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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tide, Time and Poetry

Like all humans, I contain several tablespoons of salt. It is a ratio I share with my weight in seawater because both are made of things found on earth. Earth, in turn, was assembled by electric and gravitational attractions that various compounds in outer space exerted upon one another. Throughout these compilations there remain attachments to forces shifting among the stars. Like sound aimed at a microphone-element they stir the oceans and make them speak. We hear it on the shore when currents collide into waves. We hear it when wind scrapes treetops. We hear it in our brains when we are very sleepy.

No wait, that's the fridge or the toilet running. Ok, I'm back, now it's our brains. Here is a little poem about that:

The ocean is always
In you and in me,
Where gravity dreams,
Fictitious forces swirl,
Marmoreal seams pitch
Into air.
What is too far
And ancient to see
Can at least be
Heard there.

Let's see what rolls out of the waves, shall we?

Certainly technology-heavy genres have their distances and drawbacks. Heavy Metal and Rap always sounded like rhythmic tantrums to me --a parent shouting its wit's short end, a child stomping off, the heart beating over one's foetal head. When the beat stops I expect to hear: NOW GO TO YOUR ROOM!! or It's a Girl, a Boy! a bottle opening or door slamming. But that too is part of the poetry of our time, the rhythm of waves. We ignore it at our peril. I've never been an avid e.e. cummings fan either, but discovering "i sing of Olaf" at a crucial time impelled me to leave no authority unexamined and saved my life.

Next wave: In 1968, I drove a hop truck in the late summer harvest. When possible, I'd stop for lunch at Flora's place. She had a poster there of a Robert Frost quote, "Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee, and I'll forgive Thy great big one on me." Flora was a retired school teacher who knew poetry and I was a hick who needed to know more. Reciprocity, especially in forgiveness, opens poetry and working hops without it was just hot and hard. I kept learning and prospered.

I could go on anecdotally, for a long time, with stories of how poetry redirected me in positive ways, but these two successive waves suffice to show me I'm thinking about it. Thought is very random enterprise, like the vast universe that sets it up and sends sunlight to fuel it. It generates the safeguard of common sense that makes us quit beaches that have rappers and hop trucks washing up on them. It also furnishes an ocean in our heads, portable oceans, which cuts down driving considerably. I am reminded of the old Masefield poem, which I learned over a half-century ago but can still recite from memory:

"I must go down to the sea again, to the Coney Island sand,
And all I ask is a traffic jam backed up to Disneyland..."

John Masefield, as you know, was a writer for Mad Magazine who became the British Poet-Laureate.

I am still a hick.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Word List #13

[Norma photo]
It is a lovely, rainy afternoon, perfect for reflecting upon those words that make us raise one eyebrow, make us think and remember. Along the creek, where I was when rain began, each drop produced a little ringing noise on the water. Then, as drops got bigger, they became French and made deeper, more substantial pluies. I know there is a Norma-photo of a daffodil up there but let's first examine this bit of onomatopoeia.


La pluie désigne généralement une précipitation d'eau à l'état liquide tombant de nuages vers le sol. Well, you know that. What I have always found enchanting is the French word for rain, pluie. It's so much more fun to run indoors after a long dry spell and shout, "There's plooey out there!" If you remain in the rain as it pours in earnest you find pluies compound to roars, and that's when language gets fun and aerobic and soaks your head. I admire the French; they must have so much fun just saying things.


Since learning I share 33% of my genetic code with daffodils I consider them relatives. Norma's photo shows a brilliant specimen asserting itself in gravel. Daffodils are strong and beautiful and I am proud to be related to them. They make me happy but they have enemies: aphids, bulb-flies, scale-mites, nematodes, snails, slugs and thrips! Still, they seem to live as long whether one assaults these irritants with pesticides or not --that is strength and artistic restraint. My human relatives host a greater catalogue of vermin than daffodils but that is just showing off. Do I throw them out for the odd tick, flea or genital rodent? Yes, to my credit, I do.


Presbycusis is the loss of ability to hear high frequencies as one ages. It begins in early adulthood, but does not usually interfere with ability to understand conversation until much later.

Thought I'd tell you about my vision checkup yesterday. No change this year, just like last year and 5 years before that. Dr. Green and I see each other around --his kids and my grandson attend the same school. He was standing with me, at his receptionist's counter after my examination, as she scheduled my next appointment. With her head turned away from me toward her computer, she asked, "Did the doctor violate you?"

I was taken aback and said, "Pardon me?"

At which point Green says, "Yes, I did." Then hurried off to the examination rooms to see other patients.

Receptionist bent down, opened a drawer and said, "Well, since the doctor violated you, you'll need these to go outside."

She came up with a pair of spectacles made of tagboard and dark plastic.

When I got home, I had Norma say the words "violated" and "dilated" with her back to me. Sure enough, I've been reading lips without even knowing it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ten Things You Should Always Buy In Bulk

I have decided to experiment with self-indulgent composition. I had not intended to write anything today but got left home alone (!). I am all grown up so it doesn't bother me much. I have a routine for dealing with it but after whimpering at the window a while and chewing a hole in the couch I had pretty much exhausted it. Sawed firewood yesterday and did errands this morning. Turned on computer. Looked at blog. Nobody else looked at blog. Hence experiment.

Checked most viewed post, "Ὅμηρος", and it had a grandson picture, the kid that points at everything. Found a recent one of him sitting on a rustic chair, one carved by an arborist who took down a eucalyptus that misbehaved here. I'll use that.

Among essays I had most fun with is one I wrote years ago called "Presque Vu". Presque vu is a French term for having a word or name on the tip of your tongue but being unable to remember it. Nobody commented on that essay. Beyond the fact that presque vu is not mentioned in its text, I figure the title is faulty and untrendy. So I looked at what Yahoo News is getting traffic on and decided to repost the essay under that. Presque Vu is now "Ten Things You Should Always Buy In Bulk". Now to retrieve the text:

Deja Vu and Jamais Vu are words brought to us originally by cultural anthropologists who ventured into into places like darkest England to study temporal lore of tribes frequenting Ley Lines and menhirs like Stonehenge, then, for reasons unknown but on the tips of their tongues, report back exclusively in French. Their data is then seized by psychologists, who are seized in turn by physicists and astronomers, drugged, danced to exhaustion and a new tribe is formed.

Between the Big Bang and Big Crunch the universe goes thru cycles of expansion and contraction. During expansion, we remember a real past attending a variable and unseeable future. In contraction, because time is reversed, we remember a virtual past which, contrary to the entropic arrow of time, hasn't really happened yet. We perceive it as a normal, causal unfolding but accompanied by a crunchy noise and it just looks crinkly.

We don't remember the future in this direction either --backward from its beginning at the end of universal expansion-- for two reasons. Light is traveling backwards, out of our eyes and assembling all observables. Second reason is nobody liked the future very much and forgot it.

Because universe doesn't expand or contract quite evenly --less like a star-studded balloon than other stuff I shouldn't have machine-washed-- Bang and Crunch can coincide. Neither is time uniform --uniforms are dry-clean only. Time can constrict on an expanding field, which is how an acrylic sock can melt your turtleneck head hole shut in the dryer--creating an irreducible singularity. Thus do time and anti-time collide in brains and make deja vu.

Because the cycles throw us together from opposing ends of time, we get glimpses of ourselves coming back. Effect is more or less pronounced by what cycle predominates locally. My last planetarium visit suggests we are on spin. This also accounts for the disorienting experience of Jamais Vu.

Jamais Vu is the opposite of Deja Vu and consists of waking up in your pajamas --Jamais=French for jammies-- without knowing where or why. Sometimes Jamais Vu is inaccurately applied to waking up naked and painted jammy-like colors in the middle of a jungle with no clue where you are or how it happened. This is not Jamais Vu. It means you are a cultural anthropologist.

Now let's see if this works or not. Either way, I've used my time well and refrained from scooting around on the rug. The real question here is whether or not I have devised a solution to the enigma of Presque Vu's public neglect. Have I arrived at a whole truth or cobbled two half-truths together into something that smells like one? Time will tell. But now I hear Norma and her luncheon ladies pulling into the driveway and ought to run out all frisky and make muddy paw prints on their knees. Excuse me.

Friday, March 23, 2012


[Norma photo]
Meta means beyond. Language means language. In philosophy, one learns metalanguage is a language in which a theory about language is formulated. It is a syntax apart. This sounds impenetrably enigmatic because it is supposed to. One asks what it all means. Good question --and to its provocation the whole of metalanguage is devoted-- which is easily answered. Human language emerged as a metalinguistic response to nature, the language of the universe.

In the language of nature we are nouns. However, we are also processes, nouns who insist upon doing and being, so we are verbs as well as nouns. We are gerunds. I don't mean we should describe ourselves as humans humaning, that would just be silly. It's more like the French gerund which refers to adverbial and objective participles. French gerunds are sometimes confused with Girondins, which is phonetically forgivable.

