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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

An Echo of Mid-December

The fractured-phrases-project continues to develop nightly— as of this writing, 1,291 lines, the broken expressions loosely grouped by situation or sometimes theme.
I can hear the family in the other room watching television: occasional laughter from a live audience or a chuckle from Ricky. But I am concentrating. Back rigid, hands in continual motion. A quota must be reached—as with many writing exercises. A goal has been laid out. A deadline. I do not want to fall behind.
Commentators, critics, often create elaborate discourses in college textbooks on the craft of writing; they advise beginning blog-writers to map out at least a weekly schedule of well crafted ideas. In other words: set aside a series of hours and days to produce one essay of merit per week to post.

Lately, with this in mind, I have been considering my options, listing tentatively assortments of subjects, a menagerie of ideas for later use. In part, I would like to fall into a stronger habit of scheduling time for writing, leaving a series of observations regarding poetics, rhetorical patterns and techniques, clever commentary on history and the world— if only for Brendan, providing a stronger sense of self for him to consider as he grows older, begins making choices.

—and then, as well, by my formulating a well-structured map out of the labyrinth we call academics might help some students organize their own projects and research papers. Learning through example. Exploration of possibilities.
Random Listing of Phrases
Being invisible.
Owning an invisible presence.
Finding oneself invisible.
Lack of visibility.
Becoming Invisible.
The Invisible Poet.
Lack of acknowledgement.

In the sense of being bluntly honest and less melodramatic.

The older I become, the more often a feeling of being invisible descends over me. My presence fading into the background in an informal existential crisis.

Tonight Brendan took his full bath willingly— no complaints, no whining. He quickly stripped and stepped into the warm water. His bruises from a few days ago have faded finally. Thankfully.

During the soaping process his naked body translated to seal form, to otter— as a small water-based animal, eager to spread out in lower levels of the incoming tide.

Setting up a critical argument remains difficult. I see the ideal arrangement in my head. Getting the full defense however—

It is the same struggle with any creative project. Moving the ideal to a finished product in-hand. Motioning between these stages creates difficulties.

An echo of mid-December. Feeling overwhelmed. And it is late. Trying to find a means of shoving a week’s worth of projects into a few remaining minutes. With a heavy sleep lingers in the head.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Strain of Inspiration

Brendan grabbed his kids-friendly camera on sudden impulse: “Say, ‘Cheeeeeese!’” He drew out the vowel sound as long as he could, snapping two or three pictures of his awkward father.

He kept laughing the entire time.
I am in the middle of rereading William Wordworth’s “Preface” to his book Lyrical Ballads. Glad to say, the majority of which I maintained in my analytical memory cells.

Partly I am seeking a defense for my fractured sonnets— partly seeking a strain of inspiration— every time I read these pages something new is highlighted or underlined. Some of my past marks are illegible, aligned with uncertain notations in the margins. And I am getting lost in all of his ideas. Trying to match up his notations with my notions. (As a confirmation.)

Perhaps it would be best to just write out a major chunk of my information first, and then go back, seeking a few defensible texts later.

Friday, January 23, 2015

2:00 AM. Insomnia blossoms over me:

—an obnoxious, heavy-petaled flower, honeysweet odor, large faced. From nowhere, it leans over me. Persistent, frustrating.
The idea itself transformed to something else—the fractures, I mean, taking on a life of their own, as small animals,— no longer the same idea.
After a day of mist, rain, clouds, suddenly: the sun, setting in the west. Blinds the eye with even just a casual glance of confirmation.
My reading list overwhelms me this week. The pile of books on my nightstand—and the row of novels in my e-reader—make me self conscious of the time passing.

      as a tree of grackles, crackling against the sun
With the weekend approaching, will need to re-establish the list of reading.
Of course, I should formalize the process of creating these short, fragmented lines. Document the chains of connection between the numerous splinters of thought. (My notebook grows fat with ideas. Content with words.) In the sense that I should defend the use of Twitter as a resource for building a poem. The collection as a tree of grackles, crackling against the skin. Against the sun. Splicing nuts and diving pebbles among themselves. The tree is my notebook. Many leaves. (Pardon the obvious pun.) The sum of the parts making up the whole image.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Open Notebook

Wasteful day. Mumbling hours. Trapped myself within the labyrinth of internet pages and links—leading from trivial information to additional trivialities—
Reworking previous concepts of epiphanies. Scrounging around in attic trunks for representation of the central figure (Boy-Hero / Avery / Brendan. As in the past journal entries.

