Friday, August 31, 2012

Graham Harman's new book, Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy, came with today's mail.  Can't tell you how excited I was to crack it open.  I'm confident that my reading of it will be reflected on this blog in coming days.


Obsessing some about Ariana Reines' beautiful book Mercury.  Her writing is courageous and emotionally exacting.  I want to read everything she writes.


Trying again to write a sex poem.  The unpublished manuscript EXPOSURES is my most thorough-going previous attempt.  I need though to get back to Appearances.  I'm procrastinating because I'm at a crucial point in the fractured narrative that I'm unsure how to resolve.


Earlier this week I went to an all day conference on air pollution.  I need to acquire continuing education credits in order to maintain my professional accreditation as a public health sanitarian.  5.5 hours down, 12.5 to go.  Sigh.  This morning I sent in a check to register for the NE Ohio Environmental Health Association's Fall Conference--2 days in October.  I'm going to try to get current for the next year.  If I don't go back to work during that period--doing consults, whatever, then I'll let the credential lapse.

It is kind of nice though to see former colleagues for possibly the last time.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

More Notes

Wealth doesn't
equal wisdom.

(See Republican
National Convention.)


Ariana Reines is a genius for a lot of reasons, but this line alone would do it for me:

Formalism and grammar are ways to be thin.

--from "Glass" in Mercury (Fence Books, 2011)


Wealth doesn't
equal empathy

(See Republican
National Convention.)


Anxiety and desire aren't discussed much by decision makers.


Wealth often
creates policy.

(See Republican
National Convention.)


Does truth have a structure?

(For Lacan: its like a fiction.)


I spent hours this week coming up with 4 crucial lines for Appearances.  Kind of crazy but it meant the world to me.


When my Mom and sister were driving cross-country recently, Mom saw a rainbow and vast stretch of yellow road  (in Kansas!), neither of which my sister could see.

I don't question Mom seeing these things (she thought wearing sun glasses had something to do with it).  I just wonder why my sister didn't see them.

Of course I wasn't there.


For "legitimate
rape" to happen

it has
to be done

by a Republican.
Right, Mr. Akin?


Do you
really believe

what you
say you believe?


Do you really
know what

you think
you know?


Let's all
question ourselves more......

Monday, August 27, 2012

Lately I feel as if I'm speaking to noone.  The Act of Love series seems to be evoking no interest, etc.  I don't know.  So it goes.

 So it goes.

I am struggling with patience these days.
Rainy day.

Spent a couple hours writing a brief book review for GR.

Am trying out a new to me recipe in the slow cooker--chicken thighs in a dijon mustard and fresh tarragon cream sauce. Red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, garlic, parsley and chicken broth also figure in the mix. The aroma is "wicked good" as my friend Allen Bramhall might say.  Looking forward to springing it on the spouse.  Am thinking to serve it with sauteed greens and a crusty bread.  I like all kinds of foods and cooking; but I'm particularly fond of slow cooking.  It's a way of building memorable depths of flavor.

Working slowly and patiently on a long term writing project can have its pitfalls.  Doubts and frustrations can certainly hold sway at points along the way, even be crippling in their intensities at times.  One might be derailed by one's unfunded ambition, one's overoptimistic beginning of the project.  But if one persists, depths of meaning can be discovered in spite of oneself.

Appearances is making me a little crazy.  I'm trying to be patient and persist with it.  I really fucking am.  I've never attempted a project of this size before.  I write, re-write, agonize and wait.  It's hard to explain to loved ones that when I'm staring vacantly at a screen for hours I am actually working.  And that this mess of papers and books taking up the dining room table is a mess of a different color than what they are used to.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Act of Love, #s 34 & 35

The Act of Love, #34

The act of love
Is at once alive

In the past, in
The present and future.

The Act of Love, #35

The act of love
Will never be normal.


How important is it to/for you to get lost in your work?

Is there something that you are looking for in your work?

Is discipline more important than talent?

Is practice something you think about?

Name two of your obsessions.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Is truth consistency?

Predicates bleed
Into the Subject.

Waves crash
Into ghosts.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

More Stray Notes

Today on a local NPR affiliate I heard a story about Cuba in which the reporter referred to "socialism" as the s-word.  That really pissed me off.  On several levels.

Call me a reprobate.  Call me naive.  I don't care.  But I'll never understand why selfishness and greed are valorized in our culture.

Capitalism's just another word for _____.  (Create a list poem based on this.  Ready, set, meme.)

Don't get me wrong.  I value work.  I value effort.  I don't care for the strong ignoring the weak.  I don't care for the social/moral condescensions of charity.  I do value the idea that "we're all in this together" and that we should all take care of one another.  In the end, we are all responsible for one another. So I believe.

Socialism, as an ideal, is about trying to find a way to equitably distribute resources as well as the responsibilities for production.  An ideal I still subscribe to.


I don't think men should tell women what to do with their bodies.


Rebecca Loudon's TRISM is a work of genius.  Please support this writer and horseless press.


RIP Phyllis Diller.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Stray Notes

Am kind of out of sorts.


Listening to Ravi Coltrane's gorgeous Spirit Fiction.


New on the stack: A Poet's Mind: Collected Interviews with Robert Duncan, 1960-1985 (North Atlantic Books, 2012).


My reading at Kent State is a month away.  Doing readings as infrequently as I do they become occasions for anxiety.


This has been a summer of turmoil.  Lots of family stuff/drama going on.  So writing projects kept getting derailed.


Am a little stuck at this point in Appearances.  I haven't been meeting my page goals but I work on the damn    thing pretty much every day.  A generous excerpt, by the way, will be appearing before too long at Peep/Show.


Another book I read this past week was Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson.  It's a remarkable, vivid memoir.     Now I want to go to Harlem and eat at the Red Rooster.  Not likely to happen, but one can dream.


It's been thundering off and on this afternoon.


Aside from the Ravi Coltrane cd I've been listening to a lot of B.B. King this week.  His voice, his guitar playing and the feeling behind it all never fail to move me.


Sometimes loneliness overwhelms.  Sometimes one's thoughts underwhelm.


I recommend

this short film, The Ghosts, by Sue de Beer.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

One of the books I read this week is Marshall McLuhan's The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects.  I must have read, or skimmed, an earlier edition of this book in the late 60s or early 70s, but I really don't remember.  As I didn't remember the subtitle: "An Inventory of Effects."  A very evocative subtitle, that one.  It should be the title of a poem, if it hasn't already.

Nor did I remember that the cavalcade of text and images which comprises The Medium is the Massage is bracketed by two quotes from A.N. Whitehead.  The first:

"The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur."

The second:

"It is the business of the future to be dangerous."

Both of these quotes are beautifully apt in context and otherwise.  I find myself dwelling on them and thinking that every moment is someone's future.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Where did/does poetry begin for you?"  It's a question I've often used to start an interview.   It is  an evocative and open-ended question that I truly value.  I'm sure some folks feel otherwise: that it is too broad.

As an interviewer, I prefer to give respondents a range of things to work with.  I'm most interested in the larger frame, the big picture.  Except when I'm not.  I am capable of mixing things up--in both a positive and negative sense.  But I'm always looking for connections.

When I interviewed Ron Silliman for The Difficulties, we spent a lot of time with micro-aspects of his poetics.  He complemented me, after the fact of the issue, by writing that I interviewed him "like a poet."

For better or worse, I am a poet.

I am not really attached to any coterie.  No coterie really would want to have me.  I've never truly been at ease anywhere.

Writing is where the possibility of something better begins.  The only glimpses of something like utopia, something like unalienated labor, something like paradise have all come from writing or some form of art.

I think, as humans, most of all we need a sense of possibility.  That is what I find in poetry.  Even as I fail in its practice, over and over again.

The Act of Love, #31, #32, #33

The Act of Love, #31

The act of love
Is more than anything.

The act of love
Is less than nothing.

The Act of Love, #32

The act of love
Is a list poem,

A list poem that
Caresses the shadows

Of a body
That cannot be articulated,

Except through
The act of love.

The Act of Love, #33

The act of love
Is an intoxication.

The act of love
Is an inflection.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Act of Love, #29 & #30

The Act of Love, #29

The act of love
Doesn’t follow a recipe.

The act of love
Doesn’t keep receipts.

The Act of Love, #30

The act of love
Is inconclusive.

Music shuffling in the background.  Keith Richards growling through speakers.


Finished what feels like an important section of Appearances today.  The piece is essentially a little play.


Also finished reading Jarnot's Duncan bio.  Haven't finished thinking about it though.  It is a beautifully researched and written tome.  It moved me on a number of decidedly braided levels.  Maybe one of these days I'll try to unravel and  parse it all.


Excited to know that Rebecca Loudon's Trism will be available soon (see today's earlier blog post for ordering details).

Trism had its genesis as a response to my Questions at Ohio State piece.  I'm not sure I understand the mental leaps Rebecca made from my text to hers, but I'm glad she made them.  Trism is a remarkable text that I'll be exploring here at some later date and--hopefully--in an interview (our second)  also.


The Act of Love, #28

The act of love
Cannot be redacted.

The act of love
Is a red action.

The act of love
Walks a red line.

The Act of Love, #27

The act of love
Is a fact, jack off.

Pre-Order Rebecca Loudon's TRISM from!

Pre-Order Rebecca Loudon's TRISM

TRISM is almost available! We plan to begin shipping books next week. Just go 
ahead and order yours now! <>
Rebecca Loudon is the author of Radish King and Cadaver Dogs. She lives in 
Seattle and teaches violin lessons to children.

from TRISM:

When the jailer reached for Jacks' arrest files the boys dug a stub of pencil 
from their pockets and wrote their names in a Red Chief notebook first JACKS 
first HUNGER first WORDS. Trism Bear drank water in cupped paws enchanted with a 
false past. Alices disentangled hanging strands of kelp stuck to their legs 
compounded by femaleness being alien not women in the eyes of the village they 
transformed into layers the fucked the suffering mother the mayonnaise and white 
bread sandwich none of it good not a damned bit. Trism Bear trained himself as a 
tattoo artist plied his trade with lower demons and used car salesmen turned 
down no one became famous for delicate attention to detail and his fearful 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I don't know.
I don't know.
I don't know.
I don't know.
I don't know.

"I don't know."  I once had a therapist who really got on me about responding that way to her questions.

I think about questions and answers a lot.

"I don't know" can be an evasive response.  It can also be a blindingly honest one.



I don't know.

I have problems with certainty.  Ultimately that's probably what's behind my love of the work of Wittgenstein, Charles Bernstein and Stanley Cavell.


Reading Jarnot's wonderful biography of Robert Duncan, and thinking about the trajectories of a poet's life, I can't help but reflect on the role of questions and certainties in a life.

Note to self: write something more extensive about this one of these days or at least bring it up in an interview.

The Act of Love, #24, #25, #26

The Act of Love, #24

Who and
What can

Be said
To follow

The act
Of love?

The Act of Love, #25

The act of love
Is not a floor exercise.

The Act of Love, #26

The act of love
Might not be
A bird
Flying into a mirror.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


I finished the 107th fragment of Appearances.
I've been busy around the house today--scrubbing the kitchen and basement bathroom floors, and making jalapeno pickles with peppers from daughter Claire's beautiful garden.


Listening to the Tedeschi Trucks band.


Am fighting a sense of general discouragement.


Yesterday I improvised a tasty soup with heirloom black beans,chili powder, sweet potato, white potato, carrots, onion and celery.  It simmered for a little over 3 hours and was wonderful.

Tonight I think I'm going to make yellow fin tuna and a tomato salad.



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Act of Love, #21 & #22 & #23

The Act of Love, #21

The act of love
Is a dream
Wrapped in a gesture
Dissolved in a sigh.

The Act of Love, #22

The act of love
Is not without pain.

The act of love
Is a window pane.

The Act of Love, #23

This morning when
I was reading Lucretius

On the exercise bike
I swerved and all I

Could do was think
About the act of love.

I'm reading Lisa Jarnot's magnificent biography of Robert Duncan.

A few days ago I paid another visit to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, which is part of the Smithsonian Museum system, and near my son-in-law's law firm.  I purchased, as is my wont, a couple of books in the gift shop.  One of which was From Head to Hand: Art and the Manual by David Levi Strauss.

David and I corresponded off and on for a couple of years when he edited the fine Bay Area journal Acts with Benjamin Hollander.  As fine and generous a person as I've ever met in the poetry world, David studied with Duncan in San Francisco. I've always been impressed by David's openness to ideas, experiences and people.

During my time at Kent State I had a number of experiences of Robert Duncan--public readings and a talk where everyone was seated cross-legged on the floor of dormitory hallway (at least that's my fogged memory).  Most memorable was his reading of Medieval Scenes in the KSU Kiva.

I've always had difficulty with Duncan's work.  I was more of a Creeley and Olson guy.  Duncan was fascinating but too Baroque for me.  I remember a brief mail exchange with Aaron Shurin about this precise point.  It is interesting that one can be intrigued by an author but unable to truly engage for extended periods of time.  We all have blindspots, inabilities.

Lisa Jarnot's biography is helping me to rethink some things and to take another look at Duncan's work.

More about this later (I suspect).

The Act of Love, #19 & #20

The Act of Love, #19

The act of love
Threads a needle.

The act of love
Is a brush stroke.

The Act of Love, #20

The act of love
Is a pattern

And the interruption
Of a pattern.

The act of love
Is not a theory.

The act of love
Is reductive and expansive.

The act of love
Is not a ritual.


I've ordered this.  And I dearly hope that many of you will also do so.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Act of Love, #18

The act of love travels
Both easily and uneasily.

There can be a touch
Of the uncanny,

Even nausea,
In the act of love.

Excerpt From _Appearances_ (My Work In Progress)


The Author is flat on its back on a driveway in a suburban neighborhood. Is it asleep?  Or dead?

The Ventriloquist is making a chalk outline of the Author’s body while the Projectionist looks on.

The Hypnotist comes upon this scene and says, “Don’t forget to add a speech balloon to your drawing.”  The Ventriloquist complies.  Whereupon the Hypnotist intones, “Arise.”

The chalk outline, speech balloon attached, struggles to its feet, leaving the Author behind in its dust.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

If I
had a clue.

An interruption.

Another interruption.

you were doing.