When I started writing things were looser. I had another side; I was a hunter as well as hunter-gatherer. I was constantly revising. It says here that the journal is a superb apparatus that can change any entry into a transmutation of genre by filtering it through the alembic of aesthetic properties, so long as the writer is arbiter and guardian of sideway as well as progressive depth. Entry begins. Freestanding opposition.

Apart from you, my favorite piece stands on the beach near you. My gaze is deflected like in a photograph based on a prophetic painting. Our inter-endowment seems modern.

When I walk into the war room and check out the latest maneuvers (my writing) I couldn't ask for a better curtain going up. The checklist is a few percentages from being there. I will go lightly on density. And the pace should vary.

Time's winged chariot takes precedence, though, because clearly it is revered, chair emerita of the board. I speak now in a voice that rarely rises above a loud mumble and threatens to sink into inaudibility. Still there is that one question about reception. And the idea that I can give myself a vacation from a heavier role.

Over the summer construction advances. Inevitably constructivist and supremacist impulses are joined. I am always balancing art-historical concerns with the sexual depravities of my adored objects. Challenging the hodgepodge. I like small and large together. Also, stately is very exciting.

A poem with fewer pictures looks better. You may have expected more.


In reply to a line of reasoning that Nick develops in response to Jonathan's Question 5, Is "total absorption in poetry" benign? How about "poetry as a way of life"? -- (a) I think the distinction drawn between ceaseless v. sporadic comp. practice is not altogether apparent. (b) Nor do I find a poet's involvement in publishing, editing, teaching, critical writing or blogging that disconnected from poetry writing or, to use Jonathan's term, disconnected from poetry as a way of life.

(a) With the qualified contemporary exception of Peter Ganick, whom I've known at times to compose more than a book-length text a day, day after day -- and Nick cites Peter as a counterexample to the 'ceaseless' category because of Peter's sideline career as a publisher! -- I don't know anyone who doesn't fall into the 'sporadic' category; I don't think there are poets who just write, publish "without cease," give readings, and "never do anything else." Are there?

The conventional divide from which Nick derives his categories, I think, centers on the craftsperson's pattern of daily or regulated practice and composition v. the sometimes-dubbed romantic strategy to write when inspired. That is an empirical distinction that still might not be useful in determining what is meant by "total absorption in poetry" or by "poetry as a way of life." Inspiration, for instance, is a sign of absorption, and I might argue that one could live to force it through regular practice or to 'wait for it,' seemingly triggering inspiration through secondary and tertiary means, such as hypnosis or tantric sex.

(b) I rather see a poet defining her life within poetry, making poetry a part of her life, however she practices it -- that is, her life and poetry. As undergraduates, Nick and I had similar reactions to poetry professors, it appears. I couldn't imagine at that time a less promising pathway to poetry than teaching it -- the craft -- or teaching around it -- the literature. Perhaps that is why I chose linguistics when I decided on graduate work, close to it but not the Tradition per se. I am less repelled by teaching poetry today. Studying with Samuel French Morse, not a poet but an enthusiast for poetry, and John Ashbery, a fabulously benign teacher, influenced me. There are nonetheless a ridiculous million other ways to live to write, and I am biased toward the freaks who explore a few of them.
We built that puppet.


Indigo Bunting
Bernadette Mayer
Zasterle 2004

Indigo Bunting is a perfect-bound brief for incident against purpose occasioning just about everything, including poetry, especially the poetry of conflated pleasures and spite. Mayer's facts speak up for broth and other food stuffs, for drink, for love, and for the making of love, of broth and of poems; other facts touch on or marshal parabolically against external forces that constrain ("Is Bernadette consigned to ostracism because / Bernadette makes writing with pen in public..."), against Newsday, against war, against Bush. The more intriguing parts to Mayer's liking are also parabolic -- that is, they swerve toward and then away from decipherable narratives -- and the affect is at once self-indulgent, spidery-seductive and didactic. In a poem titled "Maple Syrup Sonnet #?" of triple-sonnet length Mayer lineates "i dreamed if i wrote prose paragraphs / and from each a poem / i could teach / everybody to write poetry." The poem spreads over six additional stanzas of serial subject matter, hay fields and poems, with italicized lead-ins, such as "questionable poem," "better poem," etc. The argument-for-praxis summed up in the final stanza: "new poem: / THE FIELDS were filled / with rectangles random as poems / now not" -- an experience alfresco and demonstration that one can write to go on, or as she suggests in libertine bursts in her final poem, "Sonnet to John Fisk": one can write and live for a "besotted" and "different world" where "everything spun," and where one can "open the bottle of thought."


Whom, among poets you most admire, do you understand least? What is hindering a greater understanding of this poet? This is among 10 questions posed by Jonathan Mayhew; has to be one of the more provocative jumping off points for depth research into a writer's practice. E. Pound I would answer, for me. Am hindered (obstructed, a better term) by his ugly, ugly beliefs, in fact. How could so science-y a poet, so acquisitive a collector of the practice get his world view botched as far, as far down as Pound did? His eyes have been punched out, but three or four generations later, at least, I am still blind-sided by his deeds. The Cantos to right, crazies to the left, Yahwehs split down the middle, all the way down.



Boston. Sweaters in May.

Sweaters in late May.

How to Make Love
Hugh Desmond
Self-published 2005

The Wasp Karma Sutra, 32 meticulous though vaguely wooly sonnets explore performative methods for 'unpacking' the doubleness of a sex-haunted society and its (our??) possible duplicity as mirrored in the open, heartless marketplace -- isn't it fascinatingly sardonic that some of the most popular lounges nowadays are in the Meatpacking District? -- and then reflected, neo-innocent-wise, in the faults and so-called virtues of finding a perfect soul. 'Soul, I like that but where can I time-share it,' Desmond almost argues. "Devotion, patience, tenderness -- no more / Could human heart desire..." Let's face it, Desmond seems to straddle the fence, here, mass- and even niche-media are steamy on occasion, but they have taken their toll, their pound of communitarian flesh, as it were, with respect to uncritical moral fidelity in love. Nonetheless, the rhetorical pendulum could be swinging the other way, Desmond avers, and implies, perhaps self-consciously, the politics-of-gender paradigm may be shifting toward male gallantry, as well. Now, in a central suite of madly-rhymed sonnets in the middle of the text, a half way gesture, for sure, Desmond is suggesting, I count more than once, it's hip (his word) for the man to wipe someone's bottom during the love act. Despite a rudderless albeit pervasive lay Marxism inflecting discourse in our corridors of power, according to Desmond, rebellion is afoot in the hyper-speech used by guys in the bedroom when the television is on. (Desmond is at his most intimate here.) One thus perceives the hairline fractures among urban elites -- it's an esteem-subconscious thing, in their body language, nearly -- when it comes, for example, to languaging on and over sex-mongering 24-hour cable, and that's only a start. "TV is old and death is everywhere / I'll turn the cable off, fuck despair / Let's begin again..." That "again" is hot. I'm not sure how likeable it is, but Desmond blows off twin volcanoes, sincerity and insincerity, craftily working in an expose of the actual discourse of cable. "Hi boys, have you been looked after?" Registers fluctuate, influences ranging wide, from Philip Larkin to John Berryman, are flubbed, even god is reduced to a logo for goo -- Desmond resists everything! These poems add up to a colossal thumbs-down on wickedness -- I guess it is ours, it seems. Kyrie, Des! Again I note that doubleness, marked by agonizing ambiguity and foul (self-) critique in Desmond's sweetest lines: "Happy the youth that finds her / or him whose heart is all elision / ...the hottest collision..." etc.


Business book publishing ethos (can / should poetry be far behind?): ...it's a huge boon to work with authors whose platforms entail media appearances; speaking to large audiences of potential / likely readers; and, best of all, selling lots of nonreturnable books to locked-in affinity groups or major bulk customers. Read more Ron Hogan here.

Kimberly Lyons
Instance Press, 2005

I'm comforted, confirmed in the prognostics for artifice, that Kim Lyons's plain as Jane reference in "Soap" to The Crystal Book is bogus. The encyclopedic catalog at my local library (Hollis, Harvard) hasn't got it. But the prognosis looks promising. Once I enter the title digitally in the subject data field, I find a number of mis-adventures as alternatives, including (1) Crystal, David, The Stories of English; (3) Consort of Musicke, the world of English ayres and madrigals [sound recording]; (5) Wonder, Stevie, Talking Book [sound recording]; and (8) Shakespeare, William, A Midsummer Night's Dream: Texts and Contexts. To prove each option is somehow germane to Saline would require stretches of space in a longer review -- (1) story of English, "shadows of Greek postures"; (3) English ayre, "the gradual of / Eleanor of Brittany, 14th century"; Stevie Wonder, "People are realized only partially" -- but if I stick with (8), I find the continuous present right here in the short poem "Soap," the sort of predictive, time-travel-y mischief I prize: "I was looking for you / or more correctly, your words... // pulled from the stacks: 'a new poem' by Wm. Shakespeare / huh?" I'm enveloped now by a poem that anticipates my biblio-search! (Huh, indeed.) Granted, Lyons cuts through the travel mystery, admits her crystal book doesn't exist, yet "absence of it yields / to...arrival." We're instructed that arriving is a way of 'contending,' "looking around... / I imagine the words / are looking for me also." Lyons practices a Platonic epistemology via 21st-century metaphysics in which one's arrival at words is hard-wired self-inquiry "inherently without prestige," enamored of the magic "round room" in dailiness, like reading a book backwards, routine conceit that "disperses...a grid of light" where there is "presence between / nothings." Tangled, convoluted, "I hate this Sunday consciousness," Lyons offers "a violet empyrean's contraption of radiant circles" made round and plausible within the "background in the colorlessness" and seeming limitless as "the universe cavorts thus."


Sat May 14 02:37:53 2005 job oportunities
Wed May 11 11:17:19 2005 pantaloonsdefinition
Wed May 11 11:04:32 2005 pantaloonsdefinition
Wed May 11 01:11:11 2005 kumin
Tue May 10 11:42:45 2005 gildzen
Mon May 09 20:47:35 2005 "and there was a spot of orange above the bone that bore a wing"
Wed May 04 05:01:29 2005 gary sullivan
Sat Apr 30 08:29:03 2005 im sorry
Fri Apr 29 05:01:35 2005 A book is like an open door
Mon Apr 25 10:11:06 2005 adrienne rich
Fri Apr 22 10:56:10 2005 (thinking for berky) AND (thinking for berky)
Fri Apr 22 10:44:00 2005 thinking for berky
Fri Apr 22 10:39:15 2005 (thinking for berky) AND (thinking for berky)
Fri Apr 22 10:39:13 2005 thinking for berky
Fri Apr 22 10:33:06 2005 (thinking for berky) AND (thinking for berky)
Fri Apr 22 10:32:40 2005 thinking for berky
Thu Apr 21 14:09:11 2005 Adrienne Rich
Thu Apr 14 16:12:41 2005 pantaloons
Thu Apr 14 16:12:35 2005 pantaloons
Thu Apr 14 07:48:08 2005 seamus
Wed Apr 13 22:01:19 2005 print campagins
Mon Apr 11 05:44:25 2005 for love
Sun Apr 10 20:36:29 2005 Rachel Levitsky
Sat Apr 09 21:20:29 2005 bangalore
Sat Apr 09 21:20:02 2005 bangalore showrooms
Spring Reading

Eureka Slough
Joseph Massey
Effing 2005

Everyday materials, front yard, porch, across the street. Levitating sills, cracks in the clouds, splinters of fuchsia, "twig -- gravel" chained to "highway's / wild flower," studded "lit amber," modulated "against the garage," lifting a banana, you're dizzied and wanted "...above snails..."

Shiny No. 13
Michael Friedman, Editor

House organ of American poetry's Ecole Normale Superieure. Shiny percolates with lived specificity, that is, content, the sine qua non of first-rank intelligence, self-consciously succinct -- "We are each perturbed // and hope to say so / first or best" (Rae Armantrout) -- or at the brink of exhaustion by example -- "...I walked even farther than usual, in variously heavily layered loops, down past the old concrete-block Ice Plant and over the hill, around the bend to the rattly trestle bridge over Whetstone Creek at the southwest edge of the village, then cut back a long-abandoned railroad track, now commandeered by multifora rose and blackberry lashes" (Merrill Gilfillan). Three poems from Ron Padgett in memory of Kenneth Koch, another kind of lived specificity, as are dense travel notations from Alan Bernheimer and autobiographical snippets from Barbara Henning. We also find strong pieces from a long list of witers / editors who favor concrete information in work they publish and in their own poetry, Geoffrey Young, Rod Smith, Chris Edgar, Michael Gizzi, Leslie Scalapino, Jordan Davis, Lewis Warsh. Photographer Andrew Brucker exposes human figures that are models of experience, ready to move on. When it comes to empirical tour de force, Gilfillan details a "knowable world, almost tribal in intimacy and scale." Yet Bernadette Mayer steals the zine with specificities of her tireless, only half-knowable amalgam, always serious, playful, moving and moving on: "i caught a bird which made a ball / & thought daughter of it. / but that's all they said."


After Pessoa

Too many ideas inside --
You know -- I can't -- when I think
Who is thinking, maybe I'd,
It's just me locked in place
Where things think on their own

You know -- maybe it's more than me,
Things, myself, lots of me's
And what or not, I'm me too
And could give a shit about them
Because when I speak you go out

Stirring some ideas
About what I feel
I think I feel, ladies!
You're telling me nothing; you
Mean nothing to us queers.


I wrote the software to create the illusion. I'm ready to talk.
I'm good here. I love a page-turner.
I blog on occasion. Doctor, I can hardly breathe.
I'm a film critic for the magazines Lady Oyster and Inheritance. Maybe it's just nerves or maybe I feel spent.
Sometimes I html. I'm patently cranky as fuck.
I'm a poet, essayist and translator. Sorry I snapped.


Poets are doll-faces who deserve free passes from a metaphoric house of parliament. This is because poets glow with immanence that is visually arresting, 'higher' than politics. To be precise, parliament would be below, its approbation however floats up to greet and validate successful poets. "Here's your vagina. You're free to go, Tina." You see, a part of a poet's sexual drive is attached to wordsmithing and preoccupied with getting it 'right'; that's what I mean. One word building and built up by another -- if this persists within a formal round thing like a poem, then this is accomplishment that warrants unrestrained empathy, followed by a cohort-nurturing q and a. A little is missing nonetheless in the progression to expand spheres of a word's influence among the wordsmiths. For, in a preemptive society that has moved beyond benefits and features, what does it signify to understand something like a word? Consider why there are situations in which poets might be thought or known to understand something, but act too cool to acknowledge what they know or even to use a substitute like hi. Or take this example. Sublimating Dollhouse Miniatures. Thinly veneered, oddly-attired star-gazers, each shines with a certainty as to its existential presence, a perfectly detailed reproduction of passion, integrity, power, and warming debate.


I can't think of a more putrid example of faked-out little-ivy poetry than this: "we've tumbled into an elite world, full of country homes and 'men downstairs who think / that gin's a breakfast drink.'"
Close enough. Done. (Wharfside.)


I admit I'm pitching a guest appearance in Rum, Sodomy & the Lash.
The Arousal

I'm a little I guess confused
I thought you might understand I mean
I'm surprised, do you know
what I'm saying? I guess so
not exactly.

The dead -- what they did is
reprehensible, tho they added so...
you're busy, sorry. The
substitutes are locked in a closet. They
have something to say too. All

About museum restaurants
and cook-dating. They'll... you'll
learn a lot all at once. Absolute
power over the last half-century.
Doctors and scientists working together

Swinging ultimately for the fences --
the job's changed tremendously --
they fly the Atlantic in this context
and really only this context:
There's a thin column between hey & ahem --

The world yearns for freedom,
bless them,
I don't think I'd call it Trampoland, because
if so the light drug's effective, I
mean, sluggish jellyfish with blond hair.

Within a week I lost a pound
and my parties
became scaled fantasies,
thinner still kodo,
familiar toepath of scents. I'm saying

No one makes us bullet-point anything
if current trends counter
what can be done? Didn't they tell you
the important part's the worst
tones and soft muscularity,

Resources and adaptability,
a two-persons' kid cigar
can be fun, proof
students' brains are being
stolen, after which

They wander back home muttering "TV,
TV," a mildly eccentric suburbia
waiting for their next payday
of awe-inspiring relaxation. &? You hoped
we might talk?


Spider Paradigm

Dodge ball is under
A cloud, an anti-
Stress badge
Sleep my night

As night an around
Without in sleep
A dream of pure
Nothing is innocent.

You end softly
The way I see it
The thing's
It's not you it's me

I don't want to
Shave again of course
We're moving you down
A door

Or it's obvious and personal
Earning this feeling was
This the bathroom?
It is now.


8 Haikus

Today Math was difficult. Period 3 I learned Thai.
At lunch
Time I ate fried gunk. We got better at the time (Mr. Brown times
Us) ...
When I ate lunch Mrs. Brown twisted and rolled herself
Around my
A speed of 875 revolutions per second results in wriggling panic as
I pushed my fingers in and out ...

I had a bad earache for a while with my friends.
... And after the movie we ate lunch.
I had a good head of bolts going
At Burger King. And then
We played "No one loves me like you" -- then
We did
Phonics ...
Then the bell rang to go home. I was in a hurry and
Not wait for anyone

(Even the Students United with NASA Becoming Enthusiastic
Math and
Science) ...

After the demonstration we ate lunch, then
I did a
Wake-up and
Ate breakfast and read country sheet music,
Then did
Chores...I 409'd the appliances and

... Ate lunch
On the boat and
Ate so much I got sick. Say it loud,
Can't we cut to the scary part?

Played Sorry in the lounge
Then we came in to have something.
We ate tuna and
Cookies. Then we went back outside.
Then we went back to class and
Math. We are studying bone thugs.

... Boy, has math
Gotten me crazy. We went for lunch
And put 6 heads under water
... I ate 9 fries ...
That's math. Then I did
My homework which was to study for a spelling bee.

... Then we ate lunch. After lunch
Mrs. Brown taught us about binary numbers and
The mind.
I love math wiping the flesh
And solving problems. Then we interviewed Mr. Brown ...

... His haiku
Idea was a stiff wood of art: long, full, with a slight
Vocal member of the Illinois cultural
Studies group carrying a sawed-off
Shotgun. On the other hand,
Mrs. Brown feels he should continue the Christian song lyrics.