Saturday, January 20, 2007

The slippery shape of a whip in mid-air

I've been thinking about whips today, well, mostly just now, and how they seem to signify something different from a knife or a gun in the hand of the action hero (Indiana Jones) or feline villainess (Catwoman, as opposed to all of the other feline villainesses). It connotes dominance, in more of an old world style, or just plain more badassitude, saying "the person carrying me doesn't need a weapon that would inflict a death wound, since he/she has enough mojo to do what needs to be done." Indiana Jones also used guns, I guess (maybe only on Nazis), but the whip is his signature weapon.

"Whipped," I'm also realizing today, has defined me and the ladiez in years past; I've tended to be either not emotionally engaged in my relationships, or totally ready to hand over whatever of myself can be given, which feels very romantic and also constricting and neatly unconducive to having my own, say, direction in life. I actually have one now, which is wonderful and weird, and it's funny how getting something like that gives you a purposeful stare, which, in turn, lets flower for you all of the stares of attraction that have been pointed at you all along.

Today, Columbia has this milky shimmer of a sky, and that kind of white, the kind connoting approaching snow, brings the white tints out of all the buildings, and makes the snow that fits in drifts into the cracks and corners of town look like pieces of that same sky waiting to be reclaimed by the next, really radiant day. The library computer lab holds the sneezes and keystrokes of students behind their computer table dividers, and for some reason that reminds me of the two squirrels I saw just outside of this building a couple of days ago, each sitting in a patch of dirt-plastered grass that it had dug through the snow, so it looked like a little spring melt radiated from each one, and their little coats the color of something between rust and the Flash's uniform were exuding that heat.

The students here definitely aren't squirrelly. Maybe it's that even the squirrels here carry that radiant bearing of studiousness. Have a radiant, unwhipped day.

Monday, January 15, 2007


I have something to confess to you. Please do NOT tell anyone. I got my krump on last night. I don't know if that's even the right grammatical context; I'm new to all things krump. But, after watching "Rize," this documentary of krump and clown dancing, with its amazing dancers turning into blurs of pistoning hips and swarming arms and the beat like a spine running from them, from the screen, to me, I looked at myself in the mirror, and tried it. And felt very white, but very good. But, really, please keep this between us.

This morning, when I woke up, that krump feeling remained, and it's one of starting to let go of whatever frost has been under my skin for a few years now, that's kept me numb even while zooming through fascinating adventures, with wonderful people, and seeming externally to connect with them. Even though the sun hasn't krumped over Columbia for a few days, sealed behind this solid layer of white, like a clown's face paint, there was a warmth in walking to campus, in the neon tubes of ice rinding the limbs of the spidery trees along the way, and the pull of the poesy I'm at this here computer to work on.

I'm realizing, as I hammer away at this long poem I've been working on for four years, started in the workshop of the formidably talented Judy Jordan, that I don't know how a long poem goes. So I've looked at a few of the more famous ones, Waste Land and Angel of History, mostly, and realized that long poems (well, all two that I've looked at so far) start short, small, not trumpeting or announcing themselves as such. They may start with long lines, but do so establishing context, to put you there in the scene.

Happy MLK day to you. And, if you don't tell anyone about me krumping, I won't tell anyone about yours.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


That's my name for what fell on Columbia last night, this pattery snow that nipped at my scalp as I hiked over its crust, frozen to foamboard, through the neighborhoods to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the glowing company of marvellous Mizzou poets. It ticked and whispered onto its own surface, and made a mystery in its merging there, since it wasn't feathery snow, but was too soft to ricochet off of the pavement like hail. Hence, snail. Maybe, in the course of this degree, I'll learn more beautiful ways to describe weather, and be able to apply for poet laureate at the Weather Channel. The fact that they don't have a position like that might be a problem, but they wouldn't have to pay me much. If they could make it sunny out, that would be payment enough. That's what the weather channel does, right? Or is that God?

This hint of winter has been sweet, though. This morning, the white of the snow and the sky seemed to make this mutual reflection, like each magnified the other's gleaming, and in between the pedestrians looked stark and bright like mobile trees, and the trees themselves, encased in ice, glistened like an inner light had finally found its way out. There's one tree a couple of streets from me, with dark berries, the color of the inside of a mouth, and the ice freezes in drops at the bottom of each, making them tiny, globular lanterns whose ultimate shining will be falling to grow into new trees.

In my snaildom, late at night, curled into my thoughts, I think of Buffy, how her lipstick never smears in the snapkicking of vampires, and how we viewers live out the love stories never quite reached by them on the screen, and sleep comes in, seems to come with the kicking on of the giant gas heater next to my futon, with its little window you can see the blue flame through, and it brings weird dreams these days--Jason Koo (cool poet and homey) giving me instructions on the keeping of a pet tiger; my dad (awesome guy and former flier of fighter planes) taking me up in a Harrier, the kind of plane that can hover, telling me not to be afraid; tons of other friends and loved ones in surreal montages. Maybe it's that last midnight snack that does it.

Rodney Jones has a great poem in Salvation Blues, his new and selected, about dreams in which he's playing basketball, among other things. I may be getting my poems confused, but I think it's "Common Law Cundalini," that starts with the sublime line "A sudden loving settles into your own weight." Since I generally try to live out the poems of Rodney Jones, I've been feeling that love lately, of being here. Since I try to live out his dreams, I was overjoyed to hit the court with some of the other doctoral students (or just "studs", for short), and hope to again soon.

This has been my long way of saying Happy New Year to you.