Sunday, January 23, 2011

Westminster Bridge

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and the temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, vally, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
-by william wordsworth

It's good to have the wordsworthian sense of awe at the beauty of nature, and the appreciation for the weather and the growing things and the subtle fluctuations in the natural environment every day. Every day's weather is unique and changing, and there's a space there for appreciation of it, apart from whatever stresses may occur. It's pretty funny, because I see people caught up in little dramatic scenes that are leading them into more trouble, (I'm not talking about everybody, just some groups) and I'm glad most of the time that I've figured out how to not get caught up in unnecessary strife. Strife happens, and you want to limit what you get into, I guess, and have time for the general appreciation of things.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I am, you anxious one.

I am, you anxious one.

Don't you sense me, ready to break
into being at your touch?
My murmurings surround you like shadowy wings.
Can't you see me standing before you
cloaked in stillness?
Hasn't my longing ripened in you
from the beginning
as fruit ripens on a branch?

I am the dream you are dreaming.
When you want to awaken, I am that wanting:
I grow strong in the beauty you behold.
And with the silence of stars I enfold
your cities made by time.
-rilke, book of hours

Saturday, January 15, 2011

a nice idea

a nice idea to figure out
a friendly attitude, somehow, somewhere
and the manners and the running energy
somewhere out on the coast
the shaded trees and the waves somewhere
down over on the Nye beach winds
the solid block of sculpted oak
chasing through every certain varnish
we though it was a friendly thing somehow
some nice idea put into words.

Friday, January 14, 2011

a small kitten played in a pile of intricately patterned clothes

the guitars and sounds of the beanery seem to cohere, along with a double espresso and I feel as if the lights of the stars and the flowing rivers out there in green somewhere had an agent of consciousness somehow tied into all the changing lives and aspirations and difficulties that come and go between contributed food and bad coffee and the fleeing spectacles, and arrows trying to reach the other side, the pools hit by stones, the ripples flowing outwhere in some kind of perfected detail, and wondering why the people and the times reflect the unit of moss of the tree and the branch, coming up into each successive breath and each successive effort through all the continuations and stretching details. The beautiful sound of a song of a chord can reverberate through the wood out there, going through all the ideas and chaos that continually arises. The days are slowly getting more mild and the signs of spring are going to be coming out. The continual cyle of the seasons and the breezes going here and there, walking under trees showing the rippling effect from each detail.

I was getting kind of interested today in the book I am translating from Japanese, "Some Prefer Nettles", by Junichiro Tanizaki, because he was talking about the types of architecture in Japan. The stuff near Tokyo (in the 20's) was not as beautiful because the earthquakes kept destroying everything, and they had to use stronger materials. whereas the stuff near Kyoto was more beautiful and traditional. Of course 99 percent of all that stuff is gone now, but it is still true that Kyoto has more of the Old Japan feel to it than Tokyo.

Here's a fragment of a semi-true story that I wrote from years ago:

This new house was filled with stacks of all sorts of thing, and a man named "River John" appeared to live there. A small kitten played on a pile of intricately patterned clothes. It was dark. They were smoking weed, and the atmosphere seemed otherworldly and surreal.
Tracy appeared to want to take off. I let him drive. We drove in circles, it seemed, here and there, and it was cold out, and very late at night. We stopped somewhere, near a house where he knew people. He got out to see if they were up, came back, and we both got out and walked down a pathway, through a door, and into a trashed room with a torn up couch, the windows covered with plywood.
I think I was there the whole night, sitting on the couch, staring at the walls, watching people of mysterious origins and intentions come in and out, through the main room to the other rooms. I may have drifted off at some point. Her "sister", Lisa lived in the back room with her boyfriend. Lisa would come out occasionally and start yelling, sometimes at her dog. Sheila was doing laundry in the kitchen, and the machine was vibrating, or maybe it was the nervous look in her eyes that appeared to be a vibration.

a wave of wind
the grass outside
washing machine is humming
Sheila shoving clothes
into the washer
She can't think about anything else
dishes are piled on the counter
a pit bull exits
the rear room
somebody yells something

Another woman in the far room would come out at various point and appeared to be gripped by demons. She was contorting herself in some kind of dance, and I could have no clue for why this was possibly going on, or what could be wrong with her.

Monday, January 10, 2011

who is going there?

who is going there?
with springtime all adorning her?
with the leaves of downstream rivers
earrings and tassles in the hair
faded colors of greens and browns and stripes
details between the overenthusiastic vowels
something about the upright thought and stance
an uprightness have possible correspondence
a possible correspondence and a wonderful
demeanor, details, strivings, elements,
worryings between the changes of the seasons
through the paths out on the sound

There are good and upright things in life. To the good things correspond to the beautiful, and is morality and uprightness seen in outward demeanor? Maybe. Who the heck knows. Then again, there are those flashes of introspection, and they let me see into the elements of things, the deeper patterns, or maybe they make me go in a good and better informed direction, and that is all to the good.

The morns are meeker than they were --
The nuts are getting brown --
The berry's cheek is plumper --
The Rose is out of town.

But gradually things will climb back toward spring, in the long unexplained cycle of the seasons will continue, and people will follow their impressions and magic will come out of the woodwork.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Lean out of the window

Lean out of the window,
I heard you singing
A merry air.

My book is closed,
I read no more,
Watching the fire dance
On the floor.

I have left my book:
I have left my room:
For I heard you singing
Through the gloom,

Singing and singing
A merry air.
Lean out of the window,

-from Chamber Music, James Joyce

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Poetry and the ebook.

I don't think books are ever going to go out of style. One of the main joys of poetry is to look through books that you own, and find the poems that you appreciate. Everything about the tangible part of poetry is important, including the condition of the book, the typeface, the design, and on and on. Poetry, writing, and any kind of deep thought and creation of new words requires access to the written word, and the format of the paper book is not something that can be replicated by one device. There's room in the world for both approaches, of course. I'm not an ebook hater. But people that think that soon all books will be going into the junk heap are not really thinking clearly. Either that or they never read books, which is a shame for them, for what they are missing.
I keep wishing I had a copy of James Joyce's "Chamber Music" and "Pomes Penyeach" for the spare format of those collections. I can read some of the poems online, but it is nothing compared to when I had the actual book to read. I think I got that one out of Doe Library at Berkeley. Something about the paper of certain poetry books focuses your mind on the seriousness of the approach of the author. I am thinking in particular of Robinson Jeffers' book "Roan Stallion, Tamar, and other poems", now out of print. It has an excellent typeface, and a little introduction by the author describing a walk through the woods and some impressions of the weather near Carmel. One line from one poem, I remember reading in a coffeehouse in Portland in 1995. "Great enough both accepts and subdues, the great frame takes all creatures." That line had a big effect for some reason. If I had read it on a Kindle I would have no book to associate those poems with.