Sunday, March 27, 2005

Nel Mezzo

Alternate title: Sestinas: what can't they do?
Alternate alternate title: Sestinas: say less using more words than other people say with less.

In France they have drugs that improve memory
(I read an article about it at a time in my life
when I thought I’d carved a space in the wilderness
though I was as unsure of the path
as I was of anything). Anyway. The article described
miracles: sparse thickets of thought thickened into woods

But that was the problem really. I already had a wood:
a place bereft of reflection or of memory
(for those who walk unpleasant places do not describe
a path; these are not reflective joints of life)
a place absent even the memory of a path;
where all that is belongs to wilderness.

far from being just a wood
becomes an essential piece of any path
(path: a place within cohesive memory
that defines the whole of life;
that which edges describe)

And so: a line describes
an angle, and so a triangle is made. And out of wilderness
we make our life,
in amongst a wood
of shivers, thought and memory
and suddenly there becomes a clear way, a path.

(or I suppose it should be a path
though mine does not for sure describe
the way through brambles of memory
through the dark of the sleeping wilderness
in the thickness of the wood
or whatever. Life).

Midway along the journey of our life
I strayed, abandoning the rightful path
And found myself within a gloomy wood.
So hard it is in its aspect to describe
This savage harsh and fearsome wilderness,
That fear rekindles with the memory.

in the thickness of our life (strange as it is to describe),
there is (or perhaps could be) a path, a way inside and out of wilderness
into the wood, out of memory

Excuse me? We could use some resurrection over here.

It's rainy and chilly here in San Francisco, and I'm feeling rather homesick, like Easter and spring just aren't real without family around. We'd planned to go see the Sisters' easter celebration in the park today, but it was all chilly and we had trouble getting motivated, and then the rain pretty much settled things.

Oh well. There's always next Sunday.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Doppelganger Sestina

written in class, March 19, 2005

When I was eleven, I saw my double
(Double didgets granting second
sight) rising from the yellow grass, waiting
Under swaying pine trees. It was still.
A strange hiccup, one two three.... three
Calling me, my echo, a child

The Magus Zoroaster, my dead child
In his garden chanced upon his double
And Shelley (the poet) saw his, too and died three
Days later. So: an inauspicious second
That hearts and minds and thoughts lays still
(Grass blew against its stiff legs, waiting)

Outside the house it’s waiting
Inside I’m just a child
Under blankets lying still
Counting breaths, double double
Eyes clenched against the seconds
Listening as the clock strikes three

The clock strikes three
And outside the dark is waiting
Somewhere out there stands my second
Night’s never so long as when you’re a child
At every hour the darkness doubles
At every hour, unbearably still

Chimes and echoes breaking still
Counting breaths, one, two, three, three
When I was eleven I saw my double
Standing outside, just there - waiting
I was just a child

Not prone to seeing seconds
The eye is cones and rods and retinas, still
I was a literally minded child
Who knew prime numbers (1, 5, 7, 3)
Numbers for with no factors waiting
No other’s double

As a child I saw my 2nd, counting one, two, three, three

The night still, waiting

And I was just a child. Two ones, double.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Hang spring-cleaning!

Ahh. spring in San Francisco. The weather's been between 60 and 80 (steadily! With almost no bizarre and sudden turns) for almost a week now, the clouds in the sky are there purely for their aesthetic value, and woodland creatures all over the city are feeling the first stirrings of that thing called love.

But alas.

The apartment is filthy. My papers are a complete mess; I can't find half my school things half the time, and the other half of the time someone's asking me to move them so that we can eat dinner or find the sofa or some such nonsense. And to top it off, an overnight guest is expected at the end of the week. But the Mole in me just keeps looking outside and thinking, well, how jolly it would be to be idle.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Poetry at 2 AM

Usually a bad idea

Inferno V:85

In her flocked and tattered robes superlative
Hovers idly
Without encomium or fond remembrance
For whatever oily stain was left
On Carthage’s sea salt cliffs

Love cries ring out empty
The high wind
Mocking fire’s memory
With August procession
In the flickering dim.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Just a miiinute! I'm in my niiiiighty!

Eeep! Here Tricia's gone an linked to me, and I've nothing to say. I'm working on a collection of short stories (an early version of my thesis for the conclusion of the MA portion of my MA/MFA program), and spring has completely sprung, complete with sun & flowering trees and a return to sandals as daily footwear. It's hard for a girl to stay focused.

But blogging! Must! Continue!

So, what can i tell you about my little life? Brian and I went for several walks today, one of which ended with a sausage and a beer at Toronado's. They had something on tap called 'nogginbonker,' but I was afraid to try it.

