There Would Be a Goal Involved

Sunday Poem, January 20, 2013


Then you wake fully clothed
Then you write a useful little book
Lightning through the heart of the cloud
high winds have sheared the top from
Then you shelter a candle in your hand
Then you blow a stranger in a doorway
Thunk of the small exploding shell
leaving the candle, thunk thunk thunk

New rule: the next species that escapes,
nests in the stadium lights, I get to be
part of, plumage a color you don’t have
a word for. Then you’re at a B&B
outside Rhinebeck, watching the war
Then you’re getting choked out at Sunoco
over bullshit, rainbow toxicants in puddle

New rule: no more Velazquez-like faces
on the F, I don’t care if it’s been raining
since you were a child, thunk thunk thunk
Then it’s the summer of the ash cloud
Then it’s the esophageal cancer street fair
obese radio personality in dunk tank
Then it’s the summer of the ash cloud

—Ben Lerner (2011)

Drunk Reviews in Outline Form: Girls Season Two Premiere

  1. Okay so we’re opening onto a sex scene with Donald Glover
    1. Welp, that’s definitely going in a not-secret-because-I’m-talking-about-it-on-the-internet place and staying there forever
    2. He is good at literally every aspect of showbiz and I’m really looking forward to his Bill Murray phase
      1. Like he’ll be a little salt-and-pepper and dance with a pretty Asian girl at a cookout and still be pretty fly and then he’ll disappoint her and it’ll be called Stumblebutt or something
      2. CUT. PRINT. SELL IT.
        1. (in 25 years)
  2. These shorts Hannah’s wearing here
    1. I think I own them or something similar
    2. Now I’m wondering if that’s how I look in them
    3. Not that she looks bad in them!
      1. Obviously
      2. Because I am not
        1. I repeat, NOT
      3. the kind of person who writes about Girls just to talk about Lena Dunham’s motherfucking body
      4. And yet—
      5. And yet—
        1. I’ve entered a slide I can’t get out of
        2. Okay, let’s say this: we’re both a little fat by television standards AND YET we both look amazing in unflattering shorts
        3. Yup.
        4. That’s what I’m going with
  3. Best line:
    1. “I came. You came hard. We all laughed.”
    2. This is the golden (Au) moment (see 8(1))
  4. Oof, I have to say, I really loathe the gay roommate slash ex-boyf
    1. Which is a bummer because he was so delicious in this scene from last season
      1. “There’s a handsomeness to you.”
        1. I DIE
    2. But now that he’s a major player I just find him irritating
    3. It’s not the feyness itself but the fact that it is his Thing and his Only Thing
      1. The problem with the Effeminate Gay BFF in comedy isn’t that he’s played for laughs. You can do that with anything. It’s that, like the Sassy Black Lady, it’s such a reliable stereotype
        1. (and its targets so seemingly marginal to advertisers
          1. [though that’s obviously changing with regards to gay men, who the networks have realized have money I guess? As evidenced by Andrew Rannells’ other big role right now on NBC panderfest The New Normal])
      2. that people can get away with not adding anything else, which is not only problematic but profoundly dull.
      3. The exception, as always, being Community, where Dean Pelton and Shirley offer gorgeous examples of the absurd and brilliant depths to which you can take characters in those categories if you are absurd and brilliant instead of lazy and derivative
        1. Speaking of which:
          1. Lena Dunham won two Golden Globes
          2. Dan Harmon wasn’t even nominated (and is also now fired)
          3. WTF HFPA/NBC/world
  5. Music
    1. Is clearly the most obviously gaping hole in this show’s hipster cred
    2. In that the cues are just okay and none of the characters talk or give a shit about it
      1. Although in its defense trying to do that is always so fraught
      2. The only way for characters to sound cool talking about music is if it’s really well-known
        1. The Madonna opening in Reservoir Dogs
        2. The Ave Maria scene in the West Wing
        3. “My raccoon had hepatitis”
      3. Otherwise it just comes off as “Look at this cool band I, the Writer of this Programme, know about” and then you’re just playing three-card monte with every amateur music supervisor on the planet
        1. And they’re dealing
      4. For example:
        1. Remember that atrocious MTV Brooksploitation show I Want My Pants Back?
          1. You don’t.
            1. But I do.
              1. And that is my tragedy.
          2. But I digress
          3. They would just name-drop, like, Beach House or something and you’d cringe and cringe and cringe forever
          4. That show made my television cringe
            1. JK I never watch TV on an actual television
            2. What am I, 800 years old
        2. Anyway I will at least admit that Girls is in every way the Liz Taylor to that show’s Debbie Reynolds
  6. By the way
    1. This cigarette is canoeing pretty hard right now
      1. I love that term
        1. It is so accurate! It looks like a little canoe!
          1. I like my women like I like my canoes:
            1. Hollow on top and wet on bottom
              1. Pretty solid right
                1. If you hadn’t guessed already this particular drunk is of the self-congratulatory variety
                  1. Haaaaappy Suuuuundaaaaaay to meeeeeeee
                    1. [it is Tuesday]
  7. The gay BFF and Marnie hookup
    1. Is probably going to be boringly controversial in the way of these things
    2. Is clearly just another baseless, unmotivated setup for Marnie-Hannah drama
      1. And also probably a ploy intended to prolong the period before people notice how stale the Effeminate Gay BFF is (see 4(3(1))) by introducing some fluidity to his sexuality
    3. Is a perfect demonstration of how this show has no idea who its characters are, just how they dress
  8. Conclusion:
    1. Girls basically skates along on the two great moments that pop up every episode, and then the rest of it is total nonsense that takes on a pyritic glow from the good bits
      1. “Pyritic” is a killer word right
      2. Now you’re thinking:
        1. You’ll remember the guy knew all those big words he musta learned in college
          1. I love that song
            1. See, my music references, on the other hand, are DOPE a.f.
            2. I’m gonna bow out now before I look like any more of a dickslot and/or pass out
            3. LATES

