Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Outdream (10/10/10)

Last night I dreamed we were trapped
by protests in city hall.
Today I saw Brazil.

My earliest memory is a dream
of bureaucratic elves
shrink-wrapping my parents.

The best words I've ever written
were spoken to me in my dreams.

I am the world's greatest dreamer.

I am the world's greatest dreamer --
I defy anyone to challenge my supremacy.

I once dreamed a cigarette
that changed the whole world,
and so I took up smoking.

I dreamed God telling me
just what I wanted to hear.

You can never understand
how beautiful the colors are.

I dreamed every blade of grass
and every book in the library.
Yeah, I even dreamed that Borges story.

I dream an armor
that makes me the hero of every story.

I dream a vagina onto a penis,
and it doesn't mean anything.

I dreamed every episode
of Star Trek: The Next Generation,
including The Inner Light,
which broke your heart.

But I'm not dreaming you,
or you would be dreaming of me.

Obviously, I haven't posted in a while, and this one is a little uneven -- likely because I'm so out of practice.

The title for this came from the Scrabble dictionary, which lists a surprising number of verbs with the prefix out-, meaning 'to surpass in [verb]'. I kid you not, 'outbitch' is a word meaning 'to surpass in bitching'.

The original idea of the poem was the idea that dreams are so subjective, and so impossible to really compare or even relate to other people. So someone claiming to have 'better' dreams was a funny and absurd idea. I do dream very vividly, though, and some of the dreams in the poems really are mine, and really were eye-opening and ultra-significant... to me, at least.

My writing lately has been in this pattern of having to have a punchline at the end of each stanza, which I think is restrictive and unproductive, but hard to get away from. I think it sort of works here for the grand series of declarations and boasts.

This pattern also puts a lot of pressure on the end of the poem, which this one isn't living up to. The final two lines are definitely a work in progress. Some alternate versions are "Because you know my dreams/I know that you are in my reality", "I could dream you/and you wouldn't even know it", "If I were dreaming you/you would read this again." I'd like to bring it back to the idea of competition, and resolve that either by winning definitively or giving it up.

Part of my problem with longer poems like this one, is that they really take the emphasis away from the words, and move it toward the ideas. Why not just write an essay?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Loved, (8/8/05)

Your penguinous kindness was
unnecessary adjective

which, lack of word,
was, in this case,

only yours
and only mine.

This one is an oldie, but I found myself thinking about it the other day.

It's built on this idea of an 'unnecessary adjective'. Sometimes an adjective is the entire point of the sentence: 'go down to the second street'. But in some cases ('he is a fucking jerk'), the adjective isn't necessary, but it sort of makes the sentence worth saying.

This is line of thought came from a quote (or something) a friend told me: 'verbs unnecessary. nouns necessary. adjectives, wonderful.'

Around the same time i was pondering this, another friend and I invented the word 'penguinous' to describe Fred, who is black and white and sort of shaped like a penguin when he sits.

I discussed these things with Scott, who also encouraged my writing a lot. So, the poem is about sharing a language with another person, and it sort of plays on describing that person in that language.

The title is an adjective, and then after the first two lines, the rest of the poem is an adjectival phrase. Also, most of the important words (penguinous, unnecessary, only) are adjectives. Part of the reason this one is so tight is because I used the technique I've described before of eliminating things after writing. In this case, I literally took out everything, including 'necessary' words ('for lack of a better word' becomes 'lack of word') to leave only the adjectives and the highest impact meanings.

'In this case' is also an attempte to use the linguistic meaning of 'case' and refer to the concept of subject vs. object -- who is speaking and who is being spoken to or about.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

As Yet Untitled (9/17/08)

If I were alone
on a desert island

I would pick at my lips
all day long.

I would sit underneath
the only tree

with no one
to judge me.

I would drink my own blood,
so I never got thirsty.

And when I got too sick
to raise my hand to my mouth

I would only be hurting myself.


If I were alone
on a dessert island

I would eat Mounds bars first
and York patties second.

I would follow carrot cake
with angel food

until the magma lava
caught in my throat

and I had to wash it down
with muscat.

When I got too sick
to raise my hand to my mouth,

I would roll defiantly over
and eat myself into a dark hole.


If you and I
were alone together,

we might not survive
the island.

I might believe
we should raise a flag

but you might want
to burn the vegetation.

You might knock me out of a coconut tree
breaking both my legs,

so you could drink
more milk yourself.

You wouldn't know how
to treat an infection.

When I got too sick
to raise my hand to my mouth,

you would never get
to the root of the problem.


When I am alone,
I am still with you.

You feed me everything
I eat.

You write me everything
I read.

You stick in my head
like a song I'll never hear again.

When I get too sick
to raise my hand to my mouth,

maybe one of you will kiss me
and say you understand.

I'm a little creeped out to have written this one. It's an exploration of a bad habit I have of picking at my lips when i'm bored or stressed. It's an odd, embarrassing and somewhat violent habit, as I imagine a lot of such things are.

So the poem is about different aspects of this habit: the fact that it's very solitary and takes me (literally and figuratively) into myself; the satisfaction of it -- it's sort of a physical overindulgence the way eating too many sweets is; the conflict it creates when i feel like other people are taking me away from it.

The last section is more of a meditation on the intrusion of other people into one's life generally. I'm not sure it totally fits with the rest of the poem, but I think it's important to acknowledge that we never escape the influence of our surroundings, our culture, upbringing, etc., and so are never totally independent.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Takes One to Know One (7/14/08)

"A horse gallops away
across the plains,

his flank and ass
glistening in the sun,"

she smiled,
the way a mule never could,

and clicks her spurs together
to go home.

I'm not totally sure what this one is about -- it started, as I think a lot of my better poems do, with a phrase or two that I considered more than I usual. The scene emerged later, and it was disjoint, hence the intrusion of the speaker halfway through. I think that was also what I was going for when I changed the last stanza to present tense. It's pretty subtle (just 'clicks' instead of 'clicked'), and I'm worried it just seems like a mistake.

But there's something I like about this one. It's kind of austere, and the setting and the texture I was imagining come through, I hope.

Monday, June 2, 2008

We Do (5/7/08)

We do
the unspeakable

which is covered over
like skin over a wound

by all of us
talking at once.

Some of us are pink and
shiny and still.

I feel sort of a return to form with this one, I think partly because it was formed partly by cutting words out, which I've said about some earlier poems.

The first line read, "We do pass through." Though I think those first two lines together formed the basis for the poem, "pass through" had to go because I don't think I really believe we pass through certain tragedies. The poem is, more than anything, my thoughts about going to a support group, which are complicated. But the results aren't pessimistic - the final stanza is ambiguous. It describes either a wound or a healed scar. It also makes me think of babies, which seems pretty optimistic.

The final line was, "shiny and still talking." Which, again, I liked on first thinking of it. But "still" by itself works on so many more levels. I hope it invites the reader to imagine another word following it. It also just means 'persisting,' as if we're just continuing to be here. It also, I think, means 'not talking,' which makes the final stanza seem as if it might be in contrast with the rest of the poem. What if some of us aren't able to heal?

I've never named a poem after the first line before. I just came up with the title for this post, but I thought it worked.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lunar Eclipse in San Francisco (2/20/08)

Sitting on the left breast
we strained our eyes to clearly see
something deflatingly familiar.

As the city reached out
just to the bay
we could not tell if the moon
were obscured by clouds.

Again, I thought I should include something more recent on this blog. I'm still not sure about this one -- it feels very uneven to me.

The use of 'breast' in the first line for example, came from the joke that the Twin Peaks of San Francisco are very breast-like. You can navigate by thinking about a giant woman with her head pointing into the bay and then talking about her right and left breast. I feel like more of this story should be in the poem, or I should lose that word altogether.

It was really built around the final two lines, but even there I struggled a lot with the tense and mood. "If the moon was obscured by clouds" might be better, for example. It's just too early to say.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Untitled (5/30/07)

Each tick I wasn't with you
read off the time
until I could be again.

Last night I made them
the time since I had written
the measured fading of each idea
before the writing of it.

I drifted on that undulation
into sleep.

And then awoke mid-night
to a woman's catastrophic wailing.

Ran into the predictably blue light,
almost upstairs,
almost to an aunt in mourning.

But, pathetic,
the moans come from the basement.

The cat, wretched old Rosebud,
makes human noises. Still,
terrible, inelegant company.

She's always on about her loneliness.
I posted this one because a friend just pointed out everything else on the blog is two or three years old. This isn't much better, but it's the most recent thing I thought was worth posting. I haven't looked at it much since I wrote it -- haven't even given it a title.

It also seemed appropriate to my mood, since I've been trying to encourage myself to write more (rather than mope). I did some editing just now as I typed it. Added a whole stanza, actually ($10 if you pick which one and then make me pay you).

It has its moments, but hasn't been through that all-important paring down. Still has a lot of extraneous non-moments and whining that could go. I'm finding it harder and harder to be brief, and I'm not sure why.