Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Preen. And another one likes Barry Schwabsky's OPERA!!!! Check out Leny Strobel "reviewing" the poems within the context of recent reading: Language and Symbolic Power by Pierre Bourdieu and The Skin That We Speak by Lisa Delpit! Here's an excerpt:
Deep Instructions and a Later Hymnal remind me of Tibetan prayer-wheel. In the beginning was the Word and it was O…
Water, sky, light, wind, air – the other poems in this book are full of these in all their varied mutations in the poet’s pen. Like waves lapping on the shore but is it the same wave always? And/Or... the poems feel like the hand pointing to the moon. Only I must find my own moon. Strangely, my mind takes me to a performance of “Moon Water” by the Taiwan Dance Theatre. I would have loved these poems read alongside her moon ballet. That would complete my O.
The Chatelaine gets a boink on the head by a flying wingtip. She raises her head. An angel asks, "Good for Barry but why are YOU preening?"
She rubs her head and sez, "Because I published the book! Didn't you know everything is about moi!? Excooze me: that's MOI!"
Then the Mischievous One ducks a golden shower, but not before winking at her Peeps: And if you disagree, why are you reading said Moi?
So, here's an "I'm In A Good Mood -- Blissful Even -- Special": If all this hoo-haa make you curious about OPERA and you still don't have a copy, you can order direct from me (as publisher) for a New Year Discounted Price of $10 (vs $14 retail price) and I'll munificently throw in "shipping and handling" costs. E-mail me if you're interested! (Offer good through Jan. 15, 2004).
Poetry is not song. Poetry is poetry.
--[Who said this? Was it William Corbett?]
The Chatelaine is grateful to Poet-Editor Ian Ayres and Van Gogh's Ear #3 for printing two poems from her "Clyfford Still"* series.
But I have to say I'm rather grumpy that my poems had to appear with a 4 July 2003 letter from Carolyn Cassady, who had written in response to a solicitation by Ian. Her letter states, among other things, as she explains why she'll pass on sending poems:
"Alas, I fear I'm too old-fashioned for most of today's poets. I like my poetry to sing--as once was its function--like the chaps we studied at school and like Tony Harrison of today and those who write for the Literary Review Competition which demands poems that rhyme, scan and make sense. I am often moved, which I expect to be, and I can understand what they are SAYING!--something I rarely can in the current styles; my mind wanders. Many of these people simply write prose, then cut it up into short lines and, voila! it's a poem. I don't think so.
Poets such as Allen Ginsbert and artists like Picasso studied their craft and the rules (every art form has its rules--there is no freedom without fences) so they can do anything they like be it good or awful, but they do it by choice, not because they know no better; they paid their dues."
Yes, Ginsbert studied his craft. It's also my understanding he didn't diss other poetry styles from how he wrote (and do note that Cassady's approach disses a type of poetry rather than particular poems, as if those who attempt poem-songs always succeed because they have the "right" approach -- a silly critical approach taken by some to poetry blogs, I add as an aside). I won't bother here going into how poets limit their craft by being close-minded to its possibilities, or how this notion of poets studying their craft before attempting their own poems is often a euphemism for ignoring other poetic traditions. I'll just say:
[EXCERPT DELETED FOR ITS NEGATIVE ENERGY]
* Ten poems from my Clyfford Still series also are available online at Sidereality's Archives for the *January-March 2003, Volume 2, Issue 1* when I was that issue's Featured Poet -- thanks again, poet-editor Clayton Couch!).
by Mark Young
tongue on tongue --
latter every time.
that thumb's been.
--from the As-Is Blog
Hmmmm. But a charming "Hmmm" of course! The Chatelaine methinks some of those As-Is poets are playing with her wings.
Hum. She hums. She flutters wings to preeen.
Have fun anytime, Sweeties. After all, one of you thought enough of Moi to look up some internet photos available of me and, dang, if you didn't think I could pass for 23! Blissful sigh -- I am rather fetching, aren't Moi?!
No wonder I couldn't understand your cartoon references, Gummi, until you realized: yah, I'm from the generation that used to watch ... "Speedracer"!
For a moment, a sheepish look makes her cast her lovely eyelashes down....before she perks up again and begins to sing (to the Angels and animals' horrors!):
GO, SPEEDRACER! GO, SPEEDRACER! GO, SPEEDRACER NOOOOOOOW!!!!
All together now!
And, for a moment that shall go down as inexplicable in internet history, there shall be a cyber-blackout as 9.7 million peeps bob their Sweetie heads up and down to sing (admit it, you are!!!)
GO, SPEEDRACER.......!!!! ETCETERA ET AMUSING CETERA!
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Quantities of hills
--from a December 27, 2003 Hay(na)ku by Joseph Garver
Gummi....uh, Gooba .... nuh: GOOOOOMBA Garver peeks through the Iron Gate's railings and flings through a postcard to the Chatelaine a postcard, speaking on not just his but the behalf of others who've backchanneled:
Hoo haw, Tongue on Tongue, I thought you were just being poetic
Dude ... and Dudes and Dudettes and those in between and outside and transcendentally beyond said categories, it is true that Moi has been called one of Poetry's Highest-Priced Prostitutes .... but there are still certain things I won't do. I mean, I feed dat dawg! I know what dat dawg's tongue licks! It's moi cooking, man, ah mean, dude! Ain't no way I'ma gonna send my tongue seeking them warmed up kibbles (but with a hard-boiled egg or cottage cheese for improving dat dawg's furry complexion!). Still, Michelle, how high did my bid price go again in Berkeley (wink)?
fall like angels
(--12/29/03, Galatea, St. Helena, CA)
Someone called my Dark Side poem "not a poem, but a stream." It's not bad feedback at all. I was mostly exploring in that poem the *rush of energy,* as in ... falling in love ... and (I suppose) a rushing stream. (Talk about abstraction poetics, eh?)
It rained very hard on Galatea's mountain yesterday and throughout the valley -- Napa River overflowed its banks and, in Galatea, the storm felled an oak tree to fall and bar access on the road (Chatelaine duty meant donning green gardening gloves to flex biceps and heave moss-ridden trunks and branches away from the road; fortunately, the Chatelaine's biceps are strong from wielding her wings). On the mountain, a seasonal stream surfaced. After one drives past the Iron Gate (if one can get past said Gate), the stream rushes down as a white roar from the top of the mountain, past the Gate, and spills onto the valley floor.
I am aware that, *musically*, there are "clunkers" in a few spots of the poem. I haven't edited said clunking spots yet (to smoothen them out) because the clunking spots remind me of the occasional boulders or groups of stone that interrupt the rushing stream on moi mountain.
Just because a stream rushes by energetically doesn't mean the flow is necessarily straight and smooth.
Indeed, watching the white, frothing stream yesterday made the Chatelaine realize how water and energy -- and the process of falling in love -- can stub their toes.
Call this "Streaming Poetics" if you're taking this post seriously. Call it insomniac blather if you know me better. But at least insomnia is tossed in there as an excuse; so what would excuse my blather when I'm wide awake? Oh, yeah: amusement as incentive. Sip.
Monday, December 29, 2003
The Chatelaine can now confirm that the peep who caught my earlier French-kissing typo as regards Achilles, moi German Shepherd puppy, is Chris Nealon! She sighs: the Chatelaine not only has readers in quantity (9.7 million peeps!) but also in quality!
So, Chris' nudge is as good a reason as any -- well, and that he writes fabuloso poems -- to have him guest star on moi blog!
Here is just one of the stellar poems from his forthcoming book this spring, The Joyous Spring from Black Square Editions -- which previously published his chap Ecstasy Shield. Interested folks may also check the CorpsePoetics Archives for an earlier blog entry that excerpts from The Joyous Spring's title poem.
Wait until dark
Lord let me not haunt the video store
What have these aisles for me
Mother of god I said at least pick a genre
He only remembers tag lines or part of the trailer
I want to see that one with the avalanche he says
I want to see the call is coming from inside the house
I just wrote 'trialer' like the deep south or how hard it is to choose
It's funny sometimes standing there fluorescing with my indifferent little thriller I think if
this is so hard then no wonder the revolution
Sometimes standing there I catch the lineaments of another place altogether someplace between the aisles
It always occurs to me like a mistake I've come to call it grandmother's house
Labyrinth of rooms celestium of windows somewhere in a town
O there's nothing like that here
Not in this place my students would probably describe as a 'scornful, highly observant village'
No one can see down the hall in grandmother's house
She pinches her pennies
But there's a tremendous scent of pine from the hallway window
There's a sense of darkness as an open window
Lord I bet you feel like that
I feel like I'm pretending to be blind
I feel like cinema vainly imitating night
My heart beats faster when I think of those pines
Someone asked the "blissful" Chatelaine to show her "dark side". Intriguing request for the Chatelaine. Perhaps one answer is over at the Gasping Blog through that poem "Dark Side: An Ars Poetica." That poem would never get past moi Iron Gate....but certain terrorist couplets managed to slip through here, to offer an excerpt:
You shall not want
to raise me up
prefer to look up
look for lost gods
Your face shall loom
as my sky
You want me
my dark side
My dark side
under my lovely mask
My dark side
that is my mask
Your face shall hover
My mask is lovely
The hawk plunges
to eat prey
You shall scar
me as I laugh
You shall not want
to raise me up
You shall want
the fall to my face
The prey shall eat
the blinded hawk
This is only "work"
My lovely work
swallowing your blood
Your blood shall drip
from my eyelashes
Your blood shall lash
lightning my eyes
My lovely work
is my lovely mask
My lovely work
is my holy mask
Sunday, December 28, 2003
I had seen myself descend
.....in my head --
to be the given shield.
