Friday, July 29, 2005

A Color


Renegade connoisseur of blue Yves Klein, with prêt-à-porter Gaston Bachelard for backup: “the poet, living in ‘contented world-weariness amidst

oblivious tarns’, suffers from the irony of blueness. He perceives an excessively hostile blueness which strives with an indefatigable hand to ‘fill the gaping blue

holes wickedly made by birds.’” Blued blue. Van Gogh knew it too: “I paint infinity, a plain background of the richest, intensest blue that I can contrive.” And Jeff

Clark: “By abandoned prose, a nightlong tic . . .” I had to do that. For painting oneself into a blue corner? Why, it’s like going up to Hale Eddy with a recidivist.

It’s like a wild letter shrunk down apropos of nothing. The way the British bobbie’ll put an edifying fine dalliance and prim-heart’d defiance up against

any “threat perceivable,” a categorical blunder. So along about 1963—I heard it commenced with a newspaper strike—an affable slob by the name of Frederick Ted

Castle, late of Lockport, New York, stomp-land and pasturage of Joyce Carol Oates, wrote a single word “Charles.” New paragraph. “So far, as even such a phrase

implies, the course has been forward in time so that it is now later than when I began to write.” Pelfeckly Ploustian. A novel Anticipation. Durée: one

American year. I traduce the informal. That, and a letter to Edward Dorn: “During my unprincipled reading last week . . .” and, unprincipledly

pirating, “I Ching eschews the dualist without foregoing the distinction by means of the perfectly inclusive mode, what the Chinese call Tao, which

reduces all questions to one: What is appropriate to this time?” To perch in corduroys in a window nook, a ledge-standing hedger against futurity and fall

irredeemably and archingly slow into a camera lens’s round’d gape, and that whilst a bicyclist speeds off unalarm’d? Too far. That time is done and gone. (Hogarth: “Time

himself is dying.”) Doused chariots stream down out of the sky, a palette smithereen’d, a blunderbuss halved, a sheldrake gobbling its own dung. A boisterous

age run off in agony, “holdeinge uppe her gowne wile jumpeinge over thee cabbidges.” And the new age? The new age is a cloud, without trou. Or is time’s demise a

paradisickal (blue) ruse? Melville, sweet Herman: “In such an hour / Some pangs that rend might take release.” Stuck here without “a tent spread to feed lobsters / to Rexall

conventioneers,” we’ll miss the old barbarities under the blatting dispensation and load’d accrual of the new barbarities, yes. “And he who has never felt,

momentarily, what madness is has but a mouthful of brains.”


To work.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Sound


The Luddite that inhabits my century says, “In order to make a few cents, think of a bath concession / In some little town like Gabii,” or try auctioneering, gabbling

out the hysteria of commerce-lust over some bit of frippery, a ring, a washstand, a property. Prop: what the stagehand skids frowningly about whilst the curtains

tremble with post-inertial pomp. Wallace Stevens writes: “Be content— / Expansions, diffusions—content to be / / The unspotted imbecile revery, / The heraldic center of

the world / / Of blue, blue sleek with a hundred chins, / The amorist Adjective flame . . .” Lovely as a thrips, sturdy as a truncheon, though nobody’s doubting the

palaveral consistency, or the office languor it cost. So night thunders down, white baseballs dump’d into a duffel bag, the shin-guards the catcher toss’d off lying

like hard mollusks in the mud. Huddie Ledbetter: “She asked the sweetback man for one dime. He didn’t have no dime. And she worried about it all the time he was

gone.” And the chorus always says the same thing: “It’s too late . . .” “For what is a Chorus but a Fence for Time’s bleak Industrie, a Mountebanck, a squabbler, and a

