2/12/17

A Text Book Case and The Hudson Review



A small poem of mine from The Dark Gnu, my third book, will appear in Literature, an Introduction to Poetry, Fiction and Drama, edited by Dana Gioia and XJ Kennedy.   I believe this will be my first appearance in a textbook.  If you blink you'll miss it.  The poem, including the title, weighs in at seven words.  

****

Two new poems, The Summit and What You've Been Given, appear in the current issue of The Hudson Review.  Not to be missed in this issue is Logan's essay on ED and A Formal Feeling:  








2/9/17

My Moses, my Jackal, my Ishmael

The beloved and cantankerous one has taken a fall, and was found to be unwell. He's been in hospital, teetering on all manner of medical edges, for some two or three months.  It would surprise no one to hear he is not going gentle.  Perhaps he has promises to keep. Perhaps he's just a stubborn ol git.  I am convinced he is alive by sheer will. Though his body is riddled with illness and he is quite weak, he mostly remains lovable, quotable, and puckishly horrible.  







Physics

by Jack Mueller

Physics has lost its walls
Coincidence is overworked
And history bleeds internally

Each complaint has less validity
Than the one preceding
Lust wobbles the planet

Light leaks outward toward the sun
To feed its bright indifference
Little by little, water leaves Earth

Leaving kisses as slow torture
To parched lips, oceans
As giant calligraphers of silence.



2/1/17

Best American Poetry/Videlock

Well, hell, my rather lengthy litany on birds, "Deconstruction", which first appeared in The Hopkins Review, and has been nominated for a Pushcart, has also been selected for inclusion in Best American Poetry, edited this year by Natasha Tretheway.  This will be my second appearance in BAP.  One is grateful for larks, loons, and good fortune.    



1/21/17

Ranier Maria Rilke

MAYBE I AM TRAVELING
Rainer Maria Rilke

Maybe I am traveling, like some secret ore, 
through the hard veins of a mountain, alone.
And I'm in so deep that I see no door
and no distance: nothing but a single core
that draws in all things and changes them to stone.
I don't have much wisdom about misery. 
The darkness has made me smaller, it's true. 
Are you the one solid enough? Come, break through, 
so that all of your touch might happen to me, 
and all of my tears might happen to you.

(from The Book of Hours)

translation Paul Weinfield



Paula Tatarunis: The Lam's Tough on a Goil

My extended essay on the works of the recently deceased poet, Paula Tatarunis, appears in the current issue of Mezzo Cammin:  


The Lam's Tough on a Goil, Paula Tatarunis



1/16/17

Leslie Monsour

The Education of a Poet 

By Leslie Monsour (b. Jan. 25, 1948)

Her pencil poised, she's ready to create, 

Then listens to her mind's perverse debate
On whether what she does serves any use;
And that is all she needs for an excuse
To spend all afternoon and half the night
Enjoying poems other people write.



1/14/17

Sylvia Plath

God, how I ricochet between certainties and doubt ! 



E.B. White

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. It it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.   - E.B. White


In Which the Ram with an Attention Span and a Gnat Scan the Horizon


“So good to be back in your life, my friend!”

But ....you never left.

*


Many scientists are unaware that materialism is an assumption.   They simply think of it as science, or the scientific view of reality, or the scientific world view.  They are not actually taught about it, or encouraged to discuss it.  It’s simply absorbed by a kind of intellectual osmosis.   - Sheldrake




1/13/17

Upcoming: Spontaneous Color, Spontaneous Rhythm



                                    



 I'll be teaching a class through the Art Center at the Blue Pig Gallery here in Palisade on Saturday, Feb 11.  For information, please visit:

Wendy Videlock: The art of Spontaneous Creation

1/8/17

Because Wine Country, Palisade



                       























#palisadecolorado #wine country

Our Foot's in the Door: In Which the Doodler Doodles Shrooms for Festival Merch








                                                   
                                         
                                                 


#mushroomart #telluridemushroomfest


12/25/16

In Which the Night Owl is asked to tell a Story

The Trumpian, a Holiday Tale

September and October were surprisingly good months for selling art in the valley.  In preparation for the cold months, the poet had hoarded away her income in order to purchase, finally, carpet for the living room.  

And so it was that just a couple of days after the election in November, two young carpet installers arrived at the house.  On the sizable shoulders of one of them perched a large, imposing boom box.  The poet assured herself that this was no imposition, that she was an open minded sort, that she could listen to, or suffer through whatever kind of music were to ensue.  

She hadn’t counted on the unmistakable, mind-numbing sound of Rush Limbaugh, his voice yet more shrill, more hyperventilated, more bloated and full of certainty than she remembered it, blaring through the house -- and straight into the center of the weird, disembodied, bourgeois wound the election appeared to represent. 






















Hey, guys, she begins, using her best half apologetic, half self-righteous voice, I can listen to just about anything...but Rush Limbaugh...I mean, come on...

One of them laughed uncomfortably, the other, the carrier of the monstrosity, said nothing as he ambled over to the thing and casually switched over to classic rock.  

There is no moral to this story.  It hardly matters that both the poet and the bringer of the monstrosity seemed to lighten, or perhaps recognize a shared sense of irony when a few minutes later, having both by now secretly identified the other as The Enemy, Come Together, (Right Now), sifted through the house.  Nor does it matter much that as the morning progressed, the poet found herself out on the front stoop, sharing a smoke with the young offender, discovering his particular story, his sense of humor, in short, his obvious humanity.  The uncle in prison, the little sister with Downs, the legacy of addiction he can't seem to shake, (who can?), the layoffs in coal, legion in the area, which brought him to the unlikely trade of carpet laying.  

Nor does it matter much that this bringer of the monstrosity, the caricature I mean, the one who carries Rush Limbaugh around on his shoulder, became, over the course of a smoke, a sensitive, articulate kid with a story and a tragedy of his own. It makes no difference to the world that that the anxiety ridden, middle class client who couldn't tolerate a little talk radio, had a husband in coal, that he was one of the few hanging on by his fingernails, with a mortgage and a kid's tuition hanging in the balance.  It doesn't mean much to anyone that the old poet chose not to tell the young man that financial self-interest be damned, the husband and many of his colleagues in the industry had voted against the T-rump.  No, that part didn't matter at all, for she'd lost all interest in proving a point, or scoring a point, or landing on the right side of anything, and so it seemed, had he.  She had resumed, perhaps, her natural place in the grey areas, in the in-betweens, at the cross roads and along the fringe -- or as some would say, on the fence -- distrusting, yet again, (for the lesson arrives again and again), her own ideology as a lens of any clarity through which to perceive the world.   

It is I suppose, an anti climactic story, one of questionable merit and of little interest to anyone -- except perhaps to the two of them, an awkward pair at an awkward moment in history, muddling through their own prejudices and suppositions, addictions and predicaments.  

Well, perhaps it also mattered to  the old goat, munching his feed and participating, somewhat reluctantly, from across the street.  


#thetrumpian 

12/23/16

In which Michelangelo Speaks

The smallest feline is a masterpiece.    

                                 





Says the Artist

With the cat 

I generally 
concur: 

stalk, hiss, 
pounce, 

purr.  


12/19/16

A New Gaggle of Crows

The cold has descended, and with it, what appears to be a new gaggle of crows, the chickadee and the falcon, the coyote and the row deer, and redtail and owl in abundance.  By this time last year, a golden eagle had established a presence along the length of the canyon.  One can almost hear the collective shuddering of the mice, and the quail, and the rabbits huddled in the undergrowth.

























Yesterday I trekked down into the ravine and filled the feeders with seeds and nuts, and felt a thousand tiny eyes upon my every move.  And still, they waited until dusk to emerge and feed themselves, somewhat frantically, some hours later.   The raptors aren't pleasure-cruising this time of year, and leisurely, social, noisy dining is out of the question.  The summer affords safety in numbers; winter is a different algorithm entirely.  Even the goats across the way bleat in the afternoons right on cue, but with less conviction in the thin air.  Big ol rumbling raccoon that's made a vocation of crossing  the road (over and over again), finally got smushed at the bottom of the hill towards town.  An undignified death, to be sure, but at least he's spared the winter months.  And that's not even mentioning Lane next door with his welding machines gone quiet, and Leesa down the road, who lost her husband and her horse -- or Murray, whose water well went dry back in August.

 It's hard times for everyone in coal country.




























Literature, in my experience, does not console, and isn't meant to.  - Hecht


Meanwhile, the poet is asked to speak on "current events, rhetoric, and a world gone awry with greed and shameless stupidity".  As though either were a  mystery, or new to the world. 


















The poet mumbles something about being raised on Dostoyevski, Hesse, and Mad Magazine, and has grown accustomed to the crude and the absurd, has in fact come to expect it.  This elicits a conspiratorial giggle from the inquisitors.  Thus satisfied, they settle in.  The poet goes on to deliver a poem, which does not console, and isn't meant to, and which nobody in the room quite hears, (another occurrence  to which the poet has become accustomed), save one scrappy wayward soul who calls himself the friend of a friend of an old woman who gave birth to the prophet of Melon.

How many readers does a poet neeeeed, asks the hermit of Log Hill.

One, replies the poet, as though need were a thing with feathers, and crows were a child's counting song.

Meanwhile,

some days later, the poet witnesses a virtuoso cellist.  She is obliged to say It wasn't really a witnessing, but the boarding of a frigate.

Cold dark deep and absolutely clear is the mind of winter.











































The Owl

By Edward Thomas

Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved; 
Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof 
Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest 
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof. 

Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest, 
Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I. 
All of the night was quite barred out except 
An owl’s cry, a most melancholy cry 

Shaken out long and clear upon the hill, 
No merry note, nor cause of merriment, 
But one telling me plain what I escaped 
And others could not, that night, as in I went. 

And salted was my food, and my repose, 
Salted and sobered, too, by the bird’s voice 
Speaking for all who lay under the stars, 
Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.






11/29/16

Verse Daily

A poem of mine is featured on Verse Daily this morning, which was picked up from the current issue of Rattle:

Videlock on Verse Daily


And an upcoming reading:


Another Kokapelli for the Husband


11/17/16

In Which the Poet does Anything but Facebook

My hermitage continues.  

It too is addictive.

Though my pace is considerably slowed, and my words are reserved for the page, the poets come visit, the moon goes large, the deer continue to graze.  

If we're talking

all the time

and opining 
and opining 
and opining

all the time

surely something dies.  

My son has set about convincing me that Instagram is more my pace, particularly for selling art.   I have assured him it's on my list of things to investigate.  Along with shadow, shape, and form, and other things that lie still, and germinate.  



11/10/16

11/8/16

November






 November saves its words,

then explodes.

Its brilliance ferries in 


the cold.  It blurs the line 






between the holy
and the ghost,
 the parachute
and the river boat,
the omen and


the grace note.  



Why Bother with Poetry ?

The pleasures of poetry are subversive, and perhaps always have been:

Why Bother with Poetry ? Stallings TLS

Odi et Amo

Denver gives me panic, but it's full of friendlies, and we get to visit our son in Golden when in the area.  Thanks to Joe Hutchison for the invitation, and to all old friends who came out to BookBar Saturday night.  I was surprised and humbled by the turnout.


Odi et amo mi mi mi mi

It was lovely it
was luscious but
why is it I 
love and 
do not trust 

the world of malls, 
a rebel with
out a cause
or the sound 
       of applause.  







10/30/16

10/17/16

The Hopkins Review

Three Videlock Poems: Hopkins Review

Cold Turkey


For some weeks now I have been in seclusion and mostly unplugged, and trying like hell to quit the tabaccy.





















The first two have been easy to switch off, have been in fact, a kind of relief.  The third ain't been easy, though has been helpful in getting me off the hook for the other two.  Can't talk, ma, I'm tryin' to beat the nicotine; the phone's a real trigger.  Can't come, friends, lest I up and murder somebody.




















But the truth is, I have needed this seclusion, have craved it, have dreamed about it for some years. Save my usual commitments to the galleries, quiet time spent with the husband when he isn't traveling, and visits from the kids, I am deep in the throes of aloneness.
















