Tuesday, November 30

Poems from the Book of Nanoseconds, #23

household, so unfamiliar
the changes in him
main source of contagion

Tuesday, November 23

"I placed one word beside another and finally with a great deal
of effort managed to create a whole sentence--naturally not one
that 'meant something' but one that was composed of word-
nuances. It was the hidden meaning that I was seeking--a kind
of Alchimie du Verbe. One word has its meaning and another
has its own, but when they are brought together something
strange happens to them: they have an in-between connotation
at the same time as they retain their original individual meanings . . .
Poetry is this very tension-filled relationship between the words,
between the lines, between meanings."

--Gunnar Ekelöf, tr. Auden & Sjöberg

Friday, November 19

Fragments from Thoreau, 3

to the tip of the hoof
some portions
almost covered with flies

Friday, November 12

Poems from the Book of Nanoseconds, #22

unaware, he grasped

Thursday, November 11

"After a long and arduous journey a young Japanese man arrived deep
in a forest where the teacher of his choice was living in a small house he
had made. When the student arrived, the teacher was sweeping up
fallen leaves. Greeting his master, the young man received no greeting
in return. And to all his questions, there were no replies. Realizing there
was nothing he could do to get the teacher's attention, the student went
to another part of the same forest and built himself a house. Years later,
when he was sweeping up fallen leaves, he was enlightened. He then
dropped everything, ran through the forest to his teacher, and said,
'Thank you.'"

--John Cage
fr. Silence [Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1961]

Works in Progress, 14

maneuvering around car-sized potholes

designing legal strategies
speaking solely in terms of racial justice
examining burial pits and naked skulls

sticking to issues that directly affect them
bemoaning the cautiousness of today's athletes
co-opting the arguments of their opposition
tracking Latino immigrants at the border

supporting any effort to unionize
failing to generate meaningful responses
feeling the centipede in oneself
getting some good poems out of it

rewriting the country's labor laws
seeing a psychic map of our obsessions
building electoral coalitions that will win
emphasizing the overlapping interests of the affluent

slumbering until nightfall
setting this brain of mine afire
reaching irritably after fact & reason
shunning easy consolations

subsidizing extinction industries
helping women victimized by male violence
doubling the sign-up bonus for volunteers
supporting the troops while doubting the war

naming the dead
waiting for him to break silence
descending the steeps of the soughing twilight
assimilating foreign cultures

freeing the slaves
admonishing those who do evil
stamping out political brushfires
democratizing the US

getting in touch with the cable guys
swinging the birches
testing the waters
pushing radical music agendas

getting out the vote
fetching water from the well
educating the masses
confessing to our personal demons

clearing minefields from past wars
laying them for wars yet to come
staying executions, pardoning the innocent
blurring the boundaries, the borders

reading maps in the dark with the top light off
folding them all back up rightly
cramming them into the glove compartment
getting moving again in the right direction

cooling our heels
voting early and often
keeping our fingers crossed
paying full-price for our journey

assembling a glossary of oft-used phrases
keeping silent while the tea is poured
maintaining an inventory of our beliefs and belongings
finding time to clean up around the house


Tuesday, November 9

Poems from the Book of Nanoseconds, #21

a careless, elegant grace
a constant, mocking reproach