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    at betty's


    the comforter

    fear the turtle


    hymn 236

    letting go

    unless and until

    william at forty


    curling (lekshe)

    footnotes (dale)

    hotel (patry)

    leturn (shai)

    morning drive (tom)

    st. luke's (steve)

    thank you (sage)



    they move


    amazon, amazon!



    my kite


    the story of my birth

    wings, boats, asses


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closer to the truth

[freshman comp]St. Paul distinguishes between an ignorant sin and a willful sin.  If you sin willfully, of course, you’re in more danger.

Even if I become blind
but I can see you

I use something like this distinction when my students question the need to learn syntax.  You can break the rules ignorantly or willfully, I respond.  If you break them willfully, you’re more dangerous.

Even if I become deaf
but I can hear your voice

“The more you are aware of the syntax you move, see, and write in, the better control you have and the more you can step out of it when you need to.  Actually, by breaking open syntax, you often get closer to the truth of what you need to say.” – Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

But it’s hard for most of my ninth graders to break the rules well.

I can walk to you without feet

Diane broke the rules well, and she did it ignorantly, so she broke my rule well, too.  She was an ESL student.  Diana submitted this poem two years ago for our class’s print-on-demand anthology.  When someone pointed out to her that her poem’s grammar or syntax or what-have-you wasn’t right, she asked me to remove the poem from the anthology’s proof.  I somehow persuaded her to let me publish it.

I can say your name without mouth

These lines bristle with muscle from tearing the syntactical fiber, something she practiced every day.  In that way, learning English for her may have been like strength training.  So in each couplet, the first line hits me coming, and the second line hits me coming.

Even if my arms break
but I will catch you

I will catch you by heart like hands

I’ve lost touch with Diane.  I republish her poem here only as a means of critiquing it.  I don’t want to violate her copyright.  All of these paragraphs lie between her stanzas.

What power can sometimes come from forcing one language through another, from having to live that kind of violence.  Or how much we learn about diction and syntax from living around a toddler learning to talk.

I guess Diane will lose some of her muscle as she gets older, if muscle is the body’s way of recovering from training’s trauma.  But maybe she’ll develop a curveball and a slider to complement her heat.

Even if my heart stops
then my brain will sing for you

But how could you go back?  I just read The Catcher in the Rye.  I loved it.  How did he do that?  What kind of life did he lead to write that?

Even if my brain burns out,
then my blood will hug you

my lady.

What is it about the best writing from children?  It feels like mankind’s purity, like ethnic cleansing, like children’s armies to draw lessons from it for the betterment of adult writers.  Our ideas of becoming as children tend to exploit children and adults.

Better to live in the poem, as I’d live in a house of any age.


Posted March 13, 2010. 





short & slow



Box Elder
The Cassandra Pages
Clumps and Voids
Coyote Mercury
Crack Skull Bob
Creature of the Shade
Couch Trip
Dialogues with Silence
Dick Jones's Patteran Pages
Every Day and Every Night

Everything Feeds Process

Feathers of Hope
Fifty-Two: Weekly Poems
Finding Time for God
Fragments from Floyd
Fr. Scott & Co. Ask Some New Qs
Heraclitean Fire

Hoarded Ordinaries
Idiot Dreams
In a Dark Time
Inner Light, Radiant Life
Iron Monkey
Ivy Is Here
Listening After Dark
Marcia Bonta
The Middlewesterner
My Gorgeous Somewhere
Not Native Fruit
On the Slow Train
Open Reading
Paula's House of Toast
(p) (b)
Planting Words
The Rain in My Purse
Sage Said So
Shadow Cabinet
Shadows and Symbols
Simply Wait
Spring in the Road
Stony Moss
Tasting Rhubarb
3rd House Journal
The Truth about Lies
Two Dishes but to One Table
Velveteen Rabbi
Verbal Privilege
Very Like a Whale
Via Negativa
Voice Alpha
Walking with Celebi
Whale Sound
WMC Is Now Here