Monday, February 21, 2022

American anger redux


Lilith and I turned left off Maile onto Haunani and then, when we got to the private lane to the left where Lilith has found excellent smells and at least one bone, we turned, walked to the end and then up a hill to the right to a large A-frame on a hill in a field where two Buddhas sit, each looking in a different direction. Then we headed back, saying hello to a woman on her phone, Lilith sniffing and I taking some photos of old glass with puddles in it, fragile ferns on a fence. At the corner of Haunani is an odd construction site; it's always looked a tad improvised, but I've never seen anyone there. A very narrow wooden building is going up, with green insulation on the outside. 
"Did anyone invite you up there?" demands a white man with brown beard marching toward me, a bit hunched over but in early middle age. "No, we just walk up and back and I take some photos," I said. "Well, it's PRIVATE and you can't go there unless someone invites you! You can't just be all niele and go up there." A bit taken aback, I thanked him for his aloha. Lilith and I walked the few remaining yards to the corner. "See that sign!," he hectored me. "It says PRIVATE." (As indeed it does.)
As we turned right onto the main road, I couldn't help myself. Without looking at him, I said quite loudly, "You got a permit for all that?" And Lilith and I walked home

Friday, February 18, 2022

Middle Management


And the cure for management? Once you’ve managed your anger, your time, your cubicle, ordered your thoughts in rows, releasing them only with neatly printed permission slips signed by a certified teacher, you’re left with a bunch of unruly employees who chant “resist, resist” over and again. Corridors fill with them, sporting berets and boots, just enough out of lock step not to remind us of the German goose getting cooked on the Strasse. But the resistance will be televised, with ads for electric cars, and you’ll buy into it as sure as you did your pet rock, yearning for the affection of its cool cheek. We weren’t yet at the stage when you had to feed the rock, rendered virtual so it went everywhere with you, squawking for meals in the most inconvenient places. The library carrel was one of those, where you went for the silence but heard the chitchat of students. One time you thought you heard the books talking down the rows to each other, crossing disciplines, but only when their call numbers conjoined. Here the birds make sound as sweet as silence, if you live inside it. Putting it in verb form feels like abuse. At its center a curling stone, inviting contact but fearing it, men with brooms guiding another stone in by warming the ice around it. The corridor they manage is cold, their eyes locked into the near distance. I saw a woman with a broad broom the other day, no handle. We saw Russian women with low brooms sweep the Moscow boulevards, backs bent as if in prayer. Put your broom in another context. From broom to bromeliad. Loud southern voices in the rain forest: “Putin’s not gonna tell anyone what he’ll do next. It’s war.” Their house is on the market for over 600 grand. Your new pieces seem to have a pattern, he says, setting up a theme and returning to it. It’s my thoughts on Lilith’s 60 foot leash; they run until they’re wrapped around a tree or fern, then bark at me for assistance. They can’t run away, but they can’t stand on their own two to four feet either. One poet hired a professional manager. My mother's care was managed by women who sat around a table as our kids played with brightly lit pipe cleaners.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

An exercise: How to write "I want to write an honest sentence" for students

 from Jenn Dick: 

DIRECTIONS (this is recap after a class on this where we read Susan's poetry and talked about it)

Work in 2 parts:

Part I:

Every day for 6 days (Fri-Weds) Meditate in SILENCE (no phones, computers, etc) For 5-10 minutes (I suggest you set a little timer so you can just let go and then the timer will tell you when 5-10 minutes is up.) After EACH meditative moment, write 1 sentence or a few following your meditation. Like we did in class with the "first word that comes to mind" in this case, a first sentence or two which comes to mind.

Part II:

On day 6/7 (Weds and Thurs) take the sentences you wrote and reorder, build around, add to them in order to write a Susan Schultz style developed paragraph meditation.

2 options for this:

1 longer paragraph or

2 smaller paragraphs using a "mantra" sentence (ie her "I want to write an honest sentence"). Note how she just bounces from self to other, he, she, her daughter, names, etc. So let yourself also not seek normative connections. YET her sentences do often connect through "stream of consciousness" or ping-pong jumping off points (ie: a sentence mentions a student who does not read, another is about what her daughter is reading--so a small connection is there). Notice how she includes things from what she reads in the news and is thinking about. You can do that too.

Due: Typed. Both Part 1 and 2. Into Moodle.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The New System

[After weeks of being obsessed with photographs, I decided to write again. This doesn't quite work, though I like the idea of riffing/rifling through terms like "anger management," for their conflation of emotion with business hierarchies. The management company is everywhere, and our blades of grass are not free from it, nor are our parking lots, where leaf blowers make their correspondent breezes a pain in the ass.]


Not much can be cured, but there’s a lot of management. We’re lower tier workers—not in the German sense, but perhaps so—caught in a bureaucratic grid of someone else’s devising. Our managers, ourselves. Our bodies, not so much. There are offices for anger and personnel; everyone’s encouraged to have skills. Skill sets, not null ones. Buoyant with templates, methods like wood blocks pressed into watermarked stationery. You can get a job, find a path, manage your desires and ambitions. Just find the right app, or aptitude. Attitude’s a word like hipster that has no definition, just a sigh of disdain after it’s pronounced. I now pronounce you word and deed. The wedding photographer trails your every first step into a marriage you will do your best to contain. To be a woman is to half slip away from the word, begin to undress it, take off at least one syllable, the better to manage your tan. Damn vortex, chaos inside its confined space. The best translation ends with the word “kerplunk.” Not a household word, but it works well for frogs leaping into water pools. The pond’s a containment system, finely managed, though its history remains obscure. Before Thoreau, a freed slave lived on that land, his solitude another thing indeed, his only freedom bought, not chosen. Self-consuming. Signed, sealed, delivered. Across Kalakaua, a white woman in shorts gyrated beside a small speaker. She was singing, but the sound took time to cross the street, arrive at us and the Black man who laughed when I recongized “Superstition!” She worked hard at it, harder than the man with a “Want Wife” sign who muttered something about the Jews killing his grandfather, on another corner. In the country, there you feel free. But Waikiki wants you, like an Uncle Sam with hand outstretched, promising a vacation within the military industrial complex, where tourists get the good water and the right to complain no one smiles their way. A maid brought a bucket of cold water for my father’s sunburned feet. We ate at the military hotel, where Hawaiian royalty marched across the walls. I’m sure you can find a good history manicure here somewhere, with an immigrant to paint your nails after you’ve walked them across so many sidewalks to the ocean, through alleys of surf-boards, past the charred reminder of a recent arson. I find a syringe near my house. Pain management’s the next boom. Lower it carefully.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Project idea

Take photos in response to poems important to you. Example. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Chance Photography Lesson

We'd seen him before, the tall, thin, gray-haired man with two small dogs, Hapa (face half-white, half-black) and Mana (came with the name Pua, which I gather he thought too girly, so now is Mana___). We were at the park with all the mosquitos; my legs were serving as fast food. I told him I was trying to learn photography backwards, and showed him my klunky DSLR, which I'd been fighting with. "I used to be a professional photographer," he said. Wedding photos, school photos, all of it. When I said the manual settings were difficult to me, he first said, "use the automatic setting!" and then (when I said that was verboten) started in on a mini-lecture on aperature and speed. Had me take a couple of photographs of the park, which turned out pretty well. Hapa was favoring his back right leg, running mostly on the other three. We walked them back toward their car. He honked a minute later as he drove by and my camera was up in the air, seeking tree and sky shot.