...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Monday, May 31, 2010

S.P. Poem #102: Losers My Heroes

You said Stop

making losers your heroes.

Somebody else somewhere

told me make friends with them

and you won't be alone.

So far it's worked out.

A friend is a friend

who aw man I can't go on wi

Sunday, May 30, 2010

S.P. Poem #101: The Ball

The ball hit the

Bird and feathers

Like a ball of

Dispersing smoke

Replaced what flew,

And the pitcher

Stood stunned before

What the batter

Already knew,

Or suspected.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Blake: Infant Sorrow

My mother groan'd! my father wept.
Into the dangerous world I leapt:
Helpless, naked, piping loud:
Like a fiend hid in a cloud.

Struggling in my father's hands,
Striving against my swaddling bands,
Bound and weary I thought best
To sulk upon my mother's breast.

S.P. Poem #100: BP says so far, Gulf well plug isn't working

How do you like my petroleum skirt?

It’s specially made. When I wear it to work

It blows student minds, who like to ask me,

Are you trying to make a point here, Mr. D?

("Here" is not the "point" is the reply I prefer.)

And as you can see, I also like to wear

It out--Sorry, by the way, about your couch.

These coal shoes, too, might be a bit much.

I wear them to play hoops. The sign there reads

No black soles on the court, but a person needs

To make his mark, right? My solar wallet's

Inefficient, though its coolness quotient’s solid:

People always turn my way whenever I use it.

I'd let you borrow it, but you'd probably lose it.

Friday, May 28, 2010

S.P. Poem #99: The Freeway

Ahead the freeway moves cars together,

Leaves on the same curving current of wind,

Ascending the contour the lanes take

Hills before them shaped, smoothed by men.

A leaf separated from a larger volume

Or a strip pulled gently from unrolled silk,

A strip gently banked carries out

A smoke-gray Corolla, an old Explorer.

Toward meaning a pattern exists—

Movement in one direction, another:

A little more off the top, please,

Have you got these in a different size.

Toward meaning for those who read it,

That is. Brain evolved to recognize such

That makes the body housing it survive.

Survival is, or thriving, whatever that is,

Requiring meaning past breathing.

Cars lean down at unseen circumstance

Before them, slowing, an array of red lights

Lights up invisibly connected communicating

Something the mind can read—electricity made

Visible in bulbs racing down the spine to foot

For instantaneous brake. I’m sorry I’m late.

Next time give yourself more time, o.k.?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Listen to this



And the next thing I know was that some hands grabbed me and lifted me out of the tide--and if it wasn't again Moondoggie, giving me this smug, big grin as if he had just been standing by to fish me out.

I wanted to get off the board--trying to help Lord Gallo retrieve Fiasco. But he had a firm grip on me.

"Don't fidget--Gidget"

"Oh--go to Gunneriff!" I told him. It was part of the monkey-talk I had picked up from the boys. I didn't know exactly what it meant.

"Take it slow, Joe."

"Turn deaf, Jeff."

That chopped him royal.

Read This

Holy smokes this is a good poem: "Song Thrush," by David Caddy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

S.P. Poem # 98: Star

Your politics are conventional,

As all politics are;

Your habits unmentionable

But mention them you do

So that all can see what

You’re giving and not

Giving away for free.

Each transmission lands

With the grace of a crunch

Of a crashed car.

That’s why you’re a star,

Honey, and boring,

And bored.

Power Pop Hit Parade: Flamin' Groovies

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

S.P. Poem # 97: On the Computer

On the computer the game’s so peaceful:

No Phoenix to cheer Artest’s walk

And bring stress to the room.

When we do get the games on t.v., I lately

Turn them low for peace. The laptop screen

Shows balls enlarging (the view's

From above the court) to mimic

The arc of the shot, and if they go in:

2PT (or 3) on a ball

Filling the circle of the key, and

If it goes out: MISS.

The Lakers are down by eight.

They’re hard to love but I want the win.

“Desire / Desire is the answer,

hunger / Never rests,” Silliman says

In his new time poem “Revelator”

In a book next to these keys;

It keeps us going (jejune phrase

Of the sort I was surprised to see,

Too, in his poetry, but true).

