Once Each - Piltdown Music Home Page

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Once Each - Piltdown Music Home Page
Once Each
Edition 71c
Expanded, corrected, and updated May 27, 2015
© Mike Shafto
Piltdown Music, 2010-2015
It Chose That Moment
The drought rattled as would tin
that we could continue to do without,
and we acclimated to the stream
of non-events, the shattered dreams.
But it chose that moment to rain,
a welcome hosing of our hats.
Hosanna, we quietly thought,
rain sounds like mundane chatter,
promissory, no matter what.
Most birds remained oblivious.
Tufted fledglings fended for
themselves, optimistically,
while slowly, mystically, a giant
claw of ambitious young rivulets
paused: Commercial Break in Progress.
The ivy presented, framed by pines,
boughs as green as if ruined walls,
gleaming through the dawn, sang anew.
Islands, rising out of a salt desert,
glistening plains, mountains, gorges,
sun-glow spreading across the peaks.
Who knew they were so greedy?
A flock of pocket-knives whizzed by,
so we knew the home team was winning.
People can almost trust that they're not
being duped in any way or just that we're
doing it to ourselves in our collective
music, which doesn't give up its secrets
that easily. Shall we gather in the cookhouse,
where still, small voices won't be heard
amid the brash and scary din of tin?
We think it absolutely can't be replaced.
Its cacophony alone pushes us to
follow some dreams to the southwest
corner of the map. We imagine a shallow bay,
bleakly unknown by its rightful name.
Death rates nearby are not state secrets,
rather highlights of the program, to be
re-broadcast later Monday. Not quite apparent
at the time, but they've taken over the plot.
Return
We walked through a field.
The sky was gray.
The grass, dry brown.
To our left a railroad track cut an arc.
Above it flew a pipeline
diameter: 2 ft.
elevation: 9 ft.
No visible means of support.
So that’s how they get oil from the sea.
I had returned from the war.
We were glad to be together.
A building appeared,
weathered wood,
a cafeteria. Serve yourself.
People were having lunch.
We joined them.
California Towhees
Two young men practicing tennis,
a boy shooting baskets.
Thirty-odd gulls,
six crows, some pigeons
uneasily co-existing
on the soccer field.
A pair of California Towhees
working over the neighbor’s yard.
A sparrow watching them
from his box-bush perch.
Snails in various
sizes and colors.
We are like the towhees,
you and I.
Kasota
The second time I ran away from home I got two and a half miles, all the way out to Kasota, and I figured
no one would ever find me there. Luckily, I ran into a sandy-haired guy with a limp who had a spare
room. I didn’t have any money, but I could help with the chores so I got the room. He treated me like
the son he never liked. The lawn was invading the living room, and the walls seemed to amplify sound.
Surreptitiously casing the joint, I glanced into his bedroom and noticed three stuffed animals on the bed,
like you would expect for an eight-year-old girl. I immediately thought those must belong to his
girlfriend. But that didn’t jibe because they were a little too large, and actually they were plastic and
inflated, not stuffed; one of many mysteries. The only family living on our street, down at the east end,
seemed worried about my welfare. They had lots of kids – a dozen bikes and trucks anchored out front –
and the first week they asked me (but not Sandy) to a potluck dinner. Since we were out of food, except
for left-over pasta, couscous, rice, beans, and brownies, I decided to go for it. The family seemed
pleased, and I tucked into their chips, salsa, chili, curry, and chocolate pudding with passable gusto. They
told me about their life on the road making coral jewelry, with family members specializing in
(“owning”) their own sub-skills. Three of the kids spent mornings searching the brush along the highway
and the railroad right-of-way, collecting coral and coconuts. Hot, sweaty work, but the government is
subsidizing non-marine coral production these days to help people make a living in these former quarry
towns. That’s a lot cheaper than solving all the problems caused by folks moving off the reservations in
search of work. We had a long, multi-threaded discussion of the Dark Ages and the decline of religious
freedom. The family elders felt that Kasotans had had their native religion denied and suppressed
(sometimes brutally and violently). With the formation of the Federation and the fading of certain
virtues which speak to freedom of religion, this freedom had been taken from Kasotans, based on the
notion that they were mainly rural and, therefore, that spiritual life was too abstract for them. The
solution appeared obvious: Turn over administration of the rural areas to urban church groups. This
became known as the Peace Policy, whereby a single lucky denomination would become responsible for
administering all rural programs and would have a monopoly on proselytization. Under this policy, the
efforts to civilize the Kasotans required them to become voters (by force if necessary). Well, it was
getting late and I didn’t want Sandy to get worried, though he was a man of few words. I made my
farewells with sincere gratitude for the dietary change-up and headed down the street toward our
place. Everything looked different in the dark. Arms felt flimsy, stomach was burning, I heard water and
then I sat down at the side of the road. I didn’t want to go to the doctor, because I’m scared of them.
Available Light
Many the livelong days
we trod those wanton hills,
the grasslands and gray pine.
Before the white man came
there were waxwings and salmon,
badger and brown bear.
The rock ridge moved at its pace,
glaciers came and went,
deer and antelope migrated.
The hills and valleys sang,
the ghosts of wolves and panthers
with serpents laughed and danced.
We kept awake most nights
to watch the fire, or drowsed
and dreamed of the ancestors.
A day came when we took flight, seeking
harmony with the condors, our allies, our paragons,
our guides on the perilous outward journey.
We flew to the sea islands, legendary
land of the dead, a land not of danger,
but of peace and protection.
There was no time, no corruption on those islands,
no powers or prophecies to be suffered,
but wonders unseen in our earthen lives.
The islands were the peaks
of undersea mountains, unseen
mountains with secret music,
embers of music, dimly heard
wreaths of melody, bells or cymbals,
seeming like ancestral voices.
Ours had been a tribe of warriors,
but in a world that drifted.
We were stubborn and would not change.
The ancestors were made powerful
by their knowledge, their foreknowledge
of a fallen people without progeny.
Our sun wavered like a mirage.
The birds had no water
in that dying wasteland.
Our options were like poison darts.
Had it ever been any different?
Shimmering heat, maladies, foolish hopes.
Blindly we followed the ancestors and
the animal ghosts, down below the surface,
down the slopes of the undersea mountains.
The water washed away our names, washed
away the remnants of our time, mixing
our watery spirits with gray wolf-ghosts.
Make Them Earn It
A wealth of data creates a poverty of attention.
Herbert A. Simon
This is not hell,
but you can see it from here.
This is the pre-board area,
just past the information kiosk.
You can’t take it with you,
and you wouldn’t want to.
You can’t bequeath it.
Oblivion is the best-case outcome.
Otherwise you’d have Fox and CNN, 24/7.
You’d pine for infomercials, weather, sports,
pink noise, black silence,
anything but news-o-tainment.
Like federal dollars,
it expires at the end of the year.
Invest or spend it now.
Don’t let them rob you blind.
Make them earn it.
Slow Answers #43
Gradually less attentive lawns exude
a spackling spray that attic-dwellers exalt
as inscrutable. It is not fall: those opaque
panes of new rain randomly collecting among
your brambles amount to nonsense, no doubt.
If it were their going in out of a close,
the less I crossed the more she would have
lost out to an accompanied solo. No, this is she
whom you would not have been likely to solve.
It was never decanting, else the farther the singer
advanced out of peripheral phenomena, the narrower
those quantities would have become. I'll hint you how,
holding like that, eyelids water after a time,
after weeping's stifled. You'll ask it to dissolve, and,
while I'm there most pedestrianly, you'll retract
a document awkwardly from a box. No, I will neither
schweigen nor give offense. Once and future,
I had dreamed them coming apart at the seams,
out of a "sane" present like the bedsheets
that never end in "lunacy" or its subsets.
Ignore the walkers with their pens,
dividing the noblest ignominy of complete
disappointment, unique specimens hardly ever
debated, having been forgotten in eloquent
dozing, in leaving behind. Desultorily I would inject,
you've been discarded like an iris or preserved
like a cowhide (both together mayhap), ignorant of who'll
dishonor them. History has bid us firewall.
Before then, it was all for one.
Grand Old Après
As a guest, you have limited access,
but with steadily increasing mileage,
your belief will inevitably grow until
all the details from your childhood
are filled in as vividly as
Old World elegance.
Heaven is designed with you in mind:
Beach dunes, island views, friendships,
warm crosswinds and drifting sand.
Your relatives will be there,
the members of your graduating class
(selected ones, who have passed over).
When you have joined our free community,
be strong. Keep your Faith
by making the best of it.
Respond to the first two questionnaires
with recollections of your childhood, in
highly polished, flat, textured,
or distressed finishes.
We’ve created fresh-daily ways for you to
spice up your hours and be even more
fantastic than you already are.
Think Back, Think Forward
Think back to before your birth.
Think forward to after your death.
Where are those moments now?
Most of London burned, it happened.
I told a friend the same story
the other day, you know?
Can someone remember going to heaven?
It’s hard to keep a job.
I hope I get married soon.
How can I get a flyer?
I’m forced to live this way.
Can I have a real life?
I do have a more interesting question:
Are those bagels in the fridge,
when no one is looking, disappearing?
Or are they becoming cat yarn?
I hope my bagels are there.
Maybe I need to buy more.
Dogmatic religious beliefs are like science.
Personal beliefs are like discredited research,
loosely based on allegedly objective facts.
There’s an insurmountable wall of facts
that are not what they seem,
so medicine is really an illusion.
When our bodies no longer function,
ideas persist. Children remember past lives.
(Take time to read the literature on this.)
The scientific and the Christian inquisitions
are ready to mock and pillory
those who report what they witness.
We are scared to think it.
Many times I’ve dreamed of death,
Yet I seem glad to seem alive.
If it hadn’t’ve happened to me,
it wouldn’t’ve been believable.
I can’t expect to convert non-believers.
We are not moving through time;
time is moving through us, and
what is everybody waiting for anyway?
To be reading but not experiencing?
We all know the recent studies:
People in comas can have minds.
It’s a complete waste of time,
fatuous and stupid in the extreme -studying nerves and brains. It’s irrelevant.
There must always be a caveat.
Gamma waves existed all the time.
Neither side can prove a thing.
Moments fill up like water balloons,
then crystallize, slipping silently through
alternate dimensions where we can’t follow.
Sketch for a Dylan Song
Pitchfork woman
Featherbed girl
Boots and roots for two
Mirror movie blues
Minnesota motorcycle rain
Billboard museum fire
Fake beef feeding frenzy
Thousands free for nothing
He Opts to Stop
He opts to stop
at a spot
near a post
by the tops
of some pots.
Mist Emits an Item
Mist emits an item,
a mite: it's me!
Time smites me,
and I'm stymied.
Part Way Through a Song
It’s fairly obvious to me
or oblivious to you
That something between us
or nothing … suddenly
Like a plane of separation,
a pane of glass
Invisible. If only the others
Hadn’t, or if only some of them
Weren’t, maybe we could still
Have -- not games, really, and not jokes
And not spokes like in a wheel
Yet seeming round in a way -In some way, cobwebs in the way
Could be brushed away somehow
If they rushed and stayed far away
if they ever are
in the way they seem
To be between, unfairly why
A shame because we’re plainly
Partly part of something that’s the same
not a game and not a joke
Yet this pain of separation
that is plain
Plainly fairly obvious
I Realized Then
I realized then
I was not bending it
but bending to it.
The bright wind was
blowing blue and
yellow-green.
Our lemons this year
were absurdly large
and lumpy-yellow.
Maybe my dad was
right about the
parade of earth.
Stronger because of air,
the fur from a
water-rat shook loose.
Humming flora spawned,
blasted by the spume,
yellow dots with haloes.
We filled the flask
with a flock of crows,
silhouettes skating.
Audacious squirrels,
golden numbers,
blatant haloes,
friends held free,
skating filaments,
free red actions.
The past on plastic,
precise angles,
cutting wheels,
rolling houses
of red, red runes,
forms of blasphemy.
The buildings began
to change places,
to jitter their
gaffed heels and
hairy heads. Now
they breathed like
towers, some like
spindles. They began
to brighten within.
Shapes, dismayed by
words, halted, looking,
one clasping another.
The blunt cape
welcomed two rising
paths, uncoiled
ropes, draping over,
down to the beach,
strewn with rocks,
shells, and wood.
I realized then
the glowing town
was far away.
The shells and
stones remained.
Biking My Kindle
Every morning at about six-thirty, what I’ve come to like
is giving my Kindle Fire a ride
on my recumbent bike.
I listen to four miles of music that I actually wrote,
and time goes by like the Rose Parade,
riding on a prize-winning float.
With the Kindle Fire you can also surf the Web
to find words that web rhymes with.
(They seem to be at an ebb.)
Sometimes I wonder, “Should I quit while I’m ahead?”
But no, I’ll keep going, even after I retire,
until I can’t. Then I’ll be dead.
Going to Mars
Just say yes,
or think past it
like a prostate exam.
Colonies? Tourism?
Sure, why not?
Who the hell is going to stop us,
if that’s what we decide to do?
The heroes who don’t make it back,
well, their sagas will be available
through inter-library loan.
The survivors will have a good laugh,
we’ll all be old,
and the kids will say, “So what?”
Passionate Doors: Space Exploration, Past and Future
I’ll try to explain how we did it,
though I’m afraid you’re centuries, maybe millennia,
behind and probably on a dead-end road
with your thermonuclear romance.
For us the breakthrough came when we set aside
our war on the world, our wistfully hapless
fascination with glossy heroism,
the master plan, the maestro within and his
Very Grand Flagship. To be sure, in ancient times
we had no shortage of miniaturized machines,
like-minded volunteers with idealistic desires
to realize the forefront fantasies of our
leading, pellucid writers. And, of course, it was
the best books about star-catchers
rocketing to distant worlds that kept alive our
mosaic hopes during the centuries when
we were little more than literate animals.
To cut it short, the revolutionary remedy that
guided us toward the dawn of true invention was just
setting aside the sorrows of liberty and tuning in to
The bewildering merriment of a child’s birthday party.
Blocking our nostalgia for expansive forces,
our manic prayers and idiosyncratic fears,
our endless search for the eternal key,
We finally realized that nature outshines
The Eleven Legends. The marvelously ordinary
can provide the uplifting current to escape our
old boarding house and spend an elegant weekend
Gliding silently through dust- and ice-cloud canyons,
diving into sprouting, spraying astral sinkholes.
Early experiments with dreamers led us to
modulated frivolity, then bracing and breezy
Comedy, and eventually to lucid and ludic
plays with rainbows of glittering humor –
a power spectrum sufficient for an orbiting turkey.
(Comedy gets you only so far, but in the right direction.)
We bridged to the next level by a technique
we called the surprised fan-boy effect.
It’s a few centuries beyond your technology,
but just think how an exquisite dance sizzles.
We progressed by careful experimentation from
familiar, funny, exuberant carnival to the
finest original aesthetic dynamism, via







prize-winning artisanal pie
sterling, startling fame aptly earned
the fluid, still-beautiful ring of a vibrant shakuhachi
reunion of old friends and comrades
a first grandchild’s first season
festival music celebrating blithe summer purity
marveling, rarely and thankfully, at this week’s new harp sonata
This is how we launched our
inter-galactic space exploration program,
powered by Universal Creative Energy,
properly generated, gleaned, refined, and focused.
Someday you may do the same.
Acceptance Speech
Thanks for showing up.
I won’t take much of your time.
This is too little too late.
Did I say that out loud?
Never mind.
When I started here everything was great.
Now we’re in the crapper.
I feel as though it’s my fault.
I’m glad some of you think
I gave it my best shot.
Now take some advice:
Time don’t mean nothin’ to an old warthog,
so give some kid the gold watch.
Popcorn
Whitehead got it right.
Just read Whitehead.
That’s all you need.
And Borges.
These are your modern-day
Great Books: Whitehead, Borges,
and Cantor.
It’s waves or strings and time:
ordinal,
discrete,
branching,
discreet.
The cardinality of real time:
the infinity of chances
for something,
the transfinity of chances
for nothing,
to happen.
Work Song
Make something happen.
Make just one damn thing happen.
Then you will be happ’nin’, too.
Planisphere Collage
(Closing segments of poems in Ashbery’s Planisphere)
But it’s not over yet. Terrible incidents happen daily.
That’s how we get around obstacles.
At night we crept back in, certain of acquittal
if not absolution, in God’s good time, whose scalpel redeems us
even as the blip in His narrative makes us whole again.
And sure enough
it’s better out in back, around those self-forgetting trees.
A few rods away the word-bath
tacitly shudders. Feelers sent out
tickled the always delicate negotiations.
We could see all that
from a distance, as on a curving abacus, in urgency mode
from day one, but by then dispatches hardly mattered.
It was camaraderie, or something like it, that did,
poring over us like we were papyri, hoping to find one
correct attitude sketched on the gas-lit air, night’s friendly takeover.
I suppose it was trying to make some point,
but we never found out about that,
having come to know each other years later
when our interest in zoning had revived again.
Your generation doesn’t have the propensity
to figure out light. It needs what it has —
colorful costumes, a lard sandwich.
A “forgotten elegance.”
It won’t get better after this.
My husband’s fiancée wished it otherwise.
There you go.
You know something?
I don’t care.
We grabbed another glimpse of
the books in the carrel, sweet in their stamped bindings.
Seriously,
it’s a definition and so much else. Or sleeping.
Parents agree. You’ll love it big when you find out.
They were living in America the same old same old.
Living is a meatloaf sandwich.
I had a good time up there.
I told you so, we can handle it, hand on
the stick shift headed into a billboard
labeled Tomorrow, the adventures of new music,
melismas shrouding the past and the passing days.
He had been in touch with old buildings.
We were gone for a while. But it’s not
too late. Who am I kidding?
The pond is a quilt, seen from far away.
The buttons are extras.
In the small garden a harmonica was heard braying.
There are other bird sufferers
amid wading stalks the tide left
as though forgotten. They come back.
The gentry’s
not on board with this one,
then let hawks lisp, poke
tumescence out of clay. Ahoy.
In five months my service expires.
Then we shall be together always.
No pants on me she confided.
A suitable reliquary
for clam-sized citizens.
After that came a break.
You are sitting on the sofa.
Have a glass of something.
You will hear a city.
Always, someone is watching.
She is quiet now,
she too.
I say,
have we no thin power rotting
in English kitchens for the duke’s children
to inherit like insecure boats
too distant from the onyx horizon?
Make sense to you?
Makes sense to me.
Sitting alone in an open boat tells you a lot
about discipline. Any wrongdoing will be overlooked or punished.
Our home is marshland. After dinner was wraparound.
You got a tender little look at it.
Outside, it never did turn golden.
And the people? They’ve left too,
wedged in a fucking dream.
It was OK to take everything,
though not to want it.
Wash the guest’s
feet, the aviator. Jack was his name
and we were like brothers, though we never knew each other.
One was encouraged into intimacy. Ideas
started that way, like froth at first.
Then we flirted with something downhill.
A pasteboard invitation (“27able27l”) would
be returned or answered, the decorative border
left hanging, a frame...
of questionable utility.
The block of flats will find then forget us.
Insist we try again;
there was some sense in it
but only late. Later was too late.
The fire is coming.
It says to wait.
I’ll close by saying you’ll meet me in your dreams.
Be polite and not too aggressive
and not a little inquisitive, boring steed.
Look, there are live things for each of us.
The planets promise to roll next time,
and the mad fixer amends his list.
Yes, easy does it,
always. What you see will be used against you.
Someday it will be as it is remembered.
Hurry, interesting life.
In the meantime living resolves itself
into a dance. A cinema. More light.
Work, win, suffer some more.
It was too smoky in the little kitchen garden or potager
to pay too much mind to the rabbits and their plankton
dispensary. Something had been launched. We knew that.
Oh if you’re going to then do it
advised the eggbeater. Time got left out of the equation.
All these people are running around.
I wonder what they do in real time.
The regional farm district is shut.
It’s all a bit orthodox, yet one says, so long,
it’s a period. Like waiting for a cold to break.
Was it a dream?
It was a shame
the job had to get done,
especially when it was so nice outside.
So why give
courage to the blighted,
pass the additional costs
of waiting around that much
to the learned numskull statistician —
or else why
choose what others choose?
Shall we gather at the river? On second thought, let’s not.
“I knew you were going to say that,”
somebody yelled at me. If this was what being justified
was like I was ready to play
or stop playing — it comes to the same thing.
Better to win not playing than be cheated
of pictures that were conveyable to you anyway.
So it’s off to the circus for us, you and me.
You’ll never be more agitated than you are now,
at this insurpassable moment. I, on the other hand,
am cool for the time being. Such is my creed.
Did I say the stars will take care of us? I know
it sounds funny, but that’s the way it is.
I mean how little can you toss off
and be ready for the rest of tomorrow’s dense armillary?
Others will benefit
from your ritual cleansing, as they have before,
and can go on ahead.
Wilde said that history is merely gossip.
To that, add that portraiture is what a dressmaker’s dummy feels
about today’s hiatus or harvest, whenever bands of light
or shadow have taken over. Honestly, we’re good with that.
It’s like dawn in this globular attic room, one’s inmost thoughts
to be breathed upon and revived like flowers, again and again.
The way it is right now.
At stake is a page in some larger history,
something we had once and played with.
The laboratory seemed too kind, deliberate
for the miles of homecoming that were ours.
I think there’s a big old lake.
I think the whole thing might be flooded by now
for reasons not fully understood.
Come on, I’ll race you to the corner.
Nothing doing, he said, my calluses
are in an uproar. Besides, we had an agreement. Oh really? Yes,
about the triathlon. You were going to save me
at the end, take me home with you, feed me
tea and toasted cheese, tell me stories about a race of Titans
who once lived in these parts. Oh, if that’s all ...
So began a curious kind of friendship.
I saw him only twice more
before his untimely but merciful death.
Both times he said, What about the cheese?
That will have to do.
Besides (did I mention it?), I’m tired.
This day’s a wrap. Others will happen along,
maybe fall in love with one. But that’s another story.
We’ll find a new wand, horizons will be bright
and anxious. A friend will give us
what we’re owed and something extra,
something we couldn’t have imagined,
a space like a dream.
Let old, new pets meet in neutral space.
Reunion fun outshines cruelty.
It was foolish to argue,
idle to come undone. The post arrived.
It all failed. All failed somewhere.
When are you returning?
It’s ashes and mesh.
EAVESDROPPERS SELDOM HEAR GOOD OF THEMSELVES.
The way some people come and go is instructive.
Why brood over shadows that pile up
inevitably inside the shutter? If there was
one thing he had learned in his life, it was this:
One discovery leads the way to another,
and then all are swept out with the morning’s trash.
Not surprisingly none of us was prepared
for the alternate emergency. We cleaned out our lives
like desks and brought new stamps
to the head of the torrent. No one felt like weaving
after that.
They won’t believe me.
They won’t forget.
So they went to bed. Other days could promise this now.
It was wrenched out of our hands, and felt good.
They laughed to be the tide coming in.
(Give in, I quite thought.)
My love, how like you this?
Not much actually,
my gentle uninjured self replied.
If that’s all there is to feeling a lot better
I’d rather take my chances, you know, on the ice
or on a farm. It fits together
and mostly for our benefit, if you let it happen,
or think it can somehow happen, in somebody’s yard.
Put another way, God is singular,
strong in feeling, wise in the ways of others.
His flesh is singular, like water,
His feeling anchored in a deep pool.
Get Him back.
He’s on an eagle trip.
Something your night can tell you.
So why did
it happen with an echo? We thought we
had taken it into account. Turns out we were wrong.
Therefore poetry dissolves in
brilliant moisture and reads us to us.
A faint notion. Too many words, but precious.
Sunset calms, soothes,
rain is toothsome,
and you get all out of debt like that.
Something tells me you’ll be reading this on a train
stumbling through rural Georgia, wiping sleep
from your eyes as the conductor passes through
carrying a bun. We’re moving today,
today on the couch.
If tact is a mortal sin
we shall not miss.
Run along, like a good thing.
Powder the axles, wish the dog happy birthday.
There’s no time like a fuzzy present, she shared.
That’s why I was so late. It takes a long time to choose
when you’re not ready. Even longer when you are.
You know this better than anyone, myself included.
In the end a piece of silk
is our reward, wide as a mountain’s flank
and caked with curious chevrons.
So call it untitled, but
don’t imagine you’ll be let off the hook:
The title will find it as surely
as a heat-seeking missile locks on
an asteroid. Down below, armies
and oceans of taxis will squawk unfeelingly.
The title always wins.
Life had been forgotten.
Love me anyway, he said.
Pajama Day
The sun comes up early now. Early enough.
Tomorrow they'll wash the tennis courts
(though water's in short supply).
Bird houses are for sale down the street.
With no warning whatever, an overcast appears,
then a misty drizzle that lasts for days.
The shortest distance takes you southeast.
Then what? Ask advice at the nearest kiosk?
It's hard to fuel creativity. Hard at first.
Proceed directly to the waterfall area.
Stop for breakfast on the rocks. Continue
until you reach the storm-fallen trees.
There’s something fun, something nomadic,
about paddling out in kayaks and snagging
flatfish, crabs, edible eels and, yes, even kelp.
A sofa in a too-small room, her feet on a cushion,
reading a book by someone's favorite author, someone
who left it behind in the cabin, a generous gesture.
The room seems smaller than it is, because of
a glitter of ornaments and the smell of dying flowers.
There are too many pillows, suggesting too much sleep.
She pictures wine-drunk artists under the trees.
Her own life is not like that, more a series of relapses,
of muddles through months with nothing interesting to eat.
They are such Bohemians, the artists. She doesn’t have
"the artistic temperament." She can't imagine living
so untidily, so impractically, so "art-is-everything."
She is vaguely afraid of artists, mainly foreigners.
She has been living quietly, not thinking, admitting
neither need for visions nor need for innovations.
She hears the same waves breaking on every side.
She thinks it’s so selfish (don’t you?) that art remains
silent, unanswerable to anybody, literally shameless.
Things want to be said, but not on Pajama Day.
She fails to make a clear meaning, but
does sustain, as it were, a tenderly impersonal tone.
Of course, there are cases when, by no one's fault,
something happens, even out here, every year or two.
A momentary distraction, some sort of dreadful echo.
She is observing her breakfast, the eggs, the candle,
the flower-laden table, milky gulls flapping overhead.
I’ll probably never see this veranda-girl again.
The work's done by the women, though it's never done.
Mistakes are made by men, one after another.
And then it all stops, gradually or suddenly.
The atmosphere, the air itself in fact, stiffens.
We squint down at what we thought was fish, but no,
language intrudes. It's a forkful of English after all.
Just Enough Strokes
Wednesday, no, Thursday
is a travel day.
It was good to see you all.
Yes, I think the weather is getting warmer.
I mean the climate.
It makes travel harder.
I ran across Maw’s phone number
on my cell,
which made me feel, you know,
because it’s been
two years? Or three?
I haven’t put her picture up yet
at our new place,
because I want to
get the balance just right
in the computer room.
Anyway, yes, travel is harder now
with all the storms,
lots of delays,
more problems every year.
Tidy
Sorry to be inconvenient
A cause for cursive letter-writing
As few additional ones as possible
This can improve system performance
When it works properly
With the modifications that were made regarding
Someone you care about is struggling quietly
And by that time it probably
Appealed to him too because
The large number of incongruent applicants
But I’ll probably forget it by then
So cluttered that no matter how good an idea
Throw a growing number of threads away
How old anyone is in today’s world
It doesn’t matter much
Dawg Phoetry
If you’re going to snore....
It’s not me, it’s the dog.
It’s the seething hermit,
street kid from Jersey,
aspiring bird, juicy, austere,
Kansas-Texas bigness, fame feels good.
The aura-triggered unwily spark-weapon
from somewhere yellow, urgent,
who defends this drifting island
against the spectral virus
and fights infernal flat aliens,
sudden invaders,
Caribbean-coast space burglars.
It’s the questionably hype-worthy fan
of tribal frenzy football,
Connoisseur of orphans
now fed on scraps, unsalted pretzels,
and second-world meat,
Neither analytical nor lyrical,
cautious nor calm
nor given to irony,
dreaming dusty white rainbows,
three-sided blue box
in powder-light.
If you’re going to snore....
It’s the sheriff’s helicopter.
In the Latin palladium
we read the tough-news tabloids,
drinking Alexander’s coke & club,
critiquing small recitals, light opera,
improv, likable and diverting
as Canadian karaoke.
Mulling incisive curry,
hustle-art and Noguchi fields,
polished blossoms, stone accordions,
concertina wire, dog-meat soup,
troupes of temple dancers
in cartoon choreography,
soporific as rodeo:
It’s sure to please the fans who like
that sort of thing.
If you’re going to snore....
It’s natural, organic, and green.
Ominous poster-ad: “Wedding Solutions, Inc.”
Ticket holders with green handkerchiefs
showing up for
consecutive waterfront lunchtimes.
Merchant or knight, release the decades
of prolonged sympathy
for floating violins,
for the silver themes of false saints,
iconic environments, sand hills,
mezzo-women on yellow vinyl,
yellow ash on the Yellow Sea.
STEPNEY
SCOWIT
KAX BOP XOTTt
YO
MaX
RhiNO
PEEPEe
GO
JAY
DinK
PLAY
WURI HUG
SLY
SLOW
MAS PLANK
GRANDPA
EU-WINKLE-PINKLE
Max Goes to Kindergarten
Alert
Attentive
Anticipatory
Amiable
Attuned
Ahead
Well, in kindergarten
These A's are N's, just like in
Coren's Dog-Intelligence Scale.
These A's get you a Welsh terrier,
Ranked #53 -- between Ridgeback and Akita,
Right in the lumberyard.
"Low-average working/obedience intelligence."
OK, fair enough.
Earthquake
The earthquake stalks us everywhere,
tingling in the acrid air,
A slowly ripening pear
(or a skulking skunk bear
with erected guard hair
poised to jump us unaware)
About to fall to here from there
onto our yawning lawn chair,
where we drowse over car care
or a pending love affair,
not a lurking earthquake scare.
What sense does it make to beware
this beast in its secret lair
without a method to declare
the date and time of grim despair?
Does it make sense to prepare
for months of inspection and repair?
Permanent fear seems quite unfair,
if science is powerless as prayer.
We could ask Meredith Allaire
to check the odds and compare
before we move from gay Bel Air
to the urban climes of Times Square,
only to be eating an éclair
or fumbling with our subway fare,
hardly noticing the sudden flare
from a lightning bolt or a pair
that leave us with a vacant stare,
merciless raptors that will spare
no life and will at best impair
our brains and leave heads bare
and charred. Temblors we may dare:
Destructive earthquakes are still rare.
We weigh the risks of lightning’s glare
against the faults to which we’re heir.
We may deny the fate we share,
as though we had the wits of hare.
We may feign a carefree flair,
yet going up or down the stair
we suffer mental wear and tear
from Tremblement de Terre.
Idea Man
Blonde Prince Akron, playing White against Funeral Jones,
came out in the Pushy Plastic King’s Gambit,
birdied one and two, then
transposed to the Skate-Ax Saga –
a steamy meld that took the edge
off an otherwise exuberant program, and
introduced an extra dust of doubt.
Jones tried to counter with Elgar’s Barge,
gesturing briefly toward the Weighty Hiatus variation –
unseen in tenement play for twenty-seven years –
but after a pincer error, a putt awry, and
a screened west Edinburgh castle, was forced back,
piggling around in gritty latticework.
Akron advanced his duke.
The less intricate energies of Jones’s palette,
his smooth dancers still blocked on the back rank,
began to look as ethno as
a crumbling Nineties union-haunt.
The wary occupants of recombinant box-seats
ruefully solved everything and began
abandoning sour and casual luxury
for bas bois soirée, Spanish djamboree,
even a swift forensic sojourn
to the town festival,
where the barker was cavorting with endemic genre,
haranguing factory assistants
[Blazing fluid revived the ambitions
of families on the other corner,
promising a fall visit to the Tate’s
verdant retrospective: “The Contrabass Decades”.]
from remaindered companies to step past
the twenty-seventh proto-pub, come forward, and witness
limited previews of potato-juggling,
the Cage-Match of the Seven Avengers, and
the scheduled première of the Spiegel Spy Pageant.
Imperative Mood
Hubristic deployment
of imperative mood
ranks high on my list
of the terribly rude.
Subjunctive, optative,
passively subdued,
will seldom offend
or be misconstrued.
Declarative, indicative
I gladly include;
interrogative unquestionably,
but jussive is crude.
Commands and blunt orders
should be screened and reviewed
by interior monologue
before they obtrude
On polite intercourse,
where they may be imbued
with the power to inspire
a year-long blood feud.
Gratuitous employment
of imperative mood:
This practice, though common,
would best be eschewed.
It Seems As Though
I’ll see you next week, but in the meantime
this is the perfect casual Friday outfit,
lest your colleagues think your head’s in the clouds.
Though being skeptical can be taken advantage of,
being surprised that skeptics work so hard at disbelief,
and being busy is their only way to use free time wisely,
since the universe dispenses its irony more and more haphazardly
every day. (This reminds me of a quote,
allegedly from Arthur Miller, to the effect that
a play is made by sensing how the forces in life
simulate ignorance – you set free the concealed irony,
the deadly joke, and that’s as may be, but
consider the notion of disexpectation as a joker’s
skewed line of thought, where each new context
has its own logic, and that’s what makes it funny,
just like the Bible. (It has been rewritten by countless
people with countless beliefs, so how does anyone know
which parts are jokes, for example, “A rabbi, a priest,
and an itinerant preacher walk into a bar …
well, not at the same time,”
and that’s kind of a non-starter or a dead end,
you know?).)
I know you have to hide your high-risk, high-impact job
from your family, but that will only be for another five
years, after which you will be receiving all the medications
and therapies that have proven helpful for your condition,
but for now make sure you take the time to talk to your family,
even if it’s all just a pack of lies, after which you’ll just
have to live with it, including the neuropathy and dementia
that are partly intended and completely inevitable side-effects
of your line of work, but of course you knew that going in,
so for now just “fortify yourself with a flock of friends,”
as they say, even though that may seem more easily
said by me than done by you, that is, I’m not the one
in the deception business, but in many ways that makes
me more objective and more qualified to give advice;
therefore, let’s just seek common ground, common values,
norms for negotiation, and such-like, because I can
assure you that no one loves the situation of having
to provide point-blank, completely honest wisdom to
someone who, since they were about eight years old,
has had major problems, has been a chronic worrier,
and frankly has had a bizarre and irrational fear of
anyone knowing because, let’s face it, it’s embarrassing.
Taking Shortcuts
Too often the shortcuts people take are the wrong ones.
There is no script and no idea what happens next.
“Most would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.”
That is simply untrue. It has become an urban myth,
like Disney’s cryogenically frozen body.
The heroes of such myths are often greedy people,
trying to get rich quick, willing to take a lot of risks,
craving large houses, expensive clothes, jewelry,
flashy cars; evincing the urge to lead extravagant lives.
Myths occur in every culture, stories older than writing,
passed down through story-telling, meant to have a hidden meaning.
When Quasimodo sings Out There, characters from other Disney movies
can be seen in the background: Belle strolling along in her blue dress,
Pumbaa from The Lion King being carried by two men, the flying carpet
from Aladdin, and even a satellite dish on one of the rooftops.
Among indigenous populations, traditions and taboos have been passed down
through many generations. They include themes of mystical knowledge.
The stories relate to creation-myths and place-naming legends,
linked to ancient rituals for healing, and to complex ontologies.
They say the Nine Old Men defined the 12 basic principles of animation:
Squash and stretch, anticipation, staging, straight ahead action and pose to pose,
follow-through and overlapping action, slow in and slow out, arcs,
secondary action, timing, exaggeration, solid drawing, and appeal.
Thus it was that real-world experience led them to the doorstep of myth.
Literally, they had an enthusiastic ambience on the lower level.
Specific questions for each person could be convincingly answered,
depending on the color of the starburst bracelet they picked.
As if lost at sea, they were given a list of mythical creatures and features.
These were ranked in priority order – spirited, direct, systematic, or considerate.
People were taught to believe that the soil and ashes of their ancestors made the Earth rich
with the ancient lives of their kin, that the Earth contained their mothers and grandmothers,
that the Earth did not belong to them, it belonged to mythical creatures.
People were connected like the frames in a Disney cartoon.
Whatever happened set up the next joke.
Ordinary people did not weave this web of myth.
The Nine Old Men did it.
Colorblind (Brown Pink Orange Gray)
Raw Sienna.
Blue Gray.
Forest Green.
Mulberry.
Raw Umber.
Burnt Orange.
Goldenrod or Pink Flamingo.
Antique Brass.
Caribbean Green.
Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown.
Orange and beige.
Orange and blue.
Orange and blue and opaque.
Orange and brown.
Orange and gray.
Orange and green.
Orange and green and pink and yellow.
Whites/Pastels – Grays – Blues – Greens – Yellows –
Browns – Oranges – Pinks/Violets – Rosy Brown.
“Martha found the pink porcelain teacups in the South of France; some of
the warm browns of the wood harmonize well with orange, animating and restraining it.
The dove gray of a bookcase tames the vibrant orange shelves.”
Slate Gray, Slate Gray,
Light Steel Blue, Light Steel Blue,
Dark Orange, Dark Orange.
Sandy Brown, Sandy Brown,
Hot Pink, Hot Pink.
“As languages develop, they adopt a term for brown,
then terms for orange, pink, purple or gray, in any order;
finally, a basic term for light blue.”
Next, personalities associated with pink, orange, yellow, green, blue,
blue-green, turquoise, lavender, purple, brown, gray, and black, but
orange, “a close relative of red, sparks more controversy than any other hue.”
There is usually strong positive or negative.
How a wholesome color affects us:
All about the colors gray and pink.
Skins for bi-evolution:
Colors: Black, Blue, Brown, Gray, Green; Colors (0);
Black (30); Blue (45); Brown (10); Gray (12);
Green (23); Orange (13); Pink (14);
Orange, brown,
orange, gray,
orange, green,
orange, green, pink, yellow,
pink, brown,
pink, gray,
pink, red-brown,
pink, yellow,
pink-orange.
Texas Blind Snake: reddish-brown, pink, or silvery tan;
iris of eye usually red or orange; young gray with dark spots on sides.
Eastern Smooth Earth Snake:
Back brown; belly black, gray, or bluish;
belly red, orange or pink.
Your Device Is Ready to Use
Before your device can be activated and ready to use,
you’ll need to register your device and complete the online…
the online stuff, then it’s ready to use.
If your device uses a power cord, you should connect the device to a power source
and turn it on.
You’ll be notified when the device is ready to use.
When you are done, all your functions will be enabled.
You should see a screen like this.
Now we are ready to use the website to track down your device.
If your device is ready for the update, “Ready to update your device” appears.
Go to step 6.
Your updates are installed and ready to use.
If you purchased your device at a store, it’s ready to use.
Skip ahead to “Do it now!”
If you purchased your device online,
check to see if it’s ready to use.
The files have been copied to your device,
and we’re ready to install the program.
Your device has now been made o.k. and ready to use.
Use your laptop and yes, there’s a docking.
Just make sure your device isn’t showing any conflicts. (Yellow!)
It may not be ready to use.
After you have allowed your device to access your software library,
you are ready to use your device or another device to select content.
Wait, are you sure it’s ready to use?
You’ll need to configure your device for access.
Subject to the limitations of non-activation,
the device will be ready to use.
We all wanted to be hippies.
We just couldn’t make the sacrifices.
Oil of Turtle
disguising citizens
poison blackberry vines
call me hippy once long ago
the one to organize some kind of chaos
the ultimate sacrifice of youth
Earth-shattering cringe-coasting on that revelation,
caving to tyranny: Can we salve our pride?
Conservatives? Real conservatives! Inner happy hippy
movement movers, slow shakers, wild ramblers,
Lazy trenders and fellow fellow-travelers
(Abba Eban, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Rachel Maddow,
footnoting Yeats, have well coined)
“never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
Not that we could do anything about it,
I mean, about the Afghan lithium deposits.
Tangled up in mess, we saw it coming.
We just didn’t do enough anything-about-it.
Note to selves, from former selves:
Waste time on other things.
Put break-and-kill on ice.
Try fun-filled Christian acts,
Jesus-Christian, not church-Christian,
Book-of-James stuff, not ruling-class stuff,
Seamless immersive imagery integrated with live action,
humanoids with cool gadgets,
significant plot-elements.
Incorporate make-nice ventures,
voyages to alien mind-space,
resilient floating islands.
We arrived at Key West. They called us “shrimp hippies.”
We were isolated in the rocky embassy, confined like animals
in a green tent, via bus, vessels flying flags, a fowl smell.
A chance greeted us, rare as a tropical apple.
Venerable parenting source Rahima hath spake:
“Let’s congratulate ourselves for being so informed.”
Allow us the natural freedom of our children.
Against backlash slogans and labels,
we try to do what’s best for our kids,
despite sleep-deprivation,
and don’t get me started on the books.
With child, without Internet,
we would just wander around Berkeley,
browse the hippie stores, buy used diaper-covers
and rebels’ footwear.
Hippies are not tiny adults.
If we trust in them, our major mistakes
will be emotion-based. If we trust our gut,
science will become our weapon.
We will choose our vaccinations, and
we will walk the tightrope,
the duty of proper infant nutrition,
to its rightful place.
Rudolf Steiner said,
“That which is asleep will awaken.”
Shotgun Shack
You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
You may find yourself in a different part of the world
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife
You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?
 Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime
The most important aspect of life is submission to the will of God.
As soon as you understand this lesson, everything will be all right.
Make the Lord your guide, and it’s guaranteed to work that way.
The meaning of life is found in the true insight of Enlightenment.
Modernity is a meaningless concept; truth is timeless and goes in circles.
Loneliness is now in epidemic proportions, characteristic of modernity,
Not merely due to the lack of contraceptive knowledge or techniques.
Cynicism and alienation, the first flowers of literature, cannot endure.
Consumers, analysts, curious girls and boys, need a familiar friend.
A black bag of hostility may, over time, turn into lifelong friendship.
What is at the core of our being, hunkering deep inside all people?
What is this “worldview” or “philosophy of life” that is so important?
If he were alive today, Mark Twain could make some remarks here.
He was a master of language and a philosopher of few wasted words.
Anyway, young people should not seek pleasure in radio, TV, or movies,
or jewelry, motorcycles, drinking, dancing, tobacco, drugs, or gun-play,
or explosives. Guardians often overhear kids using cryptic slang,
and they wonder whether words like dope could be referring to drugs.
Street language, or slang, changes rapidly and may sometimes relate
To aspects of life other than drugs, for example, sex, money, and music.
In any case, follow-up investigation is needed. It’s all part of the “drug scene.”
It was Bodhidharma who came from India to China, with herbs and tea.
Consistently avoid meat products, and revere the vegetarian tradition.
Hang bells inside the prayer hall to mark time and support chanting.
The young ones may have drawn that suspicionable picture on the wall:
An English sailor, covered in concubines, in the role of a French ambassador.
This image has renewed the burnt-out inner pressure on our audible impulses
to do something ridiculous, over-sensitivity being endemic among our households.
Things befall us and confirm the witness. David Livingstone felt he had to go to China,
but, due to the opium wars, he went to Africa. It’s invaluable to look at the decision
to join the Japanese Beetle Scouts by constantly dropping into deeper faith,
seeking happy experiences, inspiring icons, edifying advice, and grateful,
wonderful words of truth. “Don’t want to hear from cheerful Pollyannas
who tell me love will find a way: It’s all bananas!” Stories of magic, superstition,
and black arts must be banned, lest whirlwinds of accusations, trials, and
executions ensue: When you understand this lesson, everything will be all right.
Wrong Side of the Rent-A-Fence
The date has been announced for visions from the dark side.
Once again the categories and criteria are wide open.
Entry forms are available — just phone Jennie O.
Only one entry per person, with entry-fee enclosed.
The total prize, the top prize offered, is specifically for any medium.
Fat works will need to be discussed beforehand. Bit of a hassle.
Further constraints are available on the website.
A strong argument as to how hard it is to define art!
Usually it has to have been produced for the first time.
Let me know if you think so. You can view a revitalized
website at the new commercial Thai restaurant
featuring flowers and food, with classic green chicken:
Train-station stimulation, tempting every week,
awning propped up with fixed steel numbers.
Very good!
The wrong side of the tracks can be a barrier to progress.
Right here in town the wrong-side debate rages divisively.
Anything new is better, space-race beats icy peak, and yet,
as Yeti populations decreased, they saw precursors to the
next Ice Age: hippies, penguins, iron spoons, thug-weapons,
coconut cocktail accessories, falling ice cubes.
“Ah,” said a daughter,
“This is no ski resort, yet there are falling ice cubes!
What a tip-off!” And, indeed,
Stone cider remains unavailable to this day. Lemon adventures
come with a taco, a casino, and fair dice for more details.
Asparagus-markets are for zombies: Take it from the hobo clowns.
Each week, hundreds of hobo clowns enter Vegas illegally.
Their goals are danger, open air, evasion of deep-rooted folk-beliefs.
Experts suggest the number could be a lot higher. “It’s impossible
to measure it, so it’s probably a lot higher.” Agriculturalists
participate at various points. Sometimes they choose areas where
the border is marked only by icy peaks, a fence, or a tunnel underneath.
Smuggling is an industry. They have vans. The border-police
are corrupt, irreligious, ethnically mixed, inclined to racism.
The failing economy drives the dynamic on both sides.
Legally unemployed workers face permit-closures and tight investigation.
