Wednesday, April 27, 2005

So I’ve been pretty sick the last few days, having run myself down attending seders &c. Monday I spent a good amount of time in the 104 degree range, and yesterday, it was down to 100 – 101, but I couldn’t breath so well because my lungs were so tight—it felt like bronchitis. I was able to collect myself, mentally, last night, and meditated on my lungs for a good hour or so, then fell asleep, and I’m basically clear. Wiped out, but clear. Which is wonderful.

I tell this to illustrate that the meditation I do is not what most are familiar with, in that it takes its path to quiet through the health of the body, not separate from it, though in the end it achieves that too. Qigong is very practical, and the feeling of self-reliance, of not needing a doctor or medicine, of confidence in one’s own body to do what it needs to maintain health, is simply fantastic.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A good Passover poem:

by Hal Sirowitz

We're Jewish, Father said.
So we don't believe in Christ.
If God wanted us to worship Jesus
He would have arranged for us to be born
into an Italian family. I have nothing
against Him. He was probably a very nice man.
You have to give him credit for trying.
A lot of people still believe He's the Son of God.
I don't know what He had against His real father.
But if you ever did that to me,
said you were someone else's son, I'd be insulted.

This poem manages to inflect so much into so little--and without the humor, none of it would be there. It's really something else, as my grandfather would say.

And, completely unrelated: what a pleasure to find a well-observed/well-lived post on something completely trivial on a board you don't expect to find such a thing at all on. Volumes.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

I promised, weeks ago, more on Heidi Lynn Staples' book "Guess Can Gallop"; and I have an awfully hard time putting it all together (my thoughts, that is, not the book, which would be hard to put together but I'd never try, since it doesn't want to be). So I'll just say one facet of one impression I haven't heard discussed elsewhere: the extent to which this book takes for its purpose an explicit feminist voicing. The way that the Wakean, punning, multivalenced neologisms make and remake meaning within themselves is deeply subversive on a theoretical level , sure, but I mean the explicit direction/drive of the concerns is explicitly anti-patriarchal and often angry in a way I've never seen done so intelligently, truly, and well. The content fits so well with the form they are inseperable, given the technique Heidi has taken as her own. I don't think such speaking-to-power would work for any speaking-to-power, but it works well for feminism's specific position. If you haven't read the book yet, well, I suggest it. I haven't read Anne Winter's, which is getting a fair bit of discussion recently (it sounds like it's as much a sideshow curiosity--not meant as an offense to the poet, but a description of why people are paying attention--as an aesthetic appreciation by those considering her book, whether in Slate or on blogs), but unlike that book, where form seems at an arch distance from content, Heidi really pulls off some magic here, makes the terms 'form' and 'content' redundant or, better to say, insufficient.

Sorry if this is blathering thought-run, just wanted to say something about it before I forgot totally. Not that this is all there is to the book, by a long shot, but it strikes me as an inseparable part of the magic.

After the adventure there is no map

only a vase of fresh lilies, the room
their scent quickens, a bowl of apples cut neat,

the cream pooling its crystal. A place called home
nods by you: far hills but photographs,

a memory not yet come
as the aimless sway of bronze chimes strays

in now from the yard, an odor of rain.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Interesting article (post?). I don't know how I feel about the end note, with its strangely thanatic urge to mission, but the rest sounds just right to me. Reasonable.


sonic, in your face Posted by Hello


Sonic beside our front door Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Yesterday I got onto the topic of Dante's Inferno with Jonah; just the beginning, but he liked hearing about the wolf &c so much he asked me to tell him the whole thing. So I did. At first I kept away from the gory stuff, but he liked that the best, so I kept it in. He loved it, the progression, the morality, the heirarchy, the philosophy even--he understood the mechanism of punishment clearly, which astonished me because I remember it taking a long time to sink in just how each instance of punishment related to the sin committed. He asked why god hates some things more than others, and even listened through the whole incontinent/violent &c thing; I made sure to explain to him that we don't believe there's really a hell (let alone that we're Jewish), that these are depictions of how people feel inside from doing these things (I did omit the punishment of those people who did things I don't consider bad, by the way--parental prerogative. I'll save that for the next go-through.). By the time I told him about Ugolino, on his way up to bed even (he really wanted to know what the bottom was like), and I reminded him none of it was real he was exasperated, "I know that!", not scared at all.

Little kids are weird. Have I mentioned that he loves the game "Sonic Heroes" and has drawn around thirty pictures of Sonic the hedgehog and taped them up strategically around the house, to keep out bad dreams? He even drew a mirror on the way up the stairs, so that if they tried to sneak up they would see themselves, get scared, and run away. There's a big blue sonic outside our front door. I should take a picture, actually. It's kind of scary, it bristles and has narrowed eyes.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Well, I'll be damned if I don't agree with this poem. Sure, he's swiped something from Rilke, and something else from Melville, but there's nothing wrong with that. And the tone is nicely weighted, too.

(I'm referring to the Ted Kooser poem posted on 4/11/05, for anyone not reading this today today.)

Friday, April 08, 2005

An interesting sample of John Paul II's poems (link from Gabriel Gudding, Conchology). I think they're pretty good. The translator has some life to her conceptions and words, which no doubt helps, but. They feel, in vocabulary and line-motion. Nice.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Last night, I dreamt I'd found a book, a lost play of Shakespeare's. I opened it and inside was not the play but an account of me finding it. It began:

I opened the book. Here unintelligized lay the ecstant radiancy of his ears.

There was more, I had around a paragraph in my visual memory, but as I was writing it down Jonah from down the stairs began singing a song about throwing a sock at Dara's head. And then the sock fight began! And that was waking.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

What a superb day. And to have gotten backyard furniture only yesterday! And to have slept late (in that it was arranged for Dara's brother to take Jonah to school this morning), and gotten to finish the last book of Paradise Lost out back in the sun on said furniture, with a fritatta. The sun breeds also ideas: I have so many I don't know which topic to start down the path with. I'm leaning towards something to do with the development of the consistently used image of the shepherd/wanderer/worker (any of a variety of peasant workers in pastoral settings, actually) in a natural setting (usually dusk--though it may get later as the poem goes on--I need to go back and check) in a perilous state of uncertain perception (the fisherman anchoring on what he thinks is an island but is really the back of a whale, or a field worker being led maybe astray by a will-o-the-wisp, for examples). The final (finale?) image is as Adam and Eve leave Eden and the angels swoop through Eden, undoing it by fire ("as Ev'ning Mist/ Ris'n from a River o're the marish glides,/ And gathers ground fast at the Labourers heel/ Homeward returning." 12.629-632); the first image where the laborers aren't solitary, and where that which is supernatural is friendly, however stern it may be. But I don't know, it seems kind of obvious, I can't imagine there aren't plenty of smarter people than I who've already done so. So maybe I'll avoid this and my other intellectually-arranged topics and just see what happens when I read this passage over and over and over:

They looking back, all th' Eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happie seat,
Wav'd over by that flaming Brand, the Gate
With dreadful Faces throng'd and Fierie Armes:

Because it just sounds so good, though it may be only simply dramatic. Honestly, I have no idea how to go about talking about this man's poetry. But I can say, having read PL four (or more) times, I think I'm starting to like it, not just admire it. It kind of grows on you. And the parts that seemed simply stupid begin to make a paradoxical sense. But only if you look at it the right way. The interested way.

And finally, today, to have written a poem that has some sonic movement to it. It feels like it's been years. It always feels that way, though, I think, doesn't it?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The most recent New Yorker has a fantastic article on Basquiat (by Peter Schjeldal). I haven't been to this most recent show, but I love the man's paintings. That self-removed-from-engrossed-self is, well, engrossing. It is the quality above any other that teases motion out of a canvas, though there isn't any technical way of describing it that I'm aware of. And what all the great painters have, of whatever style they engage in, from David to Rembrandt to, yes, Warhol--they keep the canvas moving. (not that I'm saying Warhol is 'Great,' in my opinion, but he's always fun to look at, and very much alive.)

The same goes with poets in a way. They keep the poem moving, the parts related dynamically--I don't mean dramatically, by the way, when I say dynamically. This quality's primacy is why criticism, especially school-centered criticism, can only at best half-answer to a poem's manifest poemness, in my opinion, as exciting and satisfying as such criticism can be to read while you're reading it. Not that schools aren't important and necessary, they are needed to both free and pattern a poet's ability to engage with her/his craft; but they have such minor predictive value. They aren't so close to the present as perception is, to reality.

Anyway, I remember first seeing Basquiat's work, at the Whitney retrospective in (I think) 1992 (it may have been 2 years before or after). Absolutely blew my mind. If you can get to this one, I'd highly suggest it. And also love to hear how it was.

On another note, regarding Robert Creeley dying, I've been very affected by it. Other poets I've admired have died, and they have seemed public in their dying. But Creeley, despite his age, feels like a contemporary. I mean that as a compliment, obviously. He's not 'just' some writer who occupies a niche in the evolution of American poetry--he really was right there with you, in the poems. And it seems strange somehow that he can die, being ageless like that.

I remember reading "I know a man" in 1993, in an undergrad workshop--a classmate was pretty excited about the New Testament symbolism, and going on about it, and I was like, no, that has nothing to do with it, look how these lines move! He really was such a good poet, and I'm grateful for what he wrote. Rest in peace, indeed, gone-back-where-you-came-from.

Friday, April 01, 2005


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