01 July 2016

The Periphery Bounces Back - From Iowa

Old Capitol building on left, Iowa City, Iowa

The Periphery returns after spending 10 days in Iowa City, attending classes offered by the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Much was learned about poetry and how to craft it, including prosody; the line, metrical feet, scansion, diction, when and where to break a poem (it depends), end stopped and enjambed lines, when to use which (it depends), syntax and sentences . . .

It was a wonderful learning opportunity, and I met many new and interesting writers. There was a chance to attend lectures by the other workshop teachers, a writerly gathering place with great coffee and pastries, the opportunity to remember what green looks like -- Wyoming is a bit dry and dusty at the moment. Classes were held on the University of Iowa campus, and I got reacquainted with walking everywhere. It was enjoyable to do, despite the humidity. Our hotel was a stone's throw from the Iowa River.

I traveled with my friend Katie, and we had a great time exploring new restaurants, meeting new people, and communing with other writers. The workshop treated us well, giving us a welcome dinner, a social get together at a local book store, a dinner dance, and a nifty t-shirt to wear or messenger bag to carry our books in.

Speaking of books . . . why yes, I did come home with a few. Maybe around *mumbles* ten or so.
Some books on craft, some books on poetic criticism, more than a few books by recommended poets. All geared toward keeping that poetic momentum going. What have I been doing since I got back? Why editing poems, of course! While I thought revision was important before, I'm doubly sure of it now.

If you write, and want to learn to write better, it's definitely a place to go. They cover classes on fiction, non-fiction, short stories, poetry, memoir, creative non-fiction among others. Classes had lots of homework to reinforce what you learned, time to do it, a class limit size of 12 and a chance to workshop your piece with other writers. There are so many classes available over a month's span, I might just have to go back and take some more!

Setting sun through carved balustrade.

10 June 2016

Images on the Periphery

Life on the Periphery is going to take a little break from the Internet. Here are some pictures to keep you entertained. Meanwhile, keep cool out there!

Missouri Buttes and Devils Tower under cloud cover.

Here I am, preparing to go around the bend!

Max and Merlin preparing for a Saving One Life walk. Notice Merlin's bandana is already filthy.

Flashback Pic - Riding Nightwind.

Flashback Pic - Riding Lemon

June visitors to the lilac bushes.
The Dynamic Duo starring in "Walk This Way".

03 June 2016

A Birthday Poem (With Zombies)

Butterfly on Lilacs

So here it is, June 3rd and along comes the birthday of Allen Ginsberg. I love the poem 'Howl' for how dense the language is, and how long the poem sustains this. In honor of Allen Ginsberg's birthday, I present an excerpt from 'Foul', a riff on the old classic. With 88% more zombies.

by Constance Brewer

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by starving, naked zombies, it was hysterical how they dragged themselves through suburban streets before dawn looking for a brain fix,

empty-headed corpses yearning for a tasty connection of white and gray wrapped in dura matter,

whose lipids and neurons and glial cells are but fodder in the supernatural darkness of the soul of rotting flesh floating across the top of open-sore craniums

who attack mindless in waves the haven and see other Romerian zombies staggering on shambling, putrid limbs,

who pass on recruiting at universities with discolored eyes not wanting to hallucinate Sartre and Camus from feasting on the flesh of philosophy majors,

who were reanimated from the academies for crazy - pushing obscene odes to the density of the skull,

who cower in infected rooms in long underwear, saving their medullas in wastebaskets and listening politely to the Terror through the wall,

who got decomposed in their tender graves returning through reanimation with a desire for middle-class flesh from New York,

who ate cerebellum like candy or drank cerebrospinal fluid in death, or purgatoried their tissues night after night

with bad hygiene, with infection, with waking nightmares, rotting teeth and rotten nails,

incomprehensible screaming of shuddering crowds at the light-in-the-mind staggering past cases of Bartles & James, illuminated by the motionless soldiers in riot gear

Payless shoes on detached feet, shuffle through cemetery dawns, wine-drunk survivors fleeing over the rooftops hiding behind storefronts joyriding with cricket bats ignoring neon blinking traffic lights, as they roar over walking corpses and smash the apocalyptical plague upside the head . . .

(. . . Original Poem- Howl by Allen Ginsberg)

20 May 2016

Fragment Friday - Five Poems for May

Spring and green grass to roll in!

The Fox Bead in May

By Hannah Sanghee Park

The kiss is, strictly speaking, a passing
of of   twice: a bead from her mouth to his,
then back, ad nauseam, and the boys who lived
and died for it. The lovely girl amassing

ninety-nine spirits, and in high spirits
for consuming her highest amount. Once
the hundredth boy arrived she starts her hunt
in her haunt, a hill’s field filled with fitting

Artemisia absinthium.
And every day they kissed to swap the bead
and for a month he waned and wans

and when he learned the truth about her tongue,
he downed the bead: her true form a nine-tailed
fox who could have turned human, had he kissed on.

The Logic of Spring

By Alexandria Peary

In another poem, called The Logic of Spring,
        a mechanical drawing of a tree 
that I've passed a 100 times
         on my way to a different problem. 
I glance backwards, and the stack of the day
multiplies, glancing backwards several times, 
the dog-eared corner with the graph paper sky of that morning
        and the logic of spring. 
Right before I wake, I hear the riposte of mean jays (blue dots
        that drag the pink banners of answers off the tree
with words in gold italic latin)
        from the fog pumped in by the machine
set on my lawn. First thing in the morning,
(page numbers in all the dish rags hanging around the sink)
         I part the buttery curtains
to see beyond the doric columns sitting on my porch & the
         hibiscus twig 
that someone has set the stump of such a tree—gray
         smudges and still intact line breaks
with flashing pink splashes— 
outside my house while I slept.
Seems unbearably cruel until
I realize that in the flapping fog I finally hear its questions. 
Are you so easily distracted
         by pieces of a poem 
attached to a tree?
         in which as the situation changes
you catch glimpses of yourself 
         a series of emoticons.


By Karen Volkman

In May’s gaud gown and ruby reckoning
the old saw wind repeats a colder thing.
Says, you are the bluest body I ever seen.
Says, dance that skeletal startle the way I might.
Radius, ulna, a catalogue of flex.
What do you think you’re grabbing
with those gray hands? What do you think
you’re hunting, cat-mouth creeling
in the mouseless dawn? Pink as meat
in the butcher’s tender grip, white as
the opal of a thigh you smut the lie on.
In May’s red ruse and smattered ravishings
you one, you two, you three your cruder schemes,
you blanch black lurk and blood the pallid bone
and hum scald need where the body says I am
and the rose sighs Touch me, I am dying
in the pleatpetal purring of mouthweathered May.

Karen Volkman, “May” from Spar. Copyright © 2002 by Karen Volkman. Reprinted by permission of University of Iowa Press. Source: Spar (University of Iowa Press, 2002)

Springtime in the Rockies, Lichen

By Lew Welch

All these years I overlooked them in the
racket of the rest, this
symbiotic splash of plant and fungus feeding
on rock, on sun, a little moisture, air —
tiny acid-factories dissolving
salt from living rocks and
eating them.
Here they are, blooming!
Trail rock, talus and scree, all dusted with it:
rust, ivory, brilliant yellow-green, and 
cliffs like murals!
Huge panels streaked and patched, quietly
with shooting-stars and lupine at the base.
Closer, with the glass, a city of cups!
Clumps of mushrooms and where do the
plants begin? Why are they doing this?
In this big sky and all around me peaks &
the melting glaciers, why am I made to
kneel and peer at Tiny?
These are the stamps of the final envelope.
How can the poisons reach them?
In such thin air, how can they care for the
loss of a million breaths?
What, possibly, could make their ground more bare?
Let it all die.
The hushed globe will wait and wait for
what is now so small and slow to
open it again.
As now, indeed, it opens it again, this
scentless velvet,
this Lichen!

Lew Welch, “[I Saw Myself]” from Ring of Bone: Collected Poems of Lew Welch. Copyright © 2012 by Lew Welch. Reprinted by permission of City Lights Books.
Source: Ring of Bone: Collected Poems of Lew Welch (City Lights Books, 2012)

The Burning Kite

By Ouyang Jianghe 
Translated by Austin Woerner

What a thing it would be, if we all could fly.
But to rise on air does not make you a bird.

I’m sick of the hiss of champagne bubbles.
It’s spring, and everyone’s got something to puke.

The things we puke: flights of stairs,
a skyscraper soaring from the gut,

the bills blow by on the April breeze
followed by flurries of razor blades in May.

It’s true, a free life is made of words.
You can crumple it, toss it in the trash,

or fold it between the bodies of angels, attaining
a permanent address in the sky.

The postman hands you your flight of birds
persisting in the original shape of wind.

Whether they’re winging toward the scissors’ V
or printed and plastered on every wall

or bound and trussed, bamboo frames wound with wire
or sentenced to death by fire

you are, first
and always, ash.

Broken wire, a hurricane at each end.
Fire trucks scream across the earth.

But this blaze is a thing of the air.
Raise your glass higher, toss it up and away.

Few know this kind of dizzy glee:
an empty sky, a pair of burning wings.