Rather like this:  

Oliver on Solitude and the Imps of Idea

And this:




10/7/16

The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne. 




9/23/16

Small Town News

The husband and his buddy disking on their lunch hour.  




9/22/16

Trickster Ridge: Poets on the Edge of the World

Chance, and chance alone, has meaning.  -- Kundera

-----

The Trickster myth derives creative intelligence from appetite.  It begins with a being whose main concern is getting fed, and it ends with that same being grown mentally swift, adept at creating and unmasking deceit, proficient at hiding his or her tracks, and at seeing through the devices used by others to hide theirs.    -- Lewis Hyde

My gratitude to Kent for this montage:  






And to Art, for this nod:

The Telluride Watch/Trickster Ridge











William Louis Dreyfus: Not your ordinary billionaire

I was sorry to hear of his passing.  He wasn't just a billionaire humanitarian, supporting the arts on a large scale and from a great height.  He was also a man who wrote lengthy, remarkably clever fan letters to obscure poets like myself.  By snail mail, no less.  On the most beautiful paper I've ever seen.  This was a few years ago.  I remember googling his name to discover who on earth he could be.  I remember following the public trail of an eccentric, private mind, and marveling.  A couple of years ago his daughter, Julia, directed a PBS documentary about him.  Well worth seeing.  If I can locate it online, I'll link to it.

He'd seen my work in The New Criterion, and reached out on a whim.  To the whim, and the whirl, and the ripples left behind.  Good night, strange prince.

William Louis Dreyfus Dies

The Passage of Time and all That

Where have I been.

One could say I have been plagued by ideas.  And limited by time, talent, ambition, discipline, etc.

Meanwhile, by the by, nevertheless, the passage of time and all that. 

Since moving in, spring of last year, we’ve removed about ten tons of gravel and  large swathes of weed-resistant fabric from the property.  Thus began my studies in physical exertion.  And its attendant physical agony.  I am old, Fodder William,  and I am xeriscaping upside down, on a steep hill.    

Got me a burn permit, yup, and set fire to the north side of the ravine.   Strangely exhilarating, that.  My daughter often stops over for those burn days, and we get to share the weird exhilaration.  Only once did we lose control of our controlled burn.  The couple of horses next door stand absolutely still, heads high, tails up, during a burn.  I have arrived in the sticks, and the sticks are sublime.I have arrived in the sticks and the sticks have stuck me ?  I am steeped in the sticks and stuck on the sky.  

A dozen half-finished essays (?) and a bunch of unfinished paintings lie scattered about the house, calling for me and pushing me away in equal measure.  I clearly prefer risking life and limb on the hill.  

The jays are back, and with them, a couple of mockingbirds.   The pines we planted last year have established themselves, and the long grasses and sedum have begun to crawl down the slope  -- a final burst of growth before the the cold begins. 

I have stepped down from two boards, cut back on the galleries, and lightened my teaching load.  And still I will never know where any given day goes.   Time is a real trick of the tail.  

Meanwhile, by the by, nevertheless, the passage of rhyme and poems get written and all that.  Some of them fly off into the world, and find  places to roost.






Lighten Up/The Yogi From Pamona




5/10/16

Over the mountain and through the rains ...


A couple of weeks ago I journeyed over the mountain in a barrage of alternating rain, hail, wind, snow, and sleet, straight into the heart of Denver to pick up a friend, where the barrage of alternating rain, hail, wind, snow and sleet was met with a steady barrage of traffic.  

There's nothing quite like a harrowing road trip. 



At Fort Morgan, out on the eastern plains, life is slow, night is dark, and they treat their poets really well.




My thanks to dear friend Rachel Kellum for the invitation.  Attendance was quite good in spite of the wonky weather, and the folks were a joy to converse with.  I was able to stop on the way home and enjoy a soggy lunch with my son in Golden.  

The following weekend, I set out over the mountain again, this time with the husband.  The barrage of alternating rain, hail, wind, snow and sleet had become old hat. 



What followed was a brilliant production of The Scarlet letter, and time spent with dear poet friends, friends who write librettos and ask the world if poetry... matters.   

I did not know which to prefer,

the somber cloak 

of the opera,

the blissful ignorance of the hour,  







or the rain and the sleet, 

and the coming home.





5/4/16

Horology

(noun)
  1. the study and measurement of time.

    the art of making clocks and watches.









4/24/16

On Donner, On Diction

In which the working poet asks a question of the wind.  

On a Saturday morning at 3am the winds began.  So fierce were they, and so long in duration, one couldn’t help take it personally.  Become entirely discombobulated.  Consider putting a gun to one’s head.  I canceled my plans for the day, having heard the gusts were at 60 MPH all over the valley.  The howling was incessant.  The cats began attacking one another.   The dog sunk into a deep depression.  Chimes and chairs and birdhouses flew past the windows.  Food sounded awful, drink even worse.  I paced the perimeters, watched from the bedroom as a metal piece of yard art split  in two.  Our yard- umbrella, its pole staked and buried into the hard ground months ago, was finally upended.  As it somersaulted across the yard and down the ravine, it knocked over our beloved cast iron bench.  

I recounted the horrors to the husband, who was secretly glad to be enjoying the temperate air in San Francisco.  I was, too.  During the call, several sirens blew past on his end.  The howling winds in the city never stop.  It’s just a different kind of crazy-making. 
This morning I woke to the sound of stillness.  I crept outside to inspect the damage, and opened my arms to the warmth of the day.  The wind had left the building.  Recovery efforts ensued.   Strewn across the deck and yard were broken ash trays, shattered pots, a cracked table, wind-chimes in heaps.  After a while I was distracted by the sight of some weeds in the garden, and began pulling them in earnest.  Pure joy.  Warm sun.  Stillness.  A day with nothing to do.   Later I would write, I assured myself.  For now, I shall forget the time and all deadlines or pressing matters.  Scrub jays.  A couple of quail.  The aspen sapling which had miraculously survived the winds.  Paradise.  
By early afternoon, I’d moved up the hill, and, having flipped the bench back over, sat to rest.   A warm breeze.  From behind, a sudden rustle, and a fierce little twister presented itself.  A funnel of small stones,  twigs and dust had been taking form, gaining strength as it spun past me and plunged down into the ravine.  

In these parts we call these little pockets of wind dust devils.  This one peaked in a cove about 10 yards down the hill,  just underneath the displaced umbrella.  That old umbrella was forced entirely open.   Each rib stretched to capacity,  it was lifted onto the air, up the slope, and was dropped a couple of feet from where it had stood the day before.
The wind giveth and the wind taketh away.    
*

In which the working poet asks a question of the learn'd professors.

In an essay called, The Genius of American Diction, Tony Hoagland writes:
"We American poets are millionaires; we possess a vocabulary extracted, imported, and patched together from so many tongues and sources, we can write checks with our mouths all day. We inhabit a linguistic landscape so etymologically wealthy that our most minor communications are studded with high and low improvisations. We have tinhorn and yahoo and meshuganah; we have yonder and redneck and hokeypokey, we have lily-livered and bumbershoot and rockabilly. Our diction is already mixed— a mixture of nationalities, jargons, eras, and attitudes. 
The receptivity of English to creative mongrelization may spring from its hybrid origins— from the Norman Conquest, in 1066, when Anglo-Saxon met French-Latin, and Middle English was conceived. Our forked tongue thus includes both work and labor, both dead and mortified, both hungry and famished. As a result perhaps, English, and especially American English, seems never to have taken a puritanical stance toward vocabulary. It has enlarged itself by freely absorbing vocabulary from Arabic, Iroquoian, and Indonesian. Other countries, such as France, have striven to shield and protect the purity of their language. But Americans love coinages and improvisation— linguistically, we don’t mind being “balkanized.”
In consequence, English is fantastically elastic and adroit. We possess so many alternative options for naming that our available expressive range is vast. Each synonym carries different implications, or connotations, of relative high and low, of attitude, formality , distance, and inflection. Thus, a poet can “say the same thing” on a semantic level while spinning the message in any variety of ways: pregnant is also knocked-up, gravid, expecting, bun in the oven, one on the way, great with child , and so on and so on. To use any interesting word is not just to pinpoint one meaning but also to invoke a whole resonating web of vocabularies, contexts, and ideas. In this particular way, diction is very much an instrument of associative imagination, and one of the many modes of intellect that collaborate in the making of a poem.".
In The Trial by Existence, Elizabeth Sergeant writes: 
Robert Frost has said over and over, that in his poetry he did not aim to keep to any particular diction, unliterary, vernacular, or slang.  He said, 
“What I have been after from the first, consciously and unconsciously is tones of voice. I've wanted to write down certain brute throat noises so that no one could miss them in my sentences. I have been guilty of speaking of sentences as a mere notation for indicating them. I have counted on doubling the meaning of my sentences with them. They have been my observation and my subject matter."

