Monday, December 30, 2013

one up

one of the things about the sonnet that has interested me over the years I've been writing is that

it allows a kind of freedom which other forms perhaps don't—

in writing the octave, one is in a position of the normal poet writing the normative poem, i.e. a kneeling obsequious beggar, pleading with the reader, trying to please the reader, groveling our hearts out to smooth ease their way into and through the first eight lines—

but then with the sestet, the poet can abandon that humble act, and can in effect say to the reader, fuck you, did you think that I was going to cater to you all the way through, to kowtow to you for the entire 14 lines?  Ha!—here in the sestet I can do as I will, and you're powerless to prevent me—

I know you mopes won't stop reading no matter what outrage I play here in MY six lines—

Whereas the non-sonneteer writing the average poem must try to please the reader for its entire length, especially with verses longer than 20 lines or so, fearful that s/he the reader can stop reading at any point especially if they glance ahead and see that your piece is going to go on for another page or two—

But with the sonnet, really, I think, most readers who make it through the octave will at least start on the sestet and once moiled in its sticky six-essence will probably say to themselves well what the hell it's only 3 or 4 more lines I might as well finish the fucking thing—

they'll read your bloody sonnet all the way through in spite of,  despite whatever tricks and joicks in haps of tic-wreck shroudburst you've thrown in to satisfy your own arbitrary selfish whims,

the sestet crowns you Coriolanus Caligua again.

There is where you get to twist the nose of that snotty sonnet-reader.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

drafts, roughs, worksheets [unfinished

only his heel is human
the rest of him is a god
every stalwart sinew steelshod
nothing's mortal but this heelblood
when we run our tongue
in through the boot-thong
longing to fellate
that fatal flesh, to
taste the meal of that heel,
the mortal meat beneath
his shinbone, the only
tender tendon in
his body's bold/bloody squadron,
the only nonweapon
part of him—the heel
his mom held him by
when she annealed
the rest of him in steel—
if only the heel is human
foot fetishists feast
on these Achilles kisses
[not usually known as
the unhardest part of the body,
but in his case [alone], it is
[uniquely] vulnerable—
welded together by anklebones
the penile stele of heel is here
the most fragile member of
 [that arch/fist/fiche/stele of flesh]
[heel/stele [
[that steeliest stele of flesh]
if only the heart were too/also/similarly
vulnernable to love's [adverb] speartips
your hero needs no armor if
his Manolo Blahnik's stiffed/quiffed/bulwarked
enough to rebuff our lips
/his manolo-toed sandal's tough
enough to rebuff our lips
tongue rhymes with boot-thong
/greave-guard /  shinguard's /anklet
ankleboot/ tongued/ shin-tongued/
bootlet / bodkine / botkin 
impervious to spears and swordtips
/not immune to spears and swordtips
prey to love's spears and swordtips

a leaf fell and cupped your ear
attentive to your silence it whispered
the usual urgings/reasons to commit suicide

profusely clinging to the drowned self
can you admit/adjudicate how fugitively
the jigsaw solved by a missing piece

the poem completed by its lost line
how this indecisiveness is too binary
too eager to choose the one or the anon

a key-ring that sets fire to the sun
a wayfarer housed in wide open rags
an icicle locking into its cloak of claw

halo-effects perhaps but say [surround newcomers
an entering gueststar knocks first
and the cannibal's head up your ass

and the caveman's noggin gnawing
its way down your esophagus
may meet someday in the middle

of this hunger that devours us
endlessly via all orifices and organs
that strike time's tympani with

the thin notes of requiem [a voice in chains
Basho kicking a pine-tree for advice
cruelly they woke their sex up on me

chessboard on which shirtstripes flicker
feasting with pajama-trouser-flies
how many shark miles in your pheromones

abducted by life prisoner of a leaf
the pleats of my pantsuit climb squeaking skylines
[what prank to give my chair a hotfoot

the lovers show no mercy to the backed-up rat

a fairy tale painted yes by tininess
I furbish a lonely room of welcome
where no partake rises to bosom me
and homonyms trample my tongue
because I came to samesex myself
or I went to cohabit with death
to dine on means animal in nature
to greet filmstars in my gaunt lieu
assisting at the postponement of my poem

The days have dyed me naked enough
to hide behind: no scar alleviates
this boring surface.