And that, my friends, is all you're getting.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

So, I get these moods. Sometimes, even though the sun is shining, birds are chirping, and small puppies frolic in the park, I'll start to feel a case of the ol' ennui. And even though everything is going swimmingly, even though spring is here, and Herr Brian is all a girl could want, and I'm in a program that satisfies my every creative desire, I crash.

I'll sit on the couch, sinking lower and lower into despair until there's nothing left of me save a tuft of hair poking out from underneath the beige cushions. And poor Brian, who's trying to work, gets interrupted every five minutes: "I'm sorry I'm like this. You shouldn't see this." and a minute later, ""Do you love me?"

I tell you, the man's a saint. An atheist, but a saint.

Anyway, I've been like this all week. And then there was class this weekend:


Morning class: I'm more subdued than normal, and when I do speak I stutter, and then giggle. I hate myself for seeming weak. The instructor announces a new structure for discussions, wherein we raise our hands and wait to be called on instead of just speaking up. I can't help but feel that this is an inderect rebuke to my normally effusive classs presence.

Afternoon class: Four times, I start to speak, only to be cut off mid sentence. Twice, I am cut off mid-sentence by a prospective student. No one else seems to notice or care, particularly the instructor, who I thought liked me.

After school: I stand talking to my fellow students. J, an older man with a sort of rough and tumble sense of humor, asks "where's Brian?" in a way that makes the woman next to him hit his arm and giggle. I'm self-conscious about being the only one who's boyfreidn meets her at school. Do other people think that's weird? J gives me a ride home, along with two other girls. Getting out of the car, I trip and almost fall. I'm the only one who laughs.


Morning, before school: I'm running late. The toilet clogs and must be delt with. I have no clean laundry, and end up wearing a shirt that is low cut and has a tendancy to ride up at the belly. I spend the whole day intermittently pulling the collar up and the bottom down.

Morning class: I arrive ten minutes late, at the tail end of an in-class writing exercise. It looks interesting, but I don't get a chance to find out exactly what it was. During class, I work hard to make constructive comments about other's writing that I didn't particuarly enjoy, but that doesn't seem to be garnering much response. When we discuss a piece I really loved, my comments seem redundant and I have trouble articulating my thoughts.

During class break, I go outside and stand in the sun. No one esle from my class is around, except for A, a tough-seeming, pretty girl from the midwest who is sitting on the curb smoking a cigarette. I think about sharing with her my discomfort with my overly-revealing shirt, but go inside instead.

When it comes time to discuss my piece, comments are generally favorable. David, an older man who's work I enjoy, ways "Nora really has what I think makes a good writer: whe can write a good sentence." I am genuinely touched.

After class, I get back people's written responses to my piece, a work of fiction that combines first-person narrative and fragments of the protagonist's academic work. The crit from A reads as follows:

- Don't give a fuck
- If you're an academic "at university" then fucking stay there
- you're no writer if this is your kick
- this shit is hard to understand BECAUSE it has such a specific audience! We are not your audience! Academic Journals about Greek/Latin philosophy and mythology are.

then, on an interior page of the story:

It's been done - interpret something new - something folks give a fuck-in-the-hole-of a running donut ABOUT.

I go to lunch, and manage to giggle over beer and sushi with some of my classmates. We discuss (humerously) the feasability of ordering ritalin over the internet using scholarship funds.

Afternoon class: Memoir and Testimony. during the in-class writing exercises, I can hardly get myself to write. My voice seems false. Sentences don't come. Tears are pricking at my eyes. I want to go home and go to bed, but doubt my energy could even take me that far.

Did the commenter get that the piece was a work of fiction? Is my voice too obscure? Surreptitiously, I flip through the other comments, but all I see are negatives: beautiful writing, but..., the narrative sections aren't as vivid as the other bits..., Very few love notes this time. As usual, however, I'm impressed...

I feel something akin to suicidal. I want to remove myself from the picture. Deperately, I want to be gone.

Class ends. I see Brian, Chris and Ruben across the street. Chris is anxious to make dinner, which means he's anxious to plan a dinner that I'll end up cooking. They ask about class. I change the subject.

Home: I'm grouchy and unreasonable. I keep going to the bedroom to cry. Chris makes steak, I make salad. Everyone seems a bit nervous. I'm acting like the crazy head of a disfunctional family.

Oof. Anyway. Today, Tuesday, I'm meeting with my instructor to discuss my piece and the crits. I feel a bit silly, like I've been up all night staring in horror at a hooded figure lurking by the closet door, only to realize with the creeping dawn that I've been on guard against my own bathrobe.

I mean, all told, its not that bad, is it?