Thursday, January 25, 2007

Happy Belated Birthday

Keith Rehm: Who will not see this, but no matter. Never does Achtung Baby play that I don't recall long, long drives and you. Happy Birthday my old friend. I hope your these-days-world is a big, pretty birthday cake with frosting flowers.

Kristi Maxwell Meme Complete

1. I have eaten lamb brains and fish eyes, octopus, tripe (which has a lovely Greek name but which my sisters and I ignored in lieu of our super-eloquent insides in cream).

2. I once dined at a table at The Blackbird Cafe with Agha Shahid Ali, Robert Pinsky and Joseph Lease. It was there that I fell in serious crush with both Shahid and Pinsky--both even then, and for various reasons, completely unavailable to me--and, of course, that keeps the lights on at Motel Crush.

3. I am terrified of earwigs. An old Twilight Zone episode compounded this terror.

4. I have been trying to make peace with the color yellow for many years. To do so, I overcompensate.

5. I have a scar that corkscrews around my right wrist and I can always tell when people want to ask if I tried to off myself. In truth, I tore through a storm door when my cousin was about to quit playing tag with me. A jagged piece of glass zipped around and I could see my bones, plus that deeply plum-colored blood that people call blue. Speaking of scars and plums: Many years ago, I had a tumor the size of a plum removed from my ring finger. (Yes, that one.) I blame this for so much.

Besides Chicky and Wanda, I'll be not every one of these is news to Kathrine, Steph, Caleb, or Eliot. It would be cool if they were.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Face Up in the Rain

Sitting at Sippy Cups, reading Yeats, and this fabulous poem, from which I swiped a portion from Chicky's blog to capture today. What I love about my life is the coffee--Highlander Grogg and my homemade oatmeal served best (brown sugar, cinnamon and the dash of cardamom, just because) here at "Sippy's" (an endangered species of a place, watch for the campaign to save it,) listening to Edith and the regulars wonder at Richard Thompson's upcoming concert, the number 17 bus driving by and shaking the windows, the emuist (at work, playing the serious physician) but occupying space here because we work and laugh here so often, and my calender which notes Chicky Wang's serious intention for breakfast Friday and Forever21--to celebrate partial victories (because, we could be dead, after all).
And with that I deliver this passage, which yes, Chicky, reverbs all through me.

Why she doesn’t get more irritated when the computer underlines her mistakes, especially when they aren’t even mistakes, it’s just that the computer can’t understand what she wants to say or how she wants to say it. How italics sometimes communicate feeling so well. Why tone is so important, and body language, and even touching another person sometimes, and hearing that person’s voice, and using the expressive functions unique to human beings. Whether she will kiss someone again. Whether the winter will be very cold again this year, and she’ll stay inside a lot. Whether or not there will be time to say all the things she needs to say to certain people. How conscious her use is of different forms of forgetting – sleep, drink, blind love. And whether this forgetting is balanced by wanting at other times so badly not to forget.
from Emily Anglin's If Lady Caroline Lamb Were Alive Today: Things She Would Not Know

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Red Rose, Proud Rose, Sad Rose of all my days!

Yeats and I danced. I stepped on his toes. Yeats and me--we're nothing if not long-suffering. Call headquarters for details.
To bring the balloon of the mind into a shed at high wind.
Come near, come near, come near - Ah, leave me still
A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
My dear, my dear, oh dear,
It was an accident.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Wild, Wild Gratitude (with an emu or two beside.)

This goes out to you, Sir, who has never let me down--thank you.

You see, you hold me up to the light in a way.
John Ashbery

Monday, January 08, 2007

Sharky Diagrams

or Diagraming Sharks
Simone Muench, goddess of verse, has posted my poem Lathe over at Shark Forum. I mention this for the usual narcissistic reasons, of course, but also because Simone Muench writes and reads good stuff. The forum is full of good blood for the anemic poet. (Too much vampire-watching.) Anyway, get there and drink up.
Additionally, and not so gothically, but kind of, is this issue of Ander Monson's online cookie jar of a journal. I recommend anything always by Kristy Bowen but you'd do well to check out Kevin Oberlin's cool poems (and with their own gothic touch of Joss Whedon).

