Saturday, January 7, 2017

Cusp of September


Cusp of September

On the cusp of September the ruckus really begins

by equinox three weeks later,
everything’s already died down
or settled in
to the next chapter of the seasons
of the book 
of the year

The shadows have consolidated into their blottiest ink

Summer given back into the hands of a seasonless and queer architecture
left coasting down and up hills
-seven sisters sigh
as the shuttle shuffles by
preening in its stopover
cavorting before heading south to fell the trees
the mouth of its passage
gaping
eating not money any longer, but wood.



copyright 2017 Claire Bain

Composed on 9/22/2012 as a voice memo while walking around my neighborhood, which is hilly and on the border between rich white Noe Valley and gay white Castro (Eureka Valley), and one block from a main artery for traffic and now tech shuttle buses. 
Refers to the cultural and physical geography of the area, and the quality of light at autumn equinox.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Coupon

(in honor of Andy Burns's birthday)

A bubble boomed, breaching brokers' bags.
Money modeled and mangled the nugget of
history that was this one placed named
San Francisco, history forming impulse
of this speck in the spot of
this galaxy that
ultimately disappeared
in the measly little

cough,

Ahem.
It matters little, 
it
matters a
lot. Time will whittle
til it exists
not.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Untitled

Sun is circumspect
- oblivious to the
window upon
   windowed reflection

All kinds of movement
in the silver-bowled
corner mirror
: that physical analog
     to surveillance,
older than a telegram,
             easier to read

Informed by an integral ray
Incisive in its unrequested
                         entry
Watch, I say--
bind yourself, the
window to window
    upon window

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan Earthquake Haiku



Twenty eleven

Your Godzilla World War III
So many new ghosts



Saturday, February 19, 2011

Walk Like Water

Walk like water.

Water doesn’t hesitate before following the path of least resistance.
It doesn’t have one sentence in its head different than the one that comes out,
And it doesn’t care which direction other water is going.
Go like water. It doesn’t get mad, judge, or remember. It goes alone, hangs off the sides of bushes, or ponds with other water. It does not get indignant if other water, or even dirt touches it. It carries all kinds of things, lovely and disgusting, all the same—it carries anything it can lift.
Water flows in a sheet down any street that’s shaped wide and slanted.
It doesn’t stop to decide which side of a ridge to go down, crying about leaving the water that goes the other way.
It doesn’t say “Whew!” to the other water in the ponds when it comes to rest; doesn’t reflect on how painful or uncomfortable it was to get there, and doesn’t worry about how it will get to the next place, or even the next state of being.
Water has an easier time than the richest person you know, even if that person lives on a hill named after freedom. It just beats a rhythm on umbrellas, car hoods, garbage, or leaves, without planning for that particular situation. And it doesn't care whether its dripping is enchanting a person, being ignored by a turd, or annoying a spider below.

Walk like water. Follow it and you will know the most direct route.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day, All!
2-minute video of this poem at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYRHjs9GOe0


Valentine

If you're alone, may you bathe in
the singularity of
sky-surrounding-planet.

If you're widowed,
may you feel the eternal
face of your beloved in the
darkness of your every blink.

If you're dating,
may you feast on
the twinkling mystery
of the unfettered present.

If you're decades together,
may you cherish the tiny particles
of annoyance at the centers
of your pearl bonds.

If you're broken-up,
broken-hearted, left behind,
let-down; may you wear disappointment
only as a bullet-deflecting tiny
badge, not body-armour.

If you are with someone whom
you love so much, and it's
so nice, and you
both respect one another
and you feel amazed at the beauty of it,
may you take it calmly into your being
like a delicious sunset.

If you're too long alone, perpetual
bachelor-or-ette,
may you marry courage and give
birth to vision.

Happy Valentine's Day

©2011 Claire Bain

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nervousness Pantoum

The pitbulls of anxiety pass--
You can unfurl your brow now.
That potential chomp on your ass
is but a shadow who bows.

You can unfurl your brow now
that you recall that the threat has no mass;
It is but a shadow who bows
Under the weight of worries so crass.

That you recall that the threat has no mass
is reminder enough, proof enough
that under the weight of worries so crass,
only the scent of damp earth can hold.

Is it reminder enough, proof enough,
of worry for old-time worry's sake: that
only the scent of damp earth can hold
you close to true meaning?

Because of worry for old-time worry's sake,
-That potential chomp on your ass-
Do you close to true meaning
Until the pitbulls of anxiety pass?

I had been beset by anxiety for the past week, in anticipation of a couple of impending events (not bad ones, just work-related). On my way home from the most nerve-wracking one, I stepped off the streetcar at a stop by a park where the gardeners were working. The smell of wet soil came to me as such a soothing perfume that I carefully took it in and immediately felt better. I remembered what I had learned from the New Year's Eve fiasco and applied it. What a "grounding" experience!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Placeholder

I want to stop what I was doing

That day my sister called

The very hot day in summer when so sadly tired her voice

asked me to go eat ice cream with her

and talk

1/13/11

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sense Changes Pantoum

I can’t breathe
Open the window
Now it’s cold
Close the window

Open the window
I feel antsy
Close the window
Now it’s stuffy

I feel antsy
I’ll read for awhile
Now it’s stuffy
I‘ll move around some

I’ll read for awhile
This is tiring
I‘ll move around some
There’s work to be done

This is tiring
I don’t feel like doing it
There’s work to be done
It never feels finished

I don’t feel like doing it
A constant burden
It never feels finished
Or deeply satisfying

A constant burden
Not compelling
Or deeply satisfying
Except when it washes over

Not compelling
Or interesting
Except when it washes over
Like a joyful pull

Or interesting
With puzzle qualities
Like a joyful pull
Or a mystery to solve

With puzzle qualities
That engage as a game
Or a mystery to solve
And thrill to unravel

That engage as a game
Of boredom absolve
And thrill to unravel
A journey to travel

Of boredom absolved
With steps that evolve;
A journey to travel
Like the arc of a gavel

With steps that evolve;
An equation resolves
Like the arc of a gavel
Or the crunch of the gravel

An equation resolves
Like doubts that dissolve
Or the crunch of the gravel
Under footsteps that babble

Like doubts that dissolve
When community revolves
Under footsteps that babble
Up talk towers we scramble

When community revolves
Around bodies uninvolved
Up talk towers we scramble
High lost mediated babble

Around bodies uninvolved
Now it’s cold
High lost mediated babble
I can’t breathe

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Consolation Pantoum

1/1/11

Recall the way the peach light felt
On your face as you exited through the metal doors
That clamping lock is not a permanent closing-
You will have more chances.

On your face as you exited through metal doors,
The surprise of the sweet sunset reminded that
You will have more chances
For success in life.

The surprise of the sweet sunset reminded you that
Beauty descends like the aftermist of rain,
For success in life
Is strongest when you stand still and watch.

And beauty descends like the after-mist of rain,
Like the flocks of little black birds landing on the treetops to roost for the night, and their song
Is strongest when you stand still and listen.
You were in the right place at the right time because you witnessed it:

The flocks of little black birds landing on the treetops to roost for the night, their song
Reflected in the undulating being of group flight-
You were in the right place at the right time because you witnessed it.
You stood and watched and felt and breathed and listened;

Reflected in the undulating being of group flight,
You stopped to partake.
You stood and watched and felt and breathed and listened,
So you didn't lose out after all.

Because you stopped to partake-
Even though the moment before you had passed through doors of defeat-
You didn't lose out after all.
You knew you were where you should be and you stayed,

Even though the moment before you had passed through doors of defeat--
That clamping lock is not a permanent closing.
You knew you were where you should be and you stayed:
Recall the way the peach light felt...


About this poem: It was the end of the work day at the library. I had just discovered that I had missed an important work opportunity, something that I need very much. I cried. The sun had just set on the drizzly last day of 2010. Dejected, I pushed through the doors of the staff exit on Hyde Street, and I was engulfed by an extraordinary pinkish colored energy. The dusk was saturating the water molecules suspended in the air, seemingly activated by the the glow of the sunset and ricocheting off the tall cream-colored wall across the street. More than simply seeing, it was as if I had stepped into a specific medium, an atmosphere of a unique substance. I crossed over into the plaza and turned about to see the sunset. I had the immense luck to see the swarms of small black birds that roost in the dense trees lining the library along Hyde and Grove Streets; for three years I had listened to their dense culminating song at sunset, but I had never seen them. They were in flocks that seemed to launch in turn from nearby bare trees, swirling in in liquid synchronized patterns like great amoebic organisms awash in unseen currents in the sky, and then alight on the trees. Their nightly ritual signalled by the great clock of this solar system. I stood entranced, absorbing it. The next morning I wrote this poem in appreciation of the healing effect that it had, and nearly three weeks later this has not at all subsided. I won't forget it because it is a permanent part of me, fortifying and reminding me of what and where I am: a being on the earth.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Video Poems

Click on the titles below to view the videos:

Ellie Longshadow

Ellie Longshadow tumbled deep into the sadness of Autumn

The violet fear riding on the rustling leaves could not escape her

any more than the lives of ghosts could shake the inky shadows of memory off their backs,

No matter how deceptivley warm was the day.

Fifteen degrees from the sunset was the mark,

the point at which the jig was up

But Ellie Longshadow did not sink with the sun,

She floated on the dusk

Because

It was a powerful, gentle current this time of year,

The even angles

of heaven's bodily gravity

Equanimously, unwaveringly

Held to their agreement with the approaching night


Orange Light Haiku

Watch daytime TV

Sucked curtain screen shadows grow

and shrink in sun beats

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Condo Colony Coop Co-opt Corporeal Corp.

Your living canvas--
the meat of their
labor
Strewn like flesh-flung
bloodjuice
At a very exclusive event
An evening of carnality In
a booming part of a city

Your entry way
Securely lobby'd
Two canvases hardly living;
one a blur on a spin
on an approach,
the other co-opted
carefully compressed not crafted
anti-grafitti
Uber-graphic
Writing topping out
the hegemony

Your gateway to the Mission-
Your mission you have
not decided to accept
But shall take on
Or take down in
true missionary position
You even have a sign
Falsely advertising color-
ful cultures far away but
not awaiting
-O no-
Not like these muralized,
Hapless looking muthafuckers

Your signpost spells out
only what used to be
Used to tout
The othering out-hosted
house post outhouse
Class-outpost-go-slummin
go slummin
go slummin
go slummin
Bulldoze it but pick
through it
Polish up yer gleanings
Put fake art notice on
Wall greening
Only in name
and not cc'd on these lanes

Your living fortified
Faux teepee canvas
True wood Troy horse myth
Every locked box labeled
Shining enamel
Drive in 'n out
Not ever having to set foot
nor penny
down in this part of town
but for the occasional tube from
chain store first floor
-or-
nouveau gourmet a-gogo
and cocktails

Who said, Yes! It's possible?
Who stood on this here
corner and who drove
In to buy stuff to work
by hand
Manual labor
Manuel the laborer
Man, well the workers
who can afford
buy here now
Wow--how?!
Fingers tapping
Thumb-keyboard-now
Buy here now
I mean
Here is what to buy
Here

Bird Rock

As soon as I decided not to try to pull poems out of myself
I saw one:
"Soda-coffee-phonecard-newspaper"
here
in the Civic Center
backwards forwards any way you look
it's spelled out
the same way
be it: pigeons perching pleasingly
on the cliffside of this institution
The Library, dedicated to providing access
And lo, did those
arch-ee-techts
plan those resting spots?
Rock birds, says
the bystander
watching.
I tell him that it took three years for
me to notice them,
how thay are a part of the building
"Yes, they share some grays," said he
But it was his eloquent watching that made me love pigeons as I walked away slowly
on the concrete
to get soda or coffee or phonecard or newspaper.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

When the Library Opens

Fog roars
Through the doors
They pour
Over books or solace and something more

Through the doors
They run up the floors
For books or solace and something more
The life and hope we all look for

They run up the floors
And down the stairs
The life and hope we all look for
Plant themselves in computer chairs

And down the stairs
To wash their hair
Plant themselves in computer chairs
Virtual massage, message there

To wash their hair
Or talk to their feet
Virtual massage, message there
They warm a seat

Or talk to their feet
Sort out their zzzz's
They warm a seat
A moment of ease

Sort out their zzzz's
They pour
A moment of ease
Fog roars

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Summer 2010 Poems

Manifestation Affirmation
Make me healthy, prosperous, or just give me a chance
Decide, ask, want, demand, doubt, deny, try, don’t try
Oh benevolent giver of the given, thanks in advance
Please manifest what I wish to possess

Decide, ask, want, demand, doubt, deny, try, don’t try
I know a secret: cleanse thy mind of grit and grime
Please manifest what I wish to possess
All I want shall soon be mine

I know a secret: cleanse thy mind of grit and grime
Just ask for that golden poodle
All I want shall soon be mine
The weight loss, the car, the kit and kaboodle

