Friday, February 29, 2008

To the Warming Orchestra

To the Warming Orchestra

Tune towards clairvoyance this once
beneath the stage. Tune the radio.
Satellites plummet silent
above us.
Tune out the audience coughs. Our one privacy.

Instruments, I’ve come to listen to you
absorb the shoulder’s heat. I appraise the moment

the bow lifts; your hollows continue to sing.
A violinist pulls hair from her mouth. Silent

at a distance. Each radio set to receive. My thoughts
my own only. Quicker than pronouncement.

Only their own.
I set out before the performance.

Each morning I hear the freeway score
shift keys. Headlights arrive like random notes

to the page and by daybreak the first movement
of rush hour whirrs away. A thousand tires cross

concrete though I hear a metaphor, a river
or seashell that amplifies the days one drawn breath.

By night even its murmur overwhelms the bayou
swells of rhythm unless you stand still and hum
perched on the culvert singing, “Moonlight on the Bayou.”
To youth insects are song.
To us they are waiting.


act robot said...

I am firstly curious about the center-indenting of the poem as it appears posted. Other more crucial concerns include

1) The authoritarian tone. "Tune...tune..." a way of the speaker to arrange himself in the poem (find the right station) as well as a command to the reader. But the tone of "me" (the speaker) to "you" (the reader) is difficult to compromise with "our one privacy" this tone seems too swift in allying a mutual experience, mood, understanding. Just what is our one privacy? A questioning tone is more vulnerable and interesting than simply throwing a reader aboard.

2) How to reconcile abstraction. "Instruments, I've come to listen to you / absorb the shoulder's heat." Personifying instruments as a "you" (person pronoun, intimate address) with shoulder's heat (human part of a human) but heat from the shoulder? heat from the instrument on the shoulder? confusing? the instrument absorbs the shoulder's heat, this is what the speaker desires to listen to?
Interesting, but working too hard perhaps in a meditative narrative which should be moving us along somewhat gently and inward.

3) Authoritarian tone, intimate tone, now clinical tone: "I appraise the moment/ the bow lifts; your hollows continue to sing." It seems to me, "your hollows continue to sing" should be a softer tone for what it is trying to accomplish. Not a thought, rather an emotion, a correlative of the body.

4) Movement: broad stage, space satellites, music stage, freeway as music (but quickly removed from the scene we've been initially introduced), metaphor of rush hour in river or seashell, literal bayou , specific song "moonlight on the bayou," end poem with insects.

Many ambitious scene changes. How is one convinced that these are all naturally related. They are related more in music than they are in the speaker's insertions of statement. Essentially, I suppose I speak to myself in terms of my own poetry with the advice: "Don't let yourself get in the way of the poem" Maybe that would be alright advice, but there are many other things I would say too. Many other things we should discuss together later.

act robot said...

For what it's worth, I have distiled the poem over the last two hours. I've been more in a critical Hoagland frame of aggression tempered by the Japanese Satori poets.

Below is an attempt to ease a direction toward narrative meditation: which I'm not sure you want necessarily, but anyways...

Ultimately I'm no butcher. And even if I were...I'm not blessed. Mind me (my) little.


To the Warming Orchestra

Tune the radio, satellites silent above us,
to a bayou's river
or the culvert of one drawn breath.

Beneath the stage, the violinist pulls hair from her mouth, the audience of stars cough.

I've come to listen:

to the young, insects are music;
to us, they are waiting.

I've come to wait:

to praise the moment after,
our one privacy,

the bow lifts
and the hollow continues singing.

Red Light! Green Light! said...

With equal arrogance:

"The mystic is a man who knows, by immediate experience, the organic continuity between his self and the cosmos. This experience, which is the normal fruit of sensitivity, becomes intense i na man whose native energy is great; and lest it turn into an overwhelming, shattering burden , it must be ruthlessly disciplined and ordered. The easiest defense from this mystic burden is of course the common one of denying the mystic experience altogether. An anti-mystical age like ours is simply one so innerly resouceless that it solves, by negation and aggressive repression, the problem of organic continuity between the self and a seemingly chaotic world - thus perpetuating the inward - outward chaos. The true solution is too arduous for most men: by self-knowledge and self-discipline, it is to achieve within one's self a stable nuceleus to bear and finally transfigure the world's impinging chaos." -- Waldo Frank's Intro to Hart Crane's The Bridge (xxiii)

This is an introductory poem. Some of the questions you asked are answered in the poem. The others...

