Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bi Cycle

i. Bilingual

“Modernity begins in Hell.” (Tom Sleigh)

“Everything was clean
So precise and towering
I was welcomed
With open arms
I received so much help in every way” (Jeff Tweedy)

A vision of John, while on Patmos…

I saw a great white throne and the One

who was seated on it. The Earth and Sky

fled His face. No place was found

to cover them. I saw the dead, all

facing the throne. The Books

were thrown open. Another Book

was opened, the Book of Life,

and the dead were judged

by what they had done,

what was written in the book.

The Sea gave up the dead in it.

The Ground released its dead.

The dead in Hades were exiled.

All were judged by the works

of their flesh. Death and Hades

were thrown from the place

of judgment, into the Lake of Fire.

This is the second death.

If anyone’s name was not found

written in the Book of Life,

they too were thrown into

the Lake of Fire.

(Revelations 20:11-15)

ii. Bisexual

A lesbian told me she thought they were

cheating and I agree it doesn’t

seem fair. It does seem excessive, to

be in love with everyone.

But then

what is the poet if not in love

with everyone, too? What is his job

if not being busy overstating his case

and missing the cracks between lines

people slip through, and how the heart can—

will overturn anything

set before it that doesn’t smell sweet

enough, sick languor sweet. The heart,

dammit, the uncontrollable heart.

It has been known from time to time

to tilt the scales in its favor

or simply sweep its hand

across the chessboard, even if

it’s already won—checkmated

itself into submission. The heart has a mind

of its own.

There is a reason

we only measure

the heart’s beating

iii. Bifurcation

About that

uncontrollable heart which doesn’t

balance checkbooks, but does keep

a detailed ledger of wrongs,

though love apparently

keeps no such record—

Sorry to split this discussion in to

two, but I had to use those leftover lines

from Bisexual, the inevitable favorites

that get cut.

We poets steal

then recycle instead of

exiling language

to some place beyond our reach.

And sorry to talk about my process

so blatantly. I’m told

it’s what good writers do,

rub themselves in your face,

but I always thought

it was like a mirror looking at itself

or trying to find

your ass crack, constantly creeping

up your own back.


how do we know we have an ass crack?

Have we seen it in that mirror staring back?

Or do we just believe

what others tell us?

iv. Bible

The throne is achromatic and crushing

instead of huge.

Lord, your throne is blinding—

I have given you all I am nothing but

a whole lot of whiskey.

Lord, I’m drunk and lonely beautiful

rolling free cigarettes with dried out tobacco

in New York City it’s December.

Lord, I’m lush on whiskey don’t bother me.

I’m trying to remember.

I’m calling my friends, calling you

I can’t fucking remember your number.

I’m talking to you.

I want to get blitzed and drink whiskey to your holy praises

Lord, I’m writing you like Allen Ginsberg wrote America

I’m imitating it’s the best I can do.

I’m caught here in this tuberculosis shaft.

I’ve got my glass of whiskey sitting

on all my New York city parking tickets.

Lord I drove a truck all summer and I think about it

sometimes how hot it was in that cab

and I think about all the people I saw all the time

and never spoke to, and how I became a slave to them.

I was just a human body all day. Lord, you didn’t make me

to do that.

Lord, you should’ve seen me when I was younger.

I used to find all kinds of reasons to pray to you

I was theological and nobody stopped me.

I was thinking things it took me years to learn later.

Lord, I have sinned with women.

Lord, I have sinned with whiskey.

Lord God, I have stared at nakedness and found your beauty

even in everything you find disgusting. Lord,

You can’t help it.

They warned that this would happen.

You didn’t tell them that, did you?

I knew you didn’t.

Return me to the times, Lord, when I was ugly.

I am not ugly anymore, but I was happy then.

Lord, I still am ugly nothing’s changed.

The dogs have found me now,

The ones I wanted you to set upon those against me

are chasing me. They’re slobbering in my dreams,

Lord, and I wake up with it still sticky on me.

Lord, it’s how I always escape.

I just wake up.

v. Fear of Flying

Caratina Avenue was a bent-shaped horseshoe then—and it still might be

perfect for flying down late at night on sleds

on pavement packed snow.

And late that summer, I was careening

down Caratina's curve, gaining speed on my bike, the buzz of baseball cards,

higher pitched in the spokes.

What I was thinking exactly? driving my bike into a crowd of kids on bikes

at the bottom of the curved hill,

I was going fast, and

I never go fast, I was

a child brave enough to climb up the tree but unable muster the climb back down

and like you probably feared,

someone turned a bike wheel

in my path. I launched

over the handlebars

into space.

I was floating to be sure, but things didn't slow, like you see in the movies—I'm telling you this in slow motion, but it was fast.

I didn't see everyone's mouths agape as I flew by unwitting Superman

but I managed two thoughts in that brief moment: first the pavement, then

Mr. Fiddler—

who in the corner of my eye I saw running, briefcase, suit, and all, from his parked car towards me as I flew— I thought, where has he been

all this time, leaving his desk in the basement

where the neighborhood kids played the Nintendo with Jonathan and Katherine, his kids, until our fingers were raw and eyes watered.

Why was he here now? Did he expect to catch me?

Well he didn't, and the pavement ate my hands and punched my belly

hard, like a suckerpunch I knew was coming.

My mom had warned me about this sort of thing. But Mr. Fiddler picked me up,

picked the rocks out of my hands, didn't ask why

I wasn't more careful.

And maybe you have figured out by now

Mr. and Mrs. Fiddler later split.

Jonathan became a genius. Katherine,

always the tomboy, stopped wearing dresses altogether.

And sometimes it seems to me a genuinely unhappy story,

the way we all lived on Caratina six years

and only saw Mr. Fiddler twice, his desk with the expensive leather chair

sat in the basement like a ghost. And it would be easy

to make this a story about facing things like your wife, or the pavement,

or that tree in the backyard my dad cut down with me still in it, stuck, for a third time,

trying to learn a lesson

but I content myself

to think sometimes, despite my fears,

I flew,

before I fell and how Mr. Fiddler ran and tried to catch me.

And my explanation...

This cycle, in some senses, is irreconcilably disparate, and, in some sense, purposefully so. There is a deliberate lack of unity when it comes to form, and the content is also disparate in many ways. Instead, they connect by a progression, a sort of gesture of poetic motion. There is, of course, the unity based in title: all begin with “bi” (except the last one, which is, implicitly bicycle…am I giving away all my jokes here? I think so.).