Country of one.
What had I gone there to save.
--from "First Cradle" by Dana Levin
I loved this book immediately. I loved this book compulsively. This book is Dana Levin's debut collection In The Surgical Theater, which won the APR/Honickman First Book Prize for a 1999 publication, and subsequently the 2003 PEN/Osterweil Award. It propelled me and I convulsed -- into something that's been called BLISS. That such bliss begins from the often devastating moments and narratives from a bloodied surgical theater, a warzone and other sites of battle is a testament to Levin's extraordinary and luminous talent. I don't really know why it took me so long to read this book, when I had read and admired Levin's poems published earlier in the American Poetry Review (for more of her wonderful poems, Google her name). In the Surgical Theater contains an introductory preface by Louise Gluck who is as amazed -- as I am -- to "discover this talent entire, in a book."
The first section on the "Body" begins with an epigraph quoting from The Quest of the Holy Grail
The way of compassion,
in which the knights of our lord
travel by night and by day,
in the darkness of the body
and in the soul's light
Levin knows this "way of compassion." The angels fluttering about me are absolutely sure that knowing that *path* is the only "way" Levin could have written a poem like "Eyeless Baby," which offers bludgeoning information about a baby born without eyes, but offers it in a way that transcends despair.
Here's the poem below -- it speaks for itself, even as I must insert myself here to note that this also is the first poem I've read that I associate with a beloved statement by the Roman slave turned playwright Terence; he once said these words (to which I aspire for my poetics): Nothing human is alien to me.
[Nota bene: The first line is indented and then each alternating line is indented, which indentations I'm not showing here due to Blogger format that precludes the "tab" function. By the way, I think the fact that the first line -- not the second -- is the first indented line is such a wise choice for facilitating emphasis.]
by Dana Levin
Your face is smashed.
It's a pot thrown down.
You're mashed against a window no one can see,
not even you,
with your red wounds for eyes --
at the teeth in the gum under the lip that isn't there,
but I can't find your eyes, they're lost
in your head,
your nose a single nostril,
your whole palate cleft
from the bolt of being born, and now you're
arching your back,
lifting your belly, and I can see the lightning
coming out of your body,
I can see the fire, the red spools in your sockets,
the combusted seeds of an enormous
crawl in them, look through them, I am so sure they're a door,
if I pried into the fused lids I would find
ice, stars, space with its cold fires spreading out
beyond the body,
if I could just shimmy through them,
I would see what's inside us:
the blindness --
because I don't know what it's like to be born
because sighted I am blind to all
because without eyes I imagine
gems, suns, whatever conducts the light.
Please check the third paragraph of my prior post for a disgusting typo....to which one of moi peeps sends the following:
Hi Eileen -- so, relaxing after the holidays with some blog-reading, I got to yours, always a pleasure; and, reading through your account of disciplining your alpha-dog, I read that you're doing it by forcibly placing your tongue on his tongue! Wow: I will *never* cross you.
Well, as I quickly riposted to the Sweetie:
OMOIGOD!!! I MEANT MY thumb on his tongue....I'd better go correct that TYPO!!! what a hoot!
TRUMPET BLARE: okay, disgusting typo (and the angels spit out while the Chatelaine ducks) is officially corrected.
I was reminded recently of my former corporate career....and the financial sector's focus on closing big deals in the 1980s in NYC. It was (if memory serves right) a time when, say, dealmakers preened over being called "big, swinging dicks" for their prowess, and when women wore bowties flopping out from their business suits -- just two details that bespeak the dehumanizing aspect of careers where everyone thought they needed to be an alpha male.
Perhaps this reminder, too, is being facilitated now by my ongoing training of a German Shepherd puppy. Achilles apparently was one of two very dominant males from his litter and, though someone I can still physically handle at 9 weeks old, will soon be nearly 100 pounds in just a matter of months. Now is the time to train him away from habits that can become dangerous later. A key component is what the trainers are calling "alpha training," where I need to emphasize to the puppy that in our family, I am the dominant one (or, as Tatang Rhett puts it, that "the Chatelaine is King").
For example, one of the things Achilles loves is biting -- obviously, one needs to wean him of that as it won't be so cute for a huge adult German Shepherd to be biting anyone. The way I was taught to cure him of biting is to forcibly open his mouth, stick my tongue on top of his tongue -- "Be as obnoxious as possible," the vet said -- all the while staring him in the eye until he stops wriggling...and to keep doing that everytime he bites.
The vet said that most shepherds will stop the biting after 2-3 times of this gagging action by my thumb. Achilles is so alpha that he stopped only after 6 - 7 attempts. Thankfully, I think we are training him well now out of that habit -- as I can think of a million things more enjoyable than sticking any part of my hand down a German Shepherd's throat.
What's ironic, though, is that...towards the end of this type of training, it seemed that Achilles was actually enjoying the exercise. I suspect it has to do with that German Shepherds find comfort in knowing for sure who is the dominant leader in its pack ... and that it would be willing to take the "pain" of gagging for the security of such knowledge.
But then, a twinkle surfacing in the Chatelaine's eyes, dominant/submissive relationships certainly offer their own means of enjoyment, don't they? Twinkle. But I digress. She digresses. What the Chatelaine meant to post here was an old poem (from Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole) alluding to her financial career. It was a poem inspired by a reading by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge at the former AAWW performance space in the Lower East Side of NYC; I was still sufficiently fresh from banking to have invited friends to the reading -- investment bankers from Union Bank of Switzerland, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. I was aware that, for many of those bankers, it was their first poetry reading -- and that awareness, along with the impact of Mei-mei's reading caused me to write the prose poem (below) after I went home that night.
More recently, I realized that -- particularly with this poem's ending -- I had written it in an attempt to obviate the dehumanizing aspects of my finance career (hence, its ending italicized line):
THE INVESTMENT BANKER
Lime coats the thick sheaf of paper crossed by thin, parallel lines of a darker green. They approximate the rippling surface of a river pregnant with water and smoothly traveling towards an orb of sea salt. His pen is a black crow against a sunlit sky. Its ink is harsh, blotting paper, even with the neat economy of motion in how the ink is laid. For a moment, a golden spark glints from a cufflink struck by a sun ray. Meticulously, the ink travels from point to point, dipping, then rising, then dipping again until it is halted by one of the four walls of a square. The paper mottles. He lays the pen besides the projection of a likelihood as an ache begins between his shoulder blades. As he rolls his head in a circle, he considers the placement of a decimal point. Lastly, he considers the definition of a percentage to be the probability of error instead of the probability of an answer's relevance.
It seems a secretary with large hair is shuffling until he notices that it is only a tight skirt hampering her thighs. He begins to feel the papers stacked on a crudenza curling their edges to protest being ignored. A lock of hair falls in front of his eyeballs and he notices a white feather. He immediately comprehends how long it has been since scissors tip-toed about his scalp. Bereft, he looks at his desk and is astonished at how still his fingers lie atop a yellow pad -- he would have sworn his fear would have left his empty palms quaking at how time is consistently ending.
He looks up to be surprised at midnight “a done deal.” His hands seek release and he wipes them against the pin-striped wool encasing his thighs. A woman with a blurred face atop a blue silk shirt pops her head through the door. He knows she is speaking but his gaze cannot locate the source of the buzzing. He feels a fleeting thought of inebriated bees, how they might blunder with pollen gratuitously. His gaze falls to the circle of diamonds on her left, blue-veined wrist. He takes a chance and replies, "Yes." It is sufficient to make her go away so that all that remains across his threshold is the shadow of a door. He feels he must complete the job by shutting a door but he is so tired.
Was I ever a boy? he asks himself as he watches the Chairman hold hands with his tall wife. The wife smiles but it is clear she is dangling her legs over a pedestal. When he reaches them for an obligatory greeting, he realizes (without being surprised at the certainty of this thought) that she smells expensive. He hears her emerald earrings tinkle like wind chimes. His breath is the breeze against her pale, seamless skin. She smiles at him and he feels even smaller. His breath is the flutter of a Trochilidae’s wings. When he next turns to the Chairman, he is buffeted by the Chairman's smug grin.
He tattoos his fingerprints on the most random of surfaces. It happens that way each morning when he must read six newspapers beside The Wall Street Journal. One is in Japanese. Another in German. He cannot recall the last time he was lucid. He cuts himself shaving whenever the mirror reminds him that his eyes are covered by red cracks. They remind him of bigger faultlines just waiting to widen. He knows he will fold into himself during the fall. He feels that avoidance should be under his control. But it is not happening and he is often immobilized by this failure.
