Preference Personnelle
Sunday, November 29
by J.D. McClatchy

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.--Willa Cather

Here the oak and silver-breasted birches
Stand in their sweet familiarity
While underground, as in a black mirror,
They have concealed their tangled greivances,
Identical to the branching calm above
But there ensnared, each with the others' hold
On what gives life to which is brutal enough.
Still, in the air, none tries to keep company
Or change its fortune. They seem to lean
On the light, unconcerned with what the world
Makes of their decencies, and will not show
A jealous purchase on their length of days.
To never having been loved as they wanted
Or deserved, to anyone's sudden infatuation
Gouged into their sides, to all they are forced
To shelter and to hide, they have resigned themselves.
Friday, November 27
I like metal with holes in it, and so I really like old high-flange hubs. Or new ones.
Monday, November 23
Under Mangini, Browns are a team in turmoil.
Thursday, November 19
Here's a neat discussion about lock-groove records.
If you're like me, you eagerly read Slate's unauthorized index of Sarah Palin's Going Rogue. And, if you're like me, one of the items you're most curious about is the reference to "an old LL Cool J remix" on page 114.

Well, here's the relevant sentence. She's talking about some people she met while campaigning for governor. "They treated us to slices of homemade rhubarb pie, then gave us a whole blueberry pie that we shared with friends after our 800-mile, 40-hour round-trip, driven to the sound of the Black Eyed Peas and an old LL Cool J remix we found in the glove box." (More interesting claim on that same page--she hints that Obama bit her 'change' theme.)

I'm underwhelmed. Incidentally, though, Uncle L doesn't have any remix albums (well, there's a 12" compilation from '93, but it was vinyl-only), so either it was a cassingle, or she's playing fast and loose with the facts. As fun as it is to imagine the candidate listening to a remix of 'To Da Break of Dawn' or 'Pink Cookies in a Plastic Bag' for forty hours, I think the latter is more likely.
Wednesday, November 18
Vintage Technics is what it sounds like.
Tuesday, November 17
A Nexus of Phantoms,
by Will Alexander, from The Sri Lankan Loxodrome

In a lorikeet cave
motions exist of disintegrated swans
in a translocated lake
brimming with harvested poisons
sealed by corruptive post-mortems

such swans
staggered by microbial reasoning
their aggressive nests
anatomical with anomaly
with drifts of strenuous incarnadine leanings
with a thirst which hurtles conspirational invasives
with coronal oceanics
like a clouded trail of rendings

with the "Auks" the pelicans the mergansers
with "the petrols & the gannets"
under the power of darted mocking orations

the swans
looking back on solemn blood perusal
like a form of death breaking roses on a shore

it is the example of phonograms
of lost & compacted lenses
within a charismatic "Fall Line"
or an "isoneph"
or what an avian would announce in Greenland
as a "Katabatic Wind"*

the swans
like a haze of magnetism
or implied gondola locations
where the scent of each lorikeet is consumed
& brought to dazzling eclipse refulgence

in another foci
in another depth
their form self-challenged
in a cloak of suns
their power de-revealed
with 7 moons burning
reduced to 2 intense incendiary magnets

& those incendiary magnets
like a nexus of phantoms
scattered across a geometric optometry

* Rapid downward motion of air.
Monday, November 16
Two poems by James Galvin:

When I Rest

When I rest my head over her heart,
I can hear the rowing,
Paddle-splash and oarlock-knock;
I can feel the pull
Into the swiftest run.
I can hear the current's pleas for silence,
This is important,
The better to hear her heart.
I feel like a blue feather in her skiff.
The river loves the sea, which absently
brushes its hair, waiting.
Unconcerned by the separation of lovers
It causes.
The sea has tides.
The tides have swells.
The swells have waves
From so much brushing.
When we glide asea, it's sunset so
We get to watch the river become the rose.

A Cast of Thousands

Want some violence? I thought so.
A young buck jumped the barded-wire fence
But misstepped an dcaught a hind leg
In the twist of top wire and next-
To-top wire. He hung head down and fought.
You can imagine the rest. Just try.
The slow death, the opacity of eyes.
How long do you think it took? Guess.
Terror that flailed the grass down to dirt,
That scraped the dirt down to rock and kept scraping
Before the sacred shock set in,
Hypothermia, the last heart-thud.
That spring I found the emptied carcass
Hanging. I was fixing fence.
By then the violence was gone.
It was just a skeleton with ribbons
Of hide lifting in the breeze.
On the ground a mount of fur where
Red ants were busy living.
Saturday, November 14
Computer Lab
by Miriam Goodman, from Signal:Noise

How do the programmers look when they work?
Some sit for hours and the room is full of noise.
Keyboards clack. Behind concentric grillwork--
whirring fans. Hammers knock the print heads
on the teletypes. And under the assault, the programmers
slide down in their chairs like paper in the platen.
Chins on chests. A desultory finger lifts and strikes
a key. The image on the cathode-ray-tube changes.
Bluish light. The disconnected dots construct a message.
Dry and steady, thought pays out like rope.
They breathe, they shift their weight, they tilt
their heads, they flex their feet. So silent
are the programmers, sitting under fountains
of white noise.
Friday, November 13
Some mf'er asked, kinda, so: The History of Hip-Hop, 1985-2008. Twenty-four songs for twenty-four years. This is, intentionally, a very mainstream list, aiming for songs-of-the-year and legendary figures and broad trends and whatnot. Sorry I missed your favorite (I missed my favorite, too), but please feel free to argue with me.

1985: LL Cool J - Rock the Bells
1986: Run DMC - My Adidas
1987: Eric B & Rakim - I Know You Got Soul
1988: Marley Marl f. Masta Ace, Craig G, Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane - The Symphony
1989: Public Enemy - Fight the Power
1990: A Tribe Called Quest - Can I Kick It?
1991: Geto Boys - Mind Playing Tricks On Me
1992: Dr. Dre f. Snoop Doggy Dogg - Deep Cover
1993: Notorious BIG - Party and Bullshit
1994: Nas - It Ain't Hard to Tell
1995: Method Man f. Mary J Blige - I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need To Get By
1996: De La Soul - Stakes is High
1997: Company Flow - Fire in Which You Burn
1998: Big L - Ebonics
1999: dead prez - Hip-Hop
2000: Eminem - Stan
2001: Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek - Expansion Outro/For Women
2002: Scarface - My Block
2003: Jay-Z - 99 Problems
2004: MF DOOM - Hoe Cakes
2005: Cassidy - I'm a Hustla
2006: Clipse - Mr. Me Too
2007: UGK - International Players Anthem
2008: Lil Wayne - A Milli
Wednesday, November 11
War Is Kind,
by Stephen Crane (tip of the hat to Hugh)

Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind,
Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,
Little souls who thirst for fight,
These men were born to drill and die.
The unexplained glory flies above them.
Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom--
A field where a thousand corpses lie.

Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.
Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,
Raged at his breast, gulped and died,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

Swift blazing flag of the regiment,
Eagle with crest of red and gold,
These men were born to drill and die.
Point for them the virtue of slaughter,
Make plain to them the excellence of killing
And a field where a thousand corpses lie.

Mother whose heart hung humble as a button
On the bright splendid shroud of your son,
Do not weep.
War is kind!
Tuesday, November 10
Monday, November 9
Two poems from Angie Estes' Tryst:

