Tuesday, March 21, 2006


a: Here's my share of grumbling. I have been reading Rohrer, and I think he is growing on me. He still annoys me at bits, but I can tell that he's a good writer, and why you like him... I'll keep on reading.

k: i'm glad he's growing on you. thank you so much for trying and for understanding, you're such a good friend. such a good poetshipanion.

Here's that crappy poem I told you about. I still am unsure about two words in it (the ones parenthesesses); I think they're too... Bla. Open. Out there. There is no restraint about them. I want something that is more askew. That hints at what they say but doesn't spill it. You know I usually don't do the consulting thing with poetry, but I could use some feedback here:


No compromise.

When the final curtain falls,
I will come down in flames.
No half exits,
No hesitant escapes.

When the call comes around,
I'll stay rooted in my place.
No hasty excuses,
No clinging to the earth.

I will take it as I find it,
I will gulp it as it is.
No syrup for me, thanks;
No god with a sweet face.

Tomorrow when I falter,
I will shatter with (despair).
I will tell you where I have been,
I will leave without a face.

Tomorrow in the (gallows),
When the sirens lose their voice,
When they tell you it will linger,
I will enough.

Someday there will be none,
When tomorrow doesn't come.

k: how about a return to the stage, the final curtain falls, instead of gallows. Tomorrow in the orchestra pit, Tomorrow below the audience, Tomorrow in the grand hall, grand theatre, Tomorrow in the spot light, Tomorrow in the black. in the black?

as for despair, the only other word i can come up with is fatigue. another solution to getting around this word is to look at the with as the trouble spot instead of the despair, or perhaps both? I will shatter in, i will shatter this, i will shatter this illusion. (i keep going back to the final curtain line; to write "i will shatter this illusion" is to perpetuate the presence of the stage, no?)

just ideas, of course. but ones to get you thinking. i hope.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

dear portishead

  1. i don’t like blue mouth wash, but i used it anyway, because it’s all that we have at the moment.
  2. i’ve given up cereal. it used to be my favorite thing to eat, but now it just makes my stomach hurt.
  3. i think that dick van dyke was hot when he was in his early 30’s.
  4. my first memory is of being afraid of a rainbow; i didn’t know what it was so i cried and hid under the kitchen table. i think i was 3.
  5. i like it when ryan reads books to me because he does the voices.
  6. i like to keep as many as 3 different types of conditioner in my shower at all times.
  7. i displace my feelings onto my goldfish--"wibble likes it when you ...."
  8. meaghan (my sister) and i were very serious about our barbies.
  9. i am really starting to enjoy horror films; i never thought i would.
  10. i have 3 brown sweaters, and i want 3 more.
  11. the teddy bear i slept with from the age of 2 to marriage is an official tupperware bear and his name is tedso.
  12. i wish i knew how to read korean
  13. i don’t have any superstitions surrounding numbers.
  14. “only you” by portishead would play if you turned my car on right now (a song i have been listening to waaaaay too much recently).
  15. i wish we had trash pick up service instead of having to go to the dump.
  16. i haven’t spoken to my grandparents on my mother’s side since october 2004. i just want them to apologize, so i can love them again.
  17. i HATE when people throw cigarette butts out their car windows onto the street. (and i don’t have very much)
  18. my cell phone is named “watashi mo” which means “me too” in japanese.
  19. i don’t like the smell of coffee, never mind the taste.
  20. i still have the bouquet of roses from my wedding dried and hanging in our bedroom closet.


i did a different list for my friends a few months ago. it’s a fun little exercise, and you learn a lot of interesting things about people. so i did an updated one (the cereal thing is an update, and the last one was made before i got my new phone). when you get the chance, maybe this weekend, you can do a list of 20 for me. “20 random things i didn’t know about ashraf” J

it’s really fun to write, at least for me, i hope you think so too.

and i’ll stop emailing you for today. my iichiban tomodachi Danielle is over and we’re going to watch a film once she’s done battling ryan on the xbox. which means i’ll next be checking my mail from work tomorrow. whatever that means to you, i don’t know. i hope you’ve had a nice day though. and i hope you enjoy my list. you don’t have to respond to anything in it unless you really want to (i wouldn’t mind, of course). it’s just for you to get to know me better. and useful, because now you’ll never offer me coffee.

best always.

a: Uh-oh! Houston, we've got a problem! I don't know how we can be friends if you can't stand the smell of coffee. See, I'm an Arab, and for us coffee is an art, if not a religion. (I guess, for me it ranks just after poetry and Dalida... See what happens when one rejects organized religions? He ends with several more arbitrary ones!) One of my favorite passages in "Memory for Forgetfulness" by Mahmoud Darwish is a passage where he is describing his attempt to make it to the kitchen to brew the perfect pot of coffee while trying to avoid sniper fire... Coffee as a last wish!

