End of the first trial at Poetry, Inc. Harriet is losing other contractees. Can't contracts be renewed? No more poetry-first contributors to bring down the house? Bring it down in the sense of wily propositions or the will to stand up for something. What's left to argue? We'll just have to see if KJ can still find a few motes of bad theory or careerism to shake his hairy fist at, you know, through the comment boxes.


Today's avoidance words.

Feathered: Joop sported a motorcycle jacket w/ a feathered shrug.

Occupationally: Mr. Evandro has a life that seems poetic, occupationally.

Used: The Bronx looks used up.

Why: Why'd you bother?

Kill: I killed for you.
A write-up that's better than sitting through the movie, with a well-chosen snippet of dialog that concludes:
Gas Station Proprietor: Alright. Heads then.
[Chigurh removes his hand, revealing the coin is indeed heads]
Anton Chigurh: Well done.



Tan Lin
ambience is a novel with a logo
Katalanché 2007

It's vital to read material that is not inherently appealing to keep your game up and running. Likewise to write it. As a poet-novelist, you might think it profitable to string sentences together like paste rubies and artificial pearls that are deliberately mismatched, almost passé. Each sentence would shine in gloom as the ends won't quite match up with the beginnings, each sparkle dulled into a thought containing falsehood but contextualized by the faintly plausible, as if draped over a bowl of fish hooks, a near accident or an accident-in-the-making. You might desire to push a personal datum into the narrative, your opinion on having sex as linear or the death of a family member, for instance, so that it achieves the same (but no higher) level of emotional force as boilerplate taken from a corporate manual or website. This produces a scrubbed textual surface, sobriety typical of social-democratic utterance, open to interpretation as Euro-ambience. The arbitrated décor of your short text can then be looked after in "poet-novelist" ways (as this is a sketch toward a novel you are attempting), and the ways that Tan Lin deploys include weighting the bottom of many pages with semi-extraneous footnotes -- beginning with number 31 (presumably footnotes 1-30 were fully extraneous) -- as well as dropping in random elements -- mostly fuzzy photos but also variations in font, lists, and a couple of equations. Humor is allowed; it should be twisty and self-referencing. "One can never stop a clock from ticking, even in a novel." Humor justifies the enterprise but it is only one facet of the supraordinate design. Process description, Chinese-American ethnicity, John Cage, touring Germany, attending Carleton, "a face derived by software," all these are material fit to be twisted, falsified, or erased, as Lin fictionalizes with what he sees as ambient, again self-referencing "a condition of transitory structures, lounge architecture, and books with photos in them."


Two powerful sticks of mighty putty scoop and liquify.


I hate this luau.


Rochelle Ratner
Leads: a journal
Otoliths 2007

Born in America, Rochelle Ratner grew up with a trace of separation in her voice. In Leads Ratner follows her accent to the U.K. to listen to and then document her vocal connection to an English grandmother. The journal's title both plays on a place name, the grandmother's birthplace, and broadly categorizes a set of the granddaughter's research procedures for assembling her text: "I copied from books and records I'd found in the Leeds library. I began writing down what people said." Closer to the bull's eye, Ratner is surprised in her research to confront further separation, finding "other peoples' words more powerful than my own." Merging her own compositions and poems, however, with direct lifts of others' voices, she hands us a contemporary palimpsest of her family history and, more generous, of her poetics. Bookish entries from official minutes and reports of the XIXth century bump up against present day communications with nagging relatives and Ratner's notes on her everyday encounters visiting a tavern, shopping in an open market, buying film. Data feed one another as they accumulate. On page 76 Ratner reports, "I'm following the same path the immigrants did. I stand on a street corner and shout that my family was originally from Vilna, Poland..." On the next page she supplies a chronology, "The Jews of Vilna: 1320-1944," an exercise in mild understatement -- "...1527 Jews banished / 1573 Jews return..." -- and gross understatement -- "1916-18 Community impoverished during German occupation / 1941-44 Community impoverished during second German occupation." Phone calls, postcards, interviews, bureaucratic write-ups, the mix of registers matters, as intimated in the title for the entry on page 96, "Mr. Schiffer Gives the Details of His Life, Everything Important." This is a book of process, measured devotion, leads.


