kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
Danez Smith is Black, Queer, and Poz (HIV+); Danez is an astounding poet. Don't Call Us Dead is amazing; I don't have good words for talking about it, but please please please consider looking it up. Here's a sample.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[Content notes: living with trauma, basically]

A thread that keeps coming up in speculative fiction I'm reading at the moment (which is probably more indicative of what I'm seeking out than any publishing trends?) is the necessity for artificial intelligences to have emotions, in order to facilitate making arbitrary choices (the Imperial Radch; the Wayfarers; ...). Logic alone isn't adequate for a complex responsive intelligence: they'd stall out agonising over minutiae.

I've also been having a fair few (they say, wryly) conversations around emotional reactions and responses to contexts and events. I've known for a long time that going "okay, but that's not what's going on, here's a coherent model for my actions and behaviour and motivations that demonstrates that the thing you're scared of isn't actually happening" doesn't actually seem to have as much effect on most people's decision-making and behaviour as I'd (naively) expect. And then yesterday my interlocutor said: doesn't impact how I feel about the thing ;-) just what I logically conclude

... and -- oh. oh. Between the BPD or c-PTSD or whatever and the depression, I've in fact had to spend a lot of time working on... precisely that, right? I have to spend a lot of time and energy directing myself away from reacting based on compelling emotional "truths" and toward responding based on logical frameworks. I don't have to act as though people I'm close to want me to vanish absolutely from their lives unless they directly tell me that in fact they have changed their mind and they do*. For me, having a logical framework that contradicts my emotional understanding of the world doesn't stop me having feelings. It just -- informs what I do with them? I can free up a lot of processing power because I stop "having to" worry about how accurate they are, how much I should be taking them into account, whether I should be acting based on them. The solution to the feelings then becomes self-validation ("wow yep feeling like this is pretty rubbish, have some hot chocolate and do some stretches"), rather than their being an additional constraint I have to try to solve for, that's usually mutually exclusive with what other people are actually telling me they want.

"This information changes what I logically conclude about the situation" seems to be pretty powerful for me in a way that, as far as I can tell, it perhaps isn't for many folk? And I'm just... amused by having fitted together a model for why "no, that's not what's happening" doesn't do what I expect, that is superficially such a contradiction to the fiction.

I think it isn't, of course: this is how emotion interacts with making big decisions, not trivial ones. I'm simultaneously (still) exploring the potential of having unjustified or arbitrary preferences, particularly in the context of modern art. Just: goodness, but the inherently contradictory nature of existing. Think, two things on their own and both at once.

* Yes, we're aware that puts them in potentially awkward positions, but we've negotiated this very carefully in specific instances where I get the strongest compulsions to Just Vanish.
kaberett: A cartoon of wall art, featuring a banner reading "NO GLORY SAVE HONOR". (no glory save honour)
[Content note: abuse]

There is a poem by Phillip Larkin. You know the one: They fuck you up, your mum and dad/They may not mean to, but they do...

It is bleak, and it is resigned, and it is gentle, and it is true.

And every once in a while I see somebody praising Adrian Mitchell's saccharine, self-congratulatory rewrite, and the world drops out from under me. Because: how dare you. How dare you. How dare you take my truth and painstakingly paint over it. How dare you take this thing, this thing that is mine, and tell me that it couldn't really have happened like that. How dare you look to me, smiling, and say -- no, that didn't occur.

You should be horrified by what has been done to me. I will not fold myself smaller for your convenience and comfort, to ease your forgetting. I will not fucking smile for you. Tell your own stories, by all means, but if you cannot understand what profound insult it is to hear my truth (my bitter, compassionate, accepting truth) and to twist it, to sweeten it beyond bearing and beyond breaking, because you cannot stand to believe me -- if you cannot understand what profound insult it is to smiling silence me because you do not wish to hear -- if you would look away and smugly say: the world is not, is never like that; let me tell you how it really is--

-- then you bear the guilt for the children who, like me, are ignored and overlooked and inconvenient.

