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




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.




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,




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?




Sewing up the kinks in this film, I’m

the whole cathedral crash at your back

[                                                  ]




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

April’s Flowers

April 1, 2011

Hello, April!

I wanted to kick off a new series for the month of April, exploring the ways poetry is truly alive in music today, with something fully spring-themed (even though today’s East-coast weather seems to indicate otherwise). This is a fresh song, composed by young songwriters in a sprightly one day! session. Its theme? Rooftop gardens and love. Perfect, right?

The High Line, New York's premier park of the decade, styled after the rooftop garden model.

This beauty is called “Reservoirs,” and it sprouted in one stunning day at a small New York indie recording studio called Dubway Studios, through the collaboration of artists Vienna Teng and Ben Arthur, along with their talented musician friends at Dubway. (For some reason, it looks like the studio released this brand-new creation as a Vienna tune, not a Vienna and Ben duet, though I imagine you’ll probably hear them both singing it live plenty of times, if you choose to check out their concerts. Ben’s touring the continent right now, though, so poor little me won’t get to see that live set for a while yet.) This is all remark-able in three particular ways:

1) The studio, through BreakThru Radio (BTR; Careful, their site will immediately start talking at you!), has just launched the coolest little series a music fan could ever dream of, in which these fateful one-day fests are organized again and again, filmed and edited into “Dubway Days,” which you can watch from the comfort of YouTube, as no doubt you already know if, in a bit of a haste, you followed the link! :)

2) I discovered Vienna Teng’s incredible artistry about a year and a half ago, through the magic of Last.FM. I wanted to find more artists like my all-time favorite creator, Tori Amos. And bam! First Vienna’s terrific cover of  Tori’s “1000 Oceans,” then her own “Pontchartrain,” streamed past. Its lithe lyrical bravado (the word here reclaimed for a positive connotation, obviously) struck an emotional chord, and the song’s climax recalled medieval cathedrals and choral chants — how could I not be hooked? I can’t wait to hear her live in a month or so. If not for her collaborations with Alex Wong, I would have missed out on a very emotional night at Rockwood last month. (Yes, sorry, still meaning to put all my zinging thoughts on that into a coherent post.) Vienna is one of my biggest inspirations right now, not only through her powerful music, but also because she’s dabbled in several career paths in just one decade, and her path has led her to a joint MBA and Masters in Environmental Science. There’s nothing cooler. Oh, wait. Songs inspired by graduate school reading on rooftop gardens! There’s that! (Oh, also, if you want to get in touch, she’s on Twitter, and, occasionally, she even has Formspring Q&A sessions – I’ve gotta try that sometime!)

3) I’ve now been introduced to Ben Arthur.

Technically, that's a March flower, but why quibble?

So much remarkable! Now on to the sung verses, available here thanks to Emily X.R. Pan’s helpful post!


Voices fly, tracing the skyline
And spiraling up through the grass,
Across wood and steel and clambering vines.
The day is fading fast,

But love, love, there’s light in my garden.
Love, love, you just have to jump.
The city below, the taxicab slow,
Love is all that ever was.

These reservoirs are minarets, irises cornflower blue,
Clouds of caraway thyme.
You flared like a match, struck in the dead-of-night gloom,
Leaving me blind.

Now love, love, there’s light in the garden.
Love, love, you just have to jump.
The city below, the taxicab slow,
For love is all that ever was.

Every morning,
I want you to be
the first thing that I touch,
the first thing I see.

Love, love, there’s light in my garden.
Love, love, leap to my arms–
One step then two,
Keep your eyes on my roof,
For love is all that ever was,
Love is all that ever was,
… is all that ever was

Thoughts? Reactions? C’mon, guys, did you weep?