Friday, March 29, 2013



Couldn't talk
its way out
of a box.



Couldn't stop
repeating itself.


(NB: I'm soliciting ideas for an Auntie Mame Scene Unit.)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New at Ask/Tell

My interview with psychologist Branton Shearer is here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

After hours of thought and frustration I made some progress with Appearances today.  Felt totally incapable with the guitar though.  I'm some sort of a writer but not much of a musician.


I've been reading a book about John Cage and Buddhism and thinking about "ego noise."  I'm, for sure, not quit of it.  Never will be, I'm sure.  Still, there have been periods of my life where things have been much muddier psychologically.


One wants and that leaves one wanting.


It's hard to imagine oneself not existing unless one truly can imagine ending it all and then that's the beginning of the end.


Beginnings and endings are difficult, but so are the middle parts.


So it goes.


Monday, March 25, 2013

This morning I awoke to a few inches of heavy wet snow.  I dug out, rode my stationary bike, yadda, and then spent a couple hours agonizing over whether to send out a book manuscript and a couple more hours getting it ready to send out.


As I type I'm listening to Bo Diddley. In his autobiography Keith Richards has some interesting things to say about Diddley's guitar style, so I thought I should revisit the music.  Of course, any excuse to listen to this great musician is a good one.


I'm at yet another sticking point in Appearances.


Insomnia and weird serial dreams.  Lately I'm dreaming about moving through a post-flood landscape in which usually dead salmon fall from trees.  When he's unsure if they're dead or not Dream Tom examines them.


Increasingly my eyes and I's (personae) are all tired.


I'm 350 pages into Mark Young's magnificent poetry manuscript, the work of a master at the height of his power.


I should be posting a new interview at Ask/Tell before too long.  This one is with a psychologist friend.

Have I ever mentioned here that my wife is a psychologist?  On one of our first dates (back in the seventies) she told me that I should see a psychologist.

And then she became one!  Badda bing!


Sunday, March 24, 2013


I stopped
Myself along
The way
To where
You are.

“Over here”
I thought
I overheard
You say.

“Over here”
I thought
And walked
Toward where
I thought
You were.

I stopped
Myself along
The way
To where
You are.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I don't know if I should mention this, but entre nous, I've been working my way through a huge (and hugely entertaining) manuscript of poems by the inimitable Mark Young.  Just tripped over this piece:

Today the
postman brought
me Tom
Beckett. Too
tall to fit
through the
door so I’ve
left his physical
self outside
as a kind of
toTom pole
& let his
spirit run
free to keep
me company.

This book is going to be an event.  Not because it made a reference or two to me but because it is all over the place in terms of its range of reference and its witty engagements with the world.  Just to give you a sense of its scale, I have read around 250 pages and am not even halfway through this noble beast of a book.  And I couldn't be happier.  I want to finish reading it and yet I don't.  It's that good.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Listening to Alabama Shakes.  Brittany Howard's  voice a great alternative to the bitter cold weather outside.   The lady can wail and soar and make me want to shake it myself.

(Shakin' break. Can you help?)


Sorting Facts: or, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker by Susan Howe is the first in a series of "poetry pamphlets" from New Directions.  It's an interesting/innovative essay on the film work of Chris Marker.  My first experience of this essay was when Susan gave it as a lecture in an Oberlin art gallery 16 or so years ago.  (My memory for dates is awfully fuzzy at this point.)  A day or so later she gave a great slide show/lecture at Oberlin College on Emily Dickinson.


Time is an accordion fold.


I wrote what I think is a pretty good section of Appearances today (fragment 200).


Time is a side affect.


Conclusions are boring.
Questions soar above quotidian concerns like speech balloons above the chalk outlines of murder victims.


Monday, March 18, 2013

I was at the gym Saturday morning and reading Bernstein's Recalculating on the stationary bike.  An acquaintance asked what I was reading.  Poetry, I said.  He said that he could never get his head around poetry.  I told him I kept it under my pillow.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I'm venturing onto the 4th string of the guitar now.  It's another order of difficulty.  But interestingly, since I started trying to reach for the 4th string, I'm having an easier time with the 3rd.  My practice repertoire is now four songs.  This newest one with the four strings and change ups I'm not used to is challenging.

At this point the acoustic is for practicing the songs and exercises.  The electric is for improvising, play and banishing stress.  Yesterday B. heard me improvising on the electric and said it sounded good.  That was something.


This afternoon I watched Quadrophenia.  I hadn't realized that it was made into a movie movie (as opposed to a concert film).  It came out in 1979.  Of course in '79 our first child was 1 yr old and we were struggling to keep food on the table and pay the rent.

Anyway it's a movie worth watching.  Mods and Rockers.  Great soundtrack.  Sting in his first acting role.

"Love reign o'er me!"


David Bowie lyric in the background: "If you can see me, I can see you."


I've been relishing Charles Bernstein's Recalculating.  It's delicious.  (About "delicious"--my strong memory of David Bromige imitating Creeley saying delicious  after I'd initiated a discussion of some of the keywords C would so insistently return to, over and over again. )

 We weren't mocking Creeley.  We were exploring an avenue of delight.  The words a poet obsesses over are key. This isn't to say I don't have  problems at times with C's work, but I've been reading him for over 40 years.

I've been reading Charles for a long time too. And his new book is the latest best thing I love.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

1 , 2, 3, 4...


Write a line.
 Delete it.

 Write a different line.
  Delete it.

 The noise of unresolved thinking sounds like an object sinking fast, singing fat static.

Do this.
Do that.

Dude, I can't bring myself to align my neuroses with yours.

Bent notes and barre chords.  A nice char on that over which we hover.

The air is a thick sucking wick.

