Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday poem #107 : Rusty Morrison : Naming Fable

The simplest way to pose the problem of recognition is to call out a name.

I mistake adult crane flies for mosquitoes, ignoring that a crane fly’s stillness makes the sound of information gathering, the clue.

Clue is a name for the patience I lack, arriving a cappella—the highest note struck by a boy who knows his voice will crack, but nonetheless goes on polishing thinner and thinner its porcelain.

I’ve never called out my own names, all at once, the way a female insect will lay hundreds of eggs, which hatch together in their season, as larvae, and burrow.

The problem of recognition incubates in each of its egg sacs differently. These can be found hanging from named as well as unnamed branches, among the dense purposes that camouflage them.

Shadows on the eaves of my neighbor’s house are already digesting purpose as I watch evening become recognizable, and daylight come apart.

The female crane fly’s larvae burrow into the ground or into decaying wood, in no need of, nor under any obligation to the sanction of name or law.

Isolated within its call to immediacy, a name is an orientation-limit, presenting something that, either by rights or point of fact, is now inconsequent.

My hands reach out in their own directions, never complicit with the names I’ve given them.

The prefix “re-” in recognition means to know again, to reach back and forwards at once, directionality splayed.

A well-struck glass will ring with the sound of pure dispersal. How to say my name with that force and disappear as a vibration radiating, freed from solidity.

A crane fly is in my ceiling’s corner, too far from the open front door, too disinterested in my waving and prompting, my increasingly violent provocations, to be frightened outside.

The light from the open door has cast the fly’s wings in shadow, which is what naming does to the absences within a thing.

Difficult to distinguish those from the absences I make by trying to recognize it.

Rusty Morrison's letterpress, limited edition chapbook from speCt! is Reclamation Project. Her books include Beyond the Chainlink (Ahsahta 2014), Book of the Given (Noemi Press 2012), After Urgency (Tupelo 2012), which won The Dorset Prize, the true keeps calm biding its story (Ahsahta 2008), which won The Sawtooth Prize, the Academy of American Poet's James Laughlin Award, the Northern California Book Award, and the DiCastagnola Award from Poetry Society of America, and Whethering (The Center for Literary Publishing, 2004), which won the Colorado Prize for Poetry. She is the co-publisher of Omnidawn, www.omnidawn.com. Her website: www.rustymorrison.com.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday poem #106 : Jan Zwicky : Up at four a.m.

Not night, not morning: dead light,
the breath in you gone cold,
your third eye opening on everything
unloved. But your terror
shows you do not understand.
The housework of the universe
is done. Or not. An ember in the stovebox
faintly glows. Or not.

Jan Zwicky’s most recent collection is Forge, shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize. Alkibiades’ Love, a collection of essays, was published by McGill-Queens last fall. Other recent titles include Lyric Philosophy and Wisdom & Metaphor, now available in revised editions from Brush Education.

Photo credit: George Sipos

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Tuesday poem #105 : William Hawkins : Untitled

There really is a secret success to life
Things live that are simply called poems
It appears that the whole thing
is just talking and listening
on a number of levels
I just now referred to them all as
and I cannot
comprehend it

*          *          *          *          *          *

I want to write the poem again
I want to hear the song in my ear
I don’t really think
I’ll ever get what I want, just yet,
But I can’t help stop my wanting

William Hawkins was born in Ottawa in 1940. After side trips to the West Coast and Mexico, he resides in the capital, pursuing enlightenment or a reasonable alternative thereto. Hawkins worked as a truck driver, cook, journalist and musician before settling on the taxi profession as a means of preserving integrity and ensuring near-poverty. He is now retired. His work appeared in the seminal anthology New Wave Canada: The New Explosion in Canadian Poetry (Toronto: Contact Press, 1966) edited by Raymond Souster and Modern Canadian Verse (Toronto: Oxford, 1967) edited by A.J.M. Smith. His books include Ottawa Poems (Kitchener: Weed/Flower Press, 1966) and The Madman’s War (Ottawa: S.A.W. Publications, 1974). Broken Jaw Press published his Dancing Alone: Selected Poems in 2005. Also an acclaimed songwriter, a tribute CD (Dancing Alone: The Songs of William Hawkins) was released in 2008. In 2013, he was inducted into the VerseOttawa Hall of Honour. The Collected Poems of William Hawkins is forthcoming in 2015 from Chaudiere Books (Ottawa).

