Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Sometimes when we give birth to a poem, it becomes a little person. It grows its own legs and hobbles away, its meaning obscured even from our own understanding. That is what happened with this poem figuratively and (semi) literally, especially when I centered it on the page. It emerged "collar" and all and proceeded to wander into heresy. Perhaps. I hope not, but I can't tell from here. We have such high hopes for our progeny.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
In the middle of an improv sketch at Monday’s practice, Josh told us a true story of a boy who caught his flip flops on fire after deliberately putting lighter fluid on the bottom. Alyssa asked how old he was.
Josh: He was eight years old.
Alyssa: He was idiot years old.
Skizz: He was awesome years old.
Natasha: Hey! Awesome is Spanish for eight!!!
Natasha: I mean in Serbian! (which it is! It’s spelled “osam,” but pronounced the same.)
This took us into a whole discussion on language, specifically why animal flesh in English is often called different things based on whether it is alive or dead. Skizz told us that in 1066 the French invaded England, making the Anglo Saxons their servants. The servants would be the ones to slaughter the animals (words like sheep and cow are anglo saxon). The masters would be the ones to eat the dish (words like mutton and beef are French). I did not bother to check the validity of this on Wikipedia. All I know that is if it’s a lie, it’s the most interesting lie that I have heard in years so I don’t mind passing it along. We also never bothered to find out what happened to the boy with the shoes on fire. We only know that once he was osam, and now, if alive, eighteen.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The other day the 6 year old girl that I watch overheard her brother talking to the video game screen, “Hasta la vista, Baseball!” She came to me her eyes filled with wonder. After she recited the phrase with a hallowed reverence, she was visibly confused when I was not blown away. It’s hard to tell what it was about the words that fascinated her so much; perhaps it was their exotic sound or just the way it felt in her mouth to say it. All I know is that for the next half an hour, she ran around the house chanting to herself, “hastalavistabaseball, hastalavistabaseball, hastalavisatabaseball.”
When I write poetry, I try to remember the sounds of the words matter just as much as their meaning. It is a struggle, and I am often more intent on getting my ideas across. Perhaps I ought to enter into the world of words as one must enter the kingdom: as a child. All this to say, if you see me galloping around the room repeating the Jabberwocky over and over, you will know why.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Dear Sleep Hiring Staff,
I would like to be considered for the entry level R.E.M. position posted in my psychology text book. I have heard great things about the rejuvenating work that your international company has done throughout the world. The reputation of your tireless efforts to reach all peoples indiscriminate of gender, race, or class is an inspiration to millions.
I truly feel that I was made to work for your company. As an English Literature major, I am quite adept at moving my eyes back and forth at a rapid pace skimming assignments. This highlights another qualification which you listed in my textbook: laziness and the capacity to do nothing for long stretches of time. I am truly one of the laziest people I know. I am too lazy to ask others, but I am certain they would all say the same. As President of Insomniac’s Inc., I have been known to sit in front of a blank TV screen for hours, simply because I forget to grab the remote control sitting on the other couch.
Thank you for your consideration. I have been applying for years and while I am grateful for the part time work, I am interested in a more full time schedule, perhaps even in your Dreamer position. I am available to interview at your convenience and may be reached under the covers. If it is more convenient for you, I am not opposed to meeting during the day in one of my classes or during any “state of the relationship” address from my mom or girlfriend.
Monday, March 14, 2011
There’s a dark room you will find
her, push past fur-lined shrouds draped
over raven discs until your mind
yawns you inside its wardrobed throat.
She slumbers on your bed.
You are your own child struck blind
within your childhood room, she
lays supine, her ears knifed out by
thoughts that grind upon the words
you wish you would have said.
So do not think thoughts’ groping whine,
whispered demands for her to Come! Sit
and wait, for stillness is a sleeper’s rind
that suffocates the grown-up tongue
still breathing in your head.
When you forget her, she’ll come behind
and place her tiny hands in the sockets
of your empty eyes and sign (into being)
rushing waters of the Lethe
in languages now dead.
This poem is dedicated to Karen, who inspired me to think about what happens on the cusp of sleep and the task of surrendering our worded burdens.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
On the ledge of no
edge losing El, the
“the” of father
parts of speech; making
for yes, aching back
across the si sink
(-ing), o, he no’s
the w“in”g of knowing
is a Kay. As in Oh Kay.
As in Sea.
As in For Sure.
For on the shore
line the trace-edge of “L ’
is a chair
with no legs you might
sit on to get her back
if u were not
standing, on its edge,
about to let her fly two
some odd place u don’t
even know with only
Today I volunteered at a Hispanic church watching the toddlers, one of whom ran out of the room, into the sanctuary, and under the alter table where I had to try to coax him out in a language he may or may not have known, while the church watched on and gave me understanding smiles. Later during dinner, a guy came up behind me and squeezed my shoulders and gave me a kiss on the cheek. When he stepped back, he was obviously embarrassed, and said, "Oh! I'm sorry! I thought you were the other one!" By that, he meant the one other anglo girl, who happened to attend regularly. The whole two hours was incredibly awkward. I didn't know what to say, where to stand, or what was expected of me. I do know this though. Every once and a while it is good to be the "Other" one, and to remember how it feels not to be surrounded by people who know your language or culture. Even in that statement, I show my ethnocentricity. They know my language and culture; it's me that has never made many efforts to know theirs.
