* word is bond with Eduardo C. Corral

To remind everyone, here was the state of my desk last week:

* here there be monsters *
* here there be monsters *

And, true to my word, here is what it looks like this week:

* here there be sheep *
* here there be sheep *

That is Milton, our apartment’s guard sheep, doing a final inspection of my clean-up.

I had to sneak up on him – he has a no-camera policy while on the job.  I got a stern reprimand afterwards.  All in the name of blogdom.

As well as the treat of cleaning, I also allowed myself the treat of sitting down to a book of poetry.

One of my favorite things to do is to sit down and read a whole book of poems straight through.

(Think of the rarity: a Virgo in one place for an extended period of time – I can barely sit still in class.  At least I get to pace as I teach.)

It is also, for me, one of the marks of a good book of poems, that it keeps you reading, engages you to the end.  In France they refer to books as bricks – that’s what I’m talking about!

I am happy to report that Eduardo C. Corral’s collection, Slow Lightning, was successful on all accounts.

The prose poem below is one of the spookiest poems I read in a while.  Like: finding your own first and last name on a gravestone spooky.  Corral is quickly becoming one of my new favorite writers.  His work takes on the political without sacrificing the personal.

**

Immigration and Naturalization Service Report #46 – Eduardo C. Corral

After the body was bagged and whisked away, we noticed a scarlet pelt on the sand.  “This guy had it nice, sleeping on a pelt for days,” Ignacio joked.  He paused mid-laugh, bent down, ran his hand through the fur.  One of his fingers snagged.  “This isn’t a pelt, it’s a patch of wolf ears,” he said.  “No, they’re too large,” I replied.  “Then they must be coyote ears,” he murmured.  Sweat gathered in the small of my back.  “Ignacio, should we radio headquarters?” I asked. Two ears rose slowly from the patch.  I said a few more words. Nothing.  I uttered my own name.  Two more ears unfurled.  We stepped back from the patch, called out the names of our fathers and mothers.  Ramon.  Juana.  Octavio.  More and more ears rose. Rodolfo. Gloria…

for Javier O. Huerta

Happy rising!

Jose

* the mess we’re in & Alden Nowlan

It’s the last week of classes here at UC.  I can read the strain on my students’ faces.  I, personally, am not at all stressed.

* here there be monsters *
* here there be monsters *

The above is what it looks like under my desk presently.  What in August was a slight stack of scratch paper has, uhm, well…scratched into more.  Is there yeast in paper?  That’s besides the point.

Mind you, the above may not look like much but I’m a Virgo and OHMYGODTHERE’SPAPERSONTHEFLOORI’MTHEWORSTPERSONEVER!

Ahem.

Seriously, I’m doing ok.  Only one major paper left to do.  I am making it my goal, dear readers, to have both the paper done and my desk area clean by this time next week.  I’ll keep you posted.

For now, please enjoy the fine sentiment of the following poem by Canadian poet Alden Nowlan.

What moves me most in it is the surprise made possible through the control of dialogue.  It seems deceptively simple, but this poem carries a lot of nuance as well as heart.

***

It’s Good to be Here – Alden Nowlan

I’m in trouble, she said
to him.  That was the first
time in history that anyone
had ever spoken of me.

It was 1932 when she
was just fourteen years old
and men like him
worked all day for
one stinking dollar.

There’s quinine, she said.
That’s bullshit, he told her.

Then she cried and then
for a long time neither of them
said anything at all and then
their voices kept rising until
they were screaming at each other
and then there was another long silence and then
they began to talk very quietly and at last he said
well, I guess we’ll just have to make the best of it.

While I lay curled up,
my heart beating,
in the darkness inside her.

***

Happy ignoring what the floor looks like for another week!

Jose