Jane Hirshfield

What a good poem hears, sees, speaks is what can only become perceptible when inner and outer intertwine. The poet’s circuitous collaboration with words is a tool for discovering how best to let those two worlds come forward and realize themselves; it is part of the ancient, ongoing game of hide and seek the universe plays. Within its silence, exile, and cunning, poetry holds both the hiding and the seeking, for both are the point. Within its thicket of indirections is shelter for the elusive, independent animals of interconnected life. They pass overhead, underfoot, in and out of the trees and the dappled light that blossoms as well in barred feathers and spotted pelts. They are such shy or bold creatures as come into poetry’s word-set nets, to be seen, to be finally eaten: to disappear into and become us, and so allow us also to become them—animal, vegetable, mineral, word, all thoroughly mysterious and known.

~ “Poetry and the Mind of Indirection”

He Took His Skin Off For Me

Based on this short fiction by Toledo-native Maria Hummer, “He Took His Skin Off For Me” is a gorgeously literal and so all-the-more-poetic short film made by Ben Aston, his London School of Film graduation project exploring (and winning) the use of practical special effects. There is also a making-of-behind-the-scenes video at the film’s website. The story (and the film) begins:

Is this what you want? he asked, and I said yes, so he took off his skin for me.
He was beautiful, shining red organs and crisp bones. I stepped forward to embrace him. I felt his naked wet muscles against my arms.

William Bronk

If we are not to falsify life, but to have it for what it is, we must leave ourselves open to it and undefended, observant of what may happen, since our private will is not relevant and we are not capable of apprehending or assisting any other will, and what we observe and feel is perhaps less will than being and the nature of being. We need not want anything: nothing needs us to want. There are things which we feel, certain angers, rejoicings, fears. These feelings astonish us. Set beside our expectation of a real world, they seem not to have the habit of reality. They seem unrelated, and there is a lapse of time before we take them as real in the absence of a more expected reality. We learn at last, and accept the learning at last, that these feelings come to us without our willing or acceding or inventing. They come from beyond our skin like approaches to us, like messages; and we respond, trembling and shaking, or vibrating in tune as though we were instruments a music were played on and we arch and turn to have the contact closer. Our responses are presences that tower around us, seemingly solid as stone.

~ from William Bronk: An Essay by Cid Corman
 

spicy wreaths / Of incense,
breath’d aloft from sacred hills

The start of the year is a good time to renew one’s vow to consume hot food with greater regularity, and while Sriracha is not the spiciest of what’s available by a stretch, its blend of flavor and heat fills a special niche (even if the factory’s neighbors do not appreciate its incense). Here is a video celebrating the craftsmanship behind this sauce, combining the wonders of large-scale manufacturing with an artisan’s quest for perfection (chili waterfall=true wonder).

 

If you’ve never seen the Oatmeal’s take on Sriracha spirituality, check that out. Here’s an excerpt:

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Robert Creeley

Recent studies in this country involved with defining the so-called creative personality have defined very little indeed and yet one of their proposals interests me. It is that men and women engaged in the arts have a much higher tolerance for disorder than is the usual case. This means, to me, that poets among others involved in comparable acts have an intuitive apprehension of a coherence which permits them a much greater admission of the real, the phenomenal world, than those otherwise placed can allow…It would seem to me that occasional parallels between the arts and religion may well come from this coincidence in attitude, at least at times when philosophy or psychology are not the measure of either.

~ from “A Sense of Measure”