I Look Into My Glass – another poem

“Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?”

“Yes.”

“All like ours?”

“I don’t know, but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound – a few blighted.”

“Which do we live on – a splendid one or a blighted one?”

“A blighted one.”

― Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

The other day I wrote about a Yeats poem, Sailing to Byzantium. In doing some research about that poem – a reference to another poem with a similar theme kept coming up – I Look Into My Glass, by Thomas Hardy. I decided to share it here.

I Look Into My Glass

I look into my glass,
And view my wasting skin,
And say, ‘Would God it came to pass
My heart had shrunk as thin!’

For then I, undistrest
By hearts grown cold to me,
Could lonely wait my endless rest
With equanimity.

But Time, to make me grieve,
Part steals, lets part abide;
And shakes this fragile frame at eve
With throbbings of noontide.


I know how that feels. For decades I have learned to get ready in the morning without really even looking in the mirror. To do so would make the day too hopeless.

That Is No Country For Old Men

“You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday don’t count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it’s made out of. Nothin else.”
― Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

Cadillac Ranch - Old Guys Rule
Old Guys Rule, Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

At lunch today (it’s amazing how not-enjoyable no-carbohydrate food gets after a few months) I took a break and hit the ‘web. I stumbled across a well-known Yeats poem – Sailing to Byzantium – which gave the title to a Cormac McCarthy novel and eponymous film. I read the poem a few times and copied key lines into my commonplace book – it spoke to me.

There is plenty of commentary on this famous poem… you can do a google search if you like. But it’s pretty simple and terribly easy to understand – especially for someone past a certain age.

So here it is, without any further ado from me.

Sailing to Byzantium

BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

I

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees,
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

II

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

III

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

IV

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Short Story of the Day, Poetry, Billy Collins, by Erren Geraud Kelly

“The mind can be trained to relieve itself on paper.”
― Billy Collins

This woman was waving a turkey leg out of her food trailer. When someone came up to buy one, she said, “Let me get you a fresh one hon, this is my demo model, I’ve been waving it out this window for hours.”

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Saturday, September 29, 2001. Exactly twenty years ago.

Sidekicks

Nicholas had accumulated two free tickets and a two-for-one coupon for the Dallas Sidekicks indoor soccer team game tonight. He asked a kid from his team to go with us and Candy and I used the two-for-one.

Dallas has built a new sports arena – but the Sidekicks, practitioners of a non-major, second or third tier (for Texas, anyway) sport remain in the old, smaller, less tony, and luxury skybox-less arena. Fine with us. The smaller place is more intimate and you can see the game better.

Most important of all, the nachos (actually a skimpy paper holder with some stale chips and two tiny plastic cups – one full of motor-oil-like fake cheese sauce, the other loaded with some sort of brown bland bilious chili-resembling substance) are sold sans jalapenos, but there are condiment stands nearby with all the sliced peppers you can pile on. I piled on plenty. As a matter of fact, I made two trips from our seats up and back to the condiment stand for more hot peppers. I was going to buy a Diet Dr. Pepper but while I was in line the guy in front of me ordered a beer and it simply looked too good to pass up. The beer and nachos came to nine dollars and fifty cents.

That’s what sports is all about, isn’t it. I was sitting in a cramped plastic arena seat drinking a five-dollar lukewarm beer and eating grease laced with so many hot peppers the top of my head sweated. I had to keep rubbing my hair because so much capsicum-induced heat was rising up and shooting out the top of my head.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

And a piece of poetry for today:

Billy Collins, by Erren Geraud Kelly

from West Texas Literary Review

Magnetic Refrigerator Poetry

“To be nobody but
yourself in a world
which is doing its best day and night to make you like
everybody else means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”
― E.E. Cummings

Downtown Fort Worth, Texas

I found this image while I was cleaning up some files – it’s from 2008 (I think) – before I started this (version) of my journal. I had no memory of putting this together. The note with it said, “From a magnetic poetry app on my iPod touch,” which means it’s already technologically from the time of the dinosaurs.

Magnetic Refrigerator Poetry from my old iPod Touch.

Poetics Practicum

Labor well the minute particulars, take care of the little ones
He who would do good for another must do it in minute particulars
General Good is the plea of the Scoundrel Hypocrite and Flatterer
For Art & Science cannot exist but in minutely organized particulars
—-William Blake

I have no idea how I stumbled across what I stumbled across – but that is the way of the internet. I was surfing around looking at information/hints/tips on creativity and writing poetry. I found a reference to a list of writing inspiration by Allen Ginsberg. It was called Mind Writing Slogans and was a collection of eight four quotes from various writers (including himself) or philosophers that have some applicability or inspiration to modern poetry.

