Friday, January 4, 2013

Animated GIFs and Poetry

Happy New Year, everyone!  Maribeth here.  During my holiday travels I came across a discarded copy of Wired magazine.  One of the articles was all about the history and staying power of animated GIFs--

One part of the article struck me in particular.  The bolded words here:

In the age of YouTube and cameraphones and TiVo, we’re increasingly inundated with moving images. But the animated GIF lets us stop and ponder a single moment in the stream, to resee something that otherwise would zip by unnoticed.

Seems that sentence could just as easily say poetry lets us stop and ponder a single moment in the stream, to resee something that otherwise would zip by unnoticed.

Thought I'd share here, in going with the "what a poem can be" theme of the workshop.  See the rest of that Wired article here.

See you next week!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Before and after translation

Tom Hanks

Don’t worry, friend.  The music is marinating
and will issue forth like a dam’s jailed waters
releasing like a wrongly accused man the very
moment you have the time.

Testosterone.  Birds.  Tom Hanks.  Bandanas.  Fire engines.  Tom Hanks.  Bananas. Didgeridoos. Water buffaloes.  Tom Hanks!  Tom Hanks!

 And then: "Prince Akeem, unfamiliar with American expletives, 
grins and responds, 'Yes, yes!  Fuck you, too!'"

But won’t we all be happy one day?
Won’t we all procreate with the exact biological person
with whom we are fated to, with whom we will produce
the smartest, most virile, respectable offspring?
Yes, yes, just like Tom Hanks we most certainly will.
And humanity, just like your spirit and your music, will go on and on
(and on). 

Tom laughed

Do not worry, folks. Music is Cool
Trapped dams and other water
A free people wrongly accused
A moment of time.

Testosterone. Birds. Tom laughed. Headscarf. Fire. Tom laughed. Bananas. Didgeridoo. Buffalo. Tom Swan! Tom Swan!

Then in "Prince Akeem, are not familiar with American porn
Smiles and replies, "Yes, go to hell!"

But not everyone is happy days?
Not all people have the right biological
Our production expectations
Smart phones, penis, the seeds of civilization?
Yes, there, Tom will continue to laugh.
Music and his spirit and determination, human


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Carnival Act ( an open letter to Jack Spicer)

     Today I read about a pitcher who has reached a dead end and who subsequently contemplated Nature in his car with the windows rolled up.  He turned himself into the baseball equivalent of a sideshow, perhaps not the bearded lady or a two-headed turtle, but close.  A knuckle ball can be learned in a day but one must put strikes out of mind.  A well-thrown knuckle ball has a little less than a quarter rotation from pitcher to catcher.  The best way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling then pick it up.  Some say the pitcher is a poor hitter because he thinks of the ball as his friend. Each turn of the knuckleball is like a leap of faith. It can make even a seasoned hitter look like an ass. Its flight famously a buck-toothed termite angrily sawing through ash.  
   Throughout my childhood I thought there was no mystery to the rain. When did afternoon become such a burden—something to discard late at night along with certain perishables? Under the yellowing light the pickle jar, then peeled peaches in the morning. Finally a still afternoon. We drop all pretense. Maybe not.  Fast-forward a few years, how I thought things might change for the better.  The answer on Jeopardy is always given first but not on your death bed.   This time I let the sun touch me through the window. Next door a house with shoulders half-raised in apology, saying this is how we are made.  Two dead aloe plants, yellowed paper, cinnamon, head of an evening moth.  A hot day at the office.  Sounds coming from the corner. Nobody moves. 
    On a cloudy humid night crazy people came out on Mulberry Street to cut a rug.  Every little breeze seemed to whisper ‘Louise’.  A garrulous man’s character was shown through his hat; so we get the expression talking through your hat. But that’s old hat. Most young boys who hang out on street corners become bus drivers in their later years. Good drivers make poor poets—just an observation. One knows that Chicago is a large city though it feels like two Newarks affixed. People who care about what  people think of their city are not from here.  
    It was around the time I was doing the brown paintings that my life seemed like a glass channel through which I was moving faster each second into blackness.  When I changed my style the glass walls receded.  That’s all there is to the fact that no one living will be me.  Now that I’ve recognized it, my personal death seems less bothersome.  I may be unusual in that I’m never sated with what I love most and have little interest in variety.  Like a spot light moving along a row of legs of chorus girls my time advances as a series of deals.    Though this may seem profoundly true it makes no sense.  Imperceptibly I’m inclined to believe that the past was worth it, but that may be wishful thinking.      
     To circle places, hover over them, honeyed, haunted, lost names---Illyria, Elis, Attica, Argolis, Arcadia.  There were newspapers printed in Hebrew the Constantinople of the late Byzantine was what—“alive”? they were facts in a way that Manhattan and Toronto aren’t?  Yet this is how we read following our best interests, like an army moving along the supply lines searching all the available books.  All those words elected us.  Lamp in the study.   To return is to differentiate.  What a little thing a single human life with all its pointless projects.  ruins describe it, yet we persist in pretending books are not ruins not broken columns.   
     Another memory ruined.  All attachments to that life cut off.  Tedious books.  Too painful to go into the city.  No use keeping tabs on what one could never be a part of goes through everyone’s mind.  The mid-day stillness.  Sleep and the smell of phantoms.  Faces exchanged for the duration against the mirror of sky.  Water and flowers on every table.  I wonder why my eyes have opened in an indefinable place.  I wait for developments whether to count by blessings or heap up bitterness.  Trapped by vapid thoughts I take a seat in the park to toss nuts. 
     Still I maintained an idea of myself despite evidence suggesting other wise.    The human form persists, doesn’t jump ship, a short lived horizon on its face.  This way, sir, down the stairs and this way, many, many “You’re on a mission can’t you see that?”  I assent, big-hearted but stingy too.  The extended hand, traveling motion returning to objects.  Witnesses clatter in the hall below which distance intercedes moves liberally, well disguised entering light of practical reason tongue lashing in the dark. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First Attempt at Ass. 3

