Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
At the beginning of C-Moon, after
some McCartney-clowning, a woman,
presumably Linda, half-laughs easily
at the 5-second mark. This I played
for a girl half my life ago, at sundown,
in the apartment I shared. She heard
what I heard in that laugh, and that was fire,
friends, that felt smokeless, a shaft of light
leading a multitude through the wastes.
You exhort your people for years on end,
you codify the words that come to you
in a finger of smoke smoting stone
at the peaks of mountains, and you die
for a mysterious infraction.
Water from a stone evaporates, joins
its brethren in the wreath around the world,
is breathed in, keeping sky blue, rotting
a body even while giving it life to shake
that tambourine. Linda couldn’t sing,
was the common story, and I, too, laughed
cruelly at the tape going round. But the girl
in the apartment could. She was the promised land
glimpsed in sound slipping away, or dead:
The laugh’s gone as it’s being registered,
cannot here be fixed. Macca loved his wife
to the end, the blessed sentimentalist. There:
There’s a figure walking by the window
doesn’t know me, doesn’t know I’m here.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
No one imagines that we’d wind up with a world that looks like this on the basis of the technology that’s emerged in the last hundred years. Emergent technology is the most powerful single driver of change in the world, and it has been forever. Technology trumps politics. Technology trumps religion. It just does. And that’s why we are where we are now. It seems so self-evident to me that I can never go to that Technology: threat or menace? position. Okay, well, if we don’t do this, what are we going to do? This is not only what we do, it’s literally who we are as a species. We’ve become something other than what our ancestors were.
I’m sitting here at age 52 with almost all of my own teeth. That didn’t used to happen. I’m a cyborg. I’m immune to any number of lethal diseases by virtue of technology. I’m sitting on top of this enormous pyramid of technology that starts with flint hand-axes and finds me in a hotel in Austin, Texas, talking to someone thousands of miles away on a telephone and that’s just what we do. At this point, we don’t have the option of not being technological creatures.
Monday, November 29, 2010
when it was important to be important is a necessary walk
through the fire of humility. it lives on to confront you--
terrible melodies and earnest signs, the stab at currency
in bad clothing and hair that looks like that--and memory,
too, does a good job of it. in 8th grade, when i thought
to play a trick on some girls: i ran toward them
on the blacktop with my plan. i tripped and fell on my knees
and elbows and palms, and their laughter and the are you
all rights. i refuse to forget. i'm telling you this, sonny,
because you keep smirking whenever i tell you anything.
you'll see. you'll see. i'm telling you, sonny: you'll see.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Trans. (?) V.S. Vernon Jones
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
The sword, if a sword,
gleamed beneath breath
of cold morning, exhaled
by the man whose neck
would soon be irrecoverably
gashed. Soon's not soon
enough to convey its
quickness. Movies wrecked
us, revealed us: Image
followed image faster
than words, and mind
Who is this man who is
about to die? Events
have led him here.
The meaty sound
of metal on flesh rings
from speaker to ear.
Crumbling figures vanish
with the cut of the scene,
the credits’ upward scroll,
the car walk, the quiet
in the drive home snapped
at the question you fear
asking but do: So.
What'd you think?
The answer rings in
the cabin, or doesn't—
the voice low or voluble,
depending, but, I speak
here only for me: one
puts forward a word,
helplessly, and one
can't help but not get
what's wanted in return,
when it itself is not
What is wanted?
Friday, October 1, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
visiting a carnival. And she was old-timey,
in the lilt of her voice, was lady-like too,
came in fact from South Dakota and it was
the carnival where she said it, into the air,
as we exited together the Hammerhead, me
feeling a mite woozy. Her dress, which slipped
on my lap as we spun, mightn't have flown
back home in Rapid City among her kin,
but who can say? She was as tender to me
as a teacup, and smooth like one, and brittle,
full--a rush of warmth. I'll win you
a panda, and we'll head out to space.
Conditions demand it. The night does. The day.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
his undeveloped chest above his well developed
paunch--looked like he could be
Vampire Weekend in glasses.
Maybe he was, walking around college cause
he missed it, but this was no Columbia,
and that's no reason to cry, unless you want
a promising future. Buck up, man!
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Sometimes I think it is sentimental, or excessive, certainly not intellectual, or perhaps too naive, too self-wounded to value each life like that, to feel loss to the point of being bent over each time. There is no innovating loss. It was never invented, it happened as something physical, something physically experienced. It is not something an "I" discusses socially. Though Myung Mi Kim did say that the poem is really a responsibility to everyone in a social space. She did say it was okay to cramp, to clog, to fold over at the gut, to have to put hand to flesh, to have to hold the pain, and then to translate it here. She did say, in so many words, that what alerts, alters.
In truth I know the answer to her question, but how can I say to her, Understand without effort that man is left, at times thinking, as if trying to weep. I am somewhat rephrasing the poet Cesar Vallejo because Vallejo comes closest to explaining that any kind of knowledge can be a prescription against despair...
Sunday, September 12, 2010
is no thing, of course, in the way
that word's used, and words read
in volumeless, voluminous waste,
incapable of weakening sad's dominion.
This arrival comes in light of a smile
attached to one whom I expected to,
later and without expectation, send me
a dispatch from a life beyond my ken,
as anybody's is for you, for me, and
who will now not be sending it.
What's the proper tribute? What loss.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
when the stairs abruptly turn up to the right
and the window behind her blazes out
a wash of sunshine that in the colorless
film stock washes her out chest to crown
toward the ceiling. Her skirt is an altar
which upon the presence of God rests, He
the author and sustainer of all things we read,
and if interpretation is embodiment, then
the vision seen at home on that screen
has sustained sentences that rise and pause
at a break in the ascension before turning
abruptly away from the power that made them.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
be sure to work them seamlessly into a straight face.
The coffee, black natch, in the cup is a constrained sea.
For us here the land is: The "sea grows old in it" we read,
satisfied, mysteriously. A white prow below a white deck
and sails cuts through the dark, unstable mirror,
apparently unframed, fog obscuring the border
where image yields to the receding hills--always
something darting behind the next breast. You may stop
regarding yourself. Look what else there is to see.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
They don't mean to but don't stop letting you know.
There is a star with a clock in it bursting from the wall.
They all wear swatches that double as weights for their tanned and muscled arms.
We get it: you're great.
Love better be better.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Yet something else
to do—not said in tones
especially authoritative (unearned,
Stalinistic, like as to those
we read about with untraceable cash
we never have buying
policy)—is learn to wait,
always meaning long.
Set up camp for what you want
and make it what you want, for soon
from around the invisible
intuited screen… —To sum up:
Calm and slow down, it’s happening
fast: you (won’t) know.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Poetry points out literature’s ambivalent oscillation between what Craig Mod calls “formless content” and “definite content”—between a discourse conveyed without fixed visual shape and a discourse that relies on specific appearance. Poetry shows that literature, like light, is both wave and particle. - Siobhan Phillips
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Also: Television. When I was a college d.j., we had two go-to songs to play when you needed time to leave the studios and get to the restroom across the hall: King Crimson's "In the Court of the Crimson King" and Television's "Marquee Moon." I always enjoyed, though I didn't pay close attention to, the Television song, but I recently purchased the album that shares its name, Marquee Moon, and it's terrific. Everyone praises the guitar playing on it, so it's nothing for me to say, Everyone's right. Bach is in tray one of the CD player with Television in number two.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
If this all sounds unformed, it is. I'm simply trying to understand why I don't buy certain kinds of writing. A sentence fragment, as a thing, is not something I object to. A well-placed fragment can be devastating. In some poetry, all we get are fragments, which in their broken-up quality carry great emotional resonance. And maybe, since I've been reading Ovid in translation and Keats and Melville lately, I'm feeling partial to the "completed" sentence. I still feel, though, that there's an over-reliance on the fragment, that it's an easier way "out" of vexing compositional, or editorial, even aleatory, predicaments, and that somehow it feels like a tic, an unexamined habit, more than anything else.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Look no further than to Rush Limbaugh or Keith Olbermann, or the comments section of an online article, to see that public discourse is coarse and getting coarser, driven by often illogical statements serving larger, often all-too-incoherent agendas. And I’ve had more than one experience—with students, with family, even with strangers at the grocery store—where what seemed to me a harmless utterance of greeting or preference is scanned for ideological bias. The world of poetry is no less fraught. How can you work in this lonely art and not consider the risks of being dismissed as a Quietist on the one hand or as an obscurantist on the other? Even worse is to be labeled with the appellation “Third Way” or “Hybrid,” those poets wanting it both ways and thus having it neither way. It's enough to make you want to simply refuse—to refuse conclusions, arrivals, or any clear allegiance.
