Syntax … Steps

Seth Mydans writes about Seema Kirmani …

In a country [Pakistan] where most women cover their heads and some hide inside full-body burkas, where sexual feelings are seen as a challenge to purity and uprightness, a dancing woman is a defiance and a threat, and Ms. Kermani knows it. […] For all her vibrancy, when Ms. Kermani dances she is already an artifact of the past, a ghost dancer leaping and whirling as if her world were not already dying around her. (http://www.paklinks.com/gs/culture-literature-and-linguistics/25220-pakistani-dancer-life-underground.html)
Knowing who she is gives these lines a certain airy gravitas … daily signs, daily consequences.
Thus each of our gestures amounts
To a critique of the whole concept of action.

"Serenade" for Seema Kirmani Donald Britton In the Empire of the Air: The Poems of Donald Britton edited by Reginald Shepherd and Philip Clark.
Knowing who he is … further suspensions

And so for day 1691
31.07.2011

Je me souviens de l'utopique

A passage about what is stolen.

Je vous dis qu'ils nous ont volé notre temps quotidien.

Notre précieux temps de tous les jours pour jouer dehors, dedans, dans la verdure de la tendresse mutuelle. Notre temps à nous autres, temps de feu, de passion dans le velours rouge des bercements d'extase, des embrassement du corps. Notre temps de grand midi sous les branches de l'arbre-mère-en-fleurs, fontaine de transparence des salives, des baiser mouillés qui se font actes de reconnaissance. Il y a longtemps que je t'aime, toujours je t'aimerai. Notre temps pour boire à la mer.
Jovette Marchessault "chronique lesbienne du moyen-âge québécois" in tryptique lesbien.

With this passage, Yvonne M. Klein does something interestingly smart. By way of an act of reconnaissance/recognition, in translating to English she retains and italicizes the French Il y a longtemps que je t'aime, toujours je t'aimerai. and it now leaps up that these are lyrics to a song: a traditional French folk song ("À la claire fontaine") whose refrain does contain the first phrase — il y a longtemps que je t'aime — which continues with a promise to never forget — jamais je ne t'oublierai. Marchessault has morphed the promise of remembrance to one of love, ongoing, continuous love — toujours je t'aimerai.

What is interesting here is the reversal of the negative which is also at work in the next sentence: Notre temps pour boire à la mer. This is a play on the proverbial "ce n'est pas la mer à boire" — it's not as big a deal as drinking the sea (i.e. the impossible). Of course there is also at play a sort of toast: drinking to the health of the sea (and by homophony the mother (mère)). The lexicographers locate the the origin in a fable by La Fontaine "Les deux chiens et l’âne mort" and the lines
     Tout cela, c'est la mer à boire;
     Mais rien à l'homme ne suffit :
Pour fournir aux projets que forme un seul esprit
Il faudrait quatre corps ; encor loin d'y suffire
A mi-chemin je crois que tous demeureraient :
Quatre Mathusalems bout à bout ne pourraient
     Mettre à fin ce qu'un seul désire.
Never enough time in this time-worn single body. This desiring body.

All this talk of the sea brings to mind the story of King Canute and the waves. And alternative to translate that tricky bit about drinking to the sea or drinking by the sea: our time to buck the tide.

And so for day 1690
30.07.2011

Coup de grâce

There is a central image from Adam Zagajewski "Transformation" in Mysticism for Beginners translated by Clare Cavanagh that captures well the tall flowers at their maturity.

I've seen sunflowers dangling
their heads at dusk, as if a careless hangman
had gone strolling through the gardens.
There is nothing careless in the attribution via possible simile: the careless hangman may or may not have passed by — we are left dangling.

