It's more important they lay open in the ocean
And whether or not we mount the red birds
Like beveled ornaments
The shifting tents are mutinous
Eats the grain each day, little by little
Even the noun eats acid
You are in a Roman place
But the year is out of order
Only the tent city stirs in the morning
colonize our ponds themselves
to see a duckling taken under
by an eel
when the ducks and waterfowl breed
the eels maintain a balance
the eels refill drained ponds in weeks
their mucous coating keeps them
as they squirm from the harbour
through damp grasses
pond to pond
Here, too, the gods represent. -Heraclitus
rebuild this way,
in the litany of
the prairies perfected in their season,
margins burned where our farm begins.
Enlisted to an ethic, I see you
in your Reeboks and sweats, culling,
entering into phlox.
As chattel lashed in trees, swaying and alien
as per our design.
As another country hidden inside this one, with apples
and a language, grown in the elemental dirt.
I get up in the morning, step into my boots, ride my hand over the wife.
I fry an egg, shave, piss.
I got a lot of stress. I work with an ominous movement in my chest.
I dream the black restless rivers that carve Oregon, the orchards great with blossoms
and aisles, the conjugating trees.
Wordless figures, strapped to their branches, are thieves. Their adam's apples
bob all night in silence, underneath the pristine nectar spilling.
I work throughout the night. I continue to inhabit my own life.
At night while we sleep the rivers leach, the crop dries up. The apples
wither, collapse, are pilfered.
I cannot help but revert to this crisis every morning before sunrise, hour of
the predictive dream they say. In the glory of their materials and tools
muttering a little, I wake to the sounds of the workers scraping.
The bears, jaguars, beavers never get plugged into this the bleakest street
in America. The neighbors behind their Xmas decoration are dead. Lights
winking in their circuit are a warning do not call, walk on: fists in pocket
shoulders hunched, shambolic through this desolated hall. Be emptied onto
Main Street. There the bar turns out its furnace heat, the dilapidated rambler
gets a brand new coat, the stone foundation holds. We live for this, more or less.
The buses take us in, we sob and think, drink bourbon and screw like people
Anyone might find us here together in my office, beneath an ancient photo of
a chocolate lab emerging from a shadow, taut chain shivering, bees noiseless
in the grasses. I guess the question is: where does it end? Do you want to be
some asshole in search of the perfect meal and a dream home, extending his
life all over a road between two worlds? One here, where the snow lays its
hand across our many mouths, and another in the skies, where I sail around
to parties in heaven, dancing too hard, smoldering at the periphery, thinking
your name nonetheless and always with a pity that's supremely underrated.
It's a miracle anyone ever comes back from heading out in it--head hung,
shoulders hunched, the light in the mouth gone out,
eyes dim, hair lank, last French cigaret burnt blue.
The wind is a sea and the trees are bashed by it, rocked in their decayed root,
eaten inside by beatles.
The forest is a peace for a man who drowns himself there in a puddle, covered
with dead leaves and belongings of his we toss in after him
with garland of petals and aspirations picturesque, clear in that gathering
where we declare our presence. Our fists are stuffed with ceremonial hay.
Once in the forest behind my mother's house
a wild pack of dogs for a hundred yards approached, hieratic along the creek,
breaking no branches where it went.
Their causelessness evinced a destiny. I was afraid but ready to die.
When the twilight raked its hunchback I knew I'd never be free.
As the centaur appears, over river and idea.
The centaur with beak, cassock, breaking down the branches where it go.
Always the centaur breaking like a premise in the forest, moving beneath us
on a shadow: eating always, the centaur live with mice.
Its matted fur powerful with weather in it near the trestle where box trucks
plow puddles (off-ramp toward Seattle).
The centaur always settles: undersea with a seismograph, the incident
of the centaur in a damaged port the city can't afford to fix.
It hunts this world. I always used to walk down by it in my raingear,
rank and patched, duct tape keeping water from my skin.
The ramp rose from the sound and rocked when cars hit it.
A ferry sprayed.
When the centaur rocks back and forth undersea its city comes
and comes apart. Flayed by rain and cars ripping past, boxcars colossal
hammering down the track, mountain near, cone blasted, O Seattle here it comes!
Their mode grows mythic, though one need not revere Binghamton NY, and in fact
would rather leave immediately, leave unsaid every one of its minor raptures
K's hair, tendriled like the mane of some exotic mare, sent by its eccentric
master-breeder to rescue all our genes.
Her husky mane swinging back and forth like Fortune itself.
The dim sun snuffed in her mane.
Shauna, down from Albany on a Tuesday in her German sedan, though
I walked home insensate, face frozen, no thoughts, skull and spine evacuated.
The broken asphalt lifted from the ground.
A half-man pedaling past hissed "Heads up, asshole," then disappeared
in the pointless snow.
The next day, Shawn and I drinking beer on the couch while a log burned
down in the fireplace, ruminating about the textual attitude.
Shawn, the attitude's disastrous. It's all wrong and has been--
ferocious in the gravel lots, breaking free but in bad faith.
The city under the weather, no help whatsoever.
Our allegiance to the question, our endurance is a heroism,
I said to him, repeatedly.
The text's a compromise, I sez, with dignity.
The Muse is a room you find beneath the cork trees
near the abbey's door, with aromas of manure
yarrow, and oranges. The study of the Muse requires
quietude, so you place the barrel in your ear
and blast your way into the room, are implicit in its angles
its magnificent triptych depicting a saint, pursued and named
by her sin. Not when or why, but here--the world's road.
A throng like leather puppets makes its evil
rounds on it, below the cliffs, among the rocks. Their faces are
a soggy blur. Your face is dark and now you are
deaf with stone, the painted air
so she sails into the ocellated oaks and sees that
your obsequity is nothing like humility.