How dare you chiding, stifling, hush us. How dare you bid us pray be sweet and silent. How dare you -- how dare you -- make of us a sacrifice to your comfort.

Shame upon you.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
it is okay to have feelings.
Feelings are the language of your body
the self that runs ahead of thought
like an eager dog
the reservoir of your vital rhythms
it is not that your body wants
to command you, control you, confuse you, overwhelm you, no-!
it just wants you to listen
because feelings are information
and your body, your most personal of assistants,
in its own awkwardly earnest way
really wants to make sure
you get all your messages.

-- from Sensuum, [personal profile] jjhunter

Noodling about PTSD, )
kaberett: photograph of the Moon taken from the northern hemisphere by GH Revera (moon)
STARS, SCATTERSTILL. Constellations of people and quiet.

Those nights when nothing catches, nothing also is artless.

I walked for hours in those forests, my legs a canvas of scratches,

trading on the old hopes—we were meant to be lost. But being lost

means not knowing what it means. Inside the meadow is the grass,

rich with darkness. Inside the grass is the wish to be rooted, inside the rain

the wish to dissolve. What you think you live for you may not live for.

One star goes out. One breath lifts inside a crow inside a field.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
Wie soll ich meine Seele halten, daß
sie nicht an deine rührt? Wie soll ich sie
hinheben über dich zu andern Dingen?
Ach gerne möcht ich sie bei irgendwas
Vorlorenem im Dunkel unterbringen
an einer fremden stillen Stelle, die
nicht weiterschwingt, wenn deine Tiefen schwingen.
Doch alles, was uns anrührt, dich und mich,
nimmt uns zusammen wie ein Bogenstrich,
der aus zwei Saiten eine Stimme zieht.
Auf welches Instrument sind wir gespannt?
Und welcher Geiger hat uns in der Hand?
O süßes Lied.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
Yes, I think a poem is a spell of kinds
that keeps things living in a written line,
whatever's lost or leaving - lock of rhyme -
and so I write and write and write your name.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
Midriver took me four or five reads to even begin to get, though I knew I loved it from more-or-less the first line; it is about bridges in time as well as space - a theme of his - and it is about the self as bridge, as poised in unstable equilibrium, as about to make choices; it is about the self as landscape; it is about the self in dialogue with landscape, a product of one's physical surroundings and one's geography as well as of one's time; it is about the self as self, contained and unitary and expansive; about the contrast between the fluid self and the moving river and the bridge that stands and will continue to stand (when looked at from a certain angle); about the transitive made permanent; about choice and decision.

Here is temporarily who I am.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
I have more-or-less finished reading the entirety of Michael Donaghy's work: three slim volumes. I first came across him (as so many others) in Staying Alive, with Machines. This morning I lost my heart to two more pieces; Poem On The Underground, which contains the glorious lines
But Harry Beck's map was a circuit diagram
of coloured wires soldered at the stations.
It showed us all we needed then to know,
and knew already, that the city's
an angular appliance of intentions, not
the blood and guts of everything that happens.
Commuters found it 'easier to read'.

Here is the other, in its entirety:

- and is a bridge: Now to either then:
child to lolly: spark across the wire:
lover to the target of desire:
Lambeth to Westminster: back again.
Verb's a vector not a monument,
but someone skipped a stone across this river
fixing its trajectory forever
in seven arches after the event
- so stops halfway and, neither there nor there,
but cold and rained on and intransitive,
watches London switch from when to where,
why to silence in the traffic jam,
thinks I can see the borough where I live
but here is temporarily who I am.
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
Probably no surprises here: I like forms that encourage being Clever, particularly with punctuation, hence my fondness for the poem in one of the collections of my childhood on the importance of punctuation that featured the lines:

Hence: my fondness for sonnets, and for villanelles, and for whatever that form is that's palindromic, I'll quote you one.

Read more... )

-- and finally, as for favourite non-English poets, I am afraid I am not terribly widely read! However, I am very fond of Meg Bateman, who writes in Gaelic and does her own translations into English (especially Lightness/[NAME], which is how I first came across her, and is referenced in several of my own poems more or less explicitly); Rilke, in German; Neruda; Anna Akhmatova.
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
Per the tag, this year (after [personal profile] jjhunter) I aimed to write fifty poems, one a week with two off. The tag currently stands at 53, which is a slight underestimate (posts that contain multiple comment-poems only add one to the total).

Poetry is a thing I come back and back to. I fell in love with it, properly, during my GCSEs: Keats, who showed me how to write a certain quality of light; Carol Ann Duffy, whose poetry pointed out to me that I'm an abuse survivor; Stephen Dunn and Simon Armitage and Monica Ali and on and on; close analysis didn't kill the poems for me, it made them more alive. It taught me to look at the world differently. It taught me the value of saying & meaning two things on their own, and both at once. It made me more okay.

And then I picked up a copy of Staying Alive, and that was... more-or-less that. In it I found - among many, many others - Machines, which is significant enough to me that I'm going to get the final couplet as a tattoo; I met Mary Oliver's Wild Geese for the first time. The reason I am so drawn to "beloved" as a term of endearment is in large part due to Late Fragment.

We were encouraged to write poems during GCSEs, and I wrote a few. And then I... stopped, pretty much until the year I took off from university: I was scared of failing, to the point of shying away from making the attempt - but poetry (like so much else) can only be committed by those
Who only by moving can balance,
Only by balancing move.

Read more... )

The greatest gift of all, though, is this: how often it is, these days, that I find myself reaching for a poem to express my thoughts and emotions (because by using poetry instead of my own prosaic present I get to call on the layers and the nuance and the intertextuality, and the meanings that flourish in the distance between author and readers) I realise that the poem I want is one that I have written.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
A Haydée Lange

Se abre la verja del jardín
con la docilidad de la página
que una frecuente devoción interroga
y adentro las miradas
no precisan fijarse en los objetos
que ya están cabalmente en la memoria.
Conozco las costumbres y las almas
y ese dialecto de alusiones
ue toda agrupación humana va urdiendo.
No necesito hablar
ni mentir privilegios;
bien me conocen quienes aquí me rodean,
bien saben mis congojas y mi flaqueza.
Eso es alcanzar lo más alto,
lo que tal vez nos dará el Cielo:
no admiraciones ni victorias
sino sencillamente ser admitidos
como parte de una Realidad innegable,
como las piedras y los árboles.
To Haydée Lange

The garden's grillwork gate
opens with the ease of a page
in a much-thumbed book,
and, once inside, our eyes
have no need to dwell on objects
already fixed and exact in memory.
Here habits and minds and the private language
all families invent
are everyday things to me.
What necessity is there to speak
or pretend to be someone else?
The whole house knows me,
they're aware of my worries and weakness.
This is the best that can happen--
what Heaven perhaps will grant us:
not to be wondered at or required to succeed
but simply to be let in
as part of an undeniable Reality,
like stones of the road, like trees.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
I think in fact I am going to turn to the thing closest-to-hand, which in the current instance is that I am reading a volume of Borges' selected poems in parallel translation; unlike my recent rant about Bly's translations of Neruda here the translations are a joy. They were prepared by a group of approximately eight different translators (I have on loan a copy of the di Giovanni edition), in close collaboration with Borges himself, and it is an absolute joy and clearly a labour of love.

(The other thing I am reading at the moment - well, I might as well make it what-am-I-reading-Wednesday, I suppose, slyly participating for possibly the first time ever - is Lightspeed's Women Destroy SF special issue, which again is a collaborative work: 109 women directly involved in bringing it to fruition, and over a thousand submissions. Again: it is a labour of love.)

