Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday 20 November 2006


Ruth and Diane, a happy pair, mother and daughter, walk around Green Lake. Ruth is 90. She just came from the doctor's. She just flew across the country. She walks in delight. Walks around the lake. What does she walk for? Life, love, air? It is winter at Green Lake. Raining and cold. They are bundled in scarves and hats.

Ruth is a Reed College graduate. Left leaning, liberal Reed College in Oregon, has a 10:1 student to faculty ratio. The school's motto, "Communism, Atheism, Free Love."

Ruth is all smiles. Understandably. She has written and published poetry. She had traveled. She has reared a family. What can I offer Ruth today? She has everything. She's read everything. Hikmet? No, she's not read Hikmet. I gift her my copy. She is happy. Hikmet embodies Ruth's spirit.. her force. They will be like old friends meeting.

Before they depart, Diane recites "Menu for Morning" from memory, by Alaskan poet Tyler Henshaw. And off they go.


Caroline and Chelsea brought their doggie for a run and stopped to say hello. They came to announce their news. A recent marriage. Bellissimo! Vissi d'amore! They read a Mary Oliver poem at the ceremony. "Coming Home." A sweep of lights. A shift of focus. Look out for sorrow. Slow down for happiness. Find yourself in the movement "along the dark edges." Oliver doesn't destroy the forces "deep and nameless" or deny the unpleasant things. Instead, she proposes a challenge to make "the right turns." Like driving in the dark, you must navigate your way to happiness.


Clinton navigates his way through Sherwood. He bears a basket of red things, tender and resolute. Ringed with raspberries, which all day long excited my visitors. Cold rain and tender buttons. Ooo raspberries! Rasp-berries. And pomegranates and persimmons and apples. Thank you.

This caring is unprecidented. This community caring for their poet. And I do not feel embarassed by it. And I do not feel indebted because of it. They are not bringing these things to me. They are bringing these things to you, dear poet, it is you they are caring for.


Forever done / With simple joys and quiet happiness / He guards the vision of the sunset sky;/ Though faint with weariness he must possess / Some fragment of the sunset's majesty"

--from "The Poet" by Amy Lowell (1874-1925), from A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass

The division. The division within. The fragment. The sunset you contain. Your ability to contain. To sustain. And relate this majesty.


In the never-ending rainfall, I collect leaves. My hands work awkwardly. I need to keep them moving, busy myself, or the cold will prevail.

I shape a flourish of willow leaves in the lawn. The yellow and brown slivers scattered through my meadow. I am bent collecting leaves. Pulling yellow into my hand, bearing a clutch of leaves. A few more before I give over the bunch. Scuffing my corduroy cuffs through the mud to the end of the trail.

I lay before me a leaf road as Susan comes striking her humble stance, if a bit brave, inquisitive, if ajar, barely, pared in her head kerchief, a clothespin in the rain.

"This is the first time I have seen you without counsel. I have seen you before." "Hello hello." "What are you doing?" "All sorts of things. Making a leaf scroll in the grass. It is cold today. Cold and wet. Not so many people stop on a day like today. Even fewer than you might think."


But the wind is blowing the lake away. And the horses are drawing the ducks and coots in their teeth. The water birds are blowing ashore. They wash up here, under "Cloud." Huddled and treading the rushes. The wind blew all the leaves from my favorite tree. Only six tulip leaves remain. The birds are not at all pleased. As a rule, they refuse poetry in this weather, though it is poetry blowing them ashore.

This is a weather for counting one's coins. Of all of my coins, the tulip, birch and willow, I count the golden spears of the willow. Trail them out in a line from my white pine tree, where I have been taking shelter, curving around my tulip to the center of my meadow, where all summer I sat in full sun, in marguerite and clover scented days, awaiting the shadows. First it was the tulip, then the willow shaded me, as the sun drew south. Marking time. Time to fold my papers, tuck my letters in my desk.

It grows pale. The rain lets up. Sheer clouds high and peach before the sun. The denser clouds rose over. In slips the golden hour. The magic hour. Suddenly, Sherwood goes red. The supernovas over the ball field will explode soon and outshine the twinkling city.

There are no small lights on the pedestrian path around Green Lake and so I grow dim and dumb and am lost to the forest, which I have paddled all day. All day I have paced and paddled the woods and the meadow. All day I moved in and out of the gray light of the firs. My eyes have adjusted to their reflections. I have paced and read. It is easier to read than write in this weather. My hands are too cold to make the pen work and the paper won't accept ink. So I read.


