Friday, March 25, 2011

25. “I want to get embarrassed / so much.”

The fact of this blog is that nothing would ever happen here if it could not happen all of a sudden.  The prohibition against liking and not-liking is already super-difficult given how prone I am to glee, admiration, and effusion, also dark glowering and contempt.   Someone says, “I can never tell if I would like the books” and I say well, yes, that is the point here, to do nothing to encourage or discourage the commerce, to be the anti-internet, no barely meaningful erection of thumbs, no linkability, zero PR. 

 What then, would an industry and a product make of this?   It should  be pretty useless here, like weeds. 

So then, the problem of love.  Everything comes down to the problem lately.  This one is not in the text: this is me, the reader, with the paltry and fundamental reason I read.  To share, for a moment, any other person’s head. Also, for  a moment,  to be relieved of this one.  Am I then finally just that romantic? I don’t even want to say what book this is a review of.    I will return to it, and better equipped, again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

24. “Do you know anything about the patrolled green areas?”

I live near the cows and also some cowboys, also the patrolled green areas, also near, what we call for lack of a better word, the land.  My love of life, also.  And poems are the earth’s dreams; but for a moment forgettable, not quite deadly, leaked up, at night, from a fissure. And, as Raul Zarita tells us,  Purgatory began with his other cheek's laceration.  This is more agreement than anything, or rather, there is perfect sense.  It is a similar dereliction to know that none of the critical forms could help me with this:

Have you seen those infinite pastures extend themselves
where the cows fleeing disappear
reunited    weightless  before them? 

“Between poetry and love, we would not required the mediation of words.” 


Ortega Y Gasset said:
“Life is, in itself and forever, shipwreck. To be shipwrecked is not to drown. The poor human being, feeling himself sinking into the abyss, moves his arms to keep afloat. This movement of the arms which is his reaction against his own destruction, is culture — a swimming stroke.... But ten centuries of cultural continuity brings with it — among many advantages the great disadvantage that man believes himself safe, loses the feeling of shipwreck, and his culture proceeds to burden itself with parasitic and lymphatic matter. Some discontinuity must therefore intervene, in order that man may renew his feeling of peril, the substance of his life. All his life-saving equipment must fail, then his arms will once again move redeemingly.

Consciousness of shipwreck, being the truth of life, constitutes salvation. Hence I no longer believe in any ideas except the ideas of shipwrecked men.”
The cow, the stockyard, also.

Monday, March 21, 2011

23. “my brutish ennobling & anti-ennobling fires”

There is a problem with names, I think.  I don’t like to write them, though I know full well why we should.  It is also just knowing the burden of my own name, or rather the burden of seeing its repetition: how then to burden another person with this uncomfortable situation of existing as a someone in particular, defined by all that? Or rather, not only to write the name, but also to do something to it and, as a consequence, its bearer? To love, or something even more or less? 

Lauren Levin’s chapbook Keenan:, from Lame House, 2011, is up against this problem:

. . . .Don’t worry, 
your name won’t represent your actions:

in fact, I’m writing people’s names less
the more I know them. 
The book is full of names, names on a number of its pages, and named a name, and so I guess it is a book also full of the problem of knowing people and needing to name them, or finding the condition of knowing and naming another insufficient.  Even to presume to know another person, or want to,  is a limitation, like definition or diagnosis:  “And isn’t diagnosis horrible? / gluing all the people in here.”   
But moreso than the problem of names, and also the problem of knowing, is the problem of what happens when we dislocate ourselves into another: that untrustworthy condition of wanting, very much “to feel you with tone” and also “some words I can sense the obsession in” and

you the whole essence of someone whose transposition onto the idea
    of its essence becomes a dull flush rising to       my lid
            and back,           at the movement of this to yourself,
               how one person has stroked recapitulation,
If we cannot trust, not even barely, the naming of a person (“the real names are a flamboyance of a lived thing, not what I hear”), and we know this other only through a kind of hopeful and gluey limitation like diagnosis, what then are we when we have leaked into another, and our thoughts are there with that other, either hoping to own or become him or her or indulge in a process of extreme empathy also (empathy's own) “pervy memory”: what then, to trust?  

Or rather, I should back up, to the very first page of the poem, on which the last line sums these failures: “my ideology of non-empathy is a claim to non-elegy.” That is, I think, there is in this the problem of desire like how desire so often makes an empathic error: not empathy at all, but (for my own lack of a less used-up term), projection.   Loss then (or not getting exactly what, or who, we want or think we have wanted) is less valorized than prodded here, and the specifics are made big:  “the way I like to read about anyone / who could be being us.” 


(For most of the time I was writing this, Hazel was sprawled out in the middle of the bed, in a manner she described as "like an otter in the sea."  She said, "Anne, you must use in that review the word 'mirror,'" and while 'mirror' is an entirely appropriate word to use to understand this poetry, I have failed in finding an easy place for it.  So rather, you, dear reader, must think of the word "mirror" at some point while thinking of the problems herein.) 

Monday, February 28, 2011

22. How much swagger do I want? / So fucking much, all of it, all the time"

I was feeling, again, forlorn for myself and for public libraries, how most of what  I could find therein were these lyrics, fractured and award-winning, how I have no patience for that kind of caviar and fracture (to go around breaking shit! assholes! I needed what you just broke!), how what I wanted, both sadly and freely was a poetry that would mend the social, how it would tell not only of alienation but alienation’s ruin, how it would do this with no airs and with full admission, its pretense only a pretense of belief, or its belief only in that of the abidingness of poetry even as poetry imagines itself out of poetry.

Where was I going to find this poetry?

There were people all over the world taking over everything and WE HAD TO WIN.

I told Sandra this is the time to stand up in the middle of Art and start shouting.

So I said aloud on facebook that I would read pdfs, because secretly and not so-secretly I am to the pdf what the rest of you nostalgics are to books, that I would, in a second, decorate this rental house with these files, some scanned, some ocr-scanned, some primitively designed, some in asemic tatters, some full of viru$es from the fuck ver$o site. 

I was feeling, again, forlorn for myself, $90 in the amazon cart I couldn't bring myself to spend, having a thought on each book and putting it back for lack of money, just like Tisa in the poem I will soon write about, and everywhere in your cities there are these poets, dancing and fighting with each other (are they getting ready to stand up in the middle of art shouting? are you?), and then there is Dana Ward writing, and flying to be among them, and now holding his baby, and I read this:

To be the most adorable person in a destroyed world, or, the most hideous thing in a parti-colored city-- this was the question that was most on my mind.

This was the question that was most on my mind. How is it that old define for the young the beauty that belongs to youth?  Or rather, how they say to one man, as a man said to Dana Ward, 

"This is not poetry."

That this is not poetry is most securely the evidence that it is.  or, "Oh, it totally is." 

The pdf I am reading will be a book, called This Can't Be Life, coming out from Edge books. Dana says:

"I have all these friends I've never met. We are bonded by a poetry. Nothing else matters. Everything else. The logics of armament curating all the endearments, sweet nothings, Ann Lee in ‘09, the happy calisthenics of repression dressed up to look like Deluzean dreams & that’s our sociality?"
 also he says

Will.I.Am, Fergie, & all of them were there. & you were there, & you. Their sound was the basin of a Christmassy drain into which all amassed sparkle poured to make the spot. An alto- soprano transformed it into something high & thick, a cream that moved with a butterfly’s ease & the graceful navigation of a so-precocious cat around the card-house of a China shelf that stands on two bad legs. The sound was precarious & perfect, young love. The payment for believing that this register exists as open myriad to die in each one. I’m saying that the siren’s song is meaning.

I'm saying that the siren's song is meaning.

This is what we do when we do not fail, I mean when we "win": we die in each one.  And also, "I will never stop writing about Jay-Z ever. I like to lay on the floor & just think about that dude!" And if I told you I wanted to make a kind of "allergic" criticism, or a criticism of autoimmune-after-effect, would you believe I could do this?  And what also, of a similar poetry?  and "Is it too easy to tell you outright?" and "How much swagger do I want? So fucking much, all of it, all the time."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

21. "stabbing each other/ in the throat"

Rodrigo Toscano’s To Leveling Swerve (2004, Krupskaya) appears to be a Book of Poetry about being the kind of American poet who sits on panels while simultaneously despising sitting on panels:

“Number 7-12-64 please step into the pannelization room.”

