Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Breakdown ofThinking (Draft)

The Breakdown of Thinking (draft)

A once pristine constellation of small gauge wired pathways,
Moved data about with intrepid speed.

This territory later would clog down and misplace
Important bits of knowledge lost in the cobwebs that stretched
Tilted in corners of the shell of an aging command central.

If older is wiser, it is also part of a strange pathos;
More is less, expanse is limited, there is always a but
These come with a price that never seems to be negotiable.

Porous poison

There are times when I allow myself to write in a free flowing manner that tolerates what I would imagine is my subconscious influence upon the written product. While I recognize the term subconscious is perhaps passe in many academic settings, I am referring to an influence by that part of one's mind that one cannot be entirely aware of, yet still exerts some influence upon one's actions without concentrated efforts at thought.

The outcome of such writing will often produce some interesting word combinations. A small example for instance might be something that came out on the page last night, in a line that that contained these two words together: porous poison. Now in reality, I don't imagine poison as being porous. I can see poison seeping into porous cracks - perhaps an insecticide. That is a perfectly clear picture.

Still, I find allowing myself this broad freedom of expression in writing a liberating experience because it certainly seems to negate self imposed censorship. Such censorship I believe to be a great source of obstruction to the risk taking necessary to advance any form of art.

The question I still must deal with at some point, is deciding how much of such abstraction to allow into a poem. It is something which I do not presently have an answer for, though I remain devoted to some rational answer.

Shock waves - Times Online

Shock waves - Times Online: "July 30, 2007

Shock waves -Frieda Hughes: poetry
The Diameter of the Bomb
(by Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000),
translated by Yehuda Amichai and Ted Hughes,
Selected Poems edited by Ted Hughes and Daniel Weissbort, Faber) "

Read the Poem and Commentary by Frieda Hughes

Monday, July 30, 2007

Thinking Objects

"I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them."
~Pablo Picasso



Chopped up.
Grade school math.
One divided four times into four parts.
Broken into four pieces.
Able to be divided.
Three Musketeer bar in four pieces.
Four separate and visible parts.
Four syllables.
Four flavors in one scoop.

This is my brain on sludge

My brain is in a haze this morning. I didn’t sleep well at all last night and it feels like my thoughts are slowly processing to the surface after exerting unreal amounts of energy making their way through sludge in order to arrive at their destination. Even the caffeine drip IV from my Diet Coke is not enough to significantly alter this process.

Perhaps it is the fact that I had a most abysmal excuse for sleep last night. But this feels more than tired. This feels fatigued.

I will face phone calls today at the office and a large number of tasks. Fortunately I have no appointments scheduled. It is inevitable there will be someone who walks in and needs something done right away. Inevitables should be outlawed and someone remind me to undertake a campaign for such a law as soon as I regain my functionality.

Of all my writing this week, I think I have only one piece that shows any real promise. I still need take an anvil and hammer to it and whack some shape into it.

There were a number of “bright ideas” that popped into my head the past few days. Actually, there was a period where it seemed like Orville Redenbacher popcorn was ricocheting off my cranium. I hate it when they become so fervent it is difficult to harness them onto paper for future consideration. Instead, the hazy memory of their existence only adds to the mental anguish that ratchets up the tension inside your head.

I’ve been reading some on John Keats theory of negative capability and exploring the relevance to my poetry. I can assure you, it is too weighty a topic for this post in my present condition.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Obsessions- Have you any?

The poet Robert Bly on obsessions...

"It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions."

Sunday... I believe it is too early

Sunday morning and my mind is largely in sleep mode. I did notice something worth checking out over at Jilly's: The Reanimation of Ted Williams' Frozen Head.

Then I noted that Kelli responded to the NPR series "This I Believe" and her response can be read here. Thinking about this reminds me, I did one many moons ago, and decided to see if in fact that mine made it past the circular file. To my surprise, it did, and can be found here.

I've had breakfast and need to find what I did with my medicine but thinking about where I last had it is like doing mental calisthenics and it is too early for that. Ouch!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Guantanamo Poetry - five commentaries

This past week I received an e-mail from Jeff Charis-Carlson, Opinion Editor for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. He noted an earlier post in which I referenced the book, Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak that UI Press has published and brought to my attention a series of op-ed pieces on the subject that have appeared in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. I promised him I would take a look at them and I did. There were some interesting point offered in these editorials.