Shill?” Another word for a word’s way of dissembling, disassembling permanence. Narrative rocketry in a letter, or a combo. Thoreau’s Ktaadn, I adduce, there where

wildness got a toehold in him, never fails to point me at Jim Kaat, a tall southpaw out of Zeeland, Michigan with a magnificent gappy-tooth’d grin. That is how

a word’ll poke holes in the real—in the only pictures I find, Kaat’s got a full set of choppers. So what accrues does so in fractional spasms, three-gaitedly like a

poor-shod horse, whilst a great slaking off occurs. Dickinson: “The Birds jocoser sung — / The Sunshine threw his Hat away —” And what Meaning apes in th’outcome is a

range, mountainous, what a clown phrenologist’d find working a bleacher’s row of sad heads at a circus. And the word, the word is skittish, and beauty-beat, temper’d in

the fires of unglazed preterite sound, ever and ineluctable pass’d over, unelect’d (by God). Juvenal (trans. Rolfe Humphries): “In every house you will find a Professor

of Obscene Matters.” Or, dropsickak morbid-seeming under the glint-light of the word, one intones: “all Matter is obscene, vnweldy, vnlusty and slo” Light. Word.

Scritch. Voice. Insectivorous pleating. In a “glut of all material arts,” John Keats’d say, “Cats are becoming more vociferous,” though it mought be he channel Lord Buckley. Valparaiso!


To work.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A Cap


Down’d a reuben and two loggy green gherkins (early mod. Dutch, gurkkiun, dim. of agurk, augurk (also shortened gurk), cucumber—the

proximate source is uncertain) at the Café Bitter, and thought about things for a spell. Smack’d into “Tykishness” (Hopkins). What is it? A too stern longing for

th’abyss? The way a man’ll bark for hours up a cottonwood thinking he’s spy’d a skirt there? Dopey malfeasances of the central nervous system. Cheek by jowl addle-

pating. “All the American spelling reformers, beginning with Noah Webster, have made the mistake of trying to cover too much ground in one operation . . . When the

Simplified Spelling Board began making its list longer and longer and wider and wider, the national midriff began to tickle and tremble and soon the whole movement

was reduced to comedy.” (Mencken). That triumph of getting a conflagrate blaze going with just a stubby pencil. Making the ham-sized fist go in loopy circles and so

barely putting the knife-sharp’d tip to a page. (The sheet sizes of writing paper: post, large post, small foolscap, small demy.) “A coffee and a small fool’s cap to

go, por favor.” (Es muy tenebroso under that thing.) That French propensity to name things ungangly good: the sheet sizes of printing paper. Pot, tellière,

couronne, écu, coquille, cavalier, raisin, jésus, soleil, colombier, journal, grand-aigle, grand-monde.
“A coffee and a sheet of big eagle, please.” “Lines Writ in

Dejection on a Sheet of Jésus.” Ah, Keats: “I think I am in too huge a Mind for study.” A storied man in a cold snap, bean-stingy and clam’d up. Chewing at a cud of

light, luminous ruminant. And the longing, always the longing, for th’essayistic frenzy, what busts out in summer to finish it. In the vex’d periphery—where the mind

makes darts, pockets, strictures, pleats, where the mind trails its sex-ropes behind, where the mind is tempt’d to flee itself—there I duck and butter. Comfy

duck. Kafka: “Every sick man has his household god, the man with lung disease has the god of suffocation.” Confit de canard. Confit de cafard. “Cuire à feu moyen,

avec un couvercle.” Blue rider. August Macke, who loved to paint American Indians, dead in WWI action at the tender age of twenty-seven. One supposes an exit’ll

disjoin out the ténébreux, some pale domed piece of gadgetry, half Star Trek, half Charles Baudelaire. A monstrous front. And, it, may.


To work.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Line


Cadenza or glissando, either way I’d need to add a ledger line to hang some notes on. So big the number of notes. And in the morning mizzling showers, a viceroy flaps

three flaps and dares no more—descends to dogwood leaf, all demimonde faded glory. A fado’d insect, the way the clang of an I-bean on concrete is a fado. Or a toothsome

yip at midnight stirring out of the depths of a two-dimensional dog. Melville, after the bouquets and vases of salt water extend’d up to the sun, call’d

Pierre “a rural bowl of milk.” (—Or, “the Ambiguities.” —Beautiful.) (Finest sous-titre in an ass’s age.) I think the word for all beauty

is “tend.” (The man in a homburg who scrawl’d “Beauty-tender” under “current employ.”) Contemporary review of Pierre: “The sooner this author is put in

a ward the better.” To ward off th’incidence of musicogenic epilepsy: “Fits could not be induced by pure tones . . . Different kinds of music were invariably followed

by a fit within five minutes.” In Paris, in the ’seventies, I recall meeting a young man who experienced such symptoms—increase of blood pressure, heart rate, and

respiration, accompany’d by dizziness and fainting spells—in front of certain paintings. We had to run precipitously “like the smoke in a hurricane whirl’d”

out of a Beaubourg chamber thick with Matisses. Melville: “we mortals ourselves spring all naked and scabbardless into the world,” a decidedly masculine

image, that: skawberc, skawberk, skabrek, skaberke, scaberge, scabridge, Scarbridge, schawbert, skawburne. (Although in Middleton’s treatise, Famous

there is evidence of a scabbardly feminine usage: “Since he has strooke with the sword, strike you with the Scabbard: in plaine termes Cuckold him.”) No more

etymologickal mayhem, there’s mayhem enow, and how shouldst one ever touch even “the skirts of so celestial a place”? That viceroy (false monarch)’d better get in out of the rain.


To work.

Monday, July 25, 2005

A Fit


Admirable the way fate places the down’d tree limb in the path of the cross-burden’d pilgrim, causing him to pitch headlong into the graffiti’d boulder, acceding the

troublesome journey to another, and getting him to heaven scot-free. Or so saith the sophist. I’m rendering obliquely things best render’d oblique. Caesar dug that. If

Keats—poor child!—can so gently lift the metaphorick’d earthworm out the crevice of basalt and say “luxuriously / He chews the honied cud of fair spring thoughts” (he’s

talking about what a seasonal “fit” a man’s life is, throughout), then when the goldfinch stabs up off the goldenrod I’ll ever exult. Mete and profuse as a

ligature, I’ll always love that. And, by accident, fossicking the cellar bookshelves in salvage of a poor illustrated history of musickings gone by, to come up suddenly

with Notley’s How Spring Comes, a tiger of a book. Alice N. says: “Purchase a copy of The Sophist. Collect some Gracie Allen jokes.” She says: “Emily

Brontë walks out to copulate with a storm.” Collectionneuse de mots. Demo. Demob’d. Why did Paul Auster keep saying “Therefore Raleigh,” and that in 1975?

And: “No work remains unfinished, even the one that has been abandoned.” Tailwind of existentialism blowing hard alee there, into those “white spaces”—that’s so

French. Mostly I am here to convince you that Marguerite Young is the great unsung chanteuse of the season and beyond, a soldier for the poor, the maim’d, the

sufferer, her in her blunt bangs and ebullient skirts. “There was, for example, a pale duchess who lived quietly in the country, noted for her care of forty dogs,

many monkeys, many parrots, her ideal community—and rarely did she go to bed, for she was suffering from a fatal illness. Many a sunburned widow, renting a pigsty for

sixpence a year, might think the duchess fortunate—but many a poor widow, with her apron full of chestnuts, would survive her. No use making matters worse than they

were, by putting the duchess into a pigsty, and putting the widow into a monkey cage.” Now tell me, should the mask for the face ever be doff'd? And I shall

reply: “The mask for the face is fetter’d and undoffable, that is its nature, cow’d. Extricable (and bovine) as a joke! (I’ll always love that.) We must not forget that

tomorrow is th’incorrigible Wolfgang Mozart’s birthday! (Not the one you think, not he of whom that temporary Iowan Dvorak so yellowly claim’d: “Mozart is

sunshine.” Another, a “son of Mozart.”) And I shall appropriate my own memory of Mozart père as a little acorn, “brow darken’d with intent,” playing

scherzos for the emperor’s nephews. He was a monstrous boy. Indiscreet, puckish, a songbird, a disgorger. That’s the way things swerve off, fate-song’d and absolute.

