For various reasons, I fell behind in sharing more from my latest chapbook of prose poems and flash fictions, Reasons (not) to Dance. As promised, here is the final installment of excerpts and artwork from the project.
* train of thought *
This almost-cover image was inspired by the piece below, “Relinquished.” One of the memories that always comes up when revisiting this particular piece is one audience member’s reaction back in 2013. I was doing a reading for the Eugene Public Library’s Windfall Reading Series (run by the Lane Literary Guild) and performing excerpts from an early draft of Reasons. As the narrative developed, there was a gasp that reached me as the piece came to its conclusion:
after Lafcadio Hearn
A Buddhist priest – upon receiving a note of love from a woman who had seen him only in passing and could not think of anything else and now hoped for a response from his heart –wrote a letter himself saying that he relinquished his body for he was growing weak and did not want to sin and sent it to his superior before heading out in time to kneel between the rails as an oncoming train made its scheduled trail of smoke and sound in the night – leaving what was left of the man’s heart to be turned over and over in the sleepless thoughts of a woman.
* what blossoms here *
This last image was inspired by the piece that closes Reasons, “Rewarded.” A side note: the story of the man and the tree retold in this piece is from a Zen Buddhist tale. Between the piece above and this one, one can read one of the underlying themes of the project, the worlds one experiences between restlessness and rest:
Showering under a low faucet, I see the sun begin to show at the window. The room fills with orange light, and I am like the man rewarded for his silence as he slept under an orange tree that dropped its blossoms over him in such a way he heard a voice thank him for his words on emptiness. When he spoke up, and said he had said nothing, the tree agreed, he had said nothing, and the tree had heard nothing, and the rush of blossoms poured on.
Reasons (not) to Dance is available from FutureCycle Press is available in paperback and Kindle here.
Thank you to all who have bought copies and have shared your thoughts on the project. Special thanks to Diane Kistner and everyone at FutureCycle Press for all the support with this project.
Thank you also to Blue Earth Review for publishing both “Relinquished” and “Look” (shared here) and placing them 2nd in Blue Earth Review’s 2014 Flash Fiction contest.
Lastly, a very special thanks to Andrea Schreiber (“my co-conspirator” to whom the chapbook is dedicated) for all the great artwork and support. It is her art displayed not only on the cover but also on the Reasons-related art/excerpts posts today and from this summer.
See you next Friday!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged arts, astrology, chapbook, Cincinnati Ohio, Corpus Christi Texas, creative writing, Eugene Oregon, flash fiction, FutureCycle Press, Jose Angel Araguz, Lafcadio Hearn, literature, lyric poems, poetry, poetry reading, prose poem, publication, short lyric poems, the friday influence, Virgo, writing, Zen Buddhism | 2 Comments »
* rules were meant to break your head *
The above image is in reference to Fleming’s right-hand rule, a term used in talking about electromagnetism.
The term appears in this week’s poem, “Dreams” by Miroslav Holub. When writing a dream poem and/or about dreams, I try to always be conscious of the why behind each dream detail. Each detail should feel necessary rather than just shocking or “dream”- like.
The details that surprise me most in Holub’s poem are those that are closest to everyday reality. The short lyric travels from the outlandish to the concrete, and ends on “Just grass” as if defying the expectations of a poem about dreams. Even the reference to the right-hand rule, which was outside of my immediate understanding, is handled as an everyday detail. Holub was a scientist; if dreams are made up in part of the details of everyday life, Holub’s lyric stays true to its revelatory impulse all the way through while remaining consistent to the poet’s life.
Dreams – Miroslav Holub
They sap man’s substance
as moon the dew.
A rope grows erect
from the crown of the head.
A black swan hatches
from a pebble.
And a flock of angels in the sky
is taking an evening class
on the skid pan.
I dream, so I dream.
that three times three is nine,
that the right-hand
and when the circus leaves
the trampled ground will
once more overgrow with grass.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged arts, astrology, Cincinnati Ohio, Corpus Christi Texas, creative writing, Eugene Oregon, Fleming's right-hand rule, Jose Angel Araguz, literature, lyric poems, Miroslav Holub, poetry, short lyric poems, the friday influence, Virgo, writing | Leave a Comment »
Just a quick post to announce the release of Bear Review 2.1 which includes two of my poems.
Read “Theory of the Slammed Door” here
and “Theory of Grapes in a Dream” here.
These two poems continue formally in the vein of my “hands” series but move into their conceptual world. Special thanks to Brian Clifton and Marcus Myers for including me and for a dynamic edit in one of the poems!
This issue also includes fine work by J. P. Dancing Bear, Meg Johnson, Nomi Stone, and John Gallaher, as well as a collaboration between Simone Muench and Dean Rader. Read it here.
See you Friday!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged arts, Bear Review, Brian Clifton, Cincinnati Ohio, Corpus Christi Texas, Eugene Oregon, John Gallaher, Jose Angel Araguz, literature, lyric poems, Marcus Meyers, Meg Johnson, Nomi Stone, poetry, publication, short lyric poems, the friday influence, Virgo, writing | Leave a Comment »
While “The Red Wheelbarrow” remains one of his more popular poems – and one that confounds students to this day, usually leading to the question Why is that a poem? (to which I usually respond with Why not?) – read enough William Carlos Williams and you’ll see how multifaceted his body of work is. In this week’s poem, “Dedication for a Plot of Ground,” Williams is able to whirlwind through the details of a human life and have them stand with as much vividness as the more nuanced image of
a red wheel
glazed with rain
Two weeks ago I shared a poem by Blaise Cendrars in which I discussed the use of lists in poetry and life. Williams’ use of a list in this week’s poem opens up and gives a second life to a person through his own singular way with specificity.
