Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ashley Sylvester - Final Piece

Ashley Sylvester

English 284


Complete word count – 5,215

            Hello Gabe. So, today you told us to sort of lower our standards when it came to writing poetry. I’m sort of doing that by writing my prologue kind of like a letter or conversation or something like that I guess. I don’t really know what I’m doing so I hope this makes things interesting for you, or at least kind of comical since this will most likely turn out the exact opposite the way I wanted it to turn out. ANYWAY I’m kind of babbling so I’ll stop. First, I’d like to say my views of poetry have completely changed since this class. I used to dread poetry and everything about it. I always felt like I would never understand any poem no matter how much I stared at it or read it. In fact, I felt like I could read poems 60 times a day and never understand a single word after all 60 times. I had quite the bleak outlook on this particular branch of English. So when I decided to take it for summer school, I wondered why I’d put myself through such torture. Like many other classes I was forced to take before this one, I concluded that it was just another class I was required to take before I entered the real world and tried to actually teach high school kids about this crap. I already felt bad for my future students. The poor souls would never understand poetry and end up just like me. What a scary thought. Then, the first week of class ended and I found myself excited to attempt to write 600 words of poetry twice a week. (Key word being attempt.) I figured that the first step to me enjoying and/or understanding poetry was being able to write some myself. I was sort of wrong in that sense. I most certainly do not enjoy it all, but I do like most of it a great deal more than I had previously thought. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the work. I absolutely do appreciate every poem by every author read through this class. As for my poetry, I am not happy with it.

             After reading so many brilliant poems I can’t compare mine one bit to any one of them. I never expected to be able to compare myself to the authors or the poems. I wish I could; being a brilliant poet would be a great thing to add to my list of things-to-do-and/or-be-before-I-die list. But it is apparent to me now that I will never add that to my list. I’m okay with that, I just wish I could have written a poem I am absolutely content with. I started off with random stuff.  The first thing I did was take a bunch of notes in class and randomly place them throughout in a poem form Creative, no? Yeah, not so much. So I learned that randomly taking the first thoughts that cam to mind really isn’t the best way to start a poem. However, I was quite proud of myself for finishing the first blog post without throwing a fit/temper tantrum in the middle of the library. I had successfully finished and submitted the first poem of many without incident. Go me! Then I re-read it and my “go me!” attitude disappeared. I couldn’t help but think, “Wow. This is a piece of shit. Absolute rubbish.” I then got discouraged again. Although I was quite enjoying myself in class and while reading, I couldn’t figure out how I was going to improve my poetry. I didn’t know how to write like any of the authors we were reading. Granted, I did understand that I was not expected to write like them. I just wish I would have liked my work more than I do, and I wish I could have come up with something truly unique and original.

            I’m not totally down on my work or anything like that. I don’t think it was a complete waste, nor do I think it was awful. I am just not happy with it is all. The next few poems I wrote I enjoyed a little bit more than my first few. I began to write not just based off my notes, but also based off of things happening in my life. I tried to make the poems somewhat cryptic so they weren’t completely understandable. (Except to myself of course.) But everything I began to write were things actually happening to me. As I said, no one will understand them and if anyone tried to guess what it was about I would be rally surprised if they were right. I didn’t do that on purpose, and I’m not saying I don’t want anyone to understand them. I am saying that I’m glad they may be difficult to interpret though. After letting my creativity flow, I decided that doing centos is something I thoroughly enjoyed. Along with liking them a lot, I decided that if I want to like my own writing along with improving it, writing a cento is the way to go. I feel like my experience with centos greatly improved not only my writing, but my attitude towards the author who wrote those poems as well. So for the last few poems I decided to keep writing centos.

            All in all this class turned out to be a great experience and not as horrifying as anticipated. I enjoyed the class immensely and I’m extremely happy that my attitude towards poetry has changed. If it didn’t change I’d be scared for my future students, and now that my outlooks is not as bleak and I have some hands on experience I will feel confident when approaching a class with poetry. And so, here it is. My “collected works.”  (Prolouge word count – 973)






First day of summer school

Sleepy eyes don’t want to open.

I force myself out of bed.

It is a struggle I am familiar with

I just want to feel refreshed.

I slowly get ready for the day.

The long day I have a head of me

At least I wont be bored, or stuck with nothing to do.

