Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tribute #3: Obama

Allen Ginsberg, "Is About" (1996)

Dylan is about the Individual against the whole creation
Beethoven is about one man's fist in the lightning clouds
The Pope is about abortion & the spirits of the dead...
Television is about people sitting in their living room looking at their things
America is about being a big Country full of Cowboys Indians Jews Negroes & Americans
Orientals Chicanos Factories skyscrapers Niagara Falls Steel Mills radios homeless Conservatives, don't forget
Russia is about Czars Stalin Poetry Secret Police Communism barefoot in the snow
But that's not really Russia it's a concept
A concept is about how to look at the earth from the moon without ever getting there. The moon is about love & Werewolves, also Poe
Poe is about looking at the moon from the sun
or else the graveyard
Everything is about something if you're a thin movie producer chain-smoking muggles
The world is about overpopulation, Imperial invasions, Biocide Genocide, Fratricidal Wars, Starvation, Holocaust, mass injury & murder, high technology
Super science, atom Nuclear Neutron Hydrogen detritus, Radiation Compassion Buddha, Alchemy
Communication is about monopoly telivision radio movie newspaper spin on Earth, i.e. planetary censorship.
Universe is about Universe.
Allen Ginsberg is about confused mind writing down newspaper headlines from Mars--
The audience is about salvation, the listeners are aBOUT SEX, Spiritual gymnastics, nostalgia for the Steam Engine & Pony Express
Hitler Stalin Roosevelt & Churchill are about arithmetic & Quadrilateral equations, above all chemistry physics & chaos theory--
Who cares what it's all about?
I do! Edgar Allen Poe cares! Shelly cares! Beethoven & Dylan care.
Do you care? What are you about
or are you a human being with 10 fingers and two eyes?

This poem was published in the October 21/28, 1996 "election" double issue of THE NEW YORKER magazine. Everything published in this issue - reviews, cartoons, etc. - pertains in some way to American electoral politics, election rhetoric, etc. Ginsberg's poem, "Is About," is no exception.

Tribute #2: Obama Inauguration

What you need to know, if you go: Take Patience and Good Shoes .

New York Times, January 15, 2009

Everything you want to know links: Newsweek
The New York Times
Video: Barack's Personal Message

Tribute #1: Barack on Michelle

On May 26, 1996, Mariana Cook visited Barack and Michelle Obama in Hyde Park as part of a photography project on couples in America. What follows is excerpted from her interviews with them.

BARACK OBAMA: All my life, I have been stitching together a family, through stories or memories or friends or ideas. Michelle has had a very different background—very stable, two-parent family, mother at home, brother and dog, living in the same house all their lives. We represent two strands of family life in this country—the strand that is very stable and solid, and then the strand that is breaking out of the constraints of traditional families, travelling, separated, mobile. I think there was that strand in me of imagining what it would be like to have a stable, solid, secure family life.

Michelle is a tremendously strong person, and has a very strong sense of herself and who she is and where she comes from. But I also think in her eyes you can see a trace of vulnerability that most people don’t know, because when she’s walking through the world she is this tall, beautiful, confident woman. There is a part of her that is vulnerable and young and sometimes frightened, and I think seeing both of those things is what attracted me to her. And then what sustains our relationship is I’m extremely happy with her, and part of it has to do with the fact that she is at once completely familiar to me, so that I can be myself and she knows me very well and I trust her completely, but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. And there are times when we are lying in bed and I look over and sort of have a start. Because I realize here is this other person who is separate and different and has different memories and backgrounds and thoughts and feelings. It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person. ♦

Our comment: sigh.

: The New Yorker, January 19, 2009 Portfolio,
A Couple in Chicago,
by Mariana Cook

Friday, January 16, 2009


I'm Only Warning You

Beautiful feline words
expand and retract like snakes
in the complicity of their hiding places

Since you have chosen them
I simply write to warn you;
Nothing will be the same, you
will not be able to retrieve our words
that pierced the air in honest angles.
Bits and pieces may come within your grasp
and you may retrieve them, turn them
over and over, analyzing surfaces and perimeters.
But where you walk is soft as sponge
and shadows feel like home to you.

