Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Robert Smithson

detail from Michelangelo's The Last Judgment [Wikipedia Commons]

from Robert Smithson's essay "What Really Spoils Michelangelo's Sculpture" in Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings:

Could it be that Michelangelo is nothing but a spoiled comedian, who spent long tedious hours working out intricate gruesome jokes, that really aren't too amusing? Are the grotesque horns on his Moses some kind of  a limpid jest? In this drowsy domain devoid of mysterious smiles, there is an undertone of listless laughter and torpid humor. A sluggish and immobile sense of time besieges the viewer of this decadent paganism. Not sloth, but the deterioration of sloth is felt, a decayed acedia that proclaims an inner grief through a profound sense of laziness. An idleness so acute that the body turns to lead and bile, an odious perfection that renders a titanic spectacle of waste. A sinking city of muscles submerges the mind in a somnolence so awful that no escape is possible. A Weltanschauung of criscrossing flesh forces the mind down into brute matter, every action is sunk in "melancholy." In the "Slough of Despond" the foul rot of nature engulfs the entire system of gods and demons. Never has stagnation been more total. Weariness turns into humorous levels of moribund grandeur. Every creature undergoes incessant punishment, because of the enormous weight of this ironclad universe. Bodies are swollen out of proportion, fattened like hogs, they fall downward toward fetid swamps. Heaven becomes a pigsty, a dirt enclosure completely airless, flooded with bilge water — with skies of dusty tar. Muscles like enormous worms, and polypi fade under a sickly ashen light. A slumbrous mood thick with idleness and despair faults every beautiful monster. Before us a psychic state of sterile power unfolds, grave, persistent in its gloom. The slacken bodies seem to stumble over each other, like titanic puppets. It has been said that acedia is caused by an imbalance of humors, Michelangelo seems to prove that speculation. The infirmity of his melancholia seems infinite and unending. Sloth is exalted into a major humor, and its permutations cover a cosmic scale. The stars are replaced with twisted mountains of flesh, there even evil is corrupted. It all looks so disgusting . . . so contemptible — a tidal wave of infinite carnality, a fleshy mess pouring from heaven (which is no place). Wan hope is triumphant in this quagmire of confounded passion. The Saturnine time of neoplatonic order infects his prisoners with an otium corporis that corrodes all spiritual joy and fortitude. Out of this comes the dismal comedy of enervation, a devastated sense of humor, a ruined joke, mock sacrifice, an obliteration of doom. Only nature is left with its maggots and filth — a snake chewing a penis. But this is not sad, it is hilarious. The fatality of humor begins in languor and ends in a farce.

Robert Smithson

Monday, December 30, 2013

30 December 2013

Where Is

the hurt-wingéd gull
here, this one
we search for

the hurt-wingéd gull
in worse shape

the hurt-wingéd gull
watch, chaos
circling, turning back

gull against the wall
no fear left
wing-splayed fall

gull against the wall
we return
here, face to face

could we catch
a dog catch
gull against the wall

not dead
eaten or starved
the hurt-wingéd gull

if gull were owl
were hawk, were whole
where is

gull against wall
white rock
hurt-wingéd gull

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Rachel Blau DuPlessis [short takes on long poems]

from Rachel Blau DuPlessis's essay "Otherhow" in The Pink Guitar: Writing As Feminist Practice:

Want the poetry of a raggedy, hewn, and situational character, with one criterion: that it has caused pleasure in the making. Pleasure in the writing and intransigence in the space for doing writing, and that is it. My only interest: in making objects that give me pleasures; they may also be interesting enough to sustain and renew whatever regard, look, or reflection is by chance cast upon them. That is it. Period.

Thinking about language in my poetry, I imagine a line below which is inarticulate speech, aphasia, stammer and above, which is at least moderate, habitual fluency, certainly grammaticalness, and the potential for apt, witty images, perceptive, telling and therefore guaranteed "poetic." That is readable [reasonable] within intentions we assume . . . my poetry wanders, vagrant, seeking to cross and recross that line: mistaking singular for plural, proposing stressed, exposed moments of genuine ungrammaticalness, neologisms, non-standard dialect, and non-normative forms. I struggle to break into the sentences that of course I am capable of writing smoothly. I want to distance. To rupture. . . .


To refuse the question as asked. To break through the languages of both question and answer. To activate all the elements of normal telling beyond normal telling.

Write the unwritten, paint the undepicted?

Must make a critical poetry, an analytic lyric, not a poetry that "decorates dominant culture" (to cite Michael Palmer) but one which questions the discourse. This situation makes of representation a site of struggle. . . .

Not carpe diem, the dominant injunction to me as delightful object in one poetic romance, but carpe personam, the female injunction to myself as critical subject in a politics of narrative. Seize the mask, the fictive, examine the instruments whereby writing "are" fabricated. . . .

While modernism has gone far in eroding linear telos and syntactic direction, it still iconizes texts by proposing them as sacred objects, poets as priests, their status sublime. . . .

I was also rejecting that singular voice which "controls tone." The lyric voice. Controls tone? . . .

Not incidentally, I am tired of "poetry" — that bike wheel mounted upside down thinking it is a real bike, forgetting it was undone by Duchamp.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

28 December 2013

H. D. [The Green Lantern Press]

from H. D.'s Hermetic Definition:

Hermetic Definition, Part Two: Grove of Academe


That's it, I can sit here
on my rock-throne,
not moving,

or moving with everything,
like Cassiopea on her star-chair,
moving round the pole,

moving with the whole,
part of your giant-concept
of deserts, the earth entire

with water-fronts, sea-slopes,
storm, wind and thunder-crash;
I am perfectly supple and silent,

as I steal out (still lying here)
and integrate with the fan weed,
the bubble-weed and the strings and straggle

of the long under-sea grass;
I do not compete with your vast concept,
the prick of pine-needles brings me back,

yet I am a part of it
as I am part of the spiked
or smooth or lacquered sea-grass.

Winter Love


Now there is winter-love, a winter-lover
who would take gladly — fondling the crisp leaves
with a padded paw, sheathed — glad to find

in the den, the sacred lair, no trap to entice,
no rapacious loins, and sighs, not groans —
no rain of arrows, no poisonous thrust of spears,

no thundering on the stairs,
no rasp of steel,
only Taygetus' silence,

till a drift of snow
slides from a branch,
then, silence more intense.


Helen's breasts, it was always Helen's breasts,
and the wine-cup that they wrought,
called Helen's breast;

cover my shoulder
for the wind howls louder,
outside this hunting lodge,

perched on Taygetus' cliff;
O, I was ready to leave Sparta,
a second time — O, I was ready enough

to escape — to follow you,
and we will not starve;
you say there is dried fruit

in the amphora and the wine-jars,
but I would wander in the Elysian-fields
and find the Tree for myself — for myself —

with a special low down-sweeping burdened bough,
low enough so that I could kneel
and savour the fragrance of the cleft fruit

on the branch, intoxicant;
I would be intoxicated with the scent of fruit,
O, holy apple, O, ripe ecstasy . . .

but believe me, believe me
I am grateful
that you came for me,

I am content,
besieged with memories,
like low-swarming bees.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

26 December 2013

Erez Aiden & Jean-Baptiste Michel [Kris Snibbe]

from Erez Aiden & Jean-Baptiste Michel's Uncharted: Big Data As a Lens on Human Culture:

As we examined the transformation of irregular verbs into regular verbs, we found that, once one took frequency into account, the process of regularization was mathematically indistinguishable from the decay of a radioactive atom. Moreover, if we knew the frequency of an irregular verb, we could use a formula to compute its half-life. This was remarkable, because for radioactive atoms, you have to measure the half-life experimentally; it's usually impossible to compute. In this respect, the mathematics of radioactivity applied even more neatly to irregular verbs than to radioactive atoms.

The formula was simple and beautiful: The half-life of a verb scales as the square root of its frequency. An irregular verb that is one hundred times less frequent will regularize ten times as fast.

For instance, verbs whose frequencies fall between one in one hundred and one in one thousand — verbs like drink or speak — have a half-life of roughly 5,400 years. This is comparable to the half-life of carbon-14 (5,715 years), the isotope that is most famously used in dating ancient relics.

The Once and Future Past

Once you've calculated the half-life of irregular verbs, it's possible to make predictions about their future. Based on the above analysis, we predicted that by the time one verb from the set begin, break, bring, buy, choose, draw, drink, drive, eat, fall regularizes, five verbs from the set bid, dive, heave, shear, shed, slay, slit, sow, sting, stink will have already regularized. And that if current trends hold up, only 83 of our 177 irregular verbs will still be irregular in the year 2500.

We were so excited about this that we summed our predictions up as a short story:

He was a well-breeded man from the twenty-sixth century, so it really stinged when they said his grammar stunk. "Stinked," the time-traveler corrected.

If you're planning on doing some time travel anytime soon, you'd do well to memorize this instructive tale.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

25 December 2013

Simone Weil [Wikipedia]

we must do nothing more than we are irresistibly impelled to do, not even in the way of goodness . . .

I have the essential need, and I think I can say the vocation, to move among men of every class and complexion, mixing with them and sharing their life and outlook, so far that is to say as conscience allows, merging into the crowd and disappearing among them, so that they show themselves as they are, putting off all disguises with me. It is because I long to know them so as to love them just as they are. For if I do not love them as they are, it will not be they whom I love . . .

the social is irremediably the domain of the devil . . . By social I do not mean everything connected with citizenship, but only collective emotions . . . I do not want to be adopted into a circle, to live among people who say “we” and to be part of an “us” . . . I feel that it is necessary and ordained that I should be alone, a stranger and an exile in relation to every human circle without exception. . . .

my greatest desire is to lose not only all will but all personal being . . .

As I worked in the factory, indistinguishable to all eyes, including my own, from the anonymous mass, the affliction of others entered into my flesh and my soul. Nothing separated me from it, for I had really forgotten my past and I looked forward to no future, finding it difficult to imagine the possibility of surviving all the fatigue. What I went through there marked me in so lasting a manner that still today when any human being, whoever he may be and in whatever circumstances, speaks to me without brutality, I cannot help having the impression that there must be a mistake and that unfortunately the mistake will in all probability disappear. There I received forever the mark of a slave, like the branding of the red-hot iron the Romans put on the foreheads of their most despised slaves. Since then I have always regarded myself as a slave. . . .

The special function of the intelligence requires total liberty, implying the right to deny everything, and allowing of no domination. Wherever it usurps control there is an excess of individualism. Wherever it is hampered or uneasy there is an oppressive collectivism, or several of them. . . .

the natural tendency of every form of collectivism, without exception, to abuse power. . . .

the development of the faculty of attention forms the real object and almost the sole interest of studies. . . .

If there is a real desire, if the thing desired is really light, the desire for light produces it.

highly recommend Weil's essay, "The Love of God and Affliction"

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Daniel Kehlmann

Alexander von Humboldt [Teyler's Museum]

from Daniel Kehlmann's Measuring the World:

By chance he stumbled upon Galvani's book on electrical current and frogs. Galvani had removed the legs from frogs, then attached two different metals to them, and they had twitched as if alive. Was this something inherent in the legs themselves, which retained some life force, or was the movement of external origin, produced by the difference between the metals, and merely made manifest by the frog parts? Humboldt decided to find out.

He took off his shirt, lay down on the bed, and instructed a servant to attach two cupping glasses to his back. The servant obeyed, and Humboldt's skin produced two large blisters. And now please cut the blisters open! The servant hesitated, Humboldt had to raise his voice, the servant took up the scalpel. It was so sharp that the cut caused almost no pain. Blood dripped onto the floor. Humboldt ordered a piece of zinc to be laid on one of the wounds.

The servant asked if he could stop for a moment, he wasn't feeling well.

Humboldt told him not to be so stupid. As a piece of silver touched the second wound, a painful spasm shot through his back muscles and up into his head. With a shaking hand he made a note: Musculus cucullaris, ongoing prickling sensation in dorsal vertebrae. No doubt about it, this was electricity? Repeat with the silver! He counted four shocks, regularly spaced, then the objects around him lost their color.

When he regained consciousness, the servant was sitting white-faced on the floor, his hands bloody.

Onward, said Humboldt, and with a strange shiver of apprehension he realized that something in him was finding pleasure in this. Now for the frogs!

Oh no, said the servant.

Humboldt asked if he was intending to look for a new job.

The servant laid four dead, meticulously cleaned frogs on Humboldt's bloodied back. But this was quite enough, he said, after all they were both good Christians.

Humboldt ignored him and ordered silver again. The shocks began immediately. With each one, as he saw in the mirror, the frogs jumped as if alive. He bit down on the pillow, the cloth was wet from his tears. The servant giggled hysterically. Humboldt wanted to take notes, but his hands were too weak. Laboriously he got to his feet. The two wounds were running and the liquid coming out of them was so corrosive it was inflaming his skin. Humboldt tried to capture some of it in a glass tube, but his shoulder was swollen up and he couldn't turn round. He looked at the servant.

The servant shook his head.

Very well, said Humboldt, in that case in God's name would he please get the doctor! He wiped his face and waited until he regained the use of his hands so that he could jot down the essentials. There had been a flow of current, he had felt it, and it hadn't come from his body or the frogs, it had come from the chemical antagonism between the metals.]

It wasn't easy to explain to the doctor what had been going on. The servant gave notice the same week, two scars remained, and the treatise on living muscle fiber as a conductor established Humboldt's reputation as a scientist. . . .

Daniel Kehlmann [Eifel Literatur Festival]

Gauss stood up, pushed his velvet cap back on his neck, and went for a walk. The sky was covered with translucent clouds and it looked like rain.

How many hours had he waited in front of his receiver for a sign from her? If Johanna was out there, just like Weber, only further away and somewhere else, why didn’t she use this opportunity? If the dead allowed themselves to be summoned and then packed off again by girls in nightdresses, why would they spurn this first clear device? Gauss blinked. There was something the matter with his eyes, the firmament seemed to be a tracery of cracks. He felt the first drops of rain. Perhaps the dead no longer spoke because they inhabited a more powerful reality, because all this around him already seemed like a dream and a mere half world, a riddle long since solved, but into whose tangles they would have to step again if they wanted to move and make themselves understood. Some tried. The more intelligent avoided it. He sat down on a rock, rainwater ran down over his head and shoulders. Death would come as a recognition of unreality. Then he would grasp what space and time were, the nature of a line, the essence of a number. Maybe he would also grasp why he always felt himself to be a not-quite-successful invention, the copy of someone much more real, placed by a feeble inventor in a curiously second-class universe.

Monday, December 23, 2013

23 December 2013

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

from Rachel Eliza Griffiths's Mule & Pear:

Pecola Breedlove Gives Geraldine a Piece of Her Mind

                    for Elizabeth Alexander, 2006


All the Geraldines of Ohio
gather in a parlor and serve me
macaroons, root beer with vanilla,
part my hair in eight sections
and lick my bald shame.

When the cat hit the wall I was sure it had enough
lives to keep its nature. What keeps you
hating the black you groom? I'm not sure.
Sometimes at night when the cats along the fence
shriek dirges and fuck the soft
bones that make their spines roll
like water do you get wet
along the lids of your eyes?


This small black thing your son
wants to kill — that face of fur
slipping behind the radiator, is
the beast of your home. If I turned
your Bible over where you clawed
and stroked the leather, the white eyes of
doilies might attack me. Day after day,

                I pushed hunger out the alley of my legs.

We all waited for the baby. It couldn't live. I prayed
for blue eyes. I'd be Shirley Temple dancing with Bo Jangles.
When my stomach got so swole it made plain
vision double, the women walked down sidewalks
with hands over their mouths, trapping
words away from their good dresses.

                Could it live?


I would like you to have this plate Do you like
my too-blue-to-sing eyes
Do you think my child will look like her father
my father a cracked plate secondhand
on a white windowsill near blueberry pie

A china plate edged with yellow trim
and sky-eyed cherubim — oh god

                (when Cholly doesn't —
                           stop being

on the plate I washed iridescent suds and silence
while he crawled on his knees your Christian
women voices busy warming your own tombs

but on the plate a fleck of my skin dried brown
and blue fell soundlessly into old water
take these thoughts that mean nothing
to anybody without the color blue

Take this plate and feed the eyes
you can't stand to see
space of a black bitch you see
yourself Take this plate where my mind spoils
like meat Please don't let the cat be
anything but soft

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Any Measure


Any Measure

The gull's wing brushes ground,
hinders hurrying feet
like a tether shortens the flight
of a house-bound felon.

Tireless, the gull crisscrosses sand
alone or orbits its kind
to feed, as if simply staying alive
would heal this aileron

unfolded, drab raiment —
brown & white feathers opened to air.
I so want to chase
(as if I can run) & pinion

frenzy, petition a midwife 
to reposition, to swaddle & sling
the fracture, as if release
could comfort.

Friday, December 20, 2013

20 December 2013

Renée Stout

Canto 4

I love how Bang makes me laugh
by using modernisms already outdated —
“Sir,” I said, “this is harsh” —

reminding me that “Make it new” is overrated
by history’s impassive
pace. These million doll souls indicted

for selecting “none of the above”
prove merely that good, bad, & neutral
all land you in hell, my love —

Limbo at best — where Gad! an inner circle
welcomes poets, “these honorific few”
whose swelldom includes not only Virgil

but Dante, too, while mewling
babes & sighing women
have nor harrowing nor fire to aspire to.

Had I Bang been
I’d’ve gone for 100% name swapping —
replaced these clichéd men with forgotten Amazons

with Sor Juana, my latest hero.
Liberal education has so much explaining

to do
for flat out ignoring women’s minds
preferring instead to think of woman as emo,

as virago, as side saddle, as derived
from Adam’s rib,
as colony, as gossip, as pretty valentine,

as ditz, as nympho, as hysteric, as witch.
Begone, Homer!
Scam, Ovid

you dirty old man. The new order
comprises first Sappho, then Sor Juana
followed by Uhwudong & Engelbretsdotter

(pity about her name), also Enheduanna,
Aphra Behn & Emily Dickinson,
finish for now with Anna Akhmatova.

Yes, I admit, Dante’s list contains some,
e.g., Electra, Lavinia, . . . a smattering in the ranks
is worse than none.

Aristotle to Zeno, hie thee to the outer banks!
More aunties, fahgettabout uncs.

[inspired by Mary Jo Bang's translation of Dante Alighieri's Inferno]

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Patricia Lockwood

Patricia Lockwood

Patricia Lockwood from Poetry, December 2013:

The Hypno-Domme Speaks, and Speaks and Speaks

I was born as a woman, I talk you to death,
                                                   or else your ear off,
or else you to sleep. What do I have, all the time
in the world, and a voice that swings brass back
and forth, you can hear it, and a focal point where
my face should be. What do I have, I have absolute
power, and what I want is your money, your drool,
and your mind, and the sense of myself as a snake,
and a garter in the grass. Every bone in the snake
is the hipbone, every part of the snake is the hips.
The first sound I make is silence, then sssssshhh,
          the first word I say is listen. Sheep shearers
                      and accountants hypnotize the hardest,
and lookout sailors who watch the sea, and the boys
who cut and cut and cut and cut and cut the grass.
The writers who write page-turners, and the writers
who repeat themselves. The diamond-cutter kneels
down before me and asks me to hypnotize him, and
I glisten at him and glisten hard, and listen to me and
listen, I tell him. Count your age backward, I tell him.
Become aware of your breathing, and aware of mine
                         which will go on longer. Believe you
           are a baby till I tell you otherwise, then believe
you’re a man till I tell you you’re dirt. When a gunshot
rings out you’ll lie down like you’re dead. When you
          hear, “He is breathing,” you’ll stand up again.
The best dog of the language is Yes and protects you.
The best black-and-white dog of the language is Yes
and goes wherever you go, and you go where I say,
you go anywhere. Why do I do it is easy, I am working
my way through school. Give me the money
                           for Modernism, and give me the money
for what comes next. When you wake to the fact that you
have a body, you will wake to the fact that not for long.
When you wake you will come when you read the word
hard, or hard to understand me, or impenetrable poetry.
When you put down the book you will come when you
hear the words put down the book,
                                              you will come when you hear.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

17 December 2013

Martha Silano [Escape Into Life]

Martha Silano from Ploughshares, Winter 2013-14:

Wolves Keep in Touch by Howling

and I keep in touch
with you're pissing me off

you're pushing my buttons
I'm not interested in rescheduling

Listen! Do you hear that?
That's my tongue licking

a laceration, a bloody metacarpal,
a fracture; that's my nasal baritone,

my UUUUU unfurling your foothold.
Wolves keep in touch,

and I with my keen sense
sense extirpation (necrosis

suspected; necrosis likely). I scent;
I fant; I phalange; I from helicopters;

I for sport; I greedy chew my foot off;
I trickster; I snout. Wolves howl

in the smoothest of coats, guard hairs
shining, repelling the sopping.

Hackles raised, tail rigid, I'm fixing my stare
on the adamant, my ears to each leaf

as it falls.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

15 December 2013

First Dream

deathly, pyramidal shadow
— apex of obelisk
straining vainly for sky —
pretended to scale the stars
though their lovely light
ever sharp, ever ablaze —
teased from so far 
the gloomy war
bruming black 
the quaking fleeing shadow;
brow so dark,
nearly tangent to
the goddess’s sphere
three faces, each one fair —
left sole warden of air
beaded with dense exhale;
pleasing calm 
of silent order,
let but night birds’ docile voices
so faint, so grave.
Silence scarcely gave.

translation of the first lines of a poem written in ~1685 by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz:

Primero Sueño

Piramidal, funesta, de la tierra 
nacida sombra, al Cielo encaminaba 
de vanos obeliscos punta altiva, 
escalar pretendiendo las Estrellas; 
si bien sus luces bellas 
— exentas siempre, siempre rutilantes —
la tenebrosa guerra 
que con negros vapores le intimaba 
la pavorosa sombra fugitiva 
burlaban tan distantes, 
que su atezado ceño 
al superior convexo aun no llegaba 
del orbe de la Diosa 
que tres veces hermosa 
con tres hermosos rostros ser ostenta,
quedando sólo dueño 
del aire que empañaba 
con el aliento denso que exhalaba;
y en la quietud contenta 
de imperio silencioso, 
sumisas sólo voces consentía 
de las nocturnas aves,
tan oscuras, tan graves, 
que aun el silencio no se interrumpía.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

14 December 2013

Jeanette Winterson [bbc]

from Jeanette Winterson's The Daylight Gate:

Day and night are the same. Fitful cold aching sleep, pain, thirst, tiredness even when asleep.

The straw moves underfoot with lice.

The air is stagnant. Breathing is hard because the air is so thick. Too much carbon dioxide. Not enough oxygen. Every breath keeps them alive and kills them off some more. One of the women has a fever.

The door opens. The gaoler is there with a dripping flare.

"Nance!" he shouts, and shoves the flare in the socket. He leaves them light while he takes the woman; it is his way of signalling something . . . what?

The flare throws grotesque shadows on the black stone walls of the cell. No, it is not the shadows that are grotesque; the women are grotesque. Shrunken, stooped, huddled, crippled, hollow-faced, racked and rattling.

Alizon uses her hands to make a play-theatre. Here is a rabbit. Here is a bird. Old Demdike sways back and forth in her soiled dress.

It is raining a little, and Jane Southworth goes to her station under the grille, opening her mouth to the rain. She lets the rain on her face be her tears. None of the women cry any more.

She thinks of Hell, and is it like this? She thinks that the punishments of the Fiend are made out of human imaginings. Only humans can know what it means to strip a human being of being human. She thinks the Fiend has a kind of purity that humans never have. She thinks that godliness is ridiculous because it exists to hide this; this stinking airless doomed cell. Life is a stinking airless doomed cell. Why do we pretend? She can smell strawberries. She knows she is going mad. Let the rain come.

A rat runs over her foot and drinks from the indent of her shoe.

Friday, December 13, 2013

13 December 2013

Dear Doublewide,

Though we met you masked in dirty white
we’ve mined your true colors — yellow for Coreopsis,
apricot for bristle-mallow, mauve heart of cactus flower,
opuntia blossoms splayed like rainbows, pink glow
on fearsome peaks each dawn & dusk, orange tile topping
green-concrete garden walls, flame-hued Kniphofia,
pink heart of bursting fig, lavender blue,
rosemary blue, palest green chive, white rose
pink rimmed with mutation.
                                        Dear Doublewide,
Remember the dog's leg bone we carried home from the beach
to bleach on the rail? Remember how we rinsed
sand dollars? Remember the day we unhinged
the front gate, unscrewed the cantankerous latch
we learned to do without? Pretended a reindeer —
antlered, leading its mate — hazed the cat through the slider
from decking covered in snow?
                                              Dear Doublewide,
We dream of a round wooden table fronting
a wall of books, a recovered chenille throw flattering
the loveseat. We’ll play Bach inventions on no-strings keyboard
while missing high-strung quebracho beams
your ceiling, Doublewide, is low.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

12 December 2013

Mary Ruefle [kcrw]

from Mary Ruefle's Trances of the Blast:


Sentence, you always
spoiled my evening.
This is the journal
of my journal.
I used to sniff dill
when things went poorly,
then something snapped inside me.
I plunged my hand in —
after watercress, I guess.
A stream in the middle of me
is not a hospital,
but it takes care of things:
some are dammed,
some let go.
But only after all.
After I had my crying,
I had to indent again.
The scene of spikenard
is nice. It smells of
weird responsibility.
It makes me roll
my stockings down.
I wash my feet with it.
Like pale writing
they lie there on the floor.
I spend more time with my journal
than I spend with myself.
The end.

Q & A

We notice you use the word lonely
in many of your poems, why is that?
Because Siegfried's difficult way to
Brunhild passes over eighty-nine pages
of rubble, of sticks, of stones, of
crushed glass, of minor boards, of
stinking creosote, of smashed skulls
and dead birds, of lost gloves, of
shards and turds and carpet remnants,
the whole way is paved with bottle caps
and flattened coins and the occasional 
pair of broken spectacles, with tar
and rust and gravel and sand and brambles
and wire and old crumbly bricks and chunks
of mortar, with empty shotgun shells and
chewed-up pens and barfed-up bits of dinner
and cigar butts and snack wrappers and
plastic bottles tossed from cars, with rhino
whiskers and the inevitable single shoe without
laces, not to mention thousands of hooves
with the fur still on them and the animal bones
that have been eroding here for years
though the path more or less runs straight
and many of these things glint in the morning
sun, weirdly, why do you ask?