Human Cylinders in parts, Mina Loy

Human Cylinders

(my favorite parts of the mysterious poem anyway)

by Mina Loy

The human cylinders

Although born in England, Mina Loy worked as a poet and visual artist in Paris, Florence, and New York City, where her beauty and outlandish behavior shone at the center of several avant-garde circles. The eccentric vocabulary and syntax of Loy’s free-verse poems and their sardonic treatment of love can puzzle and offend, but no reader can question the work’s originality nor the poet’s fierce intelligence.
1882-1966–The Poetry Foundation

Revolving in the enervating dusk

That wraps each closer in the mystery
Of singularity
Among the litter of a sunless afternoon
Having eaten without tasting
Talked without communion
And at least two of us
Loved a very little
Without seeking
To know if our two miseries
In the lucid rush-together of automatons
Could form one opulent wellbeing ….
Simplifications of men
In the enervating dusk
Your indistinctness
Serves me the core of the kernel of you
When in the frenzied reaching out of intellect to intellect
Leaning brow to brow       communicative
Over the abyss of the potential
Concordance of respiration
Shames
Absence of corresponding between the verbal sensory
And reciprocity
Of conception
And expression
Where each extrudes beyond the tangible
One thin pale trail of speculation
From among us we have sent out
Into the enervating dusk ……
….The impartiality of the absolute
Routs      the polemic
Or which of us
Would not
Receiving the holy-ghost
Catch it      and caging
Lose it
Or in the problematic
Destroy the Universe
With a solution…
Mina Loy, “Human Cylinders” from The Last Lunar Baedeker
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I Know About Love

“I broke my own heart too. It’s broken and gone. Everything I believed in and everything I cared about I left for you because you were so wonderful and you loved me so much that love was all that mattered. Love was the greatest thing, wasn’t it? Love was what we had likeabossHemingwaythat no one else had or could ever have and you were a genius and I was your whole life. I was your partner and your little black flower. Slop. Love is just another dirty lie. Love is ergoapiol pills to make me come around because you were afraid to have a baby. Love is quinine and quinine and quinine until I’m deaf with it. Love is that dirty aborting horror that you took me to. Love is my insides all messed up. It’s half catheters and half whirling douches. I know about love. Love always hangs behind the bathroom door. It smells like Lysol. To hell with love. Love is you making me happy and then going off to sleep with your mouth open while I lie awake all night afraid to say my prayers even because I know I have no right to any more. Love is all the dirty little tricks you taught me that you probably got out of some book. All right. I’m through with you and I’m through with love. Your kind of pick-nose love. You writer.”

–from Hemingway for his first love; read by Derek Walcott at New York Public Library (“Hemingway and the Caribbean“)–well worth the listen. This part was my favorite thought. It sorta choked me up one winter morning when I was walking.

Books Early 2017

…to read about these epic finds go here to Ampersand Books and LitHub Bookmarks

Here are the links to some reviews of the ones I’m really excited about reading:

  • Future Sex (essays): Emily Witt on Love and Sex and Orgasmic Meditationzxxxssssssssslithub review:  “…Does the title of Emily Witt’s new book Future Sex refer to her own, or everybody’s? The answer is wonderfully complicated. Despite the intriguing sex-toy-centric cover art, Future Sex is less an exploration of technology and futuristic pleasure toys than it is a fierce and fearless foray into how our culture’s views about connection and intimacy are changing—and whether or not Witt herself is getting any in this brave new world that has such orgasms in it.However, Witt doesn’t ignore tech in her essays, which include one about that greatest of digital commodities, porn, and how social media shapes what we see as erotic. So it’s fitting that we managed to connect via smartphone through the ether while she was in Brooklyn and I was in France….
  • A book of essays exploring modern sexuality focusing on Internet dating, Internet pornography, polyamory, and avant-garde sexual subcultures as sites of possibility for the author.”–lithub

 

  • For the Woman Alone by Ashley Inguanta —ampersand books
  • (my personal favorite): Enigma Variations by zxxxxxxxxxddddAndre Aciman link here

  • “A novel divided into five novella-length sections, each focused on a different erotic obsession and possibility….”
  • and
  • The project is one of recognition and revelation within the reader: the book wants nothing less than the dissolution of your consciousness into its pixellated moments of psychological precision … the third section, ‘Manfred,’ grows a little tedious. Unlike Aciman’s steamy first novel Call Me by Your Name, most of the skin-to-skin contact in Enigma Variations occurs in the narrator’s head, and in ‘Manfred,’ Paul wallows longwindedly in the agony of delayed avowal … Intriguingly, as we witness Paul repeatedly rearrange his life around a new magnetic north, it becomes clear that his bisexuality abets his serial monogamy … Aciman has captured Paul’s bridge life delightfully well.
  • A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women  –Siri Hustvedt

