Elevator Poem

May 11, 2011

I’ve been busy travel-planning, packing, and traveling “by land, by boat, by dirigible” (“Sons and Daughters,” The Decemberists) … Well, fine! Taxi, plane, bus, moving walkway, plane, moving walkway, shuttle/train/subway, and car (for a whopping thirteen hours!), to be accurate. I’m hoping to write up something this week about composing good travel mixes and being a good roadtrip DJ — we’ll see how fast I can churn that out. In the meantime, some travel-themed poetics I composed in a jiffy while stressing out over the countdown to my first plane’s boarding time. And you thought we were all done with poetry! And so, with no further ado:

Door Door Open Close

Insert Fire

Run Stop Emerge Stop

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I.

__

The ideal candidate: vigorous

easily connects with others;

Prefer stubbornly offers.

Please send resume, cover letter, and salary requirement to

 __

Dear

Kate,

 __

what if I find a stupid one, a lunatic bitterness that pleasantly

I presently found, what a kind one, your invitation and what a stupid one

am I, having just now found your envelope, pleasurable archival

I cannot make it to your lavish

 __

II.

 __

Dear William,

sweet, what a kiss

yes, I’m a confident panic,

without the pomp

brocade, bluish and blush, I’m a grocery store fire

through the night awake, aware, whimpering, alarmed with waiting

glass, glossy, fogged up or, worse, opaque,

me, the fragile circumstance on the eve of an electric engagement

public, through which they all saw, fooled about lying

and ceremony in the manner of the procession

to honor and to keep at bay

fooled about liking me

in the quake of the proceedings, the golden spectacle,

I prefer vigorous

dead stones, lifeless taffeta, crisp curls deflated, limp lace

like a backwards someone

impinging

God I can’t stop talk

so this will have to do—

moon and, honey, the crowning to the sumptuous

our postprandial travel panning out in sips,

tip by angled tip, the brine, twinge, and prick of the nuptials,

God I can’t stop, think—

your habit of smiling out at strangers

what if I

thinking you’re the habit of sitting, doused in vacant expression, inside

stalled cars, stalked idly,

end up dead, with dead diamonds and a pork chop in my ear,

will be more profit,

I mean will be more proud if I

already know, but far be it from me to tell you things

can profit on a cool evening in Northern

the tulips were falling out over their

fur and leather wedding gowns’

seams

I would

prefer difficult no’s, stubbornly offers

a lunatic future, riches, treasure, yes I’d love one,

some. but why be sneaky,

nice knowing you. glad we love so much we lost,

could love so much we shot them down.

I wonder when it’ll air or tear, the hail and gusts come walloping down

so much northwesterly warmth and so much green outside the Narthex

the tulips falling wide, talking idly amongst themselves,

fondly I remember first the offer

fondly I remember first hearing from

too bitter for me

and hence more detrimental

what if I find a nun? or a younger man?

whether I’ll err, what if I?

why are you wrong? this song is not at all over

or else gone to code

why are you merry? this is not yet sung

I shall be one,

so easily connects to others

I shall be

so in the future

connect the other way

the cry of the nautilus shell,

Gods, and pegs I think too big

I think I’m a virtual place to revise

more possible long-range

I need to burn

the world needs to learn to be more

fondly I first remember hearing from

I don’t know when these things heir

this absurd policy, how much?

a bunch, went well with

the longer term

I’m just curious

I’ve been a held note so long

I think I’m a

boiled away

I’m scared, seems I would

so long

nice knowing you some

 __

III.

__

Dear Kate, I regret to inform you

your application, though kind and brutally charming,

cannot be accepted

at this time

 __

IV.

