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poems, etc.

exercises: images of a pivotal event; writing from lines

Tonight's Zelda's exercises. Two tonight.

The first was to write a poem from images of a pivotal event. In two parts:

1) write about some pivotal event, using as much concrete detail as possible

I was eleven years old when I took my first computer programming class. It was as part of a special summer program for "gifted" students at Western Maryland College. This was before the days of PCs in every house; we were working on a minicomputer, a PDP/11, and had to connect from old style blue-on-black CRT terminals with heavy-duty keyboards that clacked when you typed, using acoustic-coupler modems. You dialed - really dialed, on black Bakelite rotary phones - the extension number for the computer, waited for the ethereal whistle of data, then placed the handset into a pair of suction-cup like cuffs on the modem.

a few poems on death

The Memento Mori poetry reading tomorrow. Going through a old notebook to find pieces to read, found two that could be salvaged to make a something:

1. I look down at you, unconscious, dying, slipping away from this life
And I don't know what to feel

I don't know who you were

Angelic bastard, why'd you have to be complicated?
Why couldn't you give me the clarity
of only loving or only hating?

I don't know if you can hear me
I hold your hand and say goodbye

I speak only of the good things
That's how I would want it if it were my time

We are all angelic bastards

exercise: poem using computer terms

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write a poem

1) using computer terms: firewall, magic cookie, Beowulf cluster, net, ping, socket, port, cloud, hard drive, nesting, software, connection, memory, icon, wallpaper, screensaver, virtual, avatar, pornography, instant messenger, e-mail, web, online, link, recursion, motherboard, chip, trace, echo, print, read, write, compress, crash

2) in a poem referring to physical or mental place

3) using the ten-three line

when I am thinking of magic I think
modern technology incantations:

"I was drifting naked on a sea of clothes"

Zelda's Inferno exercise: supported free write on the phrase, "I was drifting naked on a sea of clothes"

I was drifting naked on a sea of clothes
t-shirt and jockey shorts and bra and tangled sheets under my back as I
lay back contented with her head on my chest and my
fingers stroking down her spine
drifting on a sea of liberated energy
drifting on a river whose dam has burst and now flows free
drifting on an ocean of annihilation

Zelda's Inferno: write about an experience of feeling foreign

Tonight's Zelda's Inferno exercise: write about an experience of feeling foreign; include a cultural tradition, a food, place, or holiday, or phrase in another language

I just wanted a beer but I found a foreign land

Now I've drunk sake in a yakusa bar in Manhattan, where Japanese gangsters with missing fingers would walk in and out of the back room
and I've been the only white man in a bar full of Latino workers, not understanding the flood of Spanish around me except "cervesa por favor" and "gringo"
and I've been the closest thing to a working-class hero in the room at a party at the yacht club, certainly the only one there whose grandfather was a union organizer
and I've wandered the streets of Tokyo during the weeks before Christmas, seen incomprehensible displays mixed in with familiar seasonal decorations

and I've always felt at home

Zelda's Inferno execise July 13: a character sketch

This week's Zelda's Inferno exercise: write a character sketch. I've always wondered about the backstory of the guys I see selling roses around Fell's Point, so I made one up:

once he was a freedom fighter
twenty years ago he and his
Mujahideen warrior-brothers
were the fear in the night for
the soldiers of the Red Army
the fear that drove the
invaders out of their country

in one bad firefight, his unit cornered
he snuck up behind the Russian platoon and
leaping from the shadows
stabbed three men in their throats, one at a time
their blood covering him
straining his arms and chest a deep red

he thinks on this only occasionally, now
sometimes the red of the roses he sells reminds him of how the warm blood of the men he killed
cooled and dried on his skin

the red of the roses he sells to young men in
the bars of Fells Point
the roses he sells to the men to give to the women they're seducing

in the rain, in the heat, in the cold, he walks the streets

"Roses", "Roses for the pretty lady"

he makes just enough to live on
just enough to pay his share on the apartment he shares with three cousins but
he does not mind

it is luxury
just to be alive

he remembers the rocky hills
nights in the freezing rain with withering machinegun fire cutting into the bodies of friends
and he will never complain about anything

once in a while, a drunken young man insults him
or some bigot sticks a foot out to trip him, or pushes him, as he walks by

these men do not know how close
they have come to fast death

they do not know how
roses are the color of blood

Zelda's Inferno execise July 6: connect those lines

Zelda's Inferno writing exercise: "connect those lines". I received the lines "Don't look," that truck is about to hit you" (sic) and "And that was how the Milky Way crumbled"

"Don't look!" she yelled "that truck is about to it you"
Dionysus in the driver's seat
One hand on the wheel
A bottle of retsina in the other
"Goin' a thousand miles an hour /
With the radio on"
Pulling an out-of-control load of industrial-strength creation
Bearing right down on me

I jumped to the right
He swerved to the left
Jackknifed, the rolled over, skidded fifty yards
Fell off the side of Mt. Olympus
(It's a good thing for him he is a dying-and-reborn sort of god)

Laded in the middle of the galaxy below
And that was how the Milky Way crumbled.

Zelda's Inferno exercise June 29: a George Carlin memorial poem

Today's exercise: write a George Carlin memorial poem, using the famous seven words: shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits

Ikkyu, my favorite zen lunatic
wrote poetry about his cock
and about kissing his lover's cunt
he would wear his priests robes when he went to the brothels to fuck the whores
shocked many, enlightened some -
for his sins they made him abbot of one of
Kyoto's great temples

was he a wise man? or a profane motherfucker?

another zen master once said that buddha is
a stick covered in shit
this doesn't make much sense
out of context:

monk and master walking by the outhouse
maybe overwhelmed by the smell of piss
monk asked what is buddha
master points at first thing he sees, a stick for stirring ashes into the shit to make fertilizer,
says a shit-covered stick

sacred? profane?

when you were a baby
you and your dad both liked your mother's tits
but for different reasons
and if your sainted mother wasn't a cocksucker
then I feel sorry for your dad

sacred? profane?

if you think there's a difference
you miss the mark
hell has two versions
one full of filth
one antiseptic and dead and lifeless

life is dirty and squishy
sex and childbirth will both
make the sheets a mess

"I am an expert in belief "

I am an expert in belief
I can believe six impossible things before breakfast
I believe in
the essential goodness of man
the Easter Bunny, the Mothman,
six different theories about UFOs
the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory
the forgiveness of sins
the existence of honest politicians
that light is both a wave and a particle
astrology, palmistry, the Tarot, the I Ching, angels, auras, cosmic vibrations, mystical visions
the headlines of the New York Times
and the moral purity of rock and roll music

So when she said she loved me
I believed

"I'm not here to defend the bookmobile."

George Carlin's death has been in the news all week. Rightly so - as Jon Stewart said, I'm tired of people we need leaving us.

I remember when I was 16 or 17 and had my wisdom teeth out, my mom brought me home a couple of Carlin videotapes (remember those?) to help take my mind off the pain. (My mom, I should note, rules - a very nice lady who would never use the sort of language Carlin was famous for, but is still hip enough to get his stuff.) I had seen his stuff on Saturday Night Live reruns, but this was the first time I'd seen him all uncensored. Maybe it was the pain drugs, but gods, it was funny.

A few weks ago - a few days before FSG - I was sitting zazen one night before going to bed. Pretty tired, I was almost nodding off, then catching myself to stay awake. And in one moment, just as I started to fall asleep and caught myself, I heard the weirdest phrase inside my head:

"I'm not here to defend the bookmobile."

I have no idea what that means. I hadn't seen or thought about a bookmobile in ages. And why would one need defending? Against whom or what?


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