    Siri Hustvedt’s essay collection–A collection of essays on art, feminism, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy from prize-winning novelist Siri Hustvedt.a-woman-looking-at-men-looking-at-women_siri-hustvedt_cover

“Siri Hustvedt, an authoritative and independent-minded writer on the arts and sciences, brings the felt experience into her smart, stimulating and hefty new collection of essays … What’s exciting about Hustvedt’s work is her desire for us to see the world anew … Hustvedt does not resolve her many questions, but her exhilarating conclusion testifies to the virtues of doubt … the strength and lucidity of Hustvedt’s good thinking calls us to have confidence in our own instincts, to be alert to delusions and inherited traditions, and to realize that many truths are fiction, and only exist to the extent that we believe them.”–lithub review

  • The Refugees by VIET THANH NGUYEN:

    The Refugees, is as impeccably written as it is timed … This is an important and incisive book written by a major writer with firsthand knowledge of the human rights drama exploding on the international stage — and the talent to give us zxxxxxcinroads toward understanding it … There is no effort to avoid the identity of ‘refugee’ — this book interrogates the term on political and spiritual levels, and the results are saturated with pain, memory and beauty … In this collection, towns are altered by war, relatives by time. In some stories, decades pass between letters home to Vietnam, as in ‘Fatherland.’ There is a thorny dissonance between past and present. The living protagonists are often forced to carry traumatic visions with them as they try to make their way in a new country … Nguyen is skilled at making us feel the disorientation and alienation of these characters navigating displacement … The Refugees is a surprisingly sensual book, despite operating in difficult political and emotional terrain. Nguyen crafts sentences with an eye toward physicality and a keen awareness of bodies and their urges … In an era where writers and readers debate who gets to write what, it is refreshing and essential to have this work from a writer who knows and feels the terrain on an intellectual, emotional and cellular level — it shows. Nguyen offers stories of aftermath, but also of complexity. He gives us human beings weary of pity and tired of sharing rehearsed stories that make them seem like ‘one more anonymous young refugee.’ In topic and in execution, The Refugees is an exquisite book.

(featured image http://sissyjupe.blogspot.com )

Anne Sexton Reads

hear Anne Sexton’s poetry at the Poetry Foundation; the first one is “The Double Image” and the first time I heard it I was in my mother’s garage bawling my eyes out.

The Double Image

By Anne Sexton 1928–1974

1.
I am thirty this November.
You are still small, in your fourth year.
We stand watching the yellow leaves go queer,
flapping in the winter rain,
falling flat and washed. And I remember
mostly the three autumns you did not live here.
They said I’d never get you back again.
I tell you what you’ll never really know:
all the medical hypothesis
that explained my brain will never be as true as these
struck leaves letting go.
I, who chose two times
to kill myself, had said your nickname
the mewling months when you first came;
until a fever rattled
in your throat and I moved like a pantomime
above your head. Ugly angels spoke to me. The blame,
I heard them say, was mine. They tattled
like green witches in my head, letting doom
leak like a broken faucet;
as if doom had flooded my belly and filled your bassinet,
an old debt I must assume.
Death was simpler than I’d thought.
The day life made you well and whole
I let the witches take away my guilty soul.
I pretended I was dead
until the white men pumped the poison out,
putting me armless and washed through the rigamarole
of talking boxes and the electric bed.
I laughed to see the private iron in that hotel.
Today the yellow leaves
go queer. You ask me where they go. I say today believed
in itself, or else it fell.
Today, my small child, Joyce,
love your self’s self where it lives.
There is no special God to refer to; or if there is,
why did I let you grow
in another place. You did not know my voice
when I came back to call. All the superlatives
of tomorrow’s white tree and mistletoe
will not help you know the holidays you had to miss.
The time I did not love
myself, I visited your shoveled walks; you held my glove.
There was new snow after this.
2.
They sent me letters with news
of you and I made moccasins that I would never use.
When I grew well enough to tolerate
myself, I lived with my mother. Too late,
too late, to live with your mother, the witches said.
But I didn’t leave. I had my portrait
done instead.
Part way back from Bedlam
I came to my mother’s house in Gloucester,
Massachusetts. And this is how I came
to catch at her; and this is how I lost her.
I cannot forgive your suicide, my mother said.
And she never could. She had my portrait
done instead.
I lived like an angry guest,
like a partly mended thing, an outgrown child.
I remember my mother did her best.
She took me to Boston and had my hair restyled.
Your smile is like your mother’s, the artist said.
I didn’t seem to care. I had my portrait
done instead.
There was a church where I grew up
with its white cupboards where they locked us up,
row by row, like puritans or shipmates
singing together. My father passed the plate.
Too late to be forgiven now, the witches said.
I wasn’t exactly forgiven. They had my portrait
done instead.
3.
All that summer sprinklers arched
over the seaside grass.
We talked of drought
while the salt-parched
field grew sweet again. To help time pass
I tried to mow the lawn
and in the morning I had my portrait done,
holding my smile in place, till it grew formal.
Once I mailed you a picture of a rabbit
and a postcard of Motif number one,
as if it were normal
to be a mother and be gone.
They hung my portrait in the chill
north light, matching
me to keep me well.
Only my mother grew ill.
She turned from me, as if death were catching,
as if death transferred,
as if my dying had eaten inside of her.
That August you were two, but I timed my days with doubt.
On the first of September she looked at me
and said I gave her cancer.
They carved her sweet hills out
and still I couldn’t answer.
4.
That winter she came
part way back
from her sterile suite
of doctors, the seasick
cruise of the X-ray,
the cells’ arithmetic
gone wild. Surgery incomplete,
the fat arm, the prognosis poor, I heard
them say.
During the sea blizzards
she had here
own portrait painted.
A cave of mirror
placed on the south wall;
matching smile, matching contour.
And you resembled me; unacquainted
with my face, you wore it. But you were mine
after all.
I wintered in Boston,
childless bride,
nothing sweet to spare
with witches at my side.
I missed your babyhood,
tried a second suicide,
tried the sealed hotel a second year.
On April Fool you fooled me. We laughed and this
was good.
5.
I checked out for the last time
on the first of May;
graduate of the mental cases,
with my analyst’s okay,
my complete book of rhymes,
my typewriter and my suitcases.
All that summer I learned life
back into my own
seven rooms, visited the swan boats,
the market, answered the phone,
served cocktails as a wife
should, made love among my petticoats
and August tan. And you came each
weekend. But I lie.
You seldom came. I just pretended
you, small piglet, butterfly
girl with jelly bean cheeks,
disobedient three, my splendid
stranger. And I had to learn
why I would rather
die than love, how your innocence
would hurt and how I gather
guilt like a young intern
his symptoms, his certain evidence.
That October day we went
to Gloucester the red hills
reminded me of the dry red fur fox
coat I played in as a child; stock-still
like a bear or a tent,
like a great cave laughing or a red fur fox.
We drove past the hatchery,
the hut that sells bait,
past Pigeon Cove, past the Yacht Club, past Squall’s
Hill, to the house that waits
still, on the top of the sea,
and two portraits hung on the opposite walls.
6.
In north light, my smile is held in place,
the shadow marks my bone.
What could I have been dreaming as I sat there,
all of me waiting in the eyes, the zone
of the smile, the young face,
the foxes’ snare.
In south light, her smile is held in place,
her cheeks wilting like a dry
orchid; my mocking mirror, my overthrown
love, my first image. She eyes me from that face,
that stony head of death
I had outgrown.
The artist caught us at the turning;
we smiled in our canvas home
before we chose our foreknown separate ways.
The dry red fur fox coat was made for burning.
I rot on the wall, my own
Dorian Gray.
And this was the cave of the mirror,
that double woman who stares
at herself, as if she were petrified
in time — two ladies sitting in umber chairs.
You kissed your grandmother
and she cried.
7.
I could not get you back
except for weekends. You came
each time, clutching the picture of a rabbit
that I had sent you. For the last time I unpack
your things. We touch from habit.
The first visit you asked my name.
Now you stay for good. I will forget
how we bumped away from each other like marionettes
on strings. It wasn’t the same
as love, letting weekends contain
us. You scrape your knee. You learn my name,
wobbling up the sidewalk, calling and crying.
You call me mother and I remember my mother again,
somewhere in greater Boston, dying.
I remember we named you Joyce
so we could call you Joy.
You came like an awkward guest
that first time, all wrapped and moist
and strange at my heavy breast.
I needed you. I didn’t want a boy,
only a girl, a small milky mouse
of a girl, already loved, already loud in the house
of herself. We named you Joy.
I, who was never quite sure
about being a girl, needed another
life, another image to remind me.
And this was my worst guilt; you could not cure
nor soothe it. I made you to find me.

Anne Sexton, “The Double Image” from The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Copyright © 1981 by Linda Gray Sexton and Loring Conant, Jr. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.

Source: The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton (Houghton Mifflin, 1981)

Blueprint for a Breakthrough

Shane Koyczan.