I must keep busy.

I trudge to class

Negative thoughts raging through my head.

I don’t like poetry, I’m not creative

How do I expect to get through a poetry class when I can’t write?

I do not know what to expect

I am already exhausted with this class.

I take my seat and gaze out that window.

What a beautiful day.

Stuck inside. Forced to try and be creative.

I am stuck.

The teacher introduces himself


I like him. The first class is bearable.

I take more notes than I would have normally done.

“Ars poetica” – Poem about the poetic art.

Poetry is blue

It can help you find yourself

Having trouble writing? Use a phrase

One that you can continually go back to

A reference

Leap, and the net will appear

Gabe loves rivers, colorful wildlife. Rivers were the first roads.

You become fascinated with the tings that caused your near death experience.

Aesthetic rather than ethical

There is too much to say about the world.

Two unrelated words: Yak Bullet

What is a yak? It’s sort of like a musk ox.

Don’t put anything obvious into a poem!

It’s almost better to not know the answers to the questions,

“What is poetry?” and “What isn’t poetry?”

The first day of class excites me.

Maybe I will finally get interested in poetry. Will I become creative?

Will I discover I have been creative all along?

These thoughts exhaust me. I accidentally fall asleep.

Waking up startled, I may be late to work.

I rush. I’m on time.

4-9 work is hectic and full of drama. It is weird.

I get home and take a long shower.

Longer than necessary. I forget about my first assignment.

I read Whitman’s “Song of Myself” for the second time.

I still appreciate his work, although I do not understand it.

We had an assignment.


10 things a poet is/does (according to Whitman’s preface):


  1. “For such the expression of the American poet is to be transcendent and new.”
  2.  Eternal passion
  3. Indifference
  4. “Forms the consistence of what is to be from what has been and is.” …What?
  5. “The messages of great poets to each men and women are, come to us to equal terms, only then can you understand us. We are no better than you, what we enclose you enclose, what we enjoy, you may enjoy.”
  6. Poems of the poet must stand through the changes of time.
  7. Love/Affection
  8. “The great poets are also to be known by the absence in them of tricks and by the justification of perfect personal condor.”
  9. Faith of the flush of knowledge
  10. Investigation of the depths of qualities.


3 questions that may or may not be unanswerable.


  1. Qualities of a poet – does everyone have them? If so does that mean anyone with these qualities is a poet, or is it just poets who have these qualities?
  2. Would you think Whitman is contradicting himself most of the time? (Yes.)
  3. How could he not show some sort of sorrow for life, for things in life that are sad? Must everything be embraced without sorrow?


What is Whitman doing, or saying in “Song of Myself”?

He is writing about himself loving himself, hoping others will do the same once they have read his work. He is embracing the world and everything in it.

I am done with my first homework assignment.

I think I am understanding these poems more and more

I feel as though I will enjoy this class more than anticipated.

As soon as I am finished my boyfriend arrives.

I see him and I feel less stressed.

Excitement and giddiness replace my feelings of stress and worry.

Emotions I typically feel when he is near.

My day ends and I am relaxed.

(Poem 1 words count – 700)






First week of my summer class is done

I am enjoying it more than anticipated

I take notes constantly, even outside of class

I am excited for the upcoming weeks to learn more

I am eager and ready for the next poems that will be read

I never thought I would be this interested in poetry.

I was always so bored by it

I didn’t like or understand any of it

Trying to understand it frustrated me

Constant frustration worried me.

If I want to be an English teacher how can I teach my students something I don’t understand?

So many questions about the future in general and this question was another added to the mix

I am learning

New things, new ways to get creative.

Attempts of break downs of poems

Has some sort of architecture, not sure what it is. Some sort of pattern?

Lots of cataloging, lists and such.

A connection between “I” and “you”

Not just narcissism

Maybe, a reference to life, how it begins, phases of life.

What to understand life, things in life?

Fundamental energy of the universe is all good.

Union and intimate understanding between people is not bad.

Trying to list the bad, the good, and the attitudes towards it al.

Thought of all men of all ages.

Contradictions, left and right.

“Spazzing out with holy love” – Gabe

Full of compassion.

Katabasis. Journey into the underworld.

Shock factor – strong now, stronger then.

Memento Mori – Remember death.

Heuristic Language

Multiple meanings

Inspires more questions seeking ideas

Equality comes out once again

A flower’s face

Source of respect, someone to run to.

Dark and dramatic – Melodramatic language

Family oriented

A war protest?

Not just school lessons

Great to live in this age.

He doesn’t want to stop talking.

The perfect judge

Jingoism – Rush Limbaugh

General Impressions?

Although it is anonymous, you can tell it is him.

Really odd, almost way off topic.

Sort of broad, chose to do the most boring sections.

Makes a fundamental, ethical argument. Pragmatic Kosmophelia – General love of the world.

Remake and Re-enchant the world.

Limited knowledge quantity

Not just weird, being practical, ethical, and useful.

Specific and referential.

Writing as meditation.

Programs in computers.

What you see is what you get.

Saying things that are metaphorically weird.

Illogical and unpredictable.

Needs to be logical and surprising.

We’re weird to think in metaphors

We cant help ourselves but to think in metaphors.

Carries something, and idea.

From one place to another.


Buzz – a noise an insect makes. A feeling of intoxication.

2 concepts.

Red aloud – you can hear the rhythm.

You still don’t understand it.

The author is not in control of the meaning, we are.

Not just fooling around. Wants the message to be heard. Wants to say things purposefully.

Loving and being in this place.

Response writing – selection and fusing.

Where have the uniforms unraveled in lips?

Maybe a man kissing a woman while in uniform.

“Kissing the war goodbye”

I’m the skull in the passing twister.

“There’s lots of crap in twisters” – Gabe

The mockingbird dreams of it’s wing like daggers

I bury the circuits that fills small circles of earth with more pins.

Around or by words.

Thing that are.

Characteristics that are.

Surrounding and consuming.

Full in words and stories everywhere.

An awkward moment takes over.

Why so strange? And so bold. What has caused this?

The list flickers on and off.

So noticeable in the darkeness.

Frustration, once again.

I love the new habitat, it is better and enjoyable.

But it is still frustration nonetheless.

A good morning kiss at 6:57 AM

I do not want to be awake, But his presence makes me incredibly happy.


That emotion taking over my negative ones, once again.

His words echo, “I’m so lucky!”

He plays with my hair, it all disappears.

The middle of the night

I roll over and he cuddles a blanket.

The little things leave me content.

(Poem 2 word count – 665)






A tree with purple leaves.

So close outside the window.

It’s strange being here, almost like a dream.

I am not used to summer here. I want summer at home.

Empty apartment noise I cannot decipher.

I lock all doors.

I don’t want you to go home.

Friends are here. I will not be by myself. But none are as good as you.

Stay in the bedroom.

It smells like rain.

We’ll briefly emerge to use the mouthwash.

Back in the room

Humid air consumes us.

The living room is cool

Separate couches

We convese

Hours upon hours.

I show you elephant bamboo

A jug of Hawaiian Punch has turned to water.

I give you a bagel and cream cheese.

I don’t mid the walk home.

The scent of lilac’s is intoxicating.

A big gentle dog sits right in my lap.

The back seat of a car.

He wants to smell air outside the open window.

Being busy will never distract me from missing you.

I re-read your words every morning, break, and night.

A hand held sentiment

You get no sleep.

The smaller one takes up the entire bed.

My room is looking odd without you in it.

I’m back in the black tiled room.

Only 3 days this week, I am relieved.

And yet I don’t want Friday to arrive.

I do however want the month of June to be finished with.

It will be so long.

Your gum is sitting on my suitcase.

A reminder of our days together.

I put your things in your hat.

You are curious.

Peeking into my closet, I am afraid you will see the cake.

A bad movie night.

We watch a Death Race.

Contained in another hot room, I don’t mind.

The door to your house is unlocked.

A new front door and awning, a new toilet too.

A shack will hopefully become a home.

Frequent visits on the weekends to avoid the beast.

I refuse to pay for his showers.

I think of the tasks.

Doctor’s appointments need to be made.

I need to fill prescriptions.

I need to finish the curtains.

No vehicle will help me.

Going grocery shopping will be difficult.

I should run for a while.

I will think and be healthy. 

Physically and mentally.

A fight on TV

You didn’t know I enjoyed that.

You profess your love.

Love? Is it true?