Care for the Self is a fucking kaleidoscope.

Dare to read things into things.


Write a line.
Intervene in it.

Write a different line.
Intervene in that.

The joys of text uncouple jouissance from the special sauce of semblance.

Do this
or that
(for me).

Dear, I can't sing to save myself.
"I can't sing to save myself" is a funny name.
Where's the rest of the letter.

But except in the context of recognizing things out of context--
a food service worker out of uniform sighted outside of the restaurant, say--
I'm at a loss.

The Hero is a thick, sulking hulk.

Care for Others is ordered by Authors.

Dare to read words and objects together.


This follows that.
That follows this.

I’m not
following you.

The choice of sex redoubles the chance of finding a remote under sofa cushions.

Do something
to me from afar.

Do we
resemble something
we don’t know?

Duration isn’t stable.

Many centuries passed before the invention of Zero.

Race toward noise.

Read to erase the _____.


Over here.
Over there.

Are you one?

Am I
a placeholder?

Duotone raveling
of sonic textures.

Do or
don’t order
donut holes.

Do hallucinations objectify their hallucinators or do they hallucinate them?

A century of manipedis parsed.

Read toward noise.

Our race is to erasure.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Weird how disorienting it can be to see something in isolation which one is used to seeing in a certain context.

The cover of the great William Gass's new novel Middle C  presented such a conundrum for me.  There's a depiction of a single piano key.

But, for a few minutes, I couldn't see it.  What is this object, I thought.

And then I saw it.  And realized it was all about context.

Like seeing a person you only know as the person in the uniform  (at insert place of employment) someplace else.
It's snowing.  I'm heating black beans for lunch and listening to David Bowie's The Next Day.  It's cold.  I'm really hungry and the Bowie CD is excellent.

After a long hiatus at Ask/Tell I'm in the midst of working on a new interview--this time with a psychologist.  Again, my open invitation: I'm looking for poets to do long, serious cross-disciplinary interviews.  I'd like poets to interview artists, architects, musicians, dancers, philosophers, film makers, etc, etc, about the poetics of what they do.  Poetry/poetics isn't just about communicating with other poets. And it isn't just academic.

(Bean break.)

I've been reading a lot of Renee Gladman's work lately.  More about that to come.

Looks like the new Bernstein book will arrive today, as will William Gass's Middle C.  I'm excited about both.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tell Me About It

Start talking.
I know you’ve got
To get it out.

But remember
What the Court said:
“Money’s  speech.”

Why the screeching halt
To our exchange?

Oh, so time
Is money too, eh?

Tell me about it.
Pay attention.

Monday, March 11, 2013

"The picture is in my eye, but me, I am in the picture."
--Jacques Lacan

I've been working away at Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism for about 10 months.    It's been a long slog but worth the time and effort. Less than 300 pages to go (it's a 1038 page book)!

The Lacan bit quoted above is something Zizek returns to again and again in Less Than Nothing.  I've been thinking about it a lot.  One is always already in the frame one has created.


I'm at another sticking point--or perhaps better said, point of hesitation--in the novel.  I'm at the point of introducing menace into the book and am trying to figure out what that might mean for a couple of key figures.

Appearances is "about" projections, ventriloquized thoughts, hypnosis,collective dreaming, shadows, the Virtual and the Real.


Read the Auster/Coetzee letters over the weekend.  Recommend it.  Correspondence on this scale has become a very rare thing.


I keep pacing, looking for the UPS truck.  Charles Bernstein's new book Recalculating should be arriving soon.  I'm anxious to read it.

Charles was the first poet I interviewed, back in the day. And probably the most philosophically disposed poet I've ever met.   He and David Bromige are paired in my mind as the two greatest performers of poetry I have encountered.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Note to Self

Since I
started teaching
myself to
play guitar
I haven't
stopped playing
air guitar.

I just
play it
better now.

The opacity
Of this
Decomposing moment
Is surrounded
By a
Deafening clamor.

Listen, try
To see.

You appear
To be
A person
Of renown.

Re: nouns…
Renounce the
Nominal and
Embrace the
Thesis statement.

Theses killed
The Minotaur.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Images are
Screens, obscene
Or not,
Viewed or
Heard.  Hard
To know
What now
Noodles in
Our network.

Images are
Screens, unseen
Rattles delivering
A spectrum
Of murmurs.

The Spectacle
Climatizes things.

From the for what it's worth department...

go here to see a photo of me reading at Kent State last Fall.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Monday, March 4, 2013

The last several months I've felt more ill at ease than usual.  It comes down to the fact that, since I retired at the end of 2011, I have largely stopped writing poetry. (Though I do have a fairly large sheaf of uncollected stuff. I sent a couple different manuscripts around in 2012, entered contests even.  No takers.C'est la guerre.)

 For the last 14 or so months I've been working on Appearances: A Novel in 365 Fragments; and for the last few months I've been trying to teach myself to play guitar.

The novel writing thing is going slowly, painfully at times.  I'm over halfway through a first draft, having completed 191 fragments so far, about 76 manuscript pages.  But I'm somewhat stuck and unsure about what should happen next.

The guitar thing is also going slowly.  I've been obsessively working on 3 exercises: a "Three String Blues," a "Guitar Boogie," and a "12 Bar Blues."  Each of the pieces only uses the first three strings.  I'm hoping next week to move onto the 4th string.

Mostly I'm playing notes.  I'm pretty intimidated by chord shapes at the moment.  In my noodling around I've experimented some with bending notes.  On the third string I was able to make some patterns I like by playing the open G and then bending the A.  I alternate between practicing in a disciplined way and then seeing what I can discover by messing around.  The trick is remembering what you did to make that particular pattern that actually worked.

"Everyday I have the blues."