poems, etc.

Zelda's Inferno exercise: music

This week's Zelda's Inferno exercise: a list poem, around the theme of music

my father's old guitar, sitting in the corner of my office
my grandparents' piano in the living room, that I don't really know how to play
a bamboo flute, a thumb piano -- both gifts
my Ovation guitar, veteran of numerous camping trips and a voyage to Japan, the
    guitar I played in an art center in Kyoto and a
    basement bar in Osaka
old cassette tapes, sliding toward dead media
an old tarnished guitar string coiled up in the bottom of a desk drawer
a folder of song lyrics and chords, songs I've covered, another thin folder with
    those I've written
a bag of mics and cables and music gear, the truth of the expensive hobby

and memories:
guitar as a security blanket at parties, something to hide behind
concerts -- Peter Paul and Mary with my parents, the Dead (and all a show
    entails) with friends
a violinist who used to play the open mics, slightly crazy goth chick,
    taking her for a ride late one summer night
my uncle playing and singing at the family gatherings
playing on 9/11, and the day after -- and at a party the weekend
    before, the change in what it all meant in just a few days
walking through a subway station in Boston on a warm September Sunday
    afternoon, and a man with an electric guitar was
    playing the music that was in my head

Zelda's Inferno exercise: where does stuff go?

Zelda's Inferno exercise: a prose poem on the topic, "where does stuff go?"

The snow is gone. Where did it go to? There were billions of snowflakes, in my backyard, each perfectly detailed, dazzling faceted. Now they have gone, and my yard is mud.

Did they go to snowflake heaven? Did they reincarnate as packed powder on some ski slope?

Each snowflake was a nexus of conditions, of water and temperatures and altitudes of clouds. Each snowflake was a mass of Arctic air, plus an ocean breeze, plus a low pressure system. Each snowflake contained the cycle of seasons, the tilt of the Earth's axis, the deep ocean currents that make the climate, the Milankovitch cycles that make the Ice Ages. And more: the formation of the Earth itself, the Sun, the element of oxygen born in a dying star, the hydrogen that condensed out of the Big Bang, the whole universe in each snowflake.

And then those elements move apart, no longer overlap and the snowflake cannot be seen. But it is not gone, because the seasons, the Earth, the Sun, the Universe, remain.

Zelda's Inferno exercise: "It should be free"

First poetry attempt of the year -- Happy New Year!

Zelda's Inferno exercise: free write around the phrase, "It should be free" (selected at semi-random from the Baltimore Sun). This came out stream-of-consciousness, not very sensible but some bits I like.

It should be free, unbound, unrestricted
It should be free, without cost
It should be free, able to choose without coercion
It should be free, lead-free, BPA-free, cholesterol-free, sodium-free

It should be free, free beer, free lunch, free with the purchase of a second item of equal or greater value, free bird!, free to be you and me, I'm free to do what I want any old time, free at last, free at last, praise god almighty I'm free at last, free free set them free, free of dyes or perfumes, fragrance free, free and easy, peaceful easy feeling, feeling free and easy, easy, easy to be free, is it? No, not so much. To live outside the law you must be honest, said Dylan; just so, to live outside control you must be brave and strong. Easier to let someone else make the decision for you -- and then have the blame. Mankind, someone once said, cannot bear too much freedom.

now that you have your freedom, how will you keep it safe from robbers? take your freedom and lock in up in a heavy chest bound tight with many chains, yes. Tie your freedom down firmly. How will you get free from your freedom, the heavy freedom you carry around like a spy with an attache case handcuffed to his wrist, the freedom that weighs you down and holds you back.

It should be free to be free from freedom. Write today for your free brochure about freedom from freedom. It should be free It should be free to follow me It should be free four five six seven eight nine for the lost god, freedom of religion, freedom from religion, freedom of the gods or lack thereof, free to find your own way to hell. Everyone in hell is free to leave at any time, but the damned demand their punishment, keeping the demons hard at work. Of course, the demons are just as free to quit...but the dammed and the demons keep up their dance.

Zelda's Inferno exercise: the oppressive ache of winter

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write a poem using words from the following list, generated around the theme "snow": orange misaligned aching oppressive flange £cocoon grimy fluffy damp glitter confined peaceful cotton bombastic cluster deep isolated comfy

the oppressive ache of winter
cold and confined in the dark

we gather together to fight it
we cluster around the orange glow of the hearth
set the lights to glitter on trees and houses

but the deep cold will come
and we will be isolated each our own cocoon of warmth

but cocoons make for metamorphosis
and in the spring, we will burst forth, bright, flying, transformed

snow or love?

It's beautiful, can stop everything, cause disasters, come unexpectedly. Some can live without it, others never get enough. Snow or love?

Snow is the big story this weekend. It started about 10pm Friday, came down all day and all night Saturday, was still falling lightly around 1 am this morning. I measured 19 inches of it last night, and it was still falling. Dug out this afternoon, which was a decent workout. So just about everything that was scheduled for this weekend -- including the big Solstice show with Telesma and Alex Grey -- got canceled.

After all that digging out, felt like I had to go somewhere tonight! Came down to Fells Point, figured maybe the Grind would be open (it is) and some Zelda's folks might make it (none yet) -- and if not, surely some bar would be open.

I was just down here Friday -- sort of the other half of the question, as I met up with Jen for the first time since October. We had planned to play some chess, but her set got left in her car when she had to borrow another. Still, we spent almost four hours talking, lingering over coffee at the Grind and a drink at Birds of a Feather. Bittersweet, but so it goes.

Got some work done on the book while snowed in yesterday. The chapter on Shinto is shaping up, and when I've finished that, I just have one more to go! I've set the goal of having a rough draft complete by my birthday, and am well on target for that.

So. How about a little writing exercise? What can we make of "nineteen inches of snow"?

nineteen inches of snow
covers the graves
nineteen inches of snow
keeps writers holed up, working
nineteen inches of snow
weighs down the roof
nineteen inches of snow
buries many sins
nineteen inches of snow
makes the city go slowly
nineteen inches of snow
take all day to fall
nineteen inches of snow
will take a long time to melt
but
eventually
will

Zelda's Inferno exercise: make up news headlines

Zelda's Inferno exercise: make up news headlines. Some folks went with the funny on this one, but I found myself frustrated at seeing the same bad news and stupid opinions over and over again, so this came out

Generic headlines for today's top stories:

* World News:

- Foreigners are funny and not as good as us

- Foreigners are taking our jobs

- Our army killed a bunch of foreigners

- Foreigners we like are fighting foreigners we don't like

* National:

- Celebrity may have had an affair

- We have always been at war with Oceania

Zelda's Inferno exercise: Chandlerean similes about people.

Zelda's Inferno exercise: Chandlerean similes about people. I recently re-read Raymond Chandler's The High Window and was blown away by the line "She had eyes like strange sins." So I had the Zelda's crew try their hand at vivid similes. Here's my attempt.

She was as well-balanced as a slinky: one little push and she'd tip over and over and over until her energy ran down.

He was quiet, in the way that a car with a finely tuned engine and a tailpipe scraping on the ground is quiet.

She stuck to him like pine sap -- only alcohol could remove her.

His sense of virtue was like aluminum foil, shiny but thin and cheap and easy to tear and crumple.

His brain was like an old TV with a broken vertical hold, you could make out the picture but it kept jumping, scrolling up.

She entered the room like a bag of running chainsaws thrown through the door.

She had remade herself after the move, but the old woman still showed through, like the old color poking out under a sloppy paint job.

I thought someone had opened the door to let the heat out, but it was just her walking in.

His eyes were as flat as a beer left to sit out all night.

Her voice cut like a piano-wire garrote.

She looked as tough as stone, but under pressure crumpled like paper painted with a faux-stone finish.

"...they are really saving me."

Several years ago, I stumbled across this lovely little Zen poem. The book in which I read it did not name the author, but now, thanks to Google, I can attribute it to Cathy Preston:

"A Gatha for Your Journey"

Whenever the work of saving all sentient beings
Becomes too much for this present moment, I vow with all beings
To breathe in the grace of the morning star
And remember that they are really saving me.

Zelda's Inferno exercise: "I love you like a dinosaur fossil"

Zelda's Inferno exercise: supported free-write on the (delightfully odd!) phrase "I love you like a dinosaur fossil". It's not close to a finished piece but there's definitely some bits here I like.

I love you like a dinosaur fossil
stony and ancient

I love you like a dinosaur fossil
the original material replaced, over the centuries, with something less alive but more durable

I love you like a dinosaur fossil
the flesh long gone, just the skeleton, the bones, the structure of the thing remaining

I love you like a dinosaur fossil
dug up after centuries of quiet burial

I love you like a dinosaur fossil
I love you like a dinosaur fossil I love you like a dinosaur fossil I love you like a dinosaur fossil

I love you like a dinosaur fossil
brontosaurus they say never existed, struck retroactively from the records

I love you like a dinosaur fossil
in a museum where the kids come by and ooh and aah at the reconstruction wired together in a back room by scientists based on scant evidence and best guesses, missing pieces filled in with plaster models

I love you like a dinosaur fossil
armor-plated ankylosaurus
or
terrifying rending velociraptor

I love you like a dinosaur fossil
I love you like a dinosaur fossil I love you like a dinosaur fossil I love you like a dinosaur fossil I love you like a dinosaur fossil I love you like a dinosaur fossil

I love you like a dinosaur fossil
ancient traces of a path abandoned by evolution
I love you like a dinosaur fossil
long gone but still captures the imagination

I love you like a dinosaur fossil
thunder lizard love
I love you like a dinosaur fossil I love you like a dinosaur fossil I love you like a dinosaur fossil I love you like a dinosaur fossil I love you like a dinosaur fossil
I love you like a dinosaur fossil
some terrifying, some placid, some gigantic, some tiny, in the seas, in the air, occupying every ecosystem for a hundred million years

good dog

good dog

my back and shoulders ache
and I realize it's from digging his grave

it's a good thing, to dig
gives you something to do
relieves that furious need for action
even when action is useless

the vet offered cremation but
I knew it was best to lay him to rest here
in the little bit of yard that had been his
canine territory for a dozen years

I have wrapped him in an old bedsheet for a shroud
I unwrap him a bit so the other dog, his mother
can sniff his cold form for a half minute
how much she understands I'll never know

so a few feet of dirt are moved

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