Just ask for that golden poodle
Be positive and true; it’s all there for you
The weight loss, the car, the kit and kaboodle
Ask and declare is all you must do

Be positive and true; it’s all there for you
Anger and sadness, stuff ‘em and bluff’em
Ask and declare is all you must do
Cause and effect give you that stud muffin

Anger and sadness, stuff ‘em and bluff’em
Don’t visibly explode or directly unload
Cause and effect give you that stud muffin
Smile and implode lest you blow the mode

Don’t visibly explode or directly unload
You say it, you see it, you think it, you be it
Smile and implode lest you blow the mode
Want anything but nothing, that, those, he, she it

You say it, you see it, you think it, you be it
Oh benevolent giver of the given, thanks in advance
Want anything but nothing, that, those, he, she it
Make me healthy, prosperous, or just give me a chance



Civic Center Haiku
This civic center
does hold very many things,
things that fall apart.




Watching Machines
A guy is watching a short film on the local public tv station late at night. The film begins with an exterior shot of a cafe window. The lights hanging from the cafe ceiling, and the clock on the interior wall are immobile and blend with the buildings, trees, and cars that the glass is reflecting. People inside the cafe move, their features dimmed in partial silhouette. On the window, sun-illuminated tree leaves blow in the wind, and cars pass on the hill. The character in the film sits silently at an outdoor table, observing. It is a point of view shot. The guy watching the film falls asleep.

He dreams a haiku
Fog that sweeps by the window
Leaving particles

The guy has a dream about the film he was watching. In the dream he speaks in pantoums like this one:

She’ll get up and walk across the room,
Holding her torso erect-
Finding a reason to model her values
Her friend notices immediately and gets up to do the same.

Holding her torso erect,
She is sure that her belt and skirt are displayed.
Her friend notices immediately and gets up to do the same.
I’ll be right back, she says, arching.

She is sure that her belt and skirt are displayed,
And it’s clear that her figure is fine.
I’ll be right back, she says, arching.
She’s pretty sure that he’s noticed.

And it’s clear that her figure is fine.
Her friend now, too, turns in display.
She’s pretty sure that he’s noticed;
She’s done her best and that’s a lot.

Her friend now, too, turns in display,
Finding a reason to model her values.
She’s done her best and that’s a lot--
She’ll get up and walk across the room.

The reason the guy has this dream is that he is very similar to the character in the film. The man in the film is sitting outside, watching a drama unfold between people he does not know and cannot hear. It is not necessary for him to hear; he can see exactly what is going on between a group of people inside the cafe. The man who is watching the film absorbs it into his dream, and his mind poeticizes it.

He is like the man in the movie
Because he is outside
He is watching through a window
He can see himself watching.

Because he is outside
He can see the people better than they see themselves
He can see himself watching
He knows them so well without ever meeting them

He can see the people better than they see themselves
He just can’t ever meet them
He knows them so well without ever meeting them
His own reflection is too dim.

He just can’t meet them
Even when he tries
His own reflection is too dim.
It’s uncomfortable

Even when he tries,
He is watching through a window
It’s uncomfortable
He is like the man in the movie.

The difference is, the man in the movie learns to reach out, thanks to the generosity of one of the women in the cafe. They marry and the last scene in the film is of them driving away with cans tied to the back of the car. The last shot is a closeup of one of the cans: sardines that the lonely protagonist ate for dinner every night when he was single. But the guy watching isn’t so lucky. He begins to associate himself with inanimate objects, feeling that maybe he doesn’t have a soul. He sees his reflection in a metal coffeepot, and feels like an empty vessel. Staring at the image in the stainless steel, himself among his belongings in his room, he feels no different from the dishes, chairs, walls, fruit, jacket, pen, door, apple. Unlike Manet, Chris Marker, St Francis, or the Shinto-Animists, he does not honor or exalt in thing-ness.

He would rather not see himself as a thing.
He wants to be in no-thing-ness
but not nothingness
He doesn’t want to be a room into which
light enters only through a small puncture,
projecting the world as an un-traceable image on
a lone aorta, no auriculo-ventricular groove.
He doesn’t want that short camera lucida tv film of the marrying sardine eater
playing on the backs of his eyeballs-
he wants to be the one in that movie,
driving off with the girl,
his old loneliness clattering behind for a mile
until they pull over and cut it off for good.