Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Selfie Destruction

When you
photobombed my
selfie I
f-bombed you
then went
on social
sites to
start our
flame war.

Selfie Realization

I like
this best...

In it
I look

like some-
one else.


Couldn't hear
the music
at the concert
until I took
my picture.

2 Selfies

Front of
that thing
we saw?
I made
a face.

Front of
this thing
I made
another face.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Selfie Insight

Words and
images are

only incidental
aspects of

my selfie.
My selfie.

Selfie Advice

Stop trying
to improve
things.  It
will only
make the
selfie worse.

Selfie Questions

Was it
like this
random thing --

me blindfolded
naked in
the mirror?

And who
posted it?
And why?
Listening to Keith Jarrett and thinking about "selfies"; thinking too about Jean Luc Nancy's dialogues with children on the topics of god, justice, love and beauty; thinking also about weather, the abomination which is called chocolate wine, and a number of other things.

Sigh.  I'm feeling lonely and in between too many things.  Or outside of things.  I don't know.  It's hard to situate one's self sometimes when one's mind is overloaded, overflowing.


Appearances stalled at the moment.


Today have moved snow around, swept the house, cleaned the kitchen, done laundry, gone to the bank and grocery store (none of these things done in that order).



Here I am
blocking your view
with my head.


Can't squeeze
these shadows
out of
the frame.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Name

Is the question
It answers

Haunted but
Not possessed

Monday, December 23, 2013

Two great pieces of mail today:

1/ a real, handwritten letter from Rebecca Loudon
2/ Sheila Murphy's annual holiday poem.

Both made me exceedingly happy.


Appearances is the craziest project I've tackled to date.  Two years in and I have very little idea where it's going from section to section.  I have parallel feelings about learning guitar.  These two endeavors--the biggest writing project I've attempted so far and trying to discover what relation to making music is possible for me--have truly tested the limits of my resolve.


I'm not a big fan of Ohio winters. But there's something about a winter day when the leaves are off the trees and light comes unimpeded through our house's windows.


Thank you Rebecca and Sheila for the light you sent my way.


Friday, December 20, 2013

In & Out

the same

in their difference.

Self-imposed boundaries

seam two

as one.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

McCrary on Burroughs

This is a great piece of personal journalism.
What trying to play guitar reminds me of is that art is about practice and repeatedly starting over. Obsession, frustration, stubbornness are key.

Monday, December 16, 2013

I am slow, oh so slow on the uptake. Especially with this business of the guitar. I keep stumbling in trying to learn a 12 bar blues--specifically the single note backbone of "Rock Me Baby," the BB King classic. I'm getting the mechanics down. It's a 1-4-5 song. 4 measures of the one, 2 measures of the 4, 2 measures of the one, 1 measure of the five, 1 measure of the four, 2 measures of the one as a turnaround, and then everything repeats.

A lot of guitar stuff is about knowing where to go. But, more than that, doing so seamlessly without unnecessary pauses.

Intervals are everything, Jim says.

I'm still working on dexterity, learning the fret board, learning how to play up and down the neck. Learning to play with speed and feeling is what I'm gearing toward. But the dexterity issues are huge right now. I still can't negotiate barre chords and just don't have the ability to absorb everything I'm shown at a glance. Especially when it's upsidedown from me and being played at a quick tempo.


Appearances proceeds apace. I'm quite fond of the last few sections, but they're coming exceedingly slowly. Which is frustrating. I'm coming up on the 2 year anniversary of having started this project. Probably another year to go.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

wanna this.
I wanna that.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Guitar class is on hiatus now until the next "semester" begins in February.  Last night Jim spent an hour explaining what and how he wants me to practice until we start up together again.  Since the end of September I've had twenty lessons and built up to practicing around 2 hours a day.

It looks like the new regime Jim's urging me toward will be  3 or more hours a day.  Until, that is, I internalize it all and get faster.  Geeze, I hope I can get faster.  And I hope I can manage that regime.

When I set out to learn something about the guitar, I really had no idea what I was getting into--no idea what a physical and emotional process learning an instrument is.

My fingers are toughening up.  I'm conscious of them in a different way now.  For example, the pads of my fingers feel different when I type than they used to.


It's pretty damn cold here.


Looks like I'll probably be reading at the Marsh Hawk Press book launch at Poets House in New York City (Aprilish).  Details to follow as they firm up.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Where to
Begin again?

What to
Call this?

Who do

You love?

Friday, December 6, 2013

The day after a guitar class (today for example) I often feel physically and emotionally exhausted.  How much effort is required for even the most pathetic expressions of sound.  There's so much to attend to.  And when I'm observed, measured, I change, tense up, etc.  Perfect example of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, no?

There are glimmers of hope at times.  Today I was obsessively playing, among other things, a simple chord progression: B minor, A, G; B minor, A, G over and over.  And when I got tired of playing it on the new acoustic (which I love) I played it for awhile on the Stratocaster.  For the record, I like B minor.


Snow's coming down.  Every year I dread our Midwestern winters a little more.


Wednesday I had dinner with the friend I hadn't seen/heard from for something like 25 years.  It was an emotional encounter--a lovely 3 hour talk.  I'm haunted by our conversation.  Haunted, too, by memories of our past.  It was as if we were picking up the conversation from where we had left off all those many years ago.  Am hoping there will be other opportunities for such exchanges before he leaves the country.


Listening to Gov't Mule's Shout! cd.  Warren Haynes is at his best on this one.


I've been publishing poetry for 40 years now.  I have learned some things.  It's striking, though, that my core obsessions were formed early on.  There is, regardless of the quality of the individual text, a through line in my work.  Sometimes shockingly so.


I'm thinking about how time as it is experienced telescopes back and forth between the past and the present.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tomorrow I'm having dinner with an old friend.  We've been out of touch for over twenty years.  He's soon to become an ex-pat.  I've missed this person for a very long time.  So many questions.  So little time.


I've been trying and trying to play a six string barre chord today.  And I JUST CAN'T GET MY FUCKING FINGERS TO WORK.


Questions really are at the heart of everything I do/have done.  I feel a real kinship with Wittgenstein because of his struggles with certainty.  I truly distrust the arrogance of  knowing for sure.


I've been reading a lot by and about philosophers.  I've been thinking a lot about the disconnects between experience and thought.


Writing is about disconnects between experience and thought too.


In a recent e-mail zeitgeist JB-R, in an exchange about music lessons, referred to me as Blind Lemon Beckett.  I don't deserve that.  But I love it.  Thanks, John.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

I'm making pasta fagioli while listening to Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones.


Today I wrote fragment 270 of Appearances.


Trying to play guitar is making me even more cognizant of the power of repetition.


Diogenes is reputed to have masturbated in public.  He is also reputed to have been the mirror personality of Alexander the Great.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Don DeLillo Documentary

It's good and it's here (via Synthetic Zero).  I recommend it.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Acquired a new acoustic guitar today.  The one I started with has a wide neck and I came to feel, after a lot of deliberation, that it is too hard to play. Particularly at the bottom of the neck.

Of course all changes introduce new challenges.  The new guitar's action is different.  One has to press down a bit harder with the left hand ahead of the frets.  The guy I bought it from told me that it's not about the number of years you play, it's about the number of hours.  I guess that's heartening.  Maybe sometime in the next year I'll feel better about it all.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I made some solid progress with Appearances today.  Wrote two new sections and have a sense of how to proceed in the next couple of parts.  It's a good feeling.  Even knowing that the next couple sections will be among the most difficult of the book.


Trying to adjust to the cold and snow.  It gets harder every year.


I felt today like I made some guitar progress.  I was hitting the notes pretty well.  I don't have speed but I have desire and stubbornness.  Worked on the single note riff from Howling Wolf's "Killing Floor."  Believe me, it doesn't sound great when I play it.  But there's hope. I'm tired of beating myself up over what I can't do.  THERE IS SHIT I CAN DO.  I can feel it really slow.  So that's how I roll.


As a poet I often create structures which I improvise within.  I hope I live long enough to do that a little with music and to see how that might feed back into the poetry.  That's my goal.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Haven't felt much like blogging lately.  Too busy with family matters, house, yard, reading, guitar, attempts to write, etc.  Yesterday I spent a couple hours proof reading Dipstick(Diptych) which Marsh Hawk Press will be publishing in the Spring.

I'm having a love-hate relationship with the guitar at the moment.  I haven't played yet today, but my hands still hurt a little from the amount of playing I've done over the last few days.  Sunday alone I got around three hours of playing in.

I'm working on the single note riff from "Rock Me Baby."  It's kicking my ass. Here's a much embellished version which I really love from one of Eric Clapton's Crossroad Guitar Festivals.


"Even mirrors are what they are, no matter what they reflect."
--Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (University of Minnesota, 2013)


Recommended: TAKEAWAY, a beautiful chapbook of poetic collaborations by Kit Robinson and Ted Greenwald.  For more info contact James Yeary here:  juniorvarsityyardsale@gmail.com


There are times when I think my best friends are either imaginary or really existing characters in books, movies, TV shows, songs.


Tonight the Robert Cray Band's going to play at the Kent Stage.  I'm gonna be there.  Check this out.


Catch you later...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Guitar Poem #5

turned around

the turnaround.

the changes.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Snow and golden
maple leaves falling.  Beautiful but weird
chance of thunder snow later today.
That's always disturbing.