I should fall in love, he thinks, as he reads a worn newspaper clipping. It has traveled throughout the firm and reached him last. He flinches at the leers clinging to the message. His fingers feel wet though the clipping is dry. The clipping is about Alan "Swift" Thiessen, the man who once sat in an office down the hall. Once, Swift was a tight muscle tightly sheathed in Italian suits with double-breasted blazers, a sartorial sun amidst the human commodities forging together a partnership. It was an eccentricity allowed by Swift's ability to bleed rain from desiccated clients. Once, Swift also played squash every day. Now, Swift is clad in rough cotton and measures each passing moment in a jail, staring at rust and bricks. The newspaper reports how Swift went too far with a young, blonde boy sheathed in leather with metal studs. Still, The Investment Banker suggests to himself that he fall in love. Despite Swift's ignominious end, he feels that Swift still bested him by having felt certain compulsions about which he can only remain curious.
At 4 a.m. he is not displeased to be alone walking the streets. At 4 a.m., he feels that the hour offers a certain excuse for his loneliness. Now, he is walking in the aftermath of an unseasonal rain so that the light is clean and the pavement shines from the wash of water. The tall buildings conspire to maintain sufficient lights to surround him like Christmas. He notices a white flower in a bud vase by a window he passes. It is unexpected but pleasing and he pauses to think, Hello! He knows he is imagining things but he senses the flower open its petals a tad wider. His nostrils flare at the inexplicable perfume of jasmine. He looks forward to winter when snow will cover the city. Even in a blizzard, the snow is constant. They never fail to cling softly to him as he walks in their midst. He feels, It is such a loving feeling.
Saturday, December 27, 2003
The asphalt buckles at the instructions of the Iron Gate....and the road melts into a black river rushing down the mountain, taking the scarey post down with it away from where
Pygmalion guards over Galatea for eternity...
adore a kind of street light unraveling
-- from "Sfumato Unwind" by Chris Murray
Well, now. Ms Positive Energy herself Chris Murray enlivens the morning with one of her fabuloso poems: "Sfumato Unwind"! Check it out! And she's got a new "poet of the week -- excellent choice: stellar thinker and poet Michael Helsem! Check it out again, moi 9.7 million peeps! All at Texfiles!
Poems poems poems! Like Mark Young's poetic shout-outs on the As-Is Blog (you really are amusing moi, Monsieur Polyphemus!).
Well, but what are holiday poems on the Chatelaine's blog without one by her own Holiday Featured Poet Sean Finney?!!!!
Here's another one by Sean -- to popular request (thanks y'all; glad you appreciate the one by this *still-golden boy*):
Definitely resting, no fever, no lassitude
Open your pipe to the pre-dawn sea
There's friendship without ardor or foibles. Friendship
The two extremes of the room, other décor of the conquest,
trapped beyond judgment. The carved wall
is a succession of psychological blows, snobberies,
the cold air of geological accident-
rapid and intense dream of sentimental groups
constructed of white ash.
The sea is ugly, tell it to the dawn of silk
(tell it to someone's breasts)
The tapestries, mid-level, show factories for dentists
tinted with emerald, or the jettison of cake-makers
who are ugly.
Well, and what is a Chatelaine's Blog without mischief?!! Her "faerie" eyes sparkle! So, here's mischief -- and it involves Barry Schwabsky. That is, the first time I read Sean's poem "Veillees," it nudged my memory on one of Barry's poems in OPERA because of Sean's line
"(tell it to someone's breasts)"
Unthinkingly and without checking my memory, I giggled off an e-mail to Barry noting something about -- "Didn't you write a similar line? I guess men like writing about breasts -- an archetypal image?"
Barry -- excooose me: Mr. Schwabsky -- promptly replied, "I am sure I wrote no such thing" or something suddenly formal like that....
Hmmmm, the Chatelaine with twinkling eyes thought. So she checked Barry's book and -- sure enough! (or so she thought!) -- she found in Barry's poem entitled, uh, "Poem" the lines
You'd rather be painting
by starlight. I'd rather be reading that sentence
inscribed across your chest.
Ah ha!! And with much wing flutter, I gleefully sent that off to Barry...
...who then noted
"There is a difference between breasts and chest."
Ooooops. Uh, that's right, the suddenly sheepish Chatelaine thought. In fact, in Barry's lines, the chest need not even have been female ....
But then, the Chatelaine shook her lovely head and shook off any chastening feeling. (A chastened Chatelaine is not a good Muse!) She just turned her eyes to __________ and thought, "Well now: how can I concoct mischief there....!"
The answers will come, natch, in future posts. Right now, the Chatelaine must go address her latest: she just added a new animal to her duties: taking care of an oxen (with a sweet gray swishing tail)....that's all right:
Galatea's mountain is ... BIG!!! Just like Poetry....
Friday, December 26, 2003
flows Guillaume Apollinaire
--by Mark Young from As-Is Blog
I did find a "new form" (as I call it in my Dec. 24 post) through the "Hay(na)ku," which are stanzas of three lines, each progressing as one word, two words and three words. But I am paradoxically incompetent at it, with my own efforts usually faltering before the stellar verses of such poets as Tom Beckett, Mark Young, Joseph Garver, Barbara Reyes, Rhett Pascual, among others, and, recently, the hay(na)ku's first father-daughter collaboration via Thomas Fink and Maya Mason Fink at the As-Is Blog.
I belatedly understand why I'm not particularly good with the "Hay(na)Ku" form, even as its *Invention* can be attributed to "Eileen Tabios Et Al." It's a poetic form that was concocted within a community of poets; thus, form = content as, being Poetry, the Hay(na)ku is an invention that is not about its inventor.
Speaking of things not about moiself, I'm still unpacking things from long-term storage....and lookit what I see but my very first poetry collection -- a chapbook published by a Maryland based publisher entitled AFTER THE EGYPTIANS DETERMINED THE SHAPE OF THE WORLD IS A CIRCLE (ATEDTSOFWIAC). I haven't seen it in years, specifically 1996 when it came out. Now, those who assiduously follow my poetry career (yeah, all three ... uh, I mean, 9.7 million of you (Tom Fink says my readership has now jumped to said 9.7 mio -- and so that is now my official readership count!)) might recall that I switched careers from banking to poetry in mid-1995. I'm pretty sure that ATEDTSOFWIAC contains 22 poems written in the first six months of my writing poems (in this lifetime).
What's not known -- but which I now reveal since what's a blog for? -- is that mere months after I released ATEDTSOFWIAC, I bought out all of its copies to prevent its further circulation. This may have to do with the publisher ceasing operations, but it coincided with the very wise decision to buy back every single copy released because the poems really should not have gone out there in any book or chapbook form. I think I took some comfort in how nearly all the poems were first published elsewhere, but I still sort of suspected they weren't that good to warrant supplanting more tree bark.
Anyway, I stumbled across these copies of ATEDTSOFWIAC whilst unpacking....and thought I'd refresh my memory of this collection whose existence I'd actually once tried to forget. Still, as it's been years, I was sort of hoping that, despite my earlier dismissal of them, I'd actually find (some of) these poems much better than I vaguely recalled them to be.
But in looking over this collection, I now see (obviously with hindsight) a particular way in which I improved my poetry-writing....and, no surprise, it has to do with looking past the enchanting tilt of my enchanting nose, not to mention my kick-ass ass. Let me illustrate by sharing two poems. Here's one just replete with moi "I":
South of _____ (fill in the blank)
I know the back alleys of this neighborhood
where beggars make their beds,
whose cats steal their food,
why lovers rip apart seams in the universal canvas to depart,
which doorways provide for or take
the unguarded into a hold of cruelty.
I have seen the glint off the fang
of a wild boar as he lurks
behind even the most infinitesimal of shadows
in a land where it only takes one domino
to fall and what was civilization
quickly disappears as would the shoreline
from an oil spill
birthed from a twist of the wrist
by a drunk vomiting over the helm.
All around the border of this place
the desert is a forever
with no mountains, no trees, no tomb markers
interrupting the horizon. The horizon
is far, is near, is what you wish
but always in front of you.
All these provide no reason
to hold my hand as the day unfolds.
To hold my hand
simply offer an uplifted palm
and trust in my response.
Whatever merits the above poem has, I am uncomfortable with its self-aggrandizement , beginning with the first two words: "I know." Poetry teaches that the more one learns, the less one knows.
Still, I also see in ATEDTSOFWIAC a poem that would foretell a favored way for me to write beyond my "I": the inspiration of visual art works. Here's one of my first "ekphrasis" poems:
a distant summer
(what Jean-Marie's paintings said)
in the distance the lights of the bridge
strung together like christmas is an everyday thing
fail to distract from the screeching side-turn
of a cop car (with a red blinking hat)
hailed by a woman aging in front of my eyes
as she raises the green velvet on her arms
to the india ink of the sky, pale moons
the faces of a street audience and those gasping
from windows, fingers pointing, voices screeching, too
-- wailing, "oh my, oh my, oh my Lord, on my." i sigh.
my girlfriend is wringing her hands, pulling at the leather
covering my back, soft and camouflaging the source
of the pistol shot that now makes me hurt
a bit as i see a woman resembling my dead mother
weep over the punk in the neighborhood who cut
into my action. my girl's face is violet with a wide circle
of a mouth saying things i cannot understand.
but when i finally find the lights of the bridge
pointing the way elsewhere, i run.
"Jean-Marie," whose paintings inspired my poem was the husband of a former banking colleague. I remember writing the poem and faxing it to my former co-worker. She said that she and Jean-Marie very much appreciated the poem, but it would be best "next time" for me not to send any more poems by fax to her at work. She reminded me: she does work at a bank. Which is to say, for her to be receiving faxed poems might be detrimental to her career.
