Saturday, December 31, 2005

Beth's in New Jersey helping her mother, so Erin and I are batching it here. and what we done, went to the local Chinese restaurant. which was pretty busy, as I expected. tho moreso than I expected. they arranged to have takeout orders picked up at the motel across the street, and still it was mobbed. and people would be astonished that it was busy, like, who knew that Times Square would be crowded on New Years Eve either? we were given a ticket with the number 6 (I checked to be sure it wasn't a 9) on it and were warned of a 30 minute wait. the tickets were random numbers, it turns out. we went into Radio Shack next door, where we were informed that it was closing in 1 minute. in which time we still were able to buy an iPod dock for Erin. when our number was called, the hostess asked if a table down in the back near the mural was okay. sure. we would've taken a table by the kitchen, even in the kitchen, but it was nothing like that. the mural was pretty good, in fact. we went specifically for the buffet, which, if you had Erin with you, you'd do too. the restaurant was pushing buffet anyway. there's a Chinese restaurant in Clarksburg WV that we've been to a couple of times. strictly buffet. the decor is Chinese, the wait staff is Chinese, but the closest you get to Chinese food there is chop suey and egg rolls, otherwise, it is fried chicken, mashed potatoes and the sort of stuff you'd expect at a potluck supper. not to say it aint good. I've seen signs in WV for both a Chinese restaurant and an Italian one adverting to the establishment's excellent fried chicken. with extra salt, no doubt. but anyway. or dot dot dot, I should say, nodding a wink at Eileen Tabios. Erin had a daiquri, sans alcohol. he shows no interst in alcohol, but more than once wait people have assumed he was of drinking age. being some 8-9 inches taller than my extremely normal height and all. a couple of very large parties came in, and our waiter served one of them. at which point we saw him no more, except sprinting by. now I'm right tired, as the year ticks to a close. I know Lindsay Duff or Hilary Lohan is on one of those New Yeas shows, but I'll have to pass. I miss those I miss.
Ron Silliman's going all Jim Carroll, remembering them that died this year. my father died his year, but he died and died before that, he slipped away. that Creeley aint around to be Creeley anymore, in just that way: it's a loss. it's not personal tho. I was remembering today the nurse's aide shaving my father, using her own razor because my father's was too noisy. such a tender gift. that may've even been the day he died. Creeley was almost entirely a book to me. his death is sad for those who knew him, but I still have the books. whereas when my father died, I stopped being a caregiver, my life shifted. the loss is a found, la vita nuova. natch to think this, on the year's ultimate day.
Guy Davenport wrote a defense of Cummings, if defense is the correct word, which kinda surprised me when 1st I read. it was more like a reminder that Cummings has something to offer, and I guess I hadn't bothered before to notice. I don't think I'm the only one who, when young, took the example Cummings offered to release from much dictated form. one could rumble the lines and jolt syntax, if so minded. not to say I really did. not till I read Creeley, perhaps credit Williams too, that lineation of my poems started to have an 'ear'. before that, linebreaks were fairly random. yet still, Cummings helped get the enforced Longfellow cadence (listen my children and you shall hear) out of the way. Cummings' tweaking of form sometimes comes across as superficial, by which rather ordinary expressions are tarted up artily. but sometimes, I note, there's a sense even of Stein in his work. seems like he deserves a better reputation. not to say he aint a profit-maker nowadays, but in the the, oh god, canon sense, he seems to have something to add. to us thorough moderns, post moderns, whatever the hell it is and we are now. sometimes I wish I were taught poetry, so that I may have been given a more thorough opprtunity. not to say that the meander by interest method hasn't its pluses. the whole idea of canon: it should change daily. think of that sponge Berrigan...

Friday, December 30, 2005

well okay. 5 years ago today was the 1st snowstorm of the year. Erin and I were throwing snowballs at each other. Beth and I had been married 9 days, as of solstice 2000. I backtracked on Erin, surprised him, and he attempted to change direction. instead of that, he slipped on ice and fell directly on his knee. unsurprisingly, he yowled. surprisingly, his yowling didn't abate. finally it dawned on me, stupid me, that this was an injury of note. 911 bought the cavalcade of emergency help. Erin was hauled to the hospital in an ambulance. his femur broke in 3 places. we spent 6-7 hours at suburban Emerson Hospital (where I was born, as it happens) before Erin could be transported to Children's Hospital in Boston. when the ambulance arrived, Erin said I should ride in back with him, because Beth had plenty of previous opportunity with Erin. not ambulance rides, but as mother. so the ride in, whilst snow still fell. a sliding drive, according to Beth in the front, we in back couldn't tell. a wait in the emergency room of Children's, then met a couple of young surgeons, and Erin was admitted. I want to cry now. we promised him that we wouldn't leave him. he got a room, and we dozed and worried till 5 in the morning, when the surgery occurred. 3 pins in his thigh, sticking out, holding the bones together. open wound, you understand. needing to be cleaned twice a day. official beginning of the millennium, Beth and I in Erin's room, watching the fireworks of Boston's First Night thru the window. but then I was kicked out, only one parent could remain in the room. I attempted to sleep on chairs in the hallway, finally found a gurney that wasn't headed to surgery. and the waiting of waiting, after that. Erin was set to go home a couple of days later. an ambulance was due in half an hour. the surgeon came in to inspect the wound. the wound was, as he said, soupy: infected. which meant another surgery, with 2 stainless steel pins to replace the infected one. and more days recovering. so that it was 9 in all before Erin could go home. and I never left there. and we finally got home. my brothers had taken over care for my father for that time. we got Erin situated in a rented hospital bed. I collapsed in tears. it's all dramas I write. caring for my father, now Erin. and somehow, at the same time, my brothers weren't so supportive. imagine this. the 4 pins in Erin's thigh were removed on his 12th birthday, May 4. I remember this and, I remembe this and... holy shit I have lived!
I notice that Lanny Quarles has a link to Wryting-L, which is a writing home for Sheila Murphy, John Bennett, Alan Sondheim, Lanny Quarles, Jeff Harrison, mIEKAL aND, et alia, even including yours truly. the individual works have their weight, and the twining of these works into a greater collaborative whole is fascinating
copped the song "White Bird" by the group It's A Beautiful Day, circa late 60s. a pretty song that natheless institutes some psychedelia in its rise. you can imagine people getting stoned, or tripping, with the dulcet tones. tho I dunno if I ever did, I did little of either. the original had acoustic guitar (the guitarist was classical trained) and violin soloing. live version has electric guitar (same guitarist), much crunchier and more psychedelic. I hear there was in the 90s a club mix, which I can't imagine. funny how in the 60s there was such emphasis in pop culture on mind-expansion, and that stuff. that the concept was such a piece of the scene. IABD imploded apparently due to crushing ego of leader David LaFlamme, the singer and violinist. I gather it was his wife Linda who wrote and arranged the songs, and certes the guitarist was pretty good, but LaFlamme wrestled for control of the name and in the process the group got screwed by the same management thief as done in Moby Grape. don't ask me why this all fascinates me. definitely a time thing going on, the intimacy of music's presence and present (being I was 17 when the 60s ended). in 1999, I saw Phish in concert, in Providence. where I, in my 40s, was double the age of just about everyone there. did I feel like a narc? hey radical friends do you know where a hip guy like me can purchase some mary jane? I enjoy illegal drugs a lot!!! the scene was Deadheadish, or hippie revue. somewhat anyway. there were kids, I mean young teens, sprawled unconscious on the floor, along with dancing maniacs. it was 3 hours of dancing, which was wonderful. looking out about the crowd swaying and pulsing. Phish in fact started slow, several of their funkish trance music stuff. that hit a solid groove but wasn't inspiring. when they hit their stride, it was breathless. new people kept taking the seat next to me. one guy came in late and asked me to review what he'd missed. a guy in front of me borrowed my pen after each song, so that he could write down the set list. a teenager asked what I was writing during break, and would've been more impressed if I were producing a setlist or concert review, rather than poetry, or whatver the hell I was scribbling. and somehow, this does relate to poetry. the time place, the music place, the poetry place, they merge and touch. all that flippancy of youth that those 60s groups evinced, and the hippie swing, and the drug culture, they hardened into the world. I never bought into a whole lot of that, but it remains a still whatsis in front of one, and the words that put one there.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Tim's rumination on modernism is a nice clarity thru the trees. my entrance into poetry was so confused, that I couldn't even approach terms like modernism, let alone post-mod, for umpteen if not more. (holy shit The Eagles are lame). the cipher of Keats = the cipher of Williams, and the cipher of Stein, omigod. it was all fog thru which I somehow decided to find my way. divining how these words are made more serious than speech, which is 1st a belief that such writers are attempting that and 2nd finding my way to the solid discovery. of course the big distraction of those who could answer, sometimes glibly, or with the weight of their personal academy. but instead, almost by luck, something sudden happens.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I'm just glad Paypal let me know that my account, which I forgot I even had, is under siege by foreign criminal types. all I have to do is let them know my old and new passwords and they'll sort it all out nicely. it's a relief knowing there are folks watching out for you.
I mean talkin. Beth's niece had flight out at 7 this morn, changed to 7:20 by the Ice Deity visiting Logan. so everyone hauled out of bed at 5, or before. normal for me, but for 3 sleepyheads: grit the teeth. a nice quiet run to the airport, Zakim Bridge looking lovely. curbside disembarkation, with me lugging the luggage, Erin intent on the bathroom, Lexie with her carry on and fussing with papers. quite a crowd, poorly delineated into functional energy. that is to say, lots of travellers, many of whom quizzical, and not enough airline folks. grokked how to check in, got boarding pass, then an amusing wait in line to check bags. Beth found us, which caused a woman in back to complain that we'd all cut into line. then we moved to another more efficient line, even the one we belonged in. a guy wanted to know why he couldn't get in line over there, only to be told it was for a different airline. but didn't you guys merge? riposted the fellow. that ploy didn't work. another person reserved seats (on november 9) but hadn't paid, and those seats went elsewhere. the guy said his vacation to Vegas (Lexie was heading to Vegas, then the hop to Reno) was screwed up now. the person he spoke to said she was on vacation. no happy camper, she complained about coming in on her day off, to this. off went Lexie. security isn't too much hassle now. later, we went in to Best Buy, because Erin's computer has a complaint and an old one of mine contains a fine load of stuff that somehow wasn't backed up. that old one, see, was minding its business a couple years ago, when some power cords caused a tripping situation, which ended in the cracking the laptop's screen. the drive survived but all that lovely Bramhall data denied me for lo these years. yet no rush to extricate. Best Buy, by gum, was totally crowded. apparently Boxing Day a day late. luckily the fix it folks were just normal busy. the people in line to exchange their gifts for something better had themselves a goodly wait. serves them right, the ingrates.
nice to see Ron Silliman follow my lead regarding Berrigan's collected. I'm still just poking thru it but it's an event, a lovely book. and I'm amazed that 69 comments have attached themselves to Franz Wright's invective. okay, I know there's a tendency towards the commentose when folks add their 2 pennies on Ron's blog. still, Wright's fireworks are pretty corny, like Limbaugh on an offday. I'm not rounding into the guy, I'm just surprised that people let their buttons be pushed. the best reply is Ron's: let the reader who can read assess the power of Wright's language. it's a middle class challenge that Wright plays, he's working in the realm of mere propriety. which is an easy score. that should be obvious. I'm saying nothing about his poetry, or anything else that he's written, I haven't read it. it's a fine line sometimes. Jim Behrle is certifiably funny, that piece can't be ignored. he just has to keep this Wright model in mind, because it is this easy to get sappy with one's display. we all know this, we're all guilty now and then, if not more often. like I said before, I don't know why Wright goes off. what he writes is clearly generic, so one can guess that the irritation is unexplored. there would be more energy (delight) if he knew the source of his irritation, methinks, it surely can't be Silliman.
Prose too is a kind of prosody
I got 100 Essenetial Modern Poems from the library the other day. fresh this year and edited by Joseph Parisi, 'former editor of Poetry Magazine'. just to see. not much to see, unsurprisingly. like any anthology, you can argue the selection. I'll accept a rather formalist sense of modern in Parisi, and not expect Olson, Zukoksky, Stein and basically the writers I've read and felt to be essential. I don't know why Dorothy Parker's bit of doggeral called "Resumé qualifies as essential. don't worry, Ogden Nash is here too. and so forth. I find myself much more interested in oeuvre than these greatest hits, even accepting that these hits are as essential as Parisi thinks they are. one or 2 poems by Ashbury, Stevens, Plath, Eliot (Prufrock!): it just don't add up to any sense. both O'Hara poems are good--I'm trying to think of poems by him that aren't of interest--but I want to see the context of his work. this selection speaks nothing of essence. a piece of "The Bridge", a chunk of 'Howl', random selections from HD, Moore, Wliiams, Pound. the youthful kitten here was born in 1952, a bit hoary maybe. the cover says these 'memorable masterpieces' are here 'to read, reread, and enjoy', and that's okay. except that of the roughly 80 poets represented here, no more than 1/3 have I felt inspired to study. not to say I prove myself a scholar in my reading, nor bereft of prejudice, but I've tried to follow the energy. so that, by my lights, is a rather rum percentage of dullmeisters to present to folks as essential (bedad! "Miniver Cheevy'!!!). full bios accompany each author's selection, which must account for at least 2/3 of the book's 300 pages. so there's a sense that the poems themselves lack the weight to carry the book. the marketing of this book, then, is not poems but poets. because, one infers, poetry itself hasn't enough charm for the intended readership. maybe this book aims too stupidly, maybe? step one, quit feeling pressed to include. step 2: honk on the poems themselves. step 3: ride the wave. that's how it should be done. god forbid that lazy professors stick this book in the syllabus, to quell the possible enthusiasm of yet another generation. but they will.

Monday, December 26, 2005

I've added more to this thing. see if you care.
I found the song "Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Great Blue Something, your standard story of one hit wonder. I dunno why I like the song. it begins with strummy acoustic guitar and sensiive guy voice, which bodes smarmy, in fact is smarmy. and the words are clumsy and whiny. but the chorus is built on enjambment, which propels it, and the overdriven electric guitar serves the song nicely by crunching on the smarm. so you can feel an emotional basis, and thank god you're not hearing it sung in a little folk club by the heartbroken singer. quite a number of covers of the song exist (assuming they're all actually the same song). another sweet little song is "There She Goes", but there's less guilt in liking that one. that too has numerous versions. I can't remember who originated the song (like, can you?) but I don't want the version by that Sixpence group. I assume I will tire of snaring this sort of stuff. I just found Phish doing "Mmmmmmbop", albeit as if James Brown were singing it. I used to have their acapella version of "Freebird", with the guitar solo fully rendered. dum dum de dum, wastin' my time.
I believe yesterday was Christmas. tonight we will do some Hannukah with friends. Erin came down with something a couple days ago, which included a fever of 105. his fevers tend to run high, and linger. when Erin's appetite diminishes, you know he's ailing. his cousin has shown symptoms, and Beth and I have felt incipient funk. in fact, I feel teetering toward... but anyway, a nice quiet holiday. both Erin and Lexie got iPods, and I discovered how Erin gets his tunes: by filesharing. I found loads of stuff that I used to have on vinyl (12" black disks), which, to my mind, covers fair usage. oh, I copped a few things that may not fit that rationale. interesting to see who does what covers out there. I was surprised to see that Fairport Convention apparently did "All Along the Watchtower". the song has in fact been covered numerous times but Hendrix's version would scare me from any attempt. I guess you gotta feel you can do the job. I've taken teh holiday as a ime to read. I'm reading a bio of E E Cummings by Christopher Sawyer-Laucanno as well as The Enormous Room. I've had the novel (I'll call it a novel) for years but couldn't start it. it's terrific. Cummings' tone is a neat mix of ironic, sardonic and even whimsical, which he handles very well. I hadn't thought how local Cummings was, in the people's republic of Cambridge. he went to the same high school as my father, tho years earlier. funny to think of Cummings sharing the stage of a Cambridge Social Dramatic Club production with Tom Eliot, which neither poet apparently remembered. I also read Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, an absolutely hair-raising account of a disastrous climbing season on Mt. Everest. the most unnerving part concerns a pair of Japanese climbers, basically a side story to Krakauer's main narrative. things had already gone bad for the 2 expeditions in which Krakauer was mixed, they were either slinking down the mountain or getting tapped on the shoulder by a hooded figure (if you haven't read any of Terry Pratchett's fantasy novels with Death as a character, I highly recommend). these Japanese reached the summit at around 11:30 pm. night climbing on Everest??? and during an intense storm. on their way up they found 3 Ladahki climbers barely alive, and felt no compulsion to help them in any way. nor on he way down either. in Krakauer's party, 2 climbers were left behind in what was termed mountain triage. it was at least understood that more help might arrive later. frankly, everyone's up there immersed in their own personal view of death, I can almost see the attitude of everyone for themselves. one of these 2 climbers in fact survived, incredibly, albeit much amputated. he wa brought into camp near death. during the night his tent blew down in a gale and he was left to the elements for three hours, unable, due to frostbite, to do anything. this stuff fascinates me, tho I have no interest in climbing, especially no interest in high altitude, no air, extremely cold climbing. I have previously had the bejesus scared out of me by The Perfect Storm, movie, book and documentary. the wee fishing vessel bouncing around and under inconceivable waves is just too intense for this homeboy. I had a qualm or 2 when we zipped out of Gloucester Harbour on our whale watch last summer. no rocketships for me either. I thinmk I am equal to walking the dog right now.