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday poem #104 : Lucy Ives : from The Hermit

Perhaps this can be a poem about how I think about the future. It can be a poem of servile innocence. Since I do not “think” about the future.

I read through my journals, 2010 to 2011. In summary: many lists; I get caught up in petty disputes; do not know what I in fact am, since the “knowing” I desire is something like “real being.” Must think more softly, in the face of modernism.

Someone traffics in her youth.

Fragment: “Tries to kill sorrow with vanity”  

I get (i.e., comprehend) “the conceptual”; yet, what I desire most is the writing of a great contemporary philosopher.

Christine on literary realism: This is when coincidence and personal connections (interrelatedness) drive a story (are a story?), i.e., “It turns out that everyone actually knows one another”; “So-and-so turns out to actually be related to another person, instead of just present in or at the same place and time.”

A fragment: “Orphée, symbole de l’amant-poète

At the end of her unfinished novel, a strange art object appears:

On a folding table buckling under great weight sat a cube-shaped structure of 4’x4’x4’. It was constructed from dark wood, the exterior worked with carvings of figures in relief: a parade of animals. Each animal imitated, to the best of its abilities, the carriage of a human, starting with the cat, who balanced a stick at the end of her nose, upon which stick balanced a lemon. Behind followed a goose, behind the goose a spaniel, behind the spaniel a sheep, behind the sheep a monkey, a goat, a wolf, a cow, a horse, a bear. The wolf was playing a clarinet or long pipe, and thus the other animals all appeared to be in the midst of a dance, each kicking out one curly-haired paw or hoof in a kind of coordinated ecstasy. They processed along a hillside that overlooked an ocean. Clouds hung from the rear wall of the carving and in the distance sat a mountainous island with a pair of brick fortresses atop it; a cliffy peninsula, with breakers foaming at its base. This vertiginous mass returned the eye to the mainland of the foreground, where at the center of a plain sat a series of columned arches, betokening a single-storied hall. From the keystone at the center of each arch there hung a ribbon tied in an elaborate knot, and from this ribbon hung a bunch of myrtle, along with the symbol of some trade or craft; one saw a pair of crossed keys, a ship’s anchor, a scythe, an hourglass, a drawing compass, a beehive, a spade, a bridle, an anvil, a lyre, a harpoon, a scale, an ear of wheat, a whip, a hammer, a rifle. In a field beyond this hall, littered with curving wildflowers, there ran a pack of hounds, and these hounds were joined by two male figures on horseback, one of whom held both his hands to his mouth as if to amplify a voice, and all ran in pursuit of a stag, who leapt over a stile before a thick woods, in the narrow young trees of which perched a round-eyed owl and a pair of spotted pheasants. In a clearing stood three more stags; at the right and left these animals leapt in profile and at center the third stag stood on a pile of rocks; shoots of leaves sprung from the ground beneath his hooves. Fruit trees, apple and pear, grew in an orchard beyond this scene, and then came vast expanses of cultivated land, lines of tilling like grooves left by the teeth of a comb. A clear stream reflected in its surface the small bodies of a passing flock of sparrows; and a group of rabbits, basking in the grass alongside these waters were overseen by a boy with a switch in one hand and a ball in another, who wore upon his head a strange brimless hat. The sky was shot with veering doves. On one long, rocky slope, were a series of ancient crosses, each of which was bowed with age and from which tresses of parasitic plants dangled. A hermit in a peaked hood picked his way among these grim reminders of human law and folly. Before the hermit jogged a horse. Below the man and animal one saw a valley. Within this valley sat the ruins of a brick villa with a domed roof. Giant flowers, rose and geranium, grew from vases, and on the front of each vase was the face of a bearded sea sprite or almond-eyed dryad. A spring arranged itself into a natural fountain just beyond this architecture. Water shot in curling symmetrical jets…

I discover that writing, as a profession, is about putting oneself into a constrained position, from which there are limited means of escape. The undertaking is not about the words themselves or even some technical skill distinct from survival. One must possess only the ability to tolerate a given position long enough to make it intelligible to others.