Besides which, it’s unstable, moribund, and bankrupt. Documentation
is almost impossible. Many sleep with flickering flashlights,
on the wrong side of town, mending fences with old friends in order
to share fast-fading folk-beliefs. The nightclub owners are corrupt,
well on their way to an early grave. They’re going to pay the price.
Now, it won’t be easy, but then again it won’t be any fun.
You need a plausible license to drive there. Foreign residents
get licenses with an additional test. You can get one directly
without any tests, details varying from place to place and over time.
A small gift to the local officials helps greatly, though
such a move would be foolish and dangerous. Commonsense traffic
moves on the right-hand side, but not in Hong Kong, Macau,
India, Nepal, and Pakistan, except military vehicles.
Unpleasant and dangerous, avoid if possible: People sleep on the road.
Circumstances vary from deplorable to shocking. Registered bureaucracy
gives restrictions, forbidden within the metropolitan area. Look on the
outskirts for antique bike fanatics with road-movie itineraries. Thieves
allow for immediate bulk storage batteries, direct from selected websites.
On-the-spot law enforcement is sufficiently skilled and experienced,
but be careful if you’re unofficially driving without a license.
In case of an accident on that side of the tracks, just drive on.
Imported luxury cars usually belong to gangsters or corrupt officials,
acting above the law. According to statistics, their traffic has no rules.
Insane, suicidal, or angry behavior is common — wrong side of the road,
oblivious or negligent, raging through confusing signals.
The Contented Nest (Kindly Winely)
The extended knot, dedicated to life,
nationwide, picks leaves off a home.
Modern circulation to newly demanding decisions,
with approximately easy, fresh, smart, and direct
young tricks, shopping, dinner, getting along,
was available via young, modern ideas.
We offer a new, fresh outlet;
we are proud of modern style,
a strong approach to broader audiences.
Please direct them to members of
the press, or speak with real
life and more. Navigating new lives
as they go through a contented
source for fresh ideas and advice.
Because trust and bonding with others
offer to build them a lifetime.
He turned his back on his beloved
chalk (or so he might imagine).
He finessed, so that chalk-dust swirled
dramatically, and (he might have imagined)
thickly enough to conceal and dazzle.
Write 100 times “You won’t read
these lines” before I sit within
the clouds, kindly winely explaining geography,
stopping and looking at the board,
almost back to the last day.
We looked over the desk, faced
like a prisoner about to disappoint,
and firmly grounded, waiting for the
magical sight of again everything else,
of the wretched sight of nothing.
Today is as useless as school.
They should see lush, perfect fields.
Food is not what you find here.
The neighbors show quite astonishing aloofness.
For a long thought he could
wish for some freedom from you.
Silly business of edges, so he thought.
Scarecrow, globe, corner, chalk, heading, nothing.
Ashes of a notebook remained briefly -codes, boundaries, longing breaths, waving windows.
No one was calling out for
wide, cavernous hearts stirred by ideas.
As if a bomb had gone off,
a large voice from a throat
somewhere pulled us back to awareness.
We were rooted to the spot.
Imperceptible, reassuring, flinging, partly sticking, choking.
It’s time to commute the sentence.
He was simply fooled about sunlight.
He could see through it clearly.
Too little space, too many people.
Mainly again there was nothing, awkwardly.
Events fell, without realization, without darkness.
Kale, roses, spring grass, broad leaves.
These sketches of evil, it was
a good likeness, a long walk.
Jars, inkwells, pockets, liquids, envelopes, curvings -there were seven quickly scribbled addresses.
In the courtyard, the sun shone.
It was a strong sun, and
the sketches were crawling along formally.
Certain afternoons were celebrated that summer,
and he thought through his mouth
of the hard pages, like screams
and faint echoes from inside boxes -the sunlight, the books, some friends.
The sponge must change or die,
just like every element of faith.
Superstitious leaders of the faulty premise,
the last several decades of change,
pillar the established culture of progress.
Yet changes, abandoning sacred rites, circulate
and show decline toward a collapse.
This is the latest chapter in
a story unleashed in the era
of materialism, relativism, crisis, and disintegration.
Traditions have proved, in this environment,
successful only if conservative and shallow.
Intelligent beliefs are often compromised, adapted.
We have all been reluctant to
recognize the crisis, a weird, looming
future without reckoning. Outraged investigation of
fewer still noted the dire results:
Hospitals are passing into inevitable consequences
of how the poor are being served.
But if liberal failures should not
be smugly defined as personal conversion,
immensely positive forces still reach extinction,
as religion becomes the property of
the extremists on the political right.
Family devotions, personal prayer, and worship,
personal redemption and important Christian missions
today, in purely secular renovations, change,
and uncompromisingly offer to the world
a fate most certain, eternal death.
You do something in real life,
or, if not, you fake it.
This doesn’t impress anyone, despite its
high degree of improbability. Fakery is
so commonplace today, outflanking real events,
it’s a bit of a trend.
It looks great -- the closest we’re
going to get to floating free.
Suspended in a vacuum, she achieved weightlessness.
She was like the Icelandic princess
who appears (her parentage is disputed)
in sagas, though her existence is
debatable. Some of the episodes reported
are suspect, amid change and upheaval.
Recently they were challenged and overthrown.
She spent her many children on
attempts to seize control of Scotland;
however, they were killed in battle.
Betrayal occurred secretly in the forest,
because women were not allowed aboard
those ships, or because she wanted
their sacrosanctity. Raids, near and far,
once gave these men their freedom.
She also gave them the land.
They were among the first settlers.
They claimed most of the land.
She took control of her circumstances.
She was a baptized, devout Christian.
She put up crosses and prayed.
Conflicts raged between the two clans.
Later, the two realms were united.
The marriage produced three more children.
She became beautiful, gentle, and sensible.
She was highly qualified to rule.
They have brightly colored, curved bills.
Some Are Chewier Than Others
Oops! Foul! But don’t panic.
Just a misstep with that title.
I’ve done something, or started to,
I always swore I never would.
Must have been some delicate seasonal fare
preoccupied my antennae,
made me fuzzy and experimental for just a second.
Was it a book about writing a book?
A play within a play? A pantomime?
A painting of the artist’s studio?
A song about the good old songs?
There was something planless, mercurial, seductive.
Now I’m jolted awake.
A chance occasion erased a moment.
Now I’m dealt an antic fracas
of grumpy voices grumbling
parables of malfeasance.
Raised by old-school journalists,
often whacked with Strunk & White,
just imagine how those epic scribes would bristle,
issuing testy cautions to the feckless mascot
for any ‘I’ or ‘we’ or ‘you’.
Now imagine the clouts incurred
from those wielders of solid trade-secrets,
those ever-calibrated guardians of village and farm,
to tame the plague-vector who hinted at
rowdy, chummy, or popular tropes.
“Self-reference, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put here to rise above.”
So get me out of it! Just shoot me!
One unguarded moment has unleashed
accursed recursion, a plunge just short of
nice lawns and routine schedules.
Could it be umbrellas all the way up?
A slick, anechoic maelstrom spiraling down?
Flocks of birds receding over arid dunes?
Someone end this endless chiming!
Help the helpless outcast astonished by
Tornadoes of tinsel and hay!
Shadowed textures reveal crustaceans
receding with ever-diminished attraction.
The vessel floats and plunges through timeless stars,
russet to blue to black, purified in ocean caves.
Deep stone drums
rattle of sand on foil
luminous echoes of Troy
fading Athenian chorus
Fado Tonight
The smell of peppercorns.
Staring at a jade clock
and writing sharp threats in her journal,
Hearing a distant alarm
like a metal-fringed rattlesnake,
She seems to recall an August fantasy,
menacing as a machete.
She senses an empty interior,
a rumor of miners, survivors,
a web of high stakes and grief.
The smell of lemon, eggs, paprika.
The market opens every week,
offering noisy toys, vials of gold,
A fashion, a whim. The cool 50s bride
takes a genial meander on the beach.
A summer parrot flies across the orange sun.
After a glass of early wine,
she seems to see snow braiding pink blossoms
on the south mountain near a bridge
where twin girls move at a choral pace.
To five or six deer,
with piano, viola, and flute,
the ensemble sings its tale.
Rain on salt chills their visit.
The smell of fennel seed.
From Cupcake Lane to Mercury Cinema Square,
a haunting motion.
From a carved diagram of a woman’s house
to the mission of archived rites,
a seeming movement.
In the wordless night,
to museum music,
a memory of guitar and violin,
a blue well of melody,
The daughter and her young sister
dance with fox footsteps.
Hart the Roadrunner
So different, it would seem,
From his lifelong companion,
Gordo the Hawk,
The hawk being self-described as
“An enormous fan of Stan Getz.”
Widely traveled from Indiana to Ireland,
G would break brown over his years
In the swampy parkways of Alabama,
The cornstalks, spring brooks running to reservoirs.
He could pine as wistfully as a widow
For the black poodle he never owned
Or go all poisson rouge with college regrets.
In truth, G was a pure summer catalog
And a marvel of mirage. Perched on a pylon
As he hefted his pipe and tamped the ash,
Blinking his ink-black vantage eyes, he
Tried to joke about what money meant:
Trips to the land of the Onoc people,
A cabin with cabinets, tabla for two,
Mementos, fair fragments, silver prints,
Keen Heimat nestled among heated bamboo.
The melodiphile would lapse
Into his native Hawken, choked with emotion:
“The shock-hewn tree of rumors,
Ciné santé, légendâmes wrent shurry ballaps,
Ma-söng cўcle ” His serrated song
Would fade to rueful grit.
Hart, though, was less given to the screed
Of Parson Parsnip, not likely to walk
The calico evening gardens and sigh
In witless wonder over city lanes,
Antiques. No,
He would take a pump-handle for a knee,
A sheep for a wolf, the reflected moon
For a grape or cherry.
Should he glimpse a bat, he might well
Cover half a mile of tunnel rail.
A bee or even a rough blip
On the edge of the forest floor, and Zowie!
He could shred like havoc! Fast?
Hell, his own shadow couldn’t catch him.
And then at other times he could stand
Like a barrel, a rock doll
Staring at a pebble, a painted pearl
Inside a beach-shack. He would wait
On one foot like he was getting a shoe-shine.
Could be a pan of bird seed
Or a piece of string on a mat,
Hart would be stuck in that place
Like a lady in an airplane lav,
Stranded on the creek bank
Till some thrombotic bellow
Or a branch cracking in the wind
Got him off the gold square
And back in the race to the sweets table.
Ninety-nine times the start was a hoax,
But in this skit you never know.
What a pair, old Gordo and Hart!
G would be sucking his pipe,
Chuntering and ruminating,
And Zowie! Here’s Hart! A strobe-frame
Of feathers and beak.
And it was always a matter of chance
Just how long he could stay,
But on a good day, Hart
Would listen to Gordo for hours.
Not many birds could, you know.
Another Autumn Begins
To say we differ substantially from one another,
from north to south, no,
in a blaze of birches
we’re another quarter of the way around.
Pounding heat persists Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
We hear midland signals
from the sun’s equator.
The washout we can’t interpret,
though there is a gateway presence.
Whose comments convince the book-guides
those forty years’ seasons of change,
with all their summaries and analyses,
are nationally and globally…?
Well, we try skillfully to forecast.
In Maine, Colorado, and Alaska,
the valley-dwellers receive
free fare to Alexandria.
Lidcombe pursues the usual routine.
Outside the window where crisping stems
mark the hot weekend,
with one touch the Martian autumn begins:
We can’t be sure the visitors are safe.
In Farmington the full moon shares fall colors.
A season of change touches Wichita.
The anxiety of Athens, its dun lyric,
opens toward faith in metric health.
In Toronto, tender Chinese clip-art
senses hiking groups with favorite books
in a blue pattern
on the first day that summer ends.
The Irish calendar answers
with white and gold illuminations.
There ventures a quantity, a frequency,
of Mexican anomalies
without markings or cloudiness on the skin.
The crest can cause blindness, but not a progressive disease.
A monochromatic palette, a meadow invasion,
maps problems of the hottest December.
The dangers after summer solstice
cover the Australian ocean.
Spain shows an official trend,
a progressive disease, dystrophy.
A magazine says many hearthstones are smoky.
Garage Saling
Flocking to sell trash and treasures,
Tools of choice, wasting time discovering
The bargain-hunter’s sweatshirt,
Peering, poring, keeping busy,
Returning carts to the corral.
Weekend neighborhood fun-fund,
A crazy idea that gives time for
Sharing options and not a lot of
Ding-dong kids headed out to
Connect dots, direct ideas,
Own, invest, and succeed.
Recent cuts include their favorite food,
Because for the kids,
This is where their families are.
How can they get out of their problems?
They have to play catch-up.
For some it may be too late.
They fell below 56 percent in food-finds:
Cities can’t retain the small donors.
Celebrate the next 40 years: Yes we can
Talk about solutions, work in underground markets,
Food inspection offices, major disaster relief centers,
All that “outdoorsy stuff” like butchering game.
Hopeful reports were received from September 19 to 26,
Before the latest debates and low-key rush to judgment.
Rain Delay
Half an hour, and then we had clear sailing.
Tires cool down too much after five minutes.
Checkered flag up in Kent,
Our car on pole, but too bad
The set-up was slightly different there.
OK, so what else do we need?
Pretty much using time-lapse apertures.
The sizes might be a tad top-heavy, shaky.
What else do we need?
Time-lapse apertures with their own sub-categories,
Letters, benefits, the family thing,
Motors, worm-gears. We’ve tried using time-lapse.
It’s not either/or: Empirical data are in.
Everyone who benefits can share it.
Not speaking in my own defense,
I raise the point simply because
Objective evidence is required
To verify gods’ existence, or persons’, or things’.
You’re not sure if you’re reading this right?
You ask, am I agnostic about everything?
It’s clear I hold a stronger view:
I’m atheistic about everyone,
Whether real or imagined.
Agnostics are wimps.
They might be working on an update right now, or
Maybe they’ve released it without telling me,
But I’ve always said, “Nuts to agnostics.”
Is that clear?
Feigning certain attitudes, I say,
Like a strong love of nature
And all things that come from the Earth,
The tribes of Israel are sleeping.
They know themselves too well.
They feel like know-one.
Aside from the show later this evening,
You might not see me for a while.
I’m based in the Punic area now.
“We have produced a set of recommendations
That will heal much of what ails our country.”
No pressure, thanks. “We’d like this last event
To be one for the history books.”
If you have a strong stomach
For intricate, brittle, difficult policies that
Will only make work for bureaucrats,
Try to convince the lower half of the distribution that
“Our state is way under-taxed.
We have too many unmet needs.”
Try to prepare the numbed-down smart-phone set
To wake up just before the cataclysm
So they can fully enjoy it.
What is the opposite of welfare?
If you don’t know, try walking to an art gallery.
Either way, trade is for traders —
A trite claim that amuses the arrogant, then someone
Gets angry that someone compared him to that bastard.
“These are wines that will unfurl, with time, in the cellar.”
Obviously, these folks dislike other folks.
They aren’t the only ones who feel that way!
In the story, there are only two people God won’t kill.
They hate each other, and they hate God.
The story is about avoiding God’s attacks
While sleeping just one singular time.
When anything is called sacred or holy,
Get ready for hand-to-hand combat.
Does Temptation Imply?
Does temptation imply an evil agent?
God cannot be tempted with evil.
Sin always originates within human nature.
There are God-given needs and desires.
“Lead us not into temptation,” but
this never amounted to outright self-contradiction.
Pater noster, qui es in caelis ....
The “Problem of Evil” does threaten
that the cosmos and its designer
(meaning God) could possibly be flawed.
Believers are surrounded by a cosmopolitan,
liberal, self-centered, self-seeking, morally degenerate culture,
that is, a community of faith.
Don’t be like that other guy.
I can understand, with an elephant,
why you have a chance of
being crushed. By the same token,
if I were one of them,
I’d probably be doing the same.
We must not be too concerned;
we should always have our wine;
you receive my ability to take.
Pater noster tries his best to
instill respect for that old, worn-out
tarot deck that belonged to someone
who was killed in an accident.
Things have been peaceful at night.
Because I said so, that’s why.
There’s a fascinating old tale about
a magnificent memorial to grief, lost
to aggressive neighbors who resented it.
Envy is against all virtue, bringing
misery and destruction in its wake.
That’s about the size of it.
Painting pictures on space and silence,
Mahler could not be happy; it’s
like he was happiest being sad.
(Wait! This just occurred to me:
Maybe he was saddest when happy!)
If he was ever happy, it
was taken away. Why couldn’t he
just let himself live freely, joyously,
being himself? Wasn’t he good enough?
No way had he deserved such suffering.
It’s all hurt, a never-ending pain,
a favorite toy that’s thrown away.
After all those symphonies, just dying!
With music, there are no questions,
and so, no need for answers.
One Name
Christian stiletto, silver-black, sharp
holiday boutique boosts charm.
Or try Christian sandals.
In midst of prettier,
please get best quality.
Satin heel, pointed sole
glow slowly during brain-scan.
Brain activity of girls
with amazing black cocktail
pumps, versatile, pleasant outfits.
Luxury adds total sexiness.
Lure prey with pose.
Ruled paper, nice handwriting
is your grandchildren’s future.
You value neat calligraphy,
but social approval closes.
Predatory jewel, open fabric,
sexy measurements, flowerlike, flexible
tentacles surrounding central mouth
white, brown, orange, plumed.
Living for decades, doors
to sex, comfort, shelter,
can slam shut suddenly.
Conversation is rapidly ascending
as text messaging spreads.
Shankha shell, fleshy tentacles,
flowers resembling Tiffany discs,
yet related to mollusks.
Plumes of cold water,
cells with toxic harpoon
darts, predatory in nature.
Animated robots immersed in
your tank, specific rogues
aggress towards tank-mates and
may sting: Keep the
others away from them.
Attached to coral rubble,
slow changes, considerably less
than faced by rats,
social graces being low
on their priority list.
Some with neural networks?
Distributed in habitat morphology,
cavity sac for assimilation,
unique opening for mouth
also serves as anus.
For those with innervations,
environment provides the answers
for species and individuals.
Rats in stimulating environments
have shown intellectual superiority.
Laced stinging cells encircle
anal-oral opening, organs of
food and defense. Hardy
creatures want moving water,
live coral, rocks, sand.
Nutrition through photosynthesis by,
in its generalized name,
the object’s nervous “system”
to respond to change,
better equipped to sting.
Need attentive care by
one aquarist, acellular algae,
symbiotic hosted clownfish, or
meaty squid, shrimp, worms,
iodine and trace elements.
“Too much change,” your
cousin said. You agreed.
Cliché to fear change,
but it’s the same
for every nervous system.
For now, your cousin
has become too high-maintenance.
One anchored name — death —
makes your fingerprints numb.
Plastic gloves, best available.
One four-colored name — quadricolor —
short, bulbous when relaxing
elongated as sweeper tentacles
at killing time. Green
gourd, large single polyp
resembling a carpet. One
Haitian name, Polytip Fabrique,
slit central pink stripe,
good variation in range.
Corkscrew for pointed, spaced
testicles, red or orange.
Magnificent apart from clowns,
hardiest of the community,
four inches, finger-shaped, closed
assuming a ball shape.
No symbolic relation. In
the Appalachian mountains, your
cousin has a well-earned
career: English teacher, longing
for the Sea Islands.
Andromeda of globular slate,
their tube permanently buried
in sand or mud
with dark brown stripes.
Inner smaller than outer.
Siblings know each other.
They hate (eat) outsiders.
Like dark brown magma
with a middle hole,
one is drying out,
but something breeds between
sepal wall partitions. Grown
tads are ejected from
the cave by column-contraction.
Needless young settle close,
exceptional in nameless landscape,
readily track and devour,
sliding over rocky surfaces
to attack a snack.
Trying to capture rapture
in natural home fissures
merely fascinating sandy flow-ers.
The nameless special place,
ancient oceans and seas
over millions of eons.
Stony corals, polyp colonies,
sold as consumer products —
no need for prescriptions.
Entering this market independently
would require enormous resources.
Hollow, barbed venom threads,
sea-gnomes, one large polyp,
changeless as the sea,
rift of water-flashed sand
distracts predators and prey,
reduces or prevents contention.
Triggered by edible structure,
protein-lack fails to trigger.
Barbed hooks sting prey,
central mouth engulfs them.
One hundred million dollars
for making disposable devices
in the hues of
green, yellow, red, purple,
with oxygenated waste products.
Herbs of buttercup family,
distributed in subarctic regions,
with lobed leaves having
medicinal uses. Plants or
flowers of nameless species.
Penultimate kraals descry a
few fresh absorbing bulbs,
brilliant hues and fluttery
blooms, easy-care perennials. Note:
These are shipping now.
Restlessly inclined to move,
settling in questionable places,
poor water conditions, weak
lighting. The wandering pulse
is searching for where
all needs are met.
Better Than the Best Text of Your Life
Silence is golden, goldish at least,
yet so full of timeless quietude
that it's almost impossible to resist
the temptation to keep it to yourself.
It's easy for us to apportion sizzles,
because we think, “I’ll burn off this helplessness
later,” in other words, get the benefits of
eating, sleeping, and especially mindless reading.
Hell, it’s all right if you trust a shark,
assuming it’s not a killer. Our friends are fish,
not food. Maybe it’s a lion instead, or a
lionfish. Maybe it’s talking to us somehow.
(In ever-increasing numbers, around Jamaica,
lionfish have migrated southward throughout
the reefs, flourishing at the expense of
shrimp, crabs, and crusty critters.
Waving its feathery fins,
it lures smaller reef-fish into
a waiting mouth. Fragile and vulnerable,
corals have no easy solution to this menace.
Connect global climate change with food availability,
explain population growth and carbon emissions,
understand education, especially for women and girls,
act swiftly and decisively to contribute to the problem.)
Ponder whether to tackle challenges,
also liking the idea of learning more,
starting with small ones to see how it goes -certainly a growing list of captive thoughts.
Such feats tend toward biblical veracity, but
the two greatest primers on skepticism
are the Book of Numbers and the movie Shrek.
Just about everyone is a skeptic, right?
Angels, and half of all religious people,
allude to the gospels for credulity re: skepticism.
Thus, the retention rate is high for pseudoscience,
and threats of eternal agony should convince any non-believers.
The influence of religion reminds me of a joke
about an Eskimo and a missionary. Yes, the one
that's in the Bible. But I never did really get it.
I'm still trying to figure that one out.
Did you ever have a disquieting feeling that
some strong opinion that you have long held
is just not salutary? That it does not always
eventuate definitely? You cannot do penance
for your past dogmatism, nor can you rely
upon retaining your pending convictions. It doesn't
matter that much. The important thing is to know how
much may be based on what might have been meant.
Halloween 2010
Inland from the rocky shore
the storm blows gulls
to mix with bachelor crows,
polished white and scruffy black.
A wind is moving in the day,
warm and gray.
Gulls would speak with crows,
but haven’t much to say.
They share the playing fields,
these late October hours.
Soon children will be
coming to strange homes,
in costumes, brave smiles.
Trick, treat, they are slightly
wise and friendly to the night.
The children open every day,
a wave, forcing the stronghold
open against a gray light,
against ghosts in singed ribbons,
who think that games are
over now, dispersed and darkened.
Children, coming toward the door,
seeking rituals in their night.
Gulls, crows circling, softening wind.
Stars have always been blue-red.
Blackness rushes in,
doors close, words fade.
Some pretended icon sustains
this lunar talent for tomorrow,
the cast of pale villas:
They do seem to weave
the one endless flight which
is true or possible today.
The green of the hedge,
the deep red and yellow,
clear, dazzling in the moonlight.
Searching our fields and gardens,
they feel no need
for symbols of the vast
exceptions, the imperative,
unfinished tasks,
unenviable ones at that.
The palace knows the patrón,
the one who helps redeem
a few decaying flowers.
They do not pause
to fear pain,
not for the purpose of
humiliation, not for health.
They do not credit that
the man walking next to them
works and watches, obsessed with,
always trying to find the
key to, one stubborn dilemma.
Ice Cream Shoppe
Her rainy autograph is legible
(just barely) in this regime of ink-chalk,
this celebrated empire,
this intergalactic homeland.
She reaches an iconic anniversary:
The silent-life milestone,
the hymn-river crossing,
now an elder justly claiming refuge
among withdrawn fragments, behind
ragged, dawn-splashed curtains.
Smoky ravens, lamenting, usher in
the festival end-dance. A tricycle dandy,
injecting a defective falsetto and
sparse, petallic gestures, “befriends”
a sweltering warrior. No use, she needs
a dependable champion to helm and
mastermind the familiar holiday,
to install hot cocoa and enable her
to reminisce with the current Minister
of (constantly changing) Recollections.
He offers her a lulling harmony, a filmy
veneer, through which a series of syncopated
puppets caper. With painful alertness, they
threaten to crush the impeccable, sybaritic
exhibit and shatter her citrines,
as placid spindles sway and
epic themes are seventh-sealed.
The Minister reads entrenched
digital notations of his dire visit,
more direct than adventurous, as
the channeled ensemble propels its
pairing skulls intent to capture chocolate
or at least pull off a Missouri roundup
of squirrels and grasshoppers. She turns to
moonwort, donated by a fellow photographer.
It nullifies awakening to alluvial mosh,
Capricorn rising over cracked clay
through yeasty strains of Strauss.
From jalapeños and tomatoes she turns
inward. Twigs conjure boughs.
The meadow is aglow in rosewood tint.
Promissory
What’s that you’re frying?
And for what Earthly reason?
What are you looking at? You’re staring
Into space at what? Transmission trouble?
Some computer game? Anyway, you left the
Milk out again. And what about the
Pound of butter you’ve gone through
In one week? It doesn’t grow on trees.
Were you out with what’s-her-name?
No wonder you slept through the alarm.
Did you remember to put gas in the car?
What time did you get home last night?
Because the dog was jumping up and down
And barking. We saw your naked butt go
Past the door, and this morning there was
Sand on the floor. Don’t tell me you’re
Busy making a new playlist, because
That’s no reason to miss school. Some
Early morning you’ll come home and
Find there’s no room at the inn. No,
We’re not making a big deal out of it.
And by the way, it wouldn’t kill you to
Study once in a while. When was the
Last time you cut the grass? Is that
A dress shirt? What are you wearing
That for? Two whole months of eating
And sleeping and not much else, just
Hanging out with your friends. Did you
Clean your room yet? It smells like the
Monkey-house in there. If you don’t do
Something, we’re sending in a swat team.
It’s a fire hazard. You could take up
Farming or something. What’s that noise?
Turn that down. Hey, are you awake?
After Life
They say it has no memory,
The hotel, the casino,
The city we invented.
We could have avoided this altogether,
It’s the same ballpark.
But what do you believe?
There are no set rules you can live by,
Though we have a reasonable doubt that
We’re just having a little party.
What do you believe?
It is the future you see.
It is dead. The city is burning.
We’ll take this place next,
Though I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Tomorrow will be a beautiful day
For the kinds of guys who can’t
Understand how we feel. How long was it
We couldn’t go from one section to the other,
Or decide how to end it?
We loved every minute of it.
There are many kinds of weapons, but
Don’t believe in magic, a lot of superstitious
Stuffed birds, so stupid that they haven’t
Even heard of the very kinds of
People we’re trying to save.
Look, I just need to get out of here.
I do wish we could chat longer, but
Do you know that you’re insane?
I’m talking too much.
Do I believe the world’s still there?
It can leave now and never come back,
In a kind of creeping paralysis,
And every night we’ll read a book.
The automated and irrevocable
Decision-making process reminds me of
Beethoven. People will think,
“The genius of that! The genius!”
You think you have to conceal it?
What a sad old man you are.
Come back when you’re ready to talk.
Do you know who lives there?
There’s nothing wrong with you
If God’s on our side. Kind of a hobby,
A do-it-yourself kind of thing!
You don’t have bones of glass.
What are you, some kind of parrot?
Oh, it’s good to be home!
There was something about it that
I didn’t like. You didn’t let me
Finish my sentences. I just wanted to be
Perfect. I don’t remember your name,
But we’ll be dead and it’ll be alive.
You never fooled me with your song and dance
And “Who’s your favorite composer?”
Now it’s lovely music that comes into
An agreement reached by mutual consent.
No human contact the whole time,
When we were looking for it in that damned building,
Impervious to psychoanalysis.
Tomorrow the birds will sing,
Now all we need is a deck of cards.
I’ll get bored with you and feel trapped.
You make me feel like a person, and
Things could still get pretty rough.
This isn’t Santa Fe, nobody set anybody up,
You haven’t even asked me what this is about.
You must have heard the expression
“Let sleeping dogs lie”.
If actions speak louder than words,
It’s our duty to close her wounds.
You have to score one thousand points, and
Then you can accomplish anything.
What are you doing now?
What you want is simply expensive.
There, with justice and a kind heart,
They sit around and talk deals. Big deals.
You believe nothing will ever change,
Movies are entertaining enough for the masses.
This may turn out to be a surprise party,
But there are times when suddenly
No one will hear you, however loud you shout.
Who tries to teach me how to act?
It is perhaps necessary to introduce myself.
My plan was so simple it terrified me:
I wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people.
What did you just do to me?
I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly,
I mind my own business, I bother nobody.
Now, about this pickle we find ourselves in:
You will embrace this rebellion.
Terrible, it kept me awake all night,
But I knew it was hopeless.
Compassion is an eternal sin.
Now you must walk the street of shame.
What the hell does everybody want?
I don’t pretend to be a man of the people.
Those who toiled knew nothing of the dreams of
Those who planned a new game, you follow?
You could make an excellent guess.
Well, I thought you were dead,
And I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Just get up off the ground, that’s all I ask.
The pure, bloodthirsty joy of the slaughter.
I’m a sort of scholar, and my major is you.
You’d better get rid of that gun, it’s a race
Against evil. You look tired. Why don’t you
Stay here a while and rest, and listen to the sea?
Your feelings have now betrayed her, too.
Please remember, we have left nothing to chance, and
While you are with us you will have to learn
Our weapons have grown more sophisticated.
These days, there are angry ghosts all around us.
I live now in a world of ghosts, a prisoner in my dreams.
It’s only an island if you look at it from the water.
There will be no rescue, no intervention.
There was no message! THERE WAS NO MESSAGE!
It’s a game, designed to test for emotions.
Shall we continue? Things have changed, circumstances.
We’ve been traveling twenty-two years to get here.
After a nice, quiet, refreshing night’s rest, heroes of the day.
I know life is short; whatever time you get is luck.
Are you saying my playmates aren’t who they used to be?
There seems to be a family resemblance.
What else is there to think about except them? My job?
When the battle gets too one-sided, they don’t send reinforcements.
If the rock starts to roll, jump clear.
Jump back and dance like a damn fireman!
When you were little you believed in Santa Claus,
Now you believe in God. It’s a tin of baked beans!
You’ve never been in any serious trouble,
Full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness.
Why do fireflies die so young?
I can’t wait to see our planet again,
To leave for Los Angeles in the morning,
Sent by the Great Wolf to his children
With rules and regulations and bosses.
Even the most untrustworthy of us
Will be on that train when it leaves here.
Three thousand years of beautiful tradition
And the whippoorwill that cries in the night
Suppress all human emotion and compassion.
You still remember what team you’re playing for?
Forgotten who you are, and so forgotten me?
When the machine breaks down, we all break down.
The joy of life comes principally from
Trying to rush the job through,
So what’s the difference? If you hadn’t
Pushed me out the window in the first place,
Why would I be living out here in the desert?
Nobody is going to rob us going up the mountain.
Under the open sky on the farm, life is much the same,
Able to look things in the eyes.
But why would I want to do a thing like that?
Interpreting three steel balls, patting pans,
Jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge?
The only one that’s going to tell me when I’m through
Is a rest home full of wealthy alcoholics.
What makes you so much better than …?
All right then, let’s go to California.
Condemning without hesitation an old friend,
Don’t waste your time trying to cross-examine me,
People just don’t understand what’s involved in this.
These are all our good old friends,
Creeping around a cow shed at two o’clock in the morning.
You know what my grandmother used to say?
“By the look of these X-rays, it’s not going to be pretty.”
My source told me it all started with you, though
I didn’t know why at the time.
Why can’t you ever understand the
Way things are now? We should have been
Rocket scientists. Superman’s a real guy.
No way could a cartoon beat up a real guy.
Poison for the way I lived all these years,
A tough thing to come by these days,
The only upside is the pets.
Everybody out here in cowboy boots
Used to see men go off on this kind of job.
A totally convincing reality
Taught them how to eat, how to drink,
Blending in with the sunlight
To inflict a lesson that could have had an impact,
A trick I learned from an old friend.
We’re smothered by images, words and sounds.
Because you’ve always been so kind to me,
As stubborn and mulish as a sheep,
I’m coming to find you now,
To raise the specter again, and
To help. But there’s nothing I can do.
You have the best excuse in the world
For failure: Once you close your eyes,
You’re finished. You have my sympathies,
You know, that condescending, embarrassed look.
Final simple question: Where is the
Last faint contact with human feeling?
I’d go to that house, apologize for the
Conspiracy of laws and regulations,
And dream of being a child again,
And tell what ought to be the truth,
And drag them all down with me
To the bottom of the sea.
This may be my last hot breakfast,
But the suffering isn’t over yet.
Why not make the straps disappear?
You can’t afford to waste good liquor.
A million protestors in a rally by chance
Forget detection and concentrate on crime
Inside the thick walls of this playhouse.
Some of them tend to be very hysterical.
Today it’s all giant bugs.
Twelve years, eight months, and nine days,
And on the big day, you should
Have the privilege of witnessing the greatest
Nonsense and still it turns out perfectly fine,
And is, in the humble opinion of this narrator,
Pithy yet degenerate
Like licorice and old books.
A king knows what to do and does it.
He wants to step into my shoes,
But I think he’ll have to go now
So we can walk by the river and fall in.
You’re my favorite person, but
That’s where the money is, right?
The very thought of losing is hateful, and
His Highness’s faith may be unjustified.
If I ever lay my eyes on you again,
Let me give you back your identity.
You can’t get any further away before you
Lose your chance to lead a normal life.
If our children can live safely for one more day,
Signal the men, set the flags, and ….
This is one of those days that,
As though looking through a dusty window pane,
People won’t understand.
That can’t be good for the canon, but
Our ministry remains strong, and
We plunge into the cornucopia with
The ecstasy of unbridled avarice,
The idea of leaving everything behind,
The classic formula, the glancing blow,
The one that saved the camp.
I’ve always wished for more artistic talent.
Do you know why the well water is pure?
I was wrong about it the other day.
Leave. It’s your destiny.
And when you leave, leave impressed.
Holy mackerel! What a show!
Aisle Seats
There’s a plan here:
Just look at those clouds.
This flight is a little boring
(Would you like a lozenge?)
But the pilots are nice.
Look how tiny the buildings are!
Well, there are so many worlds,
And only so many words.
We could be smarter if we wanted to.
Let’s think about it as we trek:
How could we command solemn respect?
We own the cars but were accosted
And drawn together on this road to Qatar.
Somewhere below and distant,
Lambs are frolicking. Back home the hicks,
Their ears and noses crackle,
But we’re the ones with guts to live the scandal.
See, just outside the window there’s a condor!
And on my tray table I made a sand mandala.
We could be smarter, but we are comedy-centered.
Here, have some water in a stone bowl.
Practice being clever, sly.
Have something up your sleeve.
Turn and turn the cards of nuance.
We may well be progeny of slave farmers,
Tarnished by unknown sinister events,
Nervous and every moment edgier,
Never the predator, always the quarry,
Yet it’s not too late to strive for goals,
For example, to become a food writer.
Don’t settle for what the journey dispenses.
How can you tell the painter from the paintee?
Any rhythm has to be percussive.
Any movement has to be progressive.
I’m sorry if you don’t like it,
Though I’d be worried if you did.
Anyway, we’re at 35,000 feet, on a road-trip,
Giving our rare feet a rest in clumsy chairs,
Loafing through magazines and cartoons of loss,
Sidetracked too long by mordant greed.
(Did we need our own gated community?
How was it that Manhattan “society”
Struck us as so very “contemporary”?)
Now we face life tomorrow among others.
There’s choppy water up ahead
Just past the roundabout.
Back to work on the self-portrait.
What I’m trying to run is a tidy store,
A kind of talent show for camera ghosts
With a post-feeling feeling.
I see a dazzling trio of image-echoes
Just out of prison and finally getting traction
By means of focused work-work.
(Bitte, haben Sie eine Waffe?)
Now let’s preview the whole series.
See if it has the force of folk-art.
Remember her scarf? She was a front-woman.
Catless and addicted to doughnuts,
She used her wealth as a medical filter,
But in the end she got what she wanted:
A tabloid revival. She became a fable.
Lee Krasner said, “If it is earthbound,
I find it difficult to breathe.”
Try to rest with mysterious mosaics, and
Interconnect multi-referential cycles.
Intelligence may be monolithic charcoal elements
Populating house-and-stable studies.
I’m talking visual intelligence now,
As recently found in large galleries.
We can keep pace with the collage tower.
We can keep up with fine tours and retrospectives,
And thereby interlope re: the selected group.
Just read a lot about six wise artists, or
Get to know the women in the downtown branch.
Visit the formative hot-spots like Buffalo Beach.
Steer clear of orchestra concerts.
Look at the fringes but hang around the center.
Catch the upper slope of the perishing abstract years.
Claim to have traveled to the university.
Rehearse fifty aspects of the hippest foolery,
And make sure you’re tracking the marvelous gray.
Here at 35,000 feet we’re floating.
Everything else is out of step, rotating,
And she is here with us
In spirit at least, gracile
As any scarlet starlet from Nashville.
We could all be intelligent, inquisitive,
Gazing philosophically out at turquoise,
Knowing the names, knowing what to say.
How is that different from cabaret?
Identify the Weill blackbird,
Comment on its eloquent habitat
Like the smartest veteran blackbird fan.
The richest harvest of jargon is its own reward,
And there are no wrists, I mean risks.
Last season the whole rage was Brazilian.
This season that legacy database is fizzling,
And every gathering of the intelligentsia
Demands a calm stab at open action
Without recitals of any section,
Without salute or conclude. The vogue
Is radiant civilian portraiture,
Talky barter and crime-rebuke.
Don’t offer your views on opera,
Nothing formal, thanks; the temperament
Is violent. Give us rituals and thrillers,
Or both! Give us a dark past,
Dire scenes and penniless sidewalks
Stiffly plaited with stubble.
But next let’s shift gears.
Outside the airplane window
The whole world looks filmy.
Three Death Poems for 2013
1. It Doesn't Work
[T]here is a long way to go before explaining the causes of
Neanderthal extinction and modern human success....
-- Bryan Hockett, The consequences of Middle
Paleolithic diets on pregnant
Neanderthal women
High-frequency sound
"repels coyotes,"
but it's no better
than liquid products
for your damn bobcats.
Claro no funciona.
Love and married life
sometimes don't pan out.
Plastic surgery,
cursive writing, and
sound in outer space
don't work so well.
The old disposal
in this apartment -something's wrong with it.
Not sure if it's
hardware or software,
it just doesn't work.
This stuff supposedly
prevents aging and
cures your depression,
but it doesn't work
any more than cat urine
as coon repellent.
CFCs, snakeroot,
particle-board, and
used bedding don't work,
just as your poem, play,
pavane, or painting
doesn't work for me.
2. It Depends on What You Mean by 'Eventually'
God has always been hard on the poor.
-- Jean-Paul Marat
It depends on what you mean by
'eventually.'
Throw that ball against a wall, and
watch it carefully.
Do you believe in galaxies?
Quite probably.
But what evidence do you have?
Only hearsay.
So be ready to compromise,
be well-meaning,
because what you mean can well make
a difference.
How many barrels under there?
Fifty million?
Could be profitable for even
five or six years.
Rational health-care
may yet win out.
The whole defense budget will
buy just one jet.
Eventually something will
surely get you,
I recently heard from
my own doctor.
An asteroid will obliterate
all life on Earth.
The Earth will perish,
the Sun explode.
Eventually we're all dead,
said Maynard Keynes.
Someday even Keynes may die,
even you and I.
3. Ambiguate
Empty your heart of its mortal dream.
-- Yeats, The Hosting of the Sidhe
Enforceable and checked against the rules laid down
in 1906 by the legal three-state marijuana doctors,
with their wink-and-nod to "patients."
It was the fault of specific masterworks so clever
that one could only hope for the millions who would now
feel shame and hand-wringing. What did you expect?
A few short days, of all stripes, are going to have
to turn out their lights, because someone has called the
cleaning department, and all hopes have been soundly bitten.
Forthwith, we might be wise to mirror the local
presence, and thus our survival could be considered
overt and concise. (We would face immeasurable risk.)
Surely we can't simply buy their young? You may
contrive to place your influence where it should be,
to position yourself more plausibly in the buzzing world
amid the scenes that must be happening around you, but
have you not heard the popular song lyrics themselves and
realized that to exhale would simply ripple the air, its waves,
its continuation? This diagram is for utilization
in the principal composition, the samples and shapes
of magnetic-pulse sparks, of mosaic shells and other
options. Black lines will range in series to the batteries
under the deck plates to protect the thermal chassis
and safeguard the crew when the temperature varies.
Colorful, but it seems too bittersweet. It can make you
have larger lenses to fit the eye-wrinkles, more layered.
Do your eyes water gently and press the outer contours?
Select a purple, shadowy halo, a pearly effect that
brims with radiating vigor, manipulations implemented
like blue shadows, tinged and crinkled to startling effect.
Thursday a slow sleet covered the world in needles of ice,
and at nine the next morning there was an increase in
animated whispers. Prisoners braced for a supreme effort.
Pale marble statues testified that the railway came through and
surrendered its witnesses, who had remained in the adjoining
sleeper-car, brightly lighted and inappropriately loud.
There were two dark-colored tables four feet apart,
and the intermediate carpet was thickly matted. Yonder was
a lamp, its light seeping through a cover of black cloth.
The walls were hung with maps of antique and unfamiliar form,
of what exotic territories I could not descry. There were
also instruments, the uses of which I have since guessed.
There were scattered skeletons in coffins, stuffed animals,
a mounted elk-head with antlers, books and pamphlets. As I
systematically examined the room and its bizarre contents,
I concluded that a full inventory would be a Herculean task.
The printed matter was in several unknown languages;
the geography and historical events to be reviewed
seemed likely to prove insurmountably obscure. From the tattered
condition of my background knowledge, it became clear that
only a partial summary would be possible, a sketch at best.
I came to terms with the boundaries chosen for me
and ceased to resent that I could never grasp the contents
of this one meager, musty room, that my grotesque ambition
must always be chopped off by the obsidian edges of the world,
with a "no comment" on my holy path. I was thinking somehow ...
but it doesn’t matter, now that I've lost my bearings in the room.
I see how someone else could see better in the darkness and
interpret these tarnished artifacts. Yet who will give it to me
if I can't take it? And I can’t, certainly, though I sense
it might somehow work itself out in the end. I have been
asked a question I can't answer. I'm working on it,
but I have to back slowly out and away from the room.
Maybe there are others trying to help me, but that may have
happened already and I -- current version -- am no wiser for it,
despite being able to comment on it in this indefinite way.
It seems to be just beyond, as if I had never happened.
Are these relics, whose relations and significance remain obscure,
are these my life laid open in a soft, powdery explosion,
or perhaps some kind of joke on me, like the darkness
of the room? I close the door and back away. It goes on
about its business. The edges are too sharp for me
to hobble from one to the other. Maybe when I've done
this meditation, sirens will have undermined my focus,
as though a hood has been pulled over my head,
like the black cloth that shaded the lamp.
The memory of the room is less vivid than
the pattern of branches after a glance
at a tree in twilight, through
clouds that would make us clouds.
The twilight lasts forever.