I have taken to the greenwood of Sherwood Forest. Now that the rain has stopped, the juncos have come to harvest the insects in the matted pine needles. From nowhere they came, like Merry Men of Sherwood. Twitching and darting. Behind this one here, another catches my eye, twitching, and another to the left and right of that, and here is another underfoot. These are the winter birds, "Oregon juncos," with tan breasts, brown jackets and dark hoods that comes down to their shoulders. Proper bandits, here to steal and distribute their loot among the poor in poetry.


This morning I read "Overture" from vol. 1 of Proust's Swann's Way, Remembrance of Things Past. À la recherche du temps perdu. What does Proust have to say about nostalgia? Memory figures into the distinction between intelligible and unintelligible. Proust seeks the gelatin stuff, that which survives the passage of time, that which stays through the ages, condenses and collects at dusk and dawn when matter gains and loses form, when weight finds its way into things and seeps out again.

Proust recognizes a point Oliver Sacks outlines in his article on whole body seeing and the newly sighted ("The Mind's Eye: What the Blind See"). How sound travels and contours the environment, how rain tickles the grass, how a train whistle punctuates the distance, and shows "in perspective the deserted countryside through which a traveller would be hurrying towards the nearest station." Nature, complicit with our senses, grows around us. Trickles in through every orifice. Forms memory and is formed by it.

Proust is concerned with "the sleeping man" who "has in a circle round him the chain of hours, the sequence of the years, the order of the heavenly host." He "instinctively, when he awakes, looks to these, and in an instant reads off his own position on the earth's surface and the amount of time that has elapsed during his slumbers." It dawns on me, reading this now, how the path here at Green Lake, the speedway around which we measure our time and health, this hour-long chain, is for some that wakeful state, that true existence, the land beyond slumber.

The objects at Green Lake no doubt sequence a life, to some degree, for the individuals who frequent it. The revolutions of the Circler enable him to read off his position. The tall trees, Duck Island, the boat house. These all figure into the placing of self. Must this mean that man is sleeping? I argue no. What is intelligible? What is unintelligible? If we figure in The Poetess, the wind that blew the tree, the improbable tracks through the meadow, that golden thread dangling from the sky, the hour glass over my tulip tree, we are myth-making still, pacing in the rooms and moments that stand between our sleeping and our waking.

Proust suggests that memory that makes us unique. The way memory aids in our self-locating. Memories, how we approach the world, the environment, the objects around us. By sifting through memory, we gain position with respect to time and space.

What difference is there between self and memory? Is memory a distraction from the present, a distraction from the self? Might such constant distraction keep us from the eternal pains and losses of life? How does memory keep us from the value of the moment? Shall all joy, for all times, reside in the past? How will we ever know a present joy?

The story wants to resolve. This is the tendency of things. To resolve. What will our resolution be? The resolution of our story? Is there resolution in the idea of "home?" If endings portend new beginnings, and with them the promise of joy, present joy, why do we still fight the story's ending? Beginnings are difficult. And difficult things are, as we know, difficult. To begin takes everything we have. To begin again is draining.

How many times can we afford to be born? What can we afford to lose? To leave behind? What part of the story will we consecrate as memory? What part forget and what hold onto? This is myth-making, taking bits of the experience and shuffling them to make a new meaning. Filing the bits away, with the attendant senses and sights. Going back and drawing out these new convinctions and pieces of furniture. The chain of hours.

Does not the creation of art preclude our being lost? Does not art require presence? We must, every day, decide to awake, decide to accept the definitions we've accumulated or question them and begin again.

As children, we thought our parents static beings. Even as we began to see how they were sculpted by time and experience, to our minds that process happened long ago and long ago ceased to be working upon them. They were, to us, finished works with fixed roles, mother and father. It was unthinkable that they be part of another story. They were a part of our story. And so, as we grew from age to age, eighteen, twenty-five, thirty, almost forty and so on.. it surprised us to learn that our parents had been changing all along. As certain as we were changing, they were changing. It surprised us to see how growing up did not in fact mean growing, but slowing, changing, working, small turns to or away from relationships, travels, meaning. We realized how difficult change was, how and when change was forced and how chosen. How much of that process was in our hands, how much needed to be accepted.

Because I could not afford a car, I began to walk the 5 miles to work. Not long into my role as a walking commuter, I came to accept, as a gift, the things I saw and experienced. Later, I changed my thinking. This pattern, I realized, was not forced, but chosen. In time, it became a role. This walk, this choice, this who I was. There is no denying it formed me as a person as much as I formed it into a decision. It drove my thoughts.. on life, design, art, health, the environment, politics. I cannot say what part of me it did not touch. Perhaps the part of me it did not alter is who I am?