RELAX: an introduction

Relax. You have just made the decision and have begun reading what follows, a relaxing half-page of writing, entitled "Relax." So relax. Our lives are, of course, hectic with all the bus schedules, soccer games, and angry bosses and so someone, someone either very dear to you, or perhaps someone you do not know very well, or maybe, perhaps, your doctor, has recommended something that you have never heard of before since you dislike yoga and meditating, or have tried them and or unable of relaxing during them, or have tried them and were very good at them but now can no longer find the time, inclination, or money to do them. The thing they have recommended to you instead of all this is to read a bit a writing, a free bit of writing that relaxes you, a remedy of words like some powder to sooth an itching soul. It could have been a poem you like, or a mantra, or what follows. And here you are reading this, the introduction to the bit of writing entitled "Relax". So stop all motion so you can focus in on the words in prep for what follows. You've made this decision. You may be skeptical at first, but have tried the entire regular over the counter botanicals, and perhaps some of the regulated more seriously addictive chemical agents, and are, of course, like everyone else, at wits end, so you say yes to this coming page. Or perhaps you're simply reading this as something that has been passed along through an email, on a blog, for an hour a reprieve at work, or perhaps you are reading over your lover's, mother's, boyfriends, daughter's, son's, or neighboring bus rider's shoulder at this introduction wondering what's to come next. Nevertheless, here you are, reading these words and expecting to be relaxed by what follows. Already associations of relaxing things have filtered through the back of your mind when you read the title of the coming poem through mere suggestion, and if they have not, they will soon. Things like waves at the beach, palm trees, fresh linens, or perhaps a fine bottle of Riesling, whatever it may be that relaxes you, and that has planted a seed, a solemn, gentle slow growing seed that these coming words aim to nourish, a seed which you, in your busy lifestyle may be skeptical of. But have no fear. Here it comes.


