Monday, January 31, 2011

The Protean Amoeba

starting in responses
to things all around
we congeal together
as a new amoeba
which someone calls "us"--
with parent-given identity
forming a nucleus.
but the elements,
the shaped bits--
those responses
are still there
forming and reforming
combining and recombining
until some shock
or some epiphany
gives us permission
to congeal anew
our own amoeba
our special chosen
self evolution
changing and shifting
within the landmarks
of those primal responses
which linger--preverbal--
forever within us

Friday, January 28, 2011

Protean Harajuku Barbie

i do now know
what to call
these different bits
coming together
combining and recombining.

i am different people
at different times
in different scenes.

it feels so true
that in my mind
i am protean. it a lie
to be so many?
or ultimate truth?

nicki minaj.
we see her---
but who is she?
onika maraj?
or cookie?
or harajuku barbie?
or roman?
or martha?
or rrrrrosa?
or niki teresa--the healer?
all of them?--
hmmm, yes,
i think so.

never being
always becoming
recombining the elements,
alter egos, personas...
whatever we call them.

"you are posessed!"
shouts the past.
but we are us,
true us,
in multiform wonder.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dionysus to the maiden Beroe

(from Nonnos' Dionysiaca XLII.396-406. it is a wierd, wonderful poem written about AD 500, and surviving in one unique MS copied in the 13th Century. W.H.D. Rouse has done this translation)

what worthy gifts
will Earthshker bring?
saltwater as bridegift?
sealskins, breathing
the filthy stink
of the deep?
do not accept them!
i will provide bacchants
to wait upon you
in your bridechamber,
satyrs for chamberlains.
accept my bridegift:
my grapevintages!
and if you desire
a wild spear also,
o daughter of Adonis:
i give you my Thyrsis
for your lance,
-away with Triden's tooth!
flee, my dear
from the ugly noise
of the neversilent sea!
flee the madness
of Poseidon's dangerous love!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Asuka's Three Arrows

as Soryu Langley
this hommelette
Japanese and German
bless'd by gods
with biting wit
and lithesome form
has seen the mirror
fused the fragments
and fled the forest.

now she stands
near green ocean
under blue sky
outside a cave
aglow with vitality.

just above
the mass of hair
red and tangl'd
Aphrodite's son
shoots three arrows:
one to Zeus
wellmuscled thunderer
one to Poseidon
wielder of Tridens
one to Hades
brooding in darkness.

as each is struck
they come, and see:
glancing eyes
glistening shoulders
swell of breast
curve of waist
mincing feet--
all of which
now may be
theirs to win
if they dare!

MeAsuka sigh--
arching back
smiling like him
who drew to near
in crafted form
the brilliant sun
losing his wings
falling to earth
in blazing ruin.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Edgar Allan Poe: The Cask of Amontillado

This past year, I have been reading some works that high school English class had all but ruined for me. Great Expectations is really a good book (sorry, Mrs. Sutphin, I'm sure you tried your best, but our minds were not fully formed and weighted down with ennui). And...Edgar Allan Poe! He just didn't take with me the first time, but the fact that Baudelaire translated him (in the 1840s!) has lead me back to try again. I picked up a complete tales & poems at Borders for $8, poured myself a half-mug of sherry, and settled down in my library.

The Cask of Amontillado got my attention right away. I'm sure we had to read this in school, it's a see-he's-cool-guy-if-he-writes-this story. The narrator tells us about a little thing he did 50 years ago (yawn), it's that he took his revenge on an adversary by walling him up alive in his basement. Now this story really spoke to me. No, not because I am an angel of vengeance with a long enemies list (I'm really not). It resonated psychologically with some of the things I have been thinking and blogging about. If you want a good analysis, then go here:
I am giving what I saw in this story, I make no claim to great literary interpretation.

The two characters, Montresor and Fortunato, interact throughout the story. When I first read it years ago, I sympathized with the narrator, Montresor. He has endured the wrong and taken action. But now I see them in a different light. Amontillado is a psychodrama, a duel between two competing aspects of a single personality. Montresor is the serious one, judgemental, religious, hierarchical minded, a calculating, humorless stay-at-home. In Freaks & Geeks terms, he is Lindsay Weir the mathlete. In Hongloumeng, he is Jia Baoyu the Confucian student who passed the National Examinations. Fortunato is the jester, curious, arrogant, spontaneous...lead by his emotions and his pride. Lindsay Weir the freak, Baoyu in the garden, on his way to becoming a wandering Taoist monk. Yes, I know I am stretching Poe's characterizations a bit, but these connections just jumped out at me. Montresor could not endure the Fortunato part of himself, so he buried it deep inside him. Will Lindsay repress her freak side to become a tool of the establishment? Would Baoyu have stayed to be a government functionary like his father? Montresor overcomes Fortunato and lives his adult life through (50 years) without him.

To live in this world we must somehow come to terms with it, and the world perfers the Montresors to the Fortunatos. My Fortunato side is an important part of my identity, yet day after day I must be the Montresor and suppress Fortunato. At least I have not walled him up in an inaccessable place. I write, draw, sing loudly to Lady Gaga (when I am alone in the car^^), visit my favorite tree, let my imagination flow freely (sometimes). But I do not float so far away that I cannot sit in my office becide the morgue and do my work.

So, thank you for a great story, Mr. Poe! (Even if I have twisted it somewhat...) I am sorry that it took me over 30 years to get back to you, and I look forward to reading more!

Monday, January 3, 2011


There have been three excellent coming of age TV series that were cancelled after one season: My So Called Life, Freaks & Geeks, and My Life As Liz. No--wait! Liz has been renewed for a second season. Now we will be able to find out what come after, like reading Remarque's The Road Back (or Marchwitza's Storm over the Ruhr) after All Quiet on the Western Front. But not like that show Jen Love Hewett was in after Party of Five.

In Freaks & Geeks, Lindsay Weir comes of age. The process begins when illusions are shattered, and ends with the quintessential Baby Boomer choice: establishment and conformity or fringe and freedom. This is displayed in our national discourse with great drama in the presidential election process. But let's not go there. Lindsay's version of the choice is between going to college to be a part of the top 1% or heading off in a van to follow the Grateful Dead tour. We all want to get in the van, but somehow conformity envelopes us.

Jia Baoyu, in the Hongloumeng, manages to choose both. He fulfils his obligation to his family by fathering a son and by passing the national examinations in such a way they he gains the attention of the Son of Heaven himself. But right after that, he vanishes in the 18th century Chinese equivalent of following the Grateful Dead: by becoming a wandering monk.

Can we choose both? Perhaps to do this is to fall between two stools, and we end up with neither. Or there other choices that we cannot see? Other mental and cultural spaces to be discovered and explored? As we get more and more wrap'd up in our electronic hibernaculum, will it even be possible to reach the fringe and find freedom?