schmevil: (Default)
These are things I've recently purchased, and need to get through before the September grind starts in full. Oh shiiiiiit.

28 Days Later: London Calling, by Michael Alan Nelson and Declan Shalvey
The Fate of the Artist, by Eddie Campbell
Haunt of Horror, by Richard Corben and various
Chicken With Plums, by Marjane Satrapi

The Immigrint Suite: Hey xenophobe! Who you calling a foreigner?, by Hattie Gossett

What are you crazy kids reading?
schmevil: (jubilee)
They told me that when I was taken
To the sea’s edge, for the first time,
I leapt from my father’s arms
And was caught by a wave and rolled
Like a doll among rattling shells;
And I seem to remember my father
Fully clothed, still streaming with water
Half comforting, half angry.
And indeed I remember believing
As a child, I could walk on water –
The next wave, the next wave –
It was only a matter of balance.

On what floor are they borne,
These memories of early childhood
Iridescent, fugitive
As light in a sea-wet shell,
While we stand, two friends of middle ages,
By your parents’ grave in silence
Among avenues of the dead
With their cadences of trees,
Marble and granite parting
The quick of autumn grasses.
We have the wholeness of this day
To share as we will between us.

This morning I saw in your garden
Fine pumpkins grown on a trellis
So it seemed that the vines were rising
To flourish the fruits of earth
Above their humble station
In airy defiance of nature
- a parable of myself,
a skinful of elements climbing
from earth to the fastness of light;
now come to that time of life
when our bones begin to wear us,
to settle our flesh in final shape

as the drying face of land
rose out of earth’s seamless waters
I dreamed once, long ago,
That we walked among day-bright flowers
To a bench in the Brisbane gardens
With a pitcher of water between us,
And stayed for a whole day
Talking, and drinking the water.
Then, as night fell, you said
“There is still some water left over.”
We have one day, only one,
But more than enough to refresh us.

At your side among the graves
I think of death no more
Than when, secure in my father’s arms,
I laughed at a hollowed pumpkin
With candle flame for eyesight,
And when I am seized at last
And rolled in one grinding race
Of dreams, pain and memories, love and grief,
From which no hand will save me,
The peace of this day will shine
Like light on the face of the waters
That bear me away for ever.
schmevil: (Default)
This month I've been spending a lot of my free time tweeting about racism and sexism in comics. I've spent the last week and a half arguing with Erik Larsen directly. Twitter is such a time sink for me. I've got access to intelligent and admirable people, as well as deplorable ones. I can spend hours reading up on the unfolding disaster in the Gulf, or talking about DC Comics' treatment of characters of colour. It's incredible for the scope and nature of access it grants and encourages. I mean, I'm talking back and forth with a comics publisher, and sometimes when I follow cool people like Jay Smooth, they follow me back. (HOLY SHIT, HOLY SHIT, FANGASM!)

But I think what I like best about Twitter is how simple a tool it is. Obviously the code is deterministic, insofar as how people are able to talk to each other, access information, etc. But it's downright bare bones, as social networking sites go. I really think that the simplicity of Twitter is what makes it so flexible and organic. Because Twitter is just a 140 character miniblog, with only a few additional organizational functions (direct messages, @replies, hashtags), users are freer to do whatever the hell they want with the service.

Contrast with technocratic Facebookialand, where users have less and less control over what information they share, and how it's shared. Where, it seems to me, Facebook is working hard to shape your experience as a user, so as best to monetize it. Of course this could all be my base hatred of Facebook as an organization, and my affection for Twitter showing. idek


Anyway, have a poem:

schmevil: (buffy and angel)
Your face is neither infinite nor ephemeral.
You can never see your own face,
only a reflection, not the face itself.

So you sigh in front of mirrors
and cloud the surface.

It's better to keep your breath cold.
Hold it, like a diver does in the ocean.
One slight movement, the mirror-image goes.

Don't be dead or asleep or awake.
Don't be anything.

