Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My 3,000 Loving Arms Blooms. Why I like blogging. Daniel Rifenburgh.

First, a note about blogging.

I'm finding daily posting here lifts my spirits. It's the act of writing and the sense of contact. With humans. It's like having the answer, or thinking I have the answer, and getting called on, telling the class my great idea about, say, symbols in cymbals. It's the relief following a deep sigh.

(Looking back, it wasn't me raising a hand in class. Looking back, I was far too shy. Looking now, a blog circumvents shyness.)

Since July 2010, the numbers for My 3,000 Loving Arms have more than tripled. I know that doesn't entirely represent readers--some come in search of an image or hoping to see 15,000 fingers. But still.

Today is the first day of advent which always reminds me of the glee, when I was a kid, of opening the little window on an advent calendar, the bits of glitter and very Euro-kitsch. For today I googled "advent poetry" and discovered some less than stellar work and some work too overtly religious (overtly religious is often less than stellar, too, being without invention).  The title of Daniel Rifenburgh's collection, however, is Advent. And this poem, "Turf Tract," wins my heart with its literary discussion, something I love, ultimately focusing on the personal and particular, ditto.

Like poets Doug Anderson and Yusef Komunyakaa, Rifenburgh is a Veteran of the Vietnam War. Like a bad editor I almost added a bit of punctuation at the end of this poem. Duh! I do have higher angels.

Turf Tract

In Shelley's last, unfinished poem,
In Shelley's great poem which is without closure
Because the poor poet drowned in water,
in Shelley's great "The Triumph of Life,"
The last word of which is "of"
And the whole thing stops right there
While Shelley goes out to take in a boat ride
(Talk about your Lethe and Nepenthe!),
We meet, according to Harold Bloom
And Lionel Trilling, "Rousseau,
Prophet of nature, serving
As a surrogate for Wordsworth, entering
The poem as Virgil, the guide to Shelley's Dante,"
And all of this is related to you by Rifenburgh.

It's much easier, and sometimes as rewarding,
To study the bloodlines of flat-track thoroughbreds,
Such as: Raise A Bid got out of Botcha
Botcha's Bid, or, This
Is Enough from On To Glory
Gave This Is Glory, especially if he won,
But Life always wins. It's got
By Spirit out of Some Kinda Shit
And the odds are a zillion to one
(Or, is it one to a zillion, I forget)
That Life is going to win,
Going to suck you in, and Something Spritely
Is the racing name of that foal.

How can you resist her?
Who said you should?

Shelley did;
Laid his pen aside for an hour
And died, gasping water for air, air
And Life.

I sat in my car outside the track
And counted my losses.
Life lay down with death beside me
And they had the nerve
To fornicate in front of me.

I was thinking how Mar Best gave
Mon Go Fast by Mongo
And mon do go fast
But the colt, he finish last
And my money was wasted
Fast as life, fast as that,

Fast as was the track
Where the fleet hooves
Tossed up the turf;
The little clods of this our earth,
The quick, high flinging and falling of

Daniel Rifenburgh, Advent, Waywiser Press, 2002.

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