Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Love & Form

1. Someone at this moment makes a choice for love. For the sake of love, their own love, from desire, loneliness, perhaps a sort of ideal. A choice between going or staying, saying something or not. Someone makes a choice which may go along way in defining his or her life and others' - the born and unborn. By the time I have finished this paragraph, someone else will choose.

Form is the the fact of having chosen. Implementation of form is an artistic right. It is how one announces choice. A form can be a shape, pattern, or process.

Form is choosing captured as choice.

The difference is as simple as reading and remembering. One chooses to read. One may remember one's reading, a complex form created out of the text, one's feelings having read the text, and one's understanding or feelings toward the author of the text. I say, I love Keats. But I do not know Keats. I have read poems and letters purported to be written by Keats, and I have impressions of John Keats as a person, and I possess personal recollections, such as first reading John Keats' poems earnestly, closely in Washington Square, in Greenwich Village in NY City, on a spring day after work at the Strand, in 1983. I have created a form including all these things. I can revisit and implement this form at will. And, I can revise this form. I can choose to read a poem written by John Keats and tell myself, "I am only reading a poem written by John Keats. I will think about this poem in light of an essay written by Georges Bataille." I have made a choice of having chosen, a form within a form. I may write about this particular reading. Another choice, or means of capture, another form.

2. A man revisits choosing captured as choice every day, the narrative being more or less pronounced, but always authentic, for he feels love. He can go no further than choice, for he has chosen. He thinks he remembers when he chose. It is complicated remembering exactly when, there are so many factors, but surely he knew, he knew when he was in love where moments before he had not been in love. Yes, he is sure of it now, right now. He is almost there, back when he fell in love.

The form of choice is that close.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Murray Christmas

I am involved in a writing project that has lasted about two months now and may go on for several more. The pieces are prose poems in box form, which read literally and/or figuratively. The pleasure is for readers who like to feel themselves slipping from the literal to the figurative and back again. The slipping in these poems can be surprising, or humorous - not disconcerting, so much. I hope they are informative, on some level, though I couldn't say why.

This post though is a real time attempt to describe or isolate a particular phenomenon in writing which I have experienced several times. Perhaps you have too. I will be more or less sailing along in my work, reading and rereading it as I continue writing new poems, editing as I go - la di da - when for one reason or another I become conscious of wanting to write some particular kind of poem, often as a way of "broadening" or "testing the limits" of the project I am working on. I become wrapped up in this poem (in this last incident I was mentally AWOL for about 2 weeks). Once I finish it, I continue on, only the subsequent poems are off-kilter, boring, wrong. Of course, I go looking about my life, consciously and unconsciously, like a blind lunatic seeking why I feel so off. After a time I come back and see that I went off track with that one "testing" poem. I kick that and other since-written poems off the stack, start in again, and am back on track.

As I said, this sort of thing has happened to me several times. Getting back on track is a thing of beauty and relief of course, and perhaps the entire scenario is exactly the "testing" I and the project were bound to incur.

And, having said that, I believe it. No writer's complaints from me today.

Murray Christmas, as my son says to his friend, Murray.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Six Tenets of Hope and Form

A. Clear tendencies end unclearly. Desire outstrips capacity. One visits content; one does not mirror content. The truth of an idea does not entitle the bearer to the form of truth.

B. Hope sustains us when removed from content. In content, transit and communication are active. The application of "Hope" in transit bespeaks false tendencies.

C. In the transit of form there is choice but not hope.

D. Hope occurs outside of form.

E. Hope is the application of the person to the idea of form.

F. We are nothing without form; we are less than nothing without hope.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Six Points of Formalism

1. Formalism is the willingness or tendency to demonstrate in overt fashion an awareness and complicity with cultural restrictions or supplements (guidelines) - and the work-products and collateral merchandise resulting therefrom, the which, furthermore, can be reproduced, echoed, or parodied in compliance with said guidelines.

2. Every category is defined by what you expect of that category and by what is unexpected but complicit.

3. A component (activist), compatriot, or adherent of an idea is one who willingly or unwillingly communicates or commits transit of the tenets or effects, or indeed products and merchandise derived from that idea in an overt or implied license.

4. There is no idea old or new that has been transited or communicated that cannot be approached as a thing.

5. The mechanism of communication and transit is humanity; and the component of transit is the person; and the person is susceptible to moods.

6. Charity to the person is fealty to form.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

SEE the poem!

I am in a fairly healthy state of wondering about myself. Not in a self-evaluative way, but looking around for more obvious bits I've missed and can profit by or which might entertain.

One bit of obviousness is to say, I am a formalist. I don't know what I can add to that. It shows in the fact that I write in form, one form. I am a formal formalist. I am formal but not too formal, for instance, I do not wear gloves. I'm a ruddy, hale formalist. I care about all sorts of things. I am not exactly a snob. Well, yes, I am a complete snob. You wouldn't believe what comes out of my mouth. But not really. I simply will not traffic in crap. Nothing wrong with that! I am a Mets fan - name one Mets fan who is a snob; name one Yankees fan who isn't!

What is the poet who is a formalist and who blithely alienates Yankee fans? He is a self-destructive formalist. Ooo. Is he self-"deconstructive" of the form of his (un)doing? No, he is simply dwelling in a particularly unhelpful form - a hammer where a butter knife would do.

I love being a formalist, but I dislike being stupid and not doing a good job with being forthcoming about it. All I need to do is browse the Internet let's say for interesting or funny "formal" things - poetry-oriented or other - and post these and comment, etc. My not so formally inclined friends could take or leave these bits and everyone would I hope get something out of me being who or what I am beyond what has been, up until now, an incomplete effort.

That being said, everyone has been understanding and nice. I think my friends know me for what I am and accept me in the same vein in which I understand them. Things are convivial. Part of that is being of a certain age in Portland, Oregon and being very lucky in many ways. But the way poetry is, and it has no doubt changed since I began writing this piece, the best tack seems to me to demonstrate who and what you are to the best of your ability and let everyone sort it out. The demonstrations will vary according to style, mien, and age. We need not all blog, or mix, or read aloud, but there should be a way somehow to be amidst. And we can change our minds, etc.

Funny - you sit on thoughts to Blog, then you write almost nothing at all, but feel compelled to post it. There is something to this form of communication that elicits frankness and ease.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It Could be Verse

The door had been sticking for months.
It looked like the strike plate was at
a weird angle and the door was hitting
it just opening and closing. All I had
to do I figured was take the plate off
and reset it a little straighter and a
little deeper. I got to work, took the
plate off, chiseled away a bit of wood
here & there, and was just about ready
to clear out the shavings and reattach
the strike plate when I heard a sound.

