Friday, December 20, 2013

Last minute holiday wish!

There is only one other piece of modern literature that talks about the concept of how a person contains and integrates the multiple personalities we are all made of and that is the Frankenstein Series written by Koontz, Anderson and Gorman. It is a piece of fiction, of course, and it is bent by and devoted to the process by which fiction can help us understand who we are. It is narrative in nature and a page-turner in style and ends up with a composite character that is capable of integrating the consciousness of several other singular personalities we have met individually into one rather difficult to understand character.

Book of Aliases deals with that idea poetically. After all, we seem to often be made up of some pretty contradictory stuff from time to time. So much so that our spouses/lovers/friends often find themselves saying “oh, they’re just in one of those moods” to try and explain our strange behavior. In addition to that, our problems with plural/singular pronoun references to ourselves I believe stems, at least in part, to that multiplicity of personalities we are all capable of.

Just as in fiction, we better understand the motivations and peculiarities of a single character but Dostoyevsky, in earlier times lets us understand that, in some real sense, the criminal and the policeman are one person seeking to experience re-integration. Again in Ulysses we can start to understand through Joyce that maybe Homer was really talking about the components of an ideal soldier by describing the personalities involved in a successful army.

Fortunately poetry lets us look at this issue as if we were holding a gem up to the light. Of course Book of Aliases seems to contain lots of personality types but the simple fact that it is autobiographical in style suggests that we must take all these parts inside ourselves and let them be at home. It takes that “why did I do that?” kind of behavior and lets us put it to rest in the sprawling mansion of our lives.

It’s getting too close to the holidays now to have time to ship a gift so it’s time to consider sending an e-book as that special gift for that rare person that you love and respect. Please consider sending Book of Aliases or some other of the works of literature that make our lives so much better.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 02, 2013

A holiday wish!

I know what I like to read and some of that is poetry. I don't care what the theme but a good poem puts the moment right. I'm not talking about my childhood or when I first got married, I'm talking about this moment. I need to be healthy and okay in precisely this moment and poetry is the only way I know of to do that kind of thing to my consciousness. Sure it would be neat if you read one or more of my books but what I really wish is for you to find this moment enduringly acceptable and enjoyable. Have a happy holiday season and read some good poetry!

Book of Aliases
Dragon Scales and Fireflies

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

This will be the first time in several years I have had the great pleasure of being in Tucson for Thanksgiving. I will spend this lovely holiday surrounded by children and grandchildren. Being mindful of all we have to be thankful for is a great blessing to us all. I wish you and yours the very best during these special moments and I hope you will be able to continue to enjoy those wonderful sentiments throughout the brief remainder of this year and for all of next year! Thank you for reading my poems and be blessed with joy in all you do!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

A review by Lowell Murphree for Dragon Scales and Fireflies

Lowell Murphree wrote:

If you have found yourself standing in the rain at the corner of undeniable passion and unbearable incompletion, the poems in “Dragon Scales and Fireflies” offer you sheltering companionship. All night cafés and darkened hallways locate poet Russell Ragsdale’s inner dialog. It’s intensity could wake the neighborhood. This latest book of poems, available in Kindle addition on Amazon, deceptively invites you to a day together during which you will share coffee on a snowy afternoon, dinner with conversation about cheap and costly love and the homeliness and beauty of Paris and finally over candles and drinks a harrowingly honest visit to the inner fires defiant of age. My recommendation: Buy it. You’ll read it more than once.

Dragon Scales and Fireflies

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book origins

Russell Ragsdale travels to Kazakhstan right after the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Within months of his arrival in an unusual place in Central Asia, he finds friendship in a struggling, Russian speaking world. The poet in him reawakens and he learns things about himself, both good and not so good, that change his life forever. Read Book of Aliases, a collection combining published and early poems written while living abroad. He also completed a chap book of new and original poetry written while living in Kazakhstan (2013) called Dragon Scales and Fireflies in which he explores his thoughts about safety and protecting oneself while living abroad as he now has for the last 21 years.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Who is Russell Ragsdale?

I am a plain old human being who happens to write poetry, don’t ask me how that happened. The main thing I really want in life is for people to read my poems and feel better. My experiences I share freely, even though I’m not a confessional poet and friends, who are also poets, tell me that my work is accessible so anybody should be able to read it. There is no need for advanced degrees or years of study of schools of poetry to understand what I’m writing about. I just write about life as it plays itself across my consciousness so that shouldn’t make anything too mysterious. If I go out drinking and dancing, I will write about it or, if I sit alone and feel the want of contact with others, I will write about that too. It is true that I don’t punctuate when I write so that might seem a little strange at first but people don’t punctuate when they speak either so, if you read the poems aloud it should start to make more sense. As a plus, reading them aloud will let you hear the somewhat jazzy music they make. I hope you will enjoy and feel good about the wonder of being alive and aware!

My books are:
Book of Aliases,
Dragon Scales and Fireflies

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Shelfari, Goodreads and other socially oriented reading sites.

Shelfari is a site on the internet where book lovers can have social contact. Like Goodreads it is a successful, useful, interesting place to visit and meet others who are interested in reading. I use both very regularly and enjoy being part of both communities. If you are an avid reader like so many of us and haven't tried either site yet you might find them interesting. My book, Dragon Scales and Fireflies has an exciting new review on Shelfari and you might enjoy reading it there. In any event, I encourage you to become familiar with these sites and other like them as they are a pleasurable experience for book lovers.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Karen Bowles is ill

I’m looking for a wider audience as a writer and I need to do something to help a very dear old friend while she is in need, as well. Let’s see: I’m a poet and that means I do other things in order to have the income to write. Let’s see: I’m a poet and I used to be a teacher before I retired – not much help. Let’s see: now I’m a poet and a pensioner – oh dear! So you see my dilemma.

There is not much I, or any single person (with the exception of a few billionaires), can do to help out so I came up with the idea of publishing a book and giving the income from it to her. All the income from Dragon Scales and Fireflies from the first year of sales will be put in the Tooth Fairy Fund to help Karen during this difficult time. It’s not a perfect solution because income from the big outlets seem to take about three months to start flowing but it is something I could do and that is what’s important.

What’s in it for you? Well, you are probably glad to do something nice for Karen Bowles because you love her but the problem is that you’ve already generously donated and that’s that. So this gives you an opportunity to give again, not a big gift like your first one but something small and manageable. Also you get an e-book that you can read and hopefully enjoy or give as a gift to some poetry lover you know who just happens to have a birthday soon. The reason that’s so important is that Karen still needs your help.

She needs it now – this is not something that is going to wait and if I can get enough of you to do it, she can get a new wave of donations coming in that will help her through a period in which she is really down with this illness of hers. In fact, I have a better idea. Why don’t you just go and slip five dollars in the Tooth Fairy Fund now and forget about the book. Or maybe do both but whatever you do, why don’t you do it now.


TheTooth Fairy Fund is at: toothfairyfund@yahoo.com and you need to 1) click the ''send payment'' tab, making sure to select ''personal payment.'' 2) There will be no fee on either side for this transaction.

And the book which I wrote especially for this is at: http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Scales-and-Fireflies-ebook/dp/B00E3ECBYW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1374551452&sr=1-1&keywords=Dragon+Scales+and+Fireflies


Yours in poetry and love and with warm best wishes,

Russell H. Ragsdale

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Friday, June 07, 2013

So what are you going to get the big guy for Father’s Day? Life is more than a bucket of Super Bowl beer on ice. This is the guy who taught you everything you know about life, love and family!

You have come to understand he is more than a box of candy or matching socks, tie and hanky set. There is a soul in there that has made years of sacrifices so that you could become who you have grown up to be. You can’t just give him some back-of-the-bottom-drawer gift.

Maybe he’s the guy who held your hand and went with you from house to house all dressed up on Halloween. Maybe he watched you learn to dance ballet or taught you to play softball. It was undoubtedly him who was with you when you fell or failed and he gave you that helping hand when you most needed it.

