Poets on Poetry

My friend The Grackle, of The Grub Street Grackle fame and previous adventures, has recently begun a video series entitled, Poets on Poetry. The exercise of this is to see how poets respond to, appreciate, or analyze each other’s poetry. Which is supposed to help the rest of us respond to poetry.

The Grackle has hitherto worked with words and ideas captured solidly through paper and ink, or pixels approximating paper and ink.

The foray into film to explore the sounds, sights, and nuances of spoken poetry is a bold stroke.

And as such, I, your brooding muse of tragedy, am honored that he chose one of my poems to initiate this series. Our friend Ian (his nom de plume is in the works, I shall let you know when it coalesces,) gives a wonderful and insightful introduction to the piece, one which made me gasp in sudden and new-found wonder over my own work. It is a powerful quality in art that it can hold more depth and meaning that the author purposely intended. Truly, poetry is rightly said to be dictated by a daimonian, as Milosz says.

It is my favorite of my poems, and I have many thoughts and opinions about it. But we want to know your thoughts. Please watch, listen, and read, and then comment either here or over at the GrackleRag!

Res Mundi

I dreamed of you last night.
Knobby, creased ground pressed
Up under our feet,
And you were facing west
With your back to me, firm,
As dark as almost shadow,
Fixed and calm;
The moment almost hallowed.
But then you leaned back on my shoulder.
(Shoulders closer than a kiss.)
Weight bouldered
Me awake, and now I press

 A fist against my breast: I ache – how I had forgot -
For the weight of another being upon my heart.

 

To quote the original post,

The written, printed word is our bread and butter at the Grackle. But we don’t mind admitting—we will insist on it, in fact—that what makes poetry necessary is something that turns up first of all in a common breathing and beating of hearts. So what we’d really like is to get together with you somewhere, read some poems, and talk.

We hope the video series in which the above is the first entry gives you a hankering for the same.

If you’ve read a poem in Grub Street Grackle that you’d like to see featured in a future installment of “Poets on Poetry,” please leave a comment below to let us know!


Some questions about the poem, for your consideration:

  1. “Closer than a kiss” seems to draw attention to the fact that the two in the poem are not kissing. What do we infer from this about the speaker and the one being addressed?
  2. Res mundi. Things “of the world,” as opposed to what? Things of other worlds? Eternal things? Dream things? Memories?  There’s a turn in the poem at “But then.” Does that turn tell us anything about the nature of the opposition?
  3. The poem is framed as the recollection of a dream after waking, and the dream itself seems to be of something remembered. At what point does this dream memory end? Take the line, “Weight bouldered.” Is this something that happened in the dream? Then where was the weight? Is it “of the world,” or not?
  4. We are used to distinguishing a literal meaning of “heart” from a metaphorical. Does this distinction make sense applied to the last line of this poem?

 

 

 

 

 

Speed Poems, or What You Will

Last month, I went to Comic Con.

It was fantastic, in the old, heady, fantasy-based, rather terrifying sense of the word.

It was also exhausting.

No, I did not dress up as an anime character. I went as an exhibitor.

My friend, to be known as The Grackle, (that is even how I have saved his phone number,) runs, organizes, prints, and hand binds a literary magazine. This entertaining and enlightening romp through a vale of modern literature and literary critiques is called the Grub Street Grackle.

This Grackle, being tenacious and persuasive, decided to sell magazines and promote the brand name at Comic Con. And he offered me a free ticket to help him man the booth.

Being of a slightly nerdy persuasion, I agreed.

But there was a catch. The gimmick was to offer FREE bad poetry.

“Free baaaaad poetry! Step right up and get your freeeee bad poetry! Give us three words and five minutes, and we will give you the WORST poetry you have heard all day. Guaranteed or your many back!”

It was exciting, intense, and exhausting. I give you here some glimpses of our efforts. (Some are done my yours truly, and some by The Grackle Himself.)

