Monthly Archives: April 2015

#165: Our Phones Are Too Much With Us

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This was too damn hard. Finally, I had to abandon Wordsworth’s awesome rhyme scheme because almost nothing rhymes with seven. At any rate, “The World Is Too Much With Us” is one of my all-time favorite poems and now I’ve gone and ruined it.  The poem, exactly as Wordsworth penned it, published in 1807, says as much about our cell phone addiction as my paltry offering does! I struggled with the fact that so much of the time I just wanted to leave the poem exactly as it was. The assignment today was to write a satire or parody based on a famous poem. The following is neither satire nor parody. Read the original after mine in the unlikely event that you don’t know the poem!
Unknown
Our Phones Are Too Much With Us
Our phones are too much with us; twenty-four seven,
texting and sexting, we lay waste our hours;—
Little we tweet that has any power;
We have surfed our minds away, a dead heaven!
This Sky that beckons with stars at eleven;
The friends standing next to us at all hours
Are all neglected now like weed choked flowers;
For this, our constant gaming; we are out of whack;
It moves us not. WTF! I’d rather be
A monkey climbing trees in a forest;
So might I, leaping from limb to odd limb
Feel a part of a thriving, singing chorus;
and I’d laugh at people, all distant and dim;
who from their stupid smart phones can’t divorce.
Unknown
The World Is Too Much With Us
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

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#164: O Miranda

pick a card, any card

pick a card, any card

I got this one

I got this one

O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!  
How beauteous mankind is!  O brave new world, 
That has such people in’t.

O Miranda

O Miranda,
I, too, have known tempests;
I, too, have been separated from a father;
I, too, know the feeling
of beauty, goodness, or courage
creeping through a bit at a time
or exploding off the page
or in the room or with lovers
on the beach or on a stage
where in London I saw
Vanessa Redgrave play
Prospero as a woman,
or where, last week, in Portland I saw
Twelfth Night, in which a man
in drag played Olivia, a man
dressed as a woman who falls in love
with a woman disguised as a man
and why the hell not?
O brave new world!
How beauteous is mankind!
How many goodly creatures indeed!

Here’s the initial free-write:

O Miranda, I too have known Tempests; I too have been separated from a father; I too know the feeling, rare as it is, of looking around in wonder at whatever it is that presents itself, beauteous, goodly, brave, because there has to be moments like that, right, where we can look beyond the general depravity or dishonesty or downright decrepitude of the human condition and see these moments kind of creeping through a little bit at a time, and then just kind of exploding off the page or in the room or on the beach or wherever the Tempest has tossed you where you might encounter the thing the thing the most spectacular aspects, the most redeeming qualities, only the goodly, the good, not the bad or the ugly, or I suppose, that in these moments even the ugly might seem lovely but that’s hard for people generally speaking isn’t it, finding beauty in the plain, the mundane, the unattractive, but that’s not what Miranda is talking about.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this play but outside of its original context it seems to me to be this pure expression of gratitude and thankfulness.  I don’t know, has it been five minutes?  Has it been five minutes?  I’m not sure what else to say. I remember seeing this play in London with Vanessa Redgrave as Prospero–a gender bender production just like the one I recently saw of Twelfth Night where Olivia was played by a man in drag and I was thinking, sure, he’s beautiful and I wouldn’t kick him out of the bedroom but I don’t know, I think I’m just saying that because it was the first thing that came into my head as I was thinking about the guy dressed as a woman attracted to a woman disguised as a man and I guess that’s a little bit shocking.

Here’s today’s inspiration from http://www.napowrimo.net:

“Today, I challenge you to take a chance, literally. Find a deck of cards (regular playing cards, tarot cards, uno cards, cards from your “Cards Against Humanity” deck – whatever), shuffle it, and take a card – any card! Now, begin free-writing based on the card you’ve chosen. Keep going without stopping for five minutes. Then take what you’ve written and make a poem from it.”

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#163: Pastoral

IMG_2399

The yard, my trees, this very afternoon.

IMG_2397

I

I’ve taught inside a classroom without windows
for twenty-seven years.
On the one hand, my work is done on the page
and in the mind and with words moving through
space between people in a room;
through imagination and through language
we bring the outside in.
And yet, on the other hand, if I allow
myself to think about how many hours
of my life I have spent in total blindness
to what’s happening outdoors, I cringe,
A little insurrection occurs inside the heart.
Perhaps my hesitance even on the nicest spring days
to take students outside is the subconscious way I have
of making them experience 4 hours a week
for a semester what I have experienced my entire
professional life. See how they like it.
Only now after so many years in the dark
do I feel the injustice of this.

