word for/word
issue 6: summer 2004
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Thomas Lowe Taylor






Insignificant material encoded. Bitemarks light the evening sky within temporal skin, as if not mentioned butt held and firm. The sensory layer between the definition and what follows it into the other room, like a covering between you and doubt, like a smooth anchor where you held it down. Between definition and repose, there is a silence entertaining the eyeball in your hand. As if you'd spent the day alone.

At home on the Lanker Dee, he spoils the air with his breath, words formed alongside mental disturbations, the Judge sat in the chair before her and masturbated. In some newer avenue, there was a quickening from the interior of the lingo itself, another orange disk in memory's late skies. This was where you left off and smoothed aside another empty moon. Crawlspace from the nether depths, oozing animations clear the air and huck bowls of light against the door. It opens. Would you call me another day?

I'd heard lightweight scrawn, linked from offal rites the length of which return some fathom pothole, screen, links to smoother asides. Your own musk of fleeting poems hole the day into sinking feelings, smothering, a fleet dream of having been there against your will in quicksand memory the liners remote and sensated from aisle reaps toward monkey shit falling ceiling-wise, inert waves reascend making sentences turn upsideways down at the end of the day.

Fatal. This rasp of wooden dongs, smoke rising from your empty ears, this vacuum in your heart is not healing slowly but enlarging into the continent, as if Now were the solitary clue. I'm a farmer. The clasp holds her hair away from her face, it bleeds green and purple songs into the firmament where there are no havens, no palls. Lineations of out, the smoother angle decorates basically simple emotions within their own areas, as if there were something to decide beyond the easier assumptions. It'd skate.

"The harvest must come," he said at the gate. Upstairs, the old people were shrinking daily, moving around the rooms at night in gradually smaller circles, heaving memories over the balcony along with unwanted relatives, to what? Relative to what. In blue movies, they always hold you long enough to matter, not long enough to believe. What's the due, what's the air, what's the poison reference in the letter left on the credenza with familiar bits of pottery and glass arranged in somewhat mysterious patterns.

Omitted signals carry their insolence before them like the unencoded manuscript you hold before you, as if no other. Here in the weakening gloom, where the sun might not rise again, refuse and offal smoking on the horizontal penetration, names left on the night moves would not include you in their declinations to the opposite. It's the Non. Welcome to the Non. Here where there is a message on the floor you can't quite read, it's somewhat out of focus, a photograph which was a mistake, or was it? Get at the raspy dude, hold his anchors out of sight on the morning after what. What described your day along the curving road through the mountains down into the sloping valleys rolling their peachfuzz ocean floors from long ago, long enough that no one remembers when it was, giant trucks rolling around the tiny blacktop roads to nowhere, this is the air we were.

The air begins to clog into beachside parking lots with wooden boats on their sides; it's the image of a nostalgia for what never was, for the mystery in its agony of repetition and disuse, in its finality of indifference from the skies which open into darkness and their own readiness to receive the incoming signals, a psychic enterprise which is less an image than it is a tendency to refuse use or pity as the days climb into their own particular nothingness. Here is a sign. A post driven into the ground with huge hammers, split at the top and furry on the edges from the dull saw which reduced it from a tree into this blunted anchor for the heavens.

No darker than not, the Non is its own record of history, it's own determination to be real. A solipsist dream of floating in the darkness without any ropes or shelves to put your clothes onto, an empty ark of covenance and disrepair; too busy to look back, you ramble in your discourse like someone who's just learned the language and doesn't know what to say with it. Like, "duh." Go on, you think, this is only the beginning and you might eventually be surprised, at least you hope so.

"Wah in the putty tate" goes the reggae voice in the other room. Boom-boom on the bass floor, a guy playing a fish with gaping scales. "Wah in the putty tate," and comes right back on you in its own manner, measured by the length of the time between silences, rhythm and the slinking asides you'd hold onto again and again, gasping for air, tie your rope to the stars, sly in the pooti-wah, cool in the putty tate. Fool in the remiss outer, school in the heading against which the foot ramble upwards in a new kick to your ass, blam! Hears the single tone realigns the stars their own waves begin and end in your fingertips, as if your skin separated you from anything at all, least of which impinges on your finality.

This'd harf no single doubt but classed and plussed within schemers, at their own agenda wrapt and fallen, in skein forms the lingering tides rushing again and again at the fordune, held down by the sticky beachgrass into mountains of sand piled against the continent, as if holding it together by the balls and fountains, clean wisps of delight remembered darkness in the ether room encoded again you hear the word bleep-bleep on the wand of your own fingers…

"I don't remember," he cries, forgetting even the question at hand. Doorstop wrinkles, no slacks on the floor, putative strength heals the hearer longer now than not. Playing attention has them standing stiff and rude at their tangled-wire barriers to thought which is this, this agony and passitude you'd invented to get around the farmers. Drought in the anchoring dunes, a flat on the sinking repetitions of the day after tomorrow, "I do not know," and goes on into the later sections of the psalter, horse and rider clinging together to the song, ca-ching, symbol and clang, platter and bong the looser claims for inattention recall you to doubt itself into which you plunge ceaselessly a punter in the mists of the game-ball thrown against the door, hearing heaving this singular dusk as it rises riding outward the nomenclature of the song itself is no meter but the clamor of the holding tanks and spasms, loose to the night you called it now and then, but cleared the door easily leaping over all the furniture into the skin, into the now and then the Non at its own destiny remembering all the words you know at once. Spliff.


Inside, my wooden, replicant heart splits again; "oh, this again." Like a dickwad spent on too many summer afternoons in the city where the lights go on and off like lights. Your own movies have crept aside into the clay and then moved too far to say stop and spin. I'd been at the longer scenes no patriot moons are called like the surface of your smile when you think I'm not wasting my time writing on the back of my hand until it's full of scripts and sentences. And when Pip falls out of the boat as it makes its way back to the mother ship after the heroic fight with the white whale, he is left floating on the blue ocean under a cloudless, blue sky, and loses the horizon line, goes mad, floating in the midst of blue nothingness. We need that line across the empty mind, a fathom or two to the left and sends no other. No less a baby in the womb, but a seed in the winds across a vacant planetal spin and sag.

So too, the gloss of skin in the mind is a barrier against what we do not know, & since what we know is everything, the shiny surface of the paint on the floor is what gives it its depth, as if the flat, grainy surface of the photograph competes with the image (whatever that is) made up of its molecules and terms for what we define as solid in the mists of plenty, in the midst of suspicion about grids and screens defying the very flatness over which they superimpose themselves. You skated on the surface. You walked upon the ground. There was a you to walk with along the way so there was no loneliness. In the dream, recall figured among the trees along the road. Everything is you in the dream.

In the surficial, silence reigns its usual head and shoulders above every other facet of indignation. Silents rain unusual beads and boulders among never mother faces of obligation. Your angry tools are featherd on the board in the garage where the bent wires poke from holes on the beadboard façade which is painted with little faces smiling sly intonations of doubt you'd imagined received and plotted from the hours remaining in your life to fill with some substances drawn from the so-called 'natural world' as it comes to you in dreams which are not.

The music from the other room covers the football sounds to my right and the confuser-hum at the tower in between. No cats live here any more. The garden has gone into winter's remission, leaning into the sporadic wind and rain from off the ocean further on the right hand side of the picture. We are in the middle of it all, smoothing the covers on the bed with right and left hands. The dog now has the chair all to herself, now that I am engaged here at the keyboard. At least there is location. Scan-dew. Fonterama from the skanking boo.

I'd seek no plento in the ark of shame; hear this lingo and slight the offers one dune at a time, with a sack of spuds containing two bombs, left at the airport without a shipping tag. It is that uncertain now, and a massive paranoia becomes the realer real in between moments of panic and superstition. Surely, an ignorance subscribes to the sense that everything is out of control, even in the sentence, even in the moving hand that writes and then moves on. Even as love makes you lonely. How'd your ship run aground?

Well, it's a sly dimension that marks your spot in silent disregard, nor evenings on the harker spud and plento, no mister in the monks and seasons where you'd cleaved her sudden wasps in senses muff'd and spun at showers held below the arms and snug. Park a due, loot a spider's nests are stuck up under the overhang on the purple boards you painted not too long ago, an ark of stolen moments in the daily flame to mark the days and nights again you sing too loudly in the dark, staving off sensations of struggle and gasping for air as you march slowly slower stopped at the intersection of wait and walk.

The blank has no surface even in memory, even in time, as it were, not declared a definition nor a state's estate for reclamation and fervor--yours in the unmentionable aspect derided into pressure or stance or humanity in errors of its own regard made impenetrable and indefinite, now fathom that. Like six feet under; and yet the glow of the mask lies between you and the reflection of your own face in the very mirror which makes the room seem twice as large as it is, even in the fading hours of the century which has only now begun to be borne among us, furious clatter of ignorant missives thrown around like lard, like broken, rubber hands holding hackeysack eyeballs to kick and spin around the room in another empty game.

Tough nuts in your loogie, the sheen of inattention recalls the form of the question in the back of your mind as if no other. The house rocks. The moon slides between you and me. Shiny and profound, a good idea only masks the questions which gave it rise in the mind's eye and song with simplicity, with grandiose proportions which allow it distinction and implicit definitions on yr facet. Or are you reminded of something circular-ouroboric and distinct in competition with release and renewal. This would be it in the here and now of asking where you are tonight, sweet Marie. I played the record and sang the same words in the spaces between the words coming from the speaker, a duality and duet with the hidden singer in the electronic box. No one listened again. It was another day in another town, long ago and hopeless in retrospect to unleash the terms for relief you'd imagined somewhere out of town and up into the mountains now covered with ticky-tack housing and tip-up mall walls covering the valley with anonymous faces in the crowd, soot stained storefronts, smarmy longhair hippies stroking and holding onto each other at the end of the age, cozy in their victory over the forces they deride from thesafety of their own empty lives, at least they're together, you think, and drive out of town.

Microbial domain of surficial penetration of the gloss and the sheen, driven upward into view by the nothingness beneath it, shit floating to the top of the soup, if there's a disease, you've got it. Behind the screen, the President strangles his generals and their children, smiling and stuttering in a language which makes you only laugh and gurgle in your own spastic fury at the denial it all represents for the hope that would have made it all bearable, beneficient, a future without fury or dread. Even that is denied you, even as it is sold at the mall in small doses and packages of convenient, personal size.

So the hour declines you and refuses to be interviewed without a witness present, not a lawyer but a savior. 'Hah,' you stutter and slide away into the shadows of a life you've retrieved from the machine at hand, in hand, out of hand, out of mind and off the page.


News at eleven. The man accused as a sniper in many recent killings is acting as his own defense, apparently with the court's blessing and with a somewhat distant relationship with his court-appointed attorneys. Now, he is denied the opportunity of introducing evidence about his own mental competency because of his refusal to submit to a psychological evaluation immediately after his capture and subsequent imprisonment. How would he question himself on the matter of his sanity, and would there not be some kind of ironic resonance to the questioning as he moved from the position of question to the status of answering questions from himself about whether or not he is mad. Would he seek to prove or disprove his sanity and in either case what would be the outcome if he were judged by his own questioning to be mad. Would his madness discredit the questioner?

Locally, the Reverend John Mann, a kind of everyman in his name, a retiree in the stages of Alzheimer's deterioration, has died suddenly. I painted their house two months ago, and he was an energetic man, not the least incompetent in his immediacy to the task, although his wife seemed irritable with his condition over which she had been witness and caretaker during this time. He know where the ladder was and helped me retrieve it from the pegs on the wall in the garage, although he had some difficulty covering the windows with the masking tape which would not stick to old newspapers. Who wouldn't? She spoke of how he asked the same questions over and over, but since I was there only two weeks I barely noticed. He did ask me several times if I read mysteries, since he had many volumes to share, but unfortunately I don't read such material. Somehow the death of "the man" sits in my craw uneasily, another irony.

And anecdotally, the story persists in my memory of the Carribbean sorceress who invited all of her friends to her wake. They were confused as she was still breathing walking talking and all the rest, yet they all showed up on the appointed evening to celebrate her live-in death, or something like that. Oddly enough, her coffin rested on the floor in the middle of her living room. They all partied long into the night, and as the evening drew to a close, she gathered everyone together and in some manner announced that now she would leave them. She got into the coffin, lay back, crossed her arms across her chest and then died. End of story.

Somehow, I am reminded of Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities, with its parallel plots of the madman in the neighborhood killing people at the same time as its somewhat generic hero himself descends into some kind of synchronist reprise of his own situation; as well as the unhappy moment at the end of Herman Hesse's The Bead Game when our narrator and hero comes to a mountain pool of water as the book ends with the statement, "He dove in." Period, end of story.

All of which sticks us on the quick and the dead, the living and the dying and the moment of capture where we evaporate into our own solipsistic nothingness, our personal 'passing beyond' beyond which, you might say, there is no passage and hardly any beyond to be shared, unless the vagaries of the various books of the dead incline you to imagine a passage into the anteroom of a John Edwards show on television so that you can whistle to your dog through the vanes in the ceiling where the cool air from the other world navigates itself onto the television screen in your house at eleven p.m. on the SciFi channel between commercials for organic erectile fertilizer or opportunities to refinance your home, betting against your own passing, which hardly seems to be a good bet at all. Yet the synchronists insist that the white cloud streams upward into some destiny and passage at the end of your day.

Not that I doubt that at all. If you haven't been to the game you can't report the score. Beyond these questions, the nagging insistence on messages from outer space becomes a gigantic folklore in the medium of the message, and the fictions from stage screen and radio as they used to say, seem to perpetuate a vast and dynamic cargo cult of bamboo airplanes, tonalities from the top of the devil's watch tower, an aptly named erection of stone in the middle of the flat screen of the northern plains. Surely the perpetrators of these empty saddles in the old corral are selling ten pounds of shit in a three pound bag, for in the absence of any messages from outer space, as they call it, there is surely no evidence for perpetrating these frauds which only encourage us, deus ex machina, that whatever we do, the skyhook will descend from above with a bag of donuts and a hot latte. I'm not laughing.

A more responsible attitude would not cave in to the absence of any proof that becomes the proof that is not there at all. We might have some respect for the fragility of the atmosphere we breathe, a fragility which becomes more apparent as we learn more of its bare reckoning. Nor would science with its statistical probabilities usurp so easily the evidence of the eye and the mind, if there is any mind there at all. The coincidence of our sacred unity might become more respected if we accepted the fact that although we've been going to western union for as long as we can remember that no one has answered the call at all. At all. Thank you very much.

Nonetheless, we have taken photographs of invisible material (?) and found evidence for whatever we've sought to invent for the comfort of our brief spin at the controls. Everyone writes a poem in moments of abject despair, as if that were the solace at the end of the tunnel. People are even known to have read poems in moments of what is called 'spiritual crisis.' But to engender a life out of poetry or to dedicate one's self to poetry is once again a state of complete depravity and waste. The rubber hand on my desk holding the hackeysack with an eyeball painted on it nonetheless becomes a leitmotif for my own doubt in some archaic resonance which I cannot escape, though I photograph it as if it were a real hand, severed from the body of the world's poet, designed by my ten-year-old grandson as a respectfully inspired yet somewhat mischievious imitation of my own strange preoccupation with hands and eyes in my own work. The moving hand writes and then moves on, another poet wrote. And the eye that sees is the I that seize, if you get my drift. And so I drift onto the plane of inattention to catch what's in the space between the words, the wind blowing between my eyes where a hole in my head to let it in is.





Thomas Lowe Taylor lives, writes, photographs, edits, and paints houses on the Long Beach Peninsula, in SW Washington State. His Prose Elements (240 pp. illus., $25 ppd) is just out from anabasis.xtant Books, 1512 Mountainside Ct., Charlottesville VA 22903. Also just released from the same venue is his Homages of Eagle (900 pp., 2 vol., $100 ppd).

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