fiat lux

I remember. They said I wouldn’t but I do. I don’t remember everything, but enough.

Dawn is now breaking—through the window pink sky appears, followed by a spray of golden light. From close overhead a lone crow utters a single drawn-out caw. Silence follows.

The silence only spreads itself so far. I stretch out its thin covering and fold myself inside it.

This is neither a beginning nor an end. I know how I arrived. I can turn and see a faint trail threading back to the fields of my youth. There are burn marks where attempts at erasure have been made.

I wanted to help, in this one way, this very simple way. They said my ‘self-limiting naiveté’ would destroy me. They were wrong. Instead their rigid framework destroyed me.

The air was cold, like it is today. And these stretched and endless limbs were no more suited to it then than now.

What strange form of life it was. How grew the light late in winter daysspreading across fields, streaming out over the river. How the darkness hid our fears.

Holy songs and rituals haloed material desires. Now far offnow beyondnow tinny at the end of this dying line.

Sudden harmonics ring out like hinges from one wall of noise to the next. Awash in reverb, notes soar to the forbidding sky.

I am underneath them. They enter my bones. The fullness of sound enters me, expanding at speed to the point of fracture.

The rending leaves two tottering halves, headless and forlorn. Push one down the hill while the other spins and spins. Rotate or roll away, makes no difference.

Yet still the light remains, ever-present, flashing in our eyes. It illuminates the new but it is the same light, and from the same sources. Even with our backs turned it warms us.

As we return to plaster together the beginning of another day.

 

[Text extracted from several years’ worth of abandoned drafts and reassembled, with minimal edits, to form a new whole]

old sam peabody

old sam peabody
song of white-throated sparrow
northbound bird visits

a siren sounding

a siren sounding
enters afternoon stillness
i bow my head low

trio

inside outside hot
inside cold and outside hot
all hot but one room

***************************

dry faded flowers
offer seed of life in death
a bird flies off full

***************************

the walls are falling
glimpses seen through plaster cracks
yet there are no walls

ghost cats of Delverne

ghost cats of Delverne
from their hilly perches stare
white sentries above

a haiku for spring

Buzzing tree of bees
carries sound of other world—
somewhere else to go.

forthcoming publication

A critical essay of mine appears in the inaugural issue of a new triannual festschrift celebrating the work of lesser-known European writers, published by Verbivoracious Press. This first issue fêtes Christine Brooke-Rose, an innovative British writer, critic, and theorist who played with language and form in her fiction, often employing constraints to assist in thematic exploration. My essay discusses her treatment of language ambiguity in the novel Xorandor, a story in which two precocious preteen twins narrate their discovery of and subsequent interactions with a rock-like being that is feeding on the nuclear waste stored at a facility managed by their father. The 320-page issue includes a wide range of responses to Brooke-Rose’s work, including homage, parody, imitation, and analysis. Copies of the festschrift in hardcover, paperback, special hand-made edition, and via eBook subscription are available for order here. The issue will be published on March 21st, 2014, the two-year anniversary of Christine’s death.

n+7

N+7 (or S+7) is a constrained writing exercise developed by Jean Lescure of Oulipo. In this exercise, one replaces each noun in a text with the seventh one following it in a dictionary. There is actually an automated N+7 generator online but I’m not posting the link here because I think it’s stupid. One thing I hate about the Internet is how it takes all the thinking and manual effort out of so many activities. Ugh. Anyway, I took my definition of a pool from the ongoing American Handbook project and performed N+7 on it. For reference, I’m including the original definition first. For this exercise I used The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd edition. I skipped over proper nouns, pronouns, and homonyms in the dictionary. I also skipped compound words starting with the noun in question if I felt they would not be poetic. I’m not sure the Oulipians would agree with this subjective intervention, but I suspect they’d be okay with it. Who knows. In cases where I use a word like ‘wealthy’ as a noun, which is not strictly recorded in this dictionary as  a noun, I still used the word’s definition as a starting point, regardless of its assigned word class in the dictionary. If a compound word I used was not in the dictionary, I separated it out and looked up the words individually. I did not change pronouns in the text. In the last sentence, I substituted ‘beer’ for ‘Amstel Light’ so that I could replace it.

Pool: A pool is a status symbol popular among the wealthy. In-ground pools are the only ones that anyone cares about. If heated and covered by a screened room to keep out bugs, so much the better. Teenage girls enjoy laying out by the pool as their bratty brothers plot to splash them with water or inflict some other heinous act upon them. Rich mothers bring trays laden with glasses of cold lemonade to poolside. Their daughters sip daintily before applying more tanning oil. Their snotty sons then sneak up and snap the bikini tops of their pretty daughters. When the man of the house arrives home from a tough day at the office, he may, if of a certain disposition, change into his trunks and swim a few laps. But first he tousles his son’s hair in greeting and gazes briefly and uneasily at his daughter before finally kissing his wife on the cheek. He may then pop open an Amstel Light if feeling particularly spent.

Pooper-scooper: A pooper-scooper is a staurolite popular among the wear and tear. In-ground pooper-scoopers are the only ones that anyone cares about. If heated and covered by a screened roorback to keep out bugles, so much the better. Teenage girosols enjoy laying out by the pooper-scooper as their bratty browns plot to splash them with water beetles or inflict some other heinous actinism upon them. Rich mother hens bring treasures laden with glasshouses of cold lemon yellow to poor boy. Their daws sip daintily before applying more tanning old boy. Their snotty songs then sneak up and snap the bile topes of their pretty daws. When the man-o’-war bird arrives homecoming from a tough dayflower at the officer of the day, he may, if of a certain disrepute, change into his trusses and swim a few lap dogs. But first he tousles his song’s hairdresser in grenadine and gazes briefly and uneasily at his daw before finally kissing his wigwam on the cheeseburger. He may then pop open a beetleweed if feeling particularly spent.

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