Friday, February 16, 2024

Review: Joel Dias-Porter's Ideas of Improvisation


One facet of Joel Dias-Porter’s poetic that I find nearly endlessly fascinating, is that this is a poet who is able to meet the reader where they are. For example, I don’t have much knowledge of Pittsburgh, which is clearly held dear to the poet. I don’t quite fully grasp every aspect of what Dias-Porter is doing…there’s layers to this poetic…..what the maroon highlighted words are doing, although it appears these highlighted words are creating an entirely new/alternative poem...or another picture within the big picture of Ideas of Improvisation. There are aspects of the poet’s craft which remain a mystery to me, and I’m okay with that. Some of this stuff is likely above my head no doubt, however, Joel Dias-Porter writes an inviting stanza, with lively music & a keen eye for that which moves!  It is because of these valued aspects of his craft that I am eager to keep exploring, keep returning to this collection & opening the door for further discovery. I’m good with part of this being a mystery to me, if not lost altogether in certain respects.

Off the bat, Ideas of Improvisation & its music are delightful! Like a delving upon the lingual dance floor of an audacious sound selector who was raised on Emily Dickinson poems, all the while remaining just as studious with Ornette Coleman’s body of work as with Whitman or the Greek classics. Ideas is less verbal acrobatics & more relatable to verbal yoga—the speaker(s) are ever centered in their prowess for stretching & imploring & pushing the body of sound towards meaning & connection…whether you be a regular on Joel Dias-Porter’s dance floor, or whether you be a newcomer—there is much delight, many motions, many linguistically dexterous ignitions of vision…there are many possibilities on this dance floor of language.

The second aspect of this collection I noticed right away, and is an area of further exploration in continuing to read Ideas of Improvisation—I am surprised, curious & inspired by the movement of Dias-Porter’s lines. The ebb & flow. The peaks & valleys. If I didn’t know Dias-Porter, and I really don’t, aside from what can be gleaned from this body of work…I would guess this is the work of a trained or maybe self-taught Jazz musician. Don’t take my word for it though, just check this out:

…let’s say your brain is a Pittsburgh bound train

but your mouth is a horse drawn Amish wagon

and what dances across the stage of your cranium

isn’t always projected on the scrim of your skin,

or your voice twists trying to signal “I believe you”

since she believes inflections the way Crayola

once believed in a peach crayon called “FLESH.”


One reason to appreciate Jazz music, to my mind, is that the unadulterated, unexpected & unknown can shine through any given piece of music, at any given moment & often in moments extended & imbued with the player’s spiritual imprint, with the player's personality. There are no mistakes when your human spirit is the compass. And maybe you as a listener don’t know what is coming next, and maybe the human being behind the saxophone doesn’t know what’s coming next. This is the truth of the human predicament. And this is the ground where truth telling is allowed to flourish. Perhaps the only ground that truth telling is allowed to flourish: when the player’s spirit is intrinsically connected to the instrument, when the instrument is an extension of the player's very being. The above excerpt begins with an evocative music, the poet is connected to the instrument, the instrument flows from poet's being...the instrument in this case, language—

With this connection, the grounds of the poem are made fertile for planting of the truth. In this excerpt, (one aspect of the truth) is the absurdity & failure of human imagination to call a peach crayon “FLESH.”

What if, instead of “excerpt,” I use the word “sample” when speaking about pieces or tidbits of a poem removed from the overall context of the poem—when a portion of a Joel Dias-Porter poem is removed from its overall context within the poem itself—a sampling of the original composition—sure, the original context may be lost, but we also, as readers, get something new. One of the vividly exciting aspects of spending time with Ideas of Improvisation, is that the poems can be sampled, the lines can be flipped & time-stretched & tuned & pruned & each time you get something new.

Perhaps the original context is not lost at all. Perhaps the sampled lines can grow to enliven & enrich the textures & context(s) of the original composition…perhaps we as readers can develop a richer understanding of the poem as a whole, by using this sampling technique. Not unlike the technique that, say, the indelible A Tribe Called Quest producers, Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Q-Tip, would have used to craft the timeless work of art that is Scenario, for example. Have you ever listened to a Tribe record, and then found yourself sonically time-traveling back to Kool & The Gang, Stevie Wonder, Ohio Players? This is a similar situation with Dias-Porter's poems. Sample Joel Dias-Porter poems & you may wind up time-traveling back to Whitman, Dickinson, The Last Poets, Komunyakaa, etc.

So yeah, there is a rich & vital spiritual connection to Jazz & Hip Hop, to Black music, which is front & center in Ideas of Improvisation. I also want to explore something that seems to be uniquely Joel Dias-Porter’s. Actually, I am aware that there are other poets who do this. However, I haven’t yet encountered the level of style, the smoothness—the coolness—the down to Earth & simultaneous flyness—with which Dias-Porter manages this. Because when I’m reading these poems, I feel like I’m having a conversation with the poet & with the speaker(s). These poems feel like conversations.

And this feeling is emboldened by actual quotes interspersed throughout the collection. The spiritual connection to the instrument is made even stronger here the poet choosing to address the reader with directive commands. Not a command from any outside authority, but a command in the sense that seemingly extends from an inner-authority, an inner-confidence, an inner-knowledge—and the spirituality of these poems being rich & of depth—I’m reminded of the beauty & poetry found within the Quran.

When the speaker directs reader to, “Say / Buffalo buffalo buffalo,” or to “Say your friend Gigi claims it may storm later,” or to “Say the Creator my OG,” there is an authority established, but I don’t see it as an authority over anything or anyone, more so an authority that comes from the knowledge of oneself, and how one fits in & contrasts with the world, with society—an authority that comes from a direct knowledge of suffering, an authority derived from an understanding of human joy & toil & grace…an authority that comes from an understanding of the human predicament.

The speaker is seemingly consoling the reader, via a voice of understanding, a voice of connection. A voice rich in empathy. The directions are warm, I posit here, only because the sense of authority is coming from within. The speaker is rich in empathy...because of the authentic spiritual connection between player & instrument. After all, aren’t all poets to a certain extent speaking to themselves as well as to the reader/listener? Aren’t we also simultaneously speaking to ourselves in conversations with others. Walt Whitman is mentioned early on in this collection, so it seems Joel Dias-Porter may also sing a song of himself! Hypothesis!

There is a deep well of wisdom in this form of conversation, simultaneously poet to self & poet to reader. Are you looking for something? What are you seeking? Say the Creator my OG. Had your heart broken yesterday, last week, an hour ago...months ago and don’t know what to do about it now? Say your friend Gigi claims it may storm later. Do you see systematic injustice and obvious violations of the public’s trust on the part of those in positions of you see something or anything at all? Are you presently fighting for your life? Are you on the ropes? Are you taking those corners slowly? At high speeds? Or maybe you just want to dance with language, and with ideas and with time. Maybe you know this world is fucked up & it feels that way beyond measure sometimes, maybe you just need a reminder, maybe you want to remember that there is another human being out there somewhere, perhaps in Pittsburgh writing a brilliant poem right now, who sees that despair is always an option & continues to choose against it anyhow. Say Buffalo buffalo buffalo.


for Fritz, Harro, Ernst and Hellmuth

Say your friend Gigi claims it may storm later,
but the primary aspects of your spectrum
are aspic, raspy, an aspirant. So perhaps you
beam an asparagus smile because your brain
just conjured up Oran “Juice” ones singing
“I saw you (and him) walking in the rain.”
Is this why Benjamin Franklin invented the internet
so that people could talk, but not face to face?
When you look at people you can read the ratios
in the bone structure beneath their skin, almost
the way other folk can read people’s faces
like a vegan scanning a list of ingredients
but what if every expression was pimpled in Braille
and you had only catcher’s mitts below your wrists,
or suppose when told to let sleeping dogs lie,
you wondered how a Doberman could be dishonest?
Fact: The U.S. has over 95,000 miles of shoreline,
but on some plates the border between the country
of carrots and the province of peas will never meet—
let’s say your brain is a Pittsburgh bound train
but your mouth is a horse drawn Amish wagon
and what dances across the stage of your cranium
isn’t always projected on the scrim of your skin,
or your voice twists trying to signal “I believe you”
since she believes inflections the way Crayola
once believed in a peach crayon called “FLESH.”
And maybe you can instantly multiply and divide
four or five digit numbers in your head, but
what if—for once—grasping a metaphor wasn’t
like finding a formula to solve cube roots?
OK, perhaps Ben Franklin didn’t exactly
invent the internet, but the internet does
contain pictures of him inventing electricity.
Fact: Pittsburgh has over 400 bridges,
most of which don’t cross rivers, and say
she extends her hand to pat your arm
yet you jerk away because every finger
broadcasts radiostatic charge, and alright
Ben Franklin didn’t really invent electricity
but he certainly earned many pennies cutting
off lights during a thunderstorm,
so you try to stop to collect he new coins
of thought spilling from your pockets
even as you spot the pot on the back
of her electric range approaching a boil.
And we all know how you can hear even
incandescent bulbs like humming mosquitos
but as you attempt to read her tone spinning
like a Sinatra single on the platter of a Victrola,
Gigi just perplexes her head, peering
into your conch-like mouth as your arms
splay like a sea star mired in mocha sand
and her boat slowly begins to turn to steam.

Click here to purchase your copies of Ideas of Improvisation by Joel Dias-Porter, via Thread Makes Blanket.


