This sequence is an attempt to write a travestied and contrapuntal counterpoint to my previous ‘Fleeting[ ]Improvised.’ It’s sort of an extremely vicious and mean parody of my own tendencies, which is a cathartic and maybe generative thing to write once in awhile. Have a look, there are some lines in there I find pretty funny.
Inversion of a Selection of 'Caesura,' by Geoffrey Waterman
This was an attempt to invert the line-by-line meaning of part of my classmate Geoff Waterman’s sequence ‘Caesura,’ as well as reversing the salient anxieties of the piece. I usually don’t post this kind of stuff but I like how this turned out, and it’s autonomous enough that I don’t feel like I’m biting his moves as it were.
1. the ocean mends metal
and bunkers down in
among crashing vessels, exploding fuel tanks
I’m deaf. I’m invincible,
I’m slower than anything
but quickened by hacking up logos.
2.no, I can’t name sediment seeping into basements,
Popular interpretation in modern academia theorizes the hieroglyphic image of the beetle represents a triliteral phonetic that Egyptologists transliterate as xpr or ḫpr and translate as “to come into being”, “to become” or “to transform”. The derivative term xprw or ḫpr(w) is variously translated as “form”, “transformation”, “happening”, “mode of being” or “what has come into being”, depending on the context.
Here’s a recording of me reading, plus the great Philly poets Sarah Dowling and Pattie McCarthy, at Eddie Hopeley’s monthly reading series Blanket. I sound kind of like a nasal-voiced nerd in the audio, but I promise you, I was rippling with muscles and testosterone the whole time.
A short sequence written very quickly for a visiting writer. You may have spotted a rougher version of this on my other blog earlier, but this is as final as it is going to be for now. Please check it out, there are many thrilling pictures of action and melodrama involved.
This is an exercise after Charles Bernstein’s essay “Poetics of Americas,” with the variable of concerning the gradual loss of a mothertongue, a much more blandly immanent focus than Bernstein’s more politically activated model.
Note 1: my first language was not Latin, I don’t know why there’s Latin here. This sucks a ton as poetry, but it was an interesting experiment in practice.
Note 1: Algol is a star which lends its name to “Algol variables,” a certain type of eclipsing star. That seems germane, and the impetus behind this poem owes something to Alice Notley’s ‘Songs and Stories of the Ghouls.’
1. the gin ban happened I
loll out in alley unto— hey look—
is that a peregrine falcon?
is eating a burger king wrapper ja? tuck in
under earth urn over-dirt peanut
shells, mouse bones, ashes
2. ban the gin break kale in parti-
liminaling case pressed water
from protein. a chunk. mm, delicious.
informal you plural with fork and gunboat
hail off coast. ring a little ice-cream truck.
order in dialect of VT “cree-mee”
ich mochte dass
3. agin agin charge, charge, huge punch,
switch and roll over quite softly. bring no,
no, bring zero heft of dense matter. go through
a tube in a fantasy. I say in tongue ich will
einen hot-house bitte. viele viele dank
mein susser glop. a clean plate on the floor.
one cockroach known through all spring, no joke,
and that one pouring forth on deck.
4. I in attic—diligenter, dulcis, homophobic
version of Catullus rejected and heaved out,
out out under lintel. in an architecture, underwrote
by schmutzige Plotze, ach, come on,
ur shitting me.
so much garbling in a coffee table with strong
blows against the head and country comet
5. wir leben Lampen— zunden wir die Spatzen, die
Nachitgal, in philomela, nuper nuper nuper sedentam oak and
with harsh tongue ripping peace unto animal matter.
y’all, I in attic one thousand comic books had, a little baby,
and reared in offal lingua away from, well, wroth urnes.
1. This is a somatic record of the body in process. This is a confessional poem saying “ahh, hm.” This is the record of the wind shaking wires from the south so vigorously that the ceiling cracks. Like Austerlitz in Austerlitz careful attention is given over to the white walls, with brick less than half an inch beneath the plaster, the white jambs and the less-white lintel, the wind shaking parked cars into motion. A body with gross red kneecaps.
2. the presto part of the rhapsody moves
from the black keys to the white
keys as Liszt shifts from D-Flat to C-
sharp major and shifts car alarms along here prefer
long beeps to fake ambulance sirens
dedicated to Count Antoine of Appony.
3. unlike rhapsodies no. 9 (Pezster Carnaval) or
no. 15 (Rakoczi-March) there’s no particular title
there’s no real reason to listen to this
nobody is going to be impressed or flattered—
4. proceeds from one corner of a room to another
along an offwhite ceiling parti-colored or
“pied” (citation needed) horizontally
with vinyl cross-work.
5. an organism moving across the ceiling
should be 400 pounds with a carapace.
6. I’m listening to Lizst and liking it
as an organism
I’m really wowed, y’all
7. and an enharmonic version of
repetitive organisms ending
with long cadenza
8. to touch things by consuming them with mandibles
an organism is leaving a pheromone trail to alert
its brothers to hunting grounds.
an edgy depiction of List “whacking it” appears
in a movie I downloaded off the internet.
this in a paper i.e. “bathos”
i.e. “Franz Lizst disconcolate” because I stole it
there’s no director’s commentary
9. folk tunes evoke an “earthy sensuality”
like you know
wearing black socks with huge holes in them
upper-middle class ethnologists unfixing their collars
and “cutting a rug” as it were an
“earthy sensuality” is a mode of orienting oneself towards an open window
with no space to park an organism with a carapace
10. Lizst “pursuing a widow” it’s a dream sequence
he descends into a womb
this might be a deleted scene or subject
11. 400 pounds of it
and pathfinding limbs
12. the book on hand is about pathfinding processes prioritizing homeland memory. the book is orienting itself towards the self as an unfulfilling organism. it has different languages to indicate the body as a monad dis-cohering and slipping off the repetitive melody on black keys. the “Hungarian fantasy” is an arrangement to save you some time. to find yourself as a body asking after yourself in a foreign language must displace something basic, huh? this online stream of “Hungarian rhapsody” is interrupted with an ad for “party rock anthem.” I am rocking hard against a lintel in a train station in 1882, four stories up, with several bishops shaking their fists up at me with the wind kicking their garbs up around their smooth and visually appealing little shins. a separate author outside the text notes ‘like marble.’ All the bishops are wearing silver Chucks. In this vignette I’m a thing that can breathe fire.
13. after a certain interval (andante) car alarms
cut it out for street sweeping.
in this body of text I’m a festive man
sweeping the sidewalk with a stout heart.
i’m an advanced broom-pushing robot
with an LED display that says “kill me” it says
“gag me with a spoon” plays
a little MIDI Cyprian Scale when feeling accomplished
a jolly song in my quantum processing core.
14. a guy in a garage yells “wake up!” and slams a tin door.
an organism oriented weirdly in a south-southwest mode recalls
the end of this Ernst Stadler poem—Mensch, werde wesentlich!— which
somebody translated as “man, stop being a ghost!” which gets to the point
although a more conservative translator (me) could render it: “man, become substantial!”
which sucks and impresses nobody.
15. in a set of 19 rhapsodies you can afford a little love-theme.
you can evoke “earthy sensuality” and show Liszt as Roger Daltrey.
he’s going wild in an unheimlich montage. predating Weezer by some 20 years,
the slanderous image of Wagner appears in a Weezer jumpuit.
16. any assemblage of graphemes can order themselves into “love lyric”
if you start sighing out a window. a blue curtain blows
forth and settles over a book containing “the mower to
the glo-worm.” this really happens and I’m a country comet.
