Sunday, August 27, 2017

Guest Post: Euphrates Moss

Welcome to Today's Guest Post!

I am excited to share a guest post by Euphrates Moss.  In case you missed it, I reviewed his book Telos and Other Psychographs several months ago.  If you are interested in what I thought, you can find that review here.

Today, Moss joins us to tell about his adventure as a writer.  I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on his essay, "From Nobody to Writer," in the comments below.

Just Who is this Euphrates Moss Character?

Euphrates Moss attended Bellevue College, Portland State University, and Seattle University. He currently holds a B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Seattle U. Don't hold it against him. He currently hosts a podcast that has absolutely nothing to do with his poetry under a different name.

From Nobody To Writer

I’m a die-hard English stylist. Well, to put it this way, if William Shakespeare and James Joyce are where the bar is set for stylists then I am absolutely going that direction. For those of you don’t know me, hi, I’m Euphrates Moss and I wrote and self-published a book called Telos and Other Psychographs. This is the story behind the making of the book.
            At age 21 I took a class on American literature in community college that changed the direction of my life. Like most kids up until that point I was shamefully unexposed and unaware of poetry. Sure, I’d read Shakespeare in high school, but it was gobbledegook to me at that point, but poetry was simply NOT part of the curriculum (which I find to be a shame). The American literature class did cover poetry from three American poets, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and T.S. Eliot. When I read what these folks had to say I was instantly smitten.
            What was this bravery I saw in Whitman? This economy of words with Dickinson? These multifarious references from Eliot? I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Never did I experience anything like that before.
            I had been writing for quite some time until that point, but I could neither copy the easy-going humor of Mark Twain nor copy the complex plotting of Charles Dickens. And it was copying I would’ve been doing if I were successful, but I wasn’t. I had a novel I was working on called A True Love– kinda like that sort of thing just doesn’t exist, and I was going for that classic. I thought if I’m dry enough but the English is good I can be Dickensian, maybe.
            The poetry threw all that garbage right out the window. I completely re-oriented myself and went through an epiphany of the Romantic sort. My instructors (there were two for this class, it was slightly idiosyncratic) told me that having a Romantic epiphany was not the same as an epiphany in the religious sense. A Romantic epiphany was any time the universe had made its mysterious workings apparent. At least that’s what I got from it. An epiphany could be you playing a real good game of basketball, making all the shots. An epiphany could be you trying some really delicious ice cream. An epiphany was really just a state of heightened realization. Suddenly I was a poet rather than a novelist.
            Since this was a different person than I’d ever met before I needed to be re-christened. I went through a few names before finally landing on Euphrates Moss. I had a nervous breakdown which is chronicled in the poem “Telos”, although I threw out any sort of chronological order in lieu of an emotional order. The chronology is actually perfect in the poem in terms of the feelings each division is meant to evoke. The final division for example is the absolute loss of hope in giving in to paranoia, anxiety, and near-limitless suggestability, that came before I hit the hospital.
            At the hospital I felt better thanks to the relative stasis of everything and the release of pressure to work (or what I was really doing, trying to find work that had meaning to me). I got released after 16 days during which I found the next step I needed to take on my poetic journey. I needed to put out a book, or at least print a book. I had been writing in my notebook consistently so I had no problem with material. $150 and months later, I received 50 copies of my first chapbook in the mail. “Success.”
            It was only a series of 24 four-line poems, not much at all. But it served what it needed. I was in. A couple of years later I hired an artist and went to Kinko’s Copies and printed my own little chapbooks, this time more legitimate and in a run of 100. The poems weren’t just 4-liners, they were poems and they looked a little bit more like something T.S. Eliot would write. And instead of 24 there were just 13 of them. I named it Pomes Fivedoloursadozen in reference to the price and as an homage to the more accomplished (and then recently discovered by me) James Joyce collection, Pomes Penyeach.
