Monday, March 28, 2005

Stuck with the stick

I guess it was inevitable. Aisha has whacked me with this stick (I think they call it "passing" ;-). I usually don't respond to chain mail but I'll do my best with this because a) it isn't really chain mail, b) it's gets people thinking about books, which can't be that bad, and c) I'm caving under the weight of peer pressure.

But first, I need to think about a few things, especially that desert island question.

Second, I don't get the first question (You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?). I mean, this is a book about book burning (I've never read it, but the plot sounds very similar to 1984). So I'm a book inside this book. But what is the question asking? If I'm a book and I want to be a martyr, which book do I want to be? Is my goal to create the longest-burning fire? Maybe the question has suffered from the telephone effect; maybe it should be "You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to read?" That would make more sense to me. Anyone out there in blogland care to help me out of this conundrum? While you're thinking about it, wingtips actually burned a book to make this image. Now that's dedication to art. Thanks Paula.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The Letter A

I turn to face St. Helens, my back to the easel
balanced on one slope, frozen in time.
I have painted a year’s worth of sunsets,
all too red, gaudy and unnatural.

In a hundred years, no one will remember her
intact. Her presence,
goddess bent under the weight of rage,
wearing the grey mourning dress of her own ashes,
overpowers any two-dimensional remnants.

The easel, fallen silently to the floor behind me;
The mountain, collapsed before me;
My hands, powerless at my sides.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu : voyelles,
Je dirai quelque jour vos naissances latentes :
A, noir corset velu des mouches éclatantes
Qui bombinent autour des puanteurs cruelles,

Golfes d'ombre ; E, candeurs des vapeurs et des tentes,
Lances des glaciers fiers, rois blancs, frissons d'ombelles ;
I, pourpres, sang craché, rire des lèvres belles
Dans la colère ou les ivresses pénitentes ;

U, cycles, vibrement divins des mers virides,
Paix des pâtis semés d'animaux, paix des rides
Que l'alchimie imprime aux grands fronts studieux ;

O, suprême Clairon plein des strideurs étranges,
Silences traversés des Mondes et des Anges :
- O l'Oméga, rayon violet de Ses Yeux !

Arthur Rimbaud

Why would Rimbaud write a poem about vowels? Was he just stoned? Or was he up late one night talking with his lover and, drunk on absinthe, they began to discuass how vowels are different from the others--how they seem at first glance to exist happily within the alphabet family, but if you look a little closer, you see trouble, you see how they don't really fit in.

Vowels are always forcing the mouth open, while the other letters work hard to close it, forming consonants. In essence, language is a war between the consonants and the vastly outnumbered vowels, and the battle ground is your tongue.

Maybe Rimbaud gave the vowels a poem all their own because he felt that, like poets, vowels needed an advocate, needed someone to stick up for them. After all, they are gallant and valiant letters, managing to hold off the other twenty-one letters by themselves (though they sometimes get help from that sneaky double agent, "y"). And let's face it, without the vowels language would be nothing but clicks and hisses, not to mention song, which couldn't exist without them.

So let's give it up for the vowels, and Rimbaud, who gave them a poem. It's somehow fitting that a poet, a misfit of society, would write a poem about vowels, those misfits of the alphabet. And yet both are drivers of language. Rimbaud probably felt a secret affinity for them.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Embarassment of riches

Among the truly asounding and touching array of gifts I received for my birthday last week, a ghazal by my friend, the multi-talented artist Randy Adams.

hybrid ghazal #9

still a young'n though at 40
a distant memory for some

count our blessings one, two
and count our many losses

a poem for peter, blocked
for eons then this, go figure

there was no pen involved
this text exists only here

odd when you think about it
this aging in virtual space

Friday, March 04, 2005

A poem lovely as a sackbut

Never thought I'd ever see this, but someone (Ken Bolton, to be exact) has written a poem with a sackbut in it (who cares if he doesn't spell it correctly). Will wonders never cease.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Birthday present roundup

From sister and nephews:
Spiderman comic from November 1965 (not mint, but extremely touching)
Travel mug
Bicycling jersey
Bike speedometer

From mum:
Jar of marmelade, serving as a deposit on a bottle of scotch, to be delivered when sister et al. visit this summer.

From dad:
Complete 10-volume set of The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant (which has been in my family for almost as long as I have, and which I have coveted for years). Must have cost him a small fortune to send it!

From S.
Scandinavia: at war with trolls. A history from the Napoleonic era to the third millennium by Tony Griffiths
CD: Best of Bowie (including bonus DVD)
Nine Horses by Billy Collins.
And the folllowing poem (after "Soir d'hiver" by Émile Nelligan)

Ah! come le temps a passé
Ma vie est un jardin d'amour
Ah! comme la vie m'a gâtée
Qu'est-ce que la vie, mon amour
... l'amour que j'ai, que j'ai.