But I guess I can forgive you that since you've been listening to Portishead. I guess, besides Dalida, Starsailor (first album), Lhasa (first album), and Pink Floyd (and maybe a couple others), Portishead are amongst a few of my 5-star acts. LOVE them! I saw Beth Gibbons in concert here in Philly, and she autographed my CDs and a postcard. She is awesome! (And a wonderful live act; mesmerizing!) Have you heard here solo album, "Out of Season"? That website has the best screensaver:

(And I loved #7!) So, thank you so much for sharing!

Here is a questionnaire that we played as a game at Christmas Eve at Wojtek's parents. It's an American Express ad, but we were bored and out of games, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. I'll try to remember my answers...

My name:
Ashraf Osman

My childhood ambition:
To design perfume bottles, car lines, and theme basements

My fondest memory:
Rejoining my parents in Abu-Dhabi on my birthday where they surprised me with a brand new keyboard / Walking in Florence on a sunny day with a gelato cone in hand

My soundtrack:
Dalida (surprise, surprise!)

My retreat:

My wildest dream:
To be wildly famous (secretly, to be brilliant)

My proudest moment:
Defending my thesis

My biggest challenge:
Adjusting to my life here in the US

My alarm clock:
The iHome (which I love!)

My perfect day:
Waking up unhurried, slowly sipping the perfect coffee, reading, feeling productive, and going out with friends at night

My first job:
As a medical representative for Parke-Davis (now part of Pfizer)

My indulgence:
KFC and porn

My last purchase:
Shea butter-verbena cuticle creme

My favorite movie:
A tie between "The English Patient" and "Since Otar Left"

My inspiration:

My life:
Still waits to be written.

My card:
A GreenCard!

k:dear portishead,
thank you for salvaging my credibility with ashraf; things were starting to look a bit shaky!


i didn't say i couldn't stand the smell of coffee, just that i don't like it i have to make fresh coffee all morning at work and it is actually my least favorite part of the job. i'm pulling for a new sort of system where i only have to fill a filter with grounds and the gigantic thurmous brews and serves, i don't have to smell the finished product. (i'm awful, aren't i? though, i'm sure you make much better smelling coffee than the stuff the hotel brews.)

oh and then babies. there's a pic of you and mika on the floor facing each other that made me giggle because i noticed in that picture that you two were wearing pretty much the same thing! kawaiine!!
generally though, babies freak me out. i'm okay with little people that can speak. if i can communicate with it, then fine, otherwise ... no thank you. at least at the moment, i am completely not ready for babies! and i don't hear ryan pyning either, so that's good. my mom on the other hand is unrelenting in her vocalization of her desire to have grandbabies. i've got 4 years before ryan turns 30, maybe in 4 years i'll be ready!

i first heard "only you" on a chris cunningham dvd (he's a music video director who does mostly disturbing nine inch nails type videos). after i heard the song and beth's voice i picked up their album that featured that track. most of the reason why i enjoy portishead is because of beth's voice. i'm so particular about female vocals but sometimes you hear someone and it's bliss and you never can let go. there aren't many female vocalists that i enjoy (i hope dalida is one of them, but i won't go looking for her, i want you to be able to introduce us); bjork, [the ladies of] cibo matto, shirely bassey, kristy macoll, karen from the yeah yeah yeah's and beth from poetishead are the only female vocalists i can think of that i really enjoy listening to. there are one off's though, like debbie harry from blondie, she's an amazing vocalist, and i do enjoy her every now and again, fiona apple has some beautiful moments, and i used to like gwen stephanie before she went pop diva harijuku crazy.

i think i will check out beth's solo act. she's the reason i like portishead anyway. does she write her own stuff, do you know? (am being lazy by asking and not reaching out the internet to find out myself.)

My last purchase:
Shea butter-verbena cuticle creme

i thought you said other than the fact that you're both guys, you shop at banana-republic and you like ikea, that there wasn't much gay about you? i don't even know what butter-verbena is! though i bet you have lovely fingernails!

ah, i should read more lorca. talk about poetry displacing religion, lorca's deep song is apparently a bible. more later.


a: You are so cute with that "dear portishead,"! And don't worry about the coffee; I guess we don't have to agree on everything (though it might be difficult to cleanse my place off the smell of coffee, or wane myself from it when you're here...). And I don't think it'll smell any better to you (as much as I'd like to pride myself on my fancy coffees!).

As for babies, for some reason, I did not realize till now how young you are! (You're younger than my sister!) I think it's because you are so mature, sensitive and talented. I was talking to a friend of mine about you over the weekend, saying how I hope you don't become as jaded as I am when you are my age, and she said: if she isn't jaded at 22, she'll never be. I'd like to think that's true. As for me, it's not that I mind children as much as I mind the responsibility. I guess I have such a staunch existentialist bent that I would refuse to impose this life on anyone (hence, I refuse to procreate) and I will not want to make any decisions for anyone, or take responsibility for them (which is why I don't think I'm well-suited for my job, as it is about making decisions for others). I was hoping that this will not be an issue for Wojtek and me anytime soon. But he seems to be getting more and more serious about it (if only to fill that growing existential void). And I refuse to use children as plugs! I wrote another bombastic poem to that effect; I'll try to post it soon, but I am having some computer trouble at home. Our anti-virus expired, and I uninstalled it to install a new one that we get free with Verizon. But it wouldn't work (again), and that got me so frustrated. I was waiting for an excuse to ditch Verizon (I hate big corporations: they charge so much and have such crappy customer service!). So I think I'll finally do it. So, I might not be able to write from home for a while (I don't like to venture on the web without anti-virus).

I do hope you like Dalida's voice. I would have burnt you a CD, but our burner at home is busted (and at work they're iffy about stuff like that). So, I'll figure something. And yes, Shea butter-verbena cuticle crème is pretty gay, however I have the worst cuticles ever! (That is why I buy all these creams.) I basically butcher my cuticles. When I was a teenager I used to pick at my acne, and I have a forehead and neck blotched with the fading scars of my nasty habits (I have to get one operated on because I messed it up so bad the skin got keratinized, whatever that meant). Now I don't pick at my face as much, but I bite my cuticles all the time. It's quite obsessive, and quite out of control. But I can think of worse self-mutilation. (That and my teeth-grinding at night... All that tension!)

As for Lorca, I have to say, you have such a knack at selecting good passages of poetry! Those are two great passages (I especially love the first). As for the sketches, I think they'll have to wait until I fix the computer situation at home.

Mr. Rohrer I will hold off from commenting on until I have read a bit more. I can certainly appreciate him more, though I am afraid I will not be as smitten with him as you are. His writing still strikes me as mostly too dense, ingrown and restrained. I will elaborate later, if you don't mind. Now your poem, on the other hand, is what I call delicate, simple and humane (in the best senses of all words, and it was so lovely to see your handwriting!). It takes a tender (almost mundane) everyday moment, one that is there, that would in most cases just pass, but is also the kind of stuff that Life (with a capital L) is made of, and captures it so skillfully that it seems effortless. (And I love "haunches"; it is such a good rough counterpoint to "graces" and the rest of the poem; it fishes it out of being too delicate. Punctuation, on the other hand, is nothing I give much importance to...) But then again, who am I to judge? I just got another batch of poems reject from another publication that nobody's heard of except its editors. And I am bitter, and I am baffled, and I am giving up. Goes back to how arbitrary poetry is... I guess giving up is not so bad after all. No expectations, no disappointments.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Delicate Situation

(In response to comment on something katy):

k: ... i seriously doubt i'm getting better. i'm merely writing and rewriting the same sex scene from different angles it feels like. i guess that "i am a cat" "i am like a cat" stuff i wrote in response to william hathaway was pretty good, and different (as different as a poem about cats can get, i actually have a book of all cat poems, and most of them are horribly trite, should make me cringe really, but i love to read and reread them, i can't understand why).

i wish i was writing more poems about the fox and the green river and the sad robot boy and ... i have yet to write my spirit animal into a poem properly (i believe, but have not completely confirmed, that i am a crane, though i have no idea what kind, a greyish white one, a tall one, i guess... at least that's what i want to be; i know ryan is a fox, there's no question about this, far too many times he's reached out to me through his animal).

i guess sex isn't so bad though, i mean... everyone likes it right? not like i've asked a whole lot of people, but i'm guessing most people like sex (or whatever anyone wants to call it) and if i do it well enough (um, not sex, but the writing about sex) then it is unique and it is different. i sort of feel like this poem about a girl getting a bloody nose is just a ....


(In response to post on Silliman's Blog):

i've been checking silliman's blog every day now, not always reading the entire post, but at least checking things out. i want to keep my claws in this online-poetics universe i'm slowly unwraveling.

anyway, i think this entry of silliman's is in the same vein as some of our discussion the other night; the heart and sex of poetry. i think erotic or sensual poetry is a good way to describe what i'm going through with my poems at the moment, so my interest in this topic shouldn't surprise you.

my first reaction was to the statement about erotic poetry of late being composed mostly by women and gay men. in terms of what we were talking about last night, about the academia possibly being the bearing force on poets to restrain from sex and emotion in poetry, perhaps there are more straight men influenced by the academic sphere? i don't know about this though. perhaps they are two separate issues.

one being the academic acceptance of a poet; writing for your committee, writing for an awards bored (foetry stuffs). the other issue being one of offence.

what i mean by offence is that perhaps straight men fear that if they write too graphically or with too much of any specific emotion that they will be attacked by feminists with rakes and shovels. i don't know though, i'm not that kind of feminist. maybe when straight men write it, it's porn? maybe girls are too easily offended by sexual content. maybe girls still have issues with being seen in a sexual way. i know it makes me uncomfortable when a strange guy hits on me, but at the same time as being freaky and often times gross, it's also a bit flattering. for a poet to do it in a poem, surely that's entirely different from a gas station attendant.

as much as an issue women have with being the prey of men, i think that this issue is one that shows itself more in the academic sphere than in every day life (are academic women more prudent?). there are how many songs about sex written and performed by straight men? and it doesn't seem to bother anyone to the extent that there is any backlash, men still write and perform songs about women and sex; people keep playing them and buying tickets to see them performed live and so on.

i guess there are some male poets like matthew rohrer who have been successful with some sexual content, but even rohrer shies away from the moment by hiding behind the third person in his poetry. he doesn't address sex or love, it's just there.

there's the sex part, but what about the heart? the heart, especially in the way in which i think you mean it, is a far more complex and delicate issue to tackle.

for me, the heart in poetry is honestly. i don't mean honesty as being true to one specific life, but more... in between the caresses, the heart beats, the erotic, there are these glimmers of mortality (a bloody nose, picking toe nails, etc) that emphasize the love behind the lust. that is what i mean when i say honesty. it is our mortality that makes our love so fragile and so beautiful.

i think, perhaps, too many poets miss calculate the balance between the heart and the sex, the meat and the honesty. the sample poems in silliman's blog entry miss it i think. it's meat, great. what's sexy about a butcher's shop? that's all mortality and no love.

marie howe, on the other hand, is a perfect example of a poet who knows how to lay the balance on the page. she's the sort of poet who promises you dinner then stabs you in the stomach... here's an example from "the beast" of what i mean...

Later that night, I make love for hours.
I forget my name, where my arms
are, what

my tongue is doing. I think I must have cried out
unimaginable things and I think of my sister

in the room next door,
lying on her back, blinking in the dark.

ah, doesn't she just drain you? what a goddess. one moment you're having the best sex of your life, the next you're dirty with guilt and disgusted with yourself.

so why can't a man do this? why can't a straight man write down the sex and counter balance it with mortality and be successful? have straight men tried? or is there no appeal for straight men to feel any emotion in bed? i can't imagine that every straight male poet has no emotions tied to sex. if anything they must all do.

maybe the whole matter (including this new one of straight men feeling emotions towards sex) is to do with the fact that sex for straight men has never been taboo, it's always been accepted and praised; whereas for women, virginity has held such a heavy weight over the heads of so many that the act of physical love is such a revelation that it can't not be an emotional experience. for gay men, well, the world is still struggling to accept the gay population (of men and women); what other fuel for emotion is there than revolution?

well? your turn dear.

