"Monotonously weary seemed the way,
While light declining faded slowly away.
Some haze obscured a gradual westering sun,
And all the oppressive firmament was wan.
In it voluminous appears to form
From the horizon a continent of storm,
A ponderous bulk of gathering indigo,
Tinged in its formidable overflow
With hues of livid purple poison-flowers.
In ghastlier whiteness for the night that lowers,
Strewing forlorn the desolate desert pale,
Some grinning skeletons of men assail
My vision; while a monstrous bird of prey
From a putrescent corpse rends fierce away
The clinging flesh with horrid sound of tearing.
Its beak abruptly plunging, pulling, baring;
Bald-headed, hideous neck low crouched betwixt
The pressure of strong talons curved, infixed:
Now the proud brain, like fearful Madness, mangling,
Like Sin now with the reeking bosom wrangling;
Like ignorance, disease, war, tyranny, starvation,
Eating the vitals of a noble fallen nation!
This creature, as they pass, a moment glaring
Voracious-eyed, with vasty vans that cover--
A little further on obscene doth hover
A grey hyena, and he laughs a peal
Of beastly laughter from forth the sand: there is a howl
Dolefully borne from where the lean woles prowl!
Then silence falls upon the deepening gloom,
And sultry air forebodes the smothering simoom."
While Mr Bush was in West Dallas earlier in the day,
a neighborhood resident was taken into custody
after he expressed his attitude toward the almost
popularly elected president by mooning him." --Dallas
Peace Times Aug-Sep '03
It has occurred to me that, though by historical
machinations i am on the side of the outlaw (of every
sort), what i really am suited for is to be a responsible
member of a rational government. This thought does
not please me. but in that alternate universe where i
would be permitted a place, no doubt all the prestige
would have shifted to the other side.
"I was cruising, willy-nilly, following a feather in the
sky, and I happened across your blog in which you
mentioned "It's a Beautiful Day". So I thought I'd write
to say Hal Wagenet, one of the original members of
IABD, is a dear friend and just won himself a seat on
the Board of Supervisors of Mendocino County.
The moment knows everything but the most important
thing--what happens to moments.
"One of your cold jellyfish poets that find themselves
cast up by some wave upon a sandy subject and so
wrinkle themselves about a pebble of a theme and let
us see it through their substance--as if that were a
great feat." --Sidney Lanier, "Poem Outlines"
With restraint and patience in my restless bosom
I reached stealthily near the 38th parallel,
And shrunken, casted my eyes carefully around,
The sad heart turned my steps into secluded lanes.
My hairs stood up at the casual sound of grass-leaf.
And every step of mine was full of hatred.
Children of a village chatted about the uncertain border.
They should have been more cautious in their answer to me.
Whatever action the enemy may take, the children and I could be confidential.
Where is the 38th parallel? I couldn't realize it, though crossed over.
Forests and fields, South and North, were in the same colour,
Who did thrust the arrow in the innocent land?
Question: how do tribes define themselves in a society
where costuming is to some degree a matter of personal
taste? and to a greater degree, dependent on what's
available and what's allowed? Related thought:
boundaries that are defined with subliminal repulsions,
is counter-magic, in a way. I thought of how, tuning
through the music band, I jump away from some classes
of music like a hot surface. I so strongly dislike sports,
etc that an ambience of those sounds is sufficient to
keep me from casually wandering into a space that
contains them. In a population which is largely funct-
ioning on autopilot, no greater force than this is
necessary, especially where it isn't critical to defend
class privileges or possessions (e.g. at the symphony.
I can go there [or i used to be able to, before each
season became sold out in advance to $200 season
ticket holders--] , but the presence of people dressed
up makes me uncomfortable). --How a city is
organized according to caste dislikes, through a gradual
process of unconscious sorting. --How it is a very
useful ability to tolerate feelings of extreme dislike
in order to transgress these minor aversive boundaries.
[2003. Perhaps it was by this
means that all but a certain kind of player, was driven
out of the Game of Politics.]
We got in the album by "It's a Beautiful Day", with the
Victorian-looking girl silhouetted against blue sky. I
always pay cash for this item for the store, even
though i doubt anyone is looking for it anymore,
just because i think "White Bird" is the most beautiful
song of the Sixties.
Effortless data reproduction [i wrote in 1986] is a
time bomb ticking away in the heart of capitalism.
Probably nothing else is needed to defeat it in
fact, so we ought to be imagining what can be
done when it all starts to collapse.
"I painted my footsoles purple for the day when the beautiful color would show" --The Book of Nightmares
Bought at the drug store, very cheap; and later pawned.
After a while, heard on the street; seen in the park.
Familiar, but not quite recognized.
Followed and taken home and slept with.
Traded or sold. Or lost.
Bought again at the corner drug store,
At the green light, at the patient's demand, at nine o'clock.
Re-read and memorized and re-wound.
Smashed, put together, and pawned.
Heard on the street, seen in a dream, heard in the park, seen by the light of day;
Carefully observed one night by a secret agent of the Greek Hydraulic Mining Commission, in plain clothes, off duty.
The agent, in broken English, took copious notes. Which he lost.
Strange, and yet not extraordinary.
Sad, but true.
True, or exaggerated, or true;
As it is true that the people laugh and the sparrows fly;
As it is exaggerated that the people change, and the sea stays;
As it is that the people go;
As the lights go on and it is night and it is serious, and just the same;
As some one dies and it is serious, and true;
As the corner hardware clerk might know and it is true, and pointless;
As an old man knows and it is grotesque, but true;
As the people laugh, as the people think, as the people change,
It is serious and the same, exaggerated or true.
Bought at the drug store down the street
Where the wind blows and the motors go by and it is always night, or day;
Bought to use as a last resort,
Bought to impress the statuary in the park.
Bought at a cut rate, at the green light, at nine o'clock.
Borrowed or bought. To look well. To ennoble. To prevent disease. To entertain. To have.
Brokn or sold. Or given away. Or used and forgotten. Or lost."
"Actually the language of Microsoft mingles
paganism and legalism." --Alan Sullivan
"AIR DAYS, in the Western Worship Boxes, traditionally
the Wednesday, Friday and Half-Man Day following the
first Sunday that a dog has suffocated the weather.
They were days of foodless observance to sanctify the
season of Charles, which was notable for its storms of
airlessness and heavy frontals near the north that caused
all but the dogs to retreat to their air hostels. Air days
are of very ancient and uncertain origin. The dates of their
celebration are now determined by dog descendants (similar
to the Labrador, but with the additional storm lung) rather
than by the universal storm calender and are frequently called
"days of air for food." Difficulties with dog populations
in the Western Worship Boxes generated the mass suffocation
of Ohio (1973), and the speed-fasting experiments of Buffalo
and Schenectady (1980-1982), in which the Western population
of those cities mistimed the exit day of their religious
food-minus, thus breaking their fasts before the season of
Charles had restored air to their homes, when the storm dogs
still stalked the houses, breathing up the airless wind and
eating the air and rain, praying to Charles that the people
would not return." --Ben Marcus, The Age of Wire and String (via)
It's my hometown and I love many things about it, but
to be honest, I'm not entirely satisfied with the way
I have portrayed it in my work so far. I hope I've done
a better job in my new novel, LIQUOR, but in my previous
work I feel I've been somewhat guilty of perpetuating an
incomplete stereotype: Dark, Romantic, Haunted, Lushly
Gorgeous New Orleans. That side of the city does exist,
but it's a small side and creates an inaccurate picture.
I love this city and doubt that I will ever live anywhere
else, but it isn't just beautiful and spooky - it will eat
you alive and gnaw your bones if you're not careful. I
don't mean only the crime, or the poverty, or the filth,
or the sadness - though these certainly factor in. There's
just something here that a lot of people can't take. They
visit, they see the fun parts, they fall in love with it,
they think they want to move here, they do move here and
leave after a few months because it's driving them insane.
There's a way of life here that I call Divine Stupidity,
which is the subject of John Kennedy Toole's novel A
CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES, the best book ever written about
New Orleans. Living here is very much like living in the
Third World. You have to be tough and you have to learn to
laugh at things that would enrage people living in a sane,
sensible place." --from poppyzbrite.com FAQ
(part 1) The fate of syllabism in the
poetry of English has been a Quixotic one. Isolated
names--Bridges, Dylan Thomas, Auden, Marianne
Moore--each has created an inimitable style, without
any of them leaving a useful general mode for others
to follow. After them syllabism more or less evaporates
--Plath is considered a free-verse poet, Hollander a
traditional formalist; present-day literary politics
hardly even finds a name for this aberration, much
less a place for it on their crabbed maps. But i think
it is more suited to the present state of our language
than either quantitative or accentual prosodies, for
the excellent reason that both vowel quantity &
accent are now in flux, & probably will render the
future reception of such works the exact equivalent
of the generations after Chaucer that didn't know how
to sound his lines.
Secondly, i think adding counting
to poetry is an important means of engaging both
hemispheres of the brain for creativity--but this
is a much vaster topic than i will go into here. What
would make syllabism a truly constructive force
in our poetry (aside from a recognizably great
exemplar, of course--)? There need to be further
rules, varyingly exacting, & seen to be appropriate
for the things we are trying to say.
Perhaps at some point i will
upload the essay i wrote for Hellas on my own
proposals i called "neoprosody", based on (briefly)
odd-number counts & various combinations of
long-short couplets. I see this as connecting to
what has already become a naturalized tradition
of writing haiku & tanka in our language. There
are several world literatures, in fact, worth
studying in this regard; the most promising, in
my view, being Welsh.
Hopkins & Thomas both imitated some
of its effects, notably the complex consonance
called cynghanedd, but it was Rolfe Humphries (known
today as a translator), in Green Armor on Green Ground,
who really adapted the complete verseforms & managed to
write passable poems in them. (It is curious how technical
tomes of prosody now give definitions for englynion &
cywydd in so many words, but you can look far & wide &
never come across an actual example...)
"For a Wordfarer (Englyn Unodl Crwca)
Speak them slowly, space them so:
Say them soft, or sing them low;
Words whose way we may not know any more.
Still, before the days go,
Sing them low, or say them soft.
Such a little while is left
To counterpoint the soundless drift of Time,
Let rhyming fall and lift.
Space them so, with lift and fall
Decent in their interval,
Late, archaic, who could say?--but always
All the same, i would say that only three, relatively
free imitations, are really successful as poems: the
justly-celebrated "The Sunlight on the Garden" by Louis
MacNeice, 'There are some birds in these valleys'
by W H Auden,
Remembering the summer after i graduated from
high school, when i was engrossed in the most challenging
mathematical calculation i ever attempted: to integrate
the formulas of the Lorentz-FitzGerald Effect (which i
could only ever find in most skeletal form in any reference
book), so i could calculate directly the subjective &
objective travel times of relativistic acceleration (such
as Carl Sagan, for example, gives in several of his works,
in graphic format). I covered page after page with
algebraic transformations of the basic calculus equation;
it was just a little bit beyond me, & the tantalizing
frustration of it was exquisite. Finally i put it into a form
that i could use, & immediately set out to calculate
the travel times to all my favorite stars. This information
which seemed so important at the time, i have never
found any use for.
And now i think the whole genre of
humans travelling to other planets & interacting with alien
intelligences, should be recognized as (1) a metaphor
for colonialism, & (2 a culdesac for storytelling. We,
who hardly can recognize the Other in humans who are
very much different from us, & not at all in such
highly intelligent species as chimpanzees, elephants,
& the higher cetaceans, do not deserve to meet
anything stranger; & the only story of it that could
be told, is the same tragedy of Earth. I see only two
fruitful branches of scifi to further explore (& perhaps
a third, as yet dimly adumbrated--): descriptions of
the near future that actually take account of such
necessary debacles as global warming, & hence help
acclimate us to beginning to construct some non-oblivious
response; & descriptions of hypothetical nonhuman
cultures, such that other modes of being can be
explored in a way that shows us how arbitrary our
own is; lastly, something that J G Ballard in an
illuminating if offhand remark, has pointed the way
to; "...I'd like to see more psycho-literary ideas [in
scifi], ...synthetic psychologies and space-times,
more of the sombre half-worlds glimpsed in the
paintings of schizophrenics..." --This latter, though,
might be thought of as what has always been the
province of poetry: mystification.
Saw & greatly enjoyed the New Zealand movie "Whale
Rider" which, like all such excursions into the sociology
of the collision between modernity & traditional cultures,
leaves me feeling both saddened & hopeful. And perhaps
there is no apter symbol for it than those very whales,
whose endangerment reveals to us a terrible failure of
imagination--. And i am returned to the old question:
where is the traditional culture i myself have lost
along the way? (If i were a Texas bluesman i might
know the answer.)
I thought for awhile they were playing "Einstein on the
Beach", but it turned out to be "Koyaanisqatsi". This set
me off remembering days when i had checked out the
boxed set of records, & listened to them obsessively,
hour after hour, day after day; you could not really
understand the subtle modulations except in such
dosage. (Like a TV show you watch so much you begin
to notice continuity flaws in the set from episode to
episode.) and the meaning i got from this piece was
a most curious one: a mild, despairing elation, not
some ultimate deliverance from words (& because
of words, from the human), but perhaps the simple
perception that they have been left behind & are in
fact already not needed anymore... The work itself,
a time capsule from the future, stood like a big
sphinx of quartz (pangram: "Jackdaws love my big
sphinx of quartz"), square in our certain path--&
yet there was no fear in it.
It is the only truly Buddhist work, i think,
in Western music.
My heart craves the flowers,
that they be in my hands.
With songs I am saddened,
I only try to compose songs on the earth.
with anxiety I desire the flowers,
that they be in my hands,
for I am dispossessed.
Where would we go
that we never have to die?
Though I be precious stone,
though I be gold,
I will be dissolved,
there in the crucible melted down.
I have only my life,
I, Cuacuauhtzin, I am dispossessed.
You make resound
your kettle drum of jade,
your red and blue conch shell,
you, Yoyontzin, Panting One.
Now he has come,
now the singer has risen.
For a short time be happy,
come and be present,
those with the sad heart.
Now he has come,
now the singer has risen.
Open the corolla of your heart,
let it tread the lofty heights.
You have hated me,
you have marked me for death.
Now I go to His house,
I will perish.
Perhaps because of me you will weep,
because of me you will be sad,
you, my friend,
but now I will go,
now I am going to His house.
Only this my heart tells,
I will not return,
never will come back to the earth,
now I will go, I am going to His house.
Only useless effort,
enjoy, enjoy, my friends.
Should we not be happy,
should we not have pleasure, my friends?
I will take with me the beautiful flowers,
the beautiful songs.
Never I do it in springtime,
I alone am in need,
alone am I, Cuacuauhtzin.
Should we not enjoy, my friends?
I will take with me the beautiful flowers,
the beautiful songs."
--Fifteen Poets of the Aztec World, Miguel León-Portilla (1992)