Pause and Tumble

from "Beds" in Can I Finish, Please? by Catherine Bowman

These lines float like a haiku in the onrush of lines...

you are enskied
         in the mockingbird's
              indwelling song
See what I mean by tumble...
you are enskied
         in the mockingbird's
              indwelling song

as it concocts
         a soporific
              of wolves apples,

and aftershave,
         gossip and flattery
              and all the daily

contradictions,
         salty and unmelodious—
              this scent bottle,

clouds of cosmos,
         mallow and iris
              and marigold—

[and so on]
[and so on]
[and so on]
"Enskied" and "indwelling" harken to Hopkins but the riot of flowers lead elsewhere, to Chaucer, perhaps...

And so for day 2146
03.11.2012

elegance

Diana Vreeland in Allure

Fashion is a passing thing — a thing of fancy fantasy, and feeling. Elegance is innate. It has nothing to do with being well-dressed. It's a quality possessed by certain thoughts and certain animals. [...] Elegance [...] is refusal.
And introducing the evidence from one of her own spreads in Allure

On the left, Edith Sitwell by Cecil Beaton; on the right, Gertrude Stein by Horst P. Horst.

And so for day 2145
02.11.2012

Continuously Coming Out

It's me. Picture taken by my friend Nella and if you look closely there's our friend Diana in the background. It was taken after a talk given by our photographer friend Rita.

Gay man. Aged 57.
My sidebar comment is inspired by Rachel Giese in the Globe and Mail, "Lose the plot: Why there’s more than one queer narrative". She observes
Coming out doesn’t guarantee a happy ending, in life or in movies. But being out affords the opportunity to exist on your own terms and, hopefully, be seen in the fullness of your humanity.
She's right. It makes a difference. Life offers constant opportunities for coming out. The mode of being out involves perpetual revelations. At any age.

And so for day 2144
01.11.2012

Podiatry of the Poem

Catherine Bowman
"Jesus' Feet"
in notarikon

Blessed be the vulnerable heel. Blessed be the footstep, for it was our first drumbeat. Blessed be the footprint and the bird track, for it was our first alphabet. Blessed be the feet stained and tarnished by the dirt of the earth, by hard work, for the word transcendent means to climb. Blessed be the vital force of love, that rises from the earth and enters and leaves the body through the feet.
I like how through the beatitudes the picture of the feet as portal to the body is built up step by step.

And so for day 2143
31.10.2012

Own Your Reaction

Elizabeth Hoover has a chapbook Love in the Wild in which the aestheticization of violence leaves the reader in trembling cognitive dissonance. Here is the end of "War Games" which tells the story of a rescue attempt that butts up against the ravages of body and mind that can no longer be endured.

When I wake to shouting I run to the edge
of the minefield we ringed in barbed wire

[...]

Bigs holds me back and she turns and looks
at all of us, tucks her chin down and rips
the dress slowly from the collar to the hem—bones,
bruises, a bandage black with blood—
all the while singing a little song quietly,
so quietly we hear the click.
And there it ends. The imagination lies suspended before the detonation. A sound offering a freeze frame. And you admire the poet's skill and shudder at the beauty and begin to register the horror. All condensed in that one click.

In "A Celebration: Maude Oklahoma", a poem about a lynching and burning in honour of Palmer Sampson (1881-1898) and Lincoln McGeisey (1882-1898), Hoover again manages to convey eerie haunting on a pivotal word. We are invited into a mind we find repulsive. Again the tension turns on positioning of a small detail shattering any pleasure offered up by easy voyeurism. The reader is forced to resist complicity and the final statement turns into a question and sets the mind a spinning.
In the dovegray morning, a slice of yellow appeared
along the horizon. it was winer and the frost
tinged the tips of the grass white. The crowd was quiet,
sifting through the greasy ashes looking for souvenirs:
the soot-speckled link of the chain, a vertebrae twisted
from the spine, or even just a hunk of the burnt stump,
anything to hold up to the light, saying Remember,
remember when we burned those two boys
how lovely they were, bright under the dark oak,
how lovely, what a celebration.
The weight of irony is not light. "Celebration" is leached of its joy.

And so for day 2142
30.10.2012

Oneiric Oscillations

Jay Hopler
Green Squall

You grow to expect the pattern of statement and counter-statement, a litany of contradictions. And then the series knots upon itself.

It was so loud it was so quiet we didn't sleep we slept.
We didn't dream. We dreamt of panthers and hatpins, orchids
     and ashcans.

[...]

There were no dogs; no dogs were there.
Even so, sleep was impossible —
All that howling! We dreamt of panthers and hatpins, orchids
     and ashcans.

[...]

