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Authors Note: This is the Journal I turned in at the end of my Poetry Workshop course this past semester. Yes, I know some of you are scoffing. Well scoff away. The course was valuable to me, and at least kept me working when I otherwise would have been in an artistic stupor. Anyway, I think the content here is interesting, and taken all together, telling of my current relationship to poetry. I'm sorry for any formatting issues that appear here. I've copied it from MSWORD. As far as I know, the only thing that should happen is that the indents should be a little messed up. Alrighty, enjoy!

p.s. The appendices will appear as separate articles. Also, I'll be publishing several of the poems I commented on here independently. Look for them if you're interested. Peace!

Journal Entries (compiled from several files)

Disclaimer: This may be a little weird.

Introduction



I don’t want to be a hypocrite.

For a Little Fun





This journal is compiled of material that was created or found during the span of of this Poetry Workshop course, though not of the material was necessarily created for the course. I'm providing entries from several sources including my Internet blogs, my typed personal espousals, my poetry, others' poetry, and media from other sources, and I am providing commentary on each entry. It's a mixture of old and new things, but all of them pertain to this semester's poetry workshop, and all the commentary is new for this assignment. The blogs, which make interesting asides, are also current. Because this Poetry Workshop has proven to be one of the most valuable courses I've taken at USCB in my five or so years as a cavalier patron of higher education as it has led to the most advancement in my approach to a particular, and maybe several academic tasks, my semester has been awash in a new interest in and understanding of poetry: the poetry of the course, the poetry of my peers, and the poetic influences all around me. Thus, it seems that even the countless social correspondences I create daily and with special diligence have been tempered by a quiet explosion (cliché) in my appreciation for language. So I'm including them here.


Now... read through the commentary carefully if you have the time.* At some point during its creation, I took Ritalin. As you're reading along, guess which passages were written under the influence of performance enhancing drugs and which weren't!


I'll give you a hint. This one was written UI.

*There will be an elaborate personal rambling at the end (789 words), similar to that which my therapist is exposed when I see him, which isn't often enough. Venture there at your own risk. It was originally here, but it was distracting, and I was ashamed of it. The gist of it I guess, is that as I've become more open minded as a result of this course, I've also become more confused. Also, I try to apologize and/or rationalize my apparent egotism, but fall short, and in the process, expose a good many facets of personal insecurity through the wonder of highfalutin free association.


Entry



I'm considering taking the last passage out. I've become immersed in my lack of understanding of myself...


Question: Would someone who understood himself feel the compulsion to write?



Tidbit of my Inner Monologue



I'm crazy. This is turning into a much more sappy and introspective version of “Coffee Black”. What a terrible Behemoth that was. (I'm referring to the passage I've moved to the end, though others may qualify)

Ritalin?



Let's ask an interesting question:


Though the use of performance enhancing amphetamines is widely accepted and even endorsed in contemporary academia, is it ethical?

Tactics



I need more coffee.


This coming down is telling.


Work through the apprehension.


Sometimes it's extremely difficult.


Sometimes we procrastinate wildly.


For several pages.

-stop-

Okay, so on to the good stuff....

7 Aspects of Good Poetry



Nevermind.

I’ll just briefly reiterate what I said about this in class. I realize I’ve break many of these rules quite often. You’ll see new work in this very journal that attests to that.

Metaphor –

The majority of good poetry in my opinion is driven by metaphors. Similes for some reason have always rubbed me the wrong way. I think the inclusion of “like” and/or “as” takes me out of the scenario… I don’t know, it seems to cheapen things. Anyway, so I said in class that metaphor is a prized commodity in conversation in other cultures where the art of conversation is still much alive. Hope I didn’t sound condescending when I said that. But yeah, from what I’ve heard, in places like China and Japan, the language and writing systems have a strong bearing on the content and tact of people’s conversation. It’s a more delicate, dedicated system. It’s hard to describe… You know it when you see it.

Anectdotes –

Most of this semester I pushed and pushed people to include anecdotes in their poetry. They might be personal anecdotes or made up fantastical anecdotes, doesn’t matter, anything to avoid professorial preachy rambling. Anecdotes bring a poem home and enliven it for the reader, allowing the reader to picture a scenario, preferably a series of short scenarios in my opinion, to highlight a whole, and thus become more involved with the content of the poem.

Subjectivity –

I don’t believe there’s an objective poem. The pretense of an objective poem is well, pretentious. Religious poetry fails for me when it is all about praise and unity and contains nothing personal… or anecdotal. Political poetry fails for me when the narrator’s faded out. Subjectivity is an overall pretext for most of what’s on this list. The things in my life I don’t like are those that pretend to be all encompassing… like these rules. Don’t take them the wrong way, there are always exceptions.

Emotional Investment – I’m willing to make a brief but meaningful emotional investment in reading an author’s poetry. I’d like it if the author made the same sort of investment in writing it. If it’s not there, then it’s not worth reading.

Originality –

This goes down with “Imagery” as a cliché “7 Aspects of Good Poetry” device. Basically, try not to do what’s been done before. Strive for something different, at all costs, even subtly different, and keep a back-log in your mind of what has been done before so that you can avoid clichés in language, subject matter, technique, and even in theme, though that’s a tough one.

Vocabulary –

Investing in vocabulary is like investing in tools (ew, simile). The more variety that you have at your disposal, the more refined and interesting your product will be. Not all poetry has to contain fancy words. Of course not. It’s probably better if it doesn’t. But it does need rhythm and cohesion, and there are usually a zillion synonyms for any word that you might feel is out of place. You don’t need to re-format the whole concept. And of course pretty words can make pretty poetry.

Connection –

This is the most important of all of these aspects. I don’t necessarily mean connection with the reader. That is very important, but it’s a given, or at least should be. This connection is the connection between the writer and the poem itself… Ooohohooohooh spooky. Yeah, between the artist and the craft (horrible cliché). We’ve all heard about this sort of connection I think. It’s like a meditative state where you jump a gap and forget briefly hat there’s any division between you, the medium, and the media. Channeling… another cliché. Either way, it’s a real thing. It happens very rarely, for me at least, but it’s a different sort of high, and the work I produce when I achieve that state of mind seems to endure in my memory. The verses will come back to me as mantras, and I feel like I’ve done something.

Song Lyrics Examined

I had a drunken conversation recently with my friend Allen A., who is bar-none the most gifted musician I know of. I’ve seen him perform as well as learn. I remember watching him approach a Glockenspiel someone had on a coffee table in their house during a house party, with an effortless curiosity, and pick up a drum stick and some other random implement shaped like a drum stick (sorry for the elaborate definition, but I can’t remember what it was… something sparkly and plastic) and play on the Glockenspiel, the table, his leg, etc. making awesome music with an instrument he’d touched for the first time. Anyway, Allen A. flattered me at first, telling me he liked my poetry, and that there was power in the words. I told him I can’t hold a candle to his talent, but he said that he’s searching for a new dimension in his music. Allen typically avoids lyrics, and he said this was because he feels like in most songs, they’re a compliment to the music, but don’t utilize their full potential as poetry, to be set to the music. I’m sure if he invested himself, even for the normal few minutes it seems to take him to adapt to a new musical instrument, he’d be able to come up with exciting and original lyrics that allow him to channel what he wants to. But in the mean time, I looked up some lyrics to songs I’ve been listening to recently that I thought were effective, and sent them to him on Facebook. I’ll just give a brief explanation of why I like each set.

Ganessaret (Going Out Over 30,000 Fathoms of Water)
by Anathallo
on Floating World
2006

We looked hard;
I stood on the bottom.

Calloused tiptoes,
Splintering wood,
Waterlogging.

Break up, come back together. Genessaret.

I want to skip like a stone from a stronger arm.
Each one I throw is moving somewhere.

Oh, let me go.
I will go out, out, out, out
Past these yellow ropes.
I am not afraid.

They sway there like
The shredded ones hung
From my parents' tree
Where I pumped my legs
And I broke into sweat.

I never saw my face
In the bird bath mirror,
Red as blood
And I was tired.

For a minute short, there was a wonder.
A sense after the momentary weird blur,
In the space of expectancy
When you wake,
When you open your eyes.

When you expect to see the same thing that
You've seen. First, the ceiling:
Grey from great oak.
Grey from great oak.
He'd thrown his net over us.
(Stringy hands, stained glass)

And all his sounds, the same today.
But my body changed.
Something in the salty sheets
Was pressing in on me.

Stuck and stinging, I keep rolling.



I’ve got a tendency to enjoy poetry of personal sentiments that is well executed with the use of metaphor and a healthy level of obscurity. Obscurity I feel marks the content of our inner monologue, and I’m actually offended when I read poetry of lament that shuns obscurity and is rife with clichés of sadness and longing. I like the idea of characterizing our incessant boredom, nostalgia, and our desire to change, and I feel this song does all three. It’s full of vaguely masochistic metaphors of the desire for drastic change with disregard for personal safety. Some of these are a little cliché in their ideas, i.e. swimming past the ropes, skipping like a stone, but in these cases the rhythm makes up for it, and it helps reduce what could have been overly indulgent obscurity. Water metaphors are cliché by default, but I still love them, and I feel they’re inevitable in our understanding of ourselves, because for the most part, we’re all adrift and nothing in our lives feels especially solid. If you listen to the song, there’s a turn at this verse:

For a minute short, there was a wonder.
A sense after the momentary weird blur,
In the space of expectancy
When you wake,
When you open your eyes.

And the lyrics there come across especially strong. It’s a great use of music to amplify the emotional content of lyrics and vice versa.





Metal Fingers
by Electric President
on Electric President
2006

Stand and move and walk across the water.
Peel the cover from the city.
Watch its insides twitch and smoke and rotate endlessly.
Sinking. Moving deep beneath the water.
Lots of other worlds exist.
Soon enough we’ll tear them open.
Soon enough we’ll break them too.

Swimming. Watching concrete eat the ocean.
Metal fingers scrape the skies.
The windows look like Christmas lights from out here.
Floating. Counting clouds. They’re slowly fading.
Blending in with cardboard skies.
Soon we’ll manufacture replicas.
It’s all replaceable.

From the sky, the train tracks look like stitches.
Like they’re holding the world together; like it’ll blow any minute.
And I’ve got another thought I’ll keep to myself.
Until the skeletons walk free. Until the make-up all comes off.
There’s nothing new to discover, there’s nothing new to invent.
There’s nothing new to think that hasn’t been thought of before.
And there’s nothing to believe we haven’t already forgotten.
There’s nothing left, there’s nothing new, there’s nothing—
No, no, no, no.
And I’ve got another dream I’ll keep to myself.
Until the tyrants are dead and the patriots are swallowed whole.
And I’ve got a bottle I can aim at the center,
Full of letters, as a kid, I’d always meant to send.
We’d speak our minds and change the world.
We’d fix the past and pave the way.
But now we’re fresh out of heroes; now we’ve run dry on hope.
There are no saviors in technology: just quick fixes.
And holes, within holes, within holes, within you.
And a place to hang my head, and convince myself there is no difference.


I found this band, Electric President, through Pandora.com, a website that allows you to input songs and artists that you like and then draws algorithms based on several aspects of the music and lyrics to effectively present you with music you’d probably like. They spend a good bit of money on the rights to play free songs, and I hear they’ve been loosing money since they got started, so it’s like an altruistic effort to satiate the world with the rich opiate of music. I love it.


The lyrics in this song highlight another theme I like to see in poetry, dystopia. I love the image of concrete ‘eating’ the ocean, and sky-scrapers as ‘metal fingers’ scraping the skies. The last stanza/verse of the song is all sung extremely fast, within about a minute, and lends the lyrics a great effect in complimenting the theme of frenzied agitation and simultaneous hope for the dissolution of a dystopia. The whole song sounds fantastical and vague, and post-apocalyptic, but we can realize that it describes the current situation very well. I’ve written a couple poems like this, though not nearly as fun. Listen to the song. It has a great beat.

All of We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank by Modest Mouse



I couldn’t pick a song off this album. They’re all incredibly rich and the singer has a spastic, emotionally charged way of singing that put me off the first time I listened to the music, but that I have since grown to love. The singer’s voice helps to enhance the satirical content of what he sings about. The band is incredibly versatile. Look them up.

A Comet Appears
by The Shins
on Wincing the Night Away
2007

One hand on this wily comet,
Take a drink just to give me some weight,
Some uber-man I'd make,
I'm barely a vapor

They shone a chlorine light on,
A host of individual sins,
Let's carve my aging face off,
Fetch us a knife,
Start with my eyes,
Down so the lines,
Form a grimacing smile,

Close your eyes to corral a virtue,
Is this fooling anyone else?
Never worked so long and hard,
To cement a failure,

We can blow on our thumbs and posture,
But the lonely is such delicate things,
The wind from a wasp could blow them,
Into the sea,
With stones on their feet,
Lost to the light and the loving we need,

Still to come,
The worst part and you know it,
There is a numbness,
In your heart and it's growing,

With burnt sage and a forest of bygones,
I click my heels,
Get the devils in line,
A list of things I could lay the blame on,
Might give me a way out,

But with each turn,
It's this front and center,
Like a dart stuck square in your eye,
Every post you can hitch your faith on,
Is a pie in the sky,
Chock full of lies,
A tool we devise,
To make sinking stones fly,

And still to come,
The worst part and you know it,
There is a numbness,
In your heart and it's growing.



I remember my first impression of the Shins, when I heard them years ago on the Garden State Soundtrack, which was pretty much where they broke out into the mainstream, was that their lyrics were interesting. One particular song, “Caring is Creepy” stuck with me for a long while for its fantastical originality and the way the obscurity of its lyrics were over-ridden by the cohesiveness of them.


These lyrics I like because of their wistfulness and the way that they are very vague and universally appealing, but do not fall into the trap of cliché and unoriginality that many lyrics fall into. A couple favorite lines:

They shone a chlorine light on,
A host of individual sins,
Let's carve my aging face off,
Fetch us a knife,
Start with my eyes,
Down so the lines,
Form a grimacing smile,


Every post you can hitch your faith on,
Is a pie in the sky,
Chock full of lies,
A tool we devise,
To make sinking stones fly,



So anyway, I’ve heard better lyrics. I picked these songs on the fly because I had listened to them recently (they’re on a couple compilation albums in my car right now) and because they lyrics I feel are on par with the music they compliment. I believe that’s what Allen was looking for. I hope. Lyrics shouldn’t be an excuse for music, and music shouldn’t be an excuse for lyrics. They should work together to form a fantastic whole.


Internet Posting

One of the most helpful and potent methods of poetic advancement I’ve employed so far has been to share my poetry with as many people as possible. The internet is a great forum in which to accomplish this. I started posting poems online first on either Myspace.com or Lit.org several years ago. It might have been that I began doing both simultaneously. Then, I was focused almost completely on prose and my poetry was more of an afterthought, but I found that the most interesting commentary I received, at least on Lit.org, was on my poetry (though the commentary on prose is a close second, Lit.org hosts many serious writers). Now however, I don’t post on Lit.org as often, thought I should, because the commentary I receive there is always objective, constructive, and critical. I post my poetry for the most part on Facebook.com to receive feedback from my friends and peers, many of whom are aspiring artists, musicians, and writers. I like to gain perspective from that atmosphere of freedom, fun, and creativity as much as I enjoy the semi-professional feedback from Lit.org. Anyway, I’ll talk about some postings I’ve done.

Short Poems on Facebook

I wrote a short passage about a habit I got into of posting short poems on Facebook.com These poems usually come to me while I’m doing something mundane, and I don’t feel they exemplify a great effort on my part. They’re more experimental, just to see how my fleeting day-dream sentiments might appeal to a wider audience and to me when they are written down. I’ll post the passage here and I’ll try to provide a brief explanation of each short poem as well as include any helpful or interesting comments that I may have received online.

