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  Gary Blankenship is a retired federal manager who dabbles in poetry and publishing. He is CEO of Santiam Publishing, which once published the online journal, MindFire Renewed and its companion, FireWeed. Gary has been widely published on the web and in a variety of paper publications in the States and abroad. His day is divided between the cat, poetry forums, and chores. He has published a volume of poetry based on Wang Wei's River Wang poems in 2005, and his latest work and thoughts can be found on his blog.  

Spring 2007

Table of Contents - Vol. III, No. 1

Poetry    Essays    Fiction    Book Notes & Reviews


Gary Blankenship


Poetic States XXXVII – New Mexico

Trinity’s Hour

A new sun bloomed out of the desert
defying Sol to roast white powder
glazed like broken pottery in a kiln

The light separated from the dark
to illuminate playas turned to steam,
clouds the sudden color of hell,
gypsum dunes and salt flats

It shone on chaparral forest,
creatures that crawled,
burrowed and fell from the sky,
seeds and fish waiting spring,
beasts that hunted beasts
and those that hid from the hunters

It lit a sheepherder in his hogan,
Alamogorda, Carlsbad, old Santa Fe,
lovers eloping from Las Cruces,
jingle dancer waking in her pueblo,
truth and its consequences,
the blood of a Spanish Christ

Its flash found a vendor on Honshu,
pineapple farmer on Oahu,
ballet dancer in Stalingrad,
soldier dying in a Pacific jungle,
rabbinical student at the Wailing Wall,
man of independence

as time shifted to five minutes
before the last midnight


Poetic States XL – Colorado

Litter and Lice

Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice.
-- Colonel John Chivington, leader of the volunteers
who attacked the Cheyenne’s Sand Creek camp

the old women, neške'e,
toothless, barren, are dead

their gray hair lies in the campfires
like last year’s leaves lie beneath birch

the old women are dead

the young women, he'eo'o
brides, mothers, are dead

their scarred bodies lie in the teepees
like soiled rags in a trader’s wagon

the young women are dead

the children, ka'êškoneho,
babies, grandbabies, are dead

their broken bodies trampled under hoofs
like America’s flag in the Colorado mud

the children are dead

the old men, ma'hahkêseho,
elders, grandfathers, are dead

their blood floats in the creek
like sand in the stream’s floods

the old men are dead

the nits, the lice, hestaemo, are dead,
the red willow downed,
the rabbit skinned

justice, humanity, is dead,
Black Kettle’s peace, nanomonestôtse, is dead

the young men, hetaneo'o, are alive,
their horses driven hard to battle,
their knives revenged with blood

the young men ride to die


How the Web Can Support a Fib

In Wikipedia, various newspapers (including the New York Times), there is a fair amount of puffery that has been written about screenwriter Gregory K. Pincus’s supposed invention of the poetry form the Fibonacci, based on the mathematical progression 0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 – the sum of the two before being the last in the progression. The progression is common in nature in flowers, shells, and many other objects.

Giving Mr. Pincus his due, he admitted on “Collision Detection,” a blog of Clive Thompson, that he did not invent it but that he codified it “a little,” which makes me wonder why he was willing to take credit in so many places, such as the Wikipedia entry on the “Fib” where it states: “The fib is accepted by default to have been brought to public attention by Gregory K. Pincus on 1 April 2006.”

The facts are simple. Fibonacci as a poetry form has been used on the web since there has been a web. I was introduced to the form shortly after I first got on line in 2000. I published a version called “Nautilus” by Denis M. Garrison in Writer’s Hood in July 2002. In 2002 and 2003, I entered and ran contests that required the form and related numerics. A simple Google search might have found other “inventors” such as a claim published in the English poetry magazine Magma in the summer of 2002, about the same time I was publishing Garrison’s “Nautilus.”

Pincus might be applauded for publicizing the form, which I can not deny; but at any one time among the hundreds of poetry sites now on the web, it has been written and discussed, such as a progression started in September 2005 by poets at Wild Poetry Forum

The Fib train at Wild Poetry Forum was started by a poet with the screen name of Zephyr. I published an essay on the form under her real name, Gael Bage, in MindFire in January 2006.

As for Gregory Pincus naming the form a “Fib,” most poets are lazy and we have commonly called it that since I can remember, so he cannot take credit for that nomenclature either, let alone originating the form.

I do know a few poets who have genuinely invented a new form: Denis Garrison’s “Nautilus” and “Crystalline," John Carley’s “Zip,” Ray Stebbings’ “Tetractyses” and Allen Itz’s “Barku.”

There are probably a number of others I do not know about, acknowledged and unacknowledged. I like to think I might be responsible for one or two, and have been given credit for a variation of the Zip.

That any numerical progression might have been invented is always problematic. An Etheree, a form for the simple progression 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10, is said to come from Africa, but the etheree is also considered to have been invented twenty years ago by Arkansas poet Etheree Taylor Armstrong.

Hang around the poetry forums long enough and you will see such ancient forms as tanka and ghazal “discovered.” And if Lewis Turco ever redid his The Book of Forms (University Press of New England), after the web explosion in poetry, it might be 700 pages instead of 336. For other inventions of poetic forms, see Turco’s Forms and Finch and Varnes’ An Exaltation of Forms, University of Michigan Press.


© Gary Blankenship

Poetry    Essays    Fiction    Book Notes & Reviews


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