Maybe he’s the guy who invariably let you down occasionally because he’s only human after all. I know there have been times when I have let my own kids down and I have regretted doing or not doing something just like he probably has. He probably has forgiven you for your childish mistakes even though some of them were probably pretty costly and you may have come to terms with his humanness also.

What would you be willing to do for this guy, the man who was by your side all through childhood? Love is an incredibly powerful force and there are probably few, if any, sacrifices you wouldn’t be willing to make for him. I’m sure the same has been true for him.

What I’m talking about here is this: you know pretty much who this guy is and you are wondering what you can do for him on Father’s Day that is going to be really special? We all know he’d be pleased with a funny card and knowing that you are thinking about him. That would probably be enough for him, wouldn’t it?

But we also know that this is when you want to show him some small measure of what he means to you. Yes, he’s your dad but that is just what he is. If you wanted to do the same as everybody else you would also be willing to go with the all the abundance of Father’s Day merchandise that is getting stocked on the shelves to give him as a gift and then sit down for dinner with him. That’s all about what he is but I believe the question you are starting to ask yourself is more about WHO is he? That’s the question that will make what you do when you spend time with him on June 17th be the kind of experience you are really looking for.

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Does he like to garden? Or would he rather have a fountain in the front of the house to make him feel like a king when he comes home? Does he like to read? Or would he like to spend a few hours in the afternoon telling fantastic stories to a bunch of neighborhood kids? Does he like to look at travel magazines? Maybe what he would really like is to learn French and spend a few weeks in Paris learning how to use Le Metro and finding out which Boulangerie in Montmartre makes the best croissants? He may have been so busy raising his kids that he really hasn’t considered doing some of the things he would really prefer. In fact, he might be approaching the age of retirement without knowing how to get on with some of the things he would really enjoy the experience of doing, being or having.

That’s one of the problems in life! We get so busy living that we don’t spend much time asking if what we’re settling for is what we really want. That’s why Socrates’ words make us uncomfortable. Most of us never even get to the point in our lives where we can speculate on whom, not what, we really are. We are like trains on a track; our course is in front of us just a little further ahead and, when we come to the end of the line, is that going to be somewhere we really want to be?

Of course that’s not something we can decide for another person, especially when he is our dad. The best we can do is follow his example and care enough to want the best for him and try to be there for him along the way. Tomorrow maybe too far away and today, God forbid may be the only option we have, which means we’ve got to start now! This June 16th has to be the day we really step out of that box of usual things and do something really loving for him.

Twenty-six years ago I got the opportunity to start finding out what I really wanted to do and had the good fortune to be able to start doing some of those things. I subsequently became a poet and changed my career to better suit the person I was discovering I really was. I was 42 when I began doing all this. That Father’s Day was pretty scary but, with the support of my wife and kids, it turned out to be something pretty wonderful. Last year I finished a book of poetry dealing with the self-discoveries, the knowledge of my many parts that were necessary for me to understand the nature of my real identity. I can’t guarantee your dad is like me but if this book opens any new door for him that would surely be wonderful.

Maybe you’ll give your dad that funny card and a copy of my book to read. It could be the start of something new and wonderful for the big guy! Here are some links you can use to find it:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/book-of-aliases-russell-h-ragsdale/1110762474?ean=9781620958452&itm=1&usri=russell+h.+ragsdale;

http://www.amazon.com/Book-of-Aliases-ebook/dp/B0082FG2T8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339249844&sr=1-1&keywords=Book+of+Aliases;

http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/book-of-aliases/id526074863?mt=11

Have the best Father’s Day!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

ModPo's own Leigh Esther Hershkovitch reviews Book of Aliases

Book of Aliases is a fantastic, beautifully written world, crafted lovingly by Russell Ragsdale. This collection of poems is so much more than just a collection, it is a door to a world that very few people have ever dared to enter, but by golly does Ragsdale do the trick. By examining the aliases that a human can take on during the course of a single lifetime, Ragsdale opens the hearts and minds of the reader to an alternate reality that, in the same effect, is truly their own. The poetry in this collection left me breathless. Eloquently and skillfully crafted, this collection is sure to satisfy lovers of poetry and of the written word. I look forward to sharing the collection with my friends and rereading it over the course of my life. I am sure the aliases in this collection will align with my life, as they will with the lives of every reader.’

