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Just a quick post to announce the release of the Issue 2.3 of Star 82 Review featuring my short piece “Clams.” Read it here.

I was excited to find this review. The generous spirit of its content – from short (short) fictions to erasures, art, and translation – had me interested right away.

Check out the rest of the new issue here.

See you Friday!

Jose

Revisiting the work of Rae Armantrout this week, I realize that some poems hit you with the edges of what they could be saying as they are being said. Armantrout’s work for me always gives me just enough to build a singular impression.

In the poem below, the third section’s image of leaves is baffling in its clarity. The line “Leaf shadows on pavement” is a clipped, definite image, but the stanza that follows brings that image to life through sound and meaning, reaching away from imagery and yet evoking the image nonetheless.

Such things shouldn’t be possible, says the logical part of my brain, but there it is – logically legit.

* leaf good enough alone  *

* leaf good enough alone *

Answer – Rae Armantrout *

a moment of stillness,
demanding an answer.

When does a moment end?

*

Starbucks prayer;
“Make morning good again.”

*

Leaf shadows on pavement:

word meaning to slide
carelessly,
repeatedly,
to absentmindedly caress.

*

For I so loved the world

that I set up
my only son

to be arrested.

***

Happy arresting!

Jose

* from Rae Armantrout’s collection, Money Shot.

Ten years have passed since I read Ted Kooser’s essay “A Poet’s Job Description” (in The Poetry Home Repair Manual) and yet I am compelled by much of what he says. He is casual, generous and warm throughout, all while dishing out truth bombs like “Poetry is a lot more important than poets.”

In the essay, he shares the following poem, a poem that has stayed in my memory and yet feels new as I reread it this week. The connections throughout between physical activities builds up slow, but merge completely in the last line.

* baby it's grey outside *

* baby it’s grey outside *

A Rainy Morning – Ted Kooser

A young woman in a wheelchair,
wearing a black nylon poncho spattered with rain,
is pushing herself through the morning.
You have seen how pianists
sometimes bend forward to strike the keys,
then lift their hands, draw back to rest,
then lean again to strike just as the chord fades.
Such is the way this woman
strikes at the wheels, then lifts her long white fingers,
letting them float, then bends again to strike
just as the chair slows, as if into a silence.
So expertly she plays the chords
of this difficult music she has mastered,
her wet face beautiful in its concentration,
while the wind turns the pages of rain.

***

Happy turning!

Jose

*[Image by RidiculousDream at DeviantART]

Shared some of Philip Larkin’s work with students this week. I see him as a good example of playing content rebelliously while within formal structures.

In the poem below, one can see what I mean in these lines about the moon:

Lozenge of love! Medallion of art!
O wolves of memory! Immensements!

There’s something beyond mockery going on here. He starts with an exaggerated phrase very much in the style of Renaissance poets (the title refers to a sonnet by Sir Philip Sidney), but by the time one reads “wolves of memory,” there’s a self-deprecating edge apparent to the pronouncements, which is also in keeping with the overall meditation of aging in the poem.

* lozenge of what now? *

* lozenge of what now? *

Sad Steps – Philip Larkin

Groping back to bed after a piss
I part thick curtains, and am startled by
The rapid clouds, the moon’s cleanliness.

Four o’clock: wedge-shadowed gardens lie
Under a cavernous, a wind-picked sky.
There’s something laughable about this,

The way the moon dashes through clouds that blow
Loosely as cannon-smoke to stand apart
(Stone-coloured light sharpening the roofs below)

High and preposterous and separate—
Lozenge of love! Medallion of art!
O wolves of memory! Immensements! No,

One shivers slightly, looking up there.
The hardness and the brightness and the plain
Far-reaching singleness of that wide stare

Is a reminder of the strength and pain
Of being young; that it can’t come again,
But is for others undiminished somewhere.

***

Happy undiminishing!

Jose

Just a quick post to announce the release of the latest issue of The Fox Chase Review which includes my poem “Work Song.” Read the poem here.

Check out the rest of the awesome issue here.

See you Friday!

Jose

The Moose – Robert Bly

 

The Arctic moose drinks at the tundra’s edge,
swirling the watercress with his mouth.
How fresh the water is, the coolness of the far North.
A light wind moves through the deep firs.

 

* fir crying out loud *

* fir crying out loud *

Reading this week, I came across these two short lyrics by Robert Bly. I love how in the lyric above there is a sound repetition going on: “moose drinks” followed by the sounds of “swirling the watercress” and on into the next line in “fresh” and “coolness” – all of it a subtle surge of sound.

A similar sense of sound governs the poem below, but also with it is a bit of that Deep Image mojo Bly and others helped to perfect. With the aptness and pacing of a great tanka, the lyric goes from a note on nature to a more personal, inner note. The last line leveled me with its directness: after the tension created between the fanciful note on the herons and the speaker’s inner turmoil, the clarity suggested in the last line evokes “another world” indeed.

Herons – Robert Bly

After trailing their bony legs the herons dance
in their crystal house far up near the clouds.
I need you in sand, touching your hand I weep.
In another world I am clear and transparent.

***

Happy clearing!

Jose

Just a quick post to announce the publication of my poems “Fixing” and “Where It Was Dark” in the latest issue of The Cortland Review. You can check out the poems (and audio!) here.

These specific poems come from a time where my line was looser than it is now in my daily writing. “The Wall” came out of a similar mode of nerve. Fun!

See you Friday!

Jose

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