Saturday, November 19, 2016

Welcome back to 1974

The most lucid (but probably outdated) definition of poem I got is from an old 1974 book  by David Swanger called "The Poem as Process." (which I've been reading in bits instead of doing my homework)


He writes: "It is poetry because it is excited, precise, presentational, and evocative; as such it encourages meaning-making by the reader and engages him as co-poet in the act of empathetic re-creation." (p.144)

"But how do we know when a poem achieves precision? ...when it elicits the desired range of responses from the reader. Precision in poetry links the poet to the reader and consists in the effect a word, a line, a stanza, the entire poem, will have." (p. 13)

 "...[P]oetry can no more be wholly presentational than it can be wholly discursive. It must be both, but its discursive function must always be supportive of its presentational, never supersede it." (p. 153)

And

"The poet collaborates with a linguistic culture in the first instance simply by writing in a given language." (p. 164) ---which makes me want to write more Tagalog poems.


Now I feel as if very little of what I've written does justice to that definition.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Random quotes from “Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile” by Verlyn Klinkenborg

Retreat under roof of self. Under vault of ribs and spine.

My blood creeps along a dark endless track. On quiet feet.

Unbury myself.

Such a bulk of being to regulate. Disorder stalks then day and night. They stalk it back.

My shell never slips askew. Pupil never dims… Yes, the mould sometimes clings to my back as I rise in April. Yes, I carry the dishabille of earth for a time.

Shadows thicken under shrubs…

Walk through the holes in their attention.

So it is with humans. Quickness draws their eye. Entangles their attention. What they notice they call reality. But reality is a fence with many holes, a net with many tears. I walk through them slowly. My slowness is deceptively fast.

---
Because I have slow animals and the earth on my brain. 

Euphemism

Anak ng pusa
Anak ng putakte
Anak ng tipaklong
Laman, loob, lupa
Sa putik ka gumulong


Son of a cat
Son of a snail
Son of a tadpole
Muscle, core, earth
In mud you roll

---
Note: Just experimenting with translating myself. Some things cannot be carried over. Like the "laman-loob" meaning innards/guts and "lamanlupa" is a term for gnome that dwells under a mound of earth. Also you won't get the euphemism unless you're familiar with the Spanish/Tagalog word for whore (puta). Aside from cat/pusa & snail/putakte I also use mud/putik as a "cleaner" substitute. As for the tipaklong, it's just something I say to myself, a second-layer euphemism since it follows the rhythm of putakte in my head.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Rise and Fall

1. Hello

You pressed into me like flesh was just
another barrier that love could overcome.

We were such fools, giddy in the heat of sunlight
and summer dreaming.
Nails scoring nape, tasting salt and sharing sips
of drinks always too sweet.

We spoke like we could climb over each other's
words and reach the sky together.

Breathless murmurings, birdsong.
Touch flesh and touchstone.

2. Goodbye

Silence never fords a river
and my hands are bare. Like flowers
they open and speak in the rise
and fall of heat, in fleeting scent
and aborted gestures and touch.
(Oh, but kisses and bruises fade.)
It is time for clouds to rest. Outside,
the sun settles below the horizon,
like an eyelid shuttering, like goodbye.

3. Hello (Again)

I search the lines around your eyes
and your mouth as if unraveling
a mystery. Time was not kind to me,
nor to you. But we can be kind enough
to each other. I look down at my hands,
curled up together like birds in the nest.

(We said goodbye like we had planes to catch.
The thread snapped and we lived with hearts
that still wanted healing. Not so tender now.)

I once said that silence never fords a river.
But what did I know? Wordlessly we speak
in gestures that have or have not changed.
A rough translation: hello again, hello.

4. Goodbye (Again)

What did I know of pain?
Whatever heights we reached together--
Whatever depths we dived together--

Nothing, nothing hurts more
than watching you leave
Forever.

5. (    )

Will there be another hello?
Only the gods know.

---
Okay. This just started with number two--a draft I wrote down five years ago--and it grew from there. Still a draft, but richer and deeper perhaps?

Friday, April 24, 2015

For Those Who Were Here Yesterday

first posted here: tumblr

But not today.
Today turned into a labyrinthine tangle
and this city was full of wild and kind hearts
and the moving bus carried me home too early
on wheels made of loud worries 
which kissed the grey road stretched before us
like a long arm reaching 
for the other hand and the bus 
wove among the orange cones 
and yellow lights of vigorous construction
because no matter what happened, we tend 
towards remaking–what we should have said
or done, or how we should feel–
and the buildings were like bald faces,
tired faces, weary and heartsick faces,
nodding at each other, eyes sliding over
to compare and measure and fall short
and the crows collaborate
with metal fences
and become makeshift gargoyles
watching over sidewalks we’ve stumbled on 
with our eyes closed, while seagulls circle 
like an immigrant’s thoughts, full of guilt
and need, and songbirds show off 
their red chests and chatter about sex
in the season’s careless glories, landing
among growing things, pecking 
at the hard truths, showing how the cage
has no door except the one everyone walks through, 
and then the lights changed
so the tide of sound ebbed and returned
like our own stuttering breath
and when I knew nothing
about everything, and something of nothing
I stopped at my usual place
greeted the black dots of rain 
like an old friend going over an old conversation 
and I put both my feet on the ground
swung my backpack over my shoulder
which I have crushed against myself
thinking what will come from today’s subtraction
thinking of what rushes in to fill the cracks
thinking what will I do today
today, today, today–
this excess of time 
I’ve been squandering since.

---
Remix of Jessica Greenbaum's poem.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Playing Catch Up: NaPoWriMo

Never mind my excuses. Here are a handful of poems to honour the month.

SOCRATIC METHOD
(prompt: fourteener)

Twisted words fall from open mouth, as poet asks for truth.
It comes and goes like a radio song between the ads.
What is it for anyway? Who is it for? Who speaks truth
when lies suffice in the day to day? The poet is he
who pans for truth in the streaming words. What shimmers? What glows?
What will the water bring to the surface there? A small truth
embedded in a tangle of lies, sharp enough to cut
through the bullshit. Will it feed you? Will you carry it home?
Will it save you from yourself? Will it save you from the world?


IT IS WHAT IT IS
(prompt: loveless love/break-up)

Don't hold on too tight or you will leave bruises on tender flesh.
It is what it is, though there is room to grow, or wither.
The moment weighs you down lest the wind carry you away.
You must play the game or practice laughter. Neither
will help you be the best. You can still lose it all in a throw.
To dream of loss now is to be aware of limits. Eat, dance and sing
anyway. It is what it is. It was what it was. It will be what
it will be. You are not as important as you think. You are everything.

THE WICKS' SACRIFICE
(prompt: remix of Dickinson poem, 930)

The poets live on light
but wicks burn out.
Vital parts they stimulate.

Each the sun of their age,
each work disseminating
their circumference.

The wicks' sacrifice:
Light lives on poets.
And the rest of us survive the night.

CHRISTINE FOJAS

Friday, February 20, 2015

PLAISIR

Christine Fojas

Voice must flow like lava from the volcano's lip. Hips must sway. The grey must hide in shaded hair. Bare skin given like a gift, after waxing like a maxed out moon. An afternoon of pain for a night of love.

Aroma of flowers and home cooked meals. Heels in the air, toes painted red. The bed is waiting, warm.

After a lifetime of obedience, here is the promise of sin.

---
An exercise in form