Sunday, November 23, 2003

A netsuke balancing above us

only says goodbye. Without pretense
it is a penis and a mask.

Yesterday, we saw three foxes,
those that would eat our apples

before our orchard burned. Since,
a figure rests in our bedroom’s darkness

and we guess what Focault knew.
Visibility is a trap.

We look for beauty in the objects
around us, and sometimes do not notice

when we are lied to.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Wow, I am so excited! Today has been great! Barring that some crazy tried to mash into me on the freeway because they were obviously in the midst of a very in-depth, passionate, and erudite conversation, it still has been great. That stupid on the freeway was even great. Another great thing, self-promotion aside, is a new book from Avenue B ( Involuntary Vision: After Akira Kurosawa's Dreams. It's a great looking book and is filled with a gaggle of marvelous writers.

Otherwise, I'm so happy it's finally cold.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Mars looms red, closer than 60,000 years.

Closer than my dead father. I need this to mean
something. To herald an end, or a new species.
You say I am “too involved” with conclusions, obsessed
with the owls that live outside our house.

But you fall in love with automatons
too easily. I crawl beneath your scope, wait
for velocity and your advances. I am patient.
We desire our robots because we don’t love
those we don’t see.

You say that you don’t like plasticization,
though it fascinates me. I need to be your
artifact, your acrylic and keen-eyed doll.
I’ll stand in the den, my back arched—
a beacon for celestial impact.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Weeks ago, Noah E. Gordon gave me Nick Moudry's chapbook, _a poem a movie & a poem_. First of all it's a really well-made book (hand-stitched!), but also, and more important, the poems are brilliant! Here's a de-contextualized portion:


We don't need poems to tell us we
write too much. It is raining. That
our friends are far away or just in

the other room. If I want a pumpkin,
I will have a real pumpkin & not a poem about one.
We don't need poems to tell us how alone we are.


If you want more of this (and you probably should), contact:

braincase press
Noah Eli Gordon
PO Box 1471
Northampton, MA 01061

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Speaking of accessible, inaccessible, experimental, main stream, l=a=n=g=u=a=g=e, avant garde, narrative, lyric, etc. poetry, here are my modest thoughts: the very terms: (in)accessible and experimental are highly suspect.

Accessibility first. How is a non-linear, disjunctive poem less accessible than a narrative poem? This assertion is ridiculous as a qualifier as it posits some sort of authoritative determinism. It’s yelling at an apple for not being an orange. So what if a person doesn’t “get it?” What if no one “gets” it? What if the poet doesn’t “get” it? What if it nonetheless still has value as it may evoke emotions, ideas, conflicts etc. People can chose to bring their own mystification to the piece if they’d like, or they can decide to discard any preconcieved ideas.
More main stream poets often accuse avantgardists of elististism. This is, and is not, true. Sure, I am an elitist, as are most of my friends. We know our shit, and thus like to discuss complex ideas, argue our points into the ground, and, in a pinch, make pleas to authority. We know that few have decided to pursue, for whatever reason, poetry, language, esoterica, etc. to the same degree we have and thus, yes, we feel elite—we are an educated minority. This is pleasurable activity: It feels nice (and this is universal) to make sense and find solace in other thinkers; however, this is an activity open to all. In this sense, we are not exclusive--elitist yes, but anyone can join the club if they enjoy the club activities.
Andrew’s poem is a great example of how a supposedly elitist, inaccessible poem reveals itself to be just the opposite. I can almost guarantee that people will find their own unique way into the poem. This becomes tricky, as I could line up a list of words and let people “make their own meaning.” This, of course, would be pretty silly. Andrew’s poem however works as a locus of sorts: an area that has dimension and boundary, and yet can be explored in a myriad of ways.

