Friday, October 31, 2003

Plano-spheroids of Speechlessness

Read Tan Lin’s “Ambient Stylistics” in Conjunctions #35. Stunned, breathless, “nothing to say.” Do all the best things lift us up into the plano-spheroids of speechlessness? I experienced something similar with W. G. Sebald’s books. Is that connection made only because Lin, too, lards the print’d text with photographs. Photographs seeming somehow non-illustrative, but obliquely relevant. Here, Lin includes several of newspaper clippings (headlines legible, though stories not). Or of album covers: Gloria Gaynor’s “Never Can Say Goodbye” next to one titled simply “Soul Center*.” Tacked to a wall.

Lin: “To have a photograph is not interesting; to have a photograph of a photograph is, and this is what a poem does better than any photograph can. Only such relaxing enclosures of image within image or word within word allow the emptiness of all human feelings to surrender themselves without obvious grotesqueries and thus make the present a place to have a cigarette. All biographies, like all poems, are best when they fail to suggest anything about their subjects at all. A good poem is very boring.”

What I know about Tan Lin. He is the brother of Maya Lin, sculptor / architect of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, and of the “Wave Field” (which G. and I look’d for and never found). Both the “Wave Field” and the Wall depend partly on surface for “meaning.” I find the brother and sister relationship a sumptuous factoid, I am in “dumb amazement” in considering it, it is “all out of proportion” with its “interest.”

What I know about Tan Lin. He wrote a book with “Kangaroo” in the title. Or “Shampoo.” Some three word non-sequitur published by Sun & Moon (?) that made me think: dedicated follower of fashion. Made me think: West Coast language-y repeat offender ho-hum.

Lin: “In a perfect world all sentences, even the ones we write to our loved ones, the mailman or our interoffice memos, would have that overall sameness, that sense of an average background, a fluid structure in spite of the surface disturbances and the immediate incomprehension. The best sentences should lose information at a relatively constant rate. There should be no ecstatic moments of recognition.”

G. and I tried to find the “Wave Field” because we’d heard it was a good place to play hide-and-seek. It is hidden in a courtyard.

What I know about Tan Lin (later). He wrote a book titled Lotion Bullwhip Giraffe published in 1996 by Sun & Moon. He teaches (back cover) at the University of Virginia. Kangaroo is a mammal of the wrong continent. Lotion is a more “boring” word than shampoo. I left out the hint of violence, or cowboy regalia, or sado-masochism.

Lin: “. . . the best literature is often written in times of war where puns themselves suggest the origins of language in a consciousness that cannot use language to make any distinctions between language and thought, speaker and world, signal and noise, sound and word.”

Speechlessness. Why keep sucking the marrow out of the empty head of a prawn once consumed?


One correspondent writes:

“How are you? no news no nothing . . . tu squattes l'hôtel?”

Thursday, October 30, 2003


“Only assassins keep notebooks.”
—Dow Mossman, The Stones of Summer


Briefly reading, skimming poems by James Schuyler this morning. Struck by the affable clarity, directness, the unmanner’d. Something of the childlike. Which is likely part of what makes Schuyler’s novel of the two kids, Alfred and Guinevere, such a palpable delight. Though, if I recall, those kids are rather precocious (or smart-alecky). Wiser than the years.

The line of the morning: “the pond goes altogether black.” In “Evenings in Vermont.” Which “altogether” seem’d perfect—somehow capturing the spreadingness of darkness over the water’s surface, and its completion. Then, biking in, I was thinking: “the pond gone ungovernably black.” Because I couldn’t quite recall the Schuyler line (though I knew it wasn’t “ungovernably”), and because I rather liked “ungovernably black.” Then, though, I start’d thinking of the implications (more folds in the gray-stuff) of tying “ungovernable” to “black” in these untied racist States. Then, the phrase itself broke—even the sound (which may have been its catalyst—gone gov-, and -bly, black—began to seem coy and mannerist.


Two tiny vignettes:

One of my friends Pritchard in Virginia asking John Ashbery (in an altogether un-smirking and innocent way—Pritchard, too, un-bumptious and good-humouredly headlong as a any kid): “If you could be a fruit, what fruit would you be?” I thought I saw a tiny apoplectic flicker in Ashbery’s eyes, out to measure any possible animosity, but then, rather slowly, he replied: “Oh, a kiwi, I suppose.”

One of myself under a monstreux wooden head of a hangover one morning of a visit by Richard Howard to a Charles Wright workshop at Virginia. Howard admitting he loved to play the rôle of the “poetry impresario” (which I want’d to relate somehow to the red shoes he’d worn the night before at the reading, though, having just this morning read, too, some of the recent Smithsonian’s article on Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, complete with Plath-apparel notes at the party where they met, I’m now suspecting Howard of “a nod to Sylvia” in choice of hoof-wear.) Anyhow, Old Wooden-Head on this occasion rear’d up with a question (as instruct’d) for the redoubtable Mr. Howard: “I know you do countless translations, lots of editing, etc. etc. besides writing poems—um, how do you manage to be so profligate?” I knew the word wasn’t quite right the moment I saw it leave my mouth. Charles Wright wiggled, blanched, interject’d: “Uh, productive, you mean.” With the finality of a housemother. “Yeah,” chagrin’d, “I guess so.” And walking down the hall later with Sellari: “Tom, what does ‘profligate’ mean?” And not waiting for a reply: “I think it means you jerk off a lot, doesn’t it?”


Au travail, comrades.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Toy Horn

Here’s one machination:

Carmen the doggo and I walking in the rain. A nuthatch yank-yanks (Roger Tory Peterson) up in the boughs of a great Norway spruce. A feeble yank-yank. Little in the rain. In the wan rain. Yank-yank like a tin horn in the rain. A toy horn. Pitoyable in the rain. (Words with toy hid within.) Pitiable. Pitiful. (What’s the difference?) Mr. Pitiful. (In the great gray concert hall a song’s a-borning and about to out. In the gray rain. A-borning. Like a feeble tin horn. Yank.) Otis Redding. (Nobody in the rain.) Going for the lusty sweat-provoked full-throat'd wail. Call me Mr. Pitiful. Mr. Pitiful in the blue-slate zoot suit and orange cravat yank-yanking in the rain. In the ever-lusting rain. Lustig. Carmen lustig in the rain. Otis Redding begging: Can I explain? (James Tate: “You are not meditating.”)


Here’s another machination:

Dye like Dog in string.
Dye, Dog, like a string.
Dog like a dy’d string.
String-dy’d like a Dog.
Like Dog in string dye.


--It’s quiet today.
--Yeah. Too quiet.


Seneca Review, Vol. XXXIII, No. 2 (Fall 2003), edited by Deborah Tall, with John D’Agata editor for "lyric essays."

Work by Dionisio D. Martínez, Oni Buchanan ("The Dusk Haruspicy"), and a lyric essay titled "Walking" by David Rutschman. A "first published poem" by Gill Minor warrant’d attention:

[That the Margins of Meaning . . .]

That the margins of meaning are peregrine
salts no wounds. Only a pip-squeak
would flail so daft a corpse . . .

. . .

That the lattice of language is pervious
forks no tongue. Let the sputter of prigs be
spattered like pudding . . .

(Language’d up in idiosyncracy and fever, it seems . . .)