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Picking the First Poesies

I think I loved repetition first, that you could do that miles to go before I sleep twice, like prayer, like something I didn't know you were "allowed" to do until then. That's when some doors and windows flew open in my brain. So Stopping By Woods is no news to any of you. Then I found Acquainted with the Night and loved it for its detached, textured loneliness. (One late half-inebriated night at Kent State, I watched my friend, Chris walking to David Hassler's home along really empty streets on a brisk early October night and I thought again of this poem for the way it looked like he felt: Alone but in a kind of cool bath of solitude).
Acquainted with the Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
O luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
From "New Hampshire", 1923

And I loved Auden's villanelle even before I would encounter Dylan Thomas' Do Not Go Gentle. What can I say, echoes moved me and they still often do.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Cincinnati is a little colder, actually

Since someone took all the warm away.
At the fruitstand, someone waits for peaches and words.

The first poem that scalped me is coming soon.
Anyone out there want to leave comments on the first poem that made you want to
read/write more?

Chicky and I are posting these as close to in order as we can get the. Black Rook (see two entries ago,) was actually one of mine. But there are more.
Show me yours?

Winter well.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Somehow of Love is Someone Remembered

Before Chicky and I begin posting the poems that made the baby-us want to write, let me quickly post this new find of mine: Michael Morse with lines like "the somehow of love" that make me feel like a baby-me all over again. Plus it's written for Larry Levis--beloved and so-missed.

On Reading
for Larry Levis
When I read in bed, the book above me
held high, arm extended, I hold
the top right corner with my left hand
and let the finished pages rest on my forearm—
as if I’m denying the rays of a small sun
or keeping the printed word at bay.
It’s Chekovian, how everything descends,
the protagonists, their stars and their sun.
This morning it’s my friend; I haven’t learned
to say his name in death—what he left
was ink on a page, and I think of him
as a small tuberculin boy spitting up rubies,
as what his body couldn’t keep it expelled,
the way coal works the snow crystal-by-crystal,
the way blood slowly fills a landscape called lung,
slow and persistent like language on a page
held above the head and kept at bay.

It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m reading in bed.
I’m with my lover and we’re breaking up
although neither of us knows it yet—
I am reading and she is sleeping.
The book is still above me but I’m gone
(prescience disguised in a cloak of daydream):
I’m at my lover’s apartment years later
and I’m holding her baby, not mine and yet
a ruby of my making, my ambivalence.
The somehow of love is someone remembered,
my teacher, my lover, my page of night sky
all jeweled with ancient and dimming stars.
I can read and not possess what’s done,
the so-small window of a text celestial:
morning comes all clock-tick and sparrow-chatter,
and the dawn turns to starch just waiting for ink.
The books are by the bed, and they are dead and ready.

Copyright © Michael Morse

Monday, January 01, 2007

January's Wild Light Redux

2007 came in on little cat feet. Velvety and calm. I keep thinking of Plath's Black Rook for the moments of radiance patched together during turmoil. I love this poem for its hopefulness that doesn't forget the sad or jagged.

Black Rook in Rainy Weather

On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain-
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident

To set the sight on fire
In my eye, nor seek
Any more in the desultory weather some design,
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall
Without ceremony, or portent.

Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can't honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Lean incandescent

Out of kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then --
Thus hallowing an interval
Otherwise inconsequent

By bestowing largesse, honor
One might say love. At any rate, I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); sceptical
Yet politic, ignorant

Of whatever angel any choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content

Of sorts. Miracles occur.
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance
Miracles. The wait's begun again,
The long wait for the angel,

For that rare, random descent.

Sylvia Plath