The Questions Themselves

…be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms... — Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Oulipost #30: Patchwork Quilt

It’s a Fine Time For Artistic Expression

  

We are the story of a movement,
a lot of movement, mostly from New York
and cities and oceans and islands,
in different parts of the country,
in the sun with little to no shade.

When we started, years after Tuesday,
I had a little smile on my face. There were
definitely some nerves. The crowd and the
adrenaline carried us, whenever, wherever.
Another addition to this world.

What makes the situation so risky
is uncertainty itself. It’s sort of like going
and finding something, or the Titanic -
that’s just very elusive. Something that’s
so large and powerful and magnificent, we didn’t
think any of them would ever come back.

I’m optimistic the tide might be turning.

We are mostly a community, mostly people, who are mostly
interested in the arts, literature, photography, music…
practicing extremist language, forever asking about reality
and realism and dreams.

We worked - worked weekends, worked without water. We worked
in wind-driven weather. Four thirsty weeks, a multi-berry brioche,
a cupful of angst. Experience is no guarantee of safety.

We smile with the thought that we have helped
to represent - in symbols and words and language -
the human ability to make things: creativity of man
as distinguished from the world, of combining sounds
or tones in varying melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre,
so as to form emotionally expressive compositions
(especially the finished ones), based on a commonplace
nature not unlike that of a blank wall.

Poets and beggars, all creatures of experience.
Poets sweet as grapes grown in upstate New York;
beggars spicy like cinnamon and top-grade molasses;
all of them tart as apples from a Concord orchard.
Who knows what they’ll do when they get frightened?

Sure, the outcome could’ve been different. No quitters.
No whiners. No security checkpoints either, just this
tight-knit community, everything in context, and I
don’t have to worry any longer.

I think it’s been pretty effective. Whether you’re for it
or against it, you can’t deny, it’s a remarkable event.
Shotgun relationships, lifetimes, red moon on the horizon.

To tonite: an axe, a tiara, an aria, a sea.
No more we or us or is or are or I or me.

(Daily depression will remain the same.)

 


 

Original Word Source

The previous 29 found poems created during the Oulipost challenge and published daily in April on this site.

Notes on Project and Process

Today’s #Oulipost assignment was Patchwork Quilt, a loose cento incorporating lines or words from each of the 29 poems we constructed this month. Mine is loose and unstructured and a bit rambly, but it’s where I’m at with 53 minutes left in April. 

Oulipost #29: Canada Dry

Summer on Quarry Hill

  

We’re not free and easy.
We’re very authoritative.
We have some doctrine, some dogma.

We are mostly a community, mostly
people, who are mostly interested
in the arts, literature, photography,

music. Young people, lured by the land,
having children and building houses
open to whoever wants to come.

We are the story of a movement,
a lot of movement, mostly from New York
City, from the kind of Bohemian arty scene

male cartoonists left for military duty.
There are two rules: no hitting the kids,
no hunting, and no fishing.

Expect a place where you will be subjected to
a lot of pressure, a place where you can live
cheaply (that’s a big selling point), a place

where you can spread out, strip for Harvey
Comics, work under the name B. Hall, and
live in relative comfort atop Quarry Hill.


 

Original Word Source

Vermont ‘hippie commune’ co-founder dies at 94.” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH]. 29 Apr. 2014 online

Notes on Project and Process

Today’s #Oulipost assignment was Canada Dry, a playful prompt that honors the impostor in us all.  Ginger ale: just because it is golden and tasty and refreshing and has bubbles, it doesn’t mean it’s champagne. In that way, just because a poem has the look or feel or sound or rhythm of Oulipian constraints, it doesn’t mean it actually was constructed from one.

Oulipost #28: Melting Snowball

Someone

  


 

Original Word Sources

Eppich, Connie. “Immigrants recall starting new lives in Tri City region.” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH]. 28 Apr. 2014 A1

"Jury selection scheduled in UNH student killing." Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH]. 28 Apr. 2014 online

Notes on Project and Process

Today’s #Oulipost assignment was a melting snowball, a form in which each word is one character shorter than the word preceding it. Methodology was the same one I used in the original snowball, a basic level of trickeration using online tools and Excel functions. After organizing the words by length, the poem wrote itself, word game style.

Oulipost #27: Irrational Sonnet

Climbing to the Roof of the World

  

Enduring zero degree springs -
confident in sinking feelings -
at the church of the distressed,

California transplants are not friendly.

Turkeys drumming and grouse undressed,
huge chunks of ice tumble without warning,
all rapidly dancing with global warming.
The honeybees are stressed.

The migration is happening quickly.

In different parts of the country,
in the sun with little to no shade,
experience is no guarantee of safety.
What makes the situation so risky
is uncertainty itself.


