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:: Sunday, November 30, 2003 ::

OK, forget those. I agree, the one about the speaking is very flat to me. I agree also about the lack of need for more poems about the strangeness of language. So, throw that out and consider this, and I'll be quiet for a long time. Maybe.

The Electric River (I dunno?!?)

At four, I shattered a jade green bowl
on the steps of Terry Village, my first school.
Crying in the dirty sunlight, I waited for my parents
to forgive me. Today, when the kinetic waitress
bumps me--fear dips me in electricity.
I lower my eyes, sorry, slow and clumsy.

Afraid to cough in movies, I dream fits,
a thousand heads swivel in the dim light.
I cough, shut my eyes. Walking up the stairs
I know I will soon trip, trip others, inconvenience
the world. I am afraid of you, your head up
your nails filed. The light comes off you
like halogen, your teeth shine.

I’m blinded with fear at night. In bed,
you say my name and blood thuds the walls
of my heart. You blow in my ear. I flinch
like a dog. As the wind paws the curtains
I tell about the bus ride home--sirens
and lights surrounded us, but you’re blowing
in my ear so brave so dirty.

As a child I walked a frozen lake, jumped
from a plane I whisper. You do what I hope
and fear: you turn and face the wall.
So dark but your back glows. I catch
my breath, lean close, study the constellation
of freckles. I see scratches of blood;
light pours from you.

:: Sean 11/30/2003 08:32:00 AM [+] ::
...
:: Wednesday, November 26, 2003 ::
Sean,
I'll begin by apologizing: I might have to break off in the middle of this critique to talk to students coming in, so if I trail off in mid-sentence, you'll know what happened.

Language Lesson #18: I think this poem ends well (that's where I feel we finally get your normal virtuosity with language), but I think my overall problem with it is twofold. On the one hand, it feels awfully prosy up until the last 4 lines. The colloquial feel is a plus, but there's something a little slack about the pacing and the metaphorical language. I don't know, but it just seems somehow more like a prose paragraph broken up into lines than anything. This is kind of a superficial suggestion, but a regular meter might help compensate for the prose tendency of the poem. In lieu of your usual strong imagery, meter might help tighten the poem and give it the aural tension it needs. Maybe? The second problem I'm more reluctant to bring up because I myself have been recently guilty of a similar thing--that is, the poem contemplating lanugage itself. I know, I know, I did one earlier this semester too; it's kind of hard not to be thinking about it when you're living in a different country. However, my question in this instance (and in my poem too) is, do we really say anything unique about the experience in the poems? In other words, have we really gone beyond the idea that, yeah, it's pretty weird not knowing the language? I don't know, I'm just beginning to think that something more has to come out of it in order to make the poem justify itself.

"Oedipus, Billie Holliday, Charles Foster Kane and You":
Great title--not many poem titles recently (from anyone, not just us folks on the Blog) have really made me want to read the rest of the poem. This one demands a good read.

I'll get back to the rest of it soon...
:: Rob 11/26/2003 04:44:00 AM [+] ::
...
:: Sunday, November 23, 2003 ::
sorry, I was out of town and stuff. Here are two. Let me have it:

Language Lesson #18

The men of Greece shout into each other
red-faced, contorted, and I am ignorant
as a two-year-old discovering language.
I stare into one man’s shining face as he
tries to discover just who is sleeping
with his wife, or who said what
about the alleged size of his dick.

Or perhaps he's shouting, "I'll do it!
I'll kill the American! I'm waiting
for just the right moment!"
But, my friend tells me,
what they're really talking about
is the price of parsley.

Now I walk alone through these crowds
to come up with something even better
than the price of parsley. My genius
is often argued. Whether I deserve
monetary rewards for my job
of walking the streets of Athens
was the topic last night.

They end these intensities with a pat on the back--
quite un-American and disappointing--
where are the blows, the tears? I mope
towards my part of town, imagining
words for brother, for compassion
the word for thank you, the word for home.


Here's another one:

Oedipus, Billie Holiday, Charles Foster Kane and You

Oedipus, limping, that old pain burning in his heel, hears a carriage
round his dusty bend of road. He stops under the olive tree,
a lost goat bleats in the distance, the sun swings above. The perfume
weaving through the wind is a scent he can’t place so he stops.
Stooping to gather a husk of locust, he stares at the passing men.

Billie Holiday walks with a smile through the noon brightness
stopping to talk to the shopkeeper on the corner about the price
of bananas. The light on the window shines too bright to see through
but ring the door open, find her swaying, moving her arms.
She erupts with a smoky laugh. Quietly at night, she sings in her bath.

Charlie Kane, playing in the snow, runs his sled up and down
the glistening hill as a dark car quietly rolls right on past
the quaint scene, and the driver remembers his mother’s snow globe,
feels the heft of it in his tiny hand. Two blocks back
and getting smaller, the boy fades into whiteness.

And you, walking down the street toward your mother’s apartment,
carrying your armload of flowers before you like the sun
don’t slip on the curb, don’t look up to see me as I reach
for your bouquet of sunlight in the street. You just glance
as I walk past, a smile of something like sorrow on my lips.
:: Sean 11/23/2003 11:20:00 AM [+] ::
...
Sean,
What happened? You were all concerned about Blog attendance, but you yourself have gone bye-bye. Where you be, man?
:: Rob 11/23/2003 08:04:00 AM [+] ::
...
:: Sunday, November 16, 2003 ::
Ok guys, the workload has been high, but maybe that's no excuse. At any rate, I haven't opted out. I'm slow, I know. But I'm always with you.

