Wednesday, December 22, 2010

For Jakob

Happy Birthday

Sum is not a homonym
of sun.
but rhymes with my son
greater than all my parts
multiplied to a son
with his own sum,
molecular markers give him
a few symbols
not seen by me
not predicted blond
fair skin
black eyes, but
this is how 3,000,000,000
=1>2, where he started
in 2, who didn’t see 1
as possible.

Friday, April 30, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Thirty

Translate who
we are behind big questions where
the answer under the sun is
always 42. Let’s talk
science where
life is probability paradox or equation where
we can guess if we happened before or
if we could happen again in
N=R*x fp x ne x fe x fi x fc x L
talk to Fermi and add in the variables, but
how many knowns are known where
we don’t know primordial planets scattered
passed the speed of flight. Let's light
another match in the darkness.

NaPoWriMo Number Twenty-Nine

Habilis, erectus, neanderthalensis
before sapiens, did they
see pantheons in night skies? They did
not see the sun as middle ground. Can the star
imagine himself as modest, rather they would
make him hierophant and order. They would
look up in the sky; find the reason
for everything; dissect
the universe into explanation strings; and try
to become singular beings.

NaPoWriMo Number Twenty-Eight

give me asylum
make this space fetal
as i describe almost insignificant
percentages to guesses there
are no tests to assess risk but
trace this gambit in twists
and ladder shoots and shifts
a gap in ropes and molecular
strings predicting his
grey matter waves safe
and stable not chemical branched
unbalanced or environmental

Thursday, April 29, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Twenty-Seven

Three hundred years back tracked
there was no sleep without sleeping
there was no anaesthesia. No word for
no feeling. only speaking in Greek. When medicine
cut you they wanted you screaming even
when you were tired.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Twenty-Six

And yet another translation of Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body:

Winterson Ritual

1. Don’t let it rain.
2. Send tree roots into deep ground.
3. Grow them fingers.
4. Give them razors, and find a water-fat artery.
5. Find a secret code written on the body.
6. Adjust the light so you can see.
7. Build a rocket, or a digger and go two hundred miles from the surface of the earth.
8. Suspend the laws of gravity.
9. Read this story.
10. Blow up walls.
11. Polish windows into telescopes.
12. Bring the cosmos into a small room.
13. Decorate with walls with solar flares.
14. Read the world one wall to the next.
15. Pack up the world, so that it fits in a satchel with the sun.
16. Hurry.
17. Try to find happy.
18. Try to find endings.
19. Find an open field.
20. Strip and split loose here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Eleven

Yet another Winterson Translation.....and yea!!! I'm caught up!

Acrostic: Hanging on Comfortable

Water runs away from our razor limbs grasping through hard pan
In secret codes and calligraphed pictorials we are searching through
Nothing to find lemon ink over a blue flame. In parchment, we find
Time and life after life after life starting two hundred miles from
Earth’s surface. This is where the story begins, in threadbare
Rooms with sledgehammered walls, and wide eyes turning outside to
Stars and moons swinging orbits in this room. The sun is
Our lamplight, our bedtime story hanging on a comfortable rung, but
Nearsighted fingers are archaeological brushes reading
Our past as a foreign country.
Now open doors to burst wide where rivers break dams and roads
Turn in spaghetti twists of unexpected directions
Here, you will find us with the big earth
Expanding to a star under the half moon of our arms
But don’t stop running. It’s late
Outside. Something expects us, and I
Don’t know happy endings, or what they look like together, but give me
Your hand and grasp here we are let loose in a field.

NaPoWriMo Number Ten

Another translation of a passage from Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body

Ghazal: Quenched

We opened limbs and tap to tap, we foot danced under a big sky.
We could not say happy even with the sun in our fingers.

There are rivers and roads beyond the lintel and swung hinges.
We will be at the grass plain, because we belong to the wide open.

This room is too small to hold the galaxy, or even a small world.
If we stand, spread our arms corner to corner, we trace Braille bitten walls.

Celestial suspensions hang above us and grow to solar systems.
The story starts as worn and unraveled and frayed to ragged.

On this earth, Newton is forgotten as a temporary oblivion.
In droughts, we become trees and tap roots prospecting for an open fist.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Twenty-Five

We drive combustion on seven dollars a day
rigged to a sand bottom this flare
is only a candle lit by a small flick quick guess
is there a BP exec holding the matches and did
he light another when the first one didn’t
catch it?
At five thousand feet deep we bleed
black and wax about mass destruction worry
about how far the car goes with tar spilling
across April drilling this blown up rigging left
eleven uncounted and thought dead.

NaPoWriMo Number Twenty-Four

Give me an encyclopedia draw me animals
I’ll name you Gessner and give
you a tail maybe a monk’s hood maybe
canines you can lick
before barking you show me
the splinter of a unicorn and etch
the possibility into vellum you describe
camels and whales illustrate a walrus
so many dragons
a chameleon a knighted rhinoceros from
a comfortable seat in a
well lit room we imagine the large world
around us think how fantastic
to guess at the thought world living
just beyond the door

NaPoWriMo Number Twenty-Three

A bitter angel kept me in a small minute
he said only the gall matters trimmed thin by
this blade he took a picture of sadness gave
me a slide show sitting on Phoebe you are
just another impact insignificant as Iapetus he
said you are cracked like Enceladus he said brushed
my hair behind ears you could be Hyperion
or Titan or Mimas or Dione or Tethys but
no you are Pandora with a glory box you
cannot shut your hand your eyes too opened too
wide to unfold your letter your
alphabet too large and sharp if we cut curves
from your mouth if we slice away smiles
into mineral into rock his granite feathers
carved me a glyph named me grief fed me
empty made me open my glory box open me
unlocked find me nothing but lost.

NaPoWriMo Number Twenty-Two

I begin as a body cell chained and holding we
permeable tissue fattened we on outside systems
in composite honey combs
in solid ordered
in filaments contracting
in covered vessels becomes this body fingers to this
neck into fanned irises to inhaled pupils I imagine
a body as mine this born
body I imagine cannot be severed served on
bio platters bring me a tissue to solve
the whole world’s problems to eradicate
in a test in a needle in a slide genetic I become
we not belonging me not anything but
molecular I end as a body cell unchained
and prisoned.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Interview by Craig Santos Perez (author of Unincorporated Territories)

Craig was kind enough to interview me about my book Eulogies blog style this week. You can find the link to that interview on the Poetry Foundation website here.

Poet Spotlight: Lyz Soto: Craig Santos Perez

NaPoWriMo Number Twenty-One

playing catch up as fast i can...


we live as someone as
long as someone remembers
in burned glass optic mass blinking
to synapse lashed into twine vines
from my wrist my stories braided
twist to my toes I am foot bound
to neck rings shifting my clavicle
to my rib curved to clasp this cup this
spoon please feed me a history and breath
I am suppered in a task of remembering
me masked in a stranger’s past unhinged by
estranged genetic codes breaking bread
to halves to quarters to eighths
to quantum drops which skin should I slip
in today when they can’t find me
a blood match with my metal splintered
from land mass to land massed
fortunes from passing wisdom to this
aerial root swinging from dislocated
trunks asking is she still living in me
remembering her body ashes that were
milled as a last trashed task of life

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Twenty


noise blank white noise catching that
engine turning that speaker hum to
louder silence without peace if your
mouth opens to quiet a hard
consonant glottal rattle hiss the no
noise surround sound cage if this
cochlear stills will my skin itch
to fidget to scratching to dancing to
noise to speak to sing to scream
a gutter throat on a tall pitch frayed
raw cords to chords to just to hear some

Monday, April 19, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Nineteen

This poem is an exercise from Susan Schultz's poetry workshop. The print in bold and italicized is taken from Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body.  The semester assignment has been to take one passage or poem and translate it through the lens of another form, or another poetic voice. This particular exercise is my translation of the passage into memoir as poetry. I encourage anyone reading this to read Written on the Body, if you haven't already. I hope everyone is taking advantage of the NaPoWriMo challenge, and if not actually writing, then reading the astonishing array of poetry being produced one day at a time.

It hasn’t rained for three months. The trees are prospecting underground, sending reserves of roots into the dry ground, roots like razors to open any artery water-fat….

Some seasons have echoed the trajectory of my life at that moment in time. I have wondered if the weather is taunting me, or if I, in my narcissism, translated everything to a mock representation of my own emotional landscapes.

England suffered a protracted drought between 1988 and 1992.

Written on the body is a secret code only visible in certain lights; the accumulations of a lifetime gather there….

Everyone is a secret. The trick is to listen and read. The key is to decide if you really want to know.

Two hundred miles from the surface of the earth there is no gravity. The laws of motion are suspended….

Two hundred miles from the surface of the earth could go in different directions. I imagine two, but my favorite burrows underground, and I imagine a separate body without gravity miraculously untouched and suspended in a glowing world of magma.

This is where the story starts,

It is easiest to find beginnings at the end when expectation has collapsed and there is nothing left but to open the next door and walk through.

in this threadbare room.

I have always had an inclination to discard at particular junctures in life. the urge is primal and overwhelming to junk large quantities of things I may have spent years collection and years thinking of as indispensible.

The walls are exploding. The windows have turned to telescopes.

The urge to purge does not always come from an outside catalyst. Sometimes it has (moving/getting a roommate), but often, it is as if a switch has been flipped, a circuit calibrated to a biorhythm my awareness is only marginally privy to sensing. My conscious mind is usually annoyed by these unwanted and uninvited intrusions. The received implication always being that I am less in control than I think I am.

Moon and stars are magnified in this room. The sun hangs over the mantelpiece.

At other times, the exterior intrudes. It is the catalyst. It looms large in the middle of myself, and I cannot move around it. The biggest surprise comes when I find I do not want to avoid the outside, and that I have issued an invitation, and that I am happy when the response is yes.

I stretch out my hand and read the corners of the world. The world is bundled up in this room.

When one person, or one relationship, becomes the whole world, I become myopic. My lenses are the severed bottoms of glass bottles, so everything becomes disassociated (even my glasses struggle to find their whole) or only associate to one person, or one moment, or one space. I cannot imagine this not distorted, even as I am inside it, even as I dig deeper into a binary hermitage.

Beyond the door, where the river is, where roads are, we shall be.

Then there is un-entanglement. Then snarls are unraveled, and the inevitable is met with a test.

We can take the world with us when we go and sling the sun under your arm.

The most dangerous moment for us, we find it when we break our closed circle and ask in another, or when we become linear, or fragmentary, and rejoin the world as pieces.

Hurry now, it's getting late. I don't know if this is a happy ending but here we are let loose in open fields.

The most dangerous moment for us cannot be avoided forever. We cannot exist as a 0 and a 1 as if this pair is all that is required. Our sequences are more interesting than this when we open a door and find our encrypted language unexplained, fierce, and contrary. This is just another beginning.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Eighteen


We lie flightless at the burial
of a president, as mugabe calls
for an end to violence. The stone house is
turning thirty swept over victoria still raging
about race, while we are caught
in smallness in biomass ninety percent
of us are microscopic respirations of
aquatic. And a cricket master is quitting when
washington is assessed three hundred thousand
washingtons in fines, but timbuktu has divined
legacies in hidden words, as airports are
in crisis the pope still prances around litanies of
shame and regret.

NaPoWriMo Number Seventeen

My heart hearts your heart so
Let’s bind our cash fists together.
If we labor a contract, does it
Make birth beautiful?
I love you in money, and you love
Me thinking responsible. Thinking about
House, thinking of mortgage, thinking
On payment, or thinking on rented goods.
Do I look like a fifty year lease?
Maybe my picture is closer to tenure, resembling
Permanence, but still a buried
Charter. Can we find equity? Let’s
Borrow against us, pay only the interest, and see
How long we remain hearts and not clubs.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Sixteen


Spewing Icelandic ash cloud
changes everything
to kneeling to lying our glass
engines on this anchored ground where we
predict a longer colder
winter….a brief ball change slap weather
skipping to longer to colder snaps
these brilliant sunsets from a sky island
caught photographed light refracted off
volcanic glass from her exhaling through
glacial cracks….render us
obsidian shards blackened into stand stills
and mimes of life on packed train tracks
pt-ack p-tack p-tack stalled on stacked on
stacked on stacked tectonic heel taps to a pullback
flap shackling our wings by her dance

Friday, April 16, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Fifteen

He deals her a deck, reads her in margins.
She looks decorative and lacy. See curled
intricacy in her limbs. Metal leafed and deciphered
illuvial flesh, she cradles the cups, the swords, the wands,
the death
the lovers.
Her body wraps around them wound
in painful bliss. I am relaxed in this fist, she says, unfold
me and find me coming with foretelling.
Look, he says look
at her parenthetical limbs. Theorize the
cervix of her. She becomes
finished as she still holds her crumpled
deck dealt in fixed open eyes.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Fourteen

Ode to the Loud People in the Room

Girl with the yellow hair
    please quiet your ice cubes
    muffle your castanets
    styloids are shaken
    your process is loose
    in metal cups
    please please please
Guys with the cross hip carrier bags
    you are talking to drown out the
    magnified amped out performer but
    I said your bags are lovely
    but maybe you could try quiet instead
Drinkers ordering drinks shaken not stirred
    please quiet your voluble cubes
    muffle her yellow hair
    talk with your hands I dare you to
    listen and not speak
   Audience please we are more than canned

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Thirteen

I haven't forgotten about ten and eleven. They're just stewing.

She gave him that first whispered brush
a backwards rub against should be
when he discovered in base coarse she
didn’t have a magic ingredient
she couldn’t stir pudding into an elixir
and animation won’t wake the dead
and intermittent love can lead to death
and permanence shouldn’t exist at least not
in a sonic wave
He thought if he closed his ears he would
escape from everything she said and
if he couldn’t hear then her waves would
dissipate and fly away and their news might
maybe somehow should be transformed
to couldn’t be and no, baby
don’t worry it isn’t true
you were asleep and
bad things are just bad dreams and death is
just another monster
under the bed

Monday, April 12, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Twelve

I've missed the last two days of the 30/30 challenge. I plan on making up those two missing links within the next two days, but this poem for day number twelve is day number twelve from the moment the alarm went off this morning. I'm hoping it acts as something cathartic that turns this day around, but who knows. Best to all who read this, and raise a glass to worlds of small things.

Today is a world of small things
                of perpetual first steps on the wrong side of the bed
                of lost jackets and sleep
                of too many deadlines and not enough time
                of everyone’s clock running five minutes faster than mine
Today I am
                two left feet that can’t agree
                ten supposable thumbs hitchhiking in ten different directions
                not enough caffeine mixed with too much anxiety
                left eye blinded blurry with dry
Today I have
                forgotten to eat
                forgotten eye drops that make the dry go away
                forgotten headphones that block out today
                forgotten what I forgot but remembered it was important
                anyway                BUT
Today I am not worried
about the meteor that might be soaring in our direction
about the national debt
about social security when I’m old enough to claim it
about  armageddons, apocalypses, the end of time or whatever you chose to name it
Today is a world of small things

Sunday, April 11, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Nine

Number nine is not really a poem, instead a simple statement.
The state of Hawai`i has been steadily dismantling our public school education from primary to post-graduate levels for decades.
Furlough Fridays are the last straw in a long line of steps that include,
but are not limited to
inadequate staffing for teachers,
deteriorating class rooms,
diverted funding,
stifling and ridiculous regulations,
and curriculum cutbacks.
I can't figure out if these actions are taken with deliberation or due to incompetence.
Does it matter?
Hawai`i has some of the most passionate and gifted educators and students in the world.
This state government appears to be dedicated
to a cult of mediocrity
that discourages creativity, ridicules critical thinking, and punishes excellence.

To anyone within earshot or reading distance,
whether you live in Hawai`i
or not,
please let this government know we are tired
of their mediocrity,
and that it is NOT
acceptable to deny our youth
to an excellent PUBLIC education.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Four

This is probably already evident, but just in case anyone is wondering about the repetitive quality of these is not your imagination. The poems I've been posting are sections of a longer poem that is being continually translated, so many ideas remain the same poem to poem.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

NaPoWriMo Number Three

This poem is part of a longer piece entitled Accretion Disk.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

NaPoWriMo 2010

I will try, for the next 30 days, to write one poem a day for National Poetry Month, and NaPoWriMo. These will be, for obvious reasons, first drafts, and some cases free writes, so please feel free to comment, suggest, question....hope to see you in the pages!

1/30 for NaPoWriMo

This landscaped skin folds on
                1  battered shore
                                water landings
                2  sky line dive drop drop
                                shoot shoot before seen
                                landscraped spattered
                3  skulk sneak new ground
                                all this prey
                                new food waits
                                gorgeous hoale
                4 sheep there are sheep skins
                                wolves grinning
I love you
this new skin it fits
like a glove

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Accretion Disk

*8. Stand Back

Views shift at this distance. You have blurred. Doctors say age as a question.
Corrective lenses give frames to the picture on a crooked face.
Watch this hand twisting as hours pass with sleep
on the periphery, or am I alice waking up to dream
Tim Burton makes me blond and marriageable, and yes
killing answers the question.

