word for/word
issue 6: summer 2004
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Skip Fox






Seen truly, the introduction of the arbitrary into the creative process is the introduction of an extraordinarily lively agent, not just an impediment (over which the poet might display his virtuosity) or an obstacle (through which the poet might display his pattern-making ability or the depth of his faith in an ultimate order that he might recognize even in its radical unfolding). New and diverse currents energize the occasion when the arbitrary is invited to play a vital role. The particular "elements" that have entered the flux, flowing from their contiguous universes of memory, dream, phenomena (present, past, and anticipated), the narrative of meditations, reading and half-reading, and so forth are aligned or charged, ripe with new and unique considerations. (It's actually more complicated than that, the arbitrary has a more active, often instrumental role in the creative occasion.) Calling forth vowels with their attendant consonants (above) out of an order some call magical and some mechanical had the effect of unhinging several "doors" from our normative index and charging the ground in such a way that the needle of attentions, honed on content, continually returned to the piece's magnetic north, the dispersal or disappearance of origins, no matter which way the poem was jostled and turned.




from def hij nop tuv xyz zab (a spell)

tail with its mouth in its snake
mouth with its snake in its tail
tail with its snake in its mouth

Zero, delivered of oblivion, from which nothing
comes beyond the proto-universe with Zeno's name in
the lower right and so forth, ends like entering a cave
at night, mausoleum-museum, torch of prophets, that we
are of the animal, and the way back is through, into lion,
bear, horse, and rhino, the rock itself.


At the nave of skull is the femur, poised for the
fall, by the time the body makes its half turn and to the
right, all is complete. World full of instructions and
kits. If these were only real kings who would plague their
subjects with inquisitions, misdirected expiation for royal
insanity, and not these mutts of government, human units, who
dress their arrogance in reasons, the most subtle of which is
pathetically transparent, our existence might at least have


Beyond, the shining path, footprint on water, dog at
sled's nose, and all that was forgotten if not forgiven, lost
beyond indifference, what brings you, finally, is the smallest
of clauses, mother of all origins, blasted gyroscope, not the
billioneth part of a quark, to the differences and similarities
between the indefinite, ripped and spinning in cross-currents like
Jupiter's storms, distances before the source, of stars and so
forth, knowing before existence (like having meaning in being?




from zab def hij nop tuv xyz


Xactly the same, blind file or deaf-elf scale minus the
difference, rock writhing in Pliocene karst, lion, bison with turned
neck, rhino never existing in these regions, or some beast be-
tween, meaning whatever it means, that this is a world of
change, word as proof of creation, knowing before existence,
or just another natural formulation. Such geometries given
as rock, tree and brush, tired tenseness radiating from forest out . . .
to what? ridges of what consideration. Ends drift in


Yahweh!, the burning of such grass, grasses to the huts,
wind serpent tied by tail tight to air and before we know it we
are dead, or worse, yet living to die again each day, the memory
gland pumping pure poison or the disease of life is such that we
are thoroughly sickened by the prospect of an existence in such
condition where the definitions are not attempted, nor their
absences even realized, zero defined as a dictionary of what
we notice over the alphabet of recognitions, strike me dumb!


Zeno, blind surety of identity, as caves' absolute
recognition of time's evaginations, memories' forgotten
amnesia, amphoric absences, listen to the world's
silence. A child wanders into an afternoon where there's
a sunlit hill to climb. Echoes in the imagination of words.
Finds a small opening, entrance, pouch or porch. Depth sounds
in his hearing, walls into distant herds. Long passed our
beginning. Running and standing . . .




Skip Fox has been writing since 1969. He has worked in factories (auto, ketchup in Ohio), mills (shake and shingle in Washington State), woods (Olympia National Forest), warehouses (San Francisco), mental institutions (Ohio), and universities (Ohio/Louisiana). He has been published in journals ranging from o.blek to Talisman and Hambone. His recent work appears in Pavement Saw, Prosodia, Exquisite Corpse, sendecki.com, and other journals. His books include Kabul Under Siege (Bloody Twin Press, 1991), Wallet (Bloody Twin Press, 1991), Fighting Kiwis (Oasis, 1999), and What OF (Poets & Poets, forthcoming). His work also appears in the anthology Another South, edited by Bill Lavender.

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