__

Brain abuzz,

entirely overwrought,

hard work is overrated

overdone, overworked, I was once…

 __

Kate, I must decline your kind invitation

you, an old friend who’s made me very, very sad

to the royal banquet

and friendship is hard, Fran

 __

Hesperion cadges

the castanets in un chanson amist the casa

de locos oranges and greens deranged

doing dishonor

 __

I think my spleen is coming undone

my seams are ripping apart

each foot drop pounds

a million  __    __    __

 __

ashes into the turf, aerated

oils celebrity addiction,

swigs of disordered destinies

chugged afast, abrupt

 __

dripping sweat from the tripod, robotic legs

branching, forked tongues latch

onto one another, clasp the meaning of trust, grasping

a fine but grandly misguided love

 __

the pattern will emerge,

so hopes your falt’ring seam,

and what can you do,

what is left to do

 __

Grille your ideas

Business your taste

School your desires

Fashion your instinct,

 __

end up

penniless, groveling for mercy

to the Merchants of Miracles in the purple square,

tantalizingly alone

 __

Being dinosaur,

Hesperion, to Saint Andrew and George,

brain abuzz, entirely overwrought,

“I think your spleen is coming undone.”

 __

dripping sweat from robotic legs,

branding one another in fire, misguided love,

grandly loping up

clasp one to the other

 __

School your desires,

dishonored dinosaur,

pauperized,

and what could you have done?

What Wedding?

April 28, 2011

Well, I was going to post some of my notes from the process of writing that cento for the National Poetry Month Cento (NaPoMoCento) contest, but that’s the magic of a week’s wait–I no longer feel compelled by the dangling strands of verse congealed on the page. One of my most influential writing teachers always extolled us students that the writing process for any given project is never truly over. Revision is a sticky, messy, frustrating, interminable, thankless, but ultimately rewarding and insightful journey. Which explains why even some of the lines retained in any given poem can still make a writer recoil in horror. Oh well?

Before wrapping up this second meta post in one night, I just want to explain that the following creation is in no way meant to deride the significance or romantic beauty of the occasion marking these twenty-four hours with its history and fame and extremely pinpointed focus on celebrity and spectacle. But I felt it would be too grotesque to take in all these disparate and often bizarre details of Britain’s Royal Wedding and not create something from all the information overload. You know, at least redeem myself in some way for all my shared stake in fawning over modern icons, celebrities, and royalty hold-outs in the twenty-first century? Otherwise, the pointlessness of being so invested in strangers’ lives (made less strange and more known, relate-able, examined than even possibly my own life, thanks to relentless media and all its glaring lights and shrill, droning commentary) would be pretty much unforgivable. Consider this a debate opened!

So, to reiterate, this poem is a bit drafty. If ever there is a legitimately published version (or multiple spawned published versions), it will most likely not look like this one. In any case, I’d like to share my imaginative examination of the mythologies (in both meanings, as larger-than-life, exploded truths and perverted falsities) of the Kate & Will story–some say fairy-tale, but last I checked, Kate didn’t seem to be sprouting wings or giving the impression of struggling to keep said fluttering wings flat against her back. It seems that the work would be more meaningful in its proper context than removed from it by a year or more. Curious to hear your thoughts!

I mean…WAIT!

Wedding? What wedding?

I.

 

You have lived and lived on, lived on every kind of shortage


It’s more of an artists’ colony than a hospital

in our hearts, learn to petrify it so,

all is from wreck, here, there, to rescue one—

How fibrous and incidental it seems, inside the skull!

___

Old brain inside the new brain, New brain inside the old; skull the skull.

I had children of my own

—a dog’s skull

is slightly thicker than our own.

___

For six months, in a carousel-sweet dress,

I arranged the day she was born; the Duchess’s baby

For six months, I arranged

the day she was born in a Carousel-sweet dress the Duchess’s baby

___

Sad beds wide enough

made by the passage of parents—

just jars of buttons spilled, recurring.

It was not really necessary to eat the food; one could breathe.

 

What he needed from me, I have no idea.

___

II.

___

The trick is to make it personal:

We’ll kiss each kiss, each other on kiss the kiss

Oh plunge me deep in love—put out

something offensive: a revolver,

___

III.

___

The chill of closed eyelids. To open

open your tiny beak-mouth, That looks as if

it would never open.

The nearer she got, the bigger she looked, obscenely neck-like,

until my eye nearly failed, sleep-fallen.

Naked in your dark hair, unveil the mannequin’s

legs in glee. This is not

choking, okay mocha? ebony, ebony?

___

IV.

___

Sewing up the kinks in this film, I’m

the whole cathedral crash at your back

[                                                  ]

___

V.

___

in the glaring white gap

glitches, gully pulley pitches, the reflected gleams

glisten’d with wet

___

The pilot alone knows Now,

Now I am safe in the deep V of a weekday

and a refrigerator, wrapped in duct-tape lying

Someone stands and weeps in the Glass—

___

Only the steps into the frontier where it is easy to hide,

Appear to the Americans upon the cloudy night.

Myself conjectured were they Pearls—

with only the fakebook of Beauty for feeling,

___

My own bags were full of strong Poison with tiny shards,

shards of Silence, because the continent, americans,

was on the porch, each one a treaty, a frontier,

Then the terrible

___

terrible thing happened: I stand clothed in trees (not the magnolias)

their limbs gone missing their gloves,

too liminal the wild, protected, while all the—we slept

Warm Weather

April 11, 2011

A word-sparse post for you today, whoever you may be, from contemporary folk legend, Iron & Wine. To make everything okay, let’s just say we’re functioning on Mountain, Pacific, or Hawaii time for the purposes of feeling less bad about posting at 1:20 Eastern time. And remember, it might feel like summer outside, but death comes knocking any time Death pleases. But that’s a cause for letting go and living each moment fantastically, rather than cowering in a corner, teeth clacking, all lit up with fear (though I admit I am guilty of the latter far more than the former; in other words, don’t get too down on yourself if you also struggle to pull off that stunt of living thoroughly, day in and day out). Cheers!

 

Naked As We Came

She says, “Wake up, it’s no use pretending.”
I’ll keep stealing, breathing her.
Birds are leaving over autumn’s ending.
One of us will die inside these arms,
Eyes wide open, naked as we came;
One will spread our ashes ’round the yard.

She says, “If I leave before you, darling,
Don’t you waste me in the ground.”
I lay smiling, like our sleeping children.
One of us will die inside these arms,
Eyes wide open, naked as we came;
One will spread our ashes ’round the yard.


9, 10… Take Up My Pen

April 10, 2011

For tonight’s special, we have another double-feature (since yesterday was an off-day).

These songs share related themes, but that is incidental, folks. I wanted to share these achievements (of literary, lyrical, vocal, and instrumental natures) with you this month, regardless of which other song-poems they ended up contrasting with, or, in this case, being paired with. But since they do share overlapping themes, that makes writing about them that much easier. Yay me.

Those themes are pretty straight-forward, from their titles on. We’re dealing with that perennial tug of war, here. Love. (It just ain’t so simple as it used to be.) With passion, comes the ensuing waves of questioned affections, strained interactions, entrapment (not in the legal sense, but clearly in the sense of feeling obliged to stick around in a relationship in ruins), separation, rending, letting go, walking away, and (eventually) finding healing for all parties involved. Yeah, yeah, we’ve been over this before. These are the most explored themes across cultural forms, no doubt. And this makes sense, in proportion to the huge, gaping holes loss leaves behind. Sometimes they are overdone, but as often as not, artists find new inroads from which to explore a piece of the most intense and intricate puzzle there is (or so it seems) — human emotion.

These particular song-poems are imbued with both subtle and explicit angles on the sublime. Sarah McLachlan reaches lightly toward divine wisdom — “Through this world I’ve stumbled,/ So many times betrayed,/ Trying to find an honest word,/ To find the truth enslaved” — while The Swell Season’s Markéta Irglová pecks gently at fresh wounds (that is, to those not in-the-know, Strict Joy grew amazingly gracefully out of the romantic break-up of the band’s front man and woman) in overtly religious language — “Forgive me, lover, for I have sinned,/ For I have loved you wrong.”