A subject of procedure occurs now and again. In the present case about 2 weeks of rumination led to 2 hours of writing and the finished poem. I had held off, not having a clear picture of what would happen once I had gotten down to clearing out the shavings. Leading into the writing, I figured a "thing" would happen. What a nice surprise when hearing a "sound" sufficed.

The poem-writing mind is accustomed be being given plenty of leash I suppose. This piece was challenging in that it had to handle it's poem-business and be a sufficient description of the simple act being described. Metaphors abound. Enough so, I think, that I can walk away satisfied.

These pieces are occurring in the way real poems do, for me at least. It's all very strange. I have 16 pieces so far. They are printed out and affixed to the wall over there with tape, like storyboards sketches. I glance over them looking for a hole, awaiting an idea. Another idea running concurrently in the back of my mind with the one above concerned a Chandler-like moment: a woman emerging from a bathroom, holding a gun, being described by the narrator. That one stewed for about as long ending up as:

She stepped out
of the bathroom
modeling my .45
& not much else

It took a one hour nap Saturday afternoon to bring me to change the draft "modeling a .45" to "modeling my .45." No other verb made me as happy as "modeling." I thought quite a bit about the proper caliber, too. A .38 is the typical cop or private eye caliber: too close to the source. A .44 is a Dirty Harry. The .45 is either an Army Colt, most likely, or simply an outrageous caliber. Of the available numbers, I settled on the .45.

The rhythm of this poem surprised me. I spent time recently with an old and new friend and the subject of Milton's verse came up, which reminded me of a student paper on the subject. Read aloud, there is no avoiding the close on three strong syllables. I hadn't expected or planned on that, naturally.

These pieces are printed out and stuck on the wall with the others. This last piece, in its brevity, rhythm, and in all the various intersections at which it dances, pleases me so much. But it is not an end. I look at this series from a number of perspectives.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Legend of Zorro

I am working on a series of poems I intend to label "Fictions," which representatives so far at least entail discrete non-narratively connected and yet somewhat-connected box poems such as:

The president leans across his desk.
Jim means you stay where we tell you
to stay. You go about your business,
and you do not think, talk, or dream
about your work or what I am to you.

It takes a poet in a village to know immediately that I am playing to an easy, guilty pleasure here. Any poet can write any number of incidents or beginnings, middles, and perhaps conclusions to a story or stories - but here, well, I am doing just that and other things:

It was Winter now. Snow drifted
down in wet, heavy flakes. Dark
trees slept in awkward clusters
near the road and closer to the
house. The silent house...where
a solitary light burned in case
Jennifer returned home tonight.

In short, I am not worrying, I am being. There's the road map. It's the poem; it's the form; it's the poet and the time and the penis here between us and the poet who has time. Poetry, said How else will I write about the president though, except in this manner? Jesus, is when a poet writes what they can't help but write. Forgive me Lord when I invoke Marvin Bell who said at some point "you can't write about a teacup without giving something away."

Well, it will go on and on, won't it, and eventually I will publish what it comes to, won't I. The good news - what I care about, which I share - is that I was a fucking nervous wreck last Monday the day after I had written the first three of these things (at McMenimans Backstage of the Baghdad during commercials for Sunday Night Football). I mean, it's Monday afternoon and I am going around to the attorneys I work with literally asking them if we were "missing" anything.

I'm fine now. I explained this series to my son and he gave it the thumbs up, figuratively speaking - or at least it made sense to him.

But the point here is women and girls and such - which is to say, I apologize in re the gender specificity (I quite mean that, you know) - but I intend to digress and disexemplify and say simply that my wife, Endi, who has always been marvelous, is marvelous. She has never qualified as a Muse being herself a fantastic poet - a moving target, that is, a peer - and thus non-pedastalistic - though the love of my life; but, really, I marvel. I marvel and I sigh and I long.

Your love is nothing to the silence of
love, he wished beneath his breath. He
was 40 years old and young, still. The
promised tickets had not materialized,
and now, as they were nearing the last
stop, his thoughts had become a finger
flipping through a catalogue of losing
propositions. Never mind, She said, We
are almost there. You can call father.

I write this post against standard practice, daring me to jinx myself. I have done 7 of these. I expect 120, which I would whittle down to a number like 87. I know enough. 15 books should count for something.

Tomorrow, we ask ourselves who is teaching these right-handed Dominican pitchers their follow through? Zorro?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How to Think about a Book

I find I think about a good book in pretty much the same way I think about sex. There's more than meets the eyes and I would like more, please. I do not think about books that are not good, because they do not sponsor thought. They provoke a desire to find a good book.

I have just finished Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road, which is a good book, because I am thinking about it, as an object or event, yes, but also I am thinking conceptually and comparatively. This sort of activity is, I should say, my fault, not the author's.

Oh where does a thing begin and where does it end.

Let me cover a few things here, or as many as the twin-sized blanket of my critical acumen is capable.

Proxy proxy proxy.

This book is stylistically clunky, and yet, it is intriguing. Published in 1955, it touches on the subjects of abortion, infidelity, marital discord, post-war Euro-longing, Intelli/Suburb image disaffection. I got through it well enough then was startled to find a conclusion where the author put forth an oblique representation of supporting characters metaphorizing the whole. How Franzen.

This book treats computers. It places in the mouth of a person intended to be a colossal bore (a General Manager of Sales) a speech in the throes of a four-martini lunch an impassioned vision of the place in business of the future for the computer.

It is a Small Melville World, after all.

There is a certain degree of sex in a house, an apartment, a car. Not a lot of detail. Most of the book is experienced in the thoughts and actions of a Frank, the confused white male emotionally detached central character. He deserves what he gets, the son-of-a-bitch - though it's a shame it costs his wife her life.

I like this book quite a lot though, being from 1955 - and the portrayal of the emotional charges underlying pretension, and those errors, and their impact on present emotion. One can do all sorts of things imaging oneself right, or damaged, or deprived. Be it 1955 or 2010, folks are happily driving themselves in a variety of attractive cultural or political vehicles to being stupid to the effect they produce on the people who matter most.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Speech Respecting Concrete Form

You and I were both quite young when on a Fall day - it was the Fall, I am quite sure - we passed through a white gate into an eternal garden. I just had time to register the strange abundance of flowers, fruits, and foliage in full bloom, when I fell asleep. I do not know for how long.

I woke to find you beside me, walking a familiar path. It was Autumn. We came to a white gate and entered. We stepped into a marvelous garden, brimming with all kinds of flowers, trees - all bearing fruit, in the height of their glory. I was suddenly overcome with exhaustion - I can't say why - and fell asleep right then and there.

After a while - I can't say how long it was - I came to. Strangely, I was in mid-step. You were beside me. I think you were saying something, but just at that moment we came to a gate and walked into an amazing garden. Even though it was Fall - school had started - I'm sure of it - there were flowers and trees and bushes and everything in a riot of abundance and display. I was amazed, in a kind of shock I suppose, and simply passed out.

Imagine my surprise when I awoke by your side - no, not in a bed, but walking along a road, drinking in the Autumn air. I don't recall thinking about anything in particular, but just then we came to a gate and without a word we went in. Was this our destination? I don't recall - but there was a garden of overwhelming beauty and richness. Flowers, trees, all in blossom or bearing fruit. I thought my mind's eye would suffocate on the richness, when I wavered, and fell into a deep sleep.


I am glad to have the opportunity to write to you about these things: experiences we have shared, occurrences held in common. I do not know how long I can stay at this desk. My eyes feel as if they are swimming - no, my mind is swimming, circulating between what I see at this place and time and what occurs to my interior self. The closer I am drawn to the world {it is no real world, is it, but an avocation...} the further I am lost to encircling or comprehending - holding - the works, travels - the intentions and delays of my interior self. I am become a kind of chaperon for what I have done with myself. School is decidedly out. And the world of forms carries scant credibility with what my mind suggests to itself for profit or pleasure.

I can explain further.

I will meet you at some common place.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Three New Arts!

I was reading over a fellow bus passenger's shoulder yesterday and noticed an article entitled, "If Black English isn't English, then What is it?" So, the first New Art I would like to propose (it was the NY Times, no shit) is:

1. Black (or any other form of) English or any other Language, Ever

When God made Christmas trees and us to adore them She/He/Nature/It/That entitled within us a knowledge of the past and future, by which we became alerted to the need to communicate what was/will be bad and what was/ought to be Good. What we call "language" is really simply a means of communication, and people(s) do it differently, depending blah blah blah snort scratch sniff, whereby it is an Art, not merely a source of Study. Merry Christmas!

Accompanying the Art of Language is -

2. The Art of Work

Work is accomplished in anticipation of future rewards or in reaction to past annoyances. Like language, there are many kinds of work to take up your time. Jobs are everywhere in today's Yuletide where communication and or persuasion or resentment are at a premium, so grab a shovel and dig it, 'cause you're flipping time instead of words and THAT is an art, pally.

Staying personal with conclusions, I propose a final New Art:

3. Weight-loss

May I share? If you stop eating, your metabolism slows to that of a snow cone; if you exercise too much, your body will seize up and veto fat burn. Rather, try a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Mix and match. Let moderation be your by-word, and lay off the ice cream. Weight loss is an art.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Like Folks and Fire

Several items vie for the top spot on today's agenda.

No one - and I mean NO one - works as hard as the ladies of professional rodeo.

Sortes Virgilium works as it did 30-odd years ago. It is I think my one remaining superstition and I would be hard-pressed to believe that you or God or his kid would hold it against me to be astitioned in this way. I interpret the results to indicate that I am advised to proceed as the Rutulians did, to battle as if the way were clear. This makes perfect sense as goodness knows {to mix metaphors} that I am my own barbed wire over the Belgian farmers' field of poetic conjecture, and am self-foretold that short of perfection there can only be a perfect futility. Fucking Virgil. Pre-Christian, causality-blind, bleating son-of-a bitch.

With a new manuscript comes a new though echoing silence. New, for it is birthed with hope; echoing, for I am the master of the time and place of its death.

With time comes understand and with understanding comes bafflement.

Let those who are in doubt visit Pendleton at the time of Round-Up, where prior to the Battles of the final Twelves, there will be the fly-by of the F-15's at an altitude that would strain credulity - first 4 - then 2, then 2, whereupon you will be glad they are yours, and vice versa.

Being of a piece is all I can manage for I cannot control what you imagine from your desk or front porch or what you will say tomorrow or the next day. I am largely incapable, in the classical sense of the word, halitosis.

I believe - meaning, I can only fully endorse or comprehend {though I can understand so, so, so much more} - poems and such that give every indication that they would provide themselves as apparent-in-themselves to intelligent readers now, 1000 or more years from now, and 1000 or more years past - either that or poems or friends, for I am still beating. In other words, Horace is our competition - always has been, always will be. I have seen nothing in the way of local or global critical or anecdotal information that persuades me otherwise. I of course am a pathetic case, having no job in writing, so I have no cause to cure. This may all be pathetic, which may be perfectly right.

Philosophy can be trusted only when uttered under duress, or in verse and absent considerateness.

I cannot recall a philospher whose signal works were not produced except under duress or, in a real sense, against their wishes.

I have noticed that writings about music are often a kind of evidence of something gone wrong, for ecstasy is a virtue among the thieves of virtue.

Another, a fifteenth book. Lord, do with me what you will. I am true to my failings and punctual at that. I see that those who know me smile at last as if having held back. You are entitled to do the same.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Toast and Butter

Capitalism and Christianity are not the problem. Your problems are the problem. Your questions and discussions, leading inevitably to repetitions in the form of indictments, are diacritical placebos intended toward substitutive feelings - a play, a pathos - not thought, not change.

The pathetic is neither contributory nor illusive. Small minds, small temperaments batter each each in the streets over a crust of bread, a stick of firewood, and eventually find themselves an empty doorway to settle in for the night. Your speeches reflect some inner condition. They do not share, they do not stick.

Let's say you have fallen from childhood and shattered - so the world appears in parts. This much you accept from our capacity to set a thing aside and discuss its merits and drawbacks. But you go one step further and demand change, even eradication, not as one who has outgrown his condition, but as a mouse might wish a world devoid of cats.

Poor mouse. The cats are here to stay. Real progress is personal. Solve yourself and word will spread.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

How to Change a Tire: Part III

No one who reads these words or who reads those of one who has read them will be anything other than a person already initiated into and likely irretrievably condemned to the strange practice of caring for unnecessary things. I do not question words, or language, but I wonder at the authenticity of the motives of the person or persons expressing themselves on any occasion, for any practical or impractical reason. Using the tools I have, I examine whether the blanket covers the body.