That the whole is greater than the part.
She was looking for a place that could hold a body ~ to pinpoint that moment of recession ~ the solace of declining, to say nothing of denial ~ he said there was room for two and what he wanted, application of flame to a body ~ she didn’t like sharing with another ~ we all have a comfort level ~ a murmur a minimum of one chamber to enter before passing through ~ she needed a lot of water, to vaporize ~ because she was empty ~ what can be burned off; we all have a reason to eliminate ~ because it was open, an exit flue ~ she didn’t like being put under, away ~ at minimum, one to incinerate ~ because it was empty ~ because it was open.
when subject to terms, within
conditions and limits of our own calamities
unlike other animals who simply beg
on / would you believe it didn’t / hurt, neurosis
as a locale where we dwell too long / until
we train ourselves to ignore the impression
a finger leaves lasting / here
are my regrets; let me lay them out for you
the edge of clarity / charming at times, when
mixed with dirt forms mud / crystals / total cubic
feet / a mitigation estimate / what it takes
to resolve a triangular entanglement / dissolve
a small calm / what I mean is how learning
to float one averts drowning / a question
of liability once disaster is confirmed
the source of blame is multiple / the difference
between what we want / and expect, at least
I'm not surprised / the beginning of a slow
flood is moisture bleeding / into or; am I bleeding
out / I was a clearing / an excess of pillows
a fist enclosed in a double-walled sac
depends on gradation / the thickness profile
and varnish, which nourishes as a bridge
prevents shocks of blood / overflowing
could we ever pump it out / in response
to its own contractions a muscle may achieve
oscillation / protect its surrounding vibrations
an encroachment upon the inner layer also
to lengthwise scoop we negotiate between
fluid and seclusion, a lubricated surface
in which to play with good intention and anchor
sliding to preserve a structure made of adjacent
spaces, two superior and two / inferior, attached
to literally heartstrings wound around tuning
pegs held in an arc, each sounded separately
and fit into a tapered hole / a lover
in the receiving chamber, where a tension built
might burst: no / frets to stop dividing
into outer walls / passion and pain, contained
inner tracks adjacent, a star, this song
asserts animation / agitation / if in sequence
performed kneeling / beside a woman becoming
whole as a patchwork evolves incrementally
over generations, from clay and water
the part a chamber, rib or beam / a hand fallen
and the legs are snakes she has sewn
or reconstructed herself in the image of her
maker / if nameless while the earth spins
whom to call into question / what we assumed
were finite waters / a tornado in restoration
violently exploding a myth known as churn
I gave up stories, shuttering / dogs to nurture
bodies to belong to small things I can keep; they take
up very little space but oversized rooms, furniture
what’s a basement or a yard if not for hoarding / if
houses let you go unfulfilled in exchange offer
an abundance of redwood, tile or the like employed
in an overlapping series of compromises held
to terms and I’m bound, a settlement by concession
endangered as a skirt is vulnernable / the underside
exposed / erosion or a weathering hoped for / I traded
love for casement: the simple perception of hue
value and saturation / water, tables / in turn we live
with strangers and do not expect affection pressing
against a building / remains of swag forms: intercourse
I need bartering lessons / to cheat the rolling
mechanism we learn to give up for radiating / glazing
bars stripped / metal bent and stretched to fit
any circumstance / a channel to catch
and carry companionship / I never knew I’d have only
one chance when we let go a recess opened
I’ll always distinguish yours from all the other faces
between shadows so braided
leading out in time (ringing
for everyone) in loops
at work for instance--
shadows at work
braided for ringing
No line is straight
because the world
is not really round
I took a shower for you
and I stood outside
trying to strike a dry match
as the cars splashed water
on my legs Derby Line
Vermont she gave him
a desk made from a ship
that got stuck in ice I want to drown
in the Lake of the Woods PLEASE
residents of NorthWest Angle
can I borrow a couch I’ll walk
your ice roads and come
walk your woods but don’t make me
OH this border is just a line in the trees
Rutherford don’t burn your fingers
on the light switch don’t worry about it
The ways in which happiness can be held, I have no
idea. I set it on top of the bookshelf and slept for winter,
forgetting to feed it and pray over it. To pour it over,
melted, into your mother or over your toes, a place holder
for a king who should be back from lunch and leaping across a sea
at anytime, so if you’ll please hold, your pleas to end your
suffering will be answered in reverse order. Or they will be
answered right away and you can quit breathing from your chest.
I have gotten used to the way a dress can end up standing for
your delusions. It was cool and still, watching a grown person
forgetting how crying works all together, over again.
This is about stray
pen marks at
of the page: I’ve
breathing on my own:
the next lip
Quick study, pry forward.
You’re not malcontent nor quite intertwined.
Crystalline weeks stretch beyond your first act
but the peanut-pocked crowd
cannot see Marlene
crème-caked and pregnant
all thru Act II.
Blonde wig, hot pink amp, Zephyr flays Vonnie, Act III.
You touch the right rock
on the fireplace sans flue
watch Jezebel thrash
backstage the light-spackled alcove.
Last chance Marlene’s plucking her ulna
slinky act IV bride or corpse
but the crowd doesn’t get
that the church in the wildwood’s on fire
the pianist’s all pantomime, fork-shaped and paper
Eggs frayed albumen
You sexed a kewpie
Legs slayed, Marlene pandered on stage
Men swarm around me
like moths to a flame
if their wings are singed
I can’t be blamed
Cats timed thirty-five
in the shade needing garters
the thought of a cobbler a harlequin daughter
who pattered your tendons
This young I can die
run hunted thirsty
swear you’re not stashing
cops shine the light on my shadowboxes
chockfull of worms
swear you’ve not buried
the gems in your envoy
I don’t need a boothook to lance
this shoe-shaped pink moon
We must participate in copper wires’
who stain our riverock verdigris
choppers who bleed through the swing
You envy Coppelia on the deck called Hawai’i
and cellophane suns?
