Writing poetry has in fact become a certain stage in my coping with the world, or in the way I try to understand what happens to me and inside me. Perhaps I could say that my poetry is an attempt to grasp, with grasp meaning both to take hold of in a first bid at possession, and also to understand (Thom Gunn)
To continue in the syllabic vein begun with last week’s poem, I present below Thom Gunn’s “Considering the Snail.”
There is much to admire in the poem. The pace, for one, feels apt for the subject matter.
Then there are the seemingly happenstance (but more likely deliberate) end words emphasized by the form. One choice moment for me is the way the line:
What is a snail’s fury? All
breaks right at seven syllables and seems to both answer the question by breaking on “All” as well as progress the line.
“Progress” as the last word of the poem, seems to be at the heart of the poem, both in concept and in form.
* for your consideration *
Considering the Snail – Thom Gunn
The snail pushes through a green
night, for the grass is heavy
with water and meets over
the bright path he makes, where rain
has darkened the earth’s dark. He
moves in a wood of desire,
pale antlers barely stirring
as he hunts. I cannot tell
what power is at work, drenched there
with purpose, knowing nothing.
What is a snail’s fury? All
I think is that if later
I parted the blades above
the tunnel and saw the thin
trail of broken white across
litter, I would never have
imagined the slow passion
to that deliberate progress.
p.s. I have two haiku in the latest issue of A Hundred Gourds. Check them out here and here.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged arts, astrology, Cincinnati Ohio, Corpus Christi Texas, Jose Angel Araguz, literature, lyric poems, poetry, short lyric poems, snails, syllabics, the friday influence, Thom Gunn, Virgo, writing | Leave a Comment »
* memory lane *
The above is a photo taken at my former place of work, Smith Family Bookstore in Eugene, Oregon.
I found myself a little home(stacks)sick this past week as I took a stroll at a nearby bookstore. For me, there’s no real comparing bookstores with each other because, given enough time, things happen at one store that you carry with you no matter where you go.
The used bookstore here in Cincy has found a place in my reading memory for being the place where I ran across this week’s poem by James Merrill.
Merrill is a poet I’ve long been trying to get into. I’ve picked up books of his in NYC, Corpus Christi, & the above store in Eugene.
This week, however, I found the key into his work. It’s the kind of personal connection that is too bright to see clearly, you just say: Wow! I found the poem! I share it with you folks in that spirit.
I hope you marvel as I did at how he builds playfully and intriguingly into and out of a dream. The line: Fingers were running in panic over the flute’s nine gates, alone gets me going all over again.
I also was moved to find out what wisteria looks like because of this poem. Here you go:
* wisteria, yo *
The Mad Scene – James Merrill
Again last night I dreamed the dream called Laundry.
In it, the sheets and towels of a life we were going to share,
The milk-stiff bibs, the shroud, each rag to be ever
Trampled or soiled, bled on or groped for blindly,
Came swooning out of an enormous willow hamper
Onto moon-marbly boards. We had just met. I watched
From outer darkness. I had dressed myself in clothes
Of a new fiber that never stains or wrinkles, never
Wears thin. The opera house sparkled with tiers
And tiers of eyes, like mine enlarged by belladonna,
Trained inward. There I saw the cloud-clot, gust by gust,
Form, and the lightning bite, and the roan mane unloosen.
Fingers were running in panic over the flute’s nine gates.
Why did I flinch? I loved you. And in the downpour laughed
To have us wrung white, gnarled together, one
Topmost mordent of wisteria,
As the lean tree burst into grief.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged arts, astrology, bookstore, Cincinnati Ohio, Corpus Christi Texas, Eugene Oregon, James Merrill, Jose Angel Araguz, literature, lyric poems, Pisces, Smith Family Bookstore, the friday influence, Virgo, writing | Leave a Comment »
Reading through an interview with poet Jane Hirshfield, I was moved by a concept she terms “clarity without simplicity”:
…Yes, being clear without being simple is one of the poetic qualities I most admire in the work of others, and one I hope finds a place in my own.
I feel like this is one of the qualities that I strive to celebrate here on the Influence.
The phrase itself is clearly unsimple. For me, it implies some effort between the poet and the reader, an effort to not only get the words right but to come to them directly. The poetry in the poem a sort of clearing you have to find your way to, and which the poet clears.
Hirshfield’s poem below shows some of this in action.
* gang-related *
Tree – Jane Hirshfield
It is foolish
to let a young redwood
grow next to a house.
Even in this
you will have to choose.
That great calm being,
this clutter of soup pots and books—
Already the first branch-tips brush at the window.
Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.
p.s. Check out the Hirshfield interview, in which she also shares some insight into Zen and its influence on her life, here.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged arts, astrology, Cincinnati Ohio, Corpus Christi Texas, Jane Hirshfield, Jose Angel Araguz, literature, lyric poems, Pisces, redwood tree, short lyric poems, the friday influence, Virgo, writing, Zen | 2 Comments »
After many walks in the snow the body learns a new rhythm. At least that’s what it’s felt like these past few weeks. I’ve got myself a mean snow trudge.
What I admire about John Ashbery is the way he can keep his line close to the shifts of not his mind but the mind of the poem. In the poem below, whose rhyming couplets have a music that sneaks up on you rather than chimes on in, I feel a recognition of what is termed “puzzling light.”
Not the kind of light that leaves you puzzled (past tense) but a sense of light as vision, where you look at something and keep seeing new things in it, puzzling out what there is.
Like steps in deep snow: each a different mark and feel.
* and miles to go and all that *
Some Trees – John Ashbery
These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though speech
Were a still performance.
Arranging by chance
To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I
Are suddenly what the trees try
To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.
And glad not to have invented
Such comeliness, we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges
A chorus of smiles, a winter morning.
Placed in a puzzling light, and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents seem their own defense.
p.s. I am happy to announce that I have 3 poems in the latest issue of the Inflectionist Review. Check them out here. Special thanks to John Sibley Williams and A. Molotkov for giving these poems a home.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged arts, astrology, Cincinnati Ohio, Corpus Christi Texas, John Ashbery, Jose Angel Araguz, Leo, literature, poetry, short lyric poems, snow, Some Trees, the friday influence, Virgo, writing | 4 Comments »
Octave XI – Edward Arlington Robinson
STILL through the dusk of dead, blank-legended,
And unremunerative years we search
To get where life begins, and still we groan
Because we do not find the living spark
Where no spark ever was; and thus we die,
Still searching, like poor old astronomers
Who totter off to bed and go to sleep,
To dream of untriangulated stars.
* I hate being that guy *
I’ve been dipping my head into the work of E. A. Robinson again. He was a contemporary (and at times considered a rival of) Robert Frost. He led a pretty bleak life: in his twenties, drinking and money problems had him kinda lost.
He eventually found a patron/friend/savior in the form of President Theodore Roosevelt, who, after becoming aware of his work, set him up with steady work hoping to keep him writing. And it did.
I love this story because of what it says about not fitting in. After reading him long enough, I’ve become convinced that some part of him was aware of not fitting in, and put it to work in his poems.
What I love about the octave above is the use (a successful use) of the words “unremunerative” and “untriangulated” – how the long words draw attention to themselves, almost seem not to fit in. But they do, both in rhythm and sense: triangulated stars are those close enough to be measured. The phrase “untriangulated stars” refers to those stars too distant to be measured.
That, to me, is the beauty of not fitting in: sometimes it comes in a way that is moving and encouraging.
Happy (not) fitting in!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged arts, astrology, astronomy, Capricorn, Cincinnati Ohio, Corpus Christi Texas, Edward Arlington Robinson, Jose Angel Araguz, literature, lyric poems, poetry, short lyric poems, the friday influence, Theodore Roosevelt, Virgo, writing | Leave a Comment »
Just a quick post to announce Right Hand Pointing’s Issue 72, which includes my poems “Kindred Spirit” and “Fool.” You can read them here.
Check out the rest of the issue here. There are some rockin’ poems by Philip Shils, Larry D. Thomas, Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal & Rosemary Badcoe.
Also of *ahem* note, is this issue’s “The Note”: editor Dale Wisely writes an editor’s note like no one else.
See you Friday!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged arts, astrology, Cincinnati Ohio, Corpus Christi Texas, Dale Wisely, Jose Angel Araguz, Larry D. Thomas, literature, Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal, Philip Shils, Right Hand Pointing, Rosemary Badcoe, short lyric poems, the friday influence, Virgo, writing | 2 Comments »