So, Rob, if these comments aren't obsolete to you by now, I hope they help. I'm with Sean to some extent when he wonders about the love interest looking better from afar. That doesn't mean it SHOULD change, though--maybe there's more truth in that (at least in the universe of the poem) than relfexive revision would allow.

It's unfortunate that you're spelling like a Brit now, but I guess "grey" is fine. My poems had people bowing in them for months when I got back from Japan. That change, though, obviously is at the heart of your poem. The Venus reference is legitimate since we are talking about amore; apt, also, that it's a chip of ice since the planet itself is quite hot while the speaker's immediate, physical sense of the lover is dimmed and cooled.

I don't have the same confusion as Sean about the soft grey skies. At dawn, before light really comes, in that in between time, the sky can be gray and uncloudy. I will echo Sean's comment about things not working for him though my comment is different. It's not that things are unclear for me in this poem, not at all. My only comment is that your previous poem is alive in ways that this one isn't, which doesn't mean that this one is a piece of shit, which it isn't. I know these comments sound pitifully short for such an absence, Rob, but a lot of hand-wringing about line breaks and adverbs seems superfluous.

Again, fellas, sorry for the lag time.

Paul
:: Paul 11/16/2003 01:57:00 PM [+] ::
...
:: Friday, November 14, 2003 ::
Sean,
Sorry to hear about the Stallings job, but that's pretty cool that you're going to do voice for children's books. Just think, if the people you work with don't know English too well, you could slip in some interesting stuff: "Then the Mama Bear took Baby Bear by the hand and said, 'You little Motherfucker. If you eat that porridge again, I'll let Daddy touch you in that special place again.'"

Ok, maybe I need help.

As far as Blog workshop goes, it looks like maybe Paul has opted out, or maybe end-of-term workload is pretty high. Either way, I'm willing to start a one-on-one rotation if you are--and you didn't say too much. Believe it or not, I'd much rather a piece of shit be called a piece of shit. If you don't, there's not much point in workshopping, right?

Put one up if you're ready, and I've got one waiting in the wings after that.

Later,
Rob
:: Rob 11/14/2003 06:08:00 AM [+] ::
...
Rob, as many things work in Greece, I haven't heard from him again. This after saying, don't worry, I will call you on Wednesday. I know he's busy etc. So, I'm not counting on anything there and just intereviewed to do some voice work--recording textbooks for children, and I'm very excited about that. There is some more info at seaingreece.blogspot.com if you have time to look. I've been writing quite a bit and would like someone to look at it, but I don't know what's up with this site. Should we stop it or what? I just hadn't heard from anyone, and I was worried as usual that I said too much, so I don't know. Let me know what you/you all'd like to do.
:: Sean 11/14/2003 05:52:00 AM [+] ::
...
:: Wednesday, November 12, 2003 ::
Sean,
That's great that you met Stallings--have you read her book yet? That's also cool about the potential job--when would you start, and would this mean that you'd stay longer?
Rob
:: Rob 11/12/2003 11:45:00 AM [+] ::
...
:: Tuesday, November 11, 2003 ::
Did I screw everything up? Where are my friends?
:: Sean 11/11/2003 02:36:00 PM [+] ::
...
:: Saturday, November 01, 2003 ::
I love the "doppler" as verb bit, Rob. I think that when I hear of the soft grey skies, I think of a cloudy sky, so I'm not sure, we'll wait to hear Paul on it as well. I also get confused with Venus being a chip of ice--I think maybe I'm not with you on the pond as much as I should be. You know? I love silk night, but after that It gets a bit wonky (as you are no doubt saying all the time) to me. "but in array they're" is there a way to say that faster? I like the end; it has a nice lyric tone, but I wonder if someone told me that I'm more lovely far away if I'd like that. I'm sorry to be somewhat rushed to you too Rob, and I'll try to think on it more. I'm getting right to where it doesn't work for me, so sorry if I come off harsh. You know I love you.
:: Sean 11/01/2003 02:41:00 PM [+] ::
...
Jeez, I'm sorry. I'm in the cafe, and I don't have much time, but I did want to add or say that I really like the last two stanzas of your poem very much Paul. I had read about the ants being needed and always loved that, so I'm really happy you used it. I wonder if you could just start with "Irises undo their . . ." etc. Rob may have mentioned this, I can't remember. I might prefer "They will shrivel in July / hang to the ground etc." but I'm not sure; it feels a bit prosey there to me, but the close with the cicadas is excellent to me. I'm also not sure about cages--I tend to think that the moods very solid without it, but you may have already agreed. Maybe "This removal, not renewal / is a peepshow with side access: . . . " Very nice and sexy near end of stanza two. I hope all this quick rambling helps. I've been actually busy for a change--writing and teaching and tonight I'm hungover from Alicia Stallings' party which is nice for a change, to be hung over, and to have a new friend, so thanks again Rob for mentioning that I write her. I may get a job with her husband at The Athens News. Again, sorry to be so lax. I'll try to get to Rob's sweet poem soon.
:: Sean 11/01/2003 02:34:00 PM [+] ::
...

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