Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Poetry in Entertainment Today

In the new Coen Brothers movie, "The Ladykillers", Tom Hanks plays a poetry-reciting criminal. From The Tufts Daily: "one memorable moment occurs when Poe-fanatic Dorr sees a raven alighting on a statue in a visual homage to the "on the pallid bust of Pallas" line in the famous poem."

John Donne Dies

On March 31, 1631.

A poet whose unorthodox wit was often reflected in his irregular meter.


Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so ;
For those, whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou'rt slave to Fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke ; why swell'st thou then ?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And Death shall be no more ; Death, thou shalt die.

Working Class Hero: a serial novel
(Chapter 3: On-the-Job Training)

For the first three weeks I worked with two guys until one of them was hospitalized; Howard and Ralph trained me in the art of dyes. Despite the fact that the work environment left everything to be desired, the job itself wasn’t all that bad. Howard called it cooking with pigments or something like that.

“It’s like whattaya-call-it, those loony-wows Hawaiians are having all the time,” he said.

“It’s called a luau,” Ralph said.

“Yeah a loo-wow, but instead of pig, we cook us up some pig-Mints.” His immense smile held his laughter inside. He was very pleased with his little joke. I could have taken it further and said something about having dinner and an after-dinner mint with the same job but I was too reserved, being new and all, to be so forward. I laughed at his joke though. Ralph frowned.

“As I was saying my man,” Ralph looked at me seriously, “these recipes are pretty straight and dry. They’re not the important thing to remember though. You can always look up every color in this book.” He handed me a three ring binder that must have been a rainbow of colors early in its career but now was just a vile drab brown.

“Julia Childhood’s cookbook,” Howard said. He was in his forties but still had the sense of humor of a teenager. I liked it. I knew that Ralph wanted to correct his mistake though, and scream out “Child, not Childhood,” but had obviously learned over the years that such correction would be a full time job, and he already had this one.

“The main thing to remember is you need to be incredibly careful with this awful shit.” Ralph pointed to a black canister. “Hydrochloric acid. It’ll burn you like a bastard.”

“We used it in chemistry,” I offered smartly.

“Well, this ain’t no test tube,” he said pointing to a large plastic bucket.

“And that ain’t no Ellis-Dee,” Howard said.

“What would you know about LSD,” asked Ralph.

“I sure enough know not to chase it down with a Budweiser,” he replied. Howard was laughing again and I wasn’t sure whether I should expound, using my knowledge of orange sunshine and the other finer acids I had tried during my college days. I was sure Howard had never tried anything more hallucinogenic than Jim Beam, but Ralph you couldn’t tell. He was in his thirties, but he was pretty cool.

“Man, you are one bad trip.” Ralph said. He surrendered to laughter this time. “Anyways, as I was saying before Jackie Gleason cut in, this shit is one bad motherfu….”

“Shut your mouth,” Howard said. There was a movie out then in the theatres called “Shaft”, and Howard’s little comment was part of the title song sung by the chorus who interrupted the main singer as he described the character Shaft as one mean mother… Howard was now humming the tune, or more like scatting the bass line and loudly.

Ralph ignored him this time. “When you pour said acid into said bucket, you want to be extremely, and I mean extremely, careful. But first when you open the canister, use a paper towel to wrap around the cap. Then slowly tip it towards the bucket, like this, and when you pour it, pour it real slow and gentle-like. Any of this stuff splashes in your eyes, say goodbye to your eyesight man.”

Howard laughed. “Say good-bye to your Playboys baby.” I laughed too.

As I said, the job wasn’t that bad. Each night the Screen-print Department Supervisor would hand us a sheet of colors required for the next day’s printing. There were canisters of powdered dye on long tables in the middle of the room. Picking up that large plastic bucket, I’d start scooping in various dyes called out in the recipe. Then I’d very deliberately pour in the acid and start mixing. Finally I’d carry the bucket to a large vat of some molasses-like substance (of which I never learned the name) into which I poured the mixture. I flipped a switch to begin the blending process. Then repeat. All night.

As Ralph had warned, the hydrochloric acid was the tricky part, and I was vigilant to avoid any contact at all. Such mill work moved like clockwork. But one night Howard came back from lunch late, laughing and drunk, bragging about the coming weekend and the Chez When strip club and an all-night bachelor party where he was planning never to “say when”, when he poured acid all over his lower left arm.

He screamed like a madman and Ralph ran to the door and called out for help. I backed against the wall and watched Howard slump to the floor as the supervisor ran in. Howard’s arm was boiling red and I looked away towards the recipe book. A nurse came and they quickly carried him away in a stretcher. He was literally crying out loud and it wasn’t tears of laughter.

“Man, how many times did I try to tell him work ain’t fun and games,” Ralph said to no one in particular. But I heard him. And it was my first real lesson on the job. I could carry that one with me no matter where I went.

Chapter 1: Life Span
Chapter 2: An Academic Dialogue

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Bob Dylan's Wine

That's w-i-n-e. There's no "h" in there. Never was. The man's a poet. Christopher Ricks will back me up on that. But this post isn't about his lyrics or his voice, but his taste. The Guardian reports:

Bob Dylan is a man of many aspects: poet, protester and born-again Christian. Now, it seems, the bard has turned to the bottle.

The eternal bohemian has developed an interest in upmarket Italian wine, with the result that, later this year, a classy blend of Montepulciano and Merlot will reach the shelves in a bottle signed by the singer and bearing the name of his 1974 album Planet Waves

The article ends with an appropriate quote from one of his more famous songs:

"Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."
(-from All Along the Watchtower)

Now we know: $64

Three Maple Trees (part 1)

Last week, two old maples trees were cut down, down the road from me here in Pleasant Valley. Until this winter there had been three, but a storm partially destroyed one and the town completed that business a day later. Last week someone finished off the whole damned thing. Now there remains three great stumps.

These trees were exceptionally old with diameters at the base of four to five feet. I haven’t counted the rings but I’d guess they were more than 200 years old, if not more. The house whose property they had lined was built in 1793, for Josiah Worthen, a shipwright. It’s my guess they were planted around that time, if not before.

They would have been there when John Greenleaf Whittier came rambling down the road visiting the home of Moses Huntington (an old map I have of Amesbury indicates the Huntingtons lived approximately where I now live) to attend Quaker meetings and discuss topics such as God, the abomination of slavery, and underground railways. Not only was this a pleasant valley it was a civilized one as well.

In "Mabel Martin", Whittier tells a story in verse about an Amesbury girl whose mother was hung during the Salem witch scares, the only woman from north of the Merrimack to meet such a fate. In an introductory note, he writes “Sussanna Martin, an aged woman of Amesbury, Mass., was tried and executed for the alleged crime of witchcraft. Her home was in what is now known as Pleasant Valley on the Merrimac.”

In the poem, Whittier first describes that valley:

And, through the shadow looking west,
You see the wavering river flow
Along a vale, that far below

Holds to the sun, the sheltering hills
And glimmering water-line between,
Broad fields of corn and meadows green,

And fruit-bent orchards grouped around
The low brown roofs and painted eaves,
And chimney-tops half hid in leaves.

No warmer valley hides behind
Yon wind-scourged sand-dunes, cold and bleak ;
No fairer river comes to seek

The wave-sung welcome of the sea,
Or mark the northmost border line
Of sun-loved growths of nut and vine.

Here, ground-fast in their native fields,
Untempted by the city's gain,
The quiet farmer folk remain

Who bear the pleasant name of Friends,
And keep their fathers' gentle ways
And simple speech of Bible days;

Monday, March 29, 2004

Emma Lazurus Rising

from Smithsonian Magazine
Colossal Ode
by David Lehman

"Last year marked the centenary of an event that almost went unnoticed at the time—the May 5, 1903, presentation of a bronze plaque of Lazarus' poem to the War Department post commander on Bedloe's Island. Lazarus had written her most famous poem in 1883 to raise money at an auction to help pay for a pedestal for Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi's gigantic statue, "Liberty Enlightening the World."

The New Colossus
by Emma Lazurus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
'Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!' cries she
With silent lips. 'Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'

Lord of the Rings (Cliff Notes version)

from Totally Flabbergasted a Cliff Notes version, of Lord of the Rings. Cute. But quick. Literally; prepare to speed read.

Excuse Me for a Political Moment

Kevin Drum, formerly, of Calpundit now of Washington Monthly's Political Animal writes a brief but reasoned analysis of Richard Clarke's book in his blog today. There's been so much chaos surrounding the politics last week that it's refreshing to read something considered on what Clarke is actually saying. One can then agree or disagree. Here's what I think is the money quote within quote:

"Here's how Clarke describes what he learned when the intelligence community first discovered the existence of al-Qaeda in 1996:

The ingredients al Qaeda dreamed of for propagating its movement were a Christian government attacking a weaker Muslim region, allowing the new terrorist group to rally jihadists from many countries to come to the aid of the religious brethren. After the success of the jihad, the Muslim region would become a radical Islamic state, a breeding ground for more terrorists, a part of the eventual network of Islamic states that would make up the great new Caliphate, or Muslim empire.

