Journal, Day One
I just had this dream where a chunk of my skull was missing. I was walking around with some friends, and I looked in the mirror and saw a big flap of skin and skull missing from the front of my head. It looked like the layers of a linzer tart, and I kept wondering if people would think it looked normal, or would I stand out because of my linzer tart head. Is that a metaphor for this blog process?
It’s a rainy day in Brooklyn. The tree outside my window is wiggling around like someone is trying to beat the truth out of it. The rain is sporadic. An indecisive rain. The rain’s heart is only half into it.
Blogs kind of freak me out. I had a friend, who was really anti-social. He was a journalist, who wrote for a major magazine and won a big award. But he didn’t like people, and then he quit the magazine and got hired to write a blog. And now he hardly ever leaves his house. He’s living in his blog cabin, firing out his blog. No more small talk at the cooler. No more nervous elevator banter. No more reason to even put on clothes.
I am listening to the melancholy harmonies of Astor Piazzolla, the Argentine tango master. Alejandra Pizarnik is an Argentine poet who I admire. Some call her the Argentine Sylvia Plath, probably because she writes with great lyric intensity, often about her own psychic discomfort, and that she left the Earth via a self-induced overdose of Seconal. Interestingly Pizarnik published poems in the 50’s that might be considered “confessional,” meaning she pre-dates Lowell and Co. There is not a definitive translation of her work into English, but several strong pieces appear in the Twentieth Century Latin American Poetry anthology edited by Stephen Tapscott. For readers of Spanish, Maria Negroni has a book, El Testigo Lucido (The Lucid Witness), about Pizarnik’s work.
The rain has picked up. People trickle by under umbrellas. I imagine clear plastic umbrella bowling balls with people curled up inside them rolling down the street.
This blog process is like having a small, one-inch-by-one-inch window attached to your brain and a person being able to press their eye up against the glass and watch all the little Munchkins at work, pacing around in there, heaving the thoughts around, lining the words up.
My CD imagined it was an adolescent and began skipping. I am replacing dear Astor with a now-defunct band, Quix*o*tic, from D.C.
I lived in D.C. from 1994 to ‘96 and worked for a very cool poets-in-the-community group called WritersCorps, run by a gem of a guy named Kenny Carroll.
Now the tree outside is shaking semi-erotically, like it’s doing a seduction dance.
Christina Billote was in Autoclave, and Slant 6 before forming Qiox*o*tic. I like how musicians can inhabit bands fully and then shed the band every few years like snakeskin and be new again. Us poets are kind of stuck; we are our own bands. The best we can do is change our drummer (like Coleridge in “Christabel”), maybe add a guitarist, unless you are Fernando Pessoa; (one could argue that his heteronyms were precursors for the various screen names on-line users hide behind).
Olena Kalytiak Davis metaphorically changed bands between books one and two. I love her intensity, and her awe, her mixture of innocence and experience. If you were in a blackened cave, and she was across the cave, and you didn’t know she was there, you would feel her presence.
Now the rain has slowed down to a trickle, and the tree's leaves are waving to me like tiny green hands.
Jeffrey McDaniel is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). Other books include The Endarkenment (Pittsburgh, 2008), The Splinter Factory (Manic D, 2002), The Forgiveness Parade (Manic D Press, 1998), and Alibi School (Manic D, 1995). His poems have...