Category Archives: 2014

often we are off:

neonpic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

offbeat, offkey, often we are off to see
dirt cheap wizards behind neon signs
in flickering electric memory
in polka-dot colors, chromatic designs
outside a chorus of whizzing rhymes
we find ourselves without a home
without the words we used to use
we find ourselves quite free to roam
on brick-road metaphors, if we choose
without very much at all to lose
from empty pockets of childhood bliss
with ruby shoes along strange terrain
where we lose ourselves in a poppy kiss
consulting exposed histories in the rain
to sing along, a horse without a tether
in a wonderful land of because, because
we can meet, I swear, whatever the weather
we can meet by the music of whatever once was

Copyright © 2015 · Elizabeth Ganot · All Rights Reserved ·

dear december 2014 (tall stars and sparkling trees)

thedayafterchristmas
Dear mountain mosquito melody-
Dear spongy expiring peppermint tea cake-
Dear last day of the year-
Dear statements like pages in a magazine you might flip through-
Dear December 2014-

The day after Christmas is all tags and names and half written lists strewn across the table with some thick coil or ribbon untied in every corner of your heart and mind. I try to bundle the year- to pack up the pile of mornings- to close the box on a solid idea I can stamp a clear label on and send on its way. The gifts of the year are hushed, collected, burnished with past efforts and future inspirations. What you hold onto is the present.

The last day of the year ends with a country bonfire- with tall stars and sparkling trees on the side of the mountain I’ve called home for the last few years. The bright trails drifting up beyond the ceiling of stars are better than fireworks. I let the the conversation around me warm my cheeks well past three in the morning. I watch as a young man named Leif prods and shakes off sparks into the darkness. His face reminds me of a young Vincent Van Gogh. I feel good about meeting him on such a starry night. As the year closes, I am reminded that we are lucky to have each other to influence and inflame each other forward. Ezra Pound wrote in a letter to Harriet Monroe “My problem is to keep alive a certain group of advancing poets, to set the arts in their rightful place as the acknowledged guide and lamp of civilization.” I continue to hear these broad announcements that our modern years are full of darkness- but I am hopeful because I still see a light in people. It’s there. And I believe we can still help each other keep the fire alive and keep it bright.

thenewyear2015

Here is the last poem I wrote in 2014-

Epilogue of Sundays:

the home haircut of ideas, the morning was discussed
the loose wiring of ambitions, that befriender of genius
waiting on a weekend electrician for Ezra’s lamp
a cagey dawn in episodic tantrums that squarely passed

so you think you can write poetry, in your latest craze
illuminate sunsets and blasphemy and science and haze
lay bare obscurities to satisfy the erudite
out of Homer lots and home garages, romance the dendrite

with the last volt and pixel and the bright stain in your cheek
helping fireflies escape their mason jars can take the whole week
as whatever light you are chasing leaves no sign to stop
the last offer can be left open on the modern desktop

 

 

love and sparks into the darkness,
Elizabeth

baste stitch :

decemberpic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

december strays away, yarn to splinter
room to room, embroidery and crochet
sunlight unwinds Dante, west from winter
a decorated past, paper mâché
sugar plum out of luck, you seek and hide
rummaging to spare one crown for a king
apparitions you couldn’t pin aside
in craft drawers, while a mother is birthing
a decoupage, spools of eternity
carols, apparel, round saviours and stars
seamless in pattern, you could not pull free
from calendars that pulled a thread of scars
day after day, hand-stitched and brow-knitting
tailored, timeless and strangely befitting

Copyright © 2015 · Elizabeth Ganot · All Rights Reserved ·

COLIN (meloy)

colinmeloybattlehymns

the clang! of wind down American flagpoles
is the twang of victory, flapping eras of battle hymns
is the shifting of a continent by more than an inch
our unfounded fathers bickering at the unemployment office
and the country of receipts walking across the parking lot
in somebody’s pocket
on a keyring that unlocks every withheld freedom of life
and your own apartment sometimes when you are lucky
which you are, which you are, which you are
especially to feel the cold harsh bite of the wind
you are as ridiculous as a cranky infant howling
who has their whole life ahead of them
who knows nothing about presidential elections or having a lover
or cab fare or free verse or algebra or debt
who is so lucky to have no capital punishment to chew on
answers learned without
questions in a construction site requiring a hard-hat for safety reasons
whatever medicine you minister and administer
whatever gospel you determine and predetermine
whatever promises we made together to get her
skirting marginal history as if it were only his story
suspender poetry over the shoulders of Time’s castaways and cut-outs
a soundless filament waltz of progress which
is your squarefoot broom bristles
is your thumb on lightswitch replies
is voices out of hand missals, flouting maxims of relation
holiness like a kindly wrinkle from lives in the blink of an eye

