poems, etc.

Enoch Pratt's list of poetry journals

Stumbled across in my web browsing: from Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library, a list of journals that accept unsolicited poetry. What's neat about this list is that the journals in question are subscribed to by Enoch Pratt Free Library; so they are journals that somebody is reading. If I get off my ass and try to get some stuff published, this will be highly useful.

Zelda's Inferno exercise: "a fierce sort of happy"

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write a poem from the following word list, on the theme, "things that make you happy": sunsets, Lego blocks, Star Wars, laughing, blowjobs, puppies, cheese, compliments, smiling face, summer, music, ice cream, water slides, books, roller coasters, dill pickles, concerts, fire, poetry, happy

somewhere in my house I think I still have a cassette tape of the Beach
    Boys album Endless Summer
a gift from my parents, one of the first tapes I owned
I remember playing it on the way to the beach, music up loud, car
   windows down

that's a place in my heart, a state of being, music and motion and sunlight
sometimes I can get there when I'm writing poetry or playing guitar or
   dancing around a bonfire late into the night

a fierce sort of happy

different than when I was a child
that was laughing waterslides down the hill
or playing with Lego blocks or Star Wars
or even the quiet joy of being alone somewhere with a book

but this place in my heart
is louder
is faster
is triumphant

and then riffing off the bits I like from that:

there's this place in my heart that is music and motion and sunlight
it's love and drunkenness and triumph
it's summer nights and dancing and fire

it's my hands on a guitar (sometimes), my lips on the lips of a lover
   (sometimes), my mind weaving words as fast as they come, into patterns
    never before seen (sometimes)

it's a fierce sort of happy
and I can't always find it

for this is one of those magic realms and
the portal to it is oft hidden or closed
waiting on a magic word, or
the light of the first full moon of spring, or
the touch of some enchantress princess

for magic realms are hidden realms
an inviolate rule of the faerie story
(perhaps the only way to keep the fey realms from becoming a parking lot)
and so we visitors must keep working to earn our way in

Zelda's Inferno exercise: "unearth ancient relics"

Zelda's Inferno exercise: supported free-write around one of more of the following phrases (selected at semi-random from an issue of a local women's newsletter):

unearth ancient relics
clean up this situation
moments to recharge
when am I supposed to do that?
encourage more prosperity

unearth ancient relics, digging them free from the grasp of the ground, freeing them from the clinging dirt, I am digging in the compost pile like an archaeologist seeking relics of ancient civilizations, a old tea bag, a fragment from a compostable plastic bowl, small sticks raked up with last autumn's leaves. unearth ancient relics, bits of memory in the heart, encrusted by time, tarnished and bent and broken bits of old loves.

moments to recharge, needing sanctuary, a renewal, some respite from all these things that grasp for time and energy, but every battery eventually reaches the point of no longer being able to hold a charge...

unearth old relics, bits of lives gone by, evidence of the past civilizations within ourselves

when am I supposed to do that? if not now, when? the eternal present, if it's always now then if I do it tomorrow I'm doing it now, the procrastinator's delight, now, then, yesterday tomorrow, all the same, no worries about being late or early, so I'll clean up this situation tomorrow or Tuesday or next week or in the fall, it's all now, now, now.

Zelda's Inferno exercise: imagine the backstory

Zelda's Inferno exercise: imagine the backstory of someone you've seen on mass transit.

I cheated, in that the first part of this is a blog entry from three years ago.

Here's the end of the story: "On the plane out of Osaka on Thursday, young man, maybe mid-twenties, sitting next to me. Before takeoff he reaches into his bag, pulls out an envelope, puts it in his lap and looks at it. Doesn't open it. I see a girl's name written on it. I figure that he met a girl over here, this is her farewell letter and he doesn't know what it says. For about ten, fifteen minutes, he looks at it, picks it up, puts it back down, trying I think to gather up his courage. I was actually getting worried for the guy. Finally he opens it, breaks out in a big smile as he reads,throws back his head and laughs. I tell him, 'I don't know what it is, but I'm glad it's good news.'"

*   *   *   *   *

Inside the huge hall of Kansai International Airport, they embraced one last time before he got into the long United check-in line. He took her hands. "So, um. I'm going to miss you. Have you had a chance to think about...?"

Shelley and science

In honor of the birthday of Percy Bysshe Shelley, here's a fascinating article I just stumbled upon about his attitude toward science:

From the days at Eton however when the embryo poet set trees on fire with gunpowder and a burning glass, or "raised the devil" -- and his tutor -- with electric batteries; even from earlier days, when he brought stained hands and singed clothing to the nursery at Field Place and tried to "shock" his little sisters into a cure for chilblains; Shelley's great interest lay in chemical and physical experiments that gave free scope to fancy and were too primitive to call for the exactness alien to the romantic nature of the experimenter.

During his short stint at Oxford, Shelley wrote:

"What a mighty instrument would electricity be in the hands of him who knew how to wield it? What will not an extraordinary combination of troughs of colossal magnitude, a well arranged system of hundreds of metallic plates, effect? The balloon has not yet received the perfection of which it is surely capable; the art of navigating the air is in its first and most helpless infancy. It promises prodigious facilities for locomotion, and will enable us to traverse vast tracts with ease and rapidity, and to explore unknown countries without difficulty. Why are we still so ignorant of the interior of Africa ? -- why do we not despatch intrepid aeronauts to cross it in every direction, and to survey the whole peninsula in a few weeks?"