Take Cover

and couvre feu, cover the fire
because when the bell sounds, it means
curfew, it is mellow-drama, facsimile
of a tryst, trusted
meeting place, waiting
like a shelter or decoy, duck blind
with the perfect vision
of the Venetian blind; a number of thin
horizontal slats that may be raised
or lowered with one cord, all set
at a desired angle. Love too we're told
is blind, but desire,
as Aristotle knew, is all
angle, and so he gave us the math
to keep track of our loves: Number,
he said, has two senses: what is counted
or countable, and that by which
we count. Remember
to cover the rosemary in winter, uncover
the basil before the sun
comes up, and when you take
cover, cover your head with your hands
and forearms, as we learned in school, once
you have crouched under
your desk. In January, beneath the roof
of the house, a sparrow curves
in the scroll of a corbel, and soon
at Carnevale a mask will be held
at half-mast like the lid
of a casket before it lies under
the grass. How much ground
have you covered
today? You always take
all the covers, it's true. But do not
take cover under a tree
during a storm--your body will lift
its wick to light, and you will gleam
like Venus just before dawn: a satellite
in the atelier where true
and tree are related, unable to choose
between heaven and earth, to make seems
come true.


My mother said that Uncle Fred had a purple
heart, the right side of his body
blown off in Italy in World War II,
and I saw reddish blue figs
dropping from the hole
in his chest, the violet litter
of the jacaranda, heard the sentence
buckle, unbuckle like a belt
before opening the way
a feed sack opens all
at once when the string is pulled
in just the right place:
the water in the corn pot
boils, someone is slapped, and summer
rain splatters as you go out
to slop the hogs. We drove home
over the Potomac while the lights spread
their tails across the water, comets
leaving comments on a blackboard
sky like the powdered sugar
medieval physicians blew
into patients' eyes to cure
their blindness. At dusk,
fish rise, their new moons
etching the water like Venn diagrams
for Robert's Rules of Order
surfaced at last, and I would like to
make a motion, move
to amend: point of information, point
of order. I move to amend
the amendment and want
to call the question, table
the discussion, bed
some roses, and roof the exclamation
of the Great Blue heron sliding
overhead, its feet following flight
the way a period haunts
a sentence: she said that
on the mountain where they grew
up, there were two kinds
of cherries--red heart
and black heart--both of them
Wednesday, November 4
Here's one of my favorite Sesame Street songs: King of Eight.
Tuesday, November 3
First the Dog
by Zbigniew Herbert
(translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott)

to Laika

So first the faithful dog will go
and after it a pig or ass
through the black grass will beat a track
along it will the first man steal
who with iron hand will smother
on his glass brow a drop of fear

so first the dog honest mongrel
which has never abandoned us
dreaming of earthly lamps and bones
will fall asleep in its whirling kennel
its warm blood boiling drying away

but we behind the dog and second
dog which guides us on a leash
we with the astronauts’ white cane
awkwardly we bump into stars
we see nothing we hear nothing
we beat with our fists on the dark ether
on all the wavelengths is a whining

everything we can carry on board
through the cinders of dark worlds
name of man scent of apple
acorn of sound quarter of color
should all be saved for our return
so we can find the route in an instant
when the blind dog leading us
barks at the earth as at the moon
Monday, November 2
Villanelle with a Refrain from the Wall Street Journal,
by Andrew Hudgins, as seen in The Atlantic.

Your twenties, thirties, forties, you’re a bull—
if you think of life as something like the Dow.
Though death of course is unavoidable,

you’re rising so fast rising’s almost dull,
your daily highs untested by a low.
Your twenties, thirties, forties, you’re a bull,

and life, for now, is fast and overfull—
for now, you might say, chuckling, for now—
though death, of course, is unavoidable.

You’re savvy enough, I’m sure, and fully able
to plan for when the market starts to slow.
Your twenties, thirties, forties, you’re a bull,

and all your hours, all, are billable,
as you tell others what, but mostly how,
though death, of course, is unavoidable.

Like contracts, life is fully voidable,
allow deferring soon to disallow.
Your twenties, thirties, forties, you’re a bull,
though death, of course, is unavoidable.
Sunday, November 1
Got rid of the hit counter. Pretty sure I won't miss it.

Going to River Mountain Park.
A lagniappe of cultural kitsch and B-movie claptrap

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