Thursday, February 15, 2024

UNTITLED 459 (poem)

A self within the self, listen.
A child holding a kite string
is only the image, the image
moves into your mind, a house
that has never been bought
or sold. The kite moves through
the sky & before it can become
real, glimpse becomes biography.
Seeing becomes breathing.
Vision becomes heartbeat
as present becomes past.
Another voice. Another age.
Becomes rain. Becomes wind.
Becomes puddle. Becomes reflection
of the dimmed No of a Vacancy sign
flashing off & on at the motel on the corner
of 5th avenue. The child becomes man.
Becomes woman. The child is now gone,
the kite continues moving through
the sky because a poem is sometimes
an attempt to evacuate the self.
Holding silence like knife handle
to pomegranate, to understand your joy
& pain, to come to know something in
between yourself & this world. Of course,
if you make a bowl with your palms &
put them around your left ear,
it has been said time & again
that this is the way a flower never dies.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Checking in 2 | Celebrating the release of RESUSCITATIONS



Greetings & Salutations,

I'm pleased to announce that my first full-length collection of poetry is now available for purchase. This has been quite the journey, getting this book ready for publication. In fact, up until 2 weeks ago, I wasn't even certain that this book was going to happen. The idea hadn't crossed my mind yet. I wouldn't recommend attempting to do the work of 3-4 months in 2 weeks, but hey, se la vie! It was a worthwhile, if not trying, experience with the end result (hopefully) magnifying the beauty & strength of poetry!

RESUSCITATIONS is kinda the result of a split decision, 2 weeks ago I just realized that with my poems stash from 2021, 2022 & 2023...I had enough poems for a full-length collection (99 pages) & went ahead on the path to preparing this book. It was kind of unplanned, although I knew I wanted to release a book at some point, I had no idea that now would be the time. I guess sometimes a human being just needs to create a space of their own and keep moving forward with that space in mind.

I didn't send this manuscript to any publishers, for real, because up until 2 weeks ago—there was no manuscript! Ha ha. 

In any situation, RESUSCITATIONS is now available for purchase, please click here.

As well, if you have a few minutes (or 21 minutes, if you watch the entire thing), I held court via an impromptu poetry reading on Instagram Live last night. That video is below. 

Thank you to everyone who made this book possible. Thank you to anyone supporting the cause. I'ma be back with more books on the way. I have 2 completed manuscripts in the stash, one which I am shopping around, although I may end up self-publishing that one as well. And another manuscript which is in the nascent stages of laboring & loving. All in all, it's an exciting time for poetry around here, and I am working on a few very exciting things which have to be mum's the word right now. I promise to share good news though, when the time is right. Peace & Grace to you & yours, cheers to the poets & cheers to poetry.

Also, I wouldn't be me if I didn't mention this here. While I was putting the finishing notes & edits on RESUSCITATIONS, Rafah was being bombed & more than 100 Palestinians, including young children, were murdered. None of us can truly be free until Palestine is free.

For those that don't know, Rafah is located on the southern strip of Gaza, and it is the most densely populated piece of land on this planet. Rafah is also the place that Palestinians were told by the Israeli government to evacuate to when they began their attempted genocide 4 months ago. And now they are bombing Rafah & continuing the attempted genocide of the Palestinian people. None of this is lost on me, and the murdering of human beings in this manner, especially young children, is evil & insane, and should not & cannot ever be taken lightly.

If you are an American citizen, I implore you to use this link, via Jewish Voice For Peace, to call your representatives to DEMAND a cease fire NOW:






Monday, February 12, 2024

Review: Checking In by Adeena Karasick



Languish in the puissance of simple discipline; in the

swerved curse of pursed posits cresting rhizomes of

creped pursuit. Like sun-drenched penchance partita’s

gedichte seeds of oculus. Condiments tickle synecdoche.

- Adeena Karasick, Lorem Ipsum


The advancement of language, the evolution of musical language appear to be a cardinal concern, or aim, for Adeena Karasick.

These poems are endlessly musical. These poems are a sobering & tender slap to the face, and pat on the behind; at the same time. This is not to say that these poems are violent, because they are not. Moreso, these Checking In poems seem to serve as catalysts…they seem to be an attempt to wake up the reader’s psyche, to kick-start the human mind into a state not unlike ecstasy, or a trance-like state where the mind can let go of pre-conceived notions & bias…to find & create a sense of joy, to find & create something good within oneself. Yeah, Adeena Karasick writes spark plugs! Adeena Karasick writes keys into the ignition! Start your mind-engine, put your foot to the proverbial pedal & move! With the ebbs & flows, with the rising & falling, with the contradictions, expansions & contractions of the multi-verse. All is mind, baby! Adeena Karasick sees potential & possibilities where maybe nobody else does, and indeed, where none existed…until she created them.

At the opening of Checking In, a social-media-like timeline flows for multiple pages. Everyone from Ornette Coleman to Emily Dickinson to Papa Smurf is mentioned. They’re all “checking in,” as it is these days, with this poem / hybrid social media timeline. I couldn’t help but think of the absurdity of social media in general, as well as the connections made to these historical figures: “Charles Lamb is drinking Lambrusco” and “Walt Whitman is waiting for a Response!”

It seems reality is an ailment many of us are trying to heal from. Or, at minimum, reality out shines our understanding of it. I wonder what the poet would think about this statement, as she doesn’t hesitate to make attempts to bridge the gap between the known and unknown, seen and unseen. Each line weaves an array of wild & raucous wonder, momentarily tamed only by the one to follow. Each poem is an amalgamation of past, present and future oratories.

Let’s not forget this fact: poetry is often (& supposed to be) a fun endeavor. If not, dear reader, I implore you to find perhaps other reasons you choose to read or spend time with poems—do you want to enjoy yourself? Do you want to enjoy the time you spend with a book? Checking In is immensely enjoyable.

Part of what makes Checking In enjoyable is the light. What I mean, more precisely: the light of laughter. The light of a perspective that seems to recognize the absurdity of living on this planet, in this time; and can sort of trace this absurdity from the very ground the poet, or speaker, is standing on; to the immensity of the sky above—keeping in-heart everything in between, life can often be hilariously tragic, and tragically hilarious. I was reminded of the adage that: A tragedy can become a comedy with time & distance.

So, when Karasick writes lines with her inimitable wit & flare: “Al Green Day,” or “a leak of extraordinary gentlemen / a leak of their own,” I am not so sure that I always understand the path I’m being shown, as reader or viewer, yet somewhere along the path, it could be at the “end” of the poem, or somewhere in between the beginning & the end; I realize I’m thoroughly having a great time. This process feels almost unconscious. But the realization is made somewhere in my reading, and Karasick, like any great magician, has changed my mood! Has changed something within my being, has presented something fresh to my psyche which has evoked a positive reaction to being in communion, if only for a page or a poem, with her poetry.

Following the “path” metaphor further…I liken my reading of Checking In to walking a blindfolded stroll down a seemingly treacherous path, in which the poet also seems to also be blindfolded, yet guided by an internal source of music, and with this music as the guide, she leads my spirit, by hand, down this treacherous path. Meanwhile, the poet is whispering, singing, saying, cackling different tonal & vocal enchantments—different word formulations which I did not really expect to hear, to witness; different ways of speaking through the human spirit that allows this otherwise treacherous journey on rocky & wobbling ground to become akin to a walk in the park. Karasick’s determination in evoking the heart to laughter, to introspection & indeed to connect with the reader in this unique form & fashion is highly appreciated.

So, it is in this manner which I experience Adeena Karasick as a great seer, with a humorous mind’s eye which is inventive & courageous in its approach to language. I say courageous because comedy, humor; an eye for the absurd—these are “things” or endeavors which take an incredible amount of courage to emit & express—to see & be witness to the absurdity of life, the contradictory nature of the human predicament, the human mind, the often unwavering tragedy, the death, the violence following the human mind—to truly see this & to communicate our shared predicament in a way that I find unique to Karasick,  to be able to communicate an often heavy, an often dark & fear-inducing situation we human beings find ourselves in on this planet in a way that evokes & summons the light of laughter, of rejoicing, this can be an incredibly risky & potentially volatile undertaking.

Karasick seems to be acutely aware (& desirous) of the possibility of a symbiotic relationship between poet & reader, between speaker & listener, between poetry & life. The magic of this symbiosis seems to be that, what I see on the page, what plays in my mind, and what plays in the air as I attempt to speak these poems out loud—the magic seems to be a mysterious aura surrounding, enveloping, swirling & twirling around the vicinity of these words, these poems are magic, in part, because perhaps, aside from the default magic of poetry & art—creating something from nothing—these poems are magic perhaps because there seems to be vivid & ancient dance happening—Karasick almost invites you as a reader to dance through the pages, dance with the poetry…from the poet’s own mind & being to the page and eventually to the reader’s own mind & being. Beautiful.


I’d Like to be Under the [ ]


For inside Aleph, “the teeming se[e]”

~ Jorge Luis Borges


See Lily, si papa! See Poppies See Garden Sea Rose Sea

Iris Sea Violet awkward Veus posing among chimneys

with a rag of sea. See the Under Swam Fish thickening

logos star of the sea mother. See shrouds shrewn seared

with the cedilla under the C see. A holy thing to see

Sea laps as the lapis lapse. See Horses: Who will do it?

Out of manes? Words airs, birds. Si! Sea heroes horror

eros Rrose Selavy see here: Stained among salt weeds

see une saison en enfer the singing gut


Drenched as they pass see / when you have no eyes,

when your legs are wood. See them riding seaward

lingering in the chambers of the sea with sea-girls

wreathed with seaweed; an old time sea-flight. Seeth

no man Gonzaga his errs and his conquered lines   sea-

surge, wretced outcast hail-scur see the lofty moans of

dating ado see pieces poiesis a mirror of the depraved,

extacy ciphers sensorious


Son of a sea biscuit! see the best minds, season slays

sprawls sluff starved sunstruck see la mer, mercredi, claro

que Si! sea the wood for the trees, the trees for the forest

the colour of money how the land lies see double see

eye to i n’ sink into emboucher cool brush see; o

say can u [ ] as the dead see sees which way the wind


the eros of ways, the glass half mast, see the writing

on the whorl, the whirl up see.



