so many poems

Saturday, April 30, 2016

How I tire of poems
with line-endings
and important messages
conveyed via imagery
and other literary devices.

How I long for you, instead,
your two eyes gazing
into mine—like miners
falling headlong
into mine shafts.

• • •

 


the difficult history of rabbits

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

 
Coneys, they were once called—
and kittens were their young.
Rodents they were believed to be,
though herbivorous, cute,

and gregarious burrowers,
they actually were lagomorphs.
Are they pets? To say a coney
is gregarious is to note

it roves in vaguely defined herds,
not that it shows up in top hat
and waistcoat twirling its pocket
watch like an overzealous

New Orleans antiques dealer.
To declare such a beast a bunny
is to denigrate, at the least;
to encage and kill and then to skin

its fur leaving a long-eared
husk of what it was is worse.
And yet, how irritating
to encounter a rabbit knowing

it will merely steal or make
mischief: “A butcher was opening
his market one morning and as
he did a rabbit popped his head

through the door: Got cabbage?”
No wonder French monks
once believed them to be fish
and therefore fair for Lenten fare,

as squirrelly as they are
and quick: unfair game, perhaps.
No wonder Darwin inquired
into their tendency to tumble

into holes full of magic and rhapsody
and horror: Are they genetically
disposed to such transport?
Is therefore a stew or casserole

a mythic hole into which some hapless
trippers have fallen as into
as dream—only to be eaten,
and, if so, will they awaken?

• • •

 


why i crowdfund

Monday, April 25, 2016

In early 2013 my three kids and I were in a bad spot—emotionally, financially, maybe even spiritually. We had been in North Carolina for almost two years, having moved here to accommodate mom and dad’s divorce and separation into two households.  Awful for all of us.

When i got here, I didn’t have a job. By early 2013 I had been close on several jobs, to employment contract level, even. The latest job prospect (with a company called Divorce Care in Wake Forest) had been several months in the works, had reached employment contract review, etc., and finally, one April day, ended in a phone call: “We’ve decided to hold off on hiring this position.”

I was SO MAD.  Mad at Divorce Care, the universe, life, God, and mostly myself for apparently being so  incompetent that even as a divorcé with 20 years of marketing experience I couldn’t get a job as a marketer at a divorce company.

That evening, as so many evenings in 2012-13, the kids and i ended up at the Wooden Nickel Pub for a burger. They were more philosophical about it and just a tad caustic: “Dad, it’s OK.  Just don’t have a job.  Keep living in your crappy apartment. You’re a hipster poet, you can wander the streets.”

I was not so philosophical.  I raised my fist to heaven, right there on the sidewalk in front of Wooden Nickel, and screamed, “BUT I NEED A FUCKING JOB!!”

In front of my kids and the whole town.  Wow, i lost it. My son Elijah was so heartbroken by this display he said he would walk home (four miles).  The girls cowered, ready to be taken back to their mom’s house.

After the darkest night of the soul in years, i woke up realizing, “This can’t continue. We must make progress, however incremental.”  The only point of light I could think of was Eli’s volunteering at the Durham Bike Co-Op, which he had been doing for a year and had recently been assigned “mechanic on duty” during one of the open workshops.  He was only 14 but was handy with a wrench.

I proposed to Eli that we start a bike shop.  He was so cynical, even at 14, that he thought I was kidding—or worse, being cruel. He kept saying it wasn’t possible. I said, “Watch this,” in a typical dad moment.  We sat down and created an Indiegogo fundraiser.  I set it for $2500, since he said that’s how much tools would cost; I wrote it, and he reviewed it and clicked “launch this fundraiser.”  He had increased the ask to $3500. “We’ll probably need more, Dad,” he said.  This was now Eli’s thing.

As fate would have it, that fundraiser surpassed its goal.  So we did, actually, start a bike shop. Here’s what it looked like the day we opened:

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 11.20.01 AM

And soon there were newspaper articles written about us, lots of word of mouth, even a very cool video made by a film student at UNC, all of which you can see at hillsboroughbicycle.com.  We’ve served over 500 customers, worked on almost a thousand bikes, and in our small way made the Hillsborough community a better place.

So yesterday we started a new fundraiser, and people have already given over $400:

Help Hillsborough Bicycle GROW on its 3rd Birthday

The first reason I embrace crowdfunding is that it lets us know that people care.  Starting a project or business can be a very lonely task.  Looking over a list of 60 people who have put their money behind your effort is encouraging in a way a bank loan—or even a singular personal gift—could never be. You get to meet the angels who actually do care about life, things going well, problems being solved. There’s no blessing like it.

The second reason is it keeps us out of debt. Debt, for a small business, should be a last resort option.  When you’re in a low-cash-flow type business like a bike shop, ideally you can pay your bills.  Bike shops (and similar businesses) are too small and risky to carry bank loans.  I’ve heard of bike shops in particular going out of business because they’d borrowed too much.

The third reason is it gives friends and community people a chance to underwrite something they care about—something that makes their community a better place. So, years later, when the project is still thriving (as Hillsborough Bicycle is), they can point to it and say, “I helped start that.”

With all that said, I want you to know THINGS ARE LOOKING UP for the Belzes in Hillsborough. I invite you to email Eli or me (embbelz64@gmail.com, aaron@belz.net) and to thrown $10 or $20 into the new fundraiser to help us meet our next goal.