It is also a book about using a kind of language and simultaneously despising using a kind of language.  It is about representing and despising one’s own representing. I might understand:

Those of you unfamiliar with the terms “MLA”
“Zukofsky” “art-object” (its current status)
--You don’t belong at this reading!
And the fault is mine
        -- Uneven Development

I would have been so unfamiliar in 2004, but now: Hello American Poetry of panels/ not panels vocabularies/ not vocabularies disjuncts/not disjuncts exclusions/guilt at these exclusions.  What a form of hallway gossip, institutional critique.   I am learning everything about you, poetry, and I am aware that I am always on this blog here saying gaps between things and the words we have for saying things are cruel.  But what cruel gaps these are, this being compelled toward a poetry which “resists” while resisting, in itself, this poetry:


I am hopeless when I read all this.  I mean, sad.  There’s these bodies we must keep alive, these unheroic labors, these languages we are abandoned to (hollowed and insufficient), the syntax made by heritage, the aesthetics formed by patrilineal devotion, the great stultification of art, and then also there are these cities full of the poets, regrettably empaneled.

I didn’t know, or knew, a little, and only just barely, and merely what I've been told:

"That lower-class seekers ply their thrusties and gyrationals against their multiple-unit owning cousins: “poethics” "

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

20. "I search every book for the dedication / I must make as myself"

I have been angry, lately, about these things: the cities that hate children, the children in Kansas city (the city near my city) who set fire to their school 151 times this year because the city hates them and they hate the city, the category of “mother,” the category of “child.” Hazel, my own child, told me this the other day: the reason you do not see homeless people in Overland Park (our city)  is that the homeless people are all mothers and children.  She is a child but nothing and everything like a child.  I am a mother but.  The reason you do not see them is that they are all mothers and children. We are mothers and children and secret in that we are (as mothers and children are categories) a kind of reproductive always-and-ever-ness, perpetually of the body and in this not of the public or the mind.  The younger the child, the more tedious and abject its presence.   How children have no place in this public. How the cities hate children.  How the mind is like the city.  How poetry is like the mind is like the city hates children*.

These (we) humans exist, too close to biology, and also, we are not to bring out ourselves, so close to biology, as mother, though as mother we cannot escape ourselves (a category!):  mother, an embarrassing natural fact.   Some people only need say out loud “Mom poet” to make other people laugh. And child, like what?  Not a person, really, only Suri Cruise.

You would only need to say this to me in the comments field:  Mom.  You would only need to say to Hazel, despite every evidence of her wit and cunning and the way she obliterates every quantifiable measure of human brilliance:  Girl.  

Our  category is an insult.  This is not a conservative assault, it’s also a “post-modern” “post-human” “post-private” “post-biological” one.

How normative --  to exist.

Laynie Browne’s Daily Sonnets (Counterpath Press, 2007) is so full of pain like this.  Take these lines from one of her New York Sonnets: “When I lived here the mothers were somewhat invisible / Just as I have become elsewhere” or from the poem, Chance Meeting Couplets,  which begins: “I’ve been having babies/ And you?” and ends “Our secret worlds are crucial / to all our public meetings”.

The poems are full also of what I think must be the stuff of the poet’s motherhood, which is also the stuff of a boy’s childhood: dinosaurs, bunny suits, boys, lambs, superman, bears, small plastic objects.  The poems come, I think, from great effort: like a sponge the hands can’t stop squeezing to get the smallest bit of life to drip out in the mess that is mother and unpaid labor: “I expect to enter/ a place of no hunger / a realm of pure imagination / This makes me angry / Dear, poetic deficit.”

This is also the book of “private” life in the age of public terror, and the poems must go on for obvious political reasons, must be “your personal amulet”
in this age of malcontent benefactors

Against an ironclad schooner

Feudal kingdom

Dismemberment by jubilant crowds

Strangely indifferent faces

As taboo as it is for private life all up in the mind or city or public it is as inevitable that public life will ceaselessly invade the private, or at least the “private" mind.  The sonnets here exist for and also exist against or: “Against terror implicit in color alerts,” “Fear breeding paycheck absence,” “Against dread of news,”  “Against monotony of daily endeavor,” “Against monotony in verse.”