Now to “experimentalism.” What the hell is contemporary “experimental poetry?” I understand how this terms works historically, but I fear the term is becoming too fuzzy. So Kasey Silem Mohammad, Lisa Robertson, Chris Stroffolino, Tanya Brolaski, and Ron Silliman have all been referred to as experimental. What does this tell me? It like saying, “I like alternative music.” What a dumb thing to say! Once, there was a difference, I think, between avant-garde and experimental—but now, often, there is absolutely nothing experimental about an “experimental” poem. People too often use the terms interchangeably. I think that if we are going to use the e-word, then we ought to refrain from using it unless we honestly feel that the writer is attempting some sort of linguisitc/poetic experiment, and NOT simply when this or that poet’s writing sounds unlike mainstream poetry. I suppose I’m calling for a sharper division between avant-garde (which is the larger term and can include experimental poetry) and experimental (which is intrinsically a more narrow term).

Anyhow, these are my cursory and off-the-cuff blog-thoughts. Maybe it’s something like B=L=O=G=G=A=G=E.

The other night, I was talking with Andrew Felsinger and he mentioned that he had a New Brutalist poem. Of course I asked to see it, and have now obtained his permission to post it here in full. Read it, friends, and find your meaning:

the newish brutalist      

[this superabundance, this tyranny] 

--Samantha Giles 

spheres. hearken the shifting music of the world succumbed to a phrase. the shifting shade shook the sauntered to, out of. as if to say, “…nothing this way comes: no models, propellers, roller blades." burnt comings consume the dust. “evade lost words like landscape." in the groin of this century goes the middle finger. we frig to know it. often conjoined in heated clock ticking. there were only this many fingers. terra firma emulated the emulated child as manwomen worked the diving rods of newer roads. (not unlike the bind. these cheeky little joints.) killing ache in the no wind. it blew outa there and continued forthwith into a prism. the new brutalists wear hats, sandals, fundamental jackets, accurate dungarees, authentic as frosting. new dreams burned like a slick residue. weeped like sandals, clothes lines. there are only so many –isms. she said / he said. how can i limit nothing. born as tiny specks. chickens parsimoniously left their thang-out. they shook their heads. wanted to envision their experience as having a greater, therefore lesser, degree of reality. things were like this and not altogether unmanageable. words like dreck made the scene. it was an occasion to take a life amongst the happy. the juice fairly spilt. the voice, often so unnatural, spoke without recourse. there are no roots matching this to that which this had been about. only bread, our daily wort.  

the new brutalists saw to it the piano had been broken by wires. saw the purple recording device and flashed, their indelicate motions gripping the frenzied public which bleed like a thorny bush, like irony, like a yellow brush of paint left to wallow in the helium. in punching the clock i thought of you, briefly. there are not a thousand brilliant dots but one identical cauliflower to be and not to be, as is the question. the dynamo held the new brutals like a scalpel and withdrew into the back room where all the pennies were counted. songs not spirituals. the TV super suck color picture true pitch or as the house lies divided in its path. the office workers find their way home as the dust settles on that room. a gigantic truck lurches its way through the city. cars began to honk then slide off the entertainment embankment. the home drifted toward that golden ravine. divine the diving insects who rupture space toward the comeuppance of truth. the wailing experiment not normally associated with time. on Wednesday the new brutalists had this new way of becoming loud. it required a helmet and thirty thousand dollars. i gave it a push, like a wind up toy that had had old batteries. in the dark there are stories of the timorous xenophobe who sold his teletype to the rodeo then projected his hate unto the untold masses of telepeople. this sounds like strobing static. like television but was only a kind of mellifluous consternation whipped up by some confused church going children who had run out of monies to watch their favorite imbroglio. she held the stick firmly between her legs and called for the sentence to be about that which had not transpired but might have had the furniture not been made of super heated love and kinky cotton candy jumping jacks. the yellow pressed itself into the rummaging square only to find that the roll over had indeed incurred the wrath of umpteen numbers of gorgeous fabricated quietnesses. the little factory chimp cried in the outlandish air as the men said that they were nowhere to be found, only working to stave off that thought in which they too would scratch and wiggle. we burned the decks of pirate ships then dozed off as an indigo moon swam beneath us in the sorrel sea. the last words were themselves forced to lend their not so famous selves to the fight to end the income gap and were then finding themselves newly dreamed in the newly fashioned world which rocked to then fro like a giant advertising sign glimpsed imaginatively under a noon day moon. we gave the forest a trumpet and it did play a mushroom. earthen thoughts break the silence of a dedicated sentence. popular as the motion was it didn’t catch on for long, the wrong-headed axle bent itself like a pretzel and was given to the show. people could indeed become the new brutals they had watched on tv or those they had thought were on tv but who had never been. 