Don't cut your hands
on caresses of voluptuous velvet.

I'm only telling you: be careful. Each night
a sure claw sharpens itself
behind a pair of almond-yellow eyes
fascinating and implacable.

Daisy Zamora

"I once met the famous Nicaraguan poet Daisy Zamora. This was at the height of the Contra war. She was dressed in battle fatigues. We were in the gardens of an expropriated mansion in Managua, now the headquarters of the Sandinista Cultural Workers' Association. Perhaps you would like to translate some of my poetry sometime, Kent, she said, sipping the rum & Coke brought to her by a male maid, her black, lush hair cascading most dramatically under the cascading bougainvillaea. Perhaps I would, I said. Would you, Daisy, I said with a wink, translate some of mine. Perhaps, I will, she said. Let's first see, however, she said, if we can win this fucking war... Years have gone by, and the world is a very different place. Now Daisy Zamora is a regular at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. Dressed in fashionable versions of traditional vestments from her land, she intones her nostalgic verse to great crowds, who sit rapt and are moved to tears. And all the dead, whose blood so little time ago seemed so heroic and fresh, are by now virtually forgotten."

:Alan Gilbert
Different kinds of messages
The Poetry Foundation

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen

The gaps are the thing. The gaps are the spirit's one home, the altitudes and latitudes so dazzlingly spare and clean that the spirit can discover itself like a once-blind man unbound. The gaps are the clefts in the rock where you cower to see the back parts of God; they are the fissures between the mountains and cells the wind lances through, the narrowing fiords splitting the cliffs of mystery. Go into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish, too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock-more than a maple- a universe.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
, Annie Dillard

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Queen of Swords

Dreamlike and appearing to me
the queen of swords.
Her card is one of truth
My cards are wrapped,
boxed in wood
How has this message come to me
Years ago
I wanted to be the queen of wands,
fair, bestowing blessings
but I was her,
dark and ready to do battle.

K. Pilapovich

Queen of Swords

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

From A Survivor

The pact that we made was the ordinary pact
of men & women in those days

I don't know who we thought we were
that our personalities
could resist the failures of the race

Lucky or unlucky, we thought of ourselves
as special

Your body is as vivid to me
as it ever was: even more

since my feeling for it is clearer;
I know what it could and could not do

It is no longer
the body of a god
or anything with power over my life

Next year it would have been 20 years
and you are wastefully dead
who might have made the leap
we talked, too late, of making

which I live now
not as a leap
but a succession of brief, amazing

each one making possible the next

Adrienne Rich


Monday, January 12, 2009


nothing is original (how to achieve authentic theft) posted today by Stephanie at
even*cleveland. Visit there today for more.

even*cleveland via

"You will never untangle the circumstances that brought you to this moment."

La Tierra Giró para Acercarnos

The earth turned to bring us closer,
it spun on itself and within us,
and finally joined us together in this dream as written in the Symposium.
Nights passed by, snowfalls and solstices; time passed in minutes and millennia
An ox cart that was on its way to Nineveh arrived in Nebraska.
A rooster was singing some distance from the world, in one of the thousand
pre-lives of our fathers.
The earth was spinning with its music
carrying us on board;
it didn't stop turning a single moment
as if so much love, so much that's miraculous was only an adagio written long
ago in the Symposium's score.

The Trees
Selected Poems 1967-2004
Eugenio Montejo

*Leonard Cohen quoting from the Bhagavad Gita

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Writers Room

Dylan Thomas was a patron here.Other rooms to write in: NYC, other cities, or in your own: writers' rooms. "Built in 1880 and beginning life as a workingman and sailor's pub (lots of docks down there then) a wood-frame building looking pretty much as it always did--it is most famous for a period in the '50s and '60s when it was an bohemian (term used loosely) hangout. The first Dylan, Thomas, hung out there whenever in New York; on the night before he died, he had 18 drinks with dinner, went outside, collapsed and died a while later. On the anniversary of the event, the White Horse serves what was his last meal.

In the '60s, the other Dylan would go there to hear the Clancy Brothers sing. Lots of writers used to hang out there: Mailer, Bourjilay, Delmore Schwartz..."