He'll sometimes make a joke to obscure—

I think this is the method—the information:

The heart (or what “surrounds” it),

Meaningless term shared by many who seem

To mean it. Lakers will lose.

Silliman and Collins both understand it.

We yolk unequals equally.

The tongues of fire taste and see,

The first phrase worn by use, and I wanted

To make a new one to describe what the wind

Brings the disciples, but thinking upon it

There’s no improving it.

What nourishes: What doesn’t burn.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Song of the Week: Vague Anthem

Soon, we'll figure out why the Google player isn't working. For now, click here to listen or download this week's song.

S.P. Poem # 96: Before the End Comes Great Beauty

The clouds look stretched my son tells me,

As if they’re being pulled apart. I don’t

Remember clouds like that, though that

May signify nothing. But May like this—

Cool and windy with a daily threat of rain:

What does it mean? The light is cascading.

Word of the Day

"The real cause of the Gulf disaster? Our insatiable appetite for oil. We must look for it in ever more remote places, and extract it in ever riskier ways… " [MORE]

Sunday, May 23, 2010

S.P. Poem # 95: Must

There are things in life one must do

and then there's "must," as in in heat,

which is the condition the beast shot

in "Shooting an Elephant" enjoyed,

if that word can here be employed.

Orwell wore a mask. His fate

grew to fit it. And he wrote he knew

what he "must do": Shoot the elephant.

He could have said no, but the elephant

could do nothing about its rage, what

with its biological imperative and all.

There were no other elephants around

to get busy with. I'd be pissed, too.

Friday, May 21, 2010

S.P. Poem # 94: Athis

Oh, Athis, beautiful boy, Ovid betrays us

By sketching your grace, dexterity, and history—

Your birth of a nymph “Beneath waves

of Ganges’ purest waters”—as if

Leading us into new, even hopeful, tales.

Since all end in some shift away

From what’s what through no fault

Of the circumstantial victims—and victims

They are—think Philomela’s rape,

Think Actaeon’s dismemberment—

We should expect when we read “Yet as

an archer [you] had greater gifts, /And as

[you] drew an arrow to [your] bow”

The inevitable bodily change. We get it.

No bird or tree, your face instead is smashed

By Perseus into a “net of bones.” For what?

S.P. Poem # 93: The Dunes

The dunes smudge hazy beige

in the valley. Wait, Friend,

till we park and escaping into heat and sky

you’ll see in the small humps of sand you

tumble across toward the largest

dunes tracks of animals zipping and

turning from and under Manzanita.

Whatever those plants are eventually

give out as sand drifts become hills

and troughs between them grow

deep and flat with cracked dirt

made by temporary pools.

Pick a ridge and stick to it along

its long, gentle slope until the apex

arrives under your feet. Look out.

I’ll wait until you see it. There,

above the horizon. Look how

quickly it moves. There’s no stopping it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Word of the Day

"...and [they] then asked me questions like, 'That's all well and good, but I just wanna know: do you bring gang members to Jesus?' And I said, 'Well, actually they bring me to Jesus.'"

Father Greg Boyle

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

S.P. Poem #92: Sweet Phenomenon

Sweet phenomenon, your time is at hand.

Whatever passed between us remains within

Like a vague heat. You brought many

Together to one place. We occupied it and

Enjoyed each other for what each was

And all seemed grateful. Attention wanes.

There’s nothing to be done about it.

The germ of death assures it, and that people

Are less interested, less attentive than they were

Is to be expected. There are other things

They’ve turned their eyes to. There are other

People. They came when they could, and we didn’t

Know each other but seemed to know each other

Anyway and were grateful for it. So long.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

S.P. Poem #91: The Dog

The dog eating the pre-chewed fruit

Does so to obey his doggie instinct

That has no voice but only impulse

As like the current makes the fan blow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

S.P. Poem # 90: Shop

The spark from the red clamp on the car battery

is the light that nibbles the air around the terminal,

or to be more accurate: when the air is consumed

light is produced. If overcharged the battery

might produce hydrogen that will when sparked

explode. My autoshop teacher said he was once

working on a ’68 Mustang and that kind of thing

shot the battery straight up—knocking the hood

off its hinges—fifty feet. Blow at it with your mouth,

like this, whoosh (or poof or *sigh*), before you

use cables or remove the contacts. Be careful

where you lay the screwdriver. The physics of this

seemed impossible--if the explosion’s at the top

of the battery where the gas supposedly pools.

