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Record for a UF thesis. Title & abstract won't display until thesis is accessible after 2099-01-01.

DARK ITEM
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022233/00001

Material Information

Title: Record for a UF thesis. Title & abstract won't display until thesis is accessible after 2099-01-01.
Physical Description: Book
Language: english
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Creative Writing thesis, M.F.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Thesis: Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Greger, Debora.
Electronic Access: INACCESSIBLE UNTIL 2099-01-01

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0022233:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022233/00001

Material Information

Title: Record for a UF thesis. Title & abstract won't display until thesis is accessible after 2099-01-01.
Physical Description: Book
Language: english
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Creative Writing thesis, M.F.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Thesis: Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Greger, Debora.
Electronic Access: INACCESSIBLE UNTIL 2099-01-01

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0022233:00001


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1 LONG EXPOSURE By JOHN HART A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF FINE ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2008

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2 2008 John Hart

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3 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................................4 SECTION 1 THE CITY OF GOD................................................................................................................ 5My Vanity...................................................................................................................... ...........6The City of God........................................................................................................................7Before the Fall................................................................................................................ ..........8Judas of Chicago.......................................................................................................................9Growing Storm.......................................................................................................................10On a Bus.................................................................................................................................11Virgil in Paradise............................................................................................................. .......12Lecture from a Cockroach...................................................................................................... 13Capriccio at the Museum of Art............................................................................................. 14After Closing Time, a Great Blue Heron Walks through the Art Museum............................ 152 PARADISE ERASED............................................................................................................16Long Exposure........................................................................................................................17Another Summer Evening...................................................................................................... 18Easter Monday........................................................................................................................19Nude with Ferris Wheel......................................................................................................... .20Paradise Erased................................................................................................................ .......21Argument with Landscape......................................................................................................22Self-Portrait as Interior, Empty............................................................................................... 233 IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR ME....................................................................................... 24Ovid in Exile...........................................................................................................................25Their Dead..................................................................................................................... .........26Hard with Frost.......................................................................................................................27The Last Act...........................................................................................................................28Vinegar or Something like Vinegar........................................................................................29In the Gutter............................................................................................................................30Sebastian.................................................................................................................................31If You Are Looking for Me....................................................................................................32BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................33

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4 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts LONG EXPOSURE By John Hart May 2008 Chair: Debora Greger Major: English Reader, you will find the author in a motel outside of town, slouched in a faded green armchair, thumbing the Gideon Bible and, the TV muted, ignoring the w eather report about Floridas lascivious sunshine, ju st someone waiting for an affair on a Tuesday. In sheets others have touched, you will touch someone others ha ve touched, after he takes the phone off the hook. Later, the author will go on about the Foun tain of Youth while th e two of you watch out the window as retirees with Georgia license plates check in. Later still, youll step from the shower, clean as a baptized baby, and find him still abed. Youll smoke, waiting on him to hurry up, and then youll want to be taken to breakfa st, where you might look lovely, piddling with your eggs, while he goes on about The Waste Land in the deserted parking lot. Reader, lover, nobody, turn the page.

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5 SECTION 1 THE CITY OF GOD

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6 My Vanity To Randy Mann Is this how a book begins, in the landscape of language? Your paradise was the same as mine: the Spanish moss, the cypress knees, the broken palms, the sandy grime on my wet shoes. Its October. Its eighty de grees. I think of Kansas City, the dark coming on the grey at seven p.m., my driving you home after class in the cold. Let me turn back. Your old haunts are still here; at the University Club, I modeled once, the straight boy at the gay bar, stepping out to the hollering of men. Just another Narcissus, I discovered my vanity was a black-and-white-striped Speedo rolled up into a ball on the floor, as all the men peeked into the dressing room, where I stood naked and sweaty. Professor, I miss the cold, the whisper of dead leaves.

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7 The City of God St. Augustine, Florida It rained and the basilica gift shop was closed, leaving nothing for us to do but dip our fingers and wet our wet foreheads at the font. The wind had room to whistle a citys apologies for the fountain that didnt work. In a church basement, old women played bingo next to a sign that welc omed them to paradise.

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8 Before the Fall On the bar, dust lay in the dish of empty oyster-shells, on the m etal condom-dispenser in the mens room, dust, getting out of the rain. But on the deck, Adam shooed away the gulls and smoked a cigarette to spite the thunder. Sipping her drink, Eve wa s boring as Sunday. Looking down on a laundromat surrounded by golf carts, listless wash machines shaking sand from pockets, Adam dozed. Eve unbuttoned his shirt. Across the river, banne rs tugged at air like a dog chained to a tree. Night did not yet belong to mosquitoes. Useless clotheslines stitched their laundry across the bank, the blood-saturated miles beneath the livid sun all along, just a storm settling in. When he turned back to the water, fish had splashed the transparent dark to black. Waiting for Eve to finish her drink, he thought he heard someone walking the garden in the cool of the day. Eve buttoned her blouse. And a voice asked, Where are you? And the water chilled the wind.

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9 Judas of Chicago Painted glass, Chicago Art Institute Dust dried our mouths as we stood for centuries, gawking. In Chicago, youve been pulled from a dark basement and hung again, a spotlight burning through green bushes to your pink skin. Crowds circle you, secretive, dishonest, mute. You sweeten the vinegar air with your rot.

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10 Growing Storm After Pieter Brueghel the Elder Like rain clouds blasphemous of the land, which was just as rocky and unforgiving, a crowd of peasants had congregated small, distant, and faceless. They meandered in clusters, topping the skull of the hill, as if, before it rained, something significant were about to happen. On a ledge above the rest, women prayed. Women prayed and turned away, and crows prepared to scavenge. The wind as anonymous as a man lumbered under the sullen wood it helped to lift, under thunder that, from this far away, was just echo on canvas, barely discernable.

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11 On a Bus We didnt expect the bus, shuffling through town like a Thank You note. It m oved us and we were useless as someone who had done something thoughtful once. No one said a word; fluorescent lights hummed. A boy rocked next to his father. Rain. A legless man, thighs like fish with their heads lopped off, went to work. At the last stop, under the streetlamps, no black flowers bloomed. Headlig hts brightened the concrete for worms. We scattered, except the boy. His scrunched face was laughing, his hands smacking a puddle too thin even for goldfish.

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12 Virgil in Paradise Love of that land that was our common source moved me to tears; I gathered up the leaves and gave them back. He was already hoarse. The Inferno John Ciardi, translator Like a mans limp body, Florida spread out before us. I hated the palm trees that rose like fireworks. Stray pit-bulls stomped by, pissing on the trunks. Our leather soles searing on the sidewalks, we trudged along, my throat withering from the saltwater and some Cubans drunken cigar-smoke. A beach had passed us, and herds of naked souls, but we kept ourselves to ourse lves. Nights we roamed around, sandy, scorched, wrapped in July, past men digging themselves sandy beds for the night. Behind the industrial park, the sun set while love bugs fornicated on the window as though this were paradise. I tasted salt for days. Dante, I was a thousand species away, yet I could hardly speak.

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13 Lecture from a Cockroach What would be left of our tragedies if a literate insect were to present us his? Cioran The greasy yellow tile, the aged plumbing, a trough-length urinal, that sink I live here. When the anxious hinges squawk, men come, ignoring me in the dusty corner. But if I am still waiting to dry so I can climb out of the urinal, they try to pee me down the drain. Under the merciful boxes of toilet paper in the corner remain dead centipedes. I eat them. Then I eat the dust. In the P-trap, I close my eyes. Sometimes I dream for hours of what Ive read from the newspaper, in the stall: If nuclear war comes, only cockroaches will survive. I pray, though I have not faith.

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14 Capriccio at the Museum of Art From Monets Champ dAvoine To Herzogs Forest with Heron The edge of my oat field borders Florida. The roots of my oats, my poppies could wade in the brown-green slop of swamp, until an occasional inquisito r in a gray suit-coat orthronged in my corner, calling me the Monet a bouquet of students blocks my view. But, even then, I can hear Florida, sighing exhaustedly to itself the hsitation of mud, sifflement of distant birds, an alligator rserv rustling the reeds and cypress knees. In the jealous green, casting sparse shadows, what we have are errors, ye llow, cloudless rainstorms: Floridas rose hour cas ting lurid shadows on my French afternoon, in terrupting my poppies, the repose of my wingle ss horizon threatened by that bird. That great blue heron on its patient hunt.

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15 After Closing Time, a Great Blue H eron Walks through the Art Museum After Herzogs Forest with Heron Odd. I had to look closer. That woman smiled for her photo though the merciless sofa twisted her, like an alligator drowning something in a marsh. And that photo, taken at ten a.m. on Memorial Day: the aged couple, unaware of the lurking camera, overdressed this morning for the weeds arching over the tire ruts leading to the graveyard. Under glass, a dish blue as famine. If it was ever filled to its mouth with seed, it has since become translu cent, useless, and chubby. Outside, in the landscape six palms and gravel, a blue heron dried himself. I went unnoticed, though I croaked from the door.