Jeff Charis-Carlson himself writes of his reactions to reading these poems and relates it to the haunting feelings that surface from reading Psalm 137, a song of exile in which the psalmist denounces those who captured him.

Shams Ghoneim, in another op-ed writes about the contrasting values on which America was founded and the code we are operating on with respect to the detainees at Guantanamo. She writes of Moazzam Begg's poem, "Homeward Bound," in which she can sense his hopelessness and sorrow. Begg received a letter from his 7-year-old daughter in which the only line that avoided the censor's pen was, "I love you, Daddy."

Joseph Parsons noted the poet Adrienne Rich has expressed that poetry can remind us of what we are forbidden to see. Parsons believes"Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak," is not about these accusations of maltreatment... "Its only ambition is to provide a glimpse into the lives, hearts and minds of the men held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo -- something we have been forbidden to they pine for their families, their homes and all they hold dear."

Spring Ulmer writes, that words are dangerous things and "Poems from Guantánamo," had to be liberated from the Pentagon's "secure facilities," where most detainee writing remains in confinement, as it is considered "a security risk." I was struck by Ulmer's story where a year ago, after reading detainee Jumah Al Dossari's descriptions of torture (smuggled out and published online), she began writing letters to Dossari, only to have them returned by the military, marked and brutally ripped open as if to frighten her.

Tung Yin is a law professor at the University of Iowa, specializes in constitutional law and national security law. He writes of the poems giving human voice to the problems caused by applying the war model to non-state actors. He distinguishes the differences between traditional wars between nations, and that between the United States and al Qaida/Taliban. In traditional war, the enemy easily is identified, whereas in this conflict, the enemy hides among civilians. Because al Qaida members deliberately conceal themselves and because even the Taliban fighters did not wear traditional uniforms, there's higher likelihood that the United States would have incorrectly identified a person as the enemy. And in traditional war, it may be unknown what date the war will end, but it is known that the war can end when there is an armistice. In this conflict, it is unlikely the United States would negotiate with al Qaida, and we never may know if we have succeeded in destroying it as a threat to this country extending indefinitely the detention of these individuals without any due process.

I applaud the Iowa City Press-Citizen for dialogue it has contributed to the discussion of the Guantanamo poems.

Friday, July 27, 2007

life outside the safety and security that humans normally crave

"Sometimes I think poets are called on to experience life outside the safety and security that humans normally crave. That we have this responsibility in order to bring that dimension of life to the forefront for others."

That was an excerpt from a comment I posted in a response to something on another poetry blog. I won’t go into the entire substance of the initial conversation here. Instead I want to expound on the statement itself within the larger scope of poetry and life as a poet. It seems the statement could easily be applied across the board to the arts; however, it is my belief that it is especially significant in literary arts and most of all poetry.

I’m not certain if as practicing poets we develop this capability or if those who are drawn to poetry are individuals who largely experience a fuller range of emotions. Like the chicken or the egg debate, we could argue this for hours, I prefer to focus on the maxim and allow others to have that discussion.

Some may see this as an extension of the contention often voiced, that poets are all dark introspective individuals. It’s easy to see how this is affixed to us considering the high profile lives of poets known to have taken their own lives, been alcoholics, or insert whatever other depressive lifestyle you wish in the blank. It may be that the numbers of people in misery are no higher among poets than the population in general; that we know more of this from poets because they write of it where others silently go on to their demise. I'm not convinced one way or the other.

Good poetry provokes. It should provoke reaction. Sometimes socially provocative poetry can provoke action. I suppose this is why many find poetry and social or political issues to be so easily entwined.

A poem that provokes disgust with a reader has effectively communicated in some way because it has made that reader feel some emotion. A poem that can arouse passion in a reader again has brought to the surface an emotional response to the writing.

I read a good many poems that sound good or nice (both words perceived as positive but are about as bland as can be) and they do not bring any significant emotional connection to me as a reader. Something is missing here.

I like to think of us poets as both artists and historians. We tell something in such a way that we evoke a feeling that reminds you of something in your mental anthology of emotions that recreates and takes you there again.

If poets writing about war or death or rape or torture seems depressing, that is the point, but it is just as necessary as writing about birth or marriage or orgasmic sex or winning the World Series with a walk-off home run, because humanity must be able to experience the lows and the highs in order to appreciate these extremes in life.

