Tuesday, November 30, 2004

To Attar, Poem 10

To Attar

The mockingbird's discourse digressed into mimicry,
while under the treeline the worms
staggered around, drunk with sod.

The crickets fought their impulses and their legs itched,
giving themselves away
and the cardinals laughed.

Vultures follow the pioneers and blessed rewards
are bestowed upon them
in the form of deer and dogs,
and their song is crude, but truth.

You can never step in the same river twice, but on a subatomic level it may be possible for the river to step in you at will. Posted by Hello

Combing as Revolution Posted by Hello

The Tao of Favre, The White Goddess and The Middle Way

Recent events have turned my thoughts to matriarchy. (See
new links.) The social structure certainly influences poetry and
politics... and one wonders whether or not our defiantly
patriarchal leanings in the United States are at the very least
partially to blame for our atrophied arts and pernicious politics.

The field of poetry, for example, has always drawn on the
female influence, if not in outright worship (though usually so) then
at least in tribute. There's hardly a society whose poetic roots
don't stem from a relationship to The Mother Goddess. It would
be fair to say that our poetic tradition is dominated by a classical
strain, if we are to understand "classical" in the Socratic context.
This manifests itself in the contemporary favor understood by
writings of coy detachment.

As for political relationships, I don't think there is much need for
elucidation. The martial culture of the Western World, starting
arguably with the proliferation of the Near Eastern tribal God
that informs the Judaeo-Christian social structure, hasn't
exercised much in the way of decency.

The historical strength of Christianity has been its adaptability.
The inhabitants of the British Isles recognized the story of The
Virgin Mother giving birth to a son who would be sacrificed from
their own lore and took to the new religion with little effort. (The
Germanic Tribes maintained their feasts, which was quite enough
I reckon. Provided there is sufficient beer, there is little to
ruffle German feathers.) The course of Christian expansion in
Europe was greatly facilitated by the ecumenical character of
the culture.

It seems as though Europe is settling back into the Old Ways.
Surveys show a dramatic decline in church attendance and
other indicatiors of Christian identity.

One must fill the mythological gap, though. I'd suggest that this
is the most fundamental truth to the human psyche. We cannot
survive without our myth-systems. And just about any living system
is preferable to a dead one, or none at all. So what fills the gap,
then? Seems to me The Mother Goddess is back, in the form of
Gaia (again), and it is about time.

Essentially, rational and scientific thought have brought us
around to our primordial beginnings. This ecosystem is all
we've got, and to damage it in the ways we have is tantamount
to attempted deicide. The Green Movement in Western Europe
seems to be a recompense for our collective patriarchal missteps.
This is interesting from a "religious" perspective largely
because of an emerging syncretism within human thought, bridging
scientific inquiry, "oceanic" thoughts and the larger force
around us, which can only be understood through personification.

Before we close the lid on patriarchal organization, I would
hasten to add that I would be loath to return to Lupercalian
rites! Also, it seems to me that much of the male influence
has been quite positive in poetics.

I would point out Rumi and Hafiz, who are distinctly
male in character. (There is almost no female involvement
whatever!) Still, the dervish lodge has historically been a
beacon of tolerance towards women. Li Po and Tu Fu also
illustrate a sort of male comradery that is rather admirable.
As to the general culture: Who doesn't love Brett Favre?
And why shouldn't we?

I find myself returning to the most basic idea, because it
happens to be correct: there is a balance of opposites in
the universe, and when one side tilts too far, we're all in
trouble. This balance is all but impossible to attain in political
affairs at one time, so it seems the solution is to return to a
matriarchal social structure for the next 6,000 years, give
or take.

Patriarchy in action... Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 27, 2004

S.S. Orizaba/Minneapolis... Poem 9

S.S. Orizaba/Minneapolis
I don't have a prayer in America.
I don't have a prayer for America,
nor an epic or series of dreams...
It is just as well.

