* unhatched with colette jonopulos

Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.

(Rainer Maria Rilke)

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This quote by Rilke serves as an epigraph at the beginning of Colette Jonopulos’s chapbook, Between. Reading through the poems in this chapbook, I was moved how each reflected a bit of what Rilke’s words point to, how distance can be used to see something and/or someone clearer.

I share the title poem below as an example not only of the above theme but also of a short lyric able to evoke and engage via images and phrasing. While the address to a “you” creates the air of intimacy, the meditation on the image of bird eggs evokes Rilke’s “infinite distances.” From this angle, a couple is always a “you” and an “I” (you/I), and their relationship “the fragile membrane between” them.

The ending on “hatchlings” equates unspoken words to unborn birds, a pairing that, beyond rhyme, hits home for the life waiting in both words and birds to come.

Between – Colette Jonopulos

To give you a handful of
birds still in their shells, blue
shells and slate grey, thick
shells of protection, like the
ones we’ve built up with our
silences.

What was easy has
become the gracious and
cold considered other,
boundaries set; we are
not the content or container,
but the fragile membrane
between.

As the plane lands, as I
walk into still another
strange city, I’ve saved
the shells unbroken,
inside are words I
have not said,
slick and breathless
hatchlings.

*

Happy hatching!

José

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* new reprint of The Wall!

the wall pic

Happy to announce that the latest reprint of my first chapbook, The Wall, has arrived! This reprint is the fourth for my little book that came out in 2012.

If you are interested in a copy, email me at: thefridayinfluence@gmail.com Copies can be purchased via PayPal or check.

There are only forty-four copies, so act fast!

Here’s what poet Naomi Shihab Nye was kind enough to say about The Wall:

“Jose Angel Araguz is a stunning writer.  His deep listening – despite walls and silences among them – and his willingness to carry voices of longing and connection even when facts of the world proclaim endless disconnection – help make him a poet of great essential honor and hope.  Please welcome him.”

Special thanks to Colette and JoAn at Tiger’s Eye Press for their continued support and belief in the project!

See you Friday!

José

* containing with edward hirsch & some news

I remember reading this week’s poem – “Special Orders” by Edward Hirsch – in a Borders back in 2008 when his book (of the same name) came out. Reading through the book, I marveled at Hirsch’s ability to navigate rich emotional territory through an engaging line. His ability to stack various worlds (work, memory, the heart) so that they live side by side left an impression on me that didn’t fully manifest itself until years later when I found myself working on the poems of my first chapbook, The Wall.

What moves me most revisiting the poem now is how this short lyric is able to charge its core word, “contain,” so that it holds so much when it comes up at the end.

* boxing *
* boxing *

Special Orders – Edward Hirsch

Give me back my father walking the halls

of Wertheimer Box and Paper Company

with sawdust clinging to his shoes.

Give me back his tape measure and his keys,

his drafting pencil and his order forms;

give me his daydreams on lined paper.

I don’t understand this uncontainable grief.

Whatever you had that never fit,

whatever else you needed, believe me,

my father, who wanted your business,

would squat down at your side

and sketch you a container for it.

***

Some news: I have just started as Assistant Editor at The Cincinnati Review and, as part of my duties, am beginning a column of sorts entitled “What’s Poetry Got to Do with It?” on the CR blog. Check out my first entry here.

Happy sketching!

José

* chapbooks celebration reading

As promised, I have uploaded another reading from our time in Texas back in April. I had hoped to share videos of me reading from both Corpus Christi Octaves and The Wall in order to celebrate their respective anniversaries. Sadly, the reading from the Octaves was severely crashed by seagulls and sun. The seagulls kept cawing over the words (these were poetic seagulls, mind you) and the sun kept me squinting the whole time. I also ended up bursting out laughing at the seagulls mid-reading. It was a mess! But it did lend itself to this iconic screenshot where the inspiration for the cover (artwork by Andrea Schreiber) can be seen:

* mirador mirando *
* mirador mirando *

All being said, we had fun! Below is a reading from The Wall that came out, only minor seagull interference. The text of the poems read are also below:

Key Dream – Jose Angel Araguz

In which I guide the metal, shave it down, follow the make of another key snapped where one would hold it, and when done, turn to face a door I remember from a neighborhood I never lived in but visited once to hear stories of my father, a door that is locked when I try the handle so that I pull out the new key, and when that jams, begin talking to myself, and stop only to lift a key ring from my side, slide the new key next to a hundred others, and let my arm fall, the key ring hitting my side in a dark chuckle.

Ocean Dream – Jose Angel Araguz

In which I am pushed down into the sand only to look up and see a man running into the waves, his legs then breaking into waves, his body breaking into waves, something of my father’s face breaking into waves, until all I am left with is that clash of water and sun that makes metaphor unnecessary.