Fair enough. My Poetry, after all, is also an anti-careerist path. Such would seem to synchronize with attempting the impossible: eliminating the ego.
Thursday, December 25, 2003
Everything is in the poem; we all write the same poem; this is a poem; my blank is a poem. Well...at least some of the excluded should get in. The tension lets it in, through ambiguity, rhythmical lapse,incongruity, and maybe the mystical connection I just maligned.
--from Sean Finney's contribution to o*blek/12; WRITING FROM THE NEW COAST (Eds. Peter Gizzi and Juliana Spahr)
The title of my prior post is actually a line from another Sean Finney poem, featured below. And I also keep meaning, with each post highlighting moi Holiday Featured Poet, to thank Chris Murray whose "Featured Poets" idea partly instigated moi holiday version. So, finally, thank you Chris and Happy Holidays. Here's another poem by Sean Finney:
is an eyebrow
for the sun
that we received.
All our pleasures
When I was 11
airports made me happy.
You'll smile at this,
"made me happy"
as if it's so fantastic
to buy ice cream
wear trousers, etc,
keep up with the
acrid chemical sun
Sticks lashed to make a fence
cheaper and more beautiful
Brassai, you don't have
Four o'clock great chill
promise of drunkenness.
Allison pissed on the street.
Her friend demurred
My history grows weeds in the sun
I never kept promises
to the palm trees
grotesque to foreigners
"It doesn't end until the birds die"
--from "The Mexican Sky Is Sprinkled With Bone" by Sean Finney
Poetry is a joke, a joke where you'd put things together that don't go together. We are all comedians; we all fan the spark that pops briefly the joints of whatever we labour under. And we are all surrealists; we can put anything together, without people thinking we're trying to be funny. What makes us funny is what makes us sucessful surrealists. It's either there or it's not. The writer should feel it. You can't tell the same jokes to everyone, but whatever humor and whatever audience, it first has to be funny to you.
--from Sean Finney's contribution to o*blek/12; WRITING FROM THE NEW COAST (Eds. Peter Gizzi and Juliana Spahr)
Surely Christmas is but another reason for Moi to post a poem by The Chatelaine's Holiday Featured Poet Sean Finney!
Consequently, a new poem drafted by said Sean Finney as recently as December 7:
The Mexican Sky Is Sprinkled With Bone
So many bright vegetables
war with the grounds of a new love
Sit there prevaricating over beans
and you’ll see the ropes of the ship
dry, as it dwindles,
singers free themselves
That monkey cage is rented
until next August, lady,
so I address you and your wardrobe
The canker of silence
embossed on his bill
plus shipping and handling
and going for clam chowder
where all the pieces
jigsaw puzzle restraint
And the temples of alimentation
dip their wings and wear
the feathers of the new world
The wind chimes, the caretakers
all that squid-like longing for a lost fountain,
decade, pair of fingernails
path through Thermopylae.
It doesn’t end until the birds die.
Wine duty caused a few furrows on the Chatelaine's lovely brow this year. It's difficult to choose wines for, essentially, a dinner table circled by companions who don't normally pay much attention to wines. She wonders now if she chose the wines partly because she knew she would have to blog her wine choices to her oenophiliac readership (youse lush-peeps just quit your grousin' please at being ignored in favor of my poetic posts). Anyway, here are moi year-end Holiday wines:
Christmas Eve dinner:
2000 Pride Mountain Sangiovese Sonoma County
1996 Spotswoode Cabernet
Christmas Day dinner:
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne
1970 Beaulieu Vineyard Private Reserve
1988 Lafite (back-up to BVPR, in case of need)
1853 Reserve King Pedro V Port
The port is worth additional mention, by quoting here a letter from Cristiano Van Zeller, circulated by the port's distributors, Whitwhams International Limited, 2, Tabley Court, Moss Lane / Cheshire WA16 OPL, England:
RESERVE KING PEDRO V
About 1890, when my family owned Quinta do Noval, I learned about a very old port, still in cask, lying in the nearby Quiinta da Salgueira. Years later, when I was looking for very old ports on behalf of Whitwhams [fine wine merchants], I returned to Salgueira to see if this wine could be purchased. Over the years the volume had been much reduced by evaporation, but it was even richer as a result. I purchased the wine for Whitwhams and shipped it to Vila Nova de Gaia, where it was bottled by Niepoort in 2001.
This port is special not just because of its great age, but because it was laid down to celebrate the coronation of King Pedro V in the great pre-phylloxera year of 1853. It also comes from one of the best areas of the Douro -- the Cima Corgo, which throughout history has been the source for many superb vintage ports This accounts for the wine's richness even after nearly 150 years in the cask.
Enjoy this wonderful port and experience a unique bit of history!
Cristiano Van Zeller
Vila Nova de Gaia
1st June 2003
There you have it! 150 years in the cask. You know what I'll be doing before the day's over: port, chocolates and cigars. (Yes Rhett, Michelle, and Sandy -- cigar and port the way Ilokanos do it!)
Chatty Eileen, Achilles, Scarlet, Artemis, Tom the Weekend Warrior, the tired Holiday Elves and all the Fallen Angels at Galatea -- "where wine, poetry, art and nature converge..."
Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Until this morning, I hadn't written a new poem since "The Hermit's Birth" which you can see over at my Gasps Poem Blog.
Then, this morning, I wrote "Sentences" -- the first draft of which you can read at said Gasping Blog and which was partly inspired by Michael Fried's one-sentence poems (see yesterday's post).
The number of days between November 15 and this morning equal 54 days. It's the longest stretch in years in which I didn't try to write a poem. The reason I'd stopped (or paused) had to do with this idea that, after being so prolific, I really didn't want to write a new poem again until I somehow came up with a "new line" (for me).
But of course, the poet also must get out of the way of the poem. And when "Sentences" came up, my job was to stop whining about "copying" Fried's one-sentence poem form but simply release the poem.
It began as the "Sentence for Christmas Eve" poem in the prior post, then turned into "Sentences" now at Gasps.
But though "Sentences" indeed was partly inspired by Fried, it also -- more significantly -- was birthed by emotions released after hearing from an old friend. And so I've just learned again -- something I do know but keep forgetting -- the heart of Art is feeling. (E.g., feeling.)
One should never dismiss emotion for the sake of form. For poetry is more than extending a tradition, more than lineage, more than the avant garde, more than poetics, more than fodder for poetry blogs....and all sorts of other categories created when we poets lapse to a desire to articulate the quest of poetry. Poetic form merely articulates poetry, but is not by itself Poetry....
....which is both more expansive and simple. Like, the offer of a hand as well as the reaching forth to clasp a hand: the contract of contact.
The same sky imaging your eyes folded over me as a perfume's memory of "wine, pearls and stone" when I received your dream marveling I've become "a footnote grown larger than the book."
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
I quoted one of Michael Fried's poems in my prior post as I wrote it while reading Fried's pleasure-inducing poetry collection To The Center of the Earth (Farrar, Straus etcetera, 1994). I'd not read Fried's poems before, but got his book because he's an art historian and critic. I'm always interested in the kind of poems created by those who also cover the visual arts as the inherently multidisciplinary approach, I feel, usually enhances (the poetic) form.
Many of the poems in Fried's book are short, including this poem whose text consists of a single sentence:
The same sea that bears the steel ships supports you and me.
I was reading Fried's book while stuck in the kitchen, monitoring Achilles. He's not yet house-trained and so I'd moved a lot of my work to the kitchen table to better monitor him. But the monitoring of moi puppy, cute though he is, also prevents me from intense, prolonged concentration.
So when I read Fried's "Offshore" and felt that simmer in the belly that foretells being moved to write poems in response, I immediately thought to also write single-sentence poems. But this also is an extension of my interest in the sentence (one reason I've spent so much time exploring the prose poem form).
Anyway, I began by writing this:
AFTER MICHAEL FRIED'S "OFFSHORE" (#1)
The same air you breathe is expelled by my dog whose breath, as is often said about his ilk, "can stop a train."
Yes, yes I'm obviously under the spell of moi new dog -- even though his breath is actually quite fine. But what I also wanted to do with these single-sentence poems is a more humorous (and mundane) take than Fried's lyricism. I guess, writing a poem with one eye on a puppy's pissing potential just isn't conducive (for me) to a kind of high lyrical intensity. Here's my second attempt:
AFTER MICHAEL FRIED'S "OFFSHORE" (#2)
The same sunset you admire over the rim of a wine glass is a painting dedicated to Duchamp and graffitied by a hirsute artist with the capitalized word, M U S T A C H E.
At this point, I began doubting my sanity. So I did a third poem before calling it quits for the day by taking Achilles out into the pouring rain for his "Go Potty!" exercise:
AFTER MICHAEL FRIED'S "OFFSHORE" (#3)
The same iris to which you ascribed a hunger for raindrops is a snack for moi dog who ate its life off a branch, then spat it out for search of a bone.
I hope this isn't "Achilles Poetics."
Let me end this post, though, with poems by Fried -- first, the wonderful poem that had inspired my third sentence poem above:
The Wild Irises
Dying of thirst,
I long to share the fate of the wild irises
Each raindrop must seem to whom the size of a boulder
Flung down to devastate them with what they need.
