August 28, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I remember in my freshman year of college going to an on-campus concert for the New Pornographers and My Morning Jacket. I was pretty stoked to see both of them, though I can’t stand really either band now. Opening the show was a spindly, awkward guy with a guitar who had a propensity for fumbled jokes and yet played songs that seemed… larger than the boy-with-guitar model. I had no idea who Pavement was, and thus hearing the name “Stephen Malkmus” didn’t really inspire me with the kind of holy fear it did for my friend Matt.
Still, the songs were nice enough, so I ended up getting some Pavement albums, which like TV jingles started rattling into my head. I found myself humming Spit on a Stranger at random times, and Malkmus’ absurdist, and yet strangely poignant, lyrics started to take on flesh. Now, I would say I’ve crossed into the territory of becoming a full-on acolyte, and his 2011 album is a big part of that change (though the song Cold Son on 2008′s Real Emotional Trash was also an influence). The song below is Malkmus at his chillest, like Velvet Underground drawling lines from a world completely outside our own – or maybe so inside it that we don’t notice it.
August 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
The church I’ve been attending the last two weeks is about to start a series on the Book of Habakkuk, which is somewhat exciting for me since I 1) don’t remember hearing a sermon on it in my life and 2) really love this book. Re-familiarizing myself reminded me that I worked on a sonnet about the book sometime in the Spring of this year that tried to use the interesting ambiguity of Habakkuk’s name, which scholars think could mean “The Embracer,” or “The Wrestler.”
Let the Earth Keep Silence
I found out you were gone today. The morning
had loosened itself into the sun as I read
the minor prophets rage in terror and mourning,
in the anger that comes from love for Zion, for the dead,
for the spears shivered into the evil men
from God on high. Who can escape the justice
of the Lord, lifting his hammer above both heathen
and Jew, all who have yet to fall into the bloodless
ether of whatever is next? In Habakuk
the prophet sees his people kneel and taste
the sandals of their conquerors and, struck,
cries out, We shall not die. I learned his name
means wrestle, or it can also mean embrace –
either to keep the world in its place.
August 25, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Over the last few weeks, I’ve worked on four or five essay length posts, the kind I typically write that circle like buzzards and rarely hit on anything long-lasting, but that still circle something I have a taste for. I’ve tried to get down thoughts about the monastic idea of accedie, or doubt and questions on a spiritual level, or my changing views of what value is. But nothing is sticking, nothing feels right.
This matches my overall summer, where I’ve written one poem, and revised one poem. Other than those two poems, I haven’t so much as a line. No story outlines, no attempts at the morass of my half-built novel. I still set out time for writing, but mostly this has me staring at the page in front of me, doodling on the margins, and eventually composing a letter to someone. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 15, 2011 § Leave a Comment
And then everyone fell silent, and the major put on the “Tosca” record and, as it was about to start, said mournfully: “Once I wanted to marry Geraldine Farrar.” Then her voice came through the horn, out into the room, and this woman’s voice that all these drunken men where marveling at seemed to step into a lift, and the next instant the lift was flashing away up to the top with her, arriving nowhere, coming down again, bouncing in the air. Her skirts billowed out with the movement, with this up and down, this long lying close to, clinging tightly to, one note, and again there was the rise and fall, and with it all this streaming away as if for ever, and yet again and yet again and again this being seized by yet another spasm, and again a streaming out: a voluptuous ecstasy. He felt it was that naked voluptuousness which is distributed throughout all the things there are in cities, a lust no longer distinguishable from manslaughter, or jealousy, or business, or motor-car racing – ah, it was no longer lust, it was a craving for adventure – no, it was not a craving for adventure either, it was a knife slashing down out of the sky, a destroying angel, angelic madness – the war?
August 13, 2011 § 1 Comment
Jazz is pretty cool – for all the cliché, it’s still true. But jazz singing is too often code for either scat singing or watered down, breathy folk of the Norah Jones style. That’s what it was for me, at least, until my brother once again helped my jazz understanding by introducing me to Gretchen Parlato. And this, this is pretty cool (and utterly beautiful).
August 9, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It’s August, and I’m in a new city, doing new things, and have moved from the home I grew up, quite possibly seeing it for the last time. It’s August, and I’m on the heels of Next, having left behind Before. As it seems to do almost a couple of times every year, the supports of what I was have been shaken and splintered, some replaced, all questioned and plumbed for their strength. It’s August and who I am has changed from who I have been, or at least who I see myself as has changed from how I saw myself before.
And none of this is new, really. It’s not special for me to experience it, nor for it to rise up again. It’s just there, the prankster Change who has waited patiently until he could wait no longer, playing the same trick he always has, the same ones I should expect and unfailingly do not. « Read the rest of this entry »