Girondins were salon-lizards, a part of speech somewhere between being and doing. They were political theorists and pundits who proposed suspension of the king --Louis XVI as it turned out-- but were afterward disappointed with the result and became conservatives in the new government. What happened to conservatives? Did they become verbs of doing or being?

In America, they became Republicans who, for a long time both dood and beed. But lately, the party was coopted by neoconservatives who returned to the salon and barricaded it. Yesterday my friend and grammar teacher since 1965, Willie, sent me a real good article by Nicholas D. Kristof about a book by Jonathan Haidt called,"The Righteous Mind". This article,"Politics, Odors And Soap", says anything that makes us think of disgust or cleanliness also affects our politics. It "pushes our sanctity buttons and makes us more conservative."

Tests and researches discussed in this article suggest an old disparity. Understandably, modern Republicanism --with its new emphasis on intolerance and unregulated greed-- attracts a following of people who are mentally and emotionally involuted, who fear all social elasticity threatens their survival. Whether there's any chance they'll grow up, I don't know, but right now they're not ready for the sorts of thoughts that come to people who stop for them.

So what part of speech does that make one? How does one parse out and diagram the political spectrum so it composes a complete thought? Over this article is a photo containing a specimen of natural language. He is reading today's newspaper which is full of political language. What is it doing to him? I'm not a mind reader but would guess it has not disqualified him as an articulation of nature. Nature is the language of the universe and it speaks through us too --even if we don't always like what it's saying.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Truisms And Falsisms

[official portrait of Geo. Washington]

Truisms (of which falsisms are the opposite and that's as far as I shall define them) are self-evident claims, things so obvious as to be hardly worth mentioning. Yet we do mention them, often. Why is that? Partly, they are repeated in rebuttal to falsisms like, Americans are goofballs to be exploited for the gains of their betters. To which, historically, America replied: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The capitalizations are not mine; they are fixed in the Declaration of Independence as invocation of Natural Law.

Natural law is a set of obligations and principles obtained by reason from an examination of the universe. It is expressed in the language of nature, so even goofballs understand it. It adapts to human time and tide by poetic justice. Here is an example: In 1776, the British opposition to American independence garrisoned Hessian troops in the town of Trenton, NJ. Geo. Washington routed them by crossing the Delaware and wiping out their rear. This week, the town of Trenton decided to save money by discontinuing toilet paper in its capitol lavatories. Natural Law and human history exist independently but frequently visit.

Winston Churchill, who represented all elements of this essay by being British, a proponent of independence, a Natural force and an important figure in history, once said, "History is written by the Victors." Let us examine this statement. Aurelius Victor recorded a history of Caesars from Julius to Constantine. Victor Keats is esteemed as a prominent chess historian. Francis Fuller Victor compiled an important history of the American Northwest. So it seems, even if the odd Champollion or couple of Durants share some credit (as it is both a truism and falsism that the exception proves the rule), the Victors were certainly very busy.

We can't precisely categorize Churchill's remark as a truism or falsism because historians are hard to keep track of in the best of times. Certainly he had a lot to do but, as any UFO historian will tell you, Churchill had an unusual distraction. In nearly every outdoor photograph he was hectored by a large cigar-shaped object. No expert opinion exists regarding its world of origin or appearance on this one, but it seemed to recover from all attempts to incinerate it --which defies natural laws and proves by exception all this essay's points.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Brief Psychological Profile Of Anonymous

I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog that poetry is not generally read anymore, much less commented upon, but there seems to be one unexpected exception. Anonymous has been commenting frequently and multi-linguistically lately. I don't know why, nor do I know what Anonymous sees in poetry. I am puzzled. These are murky waters and I confess, I begin to wonder what use a man of reason may be amongst them. Here is a recent example from "Gardening With Geo.":

Monday, February 27, 2012
Where The Future Is
(Norma photos)
I will tell you
Where the future is.
I step beyond my
Shadow on the green
Back door to
Where she put a
Hat on him

And grandmothered dreams
Into memories.
The future roams our
Work in short steps
Under boughs and birds,
Seeing all, startled
At wind-eddies, awed
At assemblies of
Ants and daffodils.
I am paid in pebbles.