When I was 13 I swore to myself that I would become a novelist.

I have always wished to recover from a certain amnesia. It is not exactly my own (does not represent a “loss” in my “personality”), nor is it the same thing as forgetting.

Just as purchased goods can never “turn around” to bestow value on the currency that has communicated them…

I wanted to write the story of a metamorphosis. The story is at least partly based on a dream I recall from the diary of another writer. In the dream, which may not be a dream but simply a vision the writer has while seated at his desk, an image of a white horse appears on the wall. It is a white horse that haunts the writer’s mind. The white horse has escaped its traces somewhere on an urban street. It is moving toward the suburbs with an eye to the countryside. It is successful in this movement because it progresses without hurry. It does not gallop. It moves along the street with the gait of a horse that drags a heavy cart behind it. The horse moves successfully toward its liberation since it does not appear to be a fugitive. My heart beats more quickly when I think about this story, which I have almost certainly partially invented. The horse hides its fear of slaughter. It plays a game.

Irony is a kind of secrecy. It is a principle of groups.

A dream: A night goes on for years, and one must make use of public transportation to cross it. Also: the discomfort of day breaking, though perhaps over the course of months, and the fatigue one feels in this brightness, thoughts one can barely bring oneself to associate with light.

When I was young or fairly young, I only remember being unable to stop committing errors.

Zachary says, “You have an OK marriage.” I want to say, “You have an OK idea of what is interesting.”

“It’s some wish of another I remember. Or don’t remember and continue not to remember. I start to remember and continue not to. No, it’s a dead state.” (She experiences desire.)

Another list:

a.        Evidence from reading, as well as changes in pitch
b.       Word as unit
c.        Drive
d.       “whereas when you read certain
e.        combinations come out at you”
f.        Retraction of statement
g.       How not to take just one path
h.       Oh, I would certainly say a kind of purgatory…
i.         July 4, 1983
j.         following years of health problems
k.       amphetamine use and an avid addiction to diet
l.         pills”

New list:

a.        Highly contextual
b.       Actual looking
c.        Smelling
d.       Tasting
e.        “without you”
f.        From previous experience
g.       Could be first-hand, though not obtained through
h.       senses, ha
i.         “you,” “always,” “unless,” “repeatedly”
j.         So not “always”
k.       Should appear about to
l.         It does not look like it will stop raining
m.     Consequence
n.       LSD
o.       Discussion of the pale
p.       Place!
q.       Beyond which, “infernal dogmatism”

America is a way of doing things.

Make an illogical jump—dissociation—but, then, imperceptibly—so, quickly—return to render it logical before anyone has seen. In this sense, you may seem to improve on reason.

There have to be some essays that reflect upon that which can be seen in a glance. It’s necessary to have these essays because I can’t think of any other way of posing my question, which is to say: Is there that which can only be seen in a glance?

I wanted to be present for myself. I would say, “to.” But that is not the right word.

Travel is an aid to memory.

To read: Rémy de Gourmont, Esthétique

When, in your book, are you going to get around to talking about the things that are, a., not permitted and, b., will therefore never happen?

Catalogue: Images perceived in sleep; Images perceived with eyes shut (waking); Images perceived in light…

(An anachronistic democratic gaze, apparently forgotten since the 1930s.)

Irigaray: “Their properties are our exile.”

Is it possible we somehow die for a time, a year, a month, a day, without realizing this—then awake to find ourselves, which is to say “someone,” present again, attentive, expectant, apologetic, even?

America as zone of enforced undifferentiation.

You may think, “I will always feel like this.” You may think, “I cannot change quickly enough,” or: “I cannot change ‘correctly.’”

Description is just a series of tricks about recognition?

The present as a time we visit.

A is denial. B is self-preservation.

I do not know for how long any of the characters in this book can persist as characters.

Lucy Ives is the author of four books of poetry and prose, including The Worldkillers (SplitLevel Texts, 2014). Editor of Triple Canopy (www.canopycanopycanopy.com), she teaches in the Writing Program at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan