Thursday, April 14, 2005

more of my comments from silliman's blog - more notes - On Jockeys From The Mule's Mouth

Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

I forgot to say: Duncan stitched the horizons.

I often wonder if we'd be sitting here today—stuck in our Weimerian word loops—had Duncan, Kaufman & others (you) continued to write and publish poetry through Cultural Cold War II (would that make this the Gulf Wars?); all criticism aside, but what is criticism but the bread on the table? And this panadería is so good it's hard not to gorge before the main feast. As for a certain critical absence, I've always stood with Dorn (another connection, Ron, your readings: wherever Gunslinger showed up I was bound to be, speaking of good bread & "Indian tacos") - The poet should never criticize one's own age. As any good indigenous poet knows, that's for others to do—humility being a Native, if not natal, value. The value of 'afar and afield' depends upon what one is looking at. As Creeley exhibits (does a sun 'exhibit' its light? It's glow? It's heat? It's energy? It's flare which never burns out or up but, al contrario, creates & recreates galaxies—refuels and sustains?) the point is to resist the seduction of afar and afield, stars though they be, however relaxing & inspiring the landscape, and look/ "out where yr going." It's what's out there that matters the most & most of us are driving through the Dark Ages; and, The Iceman Cometh. "I don't say a good life, I say, a life."

And, if one must have cake, a poet's teeth ought to be sunk into the fare/fair of some other cultural restaurant's horizon, even if that means venturing afar & afield; one should only theorize another age or shed light on the ecopoetics of another language & stew, preferable one in a tongue pert'near extinct.
Unless one is starving or craving tacos de lengua in which case it's a matter of survival to select only the freshest young flesh.

And that brings us to the uncomfortable "A(a)" word (Atkins anyone?) before we begin going on about (B/)brocolli since it does come with the 'trace' of that distasteful relation of the bird to the Bush, (and the gas! Isn't that what the Pope -RIP- was selling as a "chemist" in Aushwitz?) and though we can cut to the chase & go to V in the lexicon, as in the plea for civility: "Some of us at the table (Tabula Raza) are vegetarians" and "Some of us are dieting, I'm under strict Orders of the Surgeon General!" And, for some of the many, the gluten will kill us, gunk up the synapses so bad we can't spell. "Yo no soy de la Cultura de Trigo!" But you'd have to study economics in order to get it right, and who has the lifetime?

No, let them eat poetry. The poem, the whole poem, and nothing but the poem, so (help me) muse. I believe I said something to that effect to the panel when someone brought up, as some are ought to do, "This smells to me like the standard you'd find in any streetcorner language deli." Or else I just said "¿Y qué? Take a bite." I was there as a judge of "literary excellence." The unsung ta(i)le of 'Pocahontas' is one of honor and duty. And believe me, it was like selling Spam to ham. But as some say, as well, a poem is a poem is a poem and "a arroz is arroz is arroz" (José Montoya) except to the florist; and, i just had to say, You give good poem.

As for 'courtship rituals' here's a whacker, my greatest (critical) love & influence in grad school (HisCon) was Jed, speaking of Tabula Rasa (Rasa=Greeze in Sanskrit) but it was strictly Platonic in every sense of the Cave; and there was that matter of attachments, and our attachment, not a question of incompatiblility but the object of hard we/ar: he was texting into Excell, I was still munching away on my original Apple II what with all that polishing. His first book is a masterpiece, speaking of lifetimes. And who wants to wreck a good relationship with the endless cinematic loop of 'so, wadda you wanna eat?' 'I done no, wadda you wanna eat?" or "waddaibe today? Chinese? Mexican?" (...) ad nauseum, when all some of us want to do is just get in the car & drive. And some need to use the toilet or 'facilities." And some, like me, have a bleeding uulcer from all that I just can't stomach.

So you see (taste touch hear smell heart know) all these opinions sometimes don't help. It's like someone is wielding a sable brush for the final portrait of a father dying of cancer, another a boar's hair for a comic mouth, another raises the scythe to the ravager, another is pulling Excaliber out of a stone because it's the only thing he's learned will slay a dragon, however extinct or imaginaire; and another is desparately digging potatoes out of the desert with her hands while another is naufrago in the middle of a hungry Carribean sea, in the middle of nowhere (think: Open Water, the movie, that scene with a thousand sharks below if you only look and not a single boat in sight (site-geist))—and they are all calling out to the other: Here! I'll save you! Take my weapon!/Use my tool. For no wonder the man with sable brush with it's impeccably pointed tip hollers out, Save me? What for? My father is dying and there is nothing to save but the final memory. But that would be a paper titled "Hoots, Hollers, and Hankies."

Ron said:
"One often wonders how such things come about."
Ain't that the truth? Chance? That Pinksy & I would be paired with your stack? Folly? the arbitrary selection of me to 'present' you? I love it. It makes me laugh. The irony of it. "I'm Sam, I am. I am!" "Thank you!" My thanks is finding this blog this month. It is important, critical, that we continue to talkstory. Power on.

2:04 PM

Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

Anonymous: You raise excellent points, all. The books were expensive, but they got into the libraries and stayed there, unlike the fluff & pulp, so that barrio blokes, like me, could read Kelly in the library but bust up the piggy for the Olson, Creeley, Wakowski, and even the occasional Bukowski. My favorite B was always "The Angel Who Pushed His Wheelchair." In a way, that's what he was. What marketing brilliance was that, though for me, too much wading through those tsunamis of pages in order to rescue the one rare dolphin stranded on the mainland. And, after teaching long enough to have Bob C sign his last book for me: "'Old Timer!'" I will say that not a one of my students had ever heard of any of those BS (unfortunate monogram) authors, but they *a*ll had read Bukowski, most of them loving him and citing him as the reason for their presence in a poetry workshop, however unfortunate that may be. It was easy then to sell them on W or O. I miss those beautiful books & humble but elegant vellum, books that held up to the wear because they were loved. You always knew what you buying when you bought a Black Sparrow book. Some of us can eat chicken every day, and I did.

But, point well-taken, B at the expense of how many others? Ones who can dance. So it's a toss of the coin as to who is that Angel of literary history: Bukowski or a Black Swallow? I say, it's the chair.


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