 

Words: hat, peanut, hero

Bad Poem:

How deep are the depths
of my soul?
They about as deep
as the inside of an overturned
hat, like a really big one,
like, think Abe Lincoln
times a million.
How rich are the contents of my
fertile mind?
As rich as the contents of a very
good peanut.
I am my own hero.

 

 

Words: ancient, dead, Tardis

Bad Poem:

Let us go then, you and I,
When the Tardis is spread out against the sky,
Like a walrus, dead on a table.
Ancient in its magnitude,
Rogue in time and space and fable.

 

Words: guinea pig, insomnia, creepy

Bad Poetry:

Oh, my, oh, me, oh, oh,
oh.
Ah me.
I lost my guinea pig.
Now I live
alone.
Except for my room mate.
And he’s real loud and creepy.
Now I have insomnia.
Oh, ah, me, ah, oh.

Words: daisy, girth, testicular

Bad poem:

I travel the cosmic daisy chain,
Hopping form leaf to leaf,
Flying between elaborate worlds
In my ship, the “Absolute Girth,”
Flying my sails occasionally furled,
And avoiding vestigial, testicular claims.

 

Photo: The challenge words were: testicular, girth, and daisy. What would you write?

 

 

 

 

Words: children, lighthouse, castle

Bad Poem:

We in this world
are all but children,
adrift in a sea of confusion
with no guide,
no lighthouse,
helpless,
sad.
Like kings without a castle,
or something.

Words: chloroplast, amoeba, eggplant (but a the time I could not remember how to spell chloroplast)

Bad Poem:

You are my chloroplast,
My darling chloroplast,
You shake my amoebas,
When I’m on an eggplant fast.
You’ll never know dear,
How wormy my cells are,
Unless you blast light at
a magnified degree
through a microscope
at your eye and see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many, many more, discovering in varying degrees the cross-section of idiocy and brilliance. The rest, should you wish to pursue them, may be found at the Grackle facebook page. We wrestled with words like Ramadan, cat, Jayne Cobb, regurgitation (that one was given by Captain America himself!) spaghetti, and carcinogenic.

And I know that there is one I wrote about watermelon and love that is actually almost a decent poem, but I cannot find it. If you spot it, let me know!

The rest of Comic Con was fun too. Crazy, obsessive, and bone-wearying, but fun.

Daddy

Daddy Drinks

I gave my dad a whiskey flask for Christmas.

He laughed. He has never had a taste for whiskey.

But because I gave it to him, he treasured it.

He brought it to work and showed it off,

trying to hide the proud pucker of his smile.

It had my school crest on it.

When I was small, I would be jealous of my cousin,

(he was grown-up,) smoking spicy cigars and drinking

on the porch with my dad, under thick, warm light

Decanting through the tree trunk silhouettes.

They would talk, and nod, genially, toward the window

at the sight of me.

He favors wine, but when I come home he pours me

a tumbler of Scotch – smooth, slow, golden-

as he asks me what I am thinking. I sip, and answer

in excruciating detail. And I pretend it is the

harsh heat of the whiskey making me choke,

            as I drink with my dad.

 

 

The Unity of the Church (Augustine)

Happy Pentecost!

In celebration, I give you This is an excerpt from St. Augustine’s sermon on Pentecost, and an awesome El Greco painting.

 

Dearly Beloved, God greatly commends unity. Let you dwell upon this, that in the beginning of creation, when God established all things, He placed the stars in the heavens and trees and all green things upon the earth. He said: Let the earth bring forth, and trees and all living things were brought forth. He said: Let the waters bring forth creeping things and flying things; and it was done. Let the earth bring forth the living creature in its kind and cattle and beasts of the earth; and it was done. Did God make the other birds from one bird? Did He make all the fish from one fish? All horses from one horse? All beasts from one beast? Did the earth not produce many things at the same time? Did it not complete many created things with numerous offspring?

Then He came to the creation of man, and He created one man; and from one man the human race. Nor did He will to create two separate beings, male and female, but one man; and from this one man He made woman (Gen. i. II). Why did He do this? Why did He begin the human race from one man, if not to commend unity to mankind? And the Lord Christ was born of one person. Virgin therefore is unity; let it hold fast to its integrity; let it preserve it uncorrupted.