My guitar teacher keeps pushing me to play faster.  He says it's actually easier to play fast than slow.  I have not found that to be the case so far.  His playing faster than me while I was trying to copy what he was playing gave me an insight though.  I said: I think I'm having trouble correctly (I almost typed "colorectally") remembering the pattern you're playing  because of your speed, because the overtones make me think you're playing notes that you're not playing.  I am gradually learning to hear music differently.  Some days I can't listen to anything because it makes my brain hurt.  Other days I'm capable of doing little else.


Chromatic scales.  Minor blues
scale.  Single note riff.
Chance of thunder snow.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Appearances is creeping forward.  Wrote fragment 265 this morning.  Only 100 fragments to go.


Guitar work creeping forward and backward at the same time.  I'm going to become somewhat proficient around the time I enter the nursing home.  Perhaps I'll serenade my fellow residents at tea time.


Reading, lots of reading.

Leaf raking, lots of leaf raking.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Interview with Rebecca Loudon at Htmlgiant

It's a good one: here.  But then I love most everything Rebecca does.
Former Sestinas, an e-chapbook co-authored by myself and Thomas Fink, is up at Beard of Bees.  And you can read it here.  Tom and I had a lot of fun collaborating on these pieces.  I hope you enjoy reading them.  My thanks to Eric Elshtain, editor of Beard of Bees, for making this publication happen.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Guitar Poem #4

Trust me
I must

be my
pinky's bitch.

Guitar Poem #3

of finger
pivoting to
string backwards
from how
learned before.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Guitar Poem #2

1, 4
1, 2, 3
1, 3
1, 3, 4
1, 4
1, 4
4, 1
4, 1
4, 3, 1
3, 1
3, 2, 1
4, 1

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Guitar Poem #1

I've got the
 don't know
where my fingers
are supposed to
go blues.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Otoliths #31 is Live!

"I turned 72 on Wednesday. Thursday/Friday, depending on where you are, out comes issue #31 of Otoliths. In twelve years time I'll be 84 but Otoliths will only be up to issue #79—if that, since I'll probably be infirm & unable to bring out more than two issues a year. It's improbable that the number of issues of Otoliths will ever catch up to my age. As the tortoise once said to the hare, "Read your Zeno, Dude, & eat my dust."

In the meantime, I'm proud to bring out another solid issue, again containing a wide-ranging spectrum of work, this time from Katrinka Moore, Andrew Topel, Philip Byron Oakes, John Hand, Bjarte Alvestad, Louis Armand, Jac Nelson, rob mclennan, Bob Marcacci, Anna Ryan-Punch, Robert Lee Brewer, J. Crouse, Jack Galmitz, John M. Bennett, John M. Bennett & Thomas M. Cassidy, John M. Bennett & Matthew Stolte, John M. Bennett & Baron, John M. Bennett & Jim Leftwich, Gary Barwin, Anny Ballardini, Bogdan Puslenghea, Ed Baker, Willie Smith, Raymond Farr, gary lundy, Caitlin Annette Johnson, Francesco Aprile, Marilyn R. Rosenberg, Travis Cebula, sean burn, Ross B. Stager, John Pursch, Marco Alexandre de Oliveira, Tom Beckett, SS Prasad, Claramarie Burns, Stephen Nelson, Daniel Morris, Lakey Comess, Stephen C. Middleton, Owen Bullock, Marcia Arrieta, Márton Koppány, Robert Okaji, Roger Williams, Norman Abjorensen, Bobbi Lurie, Richard Barrett & Rachel Sills, Jeff Harrison, Mark Roberts, Susan Gangel, Jennie Cole, Eileen R. Tabios, Steven D. Stark, Mary Cresswell, Donna Fleischer, Marty Hiatt, Emily Stewart, Stu Hatton, Bob Heman, Thomas Fink, Thomas Fink & Maya Diablo Mason, Aditya Bahl, Cherie Hunter Day, Aaron Robertson, bruno neiva, Carla Bertola, Alberto Vitacchio, Chris D'Errico, Michael Brandonisio, J. D. Nelson, & Tony Beyer.

Mark Young"

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I "finished" reading Tim Morton's Realist Magic but keep going back to it.  This is one of the passages I find myself returning to:

" The meaning of a poem is (in the ) future.  A poem's 'What I do is me' is to have been read, recited, placed in an anthology, ignored, remembered, translated.  This future is not a now-point that is n now-points away from the current one.  The future is what Derrida calls l'avenir, the to-come, or what I call the future future. In a very strict sense, then, poetry does come from the future.  A weird Platonism is in effect, beaming the shadows of objects down from their unspeakable existence in the future future into sensual-aesthetic-causal coexistence.  The future future is not some transcendental beyond: there is no beyond in OOO*, since this would be a top object par excellence.  Nor is the future future a 'time' in which the object 'resides.' Rather, the future future is the pure possibility of the object as such."

* OOO--object oriented ontology(TB)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Two Questions for Rebecca*

we all

Aren't we

than we think
we are?

*I keep not being able to post comments to
Rebecca Loudon's terrific blog.
So here's my versified comment, on this poor excuse for a blog.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

RIP Lou Reed

"Doot,doot-doo-dee-doot;; doot-doot-doot; doot, doot, doo-dee-doot! And the colored girls sing!"

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

An interesting new book in the mix: The Gorgeous Nothings by Emily Dickinson .

The Gorgeous Nothings is at once a poetry book and an art book.  It collects full-color facsimile manuscripts of Emily Dickinson's envelope poems along with graphic transcriptions of the poems.  It is a stunning and long overdue volume (from New Directions).  And it has a Preface by Susan Howe!  Wow, wow, wow!  I hope this book gets looked at closely by poets, artists (and persons of every stripe) everywhere because it is amazing in an incredibly cross-genre kind of way.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Objects seem to become entangled with each other on the aesthetic level.  Now quantum entanglement is beginning to be quite a familiar phenomenon.  You can entangle two particles, such as photons or even small molecules, such that they behave as if they were telepathic.  Over arbitrary distances (some think there is no limit) you can tell one particle some information, and the other particle seems to receive the same information simultaneously.  Spatiotemporal differences are meaningless when it comes to quantum entanglement.  What if this were also the case with salt cellars and fingers, or with ponds and night air, or MP3 players and sound waves?  Causality is how things become entangled in one another.  Causality is thus distributed.  No one object is responsible for causality.  The buck stops nowhere, because causality means that the buck is in several places at once.  It's two days since I first heard those frogs, and here I am, still writing about them. The entanglement spreads across time.  Or rather, I tell the time according to the croak rhythms in which I am entangled.  'Yesterday' is a relationship I'm having with quartz, sunrise, gravity and a persistent sore throat."

--Timothy Morton, from Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Everyone is the other, and no one is himself."
--Heidegger, Being and Time

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Five words to a line, Ron Silliman’s Revelator is immaculate verse.  I read/heard no false notes.  Which can’t be said, written or implied very often. 

I love Silliman’s poetry.  Silliman, though, is a Figure—one of those judgment making trendsetters who can intimidate potential readers.

He famously scared off some with his excoriations of SoQ (School of Quietude) poetry.  Lamentations about dead deer on the side of the road don’t cut it for him (not that he doesn’t care).  He’s all about-- if not the “music of meaning” a la-la-la  Charles Bernstein-- the surrealism of everyday life.

It’s a surrealism expressed through micro shifts of attention.  Every sense perception bleeds into another.  And that is a method in a five word line.

I was slow walking chromatic scales in triplets.  Fingers tripped over one another at times.  Forward and backward and then all over again.    Earlier in the day I'd read in Tim Morton's Realist Magic this bit about "Cantor dust"...

"Think of a straight line.  Then break it into two pieces by chopping the middle third out.  Now you have a beat, the space between the lines; and two beats, the lines.  Then chop the middle thirds out of those lines. You have some more beats.  And more beats-as-lines.  Eventually you end up with Cantor dust.  It is named after Georg Cantor, the mathematician who discovered transfinite sets--infinite sets of numbers that appeared to be far larger (infinitely larger) than other sets of infinite numbers.  Cantor dust is weird, because it has infinity pulses in it, and infinity no-pulses.  Infinity beats and infinity beats-as-lines..."

Tom Beckett can't play guitar, but he is trying to find his way in the midst of Cantor dust and infinity beats-as-lines.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Just back from a walk downtown.  Stared at the river for a bit.  Stopped in at Last Exit Books.  Thought about browsing acoustic guitars at Woodsy's.  Decided I couldn't afford the temptation.  Got a slice of cheese pizza from Guy's.  Ate it on a bench at the corner of South Water and Erie.  Walked home, writing this poem along the way:

I’m a fossil.
We all are.

One’s a record
of one’s experience,

but more than
just experience’s sum.

Not nothing, but
next to it.

Not some thing,

but something else.


Had another guitar lesson last night.  It was intense.  The hour passed in a flash.  I was tired, though, at the end of it.  Later, at home, practiced so not to forget.  Barb said I sounded good as I returned the instrument to its case.  I replied that I was really frustrated.  And I was because I just couldn't remember aspects of the 4 part exercise Jim had taught me.  I think some of it came back this morning, but I'm confused.  Getting my regular old memory and my muscle memory in synch is gonna be some kind of experience.  Don't know how much time I have to figure it out.  My guitar goal is to learn to play one blues song to my own satisfaction sometime before I die.  After I die, maybe I'll take up the piano.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary (37th), so we walked downtown to Cajun Dave's for dinner and drinks and then stayed for some blues.  A blues duo to be exact.  Half of that duo was my guitar teacher, Jim.  So Barb got to meet Jim and his band mate Donny.  It was a fun evening.  An evening complete with anecdotes about Jimi Hendrix and Glenn Schwartz.  Check out this video of Schwartz playing live in Cleveland:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56YQryZJ5HU   Anyhoo, it was a nice evening out.  I need to see live music more often.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Appearances are not simply the cheerleaders for the faceless football team of essences.  Thinking about art is thinking about causality."

--Timothy Morton, Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Listening to Robert Cray's Midnight Stroll CD which I think is a masterpiece.  He's one of the guitarists I most admire.  And when you add to that his great clear as a bell voice, Jim Pugh's keyboards, Richard Cousins' bass, and (on this CD) the Memphis Horns--wow!

I take my acoustic guitar to lessons, but practice on both guitars at home.  The Epiphone acoustic has a wide neck so is hard to play, but my teacher thinks that might help me to learn to stretch my fingers.  I'm in love with the Stratocaster because of its nice tone and how notes sustain.  I love the magic that can happen with overtones.


I'm thinking about wanting to see  Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938 exhibition at MOMA in NYC.  Though I see it is moving to Chicago at some point.  If I can't manage the one, maybe the other?  I dunno.  In the best of all possible worlds I'd see it with Mark Young.


Reading, among other things, Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon.


We have a pretty shady back yard.  It makes it hard to grow some things.  Many years ago we planted a variety of sunflower with very small blossoms.  It keeps reseeding.  Mostly we get stalks and no blossoms.  This year we got stalks about 8 feet high and--just this week--blossoms!  I was moved by those little ones bursting out all over.  In October!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Thursday I had a hour and a half of one on one guitar instruction.  It was exhausting but revelatory.  My left hand and arm came away sore and perhaps changed.  Plus I might hate my pinky finger.

The take away for me was a better understanding of the importance of scales, but also that I need to put aside my tendency toward perfectionism and just roll on.

My teacher is kind but relentless.  I like that.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

are I
and me synonyms?

per J.
B. R., symptoms?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stray Notes

This AM read these words on the sign in front of a local church:

"We pray for
the enemies
of peace."

I understand the sanctimonious intentions behind those words.  I find them chilling nonetheless and evocative of Hannah Arendt's "banality of evil."  Not to mention Marcuse's "repressive tolerance."


I've been in something of a depressive sinkhole lately--all of my projects are stalled in some way.  I've been spinning wheels. Hence recent desultory posts.


Decided that trying to teach myself to play guitar has been an interesting failure.  As I've mentioned before, I have an idiot for a teacher and a moron for a student.  So I signed up for lessons through a community education program at the high school.  I went to my first lesson--it's a group situation--last night.  Everyone else has years of experience.  I felt overwhelmed, but I'm stubborn.  We'll see how the next lesson goes on Thursday.  Yikes.


I like this passage from Timothy Morton's Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality (Open Humanities Press, 2013):

"The aesthetic form of an object is where the causal properties of the object reside.  Theories of physical causation frequently want to police aesthetic phenomena, reducing causality to the clunking or clicking of solid things.  It is not the case that a shadow is only an aesthetic entity, a flimsy ghost without effects.  Plato saw shadows as dangerous precisely because they do have a causal influence.  When my shadow intersects with the light sensitive diode, the nightlight switches on.  As stated above, when a quantum is measured, it means that another quantum has intersected with it, altering it, changing its position or momentum.  Aesthetics, perception, causality are all almost synonyms."

Friday, September 27, 2013

I was
by you

(lost in

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I received
really good
scores on
the reality
tv show
and then
I was
voted off.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I don't want
to know everything
about anything.

I just want
to show you
something now.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

One day last week I was walking to the curb to bring in the trash cans.  There was a guy stepping out of a muscle car. He looked at me and said he used to live in my house.

"How long ago?"

"About 50 years."

We walked around the yard.  I explained changes we'd made and some of the history of ownership (as I understand it) since he'd left, and etc.This is, after all, a house which is over a 100 years old.

It was interesting hearing his memories of being a kid in the spaces I've come to know so well over the last 20 or so years. I hope that after I'm gone future inhabitants of this place that I love have similar encounters.

Woob, woob, woob
of a saxophone.


Hallucinations, candy, equinoxes.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Three Stooges
 made a number
 of art films. 


I was misdiagnosed
as a teenager.


Pronouns won’t dance.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

“Constellation” is, for me, a big word.  I mean: it is a big word.  But more than that, it’s a word which looms large in my thought.
I feel isolated at times, but I know that I—everyone, really—exists within an often shifting web of contexts, entities, persons and concerns.
Writing poetry is, at its best, a most excellent constellating practice:  a form of resistance and alternate world creation.
Constellations aren’t hierarchies.
Constellations are environments, microenvironments and pinballing Ids.
That concludes this afternoon’s sermon.

Monday, September 16, 2013

When Mark Young invited me to publish the E-values interviews through Otoliths  I thought he was interested in doing an anthology of greatest hits and I initially demurred--didn't feel I could choose which of the children should survive.  Mark though wanted the whole shebang plus a selection of work from each interview subject.

The result?  3 volumes totaling around a thousand pages.  My experience with Mark is that he seldom seems to err, but  when he does it is always on the side of generosity.

(More later.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

JOYRIDE by Thomas Fink

Read and Recommended:

Joyride (Marsh Hawk Press, 2013) by Thomas Fink.  Just time now to note this terrific new volume.  Hope to pen a review of it at some point.  Truly stellar work.
One of the qualities that make Mark Young a great editor/publisher is his generosity.  I'd wager that most of the titles on Otoliths' list would have had a tough time finding publication elsewhere (my own titles included). I'm not suggesting that the work is below par.  I'm suggesting that finding a publisher for an innovative volume of poetry, vispo, or poetics can be tough sledding in the current environment.

 (To be continued.)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mark Young is among the most versatile poets I know.  His serial works like the Magritte series and his Postman poems are touchstones for me. Young is also among the most prolific poets I know (see 2 posts below for info about his latest and maybe greatest book).

I want though to write a bit about Mark Young as editor/publisher.

I've been fortunate to work with Mark in a number of ways, on a number of different occasions.  He published 5 books of mine: 2 volumes of poetry which I wrote and 3 volumes of
E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S interviews which I curated.

Mark, as editor, is a poet's dream.

(More later.)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

One could say that the internet saved my poetic ass.  And that Mark Young has personified for me the best possibilities for poetry on the internet.

(More later.)

Monday, September 9, 2013


Perhaps if I'd started earlier, & achieved what has thus far been achieved—80 books in total, covering a range of media & with an impressive list of creators—I might still have the energy to continue. But I didn't, & I haven't; so, with sadness, I announce the last two books from Otoliths.

harry k stammer
148 pages
Otoliths, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-9872010-8-9
$13.95 + p&h

harry k stammer’s new book, grounds, is a sequel to his previous book tents. It continues to dig deeper into the realm of a homeless person’s mind as he/she lives in downtown Los Angeles. As Philip Primeau, of PERSISTENCIA, said of tents, “stammer mixes a sort of poetic cubism with wordplay, startling typography, and a wide array of other adventurous techniques with creative intensity rarely witnessed.” This book uses imagery and meaning to describe the various illnesses that afflict the homeless.

The Codicils
Mark Young
600 pages
Otoliths, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-9872010-9-6
$29.95 + p&h

The Codicils is actually a number of new books, nine at least, collected into a single brick, covering Mark Young's poetry from the four years since the publication of Pelican Dreaming: Poems 1959-2008. It revisits some familiar themes — Magritte, geographies, that peripatectic Postman — but it also brings in a number of new streams & memes, & includes an essay by the poet on the universality of the stochastic methodology that lies behind his poetic canon.

The journal will continue on, & print copies of the three most recent issues, twenty-eight to thirty, are now available from The Otoliths Storefrontwhere the full catalog of Otoliths books & issues of the journal can also be found.

Otoliths Editor

NB: I read The Codicils in manuscript. It is a superb, engaging and utterly lovely work of art.  It will repay your attention many times over.  I hope, dear readers, that you purchase this fine book.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Poet Tom Beckett