And let me share as well the poem that opens Fried's collection to take me To The Center of the Earth:
My hands on your body encountering other hands
Take sanctuary in fistfuls of your thick hair.
You stare because it hurts and my hands drop.
This dumbness after pain is our true element.
And now it's my skin moving under your hands,
And my lips opening between your bitter teeth,
And mine the awkward tense features softening
In the uncertain focus of your gaze.
His innocent tigerlike face with its expressionless smile
.....and permanently startled eyes,
His independently mobile ears that seem as if attached
.....by wires to the least flicker of sound,
And his gorgeous, lanolin-exuding white fur with orange
.....markings that could have been designed by Braque.
(His best trick, a winner every time, is when he finds
On the john and performs slow, affectionate somersaults
.....over my shoes.)
--from "The Limits of Safety" by Michael Fried
Apparently, it's "Johnson" not "Joneses" -- geez: that question elicited more responses than my infamously incisive poetics discourses....
Anyway, the Internet is great! I now just received a poem from someone I met in college (over 20 years ago)! A poem is always a gift, J.R. -- THANK YOU VERY MUCH! (and will backchannel later after the animals have had their Mama time from the Chatelaine).
Meanwhile, speaking of said Johnson (qua Joneses), Leny Strobel provides a scholarly take with an edge:
Achilles prompts me to ask: Is it an act of 'other-ing' when an Achilles admirer checks out his joneses without the owner's permission? I wonder, too, how Achilles might have thought about it. It reminds me of a Coetzee story in The Lives of Animals: "Camus as a child saw his mother behead a hen. Memory imprints. Later, in 1958, Camus writes against the guillotin. Capital punishment is abolished in France. Who is to say the hen did not speak?"
Leny: what can I say? I am so proud of you!
This, of course, makes me wonder about Artemis. Moi peeps will recall that this is the cat I adopted after she had been dumped at the local shelter with 12 -- A DOZEN!!! -- kitties. Artemis had been barely 1 year old and she'd already had a huge litter! Anyway, my adoption took place just six months after she entered the shelter. And: her teensy pink nipples are still distended and visible from her white fur!
So when Artemis gets on her porn mode position, which is to say, she sprawls back against a wall and opens all four legs to reveal her belly....I mean, she must have learned that position somehow.
Flutter. Angels' wings flutter, including the Chatelaine's. Chatelaine looks at her peeps: And can I just reveal how ... absolutely disconcerting it is to, um, look at Artemis' belly and see twin columns of pink nipples ... Flutter: very disconcerting ...
Monday, December 22, 2003
Michelle sez I'm "starting to look like Dr. Doolittle up there on that mountain." Chatelaine beams, since there do happen to be two cats currently swiveling themselves like tasseled dancers about me with my leg as pole ... oh, you get my drift!
But, okay, here: let me do an all poetry post instead of blathering on about the puppy who, by the way, pissed three times on the same spot in the kitchen today; loves to eat gravel and dried leaves; and loves to chew on my toes -- which is all to say, the trainer comes for the first time this Wednesday -- not a second too soon! Anyway, as I wasn't saying about A_____.
Writer, editor and publisher Richard Peabody kindly sent me a copy of WORDHOUSE, the Newsletter of the Baltimore Writers Alliance as its November 2003 issue features a review of GARGOYLE #46, a spoken word and music anthology featuring a number of poets (see line-up below), including Swifty Lazarus (which I mention because the line-up doesn't say that this is a duo made up of Todd Swift on words and Tom Walsh on music), among others. Said "others" includes Moi, which is why I'm blogging about it.
Here's an excerpt from the review written by Julianna Spallholz, judiciously excerpted to feature Moi in as positive a light as possible -- for light is always positive here at Galatea!
The music and spoken word in issue 46 is as colorful as the visual art that envelops it....
The speaker in Eileen Tabios's "Grey, Surreptitiously" walks through a strange, mysterious world that transforms the piece's very real setting by the East River. Tabios's language creates a sort of melancholic, sensual curiosity about her surroundings and her interaction with them. "I am surprised," says Tabios, "that I linger in this part of a city." The language is observational and quietly fascinated. "A woman rounds a bend and sees me. I pause by a white birch tree stripped by winter of its leaves. She smiles as she approaches." The woman here is the only thing moving in this stark, white-and-gray landscape. Our attention pauses with the woman, just as the speaker pauses at her approach....
Loyal to its visual personality, the work in Gargoyle 46 makes us its travel buddy in time and location, as we move with it into far-off lands, lands closer to home, and lands that feel far-off but look amusingly, disturbingly a lot like what we know.
Thanks Richard and Julianna! My poem "Grey, Surreptitiously" is available in my book Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole. But for those of who would like to know what I sound like reading poems (at one point in moi life), Gargoyle #46 is still available, according to Gargoyle's website.
If I do say so moiself, I sound rather mellifluous on this CD....or constipated, your choice.
Here's what's on the Gargoyle 46 CD:
Spoken Word/Music CD
1. Swifty Lazarus - History Is Dead/Read My Lips (4:43)
2. Kenneth Carroll - The Domino Theory or Snoop Dog Rules the World (3:02)
3. Salena Saliva Godden - Portsmouth (3:56)
4. M.L. Liebler and The Magic Poetry Band - And I Ain't Never Gonna See Bobby Rush No More! (2:48)
5. Bruce A. Jacobs - Jeep Cherokee (4:00)
6. Kim Addonizio - Full Moon (1:47)
7. Lida Husik - Breeze (3:56)
8. Barbara DeCesare - The Birthplace of Aviation (2:22)
9. Alan Spears/Jim Williamson - Lavaman (3:40)
10. Susan Browne - After Breaking-Up with My 27th Boyfriend (1:09)
11. Rebecca Villarreal - Orange Food (0:54)
12. Priscilla Lee - Chinese Girl in the Mirror (2:02)
13. Andrew Sofer - Find a Way Home (3:26)
14. Nin Andrews - Sea World (1:49)
15. Brian Gilmore/Brother Ah - America (2:46)
16. Eileen Tabios - Adultery (3:03)
17. M.L. Liebler/Country Joe McDonald - The King Tree (3:18)
18. Andrew Sofer - Conkers (0:55)
19. Nin Andrews - Domestic Bliss (2:25)
20. Ken Waldman - The Violinmakers (1:50)
21. Priscilla Lee - Becoming a Cross Dresser (2:37)
22. Kim Addonizio - "What Do Women Want?" (1:26)
23. Little Pink - Bumblebee (4:40)
24. Susan Browne - Full Moon, Cabo San Lucas (1:23)
25. Rebecca Villarreal - Fresh Tomatoes (1:27)
26. Lida Husik - Lovers Divine (3:52)
27. Bruce A. Jacobs - Shock (2:28)
28. Eileen Tabios - Grey, Surreptitiously (2:25)
29. Jim Williamson - Blue Light On (2:25)
Barbara writes: "oh hey, i'm sorry abt achilles getting jostled in the johnson. i'd be traumatized too!"
Speaking of Barbara, did you know of this article in Contra Costa Times? I just learned of it. Here's an excerpt; I'm your "mentor" daw (and the Chatelaine cackles....)
"Barbara created poems that do not always spoonfeed meaning to the readers," writes her mentor, Eileen Tabios. "The reader cannot remain passive ... and must give back by proactively considering what these poems mean." Tabios cites the poem "101 Words That Don't Quite Describe Me" as Reyes' recognition of language's limitations.
(--for Jim R. who undoubtedly speaks for millions -- Preeen! -- when he e-mails with simply two words: "please post")
The blood unfurled itself, was proudly borne
High over meadows where white horses stood,
Up the steep woods it echoed like a horn
Till at the summit under shining trees
It cried: Submission is the only good.
--from "Climbing the hill within the deafening wind" by Philip Larkin
So let me try to collect moiself. The Chatelaine collects ... her lovely Self.
It's not a pretty tale, you see.
What it was: for moi love for Achilles the adorable puppy, I even make the occasional foray beyond the Iron Gate. That is, I, naturally, do take Achilles to such destinations as the local pet store and other pet-friendly locales as it's important to teach socialization...particularly to animals who'll soon grow to be as tall as humans. Anyway, there I was at the parking lot of "Fideaux" -- naturally the French "Fido" name of the pet store on St. Helena's Main Street (ya blink and ya miss said Main Street, indeed).
Achilles had just been adored by all of Fideaux's salespersons as well as customers. We had just exited the store and were on the parking lot when we saw a lady approach. I, the Chatelaine, kindly paused with Achilles on the leash as the lady had that look on her face that bespoke: she was about to give much adoration to moi puppy.
She was an elegant personage: slim, tall, blonde, masterfully made-up face and clad in a black wool skirt tastefully ending at her knees and topped by a lovely blazer in an emerald shade.
As I anticipated, the lady bent down to Achilles and crooned, "What a lovely puppy!"
Then she asked, her hand -- clearly well-lotioned and manicured with fingernails wardrobed in an old-money red that matched her lipstick -- reaching forth, "Is it a girl or a boy?"
Before I could reply, her elegant hand had already reached forth and squirmed beneath Achilles's belly to find, indeed, a penis. Brilliantly, she concluded, "A boy!" and then patted his face for all of half of a second before continuing on with the rest of her life.
Now, I don't know. The Chatelaine has to admit that she's still all unnerved over a total stranger -- even an elegantly dressed lady -- just coming over to Achilles and, uh, jostling his joneses (so to speak -- I learned that phrase from a male poet blogger but can't recall who; so who wrote that once...?!) But, come on, how would you like it if a stranger just walked by and casually nudged your private parts?
The Chatelaine is unnerved.
Okay. So Achilles is not unnerved. Indeed, I believe da boy rather enjoyed it!
Sunday, December 21, 2003
Are the things we crossed out in the poem? And what about the things we thought and didn't write, the false turns we didn't take, the better poems lost in the crush? They're all present and the universe rolls itself into a ball and big Celtic spirals, pyramids, Brahmans, mystical loves of Christ, ohms, and lotuses come flying out.
--from SEAN FINNEY's contribution to o*blek/12; WRITING FROM THE NEW COAST (Eds. Peter Gizzi and Juliana Spahr)
Tinkle. Her charm bracelet, replete with fleur de lys charms, tinkles as she waves at the wintry sky suddenly de-winterized. Thank you for the cobalt du jour! the Chatelaine croons upward even as night darkens blue. Winter grey today would have been too dour for moi joyous mood!
The Chatelaine looks down at the small black and brown puppy taking a nap, but only after capturing her ankle between his paws. Sweeeeeet Achilles! Nearby, lies a teething toy in the form of three huge plastic keys dangling from a plastic circle -- what is synchronistic about the toy is how said toy mirrors "Chatelaine" under one of the word's definitions as "keeper of keys." Thanks for the gift, Sean Finney -- I hope you don't mind that I couldn't wait until Xmas eve to delve into your stocking for Achilles (I didn't have enough toys on hand for him -- something your stocking's contents rectified!).
The Chatelaine turns her gaze back to the napping puppy. Someday, she croons, I shall take you to Hawai'i where skies are also frequently sunlit blue!
Hawa'i is where the Chatelaine's Holiday Featured Poet partly grew up! Hence, here is another poem by Sean Finney appropriately titled "Hawaii Fragments." I love this poem, despite that line that made my kitties squawk, "two cats starved".
The answer is salt, wet eyed,
no answer. You'll create
the wind in your mouth
for nothing. Jealousy is such a wind
In the shade
the lesson grows
we're apart too often
the garden is yes sir no sir
use the other side of the street
and devour your union
it's hard to be alone
and the point is to keep others
from being alone
your children question
Her mouth is half open
in pain. She'll be you.
You're there. Having driven
and eaten. Upon her
in the afternoon.
To blink at someone
with those eyes.
Posture cannot save you.
It's egregious love
that waves like new boots.
Answer me by being
a prostitute. I'll stay still
while you roll in sphagetti
more energy than the ocean permits
to escape. A park with major flowers,
the sun saying no no no, repetition
is wrong. It's along the fence of never
hate that the answers begin.
(everything destroyed like an architect, bullet
train whistle through the window
Japan, land of the long shoe horns
you can't remember)
This cold house
talking about water in trees
drops in the moonlight
stairs that go up
still I'm confident of you
reduced to comments
and a picture,
what you in a museum
Yes I'm talking about her.
The never with a fence
and a message to create pleasure
on the other side. Everyone's
haircut is noted. We're in
our cups. I don't care about
your speech, your pants,
your shoes. There's no list you
belong on. No handbag
to empty in the gutter.
The color doesn't matter.
Stupid underwear you screamed over.
That door is shut. Your words are nightsoil.
I don't know anyone but you.
Is that better?
(what's under your hair, jacket, shirt
the costume is time, this commentary gloss descended from magazine pages
first deliver the sentence, then cry
use the desire to ring in freedom
uniforms made of hair must be worn
for the dance)
I ate no fish. The limit was blame.
In the woods flowers. Gay sentence.
Desert tolerance. Our house denuded.
Do you like pleasure? Cold.
The roof keeping time still.
Crucify quick. Your comparison.
The land green. And full of people.
Two cats starved.
Sand is abrasive
and red and black and blue
eager for fantasy.
We'll be well fit.
My girdle fear, your horse
derision. The plain site
of discarded clothes. No scent
stays. Alleys, furrows,
answers on paper.
A likelihood of divorce.
Easter. The message says
Yes I'm lying about it.
The ash is something.
The clothes have price tags.
Waiting for Godot
is sensible theatre. Your nose
drys and your ears burn
from being alone. Walls
stop being helpful again.
Depressed in the stone theatre.
Mystery light about the valley.
I'm here saying everything
on the phone. We'll be away
from the mist too long.
Train stations devour the will.
Bring a bit of rope. Whose typewriter
survives. There's underwear
in those words, bulging from the wallpaper.
Mandragon can't believe the earth
is fertile. What about treasure? What about rest
and the harmonious furniture to resign completely?
I'm creating the rooms now. Moldings too dear
to recite. Your companionship
like a leak in the roof.
Billions. There's no shortage of void.
Your copy of my will
(the blank diver, the main Tahitian industry, a famous harbor,
his mother's name)
these are the ideas of you in a crowd
Original entry slipped through the railings of the Iron Gate....but the path from the gate to where Pygmalion works is a long, climbing road....of asphalt that buckles when the Iron Gate instructs it to....and the road melted into a black river rushing down the mountain, taking the *negative energy post* down with it away from where
Pygmalion guards over Galatea for eternity...
I know that you peeps coming to this site for moi infamously incisive poetics discourses have been inundated lately with ... pet discourse. But, after all, this is the Chatelaine's equivalent of showing off baby pictures. So, speaking of Achilles (as I know you all are just as fascinated with every single hair on his hide as I am), did you know that
Achilles' Mother was rated the No. 1 German Shepherd in the U.S. for 2003
Achilles' Father was rated the No. 1 German Shepherd in North America in 2001 and No. 2 German Shepherd in the U.S. in 2003
A royal lineage, indeed (befitting Galatea!)! Um -- actually, during the 2003 competition, Achilles Father was rated No. 1 until the very last bit of competition....when, um, the Dad apparently had gotten a tad too fat to complete a particular hurdle in a, um, particularly graceful manner.
Which reminds me: since Achilles passed through the Iron Gate, we'd been feeding him four meals a day as we thought that's what we were supposed to do. Going through the breeder's files this morning, I realized that said four meals is supposed to be three meals a day! Geeez...
Okay, and this all relates to poetics in that....in that ..... give the Chatelaine with scrunched brow a minute here as she tries to concoct something. Okay, this all relates to poetics in that if one puts too much "food" in a poem -- i.e., fails to complete the poetic distillation process -- you end up with something fatter than a poem. Something that's been called prose, an animal that often won't be able to leap as high as a poem!
Oh be quiet. That's the best I can do on the fly this morning....and moi, indeed, now must fly! Wings spread as, after two days of rain and grey days, the sky is suddenly sunlit and cobalt!
Leny Strobel has an interesting (Dec. 20) post at her blog in response to my entry yesterday on Elaine Pagels....a true poet, Leny "leaps" from that topic to Tolkien (the Chatelaine has the same birthday as Frodo Baggins!!) and more. Kapwa Poetics!
Saturday, December 20, 2003
And the dog-
day locust and glowworm
open their spiracles to breathe. Not choice
--from "Marginal Luminosity" by Forrest Gander
I'm on briefly on blogland to note that I've been directing y'all over to Jean's Blue Kangaroo Blog to see moi new German Shepherd puppy! But apparently there may be an issue with Jean's server so that all that pops up is an empty box with the red cross at the upper left corner? If that's what you see, Jean promises to fix said problema on Monday....then you don't have to take my word for how adorable Achilles is!
Whilst I'm on, let me pass the word, too, from another postcard Andrew Lundwall sent the Chatelaine (and thanks as well for the snailmailed lovely and colorful drawing, Andrew -- it's now up as part of the Holiday decorations at Galatea!!!):
thursday reading series...january 29 2004
poetic inhalation and the tin lustre mobile will present their first live reading at the thursday reading series...a joint series of the arlington county, virginia public libraries and arlington county public affairs commission on thursday january 29 2004 at 7:30pm... For more information, do go to http://poeticinhalation.com/eventinformation.html
Sounds fun, Andrew -- the Chatelaine wishes she could attend but she must watch the cats and dog pissing all over each other's prior peeing in a battle over Galatea's landscape -- scented powerplays!
Last but not least, speaking of Achilles again -- here is an all-too relevant section to me from GERMAN SHEPHERDS FOR DUMMIES by D. Caroline Coile:
Part of a pup's exploratory tools are his teeth, and any chewed items left in his wake are your fault, not your pup's -- you are the one who should have known better. Harsh corrections are no more effective than a firm "No" and removal of the item. If you come across a cherished item chewed to bits and feel compelled to lash out, go ahead -- hit yourself in the head a few times for slipping up. It may teach you a lesson!
Sigh. The Chatelaine sighs, and delivers a silent eulogy over her favorite slipper....now alchemized by Achilles' teeth (to her angels' and cats' amusement) into strips of blue velvet and loose gold thread...
Nonetheless, the Chatelaine also admires her now exposed toenails, painted a shimmery silver for the Holidays!
