Sunday, November 22, 2009

kitsch, hallmarkiness, corpocration, and the official truth

If you care about the truth, especially in the arts, then you have to care about all of its second string replacement players. Kitsch, "hallmarkiness," "corpocration," and "official truth" are all varieties of bullshit that we ingest continually from all types of media and directly from each other.

Kitsch is defined by the dictionary as sentimental and vulgar, especially in the arts. But a great writer defined it more intuitively and usefully as a world envisioned as if there were no shit in it anywhere.

"Hallmarkiness" is a subcategory of kitsch and derives from Hallmark cards. "Hallmarkiness" seems more limited to scenes designed to elicit warmth in programmatic ways such as cute kids doing cute silly things at the family dinner table, children eagerly awaiting Santa Claus near a hearth hung with stockings etc.

"Corpocration" is what is spoken in a corpocracy, which is "A company characterized by top-heavy, isolated, risk-averse management, excess paperwork, low productivity, poor interdepartmental communication, and lack of imagination, especially in product development and marketing" (American Heritage Dictionary). Who speaks corpocration? Almost anyone who has ever had to give a presentation in an office setting in a corpocracy has had to learn at least basic corpocration. What's wrong with corpocration is that it feels and sounds very scripted by external corporate interests all the time. It's inhuman.

Celebrities and politicians are normally forced to say by their sponsors and donors a lot of corpocration in speeches. When they go off script and sound like people and accidentally say what they really think, it is often called a gaffe.

The "official truth" is the version of the truth that the powers that be will tolerate, and departures from this will be penalized. However, there are different sources of power in a society such as the United States of America, so the "official truth" can be claimed by multiple agencies or entities such as corporations, the federal, state or local governments, spiritual or religious organizations, professional organizations or associations etc. The one thing that all of these varieties of "official truth" have in common is intolerance for other forms of truth. Sometimes this intolerance manifests in aggression, attacks and even hate speech or propaganda. The "offical truth" is the one thing you can always count on to be wrong, at least in some fundamental way.

When you are writing, it is always helpful to remember the ways that writers go wrong. However, most writers do not go far into the fields of bullshit. The most common way any of the above will manifest is in the form of a cliche, a bit of received knowledge that seems untested or unearned.

It is sadly far more likely that when writers fail to say anything true it is because they are not saying anything that has any bearing on anything at all. Somehow they missed the lesson about the classics that said they speak to the serious problems that people face every moment of their lives.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sean Thomas Dougherty at Drexel University Oct. 21, 2009

On Wednesday the 21st of October at Drexel University in the Bossone auditorium, for the first time I saw Sean Thomas Dougherty give a poetry reading. I’d heard that he was great from many people, but seeing him in real life really made a profound difference. Since he has videos available through BOA editions, which published Broken Halleleujahs, I won’t even try to describe the indescribable.

The audience, including mostly students— there may have been 70-80 there plus a half dozen faculty—was deeply moved. Students who are told to go to things are generally a tough crowd, but he really won them over.

What was almost as interesting as the reading itself was the Q&A afterwards. Students asked about many themes, including his spirituality, his influences, etc. He gave a long list of greats in his influences. But he also made a point of saying that the most important influence was Patrick Lawler. Yes, that Patrick Lawler published by MMM Press as well as some other fine presses.

Thanks to Harriet Levin and others at Drexel University for helping to make this possible!

MMM at Big Blue Marble Books near c c Philly

On Sunday October 18th MMM had a reading at Big Blue Marble Bookstore, which is half an hour from center city Philadelphia. Surprisingly, we had a standing room only crowd overflowing around us and around the floor (sitting on cushions when chairs ran out), and they were standing almost all the way out the back door etc. It was a tiny room that holds maybe fifteen people comfortably, but there were perhaps 25-30 people trying to be there. It was a very diverse and interesting lineup: Minter Krotzer, Barb Daniels, me, Dave Moolten & Hal Sirowitz.

Minter read very, very briefly, being the MC/host. Barb did a great job. I read just 2 poems when I realized there were 7-8 small kids in the audience. So i couldn't read 98% of my material. but i did give a very brief history of mmm from the beginnings in CO with Naomi and its near-death and resurrection out of ashes etc. Dave Moolten did a very solid reading. Hal especially gave a terrific reading. He was very funny and warm.