Sunday Poem, January 13, 2013

Okay I’m going to try to get this thing going again, starting with another Sunday poem. I’m missing Iowa pretty hard at the mo, so how about a poem from the guy who went to my high school. I think this might be one of his Valentine’s Day poems—every year, he sends original poems for Valentine’s Day to a small group of women across America. And yeah, as you might expect from that, it’s cheesy, but see above, missing Iowa.

Plus, for all its sentimentality, there’s something Miltonic about this poem, the vast and abrupt swings in scale, from large to small, high to low, celestial to human. In fact, the astronomer is a pretty solid analogue to the belated peasant (which makes it interesting that he’s placed inside—and therefore outside, distinct from—the figure of the poet). Besides, have you ever read Lycidas? Boss could be cheesy as fuck when it suited him. Look homeward, angel, now, and melt with ruth. As we say in Iowa, yup.

After Years

Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer’s retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.

—Ted Kooser, from Solo: A Journal of Poetry (Spring 1996)

Sunday Poem, December 9, 2012

I’m going home in a little over a week now. I can never sleep on planes and tend instead to get bonkers and/or drunk, but I’ll have home people and snow waiting for me, which should help. This isn’t exactly a poem; it’s a song taken out of a novel, but it seemed appropriate.


Then Orpheus sang a song for little Ancaeus alone, of such piercing sweetness that he could not restrain his tears. Ever afterwards at night, during any silent watch when the stars were clear, the words and melody ran in his head:

She tells her love while half asleep,
In the dark hours,
With half words whispered low;
While the earth stirs in her winter sleep
And puts out grass and flowers
Despite the snow,
Despite the falling snow.

—Robert Graves, The Golden Fleece (1944)

Sunday Poem, December 2, 2012

Undergraduate Creative Workshop Fairy Tale

I need more consistent mirrors in my life,
the woman thought to herself, the story begins.

I like how you opened with mirrors, someone says.
I like how you opened with consistency.

When the woman lived in Los Angeles,
dirty bad things happened to her neighbors.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday Poem, November 25, 2012

It Was Raining In Delft

A cornerstone. Marble pilings. Curbstones and brick.
I saw rooftops. The sun after a rain shower.
Liz, there are children in clumsy jackets. Cobblestones
and the sun now in a curbside pool.
I will call in an hour where you are sleeping. I’ve been walking
for 7 hrs on yr name day.
Dead, I am calling you now.
There are colonnades. Yellow wrappers in the square.
Just what you’d suspect: a market with flowers and matrons,
Beauty walks the world. It ages everything.
I am far and I am an animal and I am just another I-am poem,
a we-see poem, a they-love poem.
The green. All the different windows.
There is so much stone here. And grass. So beautiful each
translucent electric blade.
And the noise. Cheers folding into traffic. These things.
Things that have been already said many times:
leaf, zipper, sparrow, lintel, scarf, window shade.