Emily Dickinson tells us, Tell the truth, but tell it slant ! 

Marianne Moore speaks of real toads in imaginary gardens.  
So, I said, given that we are here to discuss idiomatic speech as it pertains to poetry, it occurs to me that diction, or word choice, or the turn of phrase, if you will, is instrumental in creating tone, or tone of voice.  Tone is perhaps the weather that blows through the poem, orienting our perceptions, forming our shifting attitude toward the subject at hand, the speaker on hand, the poem at hand.   

It also occurs to me, I continued, (sensing I was going on too long, or about to make a leap that would meet with some serious resistance), It also occurs to me that perhaps some of our greatest poets are masters of tone.  Would you agree with this, I ask of of the three learn’d gentlemen gathered on the panel.  
One learn’d gentleman took issue with the word greatest, another took issue with the word tone, (too 'squishy', he later  explained), and what followed was a fascinating discussion between these two concerning the reason English is so diverse in the first place.  Neither agreed with Hoagland’s cursory explanation.  One argued that the reason the English language is so diverse is because of its unique linguistic structure, which allows for all manner of inclusion and bastardization.  The other countered that the language of empire will naturally dominate, whatever its linguistic structure. 

We were given lessons in history, political science, tasty little morsels of linguistic knowledge, tidbits on the Chines language, the Navajo language, and lots of stuff I wish I could remember about Latin.
I had prepared for this.  In the event that one learn’d gentleman should veer completely off course or dominate the conversation, (who, poets ?), I was prepared to begin slowly waving my arms back and forth.  Or spinning like a dervish round the room.  I had all manner of impossible-to-ignore interventions planned, for I have, as we say, been to this rodeo before.   But, so interesting was the discussion, I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt, save for a couple of conventional verbal interjections.  
After a while, the third learn'd gentleman leans in toward me and and says, This is fascinating... I speak three languages, and I’m just now beginning to realize I know nothing about language.  I think they’re both brilliant, and both right, he whispered, and I’m thrilled they’re going on like this, as I only had about five minutes worth of material.  
Me, too, I said, laughing. Indeed, the conversation was stimulating, and erudite and lively, and I was entirely interested in hearing it through.  Still, I couldn’t help notice that even when the... tone of the discourse shifted between the two, briefly, from congenial to pique, and back again, (for we are all old friends, and know one anothers' buttons and triggers and interruptor-tolerance) -- yes, even when the tone changed, and the weather in the room shifted, nobody wanted to talk about this thing we call tone.  

Which of course made me think of the volta, as it pertains to tone.  
I’m not even sure what to say about tone, myself, or perhaps it'd be more accurate to say I’m even not sure what I wanted to learn about tone that day.  I suppose such things are too subtle for explication, or deconstruction.  I only know what I scribbled into my journal soon after the conversation had ended and my head was still spinning.   

Don't look at me in that tone of voice ! 

Dear Tone, 

It seems we have a bone
to pick with you.  

Whatever, 
replies the letter.  

What
ever,  
replies the feather.  

Whatever 
the weather, 
what
ever the measure,

murmurs the vellum and
the volta, 

it's not
the font, 

it's not
the phonics, 

and neither is 


it just for sonnets.  
*

Next up:  Tone, Koan, and Atmosphere, Through a Glass Darkly, Out Through a Sphere