Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bye-Bye Berkeley, Bye-Bye

It’s been a long week of travelling, watching this blog not getting updated. I like to travel. I’m currently sitting in the San Francisco International airport after having visited with 16 MFA students from St. Mary’s College over the last couple days. I’m reminded of how important it was for me when I was in an MFA program and a poet visited. What I didn’t know then is how important it is to be that poet visiting. Every change of context brims with possibility.

I’ve been reading a book on cognition over the last couple weeks, and, as usual, I’m pretending it was written about poetry. Whatever I read I pretend it was really written about and for poetry. (It makes instruction manuals much more interesting.) I’m going to post on it when things get back to normal and November is upon us. I was struck with the implications for artists and art production when the book was talking about how long-term memory, working-memory, and automatic memory function. Suffice it to say, I’m glad for automatic memory when it comes to driving cars and reading, but not when it comes to the creation of art.

Something I noticed while here was that nothing I ate seemed to have enough salt. I wonder if that has something to do with the bay area or with me. Have I lived in the Midwest too long? Well, since I’m most likely going to be living there a lot longer, I’d better learn to be OK with it. Pass the salt.

I happened to be travelling with Graham Foust’s Necessary Stranger, and since I spoke with several of his students, I’ll end this little airport post with one of my favorite poems of his:

Of What Seems Like My Father

I met him in the candy store.
He turned around and smiled at me—
you get the picture.
Yes, we see.

You get the picture.
If it would all please stop for what seems like forever,
I could walk through spanking dark across
America on car tops.

I could walk through spanking dark among
these pharmacies, canyons, and flags.
It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone.
The moon’s got a fake side tonight, but still—

it’s not unusual to be loved by anyone.
Wanting to hear what I don’t want to hear
is hardly possible. And then? I’ll come
to where it’s said here disappears,

is hardly possible. And then? I’ll come
and from an airplane jump
to open his piss-stained chute.
I am leaping like the pieces of a bomb, do you hear me?

Just to open his piss-stained chute?
I’m precisely the quiet of his blind spot’s eye:
part heartache, part affect; part heartache, part arsenal.
Embroidered with cold—

part heartache, part affect; part heartache, part arsenal—
and to this sudden edge of city not a bird.
A border’s bruised clarity, an ocean an ocean.
Try closing your eyes with your eyes closed.


At 10/30/2010 4:25 PM, Blogger Jeannine said...

Whenever my parents visit us on the West Coast from Ohio, they are constantly salting things.

At 10/30/2010 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, I find that when I knock the lamp from the table, sometimes something breaks (lamp, bulb, table).


At 10/31/2010 5:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More than less a pantoum; I like it.

adam strauss

At 11/01/2010 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, Here's a wonderful book, not about poetry, that you can pretend is about poetry:


At 11/01/2010 10:00 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


But I'm not FROM the midwest! I didn't even notice this happening!


Sounds like an operating memory problem.


When I first read it I remember that I didn't even notice its formal qualities.


Thanks for the link. There have been times I've read things that are on poetry where I had to pretend they were on poetry, so I'm ready.


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