 Calm down. Take a deep breath. You're already here, reading these words, relaxing more and more even though you might not be aware of it. You have already made that decision. Your eyelids are drooping down to read this sentence. Your heart rate has slowed as you take a minute to stand still and let your brain filter in this message. Put your feet up if you can. Trust me. If just for a minute and that's all it takes. Imagine a soothing voice. Now you are not closing your eyes, but you are forgetting where you are, hearing nothing but silence and these words, and imagining a clock.  You're picturing the clock floating in space before you and only a clock. It can be any type of clock you wish as long as it shows the seconds. I don't need to know what kind of clock you picture. Let it be a wrist watch, pink that your daughter wears, an alarm clock you had as a child, a wall clock in your grandmother's kitchen or the doctor's waiting room, or grandfather clock you have never seen or any other type of clock.  But you have the clock in your mind's eye. You focus in on it. The second are ticking by. Let your eyes zoom in on the seconds going by, and notice it ticks by slower the more you stare at it. And then even slower. And then slower...And slower…Until finally it seems like it takes an eternity to reach the next second. Then at last you think it has stopped. It has not stopped but it is ticking by at an imperceptibly slow rate.  Stop holding your breath and slowly, slowly, so as not to disturb anything, breathe in. The second hand still hasn't ticked. Pay careful attention to the words your reading. Continue reading and breathing but at a slower rate: Let these words be as gentle as the smallest wave at the beach polishing the white pebble of your heart round. Let these words be the aloe to any internal starving itch festering inside your chest. You have just stepped off an airplane and gotten your first satisfying drag of a cigarette. You have just realized it’s a Saturday and you get to sleep an hour extra in. Relax. A road with its yellow dashed line appears in front of your headlights. The monotony of a flat beach to the east stretches before you. You're in your PJ's and you're on the open road alone. You crack open the window and just the gentlest of warm sea breezes blow in. Time has officially stopped. You're free.  Now go. Go now. Or don't, just linger. It's up to  you. What are you going to do? But know that you are free to make your own choices in this world, and nothing, nothing, can stop you from willing each of your decisions on your own. Time is about to begin again, with real life and all its problems -- we are, after all, almost at the end of the page. When you reach the bottom, you are going to do whatever you want to do and you and only you will be responsible for the decisions you make. Keep this page, forget about it, return it to its owner, throw it out or recycle it. You decide. Make an airplane out of it or an origami swan tattooed with these words. Cut this page up or tear it in half. It's only a sheet of paper. It's just you and these words written upon it. Here is your first decision. Go on now. You've reached the end of this page but the beginning of what comes next. You are not hypnotized, and definitely not dead yet, but you are free.


 -- I thought of hypnotism at first with this assignment. But my existentialist leanings made me feel it (hypnotism and writings that command the reader) fascist, and certainly not relaxing. Tried to find a happy medium. Will probably take out lines from this first attempt and completely start over with them, in a completely more poem-ish type of form, afresh. Anyway, see ya Saturday, and perhaps with something completely different!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Assignment #3:

Write a soothing, one page poem. While writing it, imagine you are transcribing a soothing voicemail message you've left for a friend or relative. Use minute particulars that you've started using in the other assignments. Stay close to the nose. Don't be afraid to write in the vernacular of everyday speech. But remember, the poem you write must be as soothing as possible. If it helps to think of the poem as addressed to someone, then by all means, address someone. If the poem is truly successful then after you read it the the entire class should be a trance of soothing tranquility. Seriously. Suggestion: make a list of 10 words that are most soothing to you and write them into the poem. Got it? Go for it! 

Class readings:

The Granite Pail by Lorine Neidecker
The Mysteries of Small Houses by Alice Notley

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Our North (assignment three)

Each place I have lived has been different from the others-a place like Philadelphia had a temperature ambience and a different vibe that was different than my college town Asheville, NC, which was different from New Jersey, all of which were different from where I grew up in Frankfurt, Germany. 
    But sometimes a strange night like tonight at 7:10 as the sun sets, the humidity dropped, the temperature stayed the same warm breeze tiptoed through the city, which for all the world as my witness reminded me of the Saturday nights in May and early June in my apartment in Philadelphia as I prepped for Goth night with vodka and soda water mixers, armed myself with a small flask for inside the club and hoped that life would be at least as good as the adjunct life that I was currently leading.  Goth night was only good because it was a muddled reflection of Wed night Goth night in Asheville, which was also warm and soothing and fun. 
     That the goth scene itself is dead can be very much debated…perhaps it is a shadow of its former self…its kinda like punk rock, people love the IMAGE but don’t understand the meaning, not to say that I was punk rock or that I ever was one but nowadays everything is commercialized and the real meaning behind the lyrics of the old songs and the lot are thrown by the wayside.   
       Thomas Wolfe said you can never go home again, and why would you want to with all those loaded memories?   Imagine looking every day at the same bed you lost your virginity or seeing the first place you got drunk.  I would throw himself off the  Washington Bridge if I had to see that frikkin’ bowling alley in Lumberton everyday on my  drive to work at Red Springs.  Better bitter nostalgia than watch yourself go grey and die in the same neighborhood where you used to drive past your ex-girlfriend’s house at 3 AM, or that’s what I keep telling myself.  Strangely "Our North" has always been underrated.  The closely guarded secret of its latitude is the age of the sky.  With no effort I uphold my part.  That’s the way it is all over New Jersey.  For years I was indifferent, easy going indolent.  I laughed at the passing streets.  I wasn’t like one of those grins plastered on buses.  Not that my outlook on life had soured but who do you have to blow to get a kiss around here?  People comb their hair slowly in the pink light underground.  
       Years later the moon is still shining.  Age isn’t all that bad no matter what they say.  When you remember New Jersey, you shrug an apology for life itself. The horrors today are no different. One can’t help but offend the race with more shrugs, murmuring bingo This is the way we’re made. I would probably be caught up in planning a future but then get excited  about something provincial, a new car.  I’d been happy before (though not in Jersey) so innocent and self-satisfied.  I am still working through this by the way having made very little progress over the years.  
       The world, especially South Plainfield, NJ was never saved from itself.  Even a messianic rescuer needs a day off. Today was the day. Schizophrenia is the best thing that ever happened to me, with all its religiosity and shit.  As for my  absentmindedness it’s just a way of occupying a desk. So after raking the yard in the coming days I’ll sit down and write a letter to the editor of the Plainfield Courier in support of a noise pollution ordinance.
        A small thing maybe. Once  I saw a man in the Edison bus station with eyes that went deep into his head stretching on for miles. The next day while hitchhiking, a man with long hair and sandals offered me a ride, his eyes more profound than the other man’s.  I’d already met God so it made sense.  
       I was someone set upon his actions. Though sometimes I missed drinking and sleeping around, I didn’t miss where it took me.  My neighbor Steve was a fairly quiet kind of guy.  We would  say hello in passing but rarely speak at length. We were on the 15th floor in conventional apartments furnished with wardrobes, pictures, objects, etc.  I can’t give you the exact location of the building but it’s under a dome of horizonless sky enclosing the entire state. 
         I am not into politics. I have never voted.  Nature doesn’t interest me.   I used to like sex.  If someone would only point me in the right direction so I am not alone as in all the great songs thinking about what’s possible, not imaginary picturing all that grit before me.  I called up an old girlfriend after twenty years just to say hi.   Fort Hood was somewhere in Texas not that I gave a crap but that’s where Tess was living as a stay at home mom.   We agree to meet.  There’s a sense of muted tension wordless recrimination or reconciliatiation each minute a decision to exert or abdicate the self.   I am nostaligic about Saturday morning cartoons.  I like the themes of the late ‘80s video with a remote control on a long piece of flex, cars had manual chokes and only drug dealers had cellular phones.   After I ruined one appetite another followed then another. Way too much to drink was barely enough. It was like that with sex never ending and if I knew what to say next this wouldn’t end.   
        I don’t need more friends.  I like having the possibility of looking them up.  As I sit in the morning sun sips coffee, crack my knuckles whisper words as I jot them down.   Speaking of coffee my parents used to buy Chock Full o’ Nuts, it was terrible.  I found a listing for a now defunct Gimbel’s where they took me as a child.  If you came come over to my  place you might find piles of funny stuff but I am is perfectly normal.  I enjoy a good steak like the next guy.    
      When we were young the wind through a skeleton had no history and we didn’t either  so nothing to lose.  we could choose what we wanted without fear of punishment.   In our conquest of total fortune life and production of finger paint Adonis
whereby we rebounded off the walls of our hotel rooms gaining an audience of critics, clerks and ponderers. . .but that’s too wet a distance.  Complex notes (beige ash mote gruel loam) before the inevitable broomstick. I will never be successful financially
and I felt anxious about going  on a date with someone I met at the S&M club but the second date went south.  It’s as if I travel with clouds pulled around my shoulders.
        The end of the trip left a melancholy aftertaste, like the end of a novel or reminiscences of disco balls and comets with powdery tails. I forget all the things I like about dead end streets. A glow.  People who wander around as ideas believe they are drinking from glasses.  It’s the water that moves the ideas, knowing them to be the dreams   of the world.  The moon is now a tangent, not a core.   An opacity on someone’s distant horizon. You must never go there. 

Assignment 2

Pull on Dress Barn black body shaping undergarment.
Right leg gets stuck, hop, and hold onto the door.
Right leg in.
Left leg in, pull up.
Hooks and eyes in front, fasten Fantasie black underwire bra and turn.
Pull up and fill up the bra, lift and tuck, straighten straps.
Tug a Nike Pro sports bra over the head, pull down and smooth.
Put head through black inside-out Haynes silky t-shirt, pull over, feel arms in sleeves, pull down. 
Un-cap Mitchem. 
Put deodorant on under the black shirt. 
Slide the solid white fresh scent down both armpits. 
Pull on black pants.
Hook the eye and button.
Find matching black socks. 
Search for one black sock. 
Search for the other matching black sock. 
Search for the other black sock. 
Search for the other sock. 
Sit down and pull on socks. 
Untie and fit each foot into the Rockwell black touring shoes, 
adjust the laces, the tongue--double-knot.  
Stand up. 
Run the tape to get the cat hair off.