For all the pain and trouble visited on the Initiates into Unnecessary Things over the past however many years, you would think we ourselves would abandon the language of purity. But, no, for there is always it seems a newer, purer purity suggesting itself. The purity may be a politics of care; a poetics of sound; a family of agreement; a lifestyle of Green. What I do is position myself - socially, of course, for no one is Alone - in a kind of teleologically spinning armchair where my morning coffee, the newspaper, my mental notes, the cruelties of my family, and the sayings and perorations of a thousand acquaintances are as at my mental fingertips. When I speak, I speak through the filter of the pure, so that what emerges from my mouth is right, honest, and interesting. I cannot help but reflect that which has absorbed me, for I am above all else fair & kind, and am determined to leave nothing behind that will incriminate me or suggest selfish motives.

Where I am silent, I have spared you; where I raise a fuss - laugh along with me! Freedom is nothing if not conversation.

The sounds we make, taken as a force of nature, have a meaning as demonstrating a departure from silence. I am skeptical of all content; I am fond of any form. A sound created in form indicates a source which has come to the foreground with open hands, as it were. I appreciate that effort. I am prepared to match movement with movement - to duel: my understanding, your message. Form announces itself through form. I am instantly provided with a subject: the form of the message. What the message provides I may care for today, or tomorrow, or neither.

I have heard many messages and retained those that mattered. A novel form indicates another auditor who potentially recognizes what I do: that the human imprint on the message is what gives content meaning.

Form instantly imprints and conveys. I show up, time and time again, offering box-shaped poems because I offer box-shaped poems. You may like the poems - but don't let yourself be fooled. The form is my true offering. It is not pure, but it is true.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I am Blasted from a Laocoön

Where he turns a corner, and seeing that he has been foolishly sad and too-long dismayed at what any one of a dozen earlier versions of himself would have disdained to diagnose, he pretends it all was a joke, this feeling sorry for himself, or asking for help from people who goodness knows have enough to worry about without the sheer caloric output required to empathize with a white, middle-aged, middle-class, self-ordained iconoclast.

There will be no statement of principals. We have nothing to contribute to that category - or we waver & quiver, our little human wreck, in a sea of Principals. Our open eyes - they are blue or green, depending on the light - carry the notes and messages and articles of friends, blushing let-me-mentions and inveighments and assorted perditionables; for ours is the most moral of times, as we are most correct, for science never has been rendered so clear and politics so easily side-stepped, nor right so wronged, wrong so rigid - what else but to agree with the thoughtfulness-sustaining air.

Everything I for so long believed I knew which clearly I for a time have more or less abandoned - and rightly, for I was an ungodly mess - I now give over to my son and his vision, where he informs me of who and what I am. I have before me being right as being honest with respect to what I can do. Today. And so a nine-year old teaches me himself and myself near-simultaneously - unconsciously? I sometimes doubt it. I am too fond of my son to doubt him for my own sake.

Which brings me back, for first principals are those tenets remembered in time across time, how individuals touch, approximate, a definable or expressible limit to understanding. Let's say expressed more or less broadly, literally or metaphorically, through word or musical sound, in paint - politically? (Don't bother me) - but, really, a "first" tenet? What kinds of assumptions are these?

Mine. God forbid I go to my grave, emblazoned across my headstone, "He Stopped for Conversation." Tenets. Well, you faltering nincompoop. Here's another fine miasma you've willed for Us and Others.

There it is, I've said it. Will. I believe in Will. I have seen everything I have lived through, and it has tended toward and continues to support the notion, the central notion - the tenet - that one is capable of will, and that will is the engine of one's destiny.

Destiny. Now there's a term that doesn't get bandied about much. Well, you see there was "Manifest Destiny," which of course poisons the notion or use of destiny. And, really, - aren't we talking about God here? The Christian God, that awful tool of the willers of destiny? Hmmm? Aren't we? Hmmmmmmm?

Well, no. We're not. Though it wouldn't be a bad thing to trot in the Christian God where that trope (at the very least, citizens. Citizens.) might contribute to the depth or flavor of the conversation- but, stay. We say Destiny in the self-same mood or frame or reference where we might say Hope. Now, you approve Hope, I know. So let's stay friends.

Destiny, said a poet (a poet is a person, a person writing poems; a poet is who wrote one or more poems; poems arise from and have arisen from the particular activity or, let us say, fingers of poets), is not unlike poetry, where one falls forward without knowing exactly why or exactly where.

One ultimately is responsible only for oneself.

We cannot not know this.

The agents or precursors of destiny, our models, so long digested and exhausted that the very air, this day, vibrates in accompaniment of their precepts, their Principals, cannot fail us, us all, you and I.

We only can fail them.

What is my role? I imagine I occupy a bit of land off a central road. Occasionally, a traveler might stop and and ask what I am doing there, or what my business is. And I would say - I believe this is what I would say, even here, now, even now - If you do not know what I do, and why, you have no need of me nor what I do.

Pass on, stranger. Pass on.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Poet at Sea!

I am considering an idea for myself and would love feedback. After having spent years testing the traditional routes for publication with sporadic success, while amassing ms after ms after ms, I discovered and opted for self-publication. My Lulu books have isbn nos. and are published through various online retailer databases. The covers feature my drawings. I love my Lulu books. Others say they're lovely too. Fine.

Except that my Lulu books are not enough. They just aren't. I feel flatlined and I really can't see merely continuing with only my Lulu books. I need to publish at least one book through a third party publisher. One would be enough. Same old story, folks. I need to know I can do it and that it has been done. Call it ego, insecurity, whatever you like. I love what I've done - and I need this too.

So - my question to you is this. I wonder if I can pull from various Lulu mss and new poems to form a book, and would a publisher willingly publish that material? And, would anyone publish me, period? I have it in my mind that 99% of publishers would take the form I write in as a sort of personal insult. I mean, it can take the wind out of your sails to be limited to typewriter fonts. Should I try contests? Other avenues? Do I need to build up a fresh batch of magazine acceptances (God forbid).

Related thought: I have an FB group called Concrete Formalist Poetry; I have a website entitled Concrete Formalist Poetry. Should I start afresh with at least the website and just set up a more traditional author site?

Sorry to be at sea out in the open like this. Say anything you like if you have time, here or as an FB message.

Thank you.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mr. Gray's Panoplies

We have been prompted and tutored to interest each other and ourselves, and I value those lessons. Here, as an example, I am concerned to write about growing older - though not about the process - but to share what I hope has the look and feel of an insight or two, and certainly not about any mere fact, for what could be less interesting?

Well, I have been searching and wondering, and at times despairing, as my blogs demonstrate, don't they. And you have read and understood, I am sure, because we make ourselves understood more or less perfectly, one way or another. But even as hard as life has been at times, it has never been impossible. I know this looking back, seeing all that remains intact and even bits of constructive work dotting the landscape. And now I can say, getting older is no picnic insofar as when your mind or body shifts in place and you can no longer do things as you once did them and are compelled to make changes.

This business of shifting and changing, if you are very lucky and can look back at it, takes place more or less throughout one's life, but at certain times the shifts are quite spectacular, and the changes are commensurately breath-taking, so that on looking back we might be pardoned for feeling like we have escaped some real peril.

But poetry, I feel, and writing about poetry, or about life and being a poet, is always addressed to people younger than oneself. Don't you? I mean, after a certain point, what else really matters? So these words may only serve to suggest future road bumps, and perhaps at that time they will have done some work having installed a helpful imprint of what-is-to-be.

With this introduction, I feel I have little left to say. I can't pretend that the changes I have undergone are universal. And it would be unhelpful at the very least to plant an idea of a thing that may never some to pass, or that would distract someone from whatever process is required to comprehend and negotiate their own aging issues. I mean, of all things, I wish least to be wrong. So, I am at a perspective where, once again, I wonder if philosophy saves us or ruins us for other pursuits.

Oh, never mind that.

I am surrounded by work and litter and am somewhat blinded to regret. So I pick out the musts of my present and future life and consciously plan to attend to those things. I apportion my time and energy, for I am a slave to both. I cannot manufacture time and I no longer believe I can do anything I want to do when I want to do it. I accept that I may not do everything I want to do even given the time to do it. I pull back another step (this may have taken years) and say, I will be certain to do what I must do. That will free me from a certain kind of anxiety and may preserve my energies. I can hope for this in the way that other people might pray for world peace.

...but what I do in actuality is think about what must be done and let the rest slide. And when I say slide, I mean slide. I have fewer opinions and less certainty than ever in my life. And why not? What should I learn if not that life/earth/history are endlessly various, that we are all faced with impossible decisions working with incomplete or ill-fitting theories fostered by imperfect upbringings?

I suspect at the end there are many answers and maybe a thank you for participating. The answers come and go and I wouldn't hang my hat on answers. I really wouldn't. That participation thing though. That's big. You hate to lose your handle on it, though you may at times, but there's a way back, or should be. There's got to be. Always. There's always one step you can take toward someone.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fictive for the Future

This is what is supposed to happen at the end of July as the trading deadline in Major League Baseball approaches.

The manager gets together with the owner at his office or over dinner. The owner asks the manager, Do we have a shot at the post-season, and (before the manager can answer) how far can we go?

The Manager shrugs.

The owner says, I need to know whether to go after Pitcher X and what we're willing to give up.

The manager says Pitcher X is a great addition to any ball club.

The owner is getting a little annoyed here, and says, Look, what can we do to make up the 6 1/2 games we're down on the Braves?

The manager says, Fuck the Braves.

Owner: Fuck the Braves.

Manager: That's right, Who gives a fuck.

Okay, says the owner, You tell me.

Now the manager can tell the owner what the owner wouldn't have even heard when the conversation started. His team is at best three years away from competing meaningfully in Post-Season. Three years at best, meaning it will take three years of acquiring and developing young strong arms, pitchers who can throw quality innings. Maybe even a closer. His team (says the manager) needs to stockpile AA talent - right-handers and left-handers with solid mechanics and a live fastball, in the hope (the mere hope...) that two or more will pull it together three, maybe four years from now and form the core of a staff including one or two veterans that will take them deep into the playoffs, maybe even the Series.

The owner is of course skeptical. That's a lot of maybes, says the owner. What about this year?

Fuck this year, says the manager. We're not gonna get there with this rotation. Adding one guy, even Pitcher X, won't do it. But we can cash in and trade some of the older guys who might help out here and there while picking up young arms. As many as we can.

The owner will ask, You have an idea who you want?

The manager will say, Yes sir, I do.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Observation during Wars - a poem

Sometimes during a war you will
see a bit of brick lost amongst
some ferns, suggesting confusion,
or at least a mutual disturbance
of seemingly irreconcilable objects,
whose characters neither suggest
the other nor cancel the other out.

Analogically, a shadow suggests a
different interpretation, or disturbance,
than does a silhouette, though
silhouettes are a species of shadow:
a shadow thrown (thrown) onto
a translucent or impressionable
surface, and at a perpendicular
angle so as to render the outlines.

All the while you will from time
to time think about the war, its
causes and possible remedies, the
culpability of this and that party,
extant now under this name or
another. You will want to get
the facts straight and you will want
to be able to express an honest opinion.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Labor Vapor

My challenge is to recognize what I am - to perform that labor - rather than piss on (self-inclusively, of course, with occasional hints to the close reader) about what I should be.

It can be useful at such a time as this to recall my thoughts or opinions as a young man concerning writers about my current age who appeared "discontented," especially with themselves. I recall, they were loathsome to me. A man or woman of 51 surely has made of themselves what they can; if they have work, that is their legacy, good or bad or indifferent, and if they appear to be trying to justify themselves - or are carrying on more or less obviously about what they deserve (that others don't, of course), they are pathetic.

This opinion which I held at let's say 22 of people like myself who are 51 was the result of a well-rounded education in the arts and sciences. I couldn't agree more. 'nuff said.

And so, I am what I have done - which is a difficult truth to accept only in that I am not God or some weird self-signifying manly water-breathing unicorn.

Suppose or imagine then what's left to me. How about...I don't care. (Take that, me!) I can't miss. I obviously can't function or produce through want. Rather I am in a place - and what? I wil let you know when I get there. No re-makings or worried fingerings of this or that. Not silence, which signifies "shock" - no mere disconnection or lateralizations - criticism, politics, prose.

I may live alone and write three more books of poems, then die.

I would have liked that at 22.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Say Capture

It is true and I hope good - tell me it is good - that my window for writing is somewhat narrower than it was 5, 10, 20 years ago. True, because I know it having experienced what need only be true to my experience; good, I hope, because the less one writes as one gets older, the better, I suspect.

To clarify, I do not look out of a window when I write, God forbid. This opening is flexible, fugitive. It is not a thing to see through, or use, or master. I cannot plan on it or prepare for it - let's say by getting up early, or avoiding distraction. It is a terribly flexible window that twists and turns. It is latex to my steel intent, which lingers, farcical, for such an opening to itself.

To write, I must feel I am at the edge of my understanding, which must be at some remove from my common understanding of my daily life; that what I write cannot otherwise be captured or remembered. Check that: that the writing is the understanding, though the "act" in itself is nothing unless one or another meaning has been provoked or relayed. That I will not capture or understand unless I write, and write well, and write thoroughly.