It is critical in any art to push envelopes, to take risks with your work. I’ve seen poems that I did not particularly like but were quite effective at taking me someplace I’d rather not be. But such poetry is effectively doing what it should just as much as one that takes me to one of my most joyous memories.

So with this in mind, my point is that as poets we must write outside of our safety zones because that is where we need to take our readers.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Odds & Ends

Couple of interesting items:

The first one - I have to give credit to Jilly for Healing power of poetry.

Another, Fortune as Fate: The Story Of Two Poetry Magazines from the Wall Street Journal.

I had my eyes checked yesterday. Time for some new glasses. My present ones have made reading anything of length so damn frustrating. Here's hope that changes soon.

Perhaps JK Rowling was experiencing a bit of postpartum depression after the birth of her last Harry Potter book.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Poetry Mecca

I read yesterday of a young writer who won a university sponsored fellowship to live and work at the Frost Place for most of the summer. In the article, the Frost Home at Franconia is referred to as being seen by many as kind of a holy ground, "poetry's Mecca."

The idea of a physical space being a source of inspiration to writers and poets is not at all new. Nor is the thought that writing in a place where the presence of other poet & writer greats have created works in the past. Young writers for instance are often excited to be fortunate enough to attend a fellowship at say MacDowell Colony or say, Yaddo. Each with it's rich litany of great artists that have previously graced these places and worked their creative talents.

Sylvia Plath was drawn to the London flat at 23 Fitzroy Road (photo above) - in part because it had once been home to W.B. Yeats. It was here she ultimately created some of her most profound work before taking her own life.
So what is, or where is your poetry Mecca?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Journal Bits From The Past Week

Taken from my journal this week:

  • Holder of first and last impressions
  • A translucent additive to the tributaries / winding through the body
  • fed on surplus desires / hand fulls of daffodils /knuckles white with clinch
  • story lines so well rehearsed / blocked out in homes and on street /corners that Thornton Wilder / might have mistaken
  • Life eases along here. Not saying it / is an easy life, just that resistance / has become the motor oil overdue for a change

Call for Censure by Feingold

Over the weekend Sen. Russ Feingold called for the censure of President Bush by Congress. He laid out his two part basis for censure on Meet the Press Sunday Morning. You can watch the program here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Reading last night at Writerhouse

Poets from the Kansas City Metro Verse Chapter of the Missouri State Poetry Society read last night at the Writerhouse in the northland area in Kansas City. The reading celebrated the release earlier this summer of the KC Metro Verse Anthology. Pictured here are poets Amy Leigh Davis (top right) and Brenda Conley (bottom right) are featured here. I had not read out in the general public for a while, other then doing read-arounds at chapter meetings, which is not at all the same thing. It's something I really should make sure I systematically do again on a more frequent basis.

I've never been a fan of math... so of course when I find from time to time some reference drawing a common link between poetry and math it both peeks my attention and raises my natural defensive mechanisms. So here again is a quickie on Math & Poetry in the 60 SECOND INTERVIEW that I thought others might enjoy.

Well, I have a few chores to tend to this morning so that will wrap it up for now.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Another Moronic Shill for Cheney

According to news reports [here] and [here] and [here] Under Secretary of Defense Eric S. Edelman offered a stinging rebuke of Senator Hillary Clinton following her questions to Pentagon officials about how the U.S. would withdraw from Iraq. Edelman was attributed to the following, “Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq..."

The sharp attack on Clinton is interesting for two reasons. First, numerous Senators including Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee have asked the same questions. Has he blasted Luger or any Republicans who's asked these same questions? Second, Edelman's background is interesting to say the least because Edelman is Vice President Cheney's former deputy national security adviser. Funny how these things always lead back to Cheney.

Since he has mentioned propaganda, I'd be interested in Mr. Edelman's thoughts on the propaganda fed to the American people leading up to President Bush's commitment of U.S. forces to Invade Iraq. I'm tired of the Cheney henchmen in government and in the military.

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

Went to my mailbox yesterday and much to my astonishment found a stamped piece of a Kraft Macaroni & Cheese box cut the size of a postcard. On the flip side a note about one of my poems that appeared in the Grist - 2007 ( State Poetry Society Anthology).