And so for day 1689
29.07.2011

To Take the Trouble

Elizabeth David on taking the trouble (from A Book of Mediterranean Food), trouble with food and trouble as applied (by the reviewer and list complier) to writing:

Finally, all her work expresses a credo about cooking that, with equal justice, might apply to English prose at its finest and most natural:
"Good cooking is honest, sincere and simple, and by this I do not mean to imply that you will find in this, or indeed in any other book, the secret of turning out first-class food in a few minutes with no trouble. Good food is always a trouble and its preparation should be regarded as a labour of love, and this book is intended for those who actually and positively enjoy the labour involved in entertaining their friends."
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/aug/22/100-best-nonfiction-books-no-30-book-of-mediterranean-food-elizabeth-david
Paul Bertolli would recall this notion of taking trouble in the introduction to his cookbook Cooking by Hand. A thought worthy of passing on. Now not only about cooking.

And so for day 1688
28.07.2011

The Unemployable Employed

A great deal of the pleasure of this poem stems from its layout of cascading words — adjectives all aswirl.

In response to your ad:
self-starting
mature
reliable
appealing
progressive
dependable
agressive
organized
personable
ambitious
experienced and
bondable
individual
with own tools

[ … ]

On the other hand
a minute ago
the south-west wind
(which is the warm tongue of the world)
licked my face and leaned against me
like a great old
scruffy
beautiful mutt
[ … ]

and I became
immature
unreliable
regressive
disorganized
innocent
impious
self-unstarting
grubby and
ecstatic
as if
I already have a job.
It is only in transcribing the poem that I noticed that the animal wind is laid out in a cascade similar to all the adjectives describing the various states of the speaker. And now I hear an echo of Shelley's Ode to the West Wind "O Wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being / Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead / Are driven like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing" — a breath of revivification.

O yeah, that poet, gainfully employed or otherwise, is George Miller and his poem still doing work years later is "Explicitizer at Liberty" collected in Sancho (Wolsak and Wynn, 1987).

And so for day 1687
27.07.2011

The trolls will always be with you.

Like the poor from the New Testament pronouncement they are here to stay. While walking home, I was given to reflecting upon the favourite rhetorical moves of the troll clan. It struck me that they are similar to the preachers of hell fire and brimstone sermons.

You don't deserve to live because …
You will be damned because …
In either case what is at stake is an ethics of respect, a practice of finding worth. So it is in that spirit that I rework the Christian admonition: Love the demon, not the demonizer.

Here's for all the fallen angels. They will not always be with us.

And so for day 1686
26.07.2011

And then she said…

The social function of gossip…

Men have always detested women's gossip because they suspect the truth: their measurements are being taken and compared. In the most paranoid societies (Arab, Orthodox Jewish) the women are kept completely under wraps (or under wigs) and separated from the world as much as possible. They gossip anyway: the original form of consciousness-raising. Men can mock it but they can't prevent it. Gossip is the opiate of the oppressed.
Erica Jong. Fear of Flying

And so for day 1685
25.07.2011

Mud Pies

To engrave. To translate. To make mud pies.

As engraving to the great art of painting, so is translation to the great art of poetry; and, like the great arts, it is itself an act of creation. And here lies its chief utility in the process of educating a scholar. Learning is in the main a passive and receptive function; but the human mind, from infancy upward, feels the impulse to create; and to indulge that impulse, however slight the value of the creation, promotes the happiness of the creator, and so enhances his powers and enlarges his capacities. The schoolboy who is put to his books, whether those books are accidence and syntax or Vergil and Homer, is further off from heaven in one regard than the child of a few years past who sat on the ground and made mud pies. To make mud pies is to follow at a distance and share in modest measure the activities of the demiurge: let the boy, as well as the child, evoke a small world of his hands and pronounce it, if he can, to be pretty good. A desire to create and a pleasure in creating are often alive and ardent in minds whose true business later is to be not creation but criticism; and even if the things created have small intrinsic merit, the intellectual stir and transport which produced them is not therefore vain, and has other results than these.
On creative impulses in the scholarly enterprise from towards the beginning of A.E. Housman's Cambridge Inaugural Lecture 1911 printed under the title "The Confines of Criticism".

And so for day 1684
24.07.2011

Beach Bullets

Turn. Pivot. Twist.

On the porch, serenaded by a cricket choir —
so charming! Lying in bed, the chirp
of a single cricket — so annoying!

A shivering dog left out in the rain,
dripping wet and cold as a miserable
werewolf, each raindrop a silver bullet.

My visitor from Nebraska buys
a sack of assorted seashells at a souvenir shop,
then scatters them along the beach.
from Harryette Mullen Urban Tumbleweed: Notes from a Tanka Diary

And so for day 1683
23.07.2011

Found Haiku

Lifted from its sequence, punctuation adjusted [dropping a comma after "melons"]

heat fattened
melons
guard
a standing hoe
George C. Miller. Ladders to high places (Toronto: Cló Chluain Tairbh, 1962)

And so for day 1682
22.07.2011

Structure Restructured

Back in 1998, in a little note sent to a friend working on Nietzche, I quoted this excerpt from Touch by Gabriel Josipovici.

The structure consists of a series of gestures in a certain order which satisfies.

The structure is never final. As soon as it has been completed satisfactorily it ceases to matter. The search for boundaries begins again. It will always begin again. Not as Sisyphus rolls his stone up the hill again and again, but as the sun rises each morning, as one breathes in and out and then in again and again.

Yet it is not as natural as breathing. Not even as natural as swimming or kicking a ball. For it is never possible to tell in advance where the boundaries will be or even if they exist.

There is no end to it. But ends no longer matter.
A quirky bit of irony, my signature block at the time read
Francois
wonders how machines make promises
in scifi —
http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance/sd/sd0003.htm
which provided a link to a mini-review of Phyllis Gotlieb's O Master Caliban! and how it entices "reader's awareness of the elegance of the artifice" which in a way recalls Josipovici's observations about the perception of structure which in turn reminds me of the bittersweet joy of placing that last piece to complete a jigsaw puzzle.

And so for day 1681
21.07.2011

Mind the Gap

In her hommage to Michael Lynch ("White Glasses") Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick invokes gaps twice

the opacity loss installs within ourselves and our vision, the unreconciled and irreconcilably incendiary emerges streaming through that subtractive gap, that ragged scar of meaning, regard, address.

And across the ontological crack between the living and the dead.

[our emphasis]
Across the length of the whole book (Tendencies), it is worth coming back to the introduction ("Queer and Now") and the section under the heading "Thought as Privilege" for it provides content to the activities that arise out of the gap/crack.
What the American intellectual right has added to this hackneyed populist semiotic of ressentiment is an iridescent oilslick of elitist self-regard. Trying to revoke every available cognitive and institutional affordance for reflection, speculation, experimentation, contradiction, embroidery, daring, textual aggression, textual delight, double entendre, close reading, free association, wit — the family of creative activities that might, for purposes of brevity, more dimply be called thought — they yet stake their claim as the only inheritors, defenders, and dispensers of a luscious heritage of thought that most of them would allow to be read only in the dead light of its pieties and exclusiveness.
What I find admirable is that in the midst of polemic there is a solid defense of the diversity of intellectual activity. The attack is a celebration. The astounding enumeration is short list to issue out of the mindful gap over passages bookish and otherwise.

And so for day 1680
20.07.2011

Fictional Fuels

Dichotomies can sometimes delight.

Gass's essays rarely pursue a single line of thought, and they offer not a progression of ideas so much as an experience, all feints and nuance, and with the argument itself vanishing within the sportive accretions of his prose. But then that play of mind is itself the argument, and where the theorist believes that language can cripple, the novelist knows that it may set you free.
This is Michael Gorra in an introduction to On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry. Strange that he marshals an opposition such as novelist to theorist to account for the generative power as a struggle against restraint. Funny, I mark Gass as working under the sign of Copia. Whatever the case may be, Gorra's words spur us on to read Gass.

And so for day 1679
19.07.2011

Lists and Syntax

There is a sequence of three words captured in one line in a poem ("July") by George Miller that are evocative all on their own

mud growth sanctuary
In recollection they seem to irrupt but in context they flow from a description of a forest
O heat trees silence lush
mud growth sanctuary
Their position at the end of a two line stanza makes them dangle in the imagination; a question arises at to just how mud leads to growth and how that provides sanctuary. There is here an enigma. The mystery of how linkages are forged is expressed in a poem ("The World as Language") later in the collection (Sancho). Miller writes
Each thing a word awaiting syntax
There the "elastic Listener" is likened to the Divine. But I like to shift to an ecstatic reader who completes the process initiated by the elastic listener whereby
And words not things
but meshings of relation
patterns of concern
mud growth sanctuary: meshings patterns concerns

And so for day 1678
18.07.2011

The Hand Knows.

Paul Bertolli from introduction to Cooking by Hand

Any good cook knows how to dose salt in the right proportion to food by the way it feels in the hand. Take that dose, put it into a measuring spoon, and it may come up fractionally short or overfill the brim. When a cook creates a recipe to fit standard weights and measures, the measures themselves creep in to exert control over the cook's better instincts. Precision is lost.

[…]

Following a recipe does not absolve the cook from cooking.
And he makes much of the necessity to observe the time of ripeness.

And so for day 1677
17.07.2011

On David and Florence

History turning to an account of reading for pathos. A statue becomes emblematic of the city.

Those who are more astute, of course, brave the long lines outside the Accademia in order to see David in his authentic and inimitable glory. Living as he does now in a tribune, one might expect him to have taken on an expression of arrogance, yet in fact — and despite the change of circumstance — his look of vulnerability seems only to have intensified over the years. Perhaps this is due to old age, a lingering ache in his left arm, or in the second toe of his left foot, which a vandal broke in 1991. To invent such a motive, I know, is to assume that the statue has an identity distinct from that of the Biblical figure it represents, or even the marble from which it was hewn; indeed, it is to assume that the statue has a consciousness. And what might such a consciousness — at once freighted and fragile — possibly resemble? What kind of memory would stone possess? We can only imagine.
For some readers, this stands as a surrogate for the Anglo-Florentine colony that is the subject of David Leavitt Florence, A Delicate Case. But we are not sure.

And so for day 1676
16.07.2011

Mycelial Meditations

Harryette Mullen. Urban Tumbleweed: Notes from a Tanka Diary.

Usually small detached pieces succeed each other without connection but these three aptly for small poems about fungi are thematically connected like strands of mycelium.

Paramedics check vital signs as
emergency-room doctors prepare for
the arrival of amateur mycologists.

Often they are immigrants, who've gathered,
cooked, and eaten toxic death-caps resembling
tasty wild mushrooms of their native land.

Within a small family of survivors
the cost of a grandparent's funeral
is divided between two credit cards.
And so for day 1675
15.07.2011

Twisting Branching Trail or Escape

Carl Phillips. Reconnaissance

A tree is being mapped here under the auspices of the "maple".

skies beneath which the leaves spiraled like what
looked like forever, mapling even the steeper

shafts in memory, parts the light all but missed,
"Enough, Tom Fool, Now Sleep"

And this breathless seeping of syntax
the folded black-and-copper
wings of history begin their deep unfolding, the bird itself,
shuddering, lifts up into the half-wind that comes after—
higher—soon desire will resemble most that smaller thing,
late affection, then the memory of it; and then nothing at all.
"Steeple"

Reconnoitre : early 18th cent.: from obsolete French reconnoître, from Latin recognoscere ‘know again’

And so for day 1674
14.07.2011

Reading the Body Language of Listening

"To Listen" with Phil Hall from The Little Seamstress

 To listen—they lean forward—kids do
when you read to them—they list
 they know how to listen
The dictionary invites us to compare the verb "to list" with the verb "to heel"; both nautical terms both expressing inclination but from different reasons.

And so for day 1673
13.07.2011

The Verge of Absurdity

When mechanics meet dialectics, it's hard to tell who or what is screwed and who or what is screwing. Our vulgarity is in keeping with our source text.