At 51 I am chock-full of all sorts of understanding. These do not have to be communicated through writing. Writing requires that the act is all that is left to me in order to capture or understand.

Writing suggests itself as the only possible activity at those times when no other activity will suffice.

And so I am at the edge of my understanding and therefore removed from myself in coherent ways. The window lasts for a time - not for days and days as it once did. I would like very much to somehow maintain this remove - but really, in my daily life I am already at constant risk for putting everything to the side but love and languor. And my daily life is good with family and work and a prompt, earnest ethic. I can describe all that, for all the good it would do me or you.

Writing (and drawing/painting) is the only means I have to capture what I love that lies outside of my reach. It is all I know that is peculiar to myself, call me what you will.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fuck or Write and Fuck or Pray

There are those who are born who hope they never die. We cannot change, however we may care, why. We call them poets, artists, professionals, parents, politicians, who have an unretractable urge (like a calcified talon) to project into the future. I write a poem in a bid for immortality. I fuck to be immortal, some core-self self-absolute that spilling my seed (or dropping my egg propitiously, if a woman) satisfies that bid for continuance. Born with culture; thus writing a poem should run so true as coming deep within my lover. What else. Plenty. Conscious of what I am told is God I seek the same - a shadow, a mimicking, a continuance. Baseball – a sphere seemingly disappears into a familiar sky; trains cross a desert; a painter’s brush eliminates planes, suggesting distance where he or she purchased a mere slip of canvas. I come, suggesting another world. Between your breasts a little map of Ireland. Born with culture. God taking a hand, available for speech, supplication. We raise a glass. The Ark of the Covenant. Israel, you and I, in a box, so written, crossing unfamiliar country. Fireworks and the Fourth of July. A bid for immortality on the back of a bull or a client presentation. Remember me, says the poet through the poem. This sperm, this egg, survive, let it please God. Let it leave you the mere corporeal You and the You you imagine me to be dead and behind.

You may be seated for poetics

There will not be a happy-making conference about poetry or poetics. You will not make friends with everyone nor will they. You may feel anger and disgust. You may take it out on your co-workers. Your clients will expect immediate, top-drawer service, even as you are rifling through your papers in search of last week's notes. At night, making love, your mind drifts over words spoken into a microphone.

Just when you had things all set up. Just when you were ready. Look at this place. It's a fucking mess. Yes I went out. Yes I got a little drunk. Best conversations I had the whole week. Try not to worry so much. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

There are the big names. No, I counted them out. They don't have more letters than yours, but they are big. Many are big women. There are no big Asian/Americans here. I want you to think about that, because I asked you to, and because it's about people, it matters. If you can think about it, or respond, at least nod your head to show there's something there.

We call a conversation about people and their values and behaviors a conference on "poetics." Many of us write poems and have pretty well in the poem business. When I was a boy, I wanted to pitch the Dodgers to a complete game shutout over the Yankees in the seventh game of a World Series. It appears I am not a complete washout after all. So, even though I think you are full of shit, I love you as a person and would chase down your mugger or back you up in any number of disputes other than what matters most in poetry, where you are full of shit.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Talk Baseball

I am one day older than what I was when I took my son to his first baseball game. This posting will not dwell on the oft-recited keen fatherly pleasures derived there from. Though I should say that I employ the term “keen” in the traditional sense, whereby one might describe the keen edge of a blade, where art has been brought to bear on an object of utility, perfecting it in its function.

And, but, this seeming digression serves to introduce my subject, which is the nature and purpose of Minor League Baseball (Triple A level).

Baseball, as it has been said, is a game for men sometimes played by kids. Nowhere is this observation better applied than with respect to the facts of baseball – or what constitutes the this, that, and the other of statistics, strategy, talent. A person or persons might involve themselves closely in the adult-oriented facts of major league baseball and remain completely ignorant of the analogical facts inuring to the minor leagues. Well, there’s life for you.

Enough archery.

You may poo-poo “minor” league ball; you may be ignorant of what it is or isn’t; you may not know what to root for or how to root for it. You may live within some sort of geographic/realistic proximity to a minor league team and not even know it (they run Rookie League - sometimes called Single A; Double-A; Triple-A). I undertake this article to tell you a few things about minor league baseball of which you may not be aware, but should be, because any asshole can root for the Yankees, but it takes a man or woman with guts (or a sense of humor – and I would hesitate to suggest that courage and humor are ever much parted) to root for the Portland Beavers.

In short, here is what you need to know about Minor League Baseball, species: Triple-A; sub-species: The Portland Beavers, established 1903.

• Guys at the Triple-A level are better athletes than anyone you have ever known, unless you know someone who played on a major league franchise in baseball, football, or basketball.
• When I say “guys,” I mean every player on the roster of a Triple-A team. Whoever takes the field and whoever is in the dugout.
• This means these guys are better athletes than you, your dad, your mom, your brother, or your uncle who played a few downs for some shit-ass college team. Anyone you now know or have known.
• What does “better” mean.
• They have quicker hands than anyone you have ever known. Triple-A pitchers throw Major League stuff. Fastballs in the 90’s. Breaking stuff in the mid 80’s. Triple-A hitters can hit the stuff Triple-A pitchers throw.
• If you have a problem with a guy with throws only a 94 mph sinker or isn’t Nolan Ryan, let me tell you a story.
• At the age of 29, living in Brunswick, Maine, I decided to learn how to pitch. I bought a copy of Tom Seaver’s The Art of Pitching, or whatever it’s called, and I learned how to pitch. How to throw a sinker, an overhand curve, a change-up, and, on a good, good, day, a slider.
• I studied this book, and I learned its lessons. For I was relatively young and could not or did not or would not comprehend the end of things.
• At some point, a friend of mine who worked in the restaurant kitchen I worked in told me that there would be a tryout at a town nearby.
• A “tryout” is an organized gathering of local talent, set up by one or more scouts, usually wise old guys who know real talent the way the rest of us know bullshit.
• So I go to this tryout (I have photos to prove it) and threw my best fastball about 72 miles per hour. Maybe. Okay fine fuck you it was like 68 mph. And was politely informed See you later.
• The story though is this.
• Waiting my turn to impress the scouts, I played catch with a much younger pitching prospect, who you should understand right now had no real talent.
• He threw only about an 86 mile per hour fastball.
• I had to catch his fastball with my pitching glove, then I had to catch his curve ball.
• Catching his fastball was unpleasant the way being hit by a bully is unpleasant.
• His curve ball reacted in the air the way a snake reacts to a mongoose.
• So this is what you need to know: guys at Triple-A have Major League ability.
• You have likely never had to deal with them on the field, and if you ever have, you would know exactly what the fuck I am talking about.
• Many of these guys have played in the Majors or will.
• A guy’s likelihood of playing in the majors depends on a lot of factors, like, does the Major League team have a spot for him; who would he replace; can the guy hit DH (Designated Hitter); does he "project" (scouting term) to being an impact player, a daily player, etc.
• A guy will get called up and given some time and the scouts are watching and writing reports and the coaches write reports.
• The guy might get called up again or not. Maybe he gets traded. Injuries play a role, etc., etc.
• All the time, this guy is a better athlete than anyone you know or have ever have known. All the time, people with an investment are assessing him for a return on their investment.
• If the guy plays enough innings or whatever in one year in the Major Leagues he qualifies for the minimum Major League salary, which is a simply Christly sum – I mean, like 400K or whatever - even though good Triple-A salaries are not half bad.
• Do not expect me to look this shit up.