Elisa Gabbert, in The French Exit, appears to take this path of refusal. A key method for blazing it is, oddly enough, through making declarations. Sometimes these serve humorous conceits—“You will be woken by the chirping of the birds, which is the sound of their egos escaping their bodies” (“Ornithological Blogpoem”)—and sometimes self-definition: “I don’t want to apprehend the unknown” (“Day Trip with Spires”). To reverse the old writing-class maxim, these poems “tell” instead of “show,” but what they tell remains veiled, to the reader and, quite possibly, to their speaker as well.
Take these lines from “Blogpoem the Litany”: “The people need more opiates, or less. / One way or the other they are not satisfied.” And here’s “Poem with a Threat,” which I quote in full:
Columning storm cloud, natch, dead bird.
My fear of X is worse than X,
more scary. What am I wearing?
The less I recognize myself, the less
I contradict—scratch, feel contrary
to my mirror image in the “pool of grief”
down there. No one would ever say that.
But I may say “puddle of despair.”
Finally, the concluding lines of “Poem with Negation”:
Toward the definition,
untoward the meaning. I run
through the emphases—
It doesn’t mean anything.
It doesn’t mean anything.
It doesn’t mean anything.
It doesn’t mean anything.
“Toward the definition” and “untoward the meaning”: Like the majority of what’s in the book, each of these has the word “poem” in the title, reminding us that what we’re reading are, in fact, poems (as defined at the top of the page), even as the words comprising them, as the lines readily claim, don’t add up to anything.
Early in the book, Gabbert describes the landscape as “supersaturated with meanings. / With meaningness,” and part of what her work embodies is the anxiety of the moment, of being overwhelmed and alienated by a speeded- (and speeding-) up society. Wordsworth described an affliction of an “almost savage torpor,” caused by political upheaval, the growth of cities, and the “craving for extraordinary incident, which the rapid communication of intelligence hourly gratifies.” (What would he have made of the 21st Century?) For him, poetry was to defend and preserve all that’s good in the world, was to carry forward with it “relationship and love,” and it would do this by using the language of common men and the subjects of common life, reminding readers of a shared humanity. Even as his diagnosis remains sapient, his prescription has come to feel quaint, as much of the Romantic project has, in the face of lightning-quick change and rampant ecological destruction. This may explain why poets like Gabbert retreat into their own heads, describing the distorted view of the world perception affords, like the backward, very limited vision provided within a camera obscura (which happens to be the subject of one of her poems): It may not be an accurate picture of things, but it’s mine. A blurb on the back of the book makes this very point, describing the work as “obsessively interior.”
It’s the poet’s interior whim (and whimsy) that leads her in “Blogpoem w/ Ellipses” to contemplate what happens to holes—like the dent in her car—when they “die,” i.e., are fixed: “Their cemetery / sure would seem a waste / of space.” Halfway through, the poem marks the end of this reverie by (you guessed it) ellipses before moving into a description of what could be called morbid torpor:
I’ve started practicing
creative apathy. Can’t
spend all day in transit
among various funerals.
Everybody’s got the
same epitaph anyway:
Was alive. Is Not. Tried
To Save Life Thru Not
Caring. Died Bored.
You read a poem like this and see what Gabbert’s up to. The radically different halves of the poem, lightly connected by death-industry terms, suggest that any move a poem makes—even when it seems meaningful in some “organic” sense—is, in fact, arbitrary. The fact of death makes it so, reducing everyone, and every human act, to a kind of “living” funeral. One way to face that awful situation is to practice “creative apathy,” “not caring” as a means of self-preservation, but the gravestone makes concretely clear that the strategy doesn’t work. What, then, to do? The only vital alternative, the only pathway to life, to waking up, is “desire,” and even that’s circumscribed: “My desire / flaps and beats against the walls / like an idiot bird trapped inside the flue” (“Camera Obscura”).
