atlasing with lucille clifton

Last week saw the release of my latest digital chapbook Naos Explains Everything Via Crumbs published by the good people at Right Hand Pointing. Part of Naos’ latest meditation / treatise / mixtape ideas had him ruminating on the figure of Atlas, the Titan condemned to carry the earth for eternity:

the ant is Atlas under a crumb —
Atlas carries the crumb of the earth —

I believe what Naos might be getting at is that it’s all about perspective.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA similar theme arises in this week’s poem in which the late great lucille clifton takes on the story of Atlas. In clifton’s poem, the speaker is Atlas himself detailing how he has gotten “used to the heft of it.” Two things in particular move about this interpretation of the mythological figure. First, how, through the details of “forest,” “sea,” and “odor of flesh,” clifton’s Atlas conveys a familiarity and endearment for the human earth.

The other thing I keep finding compelling is the absence of a specific word for “it.” Due to the title, the informed reader picks up on who the speaker is, and what his role is in myth. The absence of a specific word – “planet,” perhaps or “earth” – points to clifton’s overall ambition, which is to present this mythological figure in distinct human terms. It is a human voice that speaks in terms of “it,” and the human voice of her other poems adds further depth to the story of Atlas.

atlas – lucille clifton

i am used to the heft of it
sitting against my rib,
used to the ridges of forest,
used to the way my thumb
slips into the sea as i pull
it tight. something is sweet
in the thick odor of flesh
burning and sweating and bearing young.
i have learned to carry it
the way a poor man learns
to carry everything.

*

Happy Atlas-ing!

José

new Naos digital chapbook!

* naos to meet you *
* naos to see you again *

Just a quick note to share the release of my latest digital chapbook: Naos Explains Everything Via Crumbs published by Right Hand Pointing.

You may remember the persona, Naos, from my first digital chapbook with RHP, Naos: an introduction.

This time my cursi philosopher Naos (a mix of Aesop, Diogenes, & Walter Mercado) takes his habit of explaining to epic proportions.

Or rather, micro-epic proportions, as his focus is on crumbs.

Here are two excerpts from the sequence:

(ix)

the ant is Atlas under a crumb—

Atlas carries the crumb of the earth—

*

(x)

Poetry as a matter of crumbs:
hinting at the food of experience

from what little
falls behind.

*

Check out the rest of the digital chapbook here.

Happy crumbing!

José

* new naos poem at Right Hand Pointing!

Just a quick post to announce the release of the latest issue of Right Hand Pointing which includes my poem “Naos Explains Lying.”

* naos to meet you *
* naos to be here *

This poem is another in a new series of poems in the persona of Naos, a character I explored originally in my digital chapbook Naos: an introduction which can be read online.

Special thanks to Guest Editor Brad Rose for selecting my poem and to everyone at Right Hand Pointing for letting Naos hang out for awhile more.

See you Friday!

José

 

* new anthology & everything cover art

Oaring – Sam Roderick Roxas-Chua

In a shallow bay, my father is slumped
inside a black raft, arms flung over each side,
fingers flicking the water. I touch the ripple
of sunset and I want to be his fingerprints
and index his lolled years—carry his melody
of back and forth, unlearn the sway
of push and pushing.

Today I wrap the oars in silk,
leave the telephone receiver pendulous
over the oak table where he taught me
to write my name in English—
that round eddy where forgotten things
appear and disappear like those beetles
I tied to strings during a storm.

I remember that table carved from a bend
in my father’s house, how it listened
to the chorus of wings outside our window—
oaring the sky for forgiveness, oaring the sky
for another way home.

* new anthology *
* new anthology *

The poem above is just one of many fine poems in the newly released Inflectionist Review Anthology of Poetry. The way in which the word “oar” is used throughout the poem is a great example of what the editors had in mind by “inflectionism.” As defined on their site, “Inflecting suggests grasping what has come before and redefining it, refocusing it, placing it upon a different point in the arc thereby changing its trajectory.” The last two lines “oaring the sky for/another way home” become for me not just a metaphor for the experience of the speaker but also for the experience of writing, which can be seen via the poem as another kind of “oaring.”

The Inflectionist Review Anthology of Poetry features all the poems from issues 1-4 as well as an interview and feature of Distinguished Poet, Courtney Druz along with artwork from Anna Daedalus and Kerry Davis.

I’m delighted to have nine of my own poems in the anthology, including some newer work in the Naos persona. Here is “Naos Explains Memory,” which the editors of the Inflectionist Review were generous enough to nominate for a Pushcart Prize:

Naos Explains Memory – José Angel Araguz

Like gradual blindness: each day, more and more, a mix of less and less.
What you do see, you say remember. What filters through: a voice, car lights,
the ends of a dress. Singular and graphic. A strong whiskey.
A root you cannot shake from your body. The color of the last moon.
In a city you do not remember leaving.

The Inflectionist Review Anthology of Poetry can be purchased here (and make sure to check out the review’s submission guidelines here).

Congratulations to editors John Sibley Williams and  A. Molotkov for putting together such a fine anthology!

***

The countdown to the December 1st release of my full-length collection, Everything We Think We Hear, continues. Since I shared the IR Anthology cover I thought I would share the artwork that will be featured on the cover:

This piece by artist Andrea Schreiber features the kind of dress my mother wore to work at Rosita’s on Baldwin back when I was a kid. As we get closer to the date I plan on sharing the full cover. I did, however, want to share the artwork alone as it is its own special creation. Here are links to the mom-related “Raro” recently published in Compose Journal as well as to The Story Behind “Raro” feature on the piece.

Happy inflectioning!

José

* new work up at the inflectionist review

* naos to meet you *
* naos to see you again *

Just a quick post to announce the latest issue of The Inflectionist Review which includes four of my new Naos poems: “Naos Explains Memory,” “Naos Explains Ghosts,” “Naos Explains X,” & “Naos and Who He Would Pray To.” This issue also features work by Kate Soules, Julia Webb, and a special interview and feature on Kelli Allen along with other fine work. Check out the issue here.

Special thanks to editors John Sibley Williams and A. Molotkov for putting together a great issue!

For those of you unfamiliar with Naos, he is a poetic character of sorts introduced in my digital chapbook from Right Hand Pointing entitled Naos: an introduction which can be read here.

See you Friday!

Jose