The Poet Tom Beckett

      The poet Tom Beckett is a horny avatar.
      The poet Tom Beckett is an impaired grammarian.
      The poet Tom Beckett is a born again virus.
     The poet Tom Beckett is a number.
    The poet Tom Beckett isn’t any number than it used to be.
      The poet Tom Beckett does not confuse itself with infrastructure.
     The poet Tom Beckett is a semi-permeable membrane.
     The poet Tom Beckett is a leaky thought bubble.
     The poet Tom Beckett is a lot of work.
  The poet Tom Beckett is: a) opaque or b) transparent?
The poet Tom Beckett is a hapless conductor on a runaway train.
The poet Tom Beckett is the hapless conductor of a runaway train of thought.
   The poet Tom Beckett is given to repeating itself .
    The poet Tom Beckett is given to editing itself.
 The poet Tom Beckett is an intervention in reality.
    The poet Tom Beckett is in need of an intervention.
  The poet Tom Beckett is not the sum of its intentions.
   The poet Tom Beckett is whatever it appears to be.
   The poet Tom Beckett presents contradictory views.
  The poet Tom Beckett is an uncomfortable performer.
    The poet Tom Beckett is a sweaty schlub.
    The poet Tom Beckett wants to listen to you.
    The poet Tom Beckett wants to be heard.
.    The poet Tom Beckett is afraid of the herd.
    The poet Tom Beckett is certain of very few things.
    The poet Tom Beckett knows a few things about collage.
The poet Tom Beckett wants to befriend you.
   The poet Tom Beckett will be found wanting.
    The poet Tom Beckett cannot find its ass in a parking lot.
   The poet Tom Beckett is not and never will be the poet the nation wants it to be.
   The poet Tom Beckett is a complete and utter _____ (fill in the blank).
  The poet Tom Beckett is an unreliable narrator of its own experience.
   The poet Tom Beckett is neither an aphorist nor a forest (discuss).
   The poet Tom Beckett is preoccupied with limits, enclosures, shadows and projections.
   The poet Tom Beckett has too many questions.
    The poet Tom Beckett is socially awkward.
   The poet Tom Beckett is not the king of the blues.
   The poet Tom Beckett is not the boss of you.
   The poet Tom Beckett has insisted over and over again that poetry is received like an unsolicited kiss.
    The poet Tom Beckett is hoping to hear from you.
    The poet Tom Beckett can’t help thinking that poetry is a disease from which one doesn’t want to recover.
    The poet Tom Beckett is kind of whackdoodle at times.
   The poet Tom Beckett dreams of a world in which poetry transfigures things and in which poets are free to dream.
 The poet Tom Beckett thinks that different approaches to poetry have always been contested.
    The poet Tom Beckett thinks that poetry and philosophy are often confused.
 The poet Tom Beckett doesn’t have a plan.
  The poet Tom Beckett wants to be loved but not at any cost.
  The poet Tom Beckett is not unfamiliar with bathos.
   The poet Tom Beckett is not trying to be overly familiar with you.
   The poet Tom Beckett is just trying to continue doing what it can do.
   The poet Tom Beckett has been working on this poem all day.
    The poet Tom Beckett worries about what is and isn’t fiction.
   The poet Tom Beckett is an uneasy warrior.
  The poet Tom Beckett both wants and doesn’t want you to find him.
   The poet Tom Beckett is trying not to
   The poet Tom Beckett is trying not to be
   The poet Tom Beckett is trying not to be found
   The poet Tom Beckett is trying not to be found in
    The poet Tom Beckett is trying not to be found in this.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

This is a photo taken by my youngest daughter, Claire Hale, of a tree frog my grandsons found this morning.


I'm cooking dirty rice, drinking wine and listening to the blues.


I was cautiously optimistic when Obama was first elected.  I voted for him both times.  But I think he's making very bad decisions in regard to Syria.  It is important to recognize what we can't do as a nation.  It is important to recognize that misspeaking shouldn't be the end of the world.  If one draws "a red line," it should still be possible to recognize a mistake out loud.

We all lose face.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Listening to "Moongate" by the Duke Robillard Band, an atmospheric and incredibly beautiful blues.  It's on the CD Independently Blue which arrived in the mail today.  I recommend it.


A translation into Greek of my "Little Book of Zombie Poems" is under way.  More about that later.


Have read the first couple chapters of J.M. Coetzee's The Childhood of Jesus.  Am dancing around starting  (restarting, really) Timothy Morton's Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality.  I began reading it online and now have a hard copy.


Appearances is going slowly.  It's a book unlike any that I've ever attempted before.  Everything that I know and don't know is going into it.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I was playing the Strat with my 50 cent pvc slide this afternoon until my left arm felt like hell (and that felt good).  I've come to the conclusion that it might be better for me to be swampy than suave.  Savvy?

Monday, August 26, 2013

I've always been a poet who values concision.  Still, it has been a goal  to work in longer forms.  If you have been following my work at all, you'll be familiar with  some of those attempts.  Longer forms to this point have been poems of 10, 20, 30 pages.

Appearances is the longest project I've attempted to date. Around 100 pages completed so far.  Maybe 50 left to go.  The manuscript is crawling along at this point.  I'm very frustrated, but I'm learning a surprising number of things along the way.  One virtually never knows what one knows until one tries to do something that seems impossible.

Here's the thing: I'm 60 years old and I'm trying to make this one big (for me) book that doesn't do many of things that a book is conventionally supposed to do, but a book that might...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

This summer my grandson Andrew (7) got his first pair of glasses.  Before the first day of school his mom, our daughter Claire, sat him down and said "Some kids might make fun of you for wearing glasses. Let's talk about what to do if that happens."

Sure enough, on the first day of school, a kid said Andy's glasses looked stupid.  Andy's reply: "The girls seem to like them!"

Friday, August 23, 2013

It's hot and muggy.  I'm listening to John Mayer's new CD (Paradise Valley) when I'm not listening to the new Tedeschi/Trucks or new Buddy Guy.  Mayer's CD has a really nice version of J.J. Cale's "Call Me the Breeze."


I'm bedeviled by the Appearances manuscript.  I have all these different possible next moves in my head that aren't resolving into anything concrete.  Staring at a screen unproductively for hours gets old.

Yesterday's "Seven Things" post was, in some ways, a little break to see if I can still make a few little poems.
Ambitious writing isn't a bad thing, but it's a tightrope act sometimes.  There are moments when I wonder if Appearances is an insane project.