1.] treatment of light as object; of value/of talent
The hero-boy that is. Folding light (as a cloth) into a pocket. As a gesture of safe-keeping. For later use.

2.] handling of light/manipulation of light

3.] expressed in values of 3: 3, 6, 9, 12 — but no more than a page

4.] Jack—Jack Rabbit—trickster: game warden (Alec) / controller of Nature, open to Nature
Jack of all trades

5.] confronted by Strife > Old Man Strife
• source of major conflict
• the one who knotted the lives of Grackle, She-Bear, & Fox

Old Man Strife .:name as folktale epithet/allegory

See Grimm’s “Bear Skin,” “Iron Hans,” or “Snow White and Rose Red”

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Nothing to Say

Almost lost track of the time, of the day— so, in a twisted sense, I have nothing to say.
Wet day. Twelve hours of mist and halfrain. A steady coat of water. A steady presence of grey.
Tonight, some kids are in the streets, in the yet-to-be-built portions of the subdivision, sending off fireworks left over from New Year's. I hear the dull rumble every so often as I read.

Only able to finish a sentence or two, then the familiar crackle and screech in the distance.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Carrying Small, Blue Stones

Winter storming outside: Cold. Wet. In the shallow canal beside the house, two marsh cranes bicker, rising up against each other, tail feathers and arched wings spread full span, beaks thrust against the other, feathered chest against chest.

Image from: Photo by Larry Moskovitz, Fallbrook, CA

Draft of Unfinished Poem || Notes

from school he comes home

carrying small, blue stones
         words mislaid by other children
         other children’s sticks and stones
         in his small pockets

the beginnings of a phrase

cells of protein on his sleeve
later develop into raging fever at midnight

metaphors for death/violence
language of hand-held anger
         the divorced father of three

fragmented discussions
         creatures, stuff of nightmares/dreams

pink eye • fifth disease (rash) • runny nose • virus
human scars

symptoms of a carrier’s malnutrition

stimuli • overdosed on sugar

without a coat

rhyming song • lyrics embedded in the ear/head

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Variations on a Theme of Desire

Another late hour—attempting to construct more fractured lines. The time disagrees with me. Feel more like complaining about lack of ideas rather than brainstorming new metaphors. However. Reading over my notebook I found a verse from Isaiah, the prophet falling into memory, into the formation of his path before experience, before transformation to prophet—the epiphany surrounding him in utero:
Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.

And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me. (KJV Isaiah 49:1-2)
Good news: I signed a contract this afternoon with Saint Julian Press who will publish my manuscript, Variations on a Theme of Desire.

Overall, of my three completed collections, frankly I am surprised Variations was the first to be chosen for publication. The middle section of the text takes large liberties with the sonnet form, fragmenting both the intro-octave and the closing-sestet in extreme, modern fashions. (Plus the theme of unrequited love in general can be overwhelming at times for modern readers.)

Regardless, I am happy, very proud to have my work appearing in book form—and now begins the process of tight proof-reading, finding a cover image, and pushing the self promotion buttons. Feeling overwhelmed, yet, in a good way. It all falls down to a sense of fulfillment, acknowledgment and confirmation of goals.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mysteries and Cardboard Rockets

Long day. Yet. A short day. The hours twisted within themselves.

For three hours: arranged mailings, submissions, inquiries. Then collected Brendan from school. Had lunch. Napped for two hours— Brendan in a rebellious state of mind—but he slept nonetheless.