-Leigh Hershkovich, author of Shattered Illusions

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mom sonnet

1

chest full of secrets
tarnished flapper hair brush
maybe you tried it once

mother son and father
no litanies or beads
money treated with concern

every womans needs

2

we were born
wrong for each other
at wars horrors end

you loved me
with a vice grip
felt money desperate

if only you still had that smooth shiny depression dime


Here's a link to me reading the poem.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

Mother’s day is coming up. This year it will fall on Sunday May 12. It got me to thinking about my own mother, who will be 102 in August 2013 and she is valiantly hanging on to life, such as it is for her now. She is pretty remarkable, to say the least! She taught me everything I know and she did so with all the love she could muster up to give to me.

I was just listening to an internet radio program a few hours ago where they were interviewing Jennie Lake. She talked about her mom in the interview and ever since that time I’ve been thinking about mine. If you are interested, I would recommend that interview because, if for no other reason, I found it really helpful for me to put things into perspective. It has had a wonderful healing effect on me and on our relationship which has troubled me part of the time for years. Here’s a link, if you would like to listen to it: http://tobtr.com/s/4647635 .

I wrote a book of poetry which I published on May 10 last year (Book of Aliases) and that coincidence is a bit startling to me as I now look back on it. I’m an ordinary sort of guy, with very few exceptions. I was a meat cutter for a supermarket chain while my kids were growing up. Later, I pursued my love of food and became a chef. That change took place during some kind of a mid-life crisis I went through in which I also went back to my university and I finished my long abandoned dream of a degree. I’m retired now but that degree led me to teaching English in a University for the last seven years before I hung it all up. Still, this plain old grandpa wrote a book and published it three days before Mother’s Day last year. I’m thinking there is a bit more than coincidence in this!

Am I still trying to get over that feeling of I’m not quite good enough? Good grief, I’m almost 70 years old! I may not have led a very remarkable life but it has been good. When Jennie said that her mom had taught her everything with all the love she had, I nodded and felt the same way. Yeah mom, you did what you did because you believed in it. It may not have worked entirely for you but you believed it with all your heart. Those hard young years as a newly married woman during the depression were your experience. That you got through them is good and the things you learned in those tough days were just the lessons that seemed to fit the times. You shared them with me with all the love you had in you. I can now put those lessons in perspective. I have learned and I am grateful.

So now as I come up on the first anniversary of my book and your 102 birthday, I look at Mother’s day with some new eyes in this old head. It’s a good book but maybe I didn’t believe in it enough. Maybe I’ve kept it hidden like a depression “dime.” Maybe I’ve been greedy and kept it to myself and maybe I even feel a little guilty about that. These feelings are like having gone to a movie I didn’t like and have gotten up and left in the middle of it. So I’m ready now to get up and leave this bad movie of all these bad feeling. I’m ready to say hello mom, happy birthday, here’s my book and Happy Mother’s Day!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Poetry Street Metro 3

3

When they finished the steep hike down Rue Ravignan they rounded the corner of Rue des Abbesses and walked toward the first café just behind the bus stop. It is actually a bakery as well as a café and is always very busy. What they failed to notice as they sauntered down the hill was the shadowy figure that stood near a large tree in the little park above them and watched their movements closely. They chatted on unknowingly in Russian until they got to the door of the boulangerie and went in. The figure then left the shadows of the park and walked cautiously down the hill.

Inside the little shop were the wonderful smells of freshly baked bread, pastry and quiches. A crowd of people stood by the display cases and waited for one of the several shop women to take their orders. Russell noticed that they had the quiche with three cheeses and that rich quiche with potatoes before motioning the three of them to go outside and sit facing the little square with its metro entrance and small merry-go-round. They sat at two tables pulled together and began to chat again. When the waitress finally came, Russell ordered tea with milk to go with the quiches for his two guests and a hot chocolate and a croissant for himself. No one paid any particular attention to the figure that darted from the door of the big, brown church to the metal handrails of the metro entrance before sitting in the next café down from them at the boulangerie.

