Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"Mr. Gioia, Tear Down This Wall"

WASHINGTON, DC — One of America's most beloved landmarks, the Washington Monument, became all the more stirring and innovative Monday with the addition of New American poet John Ashbery.

Ashbery, 79, winner of countless literary awards and perpetual possible nominee for a Nobel Prize, was bolted to the pinnacle of the 555-foot monument and affixed with display spotlights for night viewing. He will remain there permanently, on 24-hour display.

"Ashbery has shown himself to be a pillar of strength and courage who brings out the critic in us all," said Harold Bloom, distinguised professor emeritus at Yale. "He was an inspired swerve away from the intentions of this already impressively virile monument. Once the idea was presented, nothing could stop us: not logistical problems, not budget constraints, not even the teary objections of Mr. Ashbery."

The Harvard graduate and beloved NY School poet and his trusted servent Jeffrey were hoisted up the side of the towering obelisk by a tractor-powered cable pulley. Ashbery was then welded to the pinnacle, facing east toward the Capitol, and bolted in place with iron slugs made from the same cage used to hold Ezra Pound after World War II.

A bronze plaque at the foot of the monument describes Ashbery's history and dimensions. It reads: "We elevate you to the heavens, so that future generations may know of your courage and your almost total appropriation by all contemporary poetry camps. We thought we could put all of this down, that would be one way. And next the thought came to us that to leave you out in the open would be another, and truer, way."

A crowd of almost 100,000 people, including many of Ashbery's countless imitators, gathered to watch the heartstrings-tugging installation. "It was so beautiful," said Tony Tost, author of the vaguely Ashbery-esque Invisible Bride. "As the final welders were blasting away, the sparks were flying everywhere, and then they set off those fireworks. I honestly cried."

"I brought the kids here to try and teach them about the courage and fortitude Washington showed at Valley Forge," said Chris Vitiello, a father of two from Durham, NC. "Now, with John Ashbery up there, the whole scene just speaks -- very coyly -- for itself."

Vitiello added : "I wish I had the courage to be indeterminate like that."

"You can fly... you belong in the sky...," sang celebrity blogger Ron Silliman, in a musical prelude to the formal dedication and attachment ceremony. "Once upon a time, my dear near-contemporary John flew into my own geneaology with the Tennis Court Oath, soaring above the quietest peaks. Though today he's wearing several hundred pounds of wine-paunchiness instead of his old experimental tights, from the top of this monument he shall forever soar."

Though Ashbery was unable to speak at the commemoration due to an intense fear of heights, no one was more moved by the ceremony than the poet himself. "Please let me down," the visibly touched literary lion said to reporters. "I'm cold, and I miss my apartment."

Upon Asbhery's natural death, he will be removed from the monument long enough to be encased in acrylic plastic, then reattached.

Ashbery's installation, planners say, will give him a new ability to touch and influence poets 24 hours a day as a public fixture, rain, snow or shine. "Ashbery touched us all with his heartfelt rewriting of the Romantic and Modernist traditions," Silliman said. "As it is, the School of Quietude have had to cripple their own poets to gain a comparable amount of emotional impact."

Pulitzer Prize winning poet Charles Wright's spine was shattered by Dana Gioia in August, gaining him many standing ovations at AWPs since.

This is not the first time a poetic notable has been added to a Washington, DC, attraction. Robert Creeley spent the last few months of his life in the Sillimanian Institute's Wax Museum of Artistic Innovation, in a glass case between Marlon Brando's jacket from The Wild One and the original lineup of Pere Ubu. Robin Blaser now occupies the case.

In light of the project's success, The U.S. Department of Parks and Services is considering similar additions to its attractions. Plans are already being drafted to have Bruce Andrews bolted to the Lincoln Memorial.
Currently in the midst of my bi-monthly utter exasperation at Silliman. Today's post, which is a kind of bizarre plug for Ashbery for a National Medal of the Arts (what's next, a plug for Robert Grenier to get a People's Choice Award?), where he lists the previous poets who've won the award:

Silliman's quote:

Anthony Hecht, 2004
Maya Angelou, 2000
Gwendolyn Brooks, 1995
Richard Wilbur, 1994
Stanley Kunitz, 1993
Robert Penn Warren, 1987

Need I say just how pathetic that list is? Gwendolyn Brooks and the Five Dwarves represents the whole of poetry over, say, the last half century? It’s high time we rectify this nonsense.
Even I'm not a big enough of an asshole to refer to Wilbur, Kunitz, even Angelou as "the Five Dwarves." And calling Penn Warren a dwarf in my presence could possibly get you punched.

Anyway, dropped Silliman a comment just to let him know that while I in general dig his poems, I don't think he's ever done anything as good as Penn Warren's Audubon: a Vision.

His response:

Warren's Audubon always struck me as a pale copy of Crane's The Bridge, an anti-modernist's attempt to reconcile with modernism. Crane does it far better.

Hecht & Wilbur may be tremendous practitioners, but of a tradition that was rendered obsolete by Wordsworth, Blake & Coleridge. It's the equivalent of sidewalk chalk artists who can do perfect copies of the Mona Lisa. Within that framework, yes, they are not bad. But.....

Again, I'm just amazed at how his framing of literary history is exactly the same as the way I've heard a Miller Williams or Dave Smith frame literary history: exact same positing of a genealogy leading up to the inevitable presence of their own aesthetic, a genealogy that shrugs aside any other genealogies as so much detritus.

I was writing up a response, but it got lengthy, so I just thought I'd put it here instead:

Eh. If it takes The Bridge to wash Audubon away for a non-fan, that still says something.


I guess it depends on what degree you want to pursue an evolutionary or developmental type of narrative to poetic history, if the innovations of one period render variations upon other periods extinct or obsolete. (Or that periods or aesthetic approaches are Eliotic, impermeable closed-circles.)

If I were to adopt a narrative like that, I'd say it's less pure than some kind of series of poetic apocalypses wiping out previous values -- something of value and interest remains even as paradigms shift.

There's this great essay by Robert Kaufman, Negatively Capable Dialectics from a few years ago in Critical Inquiry, I think, that presents a different, more dialectical narrative that I'm pretty enamored with at this moment -- he looks at Shelley and Keats as a sort of pre-history of Burger's split between a modernist approach, that maintains a separation between art and life, and an avant-garde approach, that seeks to dissolve such a separation; he reads Adorno as primarily modernist in his leanings, Benjamin as avant-gardist. Similarly, Keats, with his emphasis on loading every line with ore, as modernist, while the more directly political Shelley as avant-gardist. But then he also reads Keats' building up of form, through Adorno and (of all people) Vendler, and his dissolution of an Egotistical Sublime self as a complimentary approach to Shelley's project, as they both attempt to enact critical (and not passive) thought.

The sort of narrative this approach hints at seems richer and truer to my experience of poetry than a series of innovative generations (now the Romantics, now the Modernists, now the New Americans, now the Language Poets [with a wink at a 'transitional generation'], etc) rendering previous aesthetics as obsolete, which seems to hop right into Harold Bloom's oedipal briar patch of 'strong poets' wrestling and gulping each other up and crapping out a new heroic generation to play it all out again; and the continuous replays of this a-historical eternal recurrence comes to stand in as 'poetic history,' you just have to plug in the names that grant for you the most privilege.