People were very happy afterwards. A bunch of friendly people bought books from me, which was another surprise because I read less than anyone else. Sales were actually good (surprise), & a few MMM Vol IX issues sold.

I did give away about two dozen back issues to people who came to the reading. Perhaps that helped put the audience in a good mood.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

self-inflicted ethnic cleansing—against self censorship

Censorship tends to be understood as something imposed upon a writer or artist from the outside, a force that often means well, e.g. to protect children from exposure to harsh words etc. I understand these needs, and I feel obliged to protect children too especially since I have a six-year-old boy.

However, there is another kind of censorship that is more insidious or unwholesome for artists and writers, and that is when we decide for whatever reasons to clean up words, images and actions that were never dirty in the first place.

How does this happen? I can't pretend to know all of the situations where this happens. But I will speak to one area that I am familiar with. There is a strong current that pushes writers of color to not say anything about their own experience, and that current comes from the dominant culture, which is predominantly white and middle class. To give a specific example from my own work, I know that if I write about a sexual or romantic relationship with a white woman in which white people—not even including the white woman herself—are not pictured in a way that is flattering to white people in general, that some white editors and other white people will say my work is "angry" or "not art" or "not universal." (This has actually happened to me many times, including with people who have said they admire my work.)

Once in 1983 in a workshop in Easton, PA, Gwendolyn Brooks was speaking about how black poets are pushed to be silent about racism because talking about racism sounds "angry" and it is "not art" and it is "not universal." Gwendolyn Brooks asked the rhetorical question, "Isn't black experience part of the universe?"

Twenty-six years later, the question is still getting mixed answers, so to speak.

Of course, white people have a right to feel offended when they are portrayed in art in ways that make them look bad. I've been offended by art thousands of times when it portrayed Asians and Asian-Americans in ways that were denigrating, disrespecting, dehumanizing, degrading, castrating (of men), hypersexualizing (of women), and art that was just generally disgusting and vile etc. In fact, I've walked out of movies and and turned off TVs etc.

Why have I reacted so strongly to mere art and media? Because my experience tells me that this mere media can be toxic and destructive and that it can and does lead to violence against people like me.

How do I know that? It doesn't happen every day, but it does sometimes happen that someone who does not know me at all will suddenly start screaming or yelling racist insults at me, sometimes including violence and threats etc. There was one time a few years ago on a subway train in NYC or some other major metropolis while I was with several poet/writer friends that a poor and possibly mentally ill man launched into a vicious verbal tirade aimed entirely at me for no reason—except my race. There was also a young guy in 1994 who tried to kill me with a hammer at a subway station in Brooklyn for no reason—but my race seems to have been a factor in his thinking.

I sense that there is almost no honest dialogue about race in America because no one wants to admit the obvious truths that we all share. My experiences are not unique to Asian Americans. I think people of every race and ethnicity regularly encounter racism in some form in America, either from the vantage of a person being injured or a person creating pain for another. I know that many white people feel that they have experienced pain because some others were prejudiced against them.

But even writers and poets who should feel obliged to be honest about these things are pressured to not say too much. There is too much self-imposed "ethnic cleansing," that is, writers who want to pretend their ethnic experiences are totally clean of anything like that other kind of unpleasantness.

I believe that silence on these racial themes is not just unhealthy; it is a silence with an aggressive side, a virulent side. What does that virulence translate into in the real world?

I was at a reading staged by a very highly regarded press some years ago in another great city, and I was by chance one of the two Asian-Americans in the crowded room. There was a poet on stage reading work that very blatantly set forth a lot of Asian woman stereotypes (it might have been the Asian female sex kitten stereotype or the dragonlady stereotype—I honestly don't remember). What stuck with me was the look on the face of the other Asian American, a woman, in the room. I could tell it really bothered her. I felt offended for her sake and mine. I considered shouting from the audience at the poet on stage; he was so cocky, arrogant, and blind to his own privilege. But I did not. I heard him out.

Then I resolved never to buy a book from that press, ever. (By the way, that press went under due to improprieties of its chief editor a few years later.)

Was it an overreaction to never want to buy a book from that press? I don't think so. Why should I give money and support to people who basically dump $@%^ all over my people? It's not helping anyone of any color—including white people—to support ignorance.

I also resolved to keep writing the truth about my own experience like I always have.

When people like me are silent about racial themes in our own work, it makes more room for speech that is hateful and ignorant. I completely understand that the ignorant white guy would probably want to walk out on me too if he would ever come to a reading I was giving.

In the real dialogue of poets and writers, there will always be a lot of strong language and a surprising (even depressing) amount of ignorance and insensitivity to race, violence and sex. But at least where there is an honest exchange, there would be a chance for real change.

I am thinking about this because recently a handful of my works that are more on that edge of racial dialogue have been accepted for some nice online publications after being rejected for many years. I have often wondered why these works are so hard to place when at the same times works that are no better have been published in many great journals in print and online etc.

It is hard to know where to draw the lines. I ask myself how this work might have an impact on the future generations of my own people and other people. In general, I tend to favor putting the truth out there even knowing that it will not win any popularity contests, that it will offend a lot of people, and that it will inspire some people immeasurably.

One of these works that is forthcoming this year is so harsh in terms of its racial and sexual content that it even makes me want to ask if it is really necessary. Then I think about my son and how much I want him to have at least a chance to have a fair shot at saying what he knows and feels in the world as it is. It's also true that my work could offend some people so much that they'd never ever want to read anything I write again. That is how it is. But the writers who inspired me to write did the same thing—they knew they were going to offend many and at the same time inspire the next generations of great writers. They were familiar with courage not because they wanted to do anything brave but because so many others around them were so obviously afraid.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

give sanity a chance, sustainable aesthetics, sustainable civilizations

Imagine that in the future there will be a revolution of sustainable industries that will be as radical as the industrial revolution; this cannot happen without a radical shift in aesthetics also happening.

Imagine that success will no longer be defined by money and fame in the typical ways. Acquiring vast wealth just for its own sake etc. will be seen as shallow and vain in a very drastic way. If Bill Gates is a "success," so was King Richard III a "success."

Imagine that below-the-radar industries like literary small presses may have something valuable to tell the "real" industries about value and work and the true meanings of success.

Imagine that publishing a classic-to-be book that gets read by a few hundred readers in its first year is a greater success than publishing a trashy celebrity memoir that has 400,000 readers in its first three months. Imagine that this could be more rewarding for the publisher, the author, the editor and the readers. Imagine that the several hundred readers become several million readers three decades later of a new classic. Imagine that the trashy memoir readers can't remember what they read or why they read it a season later, and that book never gets reprinted.

Imagine that these models of value and of success get implemented in General Motors. Imagine a sustainable car industry where the goal is to make a car that will last 25 years, reliably, with replaceable modules for the engine and/or energy cells etc. so that a car body could be designed to last multiple generations because there really is no reason great enough to keep destroying the environment when it isn't really necessary. If a horse-drawn buggy could last several decades, why not a car?

Imagine computers designed not to be the fastest, driving the hunger for speed and power, but to be the most reliable, flexible and durable so that they could last usefully for ten to twenty years. Imagine manufacturing with the goal of reinstalling key components every five years if needed just because it is better to reduce waste in a world with limited resources. Imagine software designed to have low cost, greater user friendliness, and universal support. Imagine open source communities providing the best and most widely used free applications for almost everything except for very specialized areas of software.

Imagine that the main job of publishers, editors and writers will not be the promotion of products or sales. The main job will be the one that started us all—to write, to create, to publish inspiring and great works that change everything we know and imagine is possible.

Imagine that cynicism and careerism will one day appear futile and stupid wastes of the most valuable resources of all.

Imagine that all of the empty vacuous books and poems and novels that are infamous today will be forgotten just like all of the empty vacuous bestsellers of the past. Imagine that there won't be as many reasons for hungry minds and spirits to put themselves through that sort of work anymore.

Imagine that people in more sane jobs won't need as many entertainments that function like narcotics to erase the toxic memories of their jobs.

Imagine that sustainable farming, creating new top soil for future generations, will be valued and rewarded more than farming techniques that burn through inches of topsoil in a few years even though we know it takes the earth by itself 50,000 years to create one inch of top soil.

Imagine an economic system that rewards and values responsibility to the future of our own civilization. As if our children and their children truly mattered to us.

I don't think any of this is utopian thinking. I think that we are so profoundly dystopian in our outlook as a civilization that we are starting to believe we could be stupid enough to self-destruct not with catastrophic wars but with even more devastating failures to act with wisdom and intelligence to a global ecological crisis.

All I am saying is let's give sanity a chance.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Link to the reprinted “For Etheridge Knight (1931—March 10, 1991)

The very fine editors at Fox Chase Review just reprinted “For Etheridge Knight (1931—March 10, 1991),” which is the most reprinted and anthologized poem I ever wrote, I think.

It’s an elegy for a great poet and an old friend, but it ends on a very high note.

The direct link is:

I almost never read this elegy for audiences because it is hard to get through the feelings of loss. But it is probably one of the things that sticks with people better than almost anything else I ever wrote.

Whenever I feel a need for inspiration, there are a few poets I return to (whether I want to or not). Etheridge is one of those poets.

Galway Kinnell memorialized his friendship with Etheridge in a beautiful poem, calling him the "brother of my heart." Etheridge was so much older than me that I could not feel like that in the same way that a peer could. But it was really something else to hear him read. He was the real, distinctive thing.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Things that really count

In the greater picture of things that really count, true friendship really counts. Likewise telling the truth really counts. We are all for a variety of reasons misled by our culture to scoff and laugh at the truth and things that matter. We believe that style can mean more than meaning when every six year old child knows this is nonsense.

But this delusion that style can mean more than meaning is certainly why 99% of our current literature is ignored around the world. And 99% of our literary work is ignored right here at home.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

On revising: being able to detach & "the marvelous joy of being sure"...

Why is it that so many great writers revise so much? And why does this work? How does it fail?

One of my great poetry teachers, Galway Kinnell, a Pulitzer prize winner, revised more than anyone I have ever met. He has a body of work that shows a lot of thinking through many alternatives. But when this process works well, as a reader you are not aware that revising has taken place. It all feels like one action done well.

As a writer, you need to detach from so many things that you were once attached to in the writing. You need to let go of ideas that you had, images that did not work, sentences that were slightly wrong etc.

Being able to detach your mind from something that you were holding tightly is a way of gaining strength and flexibility in your writing mind. Instead of seeing the same material from the same old lenses, you are now looking at it again as if for the first time.

When you feel surprised as a writer, then the reader feels that same surprise. When you feel too familiar with the words as a writer, then the readers will feel the words are not new.

Doing this kind of like a practice of revising/re-envisioning the things themselves that started the whole work is a kind of a mental exercise. If you do this more and you do it the right way, your writing mind will get a lot stronger. The more you can do this, the easier it gets to revise.

How do you know if the revising “exercise” is working? It’s working if you can see the material more clearly than before. It’s working if you are more able to let go of things that get in the way for whatever reason. It’s working if the work is communicating in a more true and direct way.

(How not to revise: Sometimes a person lets go of something clever or precious or too precious in a work but then tries to compensate for that loss by plugging in something even more clever or precious etc. This is where you are detaching from one thing but really playing a game with yourself by re-attaching to a substitute. By not going back to the origin—the inspiration—you are still missing the whole point of revision. This is how a lot of work gets a feeling of being “overwritten.” Then the work feels kind of clogged up or awkward or uneven.)

If you want your inspiration to be communicated to the reader, you have to go there first and live there for as long as it takes to bring back to the art whatever it is you care about. You also have to be willing to give up on the many drafts of the writing that almost make it, that get closer, and that falter etc. Doing this mental exercise will mean that when you are writing really well, you will be able to tell that this is happening. You will be able to experience “the marvelous joy of being sure.”

Saturday, February 14, 2009

link to a poem on a poetics of caring

A day or two ago I learned that my first serious scholarly essay is coming out soon. It's about Dorothy Wordsworth as a poet in her own right and how a poetics of caring, which has never been seriously thought about, would help a poet like her. What's a poetics of caring? I've been thinking about this for a long time, and I think the best answer I have aside from this forthcoming essay is actually in a poem that was inspired by a museum exhibit. I was invited to write about some 900-year-old moccasins, and these reminded me of literary mss. I had seen and literary lives i had studied, and it all came together in this poem, through the link:

but it is likely that this link may die sooner or later. I no longer work at UNC.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sustainable attitudes / sustainable aesthetics

From an egotistical perspective, poets often think that poetry or "real" poetry or "good" poetry belongs to an elect few, an elite that is highly evolved and well educated. Sadly, often such poets will become aggressive and hostile to other forms of poetry that do not support their own particular aesthetic views. This is how many poets in the poetry world view the life of poetry, a highly competitive arena in which millions try but only a minuscule number will ultimately survive for future generations. The individual poet’s talent matters more than anything else in this schematic. The cult of genius has no shortage of followers.

From an aesthetics of sustainability perspective, poets belong to poetry, and not vice versa. This is the actual, the ego-crushing, reality. Individual poets, including the greatest ones, almost never matter very much or for very long except to other poets. And even to other poets the odds of mattering much or for long are tiny.

As Pound observed long ago, what matters is that great poetry continues to be written, and it really does not matter to poetry which individuals get to write the great work. (At the same time, however, the idea of greatness in art is necessary to inspire enough poets to be able to create the handful of greatest works for every generation.)

So what is poetry from a sustainable aesthetics point of view? It is like a large ecosystem in which there are many kinds of animals that are interdependent and which interact like different species, some as herds, some as apex predators, some as scavengers, some in symbiotic relationship to other species, some as leeches, some as highly evolved social groups, some as scum-sucking bottom feeders, some as alpine tundra foragers, some as imitative parasites, some as highly evolved groundbreakers into new environments etc. (You know who you are....)

What this translates into in human terms is that every small press and every literary magazine has its own peculiar sociology and hierarchy, or even multiple sociologies and hierarchies. So what does that mean, practically speaking? It means that the people who run the presses and the journals all write their own rules of aesthetics, and this comes largely from who they are, what they are, where they are, and when they are at work. It also comes from what they hope to be, their aspirations toward greater things. Or their aspirations toward television, mass media, and other things, which may or may not be greater things. Some merely aspire to make money and acquire fame without even trying to write great work. Some think they are trying to do great work but are lying to themselves etc. Some just want to keep their jobs, etc.

Many, many times, a press or journal or a movement is created out of a handful of friendships formed in college of at an MFA program or through a circle that forms around a particularly powerful figure like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, whose City Light bookstore gave a foundation to the City Lights Press. A lot of times, these groups form because they are unhappy with what they see around them, and they are tired of being rejected by the established presses. It’s a natural evolution for every succeeding generation.

Out of one generation, it is true that very few groups and even fewer individuals will produce work that will have enduring value for many people. What is interesting about the greatest works is that they do not happen in isolation. No great work is an island, entire of itself, etc. Even the works of William Wordsworth, called by Keats one of the most egotistical poets in all of English poetry, was deeply influenced by his sister Dorothy and his dear friend Coleridge. Their works on close reading turn out to be completely interwoven. There were lasting and profound textual interconnections that are still being excavated by scholars today. When we read a poet like Wordsworth in isolation, it’s like hearing half of a phone conversation, as one critics observed. And even the entire Wordsworth circle is just one conversation within a very powerful literary community that included many others who attained some measures of greatness. Not many remember Charles and Mary Lamb, William Hazlitt, John Thelwall, John Clare, Thomas DeQuincey et al. Many people who are not well remembered actually contributed in various ways to the works of the one who is remembered.

It’s ironic that Pound would be the guy who espoused a profound understanding of the reality of the situation of poetry, i.e. we belong to it and not the other way around. Pound was notoriously egotistical and sublimely ambitious etc. But from being so passionately involved in the poetry world, Pound realized that true inspiration is rare and precious, and the writers who can provide works that are inspiring are likewise. He supported and helped engender the works of James Joyce and T. S. Eliot quite selflessly. Some critics think Modernism as we know it would have been impossible without him. So here again one sees that there may be a lot more social support and social interaction that is integral to the greatest individual works. Before Pound was a great writer, he was a great reader. He never stopped being a great reader. If he had not been so open to Joyce and Eliot, their careers may not have happened at all. Or their careers may have been very small without his help. Pound as a literary friend may have been more important to literary history than Pound himself as a poet.

So if you want to get published and “survive” in the poetry world, it is good to try to see the big picture and not waste a lot of energy feeling jealous or like this is a competition among individuals. You could also waste a lot of time by trying to become included in a group that will never let you in. You could also waste a lot of energy by trying to promote one particular brand of aesthetics that goes nowhere.