From Talon Books:

 Checking In comprises a long poem and a series of other post-conceptual pieces – concrete poems, homolinguistic translations, Yiddish aphorisms – that offer exuberant commentary on the timelessness of digital information and our ravenous appetite for data and connection.

The title poem, composed as a series of faux social-media updates, is a parodic investigation of contemporary literary and pop culture. As a euphoric parade of “alternative facts” or “fake news,” “Checking In” offers satiric comment on the state of American politics. Each ironically investigative line erupts as a self-reflexive mash-up, speaking to our seemingly insatiable desire for information while acknowledging how fraught that information can be.


To order copies of CHECKING IN by Adeena Karasick, via Talon Books, click here.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Humane Connection 1: Breakfast Poems

There was a method to my madness when, last week, I was asking around Instagram for poets to contribute to a new project, seemingly, around the subject of Breakfast. The responses I received to this off-the-wall idea ranged from no response to surprise, confusion, excitement, literal light.

From my vantage point, and discerning by the results below, it appears that human & humane connection via social media is possible. Or, more precisely, all roads lead back to the Original Wheel. 

We (those who participated in the first Humane Connection round) hopefully already know that humane & human connection is possible via poetry. Therefore, for further exploration in future versions of this project, my question now is: How does the poet achieve humane connection? With the hypothesis that this process or 'achievement' or 'end' may not be an achievement or end at all, and might instead be the Original Wheel. My hypothesis, now, is that human connection is not an end to poetry, human connection is not an achievement of the poet, rather--human & humane connection is what brought the poet to the poem in the first place. The original wheel. Questions revolving around this hypothesis: What may the different 'paths' to & from this reason for coming to the poem (humane connection) look like? How does each poet understand, or find mystery within, the connection as they themselves understand & find mystery within this phenomena of human connection, this desire or appreciation for knowing & being known? Also, what might be other aspect of connecting, relating to and empathizing with one's fellow human beings that seems to be beyond knowledge. Is there such a state or phenomena? What might influence a forging & possessing of gratitude for connecting with one's fellow human beings, aside from knowledge? Etcetera. 

Side note: The format for publishing these results seems to be double-pronged at this point. So for further results, and editions of my Humane Connection project, all results will be published in 2 sections: POEMS & RECOMMENDATIONS.

 In any situation, below my introduction here, you will find the beginning results to my Humane Connection project. Thank you to everyone who contributed poems & recommendations for the first round of this project. Cheers to the poets, cheers to poetry.




A Daily Ritual

Making a good bowl of oatmeal Takes time; is like making an altar,
An offering of gratitude to the body:
Soaking the oats while making tea, preferably chamomile with Rosemary, let them sit for a while to take in the water.
After drinking tea, opening the pot, turning on the flame and stirring.
Stirring until it all becomes one mass,
Slowly pouring in the cinnamon and the anise until brown, until thick, Until it is a reflection of your own body’s need to be present in the world.
Then carefully scooping it from the pot to the bowl, sprinkling Chia seed and flax,
Topping with strawberries, blueberries and walnuts,
Dancing around the bowl
As if a Buddhist monk painting the ground with the sands of time,
Possessed like by some Holy Spirit,
Knowing this creation has already nourished your body in its making.

Sherese Francis @afutureancient




Sunday sunrise

Day opens
as peach
salsa, maybe orange
juice on the horizon. Sweet
peppers and hot
sauce simmer
with eggs over
easy while cooling on a light
blue plate.

K Weber @midwesternskirt





An orange
the imperfect
of an uncle
catching nothing
on the lake
just the eating
we return

Barton Smock @bartonsmock




Sometimes i take it & run
Sometimes it's already running

A fried egg slick
off the pan
over grits
with salt & pepper

Peanut butter toast
with banana slices
spark the spirit

Cereals loaded with sugar
are no good for the teeth

I knew a cat who used to take
a 12oz can of orange soda
97 cents a pop at the time
Every morning I'd see him
Turning more & more orange

Daniel Cyran @saintredwoodpoems





I’m hypoglycemic so breakfast is a must, unless I want to pass out. Most days it’s Earl Gray tea & oatmeal, but often it’s an omelette, or eggs and toast and a meat like sausage or bacon. Or waffles, I love waffles.

Joel Dias-Porter @djreneg8d




Oatmeal. Keeps me uninflamed.

Joe Hall @joe_hall_joe_hall

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The Collective Aura, or Song, of Planet Earth

Each individual person, everybody, everyone has their own music within their being. Part of the poet’s responsibility is to help or guide the reader, or listener, towards finding (& creating) their own music.

Because the heartbeat is a sacred “thing” – or, a sacred no-thing. Many times, sacred. So sacred, in fact, that even the mere idea of a sacred thing, action, or motion towards the meaning of sacred—is the source of one’s own knowledge, and the “storage” space for one’s own felt experience. Yes, I will posit here, the heart is the individual’s self-knowledge loading dock.

