Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chris Robinson's response to "Gentelmen's agreement" / Imitation

Adam: Адам
Naivety is listening to a world that tells you, you are wrong and that they are right and right…What do those bigots know about anything? What do bigots got against me anyways I never did anything bad to them. You Adam spent long cold nights in your youth tossing and turning, while your comforter was pushed up against your back and ass. You would make believe that your bed spread was your strong and handsome lover, holding you tightly in his arms. Your lover had bronze skin, strong callused hands and wavy brown hair. He kissed your thighs and sucked on you when you had a bad day and most of the time you loved him.
After your mother and father died you were predisposed to sudden violent attacks of flout and tantrums. During these hysterics you cursed yourself, you yelled into the starry night time sky and reprimanded God, than you would feel guilty. You would rush inside and scream vulgarities at your make believe love, like fuck you…You bronze skinned limp dick faggot. Get out of my bed. Than most times you would take a breathe apologize and your lover (the blanket) would take you in its big strong arms. You’d burn yourself with hot wax sometimes and cut at your pale skin with a dull butter knife and call yourself a dirty homo. You tried to like women, but late at night with your blanket pushed up against your back, you always dreamed of the love that Lord Alfred Douglas so eloquently defined as “The Love that Dare Not Speak its Name.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Week 5 Assignments

Writing Assignment

Choose One:
1) Write a poem in the second person in which the reader is made to see an everyday object in a new light, as with Fork.

2) Write a poem, monologue, or story where a first person narrator talks around the most important information. Make the silences speak. Keep your language spare and evocative, as Creeley does.

3) Take an exercise you’ve written this semester that you’re not entirely happy with. Change the voice, from first person to second or third person or from third person to first or second person. Then continue to revise the piece making whatever other revisions the changes suggest. Make sure to include the original version along with your new piece.

Read for Next Week
Every Exit is an Entrance and Ode to Sleep, Anne Carson
Gentleman’s Agreement, Mark Richard
For Esme – with Love and Squalor, J.D. Salinger
Dream Song 14, John Berryman

1. Post an entry about any one of the readings this week. This may be a critical or creative piece of about 200-300 words and must follow the blog response guidelines. It MUST respond to your chosen reading in some way, either by identifying and discussing craft elements, themes, or techniques or by using those elements in a creative response.

2. Post comments on at least three other entries. Remember, this is not a place for critiquing each other’s work. Instead, identify something from the piece that strikes or interests you, ask a neutral question about the work, or suggest ways the author could deepen or expand it.

Midterm Paper Guidelines

Due March 18, 2010

Select a creative work (or works) from our course reader, or a speech/monologue from either of the assigned plays. In a paper of approximately 1,000 words, respond to your chosen text(s) using one of the options listed below. Although you may choose any creative piece from the reader, keep in mind that it should be something that you can respond to meaningfully, in the space of roughly 3-4 pages. Something very long or very short may be more difficult.

Papers must by typed and double spaced, and written in 12-point font (Times New Roman preferred) with one-inch margins. If you refer to outside sources, make sure to cite them using standard MLA style and include a works cited page. Here is a useful link for those who need a refresher:

In grading the midterm papers, I will be keeping the following questions in mind:
➢ Is the paper formatted correctly, is it the specified length, and is it free of spelling and grammatical errors?
➢ Is there a clear thesis or point of view?
➢ Are claims supported with relevant examples from the text?
➢ Have all the elements of the prompt been addressed?
➢ Have all references and outside sources been cited using MLA style?
➢ Is the paper lively, creative, thoughtful, and interesting to read?

Option 1 ~ Analyze a short story in terms of how it is constructed, paying close attention to plot structure, patterns, and momentum. For example: In what ways does the author set the scene? At what point and how is the central conflict introduced? What kinds of patterns or escalations does the author use to create a feeling of rising tension? How are the reader’s expectations thwarted or confirmed? What effects do structure and development have on the feeling, atmosphere, or tone of the story? How do the formal or structural elements of the story relate to the themes or ideas explored? What do the author’s techniques suggest to you for your own writing?

Option 2 ~ Scan a poem, monologue, or speech using the scansion techniques discussed in class. Analyze the piece word by word and line by line, identifying metrical pattern, line length, and variations. How does the writer use meter to control pace? How does the writer end each line, each stanza, the work itself? How does (s)he begin each line? What effect does the choice of metrical patterns have on the tone, feeling, or atmosphere of the poem or speech? How does meter support or counter the images and themes of the piece? What other techniques does the writer use to supplement the meter (rhyme, images, or themes)? What do the author’s techniques suggest to you for your own writing?

Option 3 ~
PART ONE: Select 3 stories, poems, or plays (or a combination of all three) from the course reader that have a subject or theme in common. Explore your theme from a literary and craft perspective, as Anne Carson does in “Every Exit is an Entrance.” Consider each piece individually, as well as in comparison with the others. What are the commonalities and differences between them? How do the formal or structural elements of each piece relate to the themes or ideas explored? Support your claims with examples from the texts.

PART TWO: Draft a poem, short story, or monologue of no more than a page that meditates on your theme, incorporating material from your paper and the pieces you explored. Include this with your paper. The poem should not be part of the word count.

Option 4 ~ Stephen Ratcliffe states in “MEMO / RE: Reading Stein,” Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons explores “the shape of sound in writing—how sound shapes and creates the meaning of a text in ways that go beyond the meaning of its words. Playing with language—grammar, syntax, sound, rhythm, word meaning—in order to ‘rewrite’ it, free it from its denotative and connotative responsibilities, she discovered the materiality of words as objects, things, physical and acoustic matter whose referential meaning—carafe, teacup, tumbler, feather—while still actively present, was not their only interest. . . . She began to see words not simply as a window opening on the world, signaling that world, inviting the reader to pass through them into it; rather, words happen here—on the page, in air—their particular atomic weights and textures, spin and counterspin, enacted first by the writer who composes a text, reenacted by the reader who reads it.”

PART ONE: Select and analyze in detail one piece from “Objects,” exploring the ways in which Stein uses grammar, syntax, sound, rhythm, rhyme and word meaning. Discuss the effect Stein’s choices have on your experience of reading the piece and think about how her work influences your thinking about the words you use when writing.

PART TWO: Draft a poem of no more than a page, chosen from the options below, and include it with your paper. The poem should not be part of the word count.
  1. Write a poem in which the canvas of the poem is flattened, where the value or meaning is distributed across the entirety of the work, where each compositional element is of equal importance.
  2. When subject matter is commonplace or ugly, as is often the case in “realism,” method itself is foregrounded. Write a poem about a mundane object or event, where the main interest lies in how it is rendered. The written “brushstrokes” may even render the original subject unrecognizable.


Gertrude Stein has always been a hard read for me even despite her notary talents. However I found in a piece within a piece (DIRT AND COPPER) in OBJECTS that first line grabbed my attention. "dirt and not copper makes a color darker". Something about the fresh earth and the way I can just visualize it being incorporated with another object such as cloth and how they become one yet are still two separate entities. Copper to me is so cold and therefore has no business being at a table.

There were many others too that grabbed my attention in light of there being some crazy one like "peeled pencil,choke"(rub her coke). For instance GLAZED GLITTER. Most often the pieces that were a paragraph were the ones I was drawn into. She repeats metals such as copper and nickel and discusses their properties on an emotional level. How does it fit into our world and why is it here type questions. Here she also repeats mercy as she did in (DIRT AND COPPER). A sense of humanity within objects and teaching lessons by simply being what they are. This was probably the easier reads of the gertrude stein book I have come across in my time.

The Difference Between Pepsi and Coke

I was ready to hear this guys description of Coke and Pepsi. I was so disappointed. I was ready to dive right in and voice my opinion on how Pepsi is the best, and call everyone crazy. Instead I was met with some sort of tribute to a man. I think the most interesting part of the poem is that this guy has extremes, no gray area. But the mention that he can tell the subtle difference of two kinds of cola was interesting. To me it seems that this guy would have one preference, but then you read on. You discover he isn't just a mean old man making poor decisions, feeling inadequate and having a temper. You discover he is also a great man who stood up for things he knew was right before anyone told him it was right, he provides to his children and he is knowledgeable and cultured. Everyone can relate to this poem. Everyone knows someone who has maybe been through too many things in his life and keeps them bottles up only to find other ways to self medicate his pain in his life. But this never makes him a bad person, you always know that there is a nice man inside.

Tender Buttons Response

All I can think to myself when reading Gertrude Stein's "Tender Buttons" is how does she come up with this? Being a creative writer, asking these kinds of questions seems irrelevant, but it is still so fascinating! I think what I enjoy about "Tender Buttons" most is that it doesn't make any sense. But that is the point! With it, you kind of have to make up your own sense and parallel her words with that. This story doesn't conform to any traditional sense of structure. It is raw and organic. It's simple and beautiful, without having the question in the back of your head repeating over and over, "Now what does she mean by that?" It is not necessarily about what the words mean, but the sound of them.

"A sentence of a vagueness that is violence is authority and a mission and stumbling and also certainly also a prison. Calmness, calm is beside the plate and in way in. There is no turn in terror. There is no volume in sound."

This is a part that, for some reason, struck me in "Food." The last two sentences are particularly beautiful to me. Her writing is a continuous contradiction. Words as an aesthetic, words just being words.


As a writer, I found Objects by Gertrude Stein somewhat difficult to get through. It is a common practice to take an object and dissect it, analyzing its physical aspects as well as its metaphysical or metaphorical meaning to the speaker. However, Stein's descriptions of such every day objects as pillows and coins were extremely dense and somewhat difficult to decipher. True, it is affective to have beautiful and lyrical language, but in this sense, Stein twists her words to an almost incompressible means of conveying her ideas. For example, in the section A PIECE OF COFFEE, she states "A single image is not splendor. Dirty is yellow. A sign of more in not mentioned. A piece of coffee is not a detainer. The resemblance to yellow is dirtier and distincter. The clean mixture is whiter and not coal color, never more coal color than altogether. " Honestly, I found it difficult to completely understand what she was attempting to get across to the reader. It feels more abstract than concrete, too abstract in fact.

The Difference Between Pepsi and Coke

I was silly enough to eagerly read this poem, hoping to see someone break down one of the great divides in human history. For really, what could possibly be more important than a detailed analysis of the differences between one of the most delicious things in the history of human beings, and it’s horrific imposter?

It will take me a couple more reads to fully understand what’s going on here, but what I think David Lehman is doing is painting a detailed picture of a personality. Everybody has these little subtleties, these little nuances, and he is showing us an example of just one. Here’s a guy with extremes. He’s a man who can’t see what’s obvious, or what’s in front of him. He has very little self-awareness, and yet, when he pops open a Coca-Cola or a Pepsi, he can tell the difference. There are tons of other little things he can differentiate as well, but none of them really delve into the bigger picture. He’s a man who can see what’s right in front of him in great detail, but at the same time the significance of what is right there totally shoots over his head.

I liked this poem a lot. I don’t know whether Lehman is saying that the difference between these things are miniscule or not, but he is making a point about the personality of humans. Awesome.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thoughts on Fork

Just the other other, my roommate and I were talking about cats. Her ex boyfriend had a weird thought that the only two things cats thought about was sleeping and killing. We have three cats in our house, so I got a little weirded out. After reading Simic's poem, I began thinking about the significance in objects around me that are not normally very important to mention. Last year my cat's tail was caught in a crack in the window and pulled off, causing him to be... well... tail-less. The idea that objects around us can be hazardous and even personified as "evil" is fascinating, and Simic through this poem creates that world where a fork can be seen as a terrifying object or a weapon. "This strange thing must have have crept right out of hell"! I just loved this poem!

Response to The Language

The Ladies

I draw mine
like the red
watery lips

of painted
Ladies. I
dream of my

shoes saying
click, click
good morning

moonlight. And I
will smile as
they do, raising

my pluming
cigarette to those
red, watery lips.

Response to "The Difference Between Pepsi and Coke"

In his poem, "The Difference Between Pepsi and Coke", David Lehman uses the notion of priority in order to convey the message that people often make inconsequential decisions in life much more readily than important choices. Lehman seems fascinated by his father's inadequate personal life juxtaposed with the less important but much more impressive abilities outside of it. His "Pop" is simultaneously indifferent to (and incompetent with) many of life's issues such as his marriage and his analysis of business, yet still very discerning when considering small details. This poem forced me to consider my own life, in which I am currently incapable of remembering my own Social Security number, but can easily remember the license plate number to every vehicle owned by 7 members of my family for the last 15 years. Lehman's work helped me to realize that sometimes, certain subjects just adhere themselves to one's psyche more easily than others; even if that means I'm great with license plates, and terrible with most other things.

Amy Hempel

Amy Hempel's story, “In the cemetery where Al Jolson is buried”, seemed very unique and refreshing for a few different reasons. First of all, I appreciated very much the way it was told. It was completely un-revealing to the reader but not in any way that complicated or confusing and by the end of the story I knew pretty much everything I needed to know about their relationship without being told much. Like the gestures articles that we read, sometimes more is less and Hemple seems to be a master of using the readers own implications to make the story more readable and realistic.

The other thing I really enjoyed about the story was the very beginning, the idea of “useful things that I wont mind forgetting”. I liked this because it was a kind of odd juxtaposition on real life. No one asks to hear random animal facts but the first thing I do after popping open my Snapple is look for the weight of a humming birds bones or how long penguins can breath underwater. This also worked to let the reader know immediately what kind of character this person was, which ties back into saying things without actually saying them.