"The Howling of the Gods"
The impossibility of sleep gives way to the waking dream of the impossible.

And so for day 2141
29.10.2012

Taking Stock of Making Stock

Mijoter: Faire cuire ou bouillir lentement.

Recipe

I'm the one working the kitchen, making stock
from chicken wing tips I'd saved in the freezer,
some bouillon cubes, the picked-over carass

of last Sunday's dinner. A gallon of spring water

[...]

I'm the one simmering, steaming, ladling soup

over wild rice in your finest kiln-fired crockery,
Chef de Cuisine of intense flavour, of this oh so
nice homemade & homely midday decadence.

John Hoppenthaler
Anticipate the Coming Reservoir
Mijoter: Mûrir, préparer avec réflexion et discrétion (une affaire, un mauvais coup, une plaisanterie).

And so for day 2140
28.10.2012

The Fix

Ursula Le Guin

In 2014, she attacked publishers, including her own, for treating books as commodities. "The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism," she told an audience of science-fiction luminaries at the 2014 US national book awards. "Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art – the art of words."

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/03/ursula-le-guin-rebuts-charge-that-science-fiction-is-alternative-fact
Terry Eagleton reviewing How to Change the World: Marx and Marxism 1840-2011 by Eric Hobsbawm in the London Review of Books
Marxism is about leisure, not labour. It is a project that should be eagerly supported by all those who dislike having to work. It holds that the most precious activities are those done simply for the hell of it, and that art is in this sense the paradigm of authentic human activity. It also holds that the material resources that would make such a society possible already exist in principle, but are generated in a way that compels the great majority to work as hard as our Neolithic ancestors did. We have thus made astounding progress, and no progress at all.

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n05/terry-eagleton/indomitable
The means. The end.

And so for day 2139
27.10.2012

Archive Garden Potager

Louise Glück opens her forward to Green Squall by Jay Hopler with the following observation:

Before poetry began pitching its tents in the library and museum, before, that is, mediated experience supplanted what came to seem the naive fantasy of more direct encounter, a great many poems began in the garden.
There is of course "The Garden" by Andrew Marvell which reminds us in a fashion not dissimilar from Glück
Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness;
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find,
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that’s made
To a green thought in a green shade.
It is however to an interesting experience I found in reading a poem from Catherine Bowman's The Plath Cabinet to which I turn. There is a moment in the fall and spring, before or after the snow, and before or after the effulgence of vegetation, where the garden reveals its structure. On my first reading I cruised through "The Sylvia Convention: Flower Rooms" ravished by its variations only to understand when at the end when spotting in close proximity its XYZ references that what I was reading was an abecedarian*. And nevermore can I be so innocent in the garden.
Sylvias as Amaryllis aproned
whip up cakes, creams, chicken livers.
Sylvias as fields of Baby's Breath practice
interviews for the BBC. Calla Lily
Sylvias change nappies, type Ted's poems, hope

[...]

Windflower Sylvias, Sylvias as Xeranthemum
Yarrow, and Zinnia, hundreds and hundreds
gather, write poems like lightning, each one
quicker than the last: an irresistible blaze
There goes up in smoke my naive unknowing that the letters proceeded in a well-defined order. I have moved from the hedgerow or meadow to the potager knowing the garden walks in the realm of poetry can accommodate more wild encounters over the horizon and a trip home to the orderly vegetable patch of the kitchen garden.

*She does it again in "The O Store" in notarikon -- pulled in by the pace and only retroactively taking in the ABC.

And so for day 2138
26.10.2012

Thinking Depicting

In the Washington Post of August 12, 2011, under the heading "Reich bows to protest of 9/11 CD cover art" Anne Midgette

For the cover of the premiere recording of his searing piece “WTC 9/11” on the Nonesuch label, Steve Reich selected an image of the burning towers of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 : a stark image of horror unfolding on a beautiful day. When the cover image first appeared in July, in advance of the Sept. 20 CD release, there was a tremendous outcry from people who felt this was a disrespectful and disturbing use of the photograph — so much so that, as Reich announced Thursday in a statement on the Nonesuch Web site , the CD’s cover is being changed.
Here are the images:



and this European recording by Quatuor Tana

With these pictures in mind it is with amazement that I came across this understatement in the poetry of John Hoppenthaler:
On New Year's Eve I watched fireworks set this skyline ablaze.
I stood outside the bar in blue cold with regulars, cradled delicate
flutes of bubbles in my fingers. We were thinking of towers,
how change had come. Together we wished it meant an early spring.

Nyack, NY: 1/29/02
in Anticipate the Coming Reservoir
The figure of speech is litotes when some is more than enough.

And so for day 2137
25.10.2012