How hypocritical to go upstairs with a an you don't want to fuck, leave the one you do sitting there alone, and then, in a state of great excitement, fuck the one you don't want to fuck while pretending he's the one you do. That's called fidelity. That's called civilization and its discontents.
And pages and pages later, we learn that the relation between mind and body is more complex than simple inversion of do and don't.
Some tall thin poets write short fat poems. But it's not a simple matter of the law of inversion. In a sense, every poem is an attempt to extend the boundaries of one's body. One's body becomes the landscape, the sky, and finally the cosmos. Perhaps that's why I often find myself writing in the nude.
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong who leads us to muse about the metaerotics of wearing a silk dressing gown and using a fountain pen.

And so for day 1672
12.07.2011

Long Live Velcro

Casual? Inconsequential?

Three bold explorations sexual encounters are worth revisiting.

Midi Onodera TEN CENTS A DANCE (PARALLAX) (1985)

"Also, the scenes as they are cut together form a progression. The first scene is the negotiation. The second scene is the sex act The third scene is an abstracted version of the sex act Three different levels of communication. So you see, in that light, it would have been totally illogical for me to start by having the two women in bed, proceed to two men in bed and to end with a man and woman in bed."
The Body Politic (interview) March 1986

"Confusion, underlying meaning and unspoken truths are often associated with the dialectic of sexual communication. Mingled with the intensity and unpredictability of a “one night stand,” they generate unique sensations – mixed emotion, risk, and excitement. The film employs formal devices in a manner that is exceedingly simple, yet very effective. Its subject matter, sexuality and communication, gains depth and poignancy through the artist’s decision to shoot the film’s three scenes for projection in a “double screen” configuration. By this means, Onodera finds an elegant solution to dealing with the potentially sensationalist subject matter of her film. The separation which the two screen projection imposes on the film’s viewing is the touching evocation of the aloneness which is the common experience of all humans and of the space between us we hope to bridge."
http://midionodera.com/1985/ten-cents-a-dance-parallax/

if you are lost… this synopsis by davisprof from 2004 on imdb helps you picture the content and the form: "Ten Cents a Dance (from a Rogers & Hart song sung by a dancer/prostitute) explores three sexual interactions in three ten-minute segments. In the first a lesbian and bisexual woman discuss the possibility of sex over dinner at a Japanese restaurant. In the second two gay men have (simulated, PG-rated) sex in a public toilet. In the final segment a man calls a sex phone line and gets off. His female phone partner talks dirty but actually ignores him, painting her nails and lying about her appearance. These somewhat cynical accounts are very funny in presenting the ranges of failed love. They are also photographed spectacularly. The subtitle Parallax refers to the shift in image when cameras look from two slight different directions. Each of the three segments is a single take without cuts, filmed by two cameras, not quite on the same sight line. These slightly off images are then projected together on a split screen. The chaste image contrasts beautifully with the varying degrees of lust portrayed in the scenes. A beautiful, hilarious, and finally thought-provoking film."
Bette Gordon Variety (1983)

"Recent film writing and theory have suggested that the basic condition of cinema is voyeurism — an exchange of seeing and being seen — so that the cinema manages to be both exhibitionist and secretive. These active and passive components of voyeurism, which are part of the cinema in general, are the focus of Variety. [… the protagonist, Christine, works in a ticket booth to a porno theatre …] We never see the pornographic movies; we hear only Christine's description. […]There is no representation of Christine having sex in the film. She has sex by speaking it and by voyeuristically following the patron. She describes what she sees on the screen at first, but goes on to describe what she wants to see, constructed from her own desire. ("Variety: The Pleasure in Looking" in Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality)
Erica Jong Described in the novel Fear of Flying (1973)

"The zipless fuck is absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game."

If you stay with the protagonist and her adventures, you come to believe that the Zipless Fuck is a Kantian notion subject to the many distorting effects of empirical conditions. Of course every good discussion has a sequel: How to Save Your Own Life.


And so for day 1671
11.07.2011

Guilt and Self-Touching

Kate Millet "Beyond Politics? Children and Sexuality" in Pleasure and Danger edited by Carole Vance [1982]

If we did not have the great power of autoeroticism, we would never come to any conclusions, form any tastes, or find many sources of energy, not only erotic but creative — the self, the psyche, or the mind as it reaches out to the world in works, ideas, or things made by the hands in art or craft. But all too often autoeroticism goes under the nasty name of masturbation in the patriarchal family. Thus named, masturbation is practiced for the rest of a lifetime in secret guilt and shame, or is "rehabilitated" by those providing therapy.
Questions of shame aside, when I hear the word of "masturbation" the focus is genital and when I hear the word "autoeroticism" the image is of any part of the body in contact with other parts of the body; it's an expansive notion.

