Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2012

Image

Sir Sprinkle Belly in the role of The Grasshopper!

This week on the Influence: (a) play!

It’s winter time and I realize that I haven’t posted up a winter poem.  One of my favorites is John Keats’ “On the Grasshopper and Cricket”.

It is a deceptively playful yet serious sonnet.  Statements on “the poetry of earth” occur twice, breaking up the poem’s argument which consists of a parallel between the lives and seasons of the grasshopper and cricket.  The grasshopper is playful in summertime; the cricket’s song survives with us in the wintertime.

The rhymes are musical and yet there is an undertone of mortality despite the harmony.  The first line hits with two charged words “never dead” and then bounces along with the grasshopper.  This charged feeling is repeated with the words “ceasing never”.  Life – earthly life – is emphatic.

This parallel would be enough except (and as a good sonnet should) there is a turn – only here it occurs at the end.  The cricket’s song suddenly brings forth the memory of the grasshopper.  It is a visceral evocation worthy of Mr. Negative Capability.  Suddenly – like some poetical Venn Diagram of genius – the poem ends with summertime in wintertime.

Keats is the man.

Here is the proof:

On the Grasshopper and Cricket – John Keats
The Poetry of earth is never dead:    
  When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,    
  And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run    
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;    
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead      
  In summer luxury,—he has never done    
  With his delights; for when tired out with fun    
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.    
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:    
  On a lone winter evening, when the frost     
    Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills    
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,    
  And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,    
    The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.
***

...and Lord Sprinkle Foot as Cricket!

…and Lord Sprinkle Foot as Cricket!

It ain’t easy being Sprinkle Foot.

Cookies are courtesy of my lady’s family household.  I totally decorated cookies this week.

Like a boss.

See ya next year (ha!),

jose

p.s. Keats wrote the above sonnet in a contest with his mentor Leigh Hunt.  With this, the mentee became the mentor … ‘s buddy? – the matinee became the mentorasaurus…rex…the –

Read Full Post »

This week on the Influence: an update!

I have been busy the past two months applying to PhD programs.  The past two weeks especially were a crunch.  Preparing writing samples, writing soul-baring personal statements that also sound professional and career-oriented, the GREs – all of that plus the daily back and forth in my head about whether this is the right thing to do with my life and so on…

For these reasons, I’ve taken a more personal approach to the Friday posts during this time.

Expect a more familiar post next week.

For this week, here is my poem “These Streets” originally published in Tiger’s Eye Journal, the good folks who publish my chapbook, “The Wall”.

This poem is the first solid poem I wrote when I landed here in Oregon back in 2007.  You can see the young Jose face to face with the Pacific Northwest for the first time.

It’s also a ghazal, a form which you can find more about here.

Check it out:

***

These Streets – Jose Angel Araguz *

I know I am not the first to walk these streets;
Why, then, do I feel alone when I walk these streets?

Leaves shuffle and whisper overhead, trash cackles in the gutter;
What cold things would they say if they could talk, these streets?

The river roils against black, stripped banks;
What do they take, shift, shame and rock, these streets?

There are colors and lines that show the way for cars;
Why, then, my unmarked path? I, guideless, stalk these streets.

José — why shed questions like tears about these streets?
Sorrow, like oil, leaves its stain; blackness and iridescence mark these streets.

***

This past Wednesday I wrapped up the last of the applications – and suddenly it’s Christmas.  I’ve been to two holiday parties so far this month, which should have been a clue as to the time of season.  In the holiday spirit, here’s a sweet photo:

double shot of yin & yang

double shot of yin & yang

That’s me and my girl at a coffee shop.

As you can see, I’ve very much warmed up to the Pacific Northwest.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

– jose

* originally published in Tiger’s Eye Journal.

Read Full Post »

This week on the Influence: Onions!

Seriously: in keeping with last week’s post, I have decided to share this poem of mine, “Onions”, which was also revised after publication.  The original of this poem found a home at The Windward Review.  It came out of a writing exercise where I wrote about something I hated.  The original focused mainly on the graphic nature of chopping up onions.

What I feel is better in this revision is how the poem takes on a human element by becoming an elegy.

The line “dish I was told you liked” was in the original but wasn’t fully developed.  In looking back, I realized – Whoa, there’s a person in this poem completely unacknowledged.

Another revision: I have since made my peace with onions.  Bring on the pico de gallo!

split personality...totally

split personality…totally

Onions – Jose Angel Araguz *

The bulb, hard and heavy as a fist,
The slivers that unravel like the wings
And body of an albino cockroach,

The sharp stink
Of its flesh spitting
Against the blade —

I could do without
This unwelcome act of reducing
A ghost to paper shavings

For a dish I was told you liked,
That I persist in making
Despite your absence,

Except that I believe
That what gathers
And falls from my eyes

Is a part of you
Hungry to come back
To this table.

***

Happy tabling!

jose

* originally published in The Windward Review.

Read Full Post »

mi sea wall es su sea wall...

mi sea wall es su sea wall…

The above image is from the Sea Wall in my hometown of Corpus Christi Texas.  It stretches up and down Ocean Drive, down past the Whataburger by the Bay, down into the palm-trees lining downtown.

Go a little further and you’ll end up at the old site of the factory I used to work at.  We made equipment for oil rigs.  We worked in open-air garages, so close to the water we could look out in the mornings during summer – hurricane season – and watch as little whirlwinds funneled up and over the water, appearing and disappearing against a peach sky.

This week’s poem is one of my own from that time.  An earlier version of the poem was published in Blue Collar Review.  What I feel I finally got right in the present version has everything to do with the word “hands” – how it opens and ends the poem, holds it in place, a young man’s angst funneling up and down in between.

It’s the holidays and I can’t help but get sentimental.  I look at photos like these and hear the water.  Straight up.

Here’s another view, followed by my poem:

cuanto quieres por el downtown?

cuanto quieres por el downtown?

Escape Ropes – Jose Angel Araguz *

Hands raw from setting knots
The few inches apart it takes
For a leg to imagine a ladder,
Ropes designed for escape from a fire
On an oil rig squatted on the gulf,
My mind would work out
Images of men with only the open water
To swim, to march across if they could,
To bob and pray for miracles.

Those knotted afternoons,
The sun made an oven of the warehouse.
The foreman stood me in the back
While other men sat on stools
And looked over, faces worn,
Fingernails yellowed from smoking.
There, I held my tongue,
Grunted against each wince,
And felt fire in my hands.

***

Happy escaping!

jose

* published originally in Blue Collar Review.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: