November 17, 2004

Lucia Berlin

For Lucia
(Nov. 12, 1936 - Nov. 12 2004)

Lucia of the story
full of grace.
Lucia of the page
and pure candor.
I never met her.
Her letters were lovely
and kind.
Homes sick lady of
the passing west.
Watch her words.
My children sleeping.
She moves in.
She moves in
the smothered heart.
Among the forlorn
figures of her mind.
Lucia of the north
and south.
Lucia of perfect
relation. Go on
there is
a home.


See Tom Raworth's site for more about her from Gloria Frym, Robert Creeley and others:

Posted by Dale at 08:12 PM | Comments (87)

November 10, 2004

Redneck Realismo

I showed an insipid op-ed piece from Time Magazine yesterday to students in my comp I class at a local community college. The gist of it said that even though we might have been for Kerry, it's best now to support Bush. What other options, the author asks rhetorically, are left?

Thinking I was still within some topoi that shared my own projected ideals--at least remotely--I asked who in the class agreed with the article. All but one hand shot into the air.

Now these kids aren't stupid by any stretch. They're fed on a diet of information provided for them by the culture they live in. They recognize something in themselves that nearly 60 million voters Nov 2 saw too. Democracy is a malfunctioning beast, and a scam. They want lordship. They want a figure of psychic embodiment. Kerry would have led the nation with a more refined image, something more agreeable to urbane, educated voters. But Bubba's tired of debate. He's ugly and mean too, recognizing those qualities in his leaders. Karl Rove knows something about contemporary culture in America that the left has failed since early in the last century to understand. Image, not substance, decides the style of empire.

That phrase of Diane di Prima's from the 60s comes back again and again. "The only war is the war against the imagination." It was actually rather impressive to see people turn out the vote for "values" rather than the "economy," however distorted those values are by the whacked out monotheistic Right. (Clinton's horseshit phrase, "it's the economy stupid," misses the point entirely of how archaic the nation's projections actually are in terms of vatic desire). But that's just where we're stuck, within two versions of monotheism. One is economic and posits a liberal global agenda of progressive market claim. The other is a distortion of value systems used to manipulate those who have everything to lose.

Waves of this come and go. Poet and SOSU Prof Randy Prus last weekend was telling me how much the current administration resembles Polk's, whose own war with Mexico was viewed at the time as imperialistic and aggressive by the likes of H.D. Thoreau.

As a poet I can't truck with any sentiment that accepts political outcome as either devastating or all out great. Power is power. It's resisted in ways far beyond tampered ballot boxes. Progress and power? Bush is depressing, but so what? That's boring.


Birthday Morning (Nov 3, 2004)
For the Elect

The boo-hooing of liberal dismay
Is so pre-post-human
I want to step out
Of my post-American buffer of
To spank those tender bottoms and
Break the crippled utopian
Old New Deal New Frontier spirits
And with mine own tears and spittle
In a neo-Christianized way
Apply unto them then mud to their eyen
As it doth so unto them seem fit
That together brethren we shall
Go blind into our own denial
Failure I speak of it loudly
For it shall sustayneth thine hatred
And ye will crawl naked into
An economy shielded by values
Embracing simulacra
That ye shall feed
Not of the fruits of th' earth
Ne of the fowls nor creatures too
But of thine own will
Mirrored on birthday morn
American fantasias of the grotesque
Ye shall rule thine own
Inward most heart wide cracked
Wide, Lord, wide

Posted by Dale at 02:29 PM | Comments (89)

November 05, 2004

Another by Tom Clark


after Baudelaire's "Fusées"

for Micah Ballard

The world's just about done. The only reason for it to keep on going is the fact that it exists. What a lame reason, given the far better reasons to the contrary. What's there left for it to do? Even if it managed to go on materially existing, would this existence be worth a shit? Who'd be interested in its history? I'm not saying everything will collapse and we'll wander the ruins, hunting down our next meals: No way, we're too feeble, we've lost whatever energies once may have enabled a hand-to-mouth life. The world has become too Americanized for that. The American idea of progress has atrophied the spirit of the world. We dream our brilliant utopias, our conquests of nature, our marvelous religious wars. The outcome will betray the dream. You who consider yourself intelligent, tell me what's really left of life. Spare me the display of your devotions to the relics of your beliefs -- to perform them is to renounce their intended objects. Our claim to earth ended with the decline of primogeniture. What will be left for the eldest son, no longer the elected one, to do, save to exact revenge by stealing the sustenance of hungry young animals? But even that won't be the worst thing that happens.

Tom Clark

Posted by Dale at 04:21 AM | Comments (133)

November 01, 2004

A Poem by Tom Clark

The Two Lords

On a golden dais laid over broken stones in the declining shadow
Between the rising of the Evening Star and the setting of the Morning
In the time of the invader the time of the Smoking Mirror the time of
Burning Water
When each must embrace the fate that has been coded
Two battle-clad chiefs meet to wrangle over cosmic strategy
Lord One offers the hand of war a lifted fist with index finger upraised
Lord Two offers the hand of submission an open palm extended
The two lords their attitudes fixed unchanging in the foretime
Unchanging in the afterlife as in this life through which we must yet

Posted by Dale at 04:42 PM | Comments (122)