Saturday, July 30, 2011

I love this sentence from John Edgar Wideman's novel Fanon (Houghton Mifflin, 2008):

"Opening a novel, opening our eyes, opening our minds, hearts, legs, wallets, we are opening ourselves to a reality not unlike a magic slate where one unvarying condition of our appearance is that we are condemned, sooner or later, to disappear and never be seen or heard again."


Monday, July 25, 2011

I'm back from a long weekend in the greater Washington, DC area. Had a great time but am a bit road weary.

Particularly fun was dim sum in the city (wish I could have some more of those squid ink dumplings filled with prawns and other goodies), followed by a visit to Bridge Street Books (where I dropped a bundle on some great titles).

Came back home to some terrific mail. Most notably: Percy & Bess by Alex Gildzen. Check it out.

More later, I hope.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'm thinking about the word "adumbrations." It looks, at the moment, unusually beautiful. I'm thinking it could be the title of a long poem I've yet to write. Not to mention that yet-to-exist piece's method.


Where does a poem begin for you, dear reader? For myself it is often a matter of some evocative kernel. It could be a word, phrase, couple of sentences that I start to worry about and fuss over.

So one begins with that kernel or fragmentary beginning, but sometimes things don't go far and never get returned to. Sometimes things linger in a notebook for months and are returned to. Sometimes things blossom almost immediately. Like a rose or a radish on a summer day. Or roadkill on the four-lane. Sometimes the line between a beautiful realization and a gruesome discovery is pretty damn porous.


I hooked up with language poetry back in the day only partly because I was French kissed by Roland Barthes.

I hooked up with language poetry back in the day only partly because of John Ashbery's gabby frozen honey.

I hooked up with language poetry back in the day only partly because the limits of my language seemed to be absolutely contestable.

I hooked up with language poetry back in the day only partly because Gertrude Stein taught me to narrate the decaying moment and to appreciate the luminous beauty of the opaque.

I hooked up with language poetry back in the day because it was the most interesting conversation going at the time.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sorting through some of the chaos of my study I found a hard copy of Otoliths, Issue Two, Part One, and in it this poem of mine. I'd forgotten about it, but I like it:

A Meditation

(for Jordan Stempleman, once again)

don't think
color or form.

space, all
I know is

want to
be born again

water in
a shaken colander.

meaning is
mediated by calendars.


In retrospect, this piece is one of my best hay(na)ku outings.
Today's my birthday. 42 years ago, on my 16th birthday, the first man walked on the moon. This morning I had my quarterly medical exam. On being told that today is my blessed day, the physician said he was going to give me a prostate exam and then started laughing. He's such a cut-up.


Late last evening I inadvertently deleted over 900 e-mails. Oops. I like, by the way, that OOPS is the acronym for Object-Oriented Philosophy of Science.


It's deadly hot here, but--given a choice-- I'd much rather broil than freeze my ass off as I did much of this past year.

Nota bene: birthday boy's butt is dewy with sweat right now. I'm throwing that out like a love grenade. Just thought you'd like to know. Boom!



Sad ecstasy of shadows
Coming into me.


All or
Nothing leaks out.


Limitless limited bodies.

Statues made of noise.



Overpainted, stained,
Smudged, smeared,
Scratched, half-erased pentimenti.

Your voices
Shadow mine.

Streak of color.
Cadence of speech.

Borders aren’t
Always apparent.


Borders aren’t
Always available
Or mappable, documentable.

There’s something
About networks.

There’s something in
My overlapping senses
Of things.

I didn’t want
To comment (or
Commit) but
Couldn’t help myself.

The noise
In me
Is undimmed.


You say
You want
For nothing.

This you,
This I
Are most
Peculiar constructions.

Talking to
Oneself in
Speaking to another
Is a kind
Of reverse ventriloquism.

The dummy lives.

How much

Can one
Listen to, embrace,
At once?

How attentive
Can one be?
Is this
A test
Of worth?

I am
Not beautiful.
I am

Not you.


How does one
Read a poem
Which is
Crossed out?




Tools, moods,

Rooms, food.


A sonic

Thing that

Thinks is

What I'm

Talking about.


This heaviness

Is unlikely

To be

Lifted soon.


Spaces one's

Inscribed upon,

Scratched into.


Swallow and

Swallow again.


Thresholds, tongues

Held. Hell

Is self-consciousness,

Thoughtless nests,

Nets or

Knotted chords.

Notes leak

Out of

What surrounds

One's aporias.


What is

Thinking called?

--Dancing, war,

Sex, writing?

--Being, language,

Maths, noise?


I had

A seizure

That I

Don't remember.

Tore me

Apart, put

Me together

Again, rearranged.


Drums and

Guitar mirror

One another.

Attention, practice

Always entwined

In exchange.


Wherever I

Am you're

Someplace else.




State. Presences
Out of register.


Torso in mirror

Receding faster

Than it appears.


The world
Is overseen
& underheard.


If philosophy is psychosis
If poetry is a ventriloquist act
If the robot’s notebook pages have been filled out and overwritten


What surrounds
One’s aporias?
--So-called nature?

Formula fiction skillfully
Fondles pleasure centers.

“Entanglement” means any set of conditions.
“Entrapment” means a condition.


What is the price of ambiguity?
What is the price of exactitude?


Nature scares me.
Human nature most of all.


One has
To acknowledge
The irreducible.


What about
The Body?


My Robot


Here between
The global
The local
I dream

My robot
Just arrived
In the mail.


The package
From within.

My robot
Emerges grinning.

I take
Its place
In the box.


My robot
Opens the box
I am in.

Our eyes lock.

“Happy Birthday,”
I say.



No thing
Isn’t connected

To some
Other thing,

To some
Unexpected thing.

Separations are
Social constructs.


Is there
Such a thing
As unmediated experience?


Where to
Begin again?


Sensation isn’t
A territory.
It’s weather.

Waiting is
The story,
Oratorio, opera,
Tap dance.


I’m not
Protected against
500,000 definitions.


I am
A series
Of interruptions.


Inside and
Outside all
The time.


My Robot
Is one hard
To parse sentence.

Try, if you
Want, to diagram
Our relationship.


Everything is
Virtual in its
Own way.




Will he
Sample me
Today or
Will he
Sample me


Robert Duncan, in "The Venice Poem," writes:
“The world is false as water.”
I’ll never understand that line.


I’ll never understand any thing.


What is thought’s object?


“What do you know?”
Was a common greeting
When I was young.

The formulaic reply
Almost always:
“Not much. You?”


Does anyone
Think much
About cultural
Assumptions anymore?


Irregular spacing

Is a symptom.


What is
Not broken?


That fucking copula


The relevance
Of specific


I keep
Deferring stuff.


The realm
Of “as”
Or “ass.”

A truly
Slippery slope.


Where are we
In this mess?


Messages are
Being sent

But are
Rarely received.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

I've been thinking about nets of reference. Reading Graham Harman I've been led to the work of China Mieville, Timothy Morton, Bruno Latour, et alia, and back to thinking about Heidegger, Husserl and the phenomenologists. And, of course, too, at this point, I want to read everything Harman writes.

This has always been so for me. If I like a writer I try to read all of their work and try to follow up on their references, their loves, until I'm spent.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Home is the strangest place. It is strange in its very homeliness, as Freud observed. Indeed, here is strange in itself. To see a place in its strangeness is not just to see how it is permeated with otherness. That could collapse into racism: otherness immigrates and I'm ready with my gun. Within a horizon, you can indeed be aware of "another" place over yonder. Appreciating strangeness is seeing the very strangeness of similarity and familiarity. To reintroduce the uncanny into the poetics of the home (oikos, ecology, ecomimesis) is a political act. Cozy ecological thinking tries to smooth over the uncanny, which is produced by a gap between being human and being a person--by the very culture which is necessitated ironically because humans emerge from the womb premature, that is, as beings of flesh without a working sense of self.

--Timothy Morton,Ecology without Nature: Environmental Aesthetics (Harvard, 2007)

I've been reading and re-reading Morton's book for several weeks now. Impossible to recommend it highly enough.


Am also reading The Prince and the Wolf: Latour and Harman at the LSE (Zero Books, 2011) which is the transcript of the February 2008 debate between Bruno Latour and Graham Harman at the London School of Economics. Video of the event is available on the web, here:

This is truly an exciting time for new philosophy. Graham Harman is the real deal.


I've been working my ass off in order to get ahead of things to the point where I can take off the last two weeks in July. It's rare for me to take off 2 weeks at a time. Usually I take a week, or a day or two, here and there. I really need some down time. Am planning time at home and time away.


Grandson Andy turns 5 in a week. 3 days after that I'll be 58.


Haven't had much time for writing these last few weeks. Am 20 some pages into a long poem which may get much longer--or not. There's so much going on in it that it's difficult to say what might happen next. It has an almost sexual tension. Can I keep it going, please? OK. I'm going to think about England.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Treated myself and watched 2 movies today: Godard's Made In USA and Schnabel's Basquait. Loved them both.

I'd watched Basquait years ago, but hadn't seen the Godard. Which is weird because I've seen most of JLG's films several times and am generally obsessed with his work. I've even seen some of his Histoires du Cinema.


Thunder cracking. It might storm again. Or it's just heat games. I dunno.


Listening to the Stones Rarities album.


Lip-sunk thoughts

Trace a vein

Speech balloons

Leak language salts


Location's always between

Must things be named

Is this being consumed


Names disturb space

Sentences are fenced

Punctuation is ______







Every breath a _____

Here and there

That and that


Sunday, July 3, 2011

I'm listening to Coltrane, the whirl of several fans (ceiling and floor varieties), multiple ambient sounds, and swirling thoughts.


One of the new books to enter the reading mix: The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning by Maggie Nelson. Another: I Love Artists: New and Selected Poems by Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge.


It was great visiting with Jessica and Tom yesterday. There's no substitute for face to face time with real friends. J & T are just that: poetry friends who are also real friends. That's a truly lovely thing. We can speak of language poetry, Emerson, or of eco-poetry in one instant and of family matters and gossip about mutual friends in yet other instants with trust and respect. We can joke about a tofu habit enhancing man boobs. We can connect and listen to one another. It was a spirit boost seeing them.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's storming. Hope the weather doesn't remain bad much longer since I'm going to be driving to Oberlin to visit my friends Jessica Grim and Thomas Fink. Jessica lives in Oberlin, Thomas is visiting. I'm looking forward to some lively conversation.

Still lagged from a lot of driving and intense thought yesterday. Drove to Columbus and back. The occasion of my visit there was a visit to OPERS (Ohio Public Employee Retirement System). After 34 years at the Health Dept. I am getting close to pulling the plug. Still a lot of emotions and a couple of financial decisions to sort through. But an end is in sight. As is a new beginning. I very much need that new beginning.