The latest:
So yeah, another five minute poem. I've been trying to get them down quite frequently lately. Yeah, so I'll put them in a book entitled, "Espousals" that'll sell like mad when I die in a monster truck accident. Everything I produce seems to me to suck lately, and to be pretenteous. I've decided to try to embrace it. It's like I'm seeing this framework behind words or something, and words suddenly look all gaudy and materialistic, like pink flamingos and tiffany vases. I want my rhetoric to be more Zen... We say too fucking much, that's what it is. We talk too much. I know I do. Yeah, I'm not making much sense. Thousand mile stare.


Great Depression
11/30/08

He's annoyed by
a persistent nostalgia

He suddenly see's
his uncomfortable distance from himself
and is pursued by
a persistent nostalgia

In the winter time
It's sought to muddle
the new panic
in virtuosity
and villainous
vitrifications
of vodka
vicodin
vicodin

He feels strange pain and stiffness in all of his joints
and when he wakes up, his chest hurts
and his body's heavy



I thought this one up on the way home from Bluffton. It expresses a real situation with which I struggle. As I grow older, I feel I’ve grown out of touch with my emotions in favor of convenience and emotional defense. Thus, nostalgia is a large part of my life. I tend to pine for a time when I felt more free, and often idealize the past as being such a perfect time, though I imagine I’m no more together now than I was then… Or am I?


Anyway, I’ve never taken Vicodin. It just sounded good. And I don’t know if ‘vitrification’ is a word, but it sounded good and it’s a five minute poem. ‘Virtuosity’ is meant to exemplify vicarious living. I could have said ‘vicarious virtuosity’ I suppose, but I have a feeling that’d be too much. I do get depressed in the winter time, and am more predisposed then (now) to distractions that muddle reality. I do primarily drink Vodka to get drunk.


Just today I’ve written another poem, a little more refined along the same vein. It’ll actually be two poems, or rather the same poem in two different formats, because I can not decide how to express it. It too though I don’t feel is my best, and is impulsive, but hey, someone might get something out of it.


My friend Zach S. commented on “Great Depression” simply with an exclamation point. I think he was trying to make a joke about my statements on words in the paragraph I wrote about the short poems.

Upgrade
November 20th, 2008

See Clay
Cavendish
Compulsively clutch
His Cellular Phone
Coming, Going
Eating, Sleeping
Sitting
On
The
Can



This is the first of my recent string of short poems. I feel it’s the most expressive of my aim with these short poems. It’s fun, impulsive, has good rhythm, only took me about five minutes to get down and look over, and most importantly, the thought came to me while I was driving. The name Clay Cavendish is just there to enhance the rhythm. In the version I had worked out in my head before I went to write it down, there was no ‘Coming, Going’ It seemed to help the rhythm though, to have that line. I was going to add even more scenarios where Clay clutched his phone, but I felt like the five included were good enough. Also, I originally intended to have ‘Sitting, On, The, Can’ be all one line, but I like the effect of single line stanzas in this, in these short poems. It’s a definite break from my normal routine, and refreshing. For inspiration, I have Andrew C. to thank for his bare bones poetry. When I first saw it, I wasn’t too impressed, but as I said in the paragraph above, I’m in a phase where words seem pretentious, and to espouse like this, like I’m doing right now, I have to suspend my apprehension about that and go with it—embrace my dependence on words. But yeah, to use a cliché about short poetry, I feel that the brevity highlights the power and intrinsic character of each word. There’s a story about the concept, a book and a movie, Bee Season, where a young Jewish girl who’s timidly studying Kabala wins spelling bees by tapping into the essence of each word and each letter therein. I love the idea. I don’t pretend however that I’m masterful at doing that, but at least I’m trying something different! Ha. Here’s a short joking comment I wrote after getting positive feedback on this one:

“Unh huh... you can do better than that! Stroke my pulsing ego with your praises. Muah ha ha ha! Delve DEEP into the content, the form, the function, the implicit, explicit, and super-duper-plicit messages contained therein!!! Say how it can mean a zillion things at once....
jk...
Not really...
I'm full of shit...
;-)”


When I Kill a Hooker
November 20th, 2008

Because CNN
Is so fond of Alliteration
I want to be
5 S's:
Scintillating
Sexual
Sensual
Salacious
Sarcastic

I’ll revise this now. I’ve been meaning to do it on Facebook, but the problem with Facebook is that after the initial post, people really don’t ever go back and read your archives. A message appears on the ‘wall’ for a day or two, depending on the amount of activity of your ‘friends’ informing them you’ve just written something. If you really want people to read something, you can inform them individually by ‘tagging’ them in the post, but that takes a while, and I’m sure people would get annoyed.

When I Kill a Hooker
November 20th, 2008

Because CNN
Is so fond of Alliteration
I want my scandal to be
5 S's:
Scintillating
Sexual
Sensual
Salacious
Sarcastic

Ha, not too much of a revision, but then one thing can do a lot to a short poem. I wrote this one for fun. It seriously took about 10 minutes entirely to both think up and write down. I was on the computer when it came to me, aimlessly surfing Facebook to check up on people I barely know (this is a popular syndrome). I’ve made the observation that news-casters are addicted to alliteration before. It’s a semi-base tactic. Cheap. But oh well, such is the news. Jim Lehrer doesn’t do it, but then again Jim Lehrer doesn’t have exciting music and colorful animated headings to go with each of his stories, and Jim Lehrer doesn’t yell at you. What fun is that?
The reasoning for the title should be obvious, I hope, at least to anyone who watches the 24 hour news. I could go on and on about the 24 hour news, because the whole concept blows my mind, but that’s what this sort of poetry is for, to encapsulate something and attempt to provoke further thought on the matter… I think.

Paranoia
November 24th, 2008

They're
coming
to
get
me.

This one provoked more comments than any of the others. Like modern art, I think the minimalism annoyed people. I did have a thrust for it. I wanted to highlight the simplicity and belittlement of th… yeah, it’s tough to defend it. But I really did feel these words, and I often fantasize that somehow if I feel the words, the gravity of the feeling will be injected into them and make them more than what they are, you know, through telepathy or something. Post hypnotic suggestion?


Really it’s a jest on the whole short simple poem thing. I’m making fun of myself, or trying to. Here are some comments:

----:
Today
is
the
23rd.

---:
That was, if intentional, a very sly way to underscore the subject matter,
After all, paranoia is just the state of being a day, an hour, a minute, a blind corner, and a look over the shoulder ahead of yourself... anticipation's evil twin.

Me:
Bill has no appreciation for senseless minimalism!,
The words were supposed to be all scattered over the page, but I couldn't find a way to do it in HTML. I'm sure there is one, but didn't feel like the time investment. I can write it longhand somewhere and scan it.

-retracted-



--- gets it.

Antiques Road Show
Costume Jewlery
November 25th, 2009

Well this first piece
Is Costume Jewlery
Manufactured in the 30s
By a Company out of Boston
It Certainly did not
Belong to
Queen Elizabeth
The 1st
Notice the Art Deco Accents
You can un-widen your eyes now
Mrs. Thatcher
I'm just the messenger
It's not worth more than
$25
Though I'd Insure it for
$30
Bitch



I had an idea to do a series of poems based off of bits on Antiques Road Show, mainly because I don’t think it’s ever been done before, and I find the whole thing captivating. I still do have the idea I guess. Haven’t executed it yet. This is based on a segment where a woman brought in a broach that she thought belonged to Marie Antionette. I wrote Elizabeth the 1st because I couldn’t think of that name. I’ll have to go back and change it. Anyway, the woman had a look of total contempt on her face when the host told her that the broach was in fact, costume jewelry from the 30’s and wasn’t worth more than $25. He didn’t call her a bitch. This poem, especially the ‘Bitch’ part, is not meant to be taken seriously or be some dark commentary on society. I just imagine that the hosts occasionally want to go off on the antique owners who are completely snobby and daft.



So that’s it for the short poem spree thus far. I intend to write more, because it’s a lot of fun, and I hope it doesn’t harm my technique, but my technique is pretty rough anyway, so I don’t think any experimentation would mess it up.

Entry

There's poetry in the leaf.
No, there's poetry in you taking notice of the leaf, and thinking it's special.
Ooohohooohooh spooky.

A Poem in the Works



I had the opportunity the other day to ride to campus in the morning sans Bill. I had time to drift. This isn't to say that I don't enjoy Bill's company. I do. I also occasionally enjoy the company of the fucked up little pre-me sewing circle inside my head. I'll first finish smoking this, my fourth cigarette of the hour, and then post what's going on with the poem and then espouse on it.
First Rendition:

Adulthood (tentative title)
December 2nd, 2008

First of all
I'm deeply worried
About the bones I've buried
I'm the PVC filled
Cotton eyed man
I ridiculed when I said
The old are lifeless and boring
My blood's a zinc stop watch
And I've been given
Rudimentary hinges
So that I can walk
No wonder my joints ache when I get up in the morning
And when you see me in my yard
In the morning
Feverishly digging
Hole after six foot hole

Okay, I didn't like the rhythm all that much, and felt the unique images needed a little more help. So I tried to give it a syllabic structure.

Second Rendition

Adulthood
December 2nd, 2008

First of all I'm deeply worried
About the blood-white bones I've burried
I'm all stuffed up with PVC
Cut with a bone saw close at hand
I'm the blood-blue cold and cotton eyed man
Of whom I made fun when I was young








-and said
The old are lifeless and boring

Makeshift hinges I've been given
With metal pins... so I can walk
And do my work and eat my food
And fuck my wife and hate my life
No wonder my joints ache and creak
When I get up in the morning
And am feverishly digging
Hole after six foot hole
In a grid
In my backyard

I found
My dog



Already I can see a lot of changes that need to be made. “And do my work and eat my food” is a little dry. I'm not sure if I want to go with a rhyme scheme or not. Many more. Anyway, The bits about PVC pipe and cotton eyes come from an ex-girlfriend of mine who worked for a company that drove and flew around from hospital to hospital and butchered deceased people with little hearts on their driver's licenses. I have one too. I considered taking it off, but then figured my liver would be happy to volunteer for drug and alcohol studies, as would my lungs. They'd love the attention. The part about them taking eyes creeped me out for a long long time though. Sure, it's not like your eyes last very long in your body after you die, but for some reason thinking of them preserved and staring willy-nilly from a jar for even more than 10 seconds is deeply disturbing. Back to the poem. When they take bones from dead people, they replace them with PVC pipe, the eyes, apparently, with spare gauze. The opening line about burying bones has several connotations. Dogs bury bones to store and hide them. People bury things to hide and forget them. The bones being buried represent the hoarding of youth through nostalgia as well as the repression of youthful thoughts and desires. The poem is a result of a powerful fear I have lately that my adaptation to the pressures of adulthood will cause me to bury my emotions. My father was extremely distant, for the little that I knew him. Distance has always had an appeal to me, but it puts things away, and they fester, and simultaneously you long for them. So he character in the poem is digging up his back yard in a desperate search for his own real “bones”, having trouble because society has given him stiff and unwieldy replacement constructs that his body is beginning to loathe, and in the process of digging, he finds his old dog, a symbol for nostalgia, and an ironic device. I wish the poem were better because it's sure stuffed with implications.




Cursing



I like to include curse words in my poems. I have one way to justify this. My poems are an expression of my inner monologue and it has an even worse potty mouth than I do. Anyway, when people in class brought up the issue of curse words as a problem, and when I got in trouble cursing an online forum started by one of my good friends because it was populated with evangelical Christians, I felt I should do some examination on the subject, but I didn't feel that I was nearly objective enough to say, write a dissertation about it. So I posed a question in a blog on Facebook. Here is the post and the results:
Qustion: Curse Words
Monday December 1st

Question:

Hypothesize:
If curse words were phased out of the English language would we become more or less articulate?
Would we become more or less expressive?

Think about it. Respond if you have an opinion.

If you want, include a little bit of info on 'Curse words (ass, bitch, shit, damn, fuck [the fab five], goddamnit, dick, cunt, etc.) and You!"

This topic is especially interesting to me because I've had a sailor mouth for as long as I can remember... I grew up on an Irish cargo ship after all. "Fuckin'" is like a complimentary adjective to me. I say it like other people say "like" before every other word... but I also say "like" before every other word... anyway... I've taken a lot of flack lately from assorted people, namely professed Christians for my potty mouth. Cursing seems second nature to me, and offensive to them. I don't fault them for it, nor myself. It's just interesting that there's that sort of division. I rarely ever stop to think about it. Hence the question.

Answers:

Abby M. - Hypothesize - I think we would become more expressive. Americans have a "fab five" to express their feelings of frustration, anger, etc., etc. If we didn't have those five... perhaps we would branch out and be more creative! Instead of saying s* f* and d* every five seconds, we would have better opportunity to express how we specifically feel. We throw curse words around and use them in a dozen and one different situations. Without them, I am convinced we would take a step in truly expressing how we feel.. using more words, using other words.

"Curse Words and Me"
Well lets see... as a Christian, I believe that taking the Lord's name in vain is wrong... so sticking 'G*' on every explicit and then uttering 'J*C*' when frustrated is offensive to me. You wouldn't appreciate someone screaming your father's name out in a curse and I don't appreciate hearing my God's name screamed out in a curse. As far as 'd*' goes, I believe in the power of words, and I don't think that we should be condemning, or damning people and situations left and right because we are in a bad mood.

As far as the others go, they are merely words, yes, but they are crude. So yes, I find them offensive, although not as much so as the first three. I'll say again, though, that I think we as humans can be more expressive if we use words that well, actually make sense.
"It's f* cold out here." Uhm... yeah. Does that make sense? Couldn't we come up with something a little more exciting? Maybe something that actually communicates that its freezing?
"That's funny as s*". Yeah, because s* is hilarious, right?

Interesting question, props to you -----! :)

Lisa P. - Interesting question. I think I curse a lot more than I realize that I do....for the most part I don't find cursing offensive. I can not, however stand the word "cunt". It makes my stomach churn. Another word I find EXTREMELY offensive is "nigger". Those are the only two that I can think of that bother me. I don't think it's particularly attractive when people over-pepper their everyday speach with curse words, but unless they use the c or the n word I can't say that it offends me. I know that I am a frequent user of "fuck" (in all of it's forms) and damnnit. My super-angry phrases are "god fucking damnit" and "jesus fucking christ", which I have a feeling would offend your professed Christians.

I think that curse words do have their place, but the question is what IS a curse word? Does saying Jiminy Cricket instead of Jesus Christ or Darn instead of Damn or Crap instead of Shit serve the same "expressive" purpose? My stepdaddy hardly ever uses the traditional curse words, but in cases where most might use a curse word he uses "turkey". It's interesting because then when he uses a traditional curse word, you KNOW he means it. If you hear him say SHIT then you go running because he might need help!

Yeah, I realize that I didn't even attempt to answer your question! Overall I think that curse words are so overused that a majority of people are desentisized to them. Perhaps the reason I find "cunt" so offensive is because it's a word that I hardly ever hear, whereas I've heard "bitch" so many tiems it means next to nothing to me.

And, I, too, find it interesting how different people are bothered by different words. I find it even more interesting what words become "curse" words. What really IS the difference between "shit", "crap", and "poop"? "Fuck" is clearly the most facinating word since it has SO many forms and can be used in so many ways!

Me - Fuck is like my favorite word ever. I have no idea why. I think it's because I had this distinct transition in the fifth grade where I started saying it, then looking over my shoulder, then looking up, then looking down, then giggling softly to myself and saying it again. It was really liberating, I mean, I grew up around kinda Christians. I am a cultural Christian. I felt the typical guilt about it early on. But it's a similar feeling to when I recall giving up my belief in god. There was a distinct transition from one phase to another marked by that sort of surrender of reservations. Ha, I'm making it sound like foul mouthed athiesm is the key to happiness! Hallelujah!
Interesting though that I say Jesus Fing Christ the same way that Lisa does...
So anyway, I don't have problems saying cunt, but I can't really say it referring to a part of the female anatomy. I really can't say pussy either. I think both are degrading to women, and pussy more so because people use it to describe women as a whole, as if it's all they're good for. Like, hey, I'm gonna go get some pussy. Or, he just needs some pussy. Or look at all that pussy over there... etc. You get my drift. They're women. And you want to GET LAID. When I hear woman refer to that part of their anatomy as a pussy, even in sexual situations, I'm instantly put off. Maybe the trouble I have with these is because I was raised by a woman. Cunt, anyway, when not used to describe the female anatomy, to me is a seriously upgraded form of bitch, exclusive to women, and should only be used in the most extreme circumstances... like when you're willing to get hit just to insult someone. Even then though, cunt doesn't seem fair because there really is no equivalent curse word to be directed toward men in extreme situations. There you have to get creative, and seriously when all's said and done, we should be more creative when we insult one another anyway. "You call that a comeback? WEAK!"

C. - I'm fairly certain people would find a new way to fill the literary void, but I'm not so certain it would be eloquent. Language d/evolves more rapidly than people do. More to the point, I think intention defines "profanity."
If you've a friend who can't get over it, perhaps you should think about finding new friends. Emotional abuse is bullshit.

Katie C - I think the english language might find some creative ways to fill in the blanks (it always does), but as anglophones the expletives you talk about are second nature, they're a part of our culture! there's so much more I want to say about this that i dont have time to. Anyways there IS no cultural or linguistic equivalent for fuck in french, something I am sorely missing. But when francophones curse, which is rare comparatively, it does have more meaning. It is considerably more offensive. Removing the curse words from our language would be one major way to downsize on our propincity towards emotional expression. Should anglophones stop wearing their hearts on their sleeves? I'm fairly certain that would be the upshot of permanently taking out our more colorful words. Our dramaqueen complex can have its negatives and it benefits (dont judge my bad anglais right now!) but personally? I think we have more fun.

---- - What words are actually curse words? According to the Catholic Church, I know at least damn, fuck, and shit are included. Damn makes sense, it is the ultimate curse word in my opinion because cursing is it's only purpose. However, I'm sure everyone would agree that fuck and shit are much worse than damn, even though they have nothing to do with cursing anyone (by definition, at least). I'm sure you've all wondered, why is it that those two words are worse curse words than the actual word used for cursing someone? Let me take you back to the Catholic church. If I remember correctly, a pope at one point deemed the words fuck and shit as curse words. Why? Pretty much because the protestant farmers were the only one using those words. So really, it's not so much that they were bad words. In fact, shit is the only true english word for defecating. Defecate itself is derived from latin, but shit is derived from old english. I'm sure the same goes for fuck, it would explain why there is no french equivalent for fuck (since french is a romantic language and english is germanic). Kind of weird to me that the words that we use the most to describe those actions come from another language and not the one that we speak.
Because of the fact that these words were deemed curse words, people use them because of the power in them (which is why people say, "It's fucking cold," or "That's funny as shit.") Over the course of time they've been overused, used out of context, and eventually become nothing more than words that we interject here and there to try to strengthen an expression or an emotion.
And now I come to my point. I think because of the fact that they're curse words we tend to use them way too much, especially not for the purpose they serve in the english language. If we used those words only for their intended purpose, I think we would branch off and use words which actually describe how cold it is. In turn we would become bot

Noel P. - In my opinion I think we do become less articulate when using foul language. It's like only using "happy" or "sad" to express emotions. The language also harbors ill feelings and the more its used I think the more unsettled the person is. When do people ever curse to express or describe something good? Hardly ever, there are certain sentiments attached to certain words and this is partly how we learn to use terms in the correct context. You could say its only the intention behind the word that matters. I could say "this is fucking unbelievable" or "this is fucking great" but despite a persons personal intention they have to realize the effect the sound has on other people who can not fully understand your inner most feelings. I have to correct myself a lot of times now because I've fallen into the social habit of adding a damn, fuck, or a shit to my expressions of discontent, such as when in traffic. It's just mean language with mean roots, its not meant to be nice.

Me - Fuckin' A!

Conclusion



I feel this thing is enormous enough. It dawns on me again that efforts in qualification, quantification, and categorization are futile. The creative process is futile as well, but there's beauty in it's futility. We're saying fuck you to both mortality and mediocrity at the same time. That's a fantastic thing to do, and we should all do it more often. But this retrospection, dissection, and introspection is maybe to me off putting because of my extensive experience in therapy. I've been doing it since I was nine. It has it's good and bad qualities but I do grow weary and feel I may soon mature into ridiculous minimalism.


I feel like I'm at a transition (ha, “I feel like I'm at a transition” is so cliché. Thank you 90's) where I'm being absolutely forced to evolve toward more humility in the interest of my sanity. And the first step in this is perhaps discovering, as I have for the past few years, that I'm full of shit, and especially when I'm attempting to take things apart, define them, and compartmentalize them to my convenience. As I've written poetry these past few months in many forms and in greater quantity than I ever have before, I've stumbled on a lot of “why?”s. Namely, why does the way I see the world even matter? I'm compensating for this uncertainty, as I try to explain spastically in the passage I sent to the back of the line, by indulging impulses and fostering defensive egotism and a more forceful personality. What I hope to attain, eventually, is the destruction of this pretext that belies my life through the exhaustion of all its inadequate options. I don't like to choose. I like to pretend I can be chosen for. I know this is all a delusion, but I don't like to choose a path. I'm predisposed to thrust writhing tentacles wildly in all directions in dark and light places, waiting for all but one to be crushed or cut off. Unfortunately I've noticed, I just grow more tentacles.


I want my writing for now to remain experimental, and to document a dissolution of presuppositions. Perhaps it will serve valuable to someone, a curiosity. But I have to wonder why I venture that I'm that important. I don't even know that I want to be. Most of the time I think I do, but I'd also like to be off somewhere building wells for people who speak a language I don't understand.


I hope that eventually my desperation for attention will give way to a healthy desire to attend to those around me. My role models are people who do this, and that's who I really want to be, but don't know how. I see and feel bits and pieces of it in myself, and hold out the belief that it's essential to my nature and would not die without me. And believing this exposes my delusion of many paths as a facade encasing one that leads from the absence to the presence of life.


I'm getting too out there. Okay, what I want is for my writing to be true to me. I want it to enhance my understanding of the truth, and to give me the feeling it sometimes does of essential mindlessness.



I can't do much better than this.


I can do much better than this.


I can't do much better than this.


I can do much better than this.
Appendices



Short Rough Manifesto on lack of communication


Pertinent? Maybe


Justification for HTTP


*”If you have the time” Why do I say this? I often feel that people see me as an ego maniacal and insatiable attention fiend and I feel a powerful guilt knowing that I have definitely been, and may well be, and do not do enough to humble myself and invest in listening to others. Though I do a good bit to try. I feel that if I were not listening, I would not learn as much as I do. Learning is like a drug to me (cliché) to use an appropriate and perhaps mildly selfish figure of speech. The point here is, I write a lot, all the time, with not nearly enough humility. I want everyone to see what I've learned like a child does, and I want them to share in the process with me. I often feel that this task is of overwhelming importance. I'm impulsive. I rarely restrain myself, and I rationalize the lack of restraint in number of ways, i.e. it's the crux of my inspiration, i.e. if they didn't want to hear it, they'd tell me to shut up. Maybe more people should tell me to shut up. Bill does, on occasion, and I laugh, and I like it.


I know that I take this gift and force it upon people, but I concurrently hope that those people benefit in congruence with my desperation for them to see me, and to know me-- to know I'm here, and I'm thinking, and suffering, and experiencing, and creating, and offering them a candid chunk of what's inside me-- offering them things that most people keep private. I question myself endlessly on whether or not this is appropriate. From time to time, it's hurt people. From time to time, it's helped. But I struggle to take ownership of what I do. I write it down, and I want it out. It's mine, of course, and I bandy it as mine, but I don't always own the state of mind that created it. Sometimes it becomes a thing exterior to me. I'm getting off track.... I apologize.


Throughout the course I've audaciously gone beyond the limits of several assignments. I've made comments on others' poetry that might have come across as self-aggrandizing and inappropriately personally motivated, but in my defense, I take the writing craft very personally. I'll level, as I'm not ashamed to do, and say that I have little in my life aside from the love of my family and friends, and that which is superficial or that I've attained through ruthlessness and deception that gives me true confidence. Writing is one of the things that I do have, and I cling to it strongly. I'm overzealous about it, and about my abilities, but this does not mean that I am not open to criticism.


On several occasions throughout the semester, I asked Bill how I came across in class when critiquing others' work and presenting-- and defending my own. Bill is not afraid to be honest, and he has a chivalry that I've put aside in favor of defensive brazenness and occasional vulgarity. He said that I might be a little harsh, and should examine my word choices and how they may affect those I'm critiquing. I responded by saying that my honesty was pure and well intended, and that I take bad poetry personally. I'm just trying to sharpen people, right?


I can't go on with this train of thought, because it will dig deep, and my point is there. This class has done more for me than just improve my mastery of words. It has forced me to examine myself as a person, through its challenges, through the work it caused me to generate, and through it's atmosphere. I've discovered that I am deeply affected by poetry, more so than I ever thought possible, and not necessarily by poems but the craft and a world diffusely centered around it. It takes so much life to advance and achieve and become true in a field of rampant self-indulgence, mediocrity, and ready criticism. I've often chosen capitalize on my emotions in the pursuit of greater poetic achievement, and being tapped, they have a tendency to bust faucets and spray wildly all over the room.


I'm trying to defend myself. It comes down to one question that I think, and that I hope plagues all writers and serves them as a moral compass: Why is my writing worth reading?


I've got it. This course has led to a greater insecurity on my part about my craft and my defense of it, because the reading has been a given. Therefore, I've had to try to make it worth reading. Did I try hard enough?



------
039298f3@opayq.com


Related Items

Comments

The following comments are for "Poetry Journal"
by SirEdwinSantos

SirEdwinSantos
I only skimmed this, and briefly. I haven't had the time to read it all the way through since I am on my lunch-break at work.

But

I am very happy you chose to share this with us. Workshop courses, journals, poetry classes -- all these things help us develop our talents by learning technique.

Thank you for sharing! I am sure many will find it helpful.

Ochani Lele

( Posted by: OchaniLele [Member] On: December 18, 2008 )





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