César Vallejo dug that. See—“The girl . . . puts her forefinger / on her tongue which starts spelling / the tangles of the tangles of the tangles . . .” (Eshleman’s

Trilce) O oft I permit myself to become a stooge for sludge, whatever snakes its loudening way down the pike, and just for the few mayapples that’ll go

bobbing there. Plausible disturbances, lasso'd thunderheads, to market with a hinny or a hen. O for a drastickal book of private writings, a “quibble over the

Floridas.” “Issuing out of the Great Issues of the period, one of ironickal mastery and mummers adroit, he drew a roundabout blank.” Melville: “It is impossible to talk

or to write without apparently throwing oneself helplessly open . . .” And if the two Eies in Yr Head point distinctly and opposably? With a vasty corruscate Head

and Brains betwixt like a Whale’s? What then? Yea, what Pilgrim’d summon a Synthesis?
In a town call’d Mon Idée, in France, there is a little street call’d rue Noeud.


To work.

Friday, July 22, 2005



Ice-cube settling in a tumbler, a chink in the sultry night. A hinge into th’alert. Whereas prior: kraal’d soporific nodding. Kef-dreamy. “As if divinity had catched /

The itch on purpose to be scratched.” How things is hid right up surfacewards! Think of Christopher Columbus, constantly on duty, he who one period went thirty-two days

without sleep! Pestilential incendiary walkingstick man he became. (I want to say thirty-two years.) And Melville, in a letter: “For my part, I love sleepy

fellows, and the more ignorant the better. Damn your wideawake and knowing chaps. As for sleepiness, it is one of the noblest qualities of humanity. There is something

sociable about it, too. Think of those sensible and sociable millions of good fellows all taking a good long snooze together, under the sod . . .” (Paul Metcalf

told me that.) So we nod, and resume, we toss on our pallets, we sleep like dogs, thumping. Or some mornings, I duck out from under the overhanging lip of the

culvert’s foul mouth, set out for a patio spell. Oh, to pin myself wriggling there, just to gaze up at the full blue vault of the sky, the

hale and hearty sky! Or to the moiety of it, that curvature and lave unhinder’d by arboreal deckling or th’all too human towers that reach up as if to itch at the

sheer burden of sky. I like how the sky-vault centers me—magnifying my centrality for one brief moment, and how it proceeds to spall off my me, chip by

tinkling chip. David Jones: “Unwise it is to distract the sentinel.” Under the wheels of all excesses lies a minion. Clockwork spectacle, “slightly boring /

Eighteenth-century way,” &c. Sky’s minion, so shameless a stare, &c. A Plenteous matter it is. “Exegetes of various stripes . . .” is like talking about skunks.


To work.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Day Late, Dollar Short


Baseball under a roiling sky of a myriad shades of blue-gray palette, a featherbed of a sky. And downpour, and resumption. And a muddy late walk with the dog, no moon

along to hobnob with. The snatch and turn mode: these notes, deflecting the real, or swooping it up into its embrasure. Embouchure. Melville says human affairs

are “sustained by a sort of half-disciplined chaos,” and continues: “he who in great things seeks success must never wait for smooth water, which never was and never

will be, but, with what straggling method he can, dash with all his derangements at his object.” In the Russian language, the word for obscurantism is

“mrakobesie.” I like to think it means “fat text”—a poids lourds of signifying finally dumping its cargo on itself. The first line of Kafka’s diary,

isolated, set apart: “The bystanders stiffen when the train goes past.” Dramaturgy and nominalism. Rain all night in the backyard. Rain all night in the yards.


My tardy eleven nominees to Steve Evans’s “Attention Span” compilation:

Alan Halsey | Marginalien: poems / sequences / prose texts / graphics 1988-2004 | Five Seasons Press | 2005

Ben Lerner | The Lichtenberg Figures | Copper Canyon, 2004

Caroline Knox | He Paves the Road with Iron Bars | Verse | 2004

Christopher Nealon | The Joyous Age | Black Square Editions | 2004

Devin Johnson | Aversions | Omnidawn | 2004

Keith Waldrop | The Real Subject: Queries and Conjectures of Jacob Delafon, with Sample Poems | Omnidawn | 2004

Lisa Robertson | Rousseau’s Boat | Nomados | 2004

Merrill Gilfillan | Small Weathers | Qua Books | 2004

Philip Jenks | My first painting will be “The Accuser” | Zephyr | 2005

Rosmarie Waldrop | Blindsight | New Directions | 2003

Stacy Szymaszek | Emptied of All Ships | Litmus | 2005

Some of the foregoing I talk’d about here at th’Hotel of an evening’s grouse and mumble, others I intend to talk about. (Intention is a road paved with iron bars.) If I’d start’d my homework earlier I’d’ve done a defense and wrap-up, commentary and justificatory for what’s mostly intuitive bent. No such luck.

