Friday, October 31, 2014
Check out new work by Mebane Robertson, poems by Luca Visentini translated from the Italian by Natasha Senjanović, a conversation with artist Jason Wallengren, Anna Maria Cossiga's latest Letter from Rome, and bracing new work by Robert Margolis, all on the new frankmatter, here.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Someone told me once that the reason we live on this earth is to find happiness, bliss, nirvana.
People say that happiness does not exist.
But my friend said he found it the other day when he looked into the eyes of the girl he loved.
Some kid was laughing.
Is that not happiness?
Happiness is freedom.
It’s letting go.
This world is hard.
We do what we don’t want to do.
That’s how the world works.
Life isn’t easy.
Life isn’t fair.
Those who work their asses off win.
They get what they want.
People who give in will lose.
They will lose all that they have.
“What is happiness?”
That’s what they’ll ask.
“I don’t this there is such thing as ‘happiness.’”
But that’s because they’re lazy.
I’ve heard it said that if you just say “yes,” you can figure it out later.
People constantly do things they don’t want to do.
Will that lead to happiness, bliss, nirvana?
Sure, I carry things.
I always have a Bible, a pen, a journal.
Maybe some chapstick
My phone, my sunglasses, my hopes.
A book my friend suggested to me.
I also tend to carry a water bottle and my keys.
I like having those things that make your chopsticks work without trying.
Regret, guilt, temptation.
Every now and then I’ll bring my laptop with me.
How you call me “fat” almost everyday.
I also like to bring some mascara.
The Hobbit, because I started it last March and I still have yet to finish it.
I carry my wallet,
It’s filled with money, coins, a smoothie punch card I use at the gym when I get protein shakes.
My Prayer box.
The schedule for the Saints’ season. (We aren’t making it to the super bowl this year.)
Oh, how could I forget?
I always carry a smile.
It covers all those things I carry.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Thoreau, a man of solitude, is not one who can easily translate from isolation into an environment filled with sociable, conversation-seeking teenagers. Although his first case of contact was perceived as friendly, slowly but surely, things took a turn for the worse. Philosophical conversations were great, temporarily that is, until the best questions ran out. When conversations became too complex, students slowly became distracted. They lost pace, falling behind as well as running ahead, leaving few for Thoreau to lecture on transcendentalism. Listening to Bobby Shmurda proved to be a much more popular pastime, as a result of the poor attempts to ban any and all technology from the hike. In teenager terms, anything that violates the rules is instantaneously cool, whereas a historical figure, in many ways, is seen as lame.
At any rate, as a result of various distractions in play, Thoreau’s group thinned down. It became a more defined and relentless group of followers. They were not simply interested in his ideology, but the sheer reality of Thoreau’s existence is what excited these super fans. In attempting to evade this painful experience, Thoreau came into contact with others from outside his miniature mob. He only managed to express a few words at a time, that is, before he would be cut off by overwhelming laughter, despite the lack of a genuinely comical statement. All of this resulted in an obvious realization: Thoreau needed to escape, and he was going to have to do it quickly. At certain moments along his path there were check-ins, at which large crowds amassed. At the largest gathering he pretended there was too much noise for him to hear, and he unheedingly walked ahead of his companions. He quickly slipped through the crowd, all the way to the front, and hurried along the trail until he was safely out of sight. Only a few minutes passed until his anxious friends caught up to him, out of breath, concerned over his disappearance. This surprise escalated the situation greatly, and so Thoreau stayed almost silent, giving short, relatively painless answers, until he arrived at another opportunity. An agitated swarm of wasps were swirling in the middle of his path. There were hundreds flying about, and many more crawling all over and around their disturbed hive. Thoreau, without hesitation, leaped straight through this extremely dangerous path, kicking dirt at the hive, and screaming like a lunatic in the hopes of further discouraging any attempt to follow him. Surely it would take a complete idiot to take such a risk, seeing as there was an alternative route, shortened in length, created specifically to avoid the wasps.