[Inevitably "too inchoate, frolicsome, and unreasonable" would be the probable response to my second and more-consider’d (?) flinging down of the following, yesterday’s lost post. So it goes (Vonnegut). The moment seized in its bigness punctured is oft' only a bag of hot air.] So:

I read Bob Perelman’s contribution to the Assembling Alternatives volume, a thing titled "Polemic Greeting to the Inhabitants of Utopia." Apparently it caused some stir and dissent when deliver’d in New Hampshire, took by some present as "advocating a return to conventional writing," a reaction Perelman calls "injudicious." He notes at the outset that he wants to be heard "urging consideration of the social aspects of our materials at all levels of composition."

Perelman: "The wide social field that is so often traversed within our writings, via sound, word, phrase, collage, does not mean that our writings circulate through anything like that same wide field. There is . . . a rather circumscribed place set aside for utopic embodiments, ideological demolition-derbies: the poetry corner, a large, seemingly infinite place with room for tremendous vistas of activity, ecstatic certainty, alienation and resentment, but where . . . [crediting Bourdieu] . . . one's competitors are one's only customers."

Two replies, folding in one against the other. Like a cook. One is I ain't never been a social (anything). Most writers are a mess and a guffaw--"geeks, ferrets, and humdrums," it says here--lounging only in the redoubtable splendour and upheaval that resides in the sounding and resounding, incapable of any kind of control of any "social aspects," of that ever-present stuff, that sticky cobwebbing that is language. And, if they be capable, probably too careworn with obliging the imaginary (that nonexistent reader-over-the-shoulder) to suss up the necessary spit and bedazzlement to orchestrate any concerted drive on the multitude’s heart: they ain't no necessary or sufficient song there. Don't ever oblige no imaginary. Think of Jack Spicer in the "Vancouver Lectures":

"You don’t impose your will on the thing coming through . . . Language isn’t anything of itself."

The practice of outside, the radio, the Martians. Vessels control not. We are vessels. (One romantic orchestration of this mad assembly will sometimes go: "Stop me before I write again." Another will go: "Just wantin' I could be one regular Joe, pump the gas, blow the weekend weed, and get scrunchy with that there waitress at Nellie's." Another will go: "I have heard paradise within words and I have read utopia in language." (Perelman))

The second fold is: I allus hafta try damn’d hard not to plug myself with my own laughter-cannon at the notion of the utopic emerging out of anybody’s writing. Mere words we got. On the page. It ain’t in any utopic biopic I ever seen. Call me myopic.

Two more Perelmanisms:

"Such appeals to a socially open textuality are imaginary solutions to real problems."

"There is no aspect of writing or of poetics that is not saturated with instantaneous social thinking."

Erm, okay. If the language is (always) (already) overload’d, super-saturated, loggy with ideology, "social thinking," then what matter what comes through? The dice are loaded: why try to control the roll of the dice. "I am thunk by language." (Sitting here on the moaner's bench, in the "poetry corner," the Group W bench—Oh the scene! oh the backwater!) And my diverse and equitable playland (think McDonalds) of a text won’t snip loose a single stitch on the collar of the suits of those bastards who control the power arrangements here and elsewhere . . .


Enough of that.


After seeing three or four movies a week through college, and one or two a week in years hence, I quit all desire for the medium about ten or fifteen years back.

Dow Mossman on movies (actually he notes "Roy Rogers movies"):

"Patternings. Safe, sure homing devices in the mass, secular society."

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The Unreconstructable

Stymied by the unreconstructable, that bomb that blew all my Perelman languagings finally just out of reach . . .

So I head for the post office, writer’s temple on earth, where the post-mistress insists on reading the finely print'd background to the Ogden Nash stamps I am purchasing. "One of Nash’s best known limericks," she explains. And, broadening the pedagogy as I acquiesce: "Some limericks are hard to understand. If you don’t come from a particular place."


I do not recite in return the only limerick I know. Found, I think, in Paul Goodman’s The Empire City:

There once was a lady from Spain,
Who did it again and again
And again and again
And again and again
And again and again and again.


What I'm going to do is print out The Philly Sound's list of "WHAT ARE POETS READING?" to read whilst I eat my sandwich. What a terrific idea! Who was it? Goethe? who mumbled it out on the deathbed: "More . . . books . . ."


Where did that sky-rocket of a friggin' post go? Damn. A lengthy thing about Bob Perelman's piece in the Assembling Alternatives volume just evaporated at post time. Like that horse named Half-Man, Half Biscuit who failed to place due to death. I'll try to reconstruct as the day wears thin. Gotta learn to compose prior and elsewhere, nay? Neigh.

Monday, October 27, 2003


Alli Warren's favorite words for today:




took up together, put me in the mind of Joyce's "irregular musketry of applause" in "The Dead."


Fan in hand, (the Man's plan'd) thorowly to purge the Floor, to gather the Wheat into the Garner, and to burn up the Chaff with unquenchable Fire!


Proofing against the dulling afternoon. I keep reading "Water-Baptism" as "Walter Benjamin":

"injoyn'd or commanded to observe this Walter-Benjamin, they now so differently observe . . . if thou readest what follows with a single Eye, thou may'st come to see all these Dippers and Sprinklers . . ."


I should write to Katie Degentesh and tell her I like my job because it "doth Bung up my Language."

Language is a corker.

Voices Crying

Bought (Friends of the Library):

New & Collected Poems, 1917-1976, by Archibald MacLeish (Houghton-Mifflin pbk., 1976)

A sentimental knick-knack of my misspent youth. At the memorial service (circa 1984) for Baxter Hathaway, poet, novelist, critic, Epoch founder, Ithaca House founder, and Cornell University English professor, I read MacLeish's "Epistle To Be Left in the Earth":

We lie down and the snow covers our garments.

. . .

As for the nights I warn you the nights are dangerous:

. . .

Voices are crying an unknown name in the sky

Conjunctions #35: American Poetry: States of the Art, edited by Bradford Morrow (Conjunctions/Bard College, 2000)

How'd I miss it? Looking toward Tan Lin's "Ambient Stylistics" in particular.


After we biked to the elementary school this morning, G. wrote down on a slip of paper:


The names he gives to sections of the trajectory (as biked) between home and school. He told me I needed to memorize them. I rode to work thinking about the "finish" of the line (putting a high gloss to it, a patina, a scuff) as opposed to the "finished" line (the receding importance of the "verse"-line (a redundancy) in contemporary poetry, argued in some parts).


Saturday a clouded day, and cold. Walked the dog up behind the community gardens to the pond. Sumac leaflets drooping straight down in rows, curling red daggers. Red-wings flocking and rasping out guttural scrreeee's around the pond. Crows drifting over like big char'd papers caught in the updraft. Woods fiery. The silver maples (the deep-lobed ones) mostly yellow. The other maples mostly reds.


Watch'd a periodontist try to recoup a yellow remote-control aeroplane stuck up about thirty feet in a bedraggled ash. Devices moved forward, attempted, and subsequently table'd: football, soccer ball, extendable limb-pruner, grappling hook (garden trowel?) attached to nylon rope, aluminum ladder and portly neighbor man named Doug.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Getting It

Getting it said by saying it.

Getting it said by saying it cannot be said.

Getting it said by mocking it in its saying.

Getting saying going and seeing what it says.

Getting seeing to say it.

Getting saying to stop saying and so saying it.


The library here does have Trevor Joyce's with the first dream of fire they hunt the cold: a body of work 1966/2000, published by New Writers' Press / Shearsman Books (2001).

Here's something short:

A Father of the Useful Arts (1738)

Vaucanson with fine skill constructs
a virtuoso on the transverse flute
that dines on powder rouge and oil
and grinds sweet music out

The master then takes cogs and struts
conjures him up a duck
that flaps its wings eats alien corn
then shits its bona fide turds


Last time Vaucanson show'd up was in Pynchon's Mason & Dixon. Mechanical duck builder and wower of royalty.

Fine rhythms and abruptions: "conjures him up a duck," "grinds sweet music out." Diction mix (for humor): "shits its bona fide turds." A gamut of sound mimickry: fine, dines, grinds, fide. Punch of Anglo-Saxonry: out, cogs, struts, duck, turds.

Can't venture to say how "typical" or not of Joyce's work the poem is. Barely cracked the book. And will.


Just now in a letter to Mairead Byrne on the Poetics list, Trevor Joyce writes of "your delightful area, named after hens." Which stops me. "Rhode Island, Red," I finally tell myself. And the phrase's little mystery delights.


Thinking of Pynchon. For me, the oddest moment in that Mason & Dixon thing is when one character (I've forgotten) says something like "Now if you want naval stories, Patrick O'Brian's your man." Wholly anachronistic. The Aubrey / Maturin guy, "whom" "I've" "never" "read."


Grrr. Trying to figure out what edition of Holinshed's Chronicles to use. Or, more precisely, what set of available images is most legible (and how all the parts go together).


Finished reading the Trevor Joyce piece. Now I'm looking for the Harry Gilonis edited For the Birds. Which is, I see, papers out of the first Cork gathering, and available only via Stanford, or the University of Delaware.


I keep thinking "suffering the hegemony of a band of self-profess'd outsiders."


Moments in the Joyce ("Irish Terrain") of note: report of the Billy Mills dust-up at the Assembling Alternatives conference. The pecking order of innovators. A continuum ranging from the innovators everyone reads who read no one else to the innovators no one reads who read everyone else. A Language poet may still be a cocky American. A whole generation may outgrow its sometimes foolish curiosity. What does Oscar Wilde say? To stay young one need only continue to commit the follies of youth?


And more (Joyce): a history, a warning, and a promise to be "at liberty to appropriate 'all poetic means available in the world at large.'"

"We seek from nowhere the franchise to regard ourselves as innovators, or to provide a living alternative to those tendencies we find most intimately oppressive. We continue to read American, British, and other radical poetries with respect, sympathy, and sometimes with excitement. We look to have the same openness extended to us."

Thursday, October 23, 2003


I finished reading Steve Evans's "The American Avant-Garde after 1989: Notes toward a History" in the Assembling Alternatives collection. Thought Evans's comments on the work of Kevin Davies particularly apt and useful. Likely to send me back to Davies's book Comp. And whatever else I can find. Evans also assesses the work-to-date (that is, circa 1999?) of Bill Luoma, Lisa Jarnot, Rod Smith, Jennifer Moxley, and Lee Ann Brown.

Started reading the Trevor Joyce essay: "Irish Terrain: Alternate Planes of Cleavage."


In the Traum-Meister, What Have We Here? Department:

Dream'd a printer had arrived to print my book. He'd assembled a huge contraption in the yard. A flat-bed press with a kind of ink reservoir support'd by four badly-nail'd cock-eyed planks standing up above it. He had a horse, a slopey-back'd gray-mottled old thing who was required to walk in circles around the press: apparently to "drive" it. The printer look'd rather like a farmer, bib overalls, gimme cap aslant. He handed me the first sheet off the press: a black smudge of a sheet on which I could see a border of alternating hearts, clubs, diamonds, and spades. The type: a tiny (eight point or so) Roman. The page included a chunk of prose. The printer told me the book would cost $532. Which seem'd "reasonable." I worry'd about the smudging, stood there looking at it rather helplessly. And admir'd the design.

Gap in the dream-weave. I "returned" to the house and saw the yard empty, long grasses raked free of any debris. My wife told me the printer'd gone to construct some "drying racks" for the sheets. And that, asked if he could get any cleaner copy out of the press, had said (and here he, too, "returned" and said: "Oh I suppose so. It means an awful lot of messin' around.")

Ah, Ithaca House days. Six years of hand-feeding the Chandler & Price. I'm glad you're still with me.


Good word via Equanimity: media-placarding.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


Not to suggest (by, um, the sequencing of the previous entry) that anything about the Assembling collection is "rot." No, sir. It looks to be pack'd with excellent fodder for any stubborn thinking old mule. Jeff Derksen, Peter Middleton, Keith Tuma, Trevor Joyce, Lisa Robertson, Caroline Bergvall, Carla Harryman, others. Probably old news to many of you--papers of the gathering in, what, 1996, at the University of New Hampshire. August. That's about the time I was driving the twenty-eight footer west--Albany to Ann Arbor--with my books in boxes and nerves ahum. Call me Johnny U-Haul (how I love him). The last community I'd had had mostly migrated to Taiwan to teach English. Call me a slow learner. Call me.


My "problem" is that the kind of reading (and thinking) that a book like Huk's requires requires that I maintain a modicum of alacrity and decorum in the upstairs brain-cell department (why do I have to talk this way?) and by day's end, G. off to bed, my wife J. busy elsewhere, why, I hain't often got the stamina. I'm more likely to let a fictional piece crash down around me, who cares if it's in pieces? Or a biography.

Rot Potatoes

A sufferable potpourri today is likely: rot in the pot. Gallimaufry of small potatoes.


The moon at six a.m. Toss'd like a sampan on the sea of a cloudbank, cupping its cargo of shadow'd moon.


Reading: Assembling Alternatives: Reading Postmodern Poetries Transnationally, edited by Romana Huk (Wesleyan, 2003)

Steve Evans on the emergence of the "generation of '89" (he doesn't call it that) in "The American Avant-Garde after 1989: Notes toward a History":

"In the wake of, and in deliberate contrast to, the self-assertive, auto-exegetical, and reciprocally-evaluative conduct of the language-centered writers, the scrupulous avoidance of certain inflated forms of framing discourse among the poets emerging after 1989 was anything but the sign of apathy that certain established avant-gardists mistook it for: rather, the intransigent refusal to self-identify registered a profound and warranted resistance to 'entering history' under the terms presently on offer. At the same time, this decision led in the direction of a returned emphasis on poetic practice as opposed to theoretical discourse. It is action that articulates community, these poets seemed to be saying, and action--as it transforms conditions--oupaces the terms of its own recognition."


Erm, to sharpen the rhetoric a little: "self-assertive (marked by marketing acumen?), auto-exegetical (self-absorbed?), and reciprocally-evaluative conduct (mutual backscratch?) of the language-centered writers . . ."


I think the Evans comment booms resoundingly right even for a near-contemporary (b. 1954) of some of the language-centered writers. It is no accident that a sort of hyper-earnestness and single-mindedness accrues to some of the language scouts (I think I remember Tom Clark labelling such "one-note Johnnies"): the response to an era of over-heated rhetoric (Vietnam, &c.) probably made such inflations probable, if not exactly de rigueur.

The way "refusal to self-identify" took form for some of us, those tempermentally unable to sustain the tit-for-tat of such a formation (everyone always operating in the vacuum of one's immediate peers), was through lack of program, lack of seriousness, refusal of career, goofing off, fucking up, nose-thumbing both the priggish sincerity of the confessionals and the "theory-smart" sobriety of the language bunch. We (and the pronoun makes a social formation that couldn't honestly be said to exist) futz'd around and amused ourselves, and made things, and threw some away, and did collaborations (as drinking games) and dint get too het up bout it no any way . . . Part of the attitude probably descended via New York School. Part via George Hitchcock's multilith'd motley Kayak.


Am I getting a little shrill?

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Gullible Mutt

I'm a gullible mutt. Or one given to making connections where they ain't. I once thought Christopher Edgar was a name Jordan Davis had handy to put on like a pair of gloves for certain tasks. Now I know that Jordan Davis is Jones Very, who wrote, oh, a million sonnets in betwixt the two crepuscules of the nineteenth century.

There's a new and supple Kent Johnson interview, apparently something from a new Brazilian magazine called, not Ho Ho Caribou, but Coyote.

I must've been sleeping one off when the Yasusada thing blew up. I never read the American Poetry Review. First I caught wind of Kent Johnson was on the "old" Buffalo Poetics list, circa 1997. I remember thinking he was a smart-alecky loudmouth. There was something something with smacks of old sneaky-Pete paranoia about, oh, I forget, Forrest Gander and Paul Hoover. How a book got selected, the usual thing. You could look it up.

Then I noticed two things about Kent Johnson: a muscular prose style wield'd best polemically, and a radical sense of fair-play. His prose runs on (I think he once suggested this to me himself) the mighty engines of analogy. He's an inveterate and excellent combinatory imagist (in a century lost to image-makers), a persistent nudge, a career gadfly. Sad to say, I think I only defended him publicly once, against, I think, Mark Weiss's intimations of Kent's transgressions against the law and order of the "private" space of the Poetics, Etc. list. "Something something, you too earnest compliancies," I think I said, then, like Huck Finn, lit out. You could look it up.

Over the years I've thought to've seen the hoofprints of Kent Johnson marking the epistles of Ammonides, of Kazim Ali, of Jeffrey Jullich, of Geoffrey Gatza, of Millie Niss, of Jacques Debrot, of Jason Christie, of Julie Christie, of Paul Murphy, of Mikhail Epstein, and, among forgotten others, of Patrick McManus, the sassy pensioner of Raynes Park. Wrongly, in some cases. But then, I'm a malleable nut.

The only other persons I've ever been: Tuli Kupferberg and Pierre Quichy.

I remember an early seventies story bruit'd about by who knows who: that Rod McKuen published other poems under an other name, and those poems were thought terrific by those critics that barely had the decency to humour along the Rod McKuen we thought we knew.

I remember when Emile Ajar was unmask'd as being Romain Gary. La vie devant soi. The perfect titular clue. Change identity and life stretches out before you. You can't look it up. Which is what Gary rail'd against in La vie et mort d'Emile Ajar. The pegging, the slotting, the curtailing of freedom that the provinciality of literary life concocts. Rail'd against by Frank O'Hara too. Isn't there a sneery remark about those who would say "Oh, that's not like Frank!" As if one could be so pinned.

Still. In defiance of Kent Johnson's own mercurial maneuvers against the authenticity and regalia of authorship, he'll be, I think, mighty pleased to see his own name in print. He likes nothing more, I think, than to be the center of the brouhaha, in there doinking it out in the clown wars, just like any other Bozo on the bus. Which is as it should be, spittin' like a bobcat lest one fall into the narcoleptic indifferent gaze of the screen of years and perish ye, perish ye, oh . . .

Advertisements for My Self


Of late at Hotel Point.

a. Big loads of misdirect'd alpha male activity.

b. Critically inept readings and categorical failures of th'imagination.

c. Maunderings maudlin and insubordinations insane.

d. Bad drawings re-render'd, anatomicals sketch'd un-limn'd.

e. The usual self-deprecatory mutter and imprecation.

f. The irredeemable clutter any inessential mind inadvertently displays.

g. Duress come shining and tomfoolery's bedlam.

h. Puny impugnings of other sour and repugnant pugs.

i. Pages of infidelities, infelicities and misreadings of my contemporaries and other Bobs.

j. The soft slub of occasional near-idiocy.

k. Sobriety on the brink of th'inexecutable dawn.

l. Daffy and oracular removals of self out of endangerment's way.

m. Theatrical and terminal rustiness and whinge-ing in the malaprop department.

n. Fish stories.

o. Longings to barter a naif allongement against a guilt plaidoyant.

p. Now you're just being impossible: boxing with the elders.

q. Jokes botanical.

r. Caught between generational sagas: an unput-downable round-up of words to get going.

s. Semiotic trapdoors in the old house of Poetry.

t. "The Naked Truth stript naked."

u. Out of the woods and at loggerheads: milling around the word.

v. Magma and slag-heap: why I am not a pragmatist.

w. Ball and Chain Poetics: "something grab'd ahold of me."

x. "I know of no precedent": modernism's hound on the scent of origin.

y. Shady endorsements: clambering up the back of the language tree.

z. Sycophant dish: slumbering with the tribe.


All at Hotel Point.

Where a hit is still a tab of acid.

Monday, October 20, 2003


"I have no thoughts today; What then? What difference does it make? It is only that there does not chance today to be an antagonism to evoke them, the electricity is the more accumulated, & a week hence you shall meet somebody or some thing that shall draw from you a shower of sparks."

Emerson, circa January 1843, in Emerson in His Journals, selected and edited by Joel Porte, Harvard UP, 1982.


The tension between what spins through the brain-cavity as raw material for writing (which activity is most abundant, or heighten'd, in the shower mornings) and what gets (sometimes) scribbled in an execrable hand as one- and two-word notes "toward" that writing.


The tension between those notes (chrysaline) and what emerges (papilionaceous). Between the sower's toss of yellow grain and the light-infest'd golden Crop riddling the back of the hill.


The tension between arriving at the "site of writing" (oh dear) with notes (scribbled or etch'd in the brain-pan) and sitting down in the guise of Mr. Tabula Rasa, all bets and aw-shucksiness off. When was there a day when "I have no thoughts today": how de-animated, unsexy, un-languaged, dyspeptic, and bode that would be.


Thinking about "aerated prose." Journal-like. Broken by white space. Number'd sections. Arbitrary stanzaic units. Guy Davenport does it. It helps the eye overcome density. The opacity of unnuanced prose blocks. The type-block.


Yesterday after the hike I flopped on my back and tried to read a little more of The Stones of Summer. I'd just set my glasses aside, open'd the book and pull'd it up to where it rest'd athwart my sternum when a rhomboid'd head tipped over the top of the page and began travelling down toward the gutter follow'd by a parallelogram'd, and slightly larger, body. Oh dear. Some kind of beetle, probably stink-bug related. How many different species of Coleoptera are there again? Is it sixty thousand? Three million? One quarter of all animal species? Almost a half of all animal species alive today? More beetles than poets? We shall go wild, but obfuscate not the holy landscape of our desires. I captur'd the beetle with my Fingertip and released it into the leaf-emburdened City.


Sunday afternoon a long walk down by the Huron River with G. and Carmen-the-doggo. We parked near Barton Dam and crossed the footbridge there. Took up a tiny trail the runs along the river's edge, aimlessly following its big bend, dipping south before turning back north. A scrubland of brown'd out goldenrods, asters and fleabane still hoisted above prairie grasses, and tangles of red osier dogwood. The Amtrak tracks run along the bottomland, and I lived upriver (and uphill) about three or four miles away when a kid. And walk'd the railroad line with that peculiar stretch-leg gait: the spacings of the ties fit no human step I've ever known.

G. collect'd items for a collection box: a compartment'd clear plastic affair. One mullein leaf, one golfball, one shard of glass, one wooden peg (used, formerly, to fix netting to the steep embankment near the dam, to keep the soil in place so the vegetation'ld take hold). He (G.) pointed out that I'd used the word "insane" twice that day.

The Age

Bought (Friends of the Library):

Poetry and the Age, by Randall Jarrell (Vingage pbk., 1953)

Read in and out of over the years. Good to put on my shelf for one Kennedy half.


Scratchpad Dump

[What follows is a reconstruction. Friday's late afternoon version zing'd off into the cyber-void, got cyber-86'd by assailants unknown, "Death to the cyber-scribbler," or &c.

As Benjamin Franklin says: "Lost time is not found again," which Bob Dylan, chiliastic metronome and song-boy of the American nightmare, ably stole with good reason and a clear heart: or so my son G., a perfervid for colonialist history, point'd out . . .

Or as Jimi Hendrix says: "You can leave now, we're just jammin' . . ." knowing you won't never can.]


Two titles (Oh for the old and irate days of peccable slagging off--poet to poet, pampheteer to pampheteer--before the Goggs of an alarmingly right-thinking amenability and politesse tore through the agora (and agora it's--poetry's--become), making impossible such heart-aching strings of inimitables . . .), and a line of dialogue.

Citt and Bumpkin, or, A learned discourse upon swearing and lying, by L'Estrange, Sir Roger.

Crack upon crack, or, Crack-fart whipt with his own rod, by the same.

"Peace, Bottlehead."


Friday, October 17, 2003


Tired. Just jots and tittles today.


Thinking about Tim Reynolds. Circa 1986 looking for him in a bar called Al's on Traction St. in Los Angeles.

How he once wrote: "Think of what Flaubert would've done with a computer . . ." Meaning the late Flaubert of the copious notes, the Bouvard et Pécuchet Flaubert.

How he had some line about Mark Strand, "that handsome fine-hair'd son of a bitch." Reynolds had a longish, maybe forty-page document called Grant Proposal that he sent me. I think he tabulated Strand's grant-getting against his own and concluded: "Mark Strand undeniably cuts a fine figure of a man, but are his poems worth X times more money than mine?"

How he wrote, somewhere: "Penis and Vagina had an argument."

How he worked as a typist for some outfit like Atlantic-Richfield.

How he wrote to me once about a letter he'd had published in the New York Times Book Review. Regarding the author of, I think, a history of early religious practices: "I caught him in the open, and shot him in the butt."

I never met him. Corresponded briefly around the period of printing Dawn Chorus (Ithaca House, 1980).


Videotaping G. and the other third graders at the evening musical do at the elementary school. Panning the faces, the distracted ones, the my-heart's-overflowing ones, the edgy and wild and clownish. Pretending myself the young Truffaut.


Au travail. Citoyens. Citoyennes. A yen to work. Toy work in the city.
Attention. Attention. La station Rennes est fermée au publique.


What's all this noise about "Poetry and Umpires"? Poetry don't need no umpires.

Thursday, October 16, 2003


Noted via the Arts Journal for today that the National Book Awards finalists have been named. The nominees for poetry include Kevin Young's Jelly Roll: A Blues (Alfred A. Knopf), a tidier, and less compelling book than the Zoland Books To Repel Ghosts, (2001), with its Jean-Michel Basquiat stylings.

Other poetry nominees: Charles Simic, C. K. Williams, Carol Muske-Dukes, and Louis Simpson.

Hound Gabble

Distracted this morning, a hound off its trace, in a gabble of scents. My friend Graham Hettlinger, poet and translator of Ivan Bunin, is coming by. We haven't seen each other since Charlottesville days, circa 1990.


Biking in, I'm singing in the dark, some almost Almost Blue song:

Why don'tcha love me like you used to do?
Why 'on'tcha love me like one-eyed Sue?
Why 'on'tcha love me like I love you?
Why don'tcha love me like you used to do?

Trying to do the wrap-up chords and grunts with my mouth and botching it. The noises etch'd perfectly in my cranial self-storage unit. (Ridiculous the lengths I'll go to to avoid the word "mind.")


The other thing I'll bark into the morning is:

Whyn't chew slow the fuck down.

Basso groucho and bad muh-fuhh on my trusty hybrid.


Titles uncover'd yesterday:

The monster of sinful self-seeking, anatomizd by Edmund Calamy.
A 1654 sermon.

The fixed saint, by the same.
Fixed? I thought that was exactly what allow'd for saintliness, but then I just got a dog.


One correspondent writes:

Je vais faire une scène de jalousie au blog!



The's very avoidance betrays the.


Walking Carmen, ten at night. Yellow electric light fubbs the stitchery of the neighborhood, swings in easy arcs out of its pockets. And within each house cool blue box'd light gels, hearth-of-the-damned. Televisions everywhere! Some so big I can read its message:



Surely the broadcast of a Grenier poem, I think. (Once I saw a presentation by Steve McCaffery consisting mostly of words scrolling, at various speeds, up and over images on a television screen. I think I pointed out that, increasingly, commercial-makers were doing the same thing: combating the mute button, making little poems for the eyes. I think I got a few sneery looks.)

In one house nightly a man sits facing a catty-corner'd television and holds a laptop open and teetering on knees. Which strikes me as Mallarméan, rather nul ptyx-ish, "the space between two mirrors."


Say it fast:

Aboli bibelot d’inanité sonore,
aboli bibelot d’inanité sonore,
aboli bibelot d’inanité sonore.


To work.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Massy Rugs

Biked home in a stiff rain, wet the Levi's through. And later walked the yellow dog in the yellow light over massy rugs of down'd yellow leaves. And I in my slicker, just another yellow leaf!


Is it the petiole that unclenches its tiny fist and lets the leaf drop away, tapped off the tree by the raindrop's hammer?

Anthropomorphism is the final gasp of the sentimentalist.


At six o'clock in the morning, a cold wind. And stars so bright they look'd dislocated, as if by starlight itself they'd shift'd and sprawl'd and spun. Or as if some hand had scoop'd several new star-pieces out of night's black moneybag, and flung 'em down on the gaming table.


Suspiciously self-amused. Why stick to the thing itself when you can gobble it all up in a wad and miasma of metaphor? Or wad it all up in the gobble and muss of its saying?


