Friday, January 29, 2010

Feature: T.M. Göttl Day 6

Memory of the Tree Falling Apart

“A-bra-ham. Lin-coln.”
“My. He-ro.”

The slow recitation, bad poetry,
I repeat into the receiver over and again,
these, the unlikely passwords to freedom.
I never thought it would begin like this.

“Beige. Rug.”
“Black. Cof-fee.”

They came with stones, boxes, reams of heavy-weight paper.
They came with box-cutters, paintbrushes. They came with
crowbars and chisels and afghan blankets.

“A-bra-ham. Lin-coln.”
“Beige. Rug.”

Remember the day when it wouldn’t rain?
That day, holy, just as every day is holy,
holy like the 60 watt bulb
hanging from a chain above my desk tonight.
I ran home with a brown paper lunch bag
full of Orion’s Belt,
because it was the only constellation
that I could name,
and constellations will remain wild
until you can call them by name.
Do you remember that day?
Shoving unbloomed buds of plastic roses
among your incense-lined shirt pocket.

“Beige. Rug.”
“My. He-ro.”

I hate to disappoint you
but now that it’s over, there won’t be any songs
about rainbows and fireflies, no
blossoming love sonnets about German chocolate.
I want to be held in the arms of the sun,
and I want to sleep in the arms of the rain.

Let it burn, that early morning late night fast food poetry,
let it burn.

“Black. Cof-fee.”
“A-bra-ham. Lin-coln.”

And where are the pigeons and the war cries?
What about the ancient Hebrew psalms
escaping from the countertop stereo?
Who are these people, pushing lightening anthems
of mountains and lighthouses
into a six-by-eight window, while
the faucet leaks a gentle copper cadence.
I don’t want to step back
into that puddle of purple vertigo.
But for today, we dance. Today,
we dance.

© T.M. Göttl

**** **** **** ****


Q: If you could meet any famous writer/poets or historical figure from the past or present who might they be? And why would you like to meet them particularly?

A: Two of my literary idols immediately come to mind. The first, the late Czeslaw Milosz, who is hands-down my favorite poet ever. I discovered his work in the summer of 2005, while getting new tires put on my car. The shop was going to take 3 hours to do the work, so I took a walk down the street to the shopping centers in the area to kill some time. Lo and behold, the temporary location for the Medina Library (which was being remodeled at the time) was taking up residence behind one of the shopping centers, so I strolled in. I turned down the literature aisle, Milosz’s collected works popped out at me, I grabbed it, sat down at a table, and the next thing I knew, three hours had passed. I went home, immediately thinking that I wanted to write this man a letter and tell him how his words had touched me, but I was crushed to learn that he’d died the year before, on my birthday. Really, I’d just like the chance to tell him thank you.

The second literary figure I’d like to spend time with is Neil Gaiman. I spent an hour waiting in line in the cold to hear him speak at the Cleveland Library this year, and he was incredible. I already loved his work--Neverwhere changed my life. But listening to him, I felt like he was speaking directly to me, even though there were a thousand people there. And even though he’s a novelist and graphic novelist, he spoke very passionately about poetry and the role it played in his life.

Q: What are your favorite rock bands?

A: Minus my local favorites…U2, seeing them live was a religious experience for me, and I have plans to see them again this summer. Friends have turned me on to a lot of not-so-mainstream artists, like Dave Barnes, Matt Wertz, Andy Davis, Trevor Hall, Griffin House, Katie Herzig, Nathan Lee, Tyrone Wells. I recently got more into Prince. I enjoy Coldplay. Marc Broussard. Regina Spektor. I grew up on a combination of classical music (which made me a fan of Tchaikovsky) and the music my dad listened to, like CSNY, The Doors, Harry Chapin, Elton John…but I still consider myself pretty “culturally inept”, a term my best friend in high school coined for me, and then proceeded to make it her mission to educate me in pop culture. It’s an ongoing process.

**** **** **** ****

Study in Hot Chocolate

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Feature: T.M. Göttl Day 5


in a fit of desperate, doily-embellished passion, all chrysanthemums and body-strewn streets, I hammered out sixhundredwords to the worship of the muse, the dedication of the monk and nun, sixhundredwords that only I could offer up, the only words I had to offer up, to a grey and disinterested deity, such inkandpaper lips and tongues that would never chance the grace of a pontiff’s eyes, the bishop’s mitre, the scholar’s hood, such lies and stolen requiems to only ever curl in the corners, shamed into shedding their colored plumage and their ornamented claws, trading a quasi-reliquaried existence, their own familiarity, in exchange for the long-fingered extraction of fear as it climbs into beds, between covers, absorbed into the threads before sailors’ wives even bleached them into linen sheets, the sapling fluff and seed that laughs in the loop of every technological firing, each extermination closer, one toe-length beyond a thirsting howl, pulling year after year from ages, ticking slowly upwards in the evaporation of the emperor-owned water clocks, younger hands and younger clothing, rolling, rolling, rolling down the satin hills and clover, the chalk-lined walls, the mason jar serving to germinate stray grains of sunlight, the stalks budding white-hot coral-colored husks, peeling, sloughing off hardened excuses, revealing, at last, the cooling, breathing honesty.

© T.M. Göttl

**** **** **** ****


Q: You’ve also written lyrics for music. Is that similar or different from writing straight poetry for you? And where can we find your work?

A: Terrifying! I adamantly do.not.rhyme, so the first time a friend asked if I’d put some words to his music, I balked. It ended up being a fun project, because I figured there were no expectations on me—although it took probably six months before my thoughts came together and I came up with something adequate. That first lyric-writing venture was “Funky Chiropractor,” in collaboration with Zach. It was more of a joke really, which worked out for me, because just about anything I rhyme tends to fall in the not-so-serious category.

A more challenging bit came this past year when another local musician and friend, David Ullman, asked if I’d like to collaborate with him and write some lyrics. David has a very different style than Zach, and I knew the ridiculous would be out on this one. But David and I are both very happy with the results and what each of us has brought to the piece to make it something very special—a song called “Everyone is Somebody Else”.

Thus far, neither piece has been recorded (except for various live versions of Chiropractor that are out there on YouTube and my MySpace page). We’ll see what happens. Now and again, I’ve written something that’s song-like and sent it off to a songwriter-friend to see what becomes of it. No other finished results yet. But again, we’ll see what becomes of it all ?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Feature: T.M. Göttl Day 4

Heartbreak and an Empty Hotel Room: Tax Day

Today, the morning broke, from black to grey,
just like every other morning
on every other day
in this town where the noon-time scarecrows
burn away all the hope
by afternoon, along with all the iron
and a canvas of fumes.

I heard the dwarrows in the woods,
conferencing with faeries, and howling:
“We only have two options:
the slow crawl of the coward,
or the shotgun exit of the brave!”

A blue dove
sat above my head,
mocking me from an aspen limb,
because I mumbled about building roses,
while holding a rusty, eleven-year-old knife.
And I’ve been holding that knife for eleven years,
just in case I needed it again.

Because you might see silver spiders
falling across my face,
but there’s no magic me. I’ll never see
Ezekiel’s green-wingéd angels, and I’m afraid
to break the silence of your stone.
I want to be everywhere tonight.
I want to eat dinner in an attic with your ex-girlfriend,
reading tarot cards and talking about
anonymous movie theaters.
I want to climb the windows
of every downtown office, arms opened up
to the honey waiting on your fingers,
to the golden eggs, and the golden eyes,
and the golden halos, kicking around your ankles.

But mostly, I want to sit
at the top of a cast-iron spiral,
watching, down,
because even when you’re not around,
they’re talking about
NPR, and the Mayan calendar, and
the last of the American Bison.
Why can’t you just see me?!

See me!
drowning in the
afternoon caldera
of wildflower wine!
There are no more timepieces,
pulling fleece from the irony
of an apple blossom rain,
the warp and the weft of a diamond riot.

See me!
with the asphalt and quartz in my hair and
under my palms, cracked,
like the bell of an ivory horn,
sounding the call of the vagabond messengers.

See me!
falling to my knees
because no one will hold me up
You never learned how to bring your own sun,
so how much brighter must I shine
before you can see?

See me.

And tell me, when will you write a song for me?
About how brave and stupid I was on Good Friday?
About how I scheduled a resurrection
while the swallows and pigeons shot arrows across
the unfiltered sky?
About the clover above my head?

I’m leaving, tonight.
I filled the back seat of my car
with sleep and doorways, but no ceilings.
I tucked Nike’s crown under my arm,
scratching psalms into copper collars, and
chasing blue lights down the highway,
chasing my enemies, chasing every
herald and beacon, and running with the army
of blue-coated angels. Just
see me.

© T.M. Göttl

**** **** **** ****


Q: What aspects of poetry and its performance/sharing do you like and which do you fear or dislike?

A: I think performance and presentation are just as important as the writing of the piece. Poetry existed long before the written word, and I believe it still is, at least in part, intended to be an oral tradition. That doesn’t negate the value of the word on the page, but too often, the way that a piece is read and presented, I feel, takes a back seat to the writing of it. I think all art should be experiential, for the creator and for the audience. If you can’t climb inside of your art—be it a painting, song, or poem—and take your audience by the hand and invite them to climb inside and dance around in it with you, I believe you lack as an artist. I know that I don’t always achieve that, but that’s the ideal for which I strive in my work.

Q: You are sold out of your recent poetry book… or nearly sold out. Can you give us an idea of what you’ve got planned for your future projects? Any sneak peeks you might be able to share?

A: I’m in the process of compiling a manuscript for a second full-length collection that I’m hoping we’ll be able to put out in the first half of 2010. Other than that, I don’t want to say too much, for fear of having to eat my words later. Stay tuned for now!

Q: You’ve recently taken on some journalistic writing. Do you find it different from doing poetry? And do you enjoy it? Does it help or compliment your other writing or is it very different for you?

A: My journalistic pieces and opinion essays came naturally, because I’m already attending all these poetry events around Northeast Ohio, so it made sense to write about them. I think it helps keep my writing fresh. Blogging can get sloppy, but when you’re putting something out there for someone besides your friends to read, you take more care. Poetry helps with that—paying attention to word choice, getting the idea across in as short a space as possible. But of course, it’s very different. I haven’t done much straightforward writing since college, and it’s good to keep those muscles in shape again.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Feature: T.M. Göttl Day 3


Time, and the march
of army boots,
and metal chairs, and the
midnight howl of a panther train.

Time, and the sea lord
calling back the herds,
and the seventh breaking
of the hardwood stair.

Time, and a white coat,
cigarettes, and coffee.

Time, and the refrigerated
cellular automotive
facsimile liquid crystal
satellite malfunction.

Time, and the lack of confidence,
reflected in faded
cathedral glass.

Time, and aluminum eagle wings,
and the painted skydivers, and
the telescoping highways.

Time, and a minted peace
and a pinecone rustle,
and a chipmunk soul.

Time, because everyone’s written
a poem about heartbreak
and an empty hotel room

Time, and the concrete lions, and
telephone poles, and the copper, copper
saxophone strings.

Time, and the burning pages,
the empty bottles, the distorted
static music. Time, and the black keys,
white keys, gray keys, colored keys,
computer keys, car keys,
house keys, major keys,
minor keys.

Time, and the red ink, and the
black water.

Time through a glass,
around your neck,
under your feet, and
in your pocket.

Time, and a house without ceilings
a front lawn full of hands,
and a basement
full of feet
and folded prayers.

Time, and a red, paper kite,
hunting through the starshine.

© T.M. Göttl (previously published in a Saturday Night with the Poet's Haven PodCast and in Stretching the Window, (c) 2007)

**** **** **** ****


Q: Following on that question (yesterday): where do you find your inspiration for your poetry?

A: The cop-out, canned answer that everyone gives is “everywhere”, but it’s true. I find that a lot of poems begin to take shape while I’m driving, or late at night in those moments before you fall asleep but can’t because a poem is keeping you awake. Or, while I’m driving late at night.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your writing style. Where and how you like to write. Your favorite workspace, etc…

A: I carry notebooks and pens everywhere. If someone says something in conversation, if I see or hear something that brings an image to mind, if a word or phrase pops into my head and I think “I need to use that in a poem”, I jot it down. I have notebooks full of fragments. I used to have loose slips of paper everywhere—which still happens from time to time but not as often—which were a nightmare to keep track of. Eventually, I’ll go back into those notebooks with a particular idea in mind and pull out all the fragments that apply, and sit down at the computer to edit it all together in something more or less coherent. And then, of course, there are the rare pieces that flow out in almost perfectly completed form within fifteen minutes. Those are blessings from the muses.

Q: What are 3 things you really think you’d like to try in your lifetime you’ve not done yet?

A: This sounds like a college entrance essay question! Traveling to Alaska has been a lifelong dream. I’d like to climb a mountain (hiking that is—if pulleys and other equipment were required, I think I’d be scared). I’ve desperately wanted to go out west and see the national parks for years now.

Other than that, I’d really just like to be able to drive around the country, reading and writing. If I could make that work for a living, I think I’d be happy. There’s a special kind of joy for me in being able to go somewhere far away with a certain purpose in mind.

**** **** **** ****

fashion clock 3

Monday, January 25, 2010

Feature: T.M. Göttl Day 2

Out of the Desert

A liar and a cheater,
like a crayon-painted road sign
melting waxy puddles through
tomorrow afternoon, I
never quite believed
in men with wings—
big and great golden eagle wings,
growing from their shoulder blades—
no. I never quite believed,
although I said I did.

Because I always watched my brothers,
carrying the weather on their backs,
past the blue welding light,
scouring the steam-loving cranes
until they burned and bled and
cracked all the gunmetal nightlights,
lifting iron ladders, girders
crossed into star-shaped flowers
worshiping a dead and contrived
second sun.

And I said no.

I painted neon pink and silver
over all the attic drywall,
called it Heaven, climbed those eighteen stairs
every afternoon at four o’clock,
said my prayers, almost
thought I heard the saints
talking back to me.

And then I stood on the crystal jukebox
declaring, in forty different tongues
like a knighted prophet in
leather sandals and a corduroy tunic, that
yes, I believe
men can grow
glossy wings from their backs,
crossing canyons and vaulting the rapids.

I had to believe.
But I never quite believed.

And the doubt? I knew it,
a chewing nest of carpenter vermin
drinking the ink out of prayer books
and clipping black eyes to the curtains.

They chased me from the cathedral,
from the railroad, from the statehouse.
They chased me from the school and
from the grocery, from the park.

They chased me to an old garage
underneath an old factory.
And there, without fish-tail testimonials
or a porcelain-faced audience,
there, I found
a man, with wings,
who showed me how
to find my own, auburn and burgundy-feathered,

crossing lakes and vaulting
the heroic moon I’d never met.
And finally, finally, I believed.

© T.M. Göttl (previously published in a Saturday Night with the Poet's Haven PodCast and in Stretching the Window, (c) 2007)

**** **** **** ****


Q: When did you discover you loved to write? And is this something you’ve done since you were young or something you discovered as you got older?

A: I actually started writing creatively in kindergarten or first grade. I don’t know if it’s still in existence, but there was something called the Young Authors, where kids in grade school could write, illustrate, bind and submit a “book” that they’d written. Writing has always been with me.

I started writing poetry in high school—the angsty kind of stuff that teens write. Then in college, I took a poetry workshop, and it completely altered my approach to poetry writing and the way I think about it. It’s been with me ever since.

Q: You have a very deep affection for little furry creatures. Where does that come from? Do you think maybe you may have been a squirrel in you a past life?

A: The squirrel affinity actually grew out of a conversation several years ago when I was trying to explain the way that I think in comparison with a squirrel. A squirrel will run half-way across the street, hesitate and turn back. He might eventually get to his destination, but it takes him a while to get up the nerve to go all the way. It seemed to be a good metaphor for me at the time, and the squirrels have kind of stuck with me.

I also had pet rabbits when I was younger, and I have a Syrian, long-haired hamster now, named Zora.

Q: You have very clear themes that appear in your writing and poetry. Can you tell us a little about that?

A: I’d like to think my readers would be better at telling you about that. So often I’ve heard that artists are the worst people to interpret their own work, and I know it’s true in my case. But since you asked, I’ll give it a quick attempt.

The most common response I’ve had to my writing, especially in Stretching the Window, is that I’m “searching”. For a while now, I’ve felt like I’ve been in a very transitional phase of my life, and whether consciously or unconsciously, that’s worked its way into my poetry. And I think most people can relate to that. We are all searching for something, because if we’d found it, we wouldn’t have a reason to be here anymore.