The individual heart of a person & the collective heart of the people must not be parallel lines that meet in infinity. This is not a craft essay per se, however, it is important to note that here, the poet’s craft is one vehicle, or vessel, through which the individual poet’s individual heart & rhythm can meet with the collective heart of the people, or, more precisely, one’s poetry practice, adherence to the desires, demands & expectations established by the individual poet via the practice of poetry…one’s poetry practice is simply a mode of tuning & fine-tuning one’s own heart-rhythm in tandem with the collective heart-rhythm of the people. With the collective heart-rhythm of planet Earth. This is how (hypothesis) the planet develops its aura, which can be seen from many miles away deep in outer space. That’s whole ‘nother essay though, ha ha ha.

The heart is magnanimous. Messy. A corn maze with crop circles and slumped scarecrows. Red-eyed bats swooping for your cranium. Some of them get so close and screech so loud and whoosh their wings so strong, you envision one of them carrying you off into the sky by the thinning skin of your cranium, like a carrier pigeon with a letter. The heart. A labyrinth. A match book on the counter next to rows of rose bushes in the mind. But the heart is not confined to the 5 senses. Which, I believe, is not a minor detail. The 5 senses can influence and affect one’s heart-rhythm & typically do. However, one’s own thinking & one’s one conjured mental processes can also influence the heart-rhythm.

Since the individual poet is a part, or shares a portion, in the collective heart-rhythm….that is, what is the collective heart-rhythm of this planet made of besides the total sum of individual heart-rhythms of each breathing, feeling, thinking human being & variously heart-based creature & plant on this planet?

I bet you’ve maybe heard of a kind of lettuce called hearts of romaine, for example. Is that an accident? If romaine lettuce has a heart, and you just ate it, so you know the heart of romaine lettuce is at lest as real as the language you’re using to describe & etch it with the markings of existence—& you can taste hearts of romaine in your mouth...since the individual poet shares a portion in the collective heart-rhythm of the planet, it is imperative that we take our work seriously. Even when we’re playing, I think play can be serious business as well—if for no other reason than play is a reprieve from the truly serious (& potentially soul-devouring) business of acting & facepainting that men & women perform day in & day out wherever they find themselves among the social hierarchy & societal (dis)order of any given day. 

Even when we’re playing with words, playing with language, arranging certain formations of ideas, concepts, having fun with it, etc—we have to take our efforts seriously because this is also work & whatever you focus on, whatever you put your attention & efforts on & behind, you catalyze, you are claiming & upholding something of importance, something of a priority, for that thing, that process, that action.

This work of a poetry practice is not important because someone says it is, it isn’t important because I say it is. Daniel Cyran is nothing. Ignore myself & just listen to the words flow from the page, or the screen, to your eyes & to your heart. Weigh & try what you’re seeing with your heart, try it on for size. Move with it. Sit still with it, walk it out. Walk it in. Listen with the gut. See with the heart.

If a poet does not feel their work is important, I do not want to read their work. Sure, there is now a metaphorical tight-rope presented, because I also do not want to read the work of poets who have an inflated sense of importance for their work. Finding out if the poet feels their work is important is usually easy, while finding out if the poet has an inflated sense of importance is usually a bit more foggy-laced travels through different mind-pathways. At the end of the day though, I’d rather read a poet who has an inflated sense of importance for their work, than a poet who doesn’t find what they’re doing even to be worthwhile. 

If I can say one thing with absolute certainty in this essay, it is this: I've felt like my work was worthless before, like it wasn't worthwhile, like it wasn't a worthy pursuit, either for me or anyone else. I've felt like what I was doing was not important & how often in the past I was guided more by boredom on the mental plane...or other less desirable motivations in place of the feeling that what I was doing mattered or was important, even if only to me. Say, I've even seen some have prosperous careers on boredom. It can happen.

Okay, I can say two things in this essay with absolute certainty: I have sometimes had an inflated sense of importance for my work. When I notice this inflation or ego-painting going on with a poem, or with a thought, or with something I’m doing at the time; this is when I need to stop. Let go. Breathe & sit back a bit. Ease up the knuckles on the wheel, take the foot off the gas, etc.

The ego glosses over its lines with a mentally stimulating gilding which covets all & appreciates none. This is also part of where I feel generosity, or anything truly of goodness, comes from—the positive literally exists because of the negative. And vice versa. Symbiosis, or, a union of opposites. If I zoom out from this idea for a second, I will also posit here, or remind my dear reader, since this is not a new idea at all—I’m not introducing anything new when I say that the universe is ruled by contradiction, and that opposites cannot exist without one another. Polarity is a universal law.

Think about it. When you look out at the stars, you wouldn’t see the stars without the mysterious, black space surrounding the stars, holding the stars like one might hold a baby dove or small bird in the palms of their hands. If you spend time watching candles like I do, you know that the “wind” or the air surrounding the flame holds the candle flame. Same idea. The light of the stars is held by the absence of the light of the stars. The candle flame is held by the absence of flame. So it goes.

