating a soft glimmer of beauty in the world
The grackle flies, the fall leaves flutter swiftly through the air, seamlessly carrying on, as if their only purpose was to be admired
(Jaslyn Nguyen)

20.
Gazing into the sunlight,
Looking to take flight.
I’m not like any other bird,
Although you’ve already heard my word.
We all flock together,
Hope we all don’t drop together.
Hunting for the worms,
We laugh as they squirm.
(David Sheppard)







Thursday, October 15, 2015

On the Importance of Notebooks

A moment after lunch— Brendan is at his grandparents’; I’m drinking a second cup of coffee; a future lecture is outlined— and without warning, I understand suddenly why the last four month’s produced no new developments of poems or essays: notebooks.

Let me clarify, I apparently have stopped using my notebooks (paper, pen, pencil, words scripted). Somehow I have allowed myself to fall into a digital cataloging of ideas, without drafting a response. For over forty years I spent meditative time scratching out material on scratch paper or planners, junkmail, napkins— at one time I carried two or three journals with me, haphazard organization of verses, observations, freewriting, and scratches of formal arguments presented for later drafting sessions before sleep— digging deep for well-crated phrases.

What happened to my compulsive self? Where did the obsession wander? Too easy for me to blame mundane chaos of living: getting Brendan to school, preparation of lectures, grading final exams, paring nails on the back porch—

What is necessary: change the course. Find the old current.
•••
Off hand, stumbled on the following images of notable notebooks— appeared on flavorwire.com.

Was surprised that Jack Kerouac handwriting was small, precise lines— always visioned his writing motions as more wind-swept, more gestural.

Herman Melville, on the other hand, used a sea-green pencil, loose cursive.

David Foster Wallace's journal was another surprise. I am in the middle of reading his book The Pale King— such small handwriting. Controlled actions over the pen.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Prompt / Poem / Pomegranate

[A Collective Meta-Modern Poem]
from Students in a Writing Course at Lone Star–CyFair College,
English Composition & Rhetoric 1302-5016


preface: Between the shadows of pomegranates—a poem.
(D. G. Smith)

1.
A pomegranate is a sealed, stiff, red bag utterly stuffed full of lopsided oval marbles of a slightly darker and more purple hue than the bag itself. The marbles are all glued together by their thinner end.
(Bryson G.)

2.
The pomegranate looks spherical. When the fruit is cut in half it seems to have little fish eggs tight together. It looks watery and juicy. Pop a seed with a needle and it will pop if it was a water balloon.
(Yessina D.)

3.
Pomegranate is a fruit that has the shape of an onion. Inside the fruit, it contains group of ruddy pearl. The stone surface helps pomegranate to protect itself from invaders.
(Steven T.)

4.
As brown as the rainy clouds. As smooth as the water that flows in the river. As light as a grain of sand.
(Jocelyne G.)

5.
The pomegranate’s outer feel is a hard snail that can be easily be broken into. It contains thousands of miniature minions packed together, unable to breathe.
(Marilu V.)

6.
The fruit with a hard outer shell,
peeling its skin,
multiples its fertility,
ready to feed,
the juicy taste on my tongue,
makes me scrunch
the sweet and sour crunch.
Fulfilling my hunger with a joyable mumble.

(Rachel C.)

7.
Round fruit, a new red ball.
Shiney and round, fits perfectly in your palm, too precious to use. Have to keep it new. Inside, there are dozens of atoms taking up the space on the inside. The volume full to its capacity with these tiny atoms.

(Briane J.)

8.
A pomegranate once broken in half is an edible bundle of joy. The half circular form takes shape of a red medallion. The seeds protrudes the inner support of the shell to resemble a group of eyes from houseflies. The red rubies, that encases the sweet nectar juices. From the products of the seeds are fabricated by its surroundings.
(Dionte E.)

9.
Pomegranate is a symbol for life in whole. The outer shell can be pictured by being a protective barrier, some form of a home. Earth can be the outer shell for the entire human race, or a mother’s belly for an unborn child. The seeds are representative for humans or the unborn child. Once the shell is broken, the one who has split the shell and will be stained with a redness usually associated with death. Therefore, pomegranate the whole is life while a split one can be death.
(Jorge O.)

10.
Pomegranate is blood red
with shiny skin of a new car’s paint
Tip green leaves are violet green grass.
Perfectly circular is the shape of the sun.

(Chris P.)

11.
A large sphere with a dirty surface. Having an opening on the top for a connection to the stem it came from much like an umbilical cord. Cutting the sphere in half realizing the seeds resemble fish roe but red. Staining your hands with the color of blood. When in your mouth depending on the ripeness. It could taste much like an unflavored soft cornnut. A tapioca ball with a hard single seed.
(Monique C.)

12.
Softly placed in a box, easy to access, a red thin tall cylinder is kept safe. It is used to stop small, dancing flames inside the building. The red, tall thin cylinder has inside carbon dioxide that once it is shout out it is white foam. The Red Cylinder has sticky paper that has many letters in different sizes and colors as they communicate instructions to the one reading it of how to stay safe.
(Laura P.)

13.
baby bottom smooth
bloody red
earthly round
lime peel bitter
cotton candy sweet
filled with life, pregnant with seeds (life)

(Ana B.)

14.
A pomegranate is a symbol for mythology because Persephone would eat a certain number of pomegranate seeds and the season would change. In other terms, a pomegranate could symbolize change and revitalization.
(Dua A.)

15.
It’s one big fruit, but inside it has so much seeds that holds the inside together, if there was only one important seed, the pomegranate wouldn’t even be a pomegranate. It’s important for more seeds to be there to keep it stable until eating it.
(Brittney I.)

16.
A pomegranate cut in two. Filled with small juicy red seeds, resembling a heart and its different chambers. Pomegranate juice so red. Staining your skin, like blood flowing out of the body.
(Lauren G.)

17.
Bulbous shaped fruit with seeds as plentiful as rabbit offspring in spring. The seeds more round than Violet in the 2005 version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. More red than an embarrassed bald Jakari monkey.
(Charmaine P.)

18.
Shaped like a circle, similar to a heart because it has four chambers full of bead-like seeds which is the fruit itself, bunched together forming a honey comb shape, the inside a cork type texture, the seeds reminding you of corn kernels or jelly beans. The stem lips out to a star-like shape and when cracked open can look like chunks of flesh and muscle.
(Erin T.)

19.
The wonderful fruit of earth entitled with the name “pomegranate” can be seen from miles away because of its bright red outer shell.
(Ryan H.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Greening Water

Period of reconstruction: building new approaches to syllabi for the upcoming semester. At times the process is a tedious chore, a labyrinth of material to (re)examine, (re)analyze, (re)classify—but the monotony is what I enjoy about research and lecture-building. Books, paper, ink, tea, laptop, coffee, drafting, redrafting, more coffee, more reading. Everything, all elements, developing a stage of production towards a transition towards an end-product. Something to hold in the hands.
On my morning walk, I rescued two small box turtles. The first wanderer only needed encouragement, a terse nudge to send him scuttling in the right direction, back to his creek off the walking trail.

Later, I found the second meandering off the edge of the subdivision street, trying to climb over the curb which blocked access to his end goal. As expected, once lifted, he immediately withdrew head and appendages within his green-cobbled shell. Yet, he owned no heft. A feather weight covered in green slime and mud residue. Compact and damp. So easy to damage. A frail tank. On the upper right corner of the casing, a slug coiled, darkly refracting light. Midges circled a halo. When placed by the creek’s perimeter, he hesitated, then shuttled quickly down the banks, leaving a trail of ooze and algae in the greening water.
Briefly I considered translating the above scene into a nature-themed poem, but such themes are hard to manipulate for a wider reading audience. The metaphor becomes too recognizable or the plot-event too common. Although I dabbled with a handful of poetry based solely on a "nature is wonderful" theme, such writing can quickly turn stale if the writer is ready to quickly twist the message towards something else. Of course, some writers such as Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, and Mary Oliver can safely navigate such tricky oceans, but for now I am seeking something else.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Frayed Coat at an Outdoor Secondhand Shop

For some reason, I have completely overlooked the musical career of the Pixies.


Yes, in college I was aware of their presence in the Alternative Music scene, however, I never bought a CD or cassette tape of their work. I never listened fully to any of their singles. It’s odd looking back—but, a catalyst does exist for their absence in my musical library.

The word “Pixies” alone should have peaked my curiosity. Aside from the heavy folktale influences of their name, the phonetics follow a verbal influence I value: the hard ‘x’ mirroring axe or kick followed by a soft pair of vowels matching the sounds in ease and allow. The vernacular inserted into my poems of the time, words of behavioral cutting, bloody violins, deconstruction, urban-graffiti, deflation, regression.

This all falls down to this morning, when the radio played “Where is My Mind?”— from the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa album, released in 1988. That year was transitional. A period of motioning out into a wider scheme of self. I was living in Minneapolis, exploring non-trending music, feeling a nostalgia for hard-core Mississippi Delta Blues and pornographic, hedonistic Kerouac jazz clubs. That year, on a daily basis I walked across the Mississippi River in the middle of winter to get to work. A self-imposed tolerance to the extreme winds of Minnesota. The cold water knotted in slow rapids below the bridge. That year my then-partner feel into a self-destructive alcoholism which I couldn’t comprehend—we were on again-off again in a cycle of denial in between his bouts of drinking and rebellions against expectations from his family, or from me, as well by society. That year, one night in particular, he drank excessively, even more so than usual, glass after glass of cheap draughts of beer, falling into a coma-like sleep—in just a few hours, the sounds of him choking on his own vomit woke me up—it resounded as an alarming guttural death rattle, a warning sign.

He haunts my work even now, slipping casually into some poems unnoticed at first, in a subtle manner, as one trying on a frayed coat at an outdoor secondhand shop.

Today, when I previewed the material of Surfer Rosa, the tracks proved to be electric-heavy, laden with eclectic and erratic themes of rebellion, pissed off frustration, and on occasion, slight tongue-in-cheek-humor. Although now I appreciate “Where is my Mind?”—back then, in 1988, I was seeking something entirely different musically. Escaping from anger, resentment.

Have I mention that I updated my promotional site?

Since the book publication of Variations, items across my social networks have been shifted, updated with new information. The main web site now has a new splash page— and a new promo page for my book. This section in particular contains blurbs and a brief, informal essay defending the style used to construct most of the work. (The essay appeared here already at an earlier date.)

Of course, over time I will document any future particulars regarding the sale of the book, or potential reviews, as updates and changes occur. Using the logic of maintaining archival records, the site has provided a great service since its implementation back in the day.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Persona as Witness, Rather than Participant

Re-thinking a project once again. Toying with an old idea—but it behaves as a wild horse, not wanting to be calmed. Controlled.

The same horse-idea from months past: Innocence to Experience. The concept of self-portrait as a tragic female figure (as a male using female mask).

Odd putting the problem in these terms, but the trouble still lies with the want to use the passive-self as a voice; what results, my personal, past experience does not mirror Persephone’s mythical experiences. Of course, the wording of “self-portrait” carries the problem. I’ve said this before. I do not want to make a masculine example out of Persephone. Likewise, I do not want to try and claim the circumstances of her story as my own. However, I want to borrow the trauma of her story in order to show another level or another side of the tragedy.