the bang! of powder to make-up our lives in stages
is the slang of our ancestor’s brogue docking
is the promises at the bottom of a riverbed in the summertime
that you’ll not feel the drowning
under the record needle of haystacks in neighbouring towns
one good turn
of early morning like topsoil blown over
eardrums like canyons, open for visits, faithful to form
which you are, which you are, which you are
with patriot eyelashes like bushels of desert grass
batting a corn colored crop rolled out of beds
you are the one who is taking a bow
who is sweeping out of sight
who is weeping for wagers
or fables or morals or the nameless
who remain uncertain of their independence
or the hazards
that belong to the ground, as you stand it
whatever clover is reserved for lovers
whatever accordion shores offer more concord
whatever material is now immaterial
sunset promises you want to last forever
and a horizon that is a library of words on the shelf
untranslated, with the last of your concentration which
is a noisy prayer on the makeshift altars of victory
is the time at hand we pause to lament
is all the proof you need through the night
like someone’s name scrawled in the cement

Copyright © 2015 · Elizabeth Ganot · All Rights Reserved ·

(steve) JOBS

apple

you took away my last bookstore
it was You or that eight year Republican administration
callouses of financial markets or the friendly Walmart greeter
but I forgive you
bespectacled innovator oracle extraordinaire
running your delivery truck on the information super highway
windows rolled down for every drive
and honestly, I’d read enough of the Classics

I was processing your whole life stored
at the top story of the Academy of Arts building
in San Francisco, a home for City Lights
it was you and me and the shadows cast by our streetlight
before we got booted
out of our corresponding board rooms
for paperless slips
while constantly preparing to step down

now we belong to a fourth generation
and 21st Century Love is a touch screen
a stainless device
a link we copied, the highlight of living
before we paste away
I was still hoping you would
show me a resolution not too far from Eden’s tree
and some application

Copyright © 2015 · Elizabeth Ganot · All Rights Reserved ·

dear september (wild myths and berries)

       And still more, later flowers for the bees, 
        Until they think warm days will never cease.
– John Keats

Dear September 2014,

lantern

I read somewhere there are six daughters and seven sons in the main myths of the Hawaiian Islands- but when you’re sleeping ten minutes from the mouth of the Halema’uma’u crater- there is only Pele that matters, and maybe Hi’iaka hidden in the night around her. I never found out for sure, I heard someone else say that I had it all wrong because there were forty sisters- though admittedly, this was when you counted the thirteen incarnations of one of them. And if you do begin to count those, I am not sure where you’d ever stop, as it seems the Hawaiian gods are not limited to one body- they can be themselves, human, a fern or a wild boar, coral, a gourd, a type of banana, or the rain in a season like September.

campfire1

I slept in a small green tent and ate a cob of sweet white corn and ruddy potatoes balled in tin foil around a campfire. I remember laughter and paper plates, the first bite of ono, red wine, eggplant, a wedge of gouda, and hodgepodge of grilled vegetables. There was also someone else’s birthday cake one night followed by an unparalleled consumption of marshmallows. I remember strong coffee in the morning, writing postcards overlooking the crater, haphazardly taking pictures of arbitrary scenes and wondering if I would be able to write anything definitive or explicative about hiking trails on the back of a volcano for so many days in a row.

I had a few bad fights on the camping trip- which I can not fully blame the other person or people involved for, as much as I’d like to. I think I’d been caging things for a while inside walls and cars and offices that had nowhere to go in the absence of available doors to lock responses behind.

And truthfully, I had no temper to sort anything out on the trip. Instead, I lost myself in miscellaneous wads and wisps and endless unnamed wild things.
volcanohikemiscellany

Then, back home to mondays and laptops and indoor plumbing and writing some letter like a man in the trenches inching forward on his stomach and elbows as close to the truth as he can get.