—Peter Gizzi, Some Values of Landscape and Weather (2003)

Drunk Reviews in Outline Form: L.A. Confidential

  1. I think I have this movie on my hard drive because my dad really likes it.
    1. Some other things my dad really likes:
      1. The Big Bang Theory
      2. The Bodeans
      3. Keynsian economics
      4. Meg Ryan (until she started fucking Russell Crowe and became a slut)
      5. Eating cereal with whole milk
      6. Using saws of all varieties
  2. Narration
    1. Is often stupid
    2. Is especially stupid when you cast Danny “Hot Leather Couch” DeVito for it
    3. Seriously who thought this was a good idea everything sounds like a fake commercial for like a hospital furniture outlet in Camden
  3. Cheekbones
    1. More like cheekboners amirite ladies
    2. Guy Pearce
      1. Looks like HE was “cut to look like a movie star”
  4. I dunno I have to put the cut (not of the star-making variety) here I guess Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday Poem, November 18, 2012

The Long While

We’d been sitting I don’t know
how long, candles having that
effect on time, when you leant

across & said, What the country
needs is a servant class. Words
that pushed me back in my seat.
No, you said, I mean an actual

class like a school, where we’d
all learn to serve. There’d be
whole semesters devoted to

waiting your turn or bowing or
scrubbing a patch of red carpet.
People would be graded on

not asking about their grades.
What do you think? I thought
we’d been here quite a while
without seeing a menu. Then

I remembered how late it was,
we were in a barn, the table
between us a bed of straw.

—Brendan Constantine (2012)

Sunday Poems, November 11, 2012

I skipped last week, and it’s Armistice Day, so here are a few of my favorite WWI poems.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Violence of Touch

“[R]ape is most of the time understood as an offense against morality and not as a crime against the bodily integrity of a woman. Other forms of sexual violence are often understood and articulated in the law as an outrage upon the modesty of a woman or against her dignity. There have been significant developments in international law moving away from understanding sexual violence as a crime against the dignity of a woman, to an invasion or an attack on the body of a person. Such developments are yet to be incorporated in the national laws of many countries around the world, including Africa.”

—Vahida Nainar, Litigation Strategies for Sexual Violence in Africa (The Redress Trust: London, 2012).

Here we have two definitions of rape, not merely different but opposed; one frames it as “a crime against the dignity of a woman,” the other as “an invasion or attack on the body of a person.” The shift in object between the two—from “woman” to “person”—is significant, as are the contexts in which they were created—one self-consciously universal, global, committed to abstractions supposed to be valued in any human social arrangement; the other, particularistic, national, negotiated according to cultural and contingent notions of right and wrong. Immanent in these competing accounts of sexual violence is a host of dichotomies that have historically been gendered:

Women // People

Particular // Universal

Moral // Legal[1]

Subjective // Objective

Emotional // Physical

These legal theories imply a choice: is rape an invasion of the flesh? Or a violation of the mind? Such a distinction is, obviously, false; rape participates in both components of each of these oppositions. It is an attack on one’s agency and on one’s body. Any accurate definition of rape will acknowledge this duality, and incorporate two necessary elements: consent (the subjective experience of desiring or not desiring) and breach (any physical act that proceeds despite the absence of consent). These categories ally themselves rather neatly with those outlined above:

Consent // Breach

Contemporary feminists have developed a comprehensive theory of consent, and it gets a lot of play in our media and our praxis. This emphasis makes a certain sense. In a country where the majority of assaults are committed by acquaintances and are not accompanied by catastrophic injury, it has been necessary to foreground the mental anguish caused by sexual assault to dismantle the notion that rape is only “legitimate” if committed by a stranger with a gun. And our culture’s distorted ideals of female sexuality have required us to offer alternative visions of women as active, desiring subjects who know what they want and are capable of articulating it. For these reasons and others I’d never argue that consent isn’t central to our work. But has our problematizing of consent been matched by the development of a comparably complete concept of breach? Or have we neglected the second, but equally crucial, prong of the definition of rape?

Read the rest of this entry »