What’s missing? Jonathan Williams’s Jubilant Thicket: New & Selected Poems, Copper Canyon, 2005. Merrill Gilfillan’s Undanceable, Flood Editions, 2005.

And some extraordinary manuscripts, hints of manuscripts, upcoming wonders, gleamings in the blog pits where some fine souls are doing genuinely processual work in public.


To work.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005



Pitch’d resolve to sit out a few rounds, rather than to continue the cage-rattling obfuscatory one’s in danger of making a trademark hereabouts. Thinking I’d board up

the place, notify the village authority a grand sell-off’d commence at sundown, bibelots and dust-catchers, perfectly plant’d impatiens, phloxes, hostas,

snapdragons! And then, inevitalbly, the turpentiney-sour resolutions cark away in globs, the myriad words—no, that stick-whack’d termitary of words!—

it hustles up with new ones, words breeding words all floody with intent, rasps to hone the world to calculable bits! For if one’s world goes smeary and

unindividuated, a gob and wrapper of cranial grease, no edges to things, what then? What then but to bead up the smudge, pile up a ticklish inventory? Melville: “which

of the severed sections of a ten times severed worm, is the worm proper?” Is every Big Question cardiac at bottom? The heart, that terrifying and terrified “custodian

of love’s slumbering germ”? The ten-heart’d worm? Big Two-Hearted River? I random, and intersperse, thin with the vagrant night. I talk a dead man’s tongue. I

discharge a bad mixture of humors, discrazed by such undoing. I shield, I seize, I sad, I sit. Dryden on Jonson: “he delighted most to represent mechanic people . . .”

I is a mechanic people. (“Mirabell, I is a reformed rake.”) So goeth the cautionary days, plaintive folios of sunlight and shade in alternance. “It’s the idea of the

municipal regatta that pleases me now. A boatload of ribbon-bewry’d waifs and nannies, all slender and impecunious. It is there that I’ll go, hunker to a bridge

abutment and cast my one dark eye at the racers. (They will speak in whispers.)” And so a summer noses into a summer founder’d decades back, collapsed under the mud-

ravish’d walls of bathos, sheer peripatetic bathos, that stranger in the cloak, a soul-mongerer, a bridge. What could be more ordinary, like installing a shortcut to

the dock off which a mere diver dives for, oh, the pleasure of mere diving. Which is one way to squabble up an ordinary sheet of white paper and toss it hindwards to

where an ordinary hind is waiting, mouthing the hinder tit. Et puis, coup de poudre! the massive power outage stripped my words off me like clothes, a

single shred clung to me, writ: “A confederate says ‘Wow.’” Nothing to do but continue, blind. “Entering BLANK SLATE. Pop. 1.” Diet of loaves and fishes. John

Ashbery, who made us so jangle-y-hospitable and retrospective, tells us that Pierre Bonnard scribbled a good post canvas scrubdown saying in a tiny notebook

wherein he record’d weather mots and other painterly debris: “The minute one says one is happy, one isn’t anymore.” How that pulls at the dewlap-dragging

dogs of one’s heart tonight, all asnuffle for a trace, a scent. How it does and doesn’t, for that is the nature of words, and hearts, and happinesses. If “reducing

complexity is” one “ruse” (Kitaj), embroidering it up into a mean stitchery is only another, middle name “Gussy.” “Keep that under your bib ’n’ tucker.” How then draw

the continuum to one, how set it down on paper, a camaraderie of shapes, a squirm and gestion, unmanageable mossy executions, unfiligree’d, unboss’d? Period

of unmitigated confusion, brain-spikes cauterized inky-black like a cuttlefish. Period of moan and dove, “waterproof white” in the rain-plank’d air. Period of Shaw-

affliction, he who notes there are people “convinced that the world is only held together by the force of unanimous, strenuous, eloquent, trumpet-tongued lying.”

And, well, it mought be, “I doan know, I only know what I heerd up th’airshaft. Or what me and my country kin did.” Like the sockeye salmon in pursuit of its natal origin,

its source and compulsion and its disfiguring death, that horrifyingly monstrous return, humpback’d, with jaw elongate, and snout hooking, a fish-wreck, baleful, red as a wound.


To work.

Monday, July 18, 2005



“Brain-caking hiatus.”

           —Paul Metcalf, on Melville’s “stuck” birth.


To work.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Art of Sculling


“It is the nature of sculpture to be there.” So saith Frank O’Hara about the husky-flamboyant David Smith, and he ain’t kidding. Achieved mass: no finicky script, no

negligible twitter, no brokedown-radio-lambency: that’s why poets avoid the sculptural, it’s that inconsolable presence that terrifies and beleaguers

so. They’d all druther be tootin’ around the hearth-flicker—“I love no roast but a nut-brown toast, and a crab laid in the fire, oh . . .” (Cho. “Backside, go

bare, go bare, backside, go bare.” ) That, or laying down a neat stitchery of imitant-tied caddis fly (of hackle, of shaft, of red-bellied woodpecker quill) into

the cross-braid seam a toss’d-down willow bumps up in a stream rolling out across a prairie state. That’s a pleasurable chore. So one walks “lik a restelees caitiff”

and “falls to” at the merest husk of wisdom. Roberto Calasso: “Knowledge triumphs as soon as all wisdom has foundered along with taste, which was its last, discreet, and

volatile heir.” That distillate, gone. And which is where we find ourselves now, jamming up the corridors in discomfiture, sticky with factoids, humans hung in dry

ochre curls like fly-strips. Hundreds of dying flies with dying fly accompaniment, that prolong’d dying buzz a chink, a channel, a meatus to what? Some heaven

foretold? The nature of music is its scoot and linger-y, its inscription fleet and not there on the rolltop’s secretarial brainpan. Burin-curl of the

sculler’s wake re-sutured. (One approach to the “issue” of music’s ever-frangible tine, the way it breaks off mid-mouthful—in 1943, Williams-the-blunt re: Zukofsky’s

musical huggle-muggle: “What the hell do you know about music?” And “Don’t for God’s sake imitate the Poundian stupidity in that Pound who can’t know music and

therefore keeps dragging it in.”) So the silt drifting downwards through the barred slats of sunlight in deepest lake trough or shallowest, it, too, is a

music considerable. Thrum of misfits, angelic dirt. An expenditure, untimely and timed. Like a finger snapped off a thumb to fillip a goblet, “to make it cry

Twango,” an ungovernable horny sound. There, gone.


To work.

Thursday, July 14, 2005



Bastille Day, &
our hero’s

smush’d up
against th’alarmist

& alarming
temps réel,

no palais

by Postman
Horse visible.

Sous les

plage, literal
littoral, or

belittle’d litter
of th’unviable,

curiously wet.
To vie

unconstrainedly is
the point,

unharnessable, of
swimming and

most other
calisthenickal or

revolutionary callings.


Read: What Ever Happened, by Tim Reynolds (If Publishing, 2000) (2605 Via Campesina, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274)

Tiny memoirs. In a short prefatorial interview:
Q. You were a practicing poet. Many of the people in the pieces are poets—Frost, cummings, Pound, Rexroth, Cid Corman. Now you say you only read poetry “in homeopathic doses,” rarely write it, and are engaged in the academic untangling of early Christianity. What is your current relation to poetry?

A. I’ve never stopped being a poet. I’m glad I had it when I was young. But I don’t learn from it anymore.

Q. When did you start writing?

A. I was 17, a freshman at Antioch. I submitted two poems to the literary mag, one free verse and one a sonnet, and they took the sonnet.

Q. Mark Strand was a classmate.

A. Yes. He came into my room in the Barracks and showed me a piece and asked if this structure was a poem. It went:
The eyes of the pebbles on the shore
Close their lids
And look like more pebbles than before.
I forget if the lines were initial caps.

What could I say? It was a poem.

“In 1965, in Harper’s, Kenneth Rexroth asked “a dozen poets of unquestioned ability of the most disparate tastes” to name poets under thirty-five whom they considered the best. ‘The names that occurred most often were Gary Snyder, Tim Reynolds, Adrienne Rich and Thom Gunn.’”