indelicate evasions map enormous titles the moment fabricated versions of you. we don’t see but move toward light at the point of assault. the lollipop gald held the kaleidoscope retroactive factions in the mojo of hipper lullabies that defend the totting horn of the zoo object. this we call youth. in diametric opposition the kitchen sits awaiting the blunder of cant to obscure those whom shall come & abjure the tony lakes like bits of ornamental tooth decay. the floundering of this radioactive standard, this short-wave felony. ugly retractable plug. the popular retraceable mouth shatters the matter of meaner meaning. this side of chandeliers. thought of misanthropic calendars accounting for chance at the birth of imagined nothing. there is the space that is so before the ultra that it is brought indoors and generated like a broken hand. i scratched my arm with worrying that soon the money will be shook. a wisp of smoke flew vertically into the above air. at some point the new brutalists can be seen using language. this is not you father’s buick. at some point the point is given back to those whom had originally lost it in the myriad of circus events called populace. in the standard way we go to this prescription. but that ain’t the junction of so. this question we evade in the totality of this saying. this voice only mentioning itself as a counter-attack to that which we can only predict in the lunchroom. the new brutals laughed then gathered themselves like cartoon characters and sat around sniffing the broken pickle. you there smiling in the assonance of prescence. 

--Andrew Felsinger

Friday, September 12, 2003

Johnny Cash is dead. And just yesterday I saw him on Columbo, portraying "John Brown" a country-western singer suspected of murder. His leg was in a cast. He played his guitar to a bevy of bikinied ladies. He looked to be about 41. He worried that the pressure in his plane's cabin would ruin the perfect pitch and timber of his black-with-white-piping guitar. I'm going to go home and listen to "Cocaine Blues" and feel down. I'm not being ironic--I'm really sad, and to be honest, I'm not sure why. It's not like I love Cash, or say "Cash is King," but nonetheless...

Saturday, September 06, 2003

O.K. For those of you who know and love Taruho Inagaki--our Japanese Futurist friend who loved cigarettes, rockets, and the mercurial and violent Mr. Moon (and who doesn't love these things)--please check out Kimiaki Ishizuki's depictions of Taruho-san: These sculptures rule. When I go to Japan, I'm going to find this guy, buy his work, and take him out for a drink. If any of you know any American venues that would be interested in showing his work, let me know.

Here's a poem I wrote a few years ago for Taruho Inagaki:

“ ‘You think the moon and stars and such are real?’ Someone asked one night ‘Uh-huh that’s right’”
-Inagaki Taruho

Tonight was moonless my dandy friend. An absence hung above, illuminating the stars around it. No whizzing comets, tom cats, or aeroplanes. However, atop a bar buzzed a neon moon with a rocket jutting from his eye. Rolling a cigarette, I winked and said kombawa. You cannot fool me Taruho-san! It was not phosphorous or argon pulsing in those glass veins, but ether! I let smoke curl from my mouth, up to your smiling lips. A melody slipped and spiraled out from the bar: it wouldn’t be make believe if you believed in me.

Friday, September 05, 2003

By the way--check out Michael Cross' blog! He's got links, and your blog could be linked next!
I know, it's been a week.  Yesterday, James chastised me, and indeed, I was shamed.  Humbled, I cried aloud, and rent the air with my hands.  Then we had breakfast and talked about James' new job.  Congratulations! In any case, going along with this trend of lists, I've made my own:

Top ten writers who've inspired/demanded/tricked me into writing poetry (in no particular order):

Pablo Neruda
Nate Mackey
Elizabeth Willis
Neil Gaiman
Charles Baudelaire
Fanny Howe
Eric Baus
Jack Spicer
Wallace Stevens
Inagaki Taruho

Granted, this list is  "first thought, best thought" though I've never been a fan of the beats.  My entry into poetry was Neruda and Vallejo (both of whom I love, but Neruda was more of a primary influence). Chico State (my undergrad alma mater) was not too keen on contemporary poetics, experimental or otherwise (though I must thank Roger Kaye for one excellent class on Modern Poetry across the globe--that was a damn fine class (where I first read Stevens), though I never got any of my papers back...).  But this was nonetheless fortuitous (did I spell that right?), as Eric Baus--a fine poet in his own right--came by for a semester and intoduced me to Nate Mackey and his book School of Udhra, and boy was I floored!  Merci beaucoup Monsieur Baus!  I think that Eric brought by one of Inagaki Taruho's poems as well.  Taruho is probably one of my strongest influences--that guy had such a sense of style.  I like to imagine Taruho and Oscar Wilde going out for drinks and smokes, and then getting into a super sexed-up fight.  That rocks! 

To continue:  Neil Gaiman was an influence because as a young man I fancied myself  "goth" and thus was obsessed, almost by obligation, with Gaiman's comic book the Sandman.  Even now, I eagerly pick up any book that man writes.  As such, comics came before poetry, influenced my poetics, and now I read comics poetically. 

In grad school, both Elizabeth Willis and Stephen Ratcliffe were terrific influences, though I ended up with more classes and workshops from Liz, so she wins the toss-up.  Liz's class on poetry and visual culture was so sweet! She also taught a prose poetry class--that was when I really got into Baudelaire (he'd probably go out with Wilde and Taruho as well).  I know, it's easy to say, "oh, Baudelaire was a great influence on my writing.  Indeed."  But, dude, he rules!  If I left him out, I know that somehow he'd haunt my ass.  Maybe literally.

Jack Spicer and Fanny Howe are more recent influences. Both certainly are mystics and know that poetry is a form of magic.  Which leads me to my next list: Top Ten reasons Why I Write (NPO). Which I will write later, because I went out too late last night, and now want to go home--I'm writing this from school.

But, first, here is a poem:

With a gesture, like snow falling,

you swept past our horizon.  We were left
with something invisible, implied--
explanations of polytropicism and nihilist
tendencies in American cinema.
We wanted a theory of war, a narrative
involving rooks and their parliaments.

I worried that poetic theory was not enough; besides,
my fingers were growing numb, so that my glasses
could not be removed.  We grew frustrated:

The landscape was only that--a far-off painting,
a scene on a forced march.  We, trembling and angry,
could only move beside it.

We sat for hours, hoping to meditate,
but only falling asleep.

Friday, August 29, 2003

O.K. I admit it--Last night, while offering everyone a poem in place of the MTV music awards, instead of writing--I was watching those very awards!!! Please imagine some Lovecraftian narrrative involving deep, undersea squid-men and mad xenophobes leading up to the previous statement. Then you will understand the drama for which I am aiming.

Has anyone seen Mark Ryden's new series "Blood?" I'm not so sure about the title, but some of the paintings are really incredible. delightful? Check out especially "Lincoln's Head 43" at

I was so jazzed with Kasey's and Noah's books that I've been reading one poem from each in my two english 1A classes. Rather, I've been reading Kasey in one, and Noah in the other. Reactions to both are still gestating, I think. Though with each, I've had to "prove" that they are indeed poems...I'll continue with the experiment/education throughout the semester.