What you most want,
what you travel around wishing to find,
lose yourself as lovers lose themselves,
and you'll be that.
schmevil: (wonder woman (fire))
(War Time)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
schmevil: (ron and hermione)
[personal profile] mad/[ profile] parsimonia bought my ficcing services via my [ profile] help_haiti auction, and asked for something Snape-y. Instead of a fic, she got a poem, which is my first in many years. Thanks go to [ profile] kijikun for all the hand holding, and to [ profile] outlawpoet for all the sound advice. Maddy, I hope you like it!

Read more... )
schmevil: (wonder woman (fire))
Oh you are coming, coming, coming,
How will hungry Time put by the hours till then? --
But why does it anger my heart to long so
For one man out of the world of men?

Oh I would live in myself only
And build my life lightly and still as a dream --
Are not my thoughts clearer than your thoughts
And colored like stones in a running stream?

Now the slow moon brightens in heaven,
The stars are ready, the night is here --
Oh why must I lose myself to love you,
My dear?
schmevil: (jean)
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flander's fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, tho poppies grow
In Flander's fields.

Image Hosted by
schmevil: (jean)
There were flowers at the edge of the forest, cupping
The last of the light in their upturned petals. I followed you in,
Under the sighing, restless trees and my whole life vanished.

The moon tossed down its shimmering cloth. We undressed,
then dressed again in the gowns of the moon. We knelt in the leaves,
kissed, kissed; new words rustled nearby and we swooned.

Didn’t we? And didn’t I see you rise and go deeper
into the woods and follow you still, till even my childhood shrank
to a glow-worm of light where those flowers darkened and closed.

Thorns on my breasts, rain in my mouth, loam on my bare feet, rough
Bark grazing my back, I moaned for them all. You stood, waist deep,
In a stream, pulling me in, so I swam. You were the water, the wind
In the branches wringing their hands, the heavy, wet perfume of soil.

I am there now, lost in the forest, dwarfed by the giant trees. Find me.
schmevil: (wonder woman (fire))
I hadn't read this in ages, until it was posted to Great Poets.

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn't a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.
schmevil: (jubilee)
Rose, harsh rose
marred and with stint of petals,
meagre flower, thin,
sparse of leaf,

more precious
than a wet rose
single on a stem --
you are caught in the drift.

Stunted, with small leaf,
you are flung on the sand,
you are lifted
in the crisp sand
that drives in the wind.

Can the spice-rose
drip such acrid fragrance
hardened in a leaf?
schmevil: (jubilee)
Image Hosted by
Temptation, by Andrea Arroyo


We know this much
Death is an evil;
we have the gods'
word for it; they too
would die if death
were a good thing

schmevil: (jean)

Someone needs to go on an iconing spree through Stina Persson's gallery of watercolours.


Although they are
only breath, words
which I command
are immortal

schmevil: (lana)
via [ profile] greatpoets

To hold a damaged sparrow
under water until you feel it die
is to know a small something
about the mind; how, for example,
it blames the cat for the original crime,
how it wants praise for its better side.

And yet it's as human
as pulling the plug on your Dad
whose world has turned
to feces and fog, human as ...
well, let's admit, it's a mild thing
as human things go.

But I felt the one good wing
flutter in my palm --
the smallest protest, if that's what it was,
I ever felt or heard.
Reminded me how my eyelid has twitched,
the need to account for it.
Hard to believe no one notices.
schmevil: (lana)
Down the hill, through the alley,
left then right, my love. Pass the crying

women in shrouds. Let your friends have
their gospels. Leave Judas to his knots.

Tonight, we will make our heaven,
though the stars have turned their backs on us,

though the air is crowded with howling.
I have room for all of your questions.

A bottle of wine, plate of dry bread
and me on the table or under it,

against the night or under it.
Mourning can wait until sunrise.

via [ profile] breathe_poetry
schmevil: (wonder woman (fire))
Two bits from the play that I'm currently grappling with, both spoken by the pseudonymous Henry V:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean. Read more... )

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Rawr! That Henry. Great motivational speaker. Massive dick. Henry V, ladies and gentlemen.

