Wednesday, April 30, 2014

some links I've come back to or stumbled onto this month:


A poetry book called Situations by Laura Carter

"Some Feel Rain" by Joanna Klink

A blog of literary commentary called Pomp and Intertext

Chanterelle's Notebook, a poetry e-zine

A TEDtalk on architecture

Playable games

End of April: Notes

Many of the poems I've written this month lacked the typical cohesive nature of the tradition that I grew under. They are like open-ended questions, like one-half of a parenthesis. Or more like random notations on a sheet of music, which, when played, produces mostly noise rather than song. The reasons behind this--aside from that they were easier to write--is that I wrote them in the spirit of alea or chance. I needed to be shaken loose from the narrow circle of my own thoughts. I consider those poems collaged because they grew from other people's work, from random words and phrases culled from current readings. They are collaborations, in a way. Not all of them are successful, however. And I find myself still circling the same old images and themes sometimes. (So the work is never done.)

I've also liked playing with form in general, from truncated haikus to that weird Filipino poem. I've done some long ones this month, and I've written short lines, and longer ones. When I read them over, I am happy to be so inconsistent. I always feel like I'm repeating myself, so the unexpected, the novel, and the random are all welcome here. But there are still patterns. I find myself writing a lot of internal or slant rhymes, more out of instinct that strict deliberation. There are a lot of maps, a lot of songs, and poems about stories. I've also been drawn to anaphora.

As always, doing this everyday means my life seeps into the poetry. My dark days, my daily worries, the questions and topics that are my current obsessions or preoccupations--they are all present in my poems. Will I do this again? Maybe next year. I am wrung out now, and also, craving prose.

A Fan's Ode

by Christine Fojas

Want is warm.
Everywhere you go
fire follows.

Just a dream:
a mic in your hand,
eyes watching

and applause.
You smile and the world
screams back. Like

conductors
for the orchestra,
the music

rises high.
Tide-maker, o moon.
Magnetic.

Yet do you
long for solitude
and silence?

Open air
anonymity?
Eyes watching,

eyes judging.
How do you keep on
being you?

Hold yourself
whole lest it shatter
in the mirrors

of others
who want and want and
want? A dream

can turn dark,
a crowd to a mob.
Or you wake

to the day
nobody looks twice.
Even gods

see twilight
falling as their names
fade away.

When that day
arrives, think of me
who loves you

helplessly.
Hopelessly. I am
still clapping,

still screaming,
dreaming your dream and
refusing

to wake up
to the world.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Scavenger's Pages

by Christine Fojas

language is a naive ritual
of erasure. it annihilates
the path, for a dark hope,
or else plays in shadow. we
are given givens. kung
mamarapatin.

the book in your hands
are compiled pages
from repeated pairs.
but some of us deviate
from maps. I make my own choices,

sifting through
boxes of praxis
for free sources
and found things:
scavenger's prerogative.

amidst lost texts and lines
of prayer are the seeds
of transgression, or else borne
of the embers of wonder
which must be fanned back
to life.

leave rooms for trespass,
holes, holy silence.
what dances between
the lines?

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Fool's Mystery

by Christine Fojas

There is music in silence.

Who you are
is a question of
who I was
unearthing all along.

I tried to learn trash value
and alternate logic,
to stand upside down.
Re-vision is a chance
to take a deeper breath

to be safe in risk.
Pick the rules for breaching
and create alive mythologies

made of love

for all endeavors
foolish and again the fool
fashions the opposite
spirit, attends
the office of things
that happen before
and things that will happen again.

Hammering the question
into the old backwards tale,
an exercise in myth-making,
a dream unfolding,
a mystery just drawing a breath--

Sunday, April 27, 2014

CRACK APART

by Christine Fojas

Poolside. A woman and a child sitting
with wet t-shirts and crinkle-eyed smiles.
Twelve years later, the sun's the same
but little else.

