Friday, March 31, 2006



So, this is Kai-Zen, the place I am living right now
with a few guys. Kai Zen is a Japanese phrase which
translates, roughly, "one percent better everyday."

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

University of Washington

This afternoon I am tucked into a corner of a small cafe in the center of Seattle - well, not quite the center, but the right-of-center bulge called UW. I am tending my oolong tea, and thinking oolong thoughts.

I didn't get into University of Washington's graduate creative writing program. After walking around the campus just now - I dont know what to say. The neo-classical architecture towering above gnarled and blossomed courtyards is ... precisely the sort of setting I want to study in. But, I didnt get into University of Washington.

I, instead, received a phone call from James McMichael last Friday morning. He told me he liked my work. He told me that they had a place for me at UCI.

Where? Back into your heart my dear Los Angeles. Back into the lower tropics of your abdomen. How can a man write poetry in such a place? I demand the answer.

I called him back promptly yesterday morning and accepted the offer. I will be teaching (TA position) undergraduate composition next year. I will be writing poetry under one of America's best poets.

I will be in Southern California. After being here today, seeing the alternately delicate and stone-heavy beauty of the University of Washington, I dont know what to say. The large quietness is growing, yes you, child of quietness - growing in my stomach. I made promises to Los Angeles, and apparently someone is seeing to it that I carry them out.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ghazal - an amendment

So, after Mike's comment, and doing some of my own research, I have found that Robert Bly, the great poet, was wrong in his descriptions of ghazals. And therefore I was wrong. I apologize. But - this is good news - I think our way is better.
So a correct ghazal is a poetic collection of Shers. A Sher is a two line poem, with an exact meter called Beher . A Ghazal then is a series of two line poems, and each end with the same word or set of words.
But it only required a cursory examination of the couplet Ghazal to see that two lines was one too few. The problem of the repeated words becoming monotonous was already lingering when I considered the 3 line ghazal, but when words and rhythm was carefully constructed it was avoided. But the 2 line ghazal becomes ALL ABOUT those repeated words. They drum a bit too heavily in the head, like over exaggerated rhymes in a ballad.
Therefore; I was wrong, but I still think I was right.
What do you think Mike?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Ghazal

Robert Bly has begun writing in a Sufi Muslim form, called a Ghazal.
A ghazal consists of 5 to 26 stanza's of three lines, And generally you repeat the same group of words at the end of every stanza. I haven't in this one. Since this form mostly manifested as an oral tradition, another standard practice was to mention your name in the last stanza.
The last rule was that each stanza must change subjects entirely.

I stand with one finger on my lips. This posture
is the only expression of the heavy sorrow
that has taken root. I wait and hold. Thus life begins.

She leaned forward with the long funnel of white
fuming delicately at her lip. She leaned forward
with no words. Coughed. Looked up.

This paint is special, of course, he said – fast-drying
and if one leaves it alone for even a short moment,
it is too late. No amount of solvent will thin it.

“I will come later,” he declared, and they partied
in a frenzy with one eye each cocked side-ways toward the door
knowing he would not come. When the last had left, then he came.

There was a knock at the door in the evening.
I jumped, let the sweat bead, the slowly crept over
and cupped my ear to the oak. Outside, Death breathed.

Justin, where is this music coming from? A song
that consists of no sound. The birds have stopped singing,
All sound has stopped, and yet music. Thus, life begins?