Part one begins in Hell, as the Tom Sleigh quote indicates. Most of the great epic poetry insists on sending somebody to hell: Odyssey, Aeneid, Inferno, Paradise Lost, even Pound’s Cantos. This cycle does not purport to be epic poetry, but only rather imitate the poetic motion of those poems, in a sense. It lacks the Catholic imagination of Dante and the dramatic mind of Milton. In many ways it is most similar to Pound rooting his Cantos in the Hell of his own classic tradition. Translated from the original Greek from John’s Revelation, I attempted to speak from the Hell of my own evangelical tradition, the devastatingly plain language of the New Testament. This, of course, is tempered by the Jeff Tweedy epigraph from his song “Hell is Chrome.” Or perhaps not tempered, but contrasted by a modern, non-evangelical view of Hell, which, if you consider the whole of A Ghost is Born resembles a great societal headache in the midst of a commercial utopian society.

Sections two and three are connected explicitly, almost one poem broken in two. Here there is the self-aware playing with form, content, but most explicitly a tone that seeks to bring the reader along. It is a uniting of tone that gives strength to the poetry, I think. It is the voice that can connect disparate elements. This was something I have largely learned largely from Whitman via Ginsberg, who can break down just about every typical element of poetry and build a poem largely on rhetorical strength of tone. This is, perhaps, the reason I shifted towards a complete imitation of Ginsberg by part four. After pulling apart the poetry by the seams in part three, I felt as though there needed to be something that sought to pick up the random pieces and sew them back together. It is, in some sense, a response to the first section in light of the question of poetry posed in section two and three.

The final section is a more experimental prose poem. In many ways, it sticks out as the sorest of all these various thumbs, though it is the ghosted title poem of the whole cycle. It is actually quite mundane in content, despite its more experimental style. The long lines, in some sense are intended to push the ear of the reader as far as possible with rhythm and sound and still keep some integrity of the line. Much of this whole cycle is attempting to push things usually connected as far apart as possible and seeing what is left holding it together. In the same way Rothko saw value in breaking art down to its most basic elements as a way of reaffirming its complex possibilities, I am inversely trying to push these poems to their complex extremes and seeing what basic elements are left. This pushing also allows for a greater range of expression the same way jazz has pushed the European ear for order and expectation (and its ironic bedfellow subversion of expectation), and reaffirmed the integrity of things like the chord and scale, despite its constant challenge to them.

All this said, I think this cycle can be broken down into an attempt to put together largely disparate items and seeing what can possibly be drawn together in them by strength of metaphor and tone. I don’t know, however, if I’ve succeeded.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Holy Spirit of History and the Mines of Idiom: William Carlos Williams and Stevens—Sufjan, That Is


All computers go to heaven
If you think you got the vision,
Put it in the conversation
I rejoice in what I carry in my heart

it overwhelms what a man
Great Emancipation plans,
and public transport, clap your hands, Abraham
Oh religion, superstition,
Man's conditioned mysteries incomplete

~Sufjan Stevens, Dear Mr. Supercomputer

Poetry has always managed to strike a unique balance between autodidacticism and high cultural learning. Modernist poetry in particular has served well as a bridge between high and low culture. The early modernist trifecta—Eliot, Pound, Williams—provides helpful delineating points on the continuum between the two ends of the spectrum. On the high end there is Eliot, trying to reconcile his genius into the long conversation of genius. Somewhere in the middle is Pound with his constant allusion tempered by his continual attempts to “make it new.” And finally, you have Williams on the low end with his emphasis on the American Idiom. This simple arrangement could never really do justice to the complexity of their respective poetics, of course, but it is helpful in orienting them with respect to this question.

William Carlos Williams found this relationship between the common and the poetic embodied in what he called the American Idiom. This concept is present in much of his work, though he never seems to have gone through the trouble of creating an exact definition. This is probably because he spent much of his career attempting to define it, in both his poetry and his prose. One such work is his book of historically themed essays In the American Grain. In it, he muses on the many famous figures in the history of the Americas. This interesting relationship between history and idiom still exists in some art today, namely, in the songwriting of Sufjan Stevens, whose albums Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lakes State and Come On! Feel the Illinoise! (and its companion B-sides album The Avalanche) are tour de forces of the respective state histories and Christian theology. Into these Stevens weaves his own personal history, adding an element to Williams’ conception of idiom that most modernists generally shunned: personality. Sufjan Stevens, in many ways, could be viewed as one of the artists to wear the mantle of the American Idiom into current modern art. In this essay I will first define as much as possible Williams’ idea of the American Idiom from In the American Grain and comment how it works itself out in Williams’ poetry, particularly Spring and All. I will then consider how Williams’ idea of Idiom has fared in modern art, focusing particularly on Sufjan Stevens. I will assert that Williams idea of idiom is increasingly problematic as the speed at which information travels increases and society shifts (via information and commercialism). I will also argue that Sufjan Stevens is, in many ways, the heir to Williams’ American Idiom, appropriating it differently so as to resist the disastrous appropriation of his own art by commercialism, which thus far, has shown itself as a destructive force to the integrity of art.

William Carlos Williams was not a historian, but it appears he had a keen interest in the history of the Americas. His book In the American Grain is a largely poetic retelling of various points in the lives of many great figures who shaped the Americas. Williams vision stretches beyond just typical American history and beyond American borders; he discusses everyone from Montezuma and Red Eric to the Pilgrims to more typical American figures such as Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Sam Houston. It doesn’t seem as though Williams is engaging in an early form of political correctness by his inclusion of typically neglected figures of American history, but rather expressing the magnanimity of his vision of what America really is, and how its idioms are created. It is odder still that Williams would explore history as opposed to language to help construct his idea of what the American Idiom is, but for Williams one must look to plain things for the wisdom that is so definitively American. It is not, however, a form of primitivism. It is a eulogy to the frankness of American history, which he sees as diametrically opposed to an empty European complexity. Consider his essay on Ben Franklin, whom he describes as a great “gyroscope” (153), full of constant motion, but never really going anywhere. He says further:

[Franklin] represents a voluptuousness of omnivorous energy brought to a dead stop by the rock of New World inopportunity. His energy never attained to a penetrant gist; rather it was stopped by and splashed upon the barrier, like a melon. His “good” was scattered about him. This is what he called being “practical.” At such “success” we smile to see Franklin often so puffed up. (153)

It would be easy to think that Williams is criticizing Franklin for some sort of lack of vision. Franklin’s polymathic interests and abilities would have allowed him to go far in the courts of Europe if he had the drive and vision. Yet Franklin was unwilling even to be the president of his new America, much less travel to Europe and ambitiously advance himself (though he did some of this later as a diplomat). Rather, Williams says “the terrible beauty of the New World attracts men to their ruin. Franklin did not care to be ruined—he only wanted to touch” (155). What Williams calls this “terrible beauty” is almost like a siren call in the New World, calling men away from the posh European courts (which arguably ruined men more than the New World ever could) into a generally unexplored land. Their exploits may or may not reach the “civilized world,” but the call to be an adventurer was great. Indeed, this is the tone set by the earliest explorers, a relentless drive to see, to touch, as Williams says. One can see a greatness to these men, their restless gyroscopic nature that can only be satisfied by constant movement, a calling to something higher than the base nature of European court life.

