Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Do I part my hair behind?
Do I dare to post a poem?

Oh, I think I do!

I promise not to make a habit out of this, really, I swear...but we were assigned the task of writing or attempting to write a villanelle. So I did. I wrote it about a dream I had the other night, in which a Russian man gave me a Russian-English phrasebook and ordered me to read a traditional Russian toast, as we were about to drink. I tried to explain that I couldn't read Cyrillic, at which he began to laugh and make fun of me. I then attempted, with my feeble grasp of the language, to call him a son-of-a-bitch (turns out what I actually called him translates into a viable Russian surname). Anyways, it stuck in my mind because it's the first time in a while that I've woken up and been able to recall 1) actual dialogue and 2) written alphabetic characters from within the vapor of a dream. So here it is.

(Side note: The title translates from Russian to "Words.")


You put the words in front of me to say
And laugh when I confess I cannot read
These phrases written in a foreign way.

Why should I have to read them, anyway?
I protest, but you calmly pay no heed
And put the words in front of me to say.

It is a toast, a grandiose display
Of bonhomie that hides your drunken greed,
These phrases written in a foreign way.

I curse you wildly, but to my dismay
You laugh at my embittered, hateful screed
And put the words in front of me to say.

I wish that I could somehow tear away
From this humiliation and be freed
Of phrases written in a foreign way.

This is an insult that I can't convey
In words. The nightmare never will recede:
You put the words in front of me to say,
These phrases written in a foreign way.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Normally I wouldn't use this as a forum to post my poetry/writing--if I was interested in doing that I'd create another blog with a nice, clever, avant-garde title--but I'm kind of proud of this piece. It's a sestina and it took me a couple weeks to write, which is the longest I've ever spent on a poem. The way I see it, even if a sestina seems forced (which mines does, at least to me), it's a good writing exercise--a way of disciplining and organizing your thoughts that can lead to new forms of expression. This is also why I am a fan of rhyming poetry rather than free verse, although some free verse (especially that of ESM and COS) is just as powerful in both form and content as rhymed poetry.
Anyways, here it is. The title is tentative, pending a lawsuit from Clint Mansell.

Ghosts of Things to Come

The moon is cold, the wind is bright and clear,
I shiver, clutch my coat, and think of home--
But home - where's that? Is it the place I live?
Or where I've lived--my house of eighteen years?
For as I close the door, I greet the room
That holds me, but upon me has no hold.

These fragmentary thoughts are hard to hold
And in their scattered ramblings nothing's clear.
I lie, exhausted, in a foreign room
This transitory place that isn’t home.
For home has ceased to be these past three years
As in suspension I have come to live.

Yet there's a certain joy to know I live
This way; my future is my own to hold,
To mold and sculpt through all the passing years.
It would be nice if something here was clear,
And if I knew which place to call my home--
But for those luxuries, I've had no room.

And when I've moved to yet another room,
Another place to sleep and eat and live,
I'll let those things convince me it is home
A place that that lets me keep some kind of hold
On who I am--but even that's not clear
Since who I was has vanished with the years.

The days go by. And weeks. And months. And years.
My overbearing schedule leaves no room
For idle thoughts. The future seems quite clear:
I'll find a girl, a house where we can live,
A bed to share--a place where we can hold
Each other close. Yes, then I'll have a home.

And when I've found this imaginary home,
That dream that kept me sane throughout the years
Maybe then this doubt will lose its hold
On me, and calm contentment will find room
Inside my worried head and help me live
In quiet peace, with mind and conscience clear.

I'd like to think there's room to hold these hopes
Within me, and live out my numbered years
With that clear sense of home to soothe my soul.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Wake me up when September ends...

Wow. Almost two weeks without posting. Usually I don't update this thing because there's nothing going on...but now I don't update because there's too much going on.

Work is good. Sometimes it seems like too much--as I've probably already mentioned, on one Monday and one Friday these past two weeks I've had to go straight from class to work, which means that I wake up at 8, go to class from 9-12, and then work from 12-6 with a thirty minute break somewhere around 2:30. Thus, when I get back to the room, I've been going pretty much non-stop for 10 hours. Sometimes this scares me; other times I'm too busy to worry.
Overall, though--I love being a salesman. I got the same genes my grandma and my brother Jamie have. I like talking to people and sometimes my interest and, well, enthusiasm-bordering-on-obsession is contagious and they end up buying things. (Yesterday I got a man named Cavers very interested in his Douglas heritage, and he bought a tie and a booklet on the clan history.) It's funny to think how unrelated this is to Chemistry, how far a cry it is from what I would have expected from myself.

School is going pretty well. I had my first P-Chem test this Wednesday and while I don't think I aced it there was nothing on it that I didn't recognize. I don't want to speculate on my grades or read the answer key (at least, not until I get my graded test back) because I hate second-guessing myself. Conclusion: The P-Chem test is over. I will NOT fret about it.


I'm a horrible liar.

Anyways. Got an Instrumental Analysis test coming up too. Plus I have two poems to write for my workshop. One free choice, the other an assigned topic. This week's topic: surrealism. Oh boy. I bet that's going to open up the door on a whole bunch of crappy poetry that people are going to pass off as surrealist merely because it has lots of strange imagery and lines about melting clocks and the persistance of memory.
Which reminds me. I have to work on my poetry journal. If anyone has any ideas for things I could write that would resemble an astute analysis of Wallace Stevens' "The Emperor of Ice Cream," let me know.

Monday, September 05, 2005

More updates, I guess.

Because I missed applying for my FAFSA this year, I have to work off $2,000 in debt that would have otherwise been covered by Federal loans. To that end, I applied at a couple different places, and am now working 20-24 hours a week at the Scotland Shop.

Now, they don't have a website, but this place is really awesome. They have lots of Celtic stuff but as their name would imply they sell a lot of stuff oriented towards the client who can figure out his Scottish ancestry (as I have done by now) and buy ties and scarves in their clan tartans, as well as order kilts in the same tartans (if they're brave enough).

I tend to work 6 or 8 hour shifts, three days a week. It's pretty good work; Maryann, one of the retired ladies who works there part-time, told me that they were impressed with enthusiastic I was. I told her that I like wearing ties (I have to wear nice pants, shirt, and tie for this job--as if I needed coercing), enjoy Celtic stuff, and like chatting with people. Plus, it's extra money. If I work through the spring semester, which I fully intend to do, I'll have worked off my debt and made a little extra spending money. At the same time, I get 25% discounts on anything I buy while I'm working there. (I already indulged in a Logan/McLennan tartan tie, since I traced my McClanahan heritage back to those clans.)

The ancient MacLennan tartan.

Although there's some added stress--today, I went straight from three hours of class between 9 and 12 and then worked the 12-6 shift at the House--I think I can hack it. Besides, I have things to cheer me up, like selling two $80 sabers (which was the biggest sale we had today). If only it were more than a part-time deal, this could be my dream job...

Oh yeah, and the academia thing. That gets in the way sometimes.