Besides, my woodshop teacher had him beat, telling us

about the time his buddy working on the band saw

snatched back his hand as if shocked and shook it

and his thumb past the first knuckle flew through

the room. The hood meant something but the digit

meant more. We were in eighth grade then. I didn’t

shower after P.E., being afraid of the other boys.

Friday, May 14, 2010

S.P. Poem #89: Red Rooster

Red rooster on the roof, depicter

Of the creature providing us meat,

We salute your imperious posture.

We salute your insouciance.

Power Pop Hit Parade: Guided by Voices


S.P. Poem #88: Optimism in Poetry

Carl Sandburg’s “We’ll get along”

is no rare evidence for it.

Also admissible in court:

“the heart of the people, / Laughing”;

“I am a pal of the world”; “When I,

the People, learn to remember,”

and “use the lessons of yesterday.”

Malcolm Gladwell (writes with confidence!),

likes to say: “We need more generalists.

Generalists outperform specialists

in many tasks.”

I believe it. Formulation

as practice is a must to move

any direction and also death.

The map for example

(as I’ve told you tiresomely

before) creates and kills land.

I didn’t know Point Conception

would be so big, so windswept.

A person thrashes legs in bed

as if something in them’s just beneath

the skin, and sleep is burdensome,

unreachable achievement—

sometimes one prays,

sometimes one wants formulation.

(I’m like everybody else. Help.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sound of the Day

Joby Talbot: String Quartet #1

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

S.P. Poem # 87: Poem Derived from Sandburg

I am mass.

You know that through me

the workingman, the maker of food

witnesses history. Napoleons

and Lincolns die. Napoleons

and Lincolns

seed prairie for plowing.

Terrible storms forget me sucked out

and wasted. Death makes

me give what I forget.

I growl and spatter.

Monday, May 10, 2010

S.P. Poem #86: Four Strophes Using Exclamation Points


The waterfall said, You’ll get sick

From beavers crapping up river,

But I had nothing else to drink!


I’m not afraid to use my fists--

No matter what my mom says!


In the factory, they make containers

Now to be used later, and they ship

Them in even bigger containers.

Officer, wait, I'm not finished!


Look: The sword I bought has Gandalf on its hilt.

En garde!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

S.P. Poem # 85: Postcard to Someone

We took the island course inland

Where the hills were split by rain,

Where paths of red dirt lay, and roads

were wet and black and windy.

With car parked we heard leaves

Brushing against leaves, and later,

The path clinging to our shoes,

We found the car where we left it

And brought back on its floor mats

The land to our hotel room. Oh well,

We said, one after the other,

We never did make the volcano.

She'd planned on pushing me in, she said,

Which would’ve been pretty cool,

I admitted. In my voice I hid it,

The secret thrill. And then she jumped

My bones—first time in twenty

Married years without tears.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

S.P. Poem #84: In Bloom

Driving at night, the song,

the speakers, that one

teenager with radio low,

walking. The sun

dips the horizon, blocked

from oncoming evening—

shapes the scent of whatever

is in bloom. You wish

to tell the person you’re with,

against impulse, but surrender

again beneath the wide sky

without weight. Remain



Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Word of the Day II


Song of the Week: 100 Stones [wordless]

Today's song of the week can be listened to here. For some reason, the Google music player is out of service. As soon as it's working again, the song will also be playable on this blog. As the above image indicates, we've been posting 'covers' for each of the songs, as in old singles (like this), and we're working backward as well as forward. Another can be viewed here.

S.P. Poem # 83: Music While Running Softens Running

Music while running softens running.

Sand absorbs somewhat the shock

beneath bones knocking together.

Nighttime’s cooler. There are no lenses

to smear with sweat. Stretches of walking,

and not eating too soon before (or long after),

and supportive (but not overly so) footwear

along with non-binding clothes—be they

made for wicking the moisture away

or mere lightness—will all together help

facilitate the kind of movement

the limbs need to evade attention so

that the mind can possess what ails it--

scorpions, in MacBeth's case, but not

The Scorpions. No offense, but I hate

those guys. Well not those guys.

Their music: I dislike it, though I’m sure

they're all perfectly nice men. Ah, poetry!

Word of the Day

"Honeydew's the money melon." - Krusty the Clown

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

S.P. Poem #82: If, When Driving

If, when driving at night, the song

comes to the speakers, that one

you knew, a teenager at home

with door closed and radio low

while your parents watched t.v.

downstairs; or if you’re out walking

as the sun dips into the horizon,

and even if that action’s blocked from view

you feel in the oncoming evening

the clarity of shapes, the eaves sharpening

along their edges and the scent

of whatever is unidentifiably in bloom

nearby, and you wish to tell the person

you’re with something indelible

and time-restraining; or if you struggle

against your own impulses but in dismay

surrender to them again beneath

the “wide and never lost” sky, the sky

that retains its unregistrable curve

while the earth’s scalable curve slides

within it, sphere suspended within

sphere comprised of what is without

weight—Why does it remain here

with us? What is this that I feel?

Power Pop Hit Parade: Adam Again

Monday, May 3, 2010

S.P. Poem #81: Revelation 21.5

I am making all things new begins with

two trochees, first a quick slide eye-yam then

a buckled floor, the k hardening the

slip from stress to tonal drop: kinetic,

continuous. What it leads to all things

new is three beats consecutively stressed

slowing tongue and teeth, the dynamic drive

of the verb working to make audibly

serene (or quiet and emphatic, depending

on your reader) its object, second word

of which contains four distinct sounds, like all

four elements bound into one raft,

one “floating, cohesive mass.” So, out of

volatile command, in terms of sound, comes

the placid sea, which in proximity

we read is no more. Look and See often

launch the sentence, but older translations

or sensibilities prefer Behold,

as do I, for it suggests that to see

is to possess, which as kids my older

friends never understood when they’d say,

as they frequently did, See with your eyes

and not your hands, showing to us the new

small world they got for Christmas or some

other reason, which they then brought to school.

I beheld them each one, its life draining

away unknowingly--or, to be more

precise about it, my life--dressed in clean,

new skin. I held it. It’s gone. It’s going.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Word of the Day II

Like most storytellers who use mystery as a structural device and not a thematic device, Lynch is way better at deepening and complicating mysteries than he is at wrapping them up. And the series' second season showed that he was aware of this and that it was making him really nervous. By its thirtieth episode, the show had degenerated into tics and shticks and mannerisms and red herrings, and part of the explanation for this was that Lynch was trying to divert our attention from the fact that he really had no idea how to wrap the central murder case up.

- David Foster Wallace

I'm not sure why I'm on this kick, but I recently read this essay and these passages stood out to me. They seem to me to be onto something. (And I do very much like Lynch's work, or about half of it.)

Word of the Day

[David Lynch's] loyalties are fierce and passionate and entirely to himself.

I don't mean to make it sound like this kind of thing is wholly good or that Lynch is some kind of paragon of health or integrity. His passionate inwardness is refreshingly childlike, but I notice that very few of us choose to make small children our friends. And as for Lynch's serene detachment from people's response, I've noticed that, while I can't help but respect and sort of envy the moral nerve of people who truly do not care what others think of them, people like this also make me nervous, and I tend to do my admiring from a safe distance.

- David Foster Wallace

S.P. Poem #80: [Apologies to Lawrence]

The thing I want I can’t have.

The thing I want so bad I can taste it:

I can’t have it. It doesn’t change me

Wanting it. I still want it.

You’d think age would blunt

its force, you’d think

other satisfactions, you’d

think so. It may be wrong

to want it but I don’t care.

I want it and there’s no way

I’m going to get it. So

there we are, there we are,

there I am.