Overall, it was a quick and easy read but something I wont soon forget for its eccentric characters and interesting style.

Take Off of "The Day Lady Died"

The Day Buddy Died

It is 2: 00 in S.F. a Thursday
three days after Burns night, yes
it is 2010 and I go get a cigarette
because I will get off the M at Stonestown
at 7:00 and then go straight to class
and I don’t know the people next to me

I walk up 19th its beginning to rain
and have a scotch and another cigarette and buy
a damp ONION to see what the cynics
in news are complaining about these days
I go to the ATM
and Mr. Glass (first name Seymour I once heard)
doesn’t yell at me for looking at his shoes for once in his life
and at BORDERS I get the Mu-Mon-Kwan
for Timzie and drawings by Ensor although I do
think the faces reminded me of the Joker or
kids playing with their mom’s lipstick
but I stick with Ensor
after pasting faces from PEOPLE on the skulls in the background

and for myself I stroll into the EASY FREEZY
Liquor store and ask for another pack of Marlboros and
then go back to class after my two hour break
open my laptop to TWITTER and see his name trending

And I’m shaking a lot and smoking heavier and thinking of
leaning on the bar door of the DUBLINER
while he typed secret novels
in seclusion and everyone and I skipped a heartbeat.

Creative Response: Fork


Spawned from the inbreeding
of spoon and fork,
Spork is the member of the family kept most hidden,
he’s so “special” it’s always put in quotes.
Looks like a fork with a padded helmet
worn around the necks of the homeless or the
As you use it to unsuccessfully
stab into your newborn calf, bloody raw
you imagine this spork, your new friend
in his padded helmet,
his head which like your first
is vacant, vapid, and hairy.

rendition of "the difference between pepsi and coke"

Gives his seat up to old women on the bus; thinks he's strong and able bodied
spends money on his girlfriend, thinks he can make more later
is polite and respectful, knows when to be courteous
Not very loud, and doesn't like to make a scene
thinks all people have some good in them; knows this is true
But he eats with his mouth open and his eyes closed.
Curses like it's bread and butter; even though cursing is for
the inarticulate mother fucker,
Spits inside, spits outside; and fucking hates people
especially people who are too polite.
God damn old women too weak to stand on the bus.
It's okay; it's the right thing to do.
Drunk and high most of the time,
broke and terrible at school
doesn't have the where with all to get it together;
too dreamy, too stuck within fantasy
spends all his money; has little faith in himself
and is too scared to be optimistic; probably
just a fucking coward.
Guilt and sorrow and filth and the natural
desire to exist; to exist as a human within and outside
of the American nation, but all too much attachment
to his vices, as if they could be called vices
the self-pitying self-loathing mother fucker
self-righteous in a his own manipulative way,
so manipulative he doesn't even know it.
But he does know it.
But he eats with his mouth open and eyes closed
so all you see is the chewed up food and you never once
have to see into those chewed up eyes; spitting grief and absurdity and dramatics.
Atleast making sure to get up for the old women on the bus

In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried by Amy Hempel

I had to read this story twice because the first time I read it I was just so concerned with figuring out the plot. I couldn't tell if they were at first getting some cosmetic operation because of the mask references and why it took so long for her to get to a "glamorous place", then right after that it was clear that the friend was ill, but then I wasn't sure if the narrator was as well ill. There were times when I was wondering if this was taking place after they died, my mind definitely was a little out there on this piece so I had to re-read it.
When I re-read the story, it was very obvious what was going on; a friend that is visiting her dying best friend, and it took almost two months for her to visit, very very sad.
However, there was so much that was striking to me about this story. For one, the way Hempel starts the story with the dying best friend asking to hear about things that she won't mind forgetting. That really placed me in the ill friend's place, because instantly I thought of who would want to hear about things that they wouldn't mind forgetting and of course someone who knows they are going to forget everything important to them soon, devastating, but then the friend starts telling her things that are unimportant and that really is a nice contrast to the very sad reality of the story. I thought this two contrasting tones was a very effective technique.
I also really appreciated the subtlety of the way the Hempel gives information. "She introduces me to a nurse as the Best Friend" (Hempel 100) this is where I realized that the nurse has heard stories of the best friend, but meeting her for the first time. Very interesting.
There is so much more in this that I thought was striking, and there is so many craft elements that I would hope to incorporate in my writing some day.

My attempt at "Fork"


How does it look
to those who are
absent of teeth.

Wiry fibers cleaning
that which is dirty,
do we really need it?
A dog's mouth is
supposedly cleaner
than ours.

The Rain by Robert Creeley-response

I found “The Rain” by Robert Creeley to be a poem that demonstrated excellent c raft and metaphor. It is not a lengthy piece, which allows the message to be strong and concise. I felt that Creeley uses rain to symbolize the outside world we have to prove ourselves to. Just as life become a daily routine of school, work, eating, socializing, and so forth, it is easy to compare it to the endless beating of rain. We cannot stop the rain just as we cannot stop our conscious from overflowing with thought some times. The poem uses a lot repetition which builds upon the theme of an incessantly rainy setting. Words fall just a drops would onto a windowsill. There are breaks placed within the poem that give certain lines a stronger meaning. For instance, in the fifth stanza he separates “the getting out” from a completely different stanza that begins with “of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi lust of intentional indifference.” “The getting out” seems to hang for a moment, allowing the reader to fully feel the weight of his longing to understand and embrace the rain. Alliteration is also used frequently in this piece, which again adds to the rhythmic quality of the rain he is referring to. Finally, Creeley writes “be wet with a decent happiness.” I feel he is saying that although life, the rain, can be redundant and persistent, one must fully indulge in it rather than be too afraid to walk into it. I enjoyed reading this piece and I found it to have great depth.

My Tender Buttons...


A buffer between bedsheets and hot breath. A pillow placed under the head is slept on and forgotten. The pillow by day is sheathed in black or blue or purple. The pillow in the night is sheathed rather in darkness not a color but a feeling of eyes closed head on. It is turned and turned in search of the coldest part with all parts still being pillow. Cold pillow on a face is a treasure hunted in half-sleep.

The pillow is forgotten during sleep and ignored upon waking. The pillow is filled with feathers and the feathers are most certainly forgotten. The feathers and the pillow will remember a face. What if feathers escape. Feathers on the floor means a pillow must be molting.

A pillow is sometimes thrown. A throw pillow is always useless.

Placed between the legs a pillow is an answer to loneliness. Between the legs a pillow substitutes for a sleeping lover. In its placement a replacement for a lover is still a pillow.

Dreams. Bone and skin and tissue separate a pillow and a dream. The head is bone and skin and tissue and frequently filled with dreams. The pillow is cotton and thread and zipper and forever filled with feathers.

Response to In the Cemetery Where Al Johnson Is Buried

I felt the ending of this piece where the chimp is forming the words "Baby, come hug, baby come hug" very touching. The author of this piece talks about friendship, grief, and fear. She brings up interesting animal stories that will cheer up her ill friend. Perhaps she also is a companion sharing the same illness as her friend. She remembers useless information that at the same time is very interesting. With the death of her friend she takes a class to overcome her fear of flying. The last part where she talks about an experiment where a chimp has a baby and then her baby dies and she is forming words "fluent now in the language of grief." The author herself has also become fluent.

Tender Buttons


A box filled with half boxes, is white and sharp silver, and black wrapped in rubber. A shell or a mouth that is open and slowly swallowing. Sharp light at an angle, blinking onto the black plastic that leaning. Ordered in moving. The same ones, still standing.


In spinning is still. Three green leaves and a freckle-faced girl. Is diving down in a pool and stops short because it is frozen. Certainly not fit for eating. While dancing is gray around the pond. White following. Hunger is not an action.


All splayed and spraying. Grass that needs mowing. You miss them when they go and you would go back and tell them so. The space between the gum and the tooth, pink dark den. Wearing out or in. Sometimes clean, sometimes almost clean, sometimes forgetting clean.

A flamingo a hedgehog a hammer a knife.

Lorum Ibsum

This came to mind after reading Objects. I took the classic typsetting language, Lorum Ipsum, then went through and re-arranged the words by sound in an attempt to replicate the style of aural over informational. Of course, since Lorem Ipsum is meant to look like latin, the overall effect isn’t exactly as ‘flowing’ as Gertrude Stein’s is, but I’m highly amused by the result, and enjoyed (in a somewhat perverse sort of way), doing this. Perhaps a Roman would think it very cutting edge.


Phasellus vestibulum egestas rhoncus. Nunc rhoncus augue ornare turpis iaculis id tristique erat volutpat. Quisque sed quis nisi. Pellentesque sed leo eu lorem lectus. Ut porta nibh id magna interdum tincidunt faucibus nec non luctus at, auctor ac sapien. Lorem scelerisque a nibh id magna vitae nisi a lacinia. Donec vestibulum aliquam est vel rhoncus augue ornare turpis iaculis id tristique erat elementum. Donec felis quam, molestie vel tristique erat nisi tincidunt faucibus nec non risus. Aliquam es donec condit. Fusce non varius a sollis mattis non varius magna, a bibendum sed, bibendum loreet malesuada orci. Nullamcorper hendum aliquam.

Nulla sodalesuada ornare, purus ultrisus augue est elit. Ut arcu. Sed turpis auctor, magna, a trices enim eget ligula, a sodalesuada trices condit. Ut at vel neque estas auctor, malesuada tincidunt. Fusce non fermentum. Nam nisi. Vivamus lobortis blandit. Fusce non varius auctor, malesuada tristique. Integet libendum sem in bibero vitae tempus ultris blandime

Praesent gravida consectetur orci, eget dolor. Donec mattis pulvinar purus ut mollis. Pellentesque tempor risus quis libero laoreet convallis. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per inceptos himenaeos. Vivamus pellentesque lacus egestas. Donec posuere tristique senectus et malesuada fames ac turpis eget justo. Pellentesque tempor risus quis libero laoreet convallis. Pellentesque tempor risus quis libero laoreet convallis. Pellentesque tempor risus quis libero laoreet convallis. Pellente


The reading which grabbed me the most was The Rain by Robert Creeley. I liked the duel moments between love and depression (the rain). Below is my attempt at the same contrast between elements. Altering the content a bit.


Exposing is the yellow
simulation, blinking the
world to life. A reason for
escape, adventure.

Please, do not endanger
this pleasant moment. My love
is given, not to you, not to your
unique Aptitude.

Slipping my darkened lenses.
Blocking the ugliness of your
way of life. Bearing the blunt,
inescapable grasp of you.

Moments of emptiness are not
found. The grand illumination
sparks the will, the alert mind.

Please leap away from this exceptional
day. Take with you your pain, disease,
aching need for self attention. I exist
without these qualities.

Jason Yelland

Tender Croutons

I wrote this after reading Tender Buttons Objects. None of it made any sense. The words sounded good though and there was rhythm and repetition and a lot of colors. So anyway this is what I came up with.


Bubbling black is a top, is a toad. But not a toad if part of a crowd.


A mound is brown if its ground, supposing it is ground than its not grassy, grassy is green and great through glass.


A yurt. A muffin. Sits on dirt. Rolling and round and opens down and yurts are houses and not for horses. A yurt.


If it is such that, if A then B, and If B then not G. A then B. If B not G. Then X.


Green fresh vegetables make Sprite sprightly. Green with brass brass is sprightly, makes Sprite more vegetable.

"The Language/The Rain" Response

The View

In the morning
usually bright, warm
I can see miles from the
fire escape.

The windows of the places
where busy people
spend their days
wink at me

laughing, not so friendly,
yet they draw me to
the edge of my view.
And I look down

and see a single blossom
amongst a field of weeds,
a neighbor's garden grinning
a toothless smile.

If you love me,
you will come
and sit with me here
on such a lovely morning.

The Voice in a Scream

This is my mimicry of "The Difference Between Pepsi and Coke".

Worries herself thin; only eats cheese and crackers, three times a day,
because the television says her bones aren’t enough:
Cleans neurotically; prays when she drives,
Main distraction towards her love of speed;
Always speaks Jersey when she awakes; drinks vodka with cherries,
drinks coffee to freeze it; everyday a routine in her chaos;
Spends, spends, spends all the money she doesn’t have,
then frets about negative balances and bounced checks;
Yet, Mom can talk in a gentle voice
while yelling at her vocal capacity
Lived in a car when she was finally kicked out;
and had her best friend grow white pumpkins,
She cried as hard as they did when he died;
opens the heavens with her false operatic voice; blissfully
Buying her grand-nephews toys until they crack with smiles
that she loves more than her happiness;
Has ripped opened hearts with words, until the organs
were raw and bleeding and healed once again;
Saw the Berlin Wall being torn down in rebellious glee,
she laughed and laughed and laughed;
Dances to Motown; shops in every hardware store globally;
knows her children lie, and still loves them.


When I first read the poem, I did not know what to make of it at first. I thought it was a wild imagining of a fork and nothing more. However, as I reread the poem, I started to realize Simic was taking the mundane and making it grotesquely surreal. A simple, boring fork all of a sudden becomes something "right out of hell" that is worn around a "cannibal's neck" and is the foot of a "large, bald, beakless, and blind" bird. Simic forces the reader to rethink what a fork is and in the process teaches one to really look at things for what they are. In this case, a simple fork, whose existence we take for granted, is transformed into the surreal object it really is when one stops to think of it. The fork becomes foreign and alien to us as we begin to realize that we do not understand everything around us, including objects such as forks. In this way, Simic forces the reader to rethink the world around them as being surreal and alienating.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Pint to a Glass

This is my attempt at mimicking tender buttons, yes, it is about my pint glass, I'm deep I know. I'm also long winded, my apologies. Oh, and sometimes I make up words...

Transparency is a color too, empty, not like green, green is full, lively even.

The prison is like a window, unbarred, a window turned in upon itself. In resolute, deliberate, delinquent discontent and trust, outside out, inside in, and sometimes that out too.

That, murky, still like death, it keeps to itself like a window turned in on itself but rain kept in. Kept it in, hoarded like a miser, dishes don't mind, being dirty's like a day off. woe to be like the rain, no handholds kept in.

This too is like that window turned in, but in this all bars, copper, silver, strong when contained, strong when in open air, weak too when exposed, wears its colors with pride, also like a prison that way.

No place to grip, slips, rests below, and sometimes up up up, like joy.

Nothing to a man devoid of property, anything to get through, to go around, means: a pair whose meetings fleeting, close now, discarded.Destructive forces required are not the same,

the one precludes the other. And neither survive the juxtaposition, but it is predetermined, is it that it is, to mind is not to mine the meaning but mime intent once wiped away revealing rhetoric and that too a phalanx of fearoshusness in turned rainfull windows darkened past transparency intentedly but not to far past 11.

To pass eleven is not godly, to pass the point one should return to so from there it feels as the water does, meeting yourself, deliberate because to remain still, subjugate, prostrate, your contents before the powers that be. Deliberation! Decidedly undeniable really it is.

Unlike the others of its kind contextual misrepresentation of a species to die, Phillius, before thy time, demands retribution! To be empty but under pressure, is not to empty.

Salute salutary salutations! Abundant disposition towards emptying ing's self ang laid to rest ing fitful tenderedly stoned still stratostropic still life living stilly, and murky, not faced upon silver out turned prison for prisons.

Response to Musee Des Beaux Arts

In this poem, W.H. Auden discusses the notion of suffering not only being everywhere, but also being completely subjective to those who are only at the immediate hand of this “human position”. Auden makes several allusions within this poem, one being in reference Pieter Brueghel’s painting “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus”. In this paining Icarus’ legs can be seen descending into the ocean with the rest of his body; while this disaster takes place the townspeople go about their daily routine. This idea of no one looking up from ones own world to notice a boy falling from the sky parallels, in a very theatrical way, Auden’s main theme of his poem. Another allusion Auden makes is to the virginal birth of Jesus; he notes how the aged waited “reverently and passionately” for this birth. He then jumps out from this allusion and brings up a scene of “children who did not specially want it (the birth) to happen”. This is just one more instance that reinforces Auden’s theme; despite the torture and pain, whether it be great or menial, whether it be the birth of the messiah or not, children will always rather be ice-skating.

Rendition of "The Language" By Robert Creeley


Believe this
you are whole-
as in

heart and
hunger, delve
into life

not in form
but in, the
being for

so much
time. Poems
tell none.

you are

how can
being take
whole. With

awe, awe.
I saw brightness
and dark light

a being
yearning. Wondering
is the heart.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Week 4 Assignments

Writing Assignment

Choose One:
1) Go over your free-write from class and underline anything in iambic pentameter (we may or may not have gotten to this in class). Using the sections you underlined, write a poem or monologue in iambic pentameter. Feel free to cheat on the meter, as Shakespeare does. And don’t be afraid to write or revise as much as needed. Your free-write is just a starting point!

2) Write a poem or monologue of no more than a page in which the rhythm and sounds support the content in some way, as in The Dance and My Papa’s Waltz. Allow the language to support (or contradict!) what happens on the page.

Read for Next Week

Objects from Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein

In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried, Amy Hempel from Reasons to Live
The Rain and The Language, Robert Creeley
The Day Lady Died, Frank O’Hara
Fork, Charles Simic
The Difference Between Pepsi and Coke, David Lehman
Musee des Beaux Arts, W.H. Auden

1. Post an entry about any one of the readings this week. This may be a critical or creative piece of about 200-300 words. It MUST respond to your chosen reading in some way, either by identifying and discussing craft elements, themes, or techniques or by using those elements in a creative response.

2. Post comments on at least three other entries. Remember, this is not a place for critiquing each other’s work. Instead, identify something from the piece that strikes or interests you, ask a neutral question about the work, or suggest ways the author could deepen or expand it.

Brautigan's "Margaret" and "My Name"

After reading Richard Brautigan's short pieces, "Margaret" and "My Name", I was somewhat disappointed. It's not to say that his writing was bad, I just did not feel any sort of connection with the characters in both pieces. The first one, "Margaret", definitely maintains a sense of apathy and has a consistent tone, but I just find myself disliking the character and not finding this piece necessary at all. It explains on simple action, a girl named Margaret coming to the door and the main character not wanting to answer it. It doesn't feel as though it maintains any depth, in my opinion. The second piece, "Nameless" is a continuation of the same collection of writing, and in maintains a consistent theme until the very end. It focuses so much on the fact that the speaker is nameless and that he is somewhat of an abstract, but then the author brings Margaret into it again at the end, and it just feels entirely out of place. I honestly did not enjoy these two pieces.

Response to "My Name"

That Is Leaving

You asked me to write you a letter about how I felt when I dropped you off that day. When I left you there by the bridge with your bags and your dog and my last ten dollars. You want to know what it was like, and how could I have, and all that. You want to know what it would be like, for any person, to leave you there.
It's the moment you drift between awake and asleep. Feels like falling backwards and you lose your breath. Maybe you clench your teeth. One hard click and you're out.
That is leaving.
Or maybe that's one part of it.
Maybe it's spring and you've planted a garden. You're so excited; you have snap peas, tomatoes, cilantro. But you forgot to clip the cilantro and it grew too much. And you were growing organic and didn't know what to do when the aphids came. And then you went on vacation, and by late June everything was dried sticks and wilted leaves.
That is leaving.
At least part of it.
It's also being six and packing all your dolls and some clothes into your pink suitcase and sneaking out your bedroom window. Running fast and hiding under the slide at the park near your house until your dad finds you, pink eyes and tear stained cheeks.
That is leaving.
And it's ordering a Jameson with a beer back. Getting drunk and yelling at a person you love. Remembering the next morning. Avoiding their eyes.
That is also leaving.
And also, I hope you made it over to Scott's house okay, and that you don't hate me too much.

Crazy Metaphor Story from Team Single Ladies

I forgot to post this:

The rain hits the dry streets, it fulminates the air like the smell of a fresh wound on the skin. This city is a web still spinning, and I, a fly; caught and stuck in a picture so small. My mouth birthed no conversation, just lifeless lips and rattling thoughts as a dreary silence overwhelms me and a silence leads to...nothing but crossed arms and a gaze focused on dirty shoelaces. You were a pile of cold, dirty leaves lying on my front lawn. I wonder who I am supposed to care about next.


