Monday, November 26, 2012

Davy’s Box.

Davy Jones' locker,
I know your heart is inside
I can hear it beating hollow and quiet,
just an empty space in its cage,

bronze and mallow
with bone and marrow,
the remnants linger just under
its sinewy surface,

here under water
while the dirt is below,
a hundred years it's been waiting
in its soft green grave,

lychen and shallow
your arms reach for branches,
only leaves will resort
to your fingers in the earth

the embrace of,
roots and copper,
your lungs’ only

Treasure Prompt


What secrets she reveals to you
this women standing here
Underneath the floors
hidden down below
She hides away in shadow
with the others yet unseen

Secrets about people,
the world will never know

The protection of these walls
have kept her family safe
Generations come and gone
hiding from things in dark places

She can never leave this place
And now you too, are bound to this house.

P.S. Leave me alone

Dear secret ghost
You are not dead

Do you watch me poop
Fuck you

The house is my cup
Don't spill the rent
My screaming banjo

Where are all the sleeping kittens
They bite me
Holiday vampire treadmill

Bon Voyage
Baked goods

Your Face


Beep, fell to Death

I'm new in town. I saw a house.
I looked up, a girl screamed.
It was so loud I fainted.
I smelled a horrible smell.
I went up the stairs. I fell to my death.
I am a ghost now.

Erin Murphy

Robert Frost, Colloquial & Rural Depictions

Poet Robert Lee Frost is a part of the Modernist poet's movement. He was born in San Francisco and has a Scottish ethnic background. Frost is known for his mastery of American colloquial speech which signifies his eased, conversational and lyrical writing tones. He is also known for his realistic depictions of rural life, and spent a good portion of his own life in rural settings.


A Boundless Moment

By Robert Frost
He halted in the wind, and -- what was that
Far in the maples, pale, but not a ghost?
He stood there bringing March against his thought,
And yet too ready to believe the most.

"Oh, that's the Paradise-in-bloom," I said;
And truly it was fair enough for flowers
had we but in us to assume in march
Such white luxuriance of May for ours.

We stood a moment so in a strange world,
Myself as one his own pretense deceives;
And then I said the truth (and we moved on).
A young beech clinging to its last year's leaves

A Line-Storm Song

By Robert Frost
The line-storm clouds fly tattered and swift,
The road is forlorn all day,
Where a myriad snowy quartz stones lift,
And the hoof-prints vanish away.
The roadside flowers, too wet for the bee,
Expend their bloom in vain.
Come over the hills and far with me,
And be my love in the rain.

The birds have less to say for themselves
In the wood-world’s torn despair
Than now these numberless years the elves,
Although they are no less there:
All song of the woods is crushed like some
Wild, easily shattered rose.
Come, be my love in the wet woods; come,
Where the boughs rain when it blows.

There is the gale to urge behind
And bruit our singing down,
And the shallow waters aflutter with wind
From which to gather your gown.
What matter if we go clear to the west,
And come not through dry-shod?
For wilding brooch shall wet your breast
The rain-fresh goldenrod.

Oh, never this whelming east wind swells
But it seems like the sea’s return
To the ancient lands where it left the shells
Before the age of the fern;
And it seems like the time when after doubt
Our love came back amain.
Oh, come forth into the storm and rout
And be my love in the rain.

Monday, November 19, 2012

No Title

you look at me with an awestruck expression
you know what you must do to help me.
"But what about my friends. My family?" you ask me.
"None of them matter anymore," I say to you as your face grows grim.
You know what I have asked of you is a one way road, but you have the courage to continue.
"I'm ready," you say hesitantly.
"Good, let's begin," I say coldly.
I'm sorry it had to be this way, but you stepped foot in this house.
You slept in this bed and you must make the sacrifice.
You follow me glumly into the deep, dark passage.
Your hand brushes against the wall and you feel the moist sticky moss and hear the dripping water.
The pungent odor of mildew fills your nose.
I show you to a large wooden door with old iron ring handles.
You feel a sudden sense of dread and stutter at me.
"I...I don't know if I can do this. It's to much."
I look at you blankly and push the door open.
The cold night air blows past your face and the scent of mildew assaults your nose.
We step out on to a raft floating on an endless lake.
You look at me and ask me one final question.
"Is this what I think it is?"
I reveal my true form and answer you flatly.
"This is the river styx. And my name is Charon."

Muses in Old Houses

Grey eyes behind a curtain masked
show me they’ve always been here—
these muses,

their thoughts a slurry of simple
things turned awry and over,
an admittance of vague

ideas presented in dark rooms,
each under a small moment

silk webs spun under
the brightest light in the corner of
those damp rooms

show that light still leaks over;
like burnt linen seeking
solace in oiled lamps and

soft beeswax candles--
a seal so differential
to a time they’ve always been there;


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Modernist Poetry & poetry by T.S. Eliot

Modernist Poetry

The modernist movement began around the early 1900s. It began as a revolutionary response to the Victorian poetry that came before the Edwardian era, a time during which modernist writers were born.  Modernism developed in associated to traditional lyrical expression and emphasized one's personal imagination, culture or social context, emotions and memories.This type of poetry contrasted the ornate and excessive diction used by Victorian writers, and textually explored ontological meaning even until the point of unsure abstraction. As a result, reading Modernist poetry can often be bewildering—I often find poetry from this era to search for intellectual and psychological meaning in its own attempts for understanding the “self,” instead of it holding a straightforward cut & dry analysis.The poetry that I include in the handout, especially Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot often explores ontological and emotional themes that expand upon the theory of poetic social consciousness that predates confessionalist writing. The poem mentioned surveys frustration, repression, love, isolation and its speaker creates a memorable and thoughtful character for us to behold as “Prufrock.”