This is how Williams views history, particularly these people of history. They are objects of history that both shape and are shaped by their surroundings. It is the same way idiom functions. Williams knows that idiom rises out of history, and by this idiom Americans are conscious of their own history. Idiom codes history into the language. But he also knows that it is impossible to trace the complete roots of various idioms, and that one must put on the mantle of history to understand it more fully. This is what In the American Grain is ultimately a project about. Williams never purports to speak in the subject’s first person, but he has no problem speaking from an omniscient narrator perspective. It does not matter, of course, whether or not Williams is actually capturing every thought accurately; he realizes in his exploration of history and idiom, he is actually shaping both. He is taking history onto himself, and recreating something new. It inspires him and he writes it, a sort of Holy Spirit of history, not possessing, but rather inspiring and giving him energy and ideas to use in his own voice, his own manner.

Williams’ relationship to history and idiom is almost mystical. Because of these things, Williams does not see himself as writing in a vacuum, as one like Eliot might believe. Nor does he see himself as simply utilizing idiom towards an end, as Pound clearly does. In the American Grain has Williams as both user and victim of history. He comments on it, and in many ways, it comments on him. Consider Williams’ portrait of the Pilgrims, “Voyage of the Mayflower.” He is recounting many of the written words of the Pilgrims, remarking how they seem to view every event as a morality tale of some sort. History, for them, is a morality tale. Then he calls into question these morals, somewhat ironically since he himself is looking to history as an indicator of sorts. He declaims, “as with the deformed Aesop, morals are the memory of success that no longer succeeds” (67). What Williams has done here, inadvertently or not, is identify the intersection between morality and history. In looking to history, we inevitably seek answers as to why something has happened in the past. In doing so, we are indirectly seeking an answer to our present, as the oft-quoted adage indicates: those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. And yet it is almost impossible to rationally assert current events are meaningfully similar to the past. The factors are too numerous to ever account for. And yet, it is completely natural for humans to look to their past as a legend to the present. It is almost impossible not to think of events in the past as somehow connected and indicative of our present, a moral indicator of what’s to come. Morality, in a great sense, rises out of our history.

Perhaps it seems thus far Williams sees no difference at all between history and idiom. Indeed, in one sense, history is idiom. But idiom goes one step further; it integrates the past into the currency of the present. Thus, when one roots poetry in idiom, as Williams advocates, one is rooting their language in that collective morality of history. For Williams, idiom is a way to guard against the amorality of European high society. Idiom provides a social conscious built right into the language. Williams sees this values system that arises out of history and the currency of the commonplace as essential to a poetics of value. This helps explain his animosity towards Pound’s and particularly Eliot’s poetics are rooted in a tradition that asserts itself over others; it does not arise naturally from history or the common language of the present. In Eliot’s attempts to escape his own personality, he subjects himself to a tradition that runs parallel to history and idiom, the tradition of genius. The tradition of genius could be seen as a sort of meta-history, parallel to Williams’ history, interacting some here, and reacting there, but separate, and purposefully so. It is a history of ideas, as opposed to a more personality focused history. This does not mean that Williams particularly favors personality. Even though it focuses on personalities, these personalities are largely objects in history, to be taken into ones hands, touched, explored, the same way the great explorers and personalities of the Americas did with the world around them.

Similarly Williams’ writing is not particularly personality centered. It is quite focused on objects, and particularly creating objects of the present in his poetry. Consider Williams’ seminal work of poetry Spring and All. Instead of objects of history that take part in the American Idiom, Williams is taking objects from his present, part of his local idiom, which, to some extent, entails much of the American Idiom at large. This objectness is vital to Williams’ understanding of idiom. Though the reasons for this cannot be explicitly understood, it is betrayed by his very approach to language. Consider what is perhaps Williams’ most famous poem “The Red Wheelbarrow:”

so much depends


a red wheel


glazed with rain


beside the white


Even though this poem is essentially a sentence, each image is carefully isolated by means of juxtaposition. Each stanza contains images that are a juxtaposition within itself according to the line breaks: “depends” versus “upon” (two directional words going in opposite direction), the particulars of the wheel barrow (its redness and wheel[ness]) versus the wheel barrow in its wholeness, the glaze of rain versus the rainwater, the chickens versus their own whiteness. The details of the things are pulled apart and highlighted, bringing out a rich multi-faceted view of each object. Williams’ accomplishment is almost that of the cubists, allowing the reader to see these objects in many different ways, from the different angles of detail. Yet despite this almost excessive juxtaposition, the poem has a unity. It does not communicate the same fractured nature that a painting like Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. Rather this poem explores the unity of objects, their interconnectedness, while also evoking the particularities of objects and, in some sense, how they vie with one another. What is even more striking about this poem is how commonplace it is. These are objects that many Americans in Williams’ time could see on a regular basis. For Williams to find so much juxtaposition and still unity, to be so common and yet absolutely metaphysical is a feat. More important here, we can see the way he perceives language. Each word is isolated either visually or by juxtaposition in the same way each imagistic object in the poem is isolated. This is one thing Williams does often in his poetry: isolate each word visually, either through an extreme sparseness of form or by simply leaving a word on a line by itself. What would today be considered gimmicky by most MFA students, Williams accomplishes with verve in a way that is not gimmicky in the least. This is because Williams largely helped pioneer this technique, but also because the reader senses the whole power of idiom behind Williams’ language. Its commonality is the source of its power. The idiom arises from the commonplace here. And more importantly, Williams communicates this idiom through objectness.

