Like a Log

Ask me about almost anything   As they lope, they dream of other giraffes / inscrutable dreams I can never know / even as vaguely as I know my own.
Spleen

Must I find my body in a book,
a misnomered bruise, borne like a gland
on the wrong side since they made me
cross over and out? When I was a girl,
the lithe babble of warm rain fell
through my skin, herbs from the languorous
green mountains wafted through my pores.
No one made the flowers speak. The sea
was blue, gulls’ flight script I could read.

Now through metal blinds I watch the cold
precipitate particles of light
from the gray – or is it grey? – veil
late solstice afternoon unfurls:
words which do not become me.

***

Nasrin was born on the southern shores of the Caspian. Winters in Alberta were far from her cup of tea. To make matters worse, when I wrote this poem for her, she was suffering from a mysterious debilitating virus. “Spleen” to her had always been Baudelairean melancholy, not the gland, the exact location of which required some research, though both meanings certainly applied in that place and at that point in time. She recovered completely and fifteen years later we have found ourselves in lotusland, not where Canadians place it, in Vancouver, but much farther south.

— 4 days ago with 5 notes
#poetry  #gm lang  #spleen  #baudelaire  #exile  #alberta  #lotusland  #durch die blume 
lilacsinthedooryard:

Henri Matisse
Cyclamen Pourpre, 1913

lilacsinthedooryard:

Henri Matisse

Cyclamen Pourpre, 1913

(via nmontinari)

— 4 days ago with 44 notes
P/Q among the Consonants

Not to importune, Sir or Madam, 
but, in the spectrum, what’s your hue?
Whatever we are is random.
But do you prefer P or Q?

— 4 days ago with 2 notes
#poetry  #gm lang  #les consonnes  #gender  #B among the consonants  #Y among the consonants  #rimbaud  #craoyla 

 Opium Poppies with Ornamental Verbascum ( mullein)

 Opium Poppies with Ornamental Verbascum ( mullein)

(Source: the-night-picture-collector, via last-picture-show)

— 6 days ago with 111 notes
Y among the Consonants
O woven woman, your sheer nylons
make me woozy, your phylogenetic
lips, your cadmium thatch, its ions
and pheromones, real and synthetic!
 
***
Twentieth consonant in a sequence of poems dedicated to Arthur Rimbaud, author of Voyelles. B Among the Consonants.

 

— 1 week ago with 4 notes
#poetry  #gm lang  #rimbaud  #crayola  #erotic  #surrealism  #les consonnes  #voyelles  #among the consonants 
B among the Consonants

O bulbous periwinkle,
sunk in sodden goldenrod sand,
your valve sets me a-tingle.
Let me hold you in my hand.

***
In homage to Arthur Rimbaud and his Voyelles, but also to Binney & Smith Company, the creators of Crayola wax crayons. I think of these as poems as paeans of love to the consonants.

— 1 week ago with 3 notes
#poetry  #gm lang  #crayola  #rimbaud  #erotic  #surrealism  #les consonnes  #among the consonants 
The smell “of Crayola crayons is one of the most recognizable scents for [U.S.] adults, ranking at number 18, trailing coffee and peanut butter that were number one and two respectively, but beating out cheese and bleach, which placed at 19 and 20.”

The smell “of Crayola crayons is one of the most recognizable scents for [U.S.] adults, ranking at number 18, trailing coffee and peanut butter that were number one and two respectively, but beating out cheese and bleach, which placed at 19 and 20.”

— 1 week ago
#crayola 
Vademecum

We who left, left before we knew it.
Taught to travel light, not to wander far,
we learned that lightness takes us farther.
We saw more to sight than met the eye.

Taught to travel light, not to wander far,
we changed our names then countries too.
We saw more to sight than met the eye.
(Nowhere is near, nor too far to go.)

We changed our names then countries too.
Everywhere, we said? Why not everywhen?
(Nowhere is near, nor too far to go.)
Now everywhere we go we want to stay.

Everywhere, we said? Why not everywhen?
We learned that lightness takes us farther.
Now everywhere we go we want to stay.
We who left, left before we knew it.

***

For the record, this is an unrhymed pantoum.

— 1 week ago with 1 note
#poetry  #gm lang  #travel  #pantoum 
Mickey Mouse Music

The first instrument I played was violin, which I took up in the fourth grade at Park Place Elementary School in the industrial East End of Houston. It is hard to believe now, but our working class and lower-middle-class parents demanded and got not only vocational shop training in wood and metals for the boys, so-called home economics for the girls, but schooling in the arts for both. I was encouraged to join the school orchestra, which I did. The pedagogy was of a quality to which only the well-off have access today.

At the end of my second year, I was second violinist and would have normally progressed to first the next, once the acknowledged talent of our orchestra, my senior by a year, moved on to junior high and eventually to a professional career in music. Alas, at the same time our teacher and conductor became pregnant and was replaced by a religious nitwit.