From his point of view, then, Bush's post-9/11 obsession with attacking states was simply playing into al-Qaeda's hands. "It was as if Usama bin Laden, hidden in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting 'invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq.'""


The Passivator By Paul Ford:
A passive verb and adverb flagger for Mozilla-derived browsers, Safari, and Opera 7.5, with caveats.

It would be absolutely positively helpful if I were to be able to blithely use it on Internet Explorer but oh well.

Goodbye Lenin

Beverly and I saw “Goodbye Lenin” yesterday at the Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge. I’ve been waiting for some weeks to see this movie, ever since I heard a review on NPR. Well, the wait was worth it. The movie takes place in East Germany during the events before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and although the story concerns that political landscape, it’s ultimately a family comic drama about the lies we all tell to protect the ones we love.

A mother experiences a heart attack and suffers a coma that lasts eight months. When she recovers, the doctor tell her son and daughter that she still is weak. Any surprise could kill her. Since she was an ardently patriotic East German, the son decides they must hide the dramatic changes of the last 8 months, changes that are building towards the reunification of Germany.

He recreates the old East Germany in various and humorous ways in a loving attempt to keep the truth from her, but in turn discovers a significant truth that had been kept from him. It’s a story of our love for our ideals, whether personal or political ones, and the falsehoods told in order to protect them, falsehoods that will destroy those same ideals in the process. It’s a good story about a fascinating time that translates well to contemporary events in this country. 4.5 grapes.

The Wayback Machine

Browse through 30 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago.

The Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Wine Lists

I’ve been blogging for 6 weeks now and I’ve never in that time mentioned additions to my blog lists like many if not all of you do. Tonight I will mention each one that is on the permanent list, the wine list, so to speak, as well as explain the logic behind it all. These blogs have been the single greatest discovery of the past weeks, their honesty, wisdom, humor, interest, writing, and I could go on, have made this journey thrilling.

Currently I’ve divided that wine list into four separate lists: PoetryMerlot, NaturePinotNoir, CultureCabernet, and PoliticalChianti. These are the permanent lists. I think there are three ways for a blog to appear on these lists (it’s something I’ve been formulating in the past 6 weeks): 1. They are blogs that I like to check in on a daily basis. 2. They are blogs that have linked to me. 3. Both (fortuitously most are in this category today).

The Vineyard, on the other hand, is my blogrolling list that includes intriguing places that I have discovered and like to keep tabs on every now and then. They rise to the lists above either when they become part of my daily reading habit, or they link to me. They are sometimes removed for random reasons.

In Poetry Merlot I’ve linked to the following:
In a Dark Time (terrific essays on poets)
Ivy is here (sparkling discussion)
{lime tree} (considered perspectives)
Mike Snider's Formal Blog and Sonnetarium (wonderful formalist dialogue)
Poetry Hut Blog (fantastic daily links)
Silliman's Blog (fascinating dissertations)
The Chatelaine's Poetics (engaging discourse)

In NaturePinotNoir:
Fragments from Floyd (I love the blue ridge)

In CultureCabernet:
a fool in the forest (splendid reflections)
Ruminate (refreshing deliberation)
Antonio Savoradin (excellent if uncategorizable musings)

PoliticalChianti I have discussed in the past, although there now remains only two blogs listed.

In the future, I will try to discuss additions to the lists as they occur, or at least within that week.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Acadia Gallery #1

................An Inukshuk Hikes Acadia................

(click on pic for larger view)

copyright Greg Perry 2004

Poetry at the Movies

The title of the movie, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", comes from a poem by Alexander Pope

from Eloisa to Abelard

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd;

Happy Birthday Robert Frost

March 26, 1874, poet Robert Frost was born in San Francisco.

The Oven Bird

There is a singer eveyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past,
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Newburyport Harbor in Late March

Before the boats return from dry
dock’s winter-long sabbatical
the harbor soaks up early sun
without a passing sail of care

filling primeval emptiness
with deep subconscious images:
blue water, waves, white-caps, a floating bird,
and unseen creatures named without one word.


In the spirit of the Onanistic Chatelaine, (again?) here's a comment I made on another blog:

"I just love how blogging something so ephemeral about, say, a sitcom, can evolve into something much more memorable, say, Mike on meter. It's a wonderful world, n'est ce pas? "

Troubadors (rhythm and line)

Look, I’m just a working stiff poet in a manner of speaking and all this theory that’s been bandied about concerning avant garde and formalism really bores me to tears. I’m sorry. I tried. So, yes, it’s easy to write a bad poem in form. Congratulations. I’m not sure what it proves, but when I figure it out I’ll get back to you. And I even proved it’s easy to write an avant garde line. Thanks Tim. I’m not sure what I proved in that childish exercise except it’s fun to be a kid every now and then.

Now, from the most unlikely of places I have come upon the most remarkable analysis of what’s been going down with Mike and Jonathan and Kasey and god knows what other poetics majors. Ron Silliman today goes back to the troubador. (Please play Van Morrison’s tune in the background as soundtrack if you know it.)

Now I’m going to cut and paste here some of his comments mostly for my future reference. This isn’t masturbation as the lovely Chatelaine practices but it does feel really good, but more significantly helps me locate important items in the future.

For example, today, a friend at work asked rhetorically why do people suck, and I went and found very quickly the Philip Larkin poem I quoted several days ago. Now this individual probably read his last poem in junior college, but he asked me to email him that one he liked it so much. Anyways I wander. Let me cut and paste instead:

Trobar leu or trobar plan, literally light or plain trobar, trobar meaning to invent or compose verse, appears to have been a populist art, immediately comprehensible to a listener with an untrained ear

Trobar clus, meaning secret or closed, represented the other extreme, writing that was principally intended for one’s fellow poets. Trobar clus is sometimes characterized as being the most difficult & obscure

Between leu & clus, there was a middle path, trobar ric, or rich trobar, which carried many of the surface features of trobar clus, but without the inner density. One can read this as intended to create a buffer literature, something for those beyond one’s immediate peers, but close enough to create a sense of something more than the plain modes for the masses.

Trobar clus was – I would argue still is – the poetics of complete engagement. It is the medium in which the poet demands the very utmost of him- or herself. And of the reader as well. It’s the mode of poetry that continually seeks to renew & expand the field of what is possible.

Often enough we hear the phrase “a poet’s poet,” as if that were a sign of a certain marginality, yet if we follow the rather concentric model posed by the troubadours, we arrive at a different reading. Trobar clus – the poetry of total engagement – represents the elements of poetry that, by definition, cannot be bled off into other genres. It really is a kind of bindu point, an evolving center out which poetry itself evolves.

Now I find it interesting that Ron has gone back to the troubadors to base his argument. because that happens to be my starting point also. But the troubador I call upon is a more contemporary one, in particular, Bob Dylan. And the issue I always confront is rhythm and line. Troubadors were concerned with that same thing. Formalists of all stripes are too. I’m sure we could list the plain and the rich and the clueless amongst them as well.

For example, I know that Richard Wilbur is loved by formalists. But like I said I’m a working stiff and prefer a Sam Adams and pistachios. But hey, they like Wilbur. I don’t. But to get back to rhythm and line, I just don’t see it. But I'm open to instruction. Really.

But here's more cut and paste from "An Overview: Why the Troubadours?" by Paul Zumthor
From A Handbook of the Troubadors, ed. Akehurst (1999) :

The melody, normally composed at the same time as the text, is the overarching form: it gives unity to the song, guarantees its originality, and makes it into a single whole.

...everything suggests that the earliest troubadours (or the unknown poets who were their immediate predecessors) created an original form from various elements presented to them by the practices and customs of their time, which they were able to transform into a homogeneous discourse with a particular purpose. The question of "origins" comes back to an inventory of these elements, of which some are to be defined in terms of rhythms, melodies, and verse patterns, and others in terms of imagination and sensitivity, without their being entirely separable.

The only certainties concern the music and a few rhythmic forms.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Slack Tide

The Merrimack river is tidal from Newburyport to Haverhill which includes the little portion that I ramble along in Amesbury. Tides along the coast here rise and fall about nine feet, give or take, likely influenced by the Bay of Fundy’s draw upon the Gulf of Maine. Fundy has arguably the greatest tidal differentials in the world (there’s another bay in Northern Canada that disputes this claim) reaching to fifty feet in places.

So the further north you travel on the New England coast the larger the tidal variation will be. Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine, for example, reaches more than twelve feet. Further Downeast, Eastport approaches twenty. For comparison purposes, Cape Hatteras on the Outer Banks of North Carolina experiences just three foot variations.

This morning the Merrimack River was experiencing low slack tide. The tide had gone out to sea and now the river was caught in that still place before the tide comes in again. Nothing moved on its surface. There was no noticeable current and because there was no wind, there were no ripples either. Any debris that was journeying out to sea was resting there in abeyance.