David Buuck
Paranoia Agent
OMG 2007

The afterword to Paranoia Agent describes these dozen short pieces as transcriptions of English language dubs for a Japanese anime series, and in particular, transcriptions of the coming attractions to animation we don't see. Or, if you will, these are afterwords to precedents that are also invisible. David Buuck's pieces are in sum superimposed narratives that give glimpses of things and events that are set or good to go but never happen, ethereal flashes of unkept promises as in this diagnostic embellishment.
The interpretation of the unfolding dream here precedes the dream itself, which is how the paranoiac method tends to thus inscribe the conditions for experiencing our coming attractions.
If paranoiac doesn't do it, by the time you reach inscribe you know Buuck is holding up a three-sided mirror, better to show off the utterly playful relevance of his project to the layering of poetry production, reception, and (...ahem) reaction. Each piece is titled "Prophetic Vision," again a seeming literal transcription from the English dubbing. Each starts "To begin --" and each but the last piece concludes "And then --" It's a neat, rule-governed framing for the chaotic, "defeated wild boars," a unicorn guided by doves, a "hoodwinked" beast that beckons, a Holy Warrior accompanied by a zebra, and, most pleasant, impossible phrasing: "It's a ocean of clusteramaridisis / Welcome, Master Detective / Here's warm hospitality / And then --" (Amarid, discoverer of magic crystals, is a fantasy of American novelist David Coe's.) I take Paranoia Agent as a figurative reflection made of available analogues, pixel impressions, and creative immanence, a media quest and landscape that by my logic can also be classified as a nature poem. To find your own turn to video, as Buuck has, to wallow in nature's conspicuous outreach, rabbits, horseflies, "dished meatballs," the "sun's cherry blossom," and the occasional sage "somewhere between intuition and science." Like any excellent quest Paranoia Agent goes inside the framework and forward and backward in time to replicate anomalous dynamism and "the karma of the people...first cries of the newly born shoes of / gold...an illusion."


Stan Apps
God's Livestock Policy
Les Figues Press 2008

How's this for metapysics. We're all god's "imitations of exemplary lives," democrats, puppies. We're being taken for a walk in the new world. Space for Noah and Jack the Ripper. And time to sing. You might ask, who's the god? Who is Stan Apps? The new world has been waiting for unsarcastic satire, and here it comes, all at once the latest writhing mass of Stan's numerous, wide-eyed visions -- God's Livestock Policy a fourth book in 12 months, a tenner (scale 1-10) in which he unponderously reintroduces Christ, Buddha, and "a hundred secrets" that circulate in chirpy lyric fanaticism, "an antidote / to roleplay desperation," and he isn't kidding. Heaven, he (fairly) insists, "already exists...and maybe someday can be convinced or lured or lied to, in order to convince it to come lie down here, where we are, like a bear rug..." We learn there is a good chance of our going halves on the rug with some unshaven gigolo. So heaven and the new world (that is, "the one world, the heaven") are divided into "God's split personality" imagining he's something else, like the devil. No wonder, "Religions without bloodstains make no sense." The fervor on exhibition in God's Livestock Policy is both self calibrating and terrifyingly ecstatic: "I was born," Stan says, as
a form of crystalline leather encrusted with strategic Christ, a strategic Christ dressed up in astrological fairy-dust that colored the open veins a hummingbird-happy silver...
More than one or a trinity, god fills in quantum entities on a not-fully-occupied terrain, on "pause." This is space and time Stan aims to lay claim to and protect as his own, since "When you think of God, your head fills up with the stickiest most human love-notes and ambitions to kill people and build things on their land." We are Buddha's messed-up puppies then in an unimmaculate system ("God never bothers to wash His hands") in which human dissonance is not perversity but a bit of big physics spurred into metaphysics, killing, and stealing -- it's all "OK," Stan explains, because "our almighty has it in Him and can handle it...infinite space [where] human exhaust can diffuse and diffuse and diffuse..." It's all in the mind, body, soul, and god in the way of Stan's thinking, "an unhealed tragedy." He isn't kidding.

