cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (love)
This morning J and I were in the kitchen as NPR did its intro to the latest installment of StoryCorp, which was about two men who were married to the same woman, "although not at the same time, of course." JJ left the room saying, "Oh no, of course not!" in the tone of because that's crazy talk!

I've trained him well. ;)


cafenowhere: abby from TV show NCIS, eyes closed, listening to music (abby dreaming)
Dear Reader, I just had the most amazing, life-changing bread of my life. This is not a euphemism. Bread, pan.

J stopped by the farmer's market on his way home. I was happiest about the bean and cheese tamales, but he'd also gotten some pesto baguette and "moroccan bread." The ingredients on the moroccan bread included orange blossom water and star anise, and it smelled good, but...eh. I mean, I had tamales, what else could I want? After dinner though, I tried some.

OH MY SWEET PETUNIAS.

I felt it in my feet. I told JJ I hoped he was okay with polyamory, because I might have to marry this bread. It's not just the flavor, the texture is perfect, like if bread came with Sleep Numbers. I wanted to roll in it, rub it all over myself, smoke it...everything. I think I may have to settle for putting in a standing order for this bread bliss.


cafenowhere: abby from TV show NCIS, eyes closed, listening to music (abby dreaming)

 Translations

My favorite poet is Rilke, which I suppose is an odd choice because I've only ever read his work in translation; I can't read German. And odder still, I have no desire to learn German so I can read the poems in the original language. (I might learn it to further my philosophy studies one day.) I enjoy the illusion of transparency, the feeling that I "get" these poems. And if there's anything the translation process has shown me, it's that I don't understand half what I think is so flippin' obvious when I first get it into my head to translate.
 
Rilke's body of work is the only oeuvre in a foreign language that I've read exhaustively, but I've read a lot of haiku by various authors in translation. So I chose two Rilke poems that feel like ku or tanka to me, just for the pleasant cognitive dissonance.
 

untitled lines

by Rainer Maria Rilke (November 1925)
transl Edward Snow


But if you'd try this: to be hand in my hand
as in the wineglass the wine is wine.
If you'd try this.

~~
 

untitled

by Rainer Maria Rilke (February 1922)
transl Edward Snow


We, in the grappling nights,
we fall from nearness to nearness;
and where the woman in love sweetly thaws,
we are a plunging stone.

~~
 
I adore the desperation in the first poem, the fraught passion in the second. 
 
On a personal note, we made it to Texas, another 500+ miles today. Tomorrow we head down south. It should be easier--only 400-some miles. ;)
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (love)

Translations

We drove 500+ miles today and crossed three state lines. Between admiring the lush countryside of Missouri and the liberating flatlands of Oklahama, I had plenty of time to translate the following poem.


Love Sonnet 16

by Pablo Neruda (1960)
transl by Lisa Bradley


I love the clump of earth you are,
because of the planetary prairies
I have no other star. You are
a fractal of the universe.

Your wide eyes are the lights I have
from defeated constellations,
your skin pulses like the pathways
traced by a meteor through rain.

Your hips were that much of the moon for me,
your deep mouth and its delights all of the sun,
as ardent as honey in the shade

your heart burning in long red rays,
and thus I trace the fire of your form, kissing you
small and planetary, dove and geography.

~~

Love Sonnet 11

by Pablo Neruda (1960)
transl Stephen Tapscott


I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

~~

 


cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (love)
 
Songs

Today I offer you a poem at the crossroads of many genres. It's a song in the sense of an ode or ballad, it's a set of lyrics, it's a poem, it's in Spanish, it's translated...

The sensuality of Song of Songs reminded me of "Burbujas de Amor," as did the surprising, refreshing choices of metaphor.


Burbujas de Amor

by Juan Luis Guerra (1990)

Tengo un corazón
Mutilado de esperanza y de razón
Tengo un corazón que madruga donde quiera
¡ay!
Y este corazón
Se desnuda de impaciencia
Ante tu voz,
Pobre corazón
Que no atrapa su cordura

Quisiera ser un pez
Para tocar mi nariz en tu pecera
Y hacer burbujas de amor por dondequiera
Pasar la noche en vela
Mojado en ti

Un pez
Para bordar de cayenas tu cintura
Y hacer burbujas de amor baja la luna
Saciar esta locura
Mojado en ti

Canta corazón
Con un ancla imprescindible de ilusión
Suena corazón
No te nubles de amargura

Y este corazón
Se desnuda de impaciencia
Ante tu voz,
Pobre corazón
Que no atrapa su cordura

Quisiera ser un pez
Para tocar mi nariz en tu pecera
Y hacer burbujas de amor por dondequiera
Pasar la noche en vela
Mojado en ti

Una noche
Para hundirnos hasta el fin
Cara a cara
Beso a beso
Y vivir
Por siempre
Mojado en ti  
 
 
pretty literal translation )
 
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (silver teapots)
 
Songs

From David Huerta's "Song of Money," my thoughts immediately jump to the Bible's "Song of Songs." The association may seem strange for an atheist, but 1) I was not always an atheist, and 2) this section of the Bible remains one of the few I find genuinely interesting in itself, as opposed to necessary as cultural collateral.
 
Specifically, the loving enumeration of physical beauties and the metaphors employed to describe them strike me as both strange and familiar. Strange because the comparisons are so different from those I would have chosen, because of the geographic and cultural disjunct between writer and reader; but familiar because my brain tends to zero in on details to the exclusion of sensible wholes.
 
I won't reproduce the entire book or even chapters here, although here's the wikisource link. What I'll focus on are the descriptive passages that still captivate me years after having first read them.


excerpts from Song of Songs

4:1-7

Behold, you are beautiful.
Your eyes are doves behind your veil.
Your hair is as a flock of goats,
that descend from Mount Gilead.
Your teeth are like a newly shorn flock,
which have come up from the washing,
where every one of them has twins.
None is bereaved among them.
Your lips are like scarlet thread.
Your mouth is lovely.
Your temples are like a piece of a pomegranate behind your veil.
Your neck is like David's tower built for an armory,
whereon a thousand shields hang,
all the shields of the mighty men.
Your two breasts are like two fawns
that are twins of a roe,
which feed among the lilies.
Until the day is cool, and the shadows flee away,
I will go to the mountain of myrrh,
to the hill of frankincense.
You are all beautiful, my love.
There is no spot in you.

5:10-16

My beloved is white and ruddy.
The best among ten thousand.
His head is like the purest gold.
His hair is bushy, black as a raven.
His eyes are like doves beside the water brooks,
washed with milk, mounted like jewels.
His cheeks are like a bed of spices with towers of perfumes.
His lips are like lilies, dropping liquid myrrh.
His hands are like rings of gold set with beryl.
His body is like ivory work overlaid with sapphires.
His legs are like pillars of marble set on sockets of fine gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.
His mouth is sweetness yes, he is altogether lovely.


~~

 My cynical side says these lovers would feel right at home beneath Joyce Kilmer's trees. Teeth like sheep, hair like goats, lips like lilies. At least the Song's author(s) only liken the lovers' attributes to such disparate things, rather than saying that their eyes *are* doves or their temples pomegranates.

But I'm reminded of lines from Plato's Republic, nevertheless. Regarding a statue, its hypothetical painter says: "...please do not suppose that we must paint eyes so beautiful that they do not even look like eyes, nor again the other parts, but consider whether by giving what is fitting to each, we make beautiful the whole." Aside from the allegorical valence of Plato's words, I must admit, "Hey, I resemble that remark!"
 
When I look at things or people, I tend to focus so intensely on details that I can't remember what the whole looks like without repeated, sustained viewing. (I may be "faceblind.") When I describe a person or thing in my writing, I often feel as though the elements are dead-on but the whole is a surreal mish-mash. Which might be why I like writing poetry, where my inability to synthesize visual info can be turned into the poetic virtues of merism, synecdoche, and metonymy.
 
I like the complication of Song of Songs, which presents me with comparisons beyond my usual purview and thereby highlights my own dependence on cultural stock. I am forced to consider how strange my own metaphors and similes may strike readers/listeners. But I'm also relieved to see my neurological quirks "canonized" and I appreciate being able to observe them from the outside, as it were. I feel I am entering a new world through a familiar door.
 
~~
 
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (bruised)

 
Childhood Poems

My mother introduced me to the work of Edgar Allan Poe early in my childhood. I imprinted on "Annabel Lee" and it's been my favorite poem of Poe's ever since. I love that it honors a deep, abiding true love--indeed, a love that was more than love--between children, rather than dismissing the attachment as "puppy love." And I see too a rare respect for the heartbreaks of childhood, the recognition that one can suffer a tragedy early in life from which one never recovers. 

"Annabel Lee" was Poe's last completed poem.


Annabel Lee

by Edgar Allan Poe (1849)

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea. 
 
#
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (love)

I went through our movie collection, wondering what JJ and I could watch all cozied up together with my box of chocolates. Now, my go-to is My Bloody Valentine 3-D, but I thought it would be nicer if I didn't spend all night perving over Jensen Ackles with JJ sitting uncomfortably beside me. So I came up empty and told J, "We just don't watch a lot of romances, do we?"

JJ beamed at the fortuitous segue. RedBox was having a free-movie special tonight, he explained. So he'd thought long and hard about what we could watch for date night on this most romantic evening (as dictated by the Hallmark Mafia).

"Thus," he said, whipping out a DVD, "tonight's viewing is Machete!"

He knows me so well. <3

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (love)

It's still Say Anything. Imagine Peter Gabriel blaring from the boombox.