In “Leda and the Swan,” W. B. Yeats successfully retells the ugly scene of Leda being attacked by Zeus-as-a-Swan, with the reader's sympathy remaining with the young girl, the mortal caught in the throes of an amoral deity.

Or perhaps follow Larry Levis’ elegies, longish titles explaining the elements embedded in the poem:
“Elegy with a Chimneysweep Falling Inside It”
“Elegy with a Thimbleful of Water in the Cage”

so, in this sense, following this logic what could result is:
“A Self-Portrait Including the Tragedy of Persephone”
“A Self-Portrait Approaching the Tragedy of Persephone”
“A Self-Portrait Acknowledging the Tragedy of Persephone”
“A Self-Portrait Carrying the Tragedy of Persephone” –or–
The persona as witness, rather than as participant:
         “A Self-Portrait as Persephone’s Cup Bearer”
[…] (The) awkward uncle leaning too close
his lips brushing a small ammonite ear,
his voice a drunken fly thrumming
brusque riddles
his finger along the curve of her thigh
As it is, slowly, the theme seems to be remapping itself. The initial lines I want to utilize still are possible—I just need to work my way carefully around the various probable areas of insensitivity. Take the notion very carefully, a day at a time.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Preparations for Poetry Reading

Spent time this morning motioning the tongue and mouth muscles with a few tongue twisters and jaw exercises.

I will be participating in a poetry reading at Trinity Episcopal Church, in Midtown Houston tomorrow night. —and although I selected specific poems to read from Variations— it took awhile to decide which themes best fit the environment—the book ranges from the secular to the profane at a unexpected pace, often leaping between the two extremes at a moment's notice, from faith to lust to devotion. With a respective awareness of the church itself, I do not want to charge the air with too much blue celebrations of the physical body.
While moving a range of boxes and small furniture out of storage, I scratched the base of my palm on an exposed, sawed off bolt. The hand bled only for a few minutes, but the pain lingered, tiny pin pricks in the skin. For a moment I considered utilizing the event for a poem; the pulse of the thumb ticked of iambic metrics as I drove home, gauze taped over the one inch scrape—

but then, I remembered Sylvia Plath's short poem "Cut." Due to the slight ambiguity in her piece, I like using it for discussion in composition classes. Critics love discussing the persona's intentions (Was the act of cutting the head of the thumb intentional or accidental?) and mood (Is she genuinely thrilled with the sight of her own wound or is she simply nonplussed, slightly confused?) The tones for me always carried a sense of a flat, unemotional reaction, as in a sarcastic, almost bitter, fashion.

Which in fact was my mood yesterday, lugging cardboard boxes and antique furnishings from storage unit to garage. It is tiresome dealing with excess possession, material which over-extended the perimeters of the house.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

As a Preface: Importance of Fragments

The following text acts as an introduction to my recently published book Variations on a Theme of Desire. In a semi-formal fashion it address the the structure of a majority of the poems and the mindset which helped generate them.
Poems never emerge in a writer’s head fully formed as a completed, finalized piece of artwork. Rather, poetry often begins with only a single word, a simple image, or a fragmented phrase. Poets manipulate the various fractions of ideas, molding images, words, phrases into fuller art forms, which frequently take on a life of their own.

The majority of poems displayed in Variations on a Theme of Desire follow the logic of constructing a large piece of art out of smaller deconstructions of various ideas, utilizing small units of expression, clusters of terse, fragmented lines, momentary expressions and catch phrases—all brought together in order to project a finalized construction. For example, from the opening section of the book, the poem “Venerations of the Temple” specifically holds multiple splinters of thought which follow a similar thread:

Thrumming against the glass, a horsefly crosses the window where Whitman sits at his desk.

The pen scratches a phrase—then draws a line through the text

—as a knife in the kitchen slices through a fresh loaf of dark rye bread

—as a carpenter’s assistant trudges through late winter snow, arms loaded with firewood, scraps of kindling, his red cap bobbing under the drawing room windows.

Whitman shifts back in his chair by candlelight as winter descends outside in maternal darkness.

The blank page mirrors the lots of snow spreading outside his window.

— cast off by a lantern—hour past sunset, walking within a perimeter of arched light—

The fly transposes identities, becoming the poet, the poet becoming the fly. A nervous twitch. Divulging of words—broadcasting the basic senses of perception—the surface of a plum, or for instance,

By accident the arch of his left hand catches the tail end of a fresh inked paragraph, smearing patterns of words, shifting letters into blackbirds—[1]

These fragments show Walt Whitman during, and leading up to, the winter before his death. In the full poem, some lines are loosely based on eyewitness accounts of his last days; other lines are pure creative speculation of events, a blurring of fiction with reality.

Likewise, what is also important to keep in mind, a fragmented sentence carries the same beauty as the ruins of an ancient city. Advantages exist for beginning a creative work with textured fractions and broken sentences. This process is much like basic rules of brainstorming and free-writing: no idea is a bad idea, formulate the thought before editing the thought, value quantity over quality. Poetry often survives off abstractions and half-formed impressions. These elements promote mood, formulate style, and instigate diverse interpretations and further discussions.

For example, looking at the existing fragments of the Ancient Greek poet Sappho, over time much of her work is limited to partial forms: quotes from other writers, scraps of lines left on papyrus, lingering remnants of larger works copied by hand. Yet, even when reading the shortest of these surviving phrases, a sense of the full poem can be gained, a theme of intense desire can be visualized: “I do not expect/to touch the sky” (No. 8). [2] With these brief eight words, a full theme addressing the intensity of an individual’s desire can be visualized.

Another modern example, Lynda Hull uses fragmented imagery throughout her poem “Ornithology.” In this particular case, Hull utilizes various fragments of experience to elaborate a full picture of impression for the persona. Formatted as a modern ode, with intricate placement of jutting lines and tabbed phrases, stanza four and five state:

[…] Women smoked the boulevards
     with gardenias afterhours, asphalt shower–
slick, ozone charging air with sixteenth
          notes, that endless convertible ride to find
the grave
               whose sleep and melody
                    wept neglect
     enough to torch us
               for a while
through snare-sweep of broom on pavement,

the rumpled musk of lover’s sheets, charred
     cornices topping crosstown gutted buildings.
Torches us still—cat screech, matte blue steel
          of pistol stroked across the victim’s cheek
where fleet shoes
               jazz this dark
                    and peeling
     block, that one.
               Vine Street, Olive.
We had the music, but not the pyrotechnics—[3]

Each stanza merges the persona’s various experiences of urban living as one continuous event, memory blurs with the present now moment of the poem’s telling. The persona, in an act of justification, presents more than one recollection as a means to enhance the full theme of the work. What results: the audience collects supplied phrases and scattered images and reconstructs their own intuitive readings based on what becomes Hull’s multi-layered ode to Charlie “Bird” Parker. Through the use of grounding words such as “boulevards,” “pavement,” “charred/cornices,” and “crosstown gutted buildings,” readers are able to build upon the available components and follow Hull’s concluding message of vitality and passion.

One last example comes from Arthur Sze in his book Archipelago. In particular, the poem “The Redshifting Web” is comprised of varying components, diverse patterns, and conflicting objects—building loose connections between numerous subjects and unexpected pairing of articles. In a sense, to develop his themes, Sze mirrors Whitman’s intentions for developing lists and enumerations. For Whitman, these litanies celebrate the Nineteenth Century American experience. These in turn spiral out to provide a suggestion of a Transcendental model for the world to follow. In Sze’s case, his lists follow closer to Zen-inspired themes and analogies. What appears to be at first a casual, fragmented list of ideas is in fact an informal pattern. He writes:

The dragons on the back of a circular bronze mirror
swirl without end. I sit and am an absorbing form:
I absorb the outline of a snowy owl on a branch,
the rigor mortis in a hand. I absorb the crunching sounds
when you walk across a glacial lake with aquamarine
ice heaved up here and there twenty feet high.
I absorb the moment when a jeweler pours molten gold
into a cuttlefish mold and it begins to smoke.
I absorb the weight of a pause when it tilts
the conversation in a room. I absorb the moments
he sleeps holding her right breast in his left hand
and know it resembles glassy waves in a harbor
in descending spring light. [4]


In the above sample, Sze supplies the reader a variety of images as a means of showing the components of a basic metaphor—then, he steps back. In the fashion of meditation-exercises, he tells the reader, now you build the bridge between the elements. You find the universal connection that exists between these isolated ideas.

Both Lynda Hull and Arthur Sze in the end provide unexpected abstractions and controlled abridgements to successfully convey their unique themes and points of view. Their phrasing and line constructions mimic the actual thought process of an individual, moving in a stream-of-conscious fashion from one interior, private reflection to another.

After all, one important benefit for writers to use abstractions and fragments is to closely echo the interior monologue—that conversation one conducts in the head throughout the day on an ongoing basis. As outside environments influence one’s speaking tone and internal moods, the display of abstractions also controls the subjects within internalized discussions. Fragmented sentences heighten the informal voice of Self and provide readers a better idea of the personality of a writer’s persona—all through the rambling presentation of details and broken observations noted by a poet-speaker. Memories overlap, as a result; experiences become confusing and sporadic when retelling important episodes, even for a firsthand witness of a personal event. The more intricate and fractured the individualized comments are presented, the more creatively realistic the monologue becomes.

Taking this stylistic approach into account, most of the individual poems presented in Variations offer up a broken series of perception for the reader to piece together. Section 2: “Fragments of a Self Portrait” specifically takes the notion of an English Renaissance sonnet sequence, slightly distorting the tradition, and then proceeds to reassemble the series in a cut-and-paste manner. Utilizing the interior thoughts and motivations of an emotionally wounded persona, the poems collectively display the speaker rambling about his recent broken relationships, seeking a firm resolution, but finding unsatisfactory results. By using a non-linear construction, these flawed sonnets can be read in any order; the sequence does not follow a chronological, straightforward path. In this case, the poems’ arrangement is circular, one large collection of various thoughts ruminating on desire in an abstracted collage of observations, memories, and reactions. A layered presentation is shown: a blurring of internal, conscious thought with external, waking, everyday life. As a result, fragmentation and fractured scenes help redefine for the reader the persona’s flawed understanding of love.

Through a poet’s utilization of abstracted strategies, fragments promote a stronger network bond between writer and reader, allowing the respective themes to develop and communicate in an intensified manner. In other words, through the use of fractured imagery and broken observations, a greater sense of empathy towards another’s experience is constructed for the reader, due to the psychological presentation of the character’s motivations and emotional reactions. This in turn enables the possibilities for a greater socializing influence on individuals. Variations on a Theme of Desire insists the fact that with a fragmented text, a stronger analytical approach to the reading process is encouraged for the average reader.



References
1. Smith, David-Glen. “Veneration of the Temple: Observations of Whitman in Winter 1891.” Variations on a Theme of Desire. Houston: Saint Julian Press, 2015. Print.
2. Sappho. “No. 8.” Sappho: Poems and Fragments. Josephine Balmer, trans. Northumberland NE: Bloodaxe Boks, 1992. Print.
3. Hull, Lynda. “Ornithology.” The Only Word. New York: HarperPerennial, 1995. Print.
4. Sze, Arthur. “The Redshifting Web.” Archipelago. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press. 1995. Print.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Journey Translated to Metaphor

Earlier, my publisher Ron Starbuck asked me to explain the inspiration for the poem “Saint Brendan and the Whale” in the book Variations. For the last few hours I have been thinking how to simplify my explanation of this poem without sounding like a formal dissertation—it is difficult to keep my reply brief in this case due to the complexity of the source of inspiration.

Chronologically, I have to begin with the moment my partner and I named our adopted son, Brendan. This was a gesture of protection, a charm of security, or in a sense, a parental blessing against the unpredictable future. In Gaelic,the name means “brave.”

Looking further in the history we found that the Irish monk who is credited with plausible early discovery of North America, a century before the Columbus trips, this monk is named Breandán the Navigator. A Latin text exists from the Tenth Century outlining his story: Navigatio sancti Brendani abbatis. One particular part of the long work details how while travelling along the northern territories off Canada, Brendan and his followers landed on a small island, only to discover later that it was actually an ancient whale sleeping on the surface of the ocean.

In the opening section of my book exists a cycle of poems celebrating Saint Brendan’s initial quest to find the Garden of Eden. The inspiration for these works stems from wanting to recapture my own sense of faith, my connection with the divine element—as a means of passing a strong morality and self-worth to my own child.

   the whale is the saint;
the saint is the whale

Brendan, the monk, must have had moments when he questioned his motivations and intuitions to sail westward, blindly, from southern Ireland. Such a journey is easily translated to metaphor — an individual’s want to understand his or her own diverse quest for gaining happiness and fulfillment.

However, within “Saint Brendan and the Whale” I specifically modeled the passages after two Twentieth Century writings: Galway Kinnell’s “Saint Francis and the Sow”—a modern interpretation of events surrounding a recording of Christian mysticism and Anne Sexton’s irreligious book The Death Notebooks. Whereas Sexton abstracts the notions of Christ and spirit into fragmented frustrations, Kinnell explores a more positive examination of human connections with the natural world.

In my case, I wanted to explore the identity of the monk before he became the saint and how as a culture we translate his form to a holy object, a symbol of sea and mystic ambition. Likewise, elements of the monks’ aspirations and desires are shown; the poem encases the moments before the trip when he envisions the possibilities of building a small boat and testing the Atlantic waters— the moments where he prepares himself for his personal epiphany moment. In alternating passages, I insert images of the whale as a divine, marine animal of the natural world, as a functioning creation of reproduction and instinct. The natural element connecting the two is desire, the desire of simply being: the whale is the saint; the saint is the whale.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mild Transformation

I was not stung by a wasp this morning. The day moves as still water. Yet, my sinuses clog under my eyes, over my nose, causing sessions of hacking, coughing, sneezing—
This afternoon we sat outside trimming back my scalp. A relief exists feeling the fine hairs fall onto my shoulders, my lap. The afternoon promised heavy rain—even though we remained under the covered patio, the lingering effects of a late spring cold front were felt. So we rushed the process; Ricky’s hands stumbled with the electric cord, rushing to complete the trimming before the inevitable rainfall. Brendan danced in circles beside us, laughing at the weather, grinning at his father’s mild transformation.
One last editing session. The final, absolute proof. Unexpectedly, the publisher, Ron Starbuck, and I caught a small graphic issue in the table of contents.
Individual poem titles were intended to be indented after the section titles—instead, everything is flushed to the extreme left margin of the page. As a result, now there is a slight delay in production, only a day or two, but a delay nonetheless. But then, now we have a certainty. No more hesitations to contend with—the manuscript is soon to be a book. A collection of itself.
Over the weekend I will be in New York City for the Rainbow Book Fair, presenting five minutes of reading from Variations. For the last week or so I have juggled a list of poems to recite—considered the short prefaces before each work.

For some odd reason, setting up a reading always puts me in a bitter mood. It falls down to not knowing which poems suits the proper mood— the fall of emotions. Self promotion is not one of my greatest talents.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Lying in the Afternoon Halfdark

Now, a moment almost without words: I hold the mockup of my first book of poetry dressed in Garamond typeface. The poems exist as a burning collage of memories, segments of self quilted into presence. Geography lies in these pages as well: New Orleans, Louisiana; Saint Louis, Missouri; Cypress, Texas— a myriad collection of voices and circumstances from the past.

the same moment as      when I held Brendan for the first time—the      sweet, light heft of weight in both hands,    my wriggling fish of a child.
Ironically, I only now notice the sections unintentionally are divided into an awkward mixed chronology: section one details the current decade, section two falls back to the middle Nineties, and the closing section presents a rushed account of observations from the Twenty-Naughts to the Twenty-Tens.

In hindsight, double irony, this manuscript was the book I thought which would never be published. The middle poems generate a sonnet sequence, snapping the traditional formula into abstractions and fragments of thought, sometimes producing a wounded, embittered persona—some of which exhibit an overtly sexual, blunt interpretation of desire between men. So easy to deconstruct an already malleable form, a form which over the centuries reshapes itself to suit new generations of writers.

—and this is the point where a strong loss for words emerges into the scene. It is difficult pinning down the exact germination of intent for this manuscript. Or what memory acts as catalyst for the book’s controlling metaphor—usually at these times I focus on the instant I first felt the desire for words, when at four years old, living with my family in Nederland, Texas. Lying in the afternoon halfdark, scrawling crayon letters into an Indian Chief notebook. Wanting my own particular voice to be recorded on the coarse paper.

My young son may never understand my self-inflicted frustration for wanting to build the perfect phrase, the elaborate rhythm within a series of lines. I watch his actions carefully, expecting him to mirror my intentions and desires as he practices recognizing a word on a piece of cardboard. As of now, he seems more content to build structures, towers, or run with invisible wings in the back yard. He is a wildly active child, with a weaker sense of hesitation than I remember owning. I recall always pausing in doorways. Seeking permission from authority figures. More often, he runs across hallways without looking back or pausing for clarification.




In the end, this moment almost echoes the same moment as when I held Brendan for the first time—the sweet, light heft of weight in both hands, my wriggling fish of a child. In this case, I hold the recording of my trembling voice on fluttering pages: a long-awaited presence.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

In the Head, a Hive of Divine Bees

Unexpectedly, a sudden comet appeared, unannounced: I reached entry number 2,000 for “The River, Fractured.” By surprise, the section’s closure lies firm with an end stop, an intake of air.

The central core of the book remained the same throughout all the revisions—
I was anticipating the last entry to be a broken line, fractured from its parent theme, before the poem picked up the point again—which would not be major cause for concern if it had—however, the poem itself provided a closed curtain at the end of Act II, a formal announcement of a brief interval.

There exist times when my subconscious follows habitual patterns for writing, instinctually seeking an arrangement of ebb and flow of elements and phrases, mirroring natural iambics embedded in English language. Poetry pulsates in the head, a hive of divine bees. Sometimes waking me at night. Like my son on the weekends, shaking me from deep sleep. Waking me with a stage whisper: “Daddy? Daddy, wake up!”

Bees Ball a Hornet © Bee Boy
His personal sense of confidence strengthens overnight, without warning. I remember childhood more as a time of hesitancy, questioning any action, always seeking confirmation from a parent. Whereas, Brendan boldly heads into the woods seeking giants and wolves to contend with; he craves action and developing plot structures. If he is ever cautious, the hesitancy lingers briefly, and then he is off, a whirlwind in his wake.
February and March did not produce much journal writing. Distractions rained down from all directions: work, family, editing final stages of my book. It feels odd saying "my book"—there are days I forget it is in production, and then a small reminder appears. Nervous excitement returns. The whole history of the book's delay, this stalling to such a late point in time, is riddled with negativity and self-doubt. Numerous factors exist. But for every rejection, a reshuffling of poems occurred, a casual shift in themes and narrative points of view.

The central core of the book remained the same throughout all the revisions: the middle section displays a sonnet sequence of twenty poems, producing a persona lost in his lack of connection and understanding with his immediate environment. That existential crisis everyone eventually experiences at one point in their life. Three sample poems can be read on the Saint Julian site, the first two works lifted from the sonnet series.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Innocence to Experience

Lately I have been experimenting with developing a self-portrait poem based of the Greek myth cycle-tragedy concerning Persephone—at the risk of seeming to appropriate and exploit the female-based traumatic experience. It remains difficult outlining the possibilities—the approach I have been considering centers around the ramifications of her abduction and the side emotions of possibly feeling abandoned by her mother, Demeter.

Proserpine Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1874, Tate Britian


The idea came to fruition from a short series of fractured lines in the ongoing River project:

1418. Bitter as Persephone, digging into the fruit of ripe pomegranates, believing the world had given up on her.

1419. Bitter at her mother for forgetting her, as she believed she was abandoned to the fate of the Underworld.

1420. Bitter-sweet as the seeds themselves, soft on the tongue.

1421. The fruit fresh from the Underworld gardens.

1422. Where witches tend the wilding orchard of dark figs, blood mangoes, blue shadowy berries.


Near the close of the cycle of stories, she is in Hades, after a series of months—there is a moment in an Underworld garden she “accidentally” swallows pomegranate seeds, presumably because of hunger. Yet a twist on the usual story could show she intentionally takes the food as sudden resolve to remain in the Afterlife, an act of giving up because her mother apparently has abandoned her.

The poem would work within a self reflection of the bitterness Persephone feels. Anger at the lack of connection, community, lack of family. This is the moment she shifts from innocent child victim to experienced embittered woman. It would attempt to explain how she became an Ancient world goddess for witches, for magic and folktale crones.

A sympathy poem told in first person.
As a result, I am lost in another night of insomnia. Oddly placed on a Monday night, not the usual pattern of days. First, I feel the beginnings of drowsiness until a vague small sound falls—or an itch forms along the curve of my leg, pulling me back into a tight state of wakefulness.

In the past, a visual concentration on an object, random and mundane, would help sink the consciousness into a healthy limbo: but tonight the mind wanders, scattered ideas arrive unbidden—as if a large mug of coffee was consumed moments ago.

The body pulses with awkward awareness.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Rapids of Technology

After a number of years of avoiding Facebook—I broke down this week and created a profile. Partly, I admit my reluctance stems from a vague fear of the unknown. Fear of understanding the hype behind the popularity.

So here I am, diving into    the rapids of technology to promote     my writing, my book,      as a means of acknowledging myself to my self.
Fear of trends and the lemming-effect. Usually in a crowd I tend to follow the minority status, no matter the circumstance, always looking at situations from the “other side.”

With social networks one becomes burdened with upkeep of pages and commentaries and friends and posts and photos—which offers an obvious explanation how people get lost in the digital connections, within the invisible trail of crumbs left behind every mortal who trolls the web.

For the most part, humans seems insistent to prove they exist. As a species, they mark cave walls, place graffiti on warehouse walls, carve initials into trees, send debris into the clockworks of the solar system. (Need I mention the two California women who recently took selfie images in the Roman Coliseum after engraving their initials in the ancient walls?)

So here I am, diving into the rapids of technology to promote my writing, my book, as a means of acknowledging myself to my self.
Here I am generating a giant textual selfie as proof that I actually motioned among the other humans on the planet.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Perpetual Listings

I cannot hide the fact I like archives and labels. Which was the intended purpose of the reading list in the beginning: track and catalog books purchased and annotated. As it is, now I realize that the current number of twenty publications will need to be reduced to half for sanity’s sake— managing a reading schedule of ten books is easier to organize. Despite this, the index will remain a perpetual list: new books added off and on throughout the year.
Today I finished reading Amanda Auchter’s The Wishing Tomb. The poems collected focus on a chronological approach discussing the complex history of New Orleans—through multiple verses. Her sequential approach adds a sense of irony to the whole series—more or less showing humans running in place as time progresses. Society changes in slight variations.