Mike Magee's introduction complements the send-up.
2008 (so far): the year of the tissue.



Larry Kearney rhymes all with skull, internally.



Trash. Art-school trash -- fake trash, overstimulated, fed too much unearned unexpectedness via hand-held cam artistry. Movies within a movie. New York takes a beating and justice is meted out for the overseas (especially Japanese) cult market. Splicy paeans to every Dracula, countless Godzillas, and to dozens of our worst sci fi horrors, Mothra, Jurassic Park, Night of the Living Dead (original and remake), Arachnaphobia, The Crazies, Shawn of the Dead, Aliens II, War of the Worlds (original and remake), Them! etc. Richie Rich protagonists with brainless sex lives you'll never care about. Dumb computer graphics. The skull of the Statue of Liberty shrunken to the size of three SUVs, hurled east, lands on Spring Street blocking heroic passage. Oh, the apocalypse ignites downtown, so this is foremost a cheap 9/11 rehash. Combustion and dust fill canyons between skyscrapers. The players take shelter in a convenience store, then race down to the subway, running with the rats. Asinine language (you can't call it dialog). Ugly apartments. Life-draining clothes. Absolute rubbish. Highly recommended.


A film maker doing a documentary on poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh shamefully hands over her work to 'authorities.'

Winter Journey
Tony Towle
Hanging Loose 2008

Tony Towle's "studio" is the home dugout during the National League Championship Series. Tonight's game, the final one, is being played under water as we gather inside to figure out the signs or signals that are related, often, to subject-object positions. We're deciding what we collectively can do with them, representatively.

They are showing excerpts fromThe Three Stooges
during the extended rain delay, because apparently
the complexities of one complete episode
from these devious masters of understatement
might be too
opaque, too "character-driven"
to hold the cutting-edge attention span
of today's discerning audience.

There has to be tense interchange between senior imagination and what is really out there, right? And what are signaled, what are represented, get screwed down or thumb-nailed into very graceful, praeternatural, tongue-hanging movement.

Around me was my "family" -- two children, actors, in front on the right, and a woman I didn't recognize, gathered together for the purpose of the tableau, and a young man a little way off who was supposed to be my brother, and who moved himself a few steps further to the left as I examined the picture, to improve the overall composition.

The battle throughout the Series and metaphorically -- meta-literally, almost! -- in Tony's composition is joined over shifts in representation, its forms, its treatments, its "clinically depressed stuffed leopard," its "ribbons of asphalt," its "imploding into cosmic isolation." Or not. It is one of the key battles. If you get this one right, you have a worldview and the world thinks you're with it, and you win the Series. For he writes, "open your eyes ... is the message." A delicate analysis from the dugout, a hovering, an allusion v. something you can't quite put up on the web and get the affect, the hidden doubt.

Cactus poachers work quickly
and we cactuses know it;
keeping our spines
sticking straight out all night

As with most brilliant gaming there are elements of the confessional and attendant scandals that should keep you happy. That is, is happy a goal, photoshopper?

Like the sun, I endured a turbulent childhood
and became allergic to interstellar dust
while contending with encircling debris
that would have made any entity dizzy, hot

Hot, dizzy, it all comes down to earth, thirsting for blood in the Series and winning. That's happy.

The Pathfinder has again come to the section
in the narrow cliffside road where it must drive over
the colossal letters of its own name, arranged backward

How ironic a ride, we have to say. Too "bizarre" a plight, not unlike the loner poet's doom due one who gleefully refuses others.

But of course we don't really want to know these people
and since "socializing is networking to no purpose"
we abandon the arrangement and look up
against a backdrop of expectant taupe and reticent gray
to see that an eighty-ton locomotive can float on air

Then, there's this joyous taunt from "The Great Game," as Tony calls it.