I started reading a little of the introduction to Richard Poirier's Poetry and Pragmatism (Harvard University Press, 1992) last night. It's a book I have no preconceived "take" on. I know little about Poirier, mostly only as Editor-in-Chief of Raritan, a review I thumb through now and again, having read essays there by the likes of Andrew Epstein and Michael Magee. I stopped (I'll go back) at the point that Poirier, rather cheekily, or even gleefully, I thought, suggests that it was perhaps Italian opera that

"prompted [John Jay] Chapman to a horrendous act of self-mutilation in his rooms in Cambridge late one night in 1887. Guilty at having viciously caned a man who, so he imagined, had paid too much attention to Chapman's fiancee, he held his offending left hand in the fireplace, burning it so badly that it had to be amputated."

Chapman's crime in Poirier's eyes? The "quite charming, brief, and innocuous," or "casually derisive" (Poirier, in both cases) comment that:

"If an inhabitant of another planet should visit the earth, he would receive, on the whole, a truer notion of human life by attending an Italian opera than he would by reading Emerson's volumes. He would learn from the Italian opera that there are two sexes; and this, after all, is probably the fact with which the education of such a stranger ought to begin." (Published by Chapman in 1898.)

Mmrrm. I went back to the Mossman.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Mad Jaunt Upper

Two trips to Paradise, Michigan. One with my brothers, on some mad jaunt through the Upper Peninsula. We had to deliver a subpoena to some character there in Paradise. Found him out at the town dump, after asking in the hardware store, in the coffee shop. My youngest brother left the back of the cap swung up on the truck and got caught in the head by it just after serving the papers. Dropped all 6'4" to the ground. Took the wildness out of him for the rest of that trip. Drank mightily and went night-swimming in the campground river. What I did for fun.

And two summers back drove through Paradise on the way to the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory. Lunch'd there coming back. Whitefish Point sticks way out into the lower end of Lake Superior, mimics a bulge pushing down on the Canadian side. Thus: a perfect migration funnel, a "natural corridor." We were there in late July, not much bird movement. I spent most of the afternoon trailing the kids along the beach, looking for agates, granite, smooth ovoid discs of dark basalt.


Awake around four thinking about a sentence, lost, containing the word doggo.


Merrill Gilfillan, in the "Spring" section of the poem "The Seasons" in the eponymously-titled book (Adventures in Poetry, 2002), on first stirrings of a desire to write, come down on him whilst throwing a discus "with a little grunt or oof" in an old ballfield out in the birch woods near Paradise, Michigan, on Whitefish Bay:

"It might well have been the solitary penny-pitch, the idle pebble-toss rhythm of the pastime that led to that frame of mind, that blend of revery and semirevelation. But that is where I place it, the earliest determination to write poems: a nearly wordless feeling of potential convening, glimpses of the two axials of language interbraiding: the horizontal (the simple recounting, that redemption and testimony within the meditative matrix and course of the mothertongue) and the vertical (the cut of the word in formation above the head where words were not just seconds before, the songspur and sonics in the wings of meaning)."

Speech and music come unbidden on the road to Paradise? That seems right to me. Not to go all allegorical, not hardly. What I know is how Gilfillan invariably gets the details right: the birches, the "coppery August grasses and Indian paintbrush growing in it and goldenrod and fern brakes at the edges." Later he says: "I declare the place, this morning, a third of a century after": notes echoing, surely, Robert Duncan's "Often I am Permitted to Return to a Meadow":

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,
that is not mine, but is a made place . . .

But where Gilfillan names (and clearly knows) the flora, Duncan goes off into the mists of semi-myth:

Wherefrom fall all architectures I am
I say are likenesses of the First Beloved
whose flowers are flames lit to the Lady.

She it is Queen Under the Hill . . .

Back to John Clare versus John Keats? The precise detail rubb'd up against the flourishes of the vague? I continue to poke at that difference in part out of a dissatisfaction with the terms of a debate laid out by Ron Silliman, his British-inflect'd and dismiss'd School of Quietude versus a (presumably) American post-avant which is touted as (presumably) precision-master'd and detail-laden (among much else) . . .

Monday, October 13, 2003

Plaguy Paracelsian

More Thomas d'Urfey, a staging of Don Quixote:

"Why, ye plaguy Paracelsian you, d'ye think I can dine upon Paper?"


"Mary has such a way with her, such a jigging crumptious whim with her Backside, that she's as full of Temptation as an Egg is full of Meat . . ."


I see Jordan Davis is dumping raw Peter Gizzi notes (preparing, presumably, for a Constant Critic review. He's a less wary note-taker than I. Scattershot and bulldog, grabbing it all. Am I, in spite of disclaimers, a model of inefficiency, nodding off into the green-screen area of daydream, waiting for the prim un-duckweed'd word to surface with scathe and pop? Full of care, or careworn? Or do these vocables fling themselves at my feet unattended? Can I even define a method?

That's one book I'd like to hold in my hands.

The Gizzi, I mean. Some Values of Landscape and Weather (Wesleyan, 2003)

My Method

"I think all wars start in barbershops . . ." (Dow Mossman)


"I never trusted a man who didn't drink too much, did you?" (Dow Mossman)


My Method

I cannot sustain any lengthy argument. I write by twitch and flail, in short bursts, and expunge not, or little. For several years I've been thinking about writing an essay about some connection I see between the New Sentence and Pound. I collect material, I make notes, I read with a view toward. And whatever conspires against it continues its conspiracy.

My method here is: whatever I'm thinking about goes in, in insobrietous herky-jerkiness and spittle. Unconstrain'd diction, unconstrict'd thought. And there's a good chance that that whatever'll come back, snout its molish snout up out of the earth, its mulish obstinacy. So, if I seem to shout without sticking around to catch my own echo, I'll try to get back to it.

"So busied in my several cogitations, that I forgot the chief."


Bought (Friends of the Library):

The Birds, Oskar and Katharina Heinroth (University of Michigan Press, 1958)

The Ants, Wilhelm Goetsch, (University of Michigan Press, 1957)

Crustaceans, Waldo L. Schmitt, (University of Michigan Press, 1965)

Bird Sounds, Gerhard A. Thielcke, (University of Michigan Press, 1976)

Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome (Puffin, 1962)

A little sentimental tizzy, Saturday morning. The first is a familiar item of my father's bookshelf. Was it out of that volume I used to sketch a bird displayed in a way to label its parts? Or was that in the Peterson Field Guide? In the days I used to think of becoming an ornithologist . . .

The last is a British kid's book, first in a series, illustrated winsomely by the author. Ransome also wrote a book on the Russian revolution, a critical study of Oscar Wilde, and something titled Bohemia in London. And was a fisherman of note.

Friday, October 10, 2003

As in Every Deafness


As in Every Deafness, by Graham Foust (Flood Editions, 2003)

The first Flood Editions book I ordered was Ronald Johnson's The Shrubberies, shortly after reading ARK and the earlier W. W. Norton things, The Book of the Green Man (1967) and Valley of the Many-Colored Grasses (1969). [Someone should study Norton's poetry offerings of that era--I presume all selected by Denise Levertov. Offhand I think of A. R. Ammons (started with Norton in 1971, with Briefings); Joel Sloman's Virgil's Machines; some of May Sarton. I'd like to think the selection there represents a model of aesthetic eclecticism (something I admit I'd argue for, still, in this late Age of Schools. I've never been much of a schoolboy--too noisy for the quiet kids, too quiet for the rowdy--and tend to wrinkle up my nose in impatience at the schoolmarmish.)] Wow'd initially (and continually) by the impeccable design of Flood Editions, I've been sending off the bucks for each new book. It's particularly gratifying to get things like Philip Jenks's On the Cave You Live In and William Fuller's Sadly in the mail. I'd not known previously the work of either, and each I've found bear repeat'd looks.