By the way, can anyone tell me how you post pictures? Do I have to upgrade to super blogger? It sure would be fabulous if Duration started acting as a blog host...

I'm trying to post a poem a post, as a prompt of sorts; however, this is an older poem starring Punch of "...and Judy fame."


tries to
be the
of Hamlet's
Froth foams
from his
lips, ears
and (to be
safe) a
of his
"where is
my hat?"
he asks
the guards.
"Without that
I'm only
a ghost of
Lucky for me
this is a
Punch pulls a
beanie right
from an actor's
head, but forgets
to take the
head out!
like a "pop"
he plops out
the head
replacing it
his own.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

In place of tonight's MTV music awards, let me offer a poem for your discernment:

We begin to act like those bereaved.

We build an Acropolis, but the bedroom
is too small. There are no birds to rouse us.
We ask why, ask for something intimately
written in the dark. What are we suppose
to do? Why this insistence on structure
and permanency? Even sex has become
only a small comfort, difficult now that it is marred
with consideration. Hands drape from my face,
the stars behind me. Each constellation becomes
a text, a point of observance, and thus definition.

Each small thing
Each small place
Each small poem
Each small view
Each small theory
Each small everything

Everything has its small death—stars even more so.
You give this to me for comfort; a caress carefully
sewn and left for me to find and return.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Okay. Same day. I know. i was looking at Michael Cross's blog, and his stories of Justin Timberlake-immune students reminded me of this: --as I was looking through student responses, I found this: a student replied to my question of "What was the best essay/novel/short story/play you've read in the last two years?" with this simple answer (in a very pleasant hue of sparkly-green ink):

I don't have a favorite because I hate to read words

Mind you, this student doesn't just hate to read, but hates, especially, the reading of words. i'm going to copy and frame this, I think.
Well, it's certainly been a while--let's see how this experiment pans out.

James Meetze's book release party for Kasey Silem Mohammad and Noah Eli Gordon was great fun. I drank beer, listened to poems, and pondered the idea of ether. Both of these guys manipulate electronic communication, and arrange it into something else that is more than the sum. So maybe all the scientists are wrong: there IS an ether through which we move and can manipulate. it's just that our original definition of it was a little off. I must admit some small love for whack scientists. Lab coats, scribbled charts, and sleep deprivation ARE sexy, and are indicative of genius.

here's a poem from a series I'm working on. I wrote this late at night, without the aid of coffee, and without the aid of a lab coat.

Your skeleton is perfect Art Deco.

Wrens (that would scatter with the softest
of breaths) are etched into each bone,
telling an ideographic
story of simple loss
and a voyage.

We were cryptanalysts,
read from your clavicle:

In order
to complete
any vision
of a paved
and urban
right off,
we must
how far
our time is
from its
then adjust
our present

Your hair curled neatly
(just so) around your face, and
wind propelled our night into theory.
We argued about phrenology and Scrabble.
I wanted to use Charon and Lethe, but
knew I couldn't.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

here's my first post. More to come--I'll try to live up to any expectations.

Underground tunnel

Those two. They couldn’t make it to Paris, for the catacombs, so they made do with what waited beneath their very toes. He was wearing his roughest jeans—smiled like broken windows. Said to the girl, no doubt, a lot of people are sissies. They wove their breath into a rope between them, and took chances with corners. Her fingernails were cracked, but still quite pretty. It was so dark there, but they found there way through the labyrinths like bats, with murmurs and exclamations. Running her hands across the red-bricked walls, the girl mentioned Das ist vermutlich, warum ich heraus auf der Stra├če mit einem Zicklein so auf einer Nacht wie heute abend bin.

if you know of any interesting/evocative/silly German phrases/truths/fragments, and would like to see them turn up in a poem such as the one above, send them to me.

Thanks to Jessica Moll for the German phrase found above.