Thursday, June 30, 2016

Simone Weil 54

Love took my hand and smiling did reply, / 'Who made the eyes but I?'” The palm at the end of the mind stands outside my window; men climb, take machetes to its coconuts. One cut a spoon out of the coconut's crown and handed it to my son. He ate its meat. Yesterday, our other daughter watched; there was no meat, but she took our word. Bananas come in hands; beneath them a heavy heart. The forces of creation aren't unseen, though we fail in our attention. To attend is to love, but not to want. Love apart from blood is syllable and sound. I love what I am unlike. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Simone Weil 53

This bread really had the taste of bread. After the wisteria gardens and the baths came the best cold beer I've ever drunk. The bath-house sat beside a bridge over a narrow river somewhere in Japan. The image is all contingency. My former student's wife is dying in a narrow hospital room; she and he and their three children smile for the camera. I asked after his family at a conference; he leaned over my table under the dull lights, and told me. Another friend came by. I understood their common sadness. The other day I rode my bike south on Kahekili; the north-facing lane was clogged for miles up the coast: dramatic irony without the drama. But Weil writes that great drama contains no movement. Y. lies on her bed, smiling and breathing. Attend to the breath. Listen to it go out and in.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Simone Weil 52

Scapegoat and lamb. In the Manchester tram a teenager screams obscenities at an immigrant who is not one. There's a quiet woman behind the phone that records it. Everyone in the car remains quiet, except when a baby's involved. “No one in the park speaks English.” A friend in Florida said she didn't study Spanish because she thought people wanted their own language in the elevator. Reduction into stock answers; there's not much soup there, save what runs off a stone. “They're afraid,” they voted Remain. What remains of the day is a baby-faced thug and his ugly words. I cue up the short video from Puff N' Stuff, around the corner from Turnham Green's tube stop; there's Mrs. Sethe, and here's her address. Other shopkeepers were less friendly to Americans. It was autumn, 2002. At the corner florist shop, the tulips were so vivid they nearly sang. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Simone Weil 51

A page covered with pencil strokes is not a more beautiful object than the universe; but it is an object cut to our measure. Bryant cuts Radhika's hair, whose orange ends fall on white tile. She and her sister are cut from the same cloth, pushing that metaphor from blood to fabric. Sangha brings me the ginger cat, but she wanders away. If universe is dogma, the pencil cuts with more minute precision. A screeching myna and the gospel-singing thrush run counter-point. What we do while the world ends is our business, not the world's. A saw re-sounds across the condo's green lawn, bleeds into traffic sounds from the highway. At 7 years of age, he says, he thought the world was out to destroy him. Felt it most keenly at 4 a.m. when he ate Frosted Flakes with his dad, then returned to bed. The first version of this poem was about a post-Holocaust sculpture of shit. To each turd its own podium. So particular, and yet so true. What I cannot smell shall give me hope.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Simone Weil 50

The eye of the soul is this attention. An early morning downpour is ordinary; Donald Trump is banal. I keep writing inside a container-paragraph's four walls. The girls run up our stairs in sun hats, imagining they're immigrants trying to break through. The glass in condos frees us to imagine transparency, if we can afford a studio with ocean-view. There's the word “love” again, emblazoned in the ad; love is a view of an incessant blue sky, but it will cost you. The windows don't open; they turn ocean into show. Trump stands on a Scottish golf course, bagpipers standing at attention behind him. The Chieftain of no we can't, of henna hackles tweet!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Simone Weil 49

This stick separates me from things, but with it I transpose vision into touch, touch into topography. To stick means to stay, to be affixed to. So I'm separate from what sticks to me, this mask that opens my face like morning blinds. Or if not my face, that tender space between rib and muscle that seismographs feeling. If I touch you with my stick, I can't say whom you resemble. When I say my daughter has a sister, your first question is: “do they look alike?” Brother falls away, as do I. My nose bleeds, not my lines. “He was not blood” means you don't see eye to eye. It means I don't know their history, though my neighbor (whom I hardly know) asks me with such urgency. (Just curious.) What sticks to the real is more obscure: cat scratching for a ping pong ball in the dark.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Simone Weil 48

Every separation represents a bond. Your meditations' obscurity lies not in history, my friend says, but in your memory of it. Self-separation precedes the act of memoir, muscle pulled from bone. Our friend with Parkinson's buys pot from a dealer, then takes it legally to ease his chronic pain. Such are our laws. I remember Freddie Gray, dying in the police van of a broken neck. I won't remember the officers acquitted of killing him. Failure to remember is sometimes an ethical act, but only if you know what you're undoing. Tapestries of dissent cover holes punched in the dry wall. If you take my skin, you get my emptiness. On Bishop Street, a homeless man yelled at a shopkeeper: “I will rip off all your skin and stuff it in my shoes.” The shopkeeper pounded at his phone. Beauty's purpose is to mask our pain. A boy with brain cancer chooses a Batman mask: he loves to watch him beat up the Joker and the Penguin.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pre-publication sale on Kaia Sand's new Tinfish Press book

Pre-publication sale for Kaia Sand's new A Tale of Magicians Who Puffed Up Money That Lost Its Puff. The first 60 buyers get a special edition that includes extra magic.

For more, see:

The webpage is here:

While you're at the website, please check out the rest of our catalogue:

Tinfish Press has published experimental poetry (and some prose) from the Pacific since 1995.

Simone Weil 47

If my eyes are bandaged, then I'm blinded by what offers time to heal. There was no back-draft of a mother's ashes, though the wreath landed upside down in the ocean. We could hardly see the mountains for the buildings, but Diamond Head wore cloud shadows til they dissolved. Afterwards, we talked sports in the boat, naming players as we circled the now-drowning ashes. My mother's remain in a closet, awaiting transport. Is it flesh that burns, or time? Memory is back-draft, grit in the mouth, a scattering presence without sound. “Diamond Head dreadnaught,” she wrote, after another scattering. We towed in a boat that lost its steering. It's a fable, Joe said, describing a film about fixed ideas. Death fixes us all right; we feel the swell, but white water flashes farther in. We re-entered the harbor, Point Panic to our left.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Simone Weil 46

No one will remember the shoe, a friend writes, the one soaked in Orlando's blood. History's obscurities rhyme, that shoe with the abandoned shoe on a Paris street. I associate terror with shoes. On the trail yesterday, a man held two soles in his hand near the waterfall. But that was only a walk in the woods. My girl shed her shoes, walked barefoot in the pool beneath the falls. “I love you, babe,” the shooter texted his wife. Men in the bathroom stall saw his boots pace beneath the door. My first word was “shoes,” though it might have been “Sooze.” “Hey, babe,” my son says to his girlfriend. He got new shoes; the last pair were just for looks, it seems. One cat cuddles with my daughter's cleats. Memory is inventory before it assigns affect to object. We live in a state where you take your shoes off before you walk in.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Simone Weil 45

If you hide the universe from the universe, no one will take it from you. When his partner died 20 years ago, he posted a note and some photos on the door of the faculty lounge. When he came to campus in recent years, he brought his little dogs and carried a cane. One student called him a “young old man.” He loved Richard Goode's Beethoven. He had been a pianist. He had loved the ocean. He had become paranoid. This is not an elegy. Our chair writes that the dean informed her that he retired. If we wish to be in touch, we can find him at his unspecified edu account. Friends tell me he cut off his friends, his students, his helpers. He lives in a small room in a hostel that provides soap and toilet paper. Not a party hostel, one located close to the heart of Honolulu. There's a cleaning service once a week. No ascending to heaven, no angels to take him to his rest. Just clean linens and some bedding. Someone sent me a phone number, but I wrote him a short email instead.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Simone Weil 44

Humility is a purification through the elimination in oneself of imaginary good. Where “I love our protesters” means exactly opposite. Emerson's eyeball grows bulbous with anger. A murderer preens before mirrors, then captures himself on his phone. We no longer see through our eyes. They've been taken, arranged along paths in a sculpture garden: all gaze and no refraction. Eye walls. There's blood in the stalls, blood under the sinks, blood by the bar, blood pulsing in our ears. We need to know his motive. But meaning has no purchase now. You can't buy it on-line without a license. My life had stood. And hers, and his. We've outsourced death's solitude. They-died-together is as good as it gets.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Simone Weil 43

Human life is impossible. They're investigating motivation, as if the precise wording of his intention were key. When she returns to their apartment, his wife wears a #84 hoodie and a wedding ring; their toddler waits in the back of a car. The arc of our grief has flat-lined. There are too many details to make a poem of, and no abstraction sturdy enough to rein them in. We bring survivors out in their hospital beds to speak to reporters. We put up photos of the dead and we read their names, their ages. We find stories to tell about them, weeping friends to put on camera. Soul's skin closes against the murky run-off of our anger and a sadness whose pause button has broken. What is there to write? What petitions can we sign? The photo of a doctor's track shoes filthy with blood stains appears on social media. The toddler, nested between his smiling parents, has been blurred out for his protection. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Simone Weil 42

We read, but also we are read by, others. I made my appointment with the head doctor at a hospital in the woods. I told my story, not as I wanted to, but according to his questions. When our Q&A had ended, he said I was “a troubled young woman.” I needed to figure things out; otherwise, this would just keep happening. Repetition as another skinny dip in the acid bath. “Did you ever go skinny dipping?” my daughter asks. I suspect I did, but don't remember. That's something you would remember, she says. What I recall is that adrenaline is an engine that burns the literal heart. He had me down as narrative: beginning, middle, and catastrophic end. During yesterday's meditation, I untied laces of the knot that pushed against the top wall of my skull. I unlaced and unlaced, but it didn't come undone. In the other doctor's office, I sat for half an hour at a time, finding no words amid my words' chaos. “You just needed someone to sit with you,” that doctor said.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Simone Weil 41

Life is an ersatz form of salvation. The dean responded to the mother of a distressed student as if he were answering a complaint about pot-holes. If only he'd put the last paragraph first; if only his grammar were better; if only he'd avoided the verb “to impact.” Would his prose be clear as the edge of a bubble my daughter blows? With a rainbow smudge, as if aesthetics compensated for cruelty? My coffee comes of acorns, but I taste Columbian. My flour tastes of soy, but that's my personal pronoun. I'm grateful for what tricks me to attention. The gash of purple flower-light against the Ko'olau, the fading coos of doves in fugue with a shama thrush--these are a true imagining. I cannot pare my senses down to none. A candlestick found in the garden means someone paid attention. Detectives always share the guilt.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Simone Weil 40

To explain suffering is to console it; therefore it must not be explained. The word “integration” was all telling and no showing. “Ruminate” was easier, as I do it so well. “The tendency to negatively ruminate is a stable constant over time and serves as a significant risk factor for clinical depression.” Which came first, the ruminator or her egg? My kids egg me on all the time, trying to get my goat. But I close the door on them, the better to chew my cud. It's the engine of delivery that's acid, not what I pull from its assembly line. Sangha, at 16, imagines what he'd say to younger Sangha if they met. A mirror that doesn't match, self to self-image. The historian who spends his long hours in another century can hardly imagine himself at breakfast. At Kualoa Beach Park a woman asked if he was adopted, and I said yes. So was she, Hawaiian from the mainland. Today he learned how to shift into first and second gear, and then he parked in reverse. 

[with thanks to Wikipedia for its definition]

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Simone Weil 39

Difficulty in understanding things that are evident. Evidence of relation: head, shoulders, knees and toes. “I can just SEE their father and mother” is the moment of my erasure. The painting in that living room is of a girl on a bed. Her arm thrown over her head, we cannot see her face. She has hidden her inheritance from us, abstracted herself as feeling. Despair is an orange stroke on the sheets. It only self-resembles. To differ is to move, to refuse the frames. The scene of non-recognition proves less popular than reunion of mother and child. My mother didn't know me; she was Milarepa's pot. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Simone Weil 38

Look for examples (there are many such). Imagine a poetry of pure example: the woman who'd camped at a covered bus stop in Kāne'ohe is gone, along with her blue tarp and shopping cart: the homeless man with an awkward limp comes toward me at Long's, his beard neatly trimmed beneath his hoodie: a young cat named Kaya resides in a small condo at Petco: our two girls go to the beach to search for the tree that bends out over the water; they like it because people take pictures--they did: a golden retriever named Harry retrieves a green tennis ball from the ocean; I and a stranger take turns throwing it back in, I with my left, she with her right: Donald Trump says Muslims and Mexicans are out to get him: my father-in-law reads a book called Rage for Order: our black and white cat has been lethargic since June 2: I'm waiting for help with the rectal thermometer.

Wisdom is a collection agency for accident. A plastic bag full of old clothes and books sits in the living room. The the.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Simone Weil 37

We should not think about. When I asked my mother to apologize, she said she'd meant it then. As if then were itself a universe. As if to apologize now (which is now then) were to deny a truth set in amber. As if that memory were a precious thing, not in its feeling, but as it existed for us both. Memory is not what I think about, but what I think around. Satellites flicker like stars, but they move; sight divorced from touch, detached. A bearded man in black top hat goes kite surfing off Kailua Beach. There's wit in time's layering, so long as you're the kite. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Simone Weil 36

The ticking of a clock has no rhythm. It is defined by the pauses. A ring is not round, but square. We puncture time with our presence, then squat on a corner stool. One man leans over to tend the cuts above our eye, another to scream instructions in our ear. You want to talk to who brought you here, my son says, not to someone who doesn't know you. Intimacy is of violence mostly. He can't take the bus to Airsoft he's so well armed. Pores over pictures of pistols and automatic weapons (fake, of course) then puts on his camo and laces up his boots. Needs $15 to pay for the fantasy of killing his friends. I want to punch him in the face, Trump says of a protester. It's all part of the game, says the ballplayer who cold-cocked Jose Bautista. Only the man of violence can refuse to kill. A bell keeps tolling, but not for Ali. Attend to the blank canvas where his dancing feet once were.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Simone Weil 35

There are certain things which cause no suffering whatever by themselves, but make us suffer as signs. Today's exclusive offer is to “Save Your Memories Before They Fade Away.” On his birthday I remember Allen Ginsberg: we were shoulder to shoulder to window in an airport van when he asked what I'd talked about. Hart Crane. “I have my students read 'Atlantis,' out loud,” he said, “because nothing so resembles the movements of the mouth during cock-sucking.” We drove into rural Maine and stopped so he could kiss a friend on the lips. This also could be last. My friend says her husband is losing time when he sings; he's still on key, but not on the beat. Tempo fugit. It's the blur note, the one that makes us see time like a woman walking after her stroke, one leg swaying outward like a canoe paddle, the other pumping straight. At a certain age, we agree, we say “after I die” as if it's true. Our kids don't like that. It was my mother's retirement plan, the car left on in the garage. I'm gonna tell you how it's gonna be. A love that's love will fade away.

--for Tiff Holland

[from The Notebooks]