n i g h t i n g a l e s h i r a z / blog
Coleccionista Caballo (detail) | Rolando Rojas| San Miguel de Allende

september 2022
august 2022
july 2022
january 2022
november 2021
october 2021
september 2021
august 2021
july 2021
june 2021
may 2021
april 2021
march 2021
february 2021
january 2021
september 2020
august 2020
july 2020
may 2020
april 2020
march 2020
february 2020
december 2019
october 2019
july 2019
june 2019
may 2019
april 2019
march 2019
february 2019
january 2019
december 2018
november 2018
october 2018
september 2018
august 2018
july 2018
june 2018
may 2018
april 2018
march 2018
february 2018
january 2018
december 2017
november 2017
october 2017
september 2017
august 2017
july 2017
june 2017
march 2017
february 2017
january 2017
november 2016
october 2016
september 2016
august 2016
july 2016
june 2016
may 2016
april 2016
march 2016
february 2016
december 2015
november 2015
october 2015
september 2015
may 2015
march 2015
february 2015
january 2015
december 2014
november 2014
october 2014
september 2014
august 2014
may 2014
april 2014
march 2014
february 2014
*april 2013
*march 2013
*february 2013
*january 2013
*december 2012
*november 2012
*october 2012
*september 2012
*july 2012
*october 2011
*september 2011
*august 2011
*july 2011
*june 2011
*may 2011
april 2011
march 2011
april 2010
march 2010
february 2010
january 2010
december 2009
november 2009
september 2009
june 2009
may 2009
february 2009
january 2009
december 2008
october 2008
september 2008
august 2008
july 2008
june 2008
may 2008
april 2008
january 2008
december 2007
november 2007
october 2007
september 2007
august 2007
july 2007
june 2007
may 2007
april 2007
march 2007
february 2007
january 2007
december 2006
november 2006
october 2006
september 2006
august 2006
july 2006
june 2006
may 2006
april 2006
march 2006
february 2006
january 2006
december 2005
november 2005
october 2005
september 2005
august 2005
july 2005
june 2005
may 2005
april 2005
march 2005
february 2005
january 2005
december 2004
november 2004
october 2004
september 2004
august 2004
july 2004
june 2004
may 2004
april 2004
march 2004
february 2004
january 2004
december 2003
june 2003
april 2003
march 2003
Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day.

So I love to play this game with the poems at the Poetry Foundation.  This is how the game goes.  On days when I’m feeling something, especially something I cannot entirely articulate, like today, a muddle of anxiety and mild resentment (or at least, it would be resentment if I let myself think about it for long enough, but I don’t, I mostly almost don’t...), about how much there is to do in the day, and none of it yet, says the to-do list, none of it any time soon, has anything to do with the thing I want most to be doing.  But then there is that lovely fragment from Jalina, of Mary Oliver on my responsibility (not to the ordinary, or the timely...).  But then again and all over, the sense of March slipping away—even March, the month that always feels longer than it could be.  Even March is almost gone.

In the search box, I type in the word “late.”  I look among what comes.  Click on the very second thing (it must have been the question-mark). A poem by David Rivard.

           —for George Shelton

Sometimes everything feels like a trick.
Some days things seem to have been stolen from you.
Cash to pay the bills, your sense of humor, friendship.
You could almost believe those are what you look for
as you walk around your neighborhood. But, no, instead, you get
splashes of zinnias against stucco, cactus wrens,
a pack of kids who ignore the sodium amber streetlights
which just stuttered on, because it means their mothers
want them home right this minute. And, on the corner variety
store’s wall, a crude, sun-washed mural of the angel Gabriel
defaced by thick black sideburns so he looks like a street punk,
a strutting cholo, so he seems the only creature on earth
who hasn’t heard the news that everything can be lost.
His strong upper arms curving naked and graceful
as the tan thighs of a slender, athletic girl.
A girl he’s after, though she’s gotten bored waiting
on the stoop and watching the sun set behind the foothills.
Sky reddening until it slams into a blue that blesses
anyone oblivious to all the negations,
including the one, pal, where you think it’s possible
to step out of your heart and leave it empty as
an egg shell or a cardboard box.

When you finally return home
the tint of sky more or less matches the flash
of a thrush as it swoops from limb to branch,
acacia to willow. Standing at the kitchen counter,
you pick through a carton of strawberries.
Good juicy ones from the moldy and over-ripe.
Choices that are easy. What do you trust anymore?
The aproned man in the mercado said California strawberries,
they’re the best this time of year. In bed, later,
you remember the grocer, round belly under his apron,
but as you start, nearly asleep, to tell your wife about him,
how he talked about his deals, she starts
reading aloud from a tattered bird guide, that the wood thrush
is “essentially useful and worthwhile.”
What is worthwhile?                           Now, remember.

I think of Virginia Woolf’s gig-lamps of consciousness.  (Some day soon, I will tell it more properly.)  I think of what waking up is like in my life these days.  My alarm clock which, for a significant price, is meant to be anything but alarming.  The murmur of the middle-schoolers from down the street at the Scuola Machiavelli—because of course this is Florence, and we would have a school named after Machiavelli.  The cat, hungry for her morning love.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[martedì 26 marzo 2019 ore 11:35:00] []

The Opposite of Aboutness

Today I come across this, saved years ago, from a Paris Review Interview with John Ashbery:

I have always been averse to talking about myself, and so I don’t write about my life the way the confessional poets do.  I don’t want to bore people with experiences of mine that are simply versions of what everybody goes through.  For me, poetry starts after that point.  I write with experiences in mind, but I don’t write about them, I write out of them.

I feel like there’s so much here.  First, when he says, “I don’t want to bore people with experiences of mine that are simply versions of what everybody goes through.”  Is that humble arrogance, or arrogant humility, or what?  And whatever it is, what then are we to do with the six-tenths of every other writing class in existence, that celebrates the personal as universal?

Then, when he says, “For me, poetry starts after that point.  I write with experiences in mind, but I don’t write about them, I write out of them.”

I think of a line from that essay by Robert Hass, on Rilke: He wanted to write poems, he said, “not about feelings, but about things he had felt.”

I think of how, in reading that, you have to remember that this was Rilke.  And so, very likely, the emphasis was on the word things.  Very likely, the word things was not a carelessly redundant synonym for feelings, the way a bad pop song might describe one's feelings as the things one feels...  Rilke meant Things.  Die Dinge.  He meant the panther, the palm, the buddha and the rain.


I think of this too: The idea that you don’t revise a poem.  You till it.


And the more I research the word till—with all its other meanings, as in ‘a box, drawer, or tray in a receptacle (such as a cabinet or chest) used especially for valuables;’ with its etymological roots in ‘aiming’ and ‘striving;’ and with its geological meaning too, as a kind of ‘glacial drift;’—the more I love this happenstance...


The idea that a poem is not a rendering of experience or feeling.  It is a tilling.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[domenica 10 marzo 2019 ore 13:11:00] []

Appreciation (March Forth)

It’s easy to have learned from the things
You are no longer living.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[lunedì 04 marzo 2019 ore 10:10:03] []