Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Mirror & the Lamp

A quote:
"To Coleridge the threat of science to poetry lay, more profoundly, in the mistaken and unbounded metaphysical pretensions of atomism and mechanism--in Coleridge's view, a useful working hypothesis for physical research which had been illicitly converted first into fact, and then into a total worldview."

Los Angeles is singing her quiet wind-chrome song again in my deepest ears - Cloaked in the coils of darkness in my head, she is pressing her smallest and softest lips to my ear drum, and whispering.
"Knowledge! History! The Snake! The Sea Star!"

According to Bowra, who wrote "The Romantic Imagination" quoted in The Mirror and The Lamp, the romantic poets "agreed on one single point : that the creative imagination is closely connected with a peculiar insight into an unseen order behind visible things."

We say it a thousand times, but we must always be humbled. Honesty always always includes humility, little did Wittgenstein know.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

knowledge & poetry

Souls are interior landscapes haunted with beings, birds, beasts. Knowledge is the Red-Winged Blackbird of my soul - broken, black, humbled, faithful, cheerful. Poetry is the Red-tailed Hawk - longing, incomplete, hoping, distant. Both are beautiful - they temper my being with their songs, keep me from having a dishonest being. A dishonest being is an imbalanced being whose action results neither from faith (knowledge) nor hope (poetry) nor love. These beings do not have soul's justice - they have no justice in their action or relationships - they are mechanical, for they must be. Or something to this effect. Where is an image I can incarnate my idea in?
Ideas are very beautiful, because they have meaning, truth - they have consequences.

I think we should wear little nametag placards on our chests with either a Red-Winged Blackbird or a Red-Tailed Hawk to signify where we are at... remembering and sorting bring into the light - or pushing forward, exploring, into the haze. Discourse or prophecy.

Humble yourself in the sight of the unseen Lord.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

New Sheperd Poem

Sometimes after the sun's scheduled departure
I am still sitting in a chair
staring at the coffee table
counting words & I find
that the surface of my eyes
becomes suddenly slick.
Then, when I reach for the hood of my sweatshirt
to signify to myself the curtain's daily closing
on my mind, I find, often, a soft lump
nuzzled in the hood's folds.
Once I pulled the hood over despite,
spending the entire night with a feathered body
warming my pate. By morning
he'd dissolved & I sang strange songs that day.

Most times I will lift him out
& sit awhile longer,
holding him lightly on my lap,
extending a wing, gently, with my fingertips.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Take Poplar Trees For Instance

Once you have scraped up a small pile of words onto intuition, you must organize and straighten out before you can begin inuiting again - you must understand what it is that you have intuited. The words act as revelation.
Specifically, the mind - I am thinking about what I have come to believe about the mind - not from any theory, but from my own flashes of understanding into how my mind works. The main idea I have become convinced of is that the mind has at least two parts - one contains words & awareness & knowledge, and the other contains abstract understanding of the world. I think of it as under and over the surface of water. I dont say this for any reason except personal experience - I have always felt that words didnt bring knowledge, but brought awareness & articulative light to abstract concepts - ideas - that haven't been particularized, and therefore known personally. What I know I have known - words didn't make me know things. Words made me see what I know. Take poplar trees for instance (this is how I should have started this, with an image - I'll just retitle it) - there is a line of five sky-sweeping poplars behind the house I grew up in. They've always been there. I think I have always loved them. But up until a few years ago I don't think I would have mentioned them to you if I was telling you about my house. I would have told you about things that fit within the common area of our language, or at least the common area that I was a part of at that time; that is, I would told you about the size or color of the house, where it is in the state, how long we had lived there. General stuff.
But a couple years ago, coming on 5 now I guess, I learned the name of the poplar tree. With just that one word, my conception of them ...was brought into the light - came alive ... suddenly I remembered everything I knew & loved about those tall leafy wind-whisperers in the back yard, that had hung above my head since I was little.
The understanding of the trees was there - the sense perception, and the bringing in of that perception into some kind of sub-awareness pool where all understanding mingles in unworded abstraction. Mingles isn't the right word - because there is no particular. Particular things (for that is how they were created) are known, but in the un-worded mind, the abstract mind, they are perceived and held as ... large mass of world color. But my thought is that we have understanding of these things before we word them - that because of the relative unity of all things inside the abstract mind (dare I say "spirit") understanding comes more naturally.
But without words, ... there would be no light, no seeing, no thankfullness and communication of such for this beautiful world. Adam's given task of naming the animals makes more sense at that point.
You who came up with the name for the Poplar tree: thank you.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


The world - if you'll humor me - is a polished hardwood dining room floor. We are children, sliding sock-clad in and out of sunbeams. Sometimes, there are, in the course of aging, nails that get shaken up, or were always there, butting their small rusted heads into the path of pure pleasure.
Choice is my current hang-up. Everytime I try to slide through my poetic thought process, I get snagged, and the heel of my poem is torn gaping wide.
What makes a man choose something? "Preference" is the current favorite word - not of me, mind you, I hate the idea of choosing according to whatever I will. Unless our wills are somehow perfect in their creative power before a tainting element is added...
It doesn't seem determined, but then it doesn't seem like I can make my own choices - being pushed about by our whim, which is what causes a man to move outside of careful choice - the tendential, emotional following of trained desire, is essentially determinism in my mind. If we are led by whim we are not led by choice. Question: can choosing by intuition be real free-choice?
It is obvious to me that we choose - but, but, I don't see what element we add to the chain of conditioning events that makes the movement our own...
California, mid-june, on a sunny afternoon
Chopin's bright rain of lighthearted notes
falling softly in the other room:
mists & rainbows shining back into the dark caves
of the gloom of my word-heavy mind.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Frank Murdock

Sat across the table from old Frank Murdock tonight. A small spot of bright blood appeared on his wrinkled and blue-veined wrist - the one resting on the Black Angus tabletop. It looked like it seeped out of his skin - as if after a while, when you are very old & dry, your skin just gets too tired and stops being able to hold the blood back all the time. The blood spot eventually purpled, clotted.
He is a great old gentlemen. Snappy, blue-eyed - dating a woman when I met him, after being married to Dorothy for 56 years. Dorothy died in the 90's and Ronnie, the woman he was dating, died in February. I met them when I was waiting tables. They always sat in my section. They really came to love me in a short time, and when I saw him tonight a light went on in his eyes and I knew it meant he really cared about me, was glad to see me.
Has been in the Christian Science church since the war got over. Dont really know what that means to him, why he chose it, why a man chooses anything. I am appalled and awestruck when I look into the eyes of an 80+ year old man, and feel only life. No words, no reasons, no heaviness of concept - only life, and a whole lot of it.
"He needs truth, he needs Christ!!" my mind shouts. My body says "Huh? What? Life!? Ah!!?!"
Lord, we humble ourselves before You, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, light to light.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Well, I am headed down to the southern end of the West Coast again... don't know why I do things... preference? felt-need? belief in a cause? familial pressure?
I was thinking about time, and how it seems it goes so fast, and I began to wonder why that feeling of the quickness of time builds an anxiety inside me... What do I feel like I should be doing with the time that I havent done that makes me feel this way? Time passing is just part of life, and therefore should be joyful. Why don't I believe that with my body?
We move one way, and then can never unmove that way... it is the thought of death, of the end of movement,I think,that leads to my anxiety. Potential! I will not live up to my potential!
"Humic Songs" is finished. Printed forty - now to cut, collate, and staple.