Saturday, December 7, 2013
Monday, December 2, 2013
Sunday, October 20, 2013
I love when that happens.
"I fastened you in this dropping hour
Tied like a stone
In our empty room
Pulse runs hard
Forgetting we stagger
Working my way down your tongue
Following the length of you
Until the seed is swallowed
Pure black ink
Comes from your eyes
Tell me to scream
Either will do.
The frost cut our lips
Taught a winter’s lesson
Swollen in the cave
That formed over your mouth
I am not only aware of my tongue
I am aware of my teeth.
Red ruby deepened
Flush to the neck
You remind me of a great swan
I’ll make of you what unfolding is
In a tomb like life
Wooden ships sail in
a beating heart breaks out."
Friday, October 18, 2013
A new volcano has erupted,
the papers say, and last week I was reading
where some ship saw an island being born:
at first a breath of steam, ten miles away;
and then a black fleck—basalt, probably—
rose in the mate’s binoculars
and caught on the horizon like a fly.
They named it. But my poor old island’s still
None of the books has ever got it right.
Well, I had fifty-two
miserable, small volcanoes I could climb
with a few slithery strides—
volcanoes dead as ash heaps.
I used to sit on the edge of the highest one
and count the others standing up,
naked and leaden, with their heads blown off.
I’d think that if they were the size
I thought volcanoes should be, then I had
become a giant;
and if I had become a giant,
I couldn’t bear to think what size
the goats and turtles were,
or the gulls, or the overlapping rollers
—a glittering hexagon of rollers
closing and closing in, but never quite,
glittering and glittering, though the sky
was mostly overcast.
My island seemed to be
a sort of cloud-dump. All the hemisphere’s
left-over clouds arrived and hung
above the craters—their parched throats
were hot to touch.
Was that why it rained so much?
And why sometimes the whole place hissed?
The turtles lumbered by, high-domed,
hissing like teakettles.
(And I’d have given years, or taken a few,
for any sort of kettle, of course.)
The folds of lava, running out to sea,
would hiss. I’d turn. And then they’d prove
to be more turtles.
The beaches were all lava, variegated,
black, red, and white, and gray;
the marbled colors made a fine display.
And I had waterspouts. Oh,
half a dozen at a time, far out,
they’d come and go, advancing and retreating,
their heads in cloud, their feet in moving patches
of scuffed-up white.
Glass chimneys, flexible, attenuated,
sacerdotal beings of glass ... I watched
the water spiral up in them like smoke.
Beautiful, yes, but not much company.
I often gave way to self-pity.
“Do I deserve this? I suppose I must.
I wouldn’t be here otherwise. Was there
a moment when I actually chose this?
I don’t remember, but there could have been.”
What’s wrong about self-pity, anyway?
With my legs dangling down familiarly
over a crater’s edge, I told myself
“Pity should begin at home.” So the more
pity I felt, the more I felt at home.
The sun set in the sea; the same odd sun
rose from the sea,
and there was one of it and one of me.
The island had one kind of everything:
one tree snail, a bright violet-blue
with a thin shell, crept over everything,
over the one variety of tree,
a sooty, scrub affair.
Snail shells lay under these in drifts
and, at a distance,
you’d swear that they were beds of irises.
There was one kind of berry, a dark red.
I tried it, one by one, and hours apart.
Sub-acid, and not bad, no ill effects;
and so I made home-brew. I’d drink
the awful, fizzy, stinging stuff
that went straight to my head
and play my home-made flute
(I think it had the weirdest scale on earth)
and, dizzy, whoop and dance among the goats.
Home-made, home-made! But aren’t we all?
I felt a deep affection for
the smallest of my island industries.
No, not exactly, since the smallest was
a miserable philosophy.
Because I didn’t know enough.
Why didn’t I know enough of something?
Greek drama or astronomy? The books
I’d read were full of blanks;
the poems—well, I tried
reciting to my iris-beds,
“They flash upon that inward eye,
which is the bliss ...” The bliss of what?
One of the first things that I did
when I got back was look it up.
The island smelled of goat and guano.
The goats were white, so were the gulls,
and both too tame, or else they thought
I was a goat, too, or a gull.
Baa, baa, baa and shriek, shriek, shriek,
baa ... shriek ... baa ... I still can’t shake
them from my ears; they’re hurting now.
The questioning shrieks, the equivocal replies
over a ground of hissing rain
and hissing, ambulating turtles
got on my nerves.
When all the gulls flew up at once, they sounded
like a big tree in a strong wind, its leaves.
I’d shut my eyes and think about a tree,
an oak, say, with real shade, somewhere.
I’d heard of cattle getting island-sick.
I thought the goats were.
One billy-goat would stand on the volcano
I’d christened Mont d’Espoir or Mount Despair
(I’d time enough to play with names),
and bleat and bleat, and sniff the air.
I’d grab his beard and look at him.
His pupils, horizontal, narrowed up
and expressed nothing, or a little malice.
I got so tired of the very colors!
One day I dyed a baby goat bright red
with my red berries, just to see
something a little different.
And then his mother wouldn’t recognize him.
Dreams were the worst. Of course I dreamed of food
and love, but they were pleasant rather
than otherwise. But then I’d dream of things
like slitting a baby’s throat, mistaking it
for a baby goat. I’d have
nightmares of other islands
stretching away from mine, infinities
of islands, islands spawning islands,
like frogs’ eggs turning into polliwogs
of islands, knowing that I had to live
on each and every one, eventually,
for ages, registering their flora,
their fauna, their geography.
Just when I thought I couldn’t stand it
another minute longer, Friday came.