Eyrie
spend a dime
Baryshnikov
tucked away
absolutely resisting
in the dunes
Discreet
outdoor areas
authentic log cabin
Mountainous
square planet
yellow train
small, subtle
rustic villages
casual mental locks
Samoa and Tonga
Northwards
extreme weather
snow peaked
opposing players
during the wedding, little canal
north central
eyes widen
oldest temple
new chapter, project, scale model
lunar goddess
Complexity
individual component
recent hot topics
Brazilian
mirror trim
macro-scale observation
Cornerstone
artificial liquefaction expertise
talon face mask
popular trend
flawless finish
less time and more to do
rubies, magic axe
woven gray
feathered indifference
Underwater
saba wood
completely naked death below
asymmetric slits
Cape of Good Hope
giant spider alert
on threads of time
Biletnikoff
chalet buffet
resolutely twisting
tycoons
sugar beet
familia Farias
looking toward heaven
fountainous
air bandit
crossing Spain
rebuttal
ancient images
seasonal rental box
mint wine and vodka
back and forthwards
wet shoe leather
antiqued
soothsayers
pluming the bedding, quasi Chagall
methyl metal
Poseidon
quiet, simple
artful laughter, object, small puddle
future fondness
perplexity
technical atonement
endoscopics
crocodilian
glimmer-grim
non-negligible variation
foreign zone
aerial board of trusty trustees
salon pocket flask
condescend
slightly skittish
sweet lime rapport with you
caterpillar tracks
Judgment Day
gathered pittance
mother’s daughter
neighborhood
drumbeat plaited breathless flow
carpenters’ kits
banana helmet rope
pliant outsider dessert
breathtaking Boatwright
open to large porches
Soprano
fall color across
the Everglades environment
quaint village atmosphere
skirt, sweater
panoramic, humane
predictable and often ludicrous
formidable essence
domino effect
England in December
a vinyl rip
Australia
fog, snow
internationally confirmed
antiques moved to new
summer railway
too much cricket
Rounders
Atlantic kougra
Timonium
time history book
marijuana medicinal purposes
camera car
Midwest vacation reports
sailor moon
made of pyrite
steel Mississauga
Alchemists
more metaphorically
the starting point
ancient wizards, enchanters
magical runes
medieval monks
connection to Chinese medicine
full metal
trendy research journal
tenure at the high school
an open future
mysterious force pulling
free and open movements
staffing levels at open prisons
international conference
need open communication
preparing future students
librarians stake their future
marketplace for
faith in its own right
taking charge of torches
grand piano
paprika sauce
what the Seventh Crusade meant
false vintage chandelier
Irish setter
Orphic daisy chain
oceanic and softly luminous
planned obsolescence
needles intersect
cozily sequester
championship
regalia
afterglow
respectfully long-termed
bespeak approved bamboo
in its heyday
season ticket
hounders
an enjoyable stay
pandemonium
rhyme niggardly crook
Benihana traditional furnaces
jamera jar
depressed plantation resorts
scalar tune
maid of twilight
teal semi-samba
with checklists
less categorically
clip joint
vagrant lizards in planters
comical tunes
primeval wonks
rejection of Pisces specimen
unsettle
commends sweet-birch herbal
Nestor of the slide rule
a happy rooster
imperious Norse trolling
societal improvements
withstand perils of token villains
supernatural conscience
not slogan orchestration
repairing loser truants
Mulberrians take a schooner
knowledge base war
two policy tenets
further encouraged us to create
a cyclical journey
personal optimum health
uncover the secrets
pieces of public work
can’t avoid mentioning
overthrowing denial
foundational transformation
Earth’s axis wobbles slowly
formally conceived
refugee health promotion
that doesn’t work then
white and pink, white and blue
snapshots and fiction
the bottom half
have a lot in common
she would like the surprise
walking shoes
eventually sleep
halfway to the elbow
a honeycomb tablet
God’s presence
lantern in the world
melody hit my ears
Immanence
Scripture
tympani, lusty jeers
the Florida revival
joy penitent
for those in despair
recurring promise
worship God
to be His messenger
our prayers for
world can be alive
by the burning bushes
island vineyard
Society
a fake label
seasonal visit
award, festival
as summer commences
isolated like an island
writers, entertainers, tycoons
ninth Texas vineyard for sale
Spearheaded
for understanding the role
commonly the senate’s
merger leveraged fuss to update
a critical tourney
seasonal premium wealth
recover the leaflets
Greece’s republic quirk
slapdash dimensioning
overflowing revival
lavational reformation
cursed practice rattles coldly
stupidly believed
apogee stealth demotion
it wasn’t worth ten
night for thinking it through
rap sheets’ depiction
you have to laugh
recondite phenomenon
the termites surmise
talking blues
perpetually deep
segue to the Pharaoh
a money-loan habit
omnipenitence
tavern flag unfurled
tympani, lusty jeers
insolence
stricture
a crumpled nail appears
in torrid denial
boy reticent
we have the Lord’s Prayer
demurring Thomas
equip the sod
reclaim the derringer
the chorister
bejeweled and derived
burning reeds and rushes
trial by wizard
anxiety, piety
on a teak table
reasonable limit
probing tentacle
a number condenses
violated in the highlands
whiners, track-and-trainers, buffoons
remixing whispered travail
deer-leaded
and undertaking control
whatever fun activities
“Ravens,” quoth the raven,
wild and crazy, ready
community of artists
Visualization
incredible hot girl
about the geography
Creator’s chosen
freshly dedicated
denim shrine
trickster god
culture addicts, music lovers
she flies through the air
Haven
leather, skins, cloth
skins of animals
say that the snake
need for speed
Malibu
finished caiman
chain deer
facial cream
traces of ochre
animal friendly
natural fiber fabric-pigs
translation for person
moonlit Taupo house
sitting on the beach
stop on the southeast edge
volcanic birds
Christian scrabble
lowered servant window
primary intruder
national breakfast tour
tree for two
oil reproductions
giant in-house version
commune in circles
brain trek quests
train hill travel
swaying branches
answers from dragons
complete money follows
mindless population
mimic ascension
partridge
six cavern monsters
healing encounter
their underhanded proclivities
“Baltimore.”
tired, lazy, unsteady
immunity to stardust
minimization
indelible lip curl
without the pornography
debaters are frozen
ineptly validated
spectral terrain
sinister, odd
altered districts under covers
reprisals, despair
raven, shaven
heather, sins, sloth
grins of radicals
plays in the lake
fled but treed
Mountain View
spinach seaman
reign, dear
spatial sheen
races of ogres
capital trendy
perpetual pyrotechnic rigs
retraction for certain
Él es guapo mouse
flitting out of reach
popcorn and pitching wedge
romantic words
witching warble
torrid tinkle tiptoe
tributary shooter
festival immature
sea canoe
dramatic productions
tyrant field-mouse torsion
retune your turtles
train wreck jests
brains unravel
graying dances
gangsters for passions
Easter Bunny sorrows
total ossification
misapprehension
cartridge
slick tavern prospers
failing willpower
dung management industry
orchestral ocean, hills and valley
glowing magnet
inhabit gifted soil
summit realm of mystery and magic
sunshine terrace
specific results
bronze pendant
Barbados community
harbor, cannon
Black Hawk promontory
formula spoken distills finale
flowing agate
exhibit snake oil
overwhelms our history pelagic
main line heiress
Pacific cults
Yvonne’s descendant
tournedos immunity
dollar famine
A Future Is Ours
I hugged her and my heart sank.
She loves being in front of the camera
And promoting herself and others.
Obviously, she meant no harm,
But what do you think about the Congress?
How exciting it is to be at the
Threshold of a new year,
Especially how she has gone back to her
Songs, so far from the here and now.
She was actually singing about four years ago,
And I was impressed. We started to float
Over the past few years, and have come finally
To the main focus. In a community
Habits of inquiry are easy, and access to
Instruction is clearly the first priority.
Another dimension is the availability
Of girls from small towns
That maneuver easily in a setting where
They know and are known.
It was all too easy to disappear in the crowd.
What Could Go Wrong?
A world full of ignorant people is too dangerous to live in.
Garson Kanin, Born Yesterday (1946)
Do not use if carafe is chipped or cracked.
Traditional
Does anyone today remember Neapolitan ice cream?
In my father’s house were many mints;
In his eyes, many stars; in his hair, many snails.
He had tools to mold the wax,
But every kingdom needs a gatehouse,
And every shrine, a broom.
Nutshells, wood, brick, charcoal, glass, and cocoa
Are crushed – even rock and steel wire –
Crushed and loaded onto a burnt-out barge,
Then lifted by the flooding river
Toward a white island.
Tense and temporary dances cast an arc –
A feast of dance – into a charmed cave.
The cave closes like a fox on a sparrow
Or a lion on a cradle.
From a distant church a vocalise is heard,
But cloudy: Is it a series of jokes and riddles,
Or maybe just a bell? And if a bell, could it be
A mock beacon? And if a true destination,
Can I make it there through the cornstalks
On this bad knee?
Take this cloth, this notebook, and these gloves.
Turn your hand to a journal of the pandemic.
Keep track of shampoo, pills, and key facts.
Get an elastic cord and buy a gun.
You can repay me next season.
Ravel avec Marlboro
Market patterns whirl and decompose after dark.
Hopeful woods laced with cadgers’ innuendo
Pity the neighborhood actors bent on glassy self-improvement.
Local players raise a bristling Q&A re: sugar.
Glimpsing the curiosity zone, they preview a wildscape,
As early order breaks focus in the empty park,
Its creaky powers mocked by a peephole muse.
No smooth alert, no device of mind,
No worthy textile surface,
No case history, no catalog copy,
No given form, no tame steps,
No daily mesh of reasons,
No silver compass.
Only the imps’ apse, abrasive noise,
A few haunting jokes traced through impotent nights.
Where is the massive glazed anthology?
Sold at auction for thirteen disks,
Tickets to taste-deception.
A taxi wends through measured stages,
Offering one eye for cross-traffic,
The other for targets.
A blindfolded clock blends melodic homage
With gleeful sloppiness.
Results are uneven.
Pluck an olive from the riverside orchard
At peril of reproach.
Trade your illicit penchant
For a pillow and a restorative brew.
Recall the fossil Kente
In your personal prize-collection.
Release the bird that scorns you.
New Leviticus
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
Pay your taxes and don’t cheat.
Confess your crimes, pay the fines.
Pay your debts with ample interest.
Eat quite well, but be selective.
See your personal medical professional regularly.
Be sure to support established religion.
(See #6 immediately above re: religion.)
Review the history behind item #6.
History is basic. Get the details.
(See #4 above. Diet is key.)
Mothers and children need tough love.
(See #5: Care for your health.)
Certain communicable diseases require extreme vigilance.
Hygiene is a primary focal point.
Item #6 requires your dedicated attention.
Review item #14. It’s a priority.
Know your relatives (wink wink nudge).
#6 touches commerce, diet, hygiene, relatives.
Other topics can fall under #6.
Appendix A has details on these.
Violators may be quite severely sanctioned.
Take time off now and then.
Do not neglect your community responsibilities.
Follow these rules. You will thrive.
Items #1 and #6 imply tithing.
Quiz Out
Select the correct answer to each question. There is only one correct answer in each case, so choose
wisely. With a high score, you may quiz out of Freshman Year. With a low score, don’t even ask.
1. Your eventual major will be
a. English
b. Classics
c. Physical Therapy
d. Economics
e. Philosophy
2. Your herb of choice is, more often than not,
a. Parsley
b. Sage
c. Rosemary
d. Thyme
e. Lysander
3. With pork roast, you would serve
a. Pasta
b. Rice
c. Potatoes
d. Grits
e. Pretzels
4. With tea,
a. Treacle
b. Fudge
c. Sno-Cone
d. Toffee
e. Marzipan
5. For late-night dessert,
a. Cake
b. Pie
c. Slo-Poke
d. Baklava
e. Flan
6. The one true god is
a. Jehovah
b. Zeus
c. Allah
d. Vishnu
e. Ptah
7. The one true god of Economics is
a. Marx
b. Malthus
c. Friedman
d. Krugman
e. Palin
8. Aside from Paul Klee, the greatest painter of the Twentieth Century was
a. de Kooning
b. Pollock
c. Rauschenberg
d. Rothko
e. Ono
9. Other than Doris Lessing, the greatest writer of the Twentieth Century was
a. O’Neill
b. Stein
c. Seuss
d. Bradbury
e. Salinger
10. Among the admirers of Schoenberg, the most creative composer was
a. Schoenberg
b. Berg
c. Webern
d. Xenakis
e. Stravinsky
11. You permit yourself a sophisticated, almost archly skeptical, belief in
a. Ghosts
b. Leprechauns
c. Spirits
d. Elves
e. Demons
12. You truly believe in
a. Ouija board
b. Afterlife
c. Creationism
d. Atheism
e. Haunted house
13. The best, when read in the original Greek, is
a. Sophocles
b. Euripides
c. Aristophanes
d. Bacchylides
e. Pindar
14. Which one deserves more credit?
a. Shakespeare
b. Marlowe
c. Boswell
d. Austin
e. Jonson
15. Which one was most admired by the others?
a. Keats
b. Shelley
c. Byron
d. Coleridge
e. Wormsworth
16. Which is least wacky?
a. Matthew
b. Micah
c. Amos
d. Philemon
e. Jeremiah
17. If you had to eat one raw vegetable for the rest of your life, it would be
a. Celery
b. Corn
c. Lettuce
d. Carrots
e. Tomatoes
18. Which is the most sublime?
a. Poetry
b. Music
c. Painting
d. Literature
e. Sculpture
19. But which is also quite sublime, actually?
a. Cognac
b. Port
c. Guinness
d. Cigar
e. Brandy
20. Which make good pets for small children?
a. Skunks
b. Minks
c. Vervet monkeys
d. Chinchillas
e. Badgers
21. Which is also good with children?
a. Moose
b. Elk
c. Deer
d. Burrito
e. Buffalo
22. Which is an ill-advised rescue-pet?
a. Lijagulep
b. Leoligulor
c. Dogla
d. Tiglon
e. Jagupard
23. Which is most effective (or efficacious)?
a. Medicine
b. Prayer
c. Wealth
d. Charisma
e. Tenacity
24. Which singer-songwriter does the least offensive paintings and drawings?
a. Bob Dylan
b. John Lennon
c. Neil Young
d. Paul Simon
e. Joni Mitchell
25. Which improviser should have lived a longer life?
a. Charlie Parker
b. Lennie Tristano
c. Sonny Criss
d. Clifford Brown
e. Chet Baker
26. Other than England, the greatest country in the world is
a. China
b. India
c. Russia
d. Indonesia
e. The Vatican
27. Other than England, the greatest English-speaking country is
a. Canada
b. New Zealand
c. Norway
d. Australia
e. Scotland
28. When you think “vacation” you think
a. Barcelona
b. Paris
c. Cuidado Juarez
d. Croatia
e. Norwegian Arctic
29. Aside from Hawaii, the best of all the States is
a. Iowa
b. Arkansas
c. Rhode Island
d. South Carolina
e. North Dakota
30. The most enjoyable music format is
a. LP
b. CD
c. MP3
d. Radio
e. Memory of live concert
31. Your favorite body-part is
a. Brain
b. Heart
c. Stomach
d. Lumbar region
e. Eyelid
32. You peaked in
a. Preschool
b. Grade school
c. Middle school
d. High school
e. Next decade
33. You will probably look back and wish you had majored in
a. Math
b. Physics
c. Biology
d. Chemistry
e. Home economics
34. Your ethnic type is
a. Black
b. Outraged
c. Asian
d. Hispanic
e. Half-caste
35. You heartily endorse
a. Coke
b. Diet Coke
c. Pepsi
d. Diet Pepsi
e. Guava Nectar
36. Hands down, the most over-rated movie in history has been
a. Wizard of Oz
b. Citizen Kane
c. Casablanca
d. Caddyshack
e. Grand Hotel
37. The most enjoyable pastime toy is surely
a. Ultra-light
b. Bungee
c. Motorcycle
d. Rotorcraft
e. Hang-glider
38. The most entertaining investment of hard-earned cash is
a. Poker
b. Keno
c. Blackjack
d. State lottery
e. Time-share farming
39. The most effective crime-deterrent is
a. Firing squad
b. Electric chair
c. Gallows
d. Guillotine
e. Fabulous wealth
40. The best American restaurants are found in
a. Toronto
b. New Orleans
c. Indianapolis
d. San Diego
e. Maine
41. Which is found in the best restaurants?
a. Tuna
b. Salmon
c. Barracuda
d. Swordfish
e. Redfish
42. The most appropriate role-model for young men is
a. Babe Ruth
b. Mickey Mantle
c. Willie Mays
d. Susan Sontag
e. Catfish Hunter
43. Next to baseball, the noblest sport is
a. Canoeing
b. Telemark
c. Rappelling
d. Curling
e. Power eating
44. If you can’t avoid travel, then take a(n)
a. Airplane
b. Train
c. Bus
d. Unicycle
e. Segway
45. Avoid travel, unless you can take a(n)
a. Airplane
b. Train
c. Bus
d. Detour
e. Narcotic
46. It is better to be feared than
a. Kicked
b. Weird
c. Jeered
d. Surprised
e. Spammed
47. Which is the most important social skill?
a. Ignore
b. Enable
c. Punish
d. Cajole
e. Rebuke
48. You deeply believe in
a. Plate tectonics
b. Quantum teleportation
c. Ape language
d. Space aliens
e. Middle Earth
49. For self-improvement, try
a. Hair transplant
b. Brain transplant
c. Orthodontia
d. Second wind
e. Beginner’s luck
50. With a new pet or friend,
a. Listen
b. Watch
c. Touch
d. Taste
e. Guess
51. With a new intimate partner,
a. Slower
b. Slow
c. Stop
d. Fast
e. Faster
52. Reduce hypertension by using
a. Ferret
b. Bobcat
c. Goldfish
d. Cockatiel
e. Gerbil
53. The cartoon friend with whom you would most like to take a cross-country trip is
a. Bugs
b. Daffy
c. Tweety
d. Sylvester
e. Elmer
54. Before you leap,
a. Add
b. Subtract
c. Multiply
d. Divide
e. Square root
55. The best return on investment is achieved by studying
a. Java
b. Fortran
c. Latin
d. Perl
e. CUDA
56. If you can’t afford college, try
a. Marijuana
b. Cocaine
c. LSD
d. Absinthe
e. Ignorance
57. No one will ever out-think
a. Pythagoras
b. Plato
c. Aristotle
d. Panevėžys
e. Descartes
58. The best national holiday to spend in Kansas City is
a. Christmas
b. Hanukkah
c. Ramanujan
d. Veteran’s Day
e. Thanksgiving
59. Aside from Millard Fillmore, the greatest U.S. President was
a. George W. Bush
b. George H. W. Bush
c. Ronald Reagan
d. Calvin Coolidge
e. Zachary Taylor
60. Your favorite Dickens novel is
a. Little Dorrit
b. We Tried and Tried Not
c. A Child’s History of England
d. A Christmas Carol
e. David Longfellow
Quiz Out – The Answer Key
Quiz Out shows a new kind of test, one which, by design and by first principles, automatically has high
reliability and high validity. Why? Because, for the first time, Quiz Out shows how to simulate the entire
college experience using a simple multiple-choice format. It does this by simultaneously breaking down
the student’s will to live, presenting paradoxical or senseless alternatives, yet testing both reasoning
skills and rote knowledge — if only the hapless student can somehow discover the correct, though
totally arbitrary, cognitive vantage-point from which to look at the question. To illustrate this point, here
are the correct answers, along with the required reasoning and knowledge to calculate each one by
means of air-tight, irrefutable logic.
1. c, because everyone eventually becomes infirm and has to “major in” Physical Therapy.
2. d, by elimination. Parsley is like a vegetable; sage is like a shrub or bush; rosemary sounds like a
flower; Lysander is not an herb at all.
3. c, by inspection.
4. a, because tea is British and so is treacle.
5. a, by elimination.
6. a, because all the others are fictional.
7. e, because Economics is silly, and so is Palin.
8. c, by elimination. Ono is not a great artist. All the others but Rauschenberg were selfdestructive. Only he transcended self-destruction and destroyed the work of another artist.
9. c, because O’Neill was a 19th Century writer at heart; Stein transcended mere writing; Bradbury
wrote science fiction, not literature; and Salinger was more a curmudgeon than a writer.
10. e, if you think about it.
11. e, because a and c cancel out, as do b and d.
12. d is the only alternative in which it is possible to “believe”, in the sense intended here.
13. e (Pindar) would be the easiest to read in Greek because he wrote short pieces.
14. e: Shakespeare gets a lot of credit, and Marlowe gets credit for writing Shakespeare. Boswell
wrote about Johnson not Jonson! Austin is a city in Texas. QED.
15. a, because b, c, and d lived longer, and e is a typo.
16. a, although it is a tough call. But that’s it: a. No arguments or the entire test will have to be regraded.
17. c, because celery, corn, and carrots are way too hard to eat raw, whereas tomatoes are a fruit
not a vegetable.
18. b, if I recall correctly. You can check by using each of a-e in the frame “____ is most sublime.”
19. a. It comes down to cognac and brandy, and cognac wins.
20. d. Again, between skunks and chinchillas, the latter are less bother.
21. d, because all the others can show erratic, aggressive behavior.
22. b is a dangerous hybrid.
23. c actually trumps the others by enabling their acquisition at will.
24. d. Dylan and Lennon are quickly eliminated. Then logic dictates that Neil Young probably has
enough common sense not to draw or paint. This is not the case, however.
25. d. It comes down to Criss and Brown, and Brown died at a younger age, due to a car accident.
Criss committed suicide as a response to terminal cancer.
26. b. (The rationale is too long to present here.)
27. e. Obviously, the answer is Scotland or Norway, and English seems to be slightly more likely to
be spoken in Scotland than Norway. The U.S. was omitted for good reasons, so U.S. favorites
Australia, New Zealand, and Canada can be eliminated.
28. a. It comes down to Barcelona and Paris, and right now Paris is a little iffy.
29. c. Rhode Island combines many strengths with few drawbacks. It is great!
30. b. CDs combine fidelity, convenience, and economy. No other option has all three.
31. e. It is the eyelid by which the world may be shut out. Without that ability, what good is brain,
heart, stomach, or lumbar region?
32. e is the only alternative which cannot be disproven.
33. a, because Math dominates the others.
34. b, because ethnic types are silly, but if you’re not outraged, you’re an idiot.
35. b, because you get tired of all the others.
36. b. Either Caddyshack or Casablanca is the greatest movie of all time, hence cannot be overrated. Wizard of Oz is almost as good. Who knows that much about Grand Hotel?
37. c retains great popularity despite massive lethality.
38. a. Farming is work. State lotteries pay lower than casino games, and Keno pays lower than other
casino games. Blackjack is too algorithmic, and there is no point in bluffing.
39. d mainly because of the grisly public spectacle. Fabulous wealth has now been decisively
discredited as a crime deterrent.
40. d, with a as runner-up. New Orleans has fallen on hard times.
41. d. Only the best restaurants have swordfish, due to its endangered status.
42. e. Catfish was a fighter of the system and a tougher s.o.b. even than Susan Sontag.
43. b, because telemark is solitary yet not ostentatious, hence noblest.
44. e. The Segway is fun, versatile, insouciant, and has both a low carbon footprint and a very
limited range.
45. b. The train is best for many reasons.
46. d, because no one wants to be surprised.
47. c, because the others show weakness.
48. d is the only one that can be “believed in” in the sense intended here.
49. e. The others suggest pain or effort.
50. c, but with due caution.
51. b, because c-e are equivalent and a may be boring.
52. c, for obvious reasons.
53. a. Good old Bugs!
54. e takes longer than the others.
55. c, because computers are a passing fad, whereas Latin will be around as long as churches and
universities.
56. d. College is for sophistication, and absinthe is very sophisticated. If you drink it, people will
inevitably believe you have been to college, and soon you will believe it, too.
57. a, because Pythagoras had the self-assurance of a mystic and a mathematician. Without
Pythagoras, where would we be anyway? That’s Pythagoras, not Protagoras.
58. None of the above, ha-ha!
59. b – a super-classy guy who did minimal damage to the country and got out after one term. Will
we ever see his like again?
60. c is the most imaginative, fresh, and entertaining book you will ever read. It deserves a wider
audience.
The Romance of Liza and Hopalong
We neighbors knew him as Travis Perlman,
An orderly man, not impulsive.
A good year was one when he never ventured
As New Yorkers say, out-of-town.
He professed Jewish History, perhaps at Columbia,
And we believed that he curated something-or-other.