-- I think, in fact, what I am attempting to tease out here is not the specifics of any one piece of art, much as the Borges poems are breathtaking both in their choice of words and in their ideas; instead I think what I am seeking is the concept of playing catch with art (thank you, [personal profile] elisem), of collaborating in the creation of beauty.

Thus, of course, my adoration for Elise's work, too; that it is created to hold stories, and part of the joy is finding the story that goes with the art (or at least that will sit with it for a while). That the tangible object is beautiful is a bonus: the same is true of intangible objects. The feeling of being part of a puzzle of a hundred or more people, breathing and moving in time to fit complex transient shapes together -- there is nothing like being part of an orchestra: in the playing, Purcell's chords are played away.

This is, slowly, a perspective I am managing to bring to bear on organised religion: that it's a collective attempt to codify what we've worked out about how we work, by muddling through, to put it in a form that we'll be able to remember. Thus "count your blessings" - despite how often it's said dismissively, as a challenge, whatever - resurfaces as my ten good things; thus everything happens for a reason; thus the focus on the universality and inevitability of both imperfection and love; thus ritual, thus remembrance, thus honour. (No Glory Save Honour, explained over the next few pages of that comic.)

So. Fact and fiction and poetry, all wrapped in beauty: how earnestly we try across time to take care of one another, to give the best advice we can, to work together and to make love: the collaboration, not the thing itself.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
How is it that so very great a gift
can be as fragile, tiny, tenuous as this:
this sun-bleached bird skull, feather-light,
caught in protecting nets emplaced
from June til autumn (dawn til dusk).
Nearby: a poised and outspread wing,
tenacity of tenderness made flesh.
Unwieldy metaphor, perhaps, and yet--
and yet. O best belov'd: take flight.

(It is the lightness of your embrace
that will let me go adrift.
-- Meg Bateman)
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
1. Two poems finished up, for the time being, which means I've completed all prompts from the last round of mass spec theatre - one tiny little love poem for [personal profile] jjhunter, and Pyrrhic Failure, around which prompt crystallised something I'd been trying to say for a while (or, looked at another way, which prompt gave focus to some lines that had been trying to happen).

2. Preposterous hot chocolate. ("Gingerbread hot chocolate" - dark chocolate with misc spices; it's fab.)

3. Always and always and always, Mia's art, which is always and forever a blessing. (I have some siblings to that piece on my wall, one of which has hair of autumn trees and bluebirds; I should tidy that section of my room a little and give you all photos. It is the wall that contains art from Mia and art by [personal profile] elisem and other bits and pieces I've collected along the way, including a bundle of bay leaves from my mother's garden tied with a piece of gold-edged white ribbon, blessed by a priest on Palm Sunday, because Austria. It sits next to a photograph of the Moon and a scattering of rocks and my tiny sun and my most extravagant aloe vera, and I try to remember to incline my head before it every morning and say I will try to make good choices.)

4. I have read a small heap of short stories today, including Nghi Vo's Tiger Stripes and Song of the Body Cartographer (the former author I was introduced to via Long Hidden; the latter I hadn't come across before LonCon3, but she ended up being a deciding factor in whether I felt like attending a particular panel because she is that good).

5. I have Scalzi's Lock In now on my ereader, and I am looking forward more than quite makes sense to Ancillary Sword (which is still like a whole MONTH away, wow). Also super-endeared that someone's already started predicting that AS is going to be on the Best Novel Hugos slate for 2015!

6. My household. So many good things about it, including the general stream of amazing queers who do not give any fucks about any of the things. (Housemate's guest tonight was completely cool with me wandering out of my room wearing mostly a blanket, acquiring a plate of food from the hob, and disappearing back into said room having mostly gone "I AM WRONG NEW MEDS ARE NOT AGREEING WITH ME". It was pretty awesome.)

7. I am pretty damn stressed at the moment but my reaction seems to be "I need to grit my teeth and pull through this and This Too Shall Pass", rather than anything more... histrionic? Which, given my history, is an achievement of which I am very proud.