I knot the soft fabric.

Your room, at home, smells like me.

A constant reminder I hope never fades.

The marmot eats apple on the hill.

The raging train does not scare, or distract him.

He is cunning and is seen no more.

The movie makes us want to eat bacon.

I check the mail box for the 4th time today.

I am missing 2 parcels.

A curtain rod is needed.

It is a mechanism, not an animal.
You help me tack the blanket to my wall.

We don’t want any light.

You hope I drop so I can go home.

Closer to my city

More importantly, closer to you.

We remember kisses on the clothes dryer

5 AM and it began.

Is this confusion? Temporary lust?

It turns out to be neither.

I am glad for that.

I get a taste of life when you leave.

You look out for me

Tell me things that will protect me.

You don’t like it when I am alone.

So, you should stay.

I like productive days like tody.

I feel good.

I want more days like today.

I nap within the stars

I wake up in an ocean.

I am ready to clean

Myself, my apartment, my life.

I steal the desk. It is necessary.

My plans are interrupted.

A spot of blood.

My mother’s message

I want it to stop.

How will I gain the confidence?

I may not need it if this sickness continues.

He enjoys the thought I speak on accident.

I grin at my accident.

(Poem 3 word count – 655)






I stare through black squares

Condensation has gathered.

Glad to be here, yesterday looked bleak.

A burn so intense.

The fire continued all morning

Orange water is relief.

My distraction is concerned.

It’s not your fault, reassurance is necessary.

The tart taste helps.

Pink yellow and orange

Bright and beautiful but so very different.

Exhaustion has consumed.

A familiar feeling.

I see a locked bathroom door in black and white

What I fear most

My stomach in knots, a sick sadness fills me even while unconscious

It’s what keeps me from full trusting

It’s not real, the imagination has carried me too far

Vivid dreams are scaring me lately.

A walking disaster haunting my every move.

Although I have won

Thankful everyday for my good fortune

Rush through colors and time

A California sunrise has developed clear as if it’s happening this instant

A coyote runs across highway one in the southern most part of the state.

Only seconds after darkness falls.

A mansion on a hill awaits millions if visitors

Strange rooms with priceless things.

Belongings that will never be enjoyed.

Only looked at.

Zooming in the Arizona heat.

A tree with outstretched branches is an Elk.

Towering and watching.

I’m learning to breathe in these abundant skies.

A blanket of diamonds above.

The tree tops kiss the velvet blue.

I want to feel the chill

Dark clouds inspire

The thunder, is a comfort.

Scratches on your shoulder

From the strength that carries you.

A slight touch to the chin

Brings me to life

The mobile above sways.

A large cat in the bed swats and stares.

Easily entertained and laid back.

A paper chair

Should not be this intimidating

The sound it makes when seated makes my stomach flip

The missing 4

It makes me anxious

I want so much to be perfect

Nothing is perfect

No one is perfect.

I need it soon. Now.

A kiss on the ear, the greatest sign of affection.

An experiment

Would make most people nervous

Most would say no.

I trust.

I see the good.

It’s a great decision, consumed by you and me and everyone who should have done it.

No regrets here

Is that enough?

The doubt is crushing the air surrounding me

My dreams – are they far from the truth or close to reality.

It is only my fear.

My fear that does not emerge until I am closing my eyes

Smoothies in your new kitchen

An unexpected palace.

A swirl of strawberry, banana, orange and apple. A stumble.

My affection curls around your waist.

Voices carry

Like sailboats across the lake.

The lake I want to see.

So loud even through my closed window.

Irritated and tired, I close then I open.

I am exhausted one again.

I want it to be perfect. I cant screw up what I want to be exquisite.

Pushing onward it is good enough.

Frantically I weave my feelings.

A token to remember me by.

It seems endless, this night.

A hole in the wall

I wish it were frigid again

I want my space heater.

A flying distraction leaves me restless.

I itch.

All over.

I feel bad

About the snap decision.

I needed time, I did not utilize

Like I used to do, not always up to my full potential

Tying to change, I need to

For myself, my future, to gain the confidence.

The laughter echo is heard forever

A sting that no one knows about

You wont feel this rain, you never have.

I can’t let you.

It scares me to let you.

Contact lenses dry out my eyes that should be closed.

