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Preview: Dear Fonzie

Dear Fonzie

This is the poetry blog of Jennifer Michael Hecht. There are other places where I blog lucidly, here I post what rises and converges. Welcome! It is called Dear Fonzie because the Fonz, fictional though he be, seems like a good listener.

Updated: 2018-03-06T02:36:39.021-08:00


Battersea; Atheism over Agnosticism; Rosalie; Pink Floyd; Don't Kill Yourself


Dear Bleaders,So what's shakin'? Same old around here. I've been named one of the 25 most influential living atheists. To which I say, "You call this living?" No, but seriously folks. It is super fun, and brings new readers (hi new readers!) but oddly does not come with a large cash award. So I remain beholden to poetry for my amusement. I thought today I'd try to unravel some thoughts on time travel, or rather, as it is more commonly noted, some thoughts on history.There is nothing stranger you can do to your mind than to give it history. Take Rosalie, for instance. She is walking through a village early morning in England and looking at the charming houses and ingratiating streams. She walks a long time as the grey sky mists and clears to blue, and back to grey and misty. Rosie's okay and her good shoes are holding up too. She smells the world and feels it in her belly. Her mind is rattling around in there, wondering what it’s doing here, but the rest of her is feasting on the moment.Now Rosie goes into a café and starts reading the big grey book on the counter beside her, a history of this same town in which she’s been wandering. The sky starts storming outside, inside they seem glad to have her, so she gets comfortable and lunch hours go by.By the time the sky gets light again, it is already getting dimmer, past tea, before dinner, and she heads out to snake the streets home to her hostel. But now she knows everything about Battersea. Why is Battersea inland, for instance? Because it used to be on the coast but the sea was so brutal in its marauding erosion that the townspeople picked up and left, stopped in a quiet place just south of London and named their dry new encampment with the old wet name they’d always known. Much later Bertrand Russell would deliver, here, one of his most powerful and influential speeches on the purposes of man under the godless heavens.As Rosie walks homeward the aspect of the natives changes. Now she everywhere sees the odd pluck it must require to lift yourself up and all your neighbors and redirect your browser to another world, inland, and name it Battersea again. Battersea forever.The human mind, I think, has two modes: Present and Historical. Both are good. In the first you are an animal, in the second, just a god. The first smells baking bread. The second knows this is the same bread Henry the Fifth smelt just before he dealt his quiverblow against the fearsome French, who were all man and five times as many but their arrows, ahem, fell short. Englishmen now in their beds have wished they’d been there to see it for centuries now. Englishmen, for Chrissake, get out of bed already.Let’s make the village a concept and do this again. Rosalie is an agnostic. She has heard the argument that no one can prove a negative and believes it. Then she wanders into a café and reads a big book on doubt as she waits out the rain. Now she knows that the term agnosticism was invented only a hundred years ago by Thomas Henry Huxley, and has no intellectual pedigree to speak of. Huxley made it up having read about Skepticism, which is a philosophically robust proposition that asks how we can know anything at all, given the limitations of our minds and our tiny, animal perspective. Skepticism is thousands of years old and has been brilliantly explored in every age. Agnosticism is the logic of Skepticism applied to only one question, the question of whether one particular people’s imagined idea of the supernatural actually exists.To be sensible, either you are a Skeptic about all things, which allows you to be a profoundly interesting thinker but does not allow you to claim to know anything about the world; or you are a rationalist, which means you gather evidence, try to minimize your cultural bias, and make conclusions. If you make your decisions by rationalism, you can certainly say that an idea is not to be considered as at all valid if it has no evidence to argue for it being true. In Skepticism I have to allow that possibly all of life is happening in the dream of a cosmic elephant; i[...]

Game of Thrones


Dear Bleaders,

I could eat a horse's heart.

As any years-long member of an art or science can say, as any partner in any longstanding marriage could say, as any smarty with a heart who has worked and lived in America in these last few decades could say, as anyone who birthed (or hardmade/hardwon child) and raised children could say, as anyone from a family can say - I have eaten the equivalent of a horse's heart, and I like seeing it done on screen by a stunning, blond blindsiding frontside Force-of-will kaleesi with eyes like my day's peak and piqued and picked and peaked high.

Oh Their God, the whole show is so good I can't take it.