He quickly converted our repertoire from Mozart and Brahms to stylizations of the theme of the Mickey Mouse Club theme song (M-I-C  K-E-Y  M-O-U-S-E). Its simple modulation through fourth back to tonic in the first phrase and through fifth in the second was quite a come-down. Mickey Mouse, was, in our new instructor’s view we have to presume, more relevant to our limited minds and means.

Damage bad enough, probably distorting my relationship to popular culture for life. But within another week, he launched his personal crusade to bring us to Jesus. “You cannot play good music,” he opined, “if you do not feel clean inside. It’s like having dirty underwear. Only you will know how dirty you are.”

The very afternoon I returned the violin to Mother’s safekeeping. It remained for years in the back of the hall closet. It was one of the first times in my life I felt truly clean.

***

Mirrored 

— 2 weeks ago with 1 note
#violin  #guitar  #music pedagogy  #Houston  #puritanism  #gm lang 

Egon Schiele, Feld von Blumen (Field of Flowers), 1912

Egon Schiele, Feld von Blumen (Field of Flowers), 1912

(Source: last-picture-show, via nmontinari)

— 3 weeks ago with 212 notes
Summer Hors d’oeuvres al fresco

Artichoke Leaves and Hearts with Aioli
Portobello Mushrooms à la grecque 
Chilled Lentil Salad with Za’atar Vinagrette 
Saebzi and Radishes / Olives / Lemon Slices
Tallegio and Pont L’Évèque 
Pistachios, Grapes

Vinho verde / Gin and Tonic
Rosé du Pays d’Hérault 2012
Garnaxta negra 2012

***

It was 25 c / 77 F on a  patio shaded from the setting sun. The Catalan red had been cooled in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Worth the trouble to disarticulate the artichokes oneself in order to free  guests from this tedious task. 

Saebzi (“greens”) figure in many Persian meals. An undressed salad of sprigs of young herbs, parsley, basil, mint, tarragon and, on this occasion, purslane, it is eaten off a shared platter or, more formally, transferred to one’s own side plate. 

Za’atar is a condiment made from dried oregano, thyme and the like which is ground with sesame seeds and dried sumac. To balance its earthiness, lemon slices were available, in fact from the beginning, since this was served as mezze.

— 3 weeks ago
#menu  #al fresco  #za'atar  #saebzi  #Persian cuisine 
Oath

To read a poem in translation
is to pledge troth to a ghost,
a wispy, intangible presence
from another world you can never
touch without crossing over to it.

— 4 weeks ago with 1 note
#poetry  #translation  #gm lang  #gedicht  #aphorism 
The Giraffes at San Gorgonio

The moon is warm tonight, not breeze
enough to stir the vanes of the wind mills
grouped in groves of their own out beyond
the manicured lawns and stands of palms
which ring this landscaped spa oasis.

I take them first as sunflowers, basking
in a pewter glow, swinging toward
not light but the slightest waft, their roots
seeking the moisture said to seep along
the fault deep under this parched basin.

Then before me there prances among
the baobabs on the dessicated bed 
of some Lake Chad a herd of giraffes, 
their graceful gait stirring flocks up into
fluttering flight, the piebald quilts of their

dappled hides furling like ships’ sails, 
spangles on water where there is none.
As they lope, they dream of other giraffes
inscrutable dreams I can never know
even as vaguely as I know my own.

Today you looked especially sad, pale
arms clasped to your calves. Hush, I said.
No tears out here! Stop believing in rain!
Imagine instead flowers as giraffes, baobabs
as tumbleweeds perched atop thick stalks.

***
The San Andreas Fault lies beneath San Gorgonio Pass, which leads from the L.A. basin to the valley in front of Desert Hot Springs. One of the deepest gulches in the contiguous U.S. states, it hosts a vast wind farm. My poem echos Nikolai Gumilev’s “Giraffe” but is not a translation of it, even by my relaxed standards. Thanks to E.K. for her 1984 gloss of the Russian, the learning of which this poem in the original alone would have made worth the while.

Mirrored

— 1 month ago with 4 notes
#poetry  #gm lang  #giraffe  #sunflowers  #gedicht  #gumilev 
Distraction

Last weekend an old friend of my age
plunked his pill jar down on the brunch table
and proclaimed, astutely, that without
medical science he wouldn’t be there
to enjoy the free-range egg omelet
and crisped smoked bacon I served him.

Last night, thanks to Netflix, I took in two
noirs which I would never have been able, let
alone be allowed to see in the ringworm-ridden
movie houses of my boyhood. Planes, then,
had propellers. They flew just above the clouds.
Girls got pregnant. Boys fought with their fathers.

None of this makes any difference now – neither
last night nor this morning. No one uses cash or
thinks of change for phones. Things that mattered
then stayed off-stage. I need to remember to dim
the digital clock and make sure I haven’t
inadvertently set it for some wrong hour.

— 1 month ago with 2 notes
#poetry  #gm lang  #film noir  #fifties