He had a little terrier, which, he once confided,
He wished were a hawk or an owl.
Bookish to be sure, but I would never say melancholy,
And to my knowledge he never, even unwittingly,
Engaged in an act of folly.
Well, it was after he met
(At a Seder we later learned)
Elizabeth Nicholls (Liza) that he began insisting
On being called Hopalong. Hopalong Perlman.
She taught at Bard and composed freelance verse.
They shared an aversion to woods and streams and psychedelia.
No TV, no graphics, no cell phone, no phone,
No e-mail address. No address, if that were possible.
Their rapport was based on a mutual love of
Theatre, sculpture, painting, criticism,
Talking drum and swampy Cajun music.
Some of us may have imagined post-gallery repartee,
Dinner, wine, and in a yeasty hotel
Pillow-talk of Medea and Hemingway.
Who knows? After a one- or two-night stand,
They moved in together.
He was older, she seemed taller.
They had their own brand of ardor,
Somehow fearless, even audacious.
They staged a brief allegory among the apartments.
Compatible as coffee and cream, and just as inseparable,
They had lost or never learned the sharp art
Of cantankerous squabble and skirmish,
Insult and insinuation,
The wearing, unfunny wisecrack.
Maybe they knew that time was short.
After just a year, the allegory of haunted treasure,
Along with all potential later-life troubles,
Was short-circuited:
Liza succumbed to the bad luck of a stroke.
When we gathered awkwardly around Hopalong,
We came to realize that he had
Drifted some distance from us.
He began calling 59th Street “the amber bridge.”
In the moments when he emerged from somnambulism,
His demeanor would brook no guidance, no homilies.
“The place where I belong is so long ago.”
The edge, the fine line was clearly passed,
But he knew he’d had a break, a second chance.
Unintended Passengers
We have a very full flight,
A completely full flight, this evening.
We need your cooperation to make sure
We will have room for all your carry-ons.
So that we will not have to offload
Most of your larger bags,
Taking a one-hour delay
While we stow them below,
Losing our place in line
And completely wiping out
Any chance you might have had
Of making your connections,
We ask for your help.
There may not be room
For your massive butt
In your tiny seat,
So please help us
And your fellow passengers
By taking that larger roller board
And pushing it out the window,
Wheels first. Then please
Place that smaller bag on your head
And stick your giant ass
Out the window, too.
This will ensure that we have
Room for all the carry-ons.
We certainly appreciate
Your cooperation.
The Fragrance of Prose
first pass:
perfumery, bell notes
myrrh-hyacinth
autumn apples
hemp in bloom
old books
chocolate alive
honey sugar
choir candles
pinot noir
peace, knowledge, wisdom
celebrity fighting
essential songs
synthetic gazelle
embody darkness
hidden stories
remarks to yourself
small bottles
taste of blues
second pass:
spice and caviar
violet slopes
black ridges
small yellow
information source
raw magic
less equal
floral drums
frail pioneer
burning words
jellyfish
local countdown
quinine edge
white wolf pup
altar, temple, church
eat reflection
green sauce
las vegas
Comparisons are Odorous
viewed more with sadness than with anger
wise judgment of that previously unresolved
an offering of high quality
hope based on false happiness
before the evidence for it is known
ironically when we need an unimportant
a kind-hearted minister, providing comfort
frustrated with both sides of the argument
it’s what something is, not what it’s able
a radical change or regrettable transformation
an untidy aspect that means something
a withering of parts of the world
suddenly an indifference to options
one thing is as good as another
everything that’s shiny is valuable
a play is merely acting out our lives
risk is justified if turns out well
literal meanings are the best to have
very cold, devoid of plants and animals
finished and unusable original objects
original by merry chance, entirely pure
suddenly a single action and
all of our sparse possessions
partners in sexual intercourse
there’s no point in further redundancy
be steadfast and full of verity
it was unintelligible to me
events that crop up will come to pass
comparisons are odorous
a signal from the forces of chaos
breaking into fragments of silly song
the change from incoming to outgoing
or vice-versa, away from a stable course
erudite and literate to the well-meant
without ties or commitments or tasks
similar, indefinitely, to our attackers
that is, distressed, sad, aggrieved
by this hopeless quest, even tempted
to liven the script with leavened lies
that we are the supreme creatures
display your emotions openly
though better days have seen us
now vanished into thin air
our kingly responsibilities make us
constantly worried that we will be
eventually exposed as unrefined
painted, and methodical as lilies
The Lost Socratic Templates, No. 4 (fragment)
Socrates (S): O [Minor Player], [conventional salutation]!
[Minor Player] (MP): [Conventional greeting], O Socrates! [Respectful salutation]!
S: [Leading question]?
MP: [Friendly reply]. [Small-talk tease].
S: Do you recall [recent event]?
MP: [Enthusiastic affirmative], Socrates!
S: [Superfluous reminder of discussion thread].
MP: [Enthusiastic affirmative]! [Expression of interest in thread]!
S: [Thread re-join].
MP: [Thread re-join handshake]. [Softball question]?
S: [Patronizing “clarification” request]?
MP: [Softball “clarification”].
S: [Question-in-lieu-of-answer]?
MP: [Cheerful bafflement]! [Request for “help”]?
S: [Long chunk]. [Are you with me]?
MP: [ACK], O Socrates!
S: [Short chunk with metaphors and analogies]. [Agree]?
MP: [ACK], most assuredly, Socrates!
S: [Short chunk & closer]. [Get it]?
MP: [ACK]. [Humble compliment], O Socrates.
S: [Wrap-up rumination]. ….
Fragment ends
Junior High
Warily teleported through a
Serpentine red frame to a
Skewed tessellation of many
Brownish shades. Thorny,
Unsentimental play-colors with
Feral, demonically teasing
Wacky pals. Flooding smiles,
All tinged with melodramatic,
If deadpan, credos. And
Overlapping ranks of teachers,
Offering blistered fragments of
Knowledge pertaining to the
Tensile strength of cedar, to
Cola-flavored chemistry, to
Photographed Mylar, to
Graphite jewelry.
Massachusetts
What if you were told everything?
It would be a lie because,
punishable as prescribed by civil law,
passion, love, and pain have passed.
However, trees make the visit bearable.
She always did a man’s work,
asked no questions, passed no judgments;
she became attached to her cousin.
(That was me.) A difficult burden,
she was better off without me.
If I’d really cared about her,
she would’ve broken up with me.
I refused to show any feeling,
so she was the only one trying,
and I’ll live to regret that.
She tried finding obsession in anything.
There are many reasons someone would
forget; some are just incredibly clear,
others different in so many ways.
Sometime, somehow, you have to bend.
Tea Party, Atheist Wing
We were staying in barracks and were
completely serious. We did not watch TV.
We studied theory – ballistics and aerodynamics. We practiced aerobatics and
marksmanship. Jack and I flew a little
glider, just barely able to bank it between
a power pole and the northeast corner of
the National Trust building.
We got back to the base and emptied our
pockets onto the utility table. Lots of keys,
silver coins, belt-buckle knives, other hardware.
But one of the girls, Missy, washed out of
flight school. She had to leave. A week later
her replacement, Pamela, showed up.
Pam needed something from the office,
but it was dark. I had a key so I went to
open it.
perfectly perfect visionary powers,
looking back out of time
The Age of Addiction to Reasons
all the info in real-time
crystal queen solaris,
technical veranda
shadows on the march,
phantoms in the heart
chemin de terre, chemin de Foi
fundamental correctness
reasons to travel, boss line on sale
on the road, on the grill
exclusive, absolute voyage
corps entièrement bleu-vert ou vert-bleu,
post écusson convexe
bio, very bio: coconut alla breve
bio-serum, super-correct performance,
decontaminated bacteria
speak to flowers, to forgetfulness
submarine gardens, secret dances,
waters of baptism and commencement
summary adaptable (long-term) to
enterprise strategy
mechanical diamond instruments
tapestries and neon tubes
chambers apart, Ferris wheel,
car wash, bus stop
modern collection, smart building
re-introduction of natural man
real men, the mythic male
already modern confidence
micro-hybrid from Jakarta,
automatic try-me
leading innovation from Eden Park
Shanghai, New Delhi, Boston, Seychelles,
an experiment after Harlem
intense day, Brit spirit, world tour in ultraviolet
truth and virtue realized
small-talk in private
quiet comfort,
a little something extra,
a garden of malaise,
practical astrology,
animism, animalism,
cacophony of legend
Missy’s face was there in the dark
behind the office door’s glass window.
Her eyes accused me of something.
I jumped back and cried out “What?”
Word versus Fact: Veterans Day, 2011
“Died some, pro patria, non ‘dulce’ non ‘et decor’...
“Daring as never before, wastage as never before.”
— Ezra Pound, Hugh Selwyn Mauberley
1
For Ol’ Paw, della più grande generazione.
I. National Cemetery, Bushnell, Florida2
Late October, 2011, was a strange season,
Rough on travelers in the Northeast.
An early winter storm brought heavy rain and wet snow.
Airline passengers were stranded,
Three million people were powerless.
On Saturday, October 29, in a shower of rain,
Seventy lucky World War II veterans
Arrived at Washington National.
Passengers with delayed or cancelled flights
Were invited to Gate 30 to welcome the vets.
They drank their coffee and waited.
The PR guy said crew-members
Had donated their time
To collect the vets and fly them to DC.
These vets had never visited the capital,
So they were real excited taxiing up to Gate 30.
Water cannon were fired over the plane as a salute.
With great good luck, given the weather,
The vet-jet arrived on time at 0910 local.
A wonderfully professional baritone horn player
Performed a stirring selection of military tunes
And popular songs from the World War I era.
It could have been some kind of parade cornet,
But it sounded like a baritone horn.
There were balloons and small American flags.
Granfalloons, Toy Balloons, and American Flags!3
(experiment, experience, consciousness, conscience)
I tell you, globalism begins with World War
(third time’s charm)
Less antsy times, dark comedy, labyrinths,
Leaving sentimental songs and peppy tunes:
“So long, it’s been good to know yuh;
So long, it’s been good to know yuh;
So long, it’s been good to know yuh.
What a long time since I’ve been home,
And I’ve gotta be driftin’ along.”4
New directions trending toward caricature,
A number of attempts at cohesion,
Diluted at best. Although embryonic clocks
Show just over an hour,
Many of the shorter drugged-out
Afterthoughts are more than carefully placed
On the landscapes like raw essences,
A trendy mass that, when separated, seems fascinating.
Ancient Egyptian art has always been
At the pinnacle of the international scene,
But now Egypt comes to more modern art.
From an architectural perspective,
Business events have to be taken into account:
Actual events are changes in actual objects.
Their instant mappings into meaningful activities
Represent business rules.
External events should be defined up front.
Thank you.
“If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself;
One must be so careful these days.”5
The veterans walked or
Rolled off the plane, one at a time.
The crowd cheered and applauded,
Shouting enthusiastic greetings.
The vets, by and large,
Smiled and acknowledged the applause,
Waving to the crowd.
“Get him out!” a gun-waving officer yelled
As the President’s limousine sped off.
I couldn’t help but notice he had huge hands.
Lincoln acknowledged their euphoria
With a smile of his own.6
The baritone horn was playing, singing, “Army!
Army Air Force! Navy! Marines! WACs! WAVEs!
This land is your land, and my land
It’s a grand old flag, forever in peace
I’m a Yankee Doodle dandy, do or die
Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else
Stormy weather, raining all of the time
From the halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli!”
Young soldiers listened
In desert camouflage.
II. A Game of Scrabble
From Portland, Oregon, to a Hooverville
On the mudflats of the Anacostia River
Came the Bonus Army.7
To the twelve tribes which are
Scattered abroad, greeting:
My brothers, count it all joy when
The trying of your faith yields patience.8
Father Charles Coughlin condemned and indicted
The Reconstruction Finance Corporation
For keeping patriotic Americans in improvised hovels,
Allowing wealthy heirs and heiresses to own hope.
But let patience have her perfect work,
And if any of you lack, let him ask of God,
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.
Ignored, patronized, dismissed, and insulted;
Ridiculed for having no coherent agenda,
“Boy, do I know how these people feel!”
He that wavers is like a wave of the sea
Driven with the wind and tossed,
And let not that man think that he shall receive
Anything from the Lord.
Now after the fall of 2008, we abhor ideology
Even more than when the Real America
Almost went Communist. Now the Unreal America spins
Ever thinner and more exotic creations.
“Nganga!9 Her wounds!”
Exchanged for silver life,
Only words are prized; on the radio
The night baseball game, the television networks,
Emergency cash infusions, corporate welfare,
The hairball of crony and phony capitalism.
Let the brother of low degree rejoice
That the rich are made low
And, as the flower of the grass,
Shall pass away.
Timeless liberal bromides about taxing the rich.
No, just admit that the system is screwed up:
Campaign contributions, corruption, and dry-rot.
Who shall receive the crown of life?
I think we are in rats’ alley,5
The wealthiest metro area in the country.
What is that spreading peril?
The super-committee.
What is that rattling noise? What are those six doing?
Harvesting popular rage.
“Do
You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember
Nothing?”5
The sun is no sooner risen
With a burning heat
Than it withers the grass.
“Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?”5
Maw and Ol’ Paw
Their ashes interred
Down at Bushnell
Near the sandy wood,
Where crypts march in ranks
With a static step,
Who will awaken
Those who have slept?
They are the lucky ones,
The grateful dead,
We are the watchers,
We look ahead.
What of our children,
And what of theirs?
What stocks have we left
And what shares?
The flower falls,
The grace of fashion perishes.
So shall the rich man fade away.
The freedom-fighters, the boys in the bush,9
The comrades, heard distant elephants, heard mudzimo:
Do not err, my beloved family.
God cannot be tempted with evil,
Neither will he tempt any man.
Sin, when it is finished,
Brings forth death.
A white enamel basin on a pushcart under a tree,
Prayers and water splashed against the rock of sin,
Blind words running like a river to a sea of truth.
With the word of truth, we should be his creatures.
“Oh, did that ring true to me!”
Do not err, my beloved family.
So she were drinkin’ tequila, and drinkin’ grappa,
(Italian for gasoline) and drinkin’ Jägermeister,
The liquid equivalent of Wonder Woman’s golden lasso:
Makes you tell anybody the truth for no reason.
“You have really bad skin. Thanks for the drink.”10
With a reluctant backward glance, the well-disciplined child
Held to her nurse’s hand and was pulled out the door.
One gets to know one’s faults
And to calculate one’s witnesses.
“Why, that darn fool Smith; you just stay here
And I’ll go ashore and do a little detective work.”
“All right,” he said, “but I’ll kill that idiot
When he comes back, and ask for an explanation afterwards.”11
Do not err, my beloved family.
Reuben (or Isaiah, or Jacob, or Simon, or Abraham, or Sixpence, or Tickie —
None of ‘em stayed long) made his own small fire outside the boma.9
Do not err, my brothers.
Do not err, my sisters.
Every gift is from the Father of Lights.
A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
III. “Don’t go!”12
A message of leave-taking and farewell,
Ancient steps across the room. The path
Through the icy streets, gestures of a breath departed;
Half-dreamed on attic stairs, lullabies slide out.
We know where the water is, the owls, the timbers,
Broken bottles, fern-boxes on the floor, sands and wind,
A sudden clamor of summer storms. The glaciers depart,
And the world darkens, seems to be splitting apart.
We live at least as long as necessary.
By the waters of Lehman I sat down and wept.
Mighty Mississippi, engrave my name in mud.
Mighty Mississippi, the moon alone
Makes life a masterpiece. One life and the shadow of another,
The mask, the sundial among young women’s faces.
Visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.
Note the speed of the squirrel and his path across the lawn,
While your mind wanders between the dead and the living.
The winter ghost recedes with its blue breath,
Moaning that night has come from the black sky
With red flowers in her hair, clinging to the damp coast.
The very old have their own country. Who can understand
The bones, the habit of sleeping later and later,
The stars watched on summer evenings, year to year?
If there comes a man with a gold ring,
In goodly apparel, and also
A poor man in vile raiment,
And you respect him that wears gay clothing,
And say to him, “Sit here in a good place,”
And say to the poor, “Stand there,
Or sit here under my footstool,”
Remember that God has chosen the poor
As heirs to his kingdom.
You have despised the poor.
Rich men oppress you,
Judge you, and jail you.
You skellum
Povos povos povos
Lost in the guti
Mombies9
Unreal America
Shall be judged by the law of liberty,
And shall have judgment without mercy,
You who have shown no mercy.
If a man says he has faith,
Can that save him?
If brothers and sisters are cold and hungry
And one of you says to them,
“Bless you, may you have food and shelter,”
But give them nothing, what good are you?
Faith alone is dead without acts.
You have faith, and I have work:
Show me your faith without action,
And I will show you my faith by my work.
You believe in God, and that is good:
The devils also believe, and tremble.
Faith without action is dead.
Where Next, Dear Brothers and Sisters
by Comrade Ruth Chakamanga9
I can’t forget the day I came to Kapfunde.
I was full of love and joy for the beautiful school.
Happy students cheered for our arrival.
We were received in a hospitable manner.
I couldn’t believe I was at last at Kapfunde.
When I think of leaving Kapfunde
Where students and teachers live in harmony
I just feel strength going out of me.
I can’t bear the thought of leaving Kapfunde,
But there is nothing to do.
Time to part from friends and teachers at Kapfunde
Is drawing near.
But the problem is where next, Form Fours?
We have enjoyed every activity
And every scrap of food at Kapfunde.
We have stayed here four years.
But sooner or later the problem is to come.
The problem is where to go next, what to do.
Whether you will be behind the headmaster’s desk
Or somewhere in the streets, Form Four, think of it,
One day you will find yourself prowling and haunting streets,
Wandering in search of jobs.
Goodbye teachers and students of Kapfunde,
I am grateful for the good times we had together,
Students, please keep the Kapfunde alive in you
Be proud of your beautiful school.
But Form Four, where next from Kapfunde?
A new name for government: kleptocracy9
Fat cats peering smugly from their homes
Brains effaced in a field of pure white
Gazing over ruins, losing no sleep
Long-legged birds high-stepping through ash
Shadowed against horizon-light
Striking at snakes and dividing up the land
Into private patches of hunting turf
We were raised up on nothing, next to nothing,
Amid every kind of cactus. We did not know their names
We could sometimes hear the sounds of mourning
Cries of children, dead long years ago
The little people of the prairie, unaware
Of the demands of the penthouse for laughter
Their children have disappeared into the pavement
Under the white chalk
Hands folded under like dying flowers
Or birds’ wings
Once upon a time
Under the red sky
The ship came in
And stopped at the shore
Red red wine
Flowing underground
Sailing away, my own true love
The morning fog was lifting
Drifting along
Look out your window
A series of dreams
E ka Makua Lani
Ho`onani `ia Kou Inoa14
All right, Miss Lonely
Do what you want
Some babies never learn
And the days go by
Like fields of gold
A hard rain falls
Blackbirds fly
Over rocks and sands
Go down in the flood
Ring them bells
From the city that dreams 13
Ho`omaika`i mai `Oe
I keia mau mea `ai
Mary Down-the-hill
Died in Seattle
Leaving a husband
And three children
Rosa Up-the-hill
Lives in San Diego
With her healthy kids
And happy grand-kids
Beverly Dark-cloud
Slipped out the back
No one knows how
No one knows why
Ho`omaika`i `Oe
I Kou hoaaloha
Ho`omaika`i `Oe
Na mea a pau14
Come you masters of war
The young people’s blood13
By deeds a man is justified
Not by faith alone
Masters
IV. Florida, 2100 A.D.
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only,
Do not fool yourselves with profit and loss.
Ivry was his friend
When they were both young. As his moods wavered,
He fell desperately in love with a girl,
Angering his parents and hers.
Angel or human,
He was a fragile being who came to Earth with a message
Of purest art, dying in his early 20s for no good reason.15
V. Baritone Horn Solo
In traditional and solemn ceremony
A vital element in keeping the peace
Is our military establishment.
Our arms must be mighty,
Ready for instant action,
So that no potential aggressor
Is tempted to risk his own destruction.
Until the latest of our world conflicts,
The makers of plowshares could,
With time and as required,
Make swords as well.
Now we can no longer risk improvisation
Of national defense;
We have been compelled to create
A permanent armaments industry
Of vast proportions.
Three and a half million civilians
Are directly engaged in the defense establishment.
We annually spend on military security
More than the net income
Of all United States corporations.16
We face a hostile religion
Global in scope
Nihilistic in character
Ruthless in purpose
Insidious in method
Let go
A lantern, a mountain
Children in starched tiger fatigues
Parallel lines
Spectral shine of quicksilver
Yoked to a tight-wound spring
Cage-clatter with no ending
Keys jangle jangle jangle
But there is no gate
I only know that I do not want you to know
When I count, I count you and me: alpha, omega
But when I look ahead, my teeth are clenched
And the blue ghost seems to be walking with us
A sound like coughing or choking or laughing
A sound like gulls and blackbirds on a gray morning
A sound like a splintering floor
The murmuring of farm animals
The chorus of factories
From sea to sea
From fence-row to fence-row
The insect cities
The muffled boom, boom, boom of bird-hunters
Dry leaves blowing, falling on the roof
Tribal chants of charcoal gypsy maidens
World tour
Unreal
This conjunction of an immense military establishment
And a large arms industry is new
In the American experience.
The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual —
Is felt in every city, every State house,
Every office of the Federal government.
We recognize the imperative need for this development
Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications.
Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved;
So is the very structure of our society.16
What if I told you the truth?
What if I wrote down their names?
What if I showed you their portraits
Lined up beside the pews?
A complex tangle surging toward a simple death
Unwitting martyrs to the silent comet
To whatever meteors the future brings
ch-ch chreee, ch-ch chreee
Blackbirds bring alive the tall reeds
The rain begins
What if he returns and there’s nobody waiting?
We started drinking early, the Big Game started late
The rain continued all day, we just ignored it
We cranked up the music
Smoke and mist wreathed the charcoal
The parking lot throbbed like a jungle
Thunder rolled
The solitary inventor tinkering in his shop
Has been overshadowed by a task-force of scientists
In laboratories and test ranges.
In the same fashion, the free university,
Historically the fountainhead of ideas and discovery,
Has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research.
Partly because of the huge costs involved
A government contract becomes virtually
A substitute for intellectual curiosity.
In the councils of government
We must guard against unwarranted influence
By the military-industrial complex.
The potential for the disastrous rise
Of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let its weight
Endanger our liberties.
We should take nothing for granted.
Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry
Can compel the proper meshing of the huge
Industrial and military machinery
With our peaceful methods and goals
So that security and liberty may prosper together.
Akin to, and largely responsible for,
These changes in our industrial-military posture,
Has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
In this revolution, research has become central;
It has also become more formalized, complex, and costly.
A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by,
Or at the direction of the Federal government.
This prospect is gravely to be regarded:
The domination of the nation’s scholars
By Federal employment, project allocations
And the power of money.16
We hold the keys to a vacant lot
We old white-haired geezers
Half-recognizing the tunes from our parents’ time
Waving and grinning at the cheering crowd
Give me an ace, give me a king, give me a queen
Under the gray clouds, over the storm-soaked ground
Sun dogs and heavy green gardens awaiting the spring
Half-remembering the rafters, the nails driven in
The smell of gun-oil, the barking sergeant
The best years of our lives
Everything under control
Down to a final few
A few are still living, a few are still walking
A few are still aware, a few can still reflect
Down to a final few fishing trips
A final few Christmas carols
A final few Super Bowls
A lottare per di più sarebbe indegno17
To fight for more would be unworthy
Of a free and religious people.
Why mere selfishness? A few final thoughts.
My sisters, be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. 8
We pray for all faiths, all races, and all nations:
May their great human needs be satisfied;
May those now denied come to enjoy spiritual blessings;
May those who have power understand its heavy responsibilities;
May those who are insensitive learn charity;
May the scourges of poverty disappear
In peace and in the binding force of love.16
My brothers, be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. 8
Notes to Word versus Fact
1. Italian, “of the greatest generation”
2. The military cemetery where my parents’ ashes are interred
3. Title of an essay by Laurel Wamsley. The essay is a response to the 9-11 attacks, and was
published by CommonDreams.org on Sept. 16, 2001. At the time, its author was a highschool student. Recently she has been listed as an independent producer based in Austin,
TX.
4. Popular song by Woody Guthrie
5. T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land. The present poem can be read as a study of The Waste Land.
“[The Waste Land] is just a piece of rhythmical grumbling.” – T.S. Eliot. Attributed in The Yale
Book of Quotations, Fred R. Shapiro, editor, p. 241.
6. News coverage of attacks on two American Presidents, Reagan and Lincoln.
7. Excerpts from Frank Rich, “The Class War Has Begun,” New York Magazine, Oct. 31, 2011.
8. Adapted and paraphrased from the Bible, James 1 and 2; all “Biblical” language is from these
two books of the New Testament, freely adapted. Late in her life, my mother gave serious
attention to, and taught adult Sunday school classes based on, James.
9. Excerpts from Doris Lessing, African Laughter, 1992. Lessing translates the Afrikaans,
Swahili, and indigenous words as follows: nganga = a shaman, male or female, a
‘witchdoctor’; mudzimo = a spirit or soul; boma = a safe place, a headquarters; skellum = a
bad person or animal, a rascal, a crook; povos = the poor; guti = mist; mombies = cattle.
10. From a comedy routine by Margaret Cho
11. Thomas Fleming Day, The Rudder, 1907
12. Ol’ Paw’s last words to me
13. Snatches of popular songs by Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Bob Marley, Talking
Heads, et al.
14. Hawaiian chants, blessings, and song lyrics by Keith Haugen and others, roughly translated
as “Our Heavenly Father/Praised be Thy name/Bless Thou/This food,” etc. See
http://www.hawaiiansong.com/hsl.html
15. On-line comments, adapted and paraphrased, re: the musician Joseph Hassid’s biography
16. Here and elsewhere, excerpts and paraphrases from Eisenhower’s famous “MilitaryIndustrial Complex” farewell address, often inter-cut with phrases from James 1 and 2
17. Translation into Italian of the following line, “To fight for more would be unworthy”
High Wind at Sausalito (Sunday, April 22, 2012)
Rodeo Beach
sand-creatures bleaching
flickering kite-flying picnickers
sweltering by a sheltering lagoon
Mooring Buoy Placement
property to moor a sailboat
something to increase in value
the sailboat has a home, neighbors
Dinghies
each thinking it’s the Captain’s Gig
schooners on the Grand Banks
black locust, spruce, African mahogany
Anchorage
playing, waiting, cute as pie
yare and sensual, womanly
typecast, but no one gets upset
Spring Line
rocking and rolling in my slip
something with my center cleat
lines to my port stern, bow, mid-ships
Fog
spearheaded, upscale eclectic revival
rich wood, dazzling chrome, timeless
sad it’s more traffic than wine
Jigging
about herring and mackerel
you can catch up to 24 herring
with kids along, up to 200 macks
Santa Cruz
carousel and roller-coaster merge
time-machine to a 1900s world
California night, hotdogs, gambling lite
Dolphins
hairless, fusiform, fast-swimming
propulsion, directional stability
“the melon, a round organ for echolocation”
Whales
intelligent air-breathers – not fish
sleek and streamlined compared to hippos
“like manatees, their lives are lived in water”
Long Pier
blue-ribbon team reshapes spaces
creative, revamped architecture
waters sparkling outside praised lands
Dragon
creature of myth and legend
symbol of fortune and power
honored, respected, not hunted or slain
Sandy Beach
luxury hotel-resort, ultra-amenities
analgesic surrounds, panoramic views
crashing down from ravines
Swamped Dog
trapped on an ice floe
rescue-pooch struck a chord
Facebook friends, Canada to Korea
Frantic Rowing
Bible study group gives a dollar
shocked, the only ones who knew
chase-boat harpooner, poised, waiting
Rescue Surf Swimmer
pulled from the brink of death
empty time, minutes of no breath
“I can’t die like this” – the acid test
Iron Ladder
“No two fires are alike”
technical knowledge has been reached
now do it a way we’ve never seen
Ukulele Players
exciting to share the music
others have passed at the club
deciding to plan high enough
Let’s go
They tend to target the “average”
The ones just above the threshold
While changing the lower box’s value
A station must be located somewhere
Not also capable of docking vehicles
And not widely adopted here because
That ever testing false positive without
The test results can make people
Not found to have gene mutations
We believe the mutations are neurological
If exposed to slightly higher temperatures
And cats protect themselves by painting
The removal of ice by chewing
Where toys you leave for kids
Because a broken airplane might work
It seems rhythmically textured and spacious
The metallic bowls and chimes seem
Then the difference between the hsiao
Which constitutes relations among the clocks
And the father, alluding to fact
Even the wishes of sincere apologists
The man had one foot up
And something about how you smell
A confirmation of what you experienced
And your access to the department
You are responsible for any authorization
We may copy, reproduce, modify, augment
We may change terms of use
We provide information and not advice
We provide insight and not solutions
In seeking objectivity we can’t advocate
There’s a precedent for this unveiling
No, despite appearances to the contrary
And opposite ends of the spectrum
We seem lost without food or
The sense God gave green apples
It’s mapping useful words and concepts
The true art is not about
On canvas by the artist, includes
And lacks whiteness, due to variety
In that snow’s white, lemons yellow
It’s the magpie picking out variety
The time you have for free
The soupy winter air gets weird
So why complain about the weather?
If he’s almost influential and cosmopolitan
What the world, their own town
To soul searching, what went wrong?
The Charlie Parker of Rationalization
She was, like, the Charlie Parker of rationalization.
She could delegate complex decisions to a demented person,
And justify it in a flash. Routine is its own reward, right?
High-speed driving maintains perceptual-motor skills.
Honesty is most helpful when it’s most hurtful,
Because that’s when it’s most honest.
Guilt is the human condition, so embrace it,
Distill it, emanate it, and above all, share it.
Confinement equals safety, by which I mean
There are no easy answers, only hard ones.
People who frequently eat chocolate
Have lower body-mass index. Also,
Chocolate is chock full of antioxidants
And other good stuff. Therefore,
Chocolate prevents heart disease and stroke.
Red wine contains resveratrol, which can help mice
Who live in a weightless environment.
This is happy news,
So let’s quit reading while we’re ahead.
Exercise has many dangerous aspects, such as
Endorphin addiction, scarring of heart tissue,
Body Dysmorphic Disorder,
Family neglect and break-up,
Diabetes due to carb-loading,
Food cravings that undermine
Healthful diet, oxidative stress,
chronic fatigue and adrenal damage,
joint damage from repetitive stress injury,
premature aging. Dieting is stupid, because
Most diets don’t work,
As anyone with half a brain knows.
Crazy food constraints don’t fit our lives.
They don’t take account of individual lifestyles,
Especially individual food preferences, both
Qualitative and quantitative.
What about time constraints and disliking change?
So diets are impossible to follow for a lifetime.
The only exceptions are diets that happen to
Fit what we already want to eat.
This is my main point here.
Diets are ridiculous, unhealthful,
Terribly damaging to self-esteem –
Just an expensive way to
Make you feel like a failure,
And that (along with exercise) is
A sure way to motivate over-eating,
And that, of course, saps your energy
And your will-power,
And life’s too short for that.
This is my point.
Relax, have a glass of wine
And a cigarette.
Unprovoked Bee Attack
They’ll start to defend their home,
Stay and defend or leave early,
But you can get strange warnings.
We did have one quiet night.
He wanted to shoot my Glock 40.
Others, if they hatch, will follow.
I had fun shooting my dad’s.
The brood finally builds some momentum.
In teal jackets, in and out,
For three weeks of the season,
My cousins never held a grudge,
Just a tour of the kitchen.
To maintain a constant indoor temperature
We’ll miss out like the blues.
Yes, there were several isolated cases.
They’d better not sleep too long.
The guards are old and angry,
Especially those we found sleeping together.
It’s simple and free, so join!
Daily high temperatures above 30 Celsius.
Baristas will soon be flocking to
Prove by diet they’re true omnivores.
The warranty can probably do it.
Take note of the time required.
It happened Friday outside Glovers Court,
Making a routine check of alleys.
Is it truly an improved perfection?
Enough time to alter the course,
A group accursed for fighting progress,
Not all bugs are safe to eat.
This is what I’m supposed to do,
Continue the easing seen on Tuesday.
Including Europe and the United States,
Learn and train with the dog.
He will naturally become more honed.
Hectic preparations for the annual pilgrimage,
Overboard to escape the terrorist threat,
The screen is microcosm of leaf.
I’m abusing or neglecting my friends,
To hug them while I’m sleeping.
Especially fish sandwiches and sweet drinks,
Say, Carolina sweet tea vodka drinks,
Money day in and day out,
And the place was not crowded.
Attacked when their nap was disturbed,
The innocent tourist bit a panda,
To test the quality of clones.
“I just wanted to touch it.”
Minor pain and swelling, or fatal
Cuts and abrasions at the site,
You already sense the necrotic power.
Men may flounder while women flourish.
Take a week to read a poem,
Aloud the first day for practice.
Versions the same in every way
Will shape our missions this year.
Easily confused by the untrained eye:
Is it a genuine oil painting?
Buy the expensive brands, top merchandise:
Fail to have a checkered past.
A cross between African and Brazilian music,
Is a niche for Portuguese culture.
We had numerous issues with misfires,
The first injury of the night.
Similar in appearance, but not behavior,
Her own behavior later became appalling,
And she ended an unknown outsider.
I already have to keep up.
A breeze from the back door,
Your lazy boat to Arkansas Bay,
Anonymous reviewers using arbitrary standards rate
Family getaways to famous hip-hop sites.
Ten ferals might nuisance my neighbors,
But I embrace love of cats.
You need the advice of professionals,
Professional at getting what you want.
A friend had his face punched.
“Don’t worry, guys, it’s all good!
“It smells good, not like flowers,
“But I like it, yeah, fuzzy!”
Force Fit
Every beauty and greatness in this world is created
by a single thought or emotion inside a man.
Everything we see today, made by past generations,
was, before its appearance, a thought in the mind of a man
or an impulse in the heart of a woman.
 Kahlil Gibran
1.
Accordions randomly offer entertainment, why not?
We all like Hawaiian shirts on
every minor chord; everyone soars high.
Worldwide coverage suggests great performance,
Like unsafe graphic movies rehearsed prior
to specific updating to remain relevant.
Determined to guide and capture all
with judgment in the season, leverage
and direct some further false starts.
Intervene? Allow actions to be proposed?
A minimum chunk counterpoints reverse fixation.
Can we construct a brief table
with implications that repeat several times?
Can we change perspectives over time?
Schedule trains? No one knows how.
Am I alone in feeling this?
I don’t know what to do.
When do you know what train?
(After the whole journey is over.)
Who will ask you for advice?
I don’t know what train today.
I don’t know what train’s next.
I think the real problem is,
We don’t have a real solution.
2.
Too many all-stars create a conflict:
This is the “elimination trade-off paradox.”
Rationale for the underlying assumptions is
that opportunity causes failure and all-stars
synthesize problems, a “Gaussian identity conflict.”
Conditions necessarily identify how to overcome
assumptions about how to deflate definitions.
Selling more examples of error increases
reporting of compliance, and then inevitably
less productive work gets done, right?
Different people will give rise to
a number of starkly deadlocked problems.
The more problems, the less useful
as many as possible group members;
this ensures a majority of excess
and less face-to-face briefing context situations.
Alternate dimensional collation into a list
many repeated cycles of pruning, culling,
reducing, processing, selecting, diverging, listing, repeating.
(Sweet Jesus, this is pure torture!)
Otherwise repeat, select, explain, reselect, continue
(Are we still here, still living?)
define, solve, propose, signify, collate, restart
(And no one has yet died?)
Now everyone reveals a specific rationale.
If not, declare them an outlier,
and have them methodically reduced until
the top third becomes most common,
and no further deaths seem rational.
Cause and effect are so boring.
Over the chalk cliffs like lemmings,
even the least favored grasp opportunity,
whether any results can be discovered….
3.
Criteria (for God’s sake!) since the
dawn of time, mandatory and optional.
(Do they ever let up anymore?)
Any determined problems must be solved.
Mandatory additional non-negotiable unattractive weight options,
implementation determines actions, meet considerable sum,
start possible results relate attempt confirm
identify additional different whether or not
values ensure retained for future similar
predicted outcomes. Optional may be appropriate.
Provide access for building maintenance work.
The best option is the scissor-lift.
Borrowing is of very low importance.
In the end, no decision is made.
The future could not be cancelled.
4.
Use software interfaces to enhance morality.
People enlarge if they feel safe.
Outfit a safe place for anonymous submission,
to reuse the old familiar songs.
When thinking pauses, then creation resumes.
Have a strict submissive time limit.
Use most of the time for
harsh criticism, carping, and unmerited advice.
In the end, sacrifice group members
who have the lowest expected usefulness
as measured by net positive comments,
covering clear points of no return.
The last survivor must shout “Uno!”
5.
“Check one hour, four hours, the next day, and the day after that with your subconscious to see how the
problem-solving is progressing.”
6.
“When solving problems, it is important to ask the right questions, that is, ones that can be answered.
This is often difficult to do initially, so intuition is an alternative and a complement to Socratic
questioning.”
7.
“Some constraints are artificially imposed and others are real. The practitioner may determine that the
problem is most easily fixed by wishing that the actual requirements were not real. In this case, the
problem is transformed into a wish-list. Attempting to meet the wished-for requirements can often lead
to creative solutions (though not real ones).”
8.
“A famous example of this technique led to the design of an early airplane. The Wright Brothers tried to
achieve heavier-than-air flight, but failed due to the nature of the wings they were trying to build. Then
one day, as Wilbur sat watching a bird, he suddenly realized that its wings continuously changed shape
as it flew. He asked himself why an airplane had to have rigid wings. Why not make them adjustable?
The rest, like Wilbur, is history.”
Possum
[riffing on material from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own,
and from John Gallaher’s
Nothing to Say & Saying It, Searching for a Heartbeat in Poetry & Music,
This is not plagiarism; it’s like commentary on commentary on a koan, or maybe it’s collage]
Sleeves of green go climbing toward
Humphrey Possum, who listens for Bogart’s
old boys’ fêted hero, explicating truth,
exfoliating worldly fate, trusting Lauren Bacall.
Talent-owners question ignorant Greenstreet, who lolls,
forgetful of Claude Rains’ divorce petition.
Should I be tense, once shared?
Please stop it! Peter Lorre buys,
and Bogart takes it to Burroughs.
Loy doffs garments for palatable clothes,
shall we say? As Luke departs,
Matthew closes on an opulent mansion,
and Humphrey Possum remains fluent, inimitable —
an incredible actor! Play it, Sam!
Yellow Ledbetter searches for Yellow Tango,
a clarinet concerto opens with Quasimodo,
Anita O’Day sings Lucky Old Sun.
It’s better that we’ve already heard
Bird celebrating during his own lifetime.
He played with Tristano and Twardzik.
Miles had to cover rear-guard avant-garde.
Light from the annular eclipse changes,
and everyone intones, Confide in me,
fast fails the Evinrude. Thelonious reassesses
and reconsiders the pig-foot railroad blues.
The quintet falls on hard times
due to tempo shifts. Brownie gives
us no need to smoke grass.
The neighborhood proletariat plies the genre,
their rumors comprising a blues history.
Raging against John Coltrane, critics deserve
players’ hatred, hard facts of time.
Let them write for popular delight,
touching the grudges of our pains,
but also of their own crimes,
their play-acting. Deep green and jonquil,
as we listen to stoned soloists
above the earth, where Dexter Gordon
is bop and cool and blues,
far beyond sorrows of the sky.
Moldy figs on their own mortality:
Oh, Dex, Scrapple from the Apple!
Numinous rivers, summer dawns, redwood trees,
will you ever bring forth improvisers
in Latin, swing, bop, and cool?
Keith Jarrett shouts, “You are sell-outs!
Slink down astringent rivers into valleys!”
He’s pushing the lowest toadies away.
Heroin has taken the most talented:
Obituaries, then we attend the memorials.
How can we link to explanation?
When soloists are asked to speak,
an allusion to second sight means
it might be three curses, fatalities
among the mantels of minor opinion.
Money makes fiction an unsolved problem.
Our duty remains to current understanding,
making amends with soloists about money,
the bare idea behind their fictions.
We hope to sell the truth.
The soloists tell a story about
daily life mixed up with truth.
We try hard to forget it.
On a winter river bank we
see prejudices of ochre and azure
commenting on the boats and bridges,
cloaked thoughts, wet lines, formless reflections
in stained glass, yet almost significant,
waters untroubled by my troubled course,
as its flashing and frothing are
intercepted by shallow faith. Mild curiosity
is aimed away from us — elsewhere.
Who and what are allowed here?
Whatever might be happening in moments,
successive pools where goldfish are hiding,
we can never recall the clouds.
These fine, misty mornings make blues
seem to contain a wild wisdom,
a trove of sagacity. Momentary harmony
vacillates, putting us among dying ones,
essayists. Pale light in the middle,
perhaps years ago, escaped me — perhaps
indifferently and sacrilegiously. Remember, guess, hold,
alter, but the manuscript itself keeps
critics affecting an appreciation of Sonny,
without the benefit of live performances.
Doors I must have left open
flutter back regretfully with lowered tones.
Coursing treasures locked in sleep, echoes
have descended on the passive meadows.
Leaves might be making music dialectically,
recollecting groans that somehow seem peaceful.
Like possums in cap and gown,
like giant crabs in an aquarium,
professors toot whistles inside the chapel.
Dons and sailing-ships cross the night,
massive buildings and the chapel itself.
Grasses waving and opaque swine rooting,
in whose shade we are standing,
poised one on top of another,
raising their eyes to the windows.
The workers up on the roof
sloppily pour silver, beer, and skittles.
Streams of silver overflow the courtyard,
keeping stones rising and stonemasons working.
It is the Age of Faith,
setting stones on a deeper foundation.
The stones are set, money from
kings and queens and great popes,
to whom hymns should be sung,
who granted lands and reckoned tithes.
Next the Age of Reason arrives,
and the gold and silver flows
down from the merchants and manufacturers
who made their fortunes from industry
and returned it to endow fellowships
where they had learned their crafts,
libraries and laboratories, observatories, special equipment,
costly, delicate instruments on dark shelves.
The grasses wave, the swine root,
more foundations of gold and silver,
deep pavement settles over wild grasses,
men congratulate each other most heartily,
gaudy blossoms flower in window boxes.
Be-bop solos escape the rooms within,
reflection is cut short. The clock!
It is time to find lunch.
Lunches anchor our beliefs in ourselves,
memorable for sayings witty or wise,
not what was eaten, soup and
tart salad and salmon and duck,
of no importance whatsoever, as if
nobody needed to eat or drink;
here lusty freedom defies effete convention.
This lunch occasion begins with soul,
deep-dish soul, with tenor sax spread
like whitest cream; it will scorch
with brown spots of smoke like
brown birds in a cedar tree.
Many shapely voices combine in chorus,
the sharp, the sweet, the sizzling
cymbals like giant, soft, exotic coins,
high toms, insouciant as succulent buds;
and unseen, almost unheard, the bass,
the silent serving-man, the mill wheel’s
mellow manifestation, darkly wreathed in melody,
brown sugar melting, forming caramel waves.
Rice and potatoes would be insulting.
Wineglasses, bright emerald and deep ruby,
will be emptied, will be filled
half way up by the soul,
not the figuration we call brilliance.
In and out upon our lips,
subterranean glows and richly mottled flames
need to glimmer, need to sparkle
need to become anything but themselves.
In words, How good life seems!
Sweet rewards, laughable grudges and grievances,
admirable friendships, society of one’s kind,
sunk among cushions, lighting a smoke.
By good luck, ashtrays are handy
(ash out the window if necessary).
Things have been a little different,
a cat without a name, truncated
quadrangles changed by some careless fluke.
Intelligence is emotional light for us.
Something has let fall its prey;
perhaps a hawk relinquished its grip.
The tricolored cat pauses in mid-lawn;
it, too, questions the world, lacking
something different, but what was lacking?
I ask myself. Hearing no answer,
I have to think myself out.
Before the collapse, before my eyes
became distant from each other, diffident
talk went on among the guests,
some this gender, some another gender.
Freely, amusingly, against the rhythm section,
we merged the themes together, and
the legitimate heirs to the music
listened raptly to all that jazz.
But the murmuring current behind it,
that’s where the change inserts itself.
Before the collapse people would have
laughed, but would have sounded different.
They were accompanied by a humming,
musical, exciting, the magic of words,
as they set music to words,
with the help of the poets,
the books beside me, in fact,
and I find Walt Whitman singing.
Of course, that’s where the real question about Ashbery’s so-called difficulty resides. I was
thinking of this very thing yesterday while reading the liner notes to Sonny Rollins: The Freelance
Years on Riverside. Zan Stewart writes about Rollins: ‘Sonny was then — and is now — a
consummately melodic artist who builds a solo with grand logic, using the theme as an
improvisational matrix to be revisited at will, creating stunning composition-like statements
consisting of connected fragments of developed, though improvised, thought. And, perhaps
more than any other since Parker, he uses rhythm as a guiding force, playing with the
assuredness of a drummer, squeezing the time, expanding it, and always, like a cat, landing on
his feet.’
Was that what people at lunch,
before the collapse, longingly listened for?
Something beautiful no one had heard?
It’s ridiculous to think of people,
even their breath, before the collapse,
and that has to be explained
in the middle of the lawn.
