Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

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Country Lights

March 25, 2010

Red dots
in the distance
shine brightly through
the dark night
then fade

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Carl Sandburg – Chicago

March 11, 2010

Chicago

by Carl Sandburg

via carl-sandburg.com

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
faces of women and children I have seen the marks
of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Bareheaded,
Shoveling,
Wrecking,
Planning,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

Tomorrow I will get on a plane, fly six hundred miles and land at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, which I have considered to be my second home for nearly two decades.

I could have probably gotten away with spending my Spring Break in Florida, or California, or Nashville, or somewhere else just a little warmer and more picturesque. I wouldn’t have gone to any of those places if someone payed me. I love Chicago and I love flying in from over it, looking at the lights that seem to extend on forever in one direction and cut off at Lake Michigan in another.

I think there is a lot of truth in this poem. Chicago is definitely wicked, crooked, brutal. It is often an ugly city; deteriorating structures, regular murders, corruption, pungent smells rising from the sewers. It is a flawed, extreme environment. But I think all that is part of what makes it truly alive, and in a way humanistic. I don’t think there is more of a realistic amalgamation of what life in the world is really about, with its beautiful sights, ugly blemishes and all.

I will stay for a night in the city proper, go to an Irish punk show on St. Patrick’s Day, and go to the Art Institute of Chicago to look at Monets and Renoirs the next day. I couldn’t be more excited.

This post will be cross-posted on my American Literature class’s blog, You Made Me Theorize.

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This Burns

March 9, 2010

This, This burns.

Ashes falling, embers licking

searching for fuel

This burns

and then it does not burn.

That, that is the difference.

Staring at city lights

little faraway people in windows

breathing

This punctuates cold, sterile air.

And they pass, some

Some ask for directions

others will go silently into the night

lovers holding hands

travelers with calloused feet

workers on the way back from

building tall towers

And This burns

for where those legs take them

And at This, I laugh

just a little bit

because it is so familiar

They tell me

This, too, shall pass

and I’m starting to wonder

if that’s true.

And This burns

bends, twists through air

Lightheaded

And when This burns out

it doesn’t really burn out

and when I climb the stairwell

and turn out the light

This still burns.

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This is Just to Say…

February 16, 2010

“This is Just to Say”
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

I read this poem and it really threw me for a loop. I know I’ve read it before in some English class somewhere, but I don’t remember any discussion about it. I’ve done a little research and a lot of people seem to view it as having some metaphorical meanings. About the relationship between the author of the note (most seem to think that the poem is written in the form of a note) and who it is supposed to be to, latent sexuality, selfishness, etc.

Maybe my personal interpretation stems from me really liking happy endings and optimistic interpretations of things. I think it’s beautiful and simple. I think it’s even a little romantic. The author knows the other person was probably saving the plums for breakfast, but they eat them anyway. I felt like it was sort of about the give and take of love, because the author feels comfortable enough taking the plums and knows that they will be forgiven, and means to show how much the plums really gave him pleasure.

…But that isn’t completely certain. They sort of issue a command, “Forgive me” as opposed to “I’m sorry.” And once again, the author knew that the other person was probably saving them for breakfast. A friend of mine thinks that the author is even rubbing in the selfish act at the end. “So sweet,” “so cold.” It’s a completely reasonable interpretation. It’s a selfish act. I guess you can look at that selfish act in many different ways.

And I think that is sort of what makes it such a neat little poem; it is ambiguous and can be interpreted in a lot of ways, despite the fact that it is so sparse and bare bones.

My aunt is taking a poetry writing class at Kansas University, and the class used this poem for an exercise. The students were asked to replace words in this poem with other words and to watch the meaning of the poem change. I think part of the reason for the exercise was to show how much every word in a poem counts.

I have taken
the records
that were on
the bookshelf

and which
you probably
wanted
yourself

Forgive me
they were important
so quiet
and so warm


Does anyone else want to try? Thoughts on “This is Just to Say”?

This post will be cross-posted on my American Literature class’s blog, You Made Me Theorize.

-ATB

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Stay Focused

January 27, 2010

As just sort a cosmetic comment, I really don’t like the way that wordpress auto-formats stuff. Maybe I just haven’t figured everything out yet- upon copying and pasting this work from a word document that it has added spaces between the lines. Which I don’t really like. Does anyone know how to fix this?

But relating more to the work at hand, this was the last fiction I wrote before I had a breakdown some time ago.

 

Stay Focused

by Alex TB

And then the fortune cookies come to the table, with the check

One, already cracked open.

“Stay focused; keeping to your goals will lead to success.”

Lucky numbers.

The other, absent.

A shrink wrapped packet of air.

Nothing, but it floats in my glass of water.

Thoughts of imported beer, primetime, a rave, the cat, the cubicle.

I was thinking about something else that seemed important, but I’ve forgotten already.

Denise fiddles with her fork in noodles with one hand while doing something on her phone with the other.

I tell a joke, but she doesn’t get it.

I begin to try to explain, but I stop in the middle of the sentence.

“Nevermind. It’s not really funny.”

A TV behind the bar silently shows static.

It’s late, but there are many people.

Chattering, passing plates, eating and drinking, laughing.

The sound levels out into a quiet drone.

I ask her,

“What do you want to do now?”

As I take out my wallet.

“I don’t care,”

she says, without looking up.

Jackson takes care of the bill and we walk.

Grant takes care of a little black dress.

Hamilton, a pack of reds

and Lincoln two scoops of ice cream,

one vanilla and one chocolate.

Below us, vents emitting warm air,

we stand in front of a wall of screens,

licking at the remainder of the cones.

It occurs to me, as I watch them, that I haven’t blinked in minutes

and I don’t feel the need to.

Little faces moving their mouths,

not making any noise.

Wheels spinning, smiling teeth

Fires, stock prices scrolling.

The colors blur together and I space out.

“Remember when George passed out in that alley?”

she says, giggling.

“No,” I say, in honesty.

“I don’t. When?”

“Oh, I don’t remember when. It was a while ago. I thought you would have remembered.”

I try to remember,

try to think back.

Alleys?

It sounds familiar.

I remember a circle of light.

Later, after I finish

she rolls over and falls asleep.

I thought that was my job.

I get out of bed

The room is cold.

I flick the light on in the bathroom and it hurts my eyes, unadjusted.

I open the medicine cabinet

then close it,

and my eyes meet my reflection’s.

We both look down, away.

Little numbers and letters.

I don’t know what they mean.

I pop it anyway and look at the reflection again.

He doesn’t look familiar.

I want to say, “you look different,”

but I know he’s thinking the same thing.

We laugh a little.

I feel like we have to.

I flick the light switch and he goes away.