When did love prove itself a lie?
A mother never quite lets go
of a daughter's hand. But that's not just
love; that's pride and face; that's
something you hold because you feel
you own it, a little. Love's another marker,
another mark.

Children meet time and families
grow out, too-tight clothes with holes
and stains, shoes that pinch toes. You
are you, and who knows how much of you
is moss that grew on stone, how much
are edges smoothed by the pounding sea,
and how much really is mother's fault
which is big enough

to crack the world apart.
So when did love prove itself a lie?
That it could mend a break, that it
could span the sea? That it could let me

help you now?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

What to do with a life?

by Christine Fojas

Turn it over with deft hands,
trace the lines on the surface,
lightly, oh so lightly.
There are coins to spend.
There are books to be read.
There are questions that hang
in the air like mobiles.
A little askew.

We are all skin--touch us hard
enough and we will bruise;
cut us deep, and blood
will seep out, and then the healing
begins. Deeper,
and you court death.

You breathe,
as much as you can.
You breathe in the open fire,
a lover's kiss, the soup
on the boil.
Invisible smoke,
trailing away.

Chop it up into pieces
you can chew. Season it well,
then watch it brown on the grill.
Hell's a kitchen, but God's knife
put us there.

I don't know. But it's an ugly answer
to a beautiful question. What does
ignorance give you, except a hollow,
an absent stone, a need?

But it never goes away. The life
is yours but not quite. We are pinned
on a net and spread out over the sea
and the water passes through
our emptiness, and sometimes
there is a fish or two, caught
as we are caught.

Turn it over with deft hands,
and then let it go. Watch its silver
flash, sharp fins, trail of bubble-talk.
Watch the ocean-void swallow it down.

Friday, April 25, 2014

INSIDE THE NOT-DREAM

by Christine Fojas

There is no ladder--not of hair knotted
nor of sunlight on Winter morning, nor
of open hands. There is no bridge--
not of words, nor of stone; not of prism
unwoven, nor of root grown. There
is no circle--not of trees, nor of fairies;
not of magic; neither of light nor of shadow.
There is just a single mountain, a single
lake, a broken mirror, a cold breath,
and a flower wet with teardrop and dew.
There is you.

---
prompt: anaphora

Thursday, April 24, 2014

SAWALOPATMANIMTOLOYAMPU

by Christine Fojas

salitang
nawala
along
patnubaya
ng makatang
nagtatanim
ng santo
sa loob
ng mayamang
puta


word lost
wave given
by a poet
planting
saints
inside
the rich
whore

---
I'm just playing

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Is Cool: A League of Stories

badly translated by Christine Fojas

So it seem to us cloudy cool. The temperature endures. For ill-gained pages got kin across the canyon. When essences meet we revive, pluck odes that rhyme and get us to stop classic time. Architects take action: we tricycled cash and codes for socialists who like us by dint of procrastinated love for magic, for soul. And you, cara, metastase suns. It's good to be at the front of the line, to push. I see through you but to see kin for miles is to carry it around. I have here a new game: kick good. How? Like taking ten cars here? No. See love in the salty tears of the kneeling; take her to see cathedrals. Act steady. Does giants muse at the same time for the same meat? Thus parody. The vocalist is a transparent mechanism. No daughter surrenders art in such ridiculous beats. Escape reason and pseudo eugenics. Detox your stances but color is nice and this is a dense dream and not really there. Not you dude. Be a cool nobody.

---
ok. this is a completely senseless and surreal poem. the prompt: a homophonic translation of a foreign poem. the original is a tad surreal, too, but so so so much better: called "FROM THE CASE OF BONES" by Lithuanian poet Eugenijus Ališanka.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

some animal poems

CAT

the cat melts through
the room,
one ear twitching,
rolls over on soft ground,
waits for hands
to come close enough.
(claws at ready)

the cat skims up the table
surveying its kingdom
full of prey.

