Thursday, February 28, 2013

28 feb 2013

anyone — a convicted sex offender — can get a gun
kill a mother, birth motherless sons

absence of reason, dumb despair, bitter smell of death
a residential street, a sunny day

Susan Howe [pic by Lawrence Schwartzwald

from Susan Howe’s Frame Structure, 1996:


The audience applauded
I was welcomed as one returned from the grave.
My imposter stood up
Her speech was — forests, chasms, cataracts —
I replied — Yes, I had been there —
slept with the children every night —
wherever I went — I went when I was sleeping —
All eyes turned on me.
“Liar — Have you seen the Lake of the North?”
she said.
“Have you seen the wreck of a ship?
— and your scalp?
— How did you cross the Great Camped Present?”
My assurance failed
Welcomed to the rock of my banishment
I couldn’t utter a word.
Silence resumed its wild entanglement
Thought resumed its rigid courtesy.


. . .

On Monday, massacre, burning, and pillage
On Tuesday, gifts and visits among friends

Warriors wait
hidden in the fierce hearts of children.


. . .

Haunted by the thought, the thread we hang on will save us
I bit off and burned my fingers to keep from freezing.

. . .

I the Fly

come from Brighten

hook storm
seawave and salmon

Glass house
Captain Barefoot

gullet of hook

all sky

. . .

Nelson wore a wig
and after battle handed it to his valet
to have the bullets combed out.


Then did you build this gallows,
calling it a natural cause,
consenting to abandon breath,
belief, and memory on it? Was
I one night, with cognac,
under the scaffold,
washing the feet. Because
there is no grace except
of the thinnest
duration, I, too, was
hanged, but at a distant station,
and grace has a half-life; grace
is a state one stage
decayed from perfection.


And yet, a weathervane vine might have grown
from the mud of your chests on a road away
from asylum to tell you a wind full of
I could have protected you,
but there is only blew the clothing off
your children, blew into their brains
a knowledge: not because
an icon is a closed gate to its promise,
but because it is an open gate to Silence,
this is why they ran
after their flying shirts and hair
toward a smoking Baal,
trampling lightning-forked flowers,
terrified of nothing.


If I stood for you, you stopped
alone on a road by an ocean
with bone ash blown back
on your face — I’d thrown
an urn. Anemones
pulsated: atrium, carnation,
ventricle, anus of icon
of Kali — I’d thought
I was on your knees in the tide
that will cover the road, I down
without devotion, having thrown
what you’ve come to throw and now
with some time to study the end
of my time in you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

26 feb 2013

Kate Greenstreet [pic courtesy of John Gallaher]

g) “Give it to me or strike me dead.” There’s nothing to do but feel the disappointment and see where it guides me.

h) “Some people they start with the bugs — y’know, when they’re kids? Always lookin’ at the bugs and wantin’ to know the different names of the bugs. Kids like that grow up, nobody’s surprised if they’re a scientist of some kind. But it could mean other things.”

i) Some people decide to stop talking and pray instead. Like the trees are cleaning the air, they’re praying for the world. Does that help? I have no idea. I doubt it, but we don’t know what would happen if all the people praying for the world were to suddenly stop. . . .

t) I sure like my new pencil, which is transparent, mechanical, and aqua blue.

u) I need to do something with the stuff I’m ingesting, just being alive in the world. To use it, to see it, to place it in relationship to something else. I have to do that to keep going, and it’s what I can do. It’s what I’m fit for.

v) “The process is: you got a buncha shit laying around. Shit that’s broken.”

w) — The way you do art sounds like a kind of filtration system. Or dry cleaning! But instead of returning the clothes cleaned and pressed, you’d offer some other clothes instead.

— Or a pan of rocks, more like it. If you can live without the clothes and want the rocks, you’ve come to the right place. If you need those same clothes back, try the cleaners across the highway.

Monday, February 25, 2013

25 feb 2013

Lyn Lifshin [pic courtesy of Melusine]

The No More Apologizing, the No More Little Laughing Blues [excerpt]

the only place I said what I meant
was in poems. That green was like some
huge forbidden flower that grew so
big it couldn’t even fit in the house . . .

you know I pretended,
pretended, pretended, I
couldn’t stop trying to please

the A, the star, the good girl
on the forehead. The spanking
clean haunted half my life.
But the poems had their own life

and mine finally followed
where the poems were growing,
warm paper skin growing
finally in my real bed
until the room stopped spinning for
good the way it used to when I dressed
up in suits and hair spray

pretending to be all those things I
wasn’t: teacher, good girl, lady,
wife . . .

But now when I hear myself laughing
the apologizing laugh, I know what
swallowing those black seeds can
do and I spit them out. Like tobacco.
(something men could always
do) Nothing good grows from the
I’m sorry, sorry, only those dark
branches and they will
get you from inside

urban life

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

20 feb 2013

N. Scott Momaday [pic by Christopher Felver]

When Angela returned that night to the Benevides house, she was alive to the black silent world of the canyon. The roadsides rushed through her vision in a torrent of gray-white shapes like hailstones coming forever and too fast from the highest reach of the headlights, down and away to nothingness in the black wake. She drove on, and she was sensible of creating the wind at her window out of the cold black stillness that lay against the walls of the canyon. Something she bore down upon and passed, a bobcat or a fox, before it sprang away, fixed her in its queer, momentary gaze, its round eyes full of the bright reflection of the lights and burning on in her vision for a time afterward, brighter than an animal’s eyes, brighter at last than the windows of the Benevides house, which mirrored her slow approach and stop. And there was the dying of the wind she had made, and of the motor and the light itself. And in her getting out and straining to see, there was no longer a high white house of stucco and stone, looming out against the leaves of the orchard, but a black organic mass the night had heaved up, even as long ago the canyon itself had been wrenched out of time, delineated in red and white and purple rock, lost each day out of its color and shape, and only the awful, massive presence of it remained, and the silence. It was no longer the chance place of her visitation, or the tenth day, but now the dominion of her next day and the day after, as far ahead as she cared to see. In the morning she would look at the Benevides house from the road, from her walk along the river, while eating an orange or imagining that she could feel, ever so little, the motion of life within her. She would see into the windows and the doors, and she would know the arrangement of her days and hours in the upstairs and down, and they would be for her the proof of her being and having been. She would see whether the hollyhocks were bent with bees and the eaves loud with birds. She would regard the house in the light of day. In fact it was secret like herself, The Benevides house. That was its peculiar character, that like a tomb it held the world at bay. She could clear her throat within, or scream and be silent. And the Benevides house, which she had seen from the river and the road, to which she had made claim by virtue of her regard, this house would be the wings and the stage of a reckoning. There were crickets away in the blackness.

July 28

The canyon is a ladder to the plain. The valley is pale in the end of July, when the corn and melons come of age and slowly the fields are made ready for the yield, and a faint, false air of autumn — an illusion still in the land — rises somewhere away in the high north country, a vague suspicion of red and yellow on the farthest summits. And the town lies out like a scattering of bones in the heart of the land . . .

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Doris Stacy & Hilda Morley

Doris Stacy [pic by Alan Bernheimer]

So we bring them to cage
honeysuckle let slide
know itself more than we
know so we pulse at once
in and out while the dips
coax your mouth sealed and mine
prehensile, whole
curlicue-paved, sails on.

Hilda Morley [pic courtesy of wood s lot]


The catalogue said —
with surf rocks seabirds & in the background
a line of grey horizon
to the right: a scroll twelve inches by eighteen
inches, should I send for it?
Or are
the words enough?
The Chinese cranes arrive,
perch solemnly on the shore explore the seascape
and set the sea-air blowing here forever.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

9 feb 2013


Hello again. 

I've been in Chile — Santiago, Pichelemu, Talca, Pelluhue, Casablanca, Curacaví, Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, Santiago — eating, drinking, taking pix, reading Shea/Wilson's The Illuminatus! Trilogy [fnord], translating. 

Astonishing to find so many people we know living in Santiago, a first-world city.

Read here @ jacket2 a thoughtful introduction to language poetry in a review of The Grand Piano.

Murat Nemet-Nejat [pic courtesy of Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival]

The frame of a Bresson movie is a jail
the escape is going outside that jail
it all starts with the noises one hears,
becoming one, knowing what the noises are.
that’s freedom.

the word Oklahoma? A wild, alien, distant sound . . . an intimate sound, one of the rare words in English with vowel harmony . . . alien ground in which [the] private soul can nest itself, the synthesis between the powerful and the victim . . . What is the word Oklahoma after all, but the imprint of the Native American, the victim, the invaded in the language of the master. . . .

alienation, instability between writer and language, a radical skepticism about its ability to reveal inner truth constitute its essential nature. The relation of the poet to the language is inescapably confrontational. American English is the quintessential unnatural, insufficient, weak language which the writer has to bend, distort, to translate into, to interject his or her vision. To me, three nineteenth century writers, none of them Jewish but white protestant, embody this accented writing: Hawthorne, Melville and Dickinson. . . . Dickinson invents a language which only pretends to be English and must be read over and over again to be stripped into its message, a violent sadomasochism. Words are private emblems, the syntax unstable, constantly shifting, not quite an "English" syntax, the smooth "hymnal" surface hiding, shafted with a sadomasochistic violence. . . .

What do sun, father, Hunter, He, God, etc. (all images of authority) mean in [Emily Dickinson’s] work? Nothing. They are essentially blank emblems, a chain of Moby Dicks, completely stripped of their traditional associations, around which the poet weaves her barely decipherable soul. Under the deceptive music of a hymn, of a little embroidering lady, the blankness of these crucial images liberates/unhinges the syntax in the poems, completely privatizes it.

When In Santiago, visit Jardín Mapulemu, Bosque de la Tierra, in Parque Metropolitano de Santiago, to learn about the plants that grow in Chile: