Tuesday, August 27, 2013

John Renbourn singing John Donne's "Song"

On his debut album, John Renbourn (later of Pentangle) recorded a version of John Donne's "Song" (the first line of which is "Go and catch a falling star"). Renbourn changed the last line to "False, ere I count one, two three.." Courtesy of Bartleby.com.

GO and catch a falling star,
  Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
  Or who cleft the Devil's foot;
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,         5
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
        And find
        What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.
If thou be'st born to strange sights,  10
  Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights
  Till Age snow white hairs on thee;
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me
All strange wonders that befell thee,  15
        And swear
        No where
Lives a woman true and fair.
If thou find'st one, let me know;
  Such a pilgrimage were sweet.  20
Yet do not; I would not go,
  Though at next door we might meet.
Though she were true when you met her,
And last till you write your letter,
        Yet she  25
        Will be
False, ere I come, to two or three.

JOHN DONNE (1573-1631). from The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Count the images in a Kristine Ong Muslim poem. "The Pilot." Go on.

Turner.  Who else?

& today I was led to this poem. (Led how? Alls I can say is, I held my hand out to the goddess of chance and expedience. She embraced it, almost gently -- her nail dug into my palm -- guiding it to waters of luck, random but never coincidental. I'd kind of hinted the poet's name before we began our journey.) Kristine Ong Muslim is a poet of many wonders, "The Pilot." among them. That first image, the six-month tests, the flight plan -- foreboding, all of it.

The Pilot.

The sky is a bed nailed to the ceiling; it turns
when I sleep. I do not think about it that much
these days. It may show up in my psychological
tests, the ones I have to take every six months.
Most of the time I imagine the plane growing
outward, throttling the last breath of a giant tin can,
thickening the fog as it arches from takeoff;
the path of air lengthening in its wake.
by Kristine Ong Muslim, read more here

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lee Upton's "Drunk at a Party" . "What latch keeps a brain from spinning like a prawn dropped on a stranger’s parquet?" (poem)

* painting by Colin Page
Lee Upton's "The Coast of Apples" flew off my bulletin board today. I'd cut it out from Boston Review and stuck it next to my bird calendar.  So here is a poem of hers which first appeared in Agni (2009). I like "get lugubrious with that woman / from the controller's office" and all the rest.

Drunk at a Party 

He couldn’t imagine it now,
kicking back, back kicking,
wandering around with a glass,
weirdly morose or—what’s the word?—
jolly. His voice sounding vaguely Swiss
or Peruvian or Dutch. Could he
pick up the rhythm
of the lush he once was,
get lugubrious with that woman
from the controller’s office?
Break down, regret everything or—
the opposite—
boast? What latch keeps a brain
from spinning like a prawn
dropped on a stranger’s parquet?
Ages ago in a land far away
lucky people got three martinis for lunch.
Whole lifetimes hung on a ledge
disgorging the slippery
feelers of sloe gin.
Who would he be
if he passed out again?
Or if love plucked his eyes
and made any throat glisten?
This descendant of men who broke
their necks
in buckets of hard cider?
Why am I speaking
at this moment
as if I were a man?
What ruse am I guilty of?
What keeps a lobster out of a tank?
Lee Upton, 2009. For more info on the poet, who teaches at Layfayette College in PA, click on her name.
*artist Colin Page, painting Lobster Fuel Tanks
*more on Colin Page

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Confessions of a Type Z: Making a List of My Short Stories

I don't work-work until tomorrow. Work-work is one of my names for real world money earning, for those stretches of time when the coffee is free, the air conditioning is full blast, and every hour at a desk and computer is reimbursed.

Money is good. I wish I had more, but at least my nut gets covered.

I recently saw a listing for a personal financial guide, The Type-Z Guide to Success by Marc Allen. I haven't read it but holy cow, that's me. Type Z. (Assuming that means a slacker who excels at slackerdom.) It's not that I don't have Type A urges, but they manifest mainly when I am trying to get to work on time, i.e., somewhere near the subway. Otherwise, it is a miracle of the Almighty's grace and compassion that anything I write gets accepted for publication, or gets written in the first place. Or that any monies enter my life.

Complexities abound in my infrastructure and you better believe I have examined each of them as if my understanding might earn me a Nobel (pictured) in introspection. Not that I'm trying for one.  I just need the money.

A short story of mine was accepted for publication (2014) this week. It's the first story of a novella of sorts. So it occurs to me to pull the rest of the novella together. Like really do it, and not assume each file is "pretty much okay." Everything as-of-yet unpublished bears another look. So I need to prioritize. Last month I drew up a list of my published short stories, and wrote a three-sentence descriptor of each.

Now I need a full list, published and unpublished, with arrows and stars for what needs fixing and finishing. As anyone of any sensibility knows, every task takes longer than planned for unless the planner astutely plans large chunks of time for each task.

Regardless, irregardless, I believe such a list would motivate me, de-cobweb my brain a bit, force my hand to finish stories I've forgotten, improve stories I thought finished, abandon hope where necessary, and feel great satisfaction about what I have accomplished. Onward.