The Kaufman approach also seems more useful than the obsoleteness one, as your obsoleteness narrative seems like the same kind of structure that a Dana Gioia or John Barr would perpetuate (one major tradition with heroic figures begetting one another, a tradition that has the only truly authentic roots in the ancient giants) and just switching the names -- the names are now Oppen, Stein, Language instead of Bishop, Jarrell, Kenyon Review, but the basic structure seems very similar and gets just as oppressive and predictable. Gioia or Barr would frame their story of heroes passing amongst themselves the true forms and abilities to refine their materials, the obsoleteness narrative frames a story of heroes passing amongst themselves the ability to innovate/evolve their way out from their contemporary situation and into the aesthetic future.

Instead of the kind of baton-passing of a Frost to a Bishop to a Berryman and so on, it's a baton-passing from a Pound to a Zukofsky, etc. The batons (McGuffins) look different, the names (actors) are different, but it's the same movie.

I should add that the happy ending of such a movie is the mere presence/emergence/close-up of the narrator.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I've had my head so far up the butt of academia that I, until right now, while procrastinating on writing about direct and indirect aesthetic discourse in Pound and A Thousand Plateaus, hadn't read Kate Greenstreet's two killer interviews w/ Matt and Katy Henriksen. Reading the interviews made me unbearably nostalgic for Arkansas, as I recall the days before Matt & Katy's coupledom when Matt was the weirdly endearing confrontational guy at the parties who had a killer pool game, and Katy was someone who would occasionally be in the vicinity when like me and Mark Cherry would try to heckle our dear friend Sean Chapman's band after doing tequila shots, and then we'd end up pretend fighting each other, then sort of fighting, and I'd throw Emoke on a table and Mark would push me over one and I'd get dragged out of the bar in a headlock by the bouncer while Sean improvised lyrics to my situation. Either that or Katy'd be really good friends with someone who'd throw a party and I'd fall down and bust their priceless stained glass something-or-other. Seeing the pictures also reminds me of the party where Matt let a drunk girl (was it a drunk Emoke? Annaliese? Ampezzan?) cut his hair and I gave away all of the clothes I'd gotten too fat for, including the jacket in his handsome picture above.

Meanwhile, this is where my head is at at the moment, even if my heart is elsewhere:

If, as Bob Perelman suggests in The Trouble With Genius, the prototypical Poundian cultural hero “changes society without touching it" via his or her manipulation and mastery of aesthetic materials – whether it be Gaudier-Brzeska in sculpture, or George Antheil in music, or himself in poetry – then a Deleuzian-Guattarian conception of experience, where “order-word assemblages” and other intermingling bodies do not directly communicate or convey information but rather reify social orders through indirect discourse, will illuminate even as it disrupts the very ground that a Poundian hero assumes. This paper will read Pound’s essay “Machine Art,” written while in exile in Italy in the late 1920s and only fairly recently collected in conjunction with Deleuze and Guattari’s “November 20, 1923: Postulates of Linguistics” in A Thousand Plateaus. Additionally, a specific episode from Siegfried Kracauer’s The Salaried Masses: Duty and Distraction in Weimar Germany, first published in 1930, will be introduced as a counter-Poundian example of indirect cultural discourse from the same period.


One other note: I'll begin work on the next Fascicle (layout, editing, ship-shaping, etc) next week. I'm hoping to get it out in early January.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving. Wonderful one night stand in DC, which I wish I had the energy to recap. Maybe tomorrow? For now, I've been on an insane Pogues kick.

The Pogues w/ the Dubliners, "The Irish Rover"

The Pogues w/ Kirsty MacColl, "Fairytale of New York"

The Pogues, "If I Should Fall From Grace w/ God"

The Pogues, "Body of an American" (live on SNL)

The Pogues, "The Sick Bed of Cuchulain"

The Pogues, "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda"

The Pogues, "If I Should Fall From Grace With God"

Nick Cave, "The Ship Song"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

While reading around some things, came across Pound's description of Lenin, where he says basically that the man has never written a sentence that is of interest in and of itself, but that he is still of use and interest to the serious writer because he invents a new genre of writing that is located somewhere between action and writing. I really like this notion, or at least this type of formulation. Most cross-hybrid writing I find very boring, often because it is so sterile by being so comfortably writing (I know, could I be more vague or generalizing). But the notion of a writing that is a hybrid of writing and some other mode of behavior or being, that opens up for me a way of discussing say Stein or Zukofsky that I might not have before, both being I think instances of a writing that is located somewhere between writing and immediate perception.

Monday, November 06, 2006

New song is out from the anonymous folk collective called Araki Yasusada. I uploaded it here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My World Jelly was a warm review here.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Congrats to the St. Louis Cardinals.

I seriously didn't think they had a chance against the Padres, the Mets or the Tigers. I was rooting for the Pads to win it this year, but switched over when the Cards spanked them. Who knew Chris Carpenter would don Jeff Weaver, Jeff Suppan and Anthony Reyes outfits and pitch like a champ for about 12 straight games?

I also now have a love-hate relationship with Yadier Molina -- I love watching him catch and throw, am amused to watch him hit, and I hate looking at his creepy yet loveable face.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I hate charts, graphs and (generally) theory. Maybe not even in and of themselves, but how they make poets look when they use them. Like how I don't see anything intrinsically wrong with sunglasses, just generally disapprove the qualitative leap that occurs the second they are added to the mass of flesh we call "a face". A sneer sneaks in.

I wear my sunglasses at night: the night in which all cows are black.

But I have a new theory regarding myself, and wonder if it's true for others. It regards influence. I can say Charles Olson and Gertrude Stein are huge influences on me but my writing resembles theirs not at all. So am I just dressing myself up in a tradition that I don't actualize in my writing? Is it wishful thinking?

Maybe some kind of horizontal-vertical chart would be of use. Saying, that at least two different things can be pointed at when the word "influence" comes up. Olson has his topos, typos, tropos triptych. It's sort of late and I'm feeling gregariously indifferent, so I'm not going to double check which is which right now. But I'm pretty sure the two I want to talk about are topos and tropos; topos being the location or area of where the work is occurring: where one is getting the energy from and to where one is trying to transfer it, maybe. And tropos is the poet's work on the material/language itself, how it (the poeting) fashions it.

Soooooo. This sort of thing. Olson and Stein are influences mainly on the level of topos, which also undergirds the presuppositions I bring to tropos, though I suspect tropos is much more dependent on whatever ontology(s) I am operating under (easily could be more than one: probably has to be: an ontology or sense of being that I am conscious of and consciously work within, and the spooky one that is fastened to that one, maybe a sub- and also unconscious one [sound or emotion clusters that I am not aware I spin towards, even when I am consciously trying to summon a particular emotion, etc]).

What I'm basically trying to get at is my small epiphany that what I take to be influencing my own particular notion of tropos is a circulation of a handful of writers whom have been a circulation for years: Rimbaud, Artaud, Dickinson, Frank Stanford, Nijinksy, Nietzsche, early Ashbery, the prose-poem Rosemarie Waldrop, Blake. Ronald Johnson has been added in the last couple years. Cesaire this year.

This sort of collection of writers, all of whom are the most vibrant examples I can think of of writers who are alive, who make me feel pregnant and drunk with possibility--this collection stays fairly stable. Recently, shades of critical/theoretical writing has entered into my 1001 Sentences project, but that tendency was there in a few pieces in Invisible Bride (the piece about playgrounds, for example). But this sort of tone-writing does mostly the work of background -- it's the landscape on which the alive figures (sentences that attempt to bear the blood of the above writers) are juxtaposed and operate.

I find that Ph.D. work is opening up my notion of topos fairly intensely; what spheres of being and knowledge I can consciously try to set my writing as being relevant with. Am a little bit apeshit over Hegel right now. Also, fairly cold towards Deleuze. Just to keep you updated.