I admire her intricate phrasing and odd enjambments—abstracting the view of the poem as well as the language. In my own work I have used New Orleans as a setting for a handful of poems—but as a minor relevance to the development of the verse.

Auchter’s poem-stories on the other hand create the city as a character onto itself: as a tarnished, middle-aged woman with too much make-up. Auchter switches from monologue narrations to personal stream of consciousness with a nervous camera obscura technique. A bitter love. A protest for change. Awareness for change.
We washed Brendan’s hair: the dirty blonde transformed to gold, to divine tangles and curls. Afterwards, still damp, he stood before me, pulling my hands over his ears as Ricky used the blow dryer. Brendan toyed with my t-shirt, humming and singing to himself, trying to ignore the angry buzzing clattering around his head.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Meditating on everything. Or nothing.

For whatever reason, the last series of days allowed for no prose discussions. No sudden revelations of character or personality. So numbers of visitors falter off my sites, page counts drop to single digits.

   The poem grows and develops like Brendan: sudden spurts of energy, unexpected new logic    falling from his mouth.
At one time I would obsess over every statistic provided to me about traffic flow. Now, I no longer agonize over small attendance records: I need my sleep.
An infection swells on the right side of my head. Call it a dragon’s egg. An awkward hex. Sometimes at night it throbs with the body’s pulse. I take antibiotics. Place warm compresses. After two days it appears to be reducing in size. Slowly. Ever slowly.
Tonight I bathed Brendan. He may complain a little about the loss of time, but overall washing up is less problematic than it once was.

He seems to have stretched these last few days—have I said that already? Any given moment I look at him and his body transforms into a stronger state. A taller young man.


The yellow jasmine in the sie garden so far seems to survive the cold snap from earlier in the week—the arctic front which paralyzed much of the Midwest only glances at Houston. A slight lowering of temperatures into the freezing point, then a gradual return to spring-like weather.
At least the long poem project “The River, Fractured” motions forward, on a nightly basis. Some hours the lines appear easier than others—which makes common sense. I cannot expect every moment writing to be as successful as another.

The poem grows and develops like Brendan: sudden spurts of energy, unexpected new logic falling from his mouth. As of this moment, I have reached 2,102 fragmented entries—an intense stream of consciousness meditating on everything. Or nothing. A flow of creative commentary building on a grand scale.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Why I Write Poetry

The following prose comes from a page-link I created for the opening sections of the blog (see above). However, apparently, readers cannot leave comments on those types of entries. My main point for generating this page in particular was to get visitors to comment about their experiences with verse and why they like reading poetry.

With this information in mind:
What about poetry sparks attention for you?

Feel free to open up a discussion point.

—someone point-blank asks me to define
     the un-definable.



Recently, as part of the submission process for a print journal based in California, the editors ask writers to submit a non-traditional biographical paragraph— they request for the poets to detail why they love poetry.

Frankly I was taken aback: from an early age I have always felt the instinctive need to write verse. I never questioned the desire; I always followed where the voices led me. And now, someone point-blank asks me to define the un-definable.

Fortunately, after the panic subsided, I remembered back in 1994 another journal proposed a similar approach. In part, the following emerges as my informal manifesto. This is my reply:

From earliest memories on, poetry persists, sounding out syllables in my head. I experience days where the creative urge murmurs frequently. It remains with me as a small blue dragon coiled among my organs, one of his hands poised, making the sign for water, the second arm gesturing, as if reaching out for an unseen pomegranate. A third tucks a violin against his belly, while the last raises a bow mid-air. At night as I sleep he whispers images in my head, the myths of past dreams, the lost and wandering nightmares of children. Sometimes, in the early morning hours, I can catch him strumming softly on his little violin, playing out a new melody of his own making. Pushing me to get it down on paper.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Mild Confession

Boxes of books remain locked away in storage, remnants of our move across town, almost three years ago. Although I cleared out closet space and rearranged bookcases, as of yet I still have not claimed my volumes of prose, art history, and Western Civilization commentaries— often on weekends a sense of guilt rises. I make plans to visit the unit, but something always intervenes: papers to grade, sickness in the family, a party for Brendan to attend—perhaps, I tell myself as my hand writes out these confessions, perhaps this weekend will be different. Time will tell.

On my nightstand currently: seven books, mostly poetry, all at various stages of reading.

1. Jean Valentine, Break the Glass
2. Amanda Auchter, The Wishing Tomb
3. Sara Eliza Johnson, Bone Map
4. Melissa Studdard, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast
5. Richard Jackson, Retrievals
6. Ron Starbuck, When Angels are Born
7. Karen Armstrong, Visions of God

This of course does not include the list of books stored on my e-reader.

1. William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust
2. Seamus Heaney, Selected Poems: 1966-1987
3. Seamus Heaney, Sweeney Astray
4. Charles Bukowski, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck
5. James Joyce, Ulysses
6. Matsuo Bashō, Narrow Road to the Interior
7. J. R. R. Tolkien, Beowulf
8. Betsy Sholl, Late Psalm
9. Philip Schultz, The Wherewithal
10. Haniki Murakami,1Q84
11. Markus Zusak,The Book Thief
12. Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror

...
I feel the need to schedule serious reading time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Soft Thrumming

Brendan has a stomach virus—the last few hours tonight we’ve cradled him, cleaned him from his attacks of vomit, consoled the resulting moods—

following along the river of family, from his image    to the speaker’s self,
Needless to say, little sleep over the last six hours—he sleeps now thankfully, slightly stretched across the couch with a small, stuffed toy.

In the calm moments like this I’ve been writing in the halfdark, restructuring lines for various projects. The house murmurs to itself, a glacier of winter, soft thrumming of existence. Checking on Brendan every few moments, he settles into a calm security of my presence, clutching his blanket, slow even breaths lifting his chest.
My poet-friend, Joan Seliger-Sidney, recently had one of her poems read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. Her words provide a theme of connections, of familial bloodlines transposed over generations. Though the narration, the reader is taken with the speaker, from the immediate present of watching her son bake challah bread, following along the river of family, from his image to the speaker’s self, to her mother, and finally to her grandmother in Zurawno, Poland “pressing, stretching, /folding flour, water, and eggs/into a living elastic” (ll.7-9).

Take a listen.

In regards to the production of my book, Variations on a Theme of Desire, the first draft of the cover displays a painting from an established artist from New Orleans, Keith Perelli. (A greater sense of excitement takes over, whenever I look at the cover image.) His complex style retains a heavy sense of the surreal and dream-logic one can accidentally encounter in the world. Perelli manages to create a heavy sense of photo-realism with oil and mixed media. The artwork to be displayed on the dust-jacket is titled: "Tread." It portrays a male figure surrounded in a collage of elements, his claustrophobic environment consisting of high water, broken lumber, and torn paper, flags. His face appears frozen in shock, as a character locked in mid-epiphany as-it-were. Or a figure in mid-transformation, sudden realization of his surrounds.

Most importantly, easily overlooked if one is not careful, the male's gaze takes in the image of a small bird, an anthropomorphic-symbol of change physically landing (or rising to leave) from a nearby branch. A thread of connection can be drawn from the male figure's eyes to his gesturing hands to the symbolic bird—a trio of imagery which echo with the themes and fragmented phrases that play out throughout the full text within Variations.

Overall, it inspires and pushes at me to generate more poems in this fashion of fractured logic and collaged realities. Broken perspectives rejoined in a haphazard, instinctive, highly-creative fashion.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Call Me a Thief

One of those coincidental moments unfolded itself recently: Brendan stepped downstairs pulling his Winnie the Pooh stuffed bear by one of his back legs, the bear’s head bumping against the carpeted stairs behind the small boy. Brendan echoing the text without yet knowing the full story—
And then: I fear the inevitable question from my son about his adoption. There will be a moment when we all must sit down and explain how complex the world is, how much of a knot society becomes; nothing is simple. Nothing has a simple process of being.
The cat lies nearby cleaning herself in a typical, methodical fashion.

Poetry is an act of theft. Lifting threads off a stranger's coat.
Her purrs vibrate the warm room, entire as she pretends to ignore my presence and my witnessing the ritual of her bath. Every few moments she pauses, tilts her head slightly, then resumes the task at hand.
Today I am looking for focus.In a few minutes I will grade short assignments lingering from the university. Which in a sense sets the structure for the rest of the day. Later, perhaps, time will provide a better sense of connection to creative projects—my brain lingers in a doped-up limbo from the cold medicine I took last night. Yet, in this now moment, I hear Ricky and Brendan in the kitchen making cookies, dropping blueberries into a cobbler mix,shuffling items in the oven and stove-top. The sounds break my concentration from the school papers—
Call me a thief. I steal poetry from personal events. Darkly-personal happenings. Blunt honesty. Poetry is an act of theft. Lifting threads off a stranger's coat. From a phrase overheard on a train. From the mumblings of a character in a dream. Even the falling of a phrase from memory. These threads of casual statements often braid into a greater "knot" of existence.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fractured River (The First 1000 Lines)

1. Let not the flow of words cease.

2. Your face brought close to your screen or faded page.

3. The intimacy of identity, acceptance.

4. Words as a river.

5. Undammed, the knot of the river released.

6. Or the storm, the knotted furies, coiling with rain.

7. The moment not stilled. The words as tempest.

8. As moon rise.

9. As fox fires glowing in the distance.

10. Hands stilled on the keyboard.

11. Referencing past line of poems printed.

12. The past as the present. Unfolding the now to then.

13. Submerged in time. The stream of identity blurring with another’s river.

14. Our two rivers becoming rapids.

15. Two bodies arguing in a pale room.

16. Two bodies defining the room without light.

17. Two bodies submerged in light of a room.

18. The epistemology of prayer, the river of —

19. A stone.

20. The storm as a stone; a clot of stones.

21. Clogging the veins. A clot.

22. Ideas as condensed information, brought down to microscopic levels of blood cells.

23. The individual body as a river.

24. Submerged in identity.

25. Your identity blurring with the words,

26. the folded page,

27. secret codes of awareness,

28. arc of barn swallow wings scissoring—

29. the moment dissected, opened by the arc of a barn swallow’s wings scissoring—

30. Acknowledgement of the swallow.

31. The words as a gulp of swallows, darkling on the horizon.

32. Two bodies knotted together.

33. A braiding of yarn— a loom of identity. Identities. Mingling of perspectives.

34. As the individual creek stone, worn down into smooth blueness, handfuls.

35. An item to cast away or to gather unto itself. Memory.

36. Fallen memories as fallen angels. The forgotten. The hidden. The repressed.

37. Stars falling after midnight. Leaping into the warm atmosphere of Being.

38. The blur of blue hours after midnight.

39. When night settles into a humid arch of itself.

40. Soft summer nights.

41. Walking back streets of the neighborhood. Footsteps echoing. Laughter.

42. The hours when two bodies. At peace. Silent.

43. Side by side in the warm darkness of august.

44. Humidity layering over you, between the circling fan and—

45. Mosquito nets drifting in the rare wind, drifting in the rare wind, drifting off the open window

46. Your breath and his breath rising out into the night—

47. Watching the slow hour shift—

48. The moment before this moment.

49. When you both fell away from the sweat of each other.
Slow pearls.

50. Soft stars.

51. The moment after this moment.

52. His breath steadier— rhythmic. Falling into deep slumber.

53. But you unable to sleep thinking of various moments.

54. The sound of words scratching across paper in the next room.

55. The hour shifting into a deeper blue.

56. Swirl of mosquito buzzing across the periphery of your understanding.

57. Just beyond the definition of your Being.

58. The smell of damp hair.

59. Or even the moments of denial, your existence marginalized, erased—

60. Put aside for preference of another—

61. Even the sounds of mice, their footfalls on the tiled floor can be heard easier after midnight

62. Their small lives devoted to getting and spending— constant motion—

63. The space between two lit candles.

64. As a shadow

65. slipping between a closing spot of punctuation and the gap of a new word.

66. The distance between here and there.

67. —or the manner a cotton shirt minimizes itself over time, shrinking within itself.

68. A shriveled apple left in the dark of a root cellar within last season’s straw.

69. A child counting the seconds between flashes of late summer thunderstorms and the premonitory rumble.

70. An unresolved crease in a damp shirt waiting for the iron.

71. The random silence of conversations in a crowded room.

72. Clay drying in sunlight.

73. Slices of apple turning brown on the counter.

74. His fingers stroking the other’s ear, the spiral edge

75. leading the eye within the labyrinth

76. a coarse thread marking the paths taken

77. the hero’s body slipping into the darkness between marble columns.

78. Cello string vibrating, low

79. The moon at apogee, a silver coin

80. Hamilton’s beetle casting a blue glow across the rot along a forest path.

81. Your tongue settling within your mouth after a new word has been spoken.

82. Slow separation of a syllable from its parent word.

83. decay

84. decoy

85. delay

86. destroy

87. deny

88. the path of a glacier across northern seas

89. A corpse in his coffin, juggling the memory of his former name in his dry mouth.

90. The memory of water when one wakes in the middle of the night.

91. The son’s denial of his father.

92. As a slow erasure of his presence.

93. Little inaccuracies of the day adding up to a lifetime of missed trains,

94. forgotten appointments,

95. fallen dates from the calendar,

96. the car emptied of gas—

97. The child in morning sunlight holding a ripe apricot.

98. At forty, his calloused fingers slipping off a damp shirt at close of day.

99. Myself lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling, listening to others shift within their lives.

100. The sea of voices humming under the skin.

101. Myself, lying on bleached sheets, taunt, crisp with sterility; the room breathes in its health.

102. Yellow flowers in a glass vase— discolored water.

103. A glass beading beside it, leaving rings of condensation on the counter,

104. Knees once pressed against each other under the table,

105. —but then the sudden release of rain

106. His fingertips tracing the edge of the other’s hands.

107. An unmade bed.

108. Turning off a bedside lamp— then settling into the darkness.

109. The slow ache of the day lifting.

110. Water pooling on the front porch.

111. Contents of a book condensed to a sentence— a phrase. The reduction or abridgment of thought.

112. The sudden scattering of mice— their soft shadows blurring into a motion in the corner of your eyes—

113. a door opens on to the sudden obscured exodus—

114. The gravity of your body next to mine is apparently a stronger force than the full moon

115. caught in orbit around the earth.

116. The smell of you lingers on my fingers.

117. —and the motion of your smile, a moon glimmering—

118. burnt matches in a bowl

119. ash from incense

120. prayers as gravity

121. as ash settling across the marshes, the backlands,

122. the scrubbed territories of abandoned cars rusting into nothingness—

123. the swamps lingering in the geography of our two bodies, the crevices between

124. the deltas and canals that make up, formulate, the flesh, the bones,

125. the language overflowing into rapids

126. gravitational pull of tides motioning continuously

127. your fingertips across my palm

128. Two bodies as meeting rivers.

129. Repetition as a river. A series of tides meandering into new territories,

130. memory echoing at night as we sleep,

131. Memory of the river.

132. Turning off a side table lamp at night, sparking the memory of a river.

133. your handprint

134. a word on your tongue

135. Language stuck in your throat when memory fails to deliver an unraveling phrase.

136. Darkness as a dense river settling over—

137. The individual body settling as a stone.

138. Pockets filled with stones.

139. My hands over your heart.

140. —over your eyes

141. —motioning open your shirt, pulling the fabric overhead

142. —your voice as a river in my ears

143. —translated to memory.

144. In the Temple, burning-brush owls visit holy lamps to sip the collected oils.

145. At the feet of Buddha, rainforest-sparrows steal rice and barley

146. gathered in hollow bowls.

147. And in the cathedral belfries over Rome, scissortail swallows dart between the shadow of peals for the call to service.

148. A shadow crossing divisions along a neighborhood sidewalk, stretching out instinctually

149. tangle of jasmine ivy— without blossoms this season— but shoots of green vines, covering the side yard fence

150. with knots of leaves, new growth

151. the afternoon threatens rain, yet—

152. the drone of pale green hummingbirds stitching across the lowering cusp of afternoon sunlight

153. cicadas thrumming as we sleep unaware

154. summer night lowering— a preserved quilt, smelling of days in the attic

155. when he sleeps, he dreams of rivers

156. —or a screech owl lowering itself in the twilight, in descent over a field mouse, unaware—

157. We touch fingertips. Impressions.

158. in the warm room

159. She rests in the warm room, a room of multiple sunflowers.

160. The room rests.

161. The room exists as the open mouth of a flower. The flower lettering a single syllable of desire,

162. a single point of awareness of her narrow room, as she sits in the center of the warmth,

163. the geography of the room surrounds her completely.

164. The open embrace of her grandfather in winter, layered in coat and sweater,

165. and a hat no longer in fashion.

166. his smile filled with scents of brandy

167. his coat smoky: burnt matches and peppermint

168. his rough fingers a river of memory—

169. each callous built upon experience, the houses he built across New England

170. each house a diverse river

171. she watches from her window

172. the point of each residence building upon itself,

173. since the time her grandfather released them to their own concerns

174. to their own awareness

175. his eyes winter blue as her own

176. That’s how most writing starts, right? A single image.

177. The image of a housecat, grooming herself in shaft of sunlight, early morning.

178. The cat and her blue shadow merging with the room,

179. the room becoming the cat grooming herself on the windowsill,

180. all motions reduced to the mundane act, the simplicity of a blue-grey cat

181. blue gray charcoal:

182. a pale shadow of a shadow

183. vibration of light across memory

184. opening out the window in full light

185. There was a time the surgeon opened me up like a book,

186. leafing through my history, the order of my organs, seeking the smallest cell of cancer,

187. a trace of the body’s indiscretions,

188. a trace of hesitation,

189. or of walking down the wrong gravel path.

190. Autumnal night, the sound of my feet falling across the crunch of stones.

191. And as a book he read my confessions closely, a full disclosure.

192. Two voices talking across the street. Discourse.

193. Fall and rise of discussion— the pitch of their voices rippling across damp streets,

194. arms gesturing slowly as they walk, side by side, indecipherable in the distance—

195. their laughter descends—

196. nothing to say: only crickets outside, the deep pulse of a common sewer frog—

197. mosquitoes swarming over a street lamp, translucent orbits—

198. Autumnal night leans against the house.

199. The house shudders slightly in the wind—

200. each room seems to pulse with the reverberations of being.

201. A unique individual pace within each.

202. Ceiling fans circle from unseen drafts.

203. The vents echo with queer voices.

204. A screech owl’s call: speaking in tongues.

205. branches of water oak scratching along the rain gutters, the damp roof,

206. a cricket scratching his tiny violin,

207. scratch of pen across fresh papers,

208. pressure of blood within my ears.
209. Shaft of sunlight

210. splintered across a broken vase, scattered notes, fractured

211. winter arching through water oak branches,

212. the boy unaware, still sleeping upstairs,

213. sound of a dog, barking in the distance,

214. the scratch of pen across notebook paper, the sun

215. as a brief reminder

216. when the boat’s shifting pitch reacted against the pace of the everyday motion,

217. the lull of midmorning.

218. A lace dress. Handmade.

219. Submerged in memory. Her mother stitching a river within the hems.

220. The sounds of a needle piercing the fabric, restitching the memory—

221. The smell of fresh starch. Black coffee.

222. Cutting the pattern of ancestral memory.

223. The sounds of scissors motioning across fabric.

224. Mother biting the threaded needle free of the needle.

225. The binding hem sewn with threaded memory.

226. Small moths circling the porch light. Tightly stitching their presence.

227. The brief silence between stitches.

228. A brief silence exists between.

229. Between hesitation—

230. and action.

231. Between action—

232. and meditation.

233. Between meditation—

234. and acceptance.

235. The child asleep as a river, slow moving,

236. the occasional motion of the mouth mimicking a word—

237. An untuned piano in the next room.

238. The cat in heat creeping in circles, sulking along hallways of the house.

239. a word unrecognized, secret.

240. Even the child will forget the meaning by sunrise

241. The sense-memory leaving the body, evaporating

242. A damp shirt.

243. A damp shirt hung on a line, forgotten outside

244. The child asleep forgetting the shape of his name for the moment, the

245. Unknowing a bird is trapped in the attic panicked, circling rafters,

246. chocolate dissolving on the tongue

247. the night as chocolate

248. the random motion of time

249. of the personal histories every individual carries throughout their days

250. a collection of nouns, verbs

251. the casual fall of adjectives in the mundane pull of gravity

252. the fall of an eastern star at dusk

253. the full collection of language encased in us all

254. his hand slipping over mine

255. the pull of his gravity—

256. his gravity a history on to itself

257. a river of conscious thought, flooding over

258. a notion of the sacred— the personal thought made holy, transcendence beyond—

259. the everyday experience

260. the river of the everyday, the casual

261. awareness of now and then

262. as a boat capsized, overcome with the light of the ordinary— luminosity

263. a boat as a star

264. as a wateroak

265. a sleeve torn

266. a sleeve torn at the hem

267. exposing the skin beneath

268. a casual revelation

269. waiting to be mended

270. in the manner a summer storm spawns itself out of nothing,

271. as the pale unknown

272. your hand seeking my heartbeat,

273. fingering softly, unpinning the restrictions of muscle, skin, bone,

274. just to stroke my awkward heart, to peel back the machineries of desire;

275. the heart sighs—

276. Listen: the rhythm of blood in my veins.

277. My heartbeat.

278. Ritualistic.

279. Realistic.

280. Optimistic.

281. Opportunistic.

282. Listen to the river in my heart.

283. Excise the useless repetition. The buildup of expectation. The casual fires.

284. The plague of redundancy.

285. Remove the useless embarrassments, the scenes stored in memory of flawed reactions,

286. useless bravado—

287. misplaced phrases

288. closed book resting on the desk

289. burnt out light bulb

290. the rhythm of blood in my ears, swells of silence

291. swells of blood in the veins, slow march

292. burnt out match in a bowl on the kitchen counter

293. closed window behind drawn curtains

294. sunlight lowering across the house

295. twilight softens

296. the night as always dissolves into itself— into a blue black blur

297. you stand on the edge of the causeway;