            All this time I had been working on a big poem. I was always very ambitious, but this was beyond anything I had ever tried before. At first it was just going to be another “Song Of Myself” like the famous poem by Walt Whitman. But it was getting out of control. I knew it would go absolutely nowhere if I just copied Walt Whitman so I took some elements from the novels I read both in and out of school and hit frappe. Soon it was called “The End”, like I would have a whole collection that was just this poem or even start a collection with this ironically. I always loved doing stuff like that.
            In 2012 or around there I secured a deal with a small publisher to put out a collection with them. It was just a verbal deal, but I’d send the MSS and they’d take care of the rest. Great! All this time “The End” was growing and growing, cannibalizing more and more of my other work. Eventually it transformed into “Telos.” I was taking too long on this project, though, and it was just too precarious at this point. I asked my publisher to put something out that would sort of warm the audience up for “Telos.”
            With her permission I wrapped up what I felt was the best of my first book, 24 Poems, and Pomes Fivedoloursadozen, and added a further section of excess poems. And that’s what went out. In retrospect it was NOT brilliant. I had wanted to make this thing that people might discover after the thing that hit it big and read it as a worthy prequel, or an artist finding his legs. In the end, I feel only 2 or 3 poems in it (out of 20 odd or so) are worth preserving even though it had been an attempt at preserving for posterity its own poems.
            After a spat involving bad behavior[1] that publisher and I went and parted ways. Don’t look for that book, either. She pulled it. I think my bad reputation would’ve hurt her brand… so she would say.
            So that was that. I was on my own, a ronin. I didn’t waste a second, though. I immediately sent MSS out to other publishers, but none bit. I kept working until one day I realized what had then become Telos and Other Psychographs was essentially complete and that further editing would only serve as window sheen. I turned out wrong about this, by the way!
            Nevertheless, I bought the book on publishing. I bought all the necessary books, and I read them, I started my own business, and I secured the finances needed. I was doing it! And about a year after I first sent in my application for business my books had arrived. Here it was: my first true expression with my own fully developed artistic voice.
            Now developing the artistic voice was something different altogether. When first writing the intimidation that comes from the wide open page may seem strangling, and it can be worse if you expect to produce good stuff immediately. But fear not, if you write and write and write and write and write you’ll figure out what it is you really want to write and then coming up with material will be a heck of a lot easier. Go ahead and explore the wide open space at first. You’ll eventually start cutting and the path will become clear.
            That’s really the only solid gold advice I can give to writers everywhere of every stripe: move that pen. Everything else is either really really amazingly difficult to articulate OR is just nuts and bolts. In terms of nuts and bolts, it’s nothing you wouldn’t think to do on your own. Make writing as easy as possible and make anything that distracts that writing as hard as possible. There really isn’t much more to it.
            I’d probably recommend being good with the English language, but if E.L. James is proof of anything it’s “English Not Required.” You can make it with your Yu-Gi-Oh!-meets-Good Charlotte fan-fic! By the way, confession time, I made my own Harry Potter fan-fic in 7th grade or so about him meeting a boy who could fly like Icarus- only I didn’t know the legend of Icarus at that point. I told my sister about it and she gave me this one-word review: lame.
            In terms of constructing the book, a lot of influences came into play. A lot! From F. Scott Fitzgerald’s approach to making This Side Of Paradise, to Frederich Nietzsche’s bounty of ideas in The Birth Of Tragedy, there is a lot of ground to cover. I wanted to do a number of different dialects of English the way Mark Twain did them, but I have been around nowhere near as many different kinds of people (I’m an introvert), so I had to make a very good number of them up. I let a great number of parodies and pastiches flow through my voice, too, in order to capture a wider range of expression. Non-sense like the famed poem “Jabberwocky” plus earlier non-lexical English made for fluidity with spelling and puns that made for more possibilities and interpretations.
            As you can probably tell at this point this wasn’t going to be Ernest Hemingway’s writing in the least. It would perhaps even annoy and irritate, especially those who hated English, as pops up in pockets of the United States and Ireland alike. The not-for-everybodyness of the book was starting to stand stark to me, but I had to continue. I grabbed every reference that I could possibly think of and teased new meaning out of it to fit the context in each case. Suddenly details about Orestes’ journey were now details about mine. I was reading The Mabinogion to try to put some of my ethnic Welshness into the mixture to no avail. I may be a quarter Welsh but nothing about Wales or Welshness speaks to me in any real way, though the lyrically musical accents are charming.
            Really, in composing the book (and calling it composing is deliberate) I was fashioning my tools. These, as many as they are, will probably be used for the rest of my writing life. And each move I do with them will be with purpose whether I refashion them, fiddle with them, use them in a different way, or even lay them down. Focusing in to so much as the specific word is of utmost importance since all poetry is is good words. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the words by themselves will be innately good, but that the words used around them accurately to dialect or accurately to grammar will lift into a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. I made the overture in “Telos” a dictionary exercise for this reason as well as an introduction to the characters as melodies that would appear in the piece.
            I cross-pollinated poetry with philosophy since philosophy often contains within it a tinge of the poetic at the very least and at most is straight poetry such as when you read Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra or the ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosophers. I even put a preface in the book, which I worked way too hard on, that espoused a new form of modernism known as inconsistentism. I thought I’d pretend to be coy in interviews after my making it and say, “Gee, it was not my purpose to create a movement.” Like, “Who, me? No!” You may call me pretentious at this point. I don’t know. That’s what they called Walt Whitman in the wake of Longfellow and when we look back on it Longfellow was way more pretentious, so….
            By now, it’s probably obvious who some of my influences are. I like to think of these as people who told me what to do and I actually listened. A few more include Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote a better woman than Shakespeare ever did with his Wife of Bath (I still have trouble writing good women), Charles Bukowski, who had a better sense of his character and who he was presenting to the world than anybody else, ever (making for a higher hit rate with his poems than most), W.B. Yeats, who created meaningful poetry under two different eras (the Romantic and the Modern)– I wish Dylan Thomas was W.B. Yeats because he’s of my known people, but alas, he felt he had to be universal rather than provincial and that’s what got him, Homer, who was a master of time with The Odyssey and wrote the manliest poem ever with The Iliad, a true Greek, Robert Frost, who was inspired throughout his life, and most of all Herman Melville, for Moby Dick of course, but also for Billy Budd, Melville is the first and best contender for The Great American Novel; his voice may not always have been consistent but nobody else could wrap their influences around a focused meditation on obsession and monomania (perhaps the most profound of human feelings) than he could.
            Anyways, enough of my blather. If you haven’t read any of Telos and Other Psychographs you may be wondering what it looks like. I can give you here five poems that are the annex to a second and corrected edition of the book that I made since catching a number of mistakes and poor versification in the first edition. The second edition is not out yet, but with some luck, some sales, and some funding, it may become a reality. I’d love to keep producing and making books throughout my life even though I frankly hate the business. So here, without further ado, is the annex to the second edition of my little book of poems.

Babel, Corrected

Sometimes you can see much better-
When observing things obscure,
To look upon them indirectly...
Than to watch them all the more.

Hanging Garden Flower
Ah! he is not a common man
Who turns to a flowerless tree.

Many leaves reside within her garden
Many leaves, indeed; many
Across the breeze the gray river
Golden Bridge, and lady’s laughing faces
Many leaves, many slender: many
All possessed of a smothered envy

Sweet but for the flower…
With its boisterous oranges, yellows, and indigos
The blossom standing neatly in the sun
Who would blame the keeper for a peak while on the run
A cricket lands gently upon his fishing line
Now, the blue moon watches soundly

Snow white-capped mountains shift restlessly behind
A glimpse will catch, most assuredly
The willows sing what the wind ordains
While the pond’s low notes support in harmony
Her fringes sway askance within the wind
A late afternoon nap tucked between the folds

The blue plums taste so good this evening
The color of your eyes tantalize- I am mesmerized!
What if the moon saw your face?
Knowing distance wide your beautiful name
The swirling eddies only enhance the aura at once
And once again once I saw you again once
Apricot boughs and ferns seem as nothing

The now-cloudy skies are ever wanting
I could sit here and think and want the more
I that was once so dandy and sprightly
An American prince out of monarchy
Lie jealous of the folds and forays
Of my lady’s Hanging Garden Flower


Wild Mantra Evening

I make verbal acrobatics concrete as schematics
Clutch your semi-automatic tonight
Snort horse with the Doors and Jim Morrison’s corpse
Is a portis you’ll be riding in flight

Your throat is smote every stroke till it’s grote
Every note is a dissonant theme
Then nymphs in charge with pupils so large
Barge in with cookies and cream

The pulchritudinous ever multitudinous
Now you’re being rude with us, please
Speak straight don’t placate aggravate
Crazy eight it with a bottomless tease

Make cheer this year with a queer kinda sneer
Get your beer you’re gonna need it now
Some huck butt fucked the car with a “shucks”
And got mucked with stuff from a cow

She was scalded by the pan
Sent back by attacks in from the deuce among the men
Scalded by the pan
She went down but she never came up

Some girlish churlish front-end with a furnished
Dervish curlicue on the attack
Like some methodone cyclone with a bone
To pick back home with a knack

Bamboozled by a floozy in damask that’s a doozy
You’re a boozie cousey rolling for mates
You’re drunk and debunked by a slowhand with a stump
Take the lumps that are now on your pate

She was scalded by the pan
Sent back by attacks in from the deuce among the men
Scalded by the pan
She went down but she never came up

Some harlequin harlot turned her face out real scarlot
Said, “Varlot, I’ve got swing and sass.”
I stepped into the spotlight not sure if I’m cockright
And spun my wheels with the gas
Where little Bopeep got it on with a creep
“What’s wrong, soldier, ain’t you doing fine?”
So I turned her loose like she’s tied to a fuse
Said, “Sorry, I ain’t your kind!”

Somnambulatory with a different kind of story
In the laboratory glory of me
Steel trap where that moose cap brain fapped
Gets slapped, is where I’d rather get free

Some shooter outside with a scooter on a slide
In the mood for suicide under glares
Has packed his junk in the left upper bunk
When he’s feeling sorta sunk he just stares

The jack of all trades backed an ace on my spade
With a lady he laid so I caved
His head spooled dead with a tool from the shed
Made his bed and then I said, “Close shave.”

That hit off the snowcone frost bit in the blowzone
Made me sit and then slow groan in bliss
That ship that has left slipstream real bereft
By a meaningful theft, it took the piss

She was scalded by the pan
Sent back by attacks in from the deuce among the men
Scalded by the pan
She went down but she never came up


A Response To The Imagists

Open condemnation   or     praise :
New-blown— fluff       off  a    Dandelion

Crisis Of Existence
Featuring a verse form shortened and simplified from Spenser’s The Faerie Queene

There are times I wish I could disappear
Completely when trouble with existence
Butts against for maximum resistance–
That is, trouble owning, operating
Chance relates myself to world t’would appear
Quite real-ly has me in its grasp for killing

The mitochondria within my cells
Has not sufficient power for my health
Nor my particles bear magnetic wealth
To keep together my own substance pure
Disintigration from within a shell
It seems such more than any could endure

From such a state I never could come back
Or so I worry, so I don’t let go
I keep to what I am and what I know.
To think I’m trapped within this mortal coil
It makes one feel a dread akin attack
Like some old Jew would snuff your burning oil

But here I lie awake within my bed
Or else submerged in water in a tub
Not to be determined by bitter rub
Of e’en so much as my foremost desire:
I dearly want to vacate any stead
In every pan I feel the flicking fire

I swear a storm, I shit a liquid spray
I feel my anxiety around folks,
Them bending out of shape all my wheel’s spokes
I’ve overdosed and soon I may yet die
I don’t know when to shut up when I may
Should now…? Right now? I…

[1] People who aren’t artists don’t understand the need for bad behavior in artists, but only non-artists exhibit this bewilderment at our behavior. Us artists can’t explain it to the rest of the populace. We would if we could.
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