Things occurring during this time including fundamental changes:
Early 20th century, a great contrast to Victorian & Romantic poetry
World War I, the aftermath of it
Women’s suffrage, an acknowledgment and assessment
Planes, trains (subways), & automobiles as discovery and use
After the Beat Poets (50’s), contrasting with Eliot’s position of objectivity

Here’s a poem by T.S. Eliot, published in Chicago in June, 1915. He began writing it in 1910. Read through it and don’t try too hard to understand a concrete message; just enjoy the words and their connection to each other on the page.

T.S. Eliot, word mapping & structuralizing.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.


If I thought my answer were to one who could return to the world, I would not reply, but as none ever did return alive from this depth, without fear of infamy I answer thee. The words are spoken by Count Guido da Montefeltro, a damned soul in the Eighth Circle of Hell in Dante's Divine Comedy (Inferno, Canto 27, lines 61-66.) 

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question….
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
  So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
  And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
  And should I then presume?
  And how should I begin?
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
  Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
  That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
  “That is not it at all,
  That is not what I meant, at all.”
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Monday, November 12, 2012

giant hairy foot space monkey

California is the most polluted state in the U.S. There are NO animals, NO human or plants. I felt like I was on another planet and I needed to wear a space suit! I could only imagine there where clean plants, clean air and water. I bet ...   2 years later, I'm in a hospital. I woke up .Wha ... where am I? Someone said I almost died! What are you? A giant hairy foot space monkey!

-Erin M.

Things past

In a time before
Life lived here
Birds and flowers
trees and fish

Then the waste flowed in
Excess from the humans

Once clear ponds and streams
now a muddled brown
Debris scattered

The grass is long since dead
unable to sustain
to grow

A dark cloud has descended
On the formerly wondrous place

Nothing lives here now
Except death
It's black shadow
consuming all.

My Serene Place

the tranquil lake lies deeply embedded within the mountains
on the shore is a parade of lights
the cool breeze
washing over my face
listening to the quiet voices of the lake
soothing melodies of light dance off the gentle waves in the comforting night
the dark energy mesmerizes all that stop to listen
breathe deeply
let the power permeate your skin
natures' medicine is the cure to all ailments
invigorating emotion

Promise to Zeus

The sheen on the water is mercurial
in more ways than one,

a cornflower film indicative of talc,
miniature clouds that catch on a wisp

with cilia-like hands that grasp
and grasp-

in avoidance of the waterboatman
passing through,

I imagine this is what Odysseus felt,
sweeping over the River Styx,

his breath held in his throat
and his lungs tight against the water’s movements,

there’s no ore but just a
glimmer of light,

a powdery layer that covers the lake,
holding small moments of wonder

under its glassy surface.

Today's prompt (for easier access)

What was once something, is now something else.
Describe a place you notice to be now polluted: how it is polluted, is it still visually aesthetic in an odd way? How do you imagine it if it weren't polluted anymore? Was there a time before the state of this place was altered? Relay this information to us with your corporeal experience.

Have fun with it-- even if your brain takes you in a direction that deviates from the prompt :)

Some Poems, Narrative & Lyric


by Tony Hoagland

Prolonged exposure to death 
Has made my friend quieter.

Now his nose is less like a hatchet
And more like a snuffler.

Flames don't erupt from his mouth anymore
And life doesn't crack his thermometer.

Instead of overthrowing the government
He reads fly-fishing catalogues

And takes photographs of water.
An aphorist would say 

The horns of the steer have grown straighter.
He has an older heart 

that beats younger.
His Attila the Hun imitation 

Is not as good as it used to be.
Everything else is better.


by Tony Hoagland
Sometimes I wish I were still out 
on the back porch, drinking jet fuel 
with the boys, getting louder and louder 
as the empty cans drop out of our paws 
like booster rockets falling back to Earth

and we soar up into the summer stars. 
Summer. The big sky river rushes overhead, 
bearing asteroids and mist, blind fish 
and old space suits with skeletons inside. 
On Earth, men celebrate their hairiness,

and it is good, a way of letting life 
out of the box, uncapping the bottle 
to let the effervescence gush 
through the narrow, usually constricted neck.

And now the crickets plug in their appliances 
in unison, and then the fireflies flash 
dots and dashes in the grass, like punctuation 
for the labyrinthine, untrue tales of sex 
someone is telling in the dark, though

no one really hears. We gaze into the night 
as if remembering the bright unbroken planet 
we once came from, 
to which we will never 
be permitted to return. 
We are amazed how hurt we are. 
We would give anything for what we have.

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.