a: It's so funny, I was just reading the same post the other day (for similar reasons, I presume). It seems our conversation is (has been) developing two intertwining lines: the personal and poetry (which I admit are difficult to distinguish at times). So, for your question "don’t you and the beast cuddle? i don’t mean to get too personal or anything, but well, don’t you?" I'd say, we're talking poetry here (and erotic poetry, to be specific), so I don't think it can get much more personal than that. And don't worry about asking me anything "too personal": 1) I'm an exhibistionist who plasters his life on the web for no one to read, 2) I always have the option of not answering, without any indignation. So, yes, of course we cuddle; our relationship isn't all hot smokin' sex all the times, unfortunately. We're not overly affectionate (much to my chagrin), especially in public (and I am not very tolerant of public display of affection, generally). However, Wojtek has this "tick" where, after he's been away for a while, he's almost reflexive. It always reminds me of that mathematical paradox (that I can never remember the name of) where if you divide a distance in half, and then divide the half, and go on and on, you will reach a point where the distance is negligibly small, but never zero. And I think Rilke said how the distance between two people is similar to that (thank god?). In any case, the point is, it seems to take him a couple of days to "warm up to me again". See, our "love" tends to be more of the sitcom marriage type (think "Roseanne", or even better the British sitcoms "Keeping Up Appearances" and "My Family"). Except sometimes it's not so funny. But I always remind myself of a great line from another Dalida song, "Ta Femme" (You Wife/Woman): "This communion of the everyday, it is a form of love." (God bless the Great One!) In any case, back to poetry...

So, I started reading the same post the other day, and it was a nice surprise that you sent it, so I finished it. It's funny how, as much as Silliman tries to deny it, he is the GrandDaddy of online poetry these days... Good for him! He certainly is industrious enough and knowledgeable enough to earn it. In any case, what I think about this issue of erotic poetry and women and gay men on the one hand, and straight men on the other is not that "there are more straight men influenced by the academic sphere" as much as I think that there are simply more straight men in the academic sphere. (Or am I mistaken and being paranoid here?) And that is an interesting point that you made, that "maybe when straight men write it, it's porn?" I really do wonder how much straight men, especially those in academia (the supposedly more sensitive ones), have been effectively castrated by feminism. I do agree, though, that there certainly is something about the challenge to one's sexuality (in this instance, or anything for that matter) that brings it to the fore, that makes it more precious, that makes one more aware of it. And I do think that that makes us more articulate about it, because we don't take it for granted as much, because each time it is a conscious deliberate act. (In any case, I realize, reading Silliman, how much I have to learn still, though I have a feeling I will die without learning or reading everything I'd like too... Oh, well, the pity!)

But I think you hit it head on when you were describing Marie Howe's poetry as "these glimmers of mortality... that emphasize the love behind the lust. that is what i mean when i say honesty. it is our mortality that makes our love so fragile and so beautiful." That is so well-said (and so existential, by the way: as Heidegger and Sarte and Camus said, it is that mortality that brings that urgency to our life that makes it that precious!). But it is the kind of statement that I might have been reluctant to articulate for fear if "ruining the magic". But now I realize, that even if you "reveal the formula", there's something about the magic of it that is essential (kind of like the KFC secret recipe!) And Marie is a master of this form, this delicate balance. Again, as you so gorgeously put it, "she's the sort of poet who promises you dinner then stabs you in the stomach...". Touche!

And I do realize, that while this is perhaps my favorite form of poetry these days (and I think of it as the more mature form of poetry), I can certainly think of other forms that operate of very different premises that I find compelling in their own ways. Two kinds I can think of right now I'll call the Situational and the Delicate. The Situational I think of mostly as the stuff I love in French chansons. It is not narrative per se (as "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" or "The Prisoner of Chillon" are), certainly not as epic and rambling, but more snippets of life, their art lying in the light they shed of one aspect of it in a few strokes. I think here mostly of Charles Aznavour and Dalida (though I am sure others such as Jacques Brel might be better know for that). Aznavour, for example, has "La Mamma" (later sung by Dalida) that describes the dying of the matron of a family, with all the children flocking in, including the blacksheep of the family, and surrounding the bed. Or "Comme ils dissent" (perhaps better known in its English version, "What Makes a Man a Man"): of the transvestite helping his mother with the chores and then going to strip for a living. Or "Happy Annivesary", about a couple trying to celebrate their anniversary, and the celebration going wrong, as they all do. Dalida has the epic "Gigi l'amoroso" (Gigi the Lover), about his Italian Don Juan character whom all the women of the village fall for, and how he was seduced by this rich American woman and emigrated with her, about the town after he left, and he heartbreak and return... (And I say epic mostly because the song had a very campy sequel, "Gigi in Paradisco", that follows Gigi in his afterlife, where he turns paradise into a disco! LOL!). She, however, I think, was best when she turned the camera on herself, and in that way she was perhaps more daring and lacerating that any singer I know of. She tended to sing a lot about her situation as a childless famous woman, trying anf failing continuously in love (three of her lovers committed suicide, she trying to follow them every time, until it finally worked the third time). She tended to expose her most intimate in song, and therefore life in its most poignant and sincere. For example, after the suicide of her first lover, Luigi Tenco, following the failure of his song "Ciao Bambino" at some contest, she sang it, to great resonance and success. "Mourir sur scene" (Dying on Stage) couldn't have been more poiganatly prescient of her suicide, a song to Death, teeling him when and how to come. She sang the above mentioned "Ta Femme" from the point of view of a woman having an affair with a married man; "Lucas" about a star taking her former lover's child, who adores her, out on a romp around town and then dropping him back off; "Depuis qu'il vient chez nous" about a love triangle where her lover seems to direct his affection towards the other man; and "Bravo" about her desperation for more applause. And on and on... Even when she sang other's songs, such as "Ciao Bambino" above, or my favorite Ferre's "Avec le temps", or Serge Lama's poignant "Je suis malade" ("I am sick", which in one of her performaces of, after her secnd suicide attempt, I believe, she broke down on stage, and is by far the most moving live performace I can think of), she sang them with such personal poignancy that... well, you know the point.

Of the second form, the Delicate, I can only think of Lorca's poetry at this point, just because this form is so easy to go Hallmark and bla. It is a very delicate balance to write delicate things and not come across as hoaky. (By the way, have you seen Lorca's sketches? They are the most gorgeous and delicate little things... Sublime!)

And I decided I want to buy a Rohrer book. I want to give the guy another chance, since you love him so, and I trust in your judgement. And maybe if I saw his work on paper, I would be more recptive.

Ok, I gotta go now. Wojtek wants to do an "in-service" (a military/marketing term) about our relationship/life! (I guess it's something like resolutions and stuff...). Should be fun!

k: hi hi hi! (am in a particularly great mood at the moment)

i have a copy of lorca’s poema del cante jundo (poems of the deep song) with the original texts and English translations paralleling them. also, there is an intro from the translator (i like introductions), so i’m going to spend some time with it tomorrow. i’ve not spent much time in this collection, i remember one about a lamp post… anyway, your email reminded me that this collection has been neglected. i’ll deliver a proper response after i’ve read some lorca (can’t seem to find his sketches online, aside from the one) and read through your dalida history lesson with more care.

you really want to give rohrer a proper chance? that means so much to me, ashraf! i’m a little fearful that you mightn’t like him, but that you want to give him a chance is just lovely! could i buy you one of his collections? please.

i’m glad you don’t take any offence to all my prodding and poking. if ever i cross any lines you’ll tell me, won’t you? i don’t ever want to offend you or push you. thank you over and over and over for being so generous and obliging when it comes to my silly curiosities. the poet in me is always asking questions, considering options, filling in gaps (the human imagination at work) and wondering. thank you for putting pieces together for me.
i just hope you can tolerate ryan and i; we’ll have been married 2 years in april, but we still act like we’re on our honeymoon!

so tomorrow… more off me, as always. i’ll hopefully have time to read most of this lorca collection at work.

a: Hey dear,

Glad you are in a good mood!... I hope I didn't bore you to death with my Dalida stuff. I know I can be a bit over zealous about her; please let me know when I go overboard.

I am so glad you're going to read Lorca; I think you'll like him. He is such a great persona! And maybe I'll scan some of the cards with his sketches I got from Granada from work and send them to you.

Guess what, I just bought A Green Light by Rohrer. I'll let you know how it goes... You know, I just realized that Amazon had previously recommended that book to me (I remember the cover distinctly; I am big about covers, and that's a good one). And you know what too? Both him and Marie Howe won the National Poetry Series! Hmmm... Maybe we'll be next!

k: hello ashraf,

your copy of a green light has purple writing on the cover then? mine is
pink. i want a purple one too. a green light is his 3rd collection and admittedly, the one i’ve spent the least amount of time appreciating. i just read the first three poems again… sigh. he’s good.

enough of my swooning, and onto lorca. i have read the entire collection before, but it was some time ago (i believe i first picked this book up while i was still in high school). i hadn’t read the introduction before, which is stellar. i had no idea lorca was so deeply rooted in his culture and in this deep song religious practice. his poems, as song lyrics, are compared to flamenco (flamenco being the mere shadow of the deep song). i had no idea, too, that he was such an icon. every one knows who lorca is, he’s one of those names. i wonder if he is so revered among Spaniards as he is among poets.

today at work i managed to read through a little less than half of the collection, but i found a few poems which i think detail what you mean by delicate…

The cry leaves a shadow
of the cypress upon the wind.

