Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yearbook (Concluded)

And have coffee with Will, and find out about New Years. My moral idea is “conversation”? High tide, we flooded our boots and got soaked up the thighs right away. “This food is like the most appetizing drawing I’ve ever tasted!”

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Yearbook (12.4)

It’s always the sun and someone hammering, and all we do, jobwise, is haunt, as if in solution in the air. Emmett dreamed he got in a fistfight with me. A maple bud has begun to open, sticky and yellow, by the hotdog mural. Receiving extraterrestrial signals, getting invited to the right parties . . . A drawstring labeled PULL in ballpoint on copper withdraws the wool curtain. This morning I dreamed it was a day so clear that if I stood on the base of a streetlamp I could see all the way across western Washington to the Cascades—a bountiful panorama of red and brown mountains and shining patches of snow and sharp blue sky—and I was nervously getting ready to take a bus across those mountains to see Michaela—which of course turned out to be true, though I proceeded to sleep till ten on a grey, rainy morning. There seemed to be a lot of strange space between our answers, and I suspected myself of amnesia before I suspected her of sleeptalking.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Yearbook (12.3)

Sore eyeballs and stiff muscles of the couch sleeper. “Soviet Mario” mushrooms. “A green mouse sneaked through the moss.” An oolite in graphite in studious fig light, clinked against and crunched across by a ringing pick into alder scrub light. My ostensible place, a problem arises, a giant invasive iris, is with the cold pizza and sweetish tap water, the things you say and do, the old stencils crusted with flecked orange spraypaint, the ados of ordinary day through fog, the lowered plummet of final attention, sore eyeballs and stiff muscles of the couch-sleeper. The sky is bad with architecture, and I have been reading everything—“Taste the delicious Bubble Teas of Bubble Island,” “A Race to Save a Brain”—but it isn’t working. We hiked out of Moscow through the woods (acacias, blue-and-red newts) to an old man’s apartment where we ate dinner (cookies, then soup, then reheated tea) and I had to speak some Russian, which went okay.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Maryrose Larkin and Endi Hartigan read, 1/11/09

Sunday, January 11th
at 7:30pm, Spare Room
presents a poetry reading by


Concordia Coffeehouse
2909 NE Alberta Street
free, actually

Peaches and Bats publication party in Seattle, 1/4/09

"The Firm and Aerie" presents
a reading to celebrate the publication of
Peaches and Bats 3

Rich Jensen
Stacey Levine
Will Owen
Brandon Shimoda
Simon Wickham-Smith
Deborah Woodard

8 pm
Sunday, January 4th
1412 18th Avenue, Seattle
all ages
$5-15 suggested donation

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Yearbook (12.2)

Parts of these things from this drizzly murky sleepy day could be used somehow. Our agenda: Breakfast—Train to Forest Park—Walk in Forest Park; picnic—Toy store in Sellwood—read—play games—drink wine. What was was what was needed. December 10th. She held my hand and rinsed my bucket, rubbed my feet, told me a story of a person, a dinosaur and a penguin, bought me grapes, bananas, pretzels, checked out videos, read “James and the Giant Peach” to me, and left an amazing gift on my door while I was tossing and being trained by soft visible voices in the elaborate and improvisational discipline of conceiving and fulfilling various geometrical diagrams, and wondering if I dared sit up to drink water. I am wearing her oatmealy hoodie sweater. The water going nowhere.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Yearbook (12.1)

The tulip petal looks convexly pink, convincingly. At the laundromat, a twelve year old boy sits down across from me and begins to read the real estate ads. I grew up doubting my ability to buy a vowel. The rainstorm has cleared up, it seems. Picture four or five cops hunched over a table reading this poem, looking for clues. Or when you said to me, “Galvanized nails.”

Friday, December 5, 2008

Spare Room presents
a poetry reading by

Thursday, December 18; 7:30
Concordia Coffee House
2909 NE Alberta Street
$5 suggested donation

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Yearbook (11.6)

That it is not the story of the man in shirtsleeves and black weskit who has tinily wandered off up the large off to the right into the blue is the end of the story.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yearbook (11.5)

I can take the time and figure out what I’m doing while I do it. I can take the time and figure out what I’m doing, a not-look can pass and pass, the Stare is a dance up a stairway nowhere letting up. The “not there” disclosed by the carpentry rubs off on the viewer. Other delights of the week included Moondog’s Sax Pax For A Sax,” pecan pie the color and texture of tar, a letter from Mona with a page in Spanish, and the last chanterelle hunt of the season. The things we are familiar with and the things with which we are familiar with them familiar us. Freely they’re palmed from tree to tree, internetting a veil of perchless similes. I heard it was snowing in the hills.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Yearbook (11.4)

Yesterday wasting in the library I looked at L. Sprague DeCamp’s book on Atlantis, and saw an illustrations of elephant-like creatures from a Mayan carving, with frontal nostrils and feathered eyes—the author supposed they were “simply” stylized macaws. “In the animistic city we saw the street was our hallway and in the country the house the mind but this still village is an embarrassing relative.” In the final analysis of the final analysis still you finally can’t leave the theater. Can you stare down a train? The stare enacts what it can’t have, giving you the slip, amazing crook coherent lines are sifting it all, untying a household, nearing a border, a little dazed, dangling low over the water—what it can’t have, a rattle a pupa, green amulet’s a stonefly: the stare. Give it a few years to sink in. The old apple tree’s secret.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Coming soon

The third issue of Peaches and Bats will be out in a couple of weeks. This is the cover, which I finished printing today. The image on the cover is by Brandon Shimoda. The magazine will include new work by David Abel, Jennifer Bartlett, Joseph Bradshaw, Stephen Collis, Elaine Equi, Ming Holden, Rich Jensen, Stacey Levine, Lauren Likely, Will Owen, Kaia Sand, Luvsandorjin Ulziitugs (translated from Mongolian by Simon Wickham-Smith), What We Are Learning, and Deborah Woodard. It will be 72 pages. It will cost 5 dollars. I'm very excited about it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The New Zukofsky Page at Pennsound

I've just begun exploring this. It's quite amazing. I always imagined Zukofsky reading in a sort of crisp puckish elenctic staccato, but in fact his reading style brings out the flowing rhythms and (subtly) passionate, romantic qualities in his work—he savors each vowel in a way that reminds me of Yeats or Pound's reading styles, though without any of their vatic bombast. The readings of his Catullus translations clear them up a lot for me, so that they suddenly seem much more readable, a slow trickle of astonishing phrases, which before I had read as a few funny lines and surprising images and dirty bits scattered amid an impossible tangle of latinate "verbage" (as Sarah Palin would say). The secret then is to slow down. 

Likewise, A-22— which I've always loved the sights and sounds of but never taken much from in the way of "intellection"—is made instantly lucid by LZ's phrasing in a half-hour excerpt, which I was just listening to while washing dishes. I didn't realize, or had forgotten, how much it is an old man's wisdom-book, full of bright anecdotes and terse aphorisms (and pressed flowers), like Lao Tzu or Hesiod, or some of Bunting's long poems, a friendly ramble and not (as it sometimes seems on the page) a mere willful volley of radioactive syllables. Dense and pithy and polysyntactic as A-22 is, Zukofsky somehow managed, reading it aloud, to render it at every point both speech and music—and the music is more flowing, less percussive than I expected. 

There's a lot to listen to here, and I hope to spend a lot of time with it soon. Thank you Pennsound!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yearbook (11.3)

It is an opera in changed leaves. Between the sheets, grass from Vermont or bark from the Urals undulated and gleamed. The stare enacts what it can’t have. “How good it is for me, and burdensome, when the moment approaches, and suddenly the stretching of an arch sounds in my mutterings.” “Gold loops across the sluiced cocklackia.” Sounds burlesque, but in the dream it was all eerie and suspenseful and lovely. "It casts glances, it flashes, radiates, gleams."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Yearbook (11.2)

Open up your opera. “How does one kiss on the edge of a park, near a carrefour, in the middle of life, after a misunderstanding, watched by a South American General and fortified by several thousand novels?” Merely open up your opera: aperture of song, flecked indigo, red, saffron, silt-grey, sandusky: a live raw unintention. That’ll do, sifted. I rode from 14th and Pettygrove to 11th and Stark carrying 2 sleeves of white #3 to-go boxes strapped under the shoulder straps of my backpack, which was slung by the chest clip over my left shoulder and cut off the circulation a bit, and I could only steer with the right hand. We speak as part of a massive system of shunts and ravels, oxidizing faster than we can learn how, in the sun and salt air, churning its rickety shadow against the great harbor wall—and so we must speak directly through whatever channels clear, sparing no distinction, making the botched equations disclose through their black grillwork a square stab of sky. I’m perfecting my nervous laugh.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Yearbook (11.1)

I want bicycle races and vast essays on Ruskin or whatever and punk economics that save the polis and poems that make the trees uproot and walk or whatever, make the world horny and proud and kind.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Yearbook (10.5)

This is the way to live in fall: / ride bicycles, play basketball, / make mushroom gravy every night, / and tactfully fade out of sight. The poets’ pronoun anxiety. “The one thing language can’t do is express private, personal experience”; “A praise poet has to construct fast, in the course of each song, the community that will receive the song.” The poet’s vowel lust. “Sweet house with no style, made / with a single blow and a single piece / of sunflower wax.” Keep saying sea and meaning ocean and eating nettles, no, kelp, no, knowledge Halloween hollows into the head: first frost, next frost.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Yesterday I made this easy and excellent soup. You cook up some onions and garlic, add some bacon, add some diced beets, beet stalks and chard stalks, cook it for a while, then add a 16-oz box of butternut squash soup from the grocery store, and simmer until the beets are soft.

Serving suggestion (shown here): Sour cream, steamed greens and Tapatio sauce on top. Matthew Stadler's Where We Live Now: An Annotated Reader and John Hejduk's Such Places as Memory on the side. This soup also goes well with beer. 

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Yearbook (10.4)

Box around everything about looking or being looked at. They scribble with oil pastels all over the pumpkin, then decide to paint over it with green, red, orange and purple poster paints until it is sublimely black. Too much sun and coffee. “A hand leafs through autumn with a logic that shines like oxblood.” And he glued the book shut and called it a sequel. A Comfort Fort. The limits of your language are the roofbeams of your house, and you can hear crows and rain outside.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Spare Room
a poetry reading by :::::::

Sunday, November 9, 7:30.
Concordia Coffee House
2909 SE Alberta Street
$5 suggested donation

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yearbook (10.3)

I later laminated these frames in wax and projected them by jack-o’-lantern light onto the wall, in an attempt to cheer up the king. The incense smells good and the garden is beautiful even in October, with lots of big dahlias, and not overly neat or fancy or spectacular—brooms leaning against the walls, a traffic cone sitting in the gravel, a smallish dented pumpkin at the Kuanyin’s feet. Not “surrealism,” but people may walk up to the screen and enter the movie. Read the sheet of blank vellum between the original and the translation. Scarequotedness is on us like fog. “Should” and “agree,” what dreary notions. So listen to the music of: “39¢.”

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Yearbook (10.2)

Best moment of the day so far was just now, watching a barge go by slowly down the river, pushed not pulled by a yellow tug name of “Rossisle,” loaded with three shapely mountains of Ross Island earth: first a very conical dark brown dirt mound, then a pale gray ridge or fell of gravel, and a darker gray range of sand—all of about the same height, like an ideal landscape, three mountains like three kings changing aspects as they passed, and seeming of their own mysterious wills to move as one and pull their golden caboose behind them. My ear itches and my toe hurts and I drank too much coffee and I have a Tennyson poem stuck in my head and also a Nirvana song. It is immense. Low broad tree full of yellow apples getting rained on. It is a fine tangled knot of interconnected ideas, bits of history, but too much is vague and built on equations that don’t add up. “Arts and Entertainment” in a newspaper or “Art Saves Lives” on a bumper sticker. It’s three movies’ worth of nonstop action and amnesia!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Spare Room presents
a poetry reading by:
Chris Vitiello &
Jeanne Heuving

Saturday, Oct. 11 7:30pm
Concordia Coffee House
2909 NE Alberta Street
$5 suggested donation

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Yearbook (10.1)

The sunflower out the window looks quite bleak now, saggy and rotten, with some yellow wrinkled petals hanging down from the lower flower heads. In the bathroom you can hear rain jawharping on the metal fan in the ceiling. The electrician is in the kitchen. Snotty hearts make the city work.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Yearbook (9.5)

This airborne bridegroom without shape or sequence enters the world through your pocket, bearing all the time for time and its opposite, knowing a lot, feeling everything on. As yet unsung, not ready, uneasy, hungover probably, it is a trick of the lie or rather the light, laying it on real, awkwardly not exactly part of the weather we’re lying on. Its engine shyly breathes.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Yearbook (9.4)

A beautiful half-melted ice-cream sandwich smeared like thick wet paint on the sidewalk, and swarmed by tiny ants. A professional may read it with easy delectation, as if sipping champagne with cake crumbs in it. The sidewalk was long and straight and full of diffuse moisture, and scattered with diffuse citizens who would pass him lightly on either side. Little bits of shredded paper scattered along Salmon street for about five blocks. And the road was strewn with horse chestnuts, bits of shredded documents, peplos threads, the painterly touch. “Isolated plinths, conduits, panels of rose-red aggregates . . .” A new kind of white tar like melted ice cream in the sidewalk cracks.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Remember to Wave

a poetry reading by KAIA SAND
Sunday, September 28, at noon.
Beginning at the EXPO MAX station and
ending at the DELTA PARK-VANPORT station.

The reading will take place near the Columbia Slough where Japanese-Americans were "relocated," and where the Vanport flood destroyed the WWII-era city. Wear Your walking shoes. For a map, email Kaia (sand AT thetangentpress DOT org) or visit
Funded by the Regional Arts and Culture Council.
Hosted by Spare Room.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Yearbook (9.3)

As a black tire runs along, leave the technician’s page a blank braced against the skimpy wind. Get all daggery on me I wouldn’t mind. Get haunted. Lubricate bike chain. And write a foul poem. You walk one more block with me, then you’ll be ready. Ha ha, bike stolen, lock removed, toeclips and reflectors removed, brakes loosened (?), bike left by the road in front of big house!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Psychedelic Sprawl" at Reed College, 9/21/08

I'm going to do a short poetry reading as part of this event next Sunday, September 21, at the Reed College Student Union, around 7:00. It's an art opening and book release party for Matthew Stadler and Stephanie Snyder's project "Suddenly: where we live now." I don't really know what else is happening, but it should be entertaining. The announcement is below. I'd love to see you there!

Music, conversation, disorientation, food, and drink reorganize our spatial relations at this very spatial event.

Exhibition Opening — suddenly: where we live now

7-10 p.m. Psychedelic Sprawl
unfolds in the Reed College Student Union!
Gallery open prior to the event
Presentations and performances by




and others …

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Yearbook (9.2)

But M and I’ve been invited to picnic with the Vaux’s swifts. Last night I walked to Garfield with mom and dad to see Jupiter, Venus, and the crescent moon lined up, but they were all down by the time I was out tonight. It was after the cartoons and before the museum that I kind of lost it in a Mexican restaurant. A moment’s turnstile clicks—“penetrate / Through all its azures to a final”—and you’re gone. The next night there were asteroids. It’s like a fun, freaky, but not comic cosmos where thought bends and tears like a nebula, succumbing to freeway hamburgers. And in the rush hour of the technician and his mysterious partner—other and hyphen and half of anything he goes—their clasped hands lie on the white page on the clipboard.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Recent Reading (chapbooks)

Robert Kelly, Devotions
A stapled mimeo chapbook from 1967, published by Kelly under the “Salitter” imprint. Ten poems from a series of “Devotions,” typewriter-set with some handwritten Greek words. A squiggly alluvial-looking line-drawing on the cover. Vintage arcane voluble horny Kelly, eating burned bacon and reading Lorca, polishing his wife’s shoes, meditating on the serpent form of the dii meilikhioi and the etymology of pomegranate.

Joseph Bradshaw, This Ocean, or Oppen Series
Dude this book is crazy! A work of apocryphal poetry and fake interviews and textual commentary, in the mode of After Lorca, Pale Fire and Araki Yasusada, but way more mixed up. There are fake poems by George Oppen (complete with variant readings), short essays on fake poems by George Oppen, a fake interview between George Oppen and Joseph Merrick (the “Elephant Man”) interrupted by an invisible Jack Spicer, a fake poem by Merrick, references to “the fragments of the Ancient Greek poet George Oppen,” real quotations from Oppen and Spicer (both attributed and not), numerous references to Gus van Sant’s movies, a transcription of Spicer’s first poem from “Thing Language” italicized and broken into disyllabic “feet,” and some other poems presumably attributable to the Ancient West Coast Cro-Magnon poet Joseph Bradshaw. The whole thing is very tightly knit together and often cheekily funny, but stays incomprehensible and unpredictable and spookily arbitrary too. Oppen and Spicer very different poets, both revered for extraordinary integrity and intensity, tied up in both their cases with a caustic skepticism and a capacity for silence and waiting. They sometimes feel like mythic, inhuman figures (though Spicer was also a master of parody and self-parody). This Ocean confuses the two of them in an unsettling way and excitingly walks a line between deadpan parody/appropriation and obsessive admiration. See also Chris Piuma’s review at The Agora.

Chris Piuma, The Old City
Folded loosely pamphlet, edition of 20! From back in 2001. My favorite is “On the Celebration of Men”:
I come to bury Caesar, not to stall his swagger, aggrandize support on ivory pedestal, or enervate him rugged yellow-lipped hooked up and fed through sub-woofer bellowing: “There I go”, a study, tense, Boccioni in this focused still frame, but if we study over a moment we’ll miss, disparu, gone west, manifesto in hand, seedy, he scattered hours ago, so not to squeeze out any of, a harmful solution even on theoretical terms, cream of wheat, leg of lamb, eye of newt, your basic acid . . .
This sentence goes on for another page or so, with some questions along the way (“does he mind?, is he straw?, of bendy will?”).

Joseph Massey, Out of Light
These poems are tiny perfectly-articulated perpetual-motion machines, kind of Niedecker-meets-Armantrouty-sounding Every syllable is subtly crosstied to other syllables. Nothing wobbles. My favorite poem is the longest and messiest one, “Shay Park.” But I also like this “Path”:
whacked to pulp
between slits
in cinder
blocks laid
in gravel.
A path
to these
porch steps,
their chipped
blue paint
—the rain-
stained wood
cracked through.

Monday, September 8, 2008

"Everything you believe about space is so Latinate."
—Bill Berkson, "Idealism and Conceit"

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Spare Room presents
a poetry reading by:

Sunday, Sept. 14.       7:30pm
Concordia Coffee House
2909 NE Alberta Street
$5 suggested donation

Yearbook (9.1)

The tennis ball dropped from the boy’s hand, bounced twice, and rolled away. The way that gets in the way. I for one take semantics way to seriously. Only the moon gets to work backwards and unlearn the scholar’s bitten nail. “I am only pronouns, and I am all of them.” No matter where the hammer lands I go, and bump into things (a pile of cardboard boxes under negative roses) all the time, like a phantom that needs glasses.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Yearbook (8.6)

That pear I was carrying around for 2 weeks maybe in the pocket of my backpack finally ripened—I ate it today before plant lab, in a hurry.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Recent Reading (like, July and August)

Playing catch-up, so commentary will be spotty. And saving chapbooks for another occasion.
Peter Gizzi, Some Values of Landscape and Weather. For the third or fourth time.
Robert Duncan, Letters. For the second time. Beautiful Flood Editions reprint.
Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception. 
Michael O'Brien, Sleeping and Waking.
From "Another Autumn":
the brick of meaning, the brick of money, you want to muss up their hair
if he says Do not hasten to bid me adieu he's not a cowboy 
And from "Ghosts":
Wrapped in
It means
Robert Duncan, The Opening of the Field. For maybe the third time.
From "After Reading Barely and Widely":
Poetry, that must touch the string
for music's service
is of violence and obedience a delicate balancing.
And from "The inbinding mirrors a process . . .":
My heart despairs. For the poem
beyond all poetry I have actually heard
has words as natural and expendable
as a cold stream of the first water
thru which rocks of my resistant life
yield to light cleavages of what seems true,
white heights and green deeps.
And from "The Structure of Rime XII":
The structure of rime is in the rigorous trees repeated that take on the swirl visible in the coast winds and the outcroppings, the upraised and bared granites that define sentences of force and instrument.
Jennifer Bartlett, Derivative of the Moving Image.
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition. I can't stop puzzling over her very peculiar version of what politics is—or rather was, since she more or less restricts the phenomenon to classical Athens and directly opposes it to any socioeconomic, legislative modern activity. "Politics" means showing off, goofing off, making speeches, making sure you get stories told about you after you die, but not necessarily changing anything. The closest I think I've come in my own experience were at a hippie summer camp in my early teens, and at various summer-camp-like indie-rock fests. I've never been to a poetry conference, but I suspect it's the same vibe. I'm not quite comfortable with these examples, or with Arendt's nostalgia, but her politics of self-revelation do very helpful to me for thinking about Agamben's deal with the politics of gesture, and various poets' stated desire to make cities with their poems (Olson, Blaser, Spicer, Oppen.)
Still puzzling.
Michael Palmer, First Figure.
Eléna Rivera, Unknowne Land.
Robert Kelly, Her Body Against Time.
Michael Palmer, Notes for Echo Lake. For the second time.
"Alogon" (5):
These feelings
are imaginary.
These feelings
are images
of things.
These things
are felt
as real.
These things
are imagined
as real,
"head and
neck, face
and eyes,
arms, fingers,
nipples and
hips." These
imaginings contain
no ideas.
David Rattray, Opening the Eyelid. This guy was amazing! I'm very grateful to David Abel for giving me a copy of this book, which he published in 1990 when Rattray was still alive (and working for Reader's Digest!).
From "A Division of Water":
The hebrew word araphel means
"thick darkness, secret or high place."
But there is no such thing as obscure
poetry. The objects of a poem
are as bright and clear as can be.
The boast that its
words come from the heart
is true of each real poem, each
word written in blood.
Who wants to look at a color 
so bright it hurts the eyes?
With an elevated serum nitrogen level
at above 12,000 feet,
Tibet favors a mix of
bright reds and yellows.
Red stands for raging energy,
yellow for light.
. . .
On the Williamsburg
at 1:15 of an afternoon on Sunday,
April 17th, a sunny day,
60 degrees with a light breeze,
I counted fourteen flattened
Prince's Plastic Weld glue tubes;
two syringes, one with
and one without a point;
countless broken pints, Smirnoff, Ron Rico, etc.;
plus an intact Wild Irish Rose empty.
Michael Palmer, Active Boundaries: Selected Essays and Talks.
Michael Palmer, Sun. For the second time.
John Cowper Powys, A Glastonbury Romance. 
And the voice replied to him again and it was now so low and yet so searching that it was like a wind stirring the horns of snails and touching the hairs on the throats of night-jars, and moving the antennae of butterflies, and lifting the gold-dust from the cracks of puff-balls, and blowing the grey dust from the droppings of weasels, and rippling the brown rain-fall in the cups of fungi, and fretting the light scurf on the brittle skulls of the newborn, and the rheum-drops on the eyelids of extreme age, and the sweat-drops on the forehead of death.
The man knew his way around a hyphen. I was pleased to carry this dark blue brick around all summer for sentences like that.

Yearbook (8.5)

It was a symptom of your whole relation with certain household items never before so clearly seen. The bicyclists vanished silently around the corner—the way something darts to escape transcription. Why do those later Roman busts have their eyes rolled up in their heads? Rocks, caught in cement, listen. Mouth of thaw drawing. Outside was moonlit Africa, or a map of Africa with lots of “old” unfamiliar country names like “Togoan Malay.” Montana names: Petroleum County, Cat Creek, Hungry Horse, Happy’s Inn, Biddle, Sumatra, Crow Agency, Pompey’s Pillar, Treasure County, Musselshell County, Pumpkin River, Tongue River, Powder River, Cow River, Lonesome Lake, Carbon County, Crazy Peak, Coffee Creek, Milk River, Sunburst, Benchland, Checkerboard, Freezeout Lake, Big Hole River, Lost Horse Mountain.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Yearbook (8.4)

I guess I have that feeling about it too, don’t I, as if the cinema collapsed as gently as a scorched marshmallow with all of us inside it and that viscous, unmelted central kernel of interior relation we kept sacred, and tended, and called by various names—“The Hangout,” “Old Faithful,” “The Godfather,” “Doing a Little Dance,”—and always came back to, grimacing and encumbered like the knights of yore, facing up to fog? A cold shower helped for a while in the afternoon. “Point taken,” but the point never takes, the local little rain can’t soak in deep enough, the periods are sown and sprout but no true sentence ever ends. Soon as a foot knows it it crosses over, explaining to itself the old bruised street full of the dead-too-soon. (Which reminds me I should sleep.) I dreamed I was shopping at the co-op, and bought dense cookies with big fresh blueberries in them, and my cellphone had this ability to make dub versions of everything I said and every other sound it picked up, including the reggae music in the background. Soon all things are embroidery.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Satellite Telephone #2

The second issue of Robert Dewhurst's periodical Satellite Telephone arrived last week, and I read it on the train to Olympia in one happy sprint. There's work by Simon Pettet, Dorothea Lasky, Robert Dewhurst, Susie Timmons, Kyle Schlesinger, Chris Piuma, Lynn Berhendt, Rodney Koeneke, Kevin Killian, Dan Raphael, me, Hannah Sayle, Kimberly Lyons, Claire Becker, Arlo Quint, Chris Kraus, Fanny Howe and Frank Sherlock, plus lovely silkscreened white-on-peptobismol-pink cover by Goody-B. Wiseman, with a very long title. Like the first issue, this one is handset on a typewriter in the style of old-time mimeo mags, and what I'd call "perfect stapled" (I'm not up on my stapling terminology), punkly handsome. On the first page, an epigraph by Simone Weil: "This world is the closed door. It is the barrier. And at the same time it is the way through."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yearbook (8.3)

Single beats of bass but with clicking on snare and bass to the right and cymbal hits. Here comes one among the wellbeloved stonecutters and plans with decision and science and sees the solid and beautiful forms of the future where there are now no solid forms. I am not shy, I am the future, I thrive on misspelling, and like a watercolor painting I embarrass even the wall, and seem to refer ambidextrously to a New England farmhouse and dental work, and yet I am not at all who you think, nor am I who I'd like to be, yet. I tremble lest the door be locked or open, for the door is an ununderstandable joy. Any of it revolves to involve all of it, so its final easy brutality is semantic, or, I guess so. Though I am cursive and made to be misread and heavy or light as rain. It's hard, paying attention to my own head, to tell the snot from the thought.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Yearbook (8.2)

Hangouts and hang-ups, or how to make it make a move. One fun thing to do is walk across a bridge at around sunset, then turn around and walk back. There have been summers before, fennel shooting up everywhere, rocks and mullein and sleeping gulls, but not enough ever for me to say “There is a man up there jumping from rock to rock,” or something else adequate to the yellow month—naiads, bikini girls, globes of Alaskan glass, selkies, seaside huts for serious alkies . . . Like Mormon crickets or Jerusalem artichokes. Only more raddled stones advance from my mouth, trail of assistances and frilly knots, of which I’m tired and go to sleep all French and dimpled. The sense leaves. When I came home on Sunday night I thought it was someone breathing, and was creeped out till I connected that faint sound in the bedroom with the more distinct sprinkler sound in the living room.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Recent Reading (June-July)

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology, and Religious Belief
Not LW’s lecture notes, but the notes of three of his Cambridge students. They sure knew how to take notes back then, and the terse, shorthand quality of the texts (with abundant ellipses, brackets around students’ objections, and footnotes where two scribes differed significantly). He’s very good on the intrinsic, unequivocal, experiential qualities of art, and the problem of description.
Very many people have the feeling: “I can make a gesture here but that’s all.” One example is that you say of a certain phrase of music that it draws a conclusion, “Though I can’t say for my life why it is a ‘therefore’!” You say in this case that it is indescribable. But this does not mean that you may not one day say that something is a description. You may one day find the word or you find a verse that fits it. “It is as though he said: ‘. . .’,” and you have a verse. And now perhaps you say: “And now I understand it.”
. . .
The mistake seems to me in the idea of description. I said before, with some people, me especially, the expression of an emotion in music, say, is a certain gesture. If I make a certain gesture . . . “It is quite obvious that you have certain kinesthetic feelings. It means to you certain kinesthetic feelings.” Which ones? How can you describe them? Except, perhaps, just by the gesture.
Suppose you said: “This phrase in music always makes me make one particular gesture.” A painter might draw this gesture. A man, instead of making a gesture, would draw a gesture. “Wittgenstein, you talk as if this phrase gave you sensations you couldn’t describe. All you get is sensations in your muscles.” This is utterly misleading. We look up muscles in a book on anatomy, we press certain parts and give these sensations names, ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ etc. All that would be needed for a piece of music would be the description ‘A,’ etc., giving the sensations in each muscle.

Jasper Bernes, Starsdown
This book is way more depressing than the new Heath Ledger movie. And often annoyingly clever, but always dead-on in its satire of the present Spectacle and its Society. His prosody, and his tendency to “load every rift with ore,” remind me of Hart Crane, or of a G. M. Hopkins in a world not “charged with the grandeur of God” (though he mentions “God’s blinking cursor”) but surcharged by the glamour of capital. I copied some lines into a notebook from “Desiderata”:
The horizon is a second skin, seeing
Sheathed by being, swallowed whole.
It kings us eye for I. It brings what
Flings us far near, an myopia, a fat
Cataract where the ocean pours over
The edge into threshing, blent serrations, scales.
From “Index”:
you can smoke anything: shoe leather
ethics, Nixon, Bastille Day, quiet.
And from “Alarum and Moral”:
Walking in Los Angeles is like dancing in wet cement.
The distances cheat. You make the city up.
Channels of light and dark symposium on squirm and offer
something glorious about to happen, a kind of art or tar
whose hardening a steady, moderate movement postpones.
Has it really gotten to the point where you can’t slice the monuments from
the moment without
taking off your fingerprints too?

Claude Lévi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques
A real adventure story, with piranhas and capybaras and a seven-page description of a sunset. The first sentence: “I hate traveling and explorers.”


