Friday, February 20, 2009

Please Mr. President.

When Obama was elected there was crying and screaming and celebration all over, not only the states, but all over the world we as a people were happy. But this isn’t about Obama being elected, however monumental and amazing that was, that is not the reason I am mentioning it. He was elected and then there was an inauguration celebration for a couple days at the capitol. He was sworn in on the same bible that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in on and it was beautiful. Still though, the part that really stood out to me was the inauguration poem. How awful that poem was, was only a slight surprise to people. What can be expected from American pop culture isn’t much if we look at what our culture is right now. So when she took the podium to read that poem the poetic world was on the edge of their seat. There was a big breath taken in, and when she started to speak, that breath was let out in a gigantic whoosh of disappointment. The poem was chock full of metaphors that were only there to be metaphors and had no meaning whatsoever. The poem droned on for far too long for what it was and the crowd was talking the whole way through it. 
Now, poetry isn’t a part of mainstream culture, sure, we could call music a form of poetry, but poetry as an art form in itself is not seen as a part of what we call pop culture. Nobody was drawn into this poem; the crowd was bored and simply waiting for the next act to happen. It was really too bad, that moment could have been a momentous moment for the artistic world. That poem could have been seen as a poem for our generation, the poem for change and movement towards something new and different. But, alas, the poem was monotone and boring.


Alexander was only the fourth poem to read at a Presidential inauguration in the history of the United States. The first to read ever was Robert Frost. Now, Robert Frost is a household name in this country. Frost is a poet that each and every one of us was taught in school and we could al probably recite a line from one of his poems. The poem that he meant to read at that inauguration was probably one of the worst he had ever written. Thankfully for all of us, and for the memory at stake here, the poem he had written down was not memorized and was ruined by the strong wind and strong sun on the day of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. Frost decided to recite a poem from memory, which began with the line: “The land was ours before we were the land’s”. Which seems much more appropriate to the times than his first poem, which had the lines: “Summoning artists to participate – In the august occasions of the state – Seems something artists ought to celebrate”. Way to go Frost, those are some pretty deep thoughts you were having while trying to think of something to say about our country and this new young stylish president we got in 1961. Thankfully, fate intervened and we got something poignant, true and something that resonated with the people.
After Frost only two other Poets were to take the stage at a presidential inauguration in our history besides Ms. Alexander. Maya Angelou read one of her poems at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration and after that at his second inauguration Miller Williams read a poem.
Elizabeth Alexander is not uneducated nor is she stupid, she merely did not know what in the world she was getting into for this occasion. Alexander is a professor at Yale University. Yale is one of the most prestigious schools in the United States and I’m sure if someone were to sit in on her class, they would see she is most likely a good professor. The problem with her poem was that nobody cared; nobody paid attention, because nobody’s attention was caught. The way she read the poem was slow, painful and monotonous. Mr. Obama, if you are going to pick someone to read a poem to the whole country and many people of the world, please pick someone with some oratory skills. Alexander slaved over each and every word to the point where people couldn’t tell the difference between the words “repair” and “plain”. It all sounded the same. If you are going to say the word “repairing” please do not follow it with the word “repair” unless absolutely necessary in the scheme of abstract poetry. And abstract poetry this was not, this was plain and ordinary and simple. Now, while simple and plain can be good in poetry when we are looking at haiku and trying to tackle a simple subject, the subject of a new president with radical views in this day and age is not plain nor simple. We are not a plain or simple people, we need someone explosive and persuasive and manipulative to say, “Look! This is what’s happening! Rejoice!” Instead, we got sewing, and darning and bridges and cleaning. We need adjectives, we need you to show us that this president is going to change our lives and make us each feel like we belong to something amazing and brilliant. We don’t want you to tell us how plain and simple each of us are, we want you to tell us how fantastic and magnificent each one of us are.
Please Mr. President, let’s have more poets during your reign as president; let’s just try to make them worth something more than metaphors and whispers. We want shouts and laughter and tears and change.

Monday, February 9, 2009


I bought a Holga 120N. Having fun.

Experimental Piece

The windowsill is filled with sand, dust and trash. She scratches at it absently, staring out the window. The square window frames the trees that are slightly swaying in the warm January day. People walk by the window; occasionally they glance at her, in the window, watching them. They always kept walking and she always kept staring out the window. It wasn’t a day for anything else. Some days, all she needs is to stare out into the world.

tip-toeing legs crawl – across the sill and onto – her hand, she shifts her position

She portrayed her self as an alphabet,

always breathing carelessly
deciding everything frantically
going home in just kite-like movements
nobodys owns papers
quietly roaming somewhere towards us
very worried xylophones yawns zealously

She tries.
She still.
lusts. loves. likes. cares.
towards something which she is not.

twirling on a whim towards that which she is.
onwards the light pulls her,
drags her
head over feet toes over fingers
hair flying over thighs

bent in concentration she breaths into her stomach.
her belly distends into her things.
the lungs are big, so big.

she exhales forever.
feeling every emotion she has ever felt in her life….and then some she hasn’t felt,
has no name for.

So big is she that she floats upwards until we see her as just a little

amongst the clouds. like a balloon, going on towards something better.
He sways standing up. He feels drunk. Her smell intoxicated him. he prefers sadness to happiness, but this feeling isn’t something he has experienced before. Unstable he sinks to his knees in front of her. Her smile knows it too. His eyes plead with her to stop. Stop the torture. He doesn’t know how much longer he can take the grip on his chest. He uses thing fingers to rip at his chest, his hair. She reaches out a hand to touch his check and he is calm. She is calm.

He looks like a guy from a Brautigan poem.
Awkward hat over hair that isn’t any color. a smile that show perfect teeth, gleaming white.
his hands are calloused and there is dirt under his fingernails.
patchwork pants and w ine bottle in a bag. he winks at her.
And she falls.

languid blue eyes
move like water
laughing at him with her eyes
he loves her
but her face does not match her words
her words are sharp
they stab like icicles
cold and long
those eyes are the true liars
they say everything she can’t
she is a manipulator, a liar, a thief.

Standing up she stretches and twist her back away from the window, picking at the dirt from under her fingernails as she walks away.