Wednesday, April 17, 2013

a pound of flesh

I would have been assigned to thinking gratuitously were it not for the stale naked flesh already in my vision. Instead  I will swear on a grave, fuck, shit, moan and see how you like it. You don't like it. I can tell. Ok. another strategy is to ignore the explicit and tend toward sweeter imagery, like scents and shaded nuance. A map, a predetermined round of luck. I have read a book in which the colors vibrate, photos tell a story of crumbled architecture, a literal metaphor for our current times. This of course has nothing to do with stale flesh but I am trying to ignore that at the moment. It sounds like putrid political banter or the empty jargon of men with shiny teeth and photogenic hair. Get on this page, interface that, let's iterate. Stinking discourses of the mainstream. And none of us is outside, huddled together in this center of privileged misery. This is why the poets turn romantic or lean into narrative confessionalism. Dear Sharon Olds, tell us the story of your grandmother again. Sigh. We want catharsis within rational means. Don't make me emote beyond my capacity. This is exactly why fresh flesh works best. The purely physical denotation cannot be dismissed or set on the side of interpretation. Oh Susan Sontag yes it is still always about interpretation. And we are getting worse at it. The leaves of intellect falling into spaces of settling concrete, sidewalks paving over our deepest insights. Dear Susan Sontag the photo has been altered my hopes have been altered the image is just finally so clear. Dear Charles artifice is simply for the sake of artifice and we will absorb. We are sponges. Playing on slick surfaces and shiny baubles. We love letters printed without serif and cartoons that depict the genuine stereotypes of real people. We want our lesson with our oatmeal maybe even dashed with raisins. Our news with the flash. Our memories like polariods, developing into clarity before our eyes. The poetry has become political, music lullabies like sedatives, painting what one does with one's house after too much deliberation. If gratuitous means explicit then let's be clear. I no longer wonder as I wander but I whimper and strain. The rainbow papers and obstructive justice are only like the sweet icy desserts, after a long winter, in which each individual flake of snow is still falling, frozen in space and time.

Monday, April 15, 2013

dear Muriel

ok, dear Muriel
your labor and democratic possibility
a poem of love or politics or balancing each discreet
image (fluttering, on the breeze)
I can tell you that I’ve wondered this myself
the array of conspicuous nature
the nature of
a decided concrete layering
of linguistic suggestion
in shades of pastoral, modified
for these new times
union of sentiment, sediment
chiseling against winter
dear Muriel, I am on your road
distinct trace, a flight of ambitious
optimism, each wing lifting in its turn
tradition of this machine, grammatical
economy of flight and return, continuous
reminder, dust settling and blown away.

Friday, April 12, 2013

subversive publishing

this is a fun project... kind of like the assignment I give students at the end of the semester, but no one has quite taken it this far...

from The Way of Imagination

by Scott Russell Sanders
We cannot know for certain how our actions will affect our descendants or
our fellow species, but science helps us make an informed projection; we cannotknow unerringly the right way to act, but compassion offers us the surest guide.No matter how clear the evidence from science and the testimony from ethics,however, if we are to grapple with climate disruption and other global crises,we also need the active sympathy and imaginative energy aroused in us by art.To be sure, much recent art discourages us from imagining a “more perfect”world. Turn on television, visit the cinema, or open a best-selling novel andyou’re likely to encounter stories about people stalking, robbing, murdering, orotherwise harming one another. You’ll meet far more narcissists than altruists,more desperadoes than healers, more warriors than peacemakers. That popularart deals in such fare is not surprising. Physical threats seize our attention, forobvious evolutionary reasons. Strife and destruction are more dramatic than
harmony or healing. In art, as in politics, fear is easier to evoke than hope.
But the greatest art, while acknowledging the world’s brokenness and our
own flaws, conveys glimpses of a potential wholeness, in ourselves and in theworld. One of our names for that tantalizing wholeness is beauty. Glimpsing it in poetry or pottery, hearing it in symphonies or songs, we long to makesomething beautiful ourselves, to lead more beautiful lives.

We yearn to walk in beauty, as the Navajo say. Great art reveals that
beauty is not a superficial trait but the expression of a fundamental force 
running through the cosmos, including our own depths. This is a healing 
force,manifest in the way scattered elements gather into stars, debris 
from super-novas gathers into organisms, organisms form communities—
and in the way
our two-legged kind shapes Earth’s materials into art. What we call
is a human expression of the shaping force at work in the universe.
The universe was not fashioned all at once, with its present distribution
of species and stars. It has unfolded over billions of years and is unfolding 
still,and so is our understanding of how it works and what our role in it 
might be.Everything we presently behold, no matter how far-flung and 
scattered it mayappear, is part of a single flow that generates new forms—
forms that cohere forshorter or longer periods and then give way to new, 
generally more complexones. On Earth, at least, this dynamic unity has 
produced organisms capableof responding to the creativity of the universe 
with creations of their own. Wepaint and sing and dance and write because 
we are moved by the artfulness ofnature. We can perceive the deep affinity 
between the glaze on a bowl and theiridescence of a butterfly’s wing, 
between a ballerina’s pirouette and the swirlof a spiral galaxy. In light of 
our gifts, it is neither impractical nor utopian forus to imagine leading 
more beautiful lives, forming a more perfect society, oralleviating the 
suffering and fostering the happiness of strangers not yet born.
Like the universe, we are still unfolding. What we become, what we make of
ourselves and our world, will be shaped by many factors, but by none more
powerful than imagination.

creative essay by Dinty Moore

this is lovely, strong, maybe disturbing...

Dinty Moore:  Buried Alive

You can layer me under mud, silt, and soil when I die. You can bury me flat beneath the glorious weight of the sweet-scented earth. Leave me to the industrious earthworms. Let the tree roots have their way. Return my worn body to the oozing, teaming, elemental sludge.
          Or actually, why wait?
          Any Saturday afternoon in April, or May, sometimes late March depending on the thaw, you will find me crawling on my knees, in my garden, ripping away dead plants, scooping clumps of sweet wet soil, digging through the cold, rich dirt like some sort of hairless bear searching for grubs. A hairless bear who just happens to wear thick eyeglasses and muck-covered t-shirts. A hairless bear that grunts, whistles, and occasionally speaks. “Damn, look at those fat worms.”
          I am at my happiest in these grubby moments, elbow deep in primordial soil. I adore the feel of the dirt pressed into my palms, packed between my fingers, coating my forearms up to the elbow. When my denim jeans are spackled, my socks mud-soggy, my forehead speckled, my hair a mop head covered with spider webs, leaves, and twigs, I am content. In this mock burial, oddly, I feel most alive.

         There are people, more respectable than I, who tend to their orderly vegetable beds while standing on two legs. These upright people have long-handled rakes and hoes, pristine gardening outfits, sunburn-prevention hats. They have straight backs. Gardening carts. Cool glasses of iced tea often rest by their left elbow, a beautiful bit of condensation forming along the smooth rim.
          I see them, in catalogs and magazines, but I cannot understand them. Gardening in that manner would be like trying to raise an infant from behind a pane of glass.

          Perhaps I’m descended from the Neanderthals, the group that lost out to the cunning Cro-Magnons back in prehistoric times when the latter figured out tools and fighting implements more quickly than the former. My people were simple folks: they liked hopping around, touching things with their hands.
          Or maybe my ancestral line slinks muddily down from one of those bog bodies in the National Museum of Ireland, murdered and dropped into the muck two-thousand years ago, sacrifices intended to mark important tribal boundaries. It would be an honor of sorts, except for the being murdered part.
          The peat bog muck is cold, acidic, oxygen-free, and mummified the sad bog bodies, prevented their decay. So we can see Old Croghan man and Clonycavan man today, a bit worse for wear, leathery and brown, but whole still, on display in Dublin.
          I visited just last year, and they seemed startled to be out there in the open air.

          I own tools: a garden rake, a hoe, two shovels, a trowel, a wicked-looking weed extractor. I often drag them from my garage, back to the garden, on Saturday mornings, and then promptly forget them entirely, abandoning them three rows behind as I crawl through the miniature jungle, working with the tools given me at birth.
          Show me some dirt and what I do is get dirty.
          My garden is marked by its imperfections, uneven rows, impetuous plantings, and even the occasional propagated moment of herbal wit. I speculate sometimes as to why I prefer the rough, erratic garden: an attempt at justifying my own imperfect life, perhaps? If these peppers can thrive so can I.
          And the soil I am clawing into, after all, is soil made from the scraps of my own consumption; the clay I found seven years ago augmented by composted coffee grounds, egg shells, banana peels, avocado skins, carrots, onions, squash, and lettuce. When I am digging, I am digging through the detritus of my life. That’s me down there.
          Digging my grave.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

in april one believes in rain in dogs in the long walk from one implication to another political commitment. yesterday i drank beer. this is all to say that in the event that our schools fail that the politicians deconstruct from the inside out that lines on the sidewalk gap and crumble while some of us pander and shiver in corners, that the sprouts continue to shoot. i have noticed strong green plants minimally sticking themselves out of the dirt. some of them shoot further and then fall over. some of them get chewed out and spat aside. the squirrels in my yard are like michigan legislators, uneducated, uncaring, and utterly destructive. oh sorry was that a straightforward metaphorical political commentary? margaret thatcher lives in the neighborhood in the form of a possum. but maybe that is unfair to the possum. it's ugly and has weird eyes but it hasn't caused any trouble like hate and reckless disregard for the most vulnerable in society. if it has babies under my porch though that may be a different story. the dog is like obama... sometimes assertive and in control of her actions... sometimes a pain in my ass. the old people and the sad people are always at a loss. no one lives to be 87 anymore anyway... oh wait, they live to be 102 and married for 100 years. who could stand it? doesn't biology tell us people are the only ones who claim to be monogamous but really aren't all that they claim? the penguins don't mate for life and morgan freeman is telling a fabricated narrative that makes us all feel better about our constructed heterosexual world. biology is changing. we are on the cusp of new spring directions. we are queer. we are shaded in colors and sound. in the rain i can tell you the scent of disappointment lingers and then slaps the ground. trees are moments of opportunity. leaves imagine like lennon. i want to lay  my head back against the cushion of repercussions but instead i pretend to continue, in this vain, and intuit where to go next. if you have depression there are 21 steps for thinking about it. they may or not help you believe in anything but try walking one step with each step and see where it leads you. i can tell you that in april one may straddle the line between depression and not depression simply according to the size of the sigh, the elevation of resource, an intention toward scorched muscles. i can also tell you that this is only one start to an otherwise unruly manner. in the rain there is a dampening or an acceleration. it depends on the rate at which your profession is disappearing. like prevallet's father like the words on the page, a volume of redacted syllables.