Thursday, September 30, 2010

here's what's up

So, I haven't posted much of anything of late, much less any poems. Very busy lately. And, to be completely honest, I haven't written any poems worth a-posting (or really at all). However! I did place the elegy I wrote for Tyler in The Arava Review - and there was great rejoicing in the land! So that will be forthcoming. I'll let you know when - it may be awhile.

Hopefully as I go through school there will also be some more words.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

my favorite sage

"I'm not afraid of death; I just don't want to be there when it happens."
Woody Allen

Monday, September 20, 2010

an artist and his words

"You remember I had a strong inclination all my life to be a painter. Under different circumstances I would rather have been a painter than to bother with these god-damn words. I never actually thought of myself as a poet but I knew I had to be an artist in some way."
William Carlos Williams

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

any number of reasons to want novels to survive

"There are any number of reasons to want novels to survive. The way [Jonathan] Franzen thinks about it is that books can do things, socially useful things, that other media can't. He cites -- as one does -- the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard and his idea of busyness: that state of constant distraction that allows people to avoid difficult realities and maintain self-deceptions. With the help of cell phones, e-mail and handheld games, it's easier to stay busy, in the Kierkegaardian sense, than it's ever been.

Reading, in its quietness and sustained concentration, is the opposite of busyness. "We are so distracted by and engulfed by the technologies we've created, and by the constant barrage of so-called information that comes our way, that more than ever to immerse yourself in an involving book seems socially useful," Franzen says. "The place of stillness that you have to go to to write, but also to read seriously, is the point where you can actually make responsible decisions, where you can actually engage productively with an otherwise scary and unmanageable world."

— Lev Grossman, from the recent cover article in
Time on Franzen and his new novel, Freedom.

I'm on my way to see Franzen give a reading at downtown Seattle tonight. After reading his controversial, sweeping novel The Corrections this past summer, I'm quite excited to see someone whose work is not only a part of the conversation of the literary world but of our culture as a whole! What, novels, relevant? Yes!

(Also, this happens to be my 100th post here!)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

stack your lines

Stack your lines
in a way that beats time!
Cobble them with pictures
to puncture holes inside homes
where the soul hides;

circumscribe the abstract thought
with a heavy green one

and somehow don't write
about fields or trees or for
Christ's sake
or a nightingale--
that one's done.

Keats did it well enough,
you should leave well enough alone.

But fields and trees are fixed--
silent silos of eternity,
and will feel when thought
is not enough--

when I first walked with Roethke
through his
fields I fell
and ripped open my knees,
but my eyes,
the things they saw
as I lost myself
in that living green--

All of this is a mystery.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

a boy's summer solitude

When I'm almost
asleep I dream
of evening sky
a blown-out
red, a ripe apple
colored wound,

a scene from older
drives I took
in my dad's truck,
over dust-brown
roads where
I clutched
at need,

to weep
near a pine-built
shed filled with tools
I'd tried
and failed
to learn to use.

(thank you.)

Yesterday you were here
where no one is
when I am there

where no one
was near
me before.

Here is where my skin
is always burned.
Where my belly

turns endlessly,
the wall at the shallow canal
where I

sit listless
watching carbon grey
cargo ships pass in and out

weighted with coal
and other
torched things -

they navigate
the thin grey
water-vein as I

as you sit near me

where no one
near me before.

Monday, September 6, 2010

a museum of american fathers

Kids in strollers will soon come up in the world.
Will soon carry cell phones to desk jobs and strange jobs,
and if the economy doesn't improve, perhaps no jobs at all.
The mothers in track suits will get older,
flabbier, crankier, too. Some will fawn over grandkids
and some still have some fondling
to do, perhaps.

This city will stay wet.
(From where I sit it doesn't matter,
under a coffee house roof,
well into my second cup.)
I'll come up in the world, too,
maybe in order to write better poems,
maybe to shatter and write no poems at all,
but I hope not. I just hope my only hope
isn't a desk job, a gather-around-the-cooler-job,
a ball-and-chain-yelping-through-the-day-job,
or any other Germanism you can think of.

Maybe I'll have a kid in a stroller
to bring up in the world, and maybe I'll name
him Dave or Bill or some damn American thing;
maybe I'll exhibit less and less control over him
until he practically doesn't know me or me know him,
until I've watched him leave my home
the one last time I could've embraced him
spoke to him with any kind of wisdom.
I'll lean on the porch-post and cough a smoker's cough
and light another and cough again.
My body'll shake an old man shake,
thin and grown more alone,
then shake no more.

Maybe I'll belong in a museum of American fathers;
a hall of fame of those who held-fast the remote.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Your taking my hand was a risk.
What change did you imagine?
Let's make story together. Later, a
story, if we make enough story itself,
on the way to the story.

That is the hard part,
my dear friend and lover:
we commit the sin of evaluation
and reevaluation on the subject
of safety, mostly during our aimless
internet-filled hours, clicking
and checking in on each minute.
There's where our anxiety
is, isn't it? But what if this

instead was the frightening part, as
I think it is - the risk
is in how good the story is,
whether the narrative's worth
the telling, of whether
it can tell itself,

whether the twists and turns
will drag us through deserts
or up crazily into the very hearts of thunderstorms,
or whether it will rain on our garden.

There's no safety in the icy clouds;
it's light-socket-love up there, for sure.
The risk is not whether or no there's no return,
but if you'll try to endure the weather
instead of hiding at home
when those thunderheads come.

journal-type entry (ugh!)

I'm tired of being scared shitless of the poems I'm not going to write, especially since the desire to write them hangs over me each time I think about poetry...

Too many posts I've made here would've been better journal entries than poems. A journal entry should be settled for, but not a poem. Or maybe my willingness to write and post onto the internet bad poems is a sign of strength, rather than weakness?

And here I am, posting a journal entry? Someone from my homeland, coming across the internet would say, "That young man ain't got no scruples, no sir."
"Before you are wild, you first have to be, not tame, but capable of being contained; or containing yourself, your psyche: that which is stored up."

- Theodore Roethke, from his notebooks.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

judas in the trenches

Judas sang a song of the gutter to me,
whispered line by whisper.
The grime, dirt, mud, and shit covered both of us
as the soil of the night was sundered;
Judas opened his mouth
and let me see him eat
the last tart he'd bought in Normandy.

We joked uneasily about the blood
between his teeth.
He seemed - almost -
as nervous as me.

And when the small echoing note
became a repeater
in that symphony in the unquiet dark,
when the quiet chorus
of water running in the trenches
between the starkness
of the stripped naked trees
sang in my ears, when what was once reloaded
became automatic: a pounding sore,
I began to know - as I quoted Homer and some of David's psalms,
that I would be
one of the dead ones
watched only by the salt-filled eyes of the night.

need coffee, please

Things I forgot this morning
include but are not limited to:
my bus fare, brown coat, my lace-up shoes,
the two rings I wear on my third and index fingers,
and a cup of black coffee
on my way in, resulting that this morning
I've been confused. God I need some caffeine,
before I commit some terrible sin.