The expanse of the epic has been determined obsolete
long ago. This seems to have been a rallying cry.
Thirty years after declaration, a hundred attempts,
all of which have failed. Mas o meno.

Let it drive the others crazy. I haven't established the resume
to write the goddamned thing in the first place.
This is the contemplation of butterfly collections,
the stench of ivy, the work of workshops,
the ricochet of the echo chamber, the muse befitting
the language of the monied class; or, lacking that,
the language adapted for consumption within the monied class.

"You aren't getting started on Chavez,
and International Communism, now,
are You?"

I don't have another word for America,
for Chicago, for Otero Mesa,
for Poughkeepsie's architecture.
Not even castigation, not even criticism,
not even a review of past indignities.

     Landlocked I walked stem to stern, and observed Gibraltar to Port and Africa to Starboard. There was occasion to jump; but my thoughts were to swimming, an impossibility. The Sea is Sick, yet Vibrant and Brave, and promises to bury us unceremoniously. There are more than a
million Harpies singing shanties to the luckless crew, all of whom would give anything...

But then, other braveries.

With reverent steps a boy from West Virginia jumped
from the forecastle into Chesapeake Bay,
into the squalid waters where drowning
was the least of his worries.

I met him at a movie theatre in Portsmouth and admired
his assertiveness in the face of self-conscription.
We fought delirium tremens in the hatch,
sang songs in a mumble, in our bathrobes
in our paper shoes. Shot billiards and darts,
amused that they'd let us have them in the first place.

Amused that I'd received my liberty card, I drove
through his hamlet later that night in a black Pontiac.
It was a village of spent mines.
That same night I'm sure he was transferred to the Brig.

Assuming they ever let him out,
assuming he never attained success in the waters off of Florida,
assuming he'd managed to somehow parlay
those adventures into a comfortable post in the halls,
then I would challenge him to write it best.

There was nothing in the Mexican desert that asked me to share its secrets,
there was nothing between the Tropics that needed my rendering,
there is nothing in Bloomington, Indiana that I have to say.

Shall we turn our attention to Istanbul?
Someone's been appointed.
Is the Optimism in Caracas a Song of Songs?
It will be sung in Spanish.
The languages leave me with three countries,
the weather with two,
my pockets with one.

Illinois, I've grown tired of looking at your face. At your Mouth
in Cairo, your Two Eyes in Chicago, North and South,
at your Nose formed by a statue of a Black Comic Soon to Die.

New Mexico, You've bled me dry of sentiment. Restricted Your
Magic to the Well heeled. New Mexico, Your betrayal is the deepest wound.
Your occupation is the hardest to witness.

You bid me fond farewell back into the Texas Panhandle and through the Oklahoma winds;
but You didn't mourn my loss a day.
And You've invited a thousand in my stead, provided
the paperwork clears.

The Vistas and Vocations of Imagination have been reserved in advance of my arrival.

In my relative youth, the lands of Occupied Mexico were presented to me,
in the squall of storms, the calm of 7 AM overlooking the gun battles of ghosts,
the floral effects on the Death Valley Bed of the Sea's oncoming Revenge.
The vibrant green of the orchard lands and into the cities.

In my relative youth, the concept of judge and king composing prayers to the West
seemed inevitable. Now, to seem possible...

Let them worry over it now.
Let them compose
in lean prose
deliberative psalms to the disappearing majesty witnessed
from their bay windows.
They're well-suited to it.
It takes the contemplation of scholarship,
It is theirs. Let them have it.

     Let us have a drink, then.
Let us vie for transcendence in the Prairies and Industries, in the callouses of our hands,
in the seedlings sprouting from rain and the nutrients in the river bottom soil.
Let us stare at our reflection in the city's fountains, eschewing the Moon in the Sea,
it has been done, and doesn't need repeated.
     Let us have a drink, and
perform the ultimate miracle,
solve the mysteries that eventually preclude prayers,
let us avoid those prayers
and quiet the songs into wind.
     Let us have a drink, and
perform the ultimate miracle:
We'll eat when we're hungry,
and drink when we're dry.
We'll sleep in the evening,
and in the morning we wake.

