Category: poetry

Poetry Review: ‘the lanyribth of ouyr minds’ by rin noglow (2014)

April 24th, 2015


"construct your own happiness
construct your own misery

i'm going to come over and spew blind LED light in the
formation of an American flag out of my mouth
and fix everything"
–from "should i walk on the outskirts of love, with nine claws"

     The above is from “the lanyribth of ouyr minds” (46 pp.), a collection of poems by rin noglow. This is a sensuous, meditative, sometimes unsettling, oblique sheaf of verse that will be many things to you. Sometimes it will be your fog foyer with ghost furniture and unplaceable murmurs, at other times your black screen in a dark room scrolling with teal ASCII characters and pixelated runes. At times a slow breathing in of blossoms in a rainwet japanese garden. Read it slowly and do not come with logic-bot whirring and clicking. Come with a floor pillow and some figs.    (Read More . . .)

[posted by: C Way at 9:02 PM]

[file under: poetry]

Art of the Day: Poem – Wallace Stevens’ “Fabliau Of Florida”

January 19th, 2015


   Wallace Stevens

Barque of phosphor
On the palmy beach,
Move outward into heaven,
Into the alabasters
And night blues.
Foam and cloud are one.
Sultry moon-monsters
Are dissolving.
Fill your black hull
With white moonlight.
There will never be an end
To this droning of the surf.
      I’m surprised I’ve never posted any Stevens here. It’s taken me decades to be at ease with him. To not struggle with him. To just relax in language with him, enjoy his wit and play. When you do that, the rest of him blooms: his works’ spirituality, their unmistakable gnomic presence & impact… many poets are riddlers, but the riddling way Stevens blends slyness, humor, the archaic & the eternal in such a potent way is so attractive & valuable to me.
      I love this poem for too many reasons to list. Let’s start with this: Beaches at night are holy places for me, it’s where the material plane and the world-behind-the-world can merge. Beaches in general are portals. This poem captures some of that heady liminal energy, beautifully so, which taps me down to the roots.
      But there’s something else here that adds another richness to the work for me. The archaisms — “barque”, “phosphor”, “fabliau” — terms like these are always a little quaint and oddly transporting for me in Stevens — they root this ephemeral meditation in the material plane. That last term in particular: it’s important to note that a “fabliau” is, typically, a bawdy metrical tale, particular to early French poetry. I love this about Stevens, how he keeps you off-balance with some bit of semantic dissonance like this. Because “fabliau” undercuts what reads like a haunting, overt meditation on the eternal with a suggestion of something much more profane… night-beach sex maybe? Or just a sexualization of outjutting land meeting sea meeting foam meeting moonlight meeting night? Which itself isn’t so profane after all, but begins to sound instead like a kind of erotic mysticism, a paean to the principle of eros inherent in all creation. Which then leads to the questions: What’s profane, what’s mystical? What’s bawdy, what’s aether?
      Everything, everything, everything. Listen to the ocean’s roar, close your eyes, mix everything together and sing.


For more information about Stevens, please check out’s bio of him.

[posted by: C Way at 11:03 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| Literary Arts ||| poetry]

May 25th, 2013

  Jean Joubert


April again, its
frail flames,
nightingales, lilac.

Hail, Sun, behold
our festal garments,
the fire of our words.

At the crest of day
we could almost
seem purely blithe.

But at our earth’s
darkest, most secret
place there is
an emptiness nothing can fill.

  [translated from the French by Denise Levertov] 






A new poet to me. I love this poem! The incredible evanescence of all seasons. The death of them already implicit in their beginnings, even as life begins to adjust to their claim, either in flushing dance or huddling shiver. Stink of rot as soon as the new blossom or fruit starts to bud. Stirrings of new shoot even as first snow blankets. Everything is already always turning. And Spring, the great joyous awakening passage of the year: a shaky blush, it’s all bravado. The globe always lusts for renewal, for destruction. Hard to be at peace enough to celebrate when always careening from death to rebirth. Seesawing an egg and hoping it’ll come to rest in the center. Just to know beautiful things when they are simply being still. By some spiritual traditions, part of suffering is not accepting these vicissitudes. And so we suffer. If we are unfortunate enough to just want to stand still and take a deep breath and keep things still for a bit.

For more about Joubert, and more examples of his work, please direct yrselves over to Narrative Magazine
as well as the Poetry Foundation.

[posted by: C Way at 1:28 AM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| poetry]

May 25th, 2012

Mr. Magic
   by …And The Native Hipsters, from LP There Goes Concorde Again (1979)

Hey you
Hey you
Hey you

Get up from my chair and rush across the room,
Throw the TV set out of the window
There’s a friend of mine out in the street
And I want to attract his attention

Out goes the table, out goes the carpet,
Out goes the lampstand,
Out goes the dog, three floors down to smash on the pavement
Then I’ll go AYY
Waving and screaming

Naked man and naked woman sitting in the middle of the woodpile
Will they bring back past impressions sitting in the middle of a woodpile?
Wood can make fire but it isn’t warm
Tongues in the next town waggle
Naked men and naked woman together for the good of the community

Tired old man and stinky (stupid?) old woman
Sitting in the middle of the woodpile
Can they start new generation sitting in the middle of the woodpile?
Two rotting corpses, two rotting corpses
Such a happy(?) woodpile, such a happy(?) woodpile
Red sail on the sunset, red ink on the red paper
Red clothes on red skins
Tomatoes, cherries, raw meats is just three things I can eat
Tomatoes, cherries, raw meat
Only one way to dress on the street:
Red hair on my red red boots, on my feet
Red red, red red
How I love the color red

