Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"The belled herds travel at will"

The Elephants by Dali

I sat down in the train with Jane Hirshfield's "Given Sugar, Given Salt" that I just purchased from The Strand. I bought it because they didn't have Rigoberto Gonzales's "Unpeopled Eden", which I came for after hearing him read on Friday. Powerful. But I had once heard Hirshfield read a single lined poem, the words of which I can't remember though the impression has been with me for two years, so I decided to get a book of hers.

I was excited to read her but not sure if I chose a good first impression. The first poem, "The Envoy", punched a hole through my chest, through which "the belled herds travel[ed] at will". I didn't read any more after that but just sat with this feeling as evening commuters entered the frequently opening doors and crowded my reverie on the ride home.

Here's a link to this amazing (in the true sense of the word, as it amazes) poem.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Two Thoughts

Thinking about nostalgia's layers upon daily interactions: how memories surprise me when seeing a subway sign, hearing a song, of course smelling a scent. 

Longing now for cooler weather but will soon miss the late sunlight. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Familiar Tune

You know when you hear a piece of music for the first time in years and it's like you're hearing it for the first time, but with a pinch of warm fuzziness that wasn't there when you first heard it, and you really pay attention and unconsciously, or half consciously, smile for enjoying having the experience? This just happened to me while listening to Satie's "Trois Gymnopedies".

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

One That Leaves a Feeling

I grabbed Philip Levine's Unselected Poems off the bookshelf at the Strand and read a poem that I soon forgot, but the feeling remained and still remains.

I want to write a poem like that, one that leaves a feeling even if the reader soon forgets the words.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Series of Underdeveloped Ideas

Journal Excerpts

The anonymous sea of faces I wade through each morning also wade through me.

Horoscopes are for those who get excited about their doing nothing.

"I have to get through that gate," vendor says to a girl.
"I'm sorry."
"Sit here, sit here, sweetheart."
New York is forgiving if you're polite and cute.

Having self worth is important. Thinking of yourself as important is troublesome.

The table legs have gashes where the chair seats beat them. The gashes are on the thickest section of the legs. The table was intentionally made this way.

He learned a trade and never gave it up, this was half of his dad's wish for him.

The edge of each subway step is worn where someone once fell.

I fear Berryman's boredom. DFW's last novel exemplifies ennui's toll on the soul. The tedium of living aides gravity in crushing a man.

Good southern food, greasy spoon, western griddle melting with death. Death is ubiquitous in my writing, but implies, hopefully, life's worth living.

Work is boring and a waste of time. If I ever feel this way about poetry, shoot me.

While lounging, I just had a glimpse of a beautiful evening, and then came back to my mundane one.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Her Life, Her Not

She strapped her breasts, diminished
her glory -- cursing undue attention

from women. Her wall was never high
enough to hide her garden. Barriers

are colored passion. Seeing was knowing
who we were meant to be. Kate sexed

none she loved. She saved this for those
confused. Remembering her gate down

Peoria Avenue daisy chains me: effervescence
of post-pubescence not yet devoid of hope.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

An Open Meandering Letter to a Kind Reader

"Snail, snail, glister me forward,
Bird, soft-sigh me home,
Worm, be with me.
This is my hard time."

-Theodore Roethke

Madness and brilliance are similar. If one is the latter, he speaks and is not understood for years; if the former, he speaks and is never understood.

On the year of his death in a lecture to Northwestern University students, Roethke mentioned E. E. Cummings' quoting himself as an answer to an interviewer's question. Roethke thought it bold and brash to do this, and wrote it off to Cummings' being young. But he later got it: if you spend so much time to say something concisely and correctly in poetry, why not re-say it as an answer to a question rather than going round in dialogue circles.

I'm obsessed with the minds and lives of geniuses. We're all obsessed with this. We celebrate Van Gogh now because he died decades ago and never sold anything while living, and created the most expensive paintings of the 20th century. We celebrate Zuckerberg for monetizing an idea. We celebrate Seth McFarlane, creator of Family Guy, who was fairly recently called the "smartest man in television" because of his excellent marketing. What do Van Gogh, Zuckerberg and McFarlane have in common? They make a lot of money today (regardless of whether or not they are dead).

I often quote Keirkegaard's The Present Age to those who have the stomach to hear a quotation of Keirkegaard's The Present Age: "Our age is essentially one of understanding and reflection, without passion, momentarily bursting into enthusiasm, and shrewdly relapsing into repose."

It's easy to be smug in repose about the passionate.

What do Roethke, Van Gogh, and Keirkegaard have in common? Passion and brilliance. What do Zuckerberg and McFarlane have in common with the above? Money made off a brilliant idea, which is not the same.

Nietzsche romanticized the stoic temperament for whatever reason, but he was a wild, bombastic, mouthy genius who died of a disease that, if he stood true to the message he preached, he never would have received. But he was passionate, and is the the most read philosopher today. Passion combined with brilliance makes a famous genius, if he is lucky.

"Talent, luck and discipline" make a great writer, according to Michael Chabon. And you can only control one of the three. Neighbors of Voltaire said you could set a clock by his schedule: when he awoke, ate, drank coffee (apparently 70 cups a day), worked, etc. He was disciplined.

Genius can be lazy. Passion can make one jump off a boat (Hart Crane), or die of syphilis (Nietzsche). But discipline puts a roof over your head and food on the table.

The previous paragraph brings me full cycle (hopefully not full circle, which doesn't rise or fall). Roethke said, "Above all, I possess a driving sincerity, -- that prime virtue of any creative worker. I write only what I believe to be the absolute truth, -- even if I must ruin the theme in so doing." This letter is not a letter at all, but just an amalgamation of ideas. It has poor form, a poor broken theme. But it is sincere.

Will I be a genius spoken of 100 year from now? Who cares. No one can control that, and it's bullshit to aspire to it. But I'll always be sincere. Passion, I got. Discipline, I'm always working on. Talent and luck, out of my hands. All I need is a worm to be with me in my hard time, preferably not a Tequila worm.