I will never forget the evening I crushed rosemary between my fingertips exclaiming, "This moment, I will remember." I set the moment aside. I tagged it with texture and scent. I was in the backyard garden of a house in Wallingford, a neighborhood of Seattle. A mild summer evening. The guests were in sportscoats and sandals. We had finished passing a bowl of heavy cream around to collectively whip it for shortcake. People were lingering on the patio, in the garden. "Proust's trademark, a profound sensory experience of memory, triggered especially by smells, but also by sights, sounds, or touch, transports the narrator back to an earlier time in his life" (Wikipedia).

Taking the experiences of life and performing work upon them. This is what you do when you set out to experience a thing. Today, I shall take a walk. I am reading an important book. I aim to make that high point there. This candle will keep her memory alive. Just see how I have arranged the salad! Behold this orange. The scent of this rosemary.

"A large part of the novel has to do with the nature of art. Proust sets forth a theory of art, democratic in appearance, in which we all are capable of producing art, if by art we mean taking the experiences of life and performing work upon them, transforming them artistically, in a way that shows understanding and maturity" (Wikipedia). Tossing a salad. Buttering bread. Applying pigment to a canvas. Breathing into a flute. A palm on a stretched animal skin. We are all capable of producing art. And I do mean art. The finest there is. The art of living.

Proust points out your hand in the making of immobile things. You, yourself, have convinced these things to be what they are. Immobile. Concepts. Convictions. Tables and chairs. Known objects with predictable behavior. Once the things around you settle into themselves, your mind ceases to struggle. What a relief! What a struggle it was, at dusk, at dawn, to create the world again, to situate yourself on earth! Your settled mind is capable then of pedestrian things. A mind that has shifted through the layers of sand and bottomed out on the mud base is capable of labor and simple talk, weather and sports. Able to spectate, rest and withstand all it must see and accept. Life is mundane. The mind will wake when it is time. To begin. To reject.

The mind that slumbers with the weight of the objects around it, that which recognizes and glues down the furniture, is in its own way paying homage to the designs and ideas that have reached us through time. Endorsing them. Allowing for a cultural memory. This is part of a hypnosis and serves its purpose. Sports, weather, rest, the ability to accept these things.

Have we lost nostalgia in the passage towards weight? Where is the home we seek? Is this home a memory? Is it nestled in things past? Better not to seek it? In what direction shall we go? Can a life of beginnings entertain "home?" What sort of home is reached through movement? What sort is reached by moving back and forth, pacing? The pacing of the mind. For each visit to our memory, we pick up another piece, as if a file where everything done and said and thought lays waiting its moment, to be plucked and made relevant. Is it possible to reach home by performing work on a previous home? I ask, is such a thing possible? Is any thing possible?

It comes down to if. It comes down to the body. Labor and the collective matter. It comes down to movement for the sake of, not the perfection of, movement. It comes down to movement.

And if bodies move. And if you wake up. If bodies collide. If you begin. And you turn and settle in. If you labor or sleep a bit more.

Sunday 12 November 2006


104 leaves left on my tulip tree, my right tulip tree, the one with which I sympathize and identify.


Bye, Baby Bunting,
Daddy’s gone a-hunting
To get a little rabbit-skin
To wrap my Baby Bunting in.

Travis, a regular visitor, has shared with me the news of Brendan Kiley's article in The Stranger, "The Urban Hunt," in which Kiley recounts a summer spent trapping and eating wild urban animals from rabbits to doves to slugs to geese. I have printed and read it.

Have you ever killed an animal with your bare hands? Skinned and eaten an animal? Do you eat meat? Then who is skinning it? Deboning and preparing it? How did you gain such privilege? Is it a privilege? Bypassing this activity allows you to..? Enables you to...? Save you from...?

I have challenged Travis to trap and skin a rabbit. He is up for the challenge. I will do the same. We have until Easter, sinister as that may sound, to catch, kill, skin and eat a rabbit.


Wind and rain all day. All day. Wind and rain.


Maya Beiser presented "Almost Human" at On the Boards on 17-18 November (2006) for which she accompanied, on cello, video works by Bill Morrison and Shirin Neshat.

The accompanying video work of Bill Morrison was critical and moving. Using found 16mm film footage, he plays and replays their signage, recaptures and loses their histories. Explores a world of decay and regeneration. Matter and Memory: A Conversation with Bill Morrison .