*I am going to make this clear: not all poetry is a city that hates children.  But what revolutions are contained in the poetry that does not hate children, like these are a new mind or new city themselves. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

19. “where the firing squad has nothing to aim at”

It’s the opposite of the blind oracle.  It’s the allegory of the cave but in the inverse. Also, it’s not just an epic.  Or it is an epic for ghosts and paranoiacs.  There is very little future here.  How does one write an epic for an end, when everyone born is of a new species, made from the needle (the defect)?  The new species might not even have song. This is “the year of our president” and there are other problems:  literature as it is is useless for the vision of the new species; it is made up of either stories that “love whatever people do” or poetry (the poets “tinker”).  Also the forms are made by men, and this literature that can change this is not the literature of men.  The seer is weak: “Part bird.  Part rat. Part Voice.  Part Elephant.”  Finally, there is the question posed on the first page: “If you detest everything about your society, you say, why are you writing?”
“It is time to change writing completely.”  
We are never girls in our visions.  But this does not mean we are men.  Once I almost died and in those minutes met a man just like Satan, but in a spaghetti western and more bureaucratic, and after I that I saw a doctor, with his Grecian formula and cowboy boots. I swear Alice Notley's In the Pines is a dialogue with that same satanic bureaucrat, the one who is always sitting on the foot of the hospital bed.
“What can I trust? he said.
Your death?
My death, he said. For that was right.
Mine will not be right, I say.  For I won’t have vindicated women. I won’t have seen the fall of male power. I won’t have helped to heal the earth. Why should I die and men still hold power? Why should I have lived to be treated like a woman?”
This is a politics.  The other reviews I’ve read of this are trouble. It's like they are eviscerated by the poem as a  necessary function of the poem. This is a part of the literature the escapes “the critical apparatus.”  This is not a faux-metaphysics; it is “I always knew the house was on fire. It was one of the first things I knew.”  There is nothing on which one can be Aristotlean here and also, to write criticism of these later works of Alice Notley is exactly like launching a missile at a ghost.  One imagines exactly an egg, “appearances,” and also the egg being cracked.  I've got nothing like science here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

18. "I am currently only / lying to three-and-a-half / persons"


I am at the public library picking out the books I will read next . My own books are not among these books of my friends and strangers in my own library and in my town or in the entire state of kansas but for maybe in the rented rooms of my poor intimates or my own rented rooms, so all the while, then, I am feeling woeful and inadequate and self-incriminatory squatting on my heels, squinting at the spines and wondering, even, if it is good for me who is uncivic and inadequate to write about the books of the poets all more civic or adequate than me. Soon enough a handsome enough man appears and hands me a sheet of paper and tells me I am beautiful and that I have a pretty smile, and I tell him I have a boyfriend and then I am left with a piece of paper asking me to go to “a movie today (or tomorrow)” and a ‘have a good day” and a stack of books of contemporary American poetry and my woefulness and self-incrimination and beauty.

It has taken me, I think, some time.  One of my jobs is online on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, and while it is never personal we are to pretend it is.  “Hello,” I type, “I’m Anne B. and :)” and to make myself feel better while I am pretending to be helpful and personal I am stealing $1 from my work or how many minutes off the boss-clock reading a public library


collection of poetry by Anselm Berrigan.  I read this book (Free Cell, City Lights, 2009)  in between cut/paste/emoticon/personalization and imagine that each poem (I think these are poems) titled “Have a good one” was written each day as he sat there for several seasons / or “maybe I can write all / poems I should have/ written tonight this year.” I imagine these to be the poems of “as he sat there” and “every day” as I sat here.  sit here.   sitting here still, every day. 

“What I know is / the birds sing back.”


“Time / you ruinous agent of / possibility , will you ever / truly get your point across?”

If I read the blurbs I get messed up, because without the blurbs  I think “these are the poems of an unblinded life enthusiasm” and “these are the ordinary optimistic machinations of the eye and ear and soul.”

