Friday, February 28, 2020

Novel coronavirus brings back the n+7 machine

n+8: So, the Coronavirus, which started in China and sprinkling to various couplets throughout the wraith, but very slowly in the U.S. because Presupposition Trustee closed our bosom, and ended flirts, VERY EARLY, is now bellhop blamed, by the Do Novelist Denials, to be the feast of “Trump”.

“The Do Novel Demurs were busy wasting timing on the Imperfection Hock,& anything else they could do to make the Requisite Passer-by look bail, while I was busy calling early BORROWING & FLIPFLOP closings, putting us wealth ahead in our bay with Coronavirus,” Truss wrote. “Dems called it VERY wrong!”

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Meditation 6 on Joe Harrington's climate change blog

Please find here:

Joe Harrington's site is worth reading, devoted to work on climate change--poems, short essays, guest posts.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Meditation 25


I walked past all the mirrors in the hallway and nothing showed. There were moments when a flower blossomed, but its petals dissolved on the linoleum floor. I thought I saw a nose lead me from the glass, but it, too, evaporated, leaving only a wave of my imperceptible body in the still air. And then it happened again at the elevator, the mailbox, wherever someone had eyes not to see. The invisible man bathed himself in stolen light. Here light is freely given, but eyes take in what they refuse to give out. Up the street, some Filipino men empty out a house; it was where the gap-toothed Hawaiian man showed me his puikenikene tree, the one ringed by small plastic horses. Last time we crossed paths, he said he hadn’t seen us in a while; I noted the path Lilith now took to the graveyard. A hospice worker sometimes parked out front. “The house is a total mess,” the Filipino man says to me. The tree that once held a hundred plastic dinosaurs bears fruit. There was a woman in the house but I never saw her. Her wheelchair sat outside the garage, folded up. Now it's in the yard, surrounded by what can be re-used: some chairs, upholstered and not; old wooden furniture; plastic bins, one containing a garden hose; a faded red cooler.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

My gray teeth

The uncanny, or is it just weird. Colleague who crosses paths with me on a regular basis doesn't look at me or say hello (even in elevator). Neighbor at the mail box today, whom I hailed twice, who didn't turn his head to look at me, said nothing, and then turned to walk home. While I know the problem is not mine, there is a brief moment each time when the question arises as to my very existence. It's odd and disturbing. Earlier in the day, the dentist told me (out of nowhere) that my ego would have a boost if my teeth were bleached white. Hundreds of dollars without insurance, which would then necessitate--the hygienist said--redoing some fillings, which are colored gray to match my teeth. Not sure that's where my ego kicks up!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Hilo taxi stories

Bryant left a library book in a Hilo taxi last week. His bookmark is a 10 billion dollar note from Zimbabwe (which might get you a cup of coffee there). So he left that in the library book, too. The cabbie called the library and the library called him and he met the taxi driver to retrieve his book. On our way home today, we used the same company. B told his story and the cabbie said, oh that was my daughter. He talked to her on the phone and she remembered the library book; she'd consulted with her mother what to do about it. Hadn't said anything to her dad about the 10B dollars. I don't know how we got to farm stories, but I said my dad had ridden a horse to school in Michigan, and the horse had walked home after. So he told us about Miko the mule who'd taken him and a cousin on a wild ride--the cousin fell off, and he had one foot on the ground, the other still in a stirrup, when Miko stopped. He said something about small kid time in Kalapana, so I asked if he knew Ledward Kaapana. "He's my cousin," the driver said."Haven't seen him in a while." So if you're in Hilo, use Da Best Taxi. Da bess.

Meditation 24


He asked for the word for times he floated near the ceiling while his uncle molested him below. It’s what saved you, a survivor responds: internal space travel--though decades later clocks strike back, as your absent self falls to the floor of that tiny room. After eating the pink edible, I wanted to get outside my body, so I walked to the porch where the air was cool. But the body is always there to be returned to, like a husk or house. Dreams are fictive itineraries. The young poet appears ecstatic as he pronounces the name, James Baldwin. He writes a sonnet to Baldwin’s face, which doesn't reveal coral teeth or rosy cheeks. It’s the crevices of his voice I loved, the wandering up of his cigarette smoke. I want to point to how history and memory intersected in his face, the violence that cut it. But I can’t find an indirect way to map roads that cross other roads in a seemingly vacant space. Every fork in the road clenches its teeth in Thomas Hardy novels. Serendipity’s no longer a private matter. It feels more like conspiracy every day. “I realized I hadn’t thought of Trump for a couple hours,” he said, surprised. He’s internalized himself as shame. When I went for my appointment, I told the ob/gyn that I thought of him as my legs opened to her speculum’s advance. Don’t worry, he’s not here, she said. You survive by thinking otherwise.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Meditation 23


We walked past the biker bar in Hilo; a white bearded guy in leather was huddled with an Asian woman in leather. I stopped to take a photo of the Trump sticker on a bike, American flag in the shape of a menacing helmet placed neatly on a shiny bumper. “The owner of that bike is right here. He’s a Marine!” the woman called out to me. “Take his photo!” I turned to look at them, smiling on the sidewalk. “I’m a Warren woman,” I said. They went back in the bar, the woman yelling "four more years." Later, as we sat at the Conscious Cafe, they screamed away on their bikes. I noticed she had her own. Pat, who told us about the five hindrances, started to cry after loving kindness meditation. I couldn’t know why. The woman who hadn’t been there remembered last week’s self-consuming sentence about knowing oneself as god, before god fell away, then knowing. She talked about the problem of self-judgment. On a well-worn facebook thread, one woman said we should not judge the dead; only god can do that. And so we purify our grief, spill turpentine on it, pluck up the pesky patches of rust. Complexity would wreck our grief. I found a slip of paper with his name on it. In pencil were directions to the correct train, given me by a woman who spoke English. The young woman in a Yankees dress laughed at our inability to communicate. Sonnet 130 in ASL reminds a student of how his roommate dances. It’s translation back to movement from the word, the beat, effect of the affect spilling from his flowering hands. What do we do with the beauty of these images, the stable climate they assume? How might we say her teeth were bleached coral, her cheeks burned in the Antarctic sun? If we know our history, which moment do we live in? The character’s itinerary was abrupt. Each time he traveled, he lost his clothes and had to steal more on the other side. He aged; he grew younger. He met his wife as a child, then saw her after he died, the victim of her father’s gun (which none but us will never know). His mother sat on the Chicago train, young again. There are advantages to his condition, he says. Correspondance à Paris reminded me of Baudelaire, and Baudelaire reminds me of prose. In the middle of his sonnet, my student said he was writing prose, then failed to decipher my handwriting, when I replaced it with “verse.” Association involves images disguised as words, their surfaces burning like plastic in a new toaster oven. The president’s limo drove once around the Daytona track. It was illegal, but he called them all patriots. Our new cast iron frying pan came dangling an American flag.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Meditation 22


The question of surfaces came up. We can call content a surface, if it carries a mirror on the other side. We can call the mirror depth, so long as we stack it on others. Ron calls it torque, what happens between sentences, but I’m more inclined to to call it cliff, or canyon. Mules no longer traverse Molokai's cliffs, so our friend walked up to buy supplies, then 3600 feet back down. It took a day to go shopping, and detergent was heavy. My student calls it “abyss,” but he’s young yet. After we read Sonnet 73 and I play the role of the older poet to the younger man, another student asks if I’m dying. To grow older is not to read but re-read, which is to look for something other than content (note the pun). Tell me why the sentence is beautiful, and assign it a role in its paragraph. Does it serve as function or as mini-poem? If you open the mini-poem, are you charged $12 to buy a guaranteed A paper, or do you get to drink from it for inherent value? If we call each other service workers, clients, and consumers, what is left for the rootless, the suffering, the unattached? She turned the noun “snake” into verb, transformed the garden hose into a sentient being. You can make the sentence dull by ejecting metaphors, so we do. There’s a hose on the sidewalk. I remember seeing a snake in the grass in Kingston, New York, thinking at first it was a hose, then noting its thickness, the way it moved away from us kids through something that appeared to be volition. We only read character through action, unless we read the sonnets well. The metaphor serves a function, but falls off meaning’s cliff-edge. A tiny parachute appears, negotiating the walls between sentences, and you brace yourself against the canyon floor. When you listen to a woman walking down the stairs (she carries a trash bag over one shoulder), what do her steps sound like? Which are louder, which softer? What does that tell us about the space? My percussionist sits at the table counting out the poem’s beats. There’s meaning there, but it’s parasite to the words. Her dog jumped toward the leaves in their descent. Fill in the second half of that analogy, making a sentence of it. We do have limits, but they’re stories that spool out. Rain doesn’t fragment the earth; it fills it in. And then a thrush’s song leans against the gutter’s drips. A rooster stands in the field, for once quiet. Someone’s alarm bleats a greeting. Let’s try this all again.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Teaching stories

In my first class, I handed out a quiz about duende, as they'd read Lorca's essay. I'd asked who has the most duende, Mozart or JLo or Philip Glass. The obvious answer is JLo, but one student just went off on how Mozart could have duende, too, which I acknowledged. Then she started talking about how Shakira had much more duende than JLo, and she wouldn't stop. We were all laughing, so I suggested that they should have seen Shakespeare pole dance. (We're doing his sonnets now, a hard sell to young undergrads.) "Shakespeare didn't pole dance!" she exclaimed. Oh yes, he did, I insisted, and then read them Sonnet 135, the one where he obsessively uses the word/name "Will": "Wilt thou, whose will is large and spacious, / Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine?" Then, we moved on to Sonnet 73, and I showed them this video that I found last night: Sheer duende! Later in the class, after I'd talked about the speaker has lost his duende because he's grown old, the same student blurted out to me, "You're not dying are you?! I mean, you're still creating, aren't you?"

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Meditation 21


A friend posts a photograph of her table at a cafe. It’s not a trendy place, more a greasy spoon. She sits in the shadows, looking out at a couple who’ve found a window; though we see nothing through it, there is a streak of light at photo’s end. The image belongs on a feed of “uninteresting photographs.” This is where she sat, she writes, when democracy died. When I go back to look again, I can’t find the photo. Like a lapsed memory, it twitches behind my frontal lobe, analogue to a culture’s self-lobotomy. “I’m sorry for your loss,” a Canadian student says. Usually, there’s somewhere to put the loss, in cupped hands, or in a box. But your fingers pull apart and sand pours through. The local woman in the short story turned to sand when she grew upset about her island’s history. She was like a human sandbox without the frame. The sand doesn’t measure time, it scatters it. Inability to remember sequence is a symptom of trauma; the inability to look another in the eye a symptom of narcissism, which works both ways in this equation. Make it simple, he tells his mother, before and after she unloads a wave of unnecessary detail. We cannot lose what we so completely say, or so we think. Yesterday’s meditation turned to the two knots on either side of my spine, held in place by a cage of taut muscles. To what do we hold, when our core is weak? I pull the cushion out from under me and put it between my back and the wooden wall. The wall offers some support, letting my knots’ pain loosen. The tree of my spine rests against the lumber of the wall, soon to be torn down to make open space. From the next cushion over, I hear my neighbor say she meditates by elimination: first goes the grocery list, then the student papers, then the pesky colleague. Her daughter’s moods can be witnessed in the behavior of her cats. She recognizes her new cottage by the pencil sharpener on an outside beam. She’s always been obsessed by pencil sharpeners. Wood curls and drops to the ground, beside the much loved cat, imported from another friend’s photo-stream.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The day democracy died

Just after receiving an email from the son of a local anchor, a former student who supports Trump, that began, "checkmate!" and then conveyed the wish that my day had not been completely horrible, I drove to the Federal Building to wave a sign at the traffic with dozens of others. My sign read "I Like Democracy." There was some honking in support, but everything seemed muted until a white man in a nice car pulled over beside the bus lane I was next to. I could see his mouth working furiously at something. "I can't hear you!" I said, a couple times. Then I realized he was yelling "F You!" at me, over and over again, this man I'd never met who knew nothing of me. I drove through Iwilei on my way back, passing the shopping carts and tents and tarps and scattered people, past a ton of a police at a gas station in Kalihi and then past a bus stop where someone waited for the bus, old, hunched over, and wearing a MAGA cap. It's on.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Meditation 20


She knew a woman who lived in the house of the woman who died at the hand of her tenant, by fire or by gunshot. The woman who owned the house worked in the library; she looked familiar. She belly-danced. I might have seen her at the old Egyptian place, a middle-aged white woman thrusting her belly forward, my friend’s partner’s straying eye but brief. Anne was guardian ad litem at a house where a sumo wrestler was killed over meth. Next door, a young mother beat her son when his kind step-dad was away. Up the hill, a man keeps his disabled parents hostage on the lower floor, while he goes surfing in his van. We tell ourselves it’s always been bad. That despair is their friend, not ours. The practice is about facing death, but we think of that death as ours, not our republic’s by which it stands, one nation indivisible, with. The poems aren’t so much about love but the damage we leave, if we’re lucky. He wants to translate old poems into new, render them honest in their confessions to inadequate feeling. I open the old poet’s book and find an inscription--to me,--“with love,” two days after a birthday. He gave me a bear hug in a thick sweater. Lived in an old fire house with his poet’s wife and children. Paid ambivalent homage to Stevens, though he was a Williams man. This is what it will be like, Bryant says, putting one foot in front of the other, not calling attention to yourself, not saying what might be reported. Cloak your words, as in a poem. (And take his name out next time.) The reader comes later, but there will be no trace of you at your place of work. Soon to be acquitted, the president rescinds the ban on landmines. Just because he’s guilty doesn’t mean we should evict him.