The video of a Miao woman singing a folk song, calling to an unseen partner, presumably over a mountain, which in this case is really Maya Beiser on the cello, the Miao woman smiling hopefully through her faith-born song, brought to the fore both the worth and signifigance of our communication.


behind the plateau
a world the way the world was
a million years ago
before the interruption of history
water jumping
over all the images
with the pattern of death
the way water stretches
&bubbles their faces &chests
death in the edge of a water drop
the way water cuts a head off
bisects a scene
drops &disappears
&you can’t find it again
but it’s looking for you
&finds you
who’s lost then
is it death
the way the white balls dance
burn &melt
the way the skeleton dances
is it death
this glue
the landscape waving
galloping shaving
the car alarm in your voice
your self-duplicating sentences
you are multiplying
by 6 by 7 by 8
why bother with family
with orchestra
when you can fill yourself
a room with your sound
design an explosion
instead of going out or in
slide like a door
fill the horizon with a replica
a paper the horizon of yourself
the 20th century
is impervious to your sliding
your superficial gliding

Sunday 5 November 2006


Something springs and spills. The leaf litter along Aurora turns to scum. Another layer falls. More is promised. Just look above.

My meadow is changing. Now that I am looking, this is always true. Yellows and browns lace the green glade. Through green days. In a tri-color of tatters. The tweeding of matters.

This brown is every brown. The brown of over-ripe pears, of half-burnt books, the almost black of wetted walnut shells.

My tulips are off to bed. 200 leaves still cling to their twisted gray limbs, leather scrap, skins, all crisped and blown. My 3rd tulip, a roadside tree, stands tall and yellow. Thinner than summer.

Here in the meadow, where grows my desk, was planted a totem. By whom? The wind? A golden sprig pushed in the ground. Will it sprout or yellow? This larch totem is the most human of changes.

from The Song of Hiawatha
Great men die and are forgotten,
Wise men speak; their words of wisdom
Perish in the ears that hear them,
Do not reach the generations
That, as yet unborn, are waiting
In the great, mysterious darkness
Of the speechless days that shall be!
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1854)


Not cold, but cool. Water wells about the trees. The air is dry and brisk. The sky, gray, translucent. No music, no bells. The morning is a motor. Cars groan and growl into sight and whisper away. Airplanes howl their heaviness to the heavens. The tulips not so much shake as wriggle, frozen, brown, withering, wriggling in the hurried wind.

11:14am. Bells. Trinkets. Something enduring. Something begins.

Outside of the evergreens, everything is golding, golding. The willows, the firs, the birch leaves, thrushes. The runners. Their faces, skins.

This week, this phase, phrase, is the lighting of strings, the stringing together of voices, the pulling of history out of place. This phase, phrase, is the poetry of things. One pulls on another. One seeks meaning. Another attention.


Where we are is where we are. What is sanct about this place? How shall we homage it? How call such a place?

When the question is put, and it will be put, you will need to answer it. You will need to summon a poet. There is time now. To teach her. Learn her. Crawl in her skin. Into her rhythm and voice. Follow her trail to the summit. Learn her. Go and greet her.

It is raining. The persistence of water defines my space. I cannot hear my landscape, meadow or the forest. The trail and lake are silent to the umbrella's applause.

The bitter cold of last week has mellowed. The world is lush and warm again. A gray day with a mild wind. For hours and hours I am alone, so wonderfully alone in the world. Walking backwards through my meadow. Turning circles. Deliberate steps, measured. See I walk, see? I've taken a step. And another. Feel my humanity upon this carpet. Heel-toe. My knees crane. Heel-toe. My knees. Off to the middle of my meadow, their eyes are upon me. Those tiny birds with their blunt white beaks, like thorns on their faces. Darting, flinching, rummaging through the forest. Weightless bellies rearranging the needles on the forest floor. A double dozen black-hooded bushtits.


9 visitors today. My lowest volume yet. It rained all day. To be standing in a rain-washed meadow for 10 minutes is no problem. To be walking in the rain is not a terrible chore. To stand for 8 hours, though, is saturating. Flooding and aggravating, to body and spirit. The rain over a brown-green meadow.

"Rain is rain unless you attend to it" [Floyd Skloot, In the Shadow of Memory, p 66]. After an hour or two I begin to attend to it. And walk my deliberate walk, into the meadow's heart.

from In a Dark Time
In a dark time, the eye begins to see
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood –
--Thedore Roethke

from Emergence
A human mind is small when thinking
of small things.
It is large when embracing the maker
of walking, thinking and flying.
--Joy Harjo


Dan and Sue listened as if they were completely unaware of anything remotely poetic having ever existed. And then began to release their poetry onto me. Just back from The Isle of Wight, having walked the Tennyson Walk to a bluff, to a memorial, Sue described the gate around the monument with the poems pinned onto it. Poems written by locals, adults and children. She recited one or two from memory. Sue and Dan, the fine and traveled parents of an artist named Mimi, who welds gates and fences in the Northwest.

from Inviting a Friend To Go Out for an Excursion
I want so much to go out beyond the West Gate and see the lovely hills.
--Gao Qi/Kao Ch'i (1336-1374)


I read Glyn Maxwell's "Stargazing" to my visitors. "After the wave of pain, you will turn to her/and, in an instant, change the universe/to a sky you were glad you came outside to see."

You will change the universe.

After a wave of poetry. A wave of wine. A wave of blue. A most intense yearning. Silence. Bliss. Or dejection. Turn. And in an instant, which might seem 3000 feet, or 10 hours. Which might seem a snake bite or a looped dream. Might seem a melted chip or a spear of ice. The sky you were glad of. The sky of you.

"This is the act of all the descended gods/of every age and creed: to weary of all/that never ends, to take a human hand,/and go back into the house." Recycle yourself. Recognize the gods about you.

Phyllis and Diane came for a poem. They requested my verse. I read from Crab Creek Review. Two short poems. I explained the word fiu in "apostrophe to the eternal." "I am fiu" is heard in French Polynesia. It expresses a feeling of being tired or fed up. "It is a feeling of becoming totally remote from everything and everybody" [Tahiti Guide].

Phyllis and Diane are slowly recharging. Regenerating. They are self-proclaimed fiu-busters, charging forth.

But what of "the poetics of boredom?" What of the light and water?

light &water

&love &light
&water &love
&water &light &love


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday 29 October 2006


It rained for 3 straight hours, beginning when I walked past the zoo. I carried my desk to the lake in the rain. I was cold and wet through before the day began. By mid-morning, there was hail popping out the grass. And thunder. When the sky finally opened, it turned to rain again. And wind. A tall tree fell on the Shell Gas Station on Aurora, taking down electric lines. The fire department closed south-bound lanes. Leaves fell in waves.

It is too wet to write. The paper won't accept ink. A fragment I jotted down one dry spell:

My fingers are not working. It is almost 11. It has been raining for 3 hours. I am wet through and very cold. I have been reading Hikmet. And now the sun is showing. I stand in full gratitude. The worth of a tree. The worth of wool. The worth of a meadow. In 3 weathers I have grown, in only 2 hours. My tulip leaves have parched and twisted to fists of burned paper. And now that paper is wet and waxen.

There were moments of utter isolation on the path this morning. I am trying, now that it is dry, to open a can of teak oil to protect my desk, but my hands will not do it. I need a down jacket, a windproof layer, gloves. I was not prepared for the cold today.

12:11pm. The bells. One refrain of Amazing Grace. Yes, I forgive you. Of course I forgive you. Come, little sheep, into the world.

Afternoon. I abandoned my desk for hot potato soup at 2pm and waited out a 15-minute storm. I went back then and braced myself for the final stretch and paced until 5pm. Then I walked home in the dark. Not a soul on the bridge.

Surprising how many runners circle the lake on a day like today. And when the sun shines, even for a quarter hour, how the curious come to my desk. I shared with them, today, Hikmet. I read Hikmet to the ears that waddled and fuzzeled up to me. For many, this was their first exposure to Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963), Turkey's foremost modern poet. And you couldn't ask for better Hikmet weather! You couldn't ask for more significant bells.

Hikmet deserves such a storm.


This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space ...
You must grieve for this right now

from "On Living" by Nazim Hikmet
February, 1948
Trans. Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk – 1993


And just like the barefoot orphan
lost in the snow
in those old sad stories, my heart
- with moist blue eyes
and a little red runny rose-
wants to snuggle up in your arms.

from "Letters from a Man in Solitary" by Nazim Hikmet – 1938
Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)


I revisit the story of Hikmet's emigration by boat.

After being awarded a World Peace Prize, after surviving a hunger strike, after being granted amnesty by the newly elected government, there is continued persecution. And so Nazim set out in a boat for Bulgaria.