There is no rhyme or reason


I don’t understand how someone so organized cannot organize this.

Take your time it will happen.

Creativity flows but does not emerge.

Instead frustration erupts.

(Poem 4 word count – 638)






The Soul has Bandaged moments- (512)

And do I smile such cordial light (754)

Is traversing the interval (822)

Attended by a single Hound (822)

Like Sailors fighting with a leak (1136)

Untouched by Morning – (216)

Stealthy Cocoon, why hide you so (129)

Her Sweet turn to leave the Homestead (649)

Never Bride had such an assembling (649)

Twice had summer her fair Verdure (846)

All days I did not earn the same (843)

Good to hide and hear ‘em hunt! (842)

Not so the infinite Relations – Below (1040)

Nature rarer uses Yellow (1045)

Like Time’s insidious wrinkle (1236)

And I affronted grew (1237)

‘Tis to another’s sea – (1234)

Alighting at the Dwelling (1319)

Upon an Ether street. (1053)

The soul should always stand ajar (1055)

No Solstice interrupt – (1056)

Too cold is this (1135)

To seduce the Sun (648)

To One denied to drink (490)

An unpretending time (488)

Without the privilege to know (404)

It doesn’t state you how (353)

I take- no less than skies (352)

And through a Riddle, at the last – (501)

Whose spokes a dizzy Music make (500)

It’s mostly interruptions – (403)

Some – work for immortality – (406)

To perish – of Delight – (405)

‘Tis Opposites – entice – (355)

A Wonder if the Sepulchre (529)

Exultation is the going (76)

A Lady red – amid the Hill (74)

The embers of a Thousand Years (1383)

The Doom to be adored – (1386)

Goes nor comes away (1385)

The stem of a departed flower (1520)

And that’s he way to grieve – (1521)

No Autumn’s intercepting Chill (1516)

Seductive in the Air – (1239)

But let not Revelation (1241)

By force of it’s Result – (951)

Was steady as the Sun (843)

I measure every Grief I meet (561)

I had no time to Hate – (478)

You cannot put a Fire out – (530)

Of Chambers as the Cedars - (657)

And They - appointed Creatures- (658)

Upon Vermillion Wheels – (656)

Conscious am I in my Chamber, (679)

Soil of Flint, if steady tiled – (681)

Only a Shrine, but Mine – (918)

Writing much to thee. (921)

Those who have been in the Grave the longest – (922)

Thou knowest, though, so Why tell thee? (918)

Defrauded I a Butterfly – (730)

If He were living-dare I ask- (734)

To know just how He suffered-would be dear- (622)

We dream – it is good we are dreaming – (531)

Of nearness to her sundered Things (607)

Musicians wrestle everywhere- (157)

Just lost, when I was saved! (160)

On this long storm the Rainbow rose – (194)

You see I cannot see – your lifetime – (253)

Delight is at the flight- -(257)

The Angles – softly peered – (256)

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – (254)

Teasing the want – (253)

They looked like frightened Beads, I thought – (328)

Drop spicy to the grounds – (332)

The first Day’s Night had come – (410)

Whose invitation – Yours reduced (464)

I heard a fly buzz-when I died- (465)

Unto supremest name – (508)

Crowned – Crowing – On my Father’s breast – (508)

And when We turned to not the Growth – (567)

Weariness of Him were quainter (679)

The Bird must sing to earn the Crumb (880)

The Poets light but Lamps – (883)

The Beauty that reward Him best – (968)

A Dinner for a Bee (1154)

“Was not” was all the Statement. (1342)

A Cloud withdrew from the Sky (895)

How happy I was if I could forget (898)

Herein a Blossom lies – (899)

(Emily Dickinson cento; Poem 5 word count – 600)






Can knowledge be conveyed that isn’t felt? (150)

I was the solitary plover (265)

No retiring summer stroke (88)

I lost you to water, summer (277)

I’m sorry to have missed Sand Lake (237)

These were my passions (281)

He bowed to everyone he met (278)

We’d have danced (220)

Out of the great courtyard (22o)

The night I heard the wild (208)

Early morning corn (206)

Some float off on chocolate bars (207)

Mickey Mouse leaned on a bubble (290)

You are the man (283)

You are my other country (283)

I am abandoning the rich (279)

