magnolia buds

lost 18: magnolia buds
ten minutes, just ten minutes, magnolia. you’re carrying a big stick more than mere; what we want is a sky deep as heaven pale as memory with the watermelon scent of mown grass feeling a little underdressed in its own office. denmark and canada may share hans island while back at the ranch, this poem (so crazy, no wonder you’ve been bitten by a zoo penguin; the day overweight in a three-piece suit huffing and puffing, the moon a big bad wolf shining through the windshield with a big bite out of it; play zach zero, or south park, technoman’s revenge) makes too much sense. magic magnolias newt, getting everywhere fast. there’s no moon. never mind we’re lucky, dark uncontrolled vegetation’s abandonment of orphans, annoyance of mobile phones. fungus-ed two ways, one munching only on polyurethane the other on styrofoam burgers,  so as soon as they’re cooked on one side, pete, please turn the patties over – children hold up drawings of their dream homes: four walls, a roof, sometimes a chimney, steps to the front door days spent stepping over quartered and flayed corpses. hell yes, ah’m the one who owns that quarter kg of cocaine in mah l’il magnolia’s purse. gaberlunzie gardyloo! gastromancy, gazump gobemouche hell’s angels, here’s m’badge, jes mah own l’il effort ta help the tourist trade she says simultaneously teaching a course called “stuff” and another on telling fortunes from the rumblings of the stomach. the fluffy duck just sits there, without too much heart, a fluck.

(Thank you, Grant D. Savage, for the glorious shahai above this piece)

A poem by James Langer, from the same issue of Ireland’s Southword that featured other Canadian poets such as Richard Greene (see yesterday’s ynkings) via Riddle Fence magazine. All three poems by James Langer, especially Home Suite, are so strong, it was hard to choose just one. Read the others at


Snow eddied, amassed, erased the trails,
and all the instruments failed.

The robot eye of a flashlight bulb
faded to a burnt out retina and blinked out.

In the absence of heat, I struck
the flat of a fire-stick, and sparks

flocked to dry tinder and cloth
like lucent moths.

On the great lake of dark, I was afloat
in a skiff the size of my campfire’s glow.

With no food left, I hung the dog on a spit,
pissed in a pot, and boiled my boots.

And with no dog left, I slept
spooned with the helve and head of an axe.

Then stirred by illumination, not
the back and forth sway of a searchlight,

but the blue cascade from a television set.
Traffic outside. The baseboard heaters ticked,

and all my clocks flashed twelve.

Grant Savage has been writing a new series of lyric poems. I was excited to read  this and be given permission to put it on ynklings today1

Juxtapositions VIII

The Blues

That blue you stole
from another poet

that bleeding from Rothko’s sea
in darkness

the curse that brought
blue couch and thieves bent

under that weight
back into Seymour’s shabat afternoons

its deep blue sea
rather than the devil’s

now if i’d stolen that …
and i have

ridden the light
of morphos

my eyes on their flash
the dappled dark

the sun-splashed canopy
the flown to the beyond … rainforests

of latin america
is it condor

or harpy that gives
the lift and deadly

talons to these lines
doves and violets of venus

or fine ladies and their hawks
the blues of male merlins

their side-saddle blue blood mistresses
bumbles bees too half dangling

drunk with the cold … last new england asters
a mere groundhog

i bury my face in those seas
the Fall’s last ray-flowers

a mere groundhog … yes
but i have dreamt

of us earthpigs flying
noise like V-1s

raining down on London

a mere-groundhog … yes
i wallow in marion blue grass

eat among the blu
and the greyes hairstreaks

was once the rampant mount
of women

who would otherwise
ride eagles

and eyes pulsing

lashes lashes
black … and fluttering

the flash the blue
of morpho wings

grey hairstreaks blues*types of butterflies
Grant D. Savage.

Luminita Suse, Pearl Pirie and Bryan Cook have been kind enough to let me include their email back-and-forthing on poetry: 

Luminita: It is simplistic to say that the poem is a handshake between head, heart and language. Why language? What about visual and sound poetry? Poems are performed, sung, drawn, gesticulated, mimicked etc. What have all these in common? I see poetry in paintings, sculptures, graffiti. So, I’d say poetry is a handshake between intellect, emotion and some form of expression. The poet has the power to decide the objectivity extent, the passion dosage, and the intended impact on the audience. Balance in poetry is what scientists expect. By the way, isn’t the chemical imbalance in the brain a possible definition for emotions? Imbalance, asymmetry, instability tend to accumulate around singularities, oddities, exceptional moments and aspects that generate the most profound impressions. I have an open eye for these unique aspects.
What if the poem exists outside our awareness? Omnipresent and desperate for attention, striking or commanding to be written. Taking different forms of expression and bearing different messages depending on each one’s insight and vision. Two or more poets will create distinct poems given the same theme. Two or more people will understand the same poem differently. What is poetry if not an attempt to use some form of expression to give new definitions to what constitutes our tangible part of the world, an effort to paraphrase our slice of reality? Drawn from the world and given back to the world. From the muse AND for the muse. This is my point of view.
Pearl: Glickman has a short piece on poetry on her site where she talks about poetry as something that is developing towards something rather than something composed from inspiration, reading, experience, reaction, etc….
It sounds similar to what Barry Dempster was saying in his workshop last year — that poemness is achieved once you have an even weight of the poem among head, heart and language. Those are the 3 dimensions you need for the structure. If it is too clever, or too sentimental or too much in the head, or all the linguistic techniques but no content, it fails.

Pearl: on more or less the same topic, from another of her Pesbo journals: Any communication can be made more densely packed or easygoing conversation or messed with to highlight out some aspect, sound or omissions or collecting repetitions, or making an emotive oratory arguments.
Poems don’t have to make sense but making ideas is sweet. One life to live so calling it in with an utterance that could be something special but ends up bland is kind of a waste of life. Because you can do anything, that doesn’t mean everything is equal.
No point has a prescribed destiny. If any direction is possible, how do you choose?
Communicating in an open loop is more interesting than a closed loops among internalized self. Writing is a dialogue. Reading a great deal helps so you know what other people typically gravitate to. A reader or group of readers or editor all can help tease out what is more standard and what is more unique or well-wrought.
Luminita: Forcing the poem into expression may lead to failure and disappointment. Bending the will of a poem into being a popular creature may trigger a rebellion. Some poet’s hope to become famous and rich. Some just feel better by offering it to the world. What constitutes a wonderful poem for me, may mean nothing to you. Letting the poem write one’s mind or heart may not be acceptable for the one that twists the language to hide oneself true nature. There are way too many aspects to take into consideration, when in fact no one has a clear definition to what constitutes poetry or a good poem. It would be science, not art, if one did. (Luminita adds this poem…)

Let Me Make This Perfectly Clear
by Gwendolyn MacEwen

I have never written anything because it is a Poem.
This is a mistake you always make about me,

I have never written anything because it is a Poem.
This is a mistake you always make about me,
A dangerous mistake. I promise you
I am not writing this because it is a Poem.

You actually think I care if this
Poem gets off the ground or not. Well
I don’t care if this poem gets off the ground or not
And neither should you.
All I have every cared about
And all you should ever care about
Is what happens when you lift your eyes from this page.

Do not think for one minute it is the Poem that matters.
Is is not the Poem that matters.
You can shove the Poem.
What matters is what is out there in the large dark
and in the long light,

Bryan Cook: I discovered the Tree Seed Workshops, the best of which taught me new poetical forms to experiment with and give me some structure: slam, triptych, sonnet, haiku etc. I found this discipline good for me because it made me stop and think about what I was writing. They slowed me down to be more reflective, to breathe.
…So my poetry reflects an ongoing journey of self rediscovery in my heart, soul and daily living. I cannot write in abstract about things outside of my experience. For me, all poetry has to make sense in these contexts…I have to feel something from the writer…. otherwise I cannot relate to it.
…Here’s another thought: a poem is much like a theorem that proves the poet’s point of view, his/her take on a subject. In mathematics, a special attention is given to singularities or points of extremum. In depth proofs are built around singularities in math branches such as calculus, optimization, game theory, geometry, differential equations, operational research, the theory of disasters, if not all.

…there is art in math and science in poetry… The interdisciplinary approach makes more sense than separating them.

Thank you so much Luminita, Bryan, and Pearl for sharing these thoughts. They are rich in ideas and conviction; ynklings is fortunate to have been given pernission to use parts of that longer conversation.