Friday, July 31, 2009

Never Again

Yet another poem??? Good grief. One more after this and you will probably not read any poetry from me for a very long time. Or who knows, maybe I'll find my inner poet and soar.

NEVER AGAIN

"Never again!"
The holocaust survivors nodded at this call to unity.
"Never again!"
I leaned back, thinking about the mazuzahs I never kissed
The Saturday mornings I've lounged in bed
The milk I've taken with beef at my soul's peril
"Never again!"
The cry is thunder, the occasion Kristalnacht rememberance.
We claim our humanity and love for justice
Tyranny shall find no friend here
"Never again!"
Serbia.
Cambodia.
Rwanda.
Darfur.
The Kurds at the hands of Hussein.
"Never again!"
These words move me as they've always moved me.
Now if they only meant something.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

At The Protest

My class is almost over. I have to redo a lengthy paper about grammar and finish the genre project, and then I can enjoy what little time is left of summer and maybe do some writing for myself. However, allow me to share the second poem. Sorry, Rick.

AT THE PROTEST

When he spit on me, I didn’t know what to feel.

He raged, face blister-red, veins snakelike.

Stunned, I was slow to move.

The police mistook inaction for prelude and acted.

Shoved back, baton against my collarbone,

I heard the comforting voice of Authority:

“TAKE IT EASY, THERE!”

Fellows-in-arms slowed the protest line

to sing out encouragement and solidarity.

Non-violent platitudes fell away and my own rage

now ran slick down my face in the form of another man’s venom.

I remembered the lunch-counter footage.

I remembered those who sat unserved.

How did they keep their calm and suffer with dignity?

Did they have a choice?

Did they have more faith?

Or was it that they had more to lose?

Taking my white hands I pushed back against authority and was spun around

pressed hard against a brick wall, legs kicked back, off-balance.

Shouts of protest filled my ears as

fingers and cameras pointed in my direction.

The baton slid down the inside of first one celebrity leg, then another.

And with my heart exploding, I was gripped by one arm and led off.

Not to jail,

but away from the crowd for a stern lecture and warning.

Relieved and not brave, I headed home where my parents waited.

Next week, I had a concert to attend.

Summer was quickly…

Saturday, July 18, 2009

UNIQUE

So, I'm taking this class on writing instruction (no, I'm not quite clear on why I would ruin my summer by taking classes) and we've finally gotten to the part on poetry. Anyone who knows me knows my views on poetry. I've scrawled my venom about that genre on enough "men's" rooms walls and underpasses.

One interesting concept though. In one essay I am reading, one of the authors discusses the idea that children are naturally attuned to poetry, that they respond to the rhythm, the feel, the musical quality. This idea about the physicality of poetry resonated with me because I could see a parallel between this view and Chomsky's ideas about how we're hotwired for language and our innate grammar emerges through conversation patterns that we're exposed to as small children. The disconnect for children where poetry is concerned then, perhaps, starts to occur when they are exposed to it in written form. Approaching it in that manner, seeing the words on the page removed from the context of the aural, perhaps for some, is a difficult obstacle to overcome. Just a thought.

So....as long as we're talking about poetry, one of my assignments was to write a poem. Now keep in mind that I am not a poet, nor have I even tried to write a poem in the last twenty five years. Some people have spoken about the poetic character of some of my prose, but that's far removed from constructing poetry. Okay. I'm stalling. What follows then is my first poem in a very long time. It's not good, but at least I'm trying to be open minded.

IF I AM UNIQUE, THEN YOU CANNOT BE—SORRY

IF WE ARE ALL SPRUNG FROM A COMMON SPRING, THEN WE WILL COME TOGETHER AGAIN.

BUT IT WON’T CHANGE WHAT WE ARE NOW.

THIS IS NOT A CELEBRATION, THIS IS REALITY AND IT DOESN’T MATTER.

SOMETIMES I SIT REMOVED AND STRUGGLE

SOMETIMES I THINK ABOUT MY SUPERIORITY

MY ARROGANCE, MY INSECURITY, MY MADNESS

BUT IN THE END I FALL BACK ON THE SAME THEME

IF I AM UNIQUE, THEN YOU CANNOT BE---

BUT WOULD IT HURT ME TO SMILE?

Friday, July 03, 2009

He Took My What?


Certain cultures have special psychological disorders. I don't know why, and worse, I don't know why I am writing about this, but, let's looks at a few of my favorites:

In Inuit culture there is something called pibloqtoq, a hysterical reaction that causes seizures and irrational behavior. According to one report, it is characterized by people tearing off their clothing and running outside. Several accounts have people tearing off their clothes and dashing naked into the nearest snowbank. Not good if that means dashing out in the midst of Alaskan winter.

In Nigeria, there is something referred to as Missing Penis Syndrome. No, I'm not making any of this up.This is an irrational fear that one's genitals have gone missing (missing as opposed to the Australian concept of going on a Walkabout). In 1997, there is a report of a lynch mob in Senegal hunting sorcerers with the power to shrink men's penises. According to a recent article in the Times of Nigeria , taxi drivers gathered to protest against a client they accused of using pigeons to steal penises (I researched this, people...look it up).

Another cultural disorder, not quite as strange as having one's penis magically taken, is Paris Syndrome. Apparently this is a condition exclusive to Japanese tourists. While in Paris they will sometimes just suffer total collapse due to culture shock. It is so bad that the Japanese embassy provides a 24 hour hotline for emergency care.

Finally there's Capgras delusion, a disorder in which you believe that someone you know has been replaced by a doppelganger, an identical looking impostor. I know. I know, it certainly would explain why the divorce rate is so high.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Working The Snake Oil

Why do you write about writing?

The question stopped me. I looked over and gave it consideration before speaking. "Usually when I write about writing it's a form of metacognition, it's a way I have of looking at the process and trying to get my head around what the hell I'm doing. Sometimes I write about certain aspects of it because it's on my mind; I'm either teaching some concept in school, or worse taking a class and it comes up. Sometimes it's based on something in a writer's group and I just need to get it out of my head."

Actually writing about writing is an entire industry. There's Lessons From A Lifetime of Writing (David Morrell), Sometimes The Magic Works(Terry Brooks), How To Write Best Selling Fiction (Dean Koontz) , Writer's Tale (Richard Laymon) Writing Mysteries (Sue Grafton), How To Write Fantasy And Science Fiction (Orson Scott Card), Creating Short Fiction-The Classic Guide To Writing Short Fiction (Damon Knight), Worlds of Wonder, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy (David Gerrold) and on, and on, and on...and those are just about writing for a genre market! There are entire websites dedicated to books about writing. And let's not forget those staples of the professional writer: Writer's Market and Writer's Digest.

Yes, there are books on writing for the poets, for the do-it-yourself guru, and for the naturalist. There are writing books for the writers who take themselves too seriously and think about writing as a form of art and themselves as the consummate artists. There are books for writers who are terrified of writing. There are books for writers who have never written a word. There are books for the writers who follow other writers around at parties, whispering in their ears about a great novel yet to be written.

So, maybe that's the answer.

Maybe the key to writing and getting published, the most important aspect of writing is just....finding the right book. There's enough of them out there, from the literary hauter (James Wood) to the literary hack (fill in the blank...or point a finger at me). So forget about the basics, don't worry about spending hours reading, writing, editing, revising, editing, revising, and writing...just go buy a book and the secret will pour forth from its pages. Why struggle when success is at your fingertips???

Did you know Billy Mays is dead?