Ah, Shelley: nonviolent anarchist, atheist, vegetarian, poet, worshiper of Pan and fan of the Goddess, and now lover of technology when applied for humane ends. Is there anything you did that I don't love?

Kerouac on art, love, and God

Art is a retirement from life that is sweet and beautiful and full of wise genius. While the lovers roam arm-in-arm beneath the boughs of the Forest, the artist sits under a tree and makes fine pictures and holds them up to see. He is in love with himself, but he is also in love with the others, because he shows them his fruits and works and cries -- "See? See?" Then, afterwards, he rests, and goes back to all of them, back to the arm-in-arm of earthly love, and they love him because he has done such a beautiful thing, he has celebrated their life and love, and he has come back to them. They say -- "How strange and beautiful is this one! -- this soul!" And it is true, as true as it is mysterious and compelling. "He is of us, he is us! -- but he is alone beneath his tree a while. He will rejoin us with his sweet productions." And they will say -- "He loves God as well as men and women, thus he must be alone awhile." "And what is God?" "God, Oh God is the sum of it, the sum of it all." -- Jack Kerouac (from his "Forest of Arden" journal)

Zeldas Inferno exercise: "the (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun)."

Zeldas Inferno exercise: create three columns of words: adjectives, concrete nouns, and abstract nouns. Make metaphors of the form, "the (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun)." (From
http://hubpages.com/hub/Five-Poetry-Writing-Exercises)

adjectives concrete noun abstract noun
joyful coffee love
red concrete passion
bumpy vessel confusion
cool toe discomfort
voluptuous book mathematics
lonely tent judgment
loyal carpet abstraction
fuzzy dog bereavement
insightful rose literature
nostalgic lamppost skill
virile stick stillness
melodic moon music
ethnocentric brick nature
sweet penis energy
strong dollar tenderness


the red rose of stillness

the cool moon of love

the fuzzy dog of tenderness

the insightful vessel of love

the ethnocentric penis of confusion

the sweet brick of passion

the strong stick of judgment

the loyal dog of love

the lonely concrete of love

the bumpy concrete of mathematics

the voluptuous vessel of abstraction

the lonely book of literature

the red carpet of confusion

the sweet penis of nature

the nostalgic brick of music

the nostalgic moon of music

the virile penis of confusion

the melodic coffee of music

the strong coffee of discomfort

the strong coffee of mathematics

the strong coffee of skill

the lonely dollar of bereavement

the cool concrete of abstraction

the cool concrete of stillness

the lonely lamppost of mathematics

the ethnocentric dollar of confusion

the red toe of discomfort

the sweet book of stillness

the cool tent of skill

the insightful moon of bereavement

RIP Marty Baum: "one bad daddy"

Even in these days of Facebook, it can take news, good or bad, months to find us.

Marty Baum was part of my original poetical family, one of the regulars at World Famous Poetry Night at the Planet X coffeehouse in College Park, Maryland, back in the mid 1990s. Though we were all equal poets there, he was a mentor to me in the full-on, balls-to-the-wall style with which he read and performed his stuff.

He was one of the nutcases who kept coming even after the place burned down, meeting on the "grassy knoll" right across the street on the campus of the University of Maryland, or under the awning of a sub shop a few doors up. I remember a bunch of us meeting under that awning one night with a tornado warning in effect -- I can't remember for sure if Marty was there that night or not, but I think he was. We were a bunch of crazy young poets, so what the hell and why not?

It was Marty, as I recall, who introduced me to the work of Charles Bukowski; Bukowski's been a favorite of mine ever since.

I had lost touch with Marty over the years, but back in February we met up on Facebook, and for about two months after that we would occasionally swap comments. I hadn't heard from him in a while, but that happens; I wasn't checking on his page or anything. So I missed the news.

I just learned that Marty left us back on April 4th, a victim of lack of health insurance. According to notes left on his Facebook page, he had lost his health insurance when he lost his job last year. And so a minor infection was left untreated and ran rampant, costing this fine young poet his life. Another needless death brought to you by our ridiculous, laughable, tragic, profit-oriented healthcare system.

So if I should happen to punch out the lights of the next goddamn teabagger who parrots the bullshit about the U.S. having the best healthcare system in the world, you'll know why. But I'll try to refrain, in honor of Marty's general good nature.

Instead I'll try to take this as a reminder to let the people who've touched my life, know what they mean to me. So all my fellow poets, those I've shared the stage at readings with, those I've struggled with crazy writing exercises with: you are my brothers and sisters in arms, and I love you.

Zelda's Inferno exercise: a travel poem

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write a poem about travel, literal or figurative -- with a cherry on top (literal or figurative)

the car does not like these mountains
there are no switchbacks here, just a straight charge 2,000 feet up
and at 140,000 miles the engine is not as strong as once it was

but all true paths lead through mountains, as Snyder Sensei tells us --
there must be a challenge in the journey
so I turn off the AC, roll down the windows
accepting the heat so that we may have the power to climb this peak

Zelda's Inferno exercise: my father's Vietnam story

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write about things you've learned about other people's actions, that affected you deeply.

my father doesn't talk much
about his time in Vietnam
(he always just says "overseas",
almost never names the place)

for him I think it was
mostly boredom
an AP, he mostly kept drunk airmen in line and
walked patrol around the perimeter of the base

but on his 60th birthday he told me a story I'd never heard before

on his way home, in transit but still in country
waiting for a connecting flight, he and a buddy having a few beers
stepping outside

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - poems, etc.