1) The "shattering burden" as here in my poem - of seeking communication, a private moment within the world and out of the self is crippled here in the speaker, who's tone pleads, not commands. i think the end of the poem furthers this point. He/she connects with the instrument rather than the performer. It may be telling. Every wish is a failure. Tune Tune, but what is tuning Franke? How do these things send and recieve messages? How independent our thoughts? The speaker leaves before the performance. There's a caesura there between leaving the auditorium and the freeway. Do I really need to spell that out?

The you is not the reader. You may learn that in the title "To the Warming Orchestra". Our one privacy is no privacy at all, as indicated by the coughs. His/her wish for it to be a direct communication never happens. I'm not concerned with a reader anymore. The imaginary ones. They are on temporary exile. They forbid the connection I seek. I am my reader. I'm not fooling anyone. I am my own reader. There's no audience. I want to keep the dialogue honest.

2) Gently and inward? Good advice to a reader. I think the grammar is not ambiguous to confuse subject object agreements. what's your question?

3) Is everything an emotion to you? One emotion explicitly present? Attempt to answer the questions on your own. They are in the text.

4) How is one convinced they are "naturally related". What do you mean by natural? Each has their own nature. There should not be a single overriding reading(er).

Red Light! Green Light! said...

On emotion and the misinterpretation of dean young's truency:

Anyone dealing from day to day with masses of new poetry in manuscript knows how often technical competence is marred by the cult of a different and false Orpheus, the Genius of Outpouring. The ritual prescribes only strength of feeling: anything goes, if it is 'felt' and 'true'; one has only to utter it, and there is a poem. The is the Orphic Fallacy, and it is a true solipsism, vicious because it serves nothing but itself. Moreover, if it is an error to assume that either sincerity or violence of emotion constitutes a peom, it is something worse than error to imagine that because a theme is important, or a significant episode recorded 'exactly as it happened', the unshaped statement will of necessity be a work of art. Spontaneity, whether generous or not, is a dangerous accomplice. I doubt if there is such a thing as spontaneous form; but if there is, it must be the effect of an instantaneous operation of self-correction, a control apprehended and imposed at the moment of conception.

From the intro to views of jeapordy.

act robot said...

ah chris, i love how cerebrally charged you and your work are. though i fight for gene's (gene morgan's) aesthetic of the daily changing of diapers, bowel movements, murder, reality television's nauseating sensationalism as matched by the news media, and other vulgarities--just as much as this, i fight for dean young and i fight for stephen dunn mutually...but i don't fight much for philosophy in poetry unless it's poetry first, poetry moderating philosophy and not the other way around. i'll fight for ben lerner, but only as far as his last book. no more. the agenda of philosophy in poetry is villainous, toxic, --at the very least, hazardous, please do not attempt these tricks at your home or, indeed, anywhere else.

the syntax/diction and, most egregiously, the tone of philosophy should be left to scholarly proofs and tenets. not poems my friend. not poems. if there is a way to engage the two without a religious or spiritual bent, then i'm up for being impressed. if i were to put it simply, poems are the carbon drafts of the soul, intuitive strokes, firstly organic and then leased to the brain; while philosophy is a blueprint of cognitive thought, in clearly defined lines, firstly cerebral and never an accomplice of the proverbial heart or soul.

don’t get me wrong. philosophy should be championed more in poetry. yes. but it must be digested and excreted in small, subtle nuances—never truly exposed. think about that.
where poems may be, and should be, vulnerable, philosophy must never introduce or (heaven forbid) support its inadequacy of vulnerability. good brain food which hopefully mulches into soul food. but not initially soul food.

i’m really not being that articulate anymore. the matter exhausts me really. the whole fucking thing. no, everything in poetry doesn’t have to be an “emotion” to me, but it has to be emotive in an accessible way. yeah, i know what’s happening, i know what’s going on. you’re smart. smarter than me. probably smarter than almost anyone i know. maybe smarter than your own good at least as far as writing poetry is concerned. or maybe i’m not smart enough.

but we’ve both got hairy balls. and i’d like to know how often and close to the skin do you groom avoiding irritation?

if we get into a fistfight you recalcitrant fuck, how are you going to explain our blood? “from the ruptured surface of my veins my blood leaked their former blue into red”

whereas i’ll say, “Jesus, that bear beat me to blood, till my eyes were the bloat of a bullfrog.”

Man-Up for the mug-shot mother fucker.

c.harris.stevens said...

click. you're still ugly in mugshots, i'm sure. i really didn't feel this poem to be philosophically heavy. heavy, yes, but with a different weight. its simply a rhetorical poem with lyrical moments whereinwhich the cues aren't strong enough for the reader to allow for the departure, perhaps. perhaps. the level of approach in a reader determines what they bring or don't bring out of the poem. i have work to do. i know that much. i just need some help getting there. more rhetorical poets. back to the books. pleasure.