They lost it in an accident.
Some poems are said to be
Unusual, clever, obscure, rather than likeable.
What a difference a day makes,
as a lunch party breaks up
and people are finding their way.
Thanks to the host’s smiling hospitality,
lunch has lasted into the afternoon.
The autumn day offers leaves, falling
on the avenue as I walk,
Tree after tree with gentle deciduousness.
Muffled copper keys in well-oiled latches,
treasure-houses being secured for the evening.
The avenue joins a road — I
forget its name — heading toward Fordham.
Dinner is not until half-past seven;
I could almost do without it.
Scraps of poems and old tunes
absorb my time along the road.
If one could think of something akin to compositional technique for writing poetry, Ashbery
would seem to be the natural example. So, after 50 years of writing and conversations
surrounding jazz, I think approaching Ashbery from this angle wouldn’t be much of a stretch. It
seems to me that the difficulty is only in the way that the Rodgers & Hammerstein composition
My Favorite Things is difficult when John Coltrane plays it, as opposed to when Julie Andrews
sings it. It’s not difficult at all. It’s just a different way to approach things, built on different
methods, toward different ends. I find this basic idea mirrored in some fashion by nearly
everyone who writes about Ashbery.
They sing in my blood unbidden
and then into another time signature,
waters churned up by the weir.
When poets wonder why he hasn’t received the Nobel Prize for Literature, the consensus is that
he, unlike most of those who have won the prize, is not perceived as engagé. To me, and I
believe many others, there’s no writer whose poems are more engaged with what it means to
be human. Poetry, sadly (cheerfulness notwithstanding), doesn’t make much happen. But it
does show us to ourselves, and I would suggest this is more vital today and has a far more vital
relation than ever before to the material that poetry is often supposed to be engaged with.
What poets, I clamor, they were!
a sort of envy, I suppose,
odious and absurd as comparisons are.
Can we name two other poets
ever as great as John Ashbery?
Obviously it’s impossible, I quite thought.
The very reason that poetry excites
to rapture is that it celebrates
some feeling we used to have,
so that we respond quickly, easily,
without troubling to check the feeling
or to compare it with alternatives;
the living poet expresses for us
a feeling that is being made
and torn out of us now.
We may not fully recognize it;
sometimes we may initially fear it.
I find Ashbery’s poetry fresh, surprising, and inspiring. Partly it’s because, like his pal Frank
O’Hara, he just goes on nerve. But the just contains multitudes. Going on nerve wouldn’t mean
much if his poems weren’t so often startling, or moving, or intriguing, or funny, or exploratory
about both the outer and inner worlds with the complexity they both deserve. Of course,
complexity can make his poems difficult if approached with the usual expectations. To me, a
part of his extraordinary achievement is to have changed our expectations.
Good jazz is not bad opera.
We hear it with alertness and
compare it meticulously and even jealously
with the flaccid music we know.
Hence the difficulty of modern poetry,
and it’s because of this annoying
difficulty that we can’t even remember
two lines of these modern poems.
Why has my memory failed me?
Why have I lost the pattern?
Why have I stopped humming poems?
Why have poems ceased to sing?
I didn’t mean he was consciously imitating jazz, I meant that comparing it with that creative
process made it possible for me to hear his deeper meanings and intentions and random
connections and leaps of imagination beneath what the words would usually mean and imply. It
was in my own ears and mind and experience — not Ashbery’s deliberate strategy. It allowed
me to get over his use of cultural references that intimidated me and that I interpreted as elitist
(though they’re actually mostly pop-culture references, but that’s not the way I saw it at the
time) and the challenge of the word and phrase and image juxtapositions that seemed
deliberately obscure then but now seem much more benign, just his way of making the music of
his poems. To me Ashbery’s nonlinear language connections posed more of a challenge because
the posture seemed more individual and the vocabulary more idiosyncratic. That is, just what
you expect from great jazz.
Why have fans ceased to respond?
For me, this is a fascinating question. And the way the arts intersect — really isn’t jazz
improvisation another version of collage that was present in the visual arts for decades (and in
Language Poetry, of course), and now has been shown to be the way memory and cognition
actually work?
We blame it on the collapse:
When the markets crashed in 2008,
didn’t the faces of the people
show plainly in each other’s eyes
that music had died? Certainly it
was a shock to their illusions
about culture, art, and so on
to see the reactions of their
leaders in the face of despair,
looking remarkably stupid — German, English, French.
But fix blame where you will,
the illusion died which had inspired
Robert Frost, Edward Hopper, Sonny Rollins —
to look, to listen, to remember.
But why say blame? Why not
praise the catastrophe, whatever it was,
that destroyed illusion and restored truth?
What is the truth in poems,
with their red and blue shadows,
their moaning ghosts and musty fumes,
as they drift through the days?
The words run on and on,
vague as mist stealing the sunlight —
Who needs the illusions of poems?
The twists and turns of memory
find no conclusion along the path,
only mistakes, a wrong turn somewhere,
somewhere in an autumn day, a
soporific season of sunlit garden walls,
so we are told, rusty evenings.
There is an oddity at work.
You should write that essay on Ashbery and jazz. Sounds like you know something about it. And
yes, I see collage and jazz as related. After all, it was the Jazz Age when collage became a
dominant technique in art (Braque’s painted collage effects, Schwitters’ tear-outs and found
images, Fernand Léger’s influence on Willem de Kooning). Both jazz and modernist artists and
poets were responding to the speed of modern life and technological advances (recordings,
radio, air flight, talkies) and the leaps of attention they created, much like Ashbery’s poetry. To
me Ashbery’s technique is more like Monk’s, whose unique compositional and improvisational
style depended on a deep musical intuition that repurposed standard harmonies and took
altered chords and whole-tone scales to new (at first dissonant) places for the ear to follow. But
at the same time Monk’s sound is always consistent, as is Ashbery’s.
Perhaps the songs of Walt Whitman
were partly responsible for the collapse —
nothing was lost but an illusion —
shaking our faith in garden walls,
in brimstone, butterflies, and poisoned apples,
in words, music of the air.
The wind contains no watchful spirits,
the yellow trees no guardian shades,
the drifting clouds no gray sonatas.
In the time between the lights,
purple burns in silvered window panes
like the furious beating of hearts
when the secret worlds are revealed,
soon to have vanished like surprise;
for, unwisely, the gate is open
to other worlds which are fading,
some of laughter, others of fear —
the gardens of Fordham, wild, open,
sprinkled and carelessly flung with daisies,
disorderly at the best of times,
and often wind-blown and apparently rootless.
The gates of the gardens chunter
like puppets of pewter and moss
under the dead, white, unmetaphorical clouds.
Someone is in the garden, someone,
phantoms only, half guessed, half seen —
and then someone on the terrace,
pausing to glimpse the gray-green garden,
powerful yet reclusive, closed in herself
and her shapeless dress — a study,
dim yet intense, as her scarf
is pulled aside by the wind —
a terrible parting, returning, or striving,
out of the favored heart of
autumn, reaching back through the collapse.
Food is being served in the
far assembly hall, beyond the garden.
Dinner is ready, and we arrive.
There is no poetry or music.
We could see any larger pattern,
but there is no such pattern.
Beef, with its greens and potatoes,
suggests cattle in a muddy market;
sprouts curled, yellowed at the edge,
bargaining and cheapening Monday mornings, but
there is no reason to complain.
The supply is at least sufficient.
If anyone complains about her food,
she has an uncharitable heart, and
has denied herself life and warmth,
and has given nothing to the
poor. Charity embraces even the poor.
The charity jug is passed around;
the spuds are dry as toast.
Everyone scrapes their plates and chairs.
Doors swing open to the garden,
ready for breakfast the next morning.
Children, old and young, try singing,
but they are strangers to song.
Our dinner is out of focus.
We have been prying and searching
the hidden crannies of the hall
and must say nothing of this;
conversation is, for a moment, fogged —
heart, body, brain are mixed together,
and not contained in separate compartments,
as they are in robot society.
Only good dinner makes good talk.
We can’t think straight without food.
The lamp on the table sputters.
We are possibly going to heaven —
it’s just around the next corner
at the end of our daily work.
Luckily our mentors taught us science.
Science is bottles and a spyglass
on that table by the fire,
surrounded by one or more dinners.
In another two or three minutes
we’ll be playing freely among those
objects of curiosity and interest which
the absence of a particular person,
or the coming together again, or
how someone has lived or not —
none of this counts as knowledge,
not good, bad, or indifferent — all
these pseudo-facts pertaining to human nature
mean less than nothing to this
world we live in, which proceeds
naturally from cause to effect, but
though saying certain things, it will
schweigen, embarrassed by any thoughtless unsettling
of its own accord, carrying everything
toward an end of its own.
Diese Welt könnte von Oxidation sprechen,
of erosion or black walnuts, but
certainly not of any human affairs,
no birthdays, no Supreme Court decisions.
Kings and popes count their blessings;
diese Welt keine Beachtung schenkt, leben
nur für die Ewigkeit zu besuchen.
Food and medicine, markets and wealth,
the stringy hearts of old men,
are mutually disjointed, disconnected, and nonsensical.
Enfolding patterns of forever are neither
cruel nor merciful. The only choices
are those no mind has framed,
anticipated, or regretted. When they open
briefly, all those years of poems,
scraps of obscurity littering the air,
to be shoveled into the ditch,
the great whirling magnets feel nothing.
No motion is checked or started.
No elements are fused or fissioned.
All the lies that colleges intone
gehen durch diese Welt ohne Wirkung.
All that lies in brick libraries
and the wild prairies of literature
exerts no more force than the
imaginary borders of Vermont. Philosophies vanish
without a trace, whole languages disappear
without a ripple in the wind.
Well, said Sister Mary, about 2008 —
but then you know the story.
Once more she recounted the collapse.
The wizards met and conjured words.
Papers were written up, meetings convened;
statements were read, earnest pronouncements made.
Those responsible never lost a penny.
Conservative talk-show hosts were tediously rude.
How can you blame the wizards?
The wizards work in mysterious ways.
Are you sitting in those meetings?
Have you opined on those subjects?
Have you influenced the power elite?
Tell you what — write a letter.
Write two. That’s the way, presumably.
Sixty years ago it was popular,
and time was spent on it.
Only after a long struggle and
the utmost difficulty, we got agreement.
Obviously we can’t have wine and
servants – meaning, not all of us —
use your head, Sister Mary surrendered.
We can’t have fancy furniture and
extra houses and all the amenities,
she said, quoting from the radio,
Some folks will have to wait.
The thought of all that poetry
running on, year after dreary year,
and registering nary a microgram on
the Mettler Digital Lab Scale Balance,
no mass, no velocity, no momentum.
What did those poets think they
were doing? Nothing to be recycled?
No reflections or refractions of wavelengths?
Nothing weighed or measured or transmuted?
Sister Mary’s grandmother had spare time
(being one of eleven surviving children),
and left a few gray traces.
There is a photo of an
old lady in a plaid shawl.
There is a large cameo in
a small oval box; a basket-chair
that served as a bed for
a spaniel with a worried look.
If she had gone into business,
a wizard of the Stock Exchange,
vice-president of a large insurance company,
proprietress of a fleet of oil-tankers,
if she had left an estate,
we would be sitting pretty today,
and we might be talking about
something substantive, something other than poetry.
If Mary’s grandmother had studied wizardry,
if she had learned to make
money like the Founding Fathers did,
and had kept her money safe
like the wizards kept theirs safe
to invest in things with mass
and velocity and momentum, we might
be the ones with wine and servants,
we might enjoy a certain confidence
in a pleasant and efficacious lifetime
in the shelter of some position,
some tangible piece of the world;
we might know something about finance.
If Mary’s grandmother, at age fifteen,
had learned to play with house
(rather than pin or egg) money —
What about that scenario, Sister Mary?
Between our glasses of red wine,
evening shattering, a few stars appearing,
we share and revise our memories
(we were a large, happy family)
of games and quarrels in Vermont,
which we never tire of praising
for its air quality, its pies,
its endowed institutions of higher learning.
To endow a college would require
making a fortune, not having children —
consider the plain facts, we said.
Nine months later, someone is born;
months spent in feeding the baby;
years spent playing with the baby.
You can’t let children run wild –
the results are far too unpleasant.
Human nature takes years to shape.
If Mary’s mother had made money,
what memories would Mary have today?
Would she have known of Vermont,
its fine air, pies, and all?
It’s useless to ask such questions,
because Mary would never have existed.
It’s equally useless to ask, what
if Mary’s mother and her mother
and the mothers before that had
spent their lives amassing great wealth?
Their earning money was quite impossible,
and, if it had been possible,
the law denied them the right
to keep what money they earned.
It is only very recently that
women could have their own money.
For all the centuries before that,
it would have been their husbands’ —
a thought which may have kept
mothers and their daughters off the
Stock Exchange: Every penny we earn
will surely be taken from us
and, depending on our husbands’ wishes,
perhaps used to endow more fellowships.
To earn money is not something
that interests us much. We had
better let our husbands do it.
Ashbery is an unlikely candidate for the Nobel Prize, for much the same reason that he’s never
been Poet Laureate. It has a lot to do with the delusions of the picture-perfect. In other words,
for a person to be considered for such things, that person has to participate in at least some
version of cultural realism. That’s just not Ashbery’s style. For me, that’s good news. We have
enough poets doing that. I’ve always thought of Ashbery as a very rural, or even exurban, poet. I
think looking at much of his work that way is profitable, where the energy of the city is
exchanged for the organic meandering of the country, and the logic of the seasons replaces the
city’s logic of commerce.
Even without fixing blame on the
plaid shawl and the worried spaniel,
it’s obvious that, for some reason,
our grandmothers managed to mismanage money.
Not a penny was available for
servants and wine, gates and lawns,
books and statues, libraries and leisure.
Walls out of earth were barely possible.
We talk, standing by the window
every night, looking down on the
domes and towers of the city,
mysteriously sacred in the October moonlight.
Worn old stones look impossibly white.
We think of all the poems
assembled down there, actual and potential,
and poets past, present, and future.
We see the stained-glass windows casting
stars and crescents on the pavement;
we think of memorials and inscriptions,
of the fountains, meadows, quiet rooms,
and (please grant me the thought)
of the convenient wine and servants,
the deep armchairs and comforting carpets:
the urbanity, the geniality, the dignity,
rightful access to luxury and privacy.
Our mothers have not provided us
with anything comparable to all this —
our mothers who saved no money,
but decided to raise children instead.
I just wondered whether Ashbery had much of a direct relationship with jazz musicians or jazz
improvisation theory. Approaching Ashbery’s work with something of a jazz consciousness can
set someone up with a much better relationship with what’s going on than, say, New Critical
interpretations of how poems work. I was wondering if that’s just a coincidence or if Ashbery
has ever written on or talked about jazz improvisation. The way he takes a concept (say the
concept of a Worsening Situation) and then plays it through the registers, is brilliant (in much
the way that Sonny Rollins’ Blue 7 is brilliant [and, I believe, completely improvised]). If such an
essay hasn’t been written yet, it should be.
I wander through the dark streets,
and I ponder this and that.
I wonder why it is that
Sister Mary has no money, what
poverty does to the mind, what
wealth does to the mind, the
wizards I have seen on television,
and I realize how it is.
I think about the brick libraries.
I think about the locked doors.
I think how unpleasant it is,
though it has perhaps been worse.
We feel no safety or prosperity,
we feel only poverty and insecurity.
There is no effect of tradition,
lack continues of a proud tradition.
At last, it’s time to pause:
The arguments and the impressions, even
laughter, are tossed into the hedges.
Stars are flickering among the leaves.
The patches of sky seem lonely.
All human beings are sound asleep.
Even if some doors or gates
are standing open, it’s too late.
We look up in surprise; and
then we hear Ashbery’s favorite tune:
Says Who? Says You, Says I!
I’m not being very cutting-edge with this, but I’m tired of the boxes people have made for
Ashbery. He presents a much more inclusive poem than definitions of his work usually admit. I
like the idea of jazz as a metaphor, as the theme / improvisation format keeps a window open
for whatever the day presents. But like all metaphors and parallel examples, it leaves out at
least as much as it allows.
Mary looks up from her notebook.
History seems to be fading away.
She glances at the high-definition display.
The Modern Poetry program is ending,
the one that explains John Ashbery,
Ashbery’s Golden Age of Poetic Jazz.
She looks back at the notebook,
as it turns into wet chalk;
it is 2:30 on Thursday afternoon,
the explanation is complete, and we
no longer need poetry or jazz.
Das Klagende Lied
Some people may actually think that
Where is more than guess-work, listening
Shapes, nomenclature, balancing reactions, elucidation using
230,000 liters of black ink, causing
Statement cloud strategy, seven relentless years
Today’s free-playing weekend sex, because usually
Simple but highly creative ideas let you
Making the right choices, reduce your
Science is the key to our
All the supported types are found
Four separate levels connected by a
What would Aristophanes say to today’s
Before you completely know, it’s worth
Reveal to me the origins of
Are all the universes in principle
Learn about actions of the mummies
Help members of other groups for
Turning coffee into cooler than insane
Display that picture in the corner
Students will receive valid religious beliefs
Contrary to what most think, useless
Not yet knowing exactly the ancestors
The marker organisms in its forefathers
The rise of ocean tides will require
Turbines and loud, harmful fish and
Noise from bats and birds, look
Just a breeze, marshes favor cattails
When the wind sets them waving
Built offshore of Madagascar to renew
Experts warn insect populations in winter
Laugh, but yawning my colleagues are
Meditation, relaxation, and stress reduction at
Overlooked this powerful tool. However, for
As soon as they are able
New methods eliminate any human preferences
Children designed as befits such disability
Usually are often certified true content
How much remains intense, and what
Settled on a million levels, enough
Many others do that well below
The second year, regarding visualization within
The topic and differences among countries
To generate dense papers, including diagrams
First technical description of today, called
Can you feel that peak we
The inevitable plunge back down into
From a bit more time if
People beg, “Keep this damned money
From a fossil-mine?”
Don’t help people. Help prevent people.
(Me tienes loco.)
They just want to stop hurting.
You’re trying to become a singer,
jump-starting your own exciting musical career,
learning to create music full sail.
Ensure you check them all out,
and learn about the catchiest tunes
in our commercials. Artists who perform,
Godspeed! I pray for your souls.
You’ll be remembered, you’ll be missed,
I could never express how much.
Each day awakens a different person.
Su corazón para mi pequeña piñata.
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Bottle of Jameson, bottle of Devotion,
the origins of your unwritten art.
They’re free to blame you for
everything that is wrong with them,
but they forget to give you
credit for what is nearly right.
Their minds are almost too small.
If you know what someone says,
then you can predict what they
have assumed, but fear the others.
They find, take, give, lose shape,
often childish, and too self-centered anyway.
You are accused of ulterior motives.
You are cheated out of happiness.
Between you and them, you’re better,
but attractive words and proffered food
only prolong their boredom and hunger.
Their children want to run away.
You have purpose, you have knowledge,
you alone see more than things,
you alone can restore, renew, revive,
reclaim, and redeem the living land.
Everyone in town is fighting you.
You alone are first, second, third.
Your many, varied lives are paramount.
Nadie te ama más que yo.
Gesualdo
Big red wallpaper
Big red wallpaper
It makes you choose
It makes you think
Corned beef and egg
Corned beef and egg
They make you tired
They make you droid
Down it now may go
Down it well may go
Who knows anymore?
These days, who really knows?
We are a la mode
We are all a la mode
They shout that we are
Not what we should be
Well, say that they give it
Just say that they give it
We are more, we are more
We are more than they give
While I'm Thinking of It
It has come to my attention,
but I can't understand how to say it.
I can hear, but I can't understand
what's being said. This happens more often.
Sympathy is feeling without understanding.
What really needs to be heard? Don't resist.
It is often described as leading to feelings
without expecting to be convicted by others.
The risk may be progressing from
feelings to self-destructive subjects.
There is a splitting of the personality,
or some self-destructive self-keeping.
Maybe un-useful remedies for weak genes,
maybe self-control in the face of non-confusion.
Maybe use of this week's contact information,
sparse and slow; there's a reason confusion is pure.
While I'm thinking of it, there is a bird outside.
It doesn't "sing" so much as imitate a kalimba.
{bird bird's birdie birds birth birthday birthing birthplace
births Biscayne biscuits bisexual bishop bishops birdcage}
A little bird told me two years ago;
it was one of those times when something was deep.
I was watching a beautiful spring day,
wind-blown, cloudy, and just-right wet.
The door was open to the back yard,
where tangerines hung on our tree.
I shut a loud family room, and then I heard
a bird inside, near me, flying around.
I hid under a blanket to make it darker,
and I thought about using a broom to shoo it out.
While I was thinking, it flew out again, and
the joke was on me, as usual. Funny bird!
We are all grateful for the opportunity to teach -challenges or delights, family history, anything;
and there are countless opportunities to grow
in the action parts, in the hope parts, in the threads.
I can't hold all the facts, but I can pick out the ones
that I was part of, where I had moments of amazement.
After I Kissed Mary
After I kissed Mary, I started listening to her. After listening for a while,
I realized that I loved her. (And, of course, she loved me.) Our love grew
and matured according to the psycho- and socio-morphology
of our place and time. One or more offspring ensued, according to the
prevailing norms. One of us (Person X) died, and Person Y soldiered on.
The death was not premature; in that sense it was, I guess, expected.
Finally, Person Y also died. If this sounds sketchy and abstract, well,
the whole trajectory forked from our (a/k/a “the real”) universe
nearly fifty years ago. It all happened in one of those parallel universes
that can communicate with ours only in waking dreams.
Moderately Evasive
Abruptly the more distractible pavement ingests
a recondite stream of basement-evaders, impugned
though oblivious. They are in just spring, these transparent
shingles as old as snow, systematically dispersing around
my rose blooms, short on logic, yea, believe it.
Since they are like our coming out into the avenue,
as more you parallel, so less she should give way to
foundlings from the Rand Institute. Yes, she was the one
who would be least prone to riddle you.
We will always cant, and, as near cantors,
will retreat into core epiphenomena. A broader
quality will have passed away. They'd've explained to you that,
releasing unlike such-and-so, eardrums dry over the spaces
before laughter magnifies. We'd told them to resist, or,
after they'd been here at least equestrianly, they'd repeat
the speech gracefully outside the feed-bag. Yes, I had
both blurted out and taken defense. Twice or more past
they will’ve reawakened us going together, apart from the real,
into the insane past unlike a blanket statement.
This always begins out of geistige Gesundheit
and its hypernyms.
Attending to a runner without his pencil,
combining a baser honor with incomplete delight,
common examples accepted almost always,
going in to be recalled out of a stammering
alertness and pushing ahead. Attentively, they will extract what
we'd been collecting unlike the pupil and discarding
unlike the pelt (neither part perhaps), well informed about what'd've
honored us. The future will have forbidden their ports, and,
after now, they'll've been none for all.