It was of course a pleasant surprise. The writer acknowledged liking my poem titled "Sport Utility Poem"* for "pzzzazzz and sasss-"

I found the writer's approach using recycled box both enterprising and heartening. It had to have passed through a couple of other hands in order to reach me and that gave her a way to make a statement by example. The writer was a poet peer and she expressed herself in verse with an Ode To Michael Poet.

While this was not a situation where a poem had a life affirming impact on another it was none the less the kind of acknowledgement of an others work I blogged about a few days back that I noted as rare. It is I suppose, one more reason this box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese was especially tasty.

* this poem first appeared in the Rockhurst Annual Arts Review in 2006

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Four GOP Hypocrites reaffirm their ownership of the War In Iraq

Republican Senators like John Warner, George Voinovich, Richard Luger, and Pete Domenici say they have reached a point opposition to President Bush's present course on the war in Iraq. Yet, when it comes to delivering a vote to change this mistaken course, what do they do? They vote the President's party line. They are hypocrites. Every time they to vote to continue to keep the US smack dab in the middle of a sectarian war, propping up a government that shows no sign of ending critical differences between waring factions, and continues to commit billions of U.S. dollars and American lives, they reaffirm their personal ownership in the massive mistake that is the War in Iraq.

A bump in the week & Dana Gioia's NEA

While my week has not exactly been zipping by, I always view Wednesdays are a sort of speed bump in the week. Maybe on weeks like this one, it is more like reaching the crest of a giant hill and knowing the rest is all down hill. Anyway, Wednesday constitutes that great divide between the start of the work week and the end of same. It's not quite Hazzah... but perhaps acceptable to exert a small sigh.

Thanks to Jilly the source for Free dreams, fond bores or why you should always read poetry twice (I say three times).

After Senate all-nighter, war vote at hand today, but it is expected fall short of the 60 votes that are needed. It's anticipated that only three Republicans, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon are likely to vote with Democrats calling for this change in war policy. Even Republican Sen. Richard Luger and Republican Sen. Pete Domenici, who have indicated to the press in recent times they are breaking with the President on the war, are not likely to to exhibit the courage to abandon the Republican party line on this vote.

A literary forum run by poet Lu Yang has been blocked by the Chinese government - See Reporters Without Boarders.

Last night I attended a reception at the new Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City for NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. The invitation only event was nicely attended. The intent I suppose was two-fold. To get local art enthusiasts inside the newly opened building and showcase it, as well as to partner withe the NEA and it's mission to encourage and broaden support for the arts.

Couple of personal observations...
  • The building which as been criticized by some in the neighboring community needs to be seen in the context of what the architecture offers on the inside. The external structure has a functional purpose that needs to be considered.
  • Although the NEA is funded by the government - putting Laura Bush on the cover of the NEA Vol 3 - 2007 publication is not in my mind a good marketing strategy.
  • Dana Gioia is an interesting individual. I have often been captivated by the unusual nature of his assent in the arts as it is definitely unorthodox. I've not always been convinced that his approach is the best, but I was impressed in his brief remarks that the NEA's mission was a valuable one and that it needed to reflect the pluralism of American culture today. While this is an expansive mission statement, and intelligent people may disagree on how you achieve such a mission, it is in the end, the right mission for the arts community to embrace.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Spacing Out P o e t r y

I've been thinking about the dimensional aspects of poetry upon a page. Not only the poem itself within the boarders of the page but the lineage as well.

There are times when the visual impact of poetry is obvious. An example would be Golria Vando's New Shoes and An Old Flame. However, not every poem is dependent upon the kind of tedious spacing of letters /words that are required to achieve what Vando did here.

How important is the visual appeal of a poem on a page to the average reader? What contributes to an appealing layout of words on a page? What kinds of things are turn-offs? Are these questions trite?

Sometimes when I am journaling and not working on poetry drafts (because I often do that in my journal as well) I will catch myself writing in stanzas. Almost without a second thought at times breaking lines much as I would consider line breaks in a poem draft. Go figure.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Five was all I could do

Yesterday, we tried a family outing to Waterworks Park to play Disc Golf. The course there is much bigger than what I have played on. It is challenging enough, but the killer for us was the oppressive heat and the steep hills. We were ready to play hole 6 when we decided we could not go on. We had already decided that 18 holes would be too much, but we were hopeful we could get the front 8 in. We won't talk about my score.

