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Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

watch them hustle

recall the story of the two gamblers
each with a problem in their own right.
one gambler paid the price of life,
yet was physically unharmed; exalted by the masses.
the other sits in a chair, in a store,
scolded and scorned by the establishment.
recall the story of two gamblers,
one given a leave and a second chance,
the other sits in a chair,  in a store.

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i was planning on writing about something important today, but how can you follow this.

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seriously though.  what starts as an attempted rape might well wind up being one of the most wonderful internet viral personalities ever.

ALABAMA GETAWAY!

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Antoine is auto tuned up in this piece.

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Vals

Old Thoughts
Old Thoughts

Back in college I spent a semester abroad visiting buildings and places from London to Rome to Prague and many spots in betwee.  I took a side trip to Vals, Switzerland to visit the Hotel Therme.  Imagine a scenic rural town in the Swiss Alps at the end of a very curvy 1-1/2 lane road and that is Vals.  The building is iconic, designed by the now-Pritzker-Prize-winning Swiss Architect Peter Zumthor.  It is partially embeded into an alpine hillside and inside it feels subterranean:  its walls, clad in indigenous stone, ripple under narrow bands of daylight that washes down from above.  All of the surfaces are hard and echo throughout with hushed voices speaking in a foreign tongue.

The Hotel Therme houses several different natural springs, each very different in its affect on the senses:  a very hot spring bubbles inside an intimate burnt-red room counterpointing a glacially-cold bath that fills a cavernous blue volume, and so on.  Some baths are fragrant, others sparkle, and still others spray or stream water.  You can swim from inside to outside, where a large, warm pool gives way to the snowcapped walls of the valley.  Each unique spatial experience targets and isolates senses, and you find yourself at the building’s mercy.  At times it is thoroughly relaxing and at others it is jarring.  I would rank it among my top 2 or 3 encounters with “iconic” contemporary architecture.

Photo by by Justin Bienvenu (I think. It came out of his blog)
Photo by by Justin Bienvenu

 

So I had a little journal with me ten years ago when I visited, and was apparently moved to poetry by the experience.  This is my first time posting poetry (we can only loosely call it that), so pardon me if I blush.  Okay, here goes: some ‘poetry’ from my mid-twenties about a building, unedited even for spelling:

5.12.99     Vals Chesi Rest

Pendulum Swings
No tic
toc
Giant flat bulge
stone on fountain water
extraordinary
Tight skin flowers smells like
butter
in sweet magnolia
rock
Rain shower pipe bath
in tall dark
bottom lighting
shadows weigh heavy on
bubble jet stream
Misty rain day passes
blue sky opening
kindness the kitchen
sends out triangle
fish and green orange
pale at center.
beautiful swiss black
bikini across
window behind grave
somber eyes.
Goon watches but
depth no match
Hot prickly pain
to discomfort in deep
earth cavern makes
muscles sleep
water to eyes
makes slope
of flat ground
textured and deliberate

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Raymond Carver

I sprained my ankle last week jogging.  I thought it was time to get back in shape, but it wasn’t.  I tried to go into work, but by 9 am my foot was purple and swollen up like a hog’s hoof.  So we went to the doctor, x-rayed it, and got an air cast and some anti-inflammatory-medication.

Scottie talked me into staying home and laying on the couch.  I set myself up with a couple of books, the remote control, my iPod, some headphones, a glass of water, and a really good pain killer.  Scottie and the kids were to be out of the house at school and, later, gymnastics, so it would be alright if Daddy was laid out on the couch asleep with some big headphones on his head.

I thumbed through the channels, quickly understanding that daytime television isn’t targeted toward me.  So I turned it of and picked up one of my books, Raymond Carver’s collection of collected stories entitled All Of Us.  I’ve never really read his poems, but we really got into his short stories in high school english class.  I’ve wanted to spend some time getting into some poetry, and I found this on my bookshelf, something I bought a while back.  I cracked it open and started at the start.

Most people know Carver for his stories, and they are probably most familiar with the Robert Altman film Short Cuts that was based on them.  Carver would write a story 50 pages long, then edit it back to about 5 pages, so that every word contributed something relevant.  He lived a hard life:  he was born poor, fathered a child and married young, and worked odd jobs (at a sawmill, as a janitor, etc.) for more than a decade before he really began to be recognized for his writing. Carver was an alcoholic, and his best work started after he dried out.  Then he died early from lung cancer.

All of which should make for solid poetry.  Several of the works related to drinking and to recovery, while others revolve around fishing and living in the country.  In spite of an inherent minimalism, they are all accessible, at least in the sense that you don’t need a comprehensive understanding of Greek mythology to understand them. Some are even conversational. I made it through the first collection.  I believe it was the first collection of poems I’ve read cover-to-cover in one sitting.  What I enjoy about it is the directness of his language, which captures the essence of a thought or emotion or incident without any complex styling. Really a great read, maybe a little depressing, but that was probably the pain killers.

I have tried to find some work on the internet, and I found this on Random House’s website.  There were only 3 poems there, but this is a good one.  They said it’s okay to publish it as long as it promotes the book and is unaltered.  I’m not sure what you could change.


Fear

Fear of seeing a police car pull into the drive.
Fear of falling asleep at night.
Fear of not falling asleep.
Fear of the past rising up.
Fear of the present taking flight.
Fear of the telephone that rings in the dead of night.
Fear of electrical storms.
Fear of the cleaning woman who has a spot on her cheek!
Fear of dogs I’ve been told won’t bite.
Fear of anxiety!
Fear of having to identify the body of a dead friend.
Fear of running out of money.
Fear of having too much, though people will not believe this.
Fear of psychological profiles.
Fear of being late and fear of arriving before anyone else.
Fear of my children’s handwriting on envelopes.
Fear they’ll die before I do, and I’ll feel guilty.
Fear of having to live with my mother in her old age, and mine.
Fear of confusion.
Fear this day will end on an unhappy note.
Fear of waking up to find you gone.
Fear of not loving and fear of not loving enough.
Fear that what I love will prove lethal to those I love.
Fear of death.
Fear of living too long.
Fear of death.

I’ve said that.

–BL

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