Monday, June 25, 2018

More Petrarchan Practice

Please give me some sugar laced through with fat:
Corn oil, butter, lard, whatever’s there;
And while you’re at it, let it be light as air,
As vault and loft as the tallest top-hat.
And then when you are finished doing that
You’ll squeeze yuzu on my tongue if you care
About my palate:  That way I can bare
To move my frame, be sprightly as a rat.

If yuzu is too hard to find, lime can
Do; so long as my buds are tartly dressed
My every taste will spell gratitude.
After all this, please let there be a man
Looks better than any bite, and he’s pressed
His hands round me—no more turn aside and brood.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Sestina Draft


When I                               strive                            to write the
Most pretentious                         poem
                                                  Possible                   I will
Fail and                              this skill                      turn
Pearly                  but not pearl                nor purls.

Lamb bent over weir            blue iris                 redly purls
Its moraine those            kinds of the
Refuse                  all than          indefinite         as if marrow
                                                                              Meant poem
Could bleed                breaths of                  which turn
Flowers                 make malice free from will.

If this                   poem     bleeds              metaphor will
Render lapis blue                 unfathoms purls
Slip out some                    presiding       circumference            refuses turn
But the
Broke the                poem
I clomb fractally clambered          rehearsing pistons         limning marrow.  

When definite                             catches fire                    marrow
                                             Burn poem  
And turn                        till internment                         purls
Tune within bird no flame can turn.

Seasons run                                 way      models                    turn
Inside out           hot              pink velvet sleeves            unveil the

I want this poem
Hotly          but every              turn
                                                Taken              ossifies purls
Till pearls loop cold larynx                         taunts marrow
                                   Refracts jet’s will
Rescinds thee from the.

Not every poem              possesses marrow
But each                      turn       means                 affect will
Light subject via distances             like purls predicate the.     

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Emailed To My Dear Friend Cia

On twitter I see "progressives" using a rhetoric of dissociation from USA: not my president, not my country,  etc.  I am having the opposite impulse: I am American; I am a citizen of this country.  Well before this day, I've known to a great degree I am embodiment of various major social and/or environmental problems; and today is a concrete suggestion I was really onto something!  I mean the idea that you can neatly align Trump and white supremacist dynamics and then have a leftist intellectual antipode is such total bullshit insofar as it encourages the illusion that white supremacist
dynamics are not fractally embedded in every element of society.  I've probably written this to you before, but maybe not: for the past at-least three years, I have failed to come up with an argument that makes me fail to qualify as white supremacist; yes, I can list ways in which I darn near 24/7 resist/challenge this modality, but that is not the same as truly being exempt!  And for the time being I am far more invested in coming to full consciousness regarding my crud zones rather than
self-servingly emphasizing the good actions.  I think it's best to keep on with the good actions, but not highlight it and basically create a convenient brand for myself.  Interestingly, I would not argue I am male supremacist; I think a strong case can be made that I have and continually do
the work of resisting that.  And I think there's a crucial reason for this: my life, to a greater than lesser degree, de-facto aligns with segregation, whereas my life is not sex segregated.  I don't mean to make a one to one equation here, only suggest that it's very likely a major factor.  It's terrible how my reading and social media lives are not segregated, but my in-person one does not follow suit.
Note: I am not counting teaching--too much hierarchy involved for that interaction to be other than its own category.

Note: the "you" of prior email is intended as grammatical placeholder, not an address to your specific person!

Monday, October 3, 2016


There are times when I am convinced there's no-one dumber than a poet--particularly when the poet is "talking" points that are economic.  I'll take an economist with a love for poetry anyday over a poet who styles themselves an economic theorist.  This, yes, means I have days when it'd be most excellent to swap out my dumb ass for Amartya Sen's stunningly wonderful noggin.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

More On Kunin

"In my view, accusing Place of racism is intellectually irresponsible. The idea behind this accusation seems to be that any writing that uses racist language or imagery is itself racist, and, if the writer is white, white supremacist. By that logic, any representation of racism would be racist. The study of racism would become impossible. At best, the study of racism could proceed only by further inflicting or exploiting the pain of what it studies."

I think there's some food for thought here, but also question the opening sentence.  I question this, too--"At best, the study of racism could proceed only by further inflicting or exploiting the pain of what it studies"--but simultaneously think this is precisely where the fodder for more thinking lies.

"From a position of seeming powerlessness, Place’s accusers leveraged the cancellation of most of her appearances in May, June, and July. I call that power. In fact, I call it an abuse of power."

Without more, I'm not clear on why this would qualify as an "abuse of power."

"To be perfectly clear, I am saying that great poetry might not only use racist language and imagery, but also might express racist attitudes."

This, for me, needs a lot of elaboration.  I would argue that, often, impressive works of art/writing which contain racist/white supremacist language and/or content would often be even stronger without it: Path's Ariel would be a star example: "Nigger-eye berries" are not what makes that poem as strong as it is.  I can see, though, how this could apply to Flannery O'Connor, whose A Good Man Is Hard To Find grandmother is disarmingly (for this contemporary reader) casual in her use of the word nigger, but whose use is not obviously horrifyingly racist: she actually uses the word in a moment of social-consciousness, telling her grand-daughter to be mindful that people shouldn't be judged negatively just because they are economically impoverished.  I think a key difference between MCAG and Kunin may be how they conceive of white supremacy. I suspect MCAG uses my definition--that it's a baseline state of whiteness that can safely be assumed and which whiteness can never be innocent of--whereas I am guessing Kunin sees it as a far less total phenomenon, that he does not view it as a foundational state, but rather one which may pertain to discrete acts.  He does, admitedly, acknowledge early on in his essay that this is a way some do understand the term; but even with this acknowledgment it's not clear he does concord.

"Place’s accusers have miscalculated: By attacking her personal liberty, they have given additional power to her writing." 

The conclusion that this scenario grants additional power to the writing in question strikes me as rather pat/to work from a warrant which needs explicit acknowledgment and, more importantly, questioning.  I'm also not wholly on board with the "personal liberty" bit.  By invoking this concept, Kunin seems to be working with the assumption that Place's project is indeed art--and yet it's not clear he thinks this is the case.  As Place acknowledges, and as Kunin seems to agree, she in fact is not within the domain of personal liberty with her project: it violates "fair use"; she supposedly wants her endeavor to be sued, etc.  But more than this, I don't think it's sufficient to seemingly unquestioningly take a stance that personal liberty trumps darn near all other stances.  It is an important concept--yes, I am not disputing that/this--but it's worth thinking about its limits, and the limits already built into its legal definitions/contours.    

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Comment that may or may not end up posted here-- This essay impresses me; and in some ways reminds me very much of Harold Bloom except he often elides the work of carefully explaining his reasoning.  It is nice to read a fully developed argument, not merely a series of declarations.