Ultimately, journalistic language fails to uphold the sanctity of the verses and their musical treatment. All my words sound profane in the face of these artistic monuments. Listen for yourself.

 

Possession

Listen as the wind blows
From across the great divide–
Voices trapped in yearning,
Memories trapped in time.
The night is my companion
And solitude, my guide.
Would I spend forever here
And not be satisfied?

And I would be the one
To hold you down,
Kiss you so hard,
I’ll take your breath away,
And after I’d wipe away the tears,
Just close your eyes, dear.

Through this world I’ve stumbled,
So many times betrayed,
Trying to find an honest word,
To find the truth enslaved.
Oh, you speak to me in riddles,
And you speak to me in rhymes.
My body aches to breathe your breath;
You words keep me alive.

And I would be the one
To hold you down,
Kiss you so hard,
I’ll take your breath away,
And after, I’d wipe away the tears;
Just close your eyes, dear.

Into this night I wander;
It’s morning that I dread.
Another day of knowing,
Of the path I fear to tread.
Oh, and into the sea of waking dreams,
I follow without pride,
‘Cause nothing stands between us here,
And I won’t be denied.

And I would be the one
To hold you down,
Kiss you so hard,
I’ll take your breath away.
And after, I’d wipe away the tears.
Just close your eyes, dear.

I’ll hold you down,
Kiss you so hard,
I’ll take your breath away,
And after, I’d wipe away the tears.
Just close your eyes.

I Have Loved You Wrong

Forgive me, lover, for I have sinned,
For I have done you wrong.
For I have hurt beyond repair,
And when tears occurred, no, I didn’t care.
Forgive me, lover, for I have sinned,
For I have loved you wrong.

But this estranged organ in my chest
Still beats for you; It will not rest
So meet me in our secret place,
When the time has come.

And rest your head in my lap,
And I’ll lead you out of your own trap,
And I’ll show you how much you have missed,
through the time we weren’t right.

Oh…, Oh…

So forgive me, lover, for I have sinned,
For I have let you go.
But you’ve been
Every now and then on my mind,  yeah.

Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.

On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,

On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind.

 

I have to say that in this creation, The Swell Season have pulled off the most tasteful use of repetition I have ever heard. And you’ve already heard me gripe about the shortcomings of repetition on the page! So if you’ve only read this post, I urge you to follow the link in the song title to hear the song performed with some of the most angelic a cappella in existence.

Show Me Sunset

April 8, 2011

When I get a smartphone in a couple of years, I surely will have lost all of my values. The best way to support built-in obsolescence in cellphones and automobiles? Buy cars and smartphones. The older I get, the more strange urges I get to own such things, despite their inessential natures. Surely, I will have moved too far from the simpler self, a simpler me, that needed only to savor a vivid sunset to find joy, to heal the wounds of the past, and to deal with what could not be got rid of from the vast repository of memory (forgiveness, memory, happiness, healing …recurring theme much?). If and when I get that phone, samples from the lengthy and awe-inspiring instrumental sections of this Bat for Lashes (moniker for prodigious Brit, Natasha Khan) composition will make up my ringtone.

The deeper we get into this grey, cold month of April, the more evident it becomes that some of these song-poems become so flat on the page–all words, no orchestration. Yet the same goes for the inverse. That future (sell-out) ringtone will pale in comparison to the full song, not only for the tinny timbre of the cellphone speakers but also for the lack of the words (impeccably original, profound, lucid, ad infinitum…) that accompany the electronic fantasia of this piece. Please, enjoy!

 

Two Planets

We are all strangers in a strange land,
Wanderers in a vast and unknowable universe.

Show me moonlight on the sunrise.
I’ve seen so many planets dancing,
I’ve seen too many people hiding.