Chris Piuma wrote a nice blog post about my new chapbook, Unless As Stone Is.  Thanks, Chris!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Yearbook (8.1)

These are the occupational hazards of the diarist. Emotional directional arrows from square 3 to square 14.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yearbook (7.5)

In Washington you stir-fried kale and garlic, and in Mississippi you almost died and felt like a surly ogre, half asleep on the couch. Awake (“as usual”), at 5:30, even though it’s Friday, because I was flesh and drank coffee, I sit by the window under my pink, blue and violet toddler quilt, in a rickety chair I hope won’t wake Michaela up (as I look for a place to wipe my snot, as I begin sneezing) and look past the photo of our faces she copied to transparency, taped to a square of glass and hung by a ribbon from the window latch, at the blue, pink and plumbous edges of a sunrise hidden behind the trees. “Blue palms and now blueprints and the maze a sunbeam yellow which could not thread brown as a blueberry in the sunset pink grape as a red clay in the arctic blue and the shaded pink as indigo over a blueprint in the sun’s sky blue maze.” Dreamed we walked through Portland over many superimposed transparencies in various colors showing the many ways of living in and perceiving a city according to a few variables: scale in time, location in time, scale in space, location in space, “permissiveness,” theme (such themes as: jobs, the lives of inanimate objects, maritime history, mice, etc.). Gameboard squares, counters.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Yearbook (7.4)

You who are the sergeant of this summer camp island, make its meaning clear or make it go away. Bitter-blue rosicule, ashen pegs, trembleberry, fog apples, barnacle bush, Constable’s tarnmallow, creeping fulgoria, darlingbuttons, tigerfingers, Mack’s shadowblossom, pinchfruit, Dodge’s purplet, Marat-vine, dough-daisies, Eskimo hat, flumenellia, pumpkin-of-the-valley, knee-high creamcup, crepuscular cat’s-tongue, sheep-eyed perdita, brinemarriage, bractless Cinderella-stalk, poor-man’s petit-four, narniaweed, deception prune, old-lady’s knockers, emerald basilica, Oberon’s garters, appledate, late-blooming field-perfidia, Tumanova’s dalliance, scrubadub, seascratch, lady’s fever, volenib, modest queenseyes, waterblench, subalpine meander, silver tush, and other unusual plants will be found—pressed, dried, and rather carelessly labeled—in the archives of Mr. P. M. R. Doona. And then, waking, it was noonish, he was clear on a few things with her: cinema verité could not have sorted their feelings: pencil shavings, marbles, the thought of pencil shavings, as if a glass eye rolled between their hearts’ resisting. Because you said, “These are my hills now, those are my mountains, I’m well-rounded,” our shadows took a sharp curve, lingered on strangers’ doors, and felt themselves up lightly. You went to the movies just to sit in the dark in the balcony with your legs stretched out, sipping chocolate milk from a plastic cup, but it wasn’t enough so you went behind the curtain (where you’d never been) and read the credits backwards on the back of the screen and rested there till everyone was gone and the lights switched off and the projectionist locked up for the night. Oooh, that’s when it got exciting? ? ? ? What was supposed to be Butch Summer turned out to be Hamburger Summer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My new chapbook

I just made a new chapbook called Unless As Stone Is. It's a longish poem based on Dante's sestina beginning "Al poco giorno e al gran cerchio d'ombra," ("To the short day and the great arc of shadow"). I read an alphabetized "Eldritch Tempo Remix" version of it at my reading for Spare Room earlier this month. The chapbook is for sale in Portland at Reading Frenzy, Powell's on Burnside, and Powell's on Hawthorne, or online at It costs three dollars.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Yearbook (7.3)

Hiked along the beach from Ft. Worden to Port Townsend harbor (huge cascades of ivy along the bluff—“like a superhero melting into the sea,” said Michaela—, a log that looked like a hippo’s head, sea urchins) and ate huge scones at the Tyler St. Bakery. Sleep in a tent is delicious but unsatisfying. We hiked past Boulder Lake up a steep scree path we thought might go to Boulder Peak, took a scary scramble up to a rock outcrop and sat there, way up the mountain with a view of three other mountains, quite as if we had flown there or been dropped from a plane; then scrambled back down, swam for maybe a minute in the icy water (there were occasional heaps of snow on the ground), shared an apple etc. on a log, hiked back. Ha ha now we’re at the Thunderbird Motel in Aberdeen. The time though cannot be repaired, or the patches of snow in the mountains in case of when they are broken yeah they’re broken, collecting silts and needles. The descent was as effortless as it was unsettling, like the passage through zero when counting backwards from one to negative one. Today a row of 6-to-13-year-old kids in bright lifejackets drifted down the river, exclaiming: “Help us!”—“It’s so freaking cold!”—“Help, I can’t feel my fingers!”—“Oh, dude, it’s draggin’!” (or, “dude, a dragon!”)—“Try swimming the other way!”—“It’s too hard!”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Correspondence

George Oppen, "Of Being Numerous":
To talk of the house and the neighborhood and the docks

And it is not 'art'
And John Cowper Powys, A Glastonbury Romance:
"What's poetry got to do with taking sides? Poetry is an art."

"Oh, don't use that word, Ned! If you'd heard what I've heard—the talk—the affectations—the boredom—"

"But isn't it an art?"

Her reply was almost screamed at him.

"No! It isn't! It's Poetry. Poetry's something entirely different. Oh, I know I'm right, Ned! If you go and get hold of this horrible modern idea that poetry is an art, I don't know what—" She stopped and clasped her hands behind her back.

"Well, anyway, Lady Rachel," he said, "it has nothing to do with this Glastonbury quarrel between Geard and Crow."

"It has. It has everything to do with it! Can't you feel, Ned, as we stand here that this place is magical? What's poetry if it isn't something that has to fight for the unseen against the seen, for the dead against the living, for the mysterious against the obvious? Poetry always takes sides. It's the only Lost Cause we've got left! It fights for the . . . for the . . . for the impossible!"
. . .
"I tell you," he went on, "I want my poetry to be a new, living, original thing. I want it to deal with machinery and inventions! It's all very well"—he kept flicking his ankles harder and harder with the stick he had picked up—"to go on writing about Middlezoy hedges and ditches and sedgemoor tombstones, but I want my writing to flow forward, where life is flowing."
. . .
He looked down at their log. It was not only invaded by the gorse prickles, but it was now covered by the shadow of a gorse bush.

"Do you say I could lift that log?," he said, "or do you say I couldn't?"

"I say you mustn't, because it's been there so long, Ned, and has all those funguses on it!" But she now gave him the first smile he had had since they got up from their seat on that log. He threw away the stick he had picked up and his cap after it. He bent down and handled the log, tugging at it first in one direction and then in the other. It only moved a few inches. It was deeply buried in the grass and hundreds of infinitesimal weeds grew at its sides. He knelt down, the better to get purchase, and tugged at it. It moved a few inches and then fell back into its bed of a hundred years.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I've been meaning to write something

about the Jess show that's at Reed College right now, "Jess: To and from the Printed Page." I've gone to see it three times. It's big and overwhelming, but also feels frustratingly incomplete—leaving out the big late color collages which are my favorite of Jess's modes. But there's always more to see. The second time I went, I spent most of my time staring at one work, a poster Jess made for some readings Robert Duncan gave in Berkeley in the early seventies. It's divided up into rectangles by blank lines like comic strip "gutters" or window mullions, and as in many comic strips, limbs and other extensions sometimes reach from one frame to another. Each frame is its own distinct composition, but the picture as a whole seems to contain its own single, barely coherent scenic space, with a foreground and a background and a sky and even some seashore, but with perspective going several ways at once (though focused by a kind of church nave in the middle) and scale all wonky. The whole image, like so many in this show, is inexhaustible in its intricacy, overwhelming as a whole; but the many small, interlocking and overlapping images that make it up are each as clear and manageable and inviting and funny as the whole is enigmatic and disorienting: so that, looking, you hop from place to place, back and forth, recognizing, comparing, disentangling, sometimes literally following the path of his penknife, without ever being able to see everything (let alone the EVERYTHING to which it seems, like Duncan's cosmological poetry, to point). The forms of snowflakes and radiolaria turn out to rhyme (a nod to D'Arcy Thompson's On Growth and Form?), and a cog or wheel which keeps turning up at different angles moonlights as a halo, a pedestal and an orbital schematic. 

On the third visit I tried reading through some early text collages. My favorite phrase, from the lower right corner of Boob #3, was:

discover why men like you have mad

But there are lots of good ones.

The huge hand-drawn version of Narkissos takes up one corner, shakily outlined in pencil on white linen, aboil with hard-to-see details. A vitrine holds some of Jess's working notebooks, newspaper clippings and photographs for the work, which also exists as a large black and white collage (above), like a solid body to the drawing's shaky reflection. I wish that the show had included at least a reproduction of the collage, for the sake of comparison.

There's Jess's cover for an issue of Jack Spicer's mimeographed J magazine, with a drawing of a berobed choir singing something from a scroll, framed by a dense background of typed text INJALLJCAPSJWITHJJ'SJINSTEADJOFJSPACESJBETWEENJTHEJWORDS. There's an enormous J taking up the right side of the page: an empty outline which was smeared with glue and then sprinkled with gold glitter. The look of the thing is punk-rock shitty, defiantly gaudy and campily silly all at once—an essential artifact from that strange era of self-publishing.

It's a great show, though I have a few gripes. Two simultaneous audio loops are playing at all times—one of Jess reading his poems, and one of various voices and tunes and noises accompanying the slide-show called Jess's Didactic Nickelodeon—and can both be heard from every part of the room, which is distracting and, in combination with some of the noisier images, becomes so overstimulating that I sometimes found myself plugging my ears with my fingers in order to get a good look at something. And the collages for the second Didactic Nickelodeon series are displayed in a tight grid, many of them so high up the wall that it's impossible to get a good look at them or to read the text that accompanies them. Many books are displayed in vitrines at odd angles such that it's difficult, even when kneeling down, to look closely at them. Naturally one wants to be able to pick them up and flip through them—many are just ordinary perfect-bound paperback and journals from the 80s and 90s, not particularly rare or fragile, and it would have been nice if additional copies had been made available for browsing. This might also have helped to compensate for the show's tendency to refer constantly to poets and poetry without providing much in the way of context or examples, so that non-poets are likely to feel excluded from some secret club, or just ignore the bibliographic element of the show.

Anyway, I'm so grateful to be able to see these works, especially the unphotographable knobbly texture of the "translation" paintings, and the subtle variations of paper and ink color that lend another element to the black and white collages, which in reproduction tend to just look black and white (though that's a nice effect too—easier to see them as seamless whole images that way). It's a very good show, and the Cooley Gallery folks have done a very good thing by bringing it here. I'm looking forward to Steve Dickison's talk on Jess this Saturday (at 7pm at Reed's Eliot Chapel), which will be proceeded by (wow!) some kind of choral work based on Duncan's Caesar's Gate by my fellow ex-Olympian, Sarah Dougher.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Spare Room presents a poetry reading by
Steve Dickison and Susan Gevirtz
Sunday, July 20
7:30 pm
Concordia Coffee House
2909 NE Alberta St., Portland
$5 suggested donation