Whether we like it or not, and whether we like each other or not, we are in this “ecosystem” or big unhappy family together. You could say that poets of any generation are sort of like a very large, extended, and unhappy family.

(Incidentally, I am sure that it was with this or something like this family metaphor in mind that Sharon Olds once told me at the end of my time at the MFA program at NYU, "Welcome to the family." It was a warm and funny moment.)

But just being aware of the common ground and the common purpose of poetry can prevent a lot of wasted energy, time and talent. We all have our parts to play, and all of them may matter in ways no one can foresee.

In the poetry world especially, a little sanity goes very far. And even a handful of literary friendships can help an aesthetic revolution to be born.

I think John Ashbery was both kidding and serious when he wrote in "Hotel Lautreamont," a pantoum, that:

Research has shown that ballads were produced by all of society
working as a team. They didn't just happen. There was no guesswork.
The people, then, knew what they wanted and they got it.
We see the results in works as diverse as "Windsor Forest" and "The Wife of Usher's Well."

Yes, he is making fun of academics who have deconstructed individual geniuses and stressed socio-cultural-political-cultural-historical contexts ad nauseum etc. But by the end of the pantoum, he seems to be quite serious when he reiterates this theme and what it means to a poetic genius:

You mop your forehead with a rose, recommending its thorns.
Research has shown that ballads were produced by all of society;
Only night knows for sure. The secret is safe with her:
the people, then, knew what they wanted and how to get it.

In the end of the sixty-four line poem, Ashbery as a great and acknowledged genius himself, seems less and less sure of his position in relation to the people. He is no longer mocking the idea that society got out of any genius what it needed, almost regardless of a genius like him. This is a great recognition, an awakening out of the nightmare of self-obsessed and ego-driven consciousness. It represents a significant ego-surrender, and a coming into the fullness of the reality of our situation in poetry. It's so much bigger than any one could be.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nostalgia for Newark

[here is a relatively new poem (i.e. in drafts for a few years) forthcoming in an NJ anthology. wrote this when i lived in CO.

most of the line-spacing has disappeared here, but you can get the rough idea anyway here....]

Nostalgia for Newark

off the plane it hits you stark as the plains:
you’ve landed in the new-
ark of one of every kind of human on earth

even at 5 a.m. after flying across the West

the Afro-Carrib, Afro-Am, Latina/Latino, Indian, Asian
Black-Jewish-Italian Token Mutt

now i have to sober up
harsh coffee under the influence of
great lakes of lights of east coast cities
torching horizon to horizon
in predawn-dusk

touch down i skid out of a dream

the 6 a.m. terminal’s hordes

clog the rail link station

a post-industrial-battleship-gray hole

with a London-in-the-blitz feel

of brown grays, light grays and the darkened
yellow warning strip that grips your soles
with vulcanized
crisscross dots rubbed past faded

dazed still from 0.5 hrs sleep on the shuttle to DEN
3+ hours midair
(2+ hours awaiting the train to PHL)

the 777-sized diner in Newark International
lavish smells eggs sausage grease coffee urns treats

and what have I learned from five years in the West
aside from what cowboys are
is that I have missed the eastern seaboard
in entirety

even its crossing x-shaped I-bars under great compressor tubes

its scuffed aluminum doors

its brushed metal graffitoed waiting rooms

its narrow escalators/descalators of grime

its strings of jets hovering above the NJT taking turns to land

its landing jets racing cars along the NJT

its congregated seagulls on corrugated steel
rooftops slanted refracting early morning sun

its ocean-heavy winds

this deciduous forest down the line to Metro Park

I must be an acrobat to talk like this and act like that

bracing gales of—

back in the world so briefly
far from high deserts of TARGET microdunes
WALMART tumbleweeds CONAGRA-pesticidal air
the treeless brown of grasslands and cows

if the word for world was forest once
I am back in the wold
so many shades of bark, brush and dark umber
branches scritch their words into sky

these prolific red/orange ochre leaves of autumn

papery-as-dust confetti-ing siding rails

the iced over lakes black glass block buildings

the sudden Raritan River running by Rutgers, New Brunswick
its bright orange brick faces aglow in sun
its white clock tower amid tall trees

i’m halfway home—