Side-note: Seaver’s book saved my good looks and maybe something more. The year following my self-tutelage I migrated to Philadelphia where I was starting pitcher (right-handed) for an over-30 league team. On one particular occasion, I sought to finish off a team’s clean-up hitter (a taut, bearded, brown-eyed right-hander) with a lovely slider over the outside part of the plate. It broke, and he leaned into it and hit it at something a good deal greater then my best fastball speed directly at my nose. Happily, Seaver taught me to “follow through” with my glove in position to react to such an occurrence appropriately. I had exactly enough time simply to elevate my glove and catch the ball just in front of my face.
• That was the first and only time I have heard an umpire exclaim, Whoa.

So, the moral is. Go see a Triple-A game by yourself or with your kid. You can get great seats for a joke compared to Major League prices. There is constant entertainment – promotions, give-aways, contests – and every opportunity to meet these young (and sometimes not-so-young) men and:
• Get an autograph of a perhaps someday Major Leaguer
• Get an autograph of a perhaps someday Hall-of-Famer
• Just say thanks and good luck. He will need it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


I seem to remember ambition serving to clarify. Perhaps available choices and techniques. Game plans. Perhaps a worldview in locating a point of light in the distance. So I would return day and again to locate that point of light. Now I am surrounded by forms of ambition. Some are dead or accomplished and others shrieking phantasies. Most are arranged in a subtly horizontal plane covering about 270 degrees, coming in and out, wavering, eyelids at half-mast. But in the quiet of now I hear a sound, and I think it is a true sound, as it enters my spine between my shoulder blades and spreads to my forehead. Even so, I cannot seek what I am sense. I occupy some other kind of ground.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

5 of 5

I wonder at feeling and understand, at their interplay. I am living a time in my life where feelings create openings for understandings .

To know a thing, not merely to think it.

As I achieve a particular understanding, I recall the thought of it. I recall the thought of personal balance. I recall prioritizing, and rest, and kindness. Thoughts and conversation though are nothing to understanding. One takes action and for a time - it may be just a moment - one holds oneself in thought, and understands.

I feel as if I pass through understandings, whereas thoughts can always be revisited. Thought perhaps is the architecture to understanding.

Thought, clothed in feeling, is understanding.

Would I achieve, hold, understand, without first having thought? I don't think so. Thought and conversation precede understanding, but they do not displace it. They may in fact, in certain instances, delay it.

One so one achieves, one holds an understanding, then moves on. I may experience a sort of plateau effect, then understand something new. The understandings may be of a specific or general sort. At this moment, for example, I am occupying a sort of compendium understanding of my present life, where I have made time and space for myself and freedom from distress. I understand that in the sense of void which accompanies solitude I must believe in myself. I must chase away self-doubt, and shame. I must everyday seek quiet and wonder as others seek food and shelter.

It is right and proper that I am doing what I do now - what I do today, openly, and without regret.

How else will I know what is new in my life, or feel the difference that is understanding?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

1, 2, 3, and 4 of 5

Taking some time to myself, I went to Powell's Bookstore (Hawthorne) to obtain credit for some objects which were useless to me. Such as three weighty volumes of the this-and-that of Dieter Roth, dragged into the piddling craft of my existence, when all I had were whims for hope and clarity.

Those, and Hemingway's A Movable Feast, which I have read and enjoyed countless times. Too many countless times. I have became all at once very tired of Hemingway, his decisionings and opinions of people - their faults and sadnesses, being very much ours too, after all. So I suggest, read AMF for the descriptions of Paris which I think are quite true, but read it only once or twice. Try not to fall into line with Hemingway's decisions and conversation.

In the mean time, while the books were being evaluated I scanned the shelves for something interesting. My habit is to look for older 20th Cent. editions, or someone French perhaps - or nice older New Directions books. I found a book of ee cummings' erotic poems, F. O'Hara's Lunch Poems, and a truly nutso and delightful book by K. Patchen. And what I say is this. I have not enjoyed looking for books in this manner in years. Putting a number to it, I would say 20 or so, since college. I say I have been struggling and doubting and numbing. It got to the point of distrusting bookstores, which is to say I distrusted myself and others like myself. How odd and sad and odd. How glad I was to recover my old habit and find it useful to me!

Happy with these books of others, I came back to my place and turned to a question that has been troubling me very much, which is the question of whether my books, my self-published books, make me happy. After all, no one will ever stumble upon my work at Powell's. Not unless I end up being someone who is really something, which I don't think I will. What should I do? I took copies of my books and laid them out on the carpet, then took my newly purchased books and others I like (Follain, Bory, Ponge, Apollinaire, Prevert (Dude. What's with all these French guys.), J. Beer, G.G. O'Brien, E. Hartigan, Thoreau) and mixed them all up and stood back and thought.

I thought, Well Patrick, these books of yours are pretty odd, but they are not a joke. I am certain about that. And they make a kind of sense, and how do you feel? And I felt pretty good.

And now I can really get to work finishing up my fourteenth book called how we are home, being poems from 2003/2004 when I lived alone for a period of several months.

....These episodes, they have been clear in my mind for months or years, as if fated, written into the air I breathe. And then I live them, at the cost of pain to others, for which I am truly sorry. Still, I can't take over-seriously something I know must happen, which happens as it must. I am too happy, or is that relieved, to take myself too seriously just now even as I feel closely the pain of others.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


A variety of care lands us in the soup. Care, sunshine, vintage cars, a pair of slim calves.

A life is stitched together, or built with blocks. And when a thread emerges, are we unravelling or stitching anew? Who is in control here: the fabric, God, or the person corresponding to a name on a social security card.