298. the horizon swallowing the bridges with perspective

299. with raw distance across marshes that pull brackish water underground,

300. to the river of forgetfulness,

301. just one of the many tributaries streaming into the Underworld

302. the night dissolves softly

303. with you watching the ebb and flow of the tide from the causeway

304. and counting the barn swallows arching overhead

305. stray bluegray pebbles underfoot

306. lights of the night fisheries in the distance

307. the night fading

308. there are nights when nothing comes to mind—

309. Nothing worth using at any rate,

310. myself wanting to ignore the throb of pain in my knee, the crack of joints,

311. And the soft hiss if silence, static in the ears, the records last cycle

312. when the needle forgets to rise back into position,

313. sound of air repeating itself

314. molecules shifting into molecules

315. rubbing against each other, shoulder to shoulder

316. In New Orleans, during Mardi Gras the people lost in want of plastic beads,

317. fake jewelry, false doubloons—

318. strangers standing next to one another, men and women oblivious to themselves,

319. to the crowd, to the runaways on the corner looking to score a trick,

320. the drunk polishing his shoes over and over, repetitious cycles of want,

321. as the soft mist of cigarettes, cigars,

322. and home grown joints falls thick in the alleys and boulevards

323. where the parade gathers, filing past—

324. the hour falling back

325. When is a dry riverbed no longer considered a river?

326. Every morning he ties the river of his ties at his throat.

327. a piece of fabric floating in the flotsam of evening

328. a papercup for instance

329. a blue, plastic bag for groceries

330. Every morning a different suit of blue.

331. only to fall into the flow of morning tide hours— temple bells in the distance

332. bells in the distance go unheard

333. a leaf

334. a paper boat, capsized

335. Every afternoon the knot is released before the mirror.

336. stray arcs of pebbles, stones

337. discarded gym sock, grey, without a voice

338. the ever trembling awareness of the moment

339. stepping onto the wide bridge of the here and the distant now

340. clusters of gold-silver-ebony koi arching underfoot in the river

341. shaggy blue ponies meandering wet fields of golden rod

342. a conversation overheard in a coffee shop

343. winter in decent again

344. cradling our son, Ricky’s arms hold the swaddled form in the car’s backseat

345. the four hour drive south from hospital to home

346. with night in descent, a cradle moon on the lip of the horizon

347. remaking itself, knitting a new pattern,

348. Do you see the pattern? The flow of pages unmaking

349. and the words unknitting themselves on the page.

350. It mirrors the undressing of DNA’s lattice,

351. splitting the root of Middle English into new understanding:

352. The lyf so short, the craft so longe to lerne.

353. cicada shells gathered in a cooper bowl, husks of former lives discarded—

354. Poetry exists as a hollow cicada shell, translucent, other-worldly, without weight

355. as frail as words

356. broken phrases composed on strips of newsprint

357. fragile words

358. a metaphor of fragile words: cicada shells

359. as cycling back, looping back for a reference, then motioning forward—

360. light fractured across wild sunflowers

361. gathered, beheaded, the blossoms still chatter in a vase, wide-mouthed, o-mouthed

362. murmuring in wasp-like voices

363. odd folk lyrics stitched together from scraps of lost pages. Transcriptions altered.

364. It’s easy enough— so picture me at my desk, the windows half shuttered,

365. pages of unfinished poems strewn across my lap, the laptop, the 1930s typewriter,

366. I lean on one arm, the other trying to find words, random lines

367. the sun lowers, bored with watching the Cypress neighborhood shift into close of day

368. and I just used “shift” again—

369. even after I promised myself I would not offer out the word

370. picture me closing the blinds, turning off lamps, shutting doors,

371. gathering the cat off the floor, curling her into a circling in my arms,

372. just to hear the rustling at her throat, the feline engine well-oiled

373. a counter to my mood, to the silence of my pens—the blank paper

374. the blank page

375. the blank page as a river

376. a dried canal collecting oddities, castaways of humankind

377. and my shadow extended into twilight,

378. stretching slowly out of shape

379. threaded needle, calloused thumb

380. spools of blood-red thread

381. stitching tight history to self, monogramming identity,

382. sewing a name on a sleeve—in gothic letters

383. a broken thread, cut in half

384. or a lost thread of conversation, the topic scattered across continents between sheets

385. under sheets of Egyptian cotton

386. the sheets stained with the absent body, the shadow impressed on the cot

387. throughout the hours of a given day

388. the weight of your absent body beside me at night, or those nights when I sleep alone

389. our lives braided—entwined, stitched with coarse red thread

390. the river of ourselves

391. as a stitching, a primer of letters

392. or begin with a declarative phrase.

393. A point of emphasis—the reader dropped into rapids,

394. into the flow of another’s information

395. into a conversation, unwound,

396. the spool of the moment undone,

397. stripped of former meaning

398. the couple in the room now silent, pausing together as the moment unfolds

399. around them

400. a collective silence splintering the conversation, splicing a branch of another idea

401. into the mix

402. sudden blossoming of silence

403. only the rhythms of traffic outside the windows following the gesture of hands,

404. facial expressions

405. stop-and-go rhythms of knotted traffic

406. an older man hunched over, in a red ford pickup, smoking a six inch cigar,

407. freshly unwrapped from its sleeve of plastic film—

408. his truck filling with plumes of burning tobacco

409. the release of smoke,

410. the release of conversation,

411. soaking in the lack of expectations, taking n the other’s presence,

412. released from formalities

413. the expected pleasantries of polite society ignored

414. an emphasis placed on hesitations, and not the inquiries of health,

415. the well-being of family or career—

416. but rather on the intervals between an occasional word or fallen phrase,

417. brushing ash off a shoulder,

418. finding a strand of blood-red thread along a sleeve

419. a loose river rising from it banks—

420. subtleties of give-and-take, tangling words, sentences into one another,

421. a choreography on film, celluloid scenes disclosed

422. his arm lifts under my own, repositions the body, gravity under his control

423. Center of gravity misplaced, as I fall,

424. he guides arms and legs closer to the torso—

425. a Gordian knot,

426. leaning against the width if a shoulders length,

427. the weight of a phrase pinning resistance,

428. the struggle for the right word slipped between the pauses of conversation.

429. Two full grown water oaks entangled, branches entwined.

430. Or the word weighing down the tongue mid song—

431. hand to hand discourses tripping the tongue, stumbling down to the knees,

432. a red kite hovers over the river

433. you see them, red diamonds rising on autumnal winds over the orphanages

434. beside a still river—

435. children with fold crescent badges tagged to their shoulders,

436. laughing on the embankments

437. coarse string burning fingertips

438. falling to his knees in admiration of the wreckage, the beautiful ruins of his

439. body worn down by resistance—

440. a river as a dress, refitted,

441. nightly she lets out portions of the full idea, stitch by stitch.

442. The dress slowly loses its former shape, transforming into something other

443. the beaded fabric released of its restricted form—

444. as she hunts out a new line of thought, a redefinition,

445. nightly, as the dress is reshaped, refitted into a more formal idea.

446. Motioning beyond the bodily stains left on sheets nightly,

447. The filaments of skin falling from our bodies throughout the day—

448. Desire as a young man, youthfulness exposed,

449. on display as he maintains the pace of day to day—

450. his mind wandering over a girl he once knew in high school—the softness of her hair,

451. the fall of her rhythm next to his own

452. a silence lies beneath the turn of a page

453. a silence bares itself with every gesture of a threaded needle

454. a river as silence

455. unbraiding the mating calls of young male grackles.

456. The crackling turn of a phrase when courting the silent females.

457. The shell of a riddle split open,

458. Exposing the fruit. —the multiple bittersweet seeds.

459. Desire as the silence between gestures.

460. The scripted word on a page.

461. As talking to oneself before falling asleep

462. Before falling into the river.

463. A small pack of high school boys jogging before sunrise,

464. crossing backstreets,

465. shirtless in the soft dark,

466. each following the same rhythm

467. The radio supplies Coletrane. And soon a sense of falling.

468. The vertigo of the moment releases itself.

469. Crossing bridges in water. Wearing headphones. The slow vibrations.

470. A frozen city.

471. Your cold hand in my pocket. Hidden in darkness between buildings.

472. Breath steaming– together.

473. Cracked lips meet to trade warmth. Momentarily. As hands over a fire.

474. We become two bodies, one coat.

475. One shadow thin across iced sidewalks. Frozen sewer lines.

476. We crossed the frozen river slowly.

477. Before the song ended, a train merged with the city. Passing us in the distance.

478. We heard the highway in the distance—a sluggish river under a heavy fold of winter.

479. You left the next day, without a note.

480. Another night. The sound of the body’s blood pulsing thick in the ears.

481. A soft drowning of engines miles down the road—

482. steady pulse of static. Blood of a moment exposed. A past memory humming.

483. drowning in memory

484. swallowed down by memory

485. as walking into the wilderness—the greening enveloping—

486. Wait. Rather, consumption by the past,

487. by aspects of science fiction. I guess what I am trying to say is we reinvent the past

488. continuously, becoming a new identity every morning we wake.

489. We check the mirror to confirm who we are, after a heavy night of sleep.

490. The ghosts of the past humming in our ears.

491. The rise of bread, thickening around us.

492. Psalms of the past rising.

493. The machineries of the past, rising.

494. humidity heavy as a loaf

495. not as an etherous mist, but—

496. a heavy curtain surrounding, the body wrapped in fabric—complete

497. for instance, waking at three in the morning,

498. with darkness thick overhead. You watch shadows dodging shadows—

499. koi lift into view, circling above your head

500. when permanency of the past is still retained in the heavy folds of the flesh

501. and sleep evades, avoids

502. the past clinging as morning humidity—awareness of the full body

503. the weight of resistance, in the form of a child, refusing to go to sleep

504. his heaviness an ache in the arms, the small of the back as he resists authority

505. disobeys suggestions,

506. his tantrums swell, consume the upper floors,

507. his refusals as stones

508. Consider the considerations.

509. Consider the breakfast plate, smears of egg and jam, a glob of fat from a side of bacon.

510. A burnt edge of toast.

511. Consider the stains of coffee along a cloth napkin.

512. Rapturous dark circles— imperfect ovals.

513. Consider my hand holding yours. The silence of morning lifting slowly—ever slowly.

514. or as the decline of newsprint—

515. no longer will the charcoal fingerprints be left behind on table cloths, clean towels,

516. or a plate left on the sink to be washed.

517. The slow congestion of traffic diminishes,

518. a gradual release,

519. a satellite’s orbit in decay

520. a journey revisited

521. —yet this is not a poem about me.

522. Even as the themes circle and eddy around a confessional tone,

523. these words belong to another’s voice.

524. Even as I sit here on the back porch waiting,

525. even as green hummingbirds gather among the blood-red-clipped cannas blossoms—

526. as the neighborhood dogs bark at the merest suggestion of a lapse in their territories,

527. the house lies dark behind me.

528. Earwigs scuttle cautiously on the concrete foundation.

529. Mice investigate the corners of the garage, seeking the hidden bird seed,

530. the forgotten troves of possibility.

531. Grey-black mice, trembling with suggestions of the autumnal hawks skimming

532. the late afternoon.

533. Rivers of suggestion.

534. There is a slow beauty in casual decay.

535. There is a casual beauty in slow decay.

536. There is a slow decay in casual beauty.

537. There is a casual decay in slow beauty.

538. —in the fragmented phrase,

539. the button that remains undone,

540. the hems frayed off a warm coat

541. the soft decline of the body, over time

542. the missed cue for the down beat

543. a crescent moon dodging marquees and neon corporate branding

544. queering the flesh, the tongue, casual text appearing on the screen

545. new construction: houses for the established elite— as a poem

546. each room a stanza, pouring out a different theme for the different occasions

547. different formulas celebrating aspects of living

548. I am being sarcastic of course—

549. But.

550. Morning sunlight trembles as it passes through the lumber,

551. the fresh laid foundations of another life

552. and the wind seems to pause briefly before trembling through

553. the space reserved for the front door.