Without a second thought
he tumbled down the way
already forgetting where he came from
and how far he’s been.
He paused to pet the petals of a lone soul
crossed in the motion of a moment
on the tarmac road.
They shared a piece or two
of themselves
and returned to their respective

Without a second thought
he disrobed his mind of outer layers.
Exposed unclothed,
naked truth.
Gets him a little closer
to himself.

Without a second though
the lunged toward water
instinct swelling.
All wet
swimming through substance.
He supposes it’s the closest he’ll ever be
to flying.

Without a second thought
he counts and recounts
his marbles.
83 red ones
68 blue ones
25 opaques
really, the list goes on.
And on.
He likes their smallness,
holding them in his hands.
Cool little spheres
tranquil trinketsto his fingers.
He didn’t do anything with them,
like construct towers and castles of slides,
he never sent them rolling.
He just held them.
Sometimes two at a time, to feel the slight grind
of glass on glass.
They were sort of lucky.
They were his thing,

Without a second thought
he chewed on his toe nail.
He knew it was a disgusting habit,
he just didn’t care.
There was a deep rooted pleasurein the grossness of the act.
That it was his, made it ok.
His toe nail,
his own little piece of himself.
And he only did it while he was thinking,
it wasn’t like he would bring a toe nail
to the grocery store to chew onwhile picking up some hummus.
But really, he had no shame.
It became a point of pride,
something that made him
A quirk, uncommon and therefore
almost cool.
It was the “almost” part that made it really cool.
Underground cool.
His thing was so gross, mainstream couldn’t hang.
He was proud to be that weird.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"The Dance" Imitation

In a once great American time, The 20s,
the swingers would swing and fling
bodies and limbs,
gyration to the wiry sizzle
of brush against snare,
brassy boom
of a bellowing trombone
throughout the room,
and the sax player's eyes
squeeze shut like the pumping
fists thrust into the air
while sweat sprays
the swarm and the room
begins to grow warm
in a once great American time, The 20s.

my adaptation of Margaret

The door always stuck, and you had to know how to finesse it just right to open it slowly and quietly, and it made getting in and out very easy if you had that right touch to it. You never pulled right away, and you never pulled at the door before twisting the knob fully all the way to the left. If you did twist the door knob all the way to the left, and then you pulled at the door, it stuck anyways. It always stuck. You had to push it in and down to pull it back, it was a relationship with the door, one that you had to be understanding with, soft and wooden, but quick and rough. It always stuck if you did not feel against your breath the cracks that ran down from the top to the bottom of the door, and the chipped edge where the water had swollen the door. They've always had a way of fucking up the door. Opening it too quick, opening it too slowly. I had the door swooning like a baby, the way I had come to understand that wooden door that always stuck. And when it stuck it made an extremely deep, loud sound that felt like a crash, or a jab. You could hear it from outside the house. You always knew when the door stuck. But they always took to the door like they understood it. Like it was any other door. But when they did take to the door, they never cared to take their time, they needed to make a statement.
You're a fucking asshole. I'm sorry.Fuck your apology, I'm leaving. Don't pull on the door Isabella. It always stuck.

Clown Laughter-Mown Lawn

He hated clown laughter. Maybe that was because lag was in laughter and he tended to do that a lot. Clown laughter had a sad sound to it, like drown and slaughter. For him, clown laughter made drowning slaughter. Laughter had some of the letters of thug, a bad person. Clown laughter also contained the word owner. Something that he was not. In fact some owners are indeed clowns who had laughter. Laughter also had the word hag. Some clowns are hags but not all hags are clowns. Hags do not always laugh what about thugs? Do thugs ever make anyone laugh? Can clowns make thugs laugh? Let the hags and thugs have their clown laughter, he said. Or the splatter, splatter clown.

The Ash Wednesday Waltz

He bowed in your presence
to the falsity of bells;
As the rhythm of your essence
told of the god you sell.

Truth shone more loudly
than you could possibly shout.
Though you stared at him proudly,
He gladly tuned you out.

He watched the bowing masses,
crying for your reprieve.
He displayed some class
and mutes his disbelief.

"My Name": Imitation/Appearance

Assignment #3: "In Bed"

Still, I lay

The light is still on in my bedroom. My ears catch the sound of the carpet shifting below his aged leather shoes. He slowly slides his hand through the slightly open doorway and brushes it against the light switch. It’s dark, and I know I’ll turn the light back on as soon as he goes to his own bed.

Still, I lay.

I’ve been here for over 11 hours now and this is my second time here. I know it’s not a false alarm. I know it’s real. I know it’s coming now, but I never wanted the shot. The severe woman in sea foam scrubs leans in: “Okay, I’m going to need you to breath deeply and gently. Slow, methodical breaths. In. Out. BREATHE!”

Still, I lay.

A dinosaur’s footsteps cause me to open my dead eyes. Ken, the dinosaur, trudges past my nose and begins to empty himself before flushing the toilet. Narrowly missing my face yet again, the dinosaur moans “Never again.” I peel my face off of the linoleum and return “Me too” before dropping once more.

Still, I lay

When I wake up I’m still in the cloud. I’m not supposed to be hearing this exchange:

#1: I’m telling you, there’re two kinds of rolls for the morning, and they are Tartine and everything else. There’s just no comparison to anything else.

#2: What about Bay Bread? The one on Hayes is always great…

#1: They’re awful. Just awful. I want something I can dip my coffee in, not something to feed my dog. Tartine uses fresh orange zest in their dough. I’m mean, come on…. Pass the scalpel, please.

Still, I lay

I now require ED pills. BUT…

Still, I lay

Arms crossed.

Now, I lie.

Margaret - Parody

There was a knock on the door this morning, and I knew instantly who it was, for bits of plaster fell from the ceiling, jarred loose by momentum. Only one person could move heaven and earth in such a way, shoddy as the condition of the third-rate apartment building was. I thought with great chagrin that nobody else paraded the hallway to my door with such fierceness. Elephants outside might have had more grace.
I did not open the door because the thought of seeing so much flabby flesh might put me off my instant oatmeal. I knew what she wanted. And I would not give it to her.
Finally I perceived the same stomping noises. The plaster shifted from the ceiling again, and I knew I had to repaint. Always the plaster. Whenever she draws near, I have to get the ceiling fixed. People might come to my door hundreds of times and never damage the ceiling, even upstairs. God could imagine what might happen if she paid my neighbor a visit above me. Finally, when I knew she was gone I peered outside. A note on the door confirmed my suspicions.
“Your rent is overdue, buster. Pay up. –Maggie”

My Papa's Waltz

A second read of this poem gave me a crazy realization, as I'm sure most people in this class, who are much smarter than me, already discovered. “My Papa’s Waltz”, can be read in a much different way than I originally saw. This is most likely not a loving father dancing with his child after a hard day at work, but a drunk father coming home and beating his child.