I love ALL the characters, and also want to kill them all with my hands and daggers and swords, and also have sex with, um, most of them. Have a mug of beer with the rest. Maybe a little cuddle. A little play sword-fight with Needle. A smirking kiss from Mayor Carcetti? Chest butt with Eddwd. No leg ride wit the sweet recently disabled kid, Bran, I think, yes Bran (don't remember this line or name if you haven't seen the series yet, it might slightly spoil one small thread). I'd like a sewing circle with the redhead little princess to be. I'd like to slap Joffre and teach him how to make his elders a cup of tea. I'd like to have klingon sex with with kalisee and her horse chieftain. Learn medicine from that dirty sheep lady, she's got pot, you know she's holding at least pot and some pain pills. Trade barbs with the imp, he'd like me and when he tired me out I could probly outrun him. Glad the blond shrill prick got a metal hat. The fat king's makdes (spoilerminded tense mash) me feel bloated. Love Lady Cat. Love Needle girl. Love Sam on the wall fat coward but observant and smart. Love the wolves. Love the bastard. Love the whores, poetic. Think it's funny that Jamie and Cqueen are pretty much the only one's we've seen actually have a good fuck. Love the blood. Love the honest depiction of family as a snakepit of conquest and incest and horror and murder and soul murder, and also the place of loyalty, and trust, and fun, and hope, and companionate despair. Love the iron chair.

Game of Thrones.



Gorilla Poem


This is a poem from my second poetry book, Funny. Most of the poems in the book have an old joke inside them.Gorilla In a Darkening RoomA suspicion about oneselfin the midst of placid repetitionis a vehicle.The suspicion is not a destination.Obviously, the suspicionshould not be denied, but neithershould one believe it.Let us imagine that lifein the arctic is going well for you,though you are entirely aloneand the food is long gone; you’vemade your meek adjustments.The suspicion is a four-wheel driveall-terrain vehicle that appears,with keys, one dark day. My point is:it is important that you do notsimply begin living in the car.Drive. Our concerns are the anxietyof not knowingwhere we’re going,and the terrific fearof being given anything else to do,of anything else appearing on our desk.We tender resignation.We succumb. We head backinside and stick in a thumb.It’s a not uncommon, it’s a commonerror about how things get done.How many gorillas does it taketo screw in a light-bulb? One,but you need a lot of light-bulbs.The gorilla regardsthe crate of light-bulbs with excitementbut by noon, despair. My friends,I admit, I can notbear the anxiety of not knowing.Outside, the African sky bleeds blueand oxidizes. Indoors, the onelight socket opens herselfto her gorilla and waits for the perfectturn. Did you really come hereto talk about love? Poor baboon.This is no way to go about it,of course, of course we needto be more honest, to admitthe secret weakness, the shattered,well, let’s move on.You hear the socket coo:My lonely gorilla, did theypunish you into perversion?Under these circumstancesit is hard to be epic. The bestyou can do is re-open the fieldof possibilities and resistrushing them closed. Bearthe anxiety of not knowing. Resist summing up.The secret weaknesswishes to speak! Nevertheless,face it, nothing works. It is winter in the Africanjungle and I amempty. Below me, on the ground,a silverback looks outat the bruised-fruit sky of a settingsun and then back up at me.There’s something aboutfear of darkness in his attentions.Crates of light-bulbseverywhere and everywherebroken bulbs. The terriblegraying gorilla is really tryingto figure it out now. He’slooking closer. I want himto figure it out, much as,in the other metaphor, I wantto park the car in the firsttown I come to, buy a house,marry the village wine-steward,and open a nice Chianti.But you’ve got to roam.The mango-papaya skyat sunset in the jungle,the aurora in the tundra.Either way, be brave,press the sky back intothe distance. Give yourselfa little room. Insidethe little room, dark now,the gorilla sighs, the light-bulbssigh, the socket sleepsand dreams about the risingsun. So this is how the west waswon? This is how things get done. [...]




pinker still



yet pinker



It is still cold, but remember winter?






Wind whirl.



light on leaf with hand on top



is the world this shadow of an eye, or orange saturn winking in the sky. well, in the tree, but sky rhymed.


(image) Perhaps I should re-establish that I am an Idiot for rhyme.

Can't wait for spring to see colors in the trees.


Afternoons are easier than mornings.

It makes me happy.


It makes me happy to see the button and the dirt from when it fell and stayed down a while and the way the metal star looks like it just now pressed itself into the flesh of the ball. The ninja waning, dino waxing, pearls and things I find outside particular places or having fallen off peculiar persons. I'm not sure who I was when I made this but I know I've made several since and by looking at it I can see that I existed and have listed what I saw by sticking them in clay with shiny things and hanging them in my tree. Like any sensible person would do in my situation.