As if the soul actually still existed, and anyway,  soul is an imprecise word for what manifests here.  In this language, for example:

“I have imagined saying no so often and rarely ever fantasize a yes. /  One may own a strategy what contains spitting yes repeatedly as / a tactic leading to the fulfillment of a grand vision/ that will be the / unmistakable embodiment and subsequent catatonic astral eruption / of a no”  --

and  the poem goes on, “by artificial pond” and “by ecstasy of refusal” and “by right’s side dull discomfort growing daily” and “by above all’s fierce intellect,” and so also in this book, what I think is true:

how very much it wants to be made of poems of “no”.  How very much it is made of the poems of “yes” or “the/ world its own/ example, & I’m co-bringing life / into it.” *

In this book, the sheep mock the poet and the birds speak back.  

How is this not all prelude, never review?  Humans squat on our heels woeful and self-incriminating but I swear to god somehow beautiful-- “the icing of all personal bureaucracies” -- and all the while the poet here is neither below or above each human and wishes, I think, to get the right amount of drunk.

“You / can be culture/ but not / accused of it.”   It is like I have found the head that always nods the affirmative despite itself or for every "promise of hard won exuberance."

epilogue:  see this is my problem, to fantasize “yes” and always say “no” but hope for a similar astral eruption, my life of refusals somehow some day manifesting in the fourth of July

Friday, February 11, 2011

17. “got some cake some ice some FICO Scoring and Other Credit Issues if they weren’t so / snake bit”


In a disturbing turn of events -- and much to the disappointment of myself, my family, and the four-to-seven humans who think of themselves as my enemies --  I began to write poetry again, and from this was reminded of the strange euphoric feeling of when a song rises out of the throat, like how it does for birds.  After, there is a feeling that EVERYONE SHOULD PAY ATTENTION  and THAT SONG JUST ROSE OUT OF MY THROAT.

This song rising up out of the viscera is so natural that one needn’t have left Eden for it.  It is some adorable remnant of that time when humans had merely to open their mouths and the gods placed in these mouths lush little fruits.  Oh how we sang back our praises of the fruits of those loving gods. Poetry was nothing and everything then.

For this reason I can feel a little bit of a benevolent connection with the critic Micah Mattix who writes, in a conservative think-tank piece, On Form and Flarf,  that “what is needed is a return to the natural constraint of complex form.”

How the poem in the natural constraint of complex form is also like a human tail.

How the every constraint is complex form is natural and every occurring form also like nature like how nature is also a vestigial tail.

I will resist, through this entire review, a defense of our former labors in the google mines. But these labors were in every way “the new natural.”  That is, to cart, with either limousine / donkey / broken-back / copyandpaste the language from here to there, full of the hope and despair of every form of natural labor is also a natural form, and to only after learn that the “here to there” was the same place, and from google we came and to google we came back, as if it google was merely an extension of logos or dust, which it, like nature, also is.   


Let’s then, pretending the world is the world and always natural, apply the four causes to Rod Smith’s 2010 Song Cave chapbook, “What’s the Deal”:

1. how it is made up out of google, which is made up out of language, which is made up out of people, businesses, machines and corpses, bodies animate and barely so

2. how it is in the form not veering too far from google results but resembling, also, a poem in how it rises up in the morning out of the throat of a poet

3. how it was once affect and information and is now a chapbook and will someday, by a bear or future human, be discovered in a clay pot in a cave

4. how it has as its end  the celebration, I think, of vestigial subjectivity and the continuation of an overall project, undertaken by Smith and friends, to explode aesthetics (in the way a confetti cannon also explodes)


I hate the term COGNITIVE SURPLUS.  This is because I love the masses, and resent, in particular, those humans who consider the intellectual and creative activity of the mass human to be in excess (“unnatural”).  


I cannot, despite my loathing for the term “cognitive surplus,” ignore that humans think (and type) these things that Rod Smith has also typed to make this poem:

“What’s the deal with Sanka?"
“Where’s the regular guy?”

“I am interested in eVItamins.”

“I mean/ I saw a posting for a Sales Management Trainee / position with Combined Insurance it sd”

“I read your article about oil in Montana.”
“What’s da deal, etc.?”

“Bluewater Wind and Delmarva/ East Niagara County biosolids acccounts”

Rod Smith the poet is like Dante here, deep in our regular purgatorio.  He makes a vernacular and corporate-speak cantos out of this.

This is why I’ve coined the term “vestigial subjectivity.”  It is a little like cognitive surplus, but takes into account the naturalness of the words that rise up out of our throats and onto the internet.

Those who have everything, from what I can tell, have as little use for the record of  mass wonder, mass suffering, mass silliness as the human body does for a spleen.  And woe to those with one hand in a pocket of profit made from the free expression of the many and with the other hand wiping their wrinkled-up, human-hating nose. 

And yet, for those who have merely poetry, there is a "natural" art inherent in this kind of persistent wonder that seems always to be rising up out of the mass of us (we love). And that poetry is a natural expression of this, vestigial (even though), and that poetry should also (or always)  be made up of the whole of human material, rather than the shinier parts of it: 

“What’s the deal> ?”
“Power could be in the works, astute readers / Power could be in the works.”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

16. "Seconds ago, I was among the chillin'."

Linh Dinh's new book, Some Kind of Cheese Orgy, is some kind of cheese orgy.  That is, cheese is not just the  fluid that comes from the tits of cows, sheep, and goats which is then recombined with substances from these animals intestines in order to coagulate, but it is also that stuff that comes from the crevices in our human flesh.  Asses are widely known to smell cheesy, as are feet.  Belly buttons can appear to create cheese.  Fat people are cheesier than thin people.  Poor people, with all their trucking in the baser sentiments and brutally obvious struggles, are cheesier than the rich.  Cheesy is an aesthetic: smelling like ass, gooey or spongey, a signifier of profound effort, like when someone tells you to say "cheese" to simulate a smile (see Abu Ghraib).  To be cheesy is to be artless and sentimental, a brute and ineffective emotional force.  To have a cheese orgy -- that's all the smelly obscenity without any of the sexy. 


When the poets again and again can think of nothing better than to strive for poetry's failure*, who doesn't want to wipe out American poetry altogether?  To spit upon the pale&tepid corpses called poets with their industro-academic-complex animated hands as these same hands take that allowed sliver of human-like experience and break it into nano-factures laid out in the most artfully innocuous parataxis? 

Linh Dinh writes:

Adam's poem was a post-avant masterpiece,
Crammed with neologisms and non-sequiturs,
But also a few end rhymes, a retro touch.  Cute.

Collage, montage, parody, beaucoup irony and
Outright thievery quickly became old hat.

then "You couldn't even say "something" because it was / Already something else."

Readers, this book hates you.  I sort of hate you, too, and myself for having gotten to know you, and Linh Dinh sort of hates himself in this book also: "If every poem were as bad / As this one, I don't wanna/ Be a moonshining wordsmith."  

But here is the other thing: our direct, urgent, expression can get eaten up (eaten away) by the poetry complex.  Linh Dinh can write anything he wants: he can tell you to eat your own shit, to fall into a stink hole plastered in cum and money, and not one of you will react, except perhaps in polite self-congratulatory approval, as long as poetry is not content just an emptied ritual act.


I was telling Linh Dinh last weekend about a friend I had who was a house cleaner who wanted to be a millionaire.  Some days my kid and I would go to her house to hang out with her and her kid.  She would always keep a bowl of key limes on the table:

"Anne, one thing I learned from the rich is that we should always keep a bowl of fruit on the table."

There was something, also, she learned about candles. She would read books about millionaires and model herself after them as she cleaned up the drips of their urine from around the base of their toilets.   It's good to read books about what the wealthy expect of you, though it's not something you forget:

"Belonging to the lower class, you're expected
To cater to the upper class' lower bodily functions
Not to engage their minds but to wipe their asses,
Kiss their cunts on demand, suck cocks for tips,
Unless, of course, you're an artist, in which case,
You're an aristocrat of the servant class. . . "

My friend stopped cleaning houses and trained as a home care nurse.  Around this time I decided I wanted to be a poet again, so there I was a few days ago telling the story to Linh Dinh, also a poet.  But I watched you poets, learned how to do some poetry equivalent of keeping a bowl of fruit on the table.

From the poem "Amputated thoughts":

"I bulge into another beast, dude, soon as I put on
My asskicking uniform.  Killing is the most abstract
Of notions, the most concrete act.  We're like chimps,
Lions, and hippos, not so much swans and other birds."

There are some problems, right, with all this anger, and how the institutions around art make it only just "performed."  We love to see the artist smearing her shit on the wall, pissing into his own mouth -- it makes us feel a little edgy.  We've paid her or paid him to do our feeling for us, if we've paid at all, or we've seen her nice enough to volunteer.  So Linh Dinh puts a hole in his head and let's the cheese ooze out -- the rest of us applaud and show our gratitude with some cupcakes or a beer. I tell Linh Dinh at something like 3 a.m. about Zizek's directive to "dream better," not that he needs to, but we all do. 

It is a sign of the imagination's power that it has been sentimentalized and reduced into a t-shirt slogan. But this is what poetry can do that can't be reduced to the polite performance of abject oozing -- what we have is not only our fury, but also our invention. 

*Who can claim among you to love poetry if poetry is where you go to fail? Fail at tennis, fail at violence, fail at work, fail at love, fail at statehood, fail in business, fail in your retirement investments, but do not, please, fail at this.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

15. "pump and blow gold everywhere"

That money and sex are not so different from one another and also inextricably linked to one another is not an observation unique to poets.  As my distant cousin Lefty Frizzel knew a long time ago and sang: "Money goes from hand to hand, your baby goes from man to man."   Cash money is filthy and you never know who has had their hands on it and where their hands were before you.  My favorite news article lately is how you can catch H1N1 from your money, which was, you know, once someone else's money, too.   And Alli Warren knows what Lefty Frizzel knew: "It's no joke / no one was found alive / with whom they shared / their secret swelling feasting. / All this cash it's form."

Everything's circulation.  Animals herd, people fail to hoard, and poets are a cockfaced opulent mix of colts and 49ers (I mean they are herding animals & they are rushing for gold).  This is circulation: "in the same way as all movement that carries one/ in the direction of the natural is natural."

As Alli writes, -- "Hoes need nectar too."  But I misread it as Hoes need Hector, too -- something heroic -- "a new moleskin" - or maybe I've totally misread it as "poets need Hector, too" (that's my projection, Dear Troy).  All the while our bodies affections & cash collapse:

People win awards.
There is cheese and wheat and eros
for the group
if you are lucky.

It reminds me of Dickinson's poetic economies:

I pay—in Satin Cash—
You did not state—your price—
A Petal, for a Paragraph
It near as I can guess—

When it comes to our poems, so much like money &eros we don't know what we have to debit. Remember Shelia E.? 

She saw him standing in the section marked
If you have to ask you can't afford it lingerie
She threw him bread and said make me scream
In the dark what could he say

I designed the cover for this chapbook out of pictures of Russian revolutionary children I snapped from someone else's computer screen: "hold your jeweled kicks/ up to the pulsing gate/ and say cheese."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

14. "oh mute promise of bunnies overpopulating the sod"

Either in a dream or from my reading I remembered some sentence that our first violence to the animals was the violence of our words,

and I thought, "What a human mistake to make.  Our first violence to the animals was the violence of our violence."

John Berger writes about the animal gaze, that animals and humans look at each other in much the same ways humans look at each other, with all that wariness, but that only humans, with each other, can use language to reach across that gulf.   As Berger writes,  the animal's "silence guarantees its exclusion from and of man."  Or rather, isn't there something else here, like: "our language guarantees our exclusion from and of the animals"?


What can we use to reach across the gaze?  Not poetry, I guess, though I admit many times I have wanted a poetry for animals and aliens.   But as our language is not our violence so to our language is not our remedy. (We can mostly offer the animals something across that gaze something like the opposite of death -- something like food -- which has the effect also, of making us masters to them -- an opposite of death, but also like enslavement.)

I've been thinking about the lost culture of animals as described by the 18th century naturalist Georges Buffon (and quoted in Berger):

"Reduced to slavery, or treated as rebels, and dispersed by force, their societies have vanished, their industry has become barren, their arts have disappeared, each species has lost its general qualities, and the whole have preserved only their individual properties, matured, in some, by example, by imitation, and by instruction; and, in others, by fear, and by the necessity of perpetually watching over their won safety. What views, what designs can be possessed by slaves without spirit, or exiles without power? compelled to fly, and to exist in solitary manner, they can arrive at no improvement; they can neither acquire nor transmit knowledge; but must continually languish in calamity, and decay; they must perpetuate without multiplying; and, in a word, they must lose by their duration more than they acquire by experience."