Show me sunset, and I won’t forget
That I am one of two planets dancing,
I am one of two planets dancing.

Shallow man,
Sign your name
On my sun.

Where the song of Solomon
Died in the battleground,
Where the song of Solomon
Died in love’s battleground,

I am full,
Shattered by this sailing time,
For all your suffering by night,
Oh warm, but under bright.

And life is so much dark and light,
When day cannot exist without a night.
And you are not separate from me.
I am a heart that’s full of life.

And to be shared, on this night,
Feel my hands, feel my life,
For the sun and the stars,
Oh my Mother and my sisters.

I know where the form is changing.
I know that the stars will follow me.

Forget Me Not

April 7, 2011

Switching modes slightly today, we’re taking a turn from the splendidly surreal yet quite grimy lyrics from The National to the simple but exquisite storytelling of William Fitzsimmons, that beloved folk musician with the light, airy, rather magical voice and the fix’d beard. (Check out Gold in the Shadow, released in recent weeks. A balm of an album! Such soothing songs for the soul! – If you have hurts, your own compounded sadnesses, and you’re human so you do, check it out!)

Today’s song-poem, “Find Me to Forgive,” is structured around a heartbreaking story of botched romance. I know enough of his bio to know that some of his earlier work is pitted in the pain of divorce, yet I cannot tell whether (or how much) this composition is true-to-life or entirely fabricated. If I were acquainted with him in person, I wouldn’t want to pry. And in any case, the storytelling is spell-binding. Just try and resist its tugs on your heart-strings! Futile!

Musically, I (think I) love the time-signature in this piece. The song comes on, and I start thinking of tangos (hung up on strings!*), but there’s probably no correlation. Something for a ballroom, though. Lots of wooshing, dazzlingly red skirts to distract attention from runny mascara and sobbing frames. Or you could just go the Parisian route. I imagine myself in a cramped historic quarter with lots of light bouncing off soft stone, the faint trail of concertinas and violins wafting through. But I’m definitely teary-eyed, reenacting the last scenes of L’Auberge Espagnole (The Spanish Apartment), where, in this case, I am Xavier. Not that that’s much of a stretch. Would the film have been as moving if I didn’t have so much in common with Romain Duris’s character? Do we ever?

Find Me To Forgive

You were the only thing I ever loved.
Taken for granted, you couldn’t stand it, anymore.
You were my lover for nearly eight years,
But I am my father, and I found another.

The last sixteen months have been nothing but hell.
I thought about jumping, well that would be something.
In the short time that I learned how to fly,
Would you forgive me, or bring flowers to me, by the grave?

Will you look the same when I meet you up there?
Remember my name, please.
Will you look the same when I meet you up there?
Remember my name — find me to forgive.

I haven’t seen you for over a year.
I heard you were married. The baby you carried isn’t mine.
I don’t suppose that you’ll still have my name.
You’ll have another, if you’re not my lover, anymore.

Will you look the same when I meet you up there?
Remember my name, please.
Will you look the same when I meet you up there?
Remember my name — find me to forgive,
find me to forgive, find me to forgive, find me to forgive.

 

 

*From a poem I wrote for a creative writing class several years ago.

I know I just shared another brilliantly composed song from The National a couple days ago, but while that bit was impromptu, this one was planned into the National Poetry Month schedule over here in Turtle-land. “The Geese of Beverly Road” is probably tied with a gazillion other songs by the Ohio-via-Brooklyn band for my third-favorite out of their entire collection. By far, the aspect of The National I most adore is the way that Matt Berninger’s lyrics get stretched across the entire ouevre. There’s all this delicious repeating imagery of feathers, swan-geese, and such, the threads of which you can spend years following across their albums, like some young kid in a red coat chasing a red balloon down city streets.

"Serve me the sky with a big slice of lemon..."