Williams’ American Idiom is a brilliant way of understanding language in relation to the society that creates it; however, today’s idiom lives in an age of rapid change, driven by the now instantaneous speed of information (plus ability to access it virtually anywhere) and commercialization’s utilization of this speed. Williams’ idea assumes a sort of static in the idiom that lends credence to it, keeps it from foundering with its audience. Today, however, no such state of static exists. The speed of information changes idioms faster than most dictionaries can keep a handle on. This can be especially maddening for poets, as a statement that is full of meaning and true emotion one moment, can, in a very short time be suddenly transformed into the worst cliché or most unsurprising turn of phrase. This can happen particularly fast if something is popular. Many Led Zeppelin fans remember with horror the day that their favorite music was used to sell cars. In many ways they were right to feel the sense of betrayal, that a car company would attempt to capitalize on all the various feelings invoked or associated with such music. Music, perhaps, is the most blatant indicator of the audience at which a commercial is aiming. But today, it is assumed almost, that if something is artistically popular, whether it is a style of clothing, piece of music, or catch phrase, a company will pick up on it quickly and appropriate it for sales. Thus, there is a sense of irony which any socially conscious artist feels today about the raw materials of their craft. In one sense, it is impossible to resist this commercialization, for if something is popular, even if the artist refuses to release the rights to it, a sufficient imitation will almost inevitably be created and used in place of the desired work. The theft of work today is inevitable, so artists must create art that is difficult to steal if they want some sense of lasting impression on their labor, something that is almost impossible to replicate, or will at least stave off replication and appropriation as long as possible.

Ironically, one of the most popular and critically acclaimed albums of 2006, Sufjan Steven’s Come On! Feel the Illinoise!, manages to accomplish this very feat. It has appeared in popular movies, commercials, and been discussed widely, and yet still manages to retain a freshness with every listen, which seems to reproach the listener for feeling as though they have a grasp on it. Good art, of course, has done this for centuries. But much good art has also withered under the bossy eye of commercialism. In many ways, one could say that the current world has decreased the half-life of much art that would have lasted much longer. But then, most artists have never had the opportunity to respond to the decreased half-life of their own work. Most artists have not faced such a quick death for their art. Much art, of course, has always faced high stakes. The art of marginalized or oppressed people has been under this duress for centuries. Yet there is a different pitch to this current challenge. First, everyone is subject to the relatively blind eye of commercialism (money truly seems to be the greatest factor in equality today). Second, oppression demands art, in a manner of speaking. It is natural to respond to oppression with art. It is not natural to respond to commercialism any other way except buying. Commercialism is designed to disarm us completely, to find what we like and use it against what might be our better sense. Commercialism is designed to lull us, not oppress us. More importantly, commercialism is adding to the idiom in its own way, changing and manipulating it to its own ends, not simply appropriating it.

To resist this appropriation, an artist can respond in several ways. The artist may create a whole new set of terminology foreign to commercialism, in a manner similar to the music of Ornette Coleman or John Cage. That is, reject the general terminology of art for the sake of creating a new kind that is impossible either by technology or “principle” of commercialism. One composer, Patrick Kavanaugh (who, incidentally, studied with Cage), went so far as to divide the octave into three hundred notes (as opposed to the traditional twelve). Much of his music can only be performed on computer. Another approach an artist can take is to simply be so far ahead of the music curve as to risk alienation. One might think of groups like Wilco, with their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and later A Ghost is Born, shaking the commercial music world. The problem with this option is that critics are often so anxious to predict the next great thing that the speed at which the curve changes is almost impossible to beat. It seems almost as if many artists accidentally find themselves ahead of the curve in some manner[1]. The last option, however, is to mine the idiom. That is, to take the artistic history that’s been given and use it to express oneself. This, in one sense, is what is happening with “found” art, people who use reuse found objects only to create a piece. There is another sense in which this can be accomplished: to mine the various idioms of society—ones that have been thrown out, overused, or forgotten—dust them off and express via those objects. This ultimately exposes the absurdity of the speed at which commercial culture is paced by reminding the listeners of past wreckage, long forgotten in the garbage dump of commercialism. This is the method Sufjan Stevens employs.

To understand how Stevens’ album works to resist commercialism and the changing speed of idiom, one must consider the album as a whole. This is necessary to simply get a hold of the album to begin with. With titles such as “The Black Hawk War, Or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization And Still Feel Good About Yourself In The Morning, Or, We Apologize For The Inconvenience But You’re Going to Have To Leave Now, Or…” and “A Short Reprise For Mary Todd, Who Went Insane But For Very Good Reasons,” it is impossible not to consider the whole scope of the album seeking an explanation. One can imagine the difficulty a commercial radio DJ would have in saying that title, or the trouble MTV might have in fitting that whole title in the corner of a music video. Perhaps this explains why the song simply titled “Chicago” has been one of the most popular tracks from the album and received the most commercial attention. The fact that Stevens would even title one of his songs a “Reprise” seems to indicate he is interested in exposing the seams of the album’s framework. This is confirmed by the absurd extremes to which he pushes the song titles. Additionally, when one considers the interplay between Come On! Feel the Illinoise! and its B-sides companion The Avalanche the interplay between the images of the songs is clearly meant to be seen on the level of the album as a whole. Stevens originally intended to make Illinoise! a double album, but decided to release half the album in its current form and clean up the rest for a B-sides track. It is notable that the most popular song from Illinoise!Chicago” is reprised three more times on The Avalanche, clearly indicating the concept’s larger unexposed framework of even the most popular and commercialized aspects of the album. If somebody unfamiliar with the work of Stevens as a whole mentions their favorite Sufjan track is “Chicago” one can retort “which one?” Sufjan seems intent on undermining the commercial success of even his own songs.

Looking at Sufjan’s songs specifically, one clearly sees an use of idiom. The idiom, however, is separate from what Williams ever conceived. For Williams, the idiom is chickens and a red wheelbarrow, linguistically speaking; historically speaking, it is Ben Franklin, Montezuma, the Pilgrims. Stevens mixes history and idioms of language, theology, and music all seamlessly together. In the title track of the Illinoise! album, Stevens works together many figures prominently (and not so prominently) playing in the history of Illinois (particularly Chicago): Frank Lloyd Wright, Carl Sandburg, Cream of Wheat. This is true for the whole album and The Avalanche; the listener encounters Abraham Lincoln, Saul Bellow, the Kaskaskia River (Sufjan is particularly fond of bodies of water), even Superman. History stands for Stevens, much like it does for Williams: a place to draw inspiration from, a well to continually drink at. Like Williams, Stevens seems to often speak from the position of a third person omniscient narrator, but other times, he simply encounters them, as one might encounter somebody in the street. Sufjan is haunted by this Holy Ghost of history, in a sense.

What is perhaps the most interesting aspect of this all is the similarity of approach between William Carlos Williams and Sufjan Stevens to history as an object. Though it is not especially clear why both artists relate to history and idiom as objects, it is clear that the two are closely related.

Much of Stevens’ writing is object oriented not only towards history, but towards the idioms of the every day, as it is for Williams. Consider the song Casimir Pulaski Day, a delicately crafted love song mined from the memories of Sufjan’s personal history. The song begins “Golden rod and the 4-H stone / The things I brought you / When I found out you had cancer of the bone” (1-3). It is full of literal objects, the artifacts of love and the personal history shared between two people that the objects imply. It continues to recount deeply personal encounters through a very object oriented lens: “In the morning through the window shade / When the light pressed up against your shoulder blade / I could see what you were reading” (7-9) and “Tuesday night at the bible study / We lift our hands and pray over your body / But nothing ever happens” (13-15). There is a powerlessness communicated through these objects, a sense that as Sufjan’s lover slips away into nothingness, these objects will be hollowed out of meaning. The body of the lover itself is even objectified in “the shoulder blade” and “we pray over your body.” In one sense, this death is a devastating blow to objectness. It could, however, be seen as a radical affirmation of them, that there is a value to reciting these objects of history, and remembering the various objects that helped compose their life together. It is extremely reminiscent of Mina Loy’s “Letters of the Unliving” in which she muses on the various objects left behind by a dead partner, and wonders if they can still be considered as “from” a person who no longer is. There is, of course, the larger theological theme in Sufjan’s work, particularly evident here. God is at once praised for His gifts—“Oh the glory that the Lord has made / And the complications you could do without / When I kissed you on the mouth” (10-12)—and also cursed for such giving and taking—“ Oh the glory when He took our place / But He took my shoulders and He shook my face / And He takes and He takes and He takes” (40-42). But it is in this giving and taking of these objects, that God’s existence if verified for Stevens. More importantly, it is His existence that allows these objects to be drawn together in a meaningful way. God has given and taken the object from Stevens, but has also given Stevens the means to keep the object alive and meaningful. That is one thing unique to Stevens, and the one thing lacking in Williams’ work. Sufjan’s personal history is as valid a topic as the state history. In fact, it is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Layered in the album amongst songs celebrating state history, Casimir Pulaski Day (of which the only mention in the song is “On the first of March, on the holiday”) places Sufjan’s personal history in the midst of the state’s. It is Sufjan’s cosmology, however, that allows him to do this. For Sufjan, there is a God that gives value and cohesion to seemingly emptied out objects. But God is not freed from complexities of the pain surrounding those objects. He is implicated in this history as much as Stevens himself. There is no Deus Ex Machina saving Sufjan’s precious objects, but rather the hand of God that both slaps and comforts. This is ultimately the difference between Loy’s take on absence and Sufjan’s. Loy allows herself to be caught up in the objects, but cannot escape the pain of absence—she begs it to be taken away. Sufjan, however, lives constantly in the absence, in both the giving of Christ’s life and the taking of love, as the very last stanza indicates. Williams, by contrast also, simply does not implicate himself with the objects. They are largely separate from him, and if they are absent. There is a grief to saying “nobody to drive the car” as he does in “To Elsie,” but it is not explicitly his. It is the grief of those who read his poetry and engage the objects.

The sheer complexity of Sufjan’s work, arising both out of his personal history and state history, its disparateness of topic, keeps it from being effectively appropriated. The one thing commercialism has working against it is the need to satisfy short attention spans. Thirty seconds of a Sufjan begs for the whole song, which begs for the whole album, which begs for a deeper understanding and multiple listens. And yet Stevens’ music is not unnecessarily complex, not a maze one must wander through to get to the center of meaning. It focuses rather on complexity of implication. It challenges the listener to make sense of their own life, to appropriate his music for themselves through the object of the album. The meaning is simple, the expression is plain, but the implications are vast.

Williams’ understanding and use of idiom provides important shoulders for an artist like Sufjan Stevens to stand on. In some sense, he too provides this complexity of implication, rather than meaning, though Williams lack of personality in his poetry leaves a space for the reader to completely fill. There really is no implication of Williams’ personality in his poetry, and one wonders where Williams work might have gone had he allowed himself a more personal relationship with the objects he himself was creating. He still stands, of course, as a testament to the power of idiom, particularly his American Idiom, the mantle of which, artists will surely carry for years to come.


Williams, William Carlos. In the American Grain. New York: New Directions, 1933.


Come On! Feel the Illinoise!

Sufjan Stevens

Oh great intentions
I've got the best of interventions
But when the ads come
I think about it now

In my infliction
Entrepreneurial conditions
Take us to glory
I think about it now

Cannot conversations cull United Nations?
If you got the patience, celebrate the ancients
Cannot all creation call it celebration?
Or United Nation. Put it to your head.

Oh great white city
I've got the adequate committee
Where have your walls gone?
I think about it now

Chicago, in fashion, the soft drinks, expansion
Oh Columbia!
From Paris, incentive, like Cream of Wheat invented,
The Ferris Wheel!

Oh great intentions
Covenant with the imitation
Have you no conscience?
I think about it now

Oh God of progress
Have you degraded or forgot us?
Where have your laws gone?
I think about it now

Ancient hieroglyphic or the South Pacific
Typically terrific, busy and prolific

Classical devotion, architect promotion
Lacking in emotion. Think about it now.

Chicago, the New Age, but what would Frank Lloyd Wright say?
Oh Columbia!
Amusement or treasure, these optimistic pleasures
Like the Ferris Wheel!

Cannot conversations cull United Nations?
If you got the patience, celebrate the ancients


I cried myself to sleep last night
And the ghost of Carl, he approached my window
I was hypnotized, I was asked
To improvise
On the attitude, the regret
Of a thousand centuries of death

Even with the heart of terror and the superstitious wearer
I am riding all alone
I am writing all alone

Even in my best condition, counting all the superstition
I am riding all alone
I am running all alone

And we laughed at the beatitudes of a thousand lines
We were asked at the attitudes
They reminded us of death

Even with the rest belated, everything is antiquated
Are you writing from the heart?
Are you writing from the heart?

Even in his heart the Devil has to know the water level
Are you writing from the heart?
Are you writing from the heart?

And I cried myself to sleep last night
For the Earth, and materials, they may sound just right to me

Even with the rest belated, everything is antiquated
Are you writing from the heart?
Are you writing from the heart?

Even in his heart the Devil has to know the water level
Are you writing from the heart?
Are you writing from the heart?

Casimir Pulaski Day

Sufjan Stevens

Golden rod and the 4-H stone
The things I brought you
When I found out you had cancer of the bone

Your father cried on the telephone
And he drove his car to the Navy yard 5
Just to prove that he was sorry

In the morning through the window shade
When the light pressed up against your shoulder blade
I could see what you were reading

Oh the glory that the Lord has made 10
And the complications you could do without
When I kissed you on the mouth

Tuesday night at the bible study
We lift our hands and pray over your body
But nothing ever happens 15

I remember at Michael's house
In the living room when you kissed my neck
And I almost touched your blouse

In the morning at the top of the stairs
When your father found out what we did that night 20
And you told me you were scared

Oh the glory when you ran outside
With your shirt tucked in and your shoes untied
And you told me not to follow you

Sunday night when I cleaned the house 25
I find the card where you wrote it out
With the pictures of your mother

On the floor at the great divide
With my shirt tucked in and my shoes untied
I am crying in the bathroom 30

In the morning when you finally go
And the nurse runs in with her head hung low
And the cardinal hits the window

In the morning in the winter shade
On the first of March, on the holiday 35
I thought I saw you breathing

Oh the glory that the Lord has made
And the complications when I see His face
In the morning in the window

Oh the glory when He took our place 40
But He took my shoulders and He shook my face
And He takes and He takes and He takes

[1] This is really what Wilco’s song “The Late Greats” is a response to: the Gnostic knowledge of music criticism, always seeking out the unheard, “the greatest lost song of all time.”

Monday, October 29, 2007

Heaney’s “Mossbawn” and the Absences of Love

As a refugee within his own country, Seamus Heaney’s poetry is often concerned with his place among his own people. It is particularly concerned with the domestic, and, in exploring the placement of others in the domestic, he is placing himself in an analogous relationship to those about whom he is writing. In particular, “Mossbawn: Two Poems in Dedication” is a conscious nod to this act. “Mossbawn” particularly focuses on the idea of absences, which Heaney uses to achieve his own placement.

It is important to note from the beginning, these are two separate poems that are gathered together under the act of dedication. This helps rectify the disjunction between the two sections, the somewhat jarring lack of continuity. It also allows the poem to be analyzed as a single writing act—two separate poems, but one act of writing. For the brief purposes of this paper, I use the word act to connect the two separate poems. Even if they were written separately, with separate inspirations, methods, etc., Heaney’s grouping asks us to read them together, as if they were one poem. To borrow Trinitarian language, “Mossbawn” is two poems in person, but one in essence.

Subtitled “Two Poems in Dedication,” it is also dedicated to Heaney’s wife, Mary. This double dedication is the first indication of its self-awareness as a poetic act. It would not be unexpected for the reader to presume that the “she” in the first section is Mary both because of this dedication, and because of the poem’s imagistic intimacy. There is first in the poem a “sunlit absence” (1), but this absence is filled with leftovers of human action, “the helmeted pump in they yard” where “water honeyed / in the slung bucket” (2-5). Somebody—the “her” that first appears in line 10, presumably—has set the bucket under the faucet after using it. Some of the water originally poured for use remains. These leftovers signify both the work that has been done, and the absence of the worker. The sun which lights the absence also stands as a signifier of passing time. It hangs in the sky like a hung skillet cools against the wall after use (6-8). In line 9, Heaney makes a startling metaphor out of the wall the skillet is hung on. He calls it the “long afternoon.” As the skillet is the sun, the wall is the sky it moves across while it cools after the height of noonday heat. The noonday heat is the use of the skillet during daily work. Heaney’s larger metaphor connects the passage time in the workday with the work that is done during the day. It is a sparse, but tightly wound metaphor.

Heaney then moves indoors to the only person in the poem, whose absence has been pondered in the first part—a household matron at work about the house. After things have cooled some, she spends time baking, the oven rekindling the heat of the day as the scones rise. Again there is the image of passing time: “the ticking of two clocks” and rising scones (23-24). Again, the image is related to the work accomplished during the day. The tasks are the passing of time itself. Heaney invokes absence once more: “here is a space / again” (22-23). This time, however, it is the absence of action. It is waiting, a rest and Sabbath, similar to the rest of the skillet on the wall or the sun in the sky after a period of intense heat, intense work. While she waits, there is the evidence of work on her: whitened nails from the flour and “measling shins” from the heat of the stove (21). The intertwining here, between worker and work, evidence of each other left on both (c.f., the bucket left under the faucet with unused water in it) is similar to the intertwining of time and daily work. Both metaphors are connected in the various absences of the poem. It is in these absences that love lies. This is clinched by the last stanza, an image of a used tool:

And here is love

like a tinsmith’s scoop

sunk past its gleam

in the meal-bin. (25-28)

Part 2 of Heaney’s poem, “The Seed Cutters” is placed next to “Sunlight” to both continue the theme of absences, but also to place himself in the larger context of poetry. There is a self-conscious nod to Heaney’s own place as an artist in ‘painting’ this portrait. He says “Brueghel, / You’ll know them if I can get them true” (29-30). Brueghel is famous, of course, for his portraits of peasants and folk culture, something for which Heaney is also known. Brueghel is the perfect person to stand in for Heaney’s own art in this poem: the artist who stands by and steadfastly captures the actions of those around him, particularly those close to him. We know from Heaney’s other poetry that he often reserves the sonnet form for those with whom he is especially close (c.f., “Glanmore Sonnets”). The seed cutters of this poem are not named, in the same way Heaney does not name himself, though he does write in the first person, placing his work among the seed cutters. There is an echo here of Heaney’s poem “Digging,” where he explicitly compares the spade with which his father digs to his own pen. This comparison stresses both the mimetic and creative aspects of art. He is both imitating his father and doing the work of creation. Similarly in part 2 Heaney’s work is mirrored in the work of the seed cutters.

The anonymity of both workers and writer is itself explicitly mentioned in the final lines: “Under the broom / Yellowing over them, compose the frieze / With all of us there, our anonymities” (40-42). In this final line, Heaney places himself in the picture literally, describing the way in which the scene itself frames them, creates their picture. In many ways, Heaney is only a mimetic conduit for this framing. Yet he also actively paints himself into the portrait, both through his mention of Brueghel and in the way his own poetry is mirrored by the work of the seed cutters.

This anonymity is also a type of absence in the poem. Art is necessarily full of absences. Its mimetic nature creates a hollow shell, which, as Socrates points out, lacks the self, or reality of the original object (or scene, in this case). Yet from “Sunlight,” we see that it is in the absences—the leftovers of human activity, the Sabbath rest after the act of creation—that love lies. There is love, then, in the art of Heaney, through his absence of creation, similar to the way the love of the woman in “Sunlight” is demonstrated in her absences.

More importantly, it is in these gaps that Heaney places himself and his art. As I said, art is necessarily mimetic, a gap unto itself, but there is also the creative energy that seems to find its own restless place only in this gap. Heaney’s act of creation is itself love, a work of tribute. This love is the source of Heaney’s creative energy. Such energy is present in the act itself—the work of the poem, so to speak—but it is more present in the poem’s silence on the page, like the subject of “Sunlight.” One could ask if a poem exists on the page, and there is no one there to read it, is it still a poem? Or is it simply a collection of words? Heaney’s poetry makes the case that there is love in the absences, and it is in these absences where he finds himself. If a poem ceased to be a poem when there was nobody to read it, then Heaney, and the love in his poems, would cease to be also. It is in the silence of Heaney’s poetry that it speaks. It is in the waiting of the book on the shelf that his poetry exists, long after the heat of creativity has cooled, and only the leftovers of human action remain.


Mossbawn: Two Poems in Dedication

for Mary Heaney

1. Sunlight

There was a sunlit absence. 1

The helmeted pump in the yard

heated its iron,

water honeyed

in the slung bucket 5

and the sun stood

like a griddle cooling

against the wall

of each long afternoon.

So, her hands scuffled 10

over the bakeboard,

the reddening stove

sent its plaque of heat

against her where she stood

in a floury apron 15

by the window.

Now she dusts the board

with a goose’s wing,

now sits, broad-lapped,

with whitened nails 20

and measling shins:

here is a space

again, the scone rising

to the tick of two clocks.

And here is love 25

like a tinsmith’s scoop

sunk past its gleam

in the meal-bin.

2. The Seed Cutters

They seem hundreds of years away. Brueghel,

You’ll know them if I can get them true. 30

They kneel under the hedge in a half-circle

Behind a windbreak wind is breaking through.

They are the seed cutters. The tuck and frill

Of leaf-sprout is on the seed potatoes

Buried under that straw. With time to kill, 35

They take their time. Each sharp knife goes

Lazily halving each root that falls apart

In the palm of the hand: a milky gleam,

And, at the centre, a dark watermark.

Oh, calendar customs! Under the broom 40

Yellowing over them, compose the frieze

With all of us there, our anonymities.

Incantations : Michael S. Harper, A Love Supreme

It is almost impossible to read Michael S. Harper and not feel as though you are missing out on some sort of Gnostic gospel of jazz. “Dear John, Dear Coltrane” seems to revel in its own incantatory song of praise. When you consider the history of the phrase “a love supreme,” the title and incantatory phrase from John Coltrane’s own album of praise, some of the “Gnostic” implications are clear. The poem “Dear John, Dear Coltrane,” indeed, much of Harper’s work, proceeds from history and art, particularly jazz, in manners both implicit and explicit. He does this in “Dear John, Dear Coltrane” in particular, modeling his lines and rhythm, as well as content on John Coltrane’s exultant album. This essay will draw the parallels between Michael S. Harper’s “Dear John, Dear Coltrane” and Coltrane’s album A Love Supreme, particularly focusing on the incantatory nature of the poem, which is, in essence, a song of praise.

It is helpful to understand the structure of Coltrane’s album, particularly “Pt. I – Acknowledgement.” The album/song opens with a gong and cymbal swell and Coltrane riffing on the pentatonic for a moment, before leaving the cymbals alone to hearken the entrance of Jimmy Garrison’s bass line, the riff from which the album takes its iambic name. Harper, too, begins with this as his epigraph in italics, setting it apart from the rest of the textual tone: “a love supreme, a love supreme / a love supreme, a love supreme.” It is an incantation, and it couches the rest of the poem’s meditations. That Harper’s language becomes almost a musical drumbeat is no surprise, as it mirror’s Coltrane’s saxophone in A Love Supreme, which almost speaks. Indeed, the fourth movement on Coltrane’s album is based on a poem he includes in the album’s liner notes, “Psalm.” When listening to “Pt. IV – Psalm” it is possible to hear Coltrane literally playing through the poem, continually coming back to the minor third, the incantatory dactyl “Thank you God.” Not only this, but Coltrane actually speaks the phrase “a love supreme” in the album’s first track, repetitively, incantatorially. While Harper’s epigraph certainly alludes to this unexpected moment in Coltrane’s album, it also alludes to the bass line continually thrumbing this rhythm throughout the first movement (excepting the moments when it is left to Coltrane’s saxophone alone).

Harper’s meditations on the many particulars of John Coltrane’s life make up the rest of the poem. The poem could be seen as an attempt to rectify the particulars of Coltrane’s life with the phraseology of his music that seems to sum things up so well. Harper opens the poem with the words “Sex fingers toes” (1). It could be a list, undifferentiated by the lack of commas to set the words apart, or it could be a mishmash of all those things: the use of it as a whole line indicating a singularity of these items. The latter seems more likely (and infinitely more suggestive), when one considers the contained completeness of the lines that follow:

in the marketplace

near your father's church

in Hamlet, North Carolina

witness to this love

in this calm fallow

of these minds,

there is no substitute for pain (2-8)

Each line is rhythmically contained, ending on downbeats, suggesting their end stop. This downbeat end stop continues until line 14, when he ends with the deliberately accented end stop, the first incantation “a love supreme;” (14). Although the line ends on an accent, it is grammatically completed with a semi-colon. But its accent, in addition to the slant rhyme with line 15, sends the reader into the next line with the incantation still echoing, the surprisingly haunting question: “what does it all mean?” (15). This question is perhaps the starkest line in the whole poem, both an angst ridden cliché and startlingly honest plea for understanding.

The next set of lines (16-24) serves to establish some more of Coltrane’s history, a picture of him playing A Love Supreme in Scranton, Pennsylvania. This section ends with the incantation, introduced with a colon, similar to its previous use with the poetic text at line 14. Both are loosely linked to the content of the previous phrase, grammatically worked into the sentence. There is a difference this time, though: “a love supreme—” (24). The long dash at the end indicates a sudden stop, a change in thought even. This dash also brings about the break in stanza, indicative of the larger shift.