(Accounts of that have everything all wrong.)
Friday was nice.
Friday was nice, and we were friends.
If only he had been a woman!
I wanted to propagate my kind,
and so did he, I think, poor boy.
He’d pet the baby goats sometimes,
and race with them, or carry one around.
—Pretty to watch; he had a pretty body.
And then one day they came and took us off.
Now I live here, another island,
that doesn’t seem like one, but who decides?
My blood was full of them; my brain
bred islands. But that archipelago
has petered out. I’m old.
I’m bored, too, drinking my real tea,
surrounded by uninteresting lumber.
The knife there on the shelf—
it reeked of meaning, like a crucifix.
It lived. How many years did I
beg it, implore it, not to break?
I knew each nick and scratch by heart,
the bluish blade, the broken tip,
the lines of wood-grain on the handle ...
Now it won’t look at me at all.
The living soul has dribbled away.
My eyes rest on it and pass on.
The local museum’s asked me to
leave everything to them:
the flute, the knife, the shrivelled shoes,
my shedding goatskin trousers
(moths have got in the fur),
the parasol that took me such a time
remembering the way the ribs should go.
It still will work but, folded up,
looks like a plucked and skinny fowl.
How can anyone want such things?
And Friday, my dear Friday, died of measles
seventeen years ago come March.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Monday, August 26, 2013
Happiness, for once, has come unearned. Without disease, without lies, without a plan. It feels like a miracle, and it is purer than anything I’ve ever felt. Sorrow binds — at once lending more compassion than can be explained and more passion than is fathomable. It is measured in sighs and weighted in reciprocity.
"You could still be,
what you want to,
What you said you were,
when I met you."
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Monday, August 12, 2013
"[I]t is the haunted premises of longing that the true love song inhabits. It is a howl in the void, for Love and for comfort… It is the cry of one chained to the earth, to the ordinary and to the mundane, craving flight; a flight into inspiration and imagination and divinity...
The love song is a sad song; it is the sound of sorrow itself. We all experience within us what the Portugese call Suadade, which translates as an inexplicable sense of longing, an unnamed and enigmatic yearning of the soul…
In his brilliant lecture entitled “The Theory and Function of Duende” Frederico Garcia Lorca attempts to shed some light on the eerie and inexplicable sadness that lives in the heart of certain works of art. “All that has dark sound has duende”, he says, “that mysterious power that everyone feels but no philosopher can explain.” In contemporary rock music, the area in which I operate, music seems less inclined to have its soul, restless and quivering, the sadness that Lorca talks about. Excitement, often; anger, sometimes: but true sadness, rarely. Bob Dylan has always had it. Leonard Cohen deals specifically in it. It pursues Van Morrison like a black dog and though he tries to he cannot escape it. Tom Waits and Neil Young can summon it. It haunts Polly Harvey. My friend and Dirty 3 have it by the bucket load. The band Spiritualised are excited by it. Tindersticks desperately want it, but all in all it would appear that duende is too fragile to survive the brutality of technology and the ever increasing acceleration of the music industry. Perhaps there is just no money in sadness, no dollars in duende. Sadness or duende needs space to breathe. Melancholy hates haste and floats in silence. It must be handled with care.
All love songs must contain duende. For the love song is never truly happy. It must first embrace the potential for pain. Those songs that speak of love without having within in their lines an ache or a sigh are not love songs at all but rather Hate Songs disguised as love songs, and are not to be trusted. These songs deny us our humanness and our God-given right to be sad and the air-waves are littered with them. The love song must resonate with the susurration of sorrow, the tintinnabulation of grief. The writer who refuses to explore the darker regions of the heart will never be able to write convincingly about the wonder, the magic and the joy of love for just as goodness cannot be trusted unless it has breathed the same air as evil – the enduring metaphor of Christ crucified between two criminals comes to mind here – so within the fabric of the love song, within its melody, its lyric, one must sense an acknowledgement of its capacity for suffering.”
-from Nick Cave’s lecture on a love song.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
This past weekend, Mumford & Sons released a new music video for their song "Hopeless Wanderer" from their album Babel. In said video, four comedians—Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, Jason Bateman, and Will Forte—dress up like hobo folk singers draped in banjos, acoustic guitars, and drum kits and, for the lack of a better description, rock the fuck out. At one point, Bateman plays the banjo like a finger picking fiend and smashes it like he's in Spinal Tap. Sudeikis has a mental breakdown and falls to his knees while soloing with a drum strapped to his back. All four sit and play their instruments on a boat in the middle of a lake. Forte starts to cry (and Bateman tastes his tears). Forte and Bateman also make out.
The video itself is, of course, very funny. And why wouldn't it be? These four dudes are some of the funniest working comedians today, and watching them rock out in an over-the-top manner is guaranteed to be hilarious. Will Forte's beard is just fake enough. Helms' tears are just real enough. The lighting is just Valencia-y enough. The video presents a self-aware and ironic portrait of Mumford & Sons, and it shows that these guys get it. They know that Marcus Mumford looks like a clerk in the Oregon Trail games and that banjos are inherently goofy and vests are "quirky," which in this case is kind of a stand-in for "stupid" and their folk-stompy style has become so common that it's practically a cliché. They understand! Get it?! Do we get that they get it?
Sunday, August 4, 2013
"You are calm and reposed
Let your beauty unfold
Pale white, like the skin stretched over your bones
Spring keeps you ever close
You are second-hand smoke
You are so fragile and thin, standing trial for your sins
Holding on to yourself the best you can
You are the smell before rain
You are the blood in my veins."