554. The river under construction itself,


555. pacing out the metaphor along the plumb line,

556. or a body reclining in bed, the body as metaphor of something greater

557. shifting to an image of your mother resting,

558. your father unfolding her hand into his own—

559. as a word unravels on the tongue— dissolving candy, an unclosed softness

560. between them.

561. the secret of their two bodies

562. a body reposed

563. A body giving itself up for the future. The final long sleep.

564. How will I ever be ready for that firm silence? The slow acceptance.

565. Even now the silence of evening sometimes terrifies— the loss of ideas disquiets.

566. As a still river at sunset. The waters shifting to a pale rust red.

567. The same metaphoric river as before. Cold water about the ankles.

568. The evening Lynda held my hand, wading into a Vermont lake.

569. Watching the sky pulse with ribbons of chartreuse. With possibilities.

570. The moment readers fall into the poem blurring their bodies

571. with the lexicon of the poet

572. the lexicon of the river

573. the physical body blurring with the body of water,

574. strands of text, the vernacular of a common tongue stretched to its limit

575. a loss of borders, falling into a stream

576. glut of words encompassing

577. the cold, indifferent overflow surrounding

578. remove all limiting borders

579. Bathing him, his body trembles even in lukewarm water. A slight shiver of awareness.

580. The body of a three-year-old boy becoming the body of bathwater.

581. The stream of awareness motioning beyond the borders, the river banks—

582. For instance, waking at three, finding myself staring at the body of night undulating

583. outside the bedroom window, slow drip of humidity—

584. a car door shuts somewhere down the street

585. the night eddies around the houses

586. pulse of blue hours

587. the trembling within the body

588. soft tremors below the heart as a warning, the dull ache of future tense

589. the shivering that ripples down the spine, autumnal waves

590. your voice unused

591. reduced to grit, grumble—

592. the sound of gravel walkways,

593. paced responses,

594. clutter of early morning birdcalls, the squabble, squawk, the chatter from housewives

595. over fences, you know, that stereotype, yes, 1955

596. Years before you were born, the era of black-and-white photographs,

597. the mementoes that clutter shoeboxes in attics,

598. images of relatives shading their eyes from the glare of daylight,

599. your mother as a young girl on the front porch

600. a once cream-colored house

601. your mother standing in her confirmation dress, hand stitched by her mother,

602. the afternoon slants across the windows,

603. across subdivision boundaries; the houses lean into the landscape

604. adjusting the bulk of their weight, as against the embrace of a lover

605. against the sun settling— notion of a secret affair, after hours

606. in alleyways of clubs, shadowed

607. the manner the body fails over time

608. the slow erosion of memories

609. erasure of past identities, repetitions becoming something new

610. a gradual tidal pull to the grave

611. everyday, the body, like the day, falls

612. tobacco stains on fingertips, a crooked tooth,

613. hours drawn in the lungs, released,

614. cells formulating in secret , all in order to rebuild walls against the outside world

615. the soft bruise of cells as they divide, regroup, divide again

616. promotion of the urge to duplicate, replenish demands

617. become something other, as the original copy evolves,

618. motion the needle into the vein

619. pullout the code from the body: the red plush pulse

620. swarms of cells pushing forward

621. the body as a body of text

622. the text of a poem unfolding

623. ribbons of textual identity

624. a branch of water oak, broken off— after a heavy rain— after torrential storming

625. broken wings

626. remains of an existence in the back garden: scattered feathers, pinions—

627. loose ribbons of form, structure—

628. a word dropped casually on the sidewalk’s edge, undecipherable

629. torn off from the full text of meaning

630. discarded, castoff lines coiled on the banks of a casual—

631. rather, the body as a river of text,

632. you asleep on the couch or unmade bed, body sprawled into an attitude of release,

633. letting go of the day,

634. hours scattered; birds along a wire,

635. hundreds of forms balanced at crossroads: migrating

636. a moment of unbecoming

637. division of the flock regathered

638. think back, you’ll know what I mean

639. your form swaddled in my arms

640. Can you feel it? The memory gathering you up into itself

641. small particles of being brought together after a brief speculation, a brief division—

642. healing of the wound,

643. as closing the book on the nightstand, the lights go out for the night.

644. The extent of your hand as it reaches under the bedsheets;

645. the want to build a connection between—

646. break distances

647. —and then the sun, breaking free of the horizon line,

648. slipping above new construction of houses, the restraining presence of trees,

649. His shadow follows.

650. Shoeless, he runs at top speed. Without caution.

651. First his laughter, then the echo.

652. The house trembling with his paced gallop.

653. His shallow horse

654. untamed, wild-eyed.

655. the descent of an angel overhead

656. breaking distance between

657. your warm hand on my shoulder— a slight hesitation

658. bridging the distance between the falling satellites, gravity’s emotional pull

659. stepping between silence, the moments hung, suspended

660. —but let’s pause. Take in the moment, carefully.

661. Breathe.

662. Let words roll off the tongue

663. as chattering grackles in winter sun, their voices crackling electric

664. as draping the damp child in a blue towel, pulling him from bath water

665. combing out his wet hair in the weak light of evening

666. the hours as a tide of change, transition

667. my handwriting scrawled across the page—

668. the memory of his fresh-washed hair, scent of summer

669. the memory of unfinished roads run beside the rivers— wild grass, waist high

670. carrying the weight of absence—

671. railroad tracks leading nowhere— across vague grasslands.

672. Here is where the past held my hand, in darkness after the occasional beer,

673. rebelling against any authority

674. beside the gravel backroads of Middle America, the summer night thickening overhead

675. the night slipping through the half open windows, open blinds

676. Seeking the source of the river. No. Strike that. Begin again.

677. With a basic image: the river itself.

678. —with satellites low on the horizon, blinking their slow lights over the landscape,

679. forming halos in your dark hair.

680. The trajectory of your smile near the horizon.

681. The distance between our hands.

682. We lower the boat into the river.

683. We lower ourselves into the boat.

684. We seek the source of the river.

685. We seek the point on the horizon where perspective blurs with the future.

686. That indefinable point of reference along the treeline and wild pampas grass.

687. We cross the river as crossing thin winter shadows.

688. Memory meets us on the other side.

689. She holds lighted candles.

690. She offers up an unlocked pomegranate.

691. Feel the wild thrumming beneath your fingertips?

692. Even now, you remember holding the fruit.

693. A pulse builds along the wordings beside your palms—

694. a rhythm following the trail of ideas traced behind your thumb—

695. As for me, the cat persists in lying beside me in the dark of the bedroom,

696. her paws folding and unfolding against my shoulder,

697. kneading dough, as they say, or molding clay,

698. her intentions solely settled on making her presence felt,

699. acknowledged as my pen roams the page building a wall of phrases

700. which someone later will deconstruct—

701. or burn, if that’s what they choose to do with my papers thirty-odd years from now—

702. morbid thought I suppose, but thatis the nature of my evening meanderings,

703. Listen.

704. Lean close.

705. Dare I tell you the full facts?

706. Truth is not beautiful.

707. Beauty is not truthful.

708. They often have other concerns— stealing moments away from their family

709. and wander down to the river, sneaking through reeds, wild grasses shoulder high—

710. wandering to the mud banks as when they were younger,

711. fashioning odd objects in the wet clay:

712. snakes and demons, masks, disillusionment

713. Among the blue-green rushes the two hide— until the family’s voices filter down

714. You wander aimlessly, without purpose.

715. Like these words. Your eyes.

716. Following the river which meanders toward its own regards. Its own purpose.

717. over and over

718. a clutch of dried flowers—small fists

719. roaring lion heads in winter, golden exclamations

720. tiny tongues of flames

721. candles gathered in the cathedrals for prayers

722. your hands wander over the concentrated heat

723. luminous against the skin

724. The boy running in circles, a wild pony himself, a blur on the horizon.

725. The ripple of his laugh widening in memory.

726. So, let’s place a thin blanket of fog here— a sparse metaphor to show transition,

727. a motioning forward—

728. into a day without hours

729. without conscious requests for time

730. without—

731. —but, let’s step back, re-examine the point as we drift in the river,

732. you and I inside a red paddle boat,

733. your left hand trails in the warm brown of the river

734. the fade of hours

735. the broken branch bridging over the shallow banks of a shallow river

736. and then the night bridges over the remaining hours

737. I trim my nails under a crescent moon.

738. and then—

739. calculate the distance of your eyes to the rising moon

740. the distance of your eyes to the flickering laptop’s screen

741. to the image of the moon lowering

742. the silence between

743. waking to the drugged feeling of early morning

744. rising from the bed, coming up for air

745. leaving warm waters of the night to find the tides of the day

746. rise from the failures of the river to contain—

747. the body motions into the structures of the day

748. scaffolding and pediments acting as exoskeleton of a building in partial ruin

749. reconstruction of an idea, of a ghost

750. So, shake off your coat of bells.

751. Remove your scarf of flames.

752. Take your shirt of flowers to the over-flowing river.

753. Bind your stone heavy denim in fresh twine.

754. Unwind your sheets from the open branches of water oaks.

755. Bleach your untamed wool in full winter sun.

756. Stain your imported silk with dyes under the crescent moon.

757. Braid strands of willow into a cloak of invisibility.

758. Restitch the frayed hems of your autumnal sandals.

759. —and then fold open your horsehair sweaters in preparation of the twilight pilgrimage,

760. to the temples in autumn

761. in a coffee house a woman cackles aloud, alone on her phone

762. at the table’s edge, saucer and cup peer over, ready to take the plunge

763. shatter themselves into enumerable shards of white porcelain, cast off filaments

764. she leans forward, in secret, to see what I am writing,

765. as if I do not know what the cursory eye glance means

766. across the street, a mall gun shop flashes its neon display— a pulse of red and blue

767. in a minute the sun will lower enough to cross into my full vision—

768. and the world transforms to gold

769. the slow metamorphosis into an old man

770. every morning the slow drift downwards of the flesh

771. as glaciers

772. reshaping the landscape of the body

773. the river of the self pulling back, erasing in a sense what was

774. the metamorphic transition between stages

775. smell of blood, of cast off tissue, protein stains, in decay

776. becoming as wild strands of African irises, multitudes of green sabers posed,

777. raising in transition, merging from the perimeters of a body reposed, as in sleep, yet—

778. rejected by the summer god, the denial debilitating,

779. weakening the fabric knitted within the body—

780. which in turn retaliates against the god by transferring the hurt into something else,
781. something other—

782. becoming the full purpose of poetry, don’t you see?

783. a reaction

784. a metaphoric rebellion

785. a unplanned metamorphosis falling into place

786. or to shift the topic further,

787. in the manner the prophet Isaiah explained his vocation

788. his epiphany forming before experience, before consciousness,

789. how God fingered him in utero, as of yet unborn,

790. a burnt match relit

791. a broken branch blossoming overnight

792. can such certainty exist in the modern age?

793. as the fact a yellow jasmine unfolds itself into the night hours,

794. even in winter

795. or a red-tailed hare with purpose falls into the path of a backroad pickup

796. or a wingless marsh cicada wills open its husk to obtain a sudden aerial motioning

797. and a thrumming pulse of certainty echoing across neighborhoods.