And so for day 1670
10.07.2011

Hyperesthesia

If one could smell the Rings of Saturn…

On Jupiter there are sixty-one colors, one for each moon. Painting
     students make moon-studies in their first color lessons.

It's hard to see in the dark, as it is for hours each day. Painters are
     taught to paint blindfolded. Talented colorists show themselves
     during this exercise.

When they do, they are taken away, as they suffer from a disease
     that only light can cure.
"Jupiter Has Sixty-One Moons" in Siste Viator by Sarah Manguso.

And so for day 1669
09.07.2011

Palpitations

Hearts, anatomical and metaphorical, appear in the poetry of Sarah Manguso, sometimes years apart. There is this bit from "Poem of Comfort" in The Captain Lands in Paradise (Alice James Books, 2002)

and what about the birds who die mid-flight?
certainly no stranger or rarer than having
an aneurysm on the trading floor.
which lines come to mind when reading this line from "There Is No Such Thing as Skill" in Siste Viator (Four Way Books, 2006): "Why is the heart broken and not squashed, flattened, or wrung out?"

And so for day 1668
08.07.2011

Fishers of Boys

"The Secretive Fishermen"

It is dusk now, and the secretive fishermen
are trolling for boys on the highways
north and south of here: a tradition.

[….]

there must even be times
when it is almost perfect, in its way: two strangers,
each of them a tourist exploring the Mexico
that is the other's body. It can't always be
as sad as dusk for those lonesome travellers.
Alden Nowlan (1933-1983)

And so for day 1667
07.07.2011

Hearing from Before After

This is the effect of reciting the lover's name as heard by the lover.

This is not pride
because I know
it is not
my name that you whisper
but a sign
between us,
like the word
that was spoken
at the beginning
of the world
and will be spoken again
only when the world ends.
Keyword: "like". Symbol plugged into the relay of simile. And short-circuiting. "This is not that word / but the other / that must be spoken / over and over / while the world lasts."

Alden Nowlan "The Word" in Selected Poems (Toronto: Anansi, 2013).

And so for day 1666
06.07.2011

Soil Preparation

Ursula Franklin on civic engagement.

She likened her approach to activism to what she called the earthworm theory of civic engagement:

“From earthworms we learn that before anything grows there has to be prepared soil. When we talk about the endless process of bringing briefs and information to government, the only thing that can keep us going is the notion that it prepares the soil. It may not change minds, but it will provide the arguments for a time when minds are changed. Unless there is that prepared soil, no new thoughts and no new ways of dealing with problems will ever arise.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ursula-franklin-canadian-scientist-and-activist-had-a-passion-for-peace/article31123033/
Worth taking the time to digest.

And so for day 1665
05.07.2011

Subtile Sotise

James Lipton in the expanded second edition of An Exaltation of Larks or, The Venereal Game documents the following

A SUBTLETY OF SERGEANTS

This term confused me greatly: of the sergeants I have know, very few were subtle, and I couldn't believe human nature had changed that much in a mere five hundred years. And so I began a slow search through dusty library stacks for the secret behind a sotelty of sergeauntis. I found it at the end of a very long list of definitions in an exceptionally musty volume. "Sergeant," the book said, was "a title borne by a lawyer." Case dismissed.
And embellished with this bit from the French
SOTTIE ou SOTIE