Despite the odds, as he was inspecting himself for stings, he was interrupted by a high-pitched scream, “Thhooorrreeaaauuuu!” followed by an abundance of heavy, fasted paced footsteps. His closest friends had risked the chance of injury for yet another opportunity to drive Thoreau further into desperation. And so the remainder of his arduous journey was filled with stories of bravery and valor. Or as he saw it, stories of the idiots who ran through a swarm of wasps, in order to follow someone who wanted to be alone.
Eventually he surrendered to his fate. He had decided to be happy, at least, for those he spared from suffering the same fate, had he not been there. Those who will never know of, let alone appreciate the great deed he carried out that day. At the end of the day, however, he would’ve much preferred avoiding this experience altogether, and being Thoreau, it’s not something he’s likely to risk experiencing twice. He most likely will never take a walk through the woods again.
Monday, October 6, 2014
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Monday, September 29, 2014
Thursday, July 24, 2014
frankmatter contributors, some of whom have been featured on this site, will be reading at the NYC Poetry Festival this Saturday at 1:40 (at The White Horse stage). For the poetry festival's website, click here. We're looking forward to hearing Leslie Howes, Emily Sklar, Mebane Robertson, Gabriele Tinti, and Moneta Goldsmith!
Monday, June 9, 2014
My ‘living’ memory of Uncle Kanjilal are Champa plants (Dolon Champa in Bangla) that produce the most beautiful and intensely perfumed white flowers. This kind of Champa is found in humid tropical zones, such as certain areas of India, and all of southeast Asia. I have even found it in Texas, where it grows in abundance, and characteristically in a kind of wondrous ‘forest,’ all the more beautiful when it is in flower. In English it is also called the ginger lily. I have always loved this flower, which is extremely rare in the dry climate of the Indian region of Uttar Pradesh, but my uncle had it in his garden. When I asked him for a cutting, he laughed at me a bit skeptically, saying that I would never be able to make it flower. I responded that I was sure I could. And so went our good-natured repartee for some time. My uncle has passed on, but his Champa is still here. It has also produced others, and in season, there are abundant flowers. For me, it is as though my uncle were present, and content, still pretending not to give me any credit. He was slender, wiry, and agile, with an alert gaze, a narrow mustache, and glasses. I still feel his great affection.
People pass away. Whoever can leaves something: a house, land, and who knows what else. But plants that have been left behind have extra significance for me. They bear living witness to who once lived. Indeed, it is as though they live on.
in homage to Devi Priya
with affection and gratitude
an excerpt from her memoir
Più di una vita | More than one life
from the translation in progress by Nicholas Benson
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Thank you for maxi-reading!
at The Gunnery on April 26th
Laura-Delight van Tartwijk
Isaac Reguant Escarra y James Benedetto
and particularly recognized for their outstanding recitations:
Henry Palmer, Sam Hemmingstad, Jake Kantor, Ivy Le, Sam Joslin, Casey Siemon, Matt LoPresti, and Lexi Nanavaty
[illustration by Shannon O'Connor]
Monday, April 14, 2014
Growing up you used your hands
Taking roll call every time
You needed to count between one and ten
But that never mattered
When you were young you still needed a song
Never were quite sure what came next, was it J or K?
Twenty-six letters put to a rhyme just so you could spell
But that never mattered
Whatever happened to those days?
Did they slip away in backdraft of time’s momentum?
Fall away from our calendars like a dying leaf?
Or are they simply hiding?
Just waiting to be rediscovered, our youthful invigoration?
Lying around our subconscious, a buried treasure trove of wonder?
Our twenty-four hour workday fills itself
Labor after labor after labor
Even Hercules would be put to shame,
He only had thirteen.
What changed us?
Derailed our hopes and dreams?
We used to have literary merit,
So much more than just a story
Now we trudge on desperately,
Searching for a missing theme
That we will never find.
Imagination flew with freedom
We thought in sound and fury
The Shakespeare of our own minds
An everlasting waterfall of adventures to be had
Take back those “childish” days
Pay back the late fees and renew your sense of wonderment
Embrace what some may call a crisis
Because what everyone else thought?
Well, that never mattered.