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 11.19.05 AM

Dad, Natalie, Eli – Fall 2013

 


poem in six parts

Monday, March 28, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 5.31.41 PM


schumann

Thursday, March 17, 2016

What junger Mann leaves Law,
in violation of his inheritance’s terms,
to indulge in Music? What mortal flaw

pushes a 19th C. Saxon that way,
from order to billowing desire,
or say, what ethereal fire

found young Robert that day
in Frankfurt when he first
heard Niccolò Paganini play?

“Butterflies,” he would later say.
“And the memory of butterflies
carried me away to piano, to Clara.”

“The ocean,” Clara would correct.
“The ocean and poetry turned
Robert’s neck toward the impossible.”

“And he ended up in hospital.”

• • •

 


shostakovich

Monday, February 29, 2016

The long and short of you, Dmitri,
is the long and short of me, though mine
arrives without fanfare. As I sit on my
porch and gaze at the yard my only
music is the double helix of memory
and renewed disdain for other people.

You, with your specs and proletarian
necktie, sit keyboard-stunned, for as you
noted she was a woman desired only
partly, the objective Sofiya reclining
on whatever tacky floral couch
the Bureau had provided.

So was it written, and so, in the heat
of our Soviet season, was it also done—
that march forward through history
and history’s illegitimate cousin
Ivan, a drooling amateur, my double,
both horse-like and a clothes horse.

Yet Ivan’s keen eye for floral abundance
kept you looking for something you knew
wasn’t there yet sensed was real—
or at least real enough to taste
in memory, napping on a rattan
of a wraparound porch distinctly American.

This was your—is our—“muddle
instead of music” and the sound of our
trudging through acres we do not own
toward village lights that have never shone
on us, carrying only our instruments
and, as luck would have it, our papers.

• • •

 


not feeling so hot

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Guys I’m heading home now because I’m not feeling so hot.

It isn’t the weather this time.  It’s my heart.

My heart feels like an abandoned fire station outside of Boise.

My heart feels like a well-dressed child.

It feels like a penny. :(

Because you traipsed all over it, my heart feels like a pig farmer’s entryway carpet.

I just don’t feel so hot, and I don’t want to get poetic about it.

I want to do something. I feel like standing up and saying something.

I feel like saying, “Hey world, it’s my turn.”

Because you jacked it up, my heart feels like a million second guesses.

It feels like a spleen, post-splenectomy.

Do you know what a real circus is like?

Have you bathed in the warm light of the moon wearing nothing but pajamas?

My heart feels like the opposite of that now that you’ve elbowed it on your way somewhere more interesting.

Kind of took the wind out of me, so I’m heading home.

Nothing personal. Nothing impersonal, either.

 

•  •  •

[Order Glitter Bomb if you’d like a book of such poems.]

 


love writing!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I love writing, because I love you! I love the way you read and laugh quietly to yourself!  I love the weird smirk you get when you come across something you don’t understand!  I’m not even certain of the idiom “come across,” but I do love writing, maybe especially poetry writing!!  Poetry writing affords one an opportunity to sport an arch tone! Maybe not “sport” there, but perhaps “flex”!! I love to flex arch tones until the cows come home, and to do so in my #1 favorite form of writing, and that is poetry!!! Hey if you don’t “get” my love of poetry, stop on by!  Let’s do the do!  I’ll hook a broster up!!!  THIS IS FOR REAL!!!!

•  •  •

 


how fast i ride

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

     RAGBRAI 2014

Like the wind
up clock God made me,
quick as greased
monkey

droppings
do I careen into a dead
breeze, Allison—
fast and

slow, then fast—
quirky’s my pace. Aaron’s
pace. Cycling historians
one day will

showcase this
shizz at the Aaron’s
Pace Museum. Unique,
and I get there.

Sometimes get there,
sometimes sag,
oft hammer
through,

always safety first,
often crash.
I ride like the broken
hind quarters

of the SUV-
traversed hog,
but they don’t call me
Mr. Porkchop

for nothing. They don’t
call me Mr. Porkchop.
They text me:
I’m on my phone.

The big guy,
I call him Davis,
and he
calls me Rone.


all my springs

Friday, May 30, 2014

“Where words leave off, music begins.” –Heinrich Heine

“Words, after speech, reach / into silence.” –T. S. Eliot

“Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends.” —Alphonse de Lamartine

•  •  •

These observations are either plagiarized or so true that they’ve been formulated at least three times in almost exactly the same way.

UntitledWhile poetry, like all of traditional literature, appeals to one section of the human brain, the language center (Wernicke’s and Broca’s Areas), scientists say “Listening to Music Lights Up the Whole Brain.”

So after words are spoken, silence ensues, ambient sound quietly makes its presence felt, and that’s where music begins. Eliot often uses this image of silence filled with distant sounds, such as in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:

     I know the voices dying with a dying fall
     Beneath the music from a farther room.
     So how should I presume?

As for me, I wake up with a head full of ideas as words and phrases, tiny puns and verbal problems, and in the slurry of coffee and pastries and newspaper i become mentally organized. I become task oriented. Sometimes a poem is a task I can accomplish in a day. Usually all I accomplish are more mundane things, such as answering emails and paying bills.

Walter Pater famously said that “all art constantly aspires towards the condition of music”; I believe this to be true. My words aspire toward music, which is why I feel such gratification reading them in public. They taste good to me. But I envy a woman who can take a few stanzas of poetry and sing them to life in a way that makes my whole brain light up. Heaven will be full of singing and praise, the Bible says. We will have music and dancing—whole brain, whole body. Of the City of God, writes the Psalmist,

     Singers and dancers alike say,
     “All my springs are in you.”

•  •  •


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 90 other followers