What you do with time is what a grandmother clock does with it: strike twelve and take its time doing it. You’re the clock: time passes, you remain. And wait. Waiting is what happens to a snow-covered garden, a trunk under moss, hope for better times in the nineteenth century, or words in a
poems & poets
When I rise up above the earth,
And look down on the things that fetter me,
I beat my wings upon the air,
Or tranquil lie,
Surge after surge of potent strength
Like incense comes to me
When I rise up above the earth
And look down upon the things that fetter me
Is it winter again, is it cold again, didn't Frank just slip on the ice, didn't he heal, weren't the spring seeds planted didn't the night end, didn't the melting ice flood the narrow gutters wasn't my body rescued, wasn't it safe didn't the scar form, invisible above the injury terror
The following is an excerpt from For All of Us, One Today, poet Richard Blanco's memoir about writing and reading the inaugural poem in 2013.
Nestled in our seats at the airport, Mark and I wait to board our flight back home. We’re still electrified but too exhausted to even speak. All we can do is quietly watch the mass of people herding through the terminal: businessmen in suits clutching their iPads or military men in uniform lugging their duffle bags, women in pantsuits or mothers pushing their strollers, everyone in the act of leaving or returning, in the mystic flux of journey. The public-address system sounds like an oracle, announcing flights, calling out passenger names and their destinations. And it all feels strangely familiar, old yet new, sharp yet dull, bright yet muted, like those few minutes some mornings in bed with half my life still in a dream and the other half of me being born anew into the miracle of yet another morning. The end of one story
Manifestos are an unruly lot. In opposition to a reigning ideology, they create vibrancy. But in support of dominant power? They stultify. This is true of William Wordsworth’s Preface to Lyrical Ballads. Written when he was just 28 years old, it had a tremendously generative run of at least 150 years. But Wordsworth wasn’t shooting merely for a good run; he wanted "to interest mankind permanently." I don’t know about eternity, but I know that two centuries after it was written, the Preface is certainly considered "definitive." Only, how much does it matter?
When Charles Bernstein praises Ron Silliman’s poems, he positions the work precisely against the type of poem championed by Wordsworth’s Preface: Silliman’s poems "may discomfort those who want a poetry primarily of personal communication, flowing freely from the inside with the words of a natural rhythm of life, lived daily" (Content’s Dream). Admiring how Silliman’s poems work against "official verse culture," Bernstein
tanka: Also called uta or waka. The character for ka means “poem.” Wa means “Japanese.” Therefore, a waka is a Japanese poem. Tan means “short,” and so a tanka is a short poem, thirty-one syllables long. It is unrhymed and has units of five, seven, five, seven, and seven syllables, which were traditionally printed as one unbroken line. In English translation, the tanka is customarily divided into a five-line form. The tanka is sometimes separated by the three “upper lines” (kami no ku) and the two “lower ones” (shimo no ku). The upper unit is the origin of the haiku. The brevity of the poem and the turn from the upper to the lower lines, which often signals a shift or expansion of subject matter, is one of the reasons the tanka has been compared to the sonnet. There is a range of words, or engo (verbal associations), that traditionally associate or bridge the sections. Like the sonnet, the tanka is also conducive to sequences, such as the hyakushuuta, which consists of one hundred