So, I owe you an extra poem–yesterday got busy, man–and a real live handwritten homespun entry–and both are on the way, I promise. But, in the meantime, I’ll hand over another interesting photo I stumbled by at some point and saved for just such an occasion. How about this one; I think it’s from Tumblr, and like all things Tumblr had been reposted a gigazillion times, so I don’t have a credit, but it’s cute and just what I need for my grumpy, slightly hungover mood:
I’ve been plodding along with work on the poetry that’s supposed to be a greater component of this blog–nitpicking, as is too often the case–in the all too rare moments I have free between working on the novel, working at my actual paying manual-labor job, working for a couple of different volunteer things I do, working for my teenage bosses as chauffeur-butler-cook-dishwasher-etc, and working to explain myself to my wife (insert winking emoticon here). I’m almost done with this year’s taxes, however.
My head feels thick today–so I’ll screw around on the computer, I thought, looking at the million links I’ve bookmarked to check out when “I have time.” Automatic Poetry Generators strike my fancy, so without further adieu….
I went over to MakeAPoem at http://www.runokone.com/makeapoem/index.php . This one is fun because it reminds me of MadLibs–you enter in words and the program spits them back out at you. I entered some intentionally maudlin words and got this:
plod and stumble towards shelter
prescribe Rimrock to bathe in blank skyless late winter
vague gray ceiling is keening
a molasses beast is colossal cold
drink if you miss my kiss
dependent upon you.
Not bad, eh? I’m going back to do something edgy, something topical and political. Allow me to present:
Black Sea DayDream
rumbling behind the wall
abandon Crimea to gulp grim late winter
artillery fire burns
tanks is vast cold
raise a rifle if the russian are coming
I urge (compel? demand!) all of you to tromp on over to the site, follow the directions carefully (it won’t work if you don’t fill every blank), make yer poem then copy and paste it in the comments section below.
I love photographs. I could roam around flickr all day, and I have. For this “feature” I will do a random search of the internet, pick the coolest picture on the page, and share it with you. Occasionally, if all of the images from the initial search–now, what’s the technical term? Oh!–if all of them suck melons, I will either scroll down until I find a suitable photo, or substitute one from the hundreds that are clogging up my hard drive. For no good reason at all, these pictures are going to appear on…let me think…um, how about Wednesdays? And Sundays, at least at first.
Some notes on these photographs:
- This blog is for personal entertainment, not commercial reasons. I derive no income from this site. Not a penny.
- The pictures in this feature are obviously not mine, and I have made no effort to secure the rights–I’ve posted them because I like and enjoy them. If any of these are yours, let me know and I can add an attribution or remove them, as appropriate. Thanks!
- I’m a man–with blustery, testosterone-stained, primitive, often immature, and generally not-fit-for-company tastes and preferences. I like flowers and mountains and little baby animals, but I also like pictures of beautiful women, old motorcycles, stupid trucks, and so forth. If the photo most appealing to me from a particular search is a bikini-chick in high heels riding an old Indian motorcycle, I’m going to go with it and welcome a dialogue re: my neanderthal sensitivities and the relevant socio-political implications of my actions. Just saying.
- Likewise, it is highly unlikely that there will be an equitable inclusion of oiled-up muscular hunks to balance out any typical man stuff that appears in this feature.
- Poetry is the simplest form, and the most difficult. I like the irony of that, even if it isn’t true. A man with a limp and a seersucker suit once told me that a novel is an undisciplined short story, a short story just a poem run amok. I toured the Jack Daniels distillery a long time ago, a pilgrimage of sorts, and learned how they stack mountains of maple timbers ten feet high, burn the timbers into charcoal, and drip the whiskey through ten foot columns of that charcoal–drip, drip, drip–a long slow process. From there, it is collected and stored in toasted and charred barrels for four years at ambient temperature–as the seasons change the whiskey expands and contracts into the wood, mellowing and gaining flavor. Distillation. That’s what makes a poem–sometimes it happens through dozens of drafts, sometimes it simmers in soul and arrives mostly formed.
- I find myself impatient for the arrival of poems, but almost fatally patient once they appear. My favorite dates back to 1992 and through dozens of tweakings, two major re-writes, and eighteen drafts is not more than a shadow of the image in my head. I suppose that might seem lazy, and I sometimes wonder if I shouldn’t suck it up and either write a hundred more drafts until it’s perfect or just say “that’s it, I’m done–it’s good enough.”
- Whitman published six different versions of his masterpiece, Leaves of Grass, in his lifetime–not only adding poems as he wrote them, but altering the form of the book and re-writing older poems to reflect his growing, changing sensibilities.
- I’ve been fascinated with translations of ancient Greek and, to a lesser extent, Chinese poetry of late, after pulling a small book by Kenneth Rexroth on the way out the door to watch an invitational swim meet. Poetry lends itself perfectly to those all-day affairs, with so many distractions. If I take a novel I end up reading the same pages over and over again–with poetry, that’s exactly how I want to read it: once straight through to get the sound of it, a couple more times (if it strikes me) to get the what and why, and a few more for the how. That Rexroth book stuck with me, so I read more, took another look at Sappho, and from there began scouring the Internet. It’s interesting to see the influence of that work in my own stuff–the Greek, in particular, is matter-of-fact and unpretentious. Verse was such a ubiquitous presence in the lives of those who had the time and ability to write in that culture–I appreciate the wealth of both subtle poignancies and simple truths in small moments.
- I don’t ever expect to write a great poem. I write poems because I like poetry and writing, and because it is important to me to see and appreciate those small moments–tonight at dinner, in a rush to get it on the table so all four of us can eat together and still get to our various evening obligations, all four of us moving as if choreographed, plating salad, stirring the sauce, cutting bread, filling glasses of water, scooping the ravioli from it’s simmering: a dance and a poem both in form and function.