Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Birthday Song

A new poem, on the occasion that it is my last day as a 28 year-old. Slightly inspired by Scott, but what else is new?

Dway-berry dribble like muscle blood, fun because of poison. Bent. Loose habitual slide of tongue between orbs. Thalam, under arching boughs. Thicket. The guitar, though convincing, does not speak loosely. In the creviced instant, I am covered in saffron. You are pressing me into strands because of autumn, because of hibernation. If I told you I am there, you would be a shoreline, spreading infinitely away from me. A useless tide. For now. Burrow. Scurry. Clam foot, your anchoring fear. Thunder, a trembling nerve beats a chamade to lure you here. Parleyvoo. My trembling tune. Sleeping wisp of foam drags sand. I cannot help my lips. They become an envelope, arriving nowhere.

Let's all eat cake

Above, my little Eliot and I share the messiest birthday ritual ever: baby's frist birthday cake-dive. Well, the party was a huge success, aside from running out of food and being really stressful. It's really hard to throw a party at someone else's house when you're totally in charge of everything. I definitely needed a vacation from my vacation.

Anyway, my little man is one year old and in only two days, things have pretty much settled down on the homefront. Back to school and studying. Read a big chunk of Shelly's "defense of poetry" yesterday, which is really quite interesting, especially since I'm reading it right after book X of Plato's Republic which is all about how poetry is infectious and, well, basically worthless because its only purpose is to mimic a thing and the person who mimics a thing has no knowledge of the thing he mimics, blah, blah, blah. Shelly, on the other hand, seems to privelege the mimetic value of poetry and uses it as part of his defense. He also thinks heroic odes are the best form of poetry EVER, which I would say is a slightly dated opinion.

I've also been reading the new(ish) collected works of Faye Kicknosway, which came out in 2002 I believe, and is very spectacular. She's been one of my faves since I came across a used copy of her book Man is a Hook, Trouble in a used bookstore in Boulder (once owned by the famed essay writer, Reg Saner, BYW. He signed it and everything. . .). Her collected book is titled Mixed Plate and is quirkier than ever. After thumbing through it for a few days, I'm only now opening it to the first page to read it cover to cover (my usual book-reading process) so I'll surely post more about it once I'm in the thick of it.

I got my rejection yesterday from Harvard review (as expected) and it's quite a nice postcard. One of my favorite rejections yet. Ninth Letter also has a great rejection slip- very sleek and crisp, and the stamp on it seems to change every year. Good stuff. Nothing beats the crusty BPJ rejection from about a month ago. Yummy.

My friend, Scott Glassman, got three poems accepted into the Iowa Review which is just awesome. His poem "Burning, so you swim" is probably one of the best poems I've read all year, so look for it in the upcoming issue (i assume, no?).

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Leaving on a jet plane

Here's Eliot with Mr. Bear Chair, his first official birthday present courtesy of my bro, Chris. Thanks Chris, he loves it, in case you didn't guess :)

We're off in about an hour to the beautiful foothills of the Rocky MOuntains, namely Denver, Colorado. Eliot will be one year old on Friday, which is a bit freaky because it went SOOOO fast. I will probably not be journaling for the next few days, but will be back next week with all of the details of the big birthday party.

Monday, September 19, 2005


By my brother, Chris Carignan. The new frontrunner for my book cover :)

Because I have nothing else to offer save a small butt. . .

Here's a poem from Runes to break my drought. Other exciting news from my life includes Eliot's first steps yesterday afternoon and his first birthday on Friday. I got a haircut today. I have tendonitis in my knee which will hopefully not prevent me from running a marathon in three short weeks. I bought some new jeans today, size four. I'm currently toasting myself with a glass of wine.

After seeing a photograph of nothing in particular

At the mention
of distance,
your bones flower
into spores
and blank, fibrous
diamonds. What
gives? Cannon
ball. Belly
flop. Chisel stars
out of photographs
and make
a charm-bracelet. Who
would you give
it to? I sparkle.
I focus. A cluster
of signatures
form a canopy. Banyon.
Fused above
and below.
circle, navel.
The eye
of storm and
the ridge
of shelf cloud.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

hmmm. . .

It's been a while, not because I don't have a million things to blog about but mostly because school is taking a lot of time and effort right now. The reality that I have like 80 books to read by April is weighing on me pretty hard core. Without the baby, it would be daunting but possible. With the baby, it just seems impossible. But on I trudge, through the lists. Longinus. Shelly. Wordsworth. Plato. Rosemarie Waldrop. Myung Mi Kim. Walter Banjamin. An interesting collection of voices in my head.

I bombed in class on Thursday attempting to teach an introducton to poetry class a Saussure essay- I guess I should have known better but it was a learning experience. I learned that it's a good idea to give some preface materials (define terms, reading questions, introductory lecture) before having the students read something really difficult. I think it helps them get more out of it. I rarely teach prose/ theory pieces in the workshops I've taught in the past, so I'm learning. It's definitely a process.

Eliot's 1st birthday is on Friday and we're going to Colorado to throw him a huge party. I'm pretty excited but also a little stressed out. It's a pretty big deal, and difficult to throw a party from 1000 miles away. Let's hope it all comes together.

I've been writing very little and what I have been writing is very empty and disembodied, so I've been keeping it to myself. Too much reading perhaps? Usually that helps. . .but maybe there are too many voices. But again, usually that helps. No time. That's for sure.