II

At home, though, the oak trees tower over
the yard and the house and the driveway.
I count twenty of the giants, recently pruned,
looking none the worse for wear, and in April,
ready to burst forth with their abundance.
There are no sheep in my yard and I am
certainly no shepherd. This is suburbia.
For so long I railed against it, but I look up
at these trees, zero in on half a dozen
distinct bird languages, the squirrels wreak
havoc on the feeders, the bees begin to buzz,
the ants march, ripeness is all, and I feel
at home, in a place where I belong,
in nature, albeit, 500 feet from cars
speeding up and down our road far beyond
the 30 miles per hour limit, and the kids and stupid
people who occasionally throw their fast food
garbage into the ditch. Yesterday, my wife
found a computer there, buried in the weeds.
I look back up at the trees and hear them laughing.
They will outlive us all–or they could–provided that
whoever lives here keeps shepherding their lives.
Right now, that’s me.  And despite
the sometimes darkness of my classroom,
at home, I’m fine, making up for lost time.

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#162: Emerson’s The Poet (An Erasure)

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 7.19.28 PM

Click image if you’d like to see the original!

Those umpires
admired pictures
beautiful souls

They are selfish
dry wood

Some study of rules
limited judgement

It is a proof
of beauty
that men seem to
put into our bodies
the spirit and
the organ
the germination

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#161: I’m Worried About Flo

o-FLO-FROM-PROGRESSIVE-facebook241A0E2A00000578-2875240-image-a-2_1418757839098

I’m worried about Flo
the Progressive Girl.
Sometimes her eyes
are all goofy and weird,
huge, like those people
in Margaret Keane’s paintings,
the painter whose husband
was trying the whole time
to claim that his wife’s
paintings were his own,
and she must have been
in cahoots with him because
that’s what everybody thought
and she didn’t say anything
for a really long time.

Today, Flo the Progressive Girl
has a horn on her head and wings.
Every time I open Facebook to sign in
she’s there staring at me and
I’ve become used to seeing her
and so when she gets all weird on me,
like when her eyes get big or when
she has horns and wings, I worry about her.
To tell you the truth, I’m glad
she’s progressive, but I don’t even
know what she’s selling.
Last night I dreamed she was
with me shopping for an
audio interface for the studio
and her eyes were all big
and she had horns and I just
couldn’t make up my mind
and she wasn’t helping.
She was making things worse.
I’m worried for her, have grown
attached to her–not attracted,
per se. If I were single, and she
didn’t do that weird thing with
her eyes and the horns and wings,
if she knew more about audio
interfaces, I might be interested.
For now, I just hope she’s okay,
that her eyes won’t stay that way,
that the horn is a false horn,
that the wings are detachable,
and that if she wants to help me
someday shop for studio gear,
that’d be all right with me, too.

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#160: About These Things There Can Be No Question

4027d

It’s April 20 and I know some things.
It’s not my birthday.
I know that for sure. No question.
It was hot today, eighty-five degrees, clear sky
and my bicycle ride home was uneventful.
I know a hawk from a handsaw.
I gave up my prep period today to
sign exit paperwork for the ELD teacher
and watch over a group of freshmen
for the history teacher who was
leaving early
to coach a tennis match.
God damn, it was hot in that classroom;
no windows, 30 kids, no movement of air
and when they were finished with their work
they started bouncing off the walls
and I reported one kid missing in action.
There can be no question about these things.
Even though it hasn’t happened yet,
in spite of the tennis, I am sure
I will teach Samuel Beckett’s
Waiting for Godot to seniors in May,
all waiting to graduate.
The year is 2015. No question.
I am one hundred percent certain
that tomorrow will happen.
Right this moment, it’s 4:39.
My wife and the babysitter
are talking in the other room
about horses while my son
keeps loudly interrupting until
he gets a talking to. Right now,
in this new moment, I know I am trying
to write a poem and feel like it’s
inexorably drawing to an
underwhelming finish and I
realize I’ve used the word inexorably
twice in two poems in a single month.
I am typing, there’s talking in a room,
sunshine glares on the screen
and heats up my back and I’m tired.
About these things there can be
no questions. Otherwise, generally
speaking, uncertainty abounds.

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#159: Listening, Drinking, Watching

police-lights-721

(a landay/ghazal hybrid)

Last night–I stay up late listening:
new records spin in the dark and there’s bourbon to sip.

A police car pulls in across the street,
lights ablaze, I leave my headphones on and watch.

I cannot tell what is happening
but there is no indication of violence here

so I continue listening, watching
as the police car drives off, take a sip of bourbon.

Cheers to safe neighborhoods, an illusion
I sometimes allow myself to believe here in the dark.

I feel safe, listening, drinking, watching;
new records spin in the dark and there’s bourbon to sip.

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