In swale and swamp and sworn (261)

Where the arrows of the road signs lead us (247)

My sense of property’s (246)

Pointed towards (238)

Part coral (239)

Out of the great courtyard (220)

Bird singing (221)

Open – field (206)

They floodlight it – (207)

They fish, a man (196)

Our talk, our books (196)

You were my mother, thorn apple bush (175)

Comets you say shoot from nothing? (175)

July, waxwings (174)

Carnegie Hall, the great musicbox – (161)

They live a cool distance (160)

Lonely woman not prompted (115)

By freshness from the sky (115)

To beat the sweet tenor (82)

Who has unsettled you about this matter? (77)

I consume it my dignity (71)

Now I can get them teeth. That will be a comfort, it will. (354)

Dark road home (290)

Tell em to take my bare walls down (291)

Delicious flower (281)

Beholds the moon (270)

Not all harsh sounds displease (271)

Our talk, our books (196)

Where her snow – grave is (181)

His eyes are clear in this air (146)

The thought that stings. How are you, Nothing, (147)

One Sunday morning (126)

You’ll do! Take this slip (127)

The police described him (80)

Raw, wind, rain, (81)

If only my friend (203)

Would return (203)

Something in the water (202)

The recommended melon (211)

(Lorine Niedecker cento; Poem 6 - word count – 320)





There was a man who found two leaves and came indoors holding them out saying to his parents that he was a tree. (60)

Then he saw summer its field and its tree. He heard the wind and he saw a cloud. (43)

We had electrocuted the family monkey. (86)

But we’ve already called the other toad that, he said. (120)

There were feather’s growing on his wall. (96)

The moon lifts him up into its white field, a cloud shaped like an old man, porous with stars. (112)

The old man finally ate one of his hands. (25)

The old man, growing angry, swallowed himself. (25)

But the cow must remain with these long eared ones for the rest of its life. (17)

Well what’s with this ribbon tied in a bow on its privates? screamed the father. (118)

…As to the courting of a fat woman…One says, oh my chicken bone! (110(

A man had just married an automobile. (101)

So that the police were called to chaperon the farmer and his cow. (116)

Be good enough to go to bed so you can not think too much longer. (51)

A heavy woman with a rolling pin said, I am the king. (26)

Look, said the wife, the eternal clouds. (15)

The ceiling was quite displeased and so it grew pleased again. (45)

Sometimes, I just breathe. Did you ever do that. I say to mother, look I am breathing. (64)

For some reason there was a vein of teeth that had developed without jaw or appetite in the earth, like precious stones or metals. (82)

Oh where is the Vomit Doctor? At least when he vomits one knows one has it from high authority, screamed father. (97)

In the summer my brothers’ tails dragged in the grass. What is more natural than their tails in the grass? (105)

But, best of all, he liked making toy shit. (129)

Her neighbors are curious about her, this large woman who lived alone with a parakeet. (141)

The ape’s hand has become a fist and is pounding the table. (152)

They slap his face. His cheek comes off; bone underneath, jaws and teeth…(161)

Nevertheless Dr. Brilliance, I have brought you a lovely breakfast. (163)

In a back room a man is performing an autopsy on an old raincoat. (172)

The bridge looks like one of those skeletal reconstructions of a huge dinosaur one sees in a museum. (173)

With ceremonial regret I lowered a seed into the earth as though I laid it to its final rest…(174)

Oh my, now he’s buttering toast, another piece of history is being made. (182)

But meanwhile the Large Thing has come back anyway. Good, I was just about to call you back, says the same someone to the Large Thing. (184)

He’s a lonely traveler, and finds companion in the road; a chance meeting, seeing as hw they were both going the same way. (186)

It was the last Thursday of November, and a large turkey had been murdered… (190)

I am the closet-man, I am ether going or coming, and I am never sad. (192)

Immediately, a taxi crashes through the wall; never mind that my room is on the third floor, or that the yellow driver is really a cluster of canaries arranged in the shape of a driver, who flutters apart, steaming from the windows of the taxi in yellow fountains…(193)

The window watches with all its meadows and rivers, its trees leaning in the wind to see more fully…(194)

In a nearby field a butterfly is being folded up by a praying mantis into a small bright package. (199)

(Russell Edson cento; Poem 7 word count – 611)



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