I think all of us experience such slackness in some kind of cycle. Maybe it’s some monthly thing caused by the pull of the moon. Maybe it’s in the stars or Mars and Venus. Maybe it’s a weekly phenomenon caused by work or romance or coupon specials at the supermarket. Maybe it’s just the despairing state of the world. It’s something though.

Our tidal divergences, on the other hand, will register as mania or some other kind of lesser enthusiasm. I know a Fundy. I know an Hatteras. I know people in-between. I think I’m somewhere in-between myself. There are days when I’m confident about everything. There are others when I’d rather not arise. I’d say the disparity is around nine-feet, give or take. I’m no Walt Whitman for sure. Neither am I Bartleby the Scrivener.

But maybe I’m being too singular of mind. Like Walt says, we’re full of contradictions and contain multitudes. And our complicated beings reside in more than just one place. My heart’s in Hatteras. My soul is in Acadia. My ancestry hails from Fundy. Still today I’m slack, just like the Merrimack.

Poetry in Entertainment Tonight

The sitcom Frasier comes to an end.

"The last episode, which made room for laughs and tears, includes an Alfred Lord Tennyson poem recited by the erudite Dr. Crane. "That which we are, we are," he intoned."

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
--from "Ulysses"

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Working Class Hero: a serial novel
(Chapter 2: An Academic Dialogue)

My father was a carpenter by day, bartender at night, but a union man to his death. Walter Reuther of the UAW was his one true hero. What inspired my Dad wasn’t just the benefits or wages that Reuther helped the working man acquire but the respect factories now needed to pay their workers. It wasn’t like the old days when workers slaved long hours for little pay under hideous conditions. Labor guaranteed a decent life.

Still, he desired I attend a good college and learn a worthy profession, even if only that of an elementary school teacher. I know he boasted with his buddies about his son going to Boston College with all those lawyer’s sons. That’s why he was so distraught when one night near the end of my sophomore year I announced I was quitting.

“Over my dead body.” he shouted.

“I don’t have to go if I don’t want to go.” I shouted back.

“I haven’t worked two jobs twenty years so you can be a good-for-nothing bum.”

“I’ll get myself a job”

“Oh, sure you will. And what kind of job can a college drop-out get himself.”

“I can always get a job at Waltham Mills.”

He laughed. “You wouldn’t last a week in the mills.”

“Tommy says they’re hiring night shift and he knows someone there, like a supervisor, who can get me in at $1.65 an hour.”

“You should go and talk to your uncle about the mills. He’s worked at Waltham Mills for twenty years. He can tell you what hell the mills are.”

“No more a hell than BC and all that phony academic crap.”

“You really don’t know how good you have it.”

“I never asked to have it good.”

“You’re going to throw away a full scholarship to Boston College and go to work in some dark hell hole.”

“You worked in the mills.”

“I worked in the bobbin shop in the mills and only because I had to. You don’t have to.

“There’s nothing wrong with working in the mills. It’s better than going to school and learning how to be some capitalistic pig.”

“Take your head out of your ass and look at the real world, Calvin.”

“What, so I can see a failure like yourself?”

“I might be a failure wise ass, but I never pissed away a scholarship.”

That conversation would continue in various permutations for three weeks. My mother chimed in, my uncle put in a word, and then my brother would take the lead, all orchestrated by my father. It never really stopped until my grades came in and any illusions my father may have had of my returning to school vanished like beer on a warm summer day. I had skipped my last two finals and of course failed those classes making my GPA no longer acceptable to the School of Education. I was a free man.

I whiled away the first few weeks taking a vacation, but after one too many confrontations with an angry family concerned about a lazy son, I got a job at Waltham Mills, working nights in the screen-print dye shop. The powdered pigments stained my clothes new colors every night, and glues and hydrochloric acids stung my eyes with acrid ghosts from working days gone by. Even the floors were layered with generations of muck and mire. My Dad was right; it really was a hell hole.

copyright Gregory Perry 2004

Chapter 1: Life Span

Next week's installment: our hero (remember this is fiction loosely based on some fact) starts his employment at Waltham Mills and begins his training in the art of work.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Unfettering the brat

Ivy from Ivy is here says the following about form

The thing I find valuable about form (and I've found this in other fields of creativity, such as theatre and performance) is that there is a freedom in restriction. It forces you to be inventive. If you're not allowed to go beyond imposed limits, you have to be that much more imaginative within those limits.

And I really like that. I've come up with scenarios that to me are amazing and a surprise. If I'm surprised, then I bet the audience/reader is surprised, too. I know I would not have come up with this stuff, had I not had the walls I was given.

Form does allow you to be inventive by providing agreeable boundaries. Like permitting a child space to practice his/her anarchy within certain limits, at first your passions desire to run wild and chaotic, but over time a new sense of security allows imagination to find fresh and surprising means of conception.

But at some point the brat needs to run free. That’s where I find myself now. I think that’s one of the reasons I started this blog: not only to push myself into different directions but also to experience others who may have contradictory ideas about things. I may not agree at first, or at all, but it’s a breath of fresh air to inhale.

Still I’m having some difficulty. Each time I start writing a poem in free verse, I end up writing it in meter. I’m a creature of habit and I’m addicted to this one. It took me years to find myself there, a slow tortuous process of rhythm to accent and finally syllable, and now I can’t find the words out. So for now I’m writing essays that are next door to prose poems in a manner of speaking, hoping to free a rambunctious voice.

Yet it’s not a matter of wanting to experiment for experiment’s sake. I still think communication and rhythm are key, but something this way comes. Not wanting to go back in that fruitless direction of formalism versus the rest of the world, but I do sometimes feel that for many in that country, form comes first. Borders are advantageous things to have but sometimes one needs to travel outside them.

Misplaced Inspiration

I made my first spring walk this morning and was greeted by a north-west wintry gale that chilled one side of my body, while the other warmed with strong high-pressurized sun. Weather like this clears the air. The sky accordingly was bottomless blue and the river sparkled with daylight and white caps.

I passed an American flag whipping up a frenzy in the wind. Nothing else moved in the yard. Further down the road, at a construction site, carpenters were about to begin their daily routine of hard work and easygoing conversation. I heard an occasional word: ‘girlfriend’, ‘weekend’, ‘basketball’. But the crack of hammers soon drowned out every sound including the morning songs of birds.

At the signal old maple tree, I turned to walk back home, and saw a tall man out walking his dog. The stranger wore a long black coat with a deep black hood. I felt a piercing in my left side like a hypochondriac confronting a sudden certainty and felt a dizziness rushing to my head.

It’s a wicked time in which we’re living. Terror and revenge have been blowing in the wind for so long now that its energy has bent our minds like the mountain spruces one will see at tree line. Seldom a day goes by without its drumbeat drowning out domestic voices in some unkind way.

Even poets lose themselves in its overwhelming shadow forgetting all about everyday passions and emotions in favor of politics and partisan prose. Turning back is difficult though. It’s not an academic issue to be bandied about like so many angels on the head of a pin.

There’s a necessity now to affirm life in no unqualified terms. Whitman called for democratic poets of the west to rise, but his voice has been silenced by the cliques of dissimilar codes. And fear is overwhelming; I know its darkness sends a chill into my heart paralyzing my very actions.

But still I walk on knowing that warmer weather has to dawn. The calendar is stronger than our fears, and to turn Thoreau around, time is life-consuming. So I pray for some kind of insight although there’s nothing I can do right now but avoid the intermittent occurrence of oncoming cars rushing their way to work.

While stepping to the side of the road, I notice a flock of Canada geese on the riverbank hunkered down, their heads turned inwards. They look like so many soulless poets. And I know the feeling. All I can think about is readying myself for work to make that long commute to somewhere other than where I want to be.

Revision Four

Kennebunkport Dreaming

On Walker Point, the Bush’s summer home
prevails, palatial. Travelers will stop
their Civics, Focuses, or Golfs to roam
the ocean path and gawk. Their jaws will drop,
confronted by their democratic need
to scope out sure locations. There she blows!
Americans may love the pedigreed—
although its well-off points of view oppose
their own self-interest—if allowed to dream
that someday they may run their Walker Point,
Hyannisport, or at the least, some scheme
that yields enough resources to anoint
their children with that oil of destiny.
Meanwhile they’ll opt to sight the holy see.

copyright Gregory Perry 2004

I posted the first draft of this poem last week. Since then I've made some revisions to it in attempt to remove filler, improve readability, and add some associative flavor. For example, I replaced 'is quite' with 'prevails' in L2 to both tighten and flavor the line. The L6 replacement of 'sure' for 'right' just plays a lttle more. The last line is one I'm having most difficulty with. Right now I'm playing with maybe too many sight gags. It's in review. It's not my wish to bore you with another revision of a slight poem already previewed on these pages, but I did think it might be a good idea to exhibit my process of revision in my blog. It's the little secret of poetry that is seldom seen but in workshops and there it's sometimes seen too little.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Before Inspiration

Sunday and the river is peaceful. It’s the quiet before the spring when a virtual crossword puzzle of docks goes in, boats with clever names are launched, and people stroll the complex of marina shouting nautical salutations. By summer more than a hundred boats will fill the shoreline and several more will slide in the current rolling up and down the river. Sounds will be everywhere.

But right now, right here, there’s a brilliant silence. Not a boat is navigating the river and all the docks are still stacked up in the boat yard. The surrounding land is also serene. There, it’s the quiet before the storm of spring when buds bloom and flowers blossom and trees begin to leaf. But right now there’s this emptiness. Even last week’s snow is melting in most places.

The swollen tide is going out to sea. Two Canada geese float by. An eagle wanders the atmosphere every now and then. The sky is mostly cloudy but a few patches of blue intervene and a stray ray of sunshine lands at my feet.

Right now: the river sparkles upstream. The water turns from slate gray to a burnished silver. A hint of navy appears. The snow across the river brightens and pines across the river turn a lighter shade of green and grow in character, no longer a monolith of shade. My hands warm as I write this.

It’s been four months since I last stood here and watched the vista from this vantage point. In-between winter happened. Now spring is just about to. But now nothing happens. Everything is still. Not even a poem is being written.

Poetry in the news

"Yesterday's edition of the weekly tabloid al-Itijah al-Ahkar (The Other Direction), for example, splashed a the banner headline scoop of a "Saddam poem to Arab leaders smuggled from his cell through a means not yet revealed."

The 16 lines of Arabic poetry attributed to Saddam warn Middle East leaders, "I drank the cup of poison, and sooner or later you will drink yours."

Declaring himself "the Muheed" (military commander without equal) Saddam's purported poetry goes on to chide Arab leaders to "beg (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon for forgiveness" since they utterly failed the cause of Arab nationalism by allowing his defeat."

from The Toronto Star

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Sunday funnies

Thanks to Jilly at Poetry Hut Blog

(image removed)
You are Wallace Stevens. You are a sad, beautiful
insurance salesman. You write sad, beautiful
poems about nature and impossible things.

Which 20th Century Poet Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I guess it makes sense (if only.) The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.

Sunday papers

Could Larkin the beloved poet have existed without Larkin the racist cad of a man?
by Adam Kirsch

It's the Woody Allen question, and I always come out on the side of Annie Hall, Sleeper, and Manhattan. Ditto Larkin and his work. And really, ditto us all. So on this first Sunday of spring, let's say a prayer for the whole damned bunch of us.

This be the Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

-Philip Larkin

Saturday, March 20, 2004

grapez wicked good wine #3
Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha 2002

Across the border in New Hampshire there’s a state liquor store on I-95. Yes, that’s right, you heard me right, the liquor store is much like a rest stop on an interstate. In fact, it is a rest stop, but first in the hearts of many travelers it’s a liquor store, with great deals on hard liquor, but more importantly I think, wine. Fellow citizens from the great state of Massachusetts flock to this establishment and stock up on their favorite elixirs, return to their cars, and turn at the next exit for a fifty cent toll to return to their homes with their almost tax-free bounty.

To me, it’s like a visit to a bookstore. I grab a basket and start browsing the aisles for values. Every day there's around a hundred wines on sale from a selection that must register near a thousand. I can literally spend an hour looking at the various exquisite labels, checking out the discounts, and investigating the advertisements that declare this particular wine was rated this astonishing score by this highly regarded wine journal. I know it’s hype, but it’s led me in more right directions than wrong.

Last Sunday while Beverly waited in the car reading her book (she told me to take my time: mistake) I picked up a shopping basket and went hunting for 7 bottles of wine. My wine rack holds eight and I was determined to find the lone pinot noir caught in one of its lower collars some fine companions. I found a Rhone that I like and will mention at some later date by name, a Chianti on sale that I never had tasted and thought was worth the risk at such a good deal, and a brand name Merlot (Kendall Jackson) that I had never tried before.

I was over in the Australian wines waiting for a Shiraz to beckon to my sense of economy when I overheard some people behind me talking about a Grenache that had been highly rated by I couldn’t hear the name. They were looking in the Spanish wines, and one of the party (2 couples) would grab an inexpensive bottle and ask if that was the recently reviewed title, while one of the women would groan out a no, and the close inspection would start all over again. To no avail: they left to look for a Chardonnay I think.

Meanwhile, no Shiraz called out to me, so I continued to that same Spanish quarter to begin looking for a wicked good bargain, because I have found that’s where the best deals are. I’m not sure why, but you can often find good wine for five bucks (well, maybe seven) more often than not there, and that my friends is an astonishing bang for the buck. There was a Borsao discounted, a great wine for the price but one that I drank one too many times I fear.

I decided to postpone my Spanish inquisition and turned to enter the Cabernet causeway when I ran into a small aisle display of Parker-rated wines (Robert Parker, the wine expert, not the mystery writer, although in some ways they dabble in the same realm of the mysterious.) And there on that display, as big as the Hollywood sign to my well-trained senses, a card read the following: “Rated 91 by Robert Parker who writes ‘may be the greatest wine value I have ever tasted.’” Yikes! Did someone say value? The gang of four were gone so I couldn’t whistle them over, but I thanked them in my prayers and grabbed a bottle.

As I walked out with my seven wines safely packed in a Ruffino Riserva Ducale box (I was so excited, the wine of Tony Soprano and a great chianti to boot, a collectors item for this wine afficianado because I’ll never pay $300 for a case), my only regret was that I bought but one bottle of the Las Rocas. What if it is really that good, I thought, as I walked out to the car and prepared a weak apology to Bevery (well you said to take my time.)

Well, I have a glass here by the monitor and let me unequivocally state it’s really good. Unlike other Garnachas I’ve tasted (Grenache is the French my friends) this one is not too bold, and there’s a nice hint of oak in the aftertaste (obviously something I like if I like the Riserva Ducale) but an aftertaste that follows a refreshing clean and light fruity overture. After time, the combination builds to a velvet underground. I’m going to get me another bottle or 3 this weekend. Thanks Mr. Parker.

*3/21 typos corrected: (garnacha not granacha) (I95 not I93)

Previous grapez wicked good wines:
gwgw #2: Columbia Crest 'Grand Estates' Merlot
gwgw #1: Monte Antico

Friday, March 19, 2004

You may or may not be experiencing Technical Difficulties

I may be experiencing technical difficulties on your screen. I apologize. I recently discovered (thanks Jonathan) that my light purple background was dark purple on some screens (his, at least.) I've changed to white. But also some of my punctuation is coming out as garbled code (that explains a comment I read a week ago about this dude [me] needing to learn punctuation code.) That I'm looking into. But if anyone has had similar problems with Blogger, please drop me a line or comment. Thanks.

100 Most Often Mispronounced

You say 'Heimlich maneuver', I say 'Heineken remover', but don't take my word for granite. Read them all here.

What's wrong with peace, love, and understanding

After two nights of snow, the ground this morning was a sugary wonderland. A sweet powder had spilled from the heavens, and I’m not talking cocaine honey. Even the roads were white with that frozen confection. The river though was one slate-gray ribbon running through a fair world of late winter, really springtime, snow. I thought that would be my general condition. I thought I’d be depressed from such a snowstorm after weeks of warmer weather. I thought I’d be slate-gray at best. But I wasn’t. How can one despise such sweetness.

Beverly and I decided tonight. The way to world peace is ice cream. Gather all world leaders and keep them stocked in ice cream cones of their favorite flavors, and let them work their bs out. No one can be belligerent while licking chocolate ice cream. Or black raspberry. Or maple walnut. Or…

There’s been some low talk about Rhina Espaillat’s poetry in some places. Mike Snider makes a great defense. But the best defense is Rhina’s wonderful poetry. Here’s a few links to some of her poems on-line. Read them and enjoy. And have a Ben & Jerry’s. I’ll take coffee toffee crunch tonight. Chill out people.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

The Good, the Bad, and My Latest Poem

Chris Lott has some insightful points about the cult of the new in poetry, and uses this great analogy: “What is it with this cult of the new? In my job, working with technology and education, I have a fundamental rule, a prime directive that states: thou shalt not put the technology first. There may be many ways to do many things, and they may have intrinsic attraction, but in the end the technological tools only exist in this context as means to an end.”

Myself, I think it’s the old frontier mentality. Americans require new lands whether they be physical or intellectual. Even the traditional is renamed: “New Formalism.” But it's not the new that's needed. It's the news. Or as William Carlos Williams wrote: "It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there."

On the other hand, how unfair is it of Jonathan Mayhew to critique a poem in the following manner, “There is no convincing imagery, no logopeia or interest in language, no intelligence of the everyday sort, no emotional weight. There is no style.” yet leave out the last six lines. He never indicates that the poem he refers to is a sonnet, nor fesses up to the fact that he’s only quoting the first 8 lines. Now I’m not a real fan of this particular poet but she is telling a story in this poem that requires the commonplace to highlight the uncommon world of the psychic. Only then will the real magic at the end of the poem kick in. But you wouldn’t be able to see that through Jonathan’s trick. Here’s the last 6 lines:

Hand me a scarf the victim wore around
Her neck - or else her glasses, or a ring.
I’ll see a place: and there the body’s found.
Finding the killer? That’s a different thing.
Bodies are easy; their passivity
Gives them away. Guilt is too quick for me.

There's more intelligence, weight, and style in that last line than in all of Jonathan's screed. The whole poem can be read here.

And lastly, I was inspired by all this poetic theory to put my verses where my mouth is. Here’s a poem I wrote tonight. It’s a first draft but I think it’s moving in the right direction.

Kennebunkport Dreaming

On Walker Point, the Bush’s summer home
is quite palatial. Passersby will stop
their Civics, Focuses, or Golfs and roam
along the ocean path. Their jaws will drop
confronted with that democratic need
to find the right location. There she blows!
Americans can love the pedigreed,
who hold a point of view that must oppose
their own self-interest, if allowed to dream
that someday they may have their Walker Point,
Hyannisport, or at the least, a scheme
to mine enough resources to anoint
their children with that oil of destiny.
Meanwhile they thrill to view the holy sea.

copyright Gregory Perry 2004

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Working Class Hero: a serial novel
(Chapter 1: Life Span)

When I was nineteen my father dropped dead of a heart-attack. He was at work, alone in the thin-film room at Western Electric, inspecting silicon chips with a microscope. It was late Friday night and he was checking the quality of gold plating when a spasm ran up his left arm and wrapped his heart with a bear hug. He fell off his chair and died on the tiles five minutes later.

I was to start work at Western Electric that very next week. He dropped me off at my apartment earlier that same day and reminded me that he had helped get me the job so dress nice and act responsible. “I’ll pick you up Monday at three so don’t be late my prodigal son.” Of course I had no idea those would be his last words to me. I said something clever in response I know, but dammed if I can remember what.

Later that night Annie and I went to see some movie, but I was home alone at eleven when the bell rang. I skipped downstairs and opened the door. My brother pushed me back upstairs ignoring all my protests and pointed questions. Jack is ten years older than me but he’s not the variety of older sibling that shoves his younger one around, or at least he hadn’t been since I had turned thirteen or thereabouts. He closed the apartment door behind us. “Sit down brother”, he said. It wasn’t a request; he never called me “brother.”

“Hey, what the hell did I do now,” I asked. But I could tell from his troubled expression and swollen bloodshot eyes that I hadn’t done anything, but something was about to be done to me. I know it’s just a cliché, but the room closed in on us. The light grew clear and darkly intense and the beige walls came to life. I was looking at a long white crack in the aging plaster.

“It’s dad,” he said. I measured the next seconds as if they were slow cold drips from a faucet. “He’s dead.”

We didn’t hug. We’re not that kind of family. But after my brother left I drank a beer and tried to reminisce about my father. I couldn’t remember the last time I hugged him or told him that I loved him. I remembered him embracing me though. He had a few too many one night, grabbed me in a bear hug and said “I love you, you know, you lazy long-haired hippie college drop-out.”

I squirmed uncomfortable in his arms. “Jeez, Dad, I’ll get a job soon enough,” I answered.

“Well, I won’t be alive forever,” he said somberly. My father could get quite maudlin after several Budweisers. In fact I can still see him at our summer cottage, at twilight, a glass of beer in his hand, looking out the bay window at a swarm of insects and holding forth on the life span of a moth. It was more amusing then of course than it sounds right now.

copyright 2004 Gregory Perry

I'm attempting a novel in serial form. I'm not sure where it's heading although I have some direction in mind. I've never done this kind of long form writing before, but thought the demands for a daily entry in this blog would provide some impetus to attempt a short weekly chapter. Any feedback would be appreciated. And could veer this work in progress into unforeseen vectors.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

a hot afternoon in the life of a grasshopper

Tim Peterson responded to my writing about his poem the other day both here and at his site. I would like to answer his questions. But in order to be understood by both the avant garde and all the rest us bringing up the rear, I’ve decided to post my responses in both languages.

I would be intrigued to hear what exactly you find "incomprehensible" about these lines

the rear... Beyond the fact that there’s no logical sentence structure, I find the images haphazard and unconnected, leading me nowhere. It’s worse than just a dead-end, though. There never was a road.

the avant... prison sentences so long the buttercups won’t do the tango

I suppose I would be even more intrigued to hear why you feel so confident making sweeping judgements about one individual section of a 25-page poem, without having seen the other sections

the rear... I suppose you have a point there. I haven’t read the 25 pages, but based on this sampling as well as some other poems I have read of yours, I doubt I could. I am sure that your 25 page epic is a well-crafted piece in the genre that you work in. I just don’t understand that genre. And I'd bet few do.

the avant... the loons from appaloosa leap corrals of bottomless crescendo

I repeat a statement a friend of mine said when Sharon Olds workshopped one of his poems and, having a similar criticism, told him "I'm not sure I know how to read this." He responded, "The letters forms words, which make sounds. You make the sounds with your mouth."

the rear... I’ll repeat what Robert Frost once said to everyone interested in listening: “We bring up as aberrationists, giving way to undirected associations and kicking ourselves from one chance suggestion to another in all directions as of a hot afternoon in the life of a grasshopper. Theme alone can steady us down. Just as the first mystery was how a poem could have a tune in such a stratightness as meter, so the second mystery is how a poem can have wildness and at the same time a subject that shall be fulfilled.”

the avant... to quote my audience, myself: “swinger pen penis to write and under plans”

Perhaps you are bringing your own elite expectations and prejudices to my work when you read it, and in this sense I find your reading particularly interesting as an expression of your own particular worldview.

the rear... I expect I am bringing my own expectations and prejudices to your work, although I doubt that they’re elitist. But if you see a worldview of common sense and subconscious observation with creative tension between the two, then look a little closer.

the avant... bang the drum quiz kid crack a do but space still fills the snapple

If you could please remove the italics, I would greatly appreciate it. Even though this is a lyrical section of a larger poem which employs both narrative and lyrical strategies, it's not supposed to be in italics.

the rear... No problem

the avant... No problem.

Ah, communication at last! So that's the end of our interview. Good luck with your work, Tim. And I've never been published in Kenyon or Sewanee Review either. (Talk about elitist.) But I'm strictly an aging beginner still writing his juvenalia.

Monday, March 15, 2004

The Worlds We Weave

The web is an almost endless firmament of threads. While searching for blogs concerned with nature, I came upon a wiki called Ecotone. From that wiki, I discovered some interesting blogs, Fragments from Floyd by Fred and Cassandra's Pages just two exceptional examples of these. From Fred's page last week I discovered that Ecotone runs biweekly topics in which its community of bloggers discuss a single topic en masse. And today's happens to be about spiders.

Spiders in New England are such tame characters. No Black Widows or Tarantulas roam the back roads here. My closest encounters usually occur inside, maybe spotting an eight-legged creature scurrying across the bathroom tiles. I usually leave it alone, considering it a small pet that collects undesirable insects, much like a cat that catches mice. And furthermore, on a superstitious note, I don’t wish it to rain.

Which brings me to my encounters with spiders in the great outdoors, usually just those threads between low-hanging branches. They'll catch your face while hiking like a loose strand of hair that just won't go back in place. Or those small rock spiders I see when resting on a rock: they clamber all around hiking their own steep territory, looking for their own inspiration.

But when younger, I saw spiders as welcome curiosities and Daddy Long Legs were my favorite ones. Their small pill-sized bodies, held in suspension by eight long thin spindly legs, presented an otherworldly creature to eyes trained on Saturday films of aliens and monsters. Here was a real monster.

Children are cruel sometimes and I’ll forego the horror stories here, but leave it said that Daddy Long Legs were approached with both dread and fascination. They made the world of tree and pond more than New Hampshire lakeside property, but a land of marvel and wonder.

In reflection, I guess that’s what all creatures do for us humans, whether those creatures be insect, animal, or next door neighbor (or blogger.) They remind us that the world is a miraculous place, full of, miracle of miracles, abundant and various life. Including our selves. And including our souls.

A Noiseless, Patient Spider

Noiseless, patient spider,
I mark'd, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark'd how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them--ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,--seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form'd--till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

by: Walt Whitman

Sunday, March 14, 2004

grapez gallery #3: triangle

Halibut Point is on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. Now a state park, then a granite quarry, the scene here reflects a large triangle of granite and quarry, now a pond, in the foreground, and a strip of the Atlantic in the midground. In the distance (you may need to view the larger pic: click pic) is Mt. Agamenticus in Maine.

Everything in this photo begins with that granite triangle:

Halibut Point itself is made

of sheets of 440 million year-old
granite that now descend from
a rocky headland to the tidal
pools below.
The area was first used by groups
of Pawtucket Indians who migrated
seasonally to the coast to harvest
its plentiful supply of wild fruits,
fish and game. With the arrival
of the first settlers late in
the 17th century, the shallow soil
was used for farming and cattle
grazing. Samuel Gott, a weaver,
was the area’s first resident.
His home, built in 1702 still
stands just north of the park
It was probably
during this era that the area
got its name because sailing
ships would tack or ‘haul about’
off here to round Cape Ann.
Beginning in the 1840s, granite
was quarried from this area,
first on a small scale and primarily
along the coast, and then
on a much larger scale when
the Rockport Granite Company
acquired the Babson Farm
quarry and expanded its operation.

from Halibut Point State Park brochure

Saturday, March 13, 2004


I missed the poetry workshop today and I have no good excuse. It's certainly an opportunity wasted. They are fine company who supply a great product, careful but incisive criticism. In an attempt to salvage something for the weekend, I'll post it here. If any of you good souls who find themselves passing through the neighborhood wish to comment, please do. And no holds barred. Let 'er rip. Thank you.

Waiting for the Tempest

The sky was clear of every bird.
A slight near pond was iced up still--
no swan was waltzing in its calms.
Nothing stirred for a spell until
a sharp-shinned hawk winged into view,
then vanished earthwards to pursue
whatever life hid in the reeds
along the limits of that pond.
Again a void infused the air.
But then, as if Prospero’s wand
itself had shook, an eagle flew,
emerging from the hitherto
unseen. That hawk would follow fast.
Their wings expanded, swelled in flight,
imbuing my binoculars
with one round all-embracing sight--
which in perspective passed away,
beyond the marsh and over the bay.

~Greg Perry

gwg wine #2: Columbia Crest 'Grand Estates' Merlot

This is really an excellent Merlot. I keep coming back to this one after flirtations with other more expensive bottles. What I especially like, besides the backbone this wine brings to the table, something often lacking in an inexpensive Merlot, is the subtle oak flavor.

You can find a good and cheaper Merlot, and, of course, you can always find an excellent expensive bottle, but for 12 bucks (sometimes 10!), this is the best value I have been able to find in my forays with the marvelous Merlot grapez.

OK, let the experts from Wine Spectator describe it with their poetry:
Light in texture and ripe in flavor, 

with a nice package of cherry,
tobacco and cedar flavors
lasting impressively through
the fine-grained finish.
Drink now through 2005.
255,000 cases made.
Score: 88

OK. They say cedar, I say oak. Tobacco? What have these reviewers been drinking?

Friday, March 12, 2004

Poetry games

Ron Silliman presented a silly little poetry game the other day that I was going to simply ignore on these pages for many reasons, most of which centered on the fact that I couldn’t guess who wrote those particular poems and really didn’t care. Well, that’s a bit too flippant.

Silliman says: “We know so much about whether or not we’re going to like a poem or not based entirely on the name we see attached to it. Names flood the text with an overlay of extraneous information that it is not possible to ignore.” Of course. Familiarity breeds understanding as often as contempt. And respect breeds the benefit of the big doubt, as well as the willingness and patience to discover.

But Mike Snider in his blog today presents the best response of all that I’ve read on Silliman’s subject. To Silliman’s premise, as he understands it, that “the experience of a poem is shaped by the name attached to it or by the journal in which it appears or both”, Mike continues, “That may often be true for those of us actively involved in the pobiz, but for almost everyone else it is barking nonsense.” Be sure to read the rest. It rises above the artificial nature of Silliman’s incestuous hypothesis to reach the real world where poets too seldom go.

Tide and Time Served

In Maine, there’s a path that skirts the rockbound coast from Perkins Cove to Ogunquit Beach: the Marginal Way. Beverly and I walked there last Sunday. The weather had cooled from the mid-spring temperatures of the past few days and there was a stiff breeze from the northwest, but still for early March in Maine it was a stunning day. The sky was clear and the sea a brilliant blue. The tide etched the coast with white foam as we walked the shore downeast.

Where the Ogunquit River flows into the Atlantic, waves swelled and the water along the amber sands of Ogunquit Beach turned an inconceivable silvery blue. There were two surfers bobbing in the water, silhouettes in wetsuits. Every now and then, one would rise from the sea and trace the surf with his board, as if discovering a cursive script the gods themselves had written. We watched the words they wrote and trembled at the sentences they told.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

A litle bit New England, a little bit country

Tuesday was one of those typical New England March days that come after a pleasant spell of weather just to remind you that it’s still legally winter and you have absolutely no right to trespass into some springtime state of mind. Not that it’s downright cold nor is it snowing up a blizzard, in fact it’s more menacing than that because it mirrors your usual middling mood: neither happy nor sad, optimistic nor pessimistic, fulfilled nor disappointed, but a sketchy combination of all of that and more.

It’s cloudy, cool, and there’s flurries in the air. It’s not a day to look up at the firmament so instead you look down at the pavement and see a film of snow and small puddles that have formed from the previous night's salting of the parking lot. But there in dark water is the bright reflection of the veiled sun, shining behind a deep layer of thin clouds.

Looking up, you see bare trees coated with fresh snow. The scene is so monotonously monochrome that it’s difficult to remember there was ever any color there. And in the distance you notice a weeping willow. But it’s beginning to turn a brighter yellow. Still you turn away and head directly for the dark glass-walled building where you’ve worked too many years at nothing more imperative than a paycheck and the right to enjoy your weekends.

And watch your daughter grow passionately aware and graduate from college with expectation and purpose. Or write a poem that for just ten minutes makes you feel that thrill of creation again until you notice the obvious defects and know the need to patiently revise. Or go out playing with the Lady Beverly and discover places you didn’t know were still inside you.

Until Sunday night arrives, and the latest episode of the Sopranos concludes with whatever mood-filled song they’ve used for that particularly ominous episode, its words wrapping around you like some Johnny Cash lament that sounds like just more work to you. “There's something in a Sunday that makes a body feel alone.” But Tuesday morning flurries coming down is so dispassionate that I couldn’t care any less.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Ivy Alvarez has some first-rate comments on journals and rejections yesterday. Speaking of some tricks she has in categorizing journals, Ivy says “I think any trick that makes this caper easier on myself is grand.” I say Amen to that.

I’ve had some helpful tricks in the past. My greatest one was just not to submit. (Interesting word that: submit.) I went for years without submitting any poems after one series of submissions were all rejected. This was a difficult plan, for I belong to a workshop whose poets have not only published in the best journals but have issued books and won awards, the grand dame of them all whose name I believe can be uttered with the greatest American formalist poets (or just poets, period.)

But I wasn’t ready. I wrote and revised and wrote and revised and even started avoiding the monthly workshops in order to circumvent bouts of jealousy and overwhelming periods of influence from one or another of those brilliant poets. I began hanging around the corner online workshop trying to learn from the unseen, one in particular who tore my English apart time after time and rightfully so.

Last year I sent out about a dozen submissions involving over fifty poems, the first time I had sent something out in over five, maybe as many as seven, years, and vowed if only one acceptance came back I would continue to write. But on the other hand, if all were rejected, I would quit. Luckily, for my own sanity, two submissions were accepted, involving a grand total of two poems.

So I continue to write. And since then four more journals have accepted five poems (not including one poem published on an op-ed page of an Outer Banks newspaper.) It’s probably luck (no way! it's craft! ok, maybe some luck.) And Ivy has me thinking again, reflecting on a Terry Teachout blog I read last month. Two of his Notes on Blogging stick with me:

10. Blogs will be to the 21st century what little magazines were to the 20th century. Their influence will be disproportionate to their circulation.

11. Blogs are what online magazines were supposed to be.

So I’m thinking (I think I'm beginning to sound like Carrie Bradshaw here.) Will submitting poems to small journals become so twentieth-century? Will blogs become the places where we share our work, and will permalinks in fact become the way that poems are published and become read by a small coterie of readers? And the really good poets be linked by many many bloggers (and maybe even register on blogdex?)

I know I started to wonder about these issues after I posted a poem of mine last week, a rough first draft albeit. But now that I’m in this blogosphere, I’m beginning to breathe in the fresh air. And Ivy is Here has me thinking over here. Any thoughts there?

Postscript Cassandra Pages led me to an Evan Maxwell letter on L.A. Observed. In it I think he makes an argument that parallels the 'blogs are the new little magazines': "The Web, with its ability to publish all kinds of opinion at the cost of a few electrons, is ultimately threatening to the institutions and corporations which rely on their monopoly of the means of publishing."

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Friends, Romans, countrymen, give me your attention

And you too, Brutus?" is what students read in a new genre of study guides that modernize the Elizabethan English found in "Julius Caesar" and other plays by William Shakespeare.

"Translations can be used as a wonderful tool to get students excited," she said, "but it does not replace Shakespeare's poetry."

"Beware the ides of March."
— Act 1, Scene 2.

"Beware of March 15."
— Same scene, "No Fear Shakespeare" translation.

Shouldn't that be April 15? Oh, wrong ides.

from Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I can see the mountains shining days ahead (Part 4)

In the Bird Sanctuary, in some places, there are groves of tall white pines that shade low thickets of mountain laurel, and there are stands of deciduous trees like maple, oak, and birch in others. This time of year, of course, there are no leaves on these trees, and houses and other buildings nearby can be plainly seen through the chaos of thin branches. But if you look within that open anarchy, you will see an occasional goldfinch. It’s not that plain a bird, although it's not gold just yet. It still wears its winter shade of green, but soon, the feathers of the male will turn bright yellow and all summer long give lie to this brilliant Robert Frost lyrical observation.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Poetry in the News 2

Scoop: Kirsten Dunst told Nylon magazine that Gwyneth Paltrow's portrayal of poet Sylvia Plath was all wrong and said she thought she could have done a much better job than Gwyn. "I think Gwyneth Paltrow is an amazing actress (but) I think that Sylvia was a girl who wanted to hurt. She wanted to feel terrible. I felt like, in the movie, it was more like, 'I'm the victim!'"

Poetry in the News 1

Maureen Dowd on John Kerry:

He not only reads poetry — "I love Keats, Yeats, Shelley and Kipling" — he writes it. "I remember flying once; I was looking out at the desert and I wrote a poem about the barren desolation of the desert," he said. "I wrote a poem once about a great encounter I had with a deer early in the morning that was very moving." (Sometimes he shoots deer, sometimes he elegizes them.)

Monday, March 08, 2004

I can see the mountains shining days ahead (Part 3)

In the Bird Sanctuary, there’s an old concrete foundation set in a stand of red pines. It appears to have been some kind of work shed. The window openings have metal gratings, and there looks to have been a wood or coal-burning stove. Maybe the groundskeeper for the estate did his business there. Nothing remains but the foundation and the metal gratings and part of a stove-pipe. For old New England foundations, it’s a relatively new and utilitarian affair. One doesn’t need to be versed in country things to understand its desolate look though, and hear, if not the phoebes, then maybe the blue jays cry.

I can see the mountains shining days ahead (Part 2)

In the Bird Sanctuary, trees are the true refugees given asylum. All around a suburban badlands grow. But here eastern white pines can reach their climax. Sugar maples can rest assured their stand will not be slashed for yet another showcase home. One’s mind can wander with the cardinals: "The ancient Greeks called the world {kosmos}, beauty...that the primary forms, as the sky, the mountain, the tree, ....give us a delight in and for themselves."

I can see the mountains shining days ahead

Beverly and I went walking in the Bird Sanctuary in Andover Saturday. She’s been walking daily for the past week and I certainly need to regain my hiking legs. I am not a winter person and for all intents and purposes hibernate the colder months away. I’m not a young person any longer either, so such hibernation along with a desk job combined with an aversion to rote exercise makes for an out-of-shape boy.

This month I will need to walk as much as possible so the coming months may be enjoyed. Life is short and nature too breathtaking. I’m reminded of this Mary Oliver poem:

Walking To Oak-Head Pond, And Thinking Of The Ponds
I Will Visit In The Next Days And Weeks

What is so utterly invisible
as tomorrow?
Not love,
not the wind,

not the inside of a stone.
Not anything.
And yet, how often I'm fooled--
I'm wading along

in the sunlight--
and I'm sure I can see the fields and the ponds shining
days ahead--
I can see the light spilling

like a shower of meteors
into next week's trees,
and I plan to be there soon--
and, so far, I am

just that lucky,
my legs splashing
over the edge of darkness,
my heart on fire.

I don't know where
such certainty comes from--
the brave flesh
or the theater of the mind--

but if I had to guess
I would say that only
what the soul is supposed to be
could send us forth

with such cheer
as even the leaf must wear
as it unfurls
its fragrant body, and shines

against the hard possibility of stoppage--
which, day after day,
before such brisk, corpuscular belief,
shudders, and gives way

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Doc, my friend’s crazy. He thinks he's a goose.

A Saturday diversion: There’s a diminutive park by the river in Amesbury that I like to visit this time of year. I’ll sip a cup of coffee while sitting on a bench and watch the mini-bergs of ice flow towards the ocean from ice-outs upriver. I bring my binoculars because there’s always an excellent chance an eagle will soar by.

But one needs to be single-minded when entering that park, because there are two snow geese that will try their best to drive you away. Beverly has named them Ben and Jen because of a little incident last year. We had visited the park one spring day and saw them there for the very first time. I tried being a comic and began shouting “Affleck Affleck” at them. The male lowered his long neck like a battering ram, commenced to honk up a storm, and started running towards me with criminal intent to gnaw. I ran.

So now I do my best to disregard them. The male will crane his neck and start to honk out a warning, but will not threaten in any other fashion. I walk straight to my bench. We accommodate each other now, though I’ve not apologized for calling him Affleck. But I never referred to his significant other as Lopez. And he’s never called Beverly Annie Hall either. I guess we both need the eggs.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Yvor Winters 302

On Rereading a Passage from John Muir

Seeking in vain to find the heroic brow,
The subject fitting for a native ode,
I turn from thinking, for there haunts me now
A wrinkled figure on a dusty road:
Climbing from path to path, from path to rock,
From rock to live oak, thence to mountain bay,
Through unmoved twilight, where the rifle’s shock
Was half absorbed by leaves and drawn away,
Through mountain lilac, where the brown deer lay.

This was my childhood’s revery: to be
Not one who seeks in nature his release,
But one forever by the dripping tree,
Paradisaic in his pristine peace.
I might have been this man: a knowing eye
Moving on leaf and bark, a quiet gauge
Of growing timber and of climbing fly,
A quiet hand to fix them on the page—
A gentle figure from a simpler age.

What a grand first stanza. In one sentence we turn from the the bookish to a shot deer in nine masterful lines (of coures I love that final couplet), turned by that suggestive fourth: “A wrinkled figure on a dusty road”. The 5th and 6th look almost prosaic except for their use of repetition (path) and sound (rock, rock, oak); they never slacken the journey to that sixth line where out of the “unmoved twilight” a rifle shocks. Then it echoes softly to the spot where the “deer lay”. I could read this stanza all night.

The next stanza speaks paragraphs about Winters: “to be / Not one who seeks in nature his release.” The irony of his paradisaic peace reverberates into an elegiac tone that plays with the violence preceding it back to the written page using such invocative language: “knowing eye”, “quiet gauge”, “quiet hand”, “fix them”. To end with “a gentler figure” would be prize enough, but to turn it upside-down with “a simpler age” is a master stroke.

For me Winters is best when treating the natural with his classical touch, and here he does that and more. It’s a confessional poem of the best breeding. There’s psychological depth, formal distancing, and ironic understanding. Not to mention its circular integrity. There's an honesty that uses the setting and the form in more ways than one can understand in one reading. I've come back to this one among all the ones in the American Poets Project selected poems not just to understand the poem, but to understand the poet.

previous Yvor Winters posts:
Yvor Winters 301
Yvor Winters 202
Yvor Winters 201
Yvor Winters 102
Yvor Winters 101

Friday, March 05, 2004

grapez gallery #2: Acadia Transcendent

Paradise in New England is located on an island off the coast of Maine where pink granite mountaintops look out upon an endless sea, where waterfalls and rushing brooks border carriage roads of broken stone, where bays of pine-fringed islands and beaches of colorful cobblestones sit beneath a dark blue northern sky, where hidden ponds reflect that dazzling transcendence: Acadia National Park.

There’s nothing spectacular in this photo I know. It’s a cloudy day and the slopes of Pemetic and Cadillac are reflected in the quiet waters of Bubble Pond. There’s a stillness I wanted to capture here before I began hiking up the slope of one of those mountains, I forget which one now. There is also a symmetry that I wished to depict, an almost classical grace that the park’s natural features often encapsulate.

But the one thing that I come back to now in this photo is the vein of light that glows in the center of the image. It’s a point in the pond that because of its distance and my position doesn’t reflect the mountainsides but instead the sky of clouds. I’m sure I noticed it then, but I don’t think it was central in my thoughts.

But now, as mentioned in my over-glowing introductory sentence, I feel that it reflects that transcendence of the park, captures the soul of the island. For me. That’s a gift I need when faced with the long dark nights of winter. And one I look forward to reclaiming next month when Daylight Savings Time returns and again I can look upon that long-lasting light of Acadia.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

grapez wicked good wine #1: Monte Antico

Monte Antico is a Tuscany I’ve tipped for some time. I love its fruity taste, like the chiantis I enjoy, but with a little more body. It's a nice wine for the coming spring when you begin to budget your money for long weekends and an upcoming vacation and still would like to taste something other than a wine cooler of God forbid a Bud. It's a good left-handed pitcher to call in for the first game of spring-training.