Twelve buckheads nod wicker intestine-shaped headboard
The vintage blonde biche greens in windows
mime-cheeked at the threshold
nose glowing, miscarries seafoam capricorned.
Her phases stay spindly
derailing this story of bitty spades
the mind for ephemera
nor drag-out shuffles
his head bifurcated
his wrists dog-dressed-tied
His tweed ego prays
in the face of our shot
Lock Zephyr in the steel shed with plastic flamingos
tie me to white wicker with brownbread hide
find my red truck in the moon
plot knocks our teeth
to the ghosts of the river the money
the hex on her dress
the sausage-curled, thorn-fanged rosette
the dogs you’ll call off
ere they eat the mother
amputee with the key
that will tighten the tambourine’s skin
I trust the village chin. We are both in bloom
as the dropped pie. This is love
this is perhaps the least still of things.
We watch the loom in the hands of a genius
while I blow canned air at cherries. I take Fridays off.
As one truly who champions herself
walk with me. I’ll bring a pinwheel in case there’s
wind. I’ll be eyeshadow and my country lips and sourness.
Peals and green sheep, their muzzles
smelling like perfect acorns
all caught in the gel air like
thirds in Bach. Is it pleasure
that keeps a city together?
I’m reading through pages of
old fortunes, validity
is subjective as our words
for weather. My chaise lounge won’t
fit through our new door, newspapers
will but they’d rather pile against
one another like round faces.
When I saw how awesome your
picture of Bermuda grass
was I knew we were moths,
that we’d need to come up with
another sign for waiting.
On the street, including bluebirds
my other pleasures defer. Overheard
boys describe new boyfriends to
one another. Adjectives
like to be grounded somehow,
like power lifters. The verb
feels better to me today,
grammar like a mobile made
of it or one made of walking.
A linked set of arms requires
two people and what does collage
require? Two sitting calmly.
Blank means everything. Plural
likenesses, some rain which passes
wherever early afternoon
crosses the meadow. The heightening
effect of travel, its scalene
uncertainty. Again into
verticality I begin
to unearth my show, private
and strong as a spine.
Because I was too shy the marquee casts me as the bad guy.
In its limited vocabulary the sun’s weird voice.
Marigolds keep bugs out of the garden.
A sunshine mangers your hair.
the parted carport, a new wave settled
by neighbors fast cranes.
the bird kind, not the built kind. not the falling down on newsweptpages
kind you can
your erect settings, set them in scatter --please no loose fowl, stuttter the table
with Spartan flatware --
yore mended salt lick, a toothsome new recipe to finger among the pages and pages torn out
of power workings. listings for field hollows called home and our rowing voices air
inherit the after-ing
some remembrance placed apart from the kettle stamped letters
(some mothwidth -- flutter light wings
in the mouth, like we unexpect this -- serrated from our inflection
a rock-slap etched out relief
letters a stretch of such life-named and lifted meter
to say the ears, the years are cut from
months ended in --ber)
its owl screech pitted against the planes overpassing
(see rumble, def.
so what hides inside me
is a prime number growing, the way rings settle dates
there a whole rootful tips up
its underthings mark the parked lot of us
question our bears and our bushels
our rolling metal sundrench, the water table waiter, a furnished exterior propulsion not with or standing, not studied or stood in for
under each fingerstain, each rattled whorl
the sympathy of cats is what they catch and how they rest simple
fieldmouse dreams wrenching the corks out across our floor
I can seat the belly of a tin can
given its rivets, seamed metal plates, a meal
but the best part of the stomach
is not for eating.
I have no language or slender pronoun
that danced last night right into
the deer frozen in parking lot light,
strobe, a forest full of flashbulbs
we sat in the green of a stadium
OMGing our distance from the ground.
Some downed clouds passed
our pedals. We pressed on & when we strolled
nodding off into other interiors, knowing what it meant
to swear square footage & how to break some people
with a belt & what little consequence
this action leaves us
we went away repeating our triggers.
The plans die. The plants, too.
We try to revive the no-curtain
look. I won’t pull back
flora equal to the signs a man
holds knitting bells in metal
with his strung ball hung
before the sun became a purpose
dipped in felt; paperlike, to feel so skinned
that something wonderful
wet and finite -- breathing weather
on the stations
into a change of clothes
and the closed-shop of empire
this attire is to become.
ladle the best parts of a test taste into your mouth
no one likes snakes more than a garden
and you can press all my buttons
when facing the sun on a cloudy afternoon
let nobody nose in the better types of personality
all of our children are growing up roses
milk in the best parts of the eye makes for a vision
clouded in days like an afternoon placed directly in the sun
all your pressing children grow button-like roses
taste your mouth and then report back
the test of snakes is how to split the tongue
a garden variety pressed into the pit of that heat seeking nose
enough batter in the bowl to leaven
idiolect proportional to
curvature of the baking pan’s mold
at 350 & twelve minutes we have
bread to break the suspension
fixed between our noses
hosts of utterances come to mind
crumbs tumbling out of hand
mimicked in a gesture of swallowing
whole crusts nourish
our mouths’ announced silences
to make fire cool first
songs echoing through the bower
our mouth when multiplied
makes double of two notes
embers resistant to discord
shade trees occupy
range of singled voices
in what divisions
concordant flames settle hot
shrill call of the swallow-tongue
a cold line arches across stilled sheets
morning breezes a butterfly’s weight
expectation of being uncovered a light
left on in the kitchen kept watch overnight
coffee ground for tomorrow so too plates
stained by eventual meals the clicking of
a tongue sleep functioned only to erase
yesterday’s last thought now hardened
crust as it seeped from the sometimes eye
malleable nearer nose-bridge these memories
have a way of returning a midge the first
form hovering off walls wet with rain
tonight a mutiny of stars
expect to see angels
vast angular multitudes
borealis hailing the world
visible w/ its songs
nightbloom only a cricket
searching for a mate
the erasure of nothing
births a form we can know
if only we can touch it
good news passes here
rising to the eye
to O to lip-
corners in gloria
in excelsis in
I want to squash stars. I want to squash lantern coolant. I want to harvest sea dark. I have a dark’s worth of heave that would knock someone overboard but tonight it’s just unzipped sea dark. There are insects in the milk and bears and utensils in the sky. I feel huge and tempted to become milk. All is well across the plank of a galactic plastic evening. I would bring wine. I punish myself for breathing before and again. Please let this serve as notice that I just magic markered a beard onto my face. When I met her I lowered my head like I was making a note. Now I’m scraping a highlighter across that evening. Whenever wicked beams of ice shoot out of the universe, I shit my pants. It’s a discipline thing. We put our phones on silent when our loved ones die. I put our phones on silent when our loved ones die. Any literal exterior has any number of non-literal interiors, Amber. Amber, I stand in the rain locker all day long
I love it if mineralized solutions drip on me for a thousand years. I love dumb calcium grammar in the next twenty painful, degenerative years of my mother. She fell down the stairs this week. I am taking it out exclusively on animal, vegetable, and mineral. I board the plane. I drip on the plane floor. I start to accumulate, to encrust. Person sitting next to me is me. Pilot over the intercom says he’s me. I press the button that turns my phone off and I feel turned off, that’s me. I think about nothing. I believe nothing. I go on living about nothing. I like mineralized solutions. I think about nothing. I go on living like I’m a lively nothing. I’m not obsessed with strength or weakness. I’m not other people. I am on vacation from being Emily Dickinson.
Enthusiasm is so human.
Human is evil.
I want your void and my void
To make void babies.
I like people with rich interior lives,
Smoldering, certified insides.
I want to lunge into certified insides
That render the head certified void.
I reject uncertified voids.
Only things with insides
Can be competently empty.
Enthusiasm is so human.
Outer space has no inside.
It is uncertified void.
Like take your pick, hello,
Is anyone there.
I reject anyone there.
I de-certify voids,
If they aren’t void.
I want your void and my void
To make void babies.
Enthusiasm is so human.
Our void baby is inside us now.
I can’t feel it kick,
Because it isn’t there.
Look, I know how wreckage
Makes everyone feel,
It’s the astronauts
Jagged and horrible.
Gloaming brokers a coarse blanket
over the buckskin reeds. Gasoline
where the pink sky was damaged.
I look at you like the ledger
the arrows kern in the inky air.
When it became time, as it always
would, I constructed a lexicon
to encompass my legitimate
and delicate sadness. I saw my
narrow ankle bones burn blue
and violet flames. Even the arch
was battered with brilliant sprain.
Now, a trireme of plump swans
escalates over the horizon line.
Maybe you steer it in period
costume. You unbend in wires
of draining light. What a cage
they make, the slovenly poplars
along the banks!
Do you fly the black flag.
I shall tell her, if indeed you
do. I will look at her and then
look at you.
Look you these trades. That can mend a sail with damage with tears. Snap a vessel beyond the wake of planets vaguely reflected in the lilting waves. Look you the fonts. The grade of the boards. A corrugated sole under her tossed belly. Inamorato a steer on a crumbling ledge a goatherd calling from the thicket calling for his winding staff. Three staves to the wind dear dear dear so look you the rudder. O for goddess sake look you the rouge. The galley cook will teach you to be a proper bailiff now have at. If I may be your docent, circumspect and stolid. I’ll sing at you where the guitar is splintered on the jagged rocks white foaming song of the embattled sea.
it will not turn out: still life with eye bags: he’d paint her ragged: she’d snaffle the brush: and say this represents: too much: and then give it back: turn her back: to him but her back:
is a gourd: of raisin and wart and freckle: and want and need: and explanation: in a minor key: he gets so fagged: by the lost flame: and the macabre of her:
nightgown: its cloying slack: he cannot dredge: he would not dare
1. “Kissing Tips for Women”
3. “But Summer to Yr Heart, Romeo”
4. “Cock-eyed & Skew-jawed”
5. “Our Souls Belong to Our Bodies”
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Men do iffy, iffy things,
and then, they say,
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I am a series
www. sentimental theories.
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that pillars yr pater
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touches on, upon, up against,
the end [interrobang]
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Rutabaga and jicama
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U. pom squad,
asses like whatchamacallits,
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He’s a, hick
nictitating see-saw, possibly
imitative of the Old
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Personal appearance or
moral irony or
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it’s no use, fuming,
it’s fairly moot.
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Amen’s underpants cannot be panties
nor chrysanthemums flame-trees
armies streaming. Don’t start
with pity, don’t
waiting for a taxi at noon
everyone’s patience red
milk fruit petrol
valor and squalor
fights you breathed by
The flame she said is quite beautiful. Moves
like breathing. Between me and everyone else
soft tongueless severance from the casual guttering
at the bus stop my whore-calves glow like salt
they signify wishing, the burning one
who can do nothing, every ruler
Red skirt and dust
and chickenwhite wait--
You blow on my face
go back to reading Theories of the Future
Lately I’m worried I’m Picasso
& you Francoise? w/me clutching
your breasts carefully
from my totally self-enclosed solitude
Such lunches & ferocity
to despise--so as to devour
the most interesting others
My carved monkey face
seeking its twin inside
you, & to make it
be nude! Obediently uniformly
brown, my little savage
nun, my wobbling-away bicycle
-soul functionally bent
& veering jabbingly indigo
with thickly scabbed chagrin
Morning, horse-breath disturbing
the cold air inside the cup
Wake up my fellow gardenia
dry feet & hatred terrified
of my heart, I can’t do anything
about it if everything I showed you
was a further kind of concealment
Sockmouth. Castles of trout. What is
they are me. The shoes around the faces
of the dead. This one has no head
& above the darkness of old table
wood the cardsharper’s hands sprout pink
splitting buds. Terror as a god of indolence
One wicked Indian alone in the weather
knowing the sign for love
but what does it mean. I the loath dirigible
sadness never as improvised as one feels
Closing the book in the cold-lashed
--envy is joy
Hitherto this sylph this azimuth
construed a dome sewn
w/ tracers. Clatter above
from carpenters stumbling
on roof beams, rafters. A ship upturned
was ripped & scuttled, filled
w/ stones. Bang Bang! Nikita
Maximalist. Firehosing plaster
from our lips. Spitting in
our pinstriped eyes unsealed
“2 global & searing themes”: How
our laughter resembles monsters’
rough uncut garnet stuckness of
children’s slitthroat scabs unearthed
power. (“Now either you are
a personality (especially
a personality of such magnitude)
or you are not.” (Mayakovsky))
Only 2 faint stars
& the occasional booms. They come
in ones or twos or threes. Then there are
minutes of quiet. Dark blistered blocks
of listeners murmuring on rooftops
What is the make of gun Mayakovsky
used on himself in lieu of vinegar
& sponge. Autarchic. Father
father in the future, maybe
you want to watch TV forever?
Or perhaps it is you who is painting me as an owl
my head still separated from my child’s body
in secret like a knife stuck under a wife’s pillow
& who shall be intruded upon
by a jasmine picker. The flame she said
is quite beautiful. Moves like breathing
between me & everyone else
such terror at the casual
guttering of any form. In this heat
helicopter gunships hover to keep us cool
You blow on my face, we scrawl warm
alphabet still in rootball. One head reading
political science (“Theories of the future”)
& the other “Life with Picasso”
Then his miserable luck, a he-goat
he called she was taken away
by gypsies & he was left calling
Where’s my little white she-
goat that I love so much?
Tiny orange crayons scatter blazing
from the sky, lit seed-darts star
doubt bright or dark
We will blossom coolly
coolly to author Thieves of the Future
From January through December of 2004, I was a full-time business writer at New York-based Reis, Inc., a brokerage firm for commercial real estate statistics and analysis. The business was located at 15 West 37th Street, and the editorial group's offices were initially on the top floor. Using an Olympus W-10, a digital voice recorder with a built-in camera, I spontaneously spoke the "state" strips on the building’s roof distinguished by its excellent view of the Empire State Building, from which one half of this series takes its name. However in June of that year our group moved to the 4th floor, which Reis also leased. Removed from easy rooftop access, I continued to compose through the day but now standing on the fire escape at the back of building. It was a poor prospect. That area also served as an air "shaft".
What follows are direct transcriptions of some of these recordings, the whole of which (about 80 in number) is called “state/shaft shaft/state”. To note, they were made standing in place (on the roof or fire escape) which separates them from my "transverse" series, which were made mostly in transit.
Transcriptions of these "state/shaft..." recordings appear in Open Space (issue 15, Summer 2013).
“Everything will be tested by fire.”--I Corinth., 3,13 (paraphrase)
In the introduction to a catalogue of his works--Sulla Strada / On The Road--Luc Fierens is described as an art “provocateur.” This term prefaces the variety of roles the artist steps into as creator or maker in obscuring the intent of the modern work from preconditioned responses of the art audience. The first law of abstract art is the depiction of reality in an unexpected way in keeping with its--reality’s--basic character.
The Fierens’ work above seems to take as its starting point the art of Andy Warhol--in particular Warhol’s works with multiple panels, especially four panels, generally depicting a variation of a photographic image in each panel. One of these works remains particularly popular, comprised of four “psychedelic” colored silk-screened images of Marilyn Monroe. Critics chastised Warhol’s mass produced work as being “art for art’s sake” in the extreme, implying that it was detached from meaning, especially from the life-filled tradition of art and its long involvement with social issues. The monetary value of Warhol’s works also labeled him as materialistic.
Unlike Warhol’s exactness, the Fierens work is hastily assembled. Three of the panels are subjects that refer clearly to social problems. One is a well-known Walker Evans photograph from Evans’ and James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men about Southern sharecroppers. Another is a news photo of a protester. The third possibly taken from comic book art is a conflagration and an agonized man holding a measuring tool aloft in his hand. The fourth, a double female image, with a separate period as blemish, is similar to the other three, despite its contrasting surface qualities, because we know that in Fierens’ work the female figure generally symbolizes political and personal repression. Three of the images are in black-and-white (including half of the double female image) and two of them are in color. Yet in referencing the Warhol work, Fierens tells us that the four images are variations.
Whereas Abstract Expressionist compositions, from the same time as Warhol, deconstructed visibility and gave rise to radically unfamiliar views of the material settings and forms of humanity on the infinite canvas, Warhol approached the same philosophical or social problems from a diametrically opposite direction. Warhol’s work unrelentingly contains iconic images, tinted with the colors of unreality and artificiality. Rather than substance, presence and existence, the subject of Warhol’s art is illusion, isolation and nonexistence.