Still not understanding the juxtaposed warnings of various incarnations of myths, I left the red ohelo berries on their branches.

love and campfires,
Elizabeth

volcanogreenery

halemaumaucrater

campfires

 

 

dear June, July, August (buzz, jungle, salt)

The new day rises
as heat rises, 
knocking in the pipes 
with rhythms it seizes for its own 
to speak of its invention— 
the real, the new-laid 
egg whose speckled shell 
the poet fondles and must break 
if he will be nourished.
– Denise Levertov

 

Dear June, July, August 2014,

The summer was so long again. A runaway sentence. The consecutive jazz solos of timeless rhythm experimentation. A line out the door. A rope down a well.

summer2014I find myself outside midday- somewhat pestered by the golden swelter and childish glow of summer afternoons. It’s too bright and I need a straw hat. I’m restless and I want darker sunglasses, books with a harsh sensibility and ice cubes that don’t melt. I can’t help but feel like I’ve written a decade of descriptions of summer in Hawaii. I sent all those letters away last year or the year before that- when I was not so unsatisfied with the strawberry moon, seaside notions, cotton dresses.

I was born in June. It was 6:40pm during a summer of blood, oppression and chaos of political unrest in Guatemala City. My adoption had been well arranged prior to my birth and at 2 and half hours old, I was in already in the arms of my new parents. When I was 14 days old, a giant hand propped my infant head up and snapped my first passport picture. What next? Florida. Islands. Buzz. Jungle. Salt.

I have never been back to Guatemala. In the summer of my 21st birthday. I went on a tour of Mayan ruins in Belize and looked across the border to Guatemala. My impressions of Guatemala are mostly from a handful of photographs taken decades ago on streets I don’t the names for and fields of vetiver that are likely no longer even there.

summer2014My dad passed away the same summer I was born. I was too young to remember him but people were always talking about him in those early years and I grew up on stories of the man who had named me Elizabeth. What I remember first is all in Canada- but what I am remembering just now is specifically Aunt Melva.

zmelva2 copyWhat I remember about my aunt is a wooden cabin, a piano and a box of toys just for me, horses and camel stools and a lot of singing. It was Aunt Melva who nicknamed me ‘Luci’ after my father. His name was Lucien and so for the first eleven years of my life and every summer I spent back in Canada my family called me that.

Sometimes I am still ‘Luci’ in the summer.

I suppose I grew up with the sense that you could be whatever people called you- down to the very name you had. But one day I had the feeling that I was putting on a school uniform that was suddenly too tight in all the wrong places- and that I wasn’t Luci at all. It was something my mother had said in passing- that Lucien had chosen the name Elizabeth for me. camelstoolsAnd I had the sense of something then that I’d never had before- that he had dreams for me the way parents do and somehow I knew he had dreamt I would be my own person.

There were such exotic African and Indian names in Trinidad. I think I wanted to belong there in my keen adolescence- and I was ‘Zabe’ there first. Zabe, rhymes with cafe- which is the way I always describe it when saying it out loud. I suppose Zabe is that young feisty teenage girl brimming with spunk and ambition somewhere island hopping between Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada and St. Vincent. I took on plain Elizabeth when I came to Hawaii. Everything stripped away to start again. I tried to match Isabel and even Isabella when I lived in the spanish district of the Mission in San Francisco- like Maria or Juanita as if a name could connect me to a heritage and culture I know very little about. Both Isabel and Elizabeth are the names of queens- but peering in the mirror as perhaps all queens do from time to time- I still dream of what it might feel like to be more than I am. I still want to know what it feels like to be a great person or even just to be great at being yourself.

summerjungle For my birthday this year, we went down to a buzzing beachhouse on the east part of the island. I went swimming in salty ponds and walked over cracked mossy sidewalks and felt my history long and tangled like jungle vines that wind through everything.

June. July August. I guess I’m still living in the past. I didn’t sit down to rehash namesakes and history. To be quite honest, this is the stuff all your friends know- but not the stranger you imagine stumbling haplessly upon your story with fresh ears. I hope next summer I am writing about what is happening in the present- and that what is happening will be a great adventure worth writing about.

There’s not much to else say for now. I want to tell you that I have started my Chapbook and it feels a lot like my life- scraps of brilliant and mediocre moments piled on top of each other- a jumble of seemingly impossible seasons. I wonder how I will ever make any sense of it all, if it could ever have some discernible meaning or message, and if that message could ever make a real difference.

I revisited Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to A Young Poet this summer. I reread the following paragraph many times during the long afternoons.