          Sometimes, rambling works its way along a path to a sense of                resolution.
Woke. Ran around the house. Games. Running chases. Mysteries. Cardboard rockets. Castles made from cushions.
—and, suddenly, just like that: I am without words. Without expressions or colloquial insight to spiral out of this labyrinth.

No golden thread. I blame last night’s sleeping pattern. I blame tomorrow’s schedule. It (this mood, this situation of language-void) it all can be attributed to a number of diverse problems hovering overhead: angry hornets. Stinging bees. Disgruntled Furies. Biting flies.
Sometimes, rambling works its way along a path to a sense of resolution. Not tonight. Too much to work on—feeling overwhelmed.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ode for Tomaž Šalamun

my winter coat clutters with oddities,
the knots of coarse twine you gave me

cathedral bells stand

without clappers
without voices

a wild red-tail rabbit
crushed in the middle of back roads

lies in the blue midnight
wild onions in my pockets

like pebbles
taste of onions on my tongue

Within the Iron Age grave of a woman in Denmark, a bronze box was found containing a preserved ball of yarn and an onion bulb
two small moons,
a spell of protection,
domestic symbols,
earthy mysticism
Last night the house shivered within occasional power surges— three to five times throughout various hours. I kept waking from sleep, forced to reset the alarm clock. Over and over. Delaying a full uninterrupted sleep.
Tomaž Šalamun passed away in late December. I remember meeting him briefly almost twenty years ago at a poetry reading when I was a student working towards my MFA at Vermont College. He carried with him a heavy sense of poetry—meaning even his every intake of breath seemed to contain a profound sense of potential for later use in verse.

Read his poem "History." You will understand the complexity of many of his poems.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Developing Essay // Open Notebook

Essay                There is a beauty in ruins.
                            Beauty in decay, in fractured sentences—
                            in fractures, broken lines—

scattered thoughts, casual speech shifted to rhetoric, –to poetics, reshuffled metaphors, isolated phrases stitched together
Wordsworth's lyrics.

quote Lynda Hull— "Ornithology"
          "take a phrase, then/fracture it—"

the personal brought to rhetoric

Sonnets work well with forced fragmented phrases:
          —depths of psychological lust, need vs. want
          —persona exposes, confesses, litany of obsessions
1. English Renaissance experimentation: Edmund Spenser,
          poems attributed to W. Shakespeare (see #126)
2. No true traditional rhyme scheme exists: Italian to English           continual changes, reinventions
3. Edgar Allan Poe utilized 15-lines: "Sonnet—Silence"
4. e. e. cummings: de(re)constructed the form numerous times
5.      {...} et cetera

possible defense:
blank sonnet

hornet's nest
mouse nest

Reread every/any critical essay on poetry.
In particualr: revisit David Wojahn's "On Sympathy,"
          (personal and critical)
American Poetry Review, March/April 2010

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Broken Horse of a Man

Brendan fell asleep in the car while we drove home from his grandparents. I had to carry him upstairs, slowly change his clothes, and carefully place him in the correct position of his bed so the nightlight did not shine full on his face. Briefly he looked up at one point confirming who I was, establish his surroundings, and he then fell into a deeper sleep.
Reading Bukowski again. He does not improve my mood. His writings show him as a broken horse of a man—his persona that is—the bitterness stings, even now. Even with the safe distance of the decades between us.

Not much has changed since then.
Much has changed since then.

And all I know is the fact I have lost a sense of my projects and my notes and my reasons for writing. Too many distractions. Too many daily interruptions. Need to find a sense of satisfaction again.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Without Purpose

Yesterday—as—today: fell asleep with my journal on my chest. Well, partly a lie. I fell asleep considering possibilities of lines to write in my journal. Nothing profound of course—but the mind took up a word or two and carried itself into a scene set beside a slow moving river.

Warm temperatures.

Moody shadows.

A conversation between two undisclosed people.

Perhaps myself.

Or not. Both sets of faces blurred with memory.

Water colors merging on paper.

Without purpose.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Call this a writing association game.

Mid-December. A three quarter moon watches me from the morning campus windows. Another close of a school term. Another final. The students lean close to their exam booklets, their faces grazing against the paper. Each one a small satellite against their exercises.

     If you have to talk to a bear, you should look like           a bear. —Brendan

Briefly. Later. Found myself with an hour’s time, drinking coffee with paper and pen, waiting for an appointment. Best relaxing moment in a long while. No technology. No interruptions.
For the most part, the Fractures project moves along at a steady pace. Every day it changes focus slightly— under its own control. Like the river it imitates, the lines flow into their own territories, head down their own paths with little influence from me. Call this a writing association game. Call this an exercise. Either way, the phrases form tributaries which lead in new directions of creative writing. Unexpectedly I can find myself exploring new insights, new wording, all based on an off-shoot of a previous chain of sentences.

In a similar manner, the project functions as my 365-Haiku and 365-Tanka (Waka) projects from years past. Generating terse and habitual lines on a daily/nightly basis encourages paragraphs and poems for use later— as in stocking up supplies for winter.

Monday, January 5, 2015

I always tell my students to avoid quoting dictionaries.

Lately, over the course of a handful of years, I have assumed the responsibility as one who wanders to bed last in the household—after double checking the locked doors, the alarm system, and the front porch light—as confirmation of security. The act serves as a final statement to the day, the closing curtain, the poet’s final end stop at the ultimate line.

And partly imagining myself as “husband” seems on the whole… odd.
Perhaps I load too much emphasis on the role, a title-less position as the house falls into a tight slumber. Yet, a comfort lies knowing the wall clock is wound up for the night, the downstairs’ lamps are turned out, and the cat remains curled on the living room sofa, occasionally twisting an ear at the night-sounds by the window.
Ricky introduced me recently as his husband. The word jolted slightly in my ear. Without a ceremony or religious sanction I always assumed we were merely partners, not wedded partners. Partly due to the fact Texas does not recognize such arrangements (as of this writing). And partly imagining myself as “husband” seems on the whole… odd.
I always tell my students to avoid quoting dictionaries. However, this is a case where the denotation of a word could clarify my awkward position on the issue— if the phrases fit the pattern in a less vague, haphazard fashion.

I always pictured a “husband” as a faithful sheepdog (no offense meant; I am playing with associations). A symbol of security and experience, one well versed in carpentry and electronics. Someone who wore sweaters and smoked a pipe. Who reads the morning newspaper regularly. Sporting a full, coarse beard. Growling at predators. Baying at the door to be let out on occasion for a romp in the park with the boys—
It falls to this: Brendan calls me Daddy— and legally he is my son, my responsibility, my little lamb. Because of his existence, then, and due to his insistence that I maintain the role of “Father,” then, of course, yes, I am translated to the husband, with or without legal bonds.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Modern Rhetoric in Less Transformative Fashions

Around the middle of the day Brendan and I sat on the couch, he breaking down Lego toys into blocks and polygons, various components of building shapes.

(#Rant #Observation #Rambling)
On the other side I broke down phrases, fragmented sentences to basic understandings— down to the bare scene, heavy imagery.
This past term provided me some different observations of the average student mentality—. No. Strike that. Redact. Reduce. Retract. I cannot formulate the commentary correctly. Certain phrases need strengthening before I propose a theory.

On the other hand, I have noticed, however, people in general seem to interpret metaphors in a different fashion than in years past—as if the building blocks of poetry were processed in the modern rhetoric in less transformative fashions. (Repetitive redundancy.)

They (people, students) expect symbols to be more obvious and less applicable to multiple ideas at one time. (#Rant #Observation #Rambling)

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year Rains Unfold Outside

Okay. It’s like this: I want to create an epiphany poem for an archetypical hero—a first person account rather than a omniscient third person narration. Maybe only two short quatrains—a reservation or restraining as it were.

