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 García 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?


Das Wort

the selections from Heidegger gathered in "On the Way to Language" (1971) include a fascinating lecture about Stefan George's "Das Wort"—

here are a few translations, followed by the original:

The Word

From dream or distance, I would bring
to my land's border some strange thing,

then wait until the grey Norn came,
and from her well fished out its name.

Then I could take good hold of it,
and now, all round, it flowers bright.

Once, from a voyage blessed with luck,
I brought a fragile gemstone back.

She looked and looked and said: 'It's clear
there's no name waiting for that here',

whereon it slipped out of my hand,
and never came to grace my land.

I learned the rules through suffering:
where no word is, can be no thing.

(trans. Sheenagh Pugh)

The Word

Wonders from dreams and from abroad
I carried to my country's port,

But for the names I had to wait
Which in her depths were searched by Fate.

Then I could hold them in my hand
And now they blossom in this land ...

Once I returned from such a tour
With a small treasure rich and pure;

She searched for long but had to tell
That no such thing slept in her well;

At once it vanished from my hand
And ne'er this wealth entered the land ...

So, sadly, I became aware
That things are not if words aren't there.

(trans. Kai Arste)

The Word

Wonder or dream from distant land
I carried to my country’s strand

And waited till the twilit norn
Had found the name within her bourn—

Then I could grasp it close and strong
It blooms and shines now the front along . . .

Once I returned from happy sail,
I had a prize so rich and frail,

She sought for long and tidings told:
“No like of this these depths enfold.”

And straight it vanished from my hand,
The treasure never graced my land . . .

So I renounced and sadly see:
Where word breaks off no thing may be.

(trans. Peter D. Hertz)

The word

Miracle of distant or dreamless
I brought my nation to hem

And waiting until the gray norn
The name was born in her --

Top access can find me tight and strong
Now blooms and shines it through the mark ...

I once term after good ride
With a rich and delicate gem

They looked long and gave me kund:
"So nothing sleeps here at a low base"

What is my handle entrann
My country and never won the treasure ...

So I learned the sad disclaimer:
No ding is where the word gebricht

(trans. Google)

Das Wort

Wunder von ferne oder traum
Bracht ich an meines landes saum

Und harrte bis die graue norn
Den Namen fand in ihrem born—

Drauf konnt ichs greifen dicht und stark
Nun blüht und glänzt es durch die mark ...

Einst langt ich an nach guter fahrt
Mit einem kleinod reich und zart

Sie suchte lang und gab mir kund:
''So schläft hier nichts auf tiefem grund''

Worauf es meiner hand entrann
Und nie mein land den schatz gewann ...

So lernt ich traurig den verzicht:
Kein ding sei wo das wort gebricht.

Stefan George, 1919.


Considering the devotion given it by Heidegger, it seems strange this poem doesn't appear in any anthologies of Modern German Poetry in English translation, at least not in the ones I've seen.  Indeed the latest such, Hofmann's 20th Century German Poems, includes no verse at all by George.