Friday, November 26, 2004

The James Caird Posted by Hello

The virtue of mutiny, Poems 3-8

I've spent some time contemplating Chippy McNeish. Were it
not for the proud Scot, none of Shackleton's men would have
had a chance at survival. While on the ice (after
The Endurance was lost) he'd suggested that maritime
conventions no longer applied, now that they weren't
aboard ship. Shackleton disagreed. Chippy probably wanted
to kill the bastard after needlessly shooting his cat,
but stuck admirably to simple mutiny under significant duress.

Later, when the team needed to make a lifeboat seaworthy, the
Scottish carpenter did the deed and saved the team... along with
the navigator, and Shackleton himself. This is a long story, but the
basic gist is this: when the team got back after nearly two years
surviving the Antarctic under incredibly harsh conditions, the
British government all but refused to recognize their efforts; yet,
a change of heart happened after WWI ended and most of the
team was awarded the Polar Medal. Not Chippy. Shackleton
never forgave disloyalty.

In my book, anyone that would begrudge a few simple moments
of mutiny is a tosser. Then again, Shackleton's strategy in regards
to morale can't be doubted. That notwithstanding, I think I'd
rather have a plain with Chippy than Shackleton. And a posthumous
presentation is in order. With this in mind, I'd like to share
something I wrote for an e-book, Vigorous Errors.


crossing the equator
the absence of shanties
was conspicuous.

jolly roger

what acts of piracy shall we
confer upon our captives?
the mind bristles, quivers
with sensations of power.
megalomaniacal fervor
instilled from a young age and descriptions of position.

shall we declare
a war on officers?
a blight on the privileged,
the well-dressed
the educated far from seas
in musty rooms on the mainland
and decree this boat a privateer?

accusations of mutiny, support
for our effeminate wardens
leaves me with no choice
save desertion.

some men are drawn to the elegance of the sea
with wanderlust, lacking proper understanding
of maritime conventions and rules.

some hail from small landlocked regions
and for the lack of currency
choose conscription as a mode of transportation.

but it is only after the ship is underway
that the traveler notices the line attached to him.


the north atlantic whistled tunes of ships submerged,
heavy rolls and mutinies
continued at length until the straits into the placid med...
another song,
grafted from satellite radio, Our Love
Is Solid as The
of Gibraltar...

quiet shy schoolgirls trample erased hopscotch borders for home,
offer coffee to drunken sailors at each mother's behest... if their fathers knew they'd
skin us from scrotum to scalp.

3,000 swabbies and jarheads terrorizing unsuspecting civilians
pissing on eachother and forever casting a pall over maltese relations.
I suppose We felt like Mongols.

Three days passed, and back through the straits,
shooting the rock from telescope and sextant
to the equator,
something to do with Congolese Rebels.
I fixed my eye on Morocco from the bridge...
Thought of jumping, then considered the dorsal fins.

weigh down the ballast, boys!
tonight we sail for dawn
deploying speedboats searching
on up ahead.
loose the orange target
so the gunmen
might take aim at it
under the darkness
the sea's stars
firmly in their crosshairs.

drop the refuse and spent food!
the day will not greet us with such smells
throw your ruined boots overboard
into the custody of equatorial water.
dispatch the supply ship:

When we reach our destination
the sun shall be our sustenance.


And we were happy
Sailors, taking on the hemp
Rope and mooring lines.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Blessed are the friendly kangaroos (and those, like Randy Newman, who do not wish to harm them) for theirs is the Kingdom. Posted by Hello

Eschatology and Etymology

The snow has come. It makes me think of some curious
elements of language, mythology, and contemporary fiction.
First, Orhan Pamuk's Kar. Only in the sense that "Kar" is
"Snow." Oddly enough, "Kar" (this, with the "a" having a ^
on the top) also means "profit." Then we think of our
humble bird "karga." But he is jet black?!? Well, one only
need to know that "kara" is "black." (Thus,
Karadeniz and Kara Toprak.) What does this mean?

Nothing, actually. The two "Kar"s are a bit of a
coincidence, a linguistic connection that was a product of
history. The latter ("profit") came about as a result of
some Arabic/Farsi absorptions, while the former ("snow")
is rooted in the Turkic. As for the relationship of "Kar,"
"Kar," (^) "Kara" and "Karga," well, I'm fairly sure there
isn't any other than as homonyms. I'd like
to know what Graves would have to say.

I've forgotten the beauty of snow. When it falls pristine,
you can't beat it.

And to that end, I would like to share a personal religious
belief I've been working on.

Each night I stare at a glass featuring St. James's Gate,
including the zookeeper and all of his friends in a very
welcoming posture. It has been suggested that
should I arrive at heaven, this is what I'd see. I find
this a nice thought.

Let's accept heaven a priori for a moment. (Humor me.)
There are numerous cultural concensuses about who
gets in and what one might encounter. I have
a feeling that the Mel Gibson heaven recites the Latin Mass
frequently. He no doubt has numerous companions,
as many in the middle ages were convinced of the same
afterlife. These people focused on that post-life existence,
and may have brought it into being by exercising a projection
that survived consciousness.
(Jung would hear me out, I think.)

My contention is that of the dervishes around the world.
All religions are true.
The individual manifests theology through will.
So I've discovered something that works for me. If I
continually focus on the Great Reward at St. James's Gate,
and of all the friendly faces greeting me, my sole duty
is to be a good person and loyal stout drinker.
Then I enter that rarified air.

Better yet, I'm pretty sure my company in heaven
will be quite selective. Shane MacGowan and I will
never have to share a drink with Jerry Falwell.
I'll start dancing with snakes post-haste.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Poem 2, With Apologies

This may have something to do with the fact that I am bracing for snow... that I've been drinking...
that I am well aware I have on my hands an unpublishable and in many ways ugly spit session
of a poem on my hands... well, with apologies, allow me to wax Ginsbergian. Original penning was
March of 2003. I shall also brace for harangues and general bad tidings. Nostrovia.

Let Me
Clear My

So, this is it.
The End of History.
The New Rome.
The Crusades,
The Jihad


The Inquisition,
The RedBaiting,
The Peacemongering,
The League of Nations,
Folk Singers,
Economic Downturn,
Tanks out of Gas,
Vatican III.
The Death of the Pope,
An African Pope!

kind of
men, I


(well, I
for an
after all)

Promises of Armageddon,
Empires Growing,
And Growing in Audacity,
Testing the Patience of the Visigoths
And spreading out building Aqueducts in the MiddleEast.
Violence and Drug Addled Sex Binges,
Replete with
Singing Starlets,
Well-built bravish men risking injury for the pleasure of the fawning crowd,
Mind Control
Information Control
Worldwide Censorship Networks,
Networks. PERIOD.

Ships Sinking
Hitting Icebergs,
Melting Icebergs,
Mass Extinctions.
Unbreathable Air
Unreadable Scripts
Unpotable Water
Not Ungood Vibes,

Sidewalk Cameras,
The French.

Troop Deployments,
Combustible Buildings
Righteous Indignation

(depends upon your
view of whether a
Semite is a Semite
or Something else

Wooden Shoes hurled at Factory Buildings,
Sex Police,
Thought Police,
Christian Soldiers
Muslim Martyrs
Jewish Settlers
War Protestors
Habeus Corpus
Corpus Dilecti
Organized Prevarication
On Life
On Life
On Soil
On Fertilizer
On Defecation
& Decomposition.

Poorly stated justifications!