"So then he escaped, across the Bosphorus in a tiny motorboat on a stormy night -when it was calm the straits were too well guarded. He wanted to reach Bulgaria, but it was impossible with a high sea running. He passed a Rumanian cargo ship, he began to circle it, shouting his name. They saluted him, they waived handkerchiefs, but they didn't stop. He followed them and went on circling them in the height of the storm; after two hours they stopped, but without picking him up. His motor stalled, he thought he was done for. At last they hauled him aboard; they had been telephoning to Bucharest for instructions. Exhausted, half dead, he staggered into the officers' cabin; there was an enormous photograph of him with the caption: SAVE NAZIM HIKMET. The most ironical part, he added, was that he had already been at liberty for a year'' (Force of circumstance, trans. Richard Howard (New York; Putnam's, 1965), pp. 390-91).

You can't help but feel close to Hikmet in this weather. You can't help but connect as the temperature drops.

Hikmet exhibits heroic perseverance, in poetry and life. He exhibits unflagging faith, in himself, in his reader, in humanity, despite all who fail him, despite all that befalls him. He is imprisoned for 13 years. Tortured. Sent into exile.

That he exhibits love and not hate towards his tormentors, that he fights for life by exalting in the beauty of small things, simple things, that he exhibits a potential we see in our own selves, makes his a powerful voice.


For the first time they took me out into the sun today.
And for the first time in my life I was aghast
that the sky is so far away

From "Today is Sunday" by Nazim Hikmet
Translated by Talat Sait Halman.
(Literature East & West, March 1973)


"Art is an event, [Hikmet] maintains, in social as well as literary history, and a poet's bearing in art is inseparable from his bearing in life." Here is a man who lives his convictions. As we begin to see this in ourselves, this potential to commit, to convict, we feel a worth and love and meaning we were meant to feel.

What we fail to see in ourselves is shame, disgust and isolation. The non-art we too are capable of.

Hikmet points the way to the heroic, walks that long road, brings us there. "Sartre remarked that Hikmet conceived of a human being as something to be created. In his life no less than in his art, Hikmet forged this new kind of person, which was heroic by virtue of being a creator. This conception of the artist as a hero and of the hero as a creator saves art from becoming a frivolous activity in the modern world; as Hikmet's career dramatizes, poetry is a matter of life and death." (Mutlu Konuk 1993).

Craig, one of my afternoon visitors, recounted how, at age 18 he traveled 10 miles in an open skiff along the coast of Alaska on stormy seas. He could relate to Hikmet's predicament, to his struggle. Craig is a tennis instructor. He is concerned with the heroic.

Craig asks his kids what they want to do with their lives. What they want to be. He encourages them to think about it. He tells me they still talk of their heroes, are still empowered by role models. Craig finds this encouraging. We need to push for more and meatier models. We need to keep ourselves open to heroes as well. We need to keep asking. To keep thinking. Who is Craig's role model? Who is his hero?


How do you make a hero? Focus the spotlight?

The construction and deconstruction of social symbols is a pointed thing. It results from the efforts of art and poetry. Consider Russian poet and artist Anatoly Osmolovsky. With Leopards in the Temple (1992), Osmolovsky reconstructs freedom for his public while deconstructing the much-loved Russian avant-garde writer, Vladimir Mayakovsky. An attentive audience is crucial. The message must be seen to be destroyed. The heightened state of a hungry audience is vital. Not just a drama. Not just a sleepwalk. Not just a social stance or a stare. But an impatience. A searching. An open nerve.

How do you create a hero? Pose a possibility? Return the richness?

Consider Simon Starling's Autoxylopyrocycloboros? After acquiring "Dignity," a boat recovered from the bottom of Loch Long, Starling rendered it seaworthy and set sail in August 2006, taking with him a chainsaw to feed the boat, piece by piece, to its own steam engine. "The name evokes the Greek legend of the self-devouring snake, Ouroboros, as well as referencing other key aspects of the project in auto (self), xylo (wood), pyro (fire) and cyclo (rotating)" [Scotland on Sunday].

Ouroborous is one of the oldest mystical symbols in the world. It depicts a serpent swallowing its own tail and forming a circle.

How do you make a hero?

A father/daughter pair at Green Lake came before the court of the poet and began accusing one another of being the truer poet. "She's a poet." "He's the real poet." "I've seen your e-mails!" "Well, I'm not officially a poet."

The most important things still are in the trees. The light. And color. And movement. The dark afternoon absorbing the reds and greens and yellows and browns of the autumny scene.