Translation VIII
This first memory of do not look at the direct sun: Look to the side, above, or under, or squint, and blurry the view. Bleed this sun across the sky or you may go blind in her sight, they said, and I have passed this along, said onto my son, Don’t look. I’ve led him away from stargazing, said, Don’t look, She is too bright. She will not blink, think twice about the scorched earth, the bitter evaporated salt, our caked skin. She is not forgiving.
He still asks about the corona, its temperature:
Is it as hot as the splitting sky, atoms cracked into blinding light? Imagine ruptured atoms and Ask:
What does nuclear fusion look like without a man’s slight hand or mathematical formulas branched out as chalkboard trees?
How did we imagine this?
Did someone see it first?
Was someone god, lower or upper case important without religion, institutional followers, or bother-ers?
Let’s make holes in this dark matter, she said with her fingertip on fire hydrogen and helium, make us combustible.
How long did time take for the first hole to lose control, explode into a singularity?
Did it guess we would theorize billions of years in the future about its existence, place lines and curves in an explanation-al order? Here, here is our portrait of a thing we cannot see. Is this comforting? When we look into light are we seeing the beginning of time, but wait, if we look closer still this gravity well, we are blind to everything but a radiating disk of stretched flight, so we hypothesize the unseen. Observe the bends in time, curves in light, guess at the center mass; this mess of out stretched arms swirling, let’s draw symbols. Express the heart we can never look at directly or we look but do not see. We cannot find a thing, or we find it unobservable sitting just a little outside of our line of sight. Do we still believe?
For all previously unseen things, we analyze the behavior of friendly objects, the motion of mates, the environmental dance: How this star moves binary, how this elliptical orbit shifts with a twin, swings a little wider with each twist or turn or pass; or how do we describe celestial mechanics; where Einstein becomes an alchemist and quantum equations become spells, and then wonders in all this explanation where is there room for wonder? Is it better to know, hypothesize, or guess than just let it sit?
Do we want to know what makes the Milky Way twirl, and is there life after death? My son asks, Is my father waiting? Does he see to this side of the paper veil? Does he know how old I’ll be when I die, and does he confide in god when he didn’t while he was alive? Does she sympathize, if he says he misses me? Does he know I miss him, especially at night, when I hold tight to the last time he laughed and I giggled after saying something trite?
I ask, will my son remember how much he is loved, when I am gone?
I know the world will spin in the same direction; the magnetic poles will shift by fractions; the continents will make contact again, but move a little closer in now, will my son have his own children? Will he love them as fragments, or universal, integral to a bigger picture? Will he believe there is no such thing as small beings, just degrees of separation necessary for existing?
Will he come to my conclusion:
I cannot love you all the same without disintegrating in a flame of loving you too much for this body to hold. I am too close to too full already, but I’ve seen you camera caught in magazines and tv screens. You were in front of your leveled house. You were huddled bunched body over your dead children. You were a blank stare standing at the grave of your machete massacred family, and I flinched, and then looked away. You were not standing close enough to me, but
isn’t it funny we don’t exploit you, explore you, or elucidate your life when you’re filled with joy? You are storied only when you are grieving. I have been in this picture. Camera caught with my son, we were hand in hand with grief, then hypothetically diagnosed with PTSD. I’m so sorry. Sometimes our lives are equated to bear like E=MC2. We become relative instead of related. How do I care when you are a stranger?
So you are relative to how well I know you, or someone who loves you. If I know your first name, see you every day, then somehow your everyday detail transforms to significant, rather than any other small moment in some other life I might pretend to believe, but bottom line I am blind when I wish I could see through this dark matter to the sun, who blisters my son with her kiss. If you stand back far enough she says, I look just like Andromeda.

* This is one section in a longer poem.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Inspired by John Ashbery and Jeanette Winterson with a dash of Adrienne Rich


This is where your story starts in the warp and weft of a used blanket. You covered yourself against a world that spun and circled beyond your grasp. You have been afraid of loneliness, so you reached out and touched the stars, briefly, pulling back because, yes, perhaps solitude would be best. You might not be hurt in isolation. You remembered this when you were burned by their touch, and in the middle of your terror, you longed for that intensity again. You are afraid of transmutation by fire, because you suspect you are kindling, and once lit you will disappear in memory of smoke and vapor, yet you cannot forget that consumption, or the intoxication you felt when just the tip of your finger glanced the edge of her core fragment as she passed through your orbit. When you first met her, you thought she would answer all your questions, and you would find happiness at the end of her. You thought, if she ate enough of you, she might absorb your uncertainty that from inside her you might be able to look out and see through a clearer lens. She liked telescopes, and imagining the galaxy smaller. When she was talking it was always important, even when, hours later, you could not remember the content of the conversation, only its quality and the relief that welled up inside you, as if the heart of the matter had been buried, and finally uncovered; it could not contain its joy and spilled across the day, so each time you saw her you tried to continue that singular conversation. You wanted to re-capture each speculation in quantity, so you might horde it, save it for a time when you might not listen, or she might not speak. You were stuck in that journey, attached to being; you could not sever the connection to the existence of you, so predictable, so foreseen, so day to day to day to day. Your journey had become stagnant, stuck in a single room. You were tapping walls looking for a flaw, a weakness; you might exploit, and escape the inevitability of you when you stumbled over her lying beside you. She fantasized herself as historic, and assumed to be unique and original. She laughed at loneliness and aching, and called them mythologies and excuses, said you cannot be alone when at least the moon is always with you, and thinking alone can be a gift of no interruption and no hope for a help that will not come. She wanted to be selfish with her problem, have it belonging only to her, so when she saw the many intruding with offered hands, she retreated to a single room with a single window to bring the world inside, where she placed it against the opposite wall, and tried to decipher the sides turned away from her view hugging their own corners of the room. She saw herself duplicated, a thousand doppelgangers holding clones of her fears and her problem. She saw herself smaller. She saw herself in triplicate and wondered, “we start with one thought that divides into many, then we build frames, and add doors, and we close them,” so she dreamt herself opening. She saw roads and rivers beyond, she saw her problem on the shoulders of millions and felt lighter. She went beyond the idea of a doorframe, saw the walls as the problem, and described the act of demolition. She pictured fields with an outstretched ground that invited sprinting until breathless, and in this imagination she saw the glimmer of an uncertain end, and thought, for the first time, she could not reach her desire by flying, and at last, the end was not important, that her feet were the thing; that the step, the arch, the bend, the contraction, and the pull were the relevant substance. She declared this, and uncovered us, folded our prologue into quarters, placed that part of us in a neat corner, and then she reached for me with one hand, held the sun in the other, and together we rushed to the open, searched for the question, realized the answer was not what mattered.

I'm taking a Poetry Workshop at UHM with Professor Susan Schultz this semester, and John Ashbery's "Three Poems" has been the most recent subject of our poetic investigations.  As a writing exercise, Susan has asked the class to choose a poem of the semester, and then to re-interpret this poem every week through a different poetic style, form, or voice.
I chose a passage from Jeanette Winterson's "Written on the Body" as my poem of the semester, and the prose poem above is my attempt at translating Winterson through Ashbery, and I couldn't help but add a dash of Rich.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Losing Poetry

Early today, I was listening to Morning Edition on NPR.
My first light ritual is laced with half listening, and coffee. Real thought rarely breaks through until two hours of vertical life have passed, but an interview with the band, OK Go, broke my usual stupor.
They were promoting their new album, and no, this is not a review of said album. I haven’t listened to it, but I did listen to them talk about a song they called, “Before the Earth was Round”. The lead singer, Damien Kulash said, “It’s an absurdist allegory where the whole world figures out the Earth is round. They have knowledge now, and everything goes wrong because of it. They lose mystery and poetry."
Do I have this right…if we gain knowledge, we lose poetry?
The interviewer compared the discovery event of OK Go’s song to the first bite of the apple, which tends to paint the acquisition of knowledge in a very negative light. Can it be that gaining understanding could be synonymous with the loss of poetry?
Kulash acknowledges that it is an “absurdist allegory”. I tried to find the full lyrics to the song, but failed, so I will assume that part of the absurdism is the idea that receiving knowledge will make everything go wrong, and is equivalent to losing poetry.
I have, in my worst moments of cynicism (which is often), believed fear of knowledge (and lack of poetry) to be a core problem with our US educational system, and thus the state of the union in general.
Life feels easier when we are not “knowing”, and as a population, we are easier to control when we have no interest in learning about the worlds and lives beyond our own, unless they are chopped, shopped and packaged for “reality” TV, which offers no real information. It just keeps us….in front of the TV not reading poetry, and not discovering that the world is indeed round, and much bigger than us.
I admit that in my own (written) poetry I resist the obvious revelation. I like secrets. I like secrets a lot, but I have no wish to be an obstructionist. I do not want to write my secrets into language so obscure that no one will ever have any idea of what I’m talking about, and wow, if I was one in a gang of people who discovered the earth was round, I like to imagine I would say, “yea, no edge to fall over! Now I can just keep on walking, and see what else is out there…who’s with me?”