Day Three, 8 Ways to Win Your Heart

1. Be good with kids. There's more than one way to connect with kids. Find one.

2. Be good to animals. You don't have to be a vegetarian or an activist. You do need to be sympathetic and kind.

3. Don't be squeamish. Life is messy; deal with it.

4. Be gallant. Open doors for people, let folks who are in a hurry go ahead of you in line, help pick up dropped items, offer rides to people (in a noncreepy way)...

5. Have a passion, something you can totally happily geek out about. I may not understand the specifics, but I'll grok the enthusiasm.

6. Watch movies with me. Cuddle.

7. Do for me what I won't do for myself. I mean, I won't buy myself vegan marshmallows; they're good, but I don't *need* them. J buys them for me.

8. Make phone calls for me. It's silly, but I hate talking on the phone, and I will be SO grateful if you just order the take-out or schedule my appointment FOR me.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (silver teapots)
~

What a beautiful ordeal!
Can we just sit now
and contemplate
the vastness of what we have done?
You   (You, alone)   sit There
and I   (I, alone)   will sit Here,
you   (You!)   on your rock
and I   (I!)   on mine
and we will admire each others'
vessels.
Once conjoined,
consigned to one mind,
now I see your soul flare
in another's eyes
like a wasp in a bottle.
Make your nest in there.
I will wait, watching,
wondering,
adoring,
strangely
wanting.

~
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (lightbulb)


~

his dog-eared pages
her underlined passages
my meticulous cross-references: cf., q.v., see...
If I could but drag these autodidacts face-to-face
I'd scream, "Nota bene!"

~

Terce

Jul. 1st, 2010 01:13 pm
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (love)
~

church bells and bus farts
echo off the quad
unheeded
there is no mass I need
no place that I must be
but worshipping at the portal
of your sloe eyes
receiving ministry from your
stained-map hands

~
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (neon sign)
~

on the crest of the hill
I get blitzed from behind
I tumble down with you
your laughter unfurls mine
clover-skin-sky-laidoscope
until we jolt to a stop.
Can't catch my breath, but kiss me
and I'll race you to the top!

~

Epitaph

Jun. 28th, 2010 04:45 pm
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Default)
~

I was pretty sure from the start
you were a figment of my heart,
a daydream that she sang herself
to ease the ache of perfect hell.
Now I find myself mistaken,
gutted by your space left vacant.
I can't mimic your lullabies,
can't conjure solace in the night.
Desperate for sleep, I carve a cave.
In my blameless heart, I stow the pain.
No room's left for doubt, fantasy,
even the wish that I'd believed.

~
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (chevy)
~

tires through puddles:
velcro-ripping sound of
escape

~

We are taking the fam to the Mississippi River Museum today.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (IDK)



~

coming home to you:
like landing at an airport
the runway swept to sea

~
The Inspiration )
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (chevy)


~

surf shop
creaking, flapping canvas
shades the boardwalk
A circle of sunburned men
smile as she hugs the store pooch.
 

A crowd? There were three.
And one of them was gay!


Sand Bar
eau de beach bum and hops
chills her panicked skin
He sips Guinness, fingers easy
on the glass, gaze locked on the dark.


Two beers. I can handle 
two beers.


24-hour grocery
glaring fluorescents stab
their salty eyes
She grips his hand, buys ipecac.
He grips her hand, vomits in the sand.


One shooting star to wish on.
We just need
one.

~

The Inspiration )

Today I'm heading out for my annual Women's Retreat. I'm taking my laptop and I'm told the rental house has wifi, so poem-a-day should continue...assuming I don't party too hard. Ha.

~
cafenowhere: teacup brimming with mysterious violet liquid (psychedelic tea)
~

rain slips between stars
and shushes courting crickets
I wake, ache for you


~

ETA: I usually don't explain how/why a poem came about because I find myself really annoyed with some poets who do that. I might love the poem, but then they blather about what it "really means" and it kills any affection I had.

But I'm wondering if folks might feel more inclined to comment on these poems if I *did* talk about where they came from? Because you could talk about the experience that brought one about even if you didn't feel comfortable discussing the poem itself...?

Please tell me.

~
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Default)
~

two rose petals
on dad's nightstand: love
and sweet dreams


~

Cousins

Jun. 5th, 2010 10:52 am
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (drink me)
~

One night
I crept from my bed
inched across the moon-tangled carpet
to where she slept.
My brother's penknife
clutched in my fist
held my heat, like another bone,
as I leaned over
and sawed through her
thick brown braid.
It was harder than I thought;
I cut my thumb trying not to tug.
Maybe she was awake
but she didn't open her eyes
and I left her my brother's knife
in exchange for the bloody prize.
The next morning she shook out
her newly cropped hair and giggled.
"What," I said, waiting.
"I feel lightheaded," was all she said.
Gran had more to say
and much louder
but I kept the braid under my pillow,
bookmarking my dreams,
and she kept the knife under hers
to slay fern-headed monsters.

~

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