Tomorrow, I have a reception for Dana Gioia to go to. Then Saturday night I have a reading to do so there are some extra curricular art events going one this week. I think I need to focus on some rewrites this week. I didn't have much success with new stuff over the weekend. Time to revisit old ideas.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Let it be...

I was thinking today about non-literary art and the fact that you often see an accompanying artists statement of purpose with it. I thought about the application of the same to poetry. The irony of a written summation of another piece of "word art."
I suppose we do often see such a critter inside the flap of a poetry book where the reader is offered some general statement of purpose relative to the entire manuscript. Otherwise, we don't see this with individual poetry.
With more abstract work it would perhaps not be as odd. Still, there is a tendency by many poets, myself included to want let the reader experience the work themselves. Drawing from their own life experiences whatever it is that speaks to them in the poem. As MacLeish argues in Ars Poetica, [the] poem should not mean But be.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Lazy Saturday Morning...

Not much of my plans for the day have quite unfolded yet and it is just past noon. I sit drinking a diet coke - the rest of the family is out on a shopping adventure.

Was writing earlier and came to a standstill.

We cling to the handles of customs
Crusted through years of oxidation
In the hands of others through
A buildup of broken resistance

... then the wall. But that's ok, I had not planned on writing this early in the day anyway, so I suppose I am ahead of the game.

As I surveyed the news this morning, I see that Russia has suspended its participation in an European arms control treaty that governs deployment of troops on the continent. This in response Bush's plans for a missile defense system in former Soviet bloc countries. I suppose his Iraq war legacy is not sufficient, he feels to need to refuel the cold war.

Nothing is ever simple... Harry Potter's success has the publishers fighting bootleggers. A legal team has been commissioned to prevent copies of the new book being pirated on publication.

Last night we went to see Wild Hogs at the $2 picture show. It was really kind of mindless fun. I didn't have any expectations going in so I was pleased that it was entertaining. Last week my wife and I watched The Devil Wears Prada in bead on a portable DVD player. Besides enjoying the movie, I really liked that atmosphere. I could stand to watch a lot of movies that way.

Was planning to take my daughter and do some video footage today to incorporate into a poetry video. With any luck, when they get home from shopping it won't be too hot and she won't be exausted. We shall see.

Friday, July 13, 2007

From my journal this week....

A few extracted bits from my journal:

  • Though I'd like to remain an optimist... believing in that which is so minute / it leaves no shadow trailing.
  • A hint of something greater / God sitting on a pin head.
  • A dog whose gender was truncated / his head on a pillow keeping / his thoughts to himself.
  • The boundary between them / more a smudge than a line.


At Age 92 - Ruth Stone deservedly is named Vermont's State Poet [here]


On the war.....

Bush's optimism is impossible to square with the situation in Iraq

Defying Bush, House Passes New Deadline for Withdrawal From Iraq

Thursday, July 12, 2007

That rare connection

I was reading the interview of David Yessl by Bernard Chapin mentioned in an earlier post and I was captivated by a statement attributed to Yvor Winters, "The greatest poems are worth waiting for (and wading through a lot of inferior stuff). In many cases, it is not until a poet gives voice to a particular emotion by rendering it in words that one can experience it fully for the first time."

Thinking about this special link, how personal it is. How even really great poems are not going to provide such personal connectivity to every reader. Rare occurrence indeed. I suppose these occasions often go unacknowledged to the poet. Reducing even further any awareness the poet may have to such attribution, quite minuscule. Very sad to consider.

Bush acknowledges administration official leaked Plame's name, immediately 'moves on'

The Raw Story Bush acknowledges administration official leaked Plame's name, immediately 'moves on'

At a White House press conference Thursday, President Bush acknowledged that someone in his administration leaked the name of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, but he avoided addressing the question of whether he saw it as a moral issue or was at all disappointed in his senior advisers.

Well Duh!

Poetry Amidst the Kultursmog: An Interview with David Yezzi.

MND: News and Commentary Since 2001 » Poetry Amidst the Kultursmog: An Interview with David Yezzi.:

"David Yezzi is Executive Editor of The New Criterion and the former director of New York’s Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y. He is a well-known poet whose published collections include The Hidden Model and Sad Is Eros. His libretto for a chamber opera by David Conte, Firebird Motel, was released as a CD earlier this year by Arsis. His essays have appeared at Poetry, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Sun, and The New Yorker. He has earned degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and Columbia University School of the Arts."