There is a natural argument, I contend. To work, refresh, and work again, that has been missing from my life. Thread or no thread, I have launched and am now countless days at sea in search of that argument. I cite and apologize for disrupture. I am alive to the issues.

Live or dying, I hope I can respond to the tap on my shoulder with a meaningful statement of my condition. I may not speak to you about what you are feeling. That does not mean I do not care.

How much of this is condition, and how much choice? I rebound from such mists as if electric-shocked. I must have coffee and make plans. Sunshine and cars, a movie, a new place to stay. Dreams, dreams, a body of work and dreams. How should one be disappointed in what we all already know?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Chair

I will say, I had a conversation with a man who manages to speak to me through the dreams of a life I would never have imagined for myself. Certainly, no one predicted or promised me this. He says, I followed no manual. He says, I have forgotten how others live.

True loneliness seeks no recourse. It is aloneness. The state of being oneself being alone. If I am lonely I know what I miss. I am alone and cannot put a name to happiness. I have withdrawn from anger, pleasure, and pain. My writings are telegraph posts to a world that returns its messages to an abandoned outpost. Every day I steer an uncertain course; whether I will take my next step or collapse, I wake uncertain, fearful.

It is, I am certain, the life I have chosen for myself. Obligations and sin have a similar look and feel. But I am so worn by conflict I act by avoidance rather than acceptance. I negotiate a nightmare ocean littered with natural and human wreckage and never put into port. I am a lesson to my son, to be sure, but of what I can't imagine.

When I was lonely, I was sad, but I was alive. What I feel now is not living. I think of death as a kind of graduation ceremony. A new beginning. Something pure which cannot fail and which I cannot dilute. I coax myself to sleep with thoughts of knives and water. I am like a planet made suddenly aware of itself in infinite cold. Or better yet, a chair. A thing you pass by every day, which prompts no thought of what might happen next. I am best myself when prone and drifting.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


What is my job? My job is everything I put my hand to. Over time, the lines between job and non-job have blurred. Perhaps you have driven in the country and seen a field half given over to shrubby growth, odd grasses, bordered by a fence of sorts. Some body owns that land, and maybe they decided to let it go fallow, or they stopped farming for some reason, or the guy dies. Maybe they’re going to sell it. Well, that’s not what I mean. I am not a shrubby field. I am someone driving by this or that shrubby field, thinking about it. Now I’m the guy writing about thinking about it. Maybe I will buy that shrubby field; maybe it’s mine already. There probably no particular shrubby field – right? – I’m just saying “shrubby field” the way you say “sunshine.” Look at the sunshine, not this sunshine over that sunshine. It’s a condition, not a thing. That’s how I feel.

So with stories, jokes, poems, tasks & errands, work, play, love-making, Christmas shopping. The condition is the thing; the thing is not the condition. The thing is contributory, like the wind that pushes a boat across the sea. You wouldn’t say the wind crossed the sea; you say the boat crossed the sea. Both boat and wind – and sea, for that matter – and sailor and food for the sailor – all are contributors and spectators. Things matter – of course things matter. There is nothing without things. I am speaking about perspective. I am describing what I feel. I am feeling and writing. That is my condition. It is not a secret.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Beauty Stay

My wife Endi, who is remarkably beautiful, asked me what is the most beautiful place I have seen. I answered that I see beautiful places and things every day. Pressed for details, I mentioned a brick wall I had seen, or recollected.

That answer though was incomplete. The complete and honest answer is that I am impressed by everything I see with a strength of impression that equals that of beauty. The last thing I can remember that struck me as extraordinarily beautiful - in an artistic way - was one or another scene from a ballet we saw here, in Portland. But then, I can't be interested in being impressed by ballet. That is simply ballet doing its job and me agreeing with it.

On the other hand, I am very often bored by efforts at beauty, or truth, or interest. Is this because the blank wall in front of me just now, spotted with a few abrasions, hung with a picture, showing its age - is it because this wall impresses me with a force equal to that of beauty, that a poem or painting seems superfluous? Am I sated?

Yes - I am sated. I do not worry or yearn for truth or beauty. I know that countless individuals and collectives are striving to make their point, and from out of their efforts will emerge notable works, etc., etc. I know there are victories and tragedies - over-reachings and fallings-short; moments in the sun. All of this plays out in my mind as a kind of background music, as if living near a playground, the window open. I do not choose - I have no power to choose - between the weight or worth of this wall and a poem as representative of work or play, truth or beauty.

It seems to me that some art aims at this kind of understanding without actually achieving it, of course - without reserving for itself pride of place in having made a "discovery." I can't help but be skeptical - don't you see? - of the products of an effort made redundant by blank walls, walnut trees, empty bottles, spinning tires, even a bit of blue sky. I stop and look and am frozen by possibilities. Perhaps this is too much to say at once. I mean no disrespect.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cherry Trees When

I am interested in a thing, and that thing is the junction between the historical and the non-historical. The historical is the past and the non-historical is the present. Perhaps the future also is the non-historical. I couldn't say, as I know only the present.

What brings this topic to the surface of reflection is the cherry tree, or cherry trees, blossoming. Cherry trees are blossoming here and now, which does not interest me as much as the thought that people are inclined to look forward to cherry trees blossoming. I along with others anticipate as I look forward to this blossoming, with a firm awareness of what I anticipate as some then-present moment when the cherry trees blossom. Incredibly, the blossoming of the cherry trees wil and does occur, or does not change, and as such is a fixed occurrence, though the experience is of such particuar complexity it rivals any given musical performance, note for note, nuance for nuance.

How it is that we recollect, anticipate and experience the blossoming of cherry trees is not easily explained I think, but it is interesting to me, and stands hovers about in my mnd as representative of the junction between the historical and non-historical. This junction I pose to myself in simplistic terminology, something like, "How can something be and then have been," or "What is the past," or "What was the past like." Now, I may be thinking, as others do, of ancient Rome, or the battle of Gettysburg, or pioneer life - or, it may be of a matter of a moment ten minutes past. For I find that even the recent past seems impossible to me to calculate or recapture, so removed it is by having crossed this divide, the junction, as I perceive or refer to it, between the non-historical and the historical.

So far so good. Yes, but think what this means. After all, we know the present is for all intents and purposes impossible to capture, and the future is nothing other than the universe of the possible admixed with the inconceivable, and so - tell me, what is reality? Even as we read a familiar book the associations drawn from the words at the top of the page are flailing about, fading or blossoming as may be in our minds, while other words are captured and released in turn.

In short, from this perspective, reality seems a small thing to study or concern oneself with. Fleeting and in flux, unknowable, impermanent, a glimpse of a thing - like looking out an office window where a body just now flashes by.