Concrete – Jose Angel Araguz

Now I’m as old as my father was
When less than a year was left him (Carl Dennis)

At this point, my father had been in jail long enough to be used to concrete, his walls, floors, and sky the same color as the memories I have of him, a color that does not deepen despite the ink and pages, a color that comes out in the weather only when the clouds are full and waiting to let fall nothing one can hold onto.

***

See you Friday!

Jose

 

* tribute: franz wright

Fathers – Franz Wright

Oh build a special city
for everyone who wishes
to die, where
they might help one another out
and never feel ashamed
maybe make a friend,
etc.
You
who created the stars and the sea
come down, come down
in spirit, fashion
a new heart
in me, create
me again-
Homeless in Manhattan
the winter of your dying
I didnt have a lot of time
to think about it, trying
to stay alive
To me
it was just the next interesting thing you would do-
that is how cold it was
and how often I walked to the edge of the actual
river to join you

***

that is how cold it was –

The turn into this line alone changed the landscape of poetic possibilities for me. I remember holding the book – Walking to Martha’s Vineyard – as if struck by lightning. How to make an already intimate tone cut deeper? It was summer 2011 and I had been working on the series of poems that became my first chapbook, The Wall. There’s a certain bracing of the soul that comes from great poetry. Franz Wright braced me to begin the work of risk and honesty that I continue on this day. *

Wright’s recent passing stunned me, yet I was warmed to see on social media just how many of my compatriots found communion with him, either through reading his work or engaging with him in person or correspondence. I did end up sending him a copy of The Wall, and he sent back a revelation of a letter. For this kindness, and for the earned light of his work, I say thank you.

On Earth – Franz Wright

Resurrection of the little apple tree outside

my window, leaf-
light of late
in the April
called her eyes, forget
forget
but how
How does one go
about dying?
Who on earth
is going to teach me—
The world is filled with people
who have never died

Happy earthing!

Jose

* To read more about the making of The Wall, go here.

photo source: iO Poetry

* hello to November via Bert Meyers

When She Sleeps – Bert Meyers

When she sleeps I rise.
The naked light bulb burns
And makes the moths outside
Beat against the screen.
A moth comes out of me.
It flies to the light,
Then staggers back in pain
To rest in me again.
She sleeps and holds her peace,
Though I’m consumed by this.

* one pretty moth-er *
* one pretty moth-er *

Having written a poem in which a moth speaks to me of light, this poem had an immediate appeal for me.  But here the moth comes out of the man – a man who is awake and consumed.

And writing – by writing consumed.

In other news, I am happy to report that autumn is here in full rain and wind and leaves – leaves, some of which, look like the moth above.

Happy first day of November!

Jose

* Sharon Olds, newspapers & the friday influence

This week on the Influence: Sharon Olds!

Just read through Olds’ latest book, Stag’s Leap, a powerful collection of poems – for which she recently was awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize – centering on the story of her divorce.

The poems take on the separation with the nerve and lyrical litheness that are characteristic of Olds.  (Also: at one point she parts the Red Sea – seriously: check that out!)

I chose the poem below because it embodies much of what I admire in her skill as a poet.  There is the opening up of a moment, the digging into the details in words that put the subject – in this case, handling the newspaper – right in your hands, words like mineral-odored and greyish speckle.  She does it all with a straightforward energy that takes you along for the ride, evoking every nuance of the emotion felt.

There is a great awe in her work – a sense of awe of the world, of being a part of it, and being able to put it into words.  Few can go to this place of awe like she does.

As an American poet, I feel indebted to Sharon Olds for how she manages to stay grounded while still taking flight.  I see her in line with Whitman as well as Elizabeth Bishop – all poets of finding and feeling exuberance where you don’t expect it.

*periodico*
*periodico*

On Reading a Newspaper for the First Time as an Adult – Sharon Olds

By evening, I am down to the last,
almost weightless, mineral-odored
pages of the morning paper, and as I am
letting fall what I have read,
and creasing what’s left lengthwise, the crackly
rustle and the feathery grease remind me that
what I am doing is what my then husband
did, that sitting waltz with the paper,
undressing its layers, blowsing it,
opening and closing its delicate bellows,
folding till only a single column is un-
taken in, a bone of print then
gnawed from the top down, until
the layers of the paper-wasp nest lay around him by the
couch in a greyish speckle dishevel.  I left him to it,
the closest I wanted to get to the news was to
start to sleep with him, slowly, while he was
reading, the clouds of printed words
gradually becoming bedsheets around us.
When he left me, I thought, If only I had read
the paper, 
and vowed, In two years,
I will have the Times delivered,
so here
I am, leaning back on the couch, in the smell of ink’s
oil, its molecules like chipped bits of
ammonites suspended in shale,
lead’s dust silvering me.
I have a finger, now, in the pie –
count me as a reader of the earth’s gossip.
I weep to feel how I love to be like
my guy.  I taste what he tastes each morning
without moving my lips.

***

Happy tasting!

Jose

* photo found here