The Lord commends to the Apostles the unity of the Church. He shows Himself; and they think they are seeing a spirit. They are frightened. He gives them courage, when He says to them: Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? See my hands: handle and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have. And see how as they wondered for joy He takes food; not from necessity, but for His purpose. He eats it before them. In the face of the unbelieving He commends to them the reality of His Body; He commends the Unity of the Church.

For what does He say? Are not these the words I spoke to you, while I was with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me? Then he opened their understanding, the Gospel says, that they might understand the scriptures. And he said to them: thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day (Lk. xxiv. 44). Behold our Head. Behold our Head; but where are the members? Behold the Bridegroom; where is the Bride? Read the marriage contract; listen to the Bridegroom. You seek the Bride? Learn from Him. No one takes away from Him His Bride; no one puts another in Her place. Learn from Him. Where do you seek Christ? Amid the fabrications of men, or in the truth of the Gospels? He suffered, He rose the third day, He showed Himself to His Disciples. We now have Him; we ask where She is? Let us ask Him. It behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, the third day.

Lo, this is now come to pass; already we have seen Him. Tell us, O Lord; tell us Thou, Lord, lest we fall into error. And that penance and remission of sins should be preached. in his name unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. It began at Jerusalem, and it has reached unto us. It is there, and it is here. For it did not cease there to come to us. It has grown forth not changed places. He commended this to us immediately after His Resurrection. He passed forty days with them. About to ascend to heaven, He commended the Church to them again. The Bridegroom now about to depart entrusted His Bride to the care of His friends: not that she should love one among them, but that She might love Him as Her Spouse, and them as friends of the Bridegroom; but none of them as the Bridegroom.

They are jealous for Him, the friends of the Bridegroom; and they will not suffer her to be corrupted by a wanton love. Men hate rather when they so love. Listen to the jealous friend of the Bridegroom, when he knew, through friends, that the Bride was in a way to being corrupted. He says: I hear there are schisms among you; and in part I believe it (I Cor. xi. 18). Also, it hath been signified to me, my brethren, (you, by them that are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you, that everyone of you says, I indeed am of Paul; and I am of Apollo; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul then crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (I Cor. i. 11-13.) O friend of the Bridegroom! He refuses for himself the love of Another’s Spouse. He wills not to be loved in the place of the Bridegroom, that he may reign with the Bridegroom.

The Church therefore has been entrusted to them (the friends of the Bridegroom). And when He was about to ascend into heaven, He said so to those who thus asked Him about the end of the world: Tell us when shall these things be? And when shall be the sign of thy coming? And He said: It is not for you to know the times which the Father hath put in his own power. Hear, O disciple, what you have learned from your Master: But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you. And it has come to pass. On the fortieth day He ascended into heaven, and behold, coming upon this day, all who were present are filled with the Holy Ghost, and speak in the tongues of all nations. Once more unity is commended; by the tongues of all nations. It is commended by the Lord rising from the dead; it is confirmed this day in the Coming of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

El Greco's Pentecost

El Greco’s Pentecost

Lightsabers, and Other Sundry Issues

A friend recently remarked on the Book of Face that science does actually have the ability to make lightsabers. But most scientists prefer to spend their efforts on more worthwhile endeavors, such as discovering the “hemihelix”.

In the immortal words of this friend,

Look, I’m not saying the hemihelix won’t end up curing cancer or something — I’m just saying, WHERE’S MY LIGHTSABER?!”

I can only concur, and invite you all to sign a lightsaber petition and send it to the nearest scientists with a degree in  . . . . physics? what type of physics would produce a lightsaber, astrophysics?

But before you run off to do that, I have two things for you to watch.

The first is beautiful, excellent, and well done.

The second is a terrible idea, horribly made, and with very bad props. (Don’t worry, I found the edited version that contains only the BEST 15 minutes of an otherwise hour-long program.)

Guess which one was done professionally.

 

 

May the Fourth Be With You

Melpomene:

More Fourth Power.

Originally posted on Egotist's Club:

In the interests of all things classic, punny, and awesome, happy Star Wars Day!

Today is a day to celebrate rogue smugglers and nice guys. Sometimes they are the same person.

Today is a day to find your old, (or new,) collapsible lightsaber, and have an epic battle on the front lawn. Even if you are by yourself, go kick invisible Sith butt!

Today is the day to read, or reread, one of the Timothy Zahn Star Wars novels. (All other Star Wars books are pointless.)

Seriously, before Disney ruins the post Ep VI Star Wars ‘Verse, read Timothy Zahn. Go enjoy Mara Jade.

Today is the day to weigh in on this discussion.

Today is the day to wrap your wrist in wires, and pretend you have a bionic hand.

Today is the day to wear a brown cloak, and walk around like you could mind trick everyone.

Today you stride up to the mall…

View original 39 more words

Star Wars Day

Melpomene:

Celebrate Star Wars day, you will!

Originally posted on Egotist's Club:

May the Fourth Force be with you!

Thanks be to the Force for puns and Jedi. Happy Star Wars Day!

Today, hold out your hand to open (automatic) doors with the Force.

Today, wear black and walk like a Jedi.

Today, speak like Yoda you shall.

Today, wear your hair in braids like a galactic princess.

Today, smirk and refer to people as “kid”.

Today, bicker with the nearest ambassador/scoundrel at hand.

Today, speak in Wookie. Or Ewok.

Let us celebrate with the Ewoks, Sartre, and Izzard!

View original

Grading Lament

I have two full weeks of school left, and one week of finals. And at the end of finals week, I must have all the finals graded and entered.

Talk about crazy. My school is small, but grading 28 6-page finals (just for Intro Latin) in 2 days is already giving me nightmares and cold sweats. Not to mention the finals for the other classes.

Also, I am suffering from dull but persistent headaches, a stuffy nose, a severely sore throat, bleary eyes, and fits of sneezing. I think it is the stress and boredom of grading. Or the Texas Allergens. Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe.

Whatever the cause, I have gone through two bottles of lemon juice and my whole bear-jar of organic honey in this weekend alone.

So instead of doing the grading that I actually have this weekend, I am adapting Adelaide’s Lament into an Official Grading Lament. Behold:

 

It says here:
The average full-time teacher
At the end of school year
Due to some long frustration may react
With psychosomatic symptoms
Difficult to endure
Affecting the upper respiratory tract.

In other words, just from grading a number of tests and essays untold,
A teacher can develop a cold.

You can spray her wherever you figure the streptococci lurk
You can give her a shot for whatever’s she’s got, but it just won’t work
If she’s tired of seeing “a lot” spelled as just one word,
A teacher can develop a cold.

It says here:
The teachers possessing “free time”
Just in the legal sense
Show a neurotic tendancy, see note: (looks at note)
Chronic organic symptoms
Toxic or hypertense
Involving the eye, the ear, the nose, and throat.

In other words, just from spending all weekend grading on and off,
A teacher can develop a cough.

You can feed her all day with the vitamin A and the bromofizz
But the medicine never gets anywhere near where the trouble is.
If she’s getting up early to finish correcting the 80th quiz,
A teacher can develop a cough.

And furthur more, just from spelling, and grammar,
And the uncited quip,
A teacher can develop la grippe.

When she collects all the homework on Tuesday,
And grades it by Wednesday night
She expects a free day
But remembers the final exams that she still must write,
A person can develop la grippe,
La grippe.
La post nasal drip.
With the wheezes
And the sneezes
And a sinus that’s really a pip!
From a lack of sufficient sleeping
And a red pen clutched in a death-hold,
A teacher can develop a bad, bad cold!
(sneeze)

 

So go on, sing away to the anthem of teachers this time of year! And I pray that you develop no colds of your own.