The theology and fate of the "secret Gospel of Thomas" provides Pagels's case study. She interprets Thomas as promoting an egalitarian theology that all persons can come to know God "through one's own, divinely given capacity, since all are created in the image of God." Thomas in Aramaic means "twin" as does Thomas' second name in Greek "Didymus"; thus Thomas in effect invites readers to acknowledge their own potential to be a "twin" of the "living Jesus." Pagels contrasts this theology with that of the canonized Gospel of John, which she interprets as promoting a doctrinaire theology that only those who believe in Jesus as the revealer of God can inherit eternal life or be counted as a legitimate member of the community. In castigating the figure of Thomas, the Gospel of John, Pagels argues, was in fact written to debunk the Gospel of Thomas in the first century C.E.
--H.E Everding, in reviewing BEYOND BELIEF: THE SECRET GOSPEL OF THOMAS by Elaine Pagels
My first career was journalism. I have always loved words, but my first inclination in professionally manifesting this love was journalism -- I began early enough to be trained by hard-core, gruff men journalists who liked to say, 'Just the facts, kid. None of this new-fangled New Journalism."
It's over two decades since I've written as a journalist. I've done a lot of its forms, ranging over hard news, feature news, column writing, political and risk analysis, book and movie reviews, national correspondence, even television broadcast journalism. But, as a journalist, I'd always considered myself first and foremost a *hard news reporter*.
Now, for the first time, I'm wondering whether one reason I ultimately left journalism is because "just the facts" is an illusion. Language is social -- my very dear, hard-bitten mentors never conceded that. But even if they were operating under an illusion, it's a shortcoming that bespoke a certain integrity. Their conscious and deliberate attempts to just present "facts" at least meant that they usually got their egos and biases out of the way more successfully than many journalists when it came to reporting some news event.
Anyway, all this came up because, this morning, I read a Rain Taxi review by H. E. Everding of BEYOND BELIEF: THE SECRET GOSPEL OF THOMAS by Dr. Elaine Pagels. Dr. Pagels is a former Barnard professor of mine; I had taken a Religion course and one of the texts was her own book, The Gnostic Gospels. The Gnostic Gospels is arguably the only college textbook that remains clear in my memory as having been an experience of wondrous significance.
This is not to belittle other books which had been assigned to me as a college student. It's just that Dr. Pagels' religion course also was a rare exception to how I'd manouvered my way through my Barnard and Columbia years. That is, because I loved journalism, I was on the staff of Columbia University's Spectator newspaper. It's a daily newspaper and on my way to become one of its editors during my senior year, I would come to pull five all-nighters a week, most weeks, putting out the paper -- as we loved to say then, Spectator may have been a school newspaper but it was a legitimate operation and New York's then [8th] largest daily.
What this meant, though, was that -- and kids, don't do as I do -- I attended most of my college courses three times a year: the first day of school, to take the midterm, and to take the final. I rarely (had the time to) read the assigned texts -- once, I had a 25-page paper due the next day on ten books I hadn't read. I dropped all books to the floor, took a paragraph from the opened pages, and strung together a paper from somehow frothing forth a narrative glue that bound together the excerpts (I was a (collagist) poet then, and didn't know it!).
Anyway, I feel lucky that I managed to attend nearly all the classes Dr. Pagels taught -- she has one of the most brilliant minds I've ever met, whose luster still glows within my memory decades later. And part of this brilliance is in challenging canons -- if you read the Rain Taxi review (and my quoted epigraph-paragraph above), you can glimpse what I'm calling "Decanonizing Poetics." For canons, among other things, place limits on new discoveries.
What Dr. Pagels says below reflects, too, what I would say about Poetry; you might replace the word "religious" with "poetic" in the first excerpted sentence to see what I mean:
"What I have come to love in the wealth and diversity of our religious traditions--and the communities that sustain them--is that they offer the testimony of innumerable people to spiritual discovery. Thus they encourage those who endeavor, in Jesus's words, 'to seek, and you shall find.'"
Friday, December 19, 2003
The year has changed his mantle cold
Of wind, of rain, of bitter air;
And he goes clad in cloth of gold,
Of laughing suns and season fair;
--from "Spring" by Charles D'Orleans
So far, twelve peeps have queried: What is Chatelaine Poetics? Why Chatelaine Poetics?
The Chatelaine answers with a prevarication: It's the poetics of Merleau-Ponty's sheen...
Flutter. Then the Chatelaine flutters long, silky, ebony lashes...and runs away under the pretense of having to chase Achilles whose brown-hosed paws are now padding across the limestone mirroring the unknown pattern of a historically invisible floor that had lain under another floor at Chateaux de Cloux.
And because the Chatelaine must keep watch over Galatea's newest family member, she misses the e-mail from another peep -- always "the invisible 13th" -- who says of her blogged space, "Seems like somewhere I'd like to be..."
Before the Chatelaine feeds her warrior Achilles for the second time today, she checks the As-Is Blog and is pleased to discover that Joseph Garver has decided to start his own hay(na)ku blog!
To her Pin@y readership -- that's "returning the borrowed tongue," y'all. And aren't these great by Joseph!:
The long road,
Early, soaking spring,
Half her brother
Humming, the Chatelaine now prepares for her second culinary attempt du jour: opening a can of "wet food" which she shall serve with much grace and tongue-music to Achilles whose "heel" is appropriately how much he adores the Long-Haired One (having already licked her hairtips several times).
Have I mentioned Achilles' cute face lately over at Jean's?
I fed Achilles breakfast this morning!!! Possibly only the 24th time in my entire life I've cooked....and, I'ma actually excavating through my lousy memory as: I believe this also is THE FIRST TIME I'VE EVER COOKED SOLELY FOR ONE MALE!!!!
Huh. Finally, I cook for a male and it's a dog....!!!!
Please to picture me with folded wings rolling around on the limestone here as I think this absolutely hilarious. I cooked for a male and it's a dog!!!!
But how can anyone resist Achilles? Please check out his sweet, handsome face now starring over at Jean's!
Anyway, this is what the Chatelaine made with much aplomb, hovering over her cobalt-colored stove:
a pound of kibble softened in hot water, combined with a hard-boiled egg (said egg helps the sheen on the fur, according to Achilles' breeder).
Doesn't that sound yummy??? All stirred lovingly with right wingtip!
And I must say the whole unique experience (unique? I cooked, remember?) put me in the perfect mood to enjoy Stephanie's gift, Long Nose Pinnochio Bitch, a "menage a quatre" (hmmm, the concept sets certain angels a-flutter!) with
Russel Edson via Jonathan Mayhew
K. Silem Mohammad
Yep. I say lovingly making breakfast for "my Barney dog" is the hor d'ouevre for such poems that nudge, like this excerpt from Timothy's --
The thing about a hairstyle is it can catch on fire,
say Inspector Gepetto and General Melanie,
working hard at the zoo
for an iced coffee and Shelley's alias.
That long-haired inseam's my Barney dog,
reading horny lollypops with its nose like Winnie,
a starchild prostitute, a Scorpius pumpkin pie:
my arch-enemy Jimmy, my Pinocchio face.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
hills are sketched against the night
moonlit, black and glistening
at the foot of the hills there's farmland
surrounded by trees where winding brimming ditches
turn into moonlit mirrors
we look at ourselves recognize each other
wait for the light of dawn
--from "Kisses From Another Dream" by Antonio Porta, trans. Anthony Molino
Xander vom Haus Brezel, aka Achilles Tabios, was born October 20, 2003. He arrived at Galatea this evening as a 14-pound puppy. In less than six months, he's expected to be about 100 pounds. But right now, I can cradle him within my arms....sweeeeeet!
Thanks to Jean for posting his image! As Jean puts it, Achilles is just "so cute"!!
Of course, Chatelaine duty began as soon as he arrived. Achilles walked into the kitchen and promptly pooped on moi limestone. O, the stones shivered then...!
Swiftly, the angels soared to hover just beneath the ceiling, cackling their faces behind their blue wings....while the cats, suddenly on tippy-toes, were utterly....aghast!
The Chatelaine must admit, though, that she giggled at the expressions of her usually unfazeable cats. As Barry Schwabsky writes in "Untitled (Detail)" from his book OPERA:
...a curious thing
when the dark eye
of an animal admonishes
with skeptical tenderness
the troublesome guest.
Barry's OPERA is on my mind this evening due to an earlier postcard slipped through the railings of Galatea's Iron Gate. While the Chatelaine naturally encourages all interested to acquire Meritage Press's books through Small Press Distribution, one poetry lover ordered through Amazon and this is what happened:
I waited ages before reading Opera because it took ages to get here. Finally I wrote Amazon and they sent out a new order right away. Later on I heard that there had been a robbery of the Post Office in San Giovanni where 3 masked men who sounded like they were from Sardegna locked the postmistress in the bathroom but couldn't get at the safe because it was on a timer. The only thing they got was a big plastic mailbag of books, Opera among them. I wonder where it -- they -- ended up.
Well. Far be it for me to begrudge Poetry from Sardinia's bandits! May they enjoy thumbing -- even reading -- through Barry's poems!
Speaking of Italy, its own Antonio Porta once wrote (from his "Kisses From Another Dream"),
"Scrivo nel momento in cui sembra che tutto vada per il meglio"
"I'm writing just when everything seems to be going right."
The rest of the stanza actually became more dark, but I'll end with that single line which bespeaks balance. For harmony, too, is one of Galatea's many blessings.