Anne Waldman's book of poetry Humanity/Manatee notes something like this, too -- "what animals must be sacrificed to the colonization of time?"  For it is the future that hurts animals, futurity too: that they are crowded out by us, their habitats (their cultures) destroyed.  There is along with language and death --  "progress," that other human violence.


Anne Waldman's book has so much in it that I'm afraid no one will read it, heavy as it is with all of our ultra-contemporary sorrow:

a life in struggle

of everyone broken in heartbreak
& the animals
experience that too


so restrained
in admitting it

unlike humans crying all over town

I am afraid of writing about it, too.  Sometimes I imagine that what I am doing when I write about what I read is akin to taking a dropper full of marrow.  Here it is rather more like taking a dropper full of sea from a planet of mostly seas, and how it might be, if I am not careful, that you would think this book some sort of trendy vapid ecopoetics like green marketing or some sort of buddhist liturgical to which all who are not flying tibetan flags would be a allergic and while it is an ecopoetics and it is a liturgical it is also

a new style of poetry filled with yearning for the animal
but empty of animals remember only
in our naming of things after them
cars & trucks & teams & products that sap
their mana

"a bowl to catch my android tears."

13. "tiny distinctions appear among luminosities" or "perform parthopoeia on what used to be your gallows"

Lynn Behrendt's chapbook Luminous Flux was published in an edition of twenty.  I was sent  number seventeen.  It has both regular sorts of pages and short little pages, bookmark-sized between the regular page, and these bookmark-sized pages say things like "here comes a pop-up / yellow silt " or "I flow in two directions / radiation up."  On the regular sorts of pages is a long poem written in first person luminous:

Maybe what I see as inequality is just
some blindness to interval
point of radiation dip
magnetic reasoning.

 or "as if I am a lumbering / embezzling want  lousy with verbs."

Ann Lauterbach's Or to begin again was published by Penguin this year and nominated for a National Book Award.  Ann Lauterbach is very award winning.  From her poem, Alice in the Wasteland:

Alice was caught in the radiance of the not yet knowable.
This, she thinks, drifting, must be
the feeling of being young.
She could not say
in the radiance of the not yet knowable
which seemed, now a reason for youthful sorrow.  

Behrendt again: "I'm not minor I'm not minor I'm not nothing / coarse satire & omnivorous camera"

or Lauterbach:  "Way over in the particularities of the evening / gold touches the back of her neck"

or Behrendt:

I am ordinary & exhausted.
Do I need to put on a coat
carry a rubber knife?
I'm half in & half out
and sort of hoisted
pinned maybe
unlucky not sure really

Monday, October 12, 2009

12. "myself!/ through the whole long universe"

It was a little great to get a surprise photocopy of Alice Notley's 1973 chapbook Phoebe Light in the mail only a few days after I had listened to her read some poems from it on Penn Sound.  1973 was the year I was born, and I remember nothing of it but family pictures,

but there is an Alex Katz cover, peeking out of an envelope, its hand-written title as charmingly faux-naif as the poems inside. A friend said, "Do you think that is Alex Katz's handwriting? " and yes I think so, it is thin like his paintings and the letters sit at angles similar to his lines. At least I want to think so, holding in my imagination, as I do, that encouraging myth that is the 70s,  poets un-institutional and intermixed with artists, all those brave broke bohemians "with their guts and balls." You see I was only an infant and therefore authentically a naif that year, as I guess I remain,

but there is Alice Notley in 1973 the grown woman, unafraid, as she would remain, of sentiment or experiment: "antediluvian bang in arched fur willful & exploded pussy" and (in its entirety)


I needed a long bus ride up-
town like a new hole oh well
my only comfort the possibility
you're unhappy, insane, etc.

This is early work but nonetheless the work is defiant: "My second year I read THE CANTOS (1-95) of Ezra Pound.  They were just like everything else."

Like an oracle, always, is APRIL: "broke the bed fucking."  And in its entirety:


The great cosmetic
Strangeness of a normal deep person.