Holding back from the full possibility of a river flooding, but simply providing a half-filled glass of water. Three? Yes, perhaps a set of magical three quatrains would work best.
As first person—how much does one individual actually relate out loud? Look! I had an epiphany. It unfolded around me all golden and warm. It transcended me to a higher plane of understanding. For the last two years, critics have held a major discussion over modern poetry, debating if it has become too formulaic and thus failed as a genre. Too many poets. Not enough poetry. I do not want to fall into the pits of that argument. However, from the outside of the bonfire, circling from a safe distance, there is some relevancy to the argument, yes.

     flitting around the room as a sparrow         trapped in my house
From an individualistic standpoint, from this one instance, my persona is talking to himself and therefore understands the epiphany already is in the past. In other words, I need to break any potential epiphany-revealing formula to the audience. For this poem in particular, the reading-audience does not need to understand the scene immediately lends itself to a revelation. They do not need to be carried as passengers in a predictable train ride to the protagonist's ultimate resolution.

But I am lying to myself. Lying to you. I have two versions of the same poem in my head. The potential to deny an epiphany and the want to reveal immediately the goals of a character, his Divine Inspiration. In other words, in the realms of the Ideal Draft, I visualize the poem’s structure as a confessional monologue for a folk hero— he needs to be recognized as such, as a Jack seeking adventure. He is aware of the process of his Journey—yet, the communication of his views of the Journey need not be as readily understood, at first.

• Fires of cypress trees in late autumn
• rust red hue / circles / foxfires / pomegranates

• the glow of rust when you stand in a copse of cypress trees, the surrounding

• Au-tum-nal: the vowels of rust / of transformation

• without angels / no fiery tongues of Gabriel

1. You will not believe—
2. pains in my chest
As well, primarily the book of Seamus Heaney, Sweeney Astray, is playing an important influence. Mad Sweeney climbing yew tree after yew tree evading capture and rehabilitation.

The poem’s purpose is doing the same thing right now, evading firm capture—flitting around the room as a sparrow trapped in my house while the New Year rains unfold outside. Too much excitement and nervous energy to contain.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Of Hope. Of Faith.

In reality I am a day off schedule with my intentions— rather than writing extensively last night I drank heavy doses of cough syrup—then slept like a rock placed under the spreading roots of a Japanese maple.
A random cold has attacked my sinuses. Heavy enough to repress the urge to move or think.

          Their confusions often confuse me.
A steady persistence weakening the will, suppressing the voice. One moment a slight whisper. The next a raspy, dry murmur.
Brendan turned four last month. I am not prepared for him to grow older—not yet. Logically, I probably never will be prepared for his transition to adulthood.
At the end of last term, I introduced Laurie Anderson to second-level English classes, specifically her “O Superman” performance. The results were not as mixed as I hoped. The target range of comprehension at that stage of the course should have brought them into the zone of understanding higher levels of artistic expression. The expressions on their faces however mirrored a puzzled moon.

Often students’ confusion confuses me. It exists almost as a resistance. An unwillingness to accept the unknown or unique thought. The more diversified the clutch of students,(gender / race / religion / sexual orientation) the more the majority of them seem to seek out a group commonality and group thought. Is it human nature to collect into one thought pattern, one network of acceptance?

Their confusions often confuse me. At their age, I sought out the illogical, the uncommon, the unique. I wanted to stand out from the crowd. I wanted a phrase to stumble across my tongue in a wonderfully awkward fashion and open a new door of understanding.
Image from: The Longest Way Home
I welcomed the unusual, the unexpected. The scenes which defy immediate explanation. I upheld the creed: repetition of the same is stale.

Which leads me to this thought: do I have to warn all classes in the beginning weeks to be prepared for a rethinking of their definition of culture? Do I have to tell them what to think? And for that matter, how to think? At this stage of their academic careers, isn’t this process a given?
Last night our neighbors released three paper lanterns into the sky. Temporarily, their faces and hands glowed with orange-yellow light. A sentimental rush of hope. Of faith.