Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Turn up the Steps

If my thoughts were living things, they would long have died from abuse and neglect, having been allowed to wander on their own, unclothed, without provisions. They know where they come from but have no language to express themselves along the highway, and no sense of destination. They do not stop to exchange information, except to pause to announce themselves regardless of who might be near, if anyone - an occasional soul. What I could do for my thoughts is a long-foregone certainty: less than anyone I know is willing to do. My sense of duty toward my own thoughts expresses itself extemporaneously - but this position is a function of my heritage. I know that. I am not convinced that exchange is all it's cracked up to be. I suspect it is a form of certainty in seeking partisan support. But I like my thoughts alone. I believe that a thought worth having will better survive and in a truer state if left to itself. It would only serve to weaken or malign my thoughts if I put my hand to their surroundings. After all, they are free, here, to persist among their own kind. That is a quiet sort of life, granted, but no stranger than what we are left to amongst ourselves.

I say thoughts and may mean poems. They are one and the same to me, practically speaking.

I believe I am into a new manuscript whose challenges I want to outline. I will be fun to look back in six months or so when I expect to be completed, to see how my impressions bore out, so here are some things I see from the outset. I say "things" to indicate that I have no idea what to call what's coming next.

Since Early December of 2012 I have undergone catechism and initiation into the Roman Catholic Church, and so all I read is the sort of material you would expect. This material makes a lot of hay out of historical, revelatory, and prophetic events that occurred and are occurring, in groups and personally. The ongoing effect (and it is an intended effect, to be sure) lends a peculiarly illustrative nature to the conversation, exposition, and dialogue. This illustrative effect ranges from the sentimental to the pastoral to the pyrotechnic. It should be said that the writings of contemporary secular theologians entirely miss this effect and are, therefore, in my humble opinion, inclined toward dullness and redundancy. While I am inclined to want to capture this illustrative manner of rendering what it is I do when I write poems.

I do not mean merely writing imagey poems. That is not what I mean at all. It means that the author is required to relate fluid boundaries under the aegis of an expectation that both truth and love are realized by one reader at a time and only in the moment of choosing. That moment though is not one of crisis or difference per se. It is a moment of recognition, such as might occur when glancing up from a book on the face of a familiar landscape or friend, now mortal and incumbent. I also want to provide titles as I have not been titling lately and thought I should enjoy that for a while.

There. I think that's all I need to say for now.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Speak over Form

There is nothing in the ethical, in the universal, that can save you, even while there is every form of mediation such as provides the appearance of a means of being saved. I can mediate getting with spending; I can mediate thought with form. I can mediate desire with play; I can mediate outrage with talk. But I cannot mediate my duty to God. I cannot address my duty to God except as an individual. I cannot address my duties, as they present themselves to myself only as an individual, except by turning to God in my duty to God.

Form in poetry is the address which overcomes the appearance of mediation. A poem without form is like a stomach without a lining. It can't be done. It can be spoken or conjectured. And it is a largely settled matter that formfulness precedes and dictates content, and that content is in the loins of the beholder, and that the trumpet, for being commonplace, is a most difficult thing to play.

At this cultural moment of composition, form is the notion we have of a barrier, for keeping in what is ours, for keeping out what one does not wish to be among what is yours. The fact of form suggests that every writer is a censor, which of course every writer appears willing to believe, even as they may strive toward this or that species of inclusion or playfulness. But there is no crime in belying appearances or in delaying the effects of form. For those effects are hard dealt with.

As you imagine and are realized you are lost to dismay. Your panic is the tension of the smooth surface. You are intact. You are on the one hand thankful and on the other empty. What was fury is now a rite of passage - a passover. The question before you is what sort of music does one conduct who has neither chaos nor silence to interfere?

One does not have to think too long on Moses before realizing that, as god of this Israel, you write the rules. Behind, or in back of the fact of form as posing a barrier is the fact of the poet posing or positioning herself as god, or more accurately as architect. In a sense, the configurations - the blueprint - of one's barrier making (one's formfulness) can be lifted and transposed from one set of circumstances to another. That is, set your eyes upon a new land - the land perhaps of one's being realized - and find yourself newly dismayed. In my model, Moses can be allowed into Canaan - but only on certain conditions related specifically to his willingness to accept full knowledge of himself as an individual turning to God. It can be believed that it must be done.

Every poet, if he is to write forever, must learn how to forgive herself his success in believing that she has created a perfect world.

Title for Title

I guess Farms Go Faster is done. The longish poem about the two women who live above a laundromat tied it all together; as indeed any two women living above a laundromat can be said to tie it all together, in a manner of speaking.

I had assembled the other poems to about 28 pages. I expected this poem to take up some slack and provide the last bit of weight, then over the next month or two write individual poems to finish the MS. So, ten minutes ago, I'm leafing through the MS not know what to do next; then I read it slowly with the new poem in place and it simply clicks into place. It has some people, some nature, a bit of religion, and some thought. It's a book of poems. As with the last book, I won't provide titles for the poems or a table of contents. I just don't think that way now. Farms Go Faster will come out at about 36 pages, which is fine for a book of poems. I mean, let's be honest, it shouldn't take more than a dozen pages to get one's point across.

What about these two women though? I think, really, I wanted the opportunity to inhabit the lives of two people in love in a city living in that love and in themselves. In that sense writing the poem was a form of privilege. There is so much consternation out there about gay marriage - but this is about more than that. The poem is really about the author and his/her desires and ambitions. Choices are made unconsciously or not; something is addressed, "satisfied." I care about these two women who live above a laundromat. I will miss them.