Friday, December 29, 2006

comments on "Broken Arrow", version 2

The title in the notebook is not "Broken Arrow" but "Broken Arrow - Broken Phrases". It wasn't so much a title as an explanation of method. I took notes during the documentary intending the notes to be fragmentary. I like poems that seem built of shards. And I liked the idea that it was a poem "about" a charged political topic -- nuclear weapons and the possibility of an accident that could harm people who just happened to live near them -- but not really about that at all. It was more about breaking language and the charged political topic provided conveniently breakable text. Now it's even more broken.

"Broken Arrow" version 2

640,000 people in the country
depend on winds.

*

San Francisco Harbor
cruising around.
We’ve trained a lot of people.

Carried to a logical conclusion
the Soviets and Americans
already know
people will be unhappy about it.

*

Some sincere
treaties
endanger the
species.

*

“Still dark,
can’t see beyond the light,
can’t see any fire burning.”



-- August 1984

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

comments on "Broken Arrow"

Yet another piece from August 1984. This one is notes from a documentary on the possibility of a nuclear accident (broken arrow) in the San Francisco Bay area. There were (likely still are) several nuclear weapons facilities around the Bay and the weapons don't just sit in one place. They get moved around, which, you know, could be dangerous. That's not thinking about the nuclear attack aspect.

I wanted to make a poem out of broken phrases taken from the film. I never did anything further with it. Shall I now?

"Broken Arrow"

There’s gonna be a collision in a fog
and nuclear weapons’ll be
scattered all over the Bay.

San Francisco Harbor
cruising around.
We’ve trained a lot of people.

We have less-than-high-school-graduates
guarding our nuclear weapons.

Carried to a logical conclusion
the Soviets and Americans
already know
people will be unhappy about it.

640,000 people in the country
depend on winds.

Planning for nuclear weapons’
accidents is just beginning.
Defense Nuclear Agency.
NuAc 79.
Radioactive contamination in the area.

Negotiate some sincere
treaties.
Endangers the survival of this
species.
The next broken arrow
the next nuclear weapons’ accident.

“Still dark
can’t see beyond the light,
can’t see any fire burning.”

Monday, December 25, 2006

comments on "The Old Lady Around the Corner", version 3

Merry Christmas. Days getting longer. Coming up on the new year. It's been four years of LoveSettlement the blog.

I know I don't have comments enabled for LoveSettlement. I do for the sister blog. I wonder if people read this. I know a few do. So if you know I know you do don't feel like you're slighted. If you've never said anything but wanted to, feel free; email's in the upper left.

I don't know anybody else who regularly revises poems on a blog. I am the only one I've seen who puts up his reasons.

I am posting this version of "The Old Lady Around the Corner", though feel a bit odd doing so. Why? It's so little different from the last version. Whether it's better or not ... I like it. I like not being in it anymore.

The Old Lady Around the Corner, version 3

She’s left us tomatoes
on occasion
and little sour plums
and the grapes that break
between your fingers,
loose in their skins.

My mother goes down
to her house, takes
extra apples,
some potatoes.
When she sees her in town
my mother walks with her
taking small steps, listening
to her talk.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

comments on "The Old Lady Around the Corner"

I think this is an improvement. By the details you know my attitude: the plums are sour, the grapes break. In the first version I behave "politely" and my "courtesy" is merely in "passing." Too much tell? Too pushy? In this version "I say hello. / I smile." Tone is difficult. I think the contrast between the description of my mother's involvement with the woman (walk with her, listen to her talk) and the description of my own (say hello, smile) is enough to indicate my lack of connection. But I'm not sure. Sometimes I think I've put enough in then find by not laying it out more explicitly readers will think I ... well, in this case, say hello and smile because I like this woman.

I barely remember the person upon whom this poem is based. I remember disliking her, but I couldn't give you any reason for it now.

The Old Lady Around the Corner

She’s left us tomatoes
on occasion
and little sour plums
and the grapes that break
between your fingers,
loose in their skins.

My mother goes down
to her house, takes
some extra apples,
some potatoes.
When she sees her in town
my mother walks with her
taking small steps, listening
to her talk.

When I see her in town,
I say hello.
I smile.

Monday, December 18, 2006

comments on "The Lady Around the Corner"

This is another poem from 1984. August, I think. I wasn't dating poems individually at the time. I thought it odd to date a poem when like as not I would make changes to it. To be consistent oughtn't one date every change? These days I write the date before I begin the poem and it's not so much to fix the poem to a particular date as it is to restrain its free floating. It doesn't really matter, does it? It's a way to impose some order, if arbitrary.

I like this one for its quietness and some interesting details, like the grape skins. I'm a bit put off by the poet's attitude, which, I think, is one of the reasons I didn't put a (*) by it. There are a few stars in the notebook and they indicate which poems I would read out at the local poetry series. But it's okay not to like a narrator if what he says is interesting. I'm posting this one with an eye to revision. Primarily I see myself cutting it. I've been told I can cut the heart out of old work. That's the risk, I guess.

The Lady Around the Corner

The gray lady walks
by outside.
She’s left us tomatoes
on occasion
and little sour plums
and the grapes that break
between your fingers, not
firm but weak in the skin.

Mom goes down
to her house, takes
some extra apples,
some unneeded potatoes.
When she sees her in town
Mom walks with her
with small steps, listening
to her accented English.

I’ve seen her myself in
town and have politely
said hello
but merely in courtesy
and on passing by.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Dark Side of the Dorothy

So Kent has been fascinated by the idea that Pink Floyd's album, Dark Side of the Moon, provides an amazing soundtrack to the MGM Wizard of Oz. There's even a Wikipedia entry about the startling coincidences -- "Fans have compiled more than 100 moments of perceived interplay between the film and album, including further links that occur if the album is repeated through the entire film."

I brought home the DVD of Wizard, Kent cued up the CD of Dark Side, launching it, as one website suggested, on the MGM lion's third roar. We sat down to be wowed by the coming together of disparate genius -- Roger Waters and Judy Garland, David Gilmore and the Munchkins.

Ye gods. Whoever started this must've been really stoned. Yes, if you are stoned you will go, "Wow, the music (sorta) matches (once in awhile)." If you are not stoned you will go, "Huh? Well, the music SORTA matches ONCE IN AWHILE, but mostly NOT."

I was impressed by the clarity of the print used to make the Wizard DVD. But I suspect your iPod playing shuffle will provide as many coincidentally appropriate tunes to movie X. I remember playing dance music and flipping through random channels on the TV. Yeah, I remember thinking, that's a pretty darn good video.

Friday, December 08, 2006

walker


Theo Jansen makes sculptures that stroll about on many legs. Follow the link to more videos (one of the videos is a BMW commercial, though the clip does not include any image of a BMW).

Jansen has his own site, but I can't get it to load.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

comments on "The Edge"

This is another poem I like from the 1984 notebook. I don't think I am good at description. Still, clean up the grammar a bit and "The Edge" draws a decent enough picture. What is "the edge of the world" and who was going over it? The whole party? As with the last poem I posted I don't see myself revising here. Yet I don't think it's "done" enough for publication. I like its strangeness.

I remember making a joke to Beth about divorce which annoyed her. How long did this marriage last? Two years? Four?

The Edge

That was when we found the edge of the world
at Beth and Jedd’s wedding
in that soft spot surrounded by
sun dried fields, cracked earth.
The water to feed this wedding chapel
of redwoods, plush grass, cream gazebo
latticework wrapped in lavender ribbons
is pumped through the ground to get here.
They are beside each other in the gazebo
speaking so quietly we in the back row
only see their heads nod.
A small plump minister in a clear voice
reads from her bible.
She invites the audience to help these newlyweds
stay together. “We will,” we say.
After the ceremony while the car is being painted,
the hors d’oeurves passed among the guests,
no one but me has recognized the edge of the world
and even I –
hesitate.

Monday, December 04, 2006

comments on "Morning of the Job Interview"

So I'm thinking I'm going to post a new poem-for-revision. I'm reading through the 1984 poetry notebook that I've been mining recently and I'm rather liking what I'm reading. In 1984 I knew I had a lot to learn; I was trying to teach myself, was writing descriptions and rhymes and scenes. I have no objection to poetry as therapy. Poetry created as therapy can also be art. Poetry play or exercise can also have lasting value.

"Morning of the Job Interview" is both writing as therapy and a writing exercise. As I say in the poem itself, "I write to calm my nerves." I was trying to describe the sensations I was experiencing and gain a measure of control over them. I am not posting the poem here in order to work on it. It's not bad writing. But I can't think what I would do with it now. One becomes better at something through working at it, through practice. I am a better writer for "Morning" and its like.

And, yes, I got the job.

Morning of the Job Interview

Already, as the sleep eases away,
leaks into is own reservoir,
the nervous energies attack my stomach,
as though I breathe insects at every gulp,
fingers itch within
and under my cheeks my flesh tingles,
stretches, shimmies nervously.
But my feet have contributed their heat
to my nervous fingers
and are cold. The energy emerges
in fidgets not warmth as I
pull at the hair on my neck,
rub my nose, cross my legs.
As an engine coaxed from cold inactivity
takes awhile to warm up,
so my mind in full gear runs steady,
without let up, flashing scenes
of today-to-come across my
mental theater. I write to calm my nerves,
steady my breathing, slow my brain.
But any relaxation
flows out my feet.