Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Apophenia By The Numbers






Apophenia 
By the Numbers



Seven shadowed Norns
midwifed her birth;
six o'clock sailors sold
ships that sank
before sundown;
five fat forgers signed
on the dotted line
in the land of Moredirt
where the money lies.

Ten digits of tinnitus
tiptapped the tin roof,
typewriting the storm;
nine cottonwoods cracked
at the crotch in the crazy quilt wind;
fourteen lances broken, better
wild than tamed
in the land of Spin
where the losers lie.

Zero gravitas at zero degrees,
one soft green planet fooling
the void; two warriors rode
out in mourning mist,
three chances to fill
the bottomless bucket;
four givens forgotten
in the Halls of Asgard
where valkyries don't die.

~October 2012





Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub


If you'd like to hear this poem read by the author, click below:




Process Notes: Apologies to JRR Tolkein for mangling his One Ring poem.
"Apophenia: is the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data."~wikipedia
In Norse Mythology: The Norns are female beings who spin the threads of Fate at the foot of the world tree Yggdrasil; they are said to preside at childbirth and determine the fate of the newborn.
Fourteen lances refers to the fourteen Aesir, a pantheon of Norse Gods and Goddesses which included Thor, Loki, Baldur and Odin, all destined to perish in the final battle of Ragnarök

Header Image: Black Flag, 1937, by Rene Magritte
via wikipaintings.org
All copyright belongs to the copyright holders











48 comments:

  1. Well, this seems to me to be some terribly grim commentary (joke) upon what's happening in the world right now, even including our very own U.S. of A.

    Really the circumstances hardly seem to merit such a intense and beautifully crafted poem. Very cool. It is 5 a.m. where I am and I'm about to leave for NYC so must return to it. (I can't say it makes a trip into the land of Spin feel very promising!

    That second stanza is just incredibly good - the whole poem - but the sounds as well as the incisive bite are just so strong there and also I found the zero gravitas super powerful. (Of course a part of me can't help but think of Ground Zero there, though that trivializes the line in my view which seems to be actually involved with a larger vision.) Poor planet. k.

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  2. fascinating...and ha on using Tolkein as the vehicle as well....ugh what a commentary...actually i think you should read this when Odin accepts the nomination...ha...this has a forebodence to it that eerily sits in contrast to the rhythm of it...

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  3. I liked the reading. Remember "The Battle Of Evermore"? The Allman Brothers selection was unreal. Sometimes I think Gregg's blues voice is underrated. That was awesome. Great cover. Ironically,Cher had an album titled that too. Digging a little, I found Derek Trucks played slide on the song. Thanks for making my day.

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    1. Thanks Scott--this last year I've been listening to the ABB a lot--I can't even pick a favorite incarnation, though I tend to gravitate to cuts with Dicky Betts. Greg isn't my favorite role model, but he does have a superlative feel for the down low blues, and in this old Stones song, he really aces it. Didn't know that about Cher--bizarre. Glad you enjoyed.

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  4. I think that Karen is clearly right, this is some sort of commentary on current events, but I am too pleased with the numerics to figure out what it all means. I love number references in poems, particularly if the reference is rather arcane; so you know i adore this, even if I'm a little lost!

    The six sinking boats was choice.

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    1. It's deliberate;y arcane, so you are far from lost--just mired in my apophenia. ;_) I got the idea for this from your comment the other day on the poem I wrote for your prompt, btw.

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  5. You leave me speechless...love this.. two warriors rode
    out in mourning mist,
    three chances to fill
    the bottomless bucket;
    four givens forgotten
    in the Halls of Asgard
    where valkyries don't die.

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  6. Mmm that first line made me flue to your smoke.
    And who can pull off seven T's in eight words? Onliest you.
    Haunting as always, skirting~or daring, the edge of light.
    With most, i see visuals
    Yours comes with sound
    This is too much for one reading.
    Gonna haveta shake the tree some more.
    And thanks for droppin in at my shy digs. It was a wonderful surprise.
    ~rick

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    1. Thank you, Rick. Sorry it took so long for me to get by(I've been offline a lot lately with a bad back)-I loved your current post. I've added you to my blogroll to help me find you more easily and often.

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  7. Sorry bout the back, hedge (a lil red n yellow birdie told me)
    I was just afraid i'd offended you.
    My words have a way of doing that. I get a lot of one n doners.
    But i've been reading you, though i must admit, it usually makes me wanna blow up my own stuff.
    Bright stars tend to do that to dwarfs.

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    1. No offense in the wild wide world, Rick. Your comments are always intelligent, and much appreciated. Please don't blow anything up, especially your star-shiny words.

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  8. Back again - I was so tired this morning, that I didn't even focus on the wonderful visual. Very cool.

    This time through I really like the first stanza! (Ha.) No, they are all cool. (Mourning mist is truly inspired by the way.)

    But this time through, it reads to me more like an ode to Apophenia itself, and the wish to find some fool meaning in number and sound and assonance and symbol, and in that meaning or charm to escape the end of sound and assonance, i.e. silence, that comes to us all. (I guess I've gotten more and more cheerful as the day has progressed!)

    The finding of a charm - you've got so many of them here - a whole newt stew=full, but will it work? It certain works as poetry. k.

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    1. Thanks, k, for two sterling comments. I think both your perspectives work, and not just in the sense that one is satisfied as having a poem work for the reader, but also in understanding my own take-off points and pov on what I was aiming for--I kind of feel that apophenia is the story of my/our generation(and probably many others)and this is, as all one's poems are in one way or another, my history being dissected along with the outside world's, both being interlocked. Anyway, thanks very much for reading this interactively--I was just going to bed as you were starting your commute--it's a time of low vitality, but also often clarity.

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  9. I read the first time for the sheer pleasure of artistry, the second to ruminate, and listened a third time as you brought it to life with intonation and spirit. Loved it.

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  10. Your voice be kinda scary...'specially at Halloween. I go to bed and cover up my head.

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    1. If only I could get this effect more often...

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  11. Read it and then listened. Love your play on words...land of Spin...four givens...and the numbering in general is so intriguing.

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  12. Out of the random, synchronicity. There is an accumulation and culmination of sound and sense, playfulness with the alliteration, understanding out of generated numbers. You take sound, poetic device to a new high, triggering responses in the natural subconscious desire of the mind. One wants to make sense out of something, especially when it is so aurally pleasing, and seemingly symmetrical. A gifted offering!

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  13. I thought I'd seen every Magritte painting. That's a new one to me.

    This is the way politicians do math, right? Then again it also seems to be the way many folks (most?) perceive the world: they just don't bother to look at what doesn't interest them, and if they can't ignore something disturbing they find a way to fit it into their system, whatever that might be.

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    1. Indeed--thanks Mark. There are quite a few new-to-me also Magritte works, mostly earlier ones, at that wikipaintings link. I was actually a bit surprised to see how late in his career so many of the more familiar works are.

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  14. oh my... every other line became my favorite, until i was lost in the magic and the rhythm... love your word choices, sound pairings, and fabulous imagery.

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  15. i should think JRR Tolkein would be honored, Joy! and i loved your reading!

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  16. I loved this one! I super enjoyed the rhythm and blues of this poetry! -- the sounds of our lives

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  17. hedgewitch: saw you over at Mark Kerstetter's & have added you to my feed. Beyond that, have to second what he says: we need your voice at ModPo. We need more of the real!

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  18. Oh, stop! We double-time need you at ModPo. Just saw your Stevens quote. Would love to have you join us here, if you have time (no worries if you don't): https://class.coursera.org/modernpoetry/forum/thread?thread_id=7409

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    1. Thanks for the invitation--I am a poor analyzer of poetry, but I will check it out.

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  19. Listening to your voice makes this even more haunting ~

    I like the numbers reference and only you can give this painting a passionate and dark tale ~ Thanks for the share ~

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  20. First, your blog is gorgeous and a wonderful context for your brilliant poetry. I love the musical sound derived from this poem. The diction pitch perfect and the rhetoric strong. Your poetry always captures my attention. Bravo poet, bravo!

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  21. this is great!

    i love how all these little images work forward and backwards, little statements that turn around and eat themselves back up, all of it so clever... nullified. me and an old friend used to call these "null" poems, or "atomic" poems, for every positive and negative, all spinning for balance. id quote something from it, but my clumsy hands can't hold that balance.

    well done joy, very very well done.

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    1. Thanks wood--glad you dug it. Means a lot. Love the concept of "null" poems--atoms come up a lot in my brain when I'm trying to write.

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  22. It is all math or myth, everything, within every age, reliving history, reliving our memories of it; loved the mythos, the alliteration, the numerology, the philosophy, and the journey.

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  23. I can't say much more than the others have already said, Joy Ann. Your use of alliteration here does make each stanza sing, and I felt the connection of our "now" times in this beautifully crafted piece. I love the background mythology as well.

    Pamela

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  24. There are allusions to many that's happening right now. The cross references back and forth make them alive. Your reading adds to the mysterious nature of the verse! Nicely Joy!

    Hank

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  25. Such a well chosen picture to present in accompaniment. Magritte is a personal favourite of mine. His work feel so relevant right now - maybe always - depending on the state . . .

    This poem is still scraping its nails down my broken blackboard and I'm sure it will continue to do so in class - lol - the alliteration is alive and the internal dynamics are warring to survive the overall effect . . . And survive it does

    . I think it may be permanent!

    Great work joy
    all the best

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  26. So can I liken this to gazing at an abstract painting and seeing what imagery emerges, the Norns speaking to me from beyond in an attempt to sort the tea leaves inside my brain?

    I love this part of the definition: "a specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness"

    Excellent employment of alliteration throughout the piece. I always love your word choices---for meaning, of course, but also for sound.

    Nice double meaning in "where the money lies."

    This is my kind of craziness: "Ten digits of tinnitus tiptapped the tin roof" ... I hear all sorts of things that aren't there. So this really speaks to me. How terrifying to feel like someone is drumming their fingers on the roof over your head. And then to think they may or may not even be real! Goodness. "Typewriting the storm" indeed. Words in paper-rain form ringing in your ears.

    I'm quite fond of this: "nine cottonwoods cracked at the crotch in the crazy quilt wind" ... The wind as a quilt, but crazy, makes me happy. A wind pieced together from squares of many places ... and that the wind is comprised of complete anatomy---I do like that. It seems appropriate. If any element of nature makes love, it is the wind.

    "fourteen lances broken, better" ... Taking this line on its own, I gather that the lances are actually "better" (more useful/effective) when they are broken. How interesting.

    "Zero gravitas at zero degrees" ... So everyone is cold and silly? ;) Or cold-hearted and carefree.

    These lines blow my mind: "one soft green planet fooling the void" and "four givens forgotten" ... To have all your forgivens forgotten would be terrifying. And also, your four givens (whatever they may be). Loss is always just around the corner, and we so often take for granted our "givens." I see the void as being inside of us---we are fooled by earthly matters into thinking we are anything but empty. This might also apply to the brain and the way we allow our soft brains (planets) to fool themselves (the void). I see a cycle in which we distract our brains from expansion by focusing on daily matters of repetition, as our planets only grow softer and softer.

    So the valkyries exist to serve the dead heroes, and these women never die? Sounds a bit torturous, perhaps a sentencing of sorts. What have they done to deserve such punishment? Or are they content with such a "life"?

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    1. Shawna no one reads a poem so exhaustively as you. Apophenia lies at the basis of all sorts of superstitions(and religions)--finding deeply meaningful significance in the totally random, in how many drops of rain pearl on a flower, or where the stars were in the sky the moment you were born--we need to feel that things have meaning, to give them and ourselves meaning, that perhaps may not be there at all. Norse mythology is one of my particular happy places in apophenia. To me the valkyr are the innate substance of female potential--they are fearless, because their strength is unconquerable, inexhaustible, and no man can touch them without their consent.*They* choose for valor and sacrifice those few out of many who deserve to enter Valhalla, they are sheildmaidens and lovers, full equals, even superiors rather than servants to the heroes, and as a plus, supernaturally able to ride the wind between the planes. To be such a being(even in imagination) could never be a punishment to me. Thanks for your very insightful comments, with all the rest of which I am in synch.

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  27. I can easily slip into apophenia, always looking for root and meaning and relatedness. I have no problem believing that all of your numbered incidents are connected by threads too thin to perceive but stronger than any earthly bond.

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  28. I've spent a lot of time with Norns and Valkyries this year, so I felt found in being lost--does that make sense? The first stanza mythologized things going on now. I'm not positive what to make of every image, but I often find myself mulling mourning mists and trying to empty bottomless buckets. And let's hope there's a place where Valkyries never die. There is everything to enjoy in this, and I did.

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  29. ha..i bet tolkien wouldn't mind at all..love how you play with the numbers and symbolism...

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  30. Love the way you used Tolkien - the images are fabulous

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  31. Tolkein would have been flattered and loved it! I know I do...your well of magic is bottomless :))

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  32. Apophenia : the stuff of ghosts, religion and poems!
    Not familiar with tolkein -- wish I were.

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  33. Ahhh - Apophenia! The stuff poetry is made of! It's like you took the best of myth and legend and put it in a blender on pulse! Waaay over the top consonance and assonance. Love it (but you are so soft spoken on your recording).

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    1. Yes, I don't have a lot of voice left--I must have screamed too much in my younger years. ;_) Thanks, Mary.

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  34. Awesome alliteration, ingenious imagery, sensuous sound. Needless to say, I like it.

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  35. Hedge, love the norse mythology here, and your use of numbers is outstanding. Really remarkable piece. Thanks

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  36. I enjoy all the depth-appealing sounds and sights in this poem. the tangibility of the numbers plays with your alliterative (?) imagery very honestly. wonderful.

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg