Windy, with mottled gray
and white clouds, and a muddy
yellow smudge for sun: as in
a fingerpainting—and a siskin’s
sharp-edged note to peel the first
layer of morning away from darker
dark. Here, too, I tense and quicken
toward what might haul and bear
me over from the depths. Up
from the underground cistern,
the bucket pitches and sways;
above, that patch of sky
and the wind’s wide hands,
writing and rewriting
what the day might be.
High winds stir the trees like surf.
The racket they make is counterpoint
to the quiet I want to make in my heart.
There, a dead branch crashes
every few minutes. But yes—
even there, birds forage: their small
hungers, twittering like blue
flames in the birches.
* * *
Luisa left these in the respective comment strings at the blog, a better place for archival purposes than Facebook, which can’t be trusted to preserve anything. She says, “I could do this all day long instead of the work that’s lying on my desk!” And I wish she would. Aren’t they terrific? (Click the first lines to see my original posts.)
As I commented over there, I am always hoping that other writers will remix my words like this — that’s why my Creative Commons licence is “share alike” rather than the more common “no derivatives.” Each time someone has done something like this, the results have been delightful, and my only regret is that it doesn’t happen more often. Perhaps I need to set a better example by making some remixes of my own from other writers with copyleft-licenced work.
I first talked about my change in philosophy about copyright in an August 2007 post, “Should poetry be open-source?” I probably should’ve said “open content,” but that’s O.K. I remain convinced that a copyleft licence is not only appropriate but necessary for literary culture to flourish at this point. Here’s one example of why I feel that way. At qarrtsiluni, we’ve been soliciting for submissions to a translation-themed issue for three weeks now, and have received relatively few actual translations so far. Two different poet-friends have told me that it’s just not worth the effort to try and track down the copyright holders for the 20th-century French poetry they’ve been translating. They don’t mind taking the risk of publishing such translations on their own blogs (I’ve done much the same with translations of Spanish-language poems here), but we can’t risk it at qarrtsiluni.
It shouldn’t have to be this way. Copyright laws all over the world should be amended to explicitly permit literary translations; U.S. “fair use” provisions should be instituted everywhere and expanded to cover certain other forms of remix; and heck, as long as I’m fantasizing, the international norm for copyright protection of author’s lifetime plus 70 years should be scrapped in favor of something more reasonable, such as lifetime-plus-25. But I don’t see this happening anytime soon, so I think it’s incumbent on us as authors to apply copyleft licenses to our work if we want to extend to others the freedoms we’d like for ourselves.