Graham Foust I knew of, vaguely: editor of Phoebe at one point, doing the Buffalo thing recently, co-edit'd Lagniappe with Ben Friedlander. Though I'd seen little of the work.

Here's a Foust poem:

Security Camera

For very
long, a thing

of now
and then

the unheard

in which
its gaze sits.

(The clicking of this
in us is

a color

I selected this fairly randomly, jotted it down with the intent of bringing it here, before reading further in the book. In isolation it strikes me as something like a poised conundrum, aware of its own careful play of hearing and seeing, aware of its syllabic pace, & sounds. (The dedication exhibits this same care: a terrible tenderness in its "placed in the hands of A--".) I'm vaguely reminded of Cortazar's story "Blow-Up", the camera lying in the grass, the "one or two going by," pigeons. In the context of the other poems in Foust's book though, wedged in amidst references and hints to drugs and dry-outs, the poem is somewhat more ominous, the "color" there, its "clicking" "in us" opens into the sense of a condition, a state of things rather malevolent "nonetheless."

I think tiny poems (that tend to exfoliate such, rather than evaporate, ) are hard to do. I think Friedlander writes some, maybe that's part of what Foust "got" at Buffalo. Or maybe he came there already stripped down, minimal.


Stabbed myself in the thumb with an oyster shucker this morning. This in trying to puncture the lid of the orange juice after the pull snapped.

Bled near naught. Though a pink-like Fluid there did exude.

"What a mother dippy-ass thing to do." Is what Ronnie Crown would say.


Scratchpad Dump

Collecting the fancies of the week, in fragments . . .


Horace will not allow those Verses to be good, whose words being rendred in Prose, do not sound well: Whoever therefore takes the pains to bring these to that touch, and compare them with these, or almost any other of Horace, will find them to differ as much as Chalk and Cheese.


"a Parcel of ragged Arse tatterdemalion Fellows"


Miss Plaudit


Undoff your Comick Sock. (Thomas d’Urfey)

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Home Rustic, Moi

One more Clare thing (just so the evidence be collected). Here's Charles Lamb (he who said of eating frogs in France: "nicest little rabbity things . . . the fore quarters are not so good . . . let them hop off by themselves."), in a letter to Clare (1822):

"The quantity of your observation has astonished me. . . . In some of your story telling Ballads the provincial phrases sometimes startle me. I think you are too profuse with them. In poetry slang of every kind is to be avoided. . . . Now and then a home rusticism is fresh & startling, but where nothing is gained in expression, it is out of tenor. It may make folks smile and stare, but the ungenial coalition of barbarous with refined phrases will prevent you in the end from being so generally tasted as you deserve. . ."


John Clare in a letter:

"I am defiled with the old silence of rusticity that always characterized me among my neighbours before I was known to the world I was reckoned a 'glumpy half sort of fool' amongst em"


Keats on Clare (reported to Clare in a letter by John Taylor, publisher to both):

"When I read [Clare's poem] Solitude to him he observed that the Description too much prevailed over the Sentiment"

And in a later letter:

"If he [Keats] recovers his Strength he will write to you. I think he wishes to say to you that your Images from Nature are too much introduced without being called for by a particular Sentiment . . . he feels as if the Description overlaid and stifled that which ought to be the prevailing Idea"

Clare on Keats (apparently a collation of two drafts of a letter to John Scott, editor of The Champion):

"He keeps up a constant alusion or illusion to the Grecian mythology & there I cannot follow yet when he speaks of woods Dryads & Fauns & Satyrs are sure to follow & the brook looks alone without her naiads to his mind yet the frequency of such classical accompaniment makes it wearisome to the reader where behind every rose bush he looks for a Venus & under every laurel a thrumming Appollo but as far as I can judge his descriptions of scenery are often very fine but as it is the case with other inhabitants of great citys he often described nature as she appeared to his fancys & not as he would have described her had he witnessed the things he describes . . . to read thro him page by page we shall find is impossible to follow or undertand the vagueness [?] of his fancy . . ."

Sticky and Aimless

Explosion of orange ladybugs in the warmth yesterday afternoon. Sticky little aimless zig-zagging and clinging to whatever body they hit. G. draped a new school T-shirt over his head on the walk home. "I don't like 'em, Dad."



Chicago Review, 49:2 Summer 2003.

I'm shy with superlatives but Chicago Review's a terrific magazine. Noted a piece of a Robert Adamson memoir (discover'd Adamson's The Language of Oysters a couple of years back, poems, with photographs by Juno Gemes of life along the Hawkesbury River (N.S.W.) in Australia. Also a "new and selected" titled Mulberry Leaves, out of Paper Bark, 2001); a review of Jennifer Moxley's The Sense Record; a piece by Joan Retallack (I've been eagerly awaiting her book of essays, The Poetical Wager, somewhat delay'd, due now in November from the University of California Press); and fiction by Gerhard Roth.


Noted in a recent Publishers Weekly (October 6, 2003) that FSG is publishing something titled "I AM": The Selected Poetry of John Clare, edited by Jonathan Bate, along with Bate's new Clare biography.


Fell asleep in the chair reading the Mossman.

"History is the maddest hat. I'm doin' fine. . ."

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


Announced Hotel Point at Poetics and New Poetry lists.

"Which was received with Yo-hah."

(See court reports of treaty with the Six Nations, printed by Benjamin Franklin, circa 1744.)


Gibbous moon and warming last night. And in the morning Orion hanging high to the south. Mars diminishing by a whisker to the southeast. The insects back. One lone sawyer, a tenor, going beez-buzz, beez-buzz. Another a high tinkle, or trill, ceasing on approach. To spend all twilight perched in the canopy of that red oak, say, waiting for that bug to show up. Old longings for an early nineteenth century naturalist's life.

Whenever I think "trill" I riff quickly through: the Chicago blues pianist Otis Spann, who apparently did one-finger piano trills (rather than two-finger, alternating, supposedly faster, I'm not a pianist); my prose thing begun circa 1976 with a main character named Lumly and girlfriend Frannie, who relates Spann's technique. Lumly notes how uncomplicated Frannie's joy is at such, and acknowledges that all joy for him is "misty and complex." Was that it? Or "complex and mopey"? (Writing is merely a test of memory.)


"Thank you for telling me that."


Started reading that Dow Mossman novel, The Stones of Summer: A Yeoman's Notes, 1942-1969. Need I apologize for reading a book in the midst of its buzz? Is there a buzz?


On the car radio, going to fetch G.: The Chambers Brothers's Time Has Come Today (1968).

I've been crushed by a tumbling tide (Time)
My soul's been psychedelicized (Time).

Because I cannot spell, I have to look that last word up.

Apparently first proposed in 1957, by H. Osmond (in a letter to Aldous Huxley) "I have tried to find an appropriate name for the agents under discussion: a name that will include the concepts of enriching the mind and enlarging the vision... My choice, because it is clear, euphonious, and uncontaminated by other associations, is psychedelic, mind-manifesting.

