November like a train wreck—
as if a locomotive made of cold
had hurtled out of Canada
and crashed into a million trees,
flaming the leaves, setting the woods on fire.
The sky is a thick, cold gauze—
but there’s a soup special at the Waffle House downtown,
and the Jack Parsons show is up at the museum,
full of luminous red barns.
—Or maybe I’ll visit beautiful Donna,
the kickboxing queen from Santa Fe,
and roll around in her foldout bed.
I know there are some people out there
who think I am supposed to end up
in a room by myself
with a gun and a bottle full of hate,
a locked door and my slack mouth open
like a disconnected phone.
But I hate those people back
from the core of my donkey soul
and the hatred makes me strong
and my survival is their failure,
and my happiness would kill them
so I shove joy like a knife
into my own heart over and over
and I force myself toward pleasure,
and I love this November life
where I run like a train
deeper and deeper
into the land of my enemies.
Just down the road from me, Georgia State professor Scott Heath doing work that needs to be done.
“He’s aware of the criticism and the critiques that come his way, and he then critiques those critiques. This is a guy who gives interviews where the entire interview is about another interview that he gave earlier,” says Heath, pointing to conversations with Jimmy Kimmel and Ricky Smiley as examples. “That, to me, is very keenly discursive.”
“He’s having to process or deal with other people’s interpretation of what he’s saying and who he happens to be,” says Heath, alluding to Du Bois’ assessment that black people in America are tasked with the emotionally arduous task of filtering their own identities through the lens of dominant white culture. “An exciting moment for me was the students reading Du Bois and the lightbulb going off and them making the connection to Kanye.”
Filed under: Kanye West.
I read some Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson, which is a good way to fill little pockets of time here and there. Some of my favorites:
- “Hope” is the thing with feathers
- I felt a Funeral, in my Brain
- I’m Nobody! Who are you?
- I know some lonely Houses off the Road
- Death sets a Thing significant
- It’s coming – the postponeless Creature –
- It might be lonelier
- We grow accustomed to the Dark –
- A Charm invests a Face
- The going from a world we know
- Fame is a bee
If you’re hankerin’ for some Emily Dickinson set to music, check out John Adams’ orchestral piece Harmonium, which uses Donne’s Negative Love in addition to Dickinson’s Because I could not stop for Death and Wild Nights – Wild Nights!. It’s a phenomenal piece of music.
Child in the womb,
Or saint on a tomb —
Which way shall I lie
To fall asleep?
The keen moon stares
From the back of the sky,
The clouds are all home
Like driven sheep.
Bright drops of time,
One and two chime,
I turn and lie straight
With folded hands;
They choose this state,
And their minds are wiped calm
As sea-leveled sands.
So my thoughts are:
But sleep stays as far,
Till I crouch on one side
Like a foetus again —
For sleeping, like death,
Must be won without pride,
With a nod from nature,
And a lack of strain,
And a loss of stature.
Fame is a bee.
It has a song—
It has a sting—
Ah, too, it has a wing.
I like to read my poems, but I don’t like to hear other people read theirs.
Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen
Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt
Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead
How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye
With cloud for shift
how will I hide?
May Swenson, “Question” (via malevichsquare)
I’ve come back to read this a dozen times.
He doesn’t say one thing while meaning something else: He says one thing, wholly means it—and also means something else.
How did reading poetry become an essential part of so many American wedding ceremonies—and why is it still so hard to choose a wedding poem of one’s own? […] It was around the early 1960s that some Protestant denominations began loosening the strictures of approved readings and music, according to Paula Treckel, a historian at Allegheny College who has written about the history of American weddings. The usual suspects were first to acquiesce: Unitarians, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians, responding to counterculture couples who wanted to make their wedding ceremonies their own. Suddenly, weddings were taking place in parks, and couples were writing their own vows. As the journalist Rebecca Mead writes in her 2007 book about contemporary weddings, One True Day, the modern idea is that “a wedding ceremony, like a wedding reception, ought to be an expression of the character of the couple who are getting married, rather than an expression of the character of the institution marrying them.”
Despite our best attempts at uniqueness, we have generated a canon (as people do). And so what if the canon shifts over time (as canons do)? If, in 30 or 40 years, Cummings brands an early-21st-century wedding as indelibly as Gibran brands a 1970s wedding, well, so be it. Marriage means stepping into an ancient institution marked by hundreds of temporal particulars—everything from the cut of the bride’s dress to who is legally allowed to marry. We hope the marriage lasts forever, but we have to expect the wedding itself will age. Maybe we’ll all look back on our wedding poetry the same way we’ll look back on our wedding photos: with a fondness for those young, goofy people who had no idea how their tastes would change, or what was to happen to them.
Consider this proposition in reverse to see how absurd it is: For my graduate thesis, I am going to give Calvin Trillin a bunch of half-assed instrumentals and have DJ Drama help him put together a Gangta Grillz mixtape, and then we’ll evaluate him alongside Gucci Mane and Cam’ron, and other rappers who have made Gangsta Grillz mixtapes. That would be awesome, but it would not provide any more insight into the how and why Calvin Trillin does what he does. It would simply provide me the opportunity to take someone else’s work, put it in a different context, and call it something different.
There is a line of Verlaine I will never remember
There is another street I can no longer walk down
There is a face in the mirror I have seen for the very last time
There is a door that is closed until the end of the world.
Among the books of my library (I am seeing them now)
There are some that will never be read.
This summer I will be fifty:
Death consumes me, constantly.
Image of Borges, Hôtel des Beaux Arts, Paris, by Pepe Fernández, 1969
Borges auto-reblog rule in effect.
In his Autobiography, Williams makes clear that part of what inspired him to become a writer was anger: “To write, like Shakespeare! and besides I wanted to tell people, to tell ‘em off, plenty. There would be a bitter pleasure in that, bitter because I instinctively knew no one much would listen.”
Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned to pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.
There came a moment that you couldn’t tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.