Achilles is on his way to Galatea!!! Less than an hour away!
The Angels are so a-twitter they're loosening feathers which is making the Chatelaine sneeze and sneeze. But the Chatelaine perseveres with extra stroking for the cats Artemis and Scarlet -- she's so unsure she gave the cats enough time to feel at home, before said home is now "invaded" by a German Shepherd puppy!!
To distract herself, the Chatelaine posts another and new poem by her blog's Holiday Featured Poet, Sean Finney!
The rueful assorted ants author the moist
tall mice in great detail, majestic pain
A woman passes who with one hand
hooks the festival of the balconies
This house leans like a sea of gifts
to praise the statue.
I raise the lid on an extravagant
green day made for earless heads
to disgrace color.
A pastry filled with night, fugitive bread,
give my regards to the theatre operator.
Rubber souls are the waves of eternity.
[this is the point I think where he will pass her on the street and say nothing but he slips in a patch of grease]
Hill towns, marks of icy now, too late, never.
Toes carved out of butter
melting in the thousand degrees
that ring cities
High rise dust you keep escaping
with its pencil marks on winter light
derision yes I will come
to your antique house
and remake myself
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
When the moon stares at you
like a girl to be milked
don't lie there listening to your blood hum
--from "Western Witch, Season of the" by Georganne Deen
Speaking of recovering history outside of what is written, the Chatelaine is a tad miffed after reading the cover article in the current issue of VANITY FAIR, which focuses on poet, publisher, actor and visual artist Viggo Mortensen.
I enjoyed reading about Viggo's activities with Perceval Press, which I think is similar to how certain poets integrate a publishing role as part of their engagement with the literary community. But here's what made the Chatelaine's hairtips tremble from irritation -- it's when the article's author Alex Kuczynski describes how, for their interview, Viggo brought her a box of...well, let me quote the irritating paragraphs:
"I brought you some things," [Viggo] says, sitting down on a bench overlooking the Pacific Ocean. // He opens a huge cardboard box at his feet. There are about a dozen books: one of pictures by a Cuban Santeria practitioner turned photographer; one of poetry that comes with an owl-shaped pewter trinket; one containing sketches by Lola Schnabel, an ex-girlfriend, and then several by Mortensen himself--of paintings, poetry and photographs...
Viggo and Lola (daughter of artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel) are mentioned by name. But not the names of the Santeria practitioner or the poet because, what, they're not celebrities? I detested being reminded yet again of how culture mavens (as in the article's author, editor(s) and publisher) don't think enough of poets to mention their names (and same nota bene made for the Santeria practitioner -- after all, the article's author had the books and so certainly could have offered the respect of acknowledgment!).
Sip. Irritated sip of the 2000 Kistler chardonnay. So, okay, here's the Chatelaine to the rescue. The referenced book "of poetry that comes with an owl-shaped pewter trinket" is WESTERN WITCH, SEASON OF THE by Georganne Deen. It's a sweet project that acts as a monograph for the images from Georganne's "Western Witch" series of paintings, poems and a spoken word CD. I first saw Georganne's paintings at a group show at Babilonia 1808 gallery in Berkeley, and Viggo obviously decided to release a book in conjunction with her solo exhibition at the Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery (if you click on the gallery link, you can see some images that relate to Georganne's book). This is Georganne's first book of poems; here's an excerpt from her Acknowledgements:
I don't know how to thank Viggo Mortensen for publishing this book. He is so much cooler than he'd like for me to say. But he really did put the [owl] charm in it. That is the truth. The Perez sisters, Pila and Michele, produced and designed it and I am so grateful to you jewels for everything you have done. // I never had any of my poetry published until last summer when Thurston Moore and his poet friend, Byron Coley, gave me a debut in their poetry journal, Ecstatic Peace. Thank you both: I was overjoyed, to put it mildly....
So I appreciate Viggo as an artist-publisher as much as for his starring role in the You-Know-What-Movie. And that owl charm, by the way, is enchanting and I hope to have it grace a charm bracelet soon. Anyway, it seems to me that if Viggo had the respect to publish Georganne Deen, and then graced the reporter with a copy of said book, the reporter should report the name of...Georganne Deen -- let me be pompous and quote a line from one of my own poems: "No one is anonymous in this world"!
Thus, out of respect for Poetry -- and a blatant way to encourage contact by Viggo Mortensen, if only in his role as a publisher addressing my violation of copyright rules -- the Chatelaine shall now post a poem by Georganne from the book so unrespectfully ignored by VANITY FAIR. This poem (though unfortunately some of its indents may be screwed up by Blogger) is featured opposite the image of "Are You The One I've Been Waiting For" (mixed media on silk, 2001) which features the image of a doll whose teensy belly is tattooed with a guy's face (a hilarious rendering, I might add). Doesn't this have wonderful rhythm!:
I was waiting for you in the womb that tight little tomb
bobbin in the bourbon an the blood
I was waiting for you in the gloom of that blue baby room
in a bassinette splattered with mud
I was waiting for you in that greasy grey kiddie cafe
that never nourished no one but I went back every day
waitin for you. I was waitin for you
I was waiting for you in the yard
the dingleberry bard I was your hopscotchin pill poppin
I was waiting for you with My Legendary Charm
I Was Old Mc Donald and I Had A Farm
I had bats beating on the glass doors of my slow suicide
I had geese honking at the headons of my faithless friends who lied
and a snake I trained to eat everything I wanted to
forget about you
left a pearly swirly trail of double-dipped memory poo
that every day I'd haveta find a way to tip-toe through
I was waiting for you down on Avenue 2
in the passenger seat of my daddy's new car
I was waiting for you in that Hollywood zoo
at the back of the Tattle Tale Bar
I waited under a scar-faced moon who said
run away with me and live forever
But where would you be if you came looking for me?
I'd never forgive myself never never never never never
never never nevernever
out in the orange grove down on my knees
singing The Twelfth of Never to the chiggers and the fleas
Under the volcano in the latrine
Your Town My Town Anywhere in between
I was waiting for you I was waiting for you I was waiting for you
I was waiting for you
I was waiting for you.
The Chatelaine and her angels (and her cats) are all munching on freshly-harvested apples from Leny and Cal's tree (thanks Leny!!! Not only are you a scholar and a poet but also a fine gardener!). They munch and munch whilst watching two truckloads of men put up a fence to create a coral for Achilles, the sweet puppy due to arrive tomorrow. Munch.
Spit green skin out on mountain for its organic. Chatelaine raises a white cotton-sleeve and, uh, stains said sleeve by wiping it across her luscious lips. Okay, kitties, she croons. Back to the computer!
Scarlet's and Artemis' paws daintily pick their way through the limestone as they follow the Chatelaine's skirt (green velvet today). In her studio, Chatelaine decides to do a blog jog before buckling down to chase a poem...and notices her new image on Kasey's image-ridden LIMETREE Blog!!!
Thanks Kasey!!! My new look is quite appropos as, yes, there really are deer on moi mountain. Often, I look out the window and there are as much as a dozen nibbling on my freshly-planted grass! No wonder my grass field has bald spots! But that's another story. Anyway, thanks for picturing me with long hair, too -- as a poet just told me: "Poetry must be accurate"!
Next up! She waves as she jogs by the As/Is Blog where Joseph Garver's posted a hay(na)ku with a duck-tail ending! The Chatelaine, however, admits to admiring duck-tail endings on poems just because they evoke those wonderfully-cute duck-tail haircuts she once saw on little boys when such was the hairstyle phase a few years back...HAIRCUT POETICS!!
Then, as she continues blog-jogging, she ends up at one of her favorites, Venepoetics, where Guillermo has written:
we are living the furies. I prefer books. Even though I know there is no escape.
I've always mistrusted my own voice in groups larger than two or three people. My focus must be to read more and to listen more. To be thankful for the pleasure that is Los detectives salvajes. Or Fanny Howe's essays, Jean Grae, Julieta Venegas, and Cafe Tacuba's recent CDs, Sandra Cisneros's Caramelo and Eileen Tabios's prose poems. "The rest is dross."
There is no country here, in these words. There is no nation within my flesh. These words are neither Venezuelan nor American. They are not Indian, white, Latino, or mestizo. "
Thank you Guillermo. In that meandering way that moi brain works, your post led my rumination to...ruminate over the unnecessary binary created between the "masses" and the "elite" when the latter is defined as "educated." In a developing country, education is all the more important. It's why Filipino writer F. Sionil Jose (whose kind hospitality I'll never forget during my last trips to Manila; Agyamanak unay) -- is described by as being in the "Filipino vernacular tradition" but nonetheless insists that if a Philippine Presidential candidate cannot "argue in English....then they have no business running for president" in a Sunday Magazine article for the Philippine Star. Frankie concludes:
"I don’t want my president to be one of us: I want him above most of us in intelligence, in virtue, in his capacity and determination to act. I want to be proud of my president, not to be ashamed of him, particularly when foreigners ask about him. And most of all, I want him to be able to express himself in English, not because I write in English, but because English is the lingua franca of the world."
In a developing -- and developed -- country, nothing like education can help counter the furies of immature political and social infrastructures.....
And the Chatelaine would continue, but politics, too, is one reason she now lives behind an Iron Gate...to develop a history outside of the ones recorded by corrupt pens. Some may call this history awaiting recovery to be