17. I’m a trash-cran upright on its little plastic wheels moving
down the sidewalk looking by means of pathetic fallacy legitimately
austere and noble. Metonymy lets me be a robot that says
“exterminate.” I dreamt I was a confessional poet
18. singing “(((’I’) (and [I])) survived)”
19. there are a lot of cars in wracked in wind today
Swaddled up and warm, Dante dreams of commute. He lets a dark green Subaru merge and is filled with a sense of charity and annihilation. He has this habit of usually fainting and averting his gaze that he’s trying to work on. His gas light begins to dim from red to orange to black, a miracle immanent in the event of commute. Dante is leaving Slut City with a song on his lips. Her theme song then was “Egyptian Shumba.” Everyone is living la vita nuova. But before the dawn of air travel she could have sex lying on the ground on top of a spread-out Tyvec windbreaker in a pile in 2003. And move her fingers off to the side along the tops of imagined indices. When he faints and averts his gaze Virgil plucks his listless arm and presses onward passing beneath the gate polished steel visited by a red star falling over the steppes. She does ten sit-ups, twenty squats then ten side-planks and repeats this pattern thrice. She is being born in 1893. She can parallel park as well as he can. I departed from the city on the Feast Day of St. Jack Fiddler, my dull sand honed as a black faced cube of marble, booked in a hotel. My colicky feelings, my Turkish companions. My backpack heavy with religious bumper-stickers.
7. The Winner of the Tontine is Determined
While preparing to depart the city upon completion of ritual ablutions I espied from a window a flag caught up by the wind, one half of its brass fastener detached so that, fixed upon its pole by a single point, it snapped and writhed in a most impious fashion, here twisting upon itself like a thick cord, here sharpening out into the flat semblance of a scalene triangle. I stood transfixed by this sight for some hours, such that, even were I an infidel unwarmed by civic ardor, I would have been moved. I saw in that hour a listless arm against effaced field light in a field and deposit a small detachment of men. High Strangeness Rating: 7. Two days from the city, a man led our party to a remarkable tire fire and noted: it is not the object itself that pricks up feelings of hatred, but the systems of orientations assumed towards it by those whom, in better faith, we should be disposed to hate. As I prepared to depart the city, I, an infidel myself, gelded in my sleep and detained on charges of piety, awaiting the moment of execution, could not, despite my concerted efforts, bring myself to feelings of abhorrence for those distended enemy colors, even as the wooden fetters snapped around my shoulders, the propitiating ermine and bolt of cloth draped across my listless arms, and, polished by that crippled scrupulousness, the soldier-maid in her green coat brought the sword down around my neck! This and other memories of past-lives I thought upon in the waiting room of Dr. All-Wife, distracted by the flashing green light moving vertically up and down the skyline. My co-pay weighed heavy in the pocket of my jerkin. Let us praise the prophet Jack Spicer for those pious systems covered by our insurance by the beneficence of our employer the All-Wife, our crystal-healing, our reversion therapy. Someone scraped the hell out of our Geo Prizm beneath the abolished auspice of our rolling, X-eyed heads. Seeking vengeance and armed with supple yew bows, we left the city that evening for the vast and vulgar Rival.
8. Departure From the City
We set out from the City of Permanent Insinuation on Friday, 16 March 921. We stayed one day among the steppes and set out again, marching at speed, and reached a village of men fast asleep, face down, in narrow pine troughs. We stayed there three days and then continued without halting until we reached
9. Demonstrations of Will Within the City Walls
When the day of our departure came, I spoke to the people gathered at the gates. I said to them: “O people! The glad word of the Man-Moth goes with me and knows everything that transpires. I am carrying letters from the Boy-Flaw and the Unswerving Ray of Saints and I am quite sure that they will fix us in good carriage. I am going to a foreign king to demand money.” “We aren’t worried about it,” they said. “No really, I will demand it,” I said. But they would not listen.
10. A Barbeque in Honor of the Envoy is Attended
Two parallel rows of saplings on the side of a road implies human intervention. To feel ambiguity over felling them is a piety. O wendigo, o loved one stay my hand! I who roam abandoned with an axe outside the city limits, who bruise my wayward hand against gates striped with brass and iron! Attend and take warning from my tale: no, don’t do that, nobody feels like doing that. Our departure from the city was marked by most dignified and pious demonstrations of the city’s righteous weal: fat bolts of black cloth unspoiled upon every plate, the tender flesh of ermines, variations on Brahms played by wendigos on the Wanamaker Organ while the arch-bishop sniffled and blew his nose on his sleeve in unabashed rapture. The girl-things and man-moths drew their stingers in salute. One weekend her neighbors got out the boat and took, traveling for sixteen months to the great wall that contains the tribes of Gog and Magog, and in twelve months traveling back to the city, displaying to all amazed eyes a knife with which, having craftily slipped it from its hidden space inside a boot, they had scraped off the dust of that foreign edifice, gold mingled with the rusty powder of unfathomably monstrous teeth, hailed by all within the city as evidence of man’s unwavering fidelity to security and vigilance. She composed a poem on it. She composed an ode on incorruptible bones. When she bowed before the Wanamaker Organ we were moved to tears and fired our guns into the ceiling in tribute, destroying as propitiary offering the crystal chandelier crafted in distant dynasty by unknown hands (crystal blocks nine tons or more, healing properties, a funny sound when you shoot it with a small tuning hammer or silver bullet). We were all so thankful for the beautiful performance. It was just great, just great, just great. Gog and Magog took the boat out on a vast black lake. They thawed a bog in human brine. Gog and Magog are wendigos weaned on bad manners and impiety. Their eyes are bed their tribes as numerous as. As I passed out of the city one evening, I saw swamp gas cohering in malice, the memory of which I blocked out for many years, those lost hours unaccounted for and conceded, I thought irrevocably, past any recovery. I gnawed a bone, I think, and was stuck all over with needles. I was a wendigo, by turns, I turned over in sleep and shed white fur and crude stone working kits. Anyway. I passed out of the city whistling an air and hoisting a jolly axe. Come to the door and et me back in when you get this.
11. The King of the Dead Wastes Food
Departing from the city alone and with meager rations, I traveled for three days before resting at a sizable mound of salt, visible, the geographers tell, from outer space. I lingered for one day lapping at deposits in the earth and resumed my journey. After two days I heard of a great hospice intended for illiterate foreigners but sweetly welcoming to men of learning. I enjoyed great comfort but a nagging hunger at this house, where each morning a servant slaughtered a ram for the master’s table outside my pantry window. “Aren’t there any leftovers from yesterday?” I asked them. “For me?” “No,” they answered. Passing from this home I saw the emptied bodies of fat rams and cattle listlessly prodding their limbs at the hard ground. I was really, really hungry, but also, weirded out by these prodigious visions. On the third day I departed from this house with plans to depart from the city. Praise St. Artifact and his tenderly catalogued aspects.
12. An Unconfirmed Visitation, HS Rating: 5.5
On the 16th of May I departed from the city weeping bitterly to have that most splendid country at my back. On the road I heard from a traveler that before a group of young children a lady in white appeared and spoke unto them diverse secrets of perpetual motion. Said an uncouth crofter in this assembly: “Sounds like pure bs to me.” I departed from this group well-supped on grilled pyramid-flesh but queasy, and no amount of multi-vitamin elixir could soothe me. Truly, the world of roads is full of miracles.
Her first poem was called “Dante in Slut City.” She saw a pale pink curtain pinned between the upper pane and the head jamb of a third story window moving partially like a listless arm. When she heard a sad song she thought about walking at night with a gun looking for yetis who, when they appeared, were taller and whiter than she had anticipated and could perhaps more properly be described as “wendigos.” She remembered that the legend of the wendigo reinforces the cannibalism taboo. Her poem ran on and on for pages but was affecting to hear and looked great on the page. She looked up “monk sin secret sin” on a public computer and sketched a quick variety of cones on the library scratch paper at hand. We departed from the city on the 16th day of May laden with ermine skins, swords, and 50,000 bolts of fine black cloth and of white cloth the same, singing songs about the all-wife and making for the vast and Volga River.
