Not dead. Just unlively.

I think.


  1. Sestina on Six Words from Matthew’s Blog

    The world of cathodes and binaries is not
    The bloody foss Odysseus fed his story to the dead
    With, nor is it the ancient facemask of the just;
    Rather, it is, like this poetic form, a particularly unlively
    Expression of ego – not the warm affirmation of the I
    Which commands presence. At least I don’t think

    This is the case, although I would bet those who think
    Otherwise are already asleep, counting off, not
    On their sheep, but on the stubbly teeth which the dead
    Poke from the ground in their dreams, the familiars which just
    Don’t make it around for Thanksgiving, unlively
    As the turkey, bitter as the cranberry, something you or I

    Take for granted – but is really rather the granite that I
    Or you just bought for our family plot, where you would think
    Life goes when it is done, face down or up – but it is not
    The same as not being, nor is not life the same as being dead.
    So, the taste in your mouth, perhaps in the end, it is just
    What it is, and no more – the off-color joke of unlively

    Culinary inquisitions…. What to be thankful for, unlively
    Man of table and board? Ah, you’d like to know, but I
    Would not say if I could. Better to cash in, I would think
    Than to let the birds of holiday and sheep of sleep (not
    By the way, the crows or black ewes) play you for dead.
    Here, here – the feathered and woolen – it’s only just

    That they alone should be the two species, yes, just
    These two, to be too much for the suggestions of unlively
    Dreams – the cantata of blogs, the librettos of i-
    Pods, the cursor’s partitas, fugues, suites and I can’t think
    Of what else, surely these would tide you over, not
    Condemn you to live-stream bandwidths of the dead.

    And so, we return to our original point: the lively dead.
    Should you turn a corner down a sleepy city street, juiced
    And wishing your mind was somehow November, unlively
    Month of intersticing epilogues and preludes, your eye
    Bleared from too much living, your feet unable to think
    On yourself, then tie your tongue in a synonymous knot

    And repeat after your shadow: I’m not dead.
    I’m just (in the diminishment and measure) unlively.
    In the meantime, as well, note: I blog, therefore I think.

  2. Matthew Lickona says

    Dammit, O’Brien, can’t you let a guy fail in peace?

  3. Seriously, JOB, you have to be productive, don’t you? Why do you make us feel so lazy?!

  4. Can’t people slack in peace? 🙂

  5. notrelatedtoted says

    We’re going to have to dock your pay.

  6. Cubeland Mystic says

    Hi All

    Was away planning for this year’s Mystics, Hermits, Ascetics, and Recluses Conference being hosted by High-Nevada-Desert Mystic in Vegas November 2008 at the Bellagio. A few of us skipped off to Hawaii to do some event planning. I will try to post icons of the trip soon.

    I am giving the keynote this year as well as in charge of the catering. My address is titled “A lentil a day keeps the devil away–Elimination of spiritual pride during epic fasting.” So in keeping with that theme we are serving lentils instead of nothing at all. I ordered ten pounds of lentils and a sack of grubs. That should do for 200 of us over seven days. I will catch a lot of flack from the hardliners for serving food, so please pray for me. On another note, being on the committee I get ten tickets for family and friends. Ironically since most of us live in extreme isolation we have neither family or friends. So if anyone wants to attend I have extra tickets.

    Dreams – the cantata of blogs, the librettos of i-
    Pods, the cursor’s partitas, suites, fugues, and toccatas
    Of lively bits ever flowing
    , surely these would tide you over, not
    Condemn you to live-stream bandwidths of the dead

    Your poem really captures Mathew’s malaise and lethargy. Laconically, I thought that line “I can’t think Of what else” was lacking something. I suggest the slight addition in bold italics very very humbly since most muggles (non-technical folk) have limited scope with technical verbiage. “Toccata” keeps with your musical theme and mixes well with “lively”, and also that “lively” would nicely balance “unlively”. The “bits” flow like creative semen in your digital analogy. One could envision “bits” as luminous beings dancing on the copper. Bits are the “midi-chlorians”–computing’s creative juice.

    On the other hand, it may have been your intention to inject dead-space into the poem, “I can’t think Of what else”. Here the poet identifies with his subject’s lack of creative energy. Brilliant! It really captures the muse’s total abandonment of the subject, and the defecundification of the subject’s internal creative engine. Dry, desolate, limp, Matthew lives in a wasteland unable unstop the blockage. The creative semen is dammed behind a great lethargic wall, perhaps suggesting a lack of imagination or total despair. There is that whole sense of flaccid limbo where the subject can neither create nor die–he is unlively.

    Again I hope you don’t mind, I figured this was a riff you just shook out of your sleeve. Otherwise I would not interject.

  7. CM,

    Welcome back; you’ve been missed around here…

    I like your addition, but fear I must reject it in the final analysis.

    A sestina requires that you use the six words that appear at the end of eadch line in the intial stanza (“…not” “…dead” “…just” “…unlively” “…I” “…think”)in alternating patterns at the end of each of the five remaing six-lined stanzas (thus, a diabolical form, this – 666) – and two of each appear per line in the three line ending stanza.

    While ingenious, your suggestion would break the form. But let me see if I can jimmy your idea in some other way.

    Still, I have to admit, the line as I originally had it was supposed to suggest the same sort of languishing Mr. Lickona seems to be suffering.

    Thanks muchly for your kind words!


  8. Cubeland Mystic says

    You’re welcome. And thank you for the schooling. I always appreciate the gift of knowledge and experience.

    I really like this poem. It is very clever. You’re a good friend to Matthew. The poem is really rich in meaning and symbolism. I’ve read it a couple times now because of it.

  9. notrelatedtoted says

    I think I found Lickona. Rumor has it that FOG Ernie was seen wearning a stormtrooper helmet.

  10. Santiago says

    You should totally read James Wood’s new book, HOW FICTION WORKS. It is all the rage, man. And listen to the new Radiohead record. On a loop, over and over, while reading the Wood.

  11. Rouse, thyself, Lickona. Someone has to screw his courage to the sticking point and go watch this execrable-sounding Brideshead and review it. Otherwise MrsDarwin and I may be forced to take matters into our own hands.

    My great conscience qualm is whether I should actually add to the box office returns for Brideshead, or pay for Dark Knight and then sneak into Brideshead instead…

    And it is to prevent others from facing such an occasion of sin that you must rouse thyself and get thee to a nunnery– er, movie.

    And then get us the (very low) low down.

    And if encouragement doesn’t work, perhaps bribery will: I just bought some cask strength McCallan.

  12. Matthew Lickona says

    Oh, sure, Darwin – hit me where I’m weakest. Cask strength McCallan to watch the new Brideshead? My in laws are in town, but I’m working on it.

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