Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A New Planet

Sputnik, silver spider in the air, shook us in our beds. Then when the Vanguards and Redstones failed again and again, and finally The Right Stuff, clean cut Glenn and Carpenter and Shirrah and Armstrong, and so many more. We were entirely more aware of our planet than any generation before us, not only for these positive Star Trek dreams, but for the dark nightmares of mushroom clouds and ICBM's, shelters and survival stockpiles.

Those of us who came of age in the era of satellites and space exploration were raised on TV and Rock and Roll are all over the internet now. The post WWII generation includes the innovators that created a culture of communication that is fed and feeds innovation. American culture has spread over the world and world culture is drifting into America from wine choice to AlJazzera and Al Queda to the internet itself from Britain and Berners-Lee and all the other cultural transformations our generation has experienced. The new webs that are world wide include many that are rarely considered or even visible to anyone but those entangled in their data. I think boomers and their children and grandchildren are evolving and will have more to offer and more innovations to create and spread.

Social Media is rapidly knitting profound new relationships across country and culture and chasm. The consciousness of humanity is becoming more capable of expressing Jungian concepts of archetype and collective unconscious. One could even argue that information overload has and will continue to push the mind to evolve. We know that focus and attention can create new pathways and synapses in the brain. As much as I fear the emoticon infested abreviated, vowel-deprived world of "txting," I don't fool myself that I can prevent the changes it will create in my culture any more than I could prevent the predominance of rap music.

The new technologies of communication that link us all, in spite of all the reactionary, conservative, jingoistic, one-worlder paranoia that resists them, are changing what it means to be alive on this planet. The cross-cultural myths of Joseph Campbell and the stories that timelessly connect the whole earth are being exchanged and intertwined as humanity mixes races and myths to reach toward the clichéd "Age of Aquarius."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Three Mornings

White frost coats the black earth. Dark water solidifies, turning a brown puddle white. Scraping the windshield, I hear leaves whispering.

Frost, thick on the windshield, an image of blindness, white and complete. Driving in the dark, while glass, small hole, more melt, clears.

Mu Ch'i painted persimmons with few strokes, ripe and sweet. Like persimmons, we are nothing like our true selves until bitten by frost.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Opposite of Overwriting

I have been working on a new idea and have been away from the blog, per se. I have kept up my twittering. I have kept up my quillpill stories. Anyone who has an interest in my experiments on brevity and these new ideas on the Zen of the moment, will find examples of what I am currently exploring in my work. The blog, I realize is becoming my way of thinking out loud about writing. It is a kind of talking to myself that I am sharing, unashamedly with anyone who wants to overhear it. In the spirit of a gift I am leaving my creative work out in the open without a desire for profit, merely because I have made it and it has no value unless it is somehow shared with someone.

I am not going to quote sources ancient and modern that I have synthesized. I would have had to written down the exact words and the citations at the time. I can't be bothered. It slows me down. An example, an article I was reading about ancient India, in a time when the speech and conversation of the court was elevated to poetry and opera. One of the court poets was quoted as saying a poem must be like an arrow, shot directly into the reader’s soul. That is how I remember the quote but whether these are the exact words or not does not matter. What matters is that is how I received the thought, absorbing it so completely and agreeing with it so deeply that I can not forget it, at least this version of the thought that I remember in this moment and I am almost forced to bring it to others.

In trying to understand why I have spent my life, practically from the time I learned to use words, writing poetry. This has been a long, lonely, difficult struggle to understand words, to play with them and learn to use them in ways that make harmonies and rhythms. I have come to realize this is not a choice but an obsession. There is little practical use in reading poetry, poring over dictionaries, searching for and memorizing obscure poems, studying poems and trying to craft them, taking time to cherish words and roll them on my tongue, holding them in my mouth as they escape from my lungs and relishing the vibration of the sinews in my throat. It is a great waste of time when you have mouths to feed and work to do. As a career, poetry is as impractical as ballet. Perhaps even less practical. There are not countless parents dressing their children in frock coats and berets, queuing up to purchase poetry lessons. It is not as if it has ever been a choice for me. I have written poems since childhood, most of which will probably never be seen by others.

What I have been thinking about lately is that I write closest to my true voice when I am least self-conscious. If can completely immerse myself in the act of writing, in the moment when something takes me and from the idea, a word forms in the brain's synapses and fires my fingers at the keyboard. I can find a Zen like state of focus, one which blots out the world and yet totally enters it. That consciousness is as thin and delicate as a fingerprint on the keyboard. It is a fragile as surface tension.

Here is an example of some new work, written in bursts of 140 characters at a time, while rushing though the prosaic parts of earning a living. I stop and like throwing a dart, try to nail down the theme that I have been mulling over in my mind.

This piece was made of two tweets. They happened in the same hour of the day when I had no time to write but had an idea in the back of my mind for a while before throwing the darts.

Prose won't hold some notions.

Some inklings refuse to be contained
by the mundane and will only yield to
broken lines, rhymes & rhythms of
thought in poems.

Words - what crude tools to
carry thought.

Yet thought is naught
without a precisely built
container of words,

symbols for breathy
noises that carry it
from tongue to ear.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Trillions and trillions

I was in my grandson’s Montessori pre-school class the other day, admiring the wisdom and warmth of Maria Montessori’s vision of how a child’s natural curiosity can be used to build a basis for learning. It was grandparent’s day and my wife and I were deeply interested in anything our grandson had to show us from the tadpole growing little legs to the beads used to learn the concept of tens. After the joy of the experience on a crisp and sunny autumn day, the image of the beads remained in the back of my mind.

I kept thinking about how wonderful the visual aspect of the beads translated simple mathematical concepts and how if I had had that same toy to play with as a child, I would not have struggled as much with math. The toy is simple. A single bead is in the first place, in a miniature basket, a beautiful glass bead with a luminescent coloring. On the next square are ten of these beads on a wire, like a small glass caterpillar with ten segments. The beads, aligned in a row, perfectly show the quantity with immediacy.

On the next square of cloth, ten rows of ten beads are aligned on the wires in a grid of 100 beads, a concept that makes the idea of “ten squared” a visual concept that one can pick up and play with, count one side of and the other, count all one hundred beads in the decades like an abacus or rosary, an elemental handling of this abstract idea of mathematics. Finally, the last cloth square is a cube of beads, ten stacks of the ten-square 100 bead squares, wired together to make a gleaming glass cube like a giant glittery grain of salt or sand you can hold in your hand. The effect of holding one thousand beads in one hand is instant, the mass and weight, the size and feel, simply illustrate what it means to “understand” an idea in a concrete way.

I would like to use Madame Montessori’s brilliant visual illustration to conceptualize for you what a trillion of anything looks like. The cube of glass beads in the above math manipulative is the beginning of seeing what we have gotten ourselves into. Until we truly see the depths of our problem, we will never be able to see our way out. The thousand beads of ten, ten by ten stacks, is but one small part of this understanding, but it is the basic building block of my illustration. Consider its size to be approximately 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches, a solid, hefty cube of beads.

Now, imagine a thousand of these, which would add up to 1,000,000 beads or 3,500 inches of glass beads, a cube that would stretch 291.666 ft., or just under one football field of glass beads in length, breadth and height. One thousand of these stadium-sized cubes of glass beads would equal a cube of beads 55.23 miles high, wide and deep. That is an hour's drive at fifty five, a little under a thousand of those football fields. Now imagine not ten but 11 of those cubes, stacked up like baby blocks, glittering in the sun of an autumn afternoon. That, my friends, is the legacy this generation is leaving for its grandchildren. It kind of makes me ashamed of the baby boom.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Loss and Love

What else is there to write about? To live is to slowly lose one's life to the heedless rush of time. The only way time can be stopped is when you can leave yourself and with another, become a new one. This becoming may melt through the throes of lust, the heat and juice of passion, or assume the slow osmosis of a long time together, learning so well the ways of another and becoming a family , a couple, a pair, absorbed each into the other's life. Love can transcend sex, species, sanity, separation. Lust can transcend logic, common sense and all reason. Whatever the cause of the loss of self, the result is always the same, a greater loss. That loss might be simple as uncoupling, or complex and difficult as divorce, or plain as death, but it always comes and it links the two together in a way that transcends language. It is in those depths the poet swims, dark and warm and surrounded and then cold and completely alone.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Carving a tower in my heart

In Italy, in the Middle Ages, before forts and walls, the nobility would erect elaborate impenetrable stone towers where they might retreat to withstand a siege or raid. Some cities had as many as a hundred of these bristling needles on the city skyline, narrow little skyscrapers too smooth and high to climb, to steep to scale.

All around me, politics and economics, passions and fears, attract my attention and pull my focus off of writing. My mind wonders to the temporal rather than the eternal. My heart is taken by this charming child, that lovely scene, another debate or song or headline. The demands of working with every word to make it just the right word, in the perfect order are complete. One cannot divide the self and keep the mind on point.

I am carving a tower in my heart, far from the concerns of today, or even tomorrow. I must make it high up enough to see what is coming and what has gone before, to take myself out of the temporal and the temporary and instead look deep within to evoke my very essence.

Monday, August 18, 2008


In the final galleys for the second edition of Coal & Ice, I am working hard to finalize them before the end of the month. Quillpill story: The Golden Room has grown another half dozen pages. English Journal has accepted Rumination for May of 09 publication.

One way I address the time wasted blogging is that it keeps me focused on the idea of writing. I need to spend time every day putting words on paper or keying them into a computer. Without making time for writing, I get less and less happy with myself and harder to be around. The act of thinking and recording those thoughts, editing and shaping them, helps me approach my imperfect life with more attention and less stress.

I am also forcing myself to read books, outside the internet. The blog has become part of a larger context of my work. It is one way to express myself and a means to weave the various strands of self expression into a whole.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Progress on several fronts

I am well on the way with "The Golden Room" my newest story on Quillpill. The challenge is for me to write a completely different story that is just as good if not better. If done well enough, one could pass the stories off as written by two different authors.

Additionally, I spent time during the month preparing the second edition of Coal & Ice for a second edition. The cover will be printed in color and the poems and stories in black and white in a perfect bound paperback available over the internet. Watch this space for links when the proofs and galleys are returned to the press.

Finally, speaking of links. I include this link to the Private Photo Review, the Poland issue: http://www.privatephotoreview.com/en/review/private.php/riv/63/page/8. My poem is featured on this page, but the pages are captive of the unique band of peasant performers that haunt the photos. This spontaneous theatre has existed in primitive for for centuries in the peasant-filled countryside. The people spend the winter developing plays and before the spring planting, perform for their neighbors their folk-inspired masterpieces. This sort of spontaneous creativity and experimentation among the less cultured of Poland gives me a little kick in the pants and an inspiration to create more.

Monday, July 21, 2008

One more new thing

I just finished "Three Sum," my tragicomic take on the "Swingtown Seventies" up on Quillpill (www.quillpill.com). I have started another, The Golden Room, which begins, at least, with an historical true story. I love the form that lets me give intensely in small pieces as I have time. Time is limited and focus and attention help me use it most efficiently. I look forward to having more time and/or focus.

"Three Sum," is funny, sexy and yet tense and off-kilter. I have a half dozen stories planned about the misadventures of some adverturous people of that era. Having lived through the pre-HIV era, I observed many a story of twisted desire and tragicomic fragility. I hope to write more of them as time permits. The Golden Room is completely different, inspired by Borges and other Magical Realists.

The idea of writing brief bursts as often as possible, almost on the public wall, appealed to me. I felt everyone knew that I had this project and I just had to keep working on it. Not only because I felt an obligation to finish what I started, but I could imagine readers as anxious a myself to see what happened to these stupid kids. I had to fight the urge to be more grafiti daring, to get sleasy or push the envelope. The form and subject demanded restraint. I worked hard to keep the story absolutely true, taut and minimalist and yet full of irony and humor. I hope to get some reactions.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

OMG, is that a word?

From ancient times, philosophers have felt the next generation brought naught but a de-generation of the culture and literature of their times with its new obsessions and successively less complex cannon of common experience. Culture has always involved vulgarities and hidden aspects, but never have they been so numerous or accessible as during the Instant Age in which we live. The various cultures are blending and morphing from the basic Ameri-culture that has tried to dominate the world. Everything from porn to spam pervades our in boxes. We live at arms-length, reaching though the keyboard to the Common Mind. What transformations are to come?

When text becomes a series of code words for standard cliche, why should we be surprised? Thumbs get tired and so much of adolescent dialogue is cliche after cliche. It saves time to use the shortcut since nothing less is expected, and nothing more is inappropriate. There are text poems and text novels. There are bloggers writing about blogging and blogging about writign. No more are we limited to paper or the size of the "public" we "publish" our thoughts for.

Hip Hop and text has pervaded the youth vernacular to the point where high culture is considered square, or uncool. Poetry, however has kept a level of respect across cultures as an art form that is wedded to music and performance, tangled in the ideas of "voice" and "soul" and transcendent of barriers. Part of my personal mission in life is to promote and proliferate poetry. The web is perfect for this strange literary branch, modern poetry, free verse, text and intensity, how much more made-to-order can an art form be?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Status Report

About a third of the way through the second edition of Coal & Ice. My goal is to have it on Lulu by the end of the month. Working on a childrens book about the mystery and magic of words. Posted part of part two at Quillpill. Trying to post on Twitter every day. Stopping by here whenever I can catch my breath.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Part one finished. On to part two. To keep the story interesting and lead the reader deeper all the while keeping to the single syllable as much as possible. The challenge continues.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

More on quillpill

I can post dialogue now. I just have to post it a line at a time. The software seems incapable of allowing a single word to exist on one line. It would be very hard to write poetry that way. This will cut down on the amount of dialogue, which means more focus. This short, short form requires a great deal of attention to detail. One word, one letter, one punctuation off and it goes wrong. It has a certain zen-like focus that I am attracted to. The precision of the challenge means that the story advances slowly and deliberately. Bugs out, I press on.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Experiments are always tricky

I am writing every day on "Three Sum," a piece of short short fiction and trying to post to quillpill, a new site that allows folks who are on the beta (lucky, I guess,) to post 140 characters or less. I have posted three times out of ten attempts. Twice it was intentional. The other times were frustrating because some sort of glitch is keeping me from posting dialogue, even though it is well under the character count. This is extremely frustrating because short dialogue is one of the things I do a lot of. Here is an example that I keep failing to post:
“Joe,” Lee asked, “Do you think she loves me?”
“But, Joe, she slept with me.”
“She’s not that way.”
“They’re all that way.”
This little exchange advances the plot, tells us Lee is in love and that his confidant, Joe is a cynic. It reveals the state of the love affair and how Lee feels about his lover. I hate to hit this sort of wall so early in the process. I had about a dozen of these little bits and they are all stuck in limbo. I am rethinking how to approach it. I tried different punctuation, substituting < & > for " & " but this created a page where only two words "Lee asked" were shown. That really made the story fall apart and the author look dumb. Part of being "published" that is exposing your creation in "public" is the opportunity for embarrassment. None of us likes to appear stupid. I am wrestling with my eagerness to put more work out in this form because it is both an experiment in progress and an opportunity for failure. I guess everything is.

Monday, June 9, 2008

To Blog or not to blog

“Don’t blog. Write.”
R. Hobb

That is “Robin Hobb’s” advice and in some ways it is very good advice. If you read her essay, missive, open letter, whatchamacallit, (see writer's blogs) you come to the conclusion that this is a smart lady and that much of what she writes makes sense.

But then, I still am bringing her rant (her words not mine) here, to put out on the writing about blogging, blogging about writing kitchen table. I can take a pencil and prod it, turn it over, probe it, put a light on its underbelly and opine using the exact form Ms. Hobb detests. That may be a tough task if you are just starting out in the writer's career path, but I have been on this trail for more than 50 years and have no fear. Although I see have seen some measure of success, poetry and poverty are intimately connected, and success as a academic or a grant writer has never been part of my makeup. But I have been doggedly writing, putting letter after letter, sentence after sentence, since my pre-teens. Whatever Ms. Hobb knows, I see no reason to believe I cannot conduct a thoughtful counterpoint to her conversation, albeit one-sided for the most part, but a dialog about one of the world’s oldest activities. In the beginning, after all, was “the word.” I somethings think that will be the end, too. Perhaps, with a laugh, a good guffaw instead of a hushed silence. I just cannot stifle my wordiness enough and so I have to stand up for blogging, I have to respectfully disagree.

I am not about to get in the rebutting rut. She makes many good points, but most of them seem to be based on the idea that blogging is a sheer waste of time, as opposed to entering the jaws of the book publishing beast, clawing your way down its throat and oozing through its entrails. Blogging has to be mundane because, even though some desk jockey makes the decisions and suits and number-crunchers follow it all the way to remaindering, books are serious, real, literature. Anything you don’t write and rewrite and edit and rewrite again and then hard bind and sell for $45 is pretty much unfinished crap.

I see this more as Ingres vs. Monet argument. If you have ever seen these two painters, you know that the former was a classicist whose paintings are almost photographic in their accuracy and the latter is an impressionist whose paintings can appear casual and sloppy, especially if one gets too close. But standing back, one does not see the fine, single-hair detail of the neo-classical and the sloppy, seemingly careless swirls of the impressionist disappear into the whole impression, one of absolute accuracy. They are two completely different things.

I am not suggesting you read this blog from the back of the room peering at the screen with squinted eyes or binoculars. But, for me, it is about the bigger picture, a reflection on a lifetime of writing, about the idea of writing, the why and wherefore. And I do put real work, labored over work here, published and unpublished, mostly brand new and worked over to the point were I am finished in the sense that Auden said, “A poem is never finished, it is merely abandoned.” It is a big decision to put a poem out in the light and ask any person whose eyes it enters to write back, to let me know what they think, to react. I see it as making the poem "public" of "publishing" and part of the process of my ending my association with a piece of my work. I don’t want to keep it, having come to the conclusion that I am abandoning it. I want to get it out, out there, away from the huge stack of other things that I don’t feel I have put enough effort into yet to claim that honor.

It took me a while to write about Ms. Hobb’s blog. I found it a very pragmatic, intelligent and logical essay; yet olde Gutenberg thought, a very narrow and German sensibility that allowed for all of us to read from paper, from the page and from that technology. From that kind of making public all sorts of new forms grew, the story, the novel, the book of poems and stories, the opus of great classics, not to mention the publishing business. However, that was not the actual primordial writing. Writings had been there in monasteries and libraries all along. The difference was the technology allowed readers to multiply and to become a market. Now, I am watching the technology shrink the number of readers. Amazon is leading the way, as are all the internet texts, to a new way of looking at the page, the process, the experience of reading. Trees are going to stop dying and poisonous inks are going to stop being made. All the fuel in all the trucks that truck those books is going to be saved.

I don’t pretend to know what will happen a hundred or a thousand years from now, but I believe this juncture in history, is the beginning of the end of the book. It is a time, as were all the eras before, when technologies can transform our lives. Just as we are different from the age of Gutenberg, our grandchildren will be different from us. I think there will be new forms of entertainment, new kinds of reading/writing experiences and new forms of literature. I may not be riding that wave then, but I am experiencing the surge of the surf now that feels like change happening and I am part of it. And that vision allows for blogging, encourages it, sees it as the beginnings of something new.

I allow myself to blog, as long as I have spent time working on my non-blog writing. The blog itself lets the writing in and vice versa. I write and react and report on my writing life on my blog. It is one of the best parts of my being. As I create fiction from the reality of my thoughts, I plan to learn from my experiment. To push the paradigm even further, I was thinking of starting a novel about a blogger.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Death of Gutenberg

The printing press died when the copier was invented. But though we still read, our eyes are focused more and more on a screen and paper is disappearing into the pixels. To think we might one day be able to let go of the page, to stop the holding of the finger between pages, the finger-licking, the turning and turning back again, then folding the corner or placing a bookmark. It is a thought that releases a certain longing and regret in the heart of anyone who has loved a book, who has held one close in the dark, or ruined one’s eyes straining to read in a pool of poor light. The book as an object is an ancient icon and even though the hard copy may disappear, or else be considered rare, they things we read might be changing. The written word, thought still expressed in letters, words and sentences, will change. Literature will change. All reading and writing will change as the web changes how we find what we read and respond to it.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Breaking the Palomino

John knew what he was doing. He knew the Palomino did not like riders.
His father alone could ride him with strong working of rein and bit but
no one else ever did. Except the fat kid. Earlier they’d been fighters,
rolling in the dirt. John had Fatso in a headlock but the kid stood up

and ran straight into the side of the barn with John hanging on, until
the third time when John hit his head and nearly tore the kid’s ear off.

That was before the horses came in from the pasture, down the hill

into the field and the kid asked to ride. John looked at his big soft

body and laughed. “Sure, I can arrange a ride. Let me get your tack.
That’s rider talk for blanket, saddle, bridle and reins. You’ll learn. “

The fat kid did what he was told. When the big horse reared back

the kid hung on like snot. He stayed there through buck and turn,

kick and spin. He held on and pulled down on the reins until the damn

beast stopped and stood like a statue. “I was pretty scared for a while,”

the fat kid said. He sat up straight in the saddle. His swollen ear had

turned purple. John hated how it all came out. Hated the fat boy’s smile.

They rode for an hour and when they came back John’s dad was there.

“See you boys been riding,” he said. “It’s my first time,” Fatso said.

John’s father laughed. “You must learn fast,” he said. “John, take care

of the horses, while us men clean up for supper.” The sky turned red.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Five thousand decades have passed
since the dragon with a taste for virgins
was slain by Prince Krak. The jewels
of royalty and the chambers of the rich
rise above the cave where the bones
mounded before the open wound
in the earth. The stench of rotting
flesh and the fiery belches of
the beast, led the brave knight
deep within the bowels of
the hill, to slay the evil thing.
And while the mass is said
and the choir sings, the beast
awaits within. Where once
again it will awaken.

# # #

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Dead Tooth Fairy

When you find out it’s a lie just like Santa and Easter Bunny,
the whole thing comes tumbling down like crumbling cake,
It may be something you can laugh about. But it is not funny.
People lead you to believe in magic and then pretend to make
the lies come true with money and presents and made-up stuff
so that you don’t know who to trust. I mean, how can we take
anything you tell us for the truth? What is important enough
not to lie, if not for Saint Nicholas and coloring Easter eggs?
Now, you go and kill the tooth fairy, and tell me “Get tough,
from now on your teeth are permanent. It was all a mistake.”

# # #

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Childhood’s Hill

At the age of nine, I climbed, crawled vertically up the hill
over rocks and thorns, through nettle and brier and berry cane,
hand over hand, a ladder of roots and rocks to the top. Still
and windless, where looking down on the house to ascertain
the new perspective from the height, I saw it shrink down until
I realized my life was an atom, in the larger world, a tiny grain.

Half a century later, the climb is locked in chains of change.
What was so mountainous, seems smaller now, but uphill
made more difficult by the touch of time and a twinge of pain.
From the summit, the house appears a toy, and smaller still,
here, out of breath and bone-weary from the sweat and strain.
I remember, then I was out of breath and had to rest until
I could descend down into the yard as it all loomed up again.

# # #

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A word for time

Time steals so much from us, you would never
think, a feral trader, she leaves a token in place
of what was taken. The tannin in the grape, the rind
on the cheese, left in lieu of nothing more than passing
time, touching all things: lining, folding, graying, fading.

The heart, is improved by age, slowing and deepening;
its beat like an old drum to a longer and stronger rhythm.
Some think it weaker and worn by the years, but lovers
know it beats better when it has beaten so long for another.

Each year, the time our sands started, turns round again
to remind us how little we have but each other. No one
can ever give us more and deep inside we know it.
We need to take the time before time takes us.
Someone, now gone, wrote this in the beach sand.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Earth Quakes

Poetry was once just another way to touch other people's minds. The game built up around it in a culture, whether academic or publishing, is irrelevant in the new world of the web. The world is now, a world of poets.

Chung Du, in Sczechwan Province, where the recent earthquakes killed thousands, was known as the city of poets. People recited poems in the streets and parks for centuries. The city had a living tradition of honoring the power of the word and how the use of just the right words to say the most jewel-like thought, distilled to its essence, is vital to life and to the spirit. Their honor for the ancient art of word painting and story telling, the art of seeing and saying the deepest thoughts, was part of the history of the area.

Among the cries of mothers calling, of wives and sisters crying and calling out names, of children crying out for their mothers and fathers, there are poems floating in the gray dust. Pages swirling from open rooms. Young poets lie crushed at their desks, ink and blood on the rice paper. Old poets release their last song, crushed from their lungs by fallen concrete. Nothing is less abstract than concrete.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Twitter Experiment

To twitter, to warble like a caged bird some demented mating song, not truly seeking a mate but reaching out to other souls caught in the connective tissue of the world wide web. I have a new game, twittering is using 139 characters to post on twitter, on line and on phone, exactly what you are doing at the moment. When I can, I am twittering within that limit and trying to introduce a poetic thought in the intricate techno biocosm of minds and machines with electron harmonics that penetrate mere communication and either evoke an echo from a similar soul, or follow on with a new original thought, leading to conversation. Either way, an experiment, a limitation, not quite a format but a de-finus to bring to an end the word.

My latest twitter post: "Media Quake, social net quaver, spider-web quiver, sensational shiver, sensual shudder, ticklish tremble, vector ray vibrate, terminal twitter."

None of it makes sense and yet every word was chosen for its twitterisciousness, its taste on the tongue and its corresponding note in the hammer and anvil of the ear. My challenge is to do this regularly without robbing from my other writing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why September 11?

09/11/1683, Vienna

How long the Muslim memory must be,
to recall so intensely the Turks and Tartars
fleeing like girls from the Hussar’s heavy
cavalry, in the Siege of Vienna. The stars
have shifted in their spheres. The zodiac
become a string of satellites and King Jan,
a figure in a painting on a wall. Attack
and keep this in your heart, all loss gone
beyond a dozen generations, yet still fresh
in the fratricidal hearts of Atta and the boys,
now charred to ash in old New York. Flesh
seared off and evanesced, like the sad joys
of patriots singing drunken songs in a tongue
no one cares to learn. How long must they
remember, the Sultan’s loss, the sadness sung,
a piper's gross ghazals for which we all must pay.

# # #

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

These named days claim us in ways we usually ignore. Each of us would like to think we sprung whole from the our father’s mind, complete from his brow in god-like innocence. The seamier thoughts of our parents’ intimacies and the corporeal essence of reproduction is usually taboo. We are not much interested in imagining our own conception. So the idea of the archetypal mother remains child like, virginal, or at best, abstract. The intensity of birth is soon forgotten in the joy and work of caring for a child.
Unless, that is, you have been present at a birth, looked into the glowering eyes of a new-born fixing you like a bug on a pin — an expression of mixed curiosity and discomfort. The child is an alien, ripped from his/her womb-world, where all needs were met instantly in an insulated water-filled globe. From another world, almost tube-fed, the fetus flowers into a human being, from a squirt to a zygote, to a dodecahedron sub-divided, bi-sexual squid into a complete child, screaming, gasping for breath, crying and angry, torn out of heaver by the head into a cold, laser-bright openness filled with other creatures you are completely dependent on.
The power to give birth, literally to give life, attaches us to the life-giver for our entire life. This sort of cosmic connection goes beyond words, into the realm of the mythic.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Creative Conversation

Social networking has all the potential of a good conversation, except you can exchange ideas and “feed” off the thoughts of dozens of souls from all around the planet all-at-once. Add to the mix the ability to access the conversation at your convenience, to drill down into any discussion that interests you or drop out and go to pee without losing any of the gist of what is said. The excitement of where this is going is part of an electronic awareness and as a matter of course becomes the subtext of all topics.

The mind seeks feedback and new ideas spring from synapse stimulation with thought streams flowing like bio luminescence through the ocean. Facelessness helps, as well. No body-face hang-ups to pull you to or push you away. No beauty to enchant, and conversely no bad breath, body odor, warts or freckles or scars to distract us. As technology pushes forward into more complex and intricate webs, these conversations will grown richer, more fulfilling, more enlightening. Other currents will ripple in, led by the articulate voices that call us like schools of fish to swim in the depths.

I am intrigued by collaboration and experimentation and interested in the creative potential that blogging offers, the conversation, if you will, of fellow cursor clickers, cliques of enchanting creators collaborating on a developing dialogue.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Monologue in a crowd

Facebook, Twitter, Friend Feed, My Space, You Tube, Metacafe, all working their own angle on the communication revolution. If one is experimenting, one is everywhere and nowhere all at once. One is many and yet no one. Many self-absorbed egos prattling on about what they are doing at the moment, or better yet, hiding behind a camera, like a high tech voyeur doing digital video of his/her bathroom mirror. Dipping my toe in the digital river, pulling it back boiled to the bone.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Writing, like reading, is an anti-social activity

I write alone, in my room, with the door closed. I focus completely on the monitor like a flashlight in a dark room, there are rings of awareness within that focus, but outside my periferal vision, the world fades to black. I am so intensely concentrated on the cursor, I might as well be that blinking little vertical that words trail after appearing as it moves across the page. I am the same when I read. The world falls away and I am lost in the story, the poem, the page. I can be interrupted, ripped from my trance, taken away by reality, but that is never my choice. I would choose to stay until sleep or hunger or love, in other words something my mind sees as more important than the moment.

Now, I find a hornet's nest of activity circling the web known by many names but which I will refer to as social networking. People gather around common interests and exchange information, comment, gossip, pass judgement, share sh*t, connect. I read that in Japan, the majority of best sellers are written for the cell phone. My mind warps into where this is all leading, how art and self-expression and society are transforming. I have always been an experimenter, a post modern, jazz-oriented, improvisational creature. The future is pulling me in new directions.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

How writing is changing

OK, so I read in the NYT that nowadays it seems there are more writers than readers. Fewer and fewer people are reading and more and more people are writing. Sometimes I think I am only writing for myself. Sometimes I think that is what the writing obsession is all about.

The self-publishing biz is burgeoning. The bloggorhea is boundless. The vanity presses are hooking them in by the boatload, so many suckers that Borders is getting into the biz, offering editors and publishing for a fee, though when it comes to shelf space, not so much. The concept is transforming just as everything the web touches is transformed. I read stories about web-based companies that pop up, grow and blossom into billion dollar ideas. I read about China having bypassed the US for online activity.

I Googled my name and found three dozen listings some in foreign languages, reviews and links from all over the world. This ethereral connectivity spreads through the electrons and photons, from mind to mind. No one knows who reads these words and what they think.

I have had a website since 1993 and my own URL since 1998. I taught myself Photoshop and HTML and in a matter of months wrote, er...created an interactive sestina called BLOODLINES (www.boiarski.com) and just put it out there. I got nominated for a webby, more properly the Perranoski Prize and featured by a German design site. It is all sort of happenstance. Yet, I see it as part of my pattern since my first days of writing when I was not yet a teen.

My first story was a science fiction story based on my personal fantasy of being an alien. I came to this conclusion because I felt I did not belong in the family I was born into, and was adopted. My baby pictures, my memories, photos of my birthdays and family events, were evidence that I was indeed born into the family I had. However, I never felt at home there. I imagined that I was somehow spirited into my mother's womb by space creatures.

My fantasy, as I walked in the woods, was that there was a certain tree somewhere that I had not yet found that was really not a tree at all, but a cleverly disguised device masquerading as a tree. If would but pull a branch, push a knot or the scar of a broken branch in the right combination, the tree would somehow transport me back to my real home, on another planet. I read that this alienation fantasy is quite common among artists. especially those who had suffered some sort of abuse. I have even had conversations with others about similar fantasies. But, in truth, I still search for that certain tree.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Poem/Song Lyric

Nota Bene

“Unto what may the fetus, it its mother’s womb be likened?
Unto a notebook that is folded up. Its hands rest on its temples,
elbows on thighs, heels against buttocks, its head lies between its knees.
Its mouth is closed and its navel is open…when it comes forth into the
air of the world, what is closed opens and what is open closes.”

From the Babylonian Talumud, Chapter 3, folio 30a

The notebook is open now and the furious scribbling begins,
All the small things get noticed, the violet, the Japanese beetle,
The wind when it caresses, coupled dragonflies hovering.
So many notes fill each page, all the minutiae from the crack
In the sidewalk to the lightning leaping across the night sky.

Each chapter is there dissolved in time, a crystal of stimulus
And it will be recalled, a page turned back to reread again.
But the writing must continue, furious and focused. Each
Insignificant detail must be recorded by the eye and ear.

Nothing gets past us. We may not even be aware of the
Record but it is there, waiting to be misplaced or revived.
At last the notebook full, the ending weakens. The cliché
Of Death like finis at the end of the movie. As if one
Had not taken one last notice of this emptiness.
No one would believe this. No one.

# # #

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Play: A scene from Industrial Strength, a work about work

What follows is a scene from a play written for a particular talent. David Jon Krohn is an actor, a mime, a dancer/choreographer, a juggler, a wire walker, a technician and an electrician. After a series of long conversations about his work and his life, I wrote this play around his talent. David plays "The Electrician," the central figure in a play about the kind of physical labor that I believe will one day be lost to the robot and the computer.

The play included fire eating, juggling, arc welding, plaster-board workers on stilts, power tools, dances, songs, poems and a fly in finale, where the electrician, suspended with an invisible chord from a two-ton crane, levitated over the audience like an angel.

This country was built on the backs of laborers who expended their lives in the hard work of providing for their families, surviving in a society that lacks respect for honest labor and grew from the sweat and blood of millions of unsung workers. This play honors the workers who created the very substance of our lives.

What follows is just a short scene from the 70 minute play, Industrial Strength, which ran for two seasons, performed in a working factory, the Wanner Metalworx, an operating metal fabrication plant that allowed the company to set up during the weekend. In many sold out performances, during two separate summers, the show played to standing room only with standing ovations. The theatre was created out of nothing, lights strung, folding chairs set up, a ticket taker at the door. We broke not only the fourth wall of the stage, we broke the theatre with a play housed temporarily in an industrial district that is now becoming gentrified loft apartments. This scene begins on a suspended platform above the audience, after a fitful dream, the electrician wakes and dresses for work.

The Electrician:

"Work. Energy required. Movement, required.
Must have movement over distance.


[Taped: The wind of time and space has worn away
the night and the light breaks in
like a blind thief to steal the rest.]

(Tape ends and the electrician continues awakened from the dream.)

“Power is defined as the amount of energy required to move one pound one foot
in one second - foot-pounds-per-second.

“Some days, I don’t have the power to move one foot,
which feels like it weighs a ton, one inch off the ground, for one second.”

(The Electrician climbs down.)

[To Self:) "Rubber souls, rub her soles, rub a dub dubber, royal black rubber stack soles, socks with no holes. It’s cold. Long John, long John, he had the strangest shoes he had a heel in front he had a heel behin’ and you never could tell which way he’s gone. Coverall, cover me . Cover me all. Coveralls cover me."

"Can’t be late. Where are my tools? Where is my tool belt ?"

(Two crew members put on his belt.)

“The belt is a vestment of tools.
My tools are my armor.
My tools protect me.
My hands protect me.
I gird myself in tools to touch the fire in the wire."

The Crew

“My tools are my armor. My tools protect me.”

The Electrician

“My life is in my hands with the tools
Hand tools in my power belt bring power to my hands.
Without these hands there would be no power.
No wonder I protect them.
I will not be grounded. My belt will protect me.
The fire will not pass through me.

The Crew

“My tools are my armor. My tools will protect me.”

The Electrician

(He removes each tool from the belt, shares it with the audience and hands it either to a crew member or an audience member. A crew member takes it and reverently lays it down.)

"Tester tells me if the wire glows hot.
Hot is an awl in the eye, a hole in the heart.
Hot is death, sure enough.

"These are my hand tools. They keep my hands working.
They keep me focused on my task; extend the power of my hands.

(He juggles the screwdrivers)

"These are drivers, Phillips & flat blades all insulated for their purpose
to screw the power, to wire it to the line, to pour it through the sockets. Torque!
This is a speed driver. It torques fast. Torque! Torque!

"Here’s my big hammer, handle it thus. Bam! Punch a hole. Bam!”

The Crew

(Throughout his speech, the crew repeats key words to stress their impact: Torque! Bam!, etc.”)

The Electrician

“Torpedo level, Magnetized, sticks to steel.
Box or pipe it’s straight and square.

"Square is important in times of stress. (Crew begins square box step)
Square comforts us. Keeping things square is part of the ritual, straight and perpendicular is secure.

"The squarest work is the surest work. Precision is protection.
Tape, mounted so I can measure and still it stays in my belt.

"Tiebacks keep it neat, or hold it in place until I strap, screw, or anchor it down.
Crew starts to stagger during box step, getting more off-balance.

"Nothing is left loose. Loose is not safe.

"My belt protects me. My tools encircle me.
Even if I accidentally open it, He opens belt and spins around my belt will not fall.

"Electricians work with fire the way lion tamers work with cats.
The predictable, learnable part is a matter of nerve and practice.

(A Crew member hands him a torch. He eats fire."

"But the danger comes when your back is turned,
when you think you understand,

(A wrench falls, clanging to the concrete.)

"when someone drops a wrench from up above or a wire gets crossed.

(The electrician stops, walks closer to the audience, and in a more intimate tone says,)

"I saw a guy on a job once

(Movement Crew “explode” arms, fall to prone position.)

"the fire blew out his elbows;
and as he went to his knees, the fire blew off his kneecaps.

He was dead before he hit the ground.

(Preacher, a member of the crew, Rises up and says)

“Born to toil! Born to die!”

The Electrician

(He goes back to the belt, fondling each tool as he takes it from its holster.)

"Cable knife, wicked blade. Hooked, like a weapon.
locks into position to skin service cable.
Drywall saw, quick-toothed, rough-cut access wires within walls.

"Inside that darkness one needs light.
I carry my own on my belt.
You have not known darkness until you work with high voltage blind.

"Small crescent. Adjustable, Many wrenches in one.

"Grippers: Channel locks snap open to accommodate any size object I need to grip.

"Bent-back dikes, diagonals, slice on an angle through solid metal
clean and close to the wall

"Lineman’s pliers, Kleins, the best. What’s in a name? Quality protects me.
This part grips, this cuts, and the jaws don’t touch.

"And these, solid, long-nose pliers, Notch strips insulation, then I twist
and cut the wire with this. Screw the wire into the terminal,
Torque! and I’m done to a turn.

(Begins a paranoid gathering of tools, reloading his belt.)

"My tools protect me. My belt girds me
I will not touch the hot wire My dream of white fire and burnt skin will not come true.
"I will not fry, I will not die. I will not be grounded.

"My tools bring power to bear. Torque! Screw! Hot ... it’s hot!
Watch the wire! Screw the power! Electrician runs off


“Adam was condemned to live by the sweat of his brow. Adam was damned to toil and
worry and die!”

(Music begins. Actual factory sounds arranged by experimental composer, Keith Fleming)

( DC Generator for crane turns back on.)

.......... SCENE 8 ..........


They perform phrases of tool-inspired movement and then move up the bay toward the crane with the electrician approaching them. As he passes they light him with hand-held work lights on extension cords.

.......... SCENE 9 ..........

“The Electrician”
(Entering suspended from a crane like an angel)

“The clouds kiss and growl before they gnaw holes in each other.
Grumble and flash. Their moisture fills the air.
Fronts collide and winds blow. Lightning forks. Thunder cracks.
That’s power. That’s electricity. Molten white and firing. Fire-ring.

(He descends, lowering himself with the controller, from the crane)

“Sometimes, you have to work the wires hot,
everything is insulated.

(Juggling the tape rolls as the crew circles)

“I insulate with tape: Insulation is part of the ritual,

ALL Crew say colors with electrician .

green, ground;
white, neutral;
black, hot.
green, ground;
white, neutral;
black, charred.
green, ground;
white, neutral;"

This is a small sample of a complex work, too complex to present in writing, the acting and the location made it come alive, but it imparts a flavor of the evening, filled with darkness, the smells and dirt of an actual factory.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Writing while driving

What follows is an experiment in creativity. I am trying to challenge myself to write in ways that force me to get out of my habits. The thought is that one can create new kinds of work if one gets away from old habit. This was written while driving on I-70 headed West from Columbus to Dayton.

Doing two things at once

Prism of my cracked windshield refracts
Across the pages, a slash of colored light
Layered like spilled fruit juices
I turn the wheel and it disappears.
A red rabbit blurs by.

Sun glares intensely on the starred
Rear window of the white car ahead,
I can’t make out the driver.
Moving snake of ink tracks
Across the page, making a road,
Where time stops thought;
Pours content like concrete
Into the void of the page.

I accelerate to 60,
While writing: sumac, locust,
The bony white body of a sycamore
As they loom up then zoom
Peripherally, like roads going off;
Like the road my hood is eating, all part
Of the blur of blooming that retreats to
The black at the back of my head.

The splash of light is back, quite
By accident, the road winding to the right.
I am now doing 52, behind a white-haired man
In an old white car. Here are two black men
In a big blue car. A black couple in a silver
One. They have all lived on the road while
I scrawled words at the wheel.

Boats across the green median, pulled by blue
Pickups and in the sky; a red-tailed hawk floating
In another time. A canoe overturned on the roof
Of a green Barracuda strains against its bonds.
The prism flickers on the back of my hand,
Moves up to cuff my wrist, crawls up my arm
Into the shadow of the visor and is gone.

Suddenly slowing, the traffic grows so thick for a time
I have to close the tablet and put the pen down.
Hay in cylindrical bales, fields of soybeans yellowing.
It is easier to write at 55. Not to mention the savings.
I notice that I mistook the white-haired woman in the white
Car for a man. Distracted, I suppose. Lost focus.

The prism lies quiescent on the journal.
I pass the woman again and come up to
The couple in the silver sedan. They have
Two children who wave. I wave back and
Pull around them, accelerating. The prism fades.

Black and white cows in an open green field,
Car-high corn fields, green blades fluttering,
Traffic closing in and braking down, 40, 30, 15,
A wreck burns on its back, a red rabbit in flames.

# # #

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Blogging about writing, writing about blogging

As a writer, I have been watching the warping of the arts that the internet has been encouraging for many years. I first put up my artwork and poetry in 1993. Since that time, I have met many people and been more and more interested in how this dance of electrons is changing the world of communications, the arts and my fellow human beings. I have come to the realization that I am fascinated enough by the torrent of change in the stream of atomic pixelization to dip my toe in it. I have always been an experimenter. I have written about every type of work one can and now I am going to start blogging. I hope to produce something new every week and share my other work with the world. Anyone who wants to communicate and think out loud with me is welcome to join the conversation. My only rule is that I don't want to talk politics or any other subject unless the conversation is done creatively, that is in a creative form.