But however my notions of topos alter and expand, I find myself registering these notions through that fairly consistent circulation/collection above. Right now I find this very satisfactory, but that satisfaction never lasts--like Alfred North Whitehead says, each actual event's satisfaction is also its vanishing, and therefore also the precondition of the becoming of the actual event(s) that follow. So the question is of prehension and abstraction -- what will I abstract from this current satisfaction? Hopefully at least a few sentences.

Friday, October 20, 2006

In honor of one of my favorite playoff games in a while (Chavez's catch, Suppan's grit, Molina's bomb, etc), here's some nostalgia tracks.

Dinosaur Jr, Get Me

Breeders, Divine Hammer

Buffalo Tom, Sodajerk

Sebadoh, Skull

Chavez, Unreal is Here

Smashing Pumpkins, Today

Veruca Salt, Seether

Pavement, Range Life

Smashing Pumpkins, 1979

Smashing Pumpkins, Rhinoceros

Lemonheads, My Drug Buddy

Sugar, Gee Angel

Silkworm, Wet Firecracker

Soul Asylum, Somebody to Shove

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Profundity of Baseball

1st, Magglio Ordonez's series clinching walk-off homerun, as seen on TV.

2nd, the view of that some homerun from a fan in the left field bleachers. This one brings tears to my eyes, and I'm not even a Tigers fan.

Bonus points if you click "play" on the first one, wait a beat and a half to two beats, and then click "play" on the second for the goose bumps of simultaneity.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Day 1 of a mini-conference here at Duke. Fredric Jameson has brought in a group of young-ish Russian Marxist intellectuals who operate under the heading What Is To Be Done?

Here are some notes:

Jameson, in his intro, says: 15 years ago in Soviet Union, mention of Marx would bring laughter, pity or anger; but now, there is a development of intellectual interest in Marx.

The second speaker of the day, Dmitry Gutov, from Moscow: well-known video & installation artist; co-founder of Lifshitz Institute.

Mikhail Lifshitz

Gutov will try to give a presentation that is an illustration; of course, only an artist, but a character on the borderline of art & philosophy: doesn’t see self as philosopher in any way; remembering when he says this a quote from Hegel’s notebook, for a philosopher a notion is as close as a cow for a peasant; so, for him, world of video camera and paint is much closer; but the world of notions bears a great attraction, but in an amateurish way; his activities are 50/50 as an artist; travel over the world and take part in biennials; other hand, one of the organizers of the institute, which is what he wants to talk about; start by illustrating what Jameson said in preface about relationship to Marxism in late 80s-early 90s; in the late 80s, marked the outset of anti-communist hysteria in Soviet Union; suddenly, turned out that the teachers of dialectics were great fans of Nietzsche; as soon as they could express their deep hatred towards Marxism, they did so with indescribable intensity; at the same time, a number of artists decided to re-read Marx and reconsider Soviet Marxism; when reassessed texts, suddenly realized they were deeper and more interesting than realized when younger; one could compare it to being bludgeoned by heavy instrument, and when they stop hitting you over the head, you can look at that instrument; maybe it was a rusty pipe, or maybe a beautiful sculpture from antiquity; in the late 80s, they started to re-read classical 30s Marxist texts; detour: a week ago he was in London talking to Stanley Mitchell, who is very familiar with Russian Marxism and Lifshitz in particular: asked if any perspective for this thinker in an English speaking context: his answer, these texts could be divided in three equal parts: first, are the ones that make your hair stand on end; about 20th century art & modernism where the project of modernism in a very strong way, starting with Picasso and ending with Warhol; S. Mitchell said you can’t translate these, in any way: and Mitchell loves Lifshitz; the third part are texts on theory, absolute truth, knowledge, etc; these texts sound like Hasidic mysticism even farther out than Gershom Scholem, no one will understand them; Mitchell's argument seems to be a precise characterization of Lifshitz’s life work;

How he discovered his texts; his entire generation all new Lifshitz, commonplace; because he was the author of the most scandalous book on 20th century art, the Crisis of Ugliness; but since this was the only book available of pics of Warhol, etc, everyone had it: everyone hated the author; stood as a symbol of reactionary element in soviet culture; so when they stopped hitting them over the head with the book, saw how subtle their language was, etc; in 70s, no tradition of criticizing Frankfurt, Lukacs, etc, they just weren’t mentioned; but it turned out, though these names aren’t mentioned in the book, there is a polemic with these people: if you’d read Benjamin or Adorno, you could see that it was a polemic against them from inside Soviet Marxism; this discrepancy wanted them to find out more: what was this guy’s program?: this group of people consisted of contemporary artists in performance, video, etc:

Lifshitz’s biography: why was this old man so against modernism & modernity?: in the late 80s, anyone who read Marxist lit was looked at as a hopeless idiot; a certain advantage in that people would gather around you and point and say look at this idiot; an opportunity to present their views because they were considered so idiotic; Lifshitz had thought Marx has developed a doctrine of absolute truth; the word “Truth” can be found on every page of Lifshitz; so if you’re looking for texts against po-mo and relativism, there’s no better place than Lifshitz; one could imagine how these sounded when the first po-mo texts were circulating and everything was relative

Lifshitz’s bio: born in 1905: dreamed of being an artist from early childhood onward; in 1919, first laid hands on Lenin’s book: interested in philosophy; but since he wanted to be an artist, he moved to Moscow and enrolled in the soviet Bauhaus; began profession activity at the very height of the avant-garde, enrolled in 1922; Lenin had suggested starting a journal called the Materialist Friends of Hegel’s Philosophy: Lifshitz was the only one who took this suggestion seriously; learned German to read Hegel in original language; after about 2 years of reading Schilling, Hegel, Marx, etc, came to conclusion he was being taught nonsense; have to agree, the thought of teaching a-g art is ridiculous at the outset; the idea of avant-garde is to reject your teachers; Lifshitz took this to heart by rejecting his av-garde teachers; decided one had to return to aesthetic ideals presented by Hegel and Marx; told that there is no Marxist art, Marx wasn’t interested in aesthetics; Lifshitz, to prove these people wrong, decided to go thru Marx’s work to find anything having to do with art at all; in 1933, he published the results in Marx & Engels on Lit and Art; Lifshitz was cut out of later versions/translations, his intro taken out, etc: less subtle; Lifshitz began to write his own first critical work, on the Aesthetic Ideals of Marx; published in English;

Thrown out of academy as far right deviation of Marx; then, as situation changed, he became listened to again; Lifshitz called this the transition from the abstract Marxism of the 20s to the stupid Marxism of the 30s; by abstract, Lifshitz thinking of Hegel’s Who Thinks Abstractly?, where the vendor of rotten eggs is the man who thinks abstractly; so, abstract was a serious by accusation; in the 30s, Lifshitz and his friends founded a small Marxist circle: published a journal called The Literary Critic; only two people from circle gained recognition: Lukacs (& one of Lifshitz’s friends), and also Andrei Platonov; Stalin hated Platonov; the LitCrit would allow Platonov to publish under pseudonym, and would defend him; one of their central notions was that of realism, but weren’t thinking of 19th century realism; for L, the high point of realism was Russian icon painting, also, African sculpture was realist; one of his favorite quotes, from a letter from Marx: “Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form”; realism has always existed, but not always in a realistic form; by the late 30s, the circle had been smashed, members were sent off, drafted, journal closed; Lifshitz drafted, went to the front, was wounded; in the 50s, and Lifshitz had returned from the war, no one knew him, everyone was gone, nowhere to publish; also, anti-semitism pushed him out of public life; then: university translation of Lukac’s The Young Hegel, had trouble with one term, wrote to Lukacs for explanation: Lukacs answered, why ask me if Lifshitz lives in Moscow; the philosophers trained in the 50s didn’t know Lifshitz existed; by the time of the Kruschev thaw, L hadn’t published in 18 years; L published an article in The New World that was very critical of Stalinist lit; still one of the most brutal pieces of criticism on Stalinist intelligentsia; he was thrown out of the party for this article, kept from publishing for another 10 years; 12 years later, published a small article “Why I Am No Modernist”; after this, became notorious as the most obscure and most orthodox representative; in 68, The Crisis of Ugliness appeared, which made his reputation as a reactionary forever; after 68, Prague Spring, the entire soviet intelligentsia was anti-Marxist; each article that mentioned Marx on every page were considered to be examples of orthodoxy;

A figure they became interested in; started propogating his work when the Soviet Union was falling apart; this time had an incredible advantage: you could do anything as an artist (they were doing research) and it could be called art: you could open a cafĂ© and be considered an artist if you called yourself one; in the early 90s, the most radical artistic trends was Moscow Actionism: art that didn’t produce artifacts: provocative actions in public spaces: writing a crude word in Red Square with human bodies; lasted from 91 to 97; now just a few people left who do this, but degenerated to a kind of salon; Lifshitz Institute activities were understood in this vein; continued through the 90s til 2000/2001, when the situation changed radically; in 2001, former Actionists became traditional gallery artists who were making almost national art (more or less); the younger generation came up who didn’t grow up in Soviet Union, didn’t know of earlier context; looked up to the Actionists as the most radical artists, when he threw down radical banner, they picked it up (most were around 16 years of age); in the early oughts, the Lifshitz Institute looked conservative and uninteresting;

Lifshitz: “Art is the strongest critical weapon because it criticizes the wrong relationship of consciousness to the world”; the only thing that can have any meaning is the right relationship of consciousness to the world
Quoted from Anti-Oedipus

A poorly closed triangle,
a porous or seeping triangle,
an exploded triangle

from which the flows of desire
escape in the direction of other territories.

It is strange that we
had to wait for the dreams
of colonized peoples
in order to see that, on the vertices
of the pseudo triangle,

mommy was dancing
with the missionary,

daddy was being
fucked by the tax collector,

while the self was
being beaten
by a white man.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Poetry burnout? I caught the second set of the Poetry Bus reading last Friday night, was decidedly underwhelmed. Didn't want to be, but was. It could've been road weariness for the readers, who knows. I did think Mark McMorris was stunning. So not complete poetry burnout. And I've been listening to Ted Berrigan read "Red Shift" somewhat obsessively. But haven't turned excitedly towards poetry in a while, except for Frank Stanford. Big exciting reading projects, aside from Stanford: Benjamin's The Arcades Project.
Almost nothing that I'm writing, or planning/researching to write, resembles poetry. Interesting times in my head these days. I'm continually sketching out the plans for a long novel-ish prose narrative manuscript and a manuscript of essays on figures by which consciousness can recognize itself (as a reflection/projection). The narrative: in the Ozarks. The figures for the essays: St. Longinus, Wordsworth's The Leech-Gatherer, Antigone and Aby Warburg, the Black Orpheus, and 'The Rider' (in Roethke, Creeley, Manguso, among others).


When Olson says that he thinks Keats' puts forward 'the inch of steel to wreck Hegel' with his notion of negative capability, what do you take that to mean? I am supposing that it has to do with Olson arguing for the notions of immediacy that his poetics rely upon, that the mystery-of-being (not the same as the unknown) at the heart of negative capability is what, for Olson, wrecks a Hegelian dialectic. I'm supposing a Whiteheadean sense of novelty could also be employed in the defense. I know Olson goes at length on this somewhere in the Special View of History, but need to re-visit. I'm thinking of writing on this for my Hegel course.
I'm almost certain whatever my dissertation ends up being, Olson will be at the heart of it. Olson and Stein are for me the two great literary thinkers, but so much more of what I'm drawn to in other disciplines (cultural history/myth-history; process philosophy; phenomenology) clings to Olson more readily it seems than to Stein. But I think part of that is that I feel that Stein is over my head much more often than Olson--his brilliance for me is much less intellectual than intuitive and rigorous. And once you get past the apparent compulsive jackassery of the man, I find he's far from being just a big cock swaying in the breeze, sideswiping all pretenders. But he's easy to caricature, I guess, so equally easy to dismiss. I think his "Human Universe" essay might be may favorite handful of pages ever. If you love the poetry of someone like Ronald Johnson, I think "Human Universe" can speak very movingly to that love.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Today my mom is 50. Happy birthday to the person who shuttled me into the world.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Today, Leigh is 30!
Happy Birthday to the one who makes life a happy thing!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


featuring Carrboro Poet Laureat Todd Sandvik and Lucipo guru Ken Rumble

Monday, October 02, 2006

Playoffs predictions:


Padres over Cardinals in 4.
Mets over Dodgers in 5.

Yankees over Tigers in 3.
A's over Twins in 5.

League Championship

Padres over Mets in 6.
A's over Yankees in 7.

World Series

Padres over A's in 7.

Playoff heroes:

Jake Peavey/Khalil Greene (fully healthy by end up Cardinals series)
Frank Thomas/Rich Harden
Jose Valentin/Carlos Beltran
Derek Jeter/Hideki Matsui

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Superchunk, "Precision Auto"

Elvis Presley, "Always on My Mind"

Pet Shop Boys, "Always on My Mind"

Squeeze, "Is That Love?"

World Party, "Ship of Fools"

REM, "Wolves, Lower"

REM, "Nightswimming" (Live)

Rockpile, "Teacher Teacher" (on American Bandstand) (!) (Nick Lowe & Dave Edmunds)

Elvis Costello & the Attractions, "Lipstick Vogue" (Live)

Johnny Cash, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (excerpt)
The Mariners, obviously, will not be making the playoffs this year. So who will I be rooting for?

Team #1: The Padres. When healthy, a superbly arranged collection of role players: Khalil Greene, slick fielding shortstop, hitter with considerable pop (tho Petco masks his true ability); Josh Barfield, young second baseman, strong D, also with pop; Mike Cameron, one of my favorite players ever, great range in center, takes a walk, plenty of power; Dave Roberts, prototypical leadoff man, good range in left field; Russell Branyan, sometimes third baseman, the perfect three true outcomes (homerun, walk, strikeout) hitter; etc. Mike Piazza couldn't throw out Bill Merwin if he was stealing second, but he still hits like the greatest metrosexual baseball player since Joe Dimaggio; plus, Josh Bard might even be a better all-around player, and can catch in the World Series, letting Piazza DH. Front four of the Padres' rotation is the strongest in the NL: Peavy, Young, W. Williams, Wells. Plus, they have the toughest bullpen in the majors, with Meredith, Linebrink and Hoffman being the best three-headed monster in the league.

Team #2: The A's. Harden/Zito/Haren. Big Frank puts himself into the inner circle of baseball legends this fall.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

My new favorite video:

American Princes, "Never Grow Old"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Judee Sill, "Jesus Was a Cross-Maker" (Judee Sill is the writer and performer of my favorite song of all-time: "The Kiss")

Van Morrison w/ the Band, "Caravan" from The Last Waltz (my favorite performance from my favorite movie)

Tim Buckley, "Dolphins"

Can, "Spoon" (live)

Can, "Mushroom"

Can, "I'm So Green"

Cat Power, "Cross-Bones Style"

The Nazz, "Open My Eyes"

Tori Amos, "Hey Jupiter"

Tori Amos, "Jackie's Strength"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

outtakes from Amplifier for Hercules
(some of these outtakes were cannibalized for later projects)

The Book of Revelation from Rome to Waco

Ezra Pound speaking from Rome.
Jesus speaking from the cradle.
Ronald Reagan speaking from beyond the grave.
The Book of Revelation from Rome to Waco.

