Monday, May 30, 2005

That last poem was one of the last I wrote before I got sick. Much of my stuff from then was off--I can't describe how, but just not right, like milk the day before it goes bad. Since then I've become much more interested in direct communication, probably because that is easy enough to set aside when you can take it for granted, but when you can't take simple word recollection for granted, dysphasia (for example) becomes much less enticing as an artistic option.

This is something I wrote later, after I got over the worst of the recovery, but when it still was most of what I talked to myself about. 2 quick points. One, Chronic fatigue is the stupidest name for an illness ever. Two, I never thought I'd write a poem like this. Who can say?

Chronic Fatigue

Do I talk too much of it? Consider:
It has interrupted my physical activity, so I treat it as my exercise;
it has interrupted my friendships, so I treat it as my friend;
it has interrupted my sex life, so I treat it as my lover;
it has interrupted my poetry, so I treat it as my art;
it has interrupted my digestion, so I treat it as my sustenance;
it has obstructed my parenting, so I treat it as my child;
it has undone my memory, so I treat it as my past;
it has undone my health, so I treat it as my health;
it has undone my mobility, so I treat it as my range;
it has weighed on my family, so I treat it as a loved one;
it has stopped me from all employment, so I treat it as my job;
these things for you seem separate, and under that illusion you live;
can you see now that mine is a sublime burden?
I live with hardship yet worship
for day by day it is replaced
and I will remain unified long after
its fusing pressure is gone.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

An old poem I'd forgotten writing.

Job Restored

You would very likely look down through me and see
Earth, though I'm not sure I remember: it was
solid looking as water at dusk, as water
it held nothing solid for long.
The clouds themselves dipped down at dawn, inspired it.
Forget all that. My long sack
of food will trail uselessly to my right
as I sink when I sink and my sinking
will bring me round closer: not to myself, that is for my sons:
to you, father, that you may be whole in death,
in memory dust the insubstantial earth
down to the backs of praise-god, our holy father.
Even at noon, his demands fall more strongly than light:
and to hug the pain in-open is to become
what is less solid than falling: a cloud through a cloud:
to release you, o father: yet
these were our words: listen,
for I have suffered breadths of pain past remembering:
unproportioned, my world gone, restored to praise-god's,
again restored to insubstantial earth.
I remember . . . I remember . . . being . . .
father, even now, I have less than you.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Fantastic set of responses from Tony. Made (if I may wax poetic) in soul. I often read stuff on various blogs which is interestingly broad-minded and incredibly parochial at the same time--and I restrain myself from commenting on it because I don't really want to interfere with someone's thought process/get involved (I mostly just like to watch people unfold), but it often sounds like this to me: "It's the Judean Peoples' Front!" "The Peoples' Front of Judea!" (sounds of scuffle and stabbing).

But there's something in the intersection of Tony's stance and what Josh wrote towards the end of his post today that describes pretty well where poetry is, as far as I can tell. I think it is different in spirit from the kind of opportunistic consumption Steve Evans wrote about in his Fence Enterprises essay (which I thought was awfully pessimistic anyway, though not all, or at all, untrue). It is different from the linear evolutions/heirarchies easy to pretend is perception. It is a way for diverse sensibilities to coexist, it is a personal approach which exceeds the 'Snapple flavor' democracy George Carlin railed against. It is a bunch of people who are, at their best, trying for the vision Colin Clout achieves towards the end of The Faerie Queene, all the muses and personages of aesthetic beauty descended to dance in celebration of his simple love, in his simple rhythm (I suppose that's pastoral, Reformation style). I forget her name, which isn't inappropriate. It is a personal vision, private, and yet all there is participates in it. It's pretty cool.

This is where I started, with Tony's post, especially the part where he credits his friends with canonical status, canon being his own. This is the 'Cloutian' (let's call it) ideal, value not imposed as a politics on other people, but enjoyed as life is enjoyed. If you can bring happiness to those you know, who cares about making history? What other history is there? What else is it to read, anyway?

I've said nothing, or at least nothing you didn't already know. Silly rant over.

The issue which makes every other thing we read about nothing.

I hope these pictures get released, and that this country vomits at the thought of ever again perpetrating unnecessary violence, even if in some deluded fantasy they feel it makes them a little safer.

Not an expectation, of course. My Lai didn't change too many people's minds, did it?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I have an artist friend who asked me to suggest to her poems having to do with naval battles (a theme she's working on now) and for the life of me I can think of none. Lots of sea poems come to mind; and a few passages from Shakespeare (Antony & Cleopatra, Othello) deal with the subject; but still, I can think of no sea battle poems proper. The best I could offer was Moby-Dick, which is pretty good, but still. I do think I remember there being accounts of such things (naval battles, that is) in the Cantos, but I don't remember where and scanning through them isn't jogging my memory. Same goes for the Maximus poems.

So I'm asking you out there, do you know of any such poems? Much thanks, for any, obscure or no.

Monday, May 23, 2005


blogoview, take 1

C.R. Jensen asks an interesting question, where would you like to write (specifically, what room, of any in the world, would you like to turn into your writing studio)?

I need someplace with lots of accesible walking, preferably with few to no people around (unless it's in New York City, which is fine too), which I can return to and be able to stay up all night in. So it needs a bathroom. Preferably someplace quiet, very quiet; scary quiet would be nice (unless it's in New York City, which is fine too). The more natural scenery, the better. I've never been happier than living by the water and watching the tide move the mudflats slightly to the right each day all spring and summer, then eat them back in the winter (except when we lived in New York, which was lovely too). Except for the first day of spring visible on Mt. Sugarloaf, when you couldn't even see the buds on the individual trees they were so barely there, but the sweep of treetops up the mountain gave the gentlest green tint to your vision. First green, indeed.

So, C.R., the thing is, I only imagine those places I've written in the past, I can't envision anything else. Ideal is an unfilled category regarding the needs of writing. Just . . .writing, and the only proof is where it's happened. So, either on Mountain Ave. in Deerfield, or a room in Columbia married housing, or in a little unheated-but-for-by-a-wood-stove cottage by the waters of Puget Sound, or the practice shed on my uncle's (now sold) vacation/farm house (that was the best in regards to being scary quiet). They're all good for me.

I'm so happy with whatever writing I have that I'm happy about, all 20 - 30 pages of it (depends on the week) I'd even take the isolation of my Mom's attic, from when we first moved back from Utah, despite the difficulties of my life then, because of a few poems I have from that time which seem to prove to me it was a place of worthy commune. It was nice, that when I was up to it, I could walk out back with the pear trees. It was like visiting myself.

That said, I wouldn't mind a little flat in Paris. If anyone out there's offering, that is.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


the cranky pages

Just started flipping through my newly-subscribed-to new issue of Poetry and hoo boy, what I've read about the new prose features is true. These really are the cranky pages. Peter Campion takes a swipe at blogs in general and two in particular. He seems to have somehow missed the pages and pages of aesthetic discussion which our 'you-know-whats' are filled with and which are merely leavened by discussion of submission etc (as if the ins and outs of publishing weren't interesting, anyway). Not that there isn't plenty to swipe at, but still, talk about selective reading! "Could these writers really have so little experience outside of the "poetry world?"" He really said that. He must be friends with the Dark Horses. Really odd. I guess he knew what he wanted to say. He was cranky.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The review Anthony Lane was born to write. (as of 5/17/05)

Oh lord, I can't wait to see this movie (though I'd prefer the one the guy in the NYT reviewed). Even though I've despised the last two, and half-despised RotJ.

Strange to say, I feel like the last six months, when I've indulged my interest in gaming (not really playing so much, as reading--other peoples' blogs can be wonderful things for nostalgia, for example, as can ebay--does anyone reading this remember a game called Crossbows and Catapults, for example?) and other boyhood interests, I've grown up a whole bunch, my poetry too. Go figure.

Anyway, I *just* got a call from the Friends' School--we got the funding after all. Holy. I'll write more about the above topic later.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Well, that is the most enjoyable thing I've read all day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Noticing a trend . . .

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View?
created with

Monday, May 09, 2005

The MH sonnet class was wonderful. I'll do my best to sum it up, before I plop off to bed.

She began with a short history of the sonnet, interesting tidbits such as: first form to be written for the vulgate (Italian, 1215, Sicily), and also first form to be written with the intention of being read silently, privately, as opposed to publicly recited or sung. As such, available to anyone who could read/write (i.e. anyone with enough of an education to form a private sense of consciousness), and women too. First female sonneteer, 1250, "La Coza", wrote a sequence of the things to her father, imploring him to not force her into an arranged marriage and instead send her to a convent, where she could study and write in peace (no mention on her father's final decision, though).

Then we read a bunch of sonnets, no surprises (Shakespeare 73, Donne's "Batter My Heart", Hopkins' "No Worse", Brooks' "Rites for Cousin Vit") really, but we spent enough time talking about them (monosyllabic active verbs in the Donne, for example, and the power nonparticipled verbs can carry, that sort of thing) that it had the energy of discovery. Then a break, then back to spend some time on our creations. Only timefor two, though, I got lucky I guess, went first and people basically liked it. The only editorial suggestion MH offered was to lose the final word, to go with the off-rhyme of "season" and "man". But there was a lot of appreciation for the word-play, use of indeterminacy, oceanic give and take too.

Lots of good sonnets there, which makes sense, anyone who signs up for a class like this will probably be invested in the form. Still, it was impressive to read that many intelligently figured out little poems all at once.

In general, MH is very perceptive and generous, and I left feeling much gratitude, moreso than I expected, really. The class had a great atmosphere. I think maybe the EB class was a little harsher than I realized at the time, nice as people were in their comments. Anyway, it helps always to get that praise-feeling in a workshop setting, especially when you don't expect it. I still need to work that last line, though, I know. All in all, a wonderful experience; a wonderful class, and a wonderful teacher.

Ok, good night.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

My snowed-out reading from January has been rescheduled, and I'll be reading at the Ear Inn on Saturday, May 21 at 3 pm.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

On Saturday I'm taking another of these one-shot master classes, this time with Marilyn Hacker on sonnets. This will almost definitely be my last one--they are pricey, and I feel a little like Jonah did when we took him back to his nursery school a few months ago for a little reunion--"Is this okay?" But it's in New Brunswick, so the a) relative low cost to my energy and the b) relative uncommonness of such an event make it seem a no-brainer. So, I'm going.

At least, it's gotten me to write a few sonnets. Here's what I'm taking:

I Didn’t Sonnet

I didn’t know I’d settled into these
days till they had past, and all I’d left
of them was me. I took them as my craft,
they took me through more than they were. Now, please
don’t misunderstand: If my days were seas,
though what they washed up into form had heft,
such salvage is not they; and if days sift
from wash and tide to a fine grain, they seize

back again what they were, gave, in season.
The days I settled to as me were my
self-tidings: assurance that I was; thus I
rode the history of one thought for years
and over years, until it broke: it rears
back, carries another, a new man run.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

I recently started going through my drawer-of-jotted-upon-paper, and found some old notes towards posts never posted so, without further delay, here's a hodgepodge taste, 2 + one undeveloped fragment:

(context for this one? don't remember)

The world is not everything that is the case, but everything that may be the case.

A poem is a field of probability, which phrase is only another word for definition-limits, more than it allows, accuracy as to perception of the subject’s ‘energy’/nature, unless handled with respect for Schroedinger. At the point things become, are made, are poetry, they ‘are’ not so much as they ‘are possibility’. Anything that is, changes, and therefore simultaneously is not. Any world-sense which denies this is a false one.

Shorter: less is More. Such is WCW’s suspension of what may be—‘so much depends’—from what is.

(people take the statement “the world is everything that is the case” as true—but in my thinking it is not. How is saying this different from saying that the ends justify the means? Both are symptoms of bad thinking, and causes of it, too.)


(regarding philosophy/mysticism/theology. why I assumed there is an evolutionary heirarchy to these categories I have no idea)

Not the OED’s first def, but eventually, between semicolons, is maybe what I mean roughly by mysticism: “reliance on spiritual intuition or exalted feeling as the means of acquiring knowledge of mysteries inaccessible to intellectual apprehension.”

Philosophy “the love, study, or pursuit of wisdom, or of knowledge of things and their causes, whether theoretical or practical.” So a philosophy would be a system of “knowledge of things and their causes,” or at least an epistomolgy would.

Are these two exclusionary? Why are they for us? (I suspect because of the prior terms of our philosophy, what Barthes would call our mythologies.)

Theology: “[A] study or science which treats of God, his nature and attributes, and his relationships with man and the universe: ‘the science of things divine (Hooker); divinity.” Even broadening it to nonwestern and nongendered systems/divinities, I guess a theology is a personified mystism. Since we’re people, I guess that it makes sense this should be an important category in its own right.

Then, a further definition of one of the three (moral, natural, metaphysical) branches of Philosophy: “That department of knowledge or study which deals with ultimate reality, or with the most general causes and principles of things.” and two more germane definitions: “sometimes used especially of knowledge obtained by natural reason, in contrast with revealed knowledge”; and “The system which a person forms for the conduct of life.”

So according to the OED (extrapolating), a philosophy becomes a mysticism when one chooses to allow one’s spiritual senses’ input as well. And a theology arises when we personify the spiritual. Is this a necessity for communicating the mystic? For its perception? For bridging the natural impulse of philosophy with the metaphysical impulse of mysticism?

I have no idea.


Don’t you want to be settled now, quiet
in the river from which rain falls?

It started raining, so I did, too.

Whatever I think will be
the reason my small back aches.

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