I probably won't go back. That's the truth. I didn't feel helpful at all and I didn't make any connections and I'm leaving in a couple months, so it feels like it's not worth the Saturdays or my effort. I don't want to leave you with a falsely beautiful lesson.
Friday, March 11, 2011
I love using the back of catalog cards to write down call numbers from the library computer. There’s something fascinating about the way its current use is based solely in its physical properties; it has nothing to do with the information it holds. It's similar to imagining ten years from now using iPhones as paper weights. However, now we throw things away so easily and they become obsolete so quickly, it’s hard to come up with a modern day equivalent. Perhaps one day we will sell library books in bundles for firewood. In fact, even the mere physicality of the catalog card is now obsolete. Yesterday I realized there is an option to get the call number texted to your phone. I opted instead to scribble the numbers down with a little yellow golf pencil on an old-fashioned card. When I flipped it over it read:
RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
Agenda v.5 no. 1 January/February 1982 p.2, 15
We live in strange times my friends.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Circumcise my ears, Lord Jesus,
with the knife of your
true Word, and let me hear and see you
holding my heart
like a mango,
ripe for your glory
and pleasure. Dawn on
me what you have said and what
you mean for me to hear
and do when I look
up from me and see your hand
moving in this world.
Yesterday I was shopping at Village Country Market picking up some onions, honey, eggs (the essentials, etc.) It was two o’clock and so there were not many people around. After paying and the normal pleasantries with the grocer, I looked down to gather my groceries when I heard a pleading voice, “how do you tell a good man to soften his heart?” I was instantly moved by her vulnerability and was lifting my head to say, “Oh sister! I don’t know!” when I saw that she was talking, not to me, but to the bagger. She was squeezing a mango. Then something magical happened. It was like a slow motion rewind/playback and I heard her perfectly, “how do you tell if a good mango is soft or hard?” I told them my mishearing and the three of us laughed (truly laughed) and I was glad I did not use a machine to check myself out.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The Liar Speaks in Halfsies II
Remember that you are dust that lies
upon the bookshelves of the earth
a forgotten chore by a forgotten god
who never liked you much anyway.
This poem came out of me all of a sudden like a cough. It makes me wonder how long has it lived in me, lodged and leaking poison. It’s not a great, but it touches on a concept I find interesting: Satan can make us feel absolutely awful about contradictory lies. In the poem, God is dead, a non-existent historical artifact, and at the same time he doesn’t like you. I wonder just how many people, specifically lapsed Christians, carry around the weight of doubt while simultaneously carrying guilt and the suspicion that God hates them for no longer believing in Him.
Soon after I became a Christian, I remember sitting on the front porch steps crying. My friend came out and asked me what was wrong. “I know God loves me,” I choked out, “but I don’t think He likes me at all!”
Half true: He does love me. Half true: I am dust. Half true: God is dead.
Rest assured, however, in the rest of the story, which includes the plot twist that Christ is alive and that He likes you. He really, really likes you. A lot. I don’t mean to trivialize His love or bring it down to our colloquial level and sentimental hungers. But in some aspects of the definition, is the incarnation a trivialization of divine splendor? From the Latin, triviālis: “appropriate to the street-corner, commonplace, vulgar.” The Message translates part of the Johannine prologue, “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” Perhaps if Jesus moved into our neighborhood He might stand on street corners, talking to unsavory characters. And He would like them. A lot.
Your body, your dust, is not your own but grafted to and through the work of His dust. It is not yours to claim or even articulate outside of His expressed, express expressions of delight. So blow about, in the wind of the Spirit, like the beautiful and loved mote you are.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Today I spent 2 hours with a friend who introduced me to Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 Hour Rule. In a nutshell, Gladwell studied people this society would consider successful and discovered that you have to spend 10,000 hours in any given field if you want to become an expert, an "outlier." (Even a nutshell should be more complicated than that, but I'll leave the twisted little nut in its pod for now.)
10,000 hours is a long time. But it is a lot less than eternity, which is the number that I had previously been working with in regards to improving my skills as a writer. I left feeling encouraged (on multiple fronts) and a desire to continue to chip away at the monumental task before me, like a prisoner digging for freedom with a sharpened toothbrush. The difference is that, for the most part, I enjoy the digging. Perhaps I will dig for years only to end up in another prisoner's cell. So be it. I am seeking God's glory and not my own, which is a little frightening when you consider the vast range of human conditions that He has used to glorify Himself. Christ was an "outlier," not in worldly expertise like the Pharisees nor Roman success, but in suffering.
I hope to use this blog again as a mini-workshop, accountability, and structure for chipping away. I look at my previous posts back when I was so uncertain of the future, I see my similar state and think, "Hot damn! I really did dig only to come up three years later in another prison cell." Maybe. Maybe not. Here is a poem by Czeslaw Milosz I was introduced to three years ago.
Under a starry sky I was taking a walk,
My pastor once spoke on the parable of the talents and his former frustration that Jesus never addressed the possibility of a man who tried to invest his talents and failed. He suggested that perhaps in the divine economy there is no such thing as trying to invest for the kingdom and failing. What a concept.
9,999 hours to go.....