8. aaaaaaaaaaah mine's a size 40 (why are these classified under "Swimwear" WE SHALL NEVER KNOW) (on which topic, I only in the last few weeks realised that the "beachwear" vs "swimwear" distinction is one of function - one of these is not expected to actually be useful for anything involving physical activity beyond stretching picturesquely on a towel...)

9. I have been pretty good about Just One Thing-ing today - I got laundry put away, I got a significant amount of stuff moved through to recycling/bins as necessary, watered the aloe (which after nearly 2 months without was starting to wilt a little in places) etc.

10. More reading, I suppose - I have finally today got around to reading several poems I'd had open in tabs for ages, including a thing by Borges the title of which is translated as You Learn/Learning, and a thing by Rilke. (I am, I swear, going to get around to reading all my Rilke ebooks one of these days.) Nom, poems.

And now a tiny bit of python, I think, and then attempting sleep...
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
1. Codeine. (Codeine and HF turn out to be less axiomatically lethal in combination than one might have expected.) Basically: I've been having a pain flare since the middle of last week, to the point that I've gone "fuck it" and am taking maintenance codeine in addition to having upped my paracetamol dose. (I try not to do that because my supply of opiates is Limited, but hey. Sometimes the thing is necessary.)

2. Slightly to my surprise, I am actually bang on where I wanted to be with the ridiculous schedule [image|text], give or take the thing last week with a question mark on it, which I am... impressed by, given (1).

3. [personal profile] jjhunter wrote me a poem, and then wrote another poem that might as well be for me with as many of my buttons as it hits.

4. [personal profile] elisem made more shinies! Hel was over, and we SQUEALED WITH DELIGHT; it was brill. I am particularly coveting Night Protocols, The Idea, Rising, Emergent Properties, and How The Message Travels; I genuinely cannot tell if I want Watching Over The Lines (to go with Keeper of the Lines, about which I have written a tiny short prose poem THING that explained my own psychology to me more than I ever expected), because the wirework is glorious but it's not quite my kind of rock (both in terms of colour and in terms of research). And I'd love to love 'Much Ado About Nothing' As Performed By Fish for all sorts of reasons, including that it's my favourite play, but that one is definitely not something that wants to live with me for all it's glorious.

5. Burnt toffee dark chocolate, and unrelatedly blueberries.

6. Sunshine!

7. Talking to strangers on the bus, with the specific aim of helping lost tourists find a place.

8. P, who I am actually managing to catch up with some, which is great.

9. Watering my plants (the strawberries are trying to strawberry!)

10. Hel-who-came-over, who is coming over regularly on Wednesdays at the moment because housemate has gaming, I do better when I have someone to feed, they like being fed, and there is TV I adore showing people that they're wanting to get caught up on. Today: leftovers of yesterday's All The Minestrone (seriously, about five litres) and also courgette fritters, with wholemeal bread + lemon + lettuce.

I am tired and in pain but I am also happy. It is nice.
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
How did we get to be old ladies--
my grandmother's job--when we
were the long-leggèd girls?
--Hilma Wolitzer

Instead of marrying the day after graduation,
in spite of freezing on my father's arm as
here comes the bride struck up,
saying, I'm not sure I want to do this,

I should have taken that fellowship
to the University of Grenoble to examine
the original manuscript
of Stendhal's unfinished Lucien Leuwen,

I, who had never been west of the Mississippi,
should have crossed the ocean
in third class on the Cunard White Star,
the war just over, the Second World War

when Kilroy was here, that innocent graffito,
two eyes and a nose draped over
a fence line. How could I go?
Passion had locked us together.

Sixty years my lover,
he says he would have waited.
He says he would have sat
where the steamship docked

till the last of the pursers
decamped, and I rushed back
littering the runway with carbon paper...
Why didn't I go? It was fated.

Marriage dizzied us. Hand over hand,
flesh against flesh for the final haul,
we tugged our lifeline through limestone and sand,
lover and long-leggèd girl.


kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)

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