In this case, the geese reappear two albums after Alligator, on “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” from High Violet. And, in between, we mistakenly listened to our mother-in-laws and passed over the “swans on t.v.” while asking Jenny to “Wake Up Your Saints.” When the geese make their comeback, they manage to flock there with the swans. “Man, it’s all been forgiven. Swans are a swimmin’. I’ll explain everything to the geese.”

As this marathon month of blogging progresses, my stockpile of readily-available adjectives and other discuss-able material diminishes, and I find myself lavishing blander and blander praise on musical compositions I genuinely love. Really need to take some cues from established music bloggers and bona fide music journalists.

I wanted to share something clever about a step-by-step of how to explain everything to the geese (and why doing so is a good idea), but right now, I’m too spent. To be continued!

The Geese of Beverly Road

We’ll take ourselves out in the street
And wear the blood in our cheeks,
Like red roses.

We’ll go from car to sleeping car
And whisper in their sleeping ears,
“We were here, we were here.”
We’ll set off the geese of Beverly Road.

Hey, love, we’ll get away with it.
We’ll run like we’re awesome, totally genius.
Hey, love, we’ll get away with it.
We’ll run like we’re awesome.

We won’t be disappointed.
We’ll fight like girls for our place at the table,
Our room on the floor.
We’ll set off the geese of Beverly Road.

Hey, love, we’ll get away with it.
We’ll run like we’re awesome, totally genius.
Hey, love, we’ll get away with it.
We’ll run like we’re awesome.

We’re the heirs to the glimmering world,
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world.
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world,
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world.

We’re drunk and sparking, our legs are open,
Our hands are covered in cake,
But I swear we didn’t have any.
No, I swear we didn’t have any.

Hey, love, we’ll get away with it.
We’ll run like we’re awesome, totally genius.
Hey, love, we’ll get away with it.
We’ll run like we’re awesome.

We’re the heirs to the glimmering world,
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world.
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world,
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world.

Oh, come, come be my waitress, and serve me tonight,
Serve me the sky up tonight.
Oh, come, come be my waitress, and serve me tonight,
Serve me the sky with a big slice of lemon.

We’re the heirs to the glimmering world,
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world.
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world,
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world.

Oh, come, come be my waitress and serve me tonight,
Serve me the sky up tonight.
Oh, come, come be my waitress and serve me tonight,
serve me the sky with a big slice of lemon.

I hardly need to write anything because these glorious words from the Barenaked Ladies say everything I could say about life’s poetries a million times better than I could say them! I do, however, have a little image from today to accompany the imagery of dreaming of music and quantum mechanics. It includes some bars from Béla Bartók, satirizing my beloved “Leningrad Symphony” (by Shostakovich), and some equations related to the Pauli exclusion principle. Cheers!

Music. And quantum mechanics!

 

When You Dream

With life just begun, my sleeping new son
Has eyes that roll back in his head.
They flutter and dart;
He slows down his heart
And pictures a world past his bed.
It’s hard to believe,
As I watch you breathe,
Your mind drifts and weaves…

When you dream,
What do you dream about?
When you dream,
What do you dream about?

Do you dream about music or mathematics
Or planets too far for the eye?
Do you dream about Jesus or quantum mechanics
Or angels who sing lullabies?
His fontanelle pulses with lives that he’s lived,
With memories he’ll learn to ignore,
And when it is closed, he already knows
He’s forgotten all he knew before,
But when sleep sets in,
History begins.
But the future will win.

 

When you dream,
What do you dream about?
When you dream,
What do you dream about?

Are they color or black and white, Yiddish or English,
Or languages not yet conceived?
Are they silent or boisterous?
Do you hear noises
Just loud enough to be perceived?
Do you hear Del Shannon’s “Runaway”
Playing on transistor radio waves?
With so little experience, your mind not yet cognizant,
Are you wise beyond your few days?

When you dream,
What do you dream about?
When you dream,
What do you dream about?

When you dream,
What do you dream about?

 

In place of an embed, which we will have in several months when we upgrade this blog to the big leagues:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzzJZs–YZM