Just a decade later it's socket'd in to popular culture.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003


Marcella Durand is the new editor. Liked her tremendously since her letter to Bush ("piss into the ocean") following September 11th. She's got an interview with Jack Collom. Also: Ashbery on 1947 Yale Younger Poet Joan Murray, a Tony Towle poem, reviews of Malmude's The Bundle, Coultas's A Handmade Museum, and Jordan Davis's Million Poems Journal.

News: At Port Royal, by Christopher Edgar to be published by Adventures in Poetry.

Note: got to order The Seasons, by Merrill Gilfillan, also AIP.

Baby Blue


The Poetry Project Newsletter, No. 196, October/November 2003.

Feeling like a part of a community of where I ain't never been. In all my few dozen trips to New York, I never visit'd the Poetry Project. I never read there (or anywhere in New York). My "community-sense"? Probably the result of Ted Berrigan's visit to Ann Arbor's high school, circa 1969. And the remark: "Ask me anything. You want to ask me about my poems? You want to ask me where I got these boots and belt?" (Dead serious jovial.) He had on a baby-blue patent leather belt that must've been four inches wide. Matching boots. With points. Poet as regular guy rocker. Half-misfit and diggin' it.

Monday, October 06, 2003


Bought (Friends of the Library):

Patriotic Gore: studies in the literature of the American Civil War, by Edmund Wilson. (A fat brick of a book, a 1977 FSG/Noonday paperback.)

15 Canadian Poets, edited by Gary Geddes and Phyllis Bruce (Toronto, Oxford, 1970). Atwood, Avison, Birney, Bowering, Cohen, Coleman, Jones, Layton, MacEwen, Mandel, Newlove, Nowlan, Ondaatje, Purdy, Souster. Bought mostly for the picture of George Bowering, clope au bec, long hair lank and astraggle, forefingers in a blur making a pincer movement toward the cigarette. Kind of a vignette of an era. Curiously, the editors seem vaguely alarmed and only begrudgingly willing to include Bowering:

"Many of Bowering's poems, especially those about sex or intimate feelings, get bogged down in the perceiving consciousness, so that what seems to have been the impetus for the poem is lost. One way of explaining this is to say not that the subjective aesthetic is at fault but that the subject itself has not been sufficiently 'worked up'."



The "contagion of ambition."


Whirl'd about like a scene in a masque.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Tom Clark

Poking around in the Clare books, I found an old Kulchur Foundation Tom Clark book nearby. Something called At Malibu, published in 1975, complete with Clark's Joe Brainard-drawing imitations on the title page (nipples, Daffy Ducks, surfers with shades). Two things here:

First, I find a scrawl dated 7/5/75, blue ball-point'd:

I hope you all
enjoy this piece of shit,
and aren't as mind-fucked as I.
Tom Clark

In the signature the k sweeps up and around to encircle the name.

Second, there's a poem of about fifteen pages, titled "Hand Jive," that collects one sentence per page. Excerpt'd:

O god they really do it to me


Exurbanite lambs plunge to a cartoon death in Tibet


On the rocks waves lap against a pair of jockey shorts


Larry Doby


Larry Doby

The repeated name belongs to a baseball player (I discover): first black player in the American League, Doby joined the Cleveland Indians in July 1947, three months after Jackie Robinson entered the Majors with the National League's Brooklyn Dodgers. . .

I'm trying to get this down in part to belie the rather extravagant claims that Ron Silliman's made regarding Bob Grenier's Sentences (Whale Cloth Press, 1978), in particular the one that goes



I'm trying to get down a far less serious (more "mind-fucked," more daffy, hoot and goof) version of things. Repetition "in the air." Juxtapositioning: there was a lot of talk about what happen'd when one image rubbed up against another image. The couplet as juxtaposition pluperfect. What could be more pluperfect, more than more than perfect, than repetition. Larry Doby. Larry Doby. Ron Padgett's "Nothing in That Drawer." Charles Wright in China Trace (Wesleyan, 1977) using the same Calvino epigraph for each section.

Losing my own self.


Biked in under a high white haze of sky, cold, with whiter contrails hung below it and a big lazy smear of untidy sun, whiter too, up somewhere lording it over it all.

Walked the dog (Carmen, a near-as-we-can-tell golden retriever fetched from the pound, ten months old and mad for squirrels) in the cold last night. Clear out, and a half moon, imperfectly snipped off by scissors, tagged along. The cold's made the insects ratchet down the noise, none of the sawings, raspings, clicks and chirps of the warmer nights a week back. Replaced by the high grunting and skirl of trucks barreling along I-94 to Chicago, and a lower fuss and hush of local traffic.


Couldn't find the Soupault. Recalled to memory:

Il neige, il neige, il neige en Norvege.
Et je n'apprendrai jamais le solfege.

One way to do it:

It snows and snows and snows in Norway.
And I will never learn music theory.


Received yesterday in the mail (ordered from Peter Riley (Books), 27 Sturton Street, Cambridge, CB1 2QG, excellent source of UK and Irish poetry).

The Music Laid Her Songs in Language, by Michael Haslam (Arc Publications, 2001)
Continual Song, by Michael Haslam (Open Township, 1986)

Thursday, October 02, 2003


Took a gander at something called One Hundred Frogs: From Renga to Haiku to English. Named that due to the one hundred versions, chronologically arranged, of Basho's hokku on the frog going splash into the old pond. What caught me up in it:
Hiroaki Sato calling the renga form that "best suited to someone who can't concentrate." What was that again?

I periodically investigate short forms in an attempt to corral my sprawl and exfoliation. I build up, spread out, pile on, overdo it. I don't pare away. Down, lately to sixteen-line things: do I want to go smaller? All day thinking about a couplet by Philippe Soupault:

It snows in Norway interminably.
I'll never learn music theory.

I put my American mark on it, mayhaps wrongly. I'll have to look up the French version: Norvege, solfege.


After about a year of procrastinating, "Procrastination thy name is legion," and dreaming (last night) of blogging (my "background" was cover'd with apples): today seems the right day to begin. This, I find, in Lezama Lima's Paradiso: "Kandinsky's advice that the tip of a stylus on touching the black plate of an engraving will produce a point that shatters its surroundings." That's a little grandiose.

Another title could well have been: "(Geraniums) Pott'd on the Stoop," what some wag'ld be sure to change to "Stupid on. . ." Or "Hotel Hermit." Or "Hotel Peculiar." Names are everything, and everywhere.

Of course I'm at "work." The library. I often imagime myself a Gogol-clerk. Hit and run posting before the office-comrades dump garbage over my head. In my dream I wrote:

Ugly word of the day: lite.
Missing the gnarly excrescences of the ght.
Go fly a kight.


Reading: John Clare: a life, the 1972 edition, revised by Anne Tibble, originally author'd by J. W. Tibble. Clare complaining about Keats's "conceits" muddying up the thing itself; Keats complaining about Clare's directness. That old quarrel. The two just missed meeting circa 1820, just before Keats went off to Italy.

Also: just got my hands on the library copy of The Sleep That Changed Everything. Lee Ann Brown. She's a spatter-reine. Splash-frau. The messy, the untidy, the goat-footed, the ungainly, un-cowed and able. I like it as long as I don't see it as "mannerist." Isn't the "period style" leading in exactly those directions?