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

Friday, May 30, 2014

"Take the Money and Run"

Two bored, TV-watching stoners decide for fun to shoot a man in his own house, steal his money, and flee. A lawman, parasitically "livin' off the peoples' taxes," pursues them without success.

"Night Moves"

Man recalls first sex partner, contemplates mortality.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Three Shots from North by Northwest

Language & Guns & Violence

The war against euphemism and cliché matters not because we can guarantee that eliminating them will help us speak nothing but the truth but, rather, because eliminating them from our language is an act of courage that helps us get just a little closer to the truth. Clear speech takes courage. Every time we tell the truth about a subject that attracts a lot of lies, we advance the sanity of the nation. Plain speech matters because when we speak clearly we are more likely to speak truth than when we retreat into slogan and euphemism; avoiding euphemism takes courage because it almost always points plainly to responsibility. To say “torture” instead of “enhanced interrogation” is hard, because it means that someone we placed in power was a torturer. That’s a hard truth and a brutal responsibility to accept. But it’s so.
The rest is worth reading.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


He saw himself, his face, his branching antlers
In a stream he longed to say, "O miser-
Able me!" but had no words, nothing but
Animal cries while tears ran down his changed,
Bewildered face. Only his mind remained
What it had been: What could he do? Where could
He turn? Go home where a king's palace waited?
Or make his way into a deeper forest?
Shame unmanned one path and his fears the other.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Russell Edson

Last Tuesday (April 29th), our local library held a community reading for the end of National Poetry Month. Anyone could come and share some poems. The librarian knows our family and knows I write poetry, so she asked if I'd participate. I said I would, but I didn't want to bring my own work to read. Instead, I chose a few poems I thought might work with a small-town crowd of poetry lovers.

When I arrived, a circle of chairs had been set up in the back corner of the library, with most occupied by people over sixty. Some read their own poems, some read those written by others. We got a Frost, a Kay Ryan, a Neruda, and "Richard Cory," by Edwin Arlington Robinson. Among my selection were two poems by Russell Edson.

I've just learned that Russell Edson died that same night, April 29th, after a long illness. I've only read a handful of his poems, but it's a beloved handful. Here's one that, when I shared it last week to a room full of strangers, elicited from them a subtle, wordless sound of recognition:
An Old Man’s Son
    There was an old man who had a kite for a son, which he would let up into the air attached to a string, when he had need to be alone.
    …And would watch this high bloom of himself, as something distant that will be close again…

Captain Beefheart

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Roundball Poetics

1. 'A stanza is a unit of poetry within a larger poem.'

2. 'The Clippers jumped out quickly to a nine-point lead, but it was erased in the next stanza by the Warriors, who took an eight-point lead by the second quarter.'