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16 SECTION 2 PARADISE ERASED

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17 Long Exposure Julio Grinblatts Wedding/F Harn Museum, 2007 Its all wrong, what we thought we knew of waiting. They didnt wait. Inside a joke or a secret, a breath tickling someone elses ear in Grinblatts Wedding/F reveals an absence. But weve seen too much in those posed faces. Before the shutter turned, they moseyed along to the dance floor, men in grey or blue suits bragging about a very long carro t or a race horse that almost won. Centerpieces skated before the dawdling shudder of the lens, like the velvety view of blooms vagrant on a distant tree, the petrifying faces turned away from themselves too quickly for such slow film.

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18 Another Summer Evening So lets stand here, in th e peculiar glow of the porch light. Tonight can be full of indifference, a balmy sigh in the humidity, and we can start to think things over, which is usually the way things get lost. Like wasps we should have killed, a nostalgia that isnt ours stings. Next door, a couple slumps, inseparable from their evening, lollygagging all night on the porch as though theyd stood up too quickly and everything had turned black.

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19 Easter Monday Forty days sweaty and irritable, Love, and then you stumbled to the communion rail on Easter m orning the way you stumble to the bar or to bed. Your beige suit smelled of salt, pork, and gin. But Monday morning, back in the blue suit, you stare at the kitchen table, at the chess pieces forsaken two inches from the board, the two of us under the cloud of your cigarette. Whats left to confess? That you envy the pawn, lifted heavenward by my fingertips, brought rudely back to earth.

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20 Nude with Ferris Wheel You slept. Morning passed over the waves of your hair, lapped on the pillowcase, and I crawled back in bed, an orange in each han d, to find you sprawled like a centerfold. There we were, anonymous, orange peels and condom wrappers on the nightstand. Above the bed, a picture from Paris: the few people, faces too small for expressions, still in mid-spin on a Ferris wheel that cast its brazen roundel of light on the lake, the little waves trying to sweep all reflection away.

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21 Paradise Erased Wonder not, commenced the teacher and twenty hands turned twenty pages, sending up in modest gusts the desecrated scent of glossy paper: so it began, the ancient temptation of Eden, a snake hissing at the walls, the pile of bitten fingerna ils teetering on the edge of my desk, the chalky blackboard erasing paradise (scornful brakes as a car squealed in to the parking lot). For a week and a half, he had my attention the way a branch holds an apple: all good to me had been lost those nine afternoons I was falling in love with the devil.

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22 Argument with Landscape And, fidgeting in the dirt, waiting for a response to Do you m iss me, at all? you made your pale feet black while, around the corner in the drunken courtyard, the rest of the party laughed at pitiless intervals. In the side yard, where youd pulled me, the tops of the palms were lost in the dark. Spanish moss drooped like weathered confetti that might have been cheerful once; crickets stammered. The fragile body of the mosquito I swatted from my arm popped like a red balloon. How I loved you there, meagerly smoking the cigarette you had bummed, beside a solitary dumpster. As I turned away to rejoin the party, dank air quivered in my hands.

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23 Self-Portrait as Interior, Empty Under students papers, the tele phone bill, the subdued ashtray; under Self-P ortrait in a Convex Mirror, the coffee table is the anxious one, bored with the same unturned pages, the lines underlined: Perhaps an angel looks like everything we have forgotten. Piles of dishes cooling in soapy water, spilt cat food disappearing from the floor, cold coffee in the French press raising atolls of abandoned mo ld, the kitchen turns away. The day turns beige. The flickering fluorescent lights repeat themselves. Next to the relentless legs of the kitchen chair sits the loneliness of a cat, eager to have its smooth fur dirtied by the foul fingers of anyone.

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24 SECTION 3 IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR ME

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25 Ovid in Exile The cat whines in the kitchen at the daffodils dead since last weeks rain. Behind the bush out front, em pty whiskey bottles lie about, foreign and frail, mouths open to catch the last drops. The drain gagged with a dish rag, I sit in a bath and hear, through the apartment wall, the faint spring of a mattre ss and the sound of moaning. Yesterday was sunny, rich with a smell of hot dogs; I sat in the courtyard and th e anxious wind shushed me. I was almost someone I knew. Turn away from my poems, everyone, because Im about to mention my neighbors potted plants are dying. In the afternoon, on the porch, I sit, tormented by the humidity, watching azaleas wither. My cigar smoke lingers, lighter than air, stroking the white petals with the long fingers of sorrowful women. I have to quit smoking. Again. The flea-bitten cat who sl ept through the afternoon on the stoop, forbidden the apartment, was I, as was the man who fell ap art in the parking lot. Garbage blew from a dump ster; twilight glowed as if rain didnt want to come. Theyre not from here, the azaleas.

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26 Their Dead Memorial Day, 2007, Palatka, Florida I knew nothing of their dead, only the carnival docked on the St. Johns. Among the tipsy wheels and tented guessing games, boys won gaudy carnations for girls, while from a bench I watched toddlers riding a train going nowhere wave at young mothers who crowded along the fence like plastic bags on a windy day. I thought of my uncles standing beside a grave in black suits and sunglasses, an unlit cigarette hanging out of the priests mouth. Everyone had shivered through th e wind, back to their cars, leaving my grandfather under a tent. Like a settling sun, or a storm cloud, or a carnival dissolving, a family left the tombstone in the wake of the gravediggers.

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27 Hard with Frost The choir stall, the organ bench, and then the m etronome were stained with dawn, the church blue with empty light. The morning after the funeral, salt had been spread over the streets. Casseroles cooled in white di shes. In the kitchen, without a plate or a word, a widow sat, out of the way of her granddaughter who bounced a balloon through the living room and, in her first dress since Easter, practiced her curtsey. Next to the grave, wet grass had dampened the womens high heels. A family had stood frozen, hushed, tombstones waiting for flowers.

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28 The Last Act She lay on a table like an actress waiting for fam ily to show. The make-up artist painted her lips, while the flow er-print dress she had worn to her grandsons wedding hung beside her stiff body. Her last act: restful among the babys breath, violins whimpering in the background as old classmates in thei r black suits and dresses knelt and fiddled with black beads, the little crucifixes dangling in rows. After the rosary, the elderly reached for the walker s leaning against the wall. The funeral director turned off the light. At the far end of the beige room, my grandmother lay among the lilies and yellow roses, under the murky lamp. And I, stuffing my rosary back into my suit pocket, rushed outside Skradskis Funeral Home to light a cigarette, my tie hovering anxiously in the cool wind.

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29 Vinegar or Something like Vinegar For my sister I And I remember a face staring out the window. The rain had soaked the drying laundry again. Do you remember the shed behind the house? While you played with cousins on the porch, I hid. Mother said I would hurt myself but I knew enough to avoid broken glass, dropped nails, and not to provoke the wasps. I remember the smell of vinegar on Mothers hands one night when she touched my shoulder, my shame pretending to sleep, still as a heap of wet clothes. II At the bowling alley, Baby Brother was crying, Mother hollering, when the bartender, trying to watch the news, gave her a shot of whiskey to soak the babys sugar-tit in. And if we sat next to Dad to watch him bowl red and blue bowling shirts bumping into us, battered pins sounding like dinner plates shattering you sat, startled, on your uneasy hands. I could smell bourbon on the bowlers complaints. I knew nothing was whispered anymore, which is why I never told you how I would run down the empty hall lined with lockers, hide at the end of the lanes, and stand on a lonesome chair to watch the pins explode. I should have showed you how the machines picked up the fallen, standing them back in place, but I was busy practicing not to flinch when they were struck.

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30 In the Gutter Our old professors were waiting for us, but we waited for som e song on the car radio to finish before we stole a parking space in the pay lot down the street. Had I really been gone a year? A woman in a niqab passed us. I didnt remember women walking Kansas City like black ghosts, sweeping the sidewalk with their robes. Scotthe gawked. Theres nothin g natural anymore, he said. Before we made it to the restaurant, before the napkins were undone, the ashtrays full, the table crowded with empty martini glasses, he posed like a statue, trying not to stare at my cigarette, which the rain had extinguished, and at me, wet, shivering, lost leaf slipping clumsily down the street.

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31 Sebastian Som etimes you would lock yourself in the unisex bathroom of the mall. In leather, before the mirror, you were a man of a Pyrrha stone, you were Kinrods Sebastian absolutely Clairol. I saw you standing there, Sebastian. I caught your smile, your mouth a piranhas.

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32 If You Are Looking for Me Reader, Im in the motel outside of town, slouched in the faded green armchair, thumbing the Gideon Bible, and, the TV muted, ignoring the weather report about Floridas lascivious sunshine, just someone waiting for an affair on a Tuesday. In the sheets others have touched, you will touch someone others have touched, after I take the phone off the hook. Later, I could go on about the Fountain of Youth while we watch out the window as retirees with Georgia license plates check in. Tomorrow morning, youll step from the shower, clean as a baptized baby, and find me still abed. Youll smoke, waiting on me to check out, and then youll want to be taken to breakfast, where you might look lovely, piddling with your eggs, while I go on about The Waste Land in the deserted parking lot. Reader, my lover, my nobody, turn the page.

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33 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH John Hart was born and raised in Kansas Cit y, K ansas. He received his bachelors degree at UMKC. He received his MFA at the University of Florida.