Posted by Geo. at 10:01 PM 4 comments:

Anonymous said...
You with DARLENE- PLO?
March 2, 2012 10:17 PM

Geo. said...
No, Anonymous, this is the blog about quantum horticulture. I believe you want the blog down the road.
March 3, 2012 7:10 AM

Anonymous said...
Новинка сезона - мазь для оргазма. Из инструкции: "...1 сантиметр пасты выдавить на ладонь и втирать в член до наступления оргазма...
Устали сидеть и флудить на форуме? Предлагаю сделать перерыв и подрочить!
Эротическая фотогалерея от Mr.Wobbly
March 9, 2012 7:42 PM

Geo. said...
Thank you, Anonymous, for reading my poem and offering such a creative, if confusing, use for pasta. Best of luck with "Mister Wobbly".
March 9, 2012 7:44 PM

Arguably, if it weren't for Anonymous my poetry would have little readership and, in some sense, the added traffic is welcome. Poetry can be a lonely business and its practitioners often feel very much surplus to today's requirements. Still, one tries to understand the sensibilities of one's audience --in this case, Anonymous.

Experience tells us the key to character lies as much in its contradictions as its consistencies. Anonymous wishes desperately to be known but not identified. Anonymous seeks poetry but leaves comments of questionable coherence. Despite the unfortunate reality that my poems are not very beautiful, Anonymous might simply seek beauty.

Anonymous might crave that glow, no matter how faint. We are all happier when something beautiful approves of us. But in the presence of beauty many of us can only marvel and gag. There is a stage of personal growth at which rejection, intellectual or emotional, by beauty can leave one's whole view of the world in ruins, so there is danger. There is fear.

I am left to conclude this is indeed what happened to Anonymous. At some point in his or her life, supreme beauty was encountered and Anonymous's mind was toppled by it; language was confounded and purposes, confused. Loathe as I am to admit it, Anonymous reads my poetry because a bad experience with great beauty has driven the poor creature to seek solace in the opposite extreme.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Eleven-Question Challenge

This blog is thematized by enigma, mystery. Lady Austan has issued a challenge. It requires I depart from my usual format and confine myself to reality. Enigmas occur at every level of consciousness, even those I am unused to, so I cannot ignore her request without risking my posture toward existence. Pretty much everything's a mystery to me. Let's explore this one.

Austan's questions:
1. Red or white?

Red, mainly. I can tolerate white wine with fowl and prefer it with some kinds of fish, but a good California Cabernet goes with everything else --except hamburgers, where you want Guinness Extra Stout, and Mexican where you want Corona, one of the world's most cheerful beers.

2. If you could meet one living person, who would you choose?

Uhura, from Star Trek, because I've had a crush on her since 1966. One of my son's work and hers coincide sometimes so he asked her to inscribe a photo for me. She did. Picture reveals my whole name, George, which I have hidden for many years under the deucedly clever and deceptive pseudonym, Geo., and she writes "love". I love her right back, but have never met her.

3. Who gave you your first kiss?

Probably one of my parents. But the first extrafamiliar kiss I recall was from my kindergarten friend, Donald, in 1955.

4. What are you most proud of?

Raising a family, supporting them with my labor, seeing them grow into peace-loving, good, productive people. I take a measureless pride in that.

5. You can be ruler of one country, which one?

Any country. My wife would not approve. I would be ruler only long enough to give the following, Edward VIII-esque, public announcement: I abdicate my throne for the woman I love. Boy I'd rather deliver that romantic line than rule anything.

6. What's the best clothing outfit you ever had?

My summer-issue Boy Scout uniform. It had shorts and the long stockings with leather-tabbed garters. In 1964 I was on a crowded sidewalk in NYC and bumped into two other pedestrians. A man in a pretty blouse and toreador stretch-pants, a nun in her habit, and I in my scout-duds all held each other from falling. He and I apologized and she said "Ah g'waaan." As enigmatically absurd moments go, I think "best clothing outfit" was shared three ways on that one.

7. You must pick having 6 children or 6 large dogs. Which do you take?

I didn't know I had a choice. I've raised 4 children and 2 dogs. At least that makes 6. They were all educated at Starfleet Academy, like Uhura.

8. Pie or cake?


9. What corny/sappy/uncool thing do you secretly love?

Without hesitation, this:
10. At what age did you start reading?

I don't know, I remember my parents talking about the president, Harry S. Truman, and thinking his name was Hairy Ass Truman. Then Eisenhower got elected and pretty soon I could read. I still like Ike and will always be grateful.

11. Who influenced you most in life?



I'm supposed to challenge readers to answer 11 new questions but can't think up any as good as the ones given me. So I'll pass them along.