The Kenneth Branagh St. Crispian here, and here, going into the breach. Oh Branagh.
schmevil: (daily planet)
Obama's speech was a cliched dud
Put him on a platform and Barack Obama can take any string of words and make them sing. He's the best speech performer of our day.

His voice has charm and power. He has an instinctive sense of the lyric and rhythmic underpinning of language, those surplus properties that impart a power beyond sense, beyond just what the words say. He has mastered the timing of public address, when to pause, when to rush a phrase, how to link gesture and stance to moments of emphasis. This is the full package.

Barack Obama could read a string of fortune cookie messages and some people would come away thinking they'd heard the Gettysburg address.

He gave a great performance Tuesday. The speech itself, however, was a dud. So much skill operating on so lifeless a text. It was Vladimir Horowitz playing Chopsticks. A speech that has hardly begun gives us clouds that are "gathering," storms that are "raging," a fear that is "nagging," grievances that are "petty," interests that are "narrow" and decisions that are "unpleasant" displays an alarming hospitality to cliché. Is there a dull-adjective shop in the new White House?

If they carve this one in marble, the appropriate subscript will read: Bring me your poor, your tired, your hackneyed phrases - your obvious descriptors yearning to be twee.

Rex Murphy for The Globe and Mail
January 24, 2009

Aside from the somewhat alarming suggestion that Obama failed to fulfill the Dr. King shoutout requirement, I find myself agreeing. The speech was impressive because of the man giving it, not because the speech itself was impressively written. Sort of the inverse of Elizabeth Alexander's performance of Praise Song for the Day, which I posted here, for those of you who haven't given the text a second chance. Separated from Alexander's halting, amateurish delivery, it comes off as a much better poem. I hardly recognized it! Still, some of Murphy's criticisms could apply here too. Like the speech it leans to much on cliche, and could stand to lose a word here or there.

Inauguration day in general, was rife with cliche. I had hoped to see a little more risk taking, but I suppose you can't blame them for playing it safe, at least when it comes to the symbolic stuff. It's a shortcut to some kind of shared understanding, which is sorely needed.

Unlike Rex Murphy, Stanley Fish writes about the speech here, with appreciation for its style.

Obama's Prose Style
Of course, as something heard rather than viewed, the speech provides no spaces for contemplation. We have barely taken in a small rhetorical flourish like “All this we can do. All this we will do” before it disappears in the rear-view mirror. But if we regard the text as an object rather than as a performance in time, it becomes possible (and rewarding) to do what the pundits are doing: linger over each alliteration, parse each emphasis, tease out each implication.

There is a technical term for this kind of writing – parataxis, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the placing of propositions or clauses one after the other without indicating . . . the relation of co-ordination or subordination between them.”

The opposite of parataxis is hypotaxis, the marking of relations between propositions and clause by connectives that point backward or forward. One kind of prose is additive – here’s this and now here’s that; the other asks the reader or hearer to hold in suspension the components of an argument that will not fully emerge until the final word. It is the difference between walking through a museum and stopping as long as you like at each picture, and being hurried along by a guide who wants you to see what you’re looking at as a stage in a developmental arc she is eager to trace for you.

Of course, no prose is all one or the other, but the prose of Obama’s inauguration is surely more paratactic than hypotactic, and in this it resembles the prose of the Bible with its long lists and serial “ands.” The style is incantatory rather than progressive; the cadences ask for assent to each proposition (“That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood’) rather than to a developing argument. The power is in discrete moments rather than in a thesis proved by the marshaling of evidence.

The comparison to Biblical prose is a helpful one, for me at least, because it helps to clarify exactly what I didn't like about the speech. There was a sense of invoking the imagined character of America, and thereby reasserting its truth. Sort of the form of prayer, or a creation story, but with such hackneyed phrasing that it failed to fly. There was no imaginative spark, just a tired call and response. America is great! America will be great again. I do want to read and reread the text of the speech, because there were some awesome bits of rhetoric in it, but that's a project for another day.
schmevil: (michelle rodriguez)
Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other's
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what's on the other side.