BEAR

amble up amble down
into a box
of good smells
but the box trembles
and the bear peers
over the edge:
the forest has vanished;
turned into too-tall
too-hard not-trees.
too many eyes watching.

one shotful of sleep
and the bear tumbles down.
maybe it was all a dream.

TURTLE

at the zoo
people ooh
and aah
as it shows off
its shell,
before shyness
has it go
into hiding.

the turtle's life
is great, except
when rats sneak food
from its plate.

---
prompt: poems for children

Monday, April 21, 2014

MENSONG

(Edger's POV)
a fan poem from Lee and Miller's Liaden Universe

There's no constant beat to the song
woven by the clans of men.
Not unless you listen close;

It's chaos layered over chaos
but among the random notes
you can see a thread walked

by a man or a woman.
Their dance is part of the music:
dance of death, dance of love.

Their talk is part of the music:
truths and lies, boasts and rages,
and what else is music?

Even the planets ring
like distant cymbals
in men's hands--

bodies in motion, forces
of gravity, forces of honor,
faith and hate.

Some men are better composers
than others. Would that the universe
sing forever to the master's tune.

---
Note: Edger is a Clutch turtle, a long-lived species; he in particular loves music.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

IN MY HANDS

by Christine Fojas

I am climbing a wall
grasping grass and rock
that comes apart in my hands;
I've been here before,

and thudding in my ear
like another heart
is this fear of falling.
I used to be full of words.

Now all I have in my hands
are precarious levers
and rusty nails that hold
me together. Do not ask me how I am--

I am a broken device.
No answer will suffice.

---
an attempt at a sonnet and an attempt at getting into the mind of someone I love.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

EVEN GRIEF

by Christine Fojas


sometimes I mourn the skies
above the city
sparse of birdsong
and canopies
of trees free
to grow their full handspans,
above and below

time turns grass over
land parceled out
now put to use
as if the rural air
was becoming obsolete--
my neighbors used to keep
pigs and doves, squeals and coos
were my lullabies. now,
there is only one last kind
of bird, landing on thin
and narrow trees by my barred
window, singing lonely songs.

now,
the city is city through
and through, hard at the core
posts at every corner
carrying wire that bisects
my skies
and tangles tree branches.

the trees are clipped
and boxed. the birds die out.

and we--who are clipped
and boxed ourselves--we
have already scorned the world
outside our barred windows
for the worlds we have made

a world of restarts,
and without entropy, a virtual
canopy that shields us
from the sun's piercing truths.

even grief fades away
like another dream
in the chain-of-dreams
that screens my waking day.

---
I have been writing poems about this for a long time. Inspired by napowrimo prompt of sea shell names called "sparse dove."

Friday, April 18, 2014

Deep Blue


arranged by Christine Fojas, source texts Acquainted with the Night by Christopher Dewdney and poems from The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries, edited by Reginald Shepherd.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Black Black

Christine Fojas

on the meter
the line dips down
the bed inviting
you deeper

bones that run on heat
now cold and colder
the earth calling

black holes
in a black sky

pupils to pinpricks
flesh to soup

what if my soul
is just a stone

sinking?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DOCTRINES OF ART

by Christine Fojas

Catalogue of global circles:
a series of shoes
as icons, a lifestyle
evoking mobility.

Museum of change:
the peripatetic
seeks to press
found freedom from
beauty, precise
and permanent.

Post-nothing manifesto:
paintings of secret
culture, east
and west. Grounds
to recapture,
old symbols warped.

Fine minds and regulations:
state attention
on illustrated
notes, myths.
Art exhibited
at political order
featured effort
and compulsory
techniques.
Dreams by permission.

Then paintings denounced.
Art crimes
earned him time.

---
Found poem from a random page on Wikipedia. Source material is here

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Thought I'd Ask

by Christine Fojas

Can you open up
without spilling?
What's at the core?

What's under each mask?
The secrets you are keeping,
are they worth killing for?

I just thought I'd ask.

---
prompt: poem of questions

Sunday, April 13, 2014

WITCH-ADVICE

strive for mist-mastery
linger in the labyrinth

turn around three times
until you catch your tail

do not speak carelessly
feel your fingertips then

touch every thing. sail
to a dot on the globe

and send mail. rhyme
sometimes but always sing.

unlearn your past,
go slow then go fast.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

FAULT LINES AND FINDING NORTH

by Christine Fojas

you could live without knowing 
where you were not living.
      --Jonathan Safran Foer


There is a body, then there is beauty
superimposed. Symbols
for the surface of the world
or any space
real or imagined

without regard to context
or scale. That's the dream.
Beauty is oriented
according to tradition
or whatever narrative's on top.

It has been made for a purpose
or a set of purposes.
Sometimes the scale
is deliberately distorted,
some features removed

to reflect other information
or enhance the clarity of beauty.
As long as it serves your needs.
(What else is beauty for?)
It is a drawing on a surface

without overlapping edges.
Beauty is either political or physical,
territories and borders
elevations and relief
with contour lines or shading.

Beauty not properly designed
is a failure; it has to convince;
it has to imply authenticity.
I'm terrible at reading beauty;
I'd rather write it.

Beauty is an application
of a set of principles, propaganda.
It's not just the surface,
but can show characteristics
underlying, fault lines

and broken faith. Everyone has
a collection of beauty and directions,
manually constructed with brushes,
muscle memory or someone else's
voice dictating, maybe a cache

of compliments/complements, or the kind
that unfolds on long trips.
Lines and marks,
creases and fingerprints
of someone's need.

Beauty can be made, but bodies
change without our consent.
They exist whole and beauty
isolates the pieces, presents
a fantasy, or a political reality.

You have to find north. Spin an arrow.
Pick a trail to follow. Or none at all.
Run from beauty and its shadow, explore
the edges of expectations, especially
your own. Beauty is two-dimensional.

Find north. Find out firsthand
what bodies can do. Find out if the face
you have on is the kind that washes away,
erodes in the wind and water. Find the bones
underneath. Find your hands, find your feet.

You have to answer your own needs.

---
prompt: replacement poem, intangible for a physical thing, beauty for maps.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Damn a Day

by Christine Fojas

Stall a day,
an act
as dark as dawn.

Fast hands
that ran
all that way.

What can
a man's past
say? Scry away.

That plan
was cast: a war.
A damn brawl.

That's a bad call
and all awry.
A man can cry.

Start and stray.
All cats yawn
And paw at art.

Park a car
and watch facts
dry. Play.

Damn a day.
Damn all days.
What lasts anyway?

---
Note: gimme a vowel, though y may be considered cheating. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Today it's about quantity

Snowball's Chance in Hell

I am the wind first.
I am the fast watch winded.
I am the lost river hacked. Deliver ruthless questions.
I am all gone. Wrong second. Blinded mountain.
I am the last round. Balled. Falling. Attracts sprawling.
I am sea over shell. Packed melting treasure.
I am the ruse. Yeses. Pursue leisure.

---
Relics

memories out of paper

resting on
the shoulders of a little boy
the hands told
you something, as well
as the handwriting, the words

stop pretending
we don’t sleep
sitting down and doing nothing
easier on the empty nights

the boys
they used to be
he'd never even miss
how too young grew
into the men they've found

---
Secret Agent Man

the first round tied,
going so far as figuring out
curiosity was the network

and contemplating our secrets
immediately piqued no one
he’d committed identity theft
who would remember him

three streams of data
to unplug

shakes it off, moves on

=====
first poem: snowball (number of letters), second and third poem are cut and pasted from random lines I've taken from eight different tabs I have open on my computer, seven of them stories, and one article.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Talk

by Christine Fojas

when there is talk
there is the chance
to eavesdrop; do you think
stars converse? do trees
sing in susurration?

we are the most curious
creatures in the wild.

it is a weapon; is mine
sharp enough?

we have a thousand ways
to say absolutely nothing.

when there is talk
there is the chance
to change somebody's mind.
or else nobody
is listening.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

To Bear or to be Borne

by Christine Fojas
after Mahmoud Darwish's "And we have countries..."

And we wish we had countries without borders, like our idea
of home, sharp and ambiguous-- countries whose maps
are free of thorns; we walk through them unwounded
in their labyrinths: We know you and are known.
Countries that grow by saltation, feast
after feast, so as to forget
the ones that wither, a river running lower
and lower until it ceases to flow. Countries where bridges
are built to beget poems, where promises keep,
where the shadows are full of peace.
But everything dies with the rising sun;
dreaming is an inherited dis-ease.
Geography emits sacred texts.
And what is sacred requires edges we must defend.
The exile tells himself: I will return.
To what? The sun's constant fire, the vanishing birds,
a house with a stranger's scent, a gravestone
under a tree--maps are always obsolete,
here but to contain memory's terrain, the only true place.
Everything distant coalesces into paradise,
as if the earth is an Impressionist painting
hanging on a black wall. I say: These are the countries
that bear us over and over; these are the cords
that tie down our souls. How long til the womb lets us go?
And how do we emerge whole?

---
prompt: poem remix

Monday, April 7, 2014

Self-portrait

by Christine Fojas

I am but an array of surfaces
pressed down, accreting context
like how a rock is born
by fire or other forces
that's how history is made

we write it in our own words
all of us lying. light
deflected by prismic sides
sharp enough to cut

can you slice a part of yourself
and pin it down onto a plate?
the water streams over me

catching nothing. can we be
half-dreamed? smoke in our veins?

how dare you ask me who I am.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Alien

a sci fi poem
by Christine Fojas

When the stars are spread like an open map
to a traveller with ties that hold him back
on a ship that leaks a little--

when the ocean is the endless black
and the letters home compete
with the speed of light,

blinks like pale blue dots
transmit, transmit, receive--
the words of longing dance and weave

I go and go and sail and fly
and delve deeper into the thousandth sky,
alien earth shaped by an alien shore.

Here is the new horizon.
Here I may have less but I can be more.
Here I unfurl the length

of a too-large dream.
Unveil my love for a freedom
I have to steal.

Skin marks us apart, and blood, and bone.
And more than that, my strange ways
in this new home.

I am alien to myself, my new songs
ring hollow, my voice
wavers in the air.

What realm can hold me?
And how do I find kin there?

---
I started with the last two lines, hoping to answer them, but I'm not ready to do that yet I suppose. Also, I've been reading a series about space pilots so that's where this poem came from...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Love Poem from a Broken Man

I'm at
the last and least
of men, of the
terrible poets and robbers
stealing words til nothing's left.

Lead to ash; they turn to this
broken love poem, a question no one
can answer. A thing
that hides behind
a clouded heart. Even the moon
laughs at me, and steals in
to the broken sky of my
mirror til all I have is an empty window.

---
prompt: golden shovel; all the last words form a poem by Ryokan.

Friday, April 4, 2014

a lune in the kitchen

by Christine Fojas

spread of red
sauce on a thin tortilla
while cheese melts
with tender mushrooms
that take on the taste
and scent: rosemary,
garlic, salt, pepper,
a dash of lemon juice.
it is done.

the first bite
is always the best: crisp
and warm. teeth
and tongue dance
over the feast, for senses
barely awake. day
arrives too early.
the plate is soon empty
it lasted just

long enough to
break my fast.

---
prompt: lune; I began the day with this meal and then told myself to pay attention to my senses for today's poem. they come together here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Palimpsest

by Christine Fojas

sabotage
this palimpsest architecture
search out the cracks
in the walls
hide vanishing points
along the street
be they poems
or portals

beware the hooks and crooks
the shielded ground
connect and disconnect
slide into the crowd
and ride the waves
lashing visible
and invisible reefs—
a culture of constant
loosely-structured
and sometimes compulsive
information swapping
disrupt the life cycle

this accumulation of grime
does not wash away
here are surfaces overwritten
by our learned greed
here are texts and subtexts
and contexts you can read
here the noise of our dead
ghosts blinking out
like long neon nights

it is thousand of movements
intricately linked
to one another
find a thread to unravel
in the pattern of recurring narratives
deliberated and curated
on offer everywhere you look
what’s in the nothing box?
a legacy of hunger

resist mediation
through expeditions
into first-hand and second thoughts
where is the third door?
you are the leader
you are looking for

disperse—
think upside down
and love inside out
you have been misinformed
the blade persuades
invent truths and hone them
find the levers, the handles
find the doorways and walk through

wombs and tombs
and everything in between
read the margins
in the text-books of war
strive for competence in combat

the city is a tapestry of pockets
disembellish and disadorn
isolate, alienate
cultivate a sense of self
that no shelf will carry
disown and disintegrate

hope is the leash of submission
fed on by communal dreams
beware enemies who grow old together
keep the circle strait

what keeps us on point?
what others have taught
do not forget

do not disclose yourself just yet

---
Have you ever tried to write something, and write something, and then it's just too big for you? I've given up on this poem. It has myriad inspirations, but especially Naomi Klein's "No LOGO" and Raoul Vaneigem's "The Revolution of Everyday Life." 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On the Bones

by Christine Fojas

I.

Build milestones
out of miseries.
Build a history
out of selves scattered
in tokens
and crumbling sheaves
as unreliable as memory.

There was a fire
and it took my sins.

Was I ever reckless and raw?
My life is corroborated
and contradicted.

I wrote my name
over and over
in wild approximations

but so much of writing
is erasure.

II.

My life unfolds at someone
else's pace;
a voice intrudes into my escape.

The mirror holds a light
at an angle of instinctive grace.
There's a face staring back at me
a ghost of what's to come.

Every week I take a small leaving.
The desire
to keep the world out persists.

III.

Only I
at the expense
of--what can I spend
when I have nothing?

Only I get by
repeating promises
until they lose all meaning
transformed into notes
that remain mute on a page

I had little faith
though the song and dance
enthralled me

I built walls
that I couldn't scale

In dreams and tales
I could be anyone at all
there I was graceful
the page a refuge
of speculations.

IV.

Sometimes
fitting in seems like surrender.
Here on the map
annexed territories of a lost soul.
A poem of alienation
and everyday speech.

I identify with the losers;
when they win
it's as if something
had been stolen from me.

I tend a garden
of offshoots and misfits
mysterious seeds
that flower
like cats love.

V.

Is poetry a preoccupation
with the source of this power?
We build over the bones
in the ground.
We hallow ourselves.
We burn to extract our ashes.

Then dust to dust.
We only write because we must.

---
A poem built on words and phrases taken from an essay by Reginald Shepherd.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Motions to Reconsider

by Christine Fojas

I.

Some days

I want to crawl
back into my mother's womb
and erase
the traces I have left
on the world.

You will have found
someone else.

Can I fold back a life
and return it to sender?

Or am I spilled ink
on a tapestry?

Out, out, damned spot.

II.

What am I doing?
Going through the motions
Contemplating
annihilation.

Why?
I am tired, I am tired
My bones prefer the dust
and the giant's teeth.



Why not?
The sun rises and falls--No!
The sun hangs constant
and we rise and we fall
riding the forces of the universe.

Ask me again tomorrow
and the day after and the day after

I will mimic the moon.

---
Notes: This was conceived and mentally written before six a.m. and then I desperately opened the computer to write it down before the poem evaporates in the morning light.