Trying to track down a clean version of this list I came across a larger work. It was called Poetics Practicum and contained the Mind Writing Slogans as part of the text.

Here’s a link to a PDF version of Poetics Practicum

The document seems to be something that Allen Ginsberg cobbled together from a number of sources to use as a text in his college poetry classes. There is a lot of cool, useful, and informational stuff in there. It’s not in the best format – but I like the ragged typography and mixed-up sources… makes it friendlier.

So I’m going to keep this document handy and look at it when I need some inspiration. There is a lot I can learn.

But more importantly… shouldn’t I make up something like that myself? I can imagine I’m teaching a class in something… something other than chemistry. Then I could make up my own brochure – a ragged list of lists – to put into print and commit to paper some words of wisdom that I can make my own.

I like that idea.

Short Story Of the Day – A Screaming Sky (found poetry) by Bill Chance

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.”
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow


Swedish Edition of Gravity’s Rainbow

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#67) More than half way there! What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.


I enjoyed my  FOUND POETRY  experiment with Moby Dick the other day. –

This is where you take a page of text and remove words until what is left is… well… something… something different. I decided to use another passage that meant a lot to me… the opening of Gravity’s Rainbow. I decided to not try and make it make sense – just pick words that looked interesting. One difficulty was that I am so familiar with that passage I kept reverting to its original meaning.

 


A Screaming Sky

It’s all theatre

lights above girders and glass

A spectacle

Velveteen smoke escaping in puffs

Vibration poising

Feeble sheep out of time

drunks, derelicts belong to salvation

Half-Silvered

Green-Stained

Bulletproof

Speeding through downtown

Faces knotting into rotted loops

Wood smells of winters when

coral-like lonely absence

brilliant dawn passage

Absolute Zero

Secret cities break down for a broader highway

 

It is a judgement from which there is no appeal.

 

The opening scene of Gravity’s Rainbow

 

Short Story Of the Day – Laid With Iron Rails (found poetry) by Bill Chance

“…to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale

Kindle

Call Me Ishmael

 

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#55) More than half way there! What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.


I wanted to try something different today – so I thought I’d give a shot at one version of FOUND POETRY – where you take a page of text and remove words until what is left is… well… something… something different.

I decided to use my favorite passage from Moby Dick – and then do some removal.


Laid With Iron Rails

I thought to find one cogged circle anthill of fire.

Wasting what I’ve dared.

Starbuck’s demoniac wild madness – that’s the prophecy.

I prophesy that great gods laugh and hoot at pugilists and bullies.

Come forth from behind your long gun.

Ye cannot swerve.

Man is grooved to run.

Unsounded gorges

Hearts of mountains

Torrents’ beds

An obstacle to the iron way.

 

Passage from Moby Dick, text marked out to form a found poem.

Short Story (Poem) Of the Day, Coffee by Bill Chance

“Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.”
David Lynch

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#27). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.

 


 

Coffee (from an old Turkish proverb)

Black as death

Hot as hell

Bitter as lost dreams

Thick as love

She liked her women like she liked her coffee

Dark, Bitter, and Colombian

 

 

Short Story (Poem) Of the Day, Rich Women Shopping by Bill Chance

“Buy what you don’t have yet, or what you really want, which can be mixed with what you already own. Buy only because something excites you, not just for the simple act of shopping”
― Karl Lagerfeld

Main Street Park
Dallas, Texas

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#25). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.

 


 

Rich Women Shopping

Their legs are so long

they reach all the way to the ground

their bags small

and shiny

sparkles and bright colors

logos

hunters

of wild and gorgeous efficiency

 

 

Short Story (Poem) Of the Day, My Pen by Bill Chance

“You want to be a writer, don’t know how or when? Find a quiet place, use a humble pen.”
― Paul Simon

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#23). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.

 


 

My Pen

I hear

there are boutiques where

people buy pens

from expensive European designer’s

designs

exotic wood

and space-age metal

 

Mine is cheap bilious plastic

translucent tube generic refill

but it does say

“#1 DAD”

in bad printing

on the side

bought at a PTA sale

 

It’s a good pen

and expensive

I worked long and hard

for it

.