I know there's something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.
schmevil: (jubilee)
The Walrus advertised a contest for fictional love poems. I've never been one for love letters, but I'm reading up on them, to see if it's something I might try my hand at. Not to say that I'm interested in entering the contest (it would be a bit foolish, for someone who's written maybe two love letters in her life), but I've been giving epistolary fiction a lot of thought lately. Probably because of all the Austen I'm reading, and the great use she makes of letters.

Do any of you write/read love letters? if so, what are your favourites?


Abigail Adams (to John Adams)
December 23, 1782

My Dearest Friend,

...should I draw you the picture of my heart it would be what I hope you would still love though it contained nothing new. The early possession you obtained there, and the absolute power you have obtained over it, leaves not the smallest space unoccupied.

I look back to the early days of our acquaintance and friendship as to the days of love and innocence, and, with an indescribable pleasure, I have seen near a score of years roll over our heads with an affection heightened and improved by time, nor have the dreary years of absence in the smallest degree effaced from my mind the image of the dear untitled man to whom I gave my heart.


XLI Through Death To Love, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Like labour-laden moonclouds faint to flee
From winds that sweep the winter-bitten wold,--
Like multiform circumfluence manifold
Of night's flood-tide,--like terrors that agree
Of hoarse-tongued fire and inarticulate sea,--
Even such, within some glass dimm'd by our breath,
Our hearts discern wild images of Death,
Shadows and shoals that edge eternity.

Howbeit athwart Death's imminent shade doth soar
One Power, than flow of stream or flight of dove
Sweeter to glide around, to brood above.
Tell me, my heart,--what angel-greeted door
Or threshold of wing-winnow'd threshing-floor
Hath guest fire-fledg'd as thine, whose lord is Love?
schmevil: (personality dead)
Eunoia, by Christian Bok was posted on [ profile] greatpoets today.

Relentless, the rebel peddles these theses, even when vexed peers deem the new precepts ‘mere dreck’. The plebes resent newer verse; nevertheless, the rebel perseveres, never deterred, never dejected; heedless, even when hecklers heckle the vehement speeches. We feel perplexed whenever we see these exerpted sentences. We sneer when we detect the clever scheme – the emergent repetend: the letter E. We jeer; we jest. We express resentment. We detest these depthless pretenses – these present-tense verbs expressed pell-mell. We prefer genteel speech, where sense redeems senselessness.

It's an interesting piece, one I've never read before. I try as much as possible to avoid Bok. The deal is, I studied modern Canadian fiction under him, and he made a vast array of brilliant works unreadable, by virtue of his blinding pretension. I still can't make it through the first chapter of Mauve Desert without cringing, and By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept is staring at me from my bookshelf, as I type this. My seminar leader, a friend of his, refused to meet with me regarding course work, after I confessed to taking the course in order to fulfill a degree requirement, and all but drove me out of the class. It was one of my worst experiences with the post-secondary education system. Somehow I can't get past my distaste for the man, to see the work for itself.


Have you seen today's utterly ridic Writer's Block Question?

It’s the Day of German Unity, marking the 1990 reunification of East and West Germany. In our current period of global instability, do you ever feel nostalgic for the seeming simplicity of the Cold War?

I'm extremely pleased with all the boggling going on in the responses.

Quoting [ profile] filbypott for truth: This is one of the most insultingly stupid things I've read all day, and I've read defenses of Sarah Palin. Whoever wrote this should be ashamed.

[ profile] psychox says: Yes. I often long for an era when the planet was constantly two steps away from nuclear annihilation. . . . I'm...going to pretend I didn't see this question.

Actually, I'm going to pretend that by "simplicity," the prompt is referring to the balance of power between two nation-states deadlocked by the concept of mutually-assured-destruction. And I'm going to presume that "global instability" is referring to the dangers of living in a world dominated by the one superpower that emerged triumphant after the Cold War to become the world hegemony.

If I can't convince myself of that, I'm going to pretend this prompt never happened.

Me too, dude. Me too.

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