Key images like pans falling from shelves, knuckles, beatings and buckles scraping against the kids head make this a very sad read. I think it’s really interesting how Theodore Roethke uses the whole idea of a dance as a mask for the beating. It works really well, and I’m sure there are people who would never pick up on it.

Of course, it’s also very possible that I’M the one reading into it, and that this is in fact only about a dance and not about a father coming home and hitting his child. This could very well be a father who has had a hard day, and just wants to spend a little time with his kid before he goes to sleep. The mother’s frown could very well be one of happiness at seeing the way her family loves each other.

But I seriously doubt it.

Mega Story-Lauren, Liset, Laura, and Sheri

She flew around the cold pole, tethering herself, while fists beat the yellow out. Red around the eyes, sweltering heat the saline lava streams down past your lips. I left class early and walked around campus as my feet, heavier than the earth, dragged my body forward. The only thing worse than being cheated on is wet socks.

Short Analysis of "My Papa's Waltz"

It didn't take me very long to realize this poem was about child abuse. What disturbs me the most about this poem is how at the end of the beating, the narrator still clings to his father's shirt. The speaker clings to his father's shirt throughout the entire piece, pointing towards the fact that this boy still loves his abusive father. Through these beatings the narrator grows, "You beat time on my head" (line 13). His youthful imagination replaces the pain with an easier image--a waltz: "But I hung on like death:/Such waltzing was not easy". The simple ABAB rhyme scheme ("breath/death" and "dizzy/easy") is that of a child's nursery rhyme, further disguising the grittiness of the event and hints at the speaker's delusion.

"My Name"

“My Name” by Richard Brautigan is a truly delicate story about identity hidden the dark. The entire story has a beat that closely resembles that of a Wednesday night Catholic Mass; small descriptions followed by the confirmation “That is my name.” Brautigan appeals to the unconscious moments we encounter in daily life, finding his identity in these moments rather than at the forefront. When one thinks of the name they were given, people often apply a label upon themselves. “I am Pamela” is a true statement, but what Brautigan investigates is how one’s identity exceeds a name. Each scene he describes is that of a secretive content moment, either experienced alone in bed or around a loved one. It seems that when he confirms these moments as “his name” he is telling the reader that he listens during the quiet, in-between moments. He lives outside of himself. I found his voice in this piece to be overwhelmingly calm, understanding, and familiar. Brautigan shows that we are all connected emotionally and personally. I felt that “My Name” described a series of predicaments we can all relate to. Its use of poetry and repetition made his message strong and demonstrated that his identity is not so unclear after all.

My Name -Inspired

I was born Ana-Liset Mendoza

though I was suppose to be Josephina,

like grandma,

but they have hard lives.

And mama was mad at dad,

so I wasn't Catilina.

But I was never really Ana-Liset,

and I don't know what it's like to be Ana-Liset

except when someone young is trying to sound old,

and it always just sounds silly to my ears.

Sometimes I forget what my name really is,

that I am not just a liset, but Ana-Liset,

cause I don't really know what it's like to be her.

That girl with the hyphen,

so grand.

I always imagined her taller,

with darker eyebrows.

What does the hyphen mean anyways?

I don't feel like a combined meaning.

Or maybe I'm the noun:

active in more than one sphere,

but that doesn't sound right either.

Because how can I be in more than one,

if I don't even know what that one is?

Still on the first day,

when they call out that name,

that's not really my name.

I pause,

I think,

Oh me, my face says.

And I raise my hand


if I am me in the end.

Our Long Story of Madness

Here's our combination of sentences - FROM THE LAZER BEARS.

Two detached strands of curly brown hair land in the corner of his mouth, a wild bramble nest, cushioning her ear against my shoulder. The morning light glinted lazily into his eyes off the knife she held as he ay on the floor. Mr. Thurston had always made it his business to tell the students that their art was bad. Fists flying. Two backs hit the cold we pavement. Hand Shake. The alley is a place of excrement, cement toilet bowl of the bay - the metaphor emerges as literal as the human feces before my feet.


Response to A Mown Lawn

Lydia Davis' A Mown Lawn is a thought provoking, compact, short story. Her main character hates a "mown lawn." Everything represented by the way the word is spelled to the way it sounds congers up a picture of dissatisfaction. Perhaps because a mowed lawn needs continual upkeep, is a tedious, laborious task and is symbol of suburban, constantly growing America she needs to show us the dangers of a mown lawn.The words spelled out from mown lawn are a "long moan", "man", "raw war" - all negative and combative images. There is something raw in the word "raw war." A moan lawn might symbolize the repression she feels in a male dominated society or the repression she feels of not having a voice in a mown lawn society or a society obsessed with appearances. She tries to point out which I felt interesting "Did more lawn in America make more lawmen in America? Did more lawn make more Nam?" Does a mown lawn embody our pursuit for the American dream or own American ideals that we are blind to other more important matters?

In Watermelon Sugar

In Margaret, from In Watermelon Sugar, I thought it was interesting that the only thing to identify Margaret to the nameless narrator is the creaking of the board as she steps on it. Margaret is the only one that steps on it and it got me thinking about how one's gestures are deeply intertwined with one's identity. One can be recognized by their gestures just as much as anything else about a person, to the point that gestures become one's identity as with Margaret. At this point all we know about Margaret is that she steps on creaking boards. However, just this act causes the narrator to hide and not answer the door, speaking volumes to what a simple gesture can mean to people.

This is a deep contrast to the My Name section in In Watermelon Sugar, where the identity of the narrator remains elusive throughout the piece. I can't be too sure what he meant, but I think he is talking about how a name doesn't identify one's self and that a name is just a name and holds no value out of itself. I believe the narrator is suggesting that identity itself is more about the experiences that make up a person. This is supported by the fact that he compares his name to experiences of a variety of emotions and even daily life experiences like walking around in a field of flowers or describing the fire in a stove.

"My Name" creative response

Her Face.
If i were try to describe her features, I'm sure that you would not understand.
pretty, a pretty girl. Ugly, an ugly girl. Pictures in your mind that do nothing but morph and twist into an image of what you believe i must be referencing.
Think to when you overheard a conversation in a language you couldn't quite place. Loud voices carry, demanding attention.
This is her face.
To the last time you broke a rule imposed on you by a commercialized coffee company, buying the coffee simply because you cannot bring your own.
This is her face.
The last time you had a bitter realization about the future direction of someone you loved. Understanding the passing of time, realizing the stagnancy of the content people around you.
This is her face.
Or the last time you fell in love with a stranger over a flick of butane, gazing for moment into each others eyes, dying to know the mind that rests behind them, to never be seen again.
This is her face.
Her face is something foreign. her face is blatant restriction. her face is a dark perspective. her face is missed opportunity.

Her Husband's Waltz

He is home again,
time to hide the liquor
If she asks where he's been,
he'll throw her down and kick her.