The next stanza does not contain much in the way of literal personal history, although many implications could be drawn, especially if one is familiar with the life of John Coltrane, particularly his abuse of heroin. Again, there is the mishmash of words grouped in these lines:

thick sin 'tween

impotence and death, fuel

the tenor sax cannibal

heart, genitals, and sweat

that makes you clean—

a love supreme, a love supreme— (26-31)

The pace of the phrases increases, due to the assonance that appears in the first part of these lines. Harper also cuts the phrase “fuel the tenor sax cannibal heart” after fuel and cannibal. This too, adds to the increased pacing and shift in intonation. Harper’s intonations shift with the various meditations, always coming back to “a love supreme,” which shifts with the various tonalities of Harper’s language, the same way Coltrane’s saxophone explores the phrase’s various modalities through “Pt. I – Acknowledgement.” Once again, there is the almost frenetic mishmash of words: “sax cannibal / heart.” It is almost incantatory, almost senseless. The words together, though grammatically senseless, form a cumulative effect, like the repetition of “a love supreme.” It also helps establish the theme of body in the poem. This idea of body is continued with the phrase “genitals, and sweat / that makes you clean— / a love supreme, a love supreme—”. Again, slant rhyme connects the incantation with its neighboring line. Whereas before it connects it with the question “what does it all mean?”, here it is connected with phrases of the body, emphasizing this theme of body, particularly the sexuality of the body.

The theme of the sexual body continues in the third stanza, a playful one, repeating “cause I am” in response to every question as to why a particular person (Coltrane presumably) is so “funky,” “sweet,” and especially “black.” The sudden intrusion of this out-of-character stanza is set off by the dash after “a love supreme” in line 31, performing here a similar function to the identical phrase in line 24. The dash allows for the change in voice and intonation. In the third stanza, Harper is mixing themes of race and sexuality, creating another incantation within the incantation of the whole poem: “because I am.” More interestingly, he is mashing the lines together with little respect for grammar. The first word is capitalized, and there are question marks throughout, but the stanza is largely run together grammatically. This is indicated, primarily, by the lack of capitalization. The lines are cut in ways that would be expected, giving the sense of grammar to one who only hears it, but this whole stanza could be considered a continuation of the mishmash technique Harper employs throughout the poem.

Harper ends the third stanza, once again, with “a love supreme:” connecting it to the song as a whole, acting in many ways, like a chorus of sorts. This time, however, “a love supreme” is followed by a colon, a first in the poem. This colon connects the very final stanza with the penultimate stanza, even though there is a significant visual break between them, and the last stanza lacks the italics of the penultimate (excepting, of course, the final lines). Harper is subclausing the whole fourth stanza to the third, in a way. It is a reversal for the poem in that the song-like italics have always been subclaused to the generally fact-oriented non-italics. Before, all the song lyrics were proceeding from the facts of Coltrane’s life. Now, the finality of Coltrane’s end (which seems imminent), proceeds from his music. The tail is wagging the dog, so to speak, and the speaker is disappointed that Coltrane can barely play (43-45). This makes the final two phrases, incantations of “a love supreme, a love supreme—”, all the more poignant. It’s as if Coltrane is trying to gasp out the last phrases himself, but ultimately comes off “flat” (45). The poem comes full circle to the epigraph, only this time, the phrase is cut off by the dash, suggesting the possibility, the hope of more. But the reader is left hanging by the final dash, an interruption, rather than an end.

Harper’s poem, ultimately, is rooted in the body, the “sex fingers toes” of Coltrane’s life, the mashing of the saxophone keys that produces his music. And, ultimately, it is Coltrane’s body that betrays him, snuffs out his particulars, rumbles over him, the same way his incantation continues, even after he is done. Though “Dear John, Dear Coltrane” was written before Coltrane’s death, it foretells the continuation of the artist, his incantation that arises out of the particulars of his life.


Dear John, Dear Coltrane

a love supreme, a love supreme
a love supreme, a love supreme

Sex fingers toes 1

in the marketplace

near your father's church

in Hamlet, North Carolina

witness to this love 5

in this calm fallow

of these minds,

there is no substitute for pain:

genitals gone or going,

seed burned out, 10

you tuck the roots in the earth,

turn back, and move

by river through the swamps,

singing: a love supreme, a love supreme;

what does it all mean? 15

Loss, so great each black

woman expects your failure

in mute change, the seed gone.

You plod up into the electric city—

your song now crystal and 20

the blues. You pick up the horn

with some will and blow

into the freezing night:

a love supreme, a love supreme—

Dawn comes and you cook 25

up the thick sin 'tween

impotence and death, fuel

the tenor sax cannibal

heart, genitals, and sweat

that makes you clean— 30

a love supreme, a love supreme—

Why you so black?

cause I am

why you so funky?

cause I am 35

why you so black?

cause I am

why you so sweet?

cause I am

why you so black? 40

cause I am

a love supreme, a love supreme:

So sick

you couldn't play Naima,

so flat we ached 45

for song you'd concealed

with your own blood,

your diseased liver gave

out its purity,

the inflated heart 50

pumps out, the tenor kiss,

tenor love:

a love supreme, a love supreme—

a love supreme, a love supreme—

A Love Supreme

John Coltrane

I will do all I can to be worthy of Thee O Lord. 1

It all has to do with it.

Thank you God.


There is none other. 5

God is. It is so beautiful.

Thank you God. God is all.

Help us to resolve our fears and weaknesses.

Thank you God.

In You all things are possible. 10

We know. God made us so.

Keep your eye on God.

God is. He always was. He always will be.

No matter what . . . it is God.

He is gracious and merciful. 15

It is most important that I know Thee.

Words, sounds, speech, men, memory, thoughts,

fears and emotions — time — all related . . .

all made from one . . . all made in one.

Blessed be His name. 20

Thought waves — heat waves — all vibrations —

all paths lead to God. Thank you God.

His way . . . it is so lovely . . . it is gracious.

It is merciful — thank you God.

One thought can produce millions of vibrations 25

and they all go back to God . . . everything does.

Thank you God.

Have no fear . . . believe . . . thank you God.

The universe has many wonders. God is all.

His way . . . it is so wonderful. 30

Thoughts — deeds — vibrations, etc.

They all go back to God and He cleanses all.

He is gracious and merciful . . . thank you God.

Glory to God . . . God is so alive.

God is. 35

God loves.

May I be acceptable in Thy sight.

We are all one in His grace.

The fact that we do exist is acknowledgement

of Thee O Lord. 40

Thank you God.

God will wash away all our tears . . .

He always has . . .

He always will.

Seek Him everyday. In all ways seek God everyday. 45

Let us sing all songs to God

To whom all praise is due . . . praise God.

No road is an easy one, but they all

go back to God.

With all we share God. 50

It is all with God.

It is all with Thee.

Obey the Lord.

Blessed is He.

We are from one thing . . . the will of God . . . 55

thank you God.

I have seen God — I have seen ungodly —

none can be greater — none can compare to God.

Thank you God.

He will remake us . . . He always has and He 60

always will.

It is true — blessed be His name — thank you God.

God breathes through us so completely . . .

so gently we hardly feel it . . . yet,

it is our everything. 65

Thank you God.


All from God.

Thank you God. Amen.