If you don’t know him, you’re in for a treat.  Beautiful and amazing and heart-breaking and warming:

“If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces.”

[Blueprint for a Breakthrough (2013)]”
Shane Koyczan

“Look directly into every mirror. Realize our reflection is the first sentence to a story, and our story starts: We were here.”
Shane Koyczan

Be gracious.
Accept each extended hand offered to pull you back from the somewhere you cannot escape
be DILIGENT
scrape the gray sky clean, realize every dark cloud is a smoke screen meant to blind us from the truth and the truth is whether we see them or not, the sun and moon are still there and always—there is light.
be forthright. Despite your instinct to say it’s alright, I’m okay, BE HONEST
SAY HOW YOU FEEL
without fear or guilt
without remorse or complexity
be lucid in your explanation be sterling in your appose
we will station ourselves to the calm
we will hold ourselves to the steady
YOUR VOICE IS YOUR WEAPON, YOUR THOUGHTS—AMMUNITION.
there are no free extra men be aware that in the instant now passes it exists now as then?
so be A MIRROR REFLECTING YOUR SELF BACK, REMEMBERING THE TIMES WHEN YOU THOUGHT ….ALL OF THIS WAS TOO HARD AND THAT YOU’D NEVER MAKE IT THROUGH…

“but I want to tell them
that all of this shit
is just debris
leftover when we finally decide to smash all the things we thought
we used to be
and if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself
get a better mirror
look a little closer
stare a little longer
because there’s something inside you
that made you keep trying
despite everyone who told you to quit
you built a cast around your broken heart
and signed it yourself
you signed it
“they were wrong”
because maybe you didn’t belong to a group or a click
maybe they decided to pick you last for basketball or everything
maybe you used to bring bruises and broken teeth
to show and tell but never told
because how can you hold your ground
if everyone around you wants to bury you beneath it
you have to believe that they were wrong

they have to be wrong”
Shane Koyczan

A Literary Kick (books, links, poets and authors)

I’ve been on a crazy literary kick and I thought I’d share my findings, including some INCREDIBLE books (and links, author blogs, literary websites and magazines/journals).

For starters, I want these books (many of which were found at Ampersand Books and Brain Pickings):

Letters of Note –Shaun Usher (and his awesome Letters of Note blog)

A Writer’s Diary–Fyodor Dostoyevsky

As Consciousness is Harnassed to Flesh: journals and notebooks (Susan Sontag)

MeaningofHumanExistenceMech.inddThe Meaning of Human Existence (BOUGHT IT!) by Edward O. Wilson

–and here’s a review by the Washington Post

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace (Anne Lamott) —BOUGHT IT!

Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery by Jeanette Winterson

Dataclysm: Who We Are (when we think no one is looking) by Christian Rudder —BOUGHT IT!

The Life of the Mind by Hannah Arendt

Changing My Mind: Occassional essays by Zadie Smith

(poetry) Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Gluck —OWN IT9780374152017_custom-c010e93aece861fd1783b68ce6c0eabdc7044d67-s99-c85

****The Muse of Abandonment: Origin, Identity, Mastery in Five American Poets by Lee Upton (…bought it)

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit —BOUGHT IT!

Henry Miller on Writing

Sex, or the Unbearable by Lauren Berlant and Lee Edelman

978-0-8223-5594-6_pr

and oooooh

22022747I want this one: Blacken Me Blacken Me, Growled   by Cassandra Troyan  (which I saw over at PANK)

(poetry/Ampersand): For the Woman Alone (at Ampersand Books) by Ashley Inguanta  71h2yIQfwdL

(fiction/Ampersand) We Take Me Apart –Molly Gaudry (and I believe there is a sequel coming out)

Now, other cool literary/poetic places I like–and most of them have podcasts, links, reviews, music, and more:

How a Poem Happens (one of my favorite places)

Identity Theory–has everything

Jacket2

MadHat Lit

Tin House Workshop Podcasts (with a special podcast there by Ann Hood on 10 steps to an essay)

Bookslut –books, interviews, posts, good stuff

dumbfoundry

Largehearted Boy–music, books, lots of great shit (and downloads)

Luna Park

Laila Lalami Read More

Hunter S. Thompson

Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.huntersthompson1

So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.)* There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.

–Hunter S. Thompson

“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it off to forced conscious expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”
―, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Read More

Writing Prompt from a Quote

Bukowski
Bukowski

So I came across a post at a blog I follow by Ryan Lanz called The Writer’s Path (excellent posts and advice, let me tell you–I don’t think he knows how many times I re-read his stuff).  He does “Ten Quote Tuesdays” and I of course am late for it but I’m also going to take a different spin on it.  There are inspirational quotes in the post on writing and then there are prompts; I have chosen to use one of the quotes as a prompt for a post.

I couldn’t decide between Viktor Frankl’s (amazing survivor and writer) “What is it to give life must endure burning.”  Or Natalie Goldberg’s “Kill the idea of the lone, suffering artist.  Don’t make it harder on yourself.”

So here goes my simple blog post, Ryan, on “Kill the idea of the lone, suffering artist.  Don’t make it harder on yourself.”

 

My cousin Mike is on the phone, my lifelong best friend.  He’s sculpting on the other end and I’m sitting here, smoking in front of a blank screen.

“Hey, Amos, just pull a Hemingway,” he sounds distracted but concerned–he can always do a lot at once.

“Meh, I don’t got enough meds left and there’s no 7up for the gin.”

“Well shit man, I started on my Shandy’s since noon, got this sculpture just about licked.  Just get a couple drinks in ya, sit down, and just write.  Just let it come to you.”

111hemingwaydrunk

So I get off the phone, bust out the wine, feeling like less of an artist because I don’t have bourbon.  I don’t even know what bourbon is.  I set up my laptop on the living room coffee table, turn on my Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder album, and wait.  And drink.  And wait.  Surely my demons will arise if I’m intoxicated, they’re here every other day of the week.

Before I know it my face is on fire and I’m quoting the lyrics from “Wild Horses” in an essay attempt to my sister,

...childhood living is easy to do…

of whom I’ve been having an on-going argument with.  I write as if she’s going to die, and tears are streaming down my face.  I can’t get past the lyrics so I sit.  And stop and think.  And drink.

Fuck this.  Fuckn’ A, Hemingway, you either started all your writing drunk and bloomed from there, or you didn’t really drink when you wrote.  I should know this…but he was brilliant!

I play sadder music.  A more complicated tune like Radiohead’s “National Anthem” to get me thinking and not focusing on words but guts.  I tried doing something high once–in my apartment in Eau Claire where I lived with three other girls.  I secretly and for the first time got stoned by myself, and I was going to write something Alice-ish.  All I did was draw though–and even the stoned-drawing felt presumptuous.  Rehearsed.  I have learned I cannot or maybe I just refuse to really allow myself to tap into what I have to say if I’m in any way intoxicated.  Man I wish I could.  I always imagine the freedom that must come with just saying “fuck it” and writing a master piece.  Clearly, this is not realistic thinking.  But it’s the romantic idea of an artist’s life.

Let’s face it, we suffer enough.  Even when I was really down and out and the “lone sufferer” I couldn’t write then, because I was too close to it.  It takes time, I hate to say, but the scary thing is how much time? Because before you know it the book never gets written, and you have a couple dozen poems and essays published that really, well, mean nothing but personal approval that “hey, I can write–they say so.”  This post depresses me.  TIme to really clear my head and go write!

Amy Jo

 

 

Ode to Louise Gluck

 

I’m writing an ode to my favorite poet, Louise Gluck.  To join in the fun, come and celebrate the three year anniversary at d-verse poets pub!

I’m writing this poem based on my favorite poem by Gluck–“Mutable Earth.”  I carry that one with me in my wallet.  Rosanna Warren has described Gluck’s writing, for one

diem design photography
diem design photography

as–“her–power is to distance the lyric ‘I’ as subject and object of attention” and to “impose a discipline of detachment upon urgently subjective material”  William Logan from the New York Times described her work as “the logical outcome of a certain strain of confessional verse–starved adjectives, thinned to a nervous set of verbs, intense almost past bearing, her poems have been dark, damaged and difficult to avert your gaze from.” (taken from The Poetry Foundation)

In her poem, “Mutable Earth,” there are a series of questions asked of the narrator and she answers in brief, punching stanzas.  I am going to answer the same questions; why not?

 

“Are you healed or do you only think you’re healed?”

I tell myself it is

terrible and beautiful

to survive

the mind.

It’s costing me everything.

 

“But can you love anyone yet?”

My first four years

had love;

I remember the

feeling well.

lupengrainne3323

“But will you touch anyone?”

I tell myself

if I have nothing,

that’s what comes back.

 

I touch my face

in the mirror

and I feel nothing.

 

“And your face too?

Your face in the mirror?”

LupenGrainne99f
Lupen Grainne

It feels like I am

gloved; I see

a shape of silent centers.

It always felt invisible.

 

“Were you safe then?”

Hands that can’t feel

reach for danger.

 

I wouldn’t keep secrets

of my own–my thoughts

were never safe, even

from me. Read More