"Are you hungry? Have you ate?"
she hopes to avoid a beating.
"No you whore, I was out on a date,
and that means I was eating."

He looks for his bottle of whiskey,
but it's no where to be found.
She knew hiding his alcohol was risky,
and she continues not to make a sound.

They circle around the room
and she gets ready for the first strike.
Upstairs little Timmy hears a loud boom,
welcome to the home of Jenny and Mike.

Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flannery O' Conner

Throughout this story several images and/or thoughts I thought were beautifully written and effective in showing the underlying issues between Julian and his mother. Also I found many areas where Flannery O' Conner demonstrated a lot of the crafts that Francine Prose described in Gesture.
The hatred that Julian feels during the majority of the story is blatant, "Everything that gave her pleasure was small and depressed him" (O' Conner 125). "...with determination to make himself completely numb during the time he would be sacrificed to her pleasure." (O' Conner 126). I felt that a lot of this hatred was coming from the obvious; he hated her ancient morals and standards, especially when it involved her opinions and actions towards African-Americans at the time, "...he saw his mother across the aisle, purple-faced, shrunken to the dwarf-like proportions of her moral nature...". Throughout the story Julian putt's his mother's 'moral nature' as his problem with her, but for me I felt like he was using her prejudice as a scapegoat for something that wasn't as obvious. Perhaps he uses this hatred because he See's something in her that he has in himself, maybe he sees what he knows he is going to be one day. Of course I can't know for sure, but in the end I feel like the author was working double-time when she ends the story with "The tide of darkness seemed to sweep him back to her, postponing from moment to moment his entry into the world of guilt and sorrow." This beautiful sentence I believe is saying two things: What seems to be the obvious to me, that he will forever live in regret to him cruelly taunting his mother before she dies, and then "The tide of darkness seemed to sweep him back to her..." this just made me think of there is always this natural force, whether desired or undesired, that makes you apart of who you came from.
Also, I found that the craft techniques described by Francine Prose in talking about gestures in Gesture was well used by Flannery O' Conner when she builds the tension on the bus with movements and facial expressions between Julian's mother and the African American mother that sat across from her.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My 'Uncomfortable High School Reunion' Waltz

One hand on mine, the other clasped around

A tiny plastic cup filled with courage

The smell in the glass, the smell of your breath

Your conforting chest rests against mine with confidence

Inebriated beyond comprehension you smile

Not caring about our not so innocent past

The sway of the music, the naughtiness of your hips

Tensing the moment more than it needs to be

My hand rests on your back, you slide it down

Whispering in my ear thoughts of passion

I steer you away as different eyes match mine

My friend, your ex, examines our embrace

Jason Yelland

My Mama's Waltz

It’s either gonna be wine or vodka on your breath

And I soon feel a creep of tizzy

Would you care if this were to be your death?

I pretend. I’m busy.

You forget yesterday and today’s plans

And I sink further into myself

Only filled with this moment's pleasance

Until you sober yourself

Your ability to metabolize ceases to exist

Never will I slave to ethyl

Until your sleep sends you into a mist

But I suppose this is my hurtle

We leave these moments unsaid

For we both know this change will be inert

But as you waltz towards the unfed

I begin to know comfort

Everything that Rises Must Converge

The characters in the story and the the mother son relationship share a similar dynamic to Tom and his mother Amanda in The Glass Menagerie. The mother seems displaced. Julians mother is pleased living in a neighborhood that was fashionable forty years ago and works tirelessly so that her children will be "successful," and her definition of the term seems outdated. Similarly, Amanda is constantly telling stories of how wealthy she could have been and considers herself struggling through unfortunate times. She too imposes ideals of success on her children by signing her daughter up for typing classes and expecting gentleman callers.

The sons in the story bear the most striking similarities. They're both educated writers who are both very unhappy with their present circumstances. Julian is determined to "make himself completely numb during the time that would have to be sacrificed to her pleasure." This parallels the discontent of Tom living with his poor, oblivious mother who's world view is outdated. Both the characters end up feeling guilty and sorrowful when its over.

"In Watermelon Sugar" Richard Brautigan

Like "Gestures" explored last class, I see this author finding ways to develop his characters beyond the cliche. The first story,"Margaret" gives the reader great detailed insight as to what she does, beyond who she is. This is the introduction to the character Margaret, a very different approach then the usual character development. Brautigan writes of Margaret's repetitive movements at the door step of the narrator, who still remains nameless- an added piece that is explored in the next story, "My Name." I very much felt engaged in the approach of first introducing Margaret as simply a presence beyond the door of a narrator who is hiding from her, as he knows she is here from the steps he recognizes on the old panel board beneath her feet. But with this narration and introduction of the person beyond the front door (Margaret) who is clearly recognized by the narrator, we simultaneously receive information on the narrator's character, his/her feeling irritated, hiding, obsessing over details that have been repeated, in a way that the author "chooses" to emphasize. It is obvious that these decisions on behalf of Brautigan are unique and purposeful in developing these characters. This brings me to notice and understand the power of choice in writing. The powerful approach of emphasizing something like the detailed description of Margaret stepping on a creeky old wooden panel board, one that she seems to step on with every visit to the narrators doorstep- creates a question, and a wondering within the reader, why is this important? What is this sense of mystery that is unravelling around these characters? We do not know who they are yet, but we do know what they do, and the details of their behavior- down to their specific steps. Real briefly in response to "My Name" the following passage by Brautigan, as it connects to the previous story "Margaret" the narrator guides the reader through a series of questions, questions that might bring up some sort of "meaning" for the reader, and in that regard he says "That is my name." Something of some value, for whatever reason, random or not- "That is my name." This story is interesting as it connects to "Margaret" knowing that we are curious as to this narrator, the narrators character, his/her purpose, and simply - we wonder, what is his/her name? Well, clearly- that does not matter.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"The Dance" Response

William Carlos Williams' poem, "The Dance" uses careful craft to convey the emotion of artist, Breughel's painting, The Kermess. The first thing that I noticed was the repetition of the word, "round," as well as the assonance of round and the "o" sound, as in "go." Given the subject, the repetition sets the stage for a few things. First, repetition alone can mimic dance steps, and second, by the word choice and the "o" sounds, a circular motion is suggested. The second thing I noticed was the appearance of the conjunction "and." I think it's unusual to see so many conjunctions in a poem, and such a short one at that. The use of the word "and" makes the bulk of the poem a run-on sentence. But that is the pace and rhythm that Williams was trying to achieve. The "and's" facilitate movement so when the poem is read, the tempo flows freely. Lastly, I noticed that the rhythm of many of the lines imitates the steps of the waltz. The waltz is unusual in using a three-count measure of music, with a stress on the first count, then two downbeats following (1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2 3, etc.). For example, the line "tweedle of bagpipes, a bugle and fiddles," follows this step pattern, a craft technique emphasizing the idea of a dance.