(Leave me here in this field,

Everything in the world is broken.
Nothing but silence remains.

(Leave me here in this field,

The moonless horizon
is chewed up by bonfires.

(I’ve told you already to leave me
here in this field,


Dead he was left in the street,
with a dagger in his chest.
Nobody knew who he was.
How the lamppost was shaking!
How that little lamppost shook
in the street!
In the dead of night. Nobody
was able to glance wide-eyed
out into the harsh night air.
And he was left dead in the street,
and with a dagger in his chest,
and nobody knew who he was.
some of the poems are lazily translated, unfortunately, so i can’t say that all of his poems demonstrate the art of delicacy. these two do though. i remembered this one about the lamp post from when i’d read the collection before. i’m not sure if i’m meant to take the lamppost’s shaking literally, if the shaking is a sort of personification, or if the shaking lamppost is representative of something else altogether. i haven’t a clue. you? my instinct is to personify the lamppost, because that’s what i would do in a poem.

AY! is a particularly good example of what you described here:

…I can only think of Lorca's poetry at this point, just because this form is so easy to go Hallmark and bla. It is a very delicate balance to write delicate things and not come across as hoaky.

i can imagine how this would have appeared on a card, a “been thinking about you” or “sorry i missed your birthday” or something like that. i thought today about possibly tying my hand and breaking the balance to see just how far i have to AY! in order to make it truly hallmark-able. i might have a go at it tomorrow (stupid hotel, getting busy on the weekend!). oh and i can’t wait to see those sketches (i can wait, but i’m really looking forward to seeing them.)

as for your dalida, you didn’t go too far at all, it was all very interesting and exciting. the poor poor woman though!! heavens, three husbands(or just partners?) had killed themselves and she tried to follow every one? how sad she must have been. i can’t imagine it. it’ll be great to hear her, but like i said, i want you to be able to introduce us.

as for the color thing.. i figured it out!! there’s a “compose” field and an “edit html” field. i’d been composing my posts in the html one, trying to be all clever and type in the codes and things, when there’s a part of blogger that does it for you J i can be quite silly at times. so just never mind me!

and now for something completely different: the pencil test.

i haven’t given it an official name, but “the pencil test” sounds pretty good. since you said that you compose your poems on paper with pencil, i decided to have a proper go at the same. (i usually compose on pc (the hotel science series was composed entirely on the seat of my pants in the blogger composition field), but i am comfortable enough with paper, and though i usually use pen, i enjoy the texture of a pencil.) i started on the 18th and have so far only come up with one poem that i am pleased with (there’s a lot of scribbling, swirling and complaining going on), though i am going to continue this for another week or so, who knows, i might get back into the habit. the attached doc is a photo i took of the poem called “goodnight” and i’ll type it up for you here so you don’t have to strain your vision with my poor tech skillz.

the weight of his body
rests on my breasts and belly
through the blue duvet.
i keep my eyes locked open
to see if he opens his.
once i know, i shut mine too.

he rolls off, over, all the way
and flicks the switch
that sets his alarm.
i turn onto my side, reach,
and do the same; double checking
the set time and calculating
how many hours of sleep
that is and that isn’t.

i settle into my pillow,
my legs curled almost up to my chest
waiting for him to realign them.
his warmth enveloping me,
pulling me deeper into his lap
and i fall asleep with his steady breath
gracing my haunches.
that’s the way i wrote it first time around, no edits (other than what’s on the page itself (the tense in the first strophe and the change in line breaks in the third one). might edit it here and there, not sure about “haunches” and some of the punctuation. so that’s my experiment at the moment. i might break out the type writer again just to have a go at it. what are type writers like in the winter? i think i’ve only ever used him in the hot summer months (he particularly fond of decks). poetry is fun J

thank you for the inspiration, for writing in pencil again.

i hope you’ve had a good day and a good weekend and are well and joyful. have you read any rohrer yet? i’m anxious to know what you think!