In saying this, I disagree with the critics that call Warhol detached. Art critics disparaged Warhol’s colors as being unlike the Fauves (for example), saying that Warhol’s colors had no connection with emotion or symbolic meaning. But non-literal coloration also alludes to the amazing outward experiences derived from the splitting of the atom and from telescopic glimpses across galaxies. It isn’t Warhol that is detached. It’s the iconic perspective itself that is detached. As pioneer provacateur, Warhol’s depictions are intended as a satiric criticism of cultural shallowness and fadishness-- its absoluteness and lack of everyday relevance, its dominant downward push against the social fabric in general, its association with atrocities and recurring erroneous crimes perpetrated both against and by humanity. Warhole depicts unsecularized tokens arbitrarily directed toward morality, obeyed without reason. With his multiple panels, he even brings in numerology enhancing the idea of meaninglessness.
Fierens’ work revisits the discourse of Warhol and abstract painting. Does Fierens, as provacateur, cleverly endorse Warhol’s social criticism--the empty religion of inert images--or does it sternly condemn Warhol himself as detached? The subject matter and style of art of Fierens’ four or four-and-a-half panels seems to be quite different from that of Warhol’s. Perhaps Fierens is saying that “thrilling” unnatural coloration of the photographic image of Marilyn Monroe is related more closely to social issues than critics think, that Warhol is right that the actress was misperceived. Perhaps, on the other hand, Fierens is saying that his own images of protest and social unrest are more iconic and detached from reality than is generally understood. I think these two artworks are very similar in their agreement that the visual aspect of any social situation is difficult to understand.
Warhol brings out the issue of the value of art, no matter if it is placed on the level of action. In posing the question of burning the books of Franz Kafka (Kafka himself being the first to pose this question), Georges Bataille calls Kafka’s works “doomed” and written only to be “anihillated.” (1) Bataille writes, along with some remarks critical of Communism, “Nobody doubts the value or questions the ultimate authority of action.”
In Communism, the goal, the altered world, situated in time, in the future, takes prescedence over existence. (2)
But Bataille isn’t merely criticizing Communism as much as he is criticizing time.
This is no longer a mere denunciation of the vanity of one “aspect of life,” but of the vanity of all endeavors, which are equally senseless: an endeavor is always as hopeless in time as a fish in water. (3)
Thus, a fish in water is “doomed” to remain a fish, just as the children of false gods are doomed, just as the images in both Fierens’ and Warhole’s works are meant to be questioned as iconic.
Yet,undoubtedly the portrayal of social issues in Fierens is present. Provacateur though he may be, unlike Warhol, Fierens includes in this work an avant-garde collage-piece of text that reminds us that he is also a “visual” artist (writer) for whom a work of entirely visual imagery is always iconic. Among other things, visual “writing,” visual poetry is a call for articulation. In my opinion, Fierens’ work here and elsewhere fits with the new flexible age of criticism that “typifies the wider, more positive parameters of postmodern culture.” (4) Fierens’ workman-like multi-media piece calls for a revived interest in and a rearticulation of the valuable, forgotten discourses of Pop Art, Abstract Expressionism, McLuhanism,Warhol and other works of that time. Fierens’ open, less dismissive, less categorical, less secretive and painstaking, ironic and more plain viewpoint is uninterested in taking sides and aims at making sure that all sides taken are fully examined at face value. Fierens seems to be saying that Warhol’s iconic imagery might very well be unrecognized for the criticism it offers, but, at the same time, Warhol hasn’t really made an effort to make himself clear. Fierens, like his numberless compatriots, is less focused on museum masterworks, sales, the niceties of tradition and more on exploring the accusations, examining the lasting values that relate to both art and social imbalance--on the internet, in small publications--and being open to change. He is interested in art and literature that for these reasons have more freedom in relation to content and style, traits as common and geometric in the Renaissance as they are in the varieties of media of today.
1. Literature and Evil, George Bataille, Marion Boyars, New York, 1993, p. 152
2. Ibid. p. 152
3. Ibid. p. 152
4. Parameters of Postmodernism, Nicholas Zurbrugg, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, 1993, p. 99
It’s autumn in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m sitting in front of a picture window on the other side of nature as it shifts in preparation for the darkest season--a frenzy of scrub jays harassing squirrels in the neighbor’s yard; a snow’s fall of medium cadmium leaves collected at the base of tree trunks, littering sidewalks, clogging gutters; electric October skies with their permeable cloudscapes.
Observation: to watch carefully, notice.
This is what we do the better part of our lives: study the landscape and its upheavals through the assumed safety lens of glass casements (in houses, offices, automobiles), under the seeming protection of steel joists and wood beam-supported structures.
Vantage point: broad view, perspective.
Up and down this narrow street, construction. Condo, or duplex? Convenience store, or coffeehouse? Every morning, fragments of jackhammer juxtaposed with willow. Traffic signal with coyote. And as always, seeing and hearing only what we choose to.
Myopic: insular, restricted.
And in this environment of limited life spans and variable terrain--man-erected edifices, man-destructed woodlands--we require something greater than ourselves to provide nourishment, serve as a sanctuary. As Paz might suggest, an “architecture of sound/meaning,” so that we might survey and navigate the rending and shaping.
Poetry: food, shelter.
This morning, and for many mornings, I have found such sustenance in ALL STEEL--Lori Anderson Moseman’s fifth collection of verse (Flim Forum Press, 2012). Here, poems of construction, destruction, and the forests or clearcuts that lie in between. Here, the craftswomen and men, builders and foresters at the front lines of the built environments we inhabit. Rural and urban testimonials, accounts, and narratives that take their cues (and shape on the page) from a library of hand tools and machinery.
Toolbox: manual, mechanical.
But to weigh the impact of the destruction of our natural resources, the transformation and extraction of our landscapes, we must first consider motives, and our position in the process.