Friday, September 09, 2005

35 and counting

After today's note in the mail from the Indiana Review that their submission period begins on October 1st (a little later than most, no? Though I should have double-checked.) I figured out that I currently have 35 submissions out to publications right now. Granted, about 15 of these went out in the last two weeks, but before today's "note," I had yet to recieve any sort of response from any of these publications for over three weeks-- not a single thing. For all practical purposes, an empty mailbox. I stuck pretty well to my three submission per week goal throughout the spring and summer months and counting the 16 rejections and two acceptances, that figures about right. That said, shouldn't I be getting some mail? Like maybe some response from the places I submitted to over six months ago?

Again, I just need something to focus on to keep me sane. And actually, I'm pretty proud of my submission progress. It keeps me grounded. My actual publication progress is another story.

Off to re-read Brandi's and Garrett's book manuscripts which we are re-swapping (after reading and critiquing each other's work) on Sunday. Good times. And good poems. And hopefully good drinks on Sunday.

Amid the ruins

I'm having a hard time coming to terms with anything abstract lately, like I need "tasks" instead of concepts. Yesterday, instead of reading about the characterists of the "sublime" during my afternoon study time, I went to the library and found books to add to my third reading list. It was quite productive, but didn't require a whole lot of abstract thought.

I can't come to a decision about how I feel about this whole hurricane thing. I feel like I am, to quote a line from my own poem, "cought in swirl." I lived on the SW, Gulf side of Florida for 11 years, most of that time in Port Charlotte, the small, retirement community ravaged by Hurrucane Charley last summer. My grandmother's house was demolished as well as my great aunt and uncle's trailer, which is still to this day uninhabitable. My grandmother and her husband (my step-grandfather, but I called him "Pappy" because I knew him all my life) were in the house when it happened. They're lucky to have survived, but they were displaced and she died from lung cancer only three months after the hurricane, Pappy quick to follow only weeks after her. I have lived through many, many hurricanes and tropical storms: preparation becomes a routine easily adapted to. Tape on the windows. Bathtub full of water, batteries for flashlight. lots of canned goods and a few can openers. Have a battery-powered radio for news/weather updates. It becomes a way of life. An expectation. Like you're waiting for the bottom to fall out. Needless to say, I was not a fan of living in Florida and moved as soon as I found somewhere else I felt at home (Colorado, at that point).

I am angered at how much this natural disaster has become a political issue, and think in many ways we are missing the forest for the trees. I hate GW as much as the next guy, but the devistation tht happened to the Gulf Coast isn't his fault. If anyone has come across the article printed in National Geographic in October of 2004, you know that the devistation had actually been predicted, almost down to the death count. In a sense, we're all responsible for this. Bush is an idiot, but he can't stop a hurricane and he can't build infrastructure for an entire coastal region that has been depleting for decades. Do I think the response to the whole thing took too long? I have no idea. It seems that it did. But I wasn't there so I can't speak to it. Could it have been avoided? Seems like it. That's what angers me the most. If the CIA had intelligence that New Orleans, Mobile, and Biloxi were targets of a terrorist threat that would wipe out 20,000 people, there would be action to stop it. We had intelligence and didn't stop it. It's a nightmare.

Then again, I can the other side to all of these arguments. It's impossible for me to arrive at absolutes right now. I'm definitely greiving, maybe even more than 9/11 because of the close ties I have to that area (I worked in Destin, Florida for many summers and frequented Mobile, had friends in Biloxi, and drunk-puked for the first time in NO). And it's not just the destruction of a few buildings- it's an entire region of the US that will feel the repurcissions of this for years. (Not that robbing of us of our sense of security for decades isn't a significant blow, but there it is.)

I don't know what I think. I'm angry at people who make this into a completely political issue instead of donating $$ or volunteering. This country had big issues with coming together, even in times like this when we don't know what else to do. So we blame shift. Tough questions.

I have phone calls to make and chores to do. Maybe that will make me feel better for now.

Monday, September 05, 2005

the sting

Writing seems to take away some of the sting for me. There are other things I should be doing, for sure, but this is the only thing that helps me feel slightly human right now.

Some of this poem is written out of a moment of footage I saw days ago where GW went into Biloxi and was comforting a woman and her daughter. I was amazed by his compassion, a side of him I haven't ever seen. I hate the man, but still haven't been able to reckon with this moment. Was it all a charade? so many cameras around?

the sting

I knew you would be here, caching figments
in the back room, devastating small children
with a lemon rind in your smile. It passes the
time. Flawed, an inkblue sky behind water, highway
like a reed weaves in and out. In your own
time. Citrus fermenting, floating among residents
and swimmers. Open sores.Heat pulls back
as if you commanded it. She cries is all
you know. She’s been swimming for days. She shows you
her fingertips, bleached white, shriveled and dry.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

final photograph

only road-dust to float you now. without a body. through the swinging eye. roof into dust. window into pile. wind exile. you would have gone. but not so soon. you say as a stone in my dream. every morning. woke. photograph. one of three kneeling women. scabbed knees. the smallest, lightest tree. no more wall. but the window. water I cannot move through. oranges. candles. a driveway, a moat. my watery, glittering eyes. horn. wave. always to goodbye. the last picture ever taken of you. weight on me. gravel loose under toes. you are small like a child. like a dead child. in a river. in an eddy. caught in swirl

Friday, September 02, 2005

let's do this. . .

It seems only fair to give when giving is required. Knowing about the devistation sure made my own bed the happiest place I could fall asleep last night.

Red Cross