Out of a piece call’d “Sanders”:
In front of the Metro Ed Sanders showed Blackburn his latest acquisition for the literary collection he was developing for Brown University, a jar of Vaseline on which Allen had written something like “I use this love jelly to penetrate the rosy ass of Peter Orlovsky” et seq. He was carrying this stuff around in an attaché case. He said he was going to ask a lot for it, it had the latest impression still in it.

At a poetry conference at Stony Brook I heard a strange repeated crashing whoosh in the middle of the night. It was Anselm Hollo shooting an airpistol into the toilet, he was having a fight with his girlfriend. After a while he cooled off and went back to their room. Then there was a big crash, he’d thrown his typewriter across the room. The next day he told me Sanders had been at his door first thing in the morning with his checkbook out to buy the typewriter. It still had an unfinished poem in the carriage. Did that stuff every really get to Brown?
Oh the books of misbehaviors! The misbehaving books!


To work.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005



Here’s a rictus grin to summer’s waywardness, lost focus, the teeth jumbled in haphazard lean, incised with dates and duties. Or, say, otherly focus, the

timothy grasses plump’d with pollen, all the monocotyledonous sheaths upright and bluewintry-color’d, hue of Appaloosa and dogpatch, realm of Kentucky canine and clay

scoop’d out of streambeds, a coprophagous treat. Harry Mathews says: “The events have left me feeling like a fragment by H. D.” And: “I’m going to have a banana and

a swallow of Epsom salts then get into bed and weep sore.” There’s a bonanza for you. Though rather “literary.” Content-valent stuff is what one is looking for—

meaning “What’s up?” Content-volatile. Form-labial. Form-radical. Content-voleur. High disavowals of decadence. Two nineteenth century scriveners

elbowing oonce, twicet, thricet, fop, being an eighteenth century drinking game (requiring the wearing of high Renaissance duds). Egypt: soul-weight a feather.

Lichtenberg: “I think that a poem about empty space would be sublime.” Needing the insert-universe. Do the rest of you out there ever get wan-tongue’d and slavering by

the lily-stank ill-malady’d maidens of deathly “poetry”? I do. Frank Stanford: “all of you with your teeth full of beeshit don’t tell me”—attaboy, Frank! We need a foul-

mouth’d burger with a bear cub on a rope to bust up some of th’egg-candlers around here. What Paul Metcalf calls that “shared narcissism,” nudging the ebony tokens of

our little “cultural referents” at each other. We need something vernal and fiery, a colossus, a leviathan, a putsch—a rapturist foundling in a red osier basket, a

doorstep rapturist to bait the throng. Metcalf: “in a cardboard box in his private experimental lab, they found a test tube, tightly sealed and neatly

labeled: “Edison’s last breath.” Ash-voiced prophets talking down the sun. What the chorus sings opening the Van Morrison concert: “inarticulate speech, inarticulate

speech, inarticulate speech.” McGuffey’s Eclectic Fourth Reader: “Questions, which cannot be answered by yes or no, . . . generally require a falling inflection . . .”


Boulot ridicule.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005



tendsindintendsindintendsindintendsindintendsindintendsindintendsindintendsindin tendsindintendsindintendsindintendsindintendsindintendsindintendsindintendsindin


C’est idiot, le travail.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Portrait sans Propriétaire

"Moins de travail, plus de rêves." --- Anne Boyer
John Latta is off paying a call to

Friday, July 08, 2005



Neck-tickle leads
to palpable ear-
wig larva, softly
green—judging by
the fore-pincers—
one millimeter, long
reaching for you.


A fine drizzle
wets down every-
thing and one
notes the “inherently
geometric structure of
the landscape.” Cézanne
scrawls a letter:
The sun is
so startling it
makes it look
as if objects
could be lifted
off their outlines . . .

I put myself
into the hard
chalk perimeter of
a body sidewalk’d.
—Sun, lift me.


