Author Archives: admin

This issue was drawn entirely from my Tumblr site—j2parman.tumblr.com. Several others were written on the road or started there. Along with commissioned pieces and personal essays, it documents my foray into sonnets and my recent return to free verse. The main claim I can make for it is that it continues. —Berkeley, late winter, 2017

PROLOGUE

From within a museum gallery, a view of patrons walking and sitting in a garden outsideThe title, “Table Music,” is borrowed from Telemann. When I read it, I thought how so many things that arise in life recur later in our thoughts. We pick them up and consider them again and again without ever reaching a final conclusion. The people and places that inhabit memory unfold with us, sometimes within life and sometimes purely in mind—as with the dead who are present nonetheless, part of our being. History is a meta-narrative of many strands, Hayden White argued, and each strand puts forward an individual point of view. Think of “Table Music,” then, as a contribution to this genre in poetry and prose.  (2 August 2015, Berkeley)

POETRY

A view down into the courtyard of a ruined castle, with tourists.

Witness
All else that can’t be said is written.
Backs of envelopes in old steamer trunks
for the executors to mine, smitten
by the prospect of affairs, those drunks
ambling along sidewalks in anecdotes:
the muse puts up with this—with how it is
when writers sit down to write. Then she smotes
some handy object, the muse, that this biz
floats past her, isn’t safely bottled up.
Everything that can’t be said is uncorked
to fill glasses and still more glasses. Yup,
they toast the many times a straight road forked.
The muse looks glumly on. Plot’s familiar,
she thinks. Forks are closer than they first appear.

PROSE

Diners in a restaurant with subdued lighting

After Waking
In a dream, an older man goaded him: “Are you good?” “No,” he answered, but the man wanted a more robust response. “Not really bad,” he ventured. Waking, he thought that love—physical love—was an addiction, so any sudden rupture of it was like crashing. He replayed the worst such crash, remembering how she’d weighed him against another, reducing what was between them to a litmus test.

This issue includes a sonnet series inspired by a 1960 visit to Omaha Beach, an elaborated memoir piece, and snippets from a 20-year-old diary.

PROLOGUE

Museum-goers look out at a view high above Golden Gate parkThe past rattles through my consciousness like so many trains running on errant schedules. They arrive unbidden, coupled together by association. I step in and am carried back. And often I take notes, observing how it was and how I felt, but from a new vantage point.

OMAHA BEACH

A collage of fractured images including a burning barn and an airshipA bedroll out on the sidewalk, a drunk
asleep, my father noted, building smashed,
my mother jarred awake, the Atlantic
between them. “Something has happened to George!
But he’s okay!” her story repeated—
how she knew, how knowing was a curse:
what if someday he were dead? She would know.

SORT OF A MEMOIR

John Parman reading in a dim room under a lamp.Stendhal uses three different memoir-writing strategies: in media res, placing the reader at some middle point in the life from which the years that led up to it are recounted; starting from childhood, which Stendhal characteristically uses to show a certain authorial self-consistency; and the coming-of-age recapitulation that gets the hero from mere youth to the beginning of maturity.

MISCELLANY

Looking again for a poem written long ago, apparently lost, I found typed-out extracts from a 20-year old diary. It’s always a question what to take from them, but I agree with Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s observation that a diary’s immediacy gives it a faithfulness to unfolding events that’s missing in post-facto accounts. We live among […]

PROLOGUE

Untitled

In September 2013, I visited a village 30 minutes by car from Bayonne in southwest France. One day, declining an excursion to the coast, I stayed behind and began writing sonnets that I called, from the start, “The Barn Partitas,” both in homage to Bach’s clavier partitas, a favorite, and to acknowledge the shed in Berkeley, the “barn,” where I usually write.

Read more…