The pattern in which wars are made.
The environment in which wars evolve.
Applications are made and permissions granted.
The pattern in which that split is made.

Not one war, but wars in plural.
There’s one war but there are two fronts.
Feminine in singular, masculine in plural.
Not one war-related costume.

The enormous tragedy of the dream.
The making of the dream talisman we have followed.
Science has been a tragedy of errors.
The enormous room is crammed to overflowing.

Look to what you can remember.
You can remember that we were strangers.
Let each soul look to what it sends on for the morrow.
What you can take on the train.


How was the last war started?
The war started to affect her personally.
The last war trains leaders for the next war.
How was the constant found?

To send a people into war unprepared.
How to be a people magnet.
To send a note to the Western Wall.
An insider’s view into war.

Ideogram of the knife and the sliver.
Ideogram of the prisoner.
The Knife and Other Poems.
Ideogram of the selected.

And so his mouth was removed.
His mouth was full of tender clover.
And so his primary (albeit silent) title is “communicator.”
And so his sheep were killed.

And now yelling for more disasters.
Simple tricks for more usable forms.
And now this holy day is drawing to its end.
And now you’re even older.


Get the nation’s neck against the buzz saw.
Minority noose on the nation’s neck tightens.
Shove it down the nation’s neck.
Get the latest news.

There are times when a nation should fight.
Times when a group of nouns is referred to in its entirety.
A nation should take the position of the master.
There are times the sea is sullen rage.

I said the cause was rotten and it was rotten.
As it was known to be rotten.
It was rotten with water running beneath.
I said the fly wanted to bite you on the neck.

We will see those old roads again.
Restore those old fruit trees.
We will see the sun from time to time.
Drive roads again and check for new deer crossings.

Whoever was shot at Dakar died for gold.
Whether they died splendidly or quietly they died for us.
Precisely because men are not worth dying for.
Whoever was inside was pounding at the door.


Look at the pattern. How is it done?
Is it done by some sort of animation or is someone dancing?
How is it different from gasoline?
An irreverent look at the faith industry.

To get the boys into the trenches.
To distract the children.
The children are coming over the borders.
The boys will be marched through the wireless rooms.

And I say it and here is my Hancock.
And here is my horse to be shot.
You write the draft and I’ll put my John Hancock on it.
And I say your teeth were against my upper lip.

A man on whom the sun has gone down.
The sun has moved out of the circle you traced.
The day of God had gone down upon him.
On whom it is served to submit the child.

I say he would go out and commit suicide.
I say he would not so often sit in my clothes.
Animals do not commit suicide.
Go out and meet the enemy.


The place to defend the American heritage.
Guerrillas in the war to defend the imagination.
The place to create your own atmosphere.
The American heritage is a good five feet longer.

The existence of such a thing as honor.
Such things as honor killings, domestic abuse.
The existence of roots was assumed.
The existence of a classical path.

It was not honest resistance.
It was not the nails that kept him on the cross.
Honest resistance can get you shot.
It was not mother who waved me goodbye.

Your gunmen tread on my dreams.
Your gunmen/archers are being charged by a faster enemy.
You had your chopper and your gunmen.
The Halloween of my dreams.

Ezra Pound speaking from Rome.
Ezra Pound speaking only of his specialized branch.
Unidentified man speaking from pulpit.
This is Ezra Pound’s famous haiku.


I’m feeding you the footnotes first.
A picture of the machine feeding you.
I’m feeding her blood instead of milk.
The footnotes will be replaced by endnotes.

Common grave of all men.
A rose from the grave of Homer.
All men of military age will be processed.
Ice of all shapes and sizes.

Hints at things that you will have to know.
You will have to re-enter these values.
Photographing the things that matter.
We are delighted that you will be speaking (performing).

The rain has fallen, the wind coming down.
The wind is blowing parallel to these lines.
Harsh penalties coming down for excessive celebrations.
The sky has fallen, and we need to capitalize on it.

Rome at the end of the first ten years.
A crazy number at the end of the day.
A trip through Italy starting in Rome at Christmas.
The first ten years of mosaic whispers.


Shall come to fight with phantoms and to fall.
Day is drawing near and I shall come to you like a thief.
Converse aloud with phantoms.
Long winters when I pretend to fall.

And fail to grasp, but more, to face, the reality.
Sad tigers fail to take fight to bulls.
Face transplants possible but more research needed.
This is the reality behind the veil.

And that phantom has been built out of lies.
It did suggest that phantom limb pain might reflect a loss.
Speed of lies equals the ease of acceptance.
Some amazing displays built out of leg bones.

That butterfly has gone out thru my smoke hole.
The needle passing in and out thru every hole.
My smoke plume vectoring off.
This butterfly has adapted to mimic a dead leaf.

Of course you need music to understand.
Conversion is music to my ears.
I of course watched this videotape as a way of confirming.
What you need to know about windows.


You may see why the smokescreen was erected.
See why boys are scarier than monsters.
The smokescreen was higher wages and employment.
You may see an animal that seems mythological.

A political system in which you can’t pass the buck.
You can’t pass it around from class to class.
Europe in search of a political order.
System in which the smoke just rises.

The one ray of light in a world that was going to sunset.
Survival in a world of red wine imperialists.
A spiritual shock wave that was going around the world.
Notice the one ray of light reaching the clasped hands.

You also have I carried to nowhere.
I carried an entrenching tool and slept with my rifle.
Victims end up in “ambulances to nowhere.”
You also have the right to ignore this page.

Have you a clear idea of the program?
We have sent down unto you a clear light.
What type of angel have you become?
The program becomes certified as a school.


You climbing down by one foot in the barrel.
Lists of consumers turned down by banks.
You climbing the metaphorical walls.
One foot in scholarship, one foot in Disney.

Europe never hears of America’s real mind.
Black America’s real albatross.
Tunes played in Europe never had names.
Whoever hears of fat men leading a riot?

The coronation, literarily speaking, of an era.
Little girls who want to be big girls, literarily speaking.
Today is the last day of an era past.
The coronation robe is more cloak-like.

What shall add to this whiteness?
If any word of mine shall add to the numbers.
What shall we do with the boo-hoo baby?
This whiteness of praise around him.

Painting the mold on the top of the omelet.
Flattening on the top and bulging at the equator.
The two lips of the omelet are brought together.
Painting the island of the day before.


I’ve been looking over a careful study of America.
A study of America’s true art form.
A small figure looking over a stone wall.
I’ve been looking at the small print.

The book leads me to reflections on violence.
The road that leads me to the lamb.
Presidential task force on violence.
Flowchart for the Book of Revelation.

It is the expression, of course, of brutality.
Views expressed are, of course, solely those of the author.
Legacy of brutality was formed with one thing in mind.
In the long run it is the ideas that are important.

Different lice live in different waters.
Lice live in the hair and go to the scalp to feed.
The eyelids can become infected with one of two different lice.
He do the police in different voices.

Ah, the British prisoners have become sacred.
All prisoners have to learn resuscitation.
If we do this our travel will become sacred.
I have become the man to beat.


The European sees nothing distinguished in a mob.
The patient sees nothing, the doctor sees nothing.
Languages that cannot be distinguished in the chain.
A thing does not exist until a white European sees it.

And your literary professors won’t be teaching you.
The day you and your pets may have to leave.
Ways you and your spouse can fulfill the need for intimacy.
This year he will be teaching the history of life on earth.

And the American dreams of Thoreau.
One African-American dreams about rebuilding the South.
Click to enlarge heart of Thoreau’s journals.
God and the American Airlines pilot.

We are not so ignorant as you think.
We are not animals, we are human beings.
Ignorant as the dawn that has looked down on that old queen.
How to make a complete map of every thought you think.

Why American violence always takes such a monotonous form.
The traditions and persistence of American violence.
Why American children feel good about themselves but can't read.
It takes such strength to fly the 2,500 miles.


The world has seen that propaganda and smelt the stink.
A little boy picked it up and smelt it.
Most of them agree that propaganda relies on symbols.
A color nobody has seen yet.

The invisible silent virus more deadly than syphilis.
Adam Smith and the invisible hand.
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.
Rid the body of latent virus more efficiently.

Cries for prosecution of the war.
This house has witnessed some desperate cries.
Parroting one of the canards of the war's cheerleaders.
Man with towel around his head cries for peace.

And if theft be the main principle in government.
And if one is found to be true, its corresponding body is executed.
You have what it takes to be the next apprentice.
And if we start scaring the birds now it will make it easier.

But you are incapable of political violence.
Less milk, sure, but you’ll get a better price for it.
If you are feeling suicidal please stop long enough to read this.
This diagram shows the ladder of political advancement.


I don’t want to descend into vague general statements.
The day for the Plough God to descend to Earth.
We descend into our village by chair lift.
We don't want our horses butchered.

The historian’s job is not soothing.
The historian's gaze and the philosopher's gaze.
A good job is hard to find (you just found it!!).
Rhythm of rain not soothing to fish.

What I have known during the past twenty years.
What I have witnessed on the inner planes.
Nothing unexpected has occurred during the past twenty-four hours.
The winner will be known during the cattle night.

Their green does not swear at the landscape.
Some parents swear by baby swings, other swear at them.
Old proverb about gout does not apply.
Placing the icons on their green maps.

But unfortunately I arrive at these points after the fact.
Unfortunately I am not an expert on ketchup brands.
Fourth Sunday after the epiphany.
I arrive at Socialism by train.


And what races do coalesce or amalgamate?
These cavities may actually coalesce.
What races have not, then, had their influence?
And what does it mean to the blind?

The American has the head, evidently, of a chicken.
Every third American has no natural teeth at all.
One painted wooden coffin in the shape of a chicken.
Weird little tubes in the pooch's head, evidently for drainage.

Have they all been bred down into half breeds?
Female humans have been bred down and domesticated.
These half-breeds are free to roam the earth.
Or have they all been emasculated by political correctness?

The huntress in broken plaster keeps watch no longer.
The plaster keeps him from coughing.
The flies have awakened the huntress in me.
Say it in broken English.

It is perhaps time Young America to start reading the classics.
Perhaps time to play the rapids, fish the pools.
I start reading, pointing to each word.
Yodeling the classics.


Well, I says about that in the Canto.
"That ain't no balloon," I says.
What your signature says about you.
Well, I saw Lon Cheney walking with the queen.

I am not a pacifist of the prize-taking variety.
A new Ginsberg--a pacifist of quiet courage.
The origins of prize-taking on the high seas.
I am a wordherder, I am not a zombie.

The concept of honor enters the mind.
John Coltrane's concept of spirituality.
The boundaries broken once honor enters.
Its organ of speech enters the mind.

The mountain forest is full of light.
The wanderers of light homepage.
A mountain forest otter feeding.
The flag is full of stars.

Shove Hank’s head into a milk pudding.
The statue peed on Tom Hanks’ head.
Turn your walls or your head into speakers.
How to get an apple into a milk bottle.


I haven’t been reading Tennyson lately.
I haven’t been made an offer to re-form the Smiths.
George Jones, and Johnny Cash reading Tennyson.
Funny (if you haven't been the victim of terrorist acts).

That is, I separate guesswork from solids.
I separate my ideas from my daily life.
See the legend that is Jonathan Richman.
A scavenger hunt that is all about dinosaurs.

And the form certainly did show the spirit inside them.
Capitalism and the radical implications of the gospel.
We have found that people have a spirit inside.
The body and the clasped hands are registered trademarks.

The touch of sadism in the back of his neck.
Fondling the touch of a leather God.
Writing with coal on the back of a shovel.
I tell them that I avoid the touch of cold water.

Trying to know the real thing, what it was.
She was the real thing, but always the same thing.
Trying to master a foreign language by reading a dictionary.
But what it was, was me.


I certainly saw the last war from the London angle.
From the London eye to the London zoo.
I certainly speak louder than necessary.
The war from the pianist’s point of view.

I was interested in Latin order, order in stonework.
Emerging order in open space.
How to get out of embarrassing situations in Latin.
I was interested in the history below.

I have one or two fragmentary first hand reports.
She befriend Norman Mailer and heard first-hand tales.
Talking about whether the prince raised one or two fingers.
I have seen by Time’s fell hand.

I surrender neither the empire nor the temples.
Neither the blindness nor the beginning.
The temples will be moved to a nearby area.
Like a kiss from a rose to which I surrender.

I said it was the one inch of solid ground.
This first edition of the one inch map.
The one who grinned insanely but knowingly.
I said I was Ezra and the wind.


Time Spent in Water

And the blood has its strange omniscience.
DH Lawrence


This evening is a verbal equivalent of closeness
the elegy index hasn’t dropped
& think about the connections between them

closeness more a consequence of technology
than the other way around
the nights almost head on

deceptively simple looking little summers
so your ambiguity will just have to linger
in tonal control

is intimate, a whisper in the terrifically banal
if only we open our ears (to heal)
committing to even the shortest passage

often he lays his illuminated
the blurts of direct expectation
not so much the free play of critical intelligence

he was anointed. What took his place at the table
struggling with her latest gown in the next room
a saint with a gun

authority often driving into me
bent over this picture of the moon
until the lights are lost in the fog

my people having developed no new attitude toward sex
heaven was not challenged by the complaints
sometimes human, sometimes divine

the structures named are surface structures
the difficulty of thought is my central difficulty
a lack of emotion is my means to seduction

sex in water as water
the adjustment of the eye for varying disguises
as light goes always free of all its floods

heating of the blood & the bile
cold from the stars as they are thought
describing a place at the molecular level

a rhythm of sight
not even a sunrise can be managed
stretching towards a human sanity

he feels secure in the silence
this present-day importance of the image
the germ of all possible ideas

a nursemaid punishes a baby
the solitarians deafen one another
taking the staircase slowly

saddle the horses & ride
the world has already come, & heaven
a star weeping over her role


The body is the original image
a nightmare which breaks into a white cloak on a broad plain
stay there shadow in the limbs & lips

divine moments of film
blessed along with all the listeners
of eyes moving under falling rain

intensity treated not as a condition so much as a gateway to one
what a crease the image is folding
because old things need to die & be stripped

