“Morning Norther”

The wind trees up,
driving a pile of mischief,
rousing leaf rabble
and a scramble of squirrels.

Pelting rain drop-kicks
the sink window pane.
Water’s kettled, coffee’s ground,
but it’s a storm that’s brewing.

God’s baby Jesus rattle claps,
His thunder clobbers its drum.
Clouds clot and muscle up dark
like a bucking bull riled in the chute.

Ear throbbing to the pandemonic fuss,
I will my little house stout:
Ride it out, I say.
I say, ride it out.
Stormy view from Mt. Locke, JMN, 2009, photo. (Copyright 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.)

Stormy view from Mt. Locke, JMN, 2009, photo. (Copyright 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.)

(Copyright 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.)
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“What the poem says…”

“What the poem says, it does.” (Alain Badiou)

“I alone create a product that society does not want.” (Mallarmé)

” ‘Poets, Mallarmé wrote, must take back what is ours. They must sing of heroes with no name — the Figure that is None (la Figure que Nul n’est).’ This declaration is close to the ground zero of modernist abstraction.” (Alex Ross, New Yorker).

“One cannot avoid the days / Parading by in all their carnage.” (John Weiners)

“There is exactly not enough money in the world.” (Michael Klein)

“I am brought to remember Orpheus, who did not sing ABOUT hell; he was IN hell, and sang there, leading the way out.” (Denise Levertov)

“When you’ve seen them all you’ve seen One.” (Ferlinghetti)

Tom's Garage, JMN, 2011. Photo. Copyright 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.

Tom’s Garage, JMN, 2011. Photo. Copyright 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.

(Copyright 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.)

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“For Her”

(1)
You are the Pole I turn around,
My needle’s North, the shade I seek
On a hot day. You are the ground
I grow in, stamina I lack.

Remember snow that caked the “Roost”?
The box of bubbly you carried?
In thickness and in stealth we last.
We are an item though not married.

(2)
My heart
is hurt
but strong
enough
to beat
until inert
for you.

Be long
not
short,
life of mine
left,
your love a
gift,
before
the ending
starts.

(Copyright 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.)

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“What Philip Roth Didn’t Know…”

Dara Horn states that Roth’s caricature of women reveals a lack of empathy, and deems it a literary failure, made more egregious by a lack of curiosity. (“What Philip Roth Didn’t Know About Women Could Fill a Book,” NYTimes)

Definitions of “empathy” mention the words “understand” and “share.”

Is it possible for an author not to understand and share women’s feelings, but still be curious about them?

Does an author write much about anything he or she isn’t curious about?

Can empathy be gender-selective? (That men “get” other men better than they get women is the sitcom pablum of decades. But it doesn’t feel right.)

David Foster Wallace said, “Fiction’s about what it is to be a fucking human being.” Maybe his F-word was casual, or maybe he meant to flag coitus and violence as what we’re essentially about.

Does true-seeming imagining of other-sexed people demand some sort of gender dysphoria in the novelist, vicarious or not?

I hazard that the answers could be “Maybe,” “Probably not,” “I doubt it,” and “Possibly.”

(Copyright 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.)

HJN Female Nude

HJN Female Nude

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Fun With Glue Gun

[From the Manual]

“Prohibited in flammable and explosive occasions.”

“Do not touch the glue gun and glue bar when working.”

“It is forbidden to pull the glue strip out of the tail of the glue gun.”

“The glue gun is equipped with durable material. When it is used for the first time, the smoke may appear. After 30 minutes’ use, the smoke automatically disappears.”

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On Marriage

“The crucial step… is the raw and willful decision each partner must make just to recommit. The relationship is strife-ridden. Every fiber of your body says to retreat to the safety of your foxhole. But you have to go against yourself and lunge toward intimacy.” (David Brooks, NYTimes)

Century plant, Fort Davis, JMN, 2009. Photo. Copyright 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.

Century plant, Fort Davis, JMN, 2009. Photo. Copyright 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.

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Tweet in haste, repent at leisure

Once I excerpted the following from a New Yorker article and flagged it in a tweet:

“The Odd Future charge has been led by…Tyler Okonma, known as Tyler, the Creator… Hodgy Beats, a diminutive, quick-tempered rapper,… is half of the duo Mellow-Hype, along with [a] producer who calls himself Left Brain. Two more rappers, Domo Genesis and Mike G, are known… Matt Martians makes spaced-out funk. Travis Bennett, known as Taco, and Jasper Dolphin, are members… Taco’s sister, Syd (the Kyd) Bennett,… Christopher (Lonnie) Breaux, known as Frank Ocean… Tyler and the others sometimes referred to Earl Sweatshirt as Thebe — pronounced “TEH-beh… Before Thebe was Earl Sweatshirt, he called himself Sly, short for Sly Tendencies… One of his friends… was Solomon Allison, who produces hip-hop under the name Loofy….” (Kelefa Sanneh, “Where’s Earl?”, The New Yorker, May 23, 2011)

I followed up with a pastiche which I can’t summon the effrontery to reproduce verbatim. In it my rap persona declares he riffs under the name ‘Pokehole,’ but “when rilly freestylin'” becomes ‘High Plains Vaquero’ and has a “high-fivin’ posse.” He’s ‘Milknickel’ when drafting, and ‘Doctor Skull’ when “the PHuDs get funky.” It doesn’t get better.

By inserting pidgin Spanish into the mix — “ricacho,” “macho muchacho,” “no manches,” “chiste,” “comprendiste” — as well as a smidgin of hackerese — “grok my kludges” — I invited in one swell foop disgust and mockery from at least three constituencies.

Sure enough, another Twitterer sent me an “Oh dear” message: I was getting nasty blowback. Who knew? I had zilch followers. I closed my two-month-old Twitter account and took a powder.

(Copyright 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.)

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