Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011

Ten years ago I was in graduate school working on a long forgotten poem at home when my wife called and alerted me to the morning's events. When I turned on the TV & checked the news online, I quickly realized the enormity of the tragedy.  My oldest daughter, who was 1 at the time, had just begun day care in the Federal Courthouse in Boston so I could go back to school. Because of the Oklahoma City bombing everyone had to be evacuated from all federal buildings. My wife, who was pregnant at the time with our second daughter, ran to the courthouse from her office, grabbed our daughter, & drove as fast as she could home.

There has been much written in the last 10 years about that beautiful late-summer morning and we all have our own saturation levels to contend with. I, for one, greatly appreciated the focus and attention that poetry received at the time as a way to deal with craziness of it all. Suddenly people were talking about poetry as something that matters. Something important.

There have been many good poems written in response to the events of Sept 11th; you can use the google-machine to find the one's you like best. This is one of my favorites, by Bob Hicok.

Full Flight

I'm in a plane that will not be flown into a building.
It's a SAAB 340, seats 40, has two engines with propellers
is why I think of beanies, those hats that would spin
a young head into the clouds. The plane is red and loud
inside like it must be loud in the heart, red like fire
and fire engines and the woman two seats up and to the right
resembles one of the widows I saw on TV after the Towers
came down. It's her hair that I recognize, the fecundity of it
and the color and its obedience to an ideal, the shape
it was asked several hours ago to hold and has held, a kind
of wave that begins at the forehead and repeats with slight
variations all the way to the tips, as if she were water
and a pebble had been continuously dropped into the mouth
of her existence. We are eighteen thousand feet over America.
People are typing at their laps, blowing across the fog of coffee,
sleeping with their heads on the windows, on the pattern
of green fields and brown fields, streams and gas stations
and swimming pools, blue dots of aquamarine that suggest
we've domesticated the mirage. We had to kill someone,
I believe, when the metal bones burned and the top
fell through the bottom and a cloud made of dust and memos
and skin muscled across Manhattan. I remember feeling
I could finally touch a rifle, that some murders
are an illumination of ethics, that they act as a word,
a motion the brain requires for which there is
no syllable, no breath. The moment the planes had stopped,
when we were afraid of the sky, there was a pause
when we could have been perfectly American,
could have spent infinity dollars and thrown a million
bodies at finding the few, lasering our revenge
into a kind of love, the blood-hunger kept exact
and more convincing for its precision, an expression
of our belief that proximity is never the measure of guilt.
We've lived in the sky again for some years and today
on my lap these pictures from Iraq, naked bodies
stacked into a pyramid of ha-ha and the articles
about broomsticks up the ass and the limbs of children
turned into stubble, we are punch-drunk and getting even
with the sand, with the map, with oil, with ourselves
I think listening to the guys behind me. There's a problem
in Alpena with an inventory control system, some switches
are being counted twice, switches for what I don't know—
switches of humor, of faith—but the men are musical
in their jargon, both likely born in New Delhi
and probably Americans now, which is what the flesh
of this country has been, a grafted pulse, an inventory
of the world, and just as the idea of embrace
moves chemically into my blood, and I'm warmed
as if I've just taken a drink, a voice announces
we've begun our descent, and then I sense the falling.

Monday, August 29, 2011

After the Storm

I've been reading C.K. Williams's Repair and came across this poem. After Hurricane Irene has come and gone it struck a chord with me. I hope you enjoy it, too.


Even when the rain falls relatively hard,
only one leaf at a time of the little tree
you planted on the balcony last year,
then another leaf at its time, and one more,
is set trembling by the constant droplets,

but the rain, the clouds flocked over the city,
you at the piano inside, your hesitant music
mingling with the din of the downpour,
the gush of rivulets loosed from the eaves,
the iron railings and flowing gutters,

all of it fuses in me with such intensity
that I can't help wondering why my longing
to live forever has so abated that it hardly
comes to me anymore, and never as it did,
as regret for what I might not live to live,

but rather as a layering of instants like this,
transient as the mist drawn from the rooftops,
yet emphatic as any note of the nocturne
you practice, and, the storm faltering, fading
into its own radiant passing, you practice again.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gillian Welch

I saw Gillian Welch last night at the Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw. She was supposed to perform in Wilmington but due to Hurricane Irene the show was rescheduled to Saxapahaw. Thank you Irene! What a phenomenal show! If you ever get the opportunity to see Ms Welch & Mr Rawlings play by all means do so.

They played this song last night & it has always been one of my favorites. Always reminds me of a good friend of mine when back in the day we used to go out dancing just about every night. Loved dancing with my friend, Dave, & it makes sad / happy whenever I hear this song.

              Elvis Presley Blues from the Time (The Revelator) album, 2001

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Big money funding school resegregation in Wake County NC

The Republican party really wants to takes us back, back into the dark ages. These attempts to end public education are taking place not too far from here. People need to wake up and understand how extreme these Republicans are. And vote the bastards out in the next election.

To read more about this issue you can read about it here:  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The new poet laureate

Here's a poem by the new poet laureate, Philip Levine. Enjoy!

M. Degas Teaches Art & Science At Durfee Intermediate School--Detroit, 1942

He made a line on the blackboard,
one bold stroke from right to left
diagonally downward and stood back
to ask, looking as always at no one
in particular, "What have I done?"
From the back of the room Freddie
shouted, "You've broken a piece
of chalk." M. Degas did not smile.
"What have I done?" he repeated.
The most intellectual students
looked down to study their desks
except for Gertrude Bimmler, who raised
her hand before she spoke. "M. Degas,
you have created the hypotenuse
of an isosceles triangle." Degas mused.
Everyone knew that Gertrude could not
be incorrect. "It is possible,"
Louis Warshowsky added precisely,
"that you have begun to represent
the roof of a barn." I remember
that it was exactly twenty minutes
past eleven, and I thought at worst
this would go on another forty
minutes. It was early April,
the snow had all but melted on
the playgrounds, the elms and maples
bordering the cracked walks shivered
in the new winds, and I believed
that before I knew it I'd be
swaggering to the candy store
for a Milky Way. M. Degas
pursed his lips, and the room
stilled until the long hand
of the clock moved to twenty one
as though in complicity with Gertrude,
who added confidently, "You've begun
to separate the dark from the dark."
I looked back for help, but now
the trees bucked and quaked, 

and Iknew this could go on forever.  

Philip Levine

You can  hear Mr. Levine read the poem here: