Haiku for AOL Instant Messenger

AIM had a good, long run.  From 1997 to last month.

No one who came of age using it still does, and still, it’s sad to see it go.

Here’s a story about it.

A few years ago I wrote this silly haiku that now seems more apropos:

 

A-I-M logo,

One day, you will stop running.

One day, you’ll be back.

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To a Poem is a Bott the Stranger

A few thoughts on this.

I’m not sure if I’m inspired by the overall success of some of the language or if I’m terrified by it. I am leaning towards inspiration, but I also tend to romanticize things.

That said, some lines really stand out:

“the wind is only for me.”
“there’s part of the world between the darkness”
“the father of the light is not a fist of the bones.

The line about the wind is almost identical to something I read yesterday, which I think was by Antler. I’ll share it here when I can find it again.

The darkness line is lovely, and reminds me of “Break on Through,” by The Doors.

“The father of the light is not a fist of the bone,” is to my ear very similar to the idea behind this line of Christian scripture: “anger does not produce the righteousness of God.” That’s James 1:20. James 1:17 says “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Data for Breakfast

Code is Poetry. This is part of the WordPress philosophy. As a coder and a poet, I have always loved this phrase. I decided to turn this phrase around and ask, Can I make poetry with code? Could I make a bot that could write original poetry? I created an experiment to find out.

First off, I knew that if my bot was to learn to write poetry, it first had to read poetry. In 2017, authors used WordPress to publish over half a million posts tagged as poetry. I reached out to some prolific poets sharing their work with WordPress and asked if they’d be willing to collaborate with me on a fun experiment: would they allow my bot to read their work so that it could learn about poetic form and structure, so that it might learn to write its own poetry? Special thanks to these intrepid…

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Pushing Through Fences

Twice in two days I’ve encountered poetry with the image of livestock pushing through fences.

The first was Robert Okaji’s piece I linked to yesterday.

The second, which I came across today, is from Valerie Worth:

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Years ago, we went to an adoption event at a local pet store. I had never had a dog, which every child should.  Childishly, I thought we’d bring home one of the black lab pups, industrious, oblivious, silly. But a year-old Aussie shepherd, brown and creamy and with people-eyes, pushed through the fencing of his black steel crate and asked to join our family.

I wrote yesterday about the healing power of dogs. He was the best at that.

Robert Okaji: Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter

Lava is an evocative image.  In the last week, I’ve seen in it three poems. One in a bookstore, one I wrote partly in response, and now this from Robert Okaji, published at Vox Populi: Robert Okaji: Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter.

It’s used very precisely and sparingly and at the same time almost jarringly Okaji’s beautiful piece. Steeped as I often am in pastoral imagery (that is, of things having to do with land and animals and farming),  I also found myself pleasantly surprised at how effective the image of the goat is here.  A beautiful poem, and very well done.

 

On Uses of Your Time

Before I became a pastor and a food trucker, I earned an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and taught writing for a season at a college in the Bronx.  Before I did that, I went to Yale Divinity School and got my MDiv there.

I write a lot.  Every now and then, I submit old or new fiction or poetry to various literary journals.  I’ve been doing this long enough to have watched the submissions process change from mostly postal to various electronic formats to the now-standard service at Submittable.  I’ve watched the rise of submission fees, and I refuse to pay them. I try to spend more time writing than writing about writing.  I’ve had various plan Bs.

There are more journals now than ever.  They all say variations of the same thing.  Send us your best work.  We are picky.  We want to highlight emerging writers.   And we do, and they are, and they do.  At the same time, there seem to be more small presses than ever, which is a good thing.  There are also more writers than ever, and here I mean very talented ones.

It is always tempting to start a new journal, edited and curated by me, reflecting only my tastes.  It is always tempting to do that, until you realize that means your own work gets pushed further and further to the back.

The key, I think, is persistence.

That’s not a revelation.  It may be a reminder.

No matter your vocation, and I really mean this, no matter your vocation, you will be tempted to give up because you’ve tried so hard, so long, because life or people aren’t fair, because the meritocracy has failed, because you hold current tastes in contempt (too much or not enough), because you are too revolutionary or your politics too nuanced.

The key, I think, is perspective. Live your life, take care of your family.  Take care of yourself, and let people help.

The rest will come.  Or won’t.   It’s not up to you or your talent. In the end, it doesn’t matter.  There are millions of talented people, and you are probably one of them, whether I know your name or don’t.  Bless the people around you.  Be talented in that, and build that talent up in you and other people.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Leonard Cohen. Ring the Bells that Still Can Ring.

I wrote this a year ago.  When I saw his name trending on this day last year, I was afraid that he had passed. He hadn’t.

Later in the year, he did.

Happy Birthday, Leonard Cohen. Ringing all the bells.

Source: Happy Birthday, Leonard Cohen. Ring the Bells that Still Can Ring.

Call to Worship: God Is Still Speaking

In the beginning, before we were born, before our grandparents met, before people fought over boundaries, before there were countries or planets or stars, in the beginning, before we were born,

there was God.

Before we learned to write or speak or even think words, God’s name was the rush of the wind in the reeds, the migration of continents, the burning of stars, the movement of love in the cosmos. Before all of these, God began speaking.

God said “I Am!” This is the Word that went forward creating all things. The Word was with God. The Word was God. Through God’s speaking Godself into space and time, all things were made.  Because God said “I Am,” God said “You Are.” In this way, all things were made.

After people began to fight over boundaries, after they’d charted maps and named stars, after they’d fled war and weather, this great I Am, which is God, became flesh.

In the tongues of the nations, he was called God With Us, God Saves.  He was called Emmanuel.  He was called Jesus. 

He was called the Messiah, the Christ, the One Anointed as prophet, priest, king.  The Word become flesh, the breath of God living and breathing, the Word who had brought forth all things.

God came as us. God came for us.  The God who spoke creation is here.

God found us hurting and needing and hungry.  God found us broken, afraid.  In the infant of Bethlehem, in the crucified God, we find God sharing our lot.  Speaking the language of our experience.

And God is still speaking.

Through the rush of the wind, through the courses of stars, through the turning of great wheels in the deep,

Through lowly birth, through a life on the margin, through betrayal by friends, through false accusations, through the injustice of empire, through death on a cross, I Am is speaking.

I Am says “We Are.”