& here comes an actual oneness
the blood itself must never be victorious
the stars to huddle with an unswerving firmness

come now shadow into the compass
continuing the pitch that the sound would have
the child puts his hand under his pillow

blowing my breath against the pedestal
on the ground each lowing adolescent
the fruit of the tree is only revelation

spring in the other melodies of existence
the world’s wolves remain
warmth of heart cannot make up for it

the cards fall. Privacy is leaking out
asleep under the bushes in the dark hoping
there the brief merging remains

everybody knows what’s going on yet
between power & caress
an unconscious drift in the correction of night

the mistakes of morning
the borderline of the wondrous is preached
as one sleeps so lightly

the pond rises & falls
he who maintained the faithful countenance
& she who blackened her breast

the world conquered by its own lack
drawn towards a collage of moths
the interruption of all relations is mouthed

time spent in water is allegorical
label the table as shown. It was not
the beacons of solitude that led us this evening

a waterfall inspected as a memory
a simple movement is a comfort
thought rises up without a fire of its own

choosing image over sound
none of us were astonished by the palace
a stillness staring back at you like a star


A leak we are given to follow
descended from wishes & burners of wishes
cold & irrational colors on the beat

so soft the birds are often in nests
the evening tapers in a weird defiance
knelt before knowing

an attempt will be made to repossess
our eyes away from the dust
& drawn over the waters. There was an ascent

the listeners got wet. Multiple layers
we went into the arcade of the unsettling
fashions the finest wanted over

tuning a drum in marsh & river country
the dream gets even drier
a man thinking or working is always alone

at heart muddled in the middle of the road
now the note of sameness, what has happened is
in the new light emotions are at best eaves

all lakes admit light
tuning the whole body like an instrument
not likely. Which gives it life

careful to send them out in disguise
as conditions of the seasons
an empty-headed charity follows sleep

the cunning edge of accuracy
a good night in bed is an acceptable monument
the insufficient circles acquired by prayer

revivals that received us gladly
rained down from a mocking height
those cold flowers among us

the whiteness, the roundness, & the elastic
the hallowed waters warm before the sleeping
7,603 fires burning at once

in contact with our attention
in the cold let me strong arm the spirit
an axle, a burning cafe

this is the way to step aside
allegories of sleep. The merest prayer
an everything flowering that makes one shiver

what did you mean by the breath of spring
who replaced my bar of soap with a stone
we got down to the skin

& still the animals are coming
we have run out of geniuses to prop up for shade
let these figures be screened as substitutions




The Mist School

If I under-recognized un-fevered am the mist school.
I a whole hand am I who leapt into the intro course.

Cursed am I under your sleeve un-shaken.
Speaking curves sweetness I am for speaking more light than logic.

The mist school painting the humans w/ finesse.
The mist school keeping her there as I enter. These birds

un-sketched. Thought on the other hand I am under.
& I the clock w/ hands & numbers but w/o series am serious.

In heaven am free in time to trundle with/in time am I.
Is this w/ badge & dove-drawn banister then I?

If I w/ my thunder-stroke drowning none am the mist school.
I an attitude towards sex am I who practices technique.

The answers lie outside the school that I the mist am.
A lighter wilderness am I now if I the mist am not un-witnessed.

The mistakes delicate as the sinking shifts the revolver I am.
I the evolver know what it’s like to be dead.

She said : I the remover am the one w/ flowers.
She said : is this the phrase that voiced the sex I am.

& I briefly at dawn was a doll in the mist I am.
I a dialogue betwixt obsessions am having sex tonight.

I the voice that asks permission am like any sound ever near.
For if I an instant message chastising this long distance x or y

for his or her obedient sense of humor am to pray
shall I do so during my morning walk away from this distance?

Or perhaps towards the school which I as mist insist I must become?
As the mist takes one of many routes into the town square

I am pleasured. As one among the many ones in the mist
I am more than an inhaler. As I justly round my numbers to zero

I the good-time asthmatic develop an important thematic quality in summary.
As a difficult breather I am encouraged to take more & more.


You (yes now you must admit the mist (the mist is (if there is a heaven “is” is likely the only verb there is there) altered by the view it consumes in its dive, at stops or between dives at the surface (the surface is infinite here) where new constructions (both the new & old tunnels equipped with closed-circuit televisions (we heard the scene : we herd the seen) to monitor these vows) are occurring, where currents are faster) into you as a dear friend (& this is no less true even if the opposite is also true) to let you see the waters (traveling the myth circuit who does not long for a middle-brow immediacy (I argue not like L. & not unlike a dog), a little complacency before the feast, to settle the stomach (I cannot distinguish between poetry (an avenue of thought is also an avenue of desire (this is how we bring ourselves to destroy (the avenue is altered by the object desired (the language is changed by that which it destroys)))) & that which I must destroy to make poetry (this is called the poet’s dream))?) pumping in the corner waiting for you (you (you (you (you are wholly the subject) shall be an ornament of grace) are only as strange as your secrets) are Lamp, & Tempest)) are probably hip to this mist telling you (faith & doubt are just two attributes of God) that the gods-of-mist (your first meeting with the mist was not memorable (a memory machine only understands regret) but you cannot forget it—how can you forget the esprit de corps, the camaraderie that you (do you too intuit that the known—because it precedes—presides over the noun?) experienced and knew in the mist?) stay in the mist & we should probably talk (if I knew what you were saying I would be standing under you) about getting a bed in your office so you can sleep (the silent create silence when they enter the text) when you’re dead.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A series of threes . . .

Three very likely unhip poetry books that I adore:

Charles Wright's China Trace.
James Tate's Absences.
WS Merwin's The Lice.

Three songs that can make me cry:

"The Kiss," Judee Sill
"The Walk," Sawyer Brown
"Abraham, Martin & John," Dion

Three songs that, if I were to play in a band again, I would love to cover:

"Silent All These Years," Tori Amos
"High Noon," Tex Ritter
"Fuck & Run," Liz Phair

Three biopics I would want to write the screenplay for:

Frank Stanford
Sinead O'Connor
Ronald Johnson

Three songs from the alt early 90s that I will put in a cage match with any high-falutin thing going now:

"Unsung," Helmet
"Corduroy," Pearl Jam
"A Good Idea," Sugar

Three country songs that could, with some imagination, be seen as a miniature version of The Odyssey:

"Amarillo By Morning," George Strait (Odysseus' story: Amarillo=Ithakha, all he has is what he has on, lost a wife & a girlfriend along the way . . .)
"If Hollywood Doesn't Need You (I Still Do)," Don Williams (Penelope's story: waiting at home in domesticity as the partner is engaged in worldly pursuits)
"That's How I Got to Memphis," Kelly Willis (Telemachus's story: hot on the trail, by whatever means necessary) (written and performed first by Tom T. Hall, but I love Kelly Willis' version)
Free opening sentences for an essay:

John Ashbery is the Ginger Rogers to TS Eliot's Fred Astaire. He could everything Eliot could do, only backwards, and in heels.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I'm very giddy to have just sent off the completed version of Amplifier for Hercules. 151 pages. But I think it's pretty tight. A double album. Hopefully more Zen Arcade than Mellon Collie, at least in terms of quality. Definitely closer to Mellon Collie in terms of emo-ocity. One of the luxuries of being a grad student is that I've been able to work on the manuscript for the last 13 or 14 hours. So that let me finish 1001 Sentences, which right now I feel is the best thing I've ever done as a writer. Which is a wonderful feeling to have, even if it ends up being delusional/temporary.