Death means you keep going, only now
you're a zombie.

So the Series never ends. "Continue snorkeling," Tony urges and so "advised Sneaky." Tony is excessively clear as he is wily, winning, waiting. And he's competitive to a -- not exactly a fault but, say -- gestalt ("a chance assonance / that would not occur again").

Several decades ago I observed to someone or other
in an impromptu discussion about poetic
that you could write "I am sailing down the Rhine"
and not be sailing down the Rhine, for example,
and he said: I'm not so sure about that --
so I gave up. As it happens,
I am at present sailing down the Rhine


I can't make up my minds. Glug.

I smile back at both these Yoshi Oshi teasers by Bill Keckler, yet I can distinguish between them and I have a preference for one over the other. A teeny preference. As they say in Missouri, driving to the polls in the sleet, brava. They're both good. It's not so interesting to give voice to controversy here about these spine-stinging graphics or pause even for a sec to focus on their magically über-Japaneseque élan (it's so obvious, neh?) or force a resolution as to which packs a nastier punch to my psyche just to declare today's winner of the gold aorta. No, the dilemma is deeper. I can't decide whether Bill Keckler is a veiled, smoking, standup artist who writes sass-to-your-ass poems (notably rehabbing discourse to seduce) or if he is a mountain-to-coast deity working the new forms -- search engines, comment boxes, scanners, blogs, and poems. Either way, he's a splash oceanic.


Peter Inman & Tina Darragh

Feb 3, Demolicious, Central Square

Peter Inman shared mostly unpublished work, new, short, dissonant pieces "where jazz wears off" and "the song form" gets "broken." Triadic nominals -- improv-like or even fake-improv-like (Steven Bernstein and Evan Lurie, for example, serving up slim portions of Ornette Coleman) -- spin on chains of juxtapositions that remind me of early Clark Coolidge. Triadic? Try a few clumps, "thumb midge nouns," "small Gillette letters," "echelon hairnet vellums," "squeak light stripes," "potato of where." If you're open to new propositions, great thought balloons, one after another, Peter is your musician. His thinking reflects personality expressed not through personae but within subtler contexts, dedications to close friends who are poets, legible reference to boyhood geography, places like Amagansett, Montauk, a shoreline "made out of periods." And frankly I admire any musician with healthy fetishes. One of Peter's comes up in his repetition of nylon and nylons. Two of the most freaky are "iceberg nylon" and "museum nylons," balloons that take me on a roundtrip from generic chill to some dream scene of iconic sluttiness. Or is this my dissonance?

Tina Darragh read her performance text "Opposable Dumbs," a gathering of ideas and attitudes concerned with animal rights, among other things. The work is fundamentally unsettling, reopening wounds that had been healing fairly well for most leftists. Rights of a fetus, for instance. Feminine beauty is problematic. Just for a second -- maybe she doesn't believe it? -- Tina asserts that idealization of beauty or at least some forms of it reinforce patriarchy. She shows other troublesome linkages, such as restrictions on the sounds of lament to preserve property rights. The text is a complaint for the voiceless (animals, including Terry Schiavo) as well as for suppressed human voices; the conundrum circles conflicts between the two. 

These are hasty impressions from notes that I hope I can supplement by citing Tina's work later. Once I have some text in hand, I plan to say more about Peter's poetry as well.


The one is not over here. Its inexistence is left over. Doors are opening as rations. Atheism is the main event. Secrets of satire want to float free to find a mathematics of situation (music) and structured white sky, multiplicities (an ear for sex). The contextual effect (procedure) becomes more fearless (less indiscernible) when innocence, dance, and acrobacy partner, crossing boundaries of codes of conduct. The glue is a score.

A hobby becomes the color of dreams, addiction. Late afternoon to another.

I notice your underwear, a domination marked with jealousy. They pill. Yeah, that's funny, take one of mine. A shrine of axioms supposes its completion. Polyps in the general sense, honing everything to their surface.

You like a variety of togethers, missing your skin. Have you the next?