My God
Is Bigger Than
Your God!

Falling Cities,
Lightly Salted.

Istanbul at the Center of the Universe!

Poorly officiated Sporting Events.

Smelling like feces
consuming various forms of carrion.

Dams giving,
The Seas Rising,
Shifting Poles
African Extinction,
Weird diseases from Asia.
Cigarettes and Coffee Blues,
Spaceships in Flames,
Cities in Unrest
Ungood Unrest
Urban Decay
Suburban Sprawl
The Automobile

The Earth's Last Line of Defense Rising out of the Desert North of Phoenix,
Coughing Construction Workers.


Same old shit.

A Horrible Religious Error Posted by Hello

Poem 1, Incrementalism


A pint of Beamish is $4.75
at O'Dowd's. I seem to remember
it being $3.00 just last year. Now,
look at how the bartender is sullen
over just getting a five dollar bill.

A pack of Natural American Spirit cigarettes
is going for $5.95. Do you
remember when we promised to quit
at $3.00, then four? And then
gave up on giving up. The market
is doing its work.

If memory serves, the state of California
was to take DNA samples
from pedophiles... maybe all sex
offenders. Sage advice, that one
watches his speed on the highway
just outside of Bakersfield. Those airplanes
are smarter than you think, and you
may be afraid of Needles.

Wasn't it just an Afghan wedding party
when a five dollar bill
was looked upon with gratitude
at O'Dowd's?

An exercise in solipsism.

Crow's Theology

Crow realized God loved him --
Otherwise, he would have dropped dead.
So that was proved.
Crow reclined, marvelling, on his heart-beat.

And he realized that God spoke Crow --
Just existing was His revelation.

But what
Loved the stones and spoke stone?
They seemed to exist too.
And what spoke that strange silence
After his clamour of caws faded?

And what loved the shot-pellets
That dribbled from those strung-up mummifying crows?
What spoke the silence of lead?

Crow realized there were two Gods --

One of them much bigger than the other
Loving his enemies
And having all the weapons.

Ted Hughes, 1970.

Alright, then. Like many, I've had misgivings about the blog thing. First off, "blog" like "golf" is an unseemly word. It doesn't sit well on the tongue. So, there is an inherent trepidation to advising a friend or colleague to "visit my blog." Beyond the consideration of etymology, there is the issue of vanitiy or outright narcissism. A Warhol run mad element, if you will. Further, I've never been a big fan of autobiographical work, or diaries per se. I cannot remember the direct quote, but I would recall W.H. Auden's belief that it is preposterous to pore over the collected life of an author or artist and pay as much (or more) for personality as one does the art. (He says, while looking at Ezra Pound's letters, three biographies... segue into every volume of George Orwell... I'm sure Auden wasn't a fundamentalist on that, either.)

Then something changed. After conversing via e-mail with a person whose work (what I've seen of it) I like, and whose personality I found to be engaging, I caught myself visiting his blog daily. So, as a sailor after shellbacking, I'm throwing my boots and dungarees overboard and rising anew. Hopefully this will be a positive experience.

To share a bit of background, I should say that this blog is primarily intended to disseminate my ever-changing, seldom consistent theories on poetry and to share some of my work. (I selected Ted Huge to start me off. Cheating? Well, why serve up Napa Valley when you've got good Bordeaux in the cellar?)

The name "Karga" is Turkish for "Crow." Beyond the template of Hughes's brilliant work as an enormously influential milestone of later twentieth century literature, there is another meaning. I am at work with another editor on the forthcoming web/brickmortar publication Kuzgun. (Turkish for "Raven.") It would be unwise and unethical for me to use that endeavor to publish my own work (though it would be easier than finding writers!) so this is my little raven.

What one can expect from my posts: generous portions of poetry; criticism and outright slander upon the House of Professional Poetry; other literary and social theorizing; and, maybe some cigar recommendations and homebrew recipes. Shall we, then?