Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Fantastic Discussion of American Politics and the School of Quietude
Counter-Revolution of the Word
There are far too many isms and ists and ideologies and iconoclasts and erasures and als in these discussions. Poetry differs from politics in that the main concern is not power. A wing of language poetry falls into this trap. The institution of writing as a business doesn't know its in it. Enjoy.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I Was Never Good to My Dog Until I Had to Put Him Down
Lately to find him in the corner, panting against a wall,
as if he were trying to prove he still had breath,
a jellied string of blood and snot from his nose, fluid stiffening
in the lungs, across the eyes like wax, paw-scratching
to push a cement truck off his snout, and some odor
that must have been his organs, purple cankers.
That he could have survived is not in doubt. You know,
assuming we know the affected area, it can be treated—but…
said the balding, butternut-squash-bodied doctor…at his age…
And in the veterinary’s Exam Room #1, the dog’s arthritic hips
tested the tile, needing to stand instead, just to breathe
and drooling bungee cords stretched to their maximum point
before needing to whoosh back up in heavy tongues of air or
Something in us that is neither human nor inhuman looks
at suffering, always for life, prefers even its briefest,
most fragile grace. Even while convulsing, the heart
murmurs, a noticeable beat. But torn.
If you could put him on the table. There will be two shots.
Hold him there. The first will numb him. There you go.
Then the second. Steady his body. Help him
lie down. Sometimes breath is held by the lungs
then suddenly released.
The doctor turned away, picking up the Y of the stethoscope,
measuring the heartbeat. Three times, picking the metallic ear up
and listening again. His eyes left and right, seeing what he could
hear. Nothing. Everything’s stopped now.
Would you like a moment by yourself with your dog?
No, I said, patting the black shag of his belly. And waited
for the doctor to leave, to press my lips against the hair-perm
crinkle of his ear, saying bark baby, bark
Monday, March 24, 2008
My guess is that both were inspired by the Age of Exploration and the "discovery" of the New World, and that each represents the last work in its respective author's oeuvre.
James, the first part of your sentence is close to the right answer, but I think it's more true of The Tempest than Amerika. Kafka wrote Amerika in the '20s, which is just a little after the Age of Exploration. You are right though that both are the last works of the authors, but that is not what I was thinking of when I posted this.
Both works were written about the New World even though both authors never had a chance to see it. It's a testimony to imagination in general and to the belief in a notion of America as imaginary.
This struck me recently because I have always struggled with divorcing my fiction from nonfiction.
I was going to write a longer answer, but the muse ran away.
Also, a little 411- The Tempest is the only play by Shakespeare that he wrote from scratch. All of his other plays were retellings of known histories, myths and folklore.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
You mustn't show weakness
and you've got to have a tan.
But sometimes I feel like the thin veils
of Jewish women who faint
at weddings and on Yom Kippur.
You mustn't show weakness
and you've got to make a list
of all the things you can load
in a baby carriage without a baby.
This is the way things stand now:
if I pull out the stopper
after pampering myself in the bath,
I'm afraid that all of Jerusalem, and with it the whole world,
will drain out into the huge darkness.
In the daytime I lay traps for my memories
and at night I work in the Balaam Mills,
turning curse into blessing and blessing into curse.
And don't ever show weakness.
Sometimes I come crashing down inside myself
without anyone noticing. I'm like an ambulance
on two legs, hauling the patient
inside me to Last Aid
with the wailing of cry of a siren,
and people think it's ordinary speech.
- Yehuda Amichai
Shine Perishing Republic
While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots
to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence;
and home to the mother.
You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly
long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains:
shine, perishing republic.
But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there
are left the mountains.
And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant,
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught – they say –
God, when he walked on earth.
- Robinson Jeffers