Out goes the table, out goes the carpet
Out goes the lampstand
Out goes the dog, three floors down to smash on the pavement
And I’ll go AYY
Waving and screaming

There’s a lover of mine on the other side of the world
And I want to attract his attention

Hey you
Hey you

     I just heard the magnifishous “Mr. Magic” by the London-based late 70s/early 80s band …All the Native Hipsters, and almost immediately after my wriggling fits of ecstasy wore off, I went about transcribing the lyrics (partal transcription above). On paper the language is fun & brash & wild but people, hear thou me that you needst to hear the words sung and spoken to really get why this is all so wonderous; do it NOW:

     Singer’s peculiar way & enunciation remind me of Bowie (in the best possible way), but mostly I’ve just never heard anyone quite like her before. Just the way she keeps varying up the delivery of “Hey You” makes me happy. Oh and how she says “waggle”, yum. I also love the story here — or my cobbling together of one — narrator trying to woo someone, even unto suicide; fantasizes (from hospital bed, from afterlife) about the two of them getting together in a pyre amid gossip, uncertain of whether it would lead to anything; then grows despondent & apathetic imagining them old & their love unconsummated; then moves to celebration of anger and flesh and red and the sensual, of moving on & strutting on & putting the past behind her; but then cycle repeats as the old futile destructive urge respawns. AYY!
     So listen, if any of ye readers know for sure what singer is singing in the places I’ve indicated with a “(?)”, let me know. Couldn’d dig it up on the onlines. Happy weekend!

More about …And The Native Hipsters right here.


[posted by: C Way at 12:31 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| Music ||| poetry]
Comments (2)

May 11th, 2012


Take Care, Soldier

Don’t die, soldier, hold the radiophone, don your helmet, your flak jacket, surround the village with a trench of crocodiles, starve it out if need be, eat Mama’s treats, shoot sharp, keep your rifle clean, take care of the armored Jeep, the bulldozer, the land, one day it will be yours, little David, sweetling, don’t die, please. Keep watch for Goliath the peasant, he’s trying to sell his pumpkin at a local market, he’s plotting to buy a gift for his grandkid, erase the evil Haman whose bronchitis you denied treatment, eradicate the blood of Eva Braun by checking on the veracity of her labor pains, silence her shriek, that’s how every maternity ward sounds, it’s not easy having such humane values, be strong, take care, forget your deeds, forget the forgetting. That thy days may be long, that the days of thy children may be long, that one day they shall hear of thy deeds and shall stick fingers in their ears and scream with fear and thy sons’ and thy daughters’ scream shall never fade. Be strong, sweet David, live long unto seeing thy children’s eyes, though their backs hasten to flee from thee, stay in touch with thy comrades-at-arms, after thy sons deny thee, a covenant of the shunned. Take care, soldier-boy.
The gunner who wipedout a hospital the pilot who torched a refugee camp the journalist who courted hearts & minds for murder the actor who played it as just another war the teacher who sanctioned the bloodshed in class the rabbi who sanctified the killing the government minister who sweatily voted the paratrooper who shot the threetime refugee the poet who lauded the finest hour of the nation who scented blood and blessed the MiG. The moderates who said let’s wait & see the party hack who fell over himself in praising the army the sales clerk who sniffedout traitors the policeman who beat an Arab in the anxious street the lecturer who tapped on the officer’s back with envy of the officer who was afraid of refusing the prime minister who eagerly drank down the blood. They  shall not be cleansed.
-- Both poems trans. Joshua Cohen

      I first met these two poems, among four others written by Laor (and translated by Cohen), in an issue 12 (Fall 2011) of literary magazine n+1. I was hit hard by their force, direct language, immediacy. So much published poetry today is content to skirt around meaning, dance about in a play of suggestion, or wink from within a pouf of neon neopostmodern bubbles. Too much delight in form disengaged from a pure instinct to directly communicate thought and feeling — poetry’s lodestar, always, always — to the reader. Some of that’s fine, but damn it gets old. No such trouble with Laor’s works, & lord what fresh air in that. Take “Balance” and its breathless indictment. Its biblical anaphora. Calling out criminals and their misdeeds one by one by one. I wish I could read this in its original Hebrew to see what I’m missing in terms of other linguistic characteristics/phonics. Something tells me not much — and that’s to the poem’s credit — the point here is elsewhere, it’s in a prophet’s clear and rising voice and unafraid willingness to expose wrongs. Poetry is many things to many people, but one thing it has always been and should always be is this: clear, economical language in the service of direct idea and/or feeling. And folks, it don’t get more direct than this: turn the tables, right the wrongs, fuck the blood-drinkers.
     ”Take Care, Soldier” goes a step further. Not just calling out who shall not be cleansed, but directly stating how they won’t. Poem starts with vicious sustained sarcasm. Reminding us how effective we can all be in sentimentalizing our soldiers. Especially so in unjust wars where sentimentalization is a way for one side or both or all to avoid the pain & trauma of realizing how one is at fault; how one has surrendered everything to nationalism, to fear, to tribalism, or allowed a small group of powerful men to do the same unchecked. The poem then goes further and moves to an ancient and biblical-formal form of address by the last stanza. This move is devastating. Because now indignant sarcasm and jeer — a tactic already potent enough as it is — have exploded to full prophetic curse.
“Take Care, Soldier” was first published in 2004 in a collection called Ir Ha’Leviyatan (“Leviathan City”). And if anyone knows when “Balance” was first published please let me know.


For more about Laor, please check out his profile at The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature.

For more about n+1, please check out their site.


[posted by: C Way at 2:48 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| poetry]