Not Everything

Anselm Kiefer, Sternenfall ('Falling Stars'), 1995

Rae Armantrout in conversation with Michael Silverblatt about her new poetry collection titled Just Saying  (5/30/13):

I like poems that leave me thinking, poems that start me thinking, I guess, and don't, at the end, tie everything up. 

I guess I like puzzles. I like riddles. There are a lot of riddles in Emily Dickinson, for instance. 

And I like space to think. That doesn't mean that I like to be vague. I hope I'm not vague. 

I try to be very specific, but not everything that's specific is comprehensible.

More Like a Rut

by John Ashbery, from Planisphere: New Poems (2009)

Just as the day could use another hour,
I need another idea. Not a concept
or a slogan. Something more like a rut
made thousands of years ago by one of the first
wheels as it rolled along. It never came back
to see what it had done, and the rut
just stayed there, not thinking of itself
or calling attention to itself in any way.
Sun baked it. Water stood, or rather sat
in it. Wind covered it with dust, then blew it
away. Always it was available to itself
when it wished to be, which wasn't often.

Then there was a cup and ball theory
I told you about. A lot of people had left the coast.
Squirt conditions obtained. I forgot I overwhelmed you
once upon a time, between everybody's sound sleep
and waking afterward, trying to piece together
what had happened. The rut glimmered
through centuries of snow and after.
I suppose it was trying to make some point
but we never found out about that,
having come to know each other years later
when our interest in zoning had revived again.

Progress Comes in Unexpected Leaps

Excerpt from "Accomplishing Big Things in Small Pieces," by William Wissemann, This I Believe (9.14.08):

cube Solving the Rubik’s Cube has made me believe that sometimes you have to take a few steps back to move forward. This was a mirror of my own life when I had to leave public school after the fourth grade. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I still couldn’t consistently spell my full name correctly.

As a fifth-grader at a new school, specializing in what’s called language processing disorder, I had to start over. Memorizing symbols for letters, I learned the pieces of the puzzle of language, the phonemes that make up words. I spent the next four years learning how to learn and finding strategies that allowed me to return to my district’s high school with the ability to communicate my ideas and express my intelligence.

It took me four weeks to teach myself to solve the cube—the same amount of time it took the inventor, Ernő Rubik. Now, I can easily solve the 3x3x3, and the 4x4x4, and the Professor’s Cube, the 5x5x5. I discovered that just before it solves, a problem can look like a mess, and then suddenly you can find the solution. I believe that progress comes in unexpected leaps.