Now back to the books. And towards Fascicle. And maybe towards returning to the world of people who return emails and talk to people. But most likely just back to weeping like a small infant at Johnny Cash's version of "If You Could Read My Mind" off of American Recordings V, and trembling with love and awe at Richard Buckner's Meadow, which I'm convinced is his answer to Van Morrison's Veeden Fleece.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

One week until Amplifier for Hercules is due to my kind editors and publishers. Listening to the new Richard Buckner and wildly chipping away until distraction strikes. Like:

I found an old manuscript of mine from 2000. I'm not sure why I didn't put some of these poems in Invisible Bride. I probably just lost them, I was writing just an insane amount of things. And my lifestyle of the time lended itself to losing things a lot. Some pieces/bits from this manuscript ended up in Invisible Bride, which was mostly written in the Fall/Winter of 2001/02. Okay, some things from the old me I like, that the new me is going to take some cues from:


The mouse was fit to be swallowed.
The other man looked at the ear in my hand.
I heard a buzz. It didn’t mean a thing.
The rain hesitated a moment
and it was nice to get out of the rain.
The other man swallowed the label of his coat.
He was dead. He stood there
without saying anything. He finally
got around to looking at me,
lifting a match to his lips. His voice
was somewhere else. We each swallowed
one of his eyes, then we stood in the dark
looking for his voice. There was an ear in my hand.
The other man struck the match on his shoe
and swallowed it. He turned into
a slightly better lit other man.
I wanted it to rain, waited ten minutes,
then the other man swallowed the dark
and everything in it. We stood around
until morning, then I swallowed the rain.
It was like drinking water.


Celan lived in France didn’t he?

No he drowned himself in the Seine.

Well maybe then he floated into France
you depressing bastard.

Why don’t you join a monastery?

I did. That’s where I got this tattoo.


of morning and into the sidewalks’ bright
chatter. Oh my little hat.
I am the dark tall one torn apart
by flowers and religious imagery.
It is the singular human fate, to always
get it wrong. In the morning
everything is wrong, my feet feeling
as if they are convulsing in a room
down the hall. The sidewalk is as crowded
as one can imagine. Plaster Street
is, with its brilliant signs and ornaments
of glass, a spiritual machine
producing simple and touching sounds
of forgiveness. This morning I woke
with my brave face on. I am
a domestic and solitary character,
though I desire the perplexities of a social life,
the burning ears, the crumbs
and the partisan conversations, the transplants.
The light hurts my face,
which hovers over my body in an impossible
stillness. I am beginning to think
I worry too much about perception;
I am innocent and full of powerful
muscles bound to certain unavoidable
and enjoyable rhythms: the gray
birds are pigeons, the white birds
are doves. The light does injury
to my face, which sits atop my body
like a small lamp emitting
the light buzz of self-regard,
a sound which means everything really.


She looks like a swan.
Her heart sits in burning waters.
She falls asleep near a river,
gives names to her children,
thinks of clever things to say.
She sits in the house and shrinks.
Alone in the dark like a witch.
“Do something to my throat.”


Neck pain. Back and neck pain. This varies from person to person
essentially have the same problem: the apartment or house they inherit.
I build buildings. The building of streets and so forth.
I belong in buildings and I belong
in my own house. In the project that I’m building
at the moment in Texas,
families simply live in houses, modifying things.
I am not building
1) for drawings.
2) for methods and so forth.
3) easily.

The people who ask me to build have a profound awareness
that they are building. I shape buildings one pattern at a time.
This is called
1) the process of unfolding.
2) a child's comfort.


My ghost is a swift river,
an afternoon of endless boredom,
a mattress floating around the bend.
He is sorrow and fortune,
a Russian winter, a big black pot of onions.
He is a quiet room. He keeps
two jars in a tree in my front yard. He places
the names of those he can forgive in one jar
and everyone else’s in the other.
He is a crippled bird.
He does not mess with the jars
at night, for he is the scraping of shadows,
for he is an unreliable bridge,
for he is a machine made of mirrors.
He says that once a name goes into a jar
it doesn’t come out. My ghost says
I am in both jars under different names.
He writes these names in cursive.
He is a sleeping forest. He is made of water
and says that he sleeps in water.
He has a third jar. He is a famous flood.


Warsaw is now a convenient excuse
to serve leftovers.

The mountains near Prague
are regular black-hatted old ladies.

Even in direct sunlight, it is difficult
to differentiate between Vienna’s wrinkles and its scars.

As London grows older, she lies awake at night,
trying to calculate her future.

To communicate in Sofia,
play cards and speak of sea monsters.

Madrid is an unlucky character in a romance novel,
chain-smoking and eating melons.

Likewise, Hamburg's been poisoned
and wants someone punished for it.

To survive Brussels, do not exit the plane.

If your researches deal with Budapest,
you may be in for serious spiritual trouble.

Glasgow unfolds like a sweater
and is a size too small.

In Berlin, you will never forget that gravity exists.

Dublin is basically a half-dozen chairs and a color TV;

like Amsterdam, it is not only
attached to the earth, but propped up by it.

What we once called Barcelona
is now a yellow dress with flowers.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Daniel, 11, asked: "Why did it have to be Steve Irwin? Why couldn't it be someone older like Sean Connery?"

Saturday, September 02, 2006

All shoots forth in testimony out from the shade of unknowing. The forgery of experience is also its correction. The end of perfection. When the Angel of Memory perfects a new animal what is changed is not only the boundaries between objects but the entirety of a world that contains angels, lions and flames.
Translating the fire by becoming the fire
is not translating the fire.
“Seeing may be the first or last stage of thinking,” the one-eyed fawn declares, “or it may be thinking itself.”

I had a series of pets as a boy and the first thing I would do was to re-wire them so I would get distorted or muted sounds.

Now I do this with sentences.

Facts are the shadows of experiences.

My dog has the same tattoo that I do.

An oracle within the beast: memory is not what speaks the poem but is the occasion for the harmony in which a poem may speak itself. Its form is not the mere contingency of its content: the poem is an arena where one may set aside the armor of a ‘love of poems’ and be dressed in the rags of actual poetry. If Olson were ever to have given birth to himself he would have had to open himself to a greater whole than he was willing to perceive. I will not be the son of my own body. The spiritual finality is change. Clothed in my own simplicity, it is as if, like a worm, I am content to concern myself with the corporeal affairs of a human existence. The worm is also at the apex of an invisible pyramid. A constellation with a broken engine. As we are learning to forge philosophy, I hope you will note my philosophical kind of wonder.

By writing the poem as an endless betraying we may finally understand it as not being a betrayal at all.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

For Lucipo

Juelz Santana (w/ Young Jeezy & Lil' Wayne), "Make It Work For You"

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The King, "Trying to Get to You," '68 Comeback Special

Merle Haggard, "I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am"

Tori Amos, "Silent All These Years"

Dream Academy, "Life in a Northern Town"

They Might Be Giants, "Ana Ng"

RIP Glenn Ford, star of one of the best films ever

Monday, August 28, 2006

Johnny Cash, "Big River"

Willie Nelson & Bob Dylan, "Pancho & Lefty" (I remember when this first happened, on some Willie Nelson tribute show, early 90s -- P&L is maybe my favorite song from my childhood, and I was knocked out to see Bob Dylan singing it -- been wanting to hear it again for years . . )

The Highwaymen, "Highwayman"

Sinead O'Connor, "This Is a Rebel Song," video (this song has been in serious rotation for us the last few months)

Don Williams, "I Believe in You," Austin City Limits

Tanya Tucker, "Delta Dawn," Hee Haw

Glen Campbell, "Galveston"

Townes Van Zandt, "Pancho & Lefty" (w/ Mark O'Connor on fiddle . . .)

transitions into:

Lucinda Williams, "Drunken Angel," Austin City Limits

Dismemberment Plan, "Timebomb," video (bit of a guilty/nostalgia pleasure)

Alan Jackson, "Midnight in Montgomery," video

Sinead O'Connor, "Mandinka," video

Sinead O'Connor, "Emperor's New Clothes," video

Johnny Cash, "Hurt," video