 

Original Word Source

Main articles for today’s words:

Fosdick, Dean. “Bee-friendly garden can help struggling species.” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH]. 27 Apr. 2014 B6

"Dunkin’ pushing iced coffee beyond Northeast." Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH]. 27 Apr. 2014 D8

Daigle, Katy (AP). “Climate change likely to make Everest even riskier.” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH]. 27 Apr. 2014 C5

“Spring season looking good for N.H. turkey hunters.” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH]. 27 Apr. 2014 C7

Eckerson, Nancy. “Local road race season starting off strong.” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH]. 27 Apr. 2014 C7

Notes on Project and Process

Today’s #Oulipost assignment was the irrational sonnet, a form in which the number of lines in each stanza correspond to the first few digits of pi: 3, 1, 4, 1, 5.  There is also an optional rhyme scheme that I adhered to loosely and then broke purposefully in the last line: AAB, C, BAAB, C, CDCCD. Not my favorite, although I do like the last few lines…and it’s done, which is the best part.

Oulipost #26: Beautiful Outlaw (Belle Absente)

Don’t Worry, Kara
  

It has been nipped in the bud. Not Ruiz or Crowley,
that woman from FourSquare (nor her husband),
nor Johnson qualifies for expensive medals now.

Lauren might. She (not Liz) posted it
on her website, then on Twitter (the picture
of the clock). She even provided it to friends.

Now, frequently, viewers’re looking everywhere
for runners, simply to out them. Runners to be
exposed, to go to jail.

And that other lady: Liz. Anyone can go the
26.2 miles. What’s the big deal? It ticks me off.

Expensive sex…now that’s a big deal.
Frequent sex? Also a big deal.
(A big Johnson helps. Ha ha.)

But seriously. It’s nothing new.
Gibb did it in 1966; she broke
the rules. Switzer, too, in 1967.

No quitters. No whiners. No security
checkpoints then, either, just the tight-knit
running community, everything in context.

Sure, the outcome could’ve been different,
but not for you. So why get so upset?


 

Original Name and Word Source

My Oulipoem is addressed to Kara, a Boston Marathon runner who claims her number was fradulently used by four bandit runners in this year’s race. The voice seems to be that of a random knucklehead who somehow channeled through my keyboard and presented a direct response.

Main articles for sourced words:

Golen, Jimmy (AP). “Boston Marathon runners find ‘bandits’ in bibs.” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH]. 26 Apr. 2014 B2

Haas, Kimberley. “Dover Head Start policy changed.” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH]. 26 Apr. 2014 A3

Markhlevskaya, Liz. “Shoplifting suspect had a cart full of baby formula” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH]. 26 Apr. 2014 A1

Notes on Project and Process

Today’s #Oulipost assignment was Beautiful Outlaw (Belle Absente). The task was to pick a person’s name from the paper and address the poem to him/her.  Each sentence of the poem must contain all the letters of the alphabet except for the letter that corresponds to that position in the person’s name. Because I used Kara, the first sentence could not contain “K”, the second and fourth, no “A”, and the third, no “R.” After constructing the sentences and ensuring inclusion of the other 25 letters in each one, I started messing around with line breaks to make it a bit more flowy and readable. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do.  I’m already a day behind, and an irrational sonnet is waiting for me.

Oulipost #25: Larding

Give Me a Brake


A moose wandering in downtown Rochester Wednesday morning
caused some concerns for safety. For more than a year, loose
cats of all kinds have been slinking around his property —
urinating and leaving paw prints on newly refurbished cars —
and the city doesn’t seem to be able to stop it.

He said that for a year and a half, cats of all kinds —
with and without collars — have been coming into his yard
day and night. He said the city’s animal control officer
should be controlling loose cats on his property and preventing
them from causing damage. Requiring residents to license their
cats would do little to eliminate the problem of them being loose.

For several hours, the moose traveled in the area of Portland
Street and Wyandotte Falls, eventually ending up behind Home Depot
on North Main Street. Some reports indicated the moose walked on the
roadways, and crossed the street several times, causing traffic safety
concerns. Police on Wednesday began getting multiple calls about the
moose being seen in downtown Rochester at around 6:30 a.m. (Police
animal control officer could not be reached Thursday afternoon.)

He can’t pinpoint owners of the individual cats and he isn’t planning
on going door-to-door to find out. Some of the cats are not even scared
of his coonhound dog, which patrols the fenced-in yard. Moose are wild
animals. Who knows what they are going to do when they get frightened?
Stray cats can also lead to spreading disease, such as rabies. Loose
cats sometimes wander around his own neighborhood, and sometimes need
to be shooed away from bird feeders. The biggest safety hazard was
residents approaching closer to the moose to take its picture.

Trapping the cats himself would cost a lot of time and money.
(The moose caused no accidents or injuries.)


 

Original Sentences and Word Source

"A moose wandering in downtown Rochester Wednesday morning caused some concerns for safety. The moose caused no accidents or injuries."

Markhlevskaya, Liz. “Don’t approach…vamoose!” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH]. 25 Apr. 2014 A1

Markhlevskaya, Liz. “Feline Frustration.” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH]. 25 Apr. 2014 A1

Notes on Project and Process

Today’s #Oulipost assignment was Larding, also known as line stretching.  The task was to pick two sentences and add a new sentence between the first two; then to add two sentences in the new intervals that have become available; and to continue to add sentences until the passage has attained the length desired. The supplementary sentences must either enrich the existing narrative or create a new narrative continuity.  I picked two front-page articles about animals and wound them into a narrative with a twist in perspective. The title is a play on words; a popular bumper sticker here in New Hampsha is “I brake for moose.”  And this moose clearly needs the cats and the paparazzi to give him a break.

Side note - Today is the first day the other Ouliposter in my house and I have selected the exact same articles. While there is some line overlap, the output is unique…

Oulipost #24: Homosyntaxism

Looking Back

Gabo was the tour guide.
Macondo became the nowhere.
Cartegena started the demand.

Gabo was his nickname.
Marauders asked the questions.
Prisoners served the avocados.

Garcia Marquez was my companion.
Reality paved the streets.
Realism captured the imagination.

Fragrant were our dreams.


 

Word Source

Robinson, Eugene. “Where Macondo came alive.”  Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH] 24 Apr. 2014 A6

Notes on Project and Process

Today’s #Oulipost assignment was Homosyntaxism, which required analysis and preservation of the syntactic order of the words in the original source material. The original source sentence I selected was “Gabriel Garcia Marquez changed my life.”  I declared its syntactic order to be noun-verb(past)-article-noun.  I worked my way through a first-person editorial, culling sentences that could be distilled into the basic word pattern. I ended with a small twist, a final line that starts with an adjective instead of a noun. The title is a slight play on yesterday’s title, Looking Ahead.

Oulipost #23: Inventory

Looking Ahead

 

Word Source


"Accuweather Forecast for the Region." Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH] 23 Apr. 2014 A10

Notes on Project and Process

Today’s #Oulipost assignment was to parse a passage of newspaper text into its component parts, an inventory of nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, etc. I started with a longer article and became frustrated (it’s late…), so I switched gears to an easier text and got a bit more visual.

Oulipost #22: Antonymy

Good, Good Yorel Blue

An adult’s junkyard, not of Old Vermont, considered “The Durham Dud”
before “The Durham Dud.” It stayed there, not in 1908, but before
then. Then, an unpopular brochure named it “local trash of a
specific kind…one of the unincorporated, never-smell junkyards.”

"No junkyards, not from no states, did not make the list, which
isn’t based on local lethargy silence, based instead on a uselessness
or hostility or a shabby or commonplace nature not unlike that of a
blank wall,” writes Donutdaughter, Minion of Reality (not for a junkyard).

Rarely, a junkyard rejects -93,000 residents daily. Junkyard volunteers
and employees run a junkyard nightly, hurting parents and children, forget
about a blank wall or its fantasy-space end users. It is open Fridays
except during a work day, and during work work years, it is not open no days.

Rebate is not -$9 for children or adults or -$8 for babies.


Word Source

Perry, Angelica. “Travel website says Children’s Museum a must-see in N.H.” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH] 23 Apr. 2014 A1, A10.

Notes on Project and Process

Today’s #Oulipost assignment was to select a passage from the newspaper and replace each word with its opposite when one exists ot by an alternative suggesting an opposite.  I grabbed an article from the front page that seemed to have some easy-to-flip language and went to town.  The above resulted from a second pass through the text with slight erasure, remix, and rearrangements…just for fun.

Oulipost #21: Confabulation

Opening Day at the Community Garden

 

Word Source


Pike, Al. “Hersey making all the right calls.” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH] 21 Apr. 2014 B1
Bulfinch, Andrea. “Gone Fishin’.” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH] 21 Apr. 2014 A1, A7
Henderson, Janice. “Boston Marathon mother-daughter team victorious amid devastation.” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH] 21 Apr. 2014 A1, A7
Cole, Ron. “Dover Doin’s.” Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH] 21 Apr. 2014 A1-A2
"Transcript reveals confusion over ferry evacuation." Foster’s Daily Democrat [Dover, NH] 21 Apr. 2014 A4

Notes on Project and Process

Today’s #Oulipost assignment was to craft a “he said/she said” exchange from quotes found in today’s paper. I pulled quotes from several articles for an initial list and then culled them down into a light tale of anxiety and sarcasm in this mismatched pair. The words are intended to be read top to bottom by column or across columns. I don’t know which articles I ended up using, so I listed them all to be on the safe side…