Henri visits every canoe he's made and sold. I'd rather
visit each slaughtered birch, tar them, wrap them, heal
each toothed leaf free so green unfolds into fall yellow
(18-19) “Crooked Knife | Reportage”
Like Henri, who fashions canoes from birch both found and felled, it has become more and more effortless to disconnect ourselves from our role in the devastation of the natural world. But Moseman’s careful examinations remind us of the intimate connection we have with industry; both global and local.
We covet and partake. No matter what prompts our consumption--replicating Thoreau’s canoe with nothing more than “an awl, an axe, and a crooked knife,” or fashioning an urban landscape with tools and technology that have become extensions of our physical selves--nature has still been transformed, permanently altered.
Yet, these poems challenge all of our assumptions, providing multiple viewpoints from which we might formulate an opinion.
A Filipino forester pronounces it ugly. Our scientist concedes: perhaps
they had wanted fire to kill fewer trees. I am happy
below the charred spires. This ridge asks for risk.
Snags and seed trees say dare. Design.
(26) Partial Cut, Broadcast Burn Hope Tour Stop #2, from “Increment Borer | Comparative Analysis”
Divided into three sections--“TEACHING TOOLS,” “LABOR POOLS,” “WORK CYCLES”--ALL STEEL offers a range of perspectives and structures that push the limits of the page, often times evocative of the tools and landscapes each poem inhabits.
And in these habitats Moseman consistently demonstrates a precision of language, whether as phonetic characters, ideograms, or a hybrid system of the two.
retired sawhorses  long-backed and painted blue  branded NYPD
she buys ‘em on eBay  underbids everyone, yet  rigs it to win
(30) 2003, from “Sawhorse | Manifesto”
The poem continues to bracket and column its way down the page in a series of signs and sounds, giving voice to its vision:
This is her mustang time  her All-American free speech 
her lost lasso convention  her manifest corral 
The temporalization of Moseman’s poems demands our acute attention, asks us to engage with them as metaphors of time and space itself. Syntactic disruption and anastrophe subvert the normal order of things, lending a sense of unease as their subjects seek to find a balance between culpability and innocence.
But ALL STEEL is not without its quieter moments, and places of respite. In “May 1945 | Benediction,” the poem’s speaker and her husband wait out the queue of tourists at Anne Frank’s house in a Delft shop. As they peruse a selection of souvenir plates and figurines which recall the surrounding Dutch landscape, “A field of grain. A sunrise. That moment / in all the time-worn repetition of pattern,” enigmatic objects of their desire intersect with the very forms they were designed to mimic:
Amid the platters--each with its own lineage: two cats.
Persians sunning above porcelain replicas of themselves
Gentle stealth navigating so much bone--
not a break. Just. Sweet, alert purr.
I pick this book up, and place it down. I have sat with it for many minuets. Here at my snug post, which I will leave only to eat, or to jog through the neighborhood in between rain showers. But I’ll return, as I always do, to watch the trees unburden themselves of their leaves through the picture window, to listen to the freight train as it ushers in evening. Like Moseman’s narratives, in their calm and raucous:
"She saved my life, but I can’t remember a single word she said. All the little leaves / of her stories, the full forest they became--rants that lifted left boot up now humus under the right.”
25) “Core Bore(r) | Oral History”
Michael Basinski is the Curator of the Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo. He performs his work as a solo poet and in ensemble with BuffFluxus. Among his recent books of poetry are Piglittuce (Propolis Press - 2013), Learning Poem About Learning About Being A Poet (Press Board Press - 2012) and Trailers (BlazeVox - 2011). His poems and other works have appeared in many magazines including Dandelion, BoxKite, Antennae, Open Letter, Deluxe Rubber Chicken, First Offense, Terrible Work, Kenning, Lungfull, Tinfish, Score, Unarmed, Rampike, House Organ, Ferrum Wheel, End Note, Ur Vox, Damn the Caesars, Pilot, 1913, Filling Station, fhole, Public Illumination, Eccolinguist, Western Humanities Review, Big Bridge, Vanitas, Talisman YellowField, , and Poetry.
Jerrod E. Bohn finished his MFA in poetry in 2010 at Colorado State University. His work has appeared or is soon forthcoming in Phoebe, The Montreal Review, alice blue, inertia, Matter, May Day, Moria, The Ottawa Arts Review, Suss, Zouch and commas & colons.
James Capozzi's poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Burnside Review, New Orleans Review, The Literary Review, and DIAGRAM. His first book, Country Album, won the New Measure Poetry Prize and was published by Parlor Press in 2012.
Peter Ciccariello is an inter-disciplinary, cross-genre artist, poet, and photographer who is fascinated with the innate tension between image and word and letterform. He has been experimenting with how the interaction of these elements can and often do transcend to the level of the poetic. Ciccariello’s work has been exhibited at Harvard University, Boston, MA, The University of Arizona Poetry Center, Tucson, AZ, and at Brown University in Providence, RI. Recent work has appeared both in print & online in, amongst other places, Poetry Magazine, New River, a journal of digital writing and art, dbqp: visualizing poetics, Fogged Clarity, miPOradio, Leonardo On-Line, Rattle, Adirondack Review, and will appear recently in the 2013 issue of MAINTENANT 7, A Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art.
Guy-Vincent has garnered international attention for his development of SYMBOL ART, a unique visual language that he creates and distributes via Twitter (@Guy_Vincent). This work is comprised of various text, glyphs, symbols, and Unicode elements. He frequently integrates aspects of these designs into other multimedia processes, generating new possibilities, further pushing the boundaries of his artwork. His deliberate and intentional nonconformity to traditional disciplinary rules allows new insights to be achieved in a variety of mediums.The scope of his projects ranges from public art installations, traditional gallery and museum exhibitions, to new media art projects. His website is www.GuyVincent.net.
Scott Helmes is a poet, book artist, writer, artist, architect and photographer. His experimental poetry has been collected, published and exhibited worldwide for over 40 years. His recent books include Poems From Then to Now, Redfox Press, Ireland and The Last Vispo Anthology: Visual Poetry 1998-2008. Photography is included in Architecture 2012, published by Universe Publishing. His book work has been exhibited in 2012 at the Handmade/Homemade exhibit-Pace University, NY and The Kelly Writers House, University of Pennsylvania. His artistic work in 2012 has included Art on the Plains X1, Plains Art Museum, Fargo; and Snippets: Visual Text, R&F Gallery, Kingston, NY. His studio is located in Minneapolis, MN, USA.
W. Scott Howard teaches in the Department of English and in the Emergent Digital Practices Program at the University of Denver, https://portfolio.du.edu/showard. He is the founding editor of Reconfigurations: A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture. His essays on poetics have appeared in many journals and books, including Denver Quarterly, Double Room, and Talisman; Printed Voices (Toronto), Reading the Middle Generation Anew (Iowa), and Studying Cultural Landscapes (Arnold & Oxford). Water: Resources and Discourses, a co-edited collection, is available from Reconstruction. His interviews in PLAZM magazine are noted in the documentary film, Helvetica. His poetry may be found in Burnside Reader, Diagram, Eccolinguistics, Ekleksographia, E.Ratio, and Many Mountains Moving.
Jessie Janeshek's first book of poems is Invisible Mink (Iris Press, 2010). An Assistant Professor of English at Bethany College, she holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and an M.F.A. from Emerson College. She co-edited the literary anthology Outscape: Writings on Fences and Frontiers (KWG Press, 2008).
Brandi Katherine Herrera is the author of the forthcoming chapbook the specificity of early spring shadows (Bedouin Books, 2013). Her poetry, reviews and stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Common, Borderlands, The Oregonian, VoiceCatcher, and Charlotte, among others. She is the co-editor of The Lake Rises, a WITNESS POST Series anthology (Stockport Flats, 2013), and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Pacific University. She lives and writes in Portland, Ore.
Jennifer MacKenzie's first book of poems, My Not-My Soldier, is forthcoming from Fence Books; a chapbook, Distant City, is available from Finishing Line Press. Other recent poems and essays can be found in Guernica, Forklift Ohio, and Two Serious Ladies. After five years residing in the nearish East, she recently returned to the US, though without having yet determined in which state she will primarily be located.
Tony Mancus is the author of three chapbooks: Bye Land,Bye Sea, and Diplomancy. He co-founded Flying Guillotine Press with Sommer Browning in 2008. He works as a quality assurance specialist and lives with his wife Shannon and their two yappy cats.
Gregg Murray is an assistant professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College and a contributing poetry editor for The Chattahoochee Review. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in HorseLess Review, [PANK] and Ayris. Please visit his website for more information, including links to poems and essays (gregorykirkmurray.com).
John Myers lives in Tucson with poet Brian Blanchfield. He works with adults recovering from severe mental illnesses. He graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in biology and from the University of Montana with an MFA in poetry. He spends time in Pennsylvania, Montana, New Mexico and Arizona. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Spork, elimae, Handsome, ABJECTIVE, the Omnidawn Blog, Gigantic Sequins, Dirty Napkin, and FRiGG. His manuscript Cider Kit was a finalist for publication by Omnidawn.
MH Rowe's fiction and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Word Riot, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, ILK, Bodega, Timber Journal, and Jellyfish.
Dee Sunshine is an artist, writer, musician, yoga teacher, tantric massage therapist and new age hobo. He gave up the life of the homesteader in August 2006 and has since then spent most of his time in Spain, India, Thailand and Indonesia. He is the author of three poetry collections: The Bad Seed (Stride, 1998), Dropping Ecstasy With The Angels (Bluechrome, 2004), and Visions Of The Drowning Man (Skylight, 2012). He has also published a novel, Stealing Heaven From The Lips Of God (Bluechrome, 2004).
Amish Trivedi's poems have been in Mandorla, XCP, Verse, Omni-Verse and Esque. His chapbooks include Museum of Vandals and The Breakers. He has an MFA from Brown's Program in Literary Arts and he teaches at Roger Williams University.
Valerie Witte received an MFA in Writing degree from the University of San Francisco, where she worked closely with Rusty Morrison. She is a member of Kelsey Street Press, which publishes experimental writing by women; She is co-coordinator of a collaborative project called the Bay Area Correspondence School (BACS). She is a member of the g.e. collective in San Francisco, where she helps coordinate a chapbook and reading series. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in VOLT, Eleven Eleven, Letterbox, Alice Blue, Shampoo, Interim, Barrow Street, S/WORD, and elsewhere.
Word For/ Word is seeking poetry, prose, poetics, criticism, reviews, and visuals for upcoming issues. We read submissions year-round. Issue #23 is scheduled for February 2014. Please direct queries and submissions to:
Word For/ Word c/o Jonathan Minton 546 Center Avenue Weston, WV 26452.
Submissions should be a reasonable length (i.e., 3 to 6 poems, or prose between 50 and 2000 words) and include a biographical note and publication history (or at least a friendly introduction), plus an SASE with appropriate postage for a reply. A brief statement regarding the process, praxis or parole of the submitted work is encouraged, but not required. Please allow one to three months for a response. We will consider simultaneous submissions, but please let us know if any portion of it is accepted elsewhere. We do not consider previously published work.
Email queries and submissions may be sent to: editors at wordforword dot info.
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Jonathan Minton, Editor
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This issue was designed using Aaron Lumsden's parallax scrolling.