Friday, November 25, 2011

Poem from Marge Piercy's AVAILABLE LIGHT edited

For Mourning

I wear grey for mourning , never black.

I mourn in grey,

the sleeted Wind,

The color of Ash.

Death comes in as Fog.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith

I'm new to poetry. Even with a MA in English Lit, I've somehow managed to more or less avoid poetry. Sure, I've read representative classics from the major literary traditions (in English, not much attention paid to poets who write in anything other than our mother tongue in academia unless you can read and translate from the original.) But contemporary poetry has been as foreign to me as Portuguese.

There were haikus; there were musings with rhythms suggesting lyrics for songs I did not know how to play or sing, but no poems. Poems were precious things for writers of purple prose with inflated egos, all that white spacing wasted on the page, just spit it out.

Then I started a certificate program in poetry, because that's the way bibliotherapy is legitimized these days. I wrote some poems, and felt better, more whole, more myself than after 100 hours of Jungian psychoanalysis.

And I started reading poetry. Reading in fits, armloads from the library, pulling anything that might look interesting off the shelves until the weight was maximum capacity for seeing my way down the stairs.

And I found BLOOD DAZZLER, poems by Patricia Smith, about Hurricane Katrina. And I don't have words to tell you. Just as we were struck dumb by the travesty, by both man & nature, unable to watch TV coverage without thinking, no this can't be, we woke to find the nightmare played out over weeks and we had to turn it off to get back to our own jobs, our own realities. Because what was happening down there wasn't real, it couldn't be, we couldn't be that inadequate in saving our own; we couldn't be that vulnerable here in the blah blah of blah.

Patricia Smith doesn't get political. Doesn't point fingers, lays no blame, though how can we not? Surely accountability is at hand? Mother Nature can't take all the blame.

Instead, BLOOD DAZZLER is reported. Journalism, a reporter's personal POV and interpretation of events not covered by the media. Quotes from correspondence between officials and counterpoints of the Bushs' day-to-day while the greatest crime of the century was being perpetrated provides insight covertly. We don't have to cry, we don't have to suffer humiliation, we don't have to care. But we do, because Patricia Smith has made the unimaginable accessible? In her poems, we can let our selves feel, just a little, of the horror and recognize, just a little, of the despair. Because frail humans we be, and a little is all our hearts can hold. Our minds take it all in but there's only a little our hearts can hold, providing a little help as part of the larger container needed to hold all the sadness of those who lived to survive a loss that overflows those old worn out levies still.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

1044 page blockbuster

Neal Stephenson's REAMDE has been occupying most of the past weekend. Fortunately, I was sick in bed and could do little but read which got me through the first 500 pages. In true Stephenson fashion the plot's intensity started early and kept climbing. A bit shoot'em up for my tastes through much of the middle, but that's what sells these days.

On page 791, with major players finally face to face. I'm wondering if it's going to get predictable at this point. I miss the old cyberpunk where new worlds were opened. Cyberthrillers are less interesting and definitely less inspiring.

The stuff about gaming is new for me since I don't play. And, since I rely on fiction for most of my news on politics, the terrorist theme seems timely. Sort of feels like that bit could have been written by any number of bestseller list authors. Reader expectations are hard to satisfy. But, I had hoped for more than a thriller. Still, Stephenson is an excellent craftsman and I intend to sail through the last few hunfred pages.