Because at this point, when I feel too much of something, whether it be importance...or anger, lethargy, hunger, fullness or…ego-glossed & varying delusions—there needs to be mental oppositions to these phenomena. On the mental plane, there needs to be opposition to the ego before these thoughts transfer onto the physical plane. Or else the whole shit, the brain
from the stem to the crown—& the mind, the mind goes haywire & one’s discernment, which can usually be a reliable compass on the mental plane, can begin to deteriorate & malfunction.

So the opposition on the mental plane to inflated self-importance, or to the ego’s prodding & pulling at the idea that one needs to feel what they are doing is important, and one also needs to have discernment to see, or try to see, where their work fits in with the Big Picture—have you ever looked out at the stars & black space between them & wondered? That’s the big picture I’m referring to here.

There is no over there over there. There is no over there. There is only here. Hear yourself. Listen. The dance of life isn’t always set to external music. What is called improvisation is often a simple adherence to the music already present, perhaps previously created & found within oneself.

People have their own music. Each individual person has their own music. And homo-sapiens, human beings, also have a collective song. All of life has a collective song. Raven & crow & macaw have a heart in the collective song. Ant & ant eater have a heart in the collective song. Rock & stream & tributary & ocean have a heart in the collective song. Black man & woman have a heart in the collective song. Indigenous man & woman have a heart in the collective song. Every race & creed of creature with a heart, has a heart in the collective song. Man, woman, child—and every social denomination in between, have a heart in the collective song.

One problem we as a species run into, I think, is when there is opposition to the process of seeing another heart. Heart recognizing heart in the collective song. Instead of a heart recognizing heart, we human beings are placed (& often place ourselves, are coerced or forced) into social & economic situations where a heart is not necessarily allowed or enabled to recognize another heart in the collective song. This happens all the time, every day & every hour.

So, this is part of the circumstance a poet is faced with—how can we bring the attention back, how can we create a possible return? How can we invent (from seemingly nothing) a possibility of return for the person witnessing, or experiencing, or interacting with, or listening to, or seeing the poet’s work—how can we create the possibility for our audience to return to the primal & ancient recognition & realization that allows the human being, that allows the river, that allows the sky & clouds, how can we create a possibility for a focus to see a heart to another heart? This is part of my poetry practice, and this is always one of my material & spiritual goals with my poetry practice: the recognition of one heart by another heart & another heart, the realization that the collective song, the collective heart-song of life reverberates & sings through & for & with every living being on this planet.

*Note: This essay is included in RESUSCITATIONS, my debut poetry collection. Click here to order your copy.

Friday, February 2, 2024

HAWK (poem)


you come around & the others flutter flatter fled
red eye fly & all your eyes in the mind hidden
by strange instances & not an ounce of human technological impatience
& spiritual impotence can i ask you why the unconscious
stop me if i'm repeating myself why the unconscious
drips from your descent onto this chainlink fence
where did you get these wings you come around & a moment
is crystalized into the invisible serum of air into vision remembering
solidifying ties to the otherside above & beyond you look
down on human affairs with...what? i do not mean to startle
you with these questions, tell me though, where is the river's
return what do you think of the police on every corner or
cameras at the stop light or beggars asking for too little or
too much how much of vertigo colludes with a sense of dee-rection,,, these deserts
our brothers & sisters in the air in the mind of all in the moon
hanging on to a cloud a crowd hanging on to your no words no mind
no spoon no bending is it not you responsible for the wind through eucalyptus through
yer answers are no answers but the lilac & the river's mouth but these deserts
crowned the back of my hand i know yer aura dear brother i know yer
flight is divine & from there one can only negate as to the what,,, yer flight is no moving picture
yer flight is not an emerald or a diamond spit out by earth's dirty tongue no yer flight
is not resuscitations of the primal unconscious you come around & the moment slides off
the clock to the floor & time becomes a peach pit darkened by the timeless & human beings desirous of all things all at once & human priorities & does contradiction also rule yer universe are we
under the same sun & do you ever see a star in the sky & wonder who what you are & how,,,

*Note: HAWK (poem) is included in my debut poetry collection, RESUSCITATIONS. Click here to order your copy.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Of the Irreal in Dream-Life...


 A dream is only as surreal as it can be compared to reality enough times, with the repetition of consistent results notwithstanding, that is to say; on whose and what authority does one surmise that what is happening in the human being’s waking hours is not a dream itself? One can begin to ascribe likenesses to this process, one can say this experience is like a dream, or is like a waking state, and further, one could say this experience of waking time is like running backwards in dry sand with a campfire on the tip of the tongue. After all those likenesses have been exhausted, then, what can be said of this experience of waking life? What, precisely, is this?

I look to surrealism as a bridge, a middle-ground to the unconscious mind, or to whatever one wants to label it, because I do not trust anyone to tell me or enforce, really, upon me that all this happening during man’s time while awake is real, or more popularly endorsed: man’s waking life is more real than their dream life. Bullocks. I’ve never ridden a horse, or a pig for that matter. I’ve certainly never danced with a bull, and I was taught well enough from a young age to not be a sucker, to know what shit smells like, and that there’s no need to eat it. All shit, as far as my being is concerned, has a one-way ticket that way. Break a leg. Break a vase. Break a vase and a leg, for all I care, just make sure you exit stage immediately. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

When curiosity gets the better of me, I will search deeper for this question of whose authority is it placed upon, that somehow the masses of human beings, suffering and ailing as we are, have agreed that dreams don’t possesses any utility in waking life. At least not in the marketplace. Or in the classroom. Or in the doctor’s office. Or at the polling booth. Dreams seem to be relegated to the shadows. Sometimes, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll hear of a stranger’s dreams perhaps in a bar. Often times they are broken there. Or if you’re still even luckier, maybe you’ve listened to someone talk about their dreams late at night, perhaps under the stars, or around a camp fire, or with a couple cups of hot coffee. Still if you’re even among the luckiest, you’ll be able to share your dreams with a loved one. And they will share their dreams with you.

Still I have to wonder—in all of these times in which one would be considered lucky to encounter the dreams of another, or if one were to imbibe another with their own dreams, and be lucky to meet a warm or even unbothered reception; all of these conversations typically hinge upon the agreement between us that dreams and waking life happen on separate playing fields, on separate planes—and the popular assumptions seems to remain that it is quite alright if these two experiences are kept in isolation from each other.

To make this assumption and the pretense that it holds any weight is definitely a treacherous ground to stand upon. It was once told to me that there is no ground. Groundlessness. If you can get used to that, this stint on planet Earth doesn’t get too bad after all.

I’ve been in the midst of a few earthquakes, and witnessing and experiencing the Earth beneath oneself shaking with such spontaneous fervor is about the scariest thing I never thought I’d get to witness as a young child. At the same time, during an earthquake, thanks to evolution or g-d or whoever or whatever is responsible for the human being’s survival instincts; there is no time to reflect. It’s go-time, baby. Get your ass and your skull beneath something sturdy. Get your body and those around you to safety. I have no choice but to shake my head at the earthquake drills the schools I attended in California & Oregon back in the day used to run. To think now that the teachers and school staff had me (and nearly all of my classmates) believing that a flimsy roll top, one-chair school desk, just big enough to fit a healthy 9-year-old student, was going to stop a crumbling ceiling from destroying our respective physical existences—

And I will posit here that the similar idea behind the concretizing of so-called differences between dream life and waking life is the culprit to the delusional approach to living which holds very little value for dreams, the unconscious & the action of dreaming? Going farther, as a 9-year-old child I had no foresight to see how powerful an earthquake could be, until I had indeed experienced it on my own, some years later. Thank heavens I wasn’t at school! Those desks wouldn’t protect one from a falling light fixture, let alone an entire ceiling and the entire building’s structure under the pressure of an angry Earth. Now, what about the application, translation & utility of one's dream-life to the waking world? Who put us up to this task of cowering beneath a flimsy roll top desk, whenever the opportunity to contemplate or explore this subject of one's dream-life & waking life? A dream-life which possesses a certain vitality, a vast & deep dream-life can be unquantifiably rewarding. 

I humble myself to think I'm not alone in the perspective that I find the non-quantifiable nature of exploring one's dream-life & unconscious mind as a characteristic of richness & strength, and not a weakness or deterrent. Something that cannot be measured, or that is a challenge to measure in concrete terms, I will posit here, can be seen as closer or more intimate with the Infinite, with the mind of all, than it is with nullity. The tao that can be spoken is not the eternal tao...

One of the major reasons I am drawn to poetry is because I can throw away all these pre-conceived notions, which seemingly were passed down from time immemorial, from one mind to another. Boom. Boom. Boom. Finito…these assumptions & inherited traumas, or turmoil, in relation to the dream-world don’t exist if I don’t give credence to them to begin with. 

Now, if I can approach each poem, each book, each breath with this understanding; that I can write and say whatever I want to, that all poets are indeed by some universal (?) grace gifted with this opportunity, that the dream world is absolutely as real, and as (or more) intriguing, as waking life, and often times if I can listen to myself, to whatever is surrounding me, whatever is occurring simultaneously, happening while I am also happening, if I can see that a glimpse of this happening is indeed of the same source, all this happening is of the same energy; that is, I make the assumptions, I make the calls on whose and what authority a claim is made in my work. This is an extremely valuable endeavor. Human beings are blessed and cursed with the endeavor of finding out, to know to what we belong, to know where we are going, to know & seek that which we come from. It seems viable at this point & with these circumstances to lean into one’s own unconscious mind, to prod & probe & plunge & ride the magic of a rich & adventurous dream-life, to find & create some answers worth repeating, worth investigating further, worth cherishing with the depth and breadth of the spectrum of vitality found within the very human capacity to wonder.




*Note: This essay is included in RESUSCITATIONS, my debut poetry collection. Click here to order a copy.