Posts Tagged ‘Goldfish Rising’

Yippee!

May 29th, 2014

fireworksI was going to title this post “Yahoo!” but that might have been misinterpreted.  So much of our language has been commercially appropriated.  Eat more kale, says I.  Anyhow… I am pleased and proud and tickled and relieved to announce that the second volume of my poetic trilogy, which revisits Dante’s Il Purgatorio in much the same way that To Join the Lost revisited L’Inferno, has been accepted for publication by Fomite Press, a publishing house after my own heart.  Visit their site and you’ll see what I mean.  The “relieved” is because I took some risks with this one, and they seem to have paid off.  Both of the editors who have read it so far have liked it enough to want to print it.  Projected publication date is some time in the first half of 2015.  So… if you haven’t bought a copy of To Join the Lost yet, now would be a good time to do so, so that you can be all read up and prepared when Goldfish Rising (or whatever we decide to call it) hits the streets!  You can get your very own copy of TJTL here; if you ask, I’ll autograph it for you.

Down the Tube

March 31st, 2014

Queets_River_Douglas-FirSo… a little less than a week ago I finished my revisions to Goldfish Rising and sent the mansucript off to the publisher of the first volume of the series, To Join the Lost.  (Which, if you haven’t bought it, you should, in preparation for Goldfish Rising.  Not from Amazon.  From this site, or from this one.)  I am old enough to remember when that would have meant packing a neat stack of pages into a special box, wrapping it with bubble wrap and butcher’s paper, addressing it in permanent marker, and taking it to the post office for the ceremony of buying stamps and handing it over to the clerk and watching it disappear into the mysterious rooms in the back of the building or (with some detriment to the sense of occasion) get tossed into a big bin.  Now it was just a matter of clicking on a “send” button.  I am no luddite, but that is definitely less satisfying.  I clicked the button, stared at the screen, and let the inevitable feelings of emptiness and “what do I do now?” sink in.

What I do now, in the evenings at least, is not what I intend to be doing for much longer.  Someday in the not too distant future, the publisher I like to think of as “my” publisher will respond to my manuscript, I hope and expect with acceptance and, if so, also with a list of possibly as many as several hundred comments, questions, and recommendations for change, which will keep my evenings happily occupied for weeks or even months.  Right now, however, I’m at loose ends.  Used to be, for the past several years, most evenings after work would consist of making dinner, eating dinner, washing up after dinner, an hour or so of brisk walking, and then working on the book. Take the book out of the equation, add in weather that is not very conducive to walking outdoors, and you get some long hours to fill between dinner and bedtime.  So, being a good American, I watch TV.

I want to tell you about two shows I saw last night.  Channel surfing, I happened across the series Nature, and enjoyed an hour-long episode about recent research into the social life and behavioral characteristics of plants.  Anybody remember that movie Steve Wonder did the film score for back in 1979, The Secret Life of Plants?  It was about plants’ responsiveness to stimuli and was generally regarded at the time as highly woo-woo and far out there.  Well, apparently not so much.  Plants engage in highly specific forms of communication among themselves and with other classes of being, engage in foraging and aggressive behavior, exhibit aspects of self awareness, create social networks for mutual defense and assistance, and even, it appears, nurture their young in some cases.  What I particularly liked about the show was the careful description of the experimental and observational bases for the scientsts’ conclusions.  We got images of scientists washing the dirt off seedlings’ roots and looking at pictures of rootlets in action and holding geiger counters to baby douglas firs.  Not only did we get to hear what the scientists thought they were learning, but what led them to think so.

After that I watched Cosmos, the remake of an old Carl Sagan miniseries.  Very flashy visuals, lots of special effects, and constant reminders to the audience of how “incredible!” it all is.  It was very unsatisfying.  I am sure that Neil deGrasse Tyson, the genial and soft-spoken physicist who hosts the extravaganza, did not intend it this way, but the only real compelling element of the series is his evocation of his own personal relationship with Sagan, who was something of a mentor to Tyson and started him on his scientific career.  Oh, and Tyson’s occasional slaps at fundamentalist religious dogma, such as that the universe is 7000 years old, are amusing if disheartening when one realizes that in America in 2014 this is rather daring.  Other than that, it is all “gee whiz! look at this!” and incoherence.

The real difference between Cosmos and the Nature program, I decided, is that Nature told us as much about the process of arriving at a new perception, as it did about the new perception itself.  Cosmos presents us with a jumbled bunch of Revealed Truths.  At the end, I found myself thinking about what I had seen on Nature, and finding my worldview subverted and transformed by it.  Plants and the forest are not what I had thought they were, but they are much more like what I had dreamed and suspected.  I have not thought much about what Cosmos presented to me, at least not substantively, because Cosmos did not give me much substance to work with.  Again, I am sure Tyson did not intend it this way, but it is the difference between science reporting and scientism; between new perceptions of the world, on the one hand, and something that can take the place formerly occupied by Holy Writ, on the other.

Unsurpisingly, Nature is brought to you by PBS, and Cosmos by Fox and the Koch brothers.  The one show teaches us something about science, how it works and what it’s like to do it and what kind of humble but startling understandings it leads us to.  The other teaches us a new wowie zowie mythology suitable for use by workers and consumers in a technologically sophisticated oligarchy.

 

In Praise of Water Purification

June 13th, 2013

I hesitated to share this poem, because I’m unsure how good I think it is, as a poem, but I think it might at least be an interesting expression of some thoughts I’ve had.  It is one of the many fruits of the years I’ve spent pondering something my mother said one Thanksgiving: “It didn’t begin with me and it doesn’t end with me.”  In some sense this seemingly obvious observation has become central to my outlook.  One aspect of these reflections is captured in To Join the Lost, where the essence of hell is belief in the opposite proposition.  Goldfish Rising, the next volume in the trilogy, will carry the thought forward.  Geniuses tell us things that look simple but contain the world.  My mom was like that.  But this isn’t a poem about my mom.  It’s more about dads:

Yesterday, while scrubbing the sink to a

depthless, flawless white the chrome tap

hung across like a space vehicle (that’s

the kind of thing I think about while

scrubbing sinks) it struck me: my death,

if my son holds for me what I held

for my dad, will rip the poor kid a

hole in his guts, the same as my dad’s

ripped for me; and this is the cost the

love that I want now for us imposes.

Would it be better not to be beloved,

than to inflict that daily absence?

Then (this being the kind of thing

I think about while scrubbing sinks)

I saw, in the dimensioneless whiteness

above which swam the tap, the hole that

runs through my son’s life connected

to the hole that runs through mine,

and that ran through my father’s life,

and that pierced (I believe) the core of

his father’s before him, all the way

back to… when?  To some miserable

bastard, lost in heartlessness, whose son

greeted his last departure as merely

or less than just another sunset?  Could

indifference cap such a pipe-line?  Then

I thought of what might flow through such a

conduit, what umbilical nourishment

besides what filth and waste, and I knew,

it does not begin or end with me.

 

Blowfly

March 1st, 2013

It’s always a mistake to get too attached to anything one is writing; a mistake similar to that of naming farm animals.  Just as it might be difficult to turn Miss Lulu into hams and bacon, it might be difficult when that couplet you fell in love with meets the knife of revision.  Nevertheless, sometimes the music and rhythm come together and I can’t help a certain fondness overcoming me.  I’m closing in on the end of Canto XXXII of Volume Two – only one more canto to go! the bottle of champagne is already in the fridge – and I am quite taken with these two lines describing the activity of blowflies on a corpse:

Finding refreshment in fluids exuded from

broken-down cells, they busily scrimmage for space.

Say it five times out loud and you’ll see what I mean.