I must stuff the ears of vanishing-acts
to stop the blind applause
from desiring more.  My glass

slippers left gashes in the floor,
grievous pits your ponytail longed
to bathe in.  We mourn your mere

whose petty life is timeless,
wrought from the moment.  Tired of its
exigent ways to wander onward,

down the avenues in a traipse of glory.
I build labyrinths for lip-readers
to run through, sprinting

[to pester day's girders, glide
to the cactus rodeo where nobody
can ride our spike-hiked hide.

the name stenciled on
your frankenstein kit is mine
but its letters distribute so
are they caught in the spread
of points on a betting card
yet causality you declare fervid
is the sole vocation the lone rune
by which gods can dispute their senses
so that no later than someday we
will believe in our superstitious
existence as names on dotted lines
clot up and thicken into a polyglot
ingot and yet all the gold in Fort
Knott cannot further bear or
absolve me from this longshot

the usual nostrums
the day to day recipes
trace sardonicisms on glass
pour seashell stones on the clown


Friday, December 13, 2013

drafts[ worksheets

Throwing dice at the bomb as it descends
will not decide the outcome of your body blown
apart by which action, yours or the bombadier's:

drone missiles fly contraire, unmanned for the sake
of purity, not marred by the sordid human hand
wiping grease blood feces off its digits.  The muddied

moment passes and we move reinspired by
this vision of non-involvement, virginal
again from the crime that mercifully excludes us;

and therefore we leave it to the computer
to choose those targets whose distance ensures
[our disinterest, its infant consequence

declares those boys' volleys of war a game
because as always the enemy's to blame:
the error inherent is theirs not ours to seek/shirk/see]

or repent since its intent was innocence:
pray for the prank forgiveness[indulgence] of childhood, each strike
/thank the prank-indulgence of childhood, each strike
unbloodied/left harmless by your armless mother's wince.
made harmless/turned harmless/ poured harmless
or repent since its intent was innocence
thanks to the prank-indulgence of childhood, each strike
shrived harmless by your armless mother's 
wince, your father's perihelion apogee/trajectory.

/thanks to the pranks of childhood, each harmless strike
unbloodied by your armless mother's wince.

/thanks to the pranks of childhood, each stab or strike
stays harmless as your mother's armless wince.

[thanks to the pranks they forgave in childhood
when each stab or strike stood for bad or good
depending on adult indulgence, punishment pain ????]

[no taint is what our semaphore quests for
and therefore we leave it to the computer
to choose those targets whose distance ensures

our disinterest intent, each infant consequence
prank forgiven by your armored mother's wince.

[pray for the indulgence of childhood, each prank
forgiven by your armless mother's wince.]

[repent since/because innocence was this war's intent:
pray for the pure indulgence/forgiveness of childhood, each prank
forgiven/unbloodied by your armless mother's wince.]


Where the alley ends is always cast in shade
or simply too far away to be visible
so that is where the usual honorcade
parade has proceeded sure to disshovel

its heroes dumped as clumps of statuary
far past the garbage cans and armored dust
rained down each day's disdainful parody
as confetti junk thrown out from the thrust

of our palace tenements' wasteward sight
that shows for shame scoreboard teams of champions
hailed with all our collective love alight
along streets still streamering more war-wins.

Made trash the gods must stay there safe to hide;
only that pit supports their pedestals' pride.

Made trash the gods here stay safe in secret;
this pit is where their pedestals are set.
of our minds and tenements, waste-ward sight
from shame's time the hinder/shambling/scoreboard host of champions
/that shows for shame the scoreboard host/team/roll of champions
we hailed once, our collective love alight
along the streets streamering more war-wins.

Some victory is kept hid back there, secret
[It is our truth/victory kept hid back there, secret
in its pit, thumbs akimbo, games/its terms forgot/ we forget.  /regret[  pedestal-set.

[What victory is kept hid back there, secret;
that pit is where its pedestals are set.]

in its pit, thumbs akimbo, pedestal-set.
or pit, thumbs akimbo, on its pedestal set.]




Shadows are more indigenous to summer
Than other days; in sunless winter they may
Appear as friends from a former season,
Companions for an endless cold—because
You need a certain percentage of Bishop
Berkeleys if life is to pass, the armies rise,
The coffee boil.  But can this concensus
Include those in transit, at the bus stop
Patting their pockets automatically since
Statistics decide we don't all die at once,
And bandaids help with that.  Also the fact
We lack wings and therefore can linger in
Doorways comfortably, coming and going
Provides us such opportunity to meet and
Form treaties to support portraits of each
Other, adamant and guilty in their narrow
Frames.  The commute schedule timetable
Confuses every route with eternities as
(Cough venues, bruises perhaps, or sketched
Leisures of transition sidelining the road)
Times fall and evening secures an after-lag
Of it when mermaids keep their stomach
Pumps handy, mythical beings being always
In danger of being poisoned by the day
To day readiness when a window still holds
The unseen edge of its imminence over all:
So tense when candles on a windowsill
Indicate domesticity's anarchy, while
The frontbell is ringing a little something,
Whose wording has not come down to us,
We call it confluence or Cincinnati, some
Home at random under the habit of a snowpeak,
Pure alp up which the gaze drowns all hands lost,
August it wells with grass, with settlements.


Shadows are more indigenous to summer
Than other days; in sunless winter they may
Appear as friends from a former season,
Companions for an endless cold—because
You need a certain percentage of Bishop
Berkeleys if life is to pass, the sun rise,
The coffee boil.  But does this census
Include those in transit, at the bus stop
Patting their pockets automatically since
Statistics decide we don't all die at once,
Breastbraving uniformity for a patch/cache of
Eternities.  Simple wounds could hatch
Your winglessness.  Bruises when tiring
Times fall and evening secures an after-lag
Of it, when mermaids keep their stomach
Pumps handy, each doorway pried from
Adamant guilty portraits.  What pane bears
The unseen edge of its imminence over
Our sill's tense anarch of candles, while
The frontbell is ringing a little something,
Whose wording has not come down to us,
We call it confluence or Cincinnati, some
Home at random under the habit of a snowpeak,
Pure alp up which the gaze drowns all hands lost,
Dreadful it wells with grass, with settlements.


I tried to phone the Amnesia Hotline
But its hashtone forgot me in the rush
To publication of my hemlines which
Strayed at times to coincide with
Youth and years astride the Nazi
I married.  Hasteless my diary claims,
Facing me off against my sister half,
Its entries present me as someone who
Outspent his coins' grief on verities
Of disbelief, for less and less.  Juicetipped
Thighs, you feed them figs with the brink
Of your tongue, the streets are packed
In gutter but I am gone, gone to war
To avenge how childrens' toys are always
Poe-cast into premature funerals. 
Buried young.  Before their time.


Drifting into the blindfold's focus I find
My face entirely by tracing yours no mind.
The cyclops probe that won't take no:
So I was pretending this grief was new,
Not some old, come-apprehending love—
Nor can, I thought, the horizon be likened
To a trafficcop's palm.  Portraits of
Manny's Lacklounge, whole libraries lichened
With its plus and absence shorn-records us
While all I see myriads me.  Devoured by it
I fear this sitcom in sync with doubt may not
Know that if you took a sumac's leaves and
A sycamore's leaves and switched them around
With shears and glue, who'd notice what tree— 
Bod McDylan, kicking out his butler, maybe.
But the rest of us, living in these
Glass-bottomed attics at length-ease,
Would we dolly or is it pan, would we
Sort of fellini forward towards it, slowly.


Thursday, December 12, 2013


I believe I existed
in the blink of no one's eye
scurrying facade
that screened me awake aloud

I awoke unknown my face
familiarized only by sunglasses
the blink of no one's eye held me
for a mote moment

By all the sun allows to follow me
like the shadow I am
might it last less
than the age of behold

Orchard articulate
rose wise
my eyelids were
carrion wafers

I was the blink of no one's eye
delighted to be the blink
of no one's eye under
so many eyelids or garage doors

Pleistocene ferns burst from oiltruck vents as
I pull my old blood over me
the goatscape awake aloud ancient

the eternity in my left wrist abhors
the instant in my right
jungles use leopards as a condiment
/as leopards condiment the jungles I devour
in nature's typeface
reproaching your monotone
I poisoned a locus of space
exposing my nipples
to a mask faced evoe
3D until I awoke
uneasy was my face alien
lasting even less than squint
I pity tomorrow
that river of exposed entrails

which dwarfs today


now-forgotten oddity

Peter Straub reminiscing about poets of the 1970's, including a couple of "now-forgotten [oddities]":

Thomas Tessier and I had been friends since meeting one another at a 1970 poetry reading in the cellar of a Dublin pub called Sinnot’s, and our literary conversations had taken an unusual course. In 1970 and ’71, we talked about Geoffrey Hill (a modernist English poet), Derek Mahon (a not very modernist but anyhow wonderful Irish poet who was a friend of Thom’s), Wallace Stevens, John Berryman, John Ashbery and Yeats. In 1972, we were on to Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Mark Strand, Bill Knott (who called himself St. Geraud, “virgin and suicide,” and wrote brief poems seemingly from the point of view of someone recently deceased), Greg Kuzma (another now-forgotten oddity whose poems we found hilariously inept), Thomas Mann, Henry James, Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca, Virginia Woolf and Iris Murdoch, along with all of our earlier enthusiasms.

Here's the link:

And Peter Straub is right of course.  He's simply stating a well-established fact—

I am a "now-forgotten oddity" (and Kuzma is "another" one)—

It's simply a fact:

That no legitimate publisher will publish my books.  

That I have to self-publish my books which no one buys when I do publish them.  

That no magazine will accept my poems—don't take my word for that, go look through the twentyfive pages posted here:

Etc., etc., etc.


haiku snafu

On page xii of "The Poetry of Postwar Japan" is a fascinating excerpt from Donald Keene's "Modern Japanese Poetry"(1964),

where he summarizes a 1946 article by a professor of French literature, Kuwabara Takeo, which

"assert[s] that the difference between a haiku composed by an acknowledged master and one by a bank clerk or a railway engineer was barely perceptible. 

Taking a hint from a method used by I.A. Richards in "Practical Criticism,"[Kuwabara] asked a group of colleagues [fellow professors at Kyoto University] to evaluate various haiku, some by masters and some by dubs, first removing the names of the poets. 

The results were so chaotic that Kuwabara felt justified in his claim that most people judge haiku by the poet's reputation and not by the works themselves. . . ."


Wallace Stevens on Obamacare

Most contemporary USAPO are presumably in favor of the USA having a national health service similar to that of Canada and Europe et al,

with insured coverage for all—

if the Poetry Foundation took a poll of USAPO, wouldn't you expect most of them to vote yes to this proposition—

Life, we know, consists of propositions about life,

as one of our greatest poets has informed us—

might we also learn something from him regarding this question of universal health care?

He did issue a position paper about it, actually,

in the form of this sonnet on p. 200 of his 1954 Collected:


I heard two workers say, "This chaos
Will soon be ended."

This chaos will not be ended,
The red and the blue house blended,

Not ended, never and never ended,
The weak man mended,

The man that is poor at night

Like the man that is rich and right.
The great men will not be blended . . .

I am the poorest of all.
I know that I cannot be mended,

Out of the clouds, pomp of the air,
By which at least I am befriended.


Why FoxNews hasn't cued this crap up for its blowhards to spoutificate on, is a puzzle—

It's all there: the rich, the right, (the rich are right and the workers are wrong),

the great men

(you know: the billionaires whose untaxed offshore-loot is funding all the rightwing propaganda reichdoms)—

the great men must never slack their fated duty of upholding capitalism

to ever waste a dime on

"the weak man," "the man that is poor," the "workers"——

And me! Me!? I'm the poorest of them all! (can't you just hear Bill O'Reilly whinnying this out with glee?)—

I know that society cannot be mended, that collective salvation is evil . . .

—But then of course at this end-point of Stevens' poem

the spinners at Fox would have to misreport and mystify his atheistic conclusion

that no cure for our ills will mercifully fall from God pomped up there in the clouds,

although the air (the terrestial air!) is friendly to us—

Say there, you twain two, you fine husk-fellows shearing the hedges round my mansion, care for a cup of Darjeeling?  I can't "befriend" you of course,

and I can't use my high position in the insurance industry to advocate public-subsidized health coverage for all,

the idioms (you don't understand what 'idioms' means, I know) surrounding the class distinctions inherent in our society

can never be breached by any heroic linebreaks wielded from Brecht or Neruda or Eluard or any of those unmendable unmentionable Marxists, I'm afraid.


"Any evaluation of Stevens . . . must somehow be able to accommodate . . . astonishing linguistic richness on one hand and an impoverishment or hollowness of content on the other. [... ] [T]he inner hollowness of this verse will tend to return . . . in those moments in which it becomes (momentarily) clear that Stevens' 
only content, from the earliest masterpieces of Harmonium, all the way to the posthumous [poems], is landscape. . . ." —Fredric Jameson

I'm like the poorest of all, ephebe effendi, I ain't got no god buhu to panacea my soul (got no soul, either)—

unlike you religion-opiated masses I got no Lourdes, no faith healer to mend my pain,

you should be pitying me, not me you—

you think you got it bad, look at me:

I have to find my nepenthe, my ether in mere air, in nature—

I'm the poorest of all, never mind my mansion on the snazz side of town, my penthouse office suite,

ho, what are you poor weak workers with no health insurance complaining about, anyway!  What's your problem, parvenu?