The image brings to mind Ron Silliman’s recent poem-in-progress, Revelator: “Desire, / Desire is the answer, hunger / never rests.” What gets a person, or what gets Silliman, up every morning to work, is the same thing that gets the geese up “each dawn / now for decades circling lake.” Desire orders a being’s existence and gives it agency, but only if it has an object, and though Gabbert does indicate one now and again—most touchingly in the final poem, when she asks of her brother, “(If he’s mine, / why can’t I keep him?)”—the poems in this book often seem willfully object-less, making a piece like “Poem with Intrinsic Music” stand out by contrast:
Empty tennis courts of autumn,
the landscape wants to appropriate you
like fallow cortex, the brain over-
turning itself: A blind woman has no use
for sports, but the cells could go
to memorizing Bach—the cello suites,
Say those lines out loud. The title of the poem winks at us, its author showing us she knows this is recognizably “musical” writing, but that knowingness attacks its very real beauty and sense, as if Gabbert wants to apologize for giving to people a pleasure they go to poetry for. You want to say, Yes, we’re all masses of mixed motives, and Yes, meaning often feels more a product of the interpreter’s perspective than of any (ugly phrase) “objective reality,” but art this self-consciously, showily aware betrays a lack of faith, if not in the poet then in the reader. Her misgivings are stated more directly at the end of “X”:
I want to lie on the top level
of an empty garage, to be close
to the sky as I lose my mind—
I’m afraid. I’m afraid
I’ll feel pretty
The cleverness of these breaks seems meant to blunt or hide the fear these lines really allude to, which is not of transcendence but of the means of getting there: escaping, or “losing,” one’s own mind. A poet must engage that fear, I think. She’s got to risk looking like a fool.
Monday, July 26, 2010
The home budget is not for foreclosure:
If you’re making a budget, you’re making
A plan, indicating optimism, indicating
You’re planning on sticking with this person
You’re making the budget with, despite
Everything this person is or does that falls short
Of your perfect, flawed ideal. I love you, baby.
Let’s have a baby. We’ll name her Milly: Baby Milly.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
This is the last song on The Replacements’ Pleased to Meet Me—a meeting, in hindsight, that proved both disastrous and inevitable. Until this point, the Mats—and Paul Westerberg, the man—were content being a rock ‘n’ roll band in the most careening sense of the term. You sense that why they forgot to take out the trash in the first place is because they were loudly playing guitars or listening to records where Mick Ronson or Greg Ginn loudly played theirs. “God Damn Job” is, by virtue of being the name of a rock ‘n’ roll song, all the indication you need of the band’s professional allegiances. That they weren’t professional is why their fans loved them so. Just look at ‘em chase each other around the set of Saturday Night Live: They’ve got a major-label deal and a national audience and don’t know—or don’t care to learn—how to act. And though they hired outside producers (emphasis on that adjective) for their first two Sire releases, the producers were Westerberg heroes—Tommy Ramone and Jim Dickinson, respectively—who botched the job: Tim’s gotta contend for the most brilliant, bad-sounding record ever; and Pleased is afflicted by ’80s compression-sickness. But that, too, is part of the charm. Not getting it right—whether shambling drunk in front of an audience or locked in sheeny resonance on vinyl or cassette—gave credibility to Westerberg’s lyrics as offhand, unforced poetry. Since the music was raucous, and the words mumbled, we could believe that playing in a band beats “picking cotton and waiting to be forgotten,” or that, for us lonely souls out here looking to connect with somebody, anybody, “somebody’s gonna show up—never fear!”
In this album- and era-capping track, the Replacements are augmented by another hero (Alex Chilton) on guitar, along with horns and strings, all recorded in Memphis! The guitar tone is crisp as Sunday toast, the bass as straightforward and unpretentious as the unpretentious heartthrob playing it, and the drums sprightly and locked-in (to a click track, no doubt). It’s that rhythm section and Westerberg’s voice that connect the song to the rest of the Mats’ catalog, and despite all the sonic addenda, the thing works, strings soaring to accompany the unadorned image, “Lights that flash in the evening, through a hole in the drapes,” guitar and tom fills amens to the voice’s testimony. It’s a recording that flirts with a new way of making music: revised, well rehearsed.
Like early Springsteen, the Replacements wanted out—out of school, out of the house, out of work, out of whatever adolescent imprisonment they felt. “We’re coming out!” they’d sang/shouted, and it felt immediate, like it was happening right now. (In this song, the longing is articulated right there in the title.) The problem is where to go once you escape. In the case of the Mats, they would pass out in bed wanting to rock hard and wake up wanting, even if half-heartedly, to be stars. Their next producer, a real pro, recorded them in Los Angeles—and the words and music became mannered, slick, the kind of thing people expected from a press-proclaimed genius. They lost their edge because outsiders don’t sound authentic when they’re so clearly—to the ear, anyway—inside. The public, apparently, didn’t buy it. But longing is still a sweet sound, the only subject of rock ‘n roll from the beginning: “I’ll be home when I’m sleeping.” What he “can’t hardly wait” for is not love or being understood or fame but the sweet and self-preserving obliteration of desire.
[The demo version of the song, arguably much better, with Bob Stinson on lead guitar, is a truer Replacements song. It also tells a different, less complicated story.]
Friday, July 16, 2010
As Players at the Keys
Before they drop full Music on--
He stuns you by degrees--
Prepares your brittle Nature
For the Ethereal Blow
By fainter Hammers--further heard--
Then nearer--Then so slow
Your Breath has time to straigten--
Your Brain--to bubble Cool--
That scalps your naked Soul--
When Winds take Forests in their Paws--
The Universe--is still--
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;
Engine against th’ Almightie, sinners towre,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-daies world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear;
Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bels beyond the starres heard, the souls bloud,
The land of spices; something understood.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
At Sestos Hero dwelt; Hero the fair,
Whom young Apollo courted for her hair,
And offered as a dower his burning throne,
Where she should sit for men to gaze upon.
The outside of her garments were of lawn,
The lining purple silk, with gilt stars drawn;
Her wide sleeves green, and bordered with a grove
Where Venus in her naked glory strove
To please the careless and disdainful eyes
Of proud Adonis, that before her lies;
Her kirtle blue, whereon was many a stain,
Made with the blood of wretched lovers slain.
Upon her head she ware a myrtle wreath,
From whence her veil reached to the ground beneath.
Her veil was artificial flowers and leaves,
Whose workmanship both man and beast deceives;
Many would praise the sweet smell as she passed,
When ‘twas the odor which her breath forth cast;
And there for honey, bees have sought in vain,
And, beat from hence, have lighted there again.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I being young and foolish, with her would not agree.
In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Sumer is ycomen in,
Loude sing cuckou!
Groweth seed and bloweth meed,
And springth the wode now.
Ewe bleteth after lamb,
Loweth after calve cow,
Bulloc sterteth, bucke verteth,
Merye sing cuckou!
Wel singest thou cuckou:
Ne swik though never now!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience-calmed—see here it is—
I hold it towards you.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Created from clay the pot that holds our dinner
Made of vegetables and a little meat heated
On the stove with lines of gas buried and running
To the street to the main that remains in full flow
Supplying to all these houses on our block
And beyond out into worlds of ideas meaning
Someone thought of what to eat and how to cook it
And how to live in a way that is easy as pie
Though one hears complaining by and by
For reasons pertaining to freedom of the will,
Edwards’ essay on which I’m half-way through
In hope of learning something about why I am
The way I am and why everyone else is too
Because I’m curious and concerned and in want
Of a drink and a meal and a little space to think
Monday, June 14, 2010
Sometimes a man stands up during supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.
And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.
And another man, who remains inside his own house,
dies there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,
so that his children have to go far out into the world
toward that same church, which he forgot.
Trans. by Robert Bly
Saturday, June 12, 2010
A drapeless window. Away from kids
And wife for the weekend, the bed
Is quiet, the room unpressurized,
The house airy. I miss my life
As it is even for this short time
But this short time is a gift.
On the phone, I love you to each
Of the three. No faces to register.
Words like mortars flying
Toward a target obscured by a ridge
May or may not hit the target.
You must trust the coordinates, trust
Experience and expertise.
Friday, June 11, 2010
I get a break when the kids go down
And leave the house onto the path
I’m on each time I leave, with headphones
On, removing the right one when people
Pass by to say hi there, hello.
In fifty minutes or so I feel it
In my knee and sometimes ankle
And look into that bar I never enter
And walk on the pier and the water
When the moon’s full behind me now
By the shore is bright and slick,
Glassed-in and tinted purple.
I talked on the phone telling the person
I talked with about it once.
Fishermen leave so much trash
On the planks—plastic bags and cups,
Paper bags from dinner, styrofoam
Trays from frozen bait. It blows into
The ocean or will. I pick some up.
Someone seeing me will see it’s ok
To pick up trash you didn’t make,
The people who left it shamed by my act.
Nobody changes far as I can tell.
Surfing years before, a man in the water
Yelled at some others You’re not from here
Fuckin’ losers, get the fuck out of the water.
I wanted a gun. I wanted to see him cry.
I have few dreams, but the strongest I feel
Have to do with hurting people
Who should hurt, like you.
How many years I feel wronged,
Wrong myself. I know but what you don’t
I have this sense when you come
To me against me I hunger to unleash
Torrents of feeling true and therefore right,
Light by which comes the vaunted recognition
Of sin. I never will, who would hear it?
I fear it would when meeting air’s catalysis
Turn meaning that can’t be argued into
Banality by sound, by manifestation.
Let’s keep it mystery. Let’s keep quiet
Our misery, slow, decaying. I don’t want to.
I know I’m right. You know you are.
Can’t be helped. The feet each time
Pass over knotted planks, worn bricks
And lift over the aluminum threshold,
The brink of a house, and enter there
And there you are in bed awake of course.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Like lids and screws in our hemisphere.
In yours, you’ve got spiral variety.
And depending on the continent:
Dingo, hyena, or the maned wolf.
Dogs and dog-like creatures are where
My inclinations lean. It’s that pack-ness,
That loyalty to leadership.
This has its problems.
A boy scout in the Ozarks, I let
The leader take us down an unmapped
Path. We found the abandoned cabin
He knew as a kid now used by meth-
Heads. The dog guarding it
Was trained to attack by his master.
That cabin is now long-gone—
Tornadoes. I assume they turn the same
As all else up here, errant tops
Spinning right across the regions
Destroying evidence mindlessly.
Those killers won the lottery,
Burrowed in the earth like foxes.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
“If that’s what he means,” says the student to the poetry teacher, “why doesn’t he just say it?” “If God is real,” says the parishioner to the preacher, “why doesn’t he simply storm into our lives and convince us?” The questions are vastly different in scale and relative importance, but their answers are similar. A poem, if it’s a real one, in some fundamental sense means no more and no less than the moment of its singular music and lightning insight; it is its own code to its own absolute and irreducible clarity. A god, if it’s a living one, is not outside of reality but in it, of it (though in ways it takes patience and imagination to perceive). Thus the uses and necessities of metaphor, which can flash us past our plodding resistance and habits into strange new truths. Thus the very practical effects of music, myth, image, which tease us not out of reality but deeper and more completely into it.- Christian Wiman
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I had this experience a couple of years ago where I got to sit in on the editorial meeting at the Onion. Every Monday they have to come up with like 17 or 18 headlines, and to do that, they generate 600 headlines per week. I feel like that's why it's good: because they are willing to be wrong 583 times to be right 17.
It kind of gives you hope. If you do creative work, there's a sense that inspiration is this fairy dust that gets dropped on you, when in fact you can just manufacture inspiration through sheer brute force. You can simply produce enough material that the thing will arrive that seems inspired.
- Ira Glass [more here]
Monday, June 7, 2010
Fearfully and wonderfully made the tiger
Moves through a fractured landscape
Toward the end it conceives of as
Perhaps unslakeable thirst for sleep
Coming on, a lightless canopy.
His teeth are dulled and fall out, and the leaps
He made toward prey are a memory
Muscles retain when the body will not comply.
This largest of cats starves.
There are 2,000 left in the wild, hunted
For bones used in Chinese Medicine,
Penises for aphrodisiacs. The fact
That people act against their interests
Is evidenced daily, everywhere.
This is not it. The tiger existed and exists.
In the shadow of trees near home is
A faint scraping. Unseen in their branches
Are wings. The word is always whispered,
World without end, though the life has not
Taken the expected form.—Overwritten
And underfunded. Poorly conceived.
A person must reach when learning
It's too late to buy a dog or start a hobby.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I used to take the waterslide
to work but now I take
the catapult. Sometimes I skip.
How the stars would be reflected
in the deep pools of your eyes
if not for the air pollution
and your two eye patches!
There's a flower
in the blue bottle that once
had Orangina in it. The flowers
are orange but the water
in the bottle only looks blue
because the bottle is blue.
Who thinks to put an orange drink
in a blue bottle? I’d like to meet this person
and interrogate him, tenderly.
Wisdom through Experience
Everybody thinks I’m great
until they marry me.