Harry Mathews pegged by a “sour-faced” French Communist agent (in My Life in CIA):
”Monsieur Matiouze is a member of something called the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or Oulipo. The Oulipo is a gang of cynical formalists. They claim to be materialist, but they utterly disregard the dialectic of history. Their materialism is nothing but a degraded manifestation of bourgeois idealism. Naturally the Oulipo is opposed to any kind of literature that puts itself at the service of historical progress, especially socialist realism. No Oulipian, and certainly not an American one, is a man whose opinions are worth listening to. Monsieur Matiouze, you are informed that you will no longer be welcome among us.”
The Mathews reminding me of nothing so much as Jean Echenoz, quick, stylish, international, a spy caper. (Question use of “caper” in the context. It makes me think of Claudia Cardinale and David Niven and, as such, is misleading.)


In the cellar
checking for leakage,
I spy a
fat black beetle
tussling with a
wadded up towel.
Lift it off
its outline, march
it a finger-
length, devastating is
its pinpoint shine.


House of the Hanged Man, Auvers-sur-Oise: where “yellow . . . compromised the future of Monsieur Cézanne.” Yellow of squash blossoms. Yellow of the constructivist brushstroke. Yellow of influenza. (See Cézanne’s implacable fear of le grapin, that someone’ld sway him, swallow him, get him in an “influential” grip.) Yellow of a shirt rarely worn. Yellow of bruise-fade and melancholy.


Who is Lito Latta of Savona, Italy, a maker of soap? A printer? Bad-ass book in a MoMA cabinet: F. T. Marinetti: Parole in libertà futuriste olfattive tattilli termiche (Roma, Edizioni Futuriste di Poesia, 1932 Stampa : Savona, Lito-Latta, 4 Novembre 1932-XI. A smug (and sly) muh’fuh’, emplacarding LITO LATTA in high-stylizables partout. Odd “sighting” and heel’d by Mathews recollections of the fascist thugs of ’seventies Paris, rue d’Assas (Law Faculty), a street one didn’t easily, long-hair’d, walk down.


“I know the Wire-Puller intimately”
Out slogging my Oxfords in ankle-
deep braid-rivulets of storm-wash,
the C-dog worrying the verge.
A. B. C. what a sumptuous
cladding for a take-off, for
take off we must. I am
plenty aware of not coming back
into my usual mawk and assessment,
though inching thataway by unreputable degrees.
Nobody can write code all her
Life—think I’d soonest skip mine.


Life with Perec:
Wednesday I found a note from Georges in my mailbox: “Urgent. The victor of the nearby computational street summons you to return to the same fishy troop when a first point has been scored by his racket.” (Le vainqueur d’une rue à calcul voisine vous somme de rejoinder la même troupe poissonnière dès que sa raquette marquera le premier point.)

. . .

I reread Georges’s message. He was a professional inventor of crossword puzzles, and these phrases sounded like crossword definitions; so I set to work solving them. My first clue came with “fishy troop”: that was what would ordinarily be called a school of fish. The French word for a school of fish is banc; and a banc is also a bench. If “the same fishy troop” translated as “the same bench,” it must mean the one where Georges and I had sat together a few days before. Then “the nearby computational street” was Rue de Fleurus: because calcul means not only computation but “stone” (as in kidney-stone); and Rue de Fleurus had been home to Gertrude Stone, aka Stein. (Later my Petit Larousse taught me that the battle of Fleurus was one of Marshal de Luxembourg’s greatest victories.) As for “a first point scored by his racket,” in tennis the first point is called as “fifteen”; and 15 hours is 3 P.M. by the twenty-four-hour clock.

Sorcière, sorcière,
Regards ton derrière.



dries and o
her o-
ther i-
tems teeming.


“unrequired roseate doodling”


“unrequited roseate doodling”

“A dish of puddles Hempstead, and a cigar, Sir.”


Somewhere Herodotus says: “There is
found in that desert a
kind of ant of great
size—bigger than a fox,
though not so big as
a dog. These creatures as
they burrow underground throw up
the sand in heaps, just
as our own ants throw
up the earth.” And elsewhere:
“There is no need for
me to describe the camel,
for Greeks are familiar with
what it looks like, one
thing, however, I will mention:
the camel in its hind
legs has four thighs and
four knees and its genitals
point backwards toward its tail.”


Apollinaire: “I don’t want to work. I want to smoke.”


Je m’en fous de travailler.