This interview is a very interesting read.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Read this....

A MUST READ for everyone.... What is Al-Qaeda?

There was a similar story on NPR today - If I can find the link I'll post it later.

See what summer heat can do?

I know summer is here. There are very distinct signs I can rely upon. One is the All-Star game. This signals the mid-point in the baseball season and starts the mixed-up emotions that come with the downhill turn towards the fall classic. I say mixed-up because this period is a blend of excitement and melancholy.

Another is the size of the watermelons. I am talking about food here, least you think this is some coded sexual thing. I ran into our local Hy-Vee tonight and there were big hefty watermelons, not the personal size variety that have been in the produce isle up to this point.

Yet another sign summer is here is what happens in my office when a nice day follows a really hot one. For some reason the building maintenance people decide we don't need quite as much a/c and they cut it back in the morning. By 1 PM we are all hot and cranky. Today was such a day.

I'm not really big on reality TV. Basically I find it to be an insult to the intelligence of the average person. I'm speaking for the most part about the concept, because I rarely watch it. I suppose this puts me in the category of a person who wants to remove a book from the library because they are offended by it in spite of the fact they haven't read it. I'd like to believe my issue with reality TV is perhaps on a slightly higher level than that.

Part of the thing about Reality TV is that it involves ordinary people. I have nothing against ordinary people. Some of my best friends are ordinary though they might differ in their impression of me. The use of ordinary people by the producers smacks of "cheap". Networks love such programs because they scrape the bottom rung of production costs so scoring high in the ratings is an extra big payoff. Low overhead - high yield. All that said, I could be persuaded to consider watching a Poet's Reality Series. Six or eight poets thrown together in a house - representing various schools of writing.

I think the real test would be to have them each write in their own styles and then open up the home to the community for a public reading. Each would present their own work. Additionally, each would have to sit with the audience through everyone's work. I envision lots of closeups of the facial expressions during the readings.

Okay, I have no real delusion that this is coming to a cable channel near me any time soon. But hey, there would at least be an audience of one out their for it.

Philip Booth, New England poet, dead at 81 - Book News & Reviews -

Philip Booth, New England poet, dead at 81 - Book News & Reviews -
"HANOVER, N.H. - Philip Booth, a longtime Syracuse University professor whose poetry focused mainly on his native New England, has died at age 81.

Booth died July 2 from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease in Hanover, where he was born and spent much of his life, according to his family. "

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Spend a day in the "real world"

US President George W Bush, facing new pressure to start bringing troops home from Iraq, says he will not consider it until he hears a fresh assessment of the war effort from his top commander there. "That's what the American people expect. They expect for military people to come back and tell us how the military operations are going," Bush said. "And that's the way I'm going to play it as commander-in-chief." (AP wire story)

I would challenge the President to spend a day out in the real world. Away from the pep rally crowds. Away from military bases and military schools. I believe he would be shocked to learn what the American people really expect. He is clueless.

I don't think it takes top military brass to figure out how the operations are going. It seems pretty obvious to everyone but the President, Vice President and a hand full of others. Even many of his most ardent GOP supporters of this war now understand the reality in Iraq.

Why should we continue this path until September's report. When that one looks bleak will he argue for another in January... April.... ?

A Labor of Poetry Love

I was reading Jessica Smith's blog today and was lead to this site. Richard Hansen's Poems-For-All is such an alluring concept. How can any lover of poetry and the arts not be drawn to these magnets to the soul.

Not only is the concept a winner, but Richard obviously believes in the value of word art because he has not been shoddy with the covers of these tiny poem books. If there is an example of poetry as a labor of love, Poems-For-All embodies it.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Poetics of Geography

There are poets whose work is laden with geography. I believe place is important in poetry be it a geographical location or at least a place in time. We often build around such places real or imaginary to help create the image of the moment. I often think of poetry as a picture of words rather than pixels. You can’t very well take a picture without establishing a place and or point in time.

Just a few poets that come to my mind, for whom a good portion of their work seems tied to place, are: Robert Frost, Donald Hall, Ruth Stone, Ted Kooser, and Gwendolyn Brooks.

