A Year of Postings

On February 1, 2013 I decided I would try to post something on this blog everyday. I thought I would fail, because finding time to write has always been problematic.  I figured I could supplement new poems and musings with older poems, after all I have been consciously writing poetry since I was 15. Luckily I do not have much writing still extant prior to the age of 22.
            With this post I am making my goal a reality. I have posted 492 times since this time last year. Not only did I post at least once every day since last year, I sometimes managed to post multiple times in one day. The self-imposed quota has made me do what pretty much all advice to writers from writers boils down to: write every day. Many days I posted something from one of my longer projects from the past: “My Book of Changes”, “If This is A Comedy, Why Ain’t I Laughing”, “Primogenitive Folly,” “115 Missing Days, or “Sonnet, a Renga.” But the majority of the time what I posted were new poems. Even when I posted one of my older works, I still wrote everyday.
            I make no claims to the quality of my poems. But as Charles Bernstein wrote, if you call something a poem, then it is a poem. It might be a bad poem, but it is still a poem. I think I am writing some of the best poetry I have ever written. Yes, that is an arrogant statement, and easily mocked. I don’t have a problem with that; I write poetry.  I like what I write. I want others to read it. Like it, don’t like it; get it, don’t get it: It doesn’t change what I write or think about. I put thought and conscious effort into each poem. I try to write with skill and craft in each line I lay onto the page. I enjoy the hurdles of self-imposed structures, coupled with random chance and whim.
            Ultimately, writing everyday has given me a space to think about the world and my place within the life I have managed to carve out. It has made me more attentive to my thoughts and normally roiling emotions. If nothing else, this has been a positive influence, forcing me to examine the vicissitudes of my condition with a more contemplative eye.
            I will continue to post as I write. I am currently working on a project with my sister Donna Neal, the visual artist, based upon the tarot pack. So, the poems should still come on a fairly regular basis for a while. I am not going to worry too much if I miss a day or two along the way however.  I hope some of you have enjoyed the flood over the last year, and will continue to read what I write.

(January 31, 2014)

why write

to breach the surface
of  language
flying above the cusp
of words
I otherwise drown within
*            *            *
to feed the dark
a night trawler
nets the depths
*            *            *
like a fish in air
mouthing wet words
I cannot speak
any more
to you
*            *            *
to lay near her
after a kiss
as skin brushes skin
like whispered sighs
(September 10, 2013)

(talk, talk, talk)


midsentence entrance
to the conversation
a survey of signs
the stance of the speaker
the listeners for context
is that a smile or a sneer
reading becomes wrestling
what style does the writer know
the more contemporary the more cliched
telegraphing moves to make the show
clear division between good and evil
no wonder people think it is fake

(from primogenitive folly, august 2001-april 2003)

Reading the World

“It’s all a language you can learn to read”
                        –Pina Bausch
I struggle with my meaning each day
the grappling with the conversations
within the larger context of the past
coupled with my inarticulate illiteracy
compels me to return in silence alone
after the bodies have been cleared and blood
scraped from stone streets so I can read
what was written across the night to now
slowly sounding out each word like a child
bent over her first reader in wonder
at the world rising to life from the dead
phrases that have passed between us
and I worry these echoes nestled between gaps
to winnow what’s there from what I want to hear
(July 31, 2013)

reader response theory

he dreamed he could read
her like a difficult text
could part the oblique veils
draped about her words
slowly and with care run his
fingers along the edge of her
lines beneath the skin of her
story opening her tale teasing
fine points hidden from others
massaging the tips of her phrases
until she would unfold her meaning
meant for him alone to mouth
rolling each syllable like grapes
succulent and ripe with love
(June 30, 2013)

The Meat of the Matter

The chief use of the “meaning” of a poem, in the ordinary sense, may be … to satisfy one habit of the reader, to keep his mind diverted and quiet, while the poem does its work upon him: much as the imaginary burglar is always provided with a bit of nice meat for the house-dog.
                        __T.S.Eliot
here’s a bit of marrow
dripping from this broken bone
suck from it what life you can:
(for those
who listen
such exegesis
turns stale;
fresh meat
has no time
to grow old:
eat well
eat well)
the story as always
compressed to lines
like fingerprints upon
a dagger’s hard shaft:
enough traces of some explanation
hang upon each of our lips as we speak
each word trails the blood of its past
just as each person we causally meet
as we walk down our tangled streets
drags her chains into a present grace
so much arrives foreshadowed
as if we perpetually stroll
along the curve of our world
moments before an eternal sunrise
our shapes await us
fully formed and clothed
then wait until a final tale
clicks shut our coffin’s lid
we pack our selves
tightly into our molds
each fragment of a story
folded neatly within another:

to fit curved spaces
large swathes of meaning’s
clipped off

the hearer’s assumed
to know those parts
best left alone on the floor
best left alone in the dark
to listen for taps on the wall
for those whispered codes
which echo without a key

(June 22, 2013)

Early Spring

to Quinn, age 1
Light dawns slowly across the whole.
Ludwig Wittgenstien
The apple tree blossoms again;
the pink and white blooms grace
the bare branches like birds.
Snow bells drip from the shock
of lily leaves that huddles near
the base of the house out back.
Quinn toddles to the couch,
eyes crisp with laughter, 
cradling a book he wants to read.

(circa 1993, from If This is a Comedy, Why Aren’t We Laughing)

rules of interrogation, or reasons I hate answering questions

assume the answer
imbed the answer
in the question
imbed the answer
in two questions
imbed the second question
in the first question
assume an air
of casual interest
after the third drink
ask the question
mention in vino veritas
repeat the question
with a patient smile
allow for a different answer
return to the first question
Point out the answer was evasive
repeat the question
mention a social cliché
as a distraction
some mannered rule
which was violated
make a request
to be polite
make a request
to follow the cliché
repeat the question
assume the answer
for the second question
repeat the rules of interrogation
assume the answer
the question is unimportant
repeat the question
the answer is a given
(June 2, 2013)