Trying to learn guitar and trying to write my crazy ass excuse for a novel at the same time (and at my advanced age) seem to be reinforcing all of my doubts about myself.  Ah, well... it's the course I've chosen and I'm sticking to it.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Seven Things
for Rebecca Loudon

1.     A few bars of air guitar.
2.     A large carton of figs.
3.     Speech balloons.
4.     Yet to be named moons.
5.     Pools full of salmon.
6.     Yards of tulle.
7.     Tom Cruise.

Seven Things
for Richard Lopez

1.     Never ending horror movie trailers.
2.     Amplifier buzz.
3.     Dried pumpkin seeds.
4.     McCrary emerging from a cloud of pungent smoke.
5.     The ultimate mix tape.
6.     A funhouse mirror.
7.     Our road trip mirages.

Seven Things
for Mark Young

1.     Barre chords against a matte sky.
2.     Whatever floats your bowler hat.
3.     A pipe that is a pipe.
4.     A pipe that is altogether something else.
5.     Feedback loops.
6.     Internests.
7.     Nostrums for the monsters.

Seven Things
for Jessica Grim

1.     La A.
2.     La B.
3.     La C.
4.     La D.
5.     La E.
6.     La F.
7.     La Gee.

Seven Things
for Eileen Tabios

1.     Wedding dress made of poetry.
2.     Informercial for entropy.
3.     Chiaroscuro obbligatos.
4.     Unlimited sex changes.
5.     Musical chairs.
6.     Chain of custody.
7.     Odor of sanctity.


Seven Things
for Thomas Fink

1.     A coloratura for your thoughts.
2.     The uneasy agency of shadows.
3.     Vowels out the yazoo.
4.     Voices .
5.     Pentatonic scales.
6.     Bent notes.
7.     Waking with the fishes.

Seven Things
for Noone

1.     White noise.
2.     Black magic.
3.     Garage bands.
4.     Homemade remedies.
5.     Forgotten seizures.
6.     Misbegotten dreams.
7.     Madrigals

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Added 50 words to Appearances today.  May not sound like much, but it seems momentous to me.  The book is getting harder and harder to write as it shifts gears into its last third.
Is all writing haunted? I've come to think so.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Serve Power

These days
I rarely answer
the telephone
without knowing
who is calling.

Lately, once or
more a day,
Caller I.D.
lets me know
that "Serve Power"

is on the line.
"Serve Power" never
leaves any messages.
"Serve Power" seems
stubborn but inarticulate.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I have been thinking about my interest in how people think and talk about what they do.

I curated the blog E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S  in an attempt to explore some of the dimensions of contemporary poetic thought.  More recently I initiated the blog Ask/Tell which is trying, with some difficulty, to promote exchanges between poets and people outside of poetry about the poetics of what the latter are up to.

Of course communication rarely happens in neutral space.  I continue to be amazed by how often things derail because of the assumptions(often false)  being brought to the table.  That being said, I'm very open to interview proposals.

Any ideas?  I can't always get on board with every proposal, but I do try to give everything my full attention. I'm actively looking for new exchanges.

I'm just sayin'.

Friday, August 16, 2013

There are things that are kind of universal about the uneasy situation of being a serious poet in our culture.  Eileen Tabios gets at an experience I myself  have had on a few occasions: here.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I'm sipping a glass of my brother John's homemade limoncello.  It's vibrant and tart.


The telephone's been ringing off the hook today--robocalls, telemarketers.  Thank goodness for Caller ID.


Work on Appearances not going well at the moment.


Met yesterday with my friend Jessica Grim.  We lunched and walked and talked for a few delightful hours.

The print journal Big Allis, which Jessica co-edited with Melanie Neilson for many years, has been put online: here.  It's worth visiting (or revisiting in my case).


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In an earlier post I wrote:

"For decades I've assumed a 'continuous present.'  Now I wonder if the present exists.  Isn't, for example, every utterance always already in the past?  (I owe this insight to Colombian novelist Juan Gabriel Vasquez.)"

Eileen Tabios emailed this poem in response:

"The present is thin
as thin as action
when action's completion
transforms present
to past
Thin for the act
can occur (thus
be completed) in phases
which can be so thin
they are invisible
but still exist
So thin it might
feel imagined
The thinness of
the present--
another reason
to treasure
or fear
in any event, respect
the past
The past is thick"

I was moved by Eileen's quick and eloquent response.  

The idea that time happens in phases or layers makes sense to me.  

I've been giving a lot of thought lately to Eric Fischl's paintings.  Early on he did works on glassine sheets that he piled up to create composite images.  I haven't seen any of these pieces except through reproductions, but the idea of them has become a kind of obsession for me.

Experience is a kind of ghostly aggregate, isn't it?

I don't have a goal when I'm writing except to pile things up in a way that bleeds back into what came before.

"The past is thick," indeed.