I took a random look at some of my poetry over the past couple of years and begin to notice that there is little evidence of my Missouri roots it my work. This fact has caused me to wonder if “place” is so important in poetry, why my work is not more reflective of my Missouri roots. Certainly I have established no strong ties to the region with my writing.

Given this lack of a dominant Midwest or Missouri view in my work, I have to ask myself if it is suffering from a strong geographical point of reference. While I don’t have an immediate answer to this question I have posed, I believe it is worthy of consideration. And so I muddle with this idea and hope the internal discourse produces some resolve soon.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Perhaps we are getting close

There is a growing sentiment among Republican members of the Senate that the American military action in Iraq has not, is not and will not work. One by one GOP Senators are leaving the ship. It is about time.

The handwriting has been on the wall for a very long time. The American people fell out of favor with this war long ago. The majority of Democrats in Congress have tried to deliver on an exit strategy but have lacked enough bipartisan support to do so. Many of those Republicans abandoning President Bush have been ardent defenders of this failed war. Their numbers are eroding so quickly that Defense Secretary Robert Gates today canceled a South American Trip as we approach the July 15 date for a report on the President's surge of troops. No doubt the President will argue he needs more time. More time equates to more deaths and more expense.
Few Americans have any idea what this war is costing the U.S.

I'm not referring to the money for military support and rebuilding Iraq (which has failed to do much but pad the pockets of contractors), those figures are readily available. And while they are shockingly high, I am talking about the intangibles... the things we cannot see, like:
  • The loss of American respect overseas.
  • The boost this war has given to recruitment of those terrorists who hate us the most.
  • The stress that will be felt on our economy for years to recover from the unbudgeted hundreds of billions of dollars spent.
  • The impact this war will have on the mental health of families of returning veterans.

It is true that the exit from Iraq will likely not be a pretty sight. As bad a the government was that we took out, it provided a minimal amount of stability in the region. I know all the arguments for overthrowing the government in Iraq. For every valid argument to take out Saddam Hussein, there are a half dozen equally bad or worse leaders of nations we do nothing about. The argument for overthrowing Saddam was just an add on to the otherwise misinformation that the Bush Administration used to build it's case for this war.

The men and women serving this country in uniform have not lost a war, they were given an unrealistic mission that was a mistake from the start.

The only questions that remain, are how to best extract ourselves from this. What kind of help can we realistically provide an unstable interum government that has been ineffective and struggles for legitimacy amid a civil war that has at the very roots a long history of religious disagreement, intolerance, and fear that spills blood on the streets daily, much less resist outside forces.

My hope is that in the next couple of weeks, enough Republican members of Congress can finally do the right thing and help put an end to our military presence and bring our troops home.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Quote for the Day

Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.
~Salvador Dali

So Many Questions (draft)

Gravity driven cracks of despair
Map the years of his face
And give character
Where otherwise none exists.

Reading him offers more questions than answers—
Like why has he so little to say
Verbal or otherwise?

If time has been kind to him
It would be subjectively debated.
Perhaps he was not meant to live this long—
Or he could be far younger than imaginable.

He seems so alone. Why is he alone? Is he really
Alone— was there ever someone in his life
That smoothed out the cracks
That ask so many questions.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

An Oral History Not Withstanding (draft)

Counting stops

Across the acres of indifference
To a score no one cared to keep

And narration will not reveal
A winner as such
And maybe that an event was
Ever held

Will be in doubt,
As the birth of a sparrow
Claiming nothing to its credit
Passes without notice.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Things I'm Thankful For
  1. A radio knob that responds to my prompt
  2. The rhythm of her breathing beside me each night
  3. My glasses that have become my eyes
  4. A book of poems always within reach
  5. Seeing a part of yourself in your children
  6. And recognizing the individualism in your children as well
  7. Four legged friends that look up to you
  8. The cycle of a baseball season and knowing a new one comes each spring

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tuesday Flashes~

  • Cheney was central voice in torture debate -He helped lay path for Gitmo interrogations / The Washington Post
  • Editorial -Soft on Crime - New York Times or, it all depends on who the criminal is. Guess what Paris Hilton and Scooter Libby don't have in common.
  • I see Paul Wolfowitz has a new job. Hey maybe he can get his girlfriend yet another plum job....
  • Mary Ellen Solt, Poet of Words and Shapes, Dead at 86 /New York Times
  • World-wide reading against the regime of Robert Mugabe
  • "War and Peace Art Exhibit" - More than 100 artists and writers have contributed their work toward a "War and Peace Art Exhibit" this month at a gallery in Makawao, Hawaii. The exhibit includes a signed poem titled "Ogres" by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin and several prints about the war in Iraq by nationally known artist Sandow Birk. The exhibit attracted more than 500 people on opening night and has had crowds in excess of 150 people on several other nights. / Star Bulletin

Monday, July 02, 2007

Bush Legacy - Lies & Lawlessness

I suppose it should come as no surprise that the President would commute the sentence of Scooter Libby, after all, Bush and Cheney has shown they believe they are afforded a status "above the law." I am none the less appalled.

Looking around the nation, a few other reactions:

"When it comes to the law, there should not be two sets of rules - one for President Bush and Vice President Cheney and another for the rest of America. Even Paris Hilton had to go to jail. No one in this administration should be above the law.'' - Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

"While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the president's decision. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life.'' - Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.

"Accountability has been in short supply in the Bush administration, and this commutation fits that pattern.'' - Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

"After evaluating the facts, the president came to a reasonable decision and I believe the decision was correct.'' - former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

"Only a president clinically incapable of understanding that mistakes have consequences could take the action he did today. President Bush has just sent exactly the wrong signal to the country and the world.'' - former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.

"It is time for the American people to be heard - I call for all Americans to flood the White House with phone calls tomorrow expressing their outrage over this blatant disregard for the rule of law.'' - Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.

"The president said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak case. By his action today, the president shows his word is not to be believed.'' - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

"This commutation sends the clear signal that in this administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice.'' - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.

Quote for the day

"Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward." ~Soren Kierkegaard

Life & Writing

As time goes on, it seems more difficult to separate writing from life. In fact the demarcations are so finite that I don’t often attempt to split them apart. I have drawn the line recently for example when my wife and I went out to eat for our anniversary. If there is a point of separation, it would tend to come at times when we are doing something together. Still, her presence in the same room alone will not stop the clock.

Besides the physical act of writing, there are many periods of time that my mind is divided and sharing space with what is happening around me. I have found it beneficial to allow myself to receive events and conversations each day within the context that some event(s) or conversation could be the springboard for some future creation.

I’m not sure about most writers, but I am aware of others who have or do utilize such an approach to glean experiences or insights to augment their creative processes in writing. It is clear both from reading the journals and biographical information on Sylvia Plath that she was ever vigilant in this manner. I certainly don’t pretend to have mastered the process to her degree success, but I believe that to ignore this avenue altogether would invite so many lost opportunities.

The fact that I have been able to do much initial work within my journal as opposed to the computer has certain portability advantages. It clearly enhances the ability to be able catch things that might otherwise be lost with other fleeting thoughts. I am not underestimating the value of the PC to writers and would never want to return to pre-computer days.

In spite of this integration of day-to-day life with writing, I believe it is necessary to find the way to step back from time to time. It is just like leaving your work at the office. It is healthy to have that break from time to time. Writing is no different. It’s just that I realize the value in the connectivity of life to writing and want to make sure to allow some of it in.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Dream, Dream Go Away....

Thanks Jilly for the link to the gem If only Bush would have read a little poetry first ... ~0~

Worked on rewrites of two drafts this morning. One was a pretty rough draft. The other was in much better form. They both progressed well in my rewrites this morning.

I hate it when I am writing and I am drawn to a word I am particularly fond of, but know in this instance, a better would for the purpose at hand exists.

A few words I am particularly fond of:

  • embellish
  • portal
  • poignant
  • endowment
  • precipitous
  • supercilious
  • conciliatory
  • bane

*Note: none of these had anything to do with poems I was rewriting. They are just a few works that I am especially fond of.


Dream: Okay, I had this dream the other night ( I won't go into all the details) and I was in a parking lot at an apartment complex. My wife and I were carrying things in (I think we just moved in) and I was gathering up all these clothes in the back seat... the clean and the dirty together, like I was trying to get them all, or at least as many as I could at once. They kept falling and flopping around as I tried to gather or swoop them up in my arms and I realized there were all these sharp (kitchen type) knives among them.... but I kept right on going.

I'm sure some wise dream interpreter out there is going to tell me what this all means. What I think it means is that sometime in the near future this will find a way into a poem I write.