Au XVe siècle, courte pièce satirique interprétée par une compagnie locale d'amateurs, les Sots […] Les sotties, essentiellement satiriques, étaient jouées par les Confréries joyeuses, collectivités locales d'amateurs, comme notamment la Basoche, association de clercs, ou les Enfants sans souci ; elles représentaient les préoccupations de l'époque, tant sur le plan politique que sur le plan social. [Nicole QUENTIN-MAURER, « SOTTIE ou SOTIE  », Encyclopædia Universalis http://www.universalis.fr/encyclopedie/sottie-sotie/]
The link to the subtle sergeants is via the Basoche:
The Basoche was the guild of legal clerks of the Paris court system under the pre-revolutionary French monarchy, from among whom legal representatives (procureurs) were recruited. It was an ancient institution whose roots are unclear. The word itself derives from the Latin basilica, the kind of building in which the legal trade was practiced in the Middle Ages. [Wikipedia: Basoche]
It was the spelling "sotelty" that put me in mind of the sotie. And so is born a false etymology.

And so for day 1664
04.07.2011

Moose Crossings

A tale of two endings.

Alden Nowlan. "The Bull Moose" collected in Selected Poems with introduction by Susan Musgrave.

When the wardens came, everyone agreed it was a shame
to shoot anything so shaggy and cuddlesome.
He looked like the kind of pet
women put to bed with their sons.

So they held their fire. But just as the sun dropped in the river
the bull moose gathered his strength
like a scaffolded king, straightened and lifted his horns
so that even the wardens backed away as they raised their rifles.
When he roared, people ran to their cars. All the young men
leaned on their automobile horns as he toppled.
A moose has come out of
the impenetrable wood
and stands there, looms, rather,
in the middle of the road.
It approaches; it sniffs at
the bus's hot hood.

Towering, anterless,
high as a church,
homely as a house
(or, safe as houses).
A man's voice assures us
"Perfectly harmless. . . ."

Some of the passengers
exclaim in whispers,
childishly, softly,
"Sure are big creatures."
"It's awful plain."
"Look! It's a she!"

Taking her time,
she looks the bus over,
grand, otherwordldly.
Why, why do we feel
(we all feel) this sweet
sensation of joy?

"Curious creatures,"
says our quiet driver,
rolling his r's.
"Look at that, would you."
Then he shifts gears.
For a moment longer,

by craning backward,
the moose can be seen
on the moonlit macadam;
then there's a dim
smell of moose, an acrid
smell of gasoline.
Elisabeth Bishop. "The Moose" collected in The Complete Poems 1927-1979.

Both primed for a compare and contrast exercise.

And so for day 1663
03.07.2011

Leaf Lost

Joanne Page
"Gravity" in the sequence Codex in Flight
in
Persuasion for a Mathematician

Today the subway stalled between Davisville and St. Clair, affording a clear view of the cemetery. My grade five teacher used to take us to the graveyard for the trees. Over a hundred kinds, she said. My parents are buried there. the only stone I visit says Lost. Nothing more.
This passage resonates for me for it is on a walking tour of Mount Pleasant Cemetery that I first saw a majestic katsura. I go less now to visit since there is now in our backyard a tall specimen.

Its show of spring bronze, summer green and fall gold offers opportunity to get lost in a different sort of way.

And so for day 1662
02.07.2011

Litanies of Lust

Allen Ginsberg "Please Master" (1968) collected in Angels of the Lyre edited by Winston Leyland. This is the beginning:

Please master can I touch your cheek
please master can I kneel at your feet
please master can I loosen your blue pants
please master can I gaze at your golden haired belly
please master can I gently take down your shorts
please maser can I have your thighs bare to my eyes
[…]
And it goes on repeating the "please master" anaphora but it varies it and it gets more and more explicit.

Jeffrey Beam doesn't vary the beginning of any of the lines to "dickEssence" and carries the variations on a theme through a marking of race. From the middle:
[…]
My dick worshipped by a coco gallant tattooed with my name & mimosa charm
My dick idolized by a pitch-black amigo tattooed with my name & reckless charm
My dick venerated by a coffee-colored cupid tattooed with my name & seductive charm
My dick revered by a sweet caffelatte amoroso tattooed with my name & boisterous charm
My dick cajoled by a cappuccino darling tattooed with my name & holy charms
[…]
To be found in The Beautiful Tendons: Uncollected Queer Poems 1969-2007.

And so for day 1661
01.07.2011