Triumph of the Ninja!



Tree Jewelry






I've been saying things over at best american poetry.

My muse seems preoccupied by conjuring encouragement. I'm as surprised about it as you are, but for reasons beyond me, I endeavor to cheer up the miserable. And the nearly miserable.





See that purple dot towards the bottom of the shot? It's the New Years Eve ball in Times Square, already poised to drop. We went up to the top of the Empire State to check on the year. Apparently, it's winding down and winding up.

I've been posting about poetry and whatnot overhere. All the usual emotions on hot display. Go look.


A Nut


A while back I saw a Charlie Rose episode with a bunch of neurologists talking about brains, and one guy said that our spectacular ones are the direct result of movement, of the fact that we move around.

Trees, he said, don't have brains and don't move around. All our insanely complicating thinking was, in its primary development, all about the body doing things.

This is a photograph I took of a squirrel on a tree. It is an unusual squirrel, in that it has chosen to hang upside-down, belly to the trunk of the tree, and from that entirely perpendicular-to-the-ground stance, eat a nut and look at me, your poet at large.

What I want us to do is to run our hands around the trunk of the tree and feel the rough organic of its room-temperature surface and the unyielding rock of its inside strength. It's big. It's quiet except for the susurration of its leaves above us. Now our hands circle the trunk and arrive at the squirrel, who in this mental visit behaves as if he's been paid. Squirrel is warm and soft, nothing like the long brown-grey column to which he somehow clings.

Now, our hands still on the squirrel, we catch the wee beast's eye. It is a wonderful way to concentrate the mind.

I just saw a recent interview with Christopher Hitchens who is suffering stage 4 cancer and his interlocutor asked, "Are you up to this? To a long conversation on life, death, and the universe, and all the big questions?" (as remembered) and Hitchens said, "Oh, yes. It's what I love to do. And, in fact, it is a wonderful way to concentrate the mind."

So here is the squirrel, a tiny long brown-grey column exhibiting physical warmth, hunger, and whimsey. Some time later, the poet at small sits at her desk and contemplates the photograph and everything not in the photograph, the inverted squirrel world. It is a beauty and remarkably cruel, with all its stages, from 3 and 4 to 1 and 2.

What do we for the moment conclude? The mind is made of movement. The moving mind is unconcentrated. The tree is mindless and concentrated. The dare-devil squirrel is resting and arresting. The mind arrested is a desperately needed rest. Not everyone is best off staying still by staying still. The mind, which is movement, concentrates and stays still, for some, in conversation with the world. Miserable? Shattered? Sad for a good man's bad news? Describe something carefully. The conversation's movement is the natural home and place of concentration of the mind.

Efforts to induce the effect of dapple



Dear Fonzie Arises from an Accidental Era of Hiatus to Talk about Dapple


Dear Fonzie, It's hard to capture dapple. When I'm back at the rock with nothing but the idea "push against the rock" and the rock doesn't move and neither to I, I find out a lot about equal and opposite forces. When I'm back at the rock and I push with the intent of moving, I suppose, it doesn't move but I do. So there you have it: In the middle of this portion of your life, you find yourself confused about direction, in a bright woods. The dapple hits the ground layer of leaves and moss which is up-buttressed by a skeleton of branches. It is pretty and hypnotizes. You are a bit cold. You miss the medications you used to use, but the wind shudders the trees and the dapple on the forest floor begins to shimmer and quiver, a bright shivering, and it calms you down. You look up, the leaves dapple against the blue sky, with the sun slapping everything around. There are worse situations, as we love to point out at all times that we are not pointing out that there are better situations. Embrace the face of it though: You are lost in these bright woods and it is chilly. I mention all of this because I haven't posted in a good long while, wiling away my wiles against quiet, and people, and other paper, other spaces. Today though, I have reappeared with little or no planning or intention, just a decision to channel you some straight babble, like a talkative Visigoth, following out from the word "dapple," to which my thoughts of late have been continually returning, like someone in a dream or coma half-remembering what they need to remember in order to wake up or whatever. Dapple. I've been trying to photograph it. As above noted, it isn't at all casually doable. The intensity of actual sunlight against actual deep shadow can't be flatly done or anywise is not usually doublable. Attempts prove that what looks like dapple in real life, leaf shadows on leafy ground and fences, doesn't look as dapply as leaves against a blue sky, which in real life is only dapple with a bit of human will helping to splay the sunlight through the trees. Anyway, I think dapple might be effective as an elevated mood stabilizer. Jennifer [...]