2. A Man Displays a Giant’s Bones
Five days from the city we encountered a man who spoke like Droopy Dog and offered to lead us to a spot where giants were buried. He displayed a tooth the length of which was two spans and the width the width of half a span along with splendid many other bones and thatches of milk white hide. He insisted on reciting a poem but we averred, citing the need to reach the vast and Volga River before its surface froze. He pressed us harder, explaining that his poem was a doxology on Saint Jack Fiddler, of whom no man in our party had heard, despite which, we were told, it was his feast day. Bestowing upon this unhappy traveler a modest sack of stamped coinage, we listened to his dreary hymn before setting forth shortly after the sun’s apex. We arrived at the spot from which we had set forth, some mere half of a span away, at sunset, sore around the joints and painfully thirsty. We spotted lights in parallel moving through the sky like listless arms. Our car batteries died with soft groans. In the days to come I would often dream of wendigos, and felt privately intense opinions about the construction of vast public cones.
3. A Poem is Composed Amid Feasting
On the 16th day of May we left, bearing swords, plentiful amounts of fine cloth, and the skins of grey foxes, from the city by the northmost gate, plotting a course fast for the vast and Volga River, hoping and praying fervently to St. Jack Fiddler (he of whom wendigos speak in abject tones) to speed our path, many of our party being of vulgar minds and fearing thus the flying saucer and mutilated calf. On our way we encountered thin skeins of solid motor oil spanning the flat, dry land between the city and the immediate steppes, and delighted in cracking the surface with the sharp heels of our boots and supping on the thick motor oil found there-in. A Turk of our party composed a poem on this occasion, his chin slick with motor oil and his fingers slipping like listless arms on the strings. Those of us cultivated in the musical arts endeavored hard to conceal our laughter at this foolishness. We pressed on, troubled by lights moving parallel to the ground and the near constant sound of dynamos chanting love of rivers (the names of which, I despair to say, were unfamiliar and unrecorded).
4. An Omen is Interpreted Via the Sound of Engines
On the feast day of St. Turk amidst most solemn contemplation and public abasement an envoi from beyond the vast and Volga River arrived in the court of the All-Wife seeking a cordial exchange of fidelity and goods between this strange land beyond the walls of stalled cars and spanned rib-cages of giants and ours—to which the All-Wife responded with favor and appointing myself as speaker of poems and interpreter of letters dispatched a caravan of some six dozen gentlemen, wise scholars, and girls skilled at the bow and narrow sword to go hence from the city north towards the “country of swiftly approaching dog hurtled against a pane of glass” bearing gifts and hidden weapons amidst our practiced obsequies and gently confessional lilts. Obeying the advice of a prophet we tarried for some time having heard the ill sound of dirtbikes from the hills. On the sixth day we set forth from the city bearing sundry goods and, traveling with like-minded lords and soldier-maids, we set forth from the city from the gate of burnished wood towards the vast and Volga River. Encountering the bones of dirtbikes on the road, we fell fearful and, huddled around a chart of secret dialectics, charted a safe path through this unseely territory. On the sixtieth day, we set forth from the city.
5. The Sound of Engines is Noted and Ignored.
Doing so, we passed out from the city gate’s on the 16th of May, weighed down with the most splendid goods of our city and well-wrought words proxied from the lips of the All-Wife. Amid strange falls of meteors and many and numerous lights as if from a fiery wheel arrayed against the sky, we slipped under the cover of darkness and the clamor of crowds from the city, garbed in the mendicant robes of those men who practice after St. Jack Fiddler. We woke fearful of sores and aches and red welts on novel bodies. We probed the flesh for word from the city, and finding none, departed from the north-most gate. Seeking signs from a cone, a Turk of our party discerned Her poem recited from a footstool, her listless arm replacing a light bulb and brushing with the heel of a foot the spine of a paper-back book. As reported, no animals perished in this endeavor. Her poem laid secure in the space beneath the tongue, as she tells it, dry and cool, as a pale hand loading guns in the country of tall pale animals, “fairy lights” as they are called in less learned lands, high stone wall, high gait over hedges, stop here for water, unload gun, her poem, moon-calf, from the lava-gate with labored doors by hundreds. Her poem was called “Moses in Slut City.” Save as… “Mosesinslutcity2.doc” We set forth from the city in a state of fear and panic. We could not recall our names nor the coordinates of our missing time. We recalled high strangeness in a public library and men with thin lips moving up and down against some particular (?) doorjamb.