Saturday, June 14, 2003



Suppose you screeve? or go cheap-jack?
Of fake the broads? or fig a nag?
Or thimble-rig? or knap a yack?
Or pitch a snide? or smash a rag?
Suppose you duff? or nose and lag?
Or get the straight and land your pot?
How do you melt the multy swag?
Boose and the blowens cop the lot.

Fiddle, or fence, or mace, or crack,
Or moskeneer, or flash the drag;
Dead-lurk a crib, or do a crack,
Pad with a slang, or chuck a fag;
Bonnet, or tout, or mump and gag,
Rattle the tats, or mark the spot.
You cannot break a single stag:
Boose and the blowens cop the lot.

Suppose you try a different tack,
And on the square you flash your flag?
At penny-a-lining make your whack?
Or with the mummers mug and drag?
For nix, for nix the dibs you bag,
At any graft, no matter what!
Your merry goblins soon stravag.
Boose and the blowens cop the lot.

It's up the spout and Charlie Wag
With wipes and tickers and whatnot.
Until the squeezer nips your scrag,
Boose and the blowens cop the lot."
[These are all real words.]

I sent this to the New Yorker (I think it's supposed to be
some sort of protest):


Preying urge infinitely realizes, to retrospective
Gloating transformation unbrokenly hesitates influx,
Floating mystic desolately copulates, of definitive
Praying rage amusedly ruminates box.
A white-breasted nuthatch nests in my
Urethra, and begins to sing.

"I understand what the politician meant who said of the Texas House
of Representatives, "If you think these guys are bad, you should see
their constituents." --Bill Moyers

"I swear, the blogo isn't a sphere. It's a fucking Moebius cube." --Doc Searls

Can be worn ironically or nonironically. (via Prentiss)

"The Czech writer, former dissident and now former president Vaclav Havel
once said to me that there are three kinds of English: "There's the kind of
English that Czechs speak to Spaniards and Italians speak to Russians.
Here, you understand 100 per cent. American English - you get about 50
per cent. Then there's English English, of which you understand nothing."

Oxford cafe English is generally of the first or second categories. It's what is
now called Elf - which, in case you're wondering, is not the language of the
Elves invented by Oxford's own J R R Tolkien, but English as Lingua Franca."
--Timothy Garton Ash (via ALDaily)

In case you weren't paying attention, there are now ten planets in our
solar system. The new one is Quaoar. On the whole,
it's not as interesting as Cruithne.

I come to discover there is a "Lesser False Vampire Bat". I'm still working
on the joke that that is the punch line to.

I happened to be at a new record store & listened to a great newcompilation,
"Euro Lounge". It sounded to me like all sorts of bands, in Italy & France &
North Africa, had been listening to Combustible Edison. --Not to the original
sources so much, i think. And it made me realize all over again, how the most
interesting developments nowadays, are happening not at the "center", but the

'As I watch the moon
Shining on pain's myriad paths,
I know I am not
Alone involved in Autumn.' --Oe no Chisato (tr Rexroth)

This has always been one of my favorite tankas.
My Lojban version:


--which literally reads: 'I observe the lunar
illuminer of many harming roads, & intuit an
autumn pattern of me & not-me.'

I became dissatisfied with Rexroth's flouting
of the traditional 5-7-5-7-7 syllable pattern,
so i rewrote it as:

   As i see the moon
Tracing all the manifold
   Highways & footpaths
Of pain, i know i am not
Alone involved in Autumn.

An animated map of Alexander the Great's conquests.
Compulsiveness as a remedy for apathy. Despair as
a remedy for compulsiveness. If you could just watch
you might call it a circus.

Only the makers know that they only make metaphors.

Really, it's too much to expect people to crave growth
who don't even crave good bread.

"His thoughts are so much higher than his state,
That, like a mountain hanging o'er a hut,
They chill and darken it." --Beddoes

I'm so glad i finally have a link for ostranenie [thanx, Ron]. (Although this
is the received form, from poking around in a Russian dictionary
i believe the proper transliteration is otstranenie.) How's
that different from "MAKE IT NEW"--? I think it shifts the emphasis
from novelty of technique to novelty of perception... BTW, what i love
about these Korean translations i've been posting, & also about Ovid
Neal, is the fact that they contain things no ordinary poet in English
would think of leaving. They'd fix it. But as they are, there is what i like
to think of as a final opacity to them now. And this--if it's not too
grandiose--reminds me of why the mystics talk about the Void as if it
were a positive thing, & not an indication of our mortal inability to com-
prehend. It's "darkness visible"--& requires ostranenie even to indicate.

As soon as conversation leaves the immediate context,
and lives of the speakers, it becomes radically falsified,
and as if we no longer talk together, but clash in our mono-
logs that are really directed against the television-drone
in our heads--and all too often, too, this happens even
as we are trying to talk about each other, and ourselves.
Or if one of us has managed to cleave to a system, that
system really exists in order to interpret the chaos of
television, not the lesser disorder of human lives--which
require no such Procrustean orderings (in rooted times
fanaticism has a different cause: attachment) to make
a little bit of sense. I cannot, though, cross out all my
poems that merely reply to noise. It would leave me with
almost nothing. But i can watch myself for this falseness: in
real time.

Practices when the self is opaque, must be different
from when the self is transparent. Improvisation becomes
unreliable; mindfulness, transitory. Then rituals and other
dualisms are useful and necessary. I rely too much on
my self-image of transparency: and so incur the violence of
the invisible while pretending to sight.

“ ‘The general conception of unconscious mental process
was conceivable (in post-Cartesian Europe) around
1700, topical around 1800, and fashionable
around 1870-1880.’ “ --Whyte, The Unconscious
Before Freud
, quoted in Koestler, The Act of Creation

Intoxication: that slave’s democracy...

Art is the only place where being infinitely distracted can
pass for productivity.


  It hurts me to hear them
  they are so fearless
  and so much at home in this world.
  Sad when their plans fall through
  or a toy dies;
  i swear at every poetry reading
  i won’t reach their age without my own blue number.

It is enormous in scope but no enormity (injustice): how?
--Gravity the weakest of all forces. Is a universal relation
but not the sum of all the relations in the universe (their
common denominator, rather). I say: in this world things
do not fall in a straight line, everything is very very slightly
twisted (Coriolis force)--and all we do must include
a compensation. I don’t have to stop the earth from rotating
just to put things where i want them. Only a small compen-
sation is needed...

‘Lying to oneself results from a vital necessity, when one
has not resolved to die.’
--Simone Weil, Notebooks

The world of textures is infinite, but the world of response to
textures is very limited.

Friday, June 13, 2003


"Word: Did you hear t.A.T.u.'s version of "How Soon Is Now?"

Morissey: Yes, it was magnificent. Absolutely. Again, I don't know much about them.

Word: They are teenage Russian lesbians.

Morissey: Well, aren't we all?"

I have one of my car radio buttons on the local Mexican Rock station. I can't
understand much of the words, but i like this alternative universe of post-U2
where Grunge never happened... Here's a guide i found to genres. One of these days i'll do some serious research, but for now i'm just a tourist.

You need an Evil Clown Generator (& no, this has nothing to do with the
Republicans). (via Boingboing)

Cintra Wilson in Salon (all the columns). She's not Dorothy Parker,
but this isn't the Roaring Twenties, either.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

A Russian rapper.

...As soon as i utterly accepted this weakness, this aimlessness, as my
permanent condition--it began to change.

I am as incredulous of those who eschew (poetic) technique, as one
who has laboriously fashioned a pistol in prison out of scraps, when
told by another prisoner it is possible to walk through walls.

'Somehow I too must discover the smallest basic element, the cell of
my art, the tangible medium of presentation for everything...
Does the handiwork lie perhaps in the language itself, in a better
recognition of its inner life and will, its development and past?...
Does it lie in some specific study, in the more exact knowledge of
a matter?... Or does it lie in a certain well-inherited and well-increased
culture? ...But with me it is different; toward everything inherited I
have to be hostile... My continually renewed attempts to begin a
definite course of study broke down pitifully; for exterior reasons,
and because of the strange feeling that always surprised me during
it: as if I were having to come back from an inborn knowledge by a
wearisome road that again led to it by many windings.' --letters of

"...I don't write anymore
I just sit looking at the wastebasket
with this alert intelligent look on my face." --Bill Knott

"You choose to lose reason before losing face" --Al Stewart

"However, if you are unskilled in the subtle transformative
processes of language, it is best not to write down your ugly thoughts."
--Leonard Cohen, Death of a Lady's Man (1978)

I don't want to take anything from you, i just want you to
unclench your fists.

A butterfly, on the last submit
Of the dizzy way of taxing,
Forgetting the direction of dashing,
Looks down the broken pieces of blood-stained body.

On the empty open space without a drop of water
That would moisten a small heart brazed as a machine,
It was only the crystal light of the sea
That screened the eye-sight of the butterfly--

As if by a seashore of vacuum, between the silent graves,
In the season moving with the white tail of a gasping Z airplane--
Driven by the tide of phosphorus surging up like flames,
The white butterfly now silently flutters its weary wings.

On the whitish spot of future,
Does a beautiful territory wait there?
On a marked spot of the bluish runway
Does a flowery hope bloom there?

The old site from which
Already God and miracle
Ascended to Heaven--
The white butterfly toward a last terminal
Tries once again to challenge against its own myth.'

--Gyu-dong Gim, op cit

"Most tangible of all the gods that be,
O Santa Claus..." --the Hoosier Poet

Imagination = "as-if":
   Images = as-if sensations (usually visual)
   Story = as-if meanings (grasped intuitively)
      story connects images,
      images punctuate story.
Hierarchy of Images: Word (static). Moving. Changing. Changing rate of
   movement. (&c)
Hierarchy of Stories: Gesture (anecdote). Linear plot with protagonist
   (picaresque). Growth of a character (Bildungsroman).
   Simultaneous changing of several characters (19c "novel").
   Stream of consciousness. "History".
(Other kinds of imagination:
   emotional: as-if feeling this (empathy)
   intellectual: as-if true (speculation)
Their hierarchies...from a mood to a lifetime; from a statement to a system.

"Feeling requires an education through faith..." --James Hillman

"Napoleon...created Europe, which is neither a political or a geographical
entity. Europe--and this is why England has never thought of herself as
a part of Europe--is simply the area dominated by the ideals of French
literature." --Auden, intro to The Romantic Poets anth.

Sex with a stranger: watching a movie in a foreign language. Even if you
catch the drift, from moment to moment it makes no sense.

'The very worst fact is that clichés will fill up every empty spot in a role,
which is not already solid with living feeling
.' --Constantin Stanislavski,
An Actor Prepares (1936; tr E R Hapgood)

Lost in the woods at a state park, i have had the experience of glimpsing
(as an ambiguous clearing) the right path, across perhaps a stream ravine...
& my relation to a sense of purpose now is, as one who has never known
what a clear trail is, & more & more is given those glimpses (--such
that even my art can seem at times an impediment, or part of my blind
turnings). But certainly no "path" i have heard of, resembles this one, either.

Listening to: early Joan Baez on Vanguard, the original vinyl.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Sherman Alexie on

"We need a tough-ass Democrat coming out on national security. In fact, the Republicans haven't been very tough on domestic security; they've been cutting budgets. I've been writing imaginary campaign ads about the failure of this administration to protect us. Here are two:


A middle-aged homeless man standing at a freeway on-ramp. He holds a sign that reads: "Vietnam War Veteran, Please Help Me!"


VOICE-OVER: In 2003, George W. Bush cut the budget for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs by nearly $30 billion over the next 10 years.

Cut to a younger homeless man standing outside a supermarket. He holds a sign: "Desert Storm Veteran: Will Work for Food."

VOICE-OVER: In 2003, George W. Bush ordered the Veterans Administration to stop providing information about veterans' healthcare benefits on its Web site.

Cut to a video of a husband and wife working on their home computer. As they navigate the V.A. site, they are led through a maze of indecipherable info.

She: But, Henry, you served in Korea. They promised to take care of you.

He: I just don't understand what they're trying to say to me.

Close on the computer screen as Henry pulls down the menu and shuts off the computer. It goes black.

Then dissolve up to a shot of George W. Bush jogging with his Secret Service agents. Bush looks fit and handsome.

VOICE-OVER: In November 2004, please remember that the war doesn't end when our soldiers come home.



A title card that asks the question: "Do You Feel Safe?"

Cut to news video of George W. Bush pledging to get Osama bin Laden "dead or alive."

Slam cut to wanted poster of Osama with caption: "Whereabouts Unknown."

Cut to news video of George W. Bush pledging to get Saddam Hussein "dead or alive."

Slam cut to wanted poster of Saddam with caption: "Whereabouts Unknown."

Cut to news video of George W. Bush promising to protect the security of the American people.

Slam cut montage of sports arenas, national monuments, dams and nuclear power plants as we repeatedly hear in voice-over George W.'s broken promises to find Osama and Saddam, and his pledge to protect the U.S. They all blend together in a cacophony of noise and image and bright lights.

Cut to the title card that reads: "Do You Feel Safe?"

Cut to a news video montage of the many times that Bush has told us that the U.S. hasn't found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but that we're going to find them very soon, we promise, very soon, we promise, very soon, we promise. Very soon.

A virtual shrine to Freyja. (via Metafilter)

Interesting discussion on Josh Corey's blog about the poetics of "aperture"
& the poetics of "closure". (Although my first thought is, you can't write a poem without both.) I'll just
call "closure" the Mullah stance, & "aperture" the Dervish; & observe that (since i am not a dualist) as a
dervish you can spin clockwise or counterclockwise--. (The rest of the allegory is up to you.)

Another star that figures in my personal mythology is Lalande 21185.
I found it mentioned in a book i read as a kid, as possibly having planets; immediately
i wrote a story set on one of those imaginary planets. It still slips into my poetry from
time to time, mainly as a way of referencing previous works in which i've used it. I
always see the planet as cloud-enveloped, foggy & misty, something like the old
idea of Venus...but populated by giant snails.
Lebensraum - the joy with which one Texan passes
another. (There's no such thing as impermissible L. Even if
you have to run up on the shoulder, you're still entitled
to your L. Dubya can't be said to have gained Victory, but no
one can take from him his L.)

Availibilism as the contrary of consumer semiotics. I didn't buy
these shoes because they were black & white checked. I
bought them because they were the only fit in my price
range at the DAV.

Eternnesse - "Global Warming" & its consequences. This
should be as indispensible to all near-future scifi as rocket ships
& ray guns. That incredible sunken Manhattan that begins "A.I."
(forget the crappy ending--): it will happen. Fasten your
seatbelts. There's nothing we can do about it now.

Blog is to polder (webpage) as wurley (temporary
shelter) is to wilban (permanent dwelling). People change
their webpages like moving the furniture around in their living
room. Weblogs change like pitching the tent in a different spot
every night.

T S Eliot is the perfect poet emotionally for 18 yr olds, but you have
to be at least 40 to appreciate the weariness of Baudelaire. (Ditto
Dostoevsky & Tolstoy, perhaps, respectively.)

For the weak, force is "power" --or if not force, intransigence.
For the strong, power is: the willingness to learn, to co-operate,
to become involved, to admit vulnerability...but to a significant degree,
these things don't "work" against either force or intransigence. Then
one must resort to superior cleverness. One is not yet strong
enough if unwilling to admit the limits of (even true) power--to admit
that this is not a moral world in which good intentions are acts in
themselves, but a place where guile is often a necessary defense--as
some of the old fairy tales imply (pre-Humanist)... Just as a person
who won't put on a coat & hat in winter is trying to create an impossible
endurance--out of another kind of intransigence. And so is
total truthfulness; wanting to help everyone you meet; caring
about all pain, sickness & injustice in the world (the "world"
doesn't exist--to human measures); & expecting yourself to make the
best use of love, every time. Let me call that the most difficult art,
till i respect at last the subtleties i so much want to rush past the
learning of; let me find in these stupid miscommunications a reason
for my studying, ever more deeply, the ways of the human heart--that
will never be probed with a flashlight.

'You think i'm a control-freak,' i wanted to say, 'but my life-work's a
study of the uses & conditions for self-surrender.' --Isn't that, though,
much the same thing?

It might help to put things in perspective to realize that, although
the amount of work done by a capable group is many times greater
than the work of its isolate members, that too is insufficient
for the need of this age
. So the choice comes down to: do what
you can by yourself & with a few others, or waste your time (completely)
trying to assemble a group suitable for your personal aims...

I have explanations for everything & solutions for nothing.

Overcast sky, no clouds--then the clouds move & i have stars
again: as if that sight alone were a moral imperative. To grow
tall enough to reach them? But no, i'm more like those lungfish whose
gills had become pretty useless...moved by a lack, more than a vision.
So why talk about "change" to another lungfish? --Hypochondria!

Mallarmé: Ses purs ongles très haut dédiant leur onyx

Her chaste nails so highly dedicating their onyx,
  Anguish, this midnight torchbearer, saves
  many an evening's reverie burned with the phoenix
  otherwise bound for no crematory vase.
On the sideboards, in the empty parlor: ptyxless,
  gewgaw-banned resounding banality
  for the Boss is gone to dip tears from the Styx,
  only that--and Nothing will thus be honored...
Near the northerly vacant casement, gilt
  convulses as per perhaps the setting
  from unicorns bucking fire against an elf;
  she, late nude of the mirror, however,
  into the vacuum by those edges held
  abides among twinklings presently the Seven.

Listening to: Pizzicato Five.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

There's times when i'm the worst instrument for my

    "Alphabet City"

What do the spiders say,
Bela of the consummate composure?




Thought--is the permanence of archetypal images similar
to the logical evolution through arbitrary rules of the chess
openings? --Such that some pretty bizarre positions get accepted
as standard, because they once were played in a game & turned
out to be the best moves for both sides?

   "The Milestone by the Rabbit-Burrow (on Yell'ham Hill)

In my loamy nook
As I dig my hole
I observe men look
At a stone, and sigh
As they pass it by
To some far goal.

Something it says
To their glancing eyes
That must distress
The frail and lame,
And the strong of frame
Gladden or surprise.

Do signs on its face
Declare how far
Feet have to trace
Before they gain
Some blest champaign
Where no gins are?"


I go through my days with this abstract distress, yet no less
palpable for being based on events far from my direct
experience. It is like, i say, a child in a small town who finds
out his dad is a serial killer, --& his father is the chief of
police. No, rather, it's like i was ten years a paraplegic, only
to discover fire ants have built a nest in my left foot...

Don't you just love those heist movies where they spend $10 million in
high-tech weaponry in order to rip off $1 million in diamonds or what-
ever? Isn't that just like the US military...? Or a homeowner who, in
order to debug the house, sets off a bug bomb that coats every
surface with poison that they'll spend the next year absorbing through
their skin with every thing they touch?

Listening to: Natacha Atlas.

Monday, June 09, 2003

   Cast iron owls, heads turned;
   of their double gaze.
Earth & Moon as seen from Mars:
one peaceful, one living seems.

Another soldier-blogger in Iraq. (via Metafilter)

Song of Innocence, Song of Experience. How much sadder & more profound
is the late version of Judy Garland singing "Over the Rainbow" on her live at
Carnegie Hall record; & i feel almost the same about Stevie Nicks's "Rhiannon"
as sung at the televised reunion concert awhile back. Perhaps with the ageing
of the Baby Boomers, music will lose its fixation on the highschool age bracket...

I may have reference to this again in future blog-entries, but for now i will just
state without argument my doctrine of moments of choosing which is,
humans don't have free will except at long intervals & for brief moments, & they
mostly let them go by; but for that time, it is possible to make a more free or
a less free choice, with ramifying consequences thereafter. Thus, it is wisdom
to develop sensitivity toward such moments, & to learn what to do with them
when they are here. My favorite picture of this is a haiku by Gary Snyder:

  "After weeks of watching the roof leak
      I fixed it tonight
  by moving a single board"

[Why did it take weeks? Answer that, & you will be
on the way to making the Next Big Breakthrough...]

"Bush's attempt to revive the Age of Empire would be as comical
as Don Quixote's effort to revive the Age of Chivalry, were he
not so much more heavily armed than the don.

Listening to: Coleman Hawkins.


The sea-bream, died frozen in a frigirator,
While waiting the sensual night-feast,
Now perspires.

The record whirling round at the banquet,
Being impatient of ennui
Does shriek.

The white bone,
Looking at Mr. Rat,
Numbles incantation.'

--Yun-su Ham, op cit


The wall of faces reverie
When seen quells guilted mind--
From fathers angered vision
To dilate and minus

The eternal bird fathoms
And folds its brown gauze
With talons from its own--

Intended--but from self destroyed
The fatal error combines
And as condition creates

The aqua vein bones in marble
Whose arcane presence boasts
Beauty--the armless dancer
Unable to hoop or swoon
To lulling chirp
Finds break
Flees to cold place
Both less than cave to crook
Telling mimer as ultimate--
Speaking salvific as caused"

--Ovid Neal III, op cit

"However strongly one may be disinclined to do so, I think one
must accept the disturbing and disconcerting fact that it is
possible to write very great poetry about illusions." --J B Leishman,
introduction to Rilke's Later Poems

“Reading Milton is like dining off gold plate in a company of
kings; very splendid; very ceremonious, and not a little appalling.”
--Alexander Smith, Dreamthorp (1863)

“The gods disappeared and in their place were left the rituals.
...The orthodox Hindu does not believe in gods, the unorthodox
believe in them.” --Vivekananda

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Baudelaire: Au lecteur

Delusion, indulgence, greed and pettiness
Engross our minds and mortify our bodies,
And we keep overfed our fond pet pity
As winos host their vermin--with their own flesh.

Our faults are fierce, our resolutions craven:
We pray and bray and play we're gonna change
All the jolly way to the old sty-haven
As if the wish would wash away our stains.

On our daydreams' pillow squats Nick Trismegist
Who continually lulls a blurry rapt attention...
And the ore of our potential for intention
Is all dissolved by that cool alchemist.

He's the mover in our puppetdom!
Our choicest toys are those by which we're trapped;
Each day towards the Pit we take a step
Smiling still, through vapors dark and noisome.

Just like a congressman who sucks and smacks
A hooker's misappropriated nipples,
We snatch in passing some illegal thrills
Like dumpster oranges we must squeeze to the max.

Jammed, like a city of maggots at rush hour,
A million mad impulses honk in our brains;
From everything we touch, inhale, or consume,
Ineffable cancer seeps, in spite of our powers.

If switchblade, bomb, gun, Tylenol or rape
Has copped no Nielsen share of our obsessions
It's that, inside our cage of cheap possessions,
As yet we haven't wanted to escape.

With these familiar jackals, panthers, fleas,
Vultures, scorpions, cobras and baboons
All yowling, howling, growling, around the room
Where our waste loves remain, that's never cleaned,

One of them's most dirty, dour and cruel!
Though he doesn't scream too much, nor flails about,
He'd turn the earth into a parking lot
Or just as casually call the missiles kill.

--BOREDOM. Through the tears of unblinking eyes
He looks out for his suicide, and chain-smokes.
You recognize this connoisseur of jokes,
Eh? Like me, you'll swallow no more lies...?

8 15 77/5 31 83 (publ in Bwana Art #7)