My dear Mr. Kappus: I have left a letter from you unanswered for a long time; not because I had forgotten it – on the contrary: it is the kind that one reads again when one finds it among other letters, and I recognize you in it as if you were very near. It is your letter of May second, and I am sure you remember it. As I read it now, in the great silence of these distances, I am touched by your beautiful anxiety about life, even more than when I was in Paris, where everything echoes and fades away differently because of the excessive noise that makes Things tremble. Here, where I am surrounded by an enormous landscape, which the winds move across as they come from the seas, here I feel that there is no one anywhere who can answer for you those questions and feelings which, in their depths, have a life of their own; for even the most articulate people are unable to help, since what words point to is so very delicate, is almost unsayable. But even so, I think that you will not have to remain without a solution if you trust in Things that are like the ones my eyes are now resting upon. If you trust in Nature, in what is simple in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor:then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge. You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.

love and the great silence of these distances,

Elizabeth.

 

ANDREW (bird)

andrewbirdcanter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

asterisk black, castaway drafty
tangles of Grimsey, finglerlings jangly
the first poem betrayed, strays down the stairwell
lacking canter, yawning Zinfandel
brimming his whims, swimming hymnals
buried Valkyrie cries, furious symbols
swallowing quotients of scattered rattle
a valiant tangent of flat-out battle
clenched bouquet rhyme, morning glories
plucked from the last of our very first stories
when with swollen emotion
I stole your devotion
on emigrated floorboards, homeless soupçon
whistling all this with nothing to stand on

but the first poem is never poetry
and you should not waste your time
not for a flowery word or two
let me save you from that crime
it’s Manhattan prattle bat out the window
to chap patter flat out there on the street
and you must not fall for these diverting antics
because you think you hear a beat
it’s just a trick of a fickle meter
solvent run off with another line
do not let it run into your arms
I have cast it out of mine
as our lives are in wingspan, soaring out of view
in the physics of psalms, flighty as you

around the time my only heart broke
sometime before the last time I ever spoke
or mentioned ascension, the sonnet twinge
isochronal grammar, the orchestrated fringe
captured in letters, signed love and a thing
but free as a Bird in lines you could sing
all in effort to inhabit plumed compositions
all in good measure, but lost in auditions
days made of joints to digress and describe
marrow graffiti, bare bones of an outline
you had some glockenspiel to forget me
and find yourself along the way
a body of work
for everything else I could never say

which was fine for a year exactly
in a flood of organs, riverside khaki
until you suggested rather matter of factly
if you think there’s something else
Well, you’re right.
There is.

Copyright © 2015 · Elizabeth Ganot · All Rights Reserved ·

advice :

advice

find and eat a handful of sugar snap peas
they are better than you remember
midsummer leaning on lattice, on lampposts
pommes frites and lèvres pomme
fenceposts and the late blooms and barbed fire
of the late sauvignon sun

do not underestimate straw light
spinning centuries on the face of a coined phrase
as we head out and high tail it down the boulevard
bon mots and mot justes
a young night deepening in an oak barrel
constellations of ripened blackberries inside

Copyright © 2015 · Elizabeth Ganot · All Rights Reserved ·

ERNEST (hemingway)

hemingwaythumb

put your cigar out, let me gypsy your hands
away from gripping stories, trains, rails
I am wearing your worn aviators
with impressions taken from your face
so let me buy you a new jacket
and let me pay for your past taxes
let me write off your wars

come on, down this old-fashioned
errand of feasts removed as I remember
I have to run with the bulls in Pamplona
I have to leave a trail in the dust
I have to mail Dylan some boots

You are me at my best end
I am as horrible as you ever started
off headlong into wrestling icebergs
away from the end of the line
apprised nobly, in cold fiction

every one of them thinks
they could have been your friend
you and I know those unborn promises
the length of a life where everyone is your lover
had or having no time for the great depressions

I was your unclaimed and nameless imagined friend, Ernest
and I am your friend now
the phantom outside your door
who beckoned you to step forward
who beckoned the future with its blind cruelty and
merciless farewells
to my own birth in arms

to the future that was waiting
past sunshine and also roses
where I remain nameless without you
burrowing up the last beauty as a beast hoping
in a lost generation
I can save you at least

Copyright © 2015 · Elizabeth Ganot · All Rights Reserved ·