August 28, 2005

epic verse [Filed under: General Discussion]

Words uttered by Heidi after she has begrudgingly agreed to lend her husband a pen:

Goodbye noble pen! Ah me, your purchase was bitterness!
Why did I, with such dutiful care, select you from among
the many inscribers of ink that rested in their caps
upon the shelf? If only you could live out your days until
the last drop of black liquid were delicately applied
to the fragile pages, being a delight to your caretaker,
unmatched in your value for the setting down of thoughts
in sweet correspondence and the making of lists.
Now it has befallen that your life must be brief and bitter.
Never again shall you return to the drawer of your fathers
to lie beside the sharpies and rulers and staples in good order.
Rather will you be misplaced and disregarded, dispersed
into the darkness of your own ink as so many pens
less effective than you have been before.

July 27, 2005

Just Saying [Filed under: General Discussion]

I recently sent the following email:

This is just to say
I have put the program
into the directory
U:\TIS-Access\SAS Programs\HRSA Grant
and modified the program to use the file
All Surveys – Round One.txt
in the same directory.

And then I thought of Jon.

And then I thought of Hoke.

And then I thought of this:

I have deleted
the data
that were in
the shared drive

and which
you were probably
for analysis.

Forgive me–
with a single command,
so many ones
become zeroes.

And so I thought I’d share it.

July 12, 2005

Memory [Filed under: General Discussion]

from Rococo

Remembrance may recover
And time bring back to time
The name of your first lover,
The ring of my first rhyme;
But rose-leaves of December
The frosts of June shall fret,
The day that you remember,
The day that I forget.

Some weeks ago Alan posted a pair of poems pertaining to obliscence. I meant to say something about these when they were first posted, but I *ahem* forgot. Just over a month ago I turned old, so the workings and the failings of memory have featured prominently in my recent ruminations. I have also been somewhat more casually contemplating the operation of memory and the rôle of forgetfulness for some time, so I certainly appreciated his posting these two poems.

(Read more…)

May 6, 2005

A long swat [Filed under: General Discussion]

Brian’s post about the early bird, lovely post that it was, left a small, very nasal fly inside my head who has been buzzing away, demanding a good swatting. This little essay is meant to be a rolled up piece of paper with which to do away with him.

Brian began by pointing out that metaphors are mortal. He then went on to talk about ‘proverbs’—“lockets with fossils inside”—a suggestion that they die too. I think perhaps Brian was conflating two things here that can be teased apart. Thus the fly.

My question then—Metaphors die, do proverbs?
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March 5, 2005

Thaw; Kooser [Filed under: General Discussion.Kooser, Ted]

I have been gone from this page for a long time and it makes me quite sad to look at the lovely things that have been written months ago and gone unanswered, unacknowledged, unheard by me. Can I respond after such a wintry absence? Do comments in cyberspace keep their flavor when thawed?

Mike, your Mnemosyne post was fine and timely. I too have wondered where I misplaced my soul since transitioning to my latest thing. John, lovely poem of graciously managable length. Brian, glad you liked the Ted Kooser book. Your comments on Etude added.

Let me say a word here about Kooser. Heidi and I have been to hear him twice at the Library of Congress and we (more her than me, actually) have avariciously gobbled up all his publicness over the last couple months – radio interviews, tv interviews, web interviews. The story of the man, apparently, is that he is from Nebraska and he is a good poet anyway. This is a drag. But still, having spent so much time in the slab of midwest that so marvelously coughed him up I do have to say that he has very familiar sensibilities. I am reading his Poetry Home Repair Manual now. If you haven’t heard of it, its what the title says it is, published this year. He talks about things not really being better for having been done one way than another. Yet he talks always about revising poems 30, 40, 50, 100 times before they are ready to be called done. Its a confusing Manual, as most are.

There was an interview with him in the NY Times magazine. Reading it, I was certain that the interviewer was kidding, laughing at herself/himself for acting such the snob when it was so ridiculous to do so. Anyway, I got a kick out of it.

Here is a better article about Kooser. Here is the poem inside it which I love:

The Blind Always Come as Such a Surprise

The blind always come as such a surprise,
suddenly filling an elevator
with a great white porcupine of canes,
or coming down upon us in a noisy crowd
like the eye of a hurricane.
The dashboards of cars stopped at crosswalks
and the shoes of commuters on trains
are covered with sentences
struck down in mid-flight by the canes of the blind.
Each of them changes our lives,
tapping across the bright circles of our ambitions
like cracks traversing the favorite china.

When a critic talks about skillful pacing in a poem they are talking about the sentence that spans four lines and begins with “The dashboards.” I’ll leave the commentary at that for now.