* este wheelbarrow *
Dedication for a Plot of Ground – William Carlos Williams
This plot of ground
facing the waters of this inlet
is dedicated to the living presence of
Emily Dickinson Wellcome
who was born in England; married;
lost her husband and with
her five year old son
sailed for New York in a two-master;
was driven to the Azores;
ran adrift on Fire Island shoal,
met her second husband
in a Brooklyn boarding house,
went with him to Puerto Rico
bore three more children, lost
her second husband, lived hard
for eight years in St. Thomas,
Puerto Rico, San Domingo, followed
the oldest son to New York,
lost her daughter, lost her “baby,”
seized the two boys of
the oldest son by the second marriage
mothered them—they being
motherless—fought for them
against the other grandmother
and the aunts, brought them here
summer after summer, defended
herself here against thieves,
storms, sun, fire,
against flies, against girls
that came smelling about, against
drought, against weeds, storm-tides,
neighbors, weasels that stole her chickens,
against the weakness of her own hands,
against the growing strength of
the boys, against wind, against
the stones, against trespassers,
against rents, against her own mind.
She grubbed this earth with her own hands,
domineered over this grass plot,
blackguarded her oldest son
into buying it, lived here fifteen years,
attained a final loneliness and—
If you can bring nothing to this place
but your carcass, keep out.
p.s. Read an article on the recent discovery of the man behind “The Red Wheelbarrow” here.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged arts, astrology, Blaise Cendrars, books, Cincinnati Ohio, Corpus Christi Texas, Dedicationf for a Plot of Ground, Eugene Oregon, Jose Angel Araguz, literature, lyric poems, poetry, short lyric poems, the friday influence, The Red Wheelbarrow, Virgo, William Carlos Williams, writing | 1 Comment »
This week’s poem – “Chinks” by Blaise Cendrars – reminded me of an early lesson about list poems, namely how most poems can easily slip into lists. Whether it be a series of phrases, images, or movements, lists can sneak their way into poems, usually in threes (note how even in this sentence about lists there is a list of three within it!).
Mind you, there’s nothing inherently bad about this: usually it’ll happen naturally and have its own rhythm. Finding ways to subvert this human tendency towards *ahem* “listing” in a poem is always a challenge.
In the poem below, I was moved by the way Cendrars is able to create a pocket of human action between lists. The tension created between nature images and the speaker’s silence in the poem’s narrative adds energy to both.
* pieces, in *
Chinks – Blaise Cendrars
Trees long-haired with moss
Heavy rubbery glossy leaves
High burnished heat
I’ve stopped listening to the urgent voices of my friends discussing
The news that I brought from Paris
On both sides of the train close by or along the banks of
The distant valley
The forest is there watching me unsettling me enticing me like
a mummy’s mask
I watch back
Never the flicker of an eye.
translated by Dick Jones in qarrtsiluni
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged arts, astrology, Blaise Cendrars, Cincinnati Ohio, Corpus Christi Texas, creative writing, Eugene Oregon, French Poetry, Jose Angel Araguz, list poem, literature, lyric poems, poetry, short lyric poems, the friday influence, translation, Virgo, writing | 6 Comments »
Crown – Kay Ryan
Too much rain
In the hills giant oaks
fall upon their knees.
You can touch parts
you have no right to—
places only birds
should fly to.
* flight *
As August comes to an end, I begin to reflect on the end of summer – or, rather, the ending of summer. Perhaps it takes being born in the summer to be sensitive to the days beginning to grow shorter, even by minutes. Or maybe that’s just a kind of idealistic hope of my own. My world’s been pretty rich this summer, good and bad. Through it all, I am happy to report hope keeps winning out, idealistic or otherwise.
Kay Ryan’s work has always struck me as full of a similar kind of hope. A kind of stubborn and willful hope played out in phrasing and what she terms “recombinant rhyme.” The poem above models this willfulness with grace; the poem below has a tone steeped in struggle. Enjoy!
A Certain Kind of Eden – Kay Ryan
It seems like you could, but
you can’t go back and pull
the roots and runners and replant.
It’s all too deep for that.
You’ve overprized intention,
have mistaken any bent you’re given
for control. You thought you chose
the bean and chose the soil.
You even thought you abandoned
one or two gardens. But those things
keep growing where we put them—
if we put them at all.
A certain kind of Eden holds us thrall.
Even the one vine that tendrils out alone
in time turns on its own impulse,
twisting back down its upward course
a strong and then a stronger rope,
the greenest saddest strongest
kind of hope.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged arts, astrology, Cincinnati Ohio, Corpus Christi Texas, creative writing, Eugene Oregon, Jose Angel Araguz, Kay Ryan, literature, lyric poems, poetry, short lyric poems, the friday influence, Virgo, writing | Leave a Comment »