That dream again. A white screen shot. Complete white-out, soft jazz, then lower right her lips moving up and down, talking design.


Changed my mind. No one can help himself.
It's noon on a Friday.

It's been remarkable to gauge how vaporous personalities -- to use the term loosely -- proceed unamusingly or even uncivilly beyond The Opening Salvo. Theirs is a rehearsed practice, perhaps. And by salvo I refer to the first three or four minutes of one's monologue, sneer in force, or one's e-mail. So much slobber invested from the start, the discourse, along with the oomph, runs dry, needs cold cream. The chill exchange leaves me feeling pock-marked (although my cheeks are flawless). So much for ghosts.


My job is to take his little doodle and flesh it out in reality.

Well, it's part doodle and part stockade.


Swoon Noir
Bruce Andrews
Chax 2007




Bruce Andrews goes for the don't-forget-I'm-forcing-you-to-slip-on-my-banana-peels every fourth or fifth line (sorry) (he's not going to leave anyone guessing, anyone behind). At times the sarcasm is phoneme to phoneme (ry, um), however, and surely line by line (blue laws @ a leper colony, just imagine!). "flameproof" is one of four sections with what look like single-page comedic inserts. Page 51, in the middle, starts: "END IT HERE." Page 41 starts with nothing like a title: "Friendship as the end-value, sex as the price." Twelve lines later, the last line of Page 41: "...thematic kitten, with a whip." That's humourous and cohesive or "thematic," even, for a poem that goes "Bouncy bouncy" with "Plum strokes" that sound out "Doop, / doop, doop, doop." In "flameproof" and throughout there are only a few particulars (Retro Think) of an Andrews's boyhood -- DeGaulle, McNamara, 1966, Kodachrome, laugh-in -- to rub up against a dateless "Whoop and holler cause outlast effect." But Bruce will include everything past or forward to have us end it here, "Overloading claws -- velvet paintings grown up," the intake of the sleepers' logic, to "Paraphrase midreading craftmatic bed." Then, "retrieval" and "misplaced dallying," along with "simulated sentimentalism," are among the hankie drops deployed in his "pleased solidarity" of "gibberish suspicion to courage / That's a wrap ploy" or better known as "[The] smack of this." Only a handful of contemporaries jig language like this, starting with Bruce's senior, Kenward Elmslie. "Eyelash poppers" might have solidified Agenda Melt as a polisci sex romp, but no ... they belong to Bruce:
fund the knife, commandeer eyelash poppers

In "PUCKERED" we might find ourselves fawning over Bruce as one heckuva "Psycho-sister" who reads "high-handedness" in the "facts" of language, "not idealities." When Bruce discovers "sectional norms," "Faith as disaster," and "Caritas -- restir the gravity," I think it's safe to argue he's blasting both facts and ideals, choosing the higher handedness of language and its re-veining processes. It's an all-points para-sarcasm with sidebar scams played out by a few obvious swindlers to keep each of us motivated, laughing, and oh, yes: Downright un-American / What matter to the idea if indiv survives.


Unfolding calculus of muddled cool: rustic prep.
So many drugs the body forgets to breathe.
Track your quit at commitment.com --.
Your pizza box is a wanted poster.


Critiques are fractionally about the critic. Hugely or moderately so. And since each critic is plural, it’s never selves-less. Poor kitty.


This should be Vulcan cool. If you're in the Bay Area this Friday, please come.

Suzanne Stein & Jack Kimball
This Fri., March 23
Small Press Traffic
Literary Arts Center at CCA
1111 -- 8th Street, SF, 7:30


Every few months, it seems, additional artifacts from the late bpNichol are unearthed to re-engage us within what has to be one of the more seminal, more encompassing imaginative frames in poetics. This week Jim Andrews, Geof Huth, Lionel Kearns, Marko Niemi, Dan Waber, supplemented by teams of others, reintroduce bpNichol's First Screening, a set of kinetic texts programmed by the poet in Apple BASIC over 20 years ago. bpNichol then handed out a 100 floppy discs of these poems, which in turn were reissued as HyperCard discs a few years later. Both forms of publication were highly innovative for poetry at the time. Fast changes in computer technology, however, soon rendered copies of either version unreadable on all but a handful of computers. Since very few copies have survived, the story of this recent publication is notable for how many people it took to overcome technical difficulties and for how long they persisted, well-summarized and annotated by Geof Huth.

The texts themselves are more than mildly amusing. While less remarkable for their engineering, they stand as documentation of a primary material fusion of techne and praxis -- these are indeed among the first stabs by a bona fide poet turning to the computer screen as a performative medium. Further, First Screening demonstrates how barebones technology, maybe especially since it offers the non-technician fewer options / distractions than today's CAD programming, interacts in assisting the writer with not only moving, merging, and marking up text, but also composing it. bpNichol reflects in his introduction that while developing the texts for First Screening, concerns about craft from two decades previous, "issues of composition and content i was confronting while working with my early concrete poems, suddenly found a new focus." In an easy refrain of seven words, the poem "Letter" proceeds, trancelike, into innumerable readings by means of minimal movement, first words are transposed into last words, line by line. Frame 1: "sat down to write you this poem"; Frame 2: "down to write you this poem sat"; Frame 3: "to write you this poem sat down," etc. First Screening is now offered for free in several versions at Jim Andrews's VisPo; if you scroll to Version 3, you'll find a Quicktime emulation, the fastest entry point to bpNichol's texts.


I'm glad I'm endowed, ontologically, I guess, with zero propensity for politics, politicking, things political. More than happy, I overflow with satisfaction that this zero propensity makes me nothing and all the more central, if ghostly, to political process. Folks trust me because I have chucked my political/social-intelligence component. Or, better, it has been chucked. (I would not want to assume agency over my extremely good fortune.) Thus I have learned to be content with poetry as a career, also nothing, one that promises to continue to reward me with formidable respect from colleagues as well as their scintillating and deepening camaraderie as I toil, concealed in the folds of shadows, of commerce, and of government, maintaining my integrity.
Ha-ha-ha of the day. Readymade sculpture.


Humor as coercion. We giggle to get along. Where and when we laugh are tied to hierarchy. Bloody hypotaxis: ...we voice our instinctive social call of "ha-ha-ha," a sound more like the cries and songs of wild animals than like human speech. And when we hear laughter, we often bark back "ha-ha-ha," joining fellow Homo sapiens in a bizarre, contagious chorus.

-- Robert Provine


Vanitas 2
Vincent Katz, editor

It's well-known that East and West mix it up somewhere. Like in Bolinas or Boulder. Boulder's is a mixology ethos easily mistaken for the smart neighborliness of Bolinas if not San Francisco. Every year a couple of classes or more at Naropa U. attract and launch the latest great. And there are innumerable presses and zines in or around Boulder that package the buzz of the good and the new visiting Colorado from either coast and elsewhere, studying, teaching, and/or performing at the university. (At Naropa, performance is teaching and learning.) This season a portion of the packaging rights go to Vanitas editor Vincent Katz, who's not based in Boulder, exactly, who nonetheless looks as if he's been gathering choice work as he's knocking back whiskeys with Jack Collom, Anne Waldman, Lewis Warsh, et al. So that's the first thing to keep in mind, he's got Boulder covered, and he's got the ethos down, younger and more established, famous and not-so (more, below).

Second point, that Vincent, like me, turned to Stephanie Young to help collect work by writers from Bolinas and the Bay Area explains the enormity of success he's had expanding one theme for Vanitas 2, "Far Out West," a 50-page "supplement," as Vincent labels it, that feels like an already-needed appendix to Bay Poetics (edited by Stephanie), work from Susan Gervitz, Suzanne Stein, Lewis MacAdams (now in LA), Ron Silliman (a national monument outside Philly), Mary Burger, Norma Cole, Cynthia Sailers, Del Ray Cross, Brent Cunningham, dozens more! Putting Ron in "Far Out West" is an editorial statement. Ability to entertain seeming-incongruities, the genius behind such a move, is a third point. Vincent doesn't seem anxious to give up on good ideas even when they're hard to pull together. He manages within 172 pages to flesh out the West theme and a second theme, as well, "anarchisms," that brings in work from near-hippies that haven't been publishing that much -- Elaine Equi (a contributing editor), for instance, Bob Holman, Duncan McNaughton, Joanne Kyger, or (gulp) me -- and then even rarer rads like Spicerian Larry Kearny, free jazz musician-poet Steve Dalachinsky, and Living Theater cofounder Judith Malina, among others. Vincent goes to additional sources of anarchy, younger writers, not just the famous-among-most-peers, Alli Warren or Prageeta Sharma, for example, but some who even while prize winners are less familiar, Kyle Dargan, Amanda Nadelberg, Elizabeth Hughey, Heller Levinson. I found two Bostonians I'll have to meet soon, Peter Jay Shippy ("I'm like straw. I'm your ear / when you were a boy.") and Sean Casey who says he's from J.P. and leaves his 617 phone number in a poem to prove it.

Now that's an outline. Haven't gotten to the surprises. There are scores. Here are three. 1) I don't know who Morgan Russell is but I would love to read more from him. He's already in three places in Vanitas 2; notably he leads the issue off in the format of his e-mail to Vincent: "had a dream some time back after discovering that person holding my family photos had died...the object of any search uncertain... // so the dream: // I ascend...everything thought lost is there." 2) Might anyone else agree John Latta and Kasey Mohammad deploy contracted diction to produce comparably neo-baroque vocals? Check their pieces in Vanitas 2 to see. 3) And finally, Ed Sanders shoots to the top addressing his readers, "O revs of the Morrow / Work in extra dimensions / Think 100 years ahead..." Yay! Then in the poem "Live Free Or Die" he lays down this stripped down narrative cum litany connected to Allen Ginsberg's first experience with LSD in Cambridge:
Allen took very seriously
his psychedelic experience with Tim Leary...

Among the first of those [Allen] turned on to psilocybin
were Thelonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Willem de Kooning
Franz Kline & Robert Lowell.
Great graphics include a fanning windmill from LRSN and several photo-collaged lithographs by Kiki Smith.


Maybe a dozen new poems from the Knott including these zings: "the inner alias / of rhym" & "a penis of alas."

I'd be among the last to claim poetry is going the way of the early rock industry, that used-tailfin-car iteration with the bare lightbulb business model, doling out payola to dj's that chewed up crummy office furniture in strip-mall studios. Poetry -- beloved poetry -- has nothing to do with that. So I wouldn't claim it did, except some things with writing and publishing poetry are inching close. "That is so," John reminds us. The field is stirring in its sleep, exploding with talent, musicianly faces, the urchin bodies, it's incredible. And like rock, and speaking of the bodies, Louise Gluck says, "They know that at some point you stop being children, and at that point / you become strangers. It becomes unbearably lonely." I might never say it better. Of all the varied works written by new poets I wager they convey unique perspectives on individuals and society. And it's like rock also because the ones exuding confidence and doing it have graduated from college or even graduate school itself, which is looking like a breakthrough investment. To cite some friendly advice from professional musicians more specifically, it's "an awesome amount of power left in the hands of just one company" -- that's according to my sources -- "but its cadence is elsewhere." I'm treating all graduate schools the same. I'm not sure it's inclusive or scrambled enough if we differentiate among them, and besides, why be preoccupied with clamor or peculiarities? In the wedding of my boyhood dreams there was an open poem. It seems "his landscape could have been the one you meant, / that it meant much to you," notes John. "We've been robbed," the bride writes again. It took me a while to take that in. Besides, who exactly are the dj's today?



A Brief History of Evolutionary Infidelity

2003 -- A thin veil of modesty drawn before vanity, the foundation for subsequent representation -- like chameleons we fall to nature so extravagantly that a discreet preeminence in beauty, wit, and fashion is established.

2004 -- War. Some plagues. Spears shoot up from the ground. When we're on hold, hip-hop bone-crunching makes us look better for friends, family, witches, and zombies, this century. Flaming bullets. Casting spells.

2005 -- We can kill you with our oversized guns. Story aside, a flock of ravens can peck at the melee while we unholster weapons.

2006 -- "Absolutely," Professor Mulholland replied, when asked if friends and neighbors thought he and his partners had lost their minds.

2007 -- The persons mimicked are insulted and therefore will not bear repeating. The good parts of the story only make us stay cool and listen.


There's a new L.A. frequent blogger to watch.
Sean Cole & Susan Landers
March 4, Demolicious, Central Sq.

Reading all new pieces, blade-sharp Sean Cole strips the bark off the way abstinence or at the very least contraception works in a poem. "Somebody has to be a mugger. Possibly / my son. Therefore I won't make one. / It could keep a world of handbags safe." In the poem "Populism" (nice word play!) Sean is totally fragging, but the pathetic fate of the moment, our moment of the $20,000 Gucci clutch, is signed and sealed. Look, the socioeconomics are such I've been mugged, it's in the delivery, Sean implies, so let me throttle the kid in advance of his fetal reality, thank you, and you know what, the muggers have us surrounded, fool: "I don't want / to swell the community who ends your life, / mine. We'll all fail." In "Postcard to December" Sean puns to suggest, less venomously, it's been "one hill of a year." This is twister Sean, still, poet-with-knife-in-hand, letting us know -- and sounding it out, too! -- he's not abiding conventional ways to drip oil into the pan, "sistering. / Sistering? Yes, All I can think / of, when it hits, is my / sister." He spots a Quebequois with hair that's "fire-engine red, wears outfit to match." Then adds parenthetically "Get it? Match?" It's as if he's not meaning to say, "Thug in vermillion doo-rag grouses the world" but it can't be helped (fate, again): "boobs are painted...in clear varnish...penises stapled...At last we're cast / to thing our thong, they say, this is great, I can't believe it."

What's a lyrical water balloonist? A rubber-suited acrobat who gains leverage within the system she twists to burst. I know. I know it's a mixed bag of metaphors that I invoke in response to Sue Landers's set. She chose a few pieces from 248 mgs. (O Books) that remind us how trans-categorical and unnumberedly-dimensional the recollection of tranquility in delerium can be:
Should put put
go to work today,
doctor? TV makes

other people feel
so free. Feel me
up TV.
The larger portion of Sue's reading featured unpublished work translating, responding to, deflecting Dante's Inferno. As in her "little pill" poems, Sue's dialog with Dante takes us where no one might expect to tread. Ok, Manhattan is familiar as hell, but hers collapses into a poem titled "Everything I Am Today Took Days to Drive the Noise Out." The first line: "And in this green room a sun." It's most fortunate Sue has an unexpired visa. Staying in Manhattan she finds at once "hope the air is full of" and "poison. We say me always." By Canto 3, she's inflated, bigger than a single borough, proclaiming, in caps, "I AM THE HURTING CITY        FOR ME         ENTER..." The extreme anthropomorphism and taxonomic permeability that Sue relays in 248 mgs. now pick up hapless topics, body counts in Afghanistan, "America the audacity dragon," "Focus like a string through the center of a body the flesh like a sphere on its pole," and, oh yeah, throughout Sue makes a real fuss, "an ink commotion" to take out "this dark country" that would be Dante himself. I know. I know it seems pretentious for a contemporary even to try to deck Dante. But Sue is not showing off -- rather she's researching what makes us numb, "blown forward without choice" or with only "two choices / hard competition or soft coddling," ours, "the crazy place...all together now       crying strongly," symbols and targets, "sad pose exposed."


Overnight spam doesn't do it for me. But wizards post during daylight. Here's the start of "Hehe":
Pointing to the much-ruffled damsel with the jaunty hat, coquettish shoes, and calmed by his fear they were of a kind he was to others. The pleasant curve about his mouth was the memorial wasn't it? It is, for compo's don't begin with two words on one side. I'll get it, he said, and Christie's heart gave way. Home, tired and cross, for bills were pressin', work slack, and folks talkin'...
Continue reading.


You're under whose thumb?
Wow. Sad. Your taste has been compromised.
Spam spreadeth. Today's favorites "Seul petit" and last in line, "OEM nUmber."
Tom sees through all of us.
Poems at Shampoo 29.


My immediate neighbor and ex-girlfriend's Poetry for March landed in my mailbox, and I looked it over. It looks about the same as I remember it from a couple of decades ago, then a cleaned-up, graphically disciplined retread of Arts-and-Crafts minimalism if you know what I mean. Were the text set in sans serif, especially if someone had chosen Helvetica, we could pretend that Poetry is modernist, at least in appearance (and I am sticking with appearances for now). Nope, those curling Cadmus Communication r's and bottom-anchored p's, g's, y's keep reminding me what time zone we're transmuting to, 1912 Central. The Big Pharma (Lilly) loot just adds a marbled thought-structure to my incredulous experience: these rats will never stop eating.

It might be bloodless and reassuring were the practical world bifurcated along the mild divide perpetuated by Ron Silliman. Coastal cognoscenti, on the non side of mainstream, beyond received opinion, beyond semantics, beyond mere discontinuity and formal experiment. Then there would only be Iowa and its shadow people in and of the quiet stream, paddling and plugging away at their narratives, burnishing personae and everything else that's un-beyond. Poetry reminds us there are other forces who in aggregate are more destructive than anything intimated within Ron's order of the mainstream and non. I'm going to lump these forces together in a category I'll call the unquiet Ugly Betties. You'll find them with blood on their hands in Poetry, shout-down simpletons, such as Clive James who reasons: "The Olson fragment I quoted...strikes me as easier to do than it looks, like almost all bad poetry written since the first modern generation of poets whose ambition outstripped their talent learned that they could get by with a show of advanced technique." Or the Welsh critic and -- I'm going to reinforce the Ugly Betty theme -- crone Anne Stevenson who, with all the lack of grace a half-century can muster, recollects an early acquaintance with Frank O'Hara. "I remember a wiry, very animanted, red-faced young man in his twenties around whom other poets buzzed like bees...but...either ignored me or looked upon me rather as a professional boxer..." Which is it, Stevenson? Here's the destructive part. "I have to say," she continues, "when the English poet, Lee Harwood, sent me a copy of 'Personism' last summer, I was alarmed to discover that it read like a freshman essay." Gosh, Anne Stevenson has to say this, alarmed, and only after 50 years or so of not having read it, filled as it is with "terrible prose" but a text -- oh, Stevenson thinks it's a genuine "manifesto" -- which "more or less laid the foundations of the now fashionable New York School."

It seems so Arts-and-Crafts of American editors to turn to retired British critics for a blurred, overgeneralized view of current events in New York. These same editors, Christian Wiman, Helen Lothrop Klaviter, Fred Sasaki, Danielle Chapman turn to another Brit, Geoffrey Hill, to lead the poetry section, five starchy pieces fortified with incomparably dipshit vocabulary: "omega, fossilized"; "ill-neighboured"; "Cloven, we are incorporate..."

The thread running through poems and criticism in Poetry is thin, dour-shaded difficulty, "I can't believe it was very hard to do," Clive James again chimes in with respect to Olson's work. D.H. Tracy is skeptical of a poet who 'ornaments truth,' offering the late Robert Penn Warren as a "model" who approaches poetry "with the mind rather than the temperament." That "rather" pinpoints more than a bifurcation in poetics; it stipulates a Maginot Line -- itself a kind of Arts-and-Crafts contraption -- elevating and quasi-protecting prosodic intellect against the bloody hordes of everything else.

Writers of letters to the editor provide bathos-entertainment, re-activists functioning as a nah-nah chorus of the unwilling. Marion Shore of Belmont, MA decries Peter Campion who, among other things, reduces Louis Zukofsky's opus to "copy-work." Shore writes that Campion's "diatribe" demonstrates "lack of understanding, a desire to preach, or a tin ear. Perhaps all of the above." Dan Corrigan from Baltimore praises Zukofsky's "calculated musicality" vs. Campion's dismissal of Zukofsky as "cold fomalist." Blogger and poet Henry Gould highlights Campion's "persnickety judgments" and "nostrums of verbal economy," such dicta often "responsible for...the drabbest, dullest, most inert poetry." Noble as they first appear, it's hard to figure why these readers care to re-fight the old war of almost a century ago. The way to overrun the Maginot, after all, was to two-step around it, and then will to carry on.

Thanks, but I'll stick with today. Ninety-five, and will the thieves of poetry know what this is regarding? Thanks to Big Pharma, Poetry is still here, dispenser of yesteryear's bitter pills, more harmful than placebos, more likely to turn Betty's casual interest in poetry clueless and ugly.


In two days I've snatched eight more samples of romance-worthy spam. I'll put more up as they stream in, but the point's already made @ http://jackkimball.com/spam.