I've done a little research on-line and found that the Wine Spectator gives it an 88 saying:
"Lovely plum and berry character, with loads of ripe fruit. Full-bodied, with velvety tannins and a long finish. Delicious. Best ever under this label. A super Tuscan value."

I also found this review. It's on the 2000, but the 2001 is as good, if not better.

To temperance . . . in moderation.
— Lem Motlow

Design and Content and the Tasteful Art of Compromise

George Wallace of a fool in the forest fame mentioned my blog on Tuesday (thank you George.) a fool in the forest is never foolish and always appealing in both design and content.

Speaking of design, I received an email from a reader who courteously complained of the italics in my posts. I have to agree with her; they are unattractive and very difficult to read. I’ve figured out the template formatting scheme but I’m still searching the post formatting possibilities (if anyone can help please drop me a note or comment.)

As for content, George in his welcome note said “Greg doesn't have much to say about grapes or wines as such, but he has structured his site around a viticultural metaphor -- and a properly wine-dark color scheme -- and that's good enough for me.” And that’s true enough that I haven’t said anything about wine, although I intend to.

But I am not a wine aficionado, just a fan of good inexpensive wines. It is my belief that anyone can produce a quality item for high cost, but it’s truly remarkable when someone produces a quality item for low cost. Like great politics, the art is in the compromises made. So in my discussions of wine you will very seldom read of any bottle costing more than $15. In my next post I will mention one of these wines.

Spring Comes to the Merrimack

The first sign of spring arrived today. Every year here, like the swallows to Capistrano, there's one thing that always announces spring's arrival. For the ten tears I’ve lived by this river, its appearance is the one true indication that winter’s hold has been broken. Not ice-out. In fact there have been two or three winters in that span when the river didn’t even ice up at all. And mild winters are still winters.

It’s the trill of the red-winged blackbirds. It’s an unmistakable sound. Their song consists of two verses. The first is a clicking noise like the sound a chipmunk makes (“tch”), a chiding timbre scolding the cold weather for its recent cruelty. The second is a thick trill, an almost throaty sound, a luxuriant resonance reveling in the rising warmth (no spelling can describe it.)

Today I saw several red-wings in the tall brown grass along the river. They’re early this year. Usually they arrive sometime late in the second week of March, maybe the third if it’s been a long cold winter. Here, January was bitter but February turned warmer quickly, and the last week or so has been downright springlike. The groundhog was mistaken. But the red-wings never lead you in the wrong direction.

I wish I was keeping a weblog these past years, or at least an old-fashioned journal. Then I would know the dates of every year the red-wings arrived. I could graph it on Excel. Or better yet, I should have written an ode each year to their majesty. Well, last year I wrote a little ditty about them, so I know the date in 2003.

The First Wave 3.14.03

Reconnaissance arriving from the sun,
the red-winged blackbirds carry on their wings
insignia—crimson epaulets—homespun.
Their trill along the river heralds spring’s
return. The morning bursts with southern sound
as they prepare these northern borderlands
for occupation. Light will seed the ground
for growth and heat unshackle deadlocked sands.
Next week the equinox will land unseen;
its armaments will burn the country green.

Fool, Starbuck, Dickey

George Wallace chimed in on op-ed poetry the other day in his usual valuable manner, offering some lines from a George Starbuck poem. I’m not quite sure what he meant by this comment though: “As certain presidential candidates seem regularly to suggest, everything was better during the War in Vietnam.” But the four stanzas he offered make me want to find the poem.

I always thought one of the most powerful Viet Nam poems was one written not about that war, but about World War II instead: James Dickey’s “The Firebombing” published in Buckdancer’s Choice in 1966. It speaks of a suburbanite who has never come to terms with his role in a firebombing over Japan

I can’t find the entire poem on-line but I have found the following lines from James Dickey: An Appreciation by Chris Lott:

Fire hangs not yet fire
In the air above Beppu
For I am fulfilling

An "anti-morale" raid upon it.
All leashes of dogs
Break under the first bomb, around those
In bed, or late in the public baths: around those
Who inch forward on their hands
Into medicinal waters.
Their heads come up with a roar
Of Chicago fire:
Come up with the carp pond showing
The bathhouse upside down,
Standing stiller to show it more
As I sail artistically over
The resort town followed by farms,
Singing and twisting
All the handles in heaven kicking
The small cattle off their feet
In a red costly blast
Flinging jelly over the walls
As in a chemical war-
fare field demonstration.
With fire of mine like a cat

Holding onto another man's walls,
My hat should crawl on my head
In streetcars, thinking of it,
The fat on my body should pale.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Calvin and Hobbes 24/7/365

Calvin and Hobbes at Martijn's is proud to present the Calvin and Hobbes Extensive Strip Search...all 3150 Calvin and Hobbes strips published. Now that's multimedia poetics.

That memory may their deed redeem

Beverly and I went for a walk on the North Bridge Saturday. For those a little rusty on their American History that’s the bridge in Concord Mass. where the “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired, beginning the hostilities known as the American Revolutionary War. Although, technically, it’s not the same bridge.

That one was torn down sometime in the 1790’s when the local road plan was altered. But it’s a replica of that “rude bridge”, built in 1875 for the centennial of that historic day, April 19 1775. Emerson paid homage to it in his poem Concord Hymn, a dedication to the monument erected for that same centennial:

Concord Hymn

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled.
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heros dare
To die and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Embattled farmers were soon met again in Springfield MA in 1787 and Washington PA in 1794 by the newly re-constituted government. History knows these insurrections as Shay’s Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion. Alexander Hamilton, his monied interests, and the Federalist Party were only sealing the deal in what should be called the American Counter-revolution. The bridge of 1775 had indeed come down.

My forefathers and foremothers came to this country in the 19th century, lured by the jobs created after the Civil War and resultant Reconstruction had constructed its monument to wealth. But when that plutocratic structure came crashing down in 1929, a new bridge to democracy was built, the New Deal, a rude way maybe, but one responsible for the wealth and freedoms enjoyed by an enormous working middle class that it had helped create, the one into which I was born.

Yet a silent rebellion has occurred the past 20 years and “embattled farmers” are losing again. This one is a psychological war fought with various marketing strategies. It’s more insidious than past ones. This time they’re turning the guns of heros against themselves with lies of lawyers, guns, and money.

I wonder what country our sons and daughters will live in when we are gone, what freedoms will be lost if this counter-revolution is won and that bridge to the 21st century has been washed away. What tyranny will they need face when that raw deal has gone down? O Spirit, may time and nature gently spare that shaft.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Poem chaos question mark rent a DVD

Ron Silliman writes about Sunday Morning Anthology, a chapbook-size collection of works by nine Somerville Mass. poets. He writes "The only thing I see at all problematic about this anthology is that I don’t think it will be seen/read by nearly enough people." Here's an excerpt he includes written by Tim Peterson:

Lawn chairs yawn mouth awning

hair on neck in prayer hands

bandaged ample breast pairs in flown

deck bench stepping stone declension

tensed on step in step represent shipwreck

calling parts dungarees under hands

knees face side of a skin rib filial

injury dingy basement implement tool

swinger pen penis to write and under plans

wrinkled table in full bloom hardy

or wry mouth damaged lock shorn then

There's a reason why regular folks don't buy poetry anymore. It's called incomprehension.

*line-spacing change to excerpt per Ron's request (see comments.)
**italics removed from excerpt per Tim's request (see comments.)

Daisy; Billed Platypus; Gossage

Duck Duck Goose

from McSweeney's

Close Encounter with the Primitive (verse version)

A Close Encounter with the Primitive
Maudslay State Park; 2-29-04

I reached the limits of that park;
a sign nailed on an evergreen
read “No Trespassing” but something slipped
within its branches. This hurried scene:
an eagle stirred its wings and flew
from cover; it soared above that blue
free will of river. Moving fast,
I slid upon some unseen ice
--my feet flew out from under me--
and arms extending, sensed the vise
of gravity become a thing
no longer holding with its cling
my being. Up I reeled to meet
that eagle in an atmosphere
unknown to me before that day.
Soon everything was quick and near--
the river, wind, and cloudless sky.
An eagle rose. I fell on high.

This is still a work in progress, a third revision. As of late I've been reaching towards 20 or beyond. Not that it's been any help. Ask the editors at The Formalist from whom I received another rejection slip tonight.

But this has been an interesting project, something that blogging I'm sure will encourage. I wrote the prose version before the verse. And it's been helpful in keeping the poem true to the original inspiration. For example, the last line was written "The eagle left. I fell from high." But upon reflection, that was not saying what I wanted to say. In that context, it sounds as if there was a declension in spirit after the eagle flew away. But that was not the case. If there was a fall, it was from an ordinary state to something higher.

But as I was saying, this is just a draft, and I'm sure will undergo more changes. Yet, that said, tonight I'm encouraged by its direction. But I find that writing is a manic-depressive act for me. Come tomorrow morning, I'm sure I'll regret posting this poem, and wonder why I even try my hand at these vanities. Ah, life.