The three friends enjoyed their breakfast and sat laughing and talking in the pale morning sun. People walked or sometimes hurried to the metro station’s stairs to travel under Paris in the relative comfort of the subway system. The merry-go-round sat shining brightly, chiming out cheery music but not moving as it was still a bit early for parents to bring their children out for a bit of fun. All in all, Paris was awake and moving but not quite yet ready to begin another busy day.

There was still much to do to get ready for the party tonight. There would be lots of deliveries and the young people from the drama department at the university would arrive in a couple of hours to learn the scene they were to put on in the brief theatrical presentation when the party started. The minimalistic setting for the light drama must be gotten together. All of these things had been on Russell’s mind since he woke up this morning. He may have been an over-educated brick layer but artistic thoughts danced in his head and a clear plan of the brief play was busily evolving into a rather impressionistic styled visual piece for his guests to enjoy tonight. He sat rubbing his nose thoughtfully as Iliyas, sitting opposite him, noticed that the pad of the ring finger on his right hand had suddenly become numb, which was rather annoying and strange, of course.

Russell Ragsdale needs an apartment in Montmartre and kindly asks neither for donations nor gifts but just that you will buy his Book of Aliases at some e-book retailer of your choice. Thanks. Now keep your eyes open for further installments of this story which should be appearing here soon.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Poetry Street Metro

2

He sat in his garret, the studio that had a great view of the white domes of Sacre Coeur. The shutters had been removed for the party and the stark white dome dominated his view. He did not see it as his view was confined to the pages he held in his hand. As he wrote poetry, there were columns and short lines that seemed to be marching down the page. He realized the paper he held was anachronistic and that there were electronic armies on the march as he sat reading. They were marching everywhere and always. But what and who would they conquer, if they even had that as a desire. There was no question that he was mad but he gave good parties.

His house guests came in the large room under the skylights and it was suddenly a much smaller space. He looked up from his work and smiled.

The older man Andre asked in Russian, “How are you doing? Is your work going well? Do you have more to do?”

He answered, “it is going well. I have enough done that I may finish for the day. Shall we go have Breakfast?”

Andre looked at his younger accomplice who was called Illyas, with a questioning look and the young man said, “Why not. You will have to order for us though because we don’t speak French.”

Russell replied in Russian slang, “No problem!”

They got their coats as the fall made the streets a little cool and Russell put on a scarf in the French fashion as if he had forgotten what it was like in Kazakhstan where a fall day could be quite chilly or just as easily pleasantly cool as are fall days in Paris. Andre, who was a diplomat, thought to himself that Russell might have an apartment in Paris but he dressed a little like a bum. Neither of the Kazakh guests wore their scarves for the walk down to the café.

Russell Ragsdale needs an apartment in Montmartre and kindly asks neither for donations nor gifts but just that you will buy his Book of Aliases at some e-book retailer of your choice. Thanks. Now keep your eyes open for further installments of this story which should be appearing here soon.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Poetry Street Metro

1

Tommy Normal needed a toothbrush so he slipped into the market on the corner with the number “Huite” on it and bought one with nice firm bristles. His current toothbrush had lost the quality that he needed in a toothbrush since Tommy Normal needed one that could star him like the hero in a movie. He stayed across the street from the red café, the café of the two monsters and headed down towards the little Chinese food place where he was to meet the other Tommy, the one called Tommy Toilet. The two had been friends since they decided to be roommates during the great hippy invasion in Tucson, Arizona toward the end of the millennium. They would have a little snack before heading off to their respective workplaces. They had a party to discuss.

Tommy Toilet would go off to his porn shop on a side street of the main drag between the Moulin Rouge and Le Chat Noir. Tommy Normal would descend into the bowels of Paris at the Blanche Metro entrance and come back up for air at Plaisance. He liked the idea that he could go in at that broad boulevard filled with pickpockets and petty thieves and emerge at a smaller one filled with fewer of the same low characters. It was a type of purification that he enjoyed although he could never be persuaded to move nearer his office and leave the honesty of Montmartre for an illusion of being a gentile Parisian.

Russell Ragsdale lived up above the Rue des Trois Freres like some lunatic bum camping in somebody else’s studio. The rumor was out that he would be throwing a party tonight and, despite what you could see of his lifestyle, this party was definitely due to be a mad one. He was a poet and everybody knows there is no money in poetry, but somehow he was able to throw these crazy parties that were a bit too interesting and wild. They seemed to court the kind of decadence one might have expected to find a century earlier. Because of this, they seemed misplaced and out of sync with everything else. But if you looked at his lifestyle it was not hard to imagine why.

The magnificent view of Sacre Coeur afforded by the skylights of his studio had been covered over with metal shutters. He said it gave him some relief when he dreamed of Dali, which he did every night. The Dali he saw in dreams was blind like Oedipus and would paint the visions of his mind without being able to see what was on the canvas. Dali always said this finally made him the artist he had always wanted to be. Of course tonight those shutters would be open and the white dome would glisten in the moonlight. Tonight, he said, the blind would see.

Russell Ragsdale needs an apartment in Montmartre and kindly asks neither for donations nor gifts but just that you will buy his Book of Aliases at some e-book retailer of your choice. Thanks. Now keep your eyes open for further installments of this story which should be appearing here soon.

Monday, February 25, 2013

New video about Book of Aliases

Here is something new I found on the internet when I got settled in Germany last night. I was very surprised and happy to see this about Book of Aliases. It is on YoutTube. I hope you will enjoy listening to it!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I have a wonderful new review that can now be found on Amazon. I encourage all you who are fans of my book (and all you are considering purchasing it) to take a look at it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book of Aliases could be in French this year!

This is the French version of my poem Sometimes a Pearl. It comes from Book of Aliases (in the French version still under way). I hope you enjoy it.

Parfois, une perle (Pour Pris Campbell)

La fleur blanche pousse dans une mer de boue,
Du jamais vu, ne sachant jamais les lèvres du soleil.
J'ai grandi dans une culture de parents perdus,
Trouver ceux que je ne voulais pas,
Recherche de mystère et de ce que je ne sais pas;
Je suis là pour John Merrick dans toute cette difformité,
Essayer de faire ma propre lumière,
Essayer de lueur dans l'obscurité,
Essayer d'aller au-delà de la haine et de la colère,
Trouver humour léger, léchage d'une plaie -
Parfois, pas tellement mal,
Parfois souffle pris dans la belle profondeur,
Parfois, une perle d'essayer d'inventer
Une huître j'aime.

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Review of Book of Aliases

For those of you who would like to know more about Book of Aliases, you will find an informative new review here: Shelfari. Just click on the name of the location or the name of the book and it will take you there. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Whether To Punctuate Is The Question

I guess it is obvious I’m a bit of a rebel. I first started writing poetry in the 60’s and that was definitely a rebellious time. I now am writing poetry that has no punctuation in it at all. That seems pretty radical when it appears in print. Actually, however, it is a venerable tradition that goes way back in the history of poetry, so maybe I’m not as much of a rebel as I appear.

What I’ve found is that the poem often reads like we speak when recited out loud (I mean we don’t actually include the punctuation per se when we read out loud). You, of course realize that we use no punctuation when we speak and tone, inflection, context are relied upon to do all the work that punctuation has to do in the printed format of our language. I believe much poetry carries tone, inflection and context in it so I reasoned that it might possibly be relied upon for the entire task that printed punctuation does. Thus I started experimenting with this about ten years ago and now I often write poems that contain no punctuation at all. For a long time I was afraid to leave the punctuation out of contractions and possessives but I finally realized that that was just me being silly. I now assume that people will be forced to read my poems out loud to understand them fully and that is a wonderful side benefit to the style of writing that I do.

Here, a few words are going to be necessary about the more complex form of the basic unit of meaning in any printed language – the sentence. Poets have been trying to understand what makes or doesn’t make a sentence syntactically for hundreds of years at the very least. Perhaps we have always had that question lurking somewhere in the back of our thoughts. After all, how can one even write poetry without considering how that form carries your thoughts and is able to transmit them effectively into the minds of one’s readers?

Just how does a sentence transcend the unit of the phrase and become a carrier for truly complex ideas? I’m not sure I can answer that question easily (if at all) when we are talking about poetry. The linguists inform us that they believe the sentence to be capable of infinite variation therefore the subject becomes too large for discussing outside the possibility of generalities. If the sentence is indeed infinite, we may not yet know all the generalities that it is capable of producing. We do, however know a lot of the mechanisms that have been in use for thousands of years and we employ them over and over again. I’m now talking about metaphor, simile, form, comparison, contrast and such things that can be made useful to understand things which might otherwise be too complex to express.

Okay, enough dry talk about theoretical things! I’ve selected a poem from Book of Aliases that we can use to see how this works in actual practice. Here is the poem OUI which I first published in March of 2007. I hadn’t gone for total consistency yet so I still capitalized my I’s.



oui

starving on the apricot cross
I believe in the mysteries
starving in your gaze
fondly returned
I also believe in the obvious
you play like a kitten in my lap
yet you are trying to kill me
you need no absolution
it is your act of grace
that like a serial killer
you stalk salvation

come to me trembling with
the rage that is love
bend back the limbs
that gave you no freedom
there is only one moment left
between the future and the past
and it is ours


That first stanza is really a lot of contradictory things all lined up and made to try to have some comprehendible relationships to one another. I believe that is one of the ways love expresses itself and no discussion of the idea that love causes us to exhibit different personalities (aliases) would be complete without looking at a few of these variations. The first five lines could either be two sentences or one sentence joined with a semicolon. The next two lines are a single sentence that pivots on a condition. The next four lines could either be two sentences or one depending on whether you wanted to use another semicolon. So the first stanza might look something like this using traditional punctuation: Starving on the apricot cross, I believe in the mysteries. Starving in your gaze, fondly returned, I also believe in the obvious. You play like a kitten in my lap yet you are trying to kill me. You need no absolution; it is your act of grace that like a serial killer you stalk salvation.

The second stanza only has a couple of strange things about it. The intensity of love is seen ironically as trembling rage. This image kind of speaks to us of the helpless power we feel when we are overwhelmed with passion. Next we get a lot more physical when we talk about limbs that probably are not branches although that is a possibility, depending on what you think is restricting your freedom. If you can’t see the forest for the trees then the problem is the branches but if you feel like you are all knotted up then you need to straighten (another kind of bending back) your arms and legs (limbs) so you can move. The final image in that stanza is that of what it feels like to act on impulse.

If we look at how this would be punctuated, it might look something like this. The first two lines are a complete sentence as are the next two lines. Finally the last three lines make the final sentence. Using traditional punctuation it might look like this: Come to me trembling with the rage that is love. Bend back the limbs that gave you no freedom. There is only one moment left between the future and the past and it is ours.

As you can see, it is easy to re-punctuate a poem like this and, in fact we do this in our minds automatically when we read it in its unpunctuated form. I hope you enjoyed looking at this and hearing why I write this way. Please help me out and buy my book. Go to Book of Alaises and get a copy of your own or one to give as a gift to someone you love. If you already have a copy, I am deeply grateful!

Friday, January 04, 2013

memoir

(for S. L. Corsua)

weigh myself
120.3
feed the animals
take pills
dress
walk the dog
buy bread and milk
oops
mop floor
have hot cocoa
in recompense
measure blood pressure
make toast
have breakfast
144/92 p57
wash bowl and spoon
kettle on
coffee
many innocent lives are spared
clean cat box
hot cereal cool enough
wipe table
wash breakfast dishes
shave and bathe
dress for the day
write
water house plants
fourth reason for line breaks is it is a list