798. Faith is a river, she said, it’s certainty carries beyond the individual.

799. Faith gathers small stones into her pockets.

800. Faith opens her hands in dark rivers.

801. Or lies at night listening to storms gathering along the horizon.

802. Waiting for the storm.

803. Faith holds in her lap a small box containing a wild onion bulb and a ball of rough red yarn.

804. Watching the clock in the dark of the room, glowing softly.

805. She sings under her breath hymns of her grandmother:

806. Gather down by the river, in your sister’s white dress.

807. Gather down by the river, and cast of all regrets.


808. Gather down by the river, without a trembling hand.

809. Gather down by the river, step off the pale sands.

810. At times her voice,

811. triggers a pitch off key, trembles, the note as the soft creak of a well-used door,

812. opening guiltily just before midnight,

813. the noise rippling through the body

814. the essence of your self

815. but as a reassurance, a continuity of principles


816. or even purpose confirmed

817. like a name written in marker across the palm of your right hand

818. slightly smudged in blue-black ink

819. almost in the image of crows in flight—each letter lifting from your hand

820. almost rising from your body

821. moving beyond your body

822. bridging the distances between hours of the day

823. he time lost from a lengthy nap, the slight disorientation upon waking

824. the sun skimming close to the horizon, with shadows a deeper tone of blue

825. so easy to feel disorientated from your life

826. separated from the metaphors you’ve constructed to explain yourself to your self

827. the glance into a mirror—a confrontation

828. affirmation of identity,

829. as a stolen kiss in a dark theatre, out of sight from anyone, including yourself

830. only the occasional halo glancing off the film unto your hand as it unbuttons his shirt,

831. slipping within his fingers teasing the back of your neck

832. the stale musk of collected humans rising around you, as any other aroma,

833. bread rising in the oven for instance

834. the audience’s collective body lifting and falling to the unwatched scenes on the screen.

835. It is the same disorientation you feel upon realization that the mathematics—

836. which calculates the arch of a mature swallowtail in flight

837. mirrors the sprawl of a hand penning the word “wave” across a blank page.

838. or the motion of a novice closing light within a book of prayer—

839. following the crest of release of a blue spotted pony kicking back his hind quarters—

840. and at the moment we pulled Brendan toward his first shadow,

841. a crescent moon lowered on the horizon,

842. a green fruit fly bit into a cultivated crop of ripening pears,

843. a Buddhist monk in Arizona dreamt of an unfolding growth of water oak—

844. waking with his sex arched back in a full erection,

845. female chanters from the eastern Sioux tribe circled with arms braided in tight colors,

846. within a clutch of milkweed, a spotted praying mantis bit into the neck of her partner,

847. in mid-coitus

848. his wings shuffling pathetically in ecstasy.

849. As for now, blood dries on the corner of your father’s lips—

850. a slight mishap from shaving earlier in the day.

851. The night leans closer to your house, watching you sleep without dreams.

852. Separated by a flight of stairs and random rooms of your house,

853. I can hear your breathing.

854. The regular pulse of the living.

855. A confirmation.

856. A reassurance.

857. A possum digs through the back garden hunting for cannas bulbs, green roots.

858. Across town, a middle-aged school teacher selects clothes to wear to work in the morning.

859. Shopkeepers lock up their windows and doors as a river of night slips overhead.

860. As a wreath of mist rises from manhole covers.

861. On Canal Street, teenage runaways gather together, tricking for spare change, for a spare bed.

862. Meanwhile, you hang a quilt over an open door to dry overnight.

863. A collie whimpers at a locked kitchen door, waiting to be let in—

864. the porch light gathers a constellation of green moths,

865. wreathing mobius patterns.

866. A hole in the screen door widens hourly from the insistent dog.

867. The absence of matter, in the center of the galaxy, constitutes a black hole

868. which takes in surrounding energy, light patterns, sucking down mathematical formulas

869. and theories of relativity as a means of proving its existence.

870. The gravitational force between two bodies decreases distance over time

871. the power of your smile for instance

872. the arc of your hand gesturing in your sleep

873. the words you murmur, wreathing phonetics under your breath from the back seat of the car

874. or even the distance between two stars

875. Ghosts of wild horses wander the banks of mid-American rivers

876. a pale blue flame, the horses gather

877. We close the house blinds against the night.

878. When the language of the house reduces to a mere murmur.

879. Limits itself.

880. My son whispering into my ear.

881. Falling into s a fit of laughter. Afterwards.

882. His whole face becomes the laugh. Streaming out. Billowing.

883. The house a source of memory.

884. The house under water oaks, a source of light.

885. Locking the house, lowering blinds, turning lights off at night.

886. The phonetics of a house unbraid themselves.

887. The pomegranate is a house unto itself.

888. Slicing a pomegranate at any angle results in a multitude of stars.

889. The monks of a secluded abbey located on an unmapped island believe the universe began as a ruptured pomegranate—

890. the fruit splitting into portions of organic matter,

891. spilling seeds and scum and rind and blood stains into a stellar mass of being—

892. A pomegranate is a forgotten, sunken cathedral.

893. A pomegranate swells over time with pregnant pause.

894. A pomegranate exists as a riot of bees.

895. In pale hands, holding a halved pomegranate, she remembered her mother’s voice calling her name from the distance.

896. The memory staining her fingertips. Her hungry mouth.

897. Pomegranates staining her memory with a dark red dye.

898. Do not move beyond this now moment as you clutch it in your hands—a ripe pomegranate.

899. Be still within this moment.

900. With the motion of your eyes across these words.

901. A house can be built with these themes.

902. A river of this moment could carry you—

903. as your father once carried you, with his full arms, upstairs for the night.

904. The embrace of the father filling the moments.

905. Breathe in the musk of his sweater, remember the rough chin, unshaven.

906. Coil in the red thread off his shoulders, in hand.

907. Thread of memory.

908. Thread of past days unraveled in your head.

909. Thread of wandering in the labyrinth of your father.

910. Thread of your faith.

911. Thread of understanding.

912. Thread of streets, unpaved, dirt and pebbles running along half-filled canals of the river.

913. Thread from the horse which sensed your fear, galloped at full speed over mud and weeds

914. — knocking you off midway down the trail.

915. Thread of the moth spiraling around the dim porch lights of your home.

916. Thread of hair dangling from your former lover’s sleeve,

917. unwound thread of smoke coiling off the prairies of an unknown country.

918. It gathers sometimes overhead, a heavy plume of ash and lifting debris—

919. orange bright flames scorching grasslands down to charcoal, smoldering hours

920. the fire as a living thing—licking, pawing, stretching across the landscape.

921. Ribbons of fire spread across the horizon line

922. in the fashion of ribbons wound within your body

923. tucked among the blood and muscles and sinews and organs

924. ribbons of latin phrases which make up your existence:

925. articuli corporis, vultus, oculus, pugnus, lingulus, papilla

926. phonetics of the friction of skin against skin, rising of the flesh,

927. of nervous laughter

928. the play of undressing a sentence, slowly,

929. finding the erotic sensitivity in common tongue phrases

930. the tongue of the piano dissected, splintered in parts, the anatomy disclosed:

931. strings vibrating in treble or bass, seducing the hours

932. ribbons of musical notations unspooled.

933. Overtime, the keys carry heavy nicotine stains.

934. The piano as a river, strings undulating as rapids,

935. forcing Bach to soak his hands at night in bowls of ice water,

936. the architecture of his hands laid open—scaffolding supports the sculptural representation of his worth

937. marble translating the flexors digitorium,

938. the muscles running from finger digits, under the palm bone and wrist,

939. reproducing the minor itch under the thumb as it hovers over middle C—

940. sunlight slicing into the cornea of the eye as he turns a short corner, sunlight motioning

941. past the aqueous, the iris and lens, light bouncing into the retina at the back of the eye—

942. delivering (at last) the epiphany, full spectrum radiating through the brain cells

943. vibrating, undulating with divine purpose

944. the bridge of light trembles as he crosses the street, out of breath

945. stale coffee on his breath

946. fingertips hovering over coarse stone works of buildings

947. the moment unbound

948. the tongue trembling to contain the notes pushing up from the lungs.

949. The same emphasis coiled in the gut, in the veins,


950. the same torch carried by market workers, the scent of rotting pumpkins in their hair, or their coarse hands,

951. the scent carried throughout their lives

952. cutting meat for Sunday dinner

953. darning a sock

954. making love to their wives in the afternoon sun, pearls of sweat dripping

955. as they clutched at folds of flesh under them,

956. unmanned sonatas playing in their heads

957. as their hands trembled, playing with their partner’s saucer shaped nipples—

958. a final thrust of air heavy from the lungs.

959. Experience of vertigo of the moment afterwards.

960. Afterwards the sun slants across the two bodies—as they fall back into their bodies, the slow descent of consciousness.

961. Heavy sense of sudden gravity.


962. Falling angels cluttering to the ground as hailstones.

963. Falling with a decay of orbits. The arch of a full failing outlined.

964. Hands filled with sudden absence, a filling up of shadow, of air,

965. the presence of another reduced to an emptiness

966. as a blouse left over the seat of a chair,

967. a black sock coiled on the bedroom floor,

968. washed plates stacked on a counter.

969. How to recover from these collecting inactions, these subtle absences?

970. In the Underworld, absence is one of the rivers that must be crossed in the final journey of a soul.

971. The river lies, sprawling across ell’s lunar terrain, as a void, a vacuum devoid of presence—

972. just like the river of want and the river of expectation—

973. or the clot of waterways slipping around the central city of the dead—

974. where the river of old men crowd the canals continually shaving fistfuls of winter beards over and over eternally

975. the persistent growth tangling, weaving them together;

976. or the crimson river of elderly women, forever burning pictures of their teenage years in repeating succession,

977. image after image, pixels turning to dark ash; and the river of unnecessary trips,

978. the river of bad advice, the river of misdiagnosed ailments,

979. or the river of unanswered mail, forgotten prayers.

980. There are nights she will lie awake, calculating the character counts of all the demands of the human race.

981. The ascending voice of need rising in expectation of delivery, the requests transcending in ever widening waves—

982. as the surge of oil slick waves off the Gulf, salt heavy, when they overwhelm unexpectedly,

983. surge into the back of the mouth, beyond the tongue’s root, where language is born, before sound forms.

984. The sound of mice caught in a trap.

985. The sound of a wasp building a new layer of mud to its nest.

986. The sound of blood (an eternal tick) pulsing in the ears.

987. The sound of a pen scrawling words in the middle of the night as the house slumbers.

988. The sound of rain on a shell lines driveway.

989. The sound of your mother ironing sheets in the morning.

990. The sound of an emerald hummingbird drifting—

991. The sound of radio silence on Thursday afternoons.

992. The sound of a train pulling across the landscape at midnight.

993. All of this and more is how I envision you raising in the dark (before I wake in early morning.)

994. finding the stairs, slowly with the flat of your right foot,

995. slipping on slow lights for the eyes to adjust

996. as you slowly pour water out for coffee

997. pour awareness into your hands as you unfold the hour into a ritual, the layout of the day,

998. as you turn the page without me knowing, mid-sentence,

999. the slow fracture of lives into phrases,

1000. as the morning sun lifts over the houses—an open declaration of awareness.