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.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Today I added the first fragment to Appearances in almost 2 months.  It's been a long drought, but not for lack of trying.  Here it is:


Love wants to become a Chalk Outline.
Love wants to limn a specific emptiness.

Love wants to become a framework for something yet to be made articulate.



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.)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

This is grandson Andy taking my Stratocaster for a test drive.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Listening to Terrence Blanchard's Magnetic, a fabulous CD.


After a month of no progress with Appearances I've been rereading the manuscript and thinking about how to start up again with it.  It's difficult to hold a hundred pages of constellating allegorical characters in one's head, but I'm seeing glimmers of ways forward.


Did a lot of housework, yard work and reading today.

No guitar work though.  Feeling discouraged and incompetent at the moment in that department.


The Philosopher's Chair

The Philosopher's Chair

Apertures and overtures
in a house of mirrors.

Excursion into Philosophy

Excursion into Philosophy

"What's the matter?"
--Everything could be otherwise.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Is it possible
for an utterance--
                           whether question,
                                                            statement, response
                                                                                           or whatever--
to occur outside of
                                   some context or situation?

An Open Letter to Kenneth Goldsmith from Anne Tardos

An Open Letter to Kenneth Goldsmith from Anne Tardos

Dear Kenny,

Your piece “The Burden of Artists’ Crap” posted over a year ago in Harriet (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2012/04/the-burden-of-artists-crap), has just been brought to my attention. I am shocked and dismayed by your characterization of me. Kenny, we’ve been down this road before. Only weeks after Jackson’s death you publicly accused me of interfering with his legacy by not immediately publishing all his recordings on your web site. May I also remind you that later you apologized profusely for your behavior, albeit in private.
I feel compelled to comment on your profound misunderstanding of the partial sale of Jackson’s library. I have devoted years of my life to archiving Jackson’s papers and little known publications. His archive was placed at the Mandeville Special Collections at UCSD, two years ago. To make this possible, I had to organize his works with the assistance of several devoted young poets over many years. Without going through the immense amount of unsorted papers, and cataloguing them, no institution would have been able to recognize the scope of the work. As for the Mac Low library, I made extraordinary efforts to place it in its entirety with reputable institutions. I am saddened that you don‘t realize that parting with these books was heartbreaking for me, too. 
I hope it doesn’t embarrass you too much to know that the books you describe are duplicates. Perhaps you are unaware of the enormity of the collection, and that most of Jackson’s books are still in my possession. Your own books, the ones you are so sure were gone with the rest, and which you had inscribed to both of us, remain on a bookshelf next to my desk.
You write that “evidently the poet’s widow wanted to get rid of it all.” Your condescension is both reckless and misguided. The comparison you make with Charles Ives’s heirs is laughable. Are you not aware that Ives’s studio is being kept as it was during his lifetime, intact and complete at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which has meticulously recreated his studio, down to the radiator piping? Jackson wasn’t so lucky.
Your reference to my reasons for selling part of the library are too offensive to answer.
To bring you up to date, in addition to my own books of poetry, I am currently editing the third posthumous book of Jackson’s. I have also preserved and conserved all of his heretofore unknown visual works, some of which are currently on exhibit in major European museums and galleries, all over the world.
You and I have known each other for many years, and over those years I’ve discovered that conjecture formed from incomplete information nearly always proves wrong. The heartbreak of a friend’s death is one thing, but the heartbreak of maligning and vilifying a friend is quite another. I hesitate to characterize it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

In a dream last night, the Ventriloquist, a character in Appearances, was juggling 4 balls.  Each ball had a different word on it.  I couldn't make out the words; and I can't stop thinking about that dream.


Listening to Buddy Guy's latest.


Picked up the Strat today for the first time in a week.


My brother John has taken up making Limoncello.  It's better than the commercial ones I've had.  Oh, man, it's good.


My 8 month old grand daughter Anna has learned how to clap her hands.  We had great fun doing that together yesterday.


Over the course of the 1200 or so miles we drove while on vacation a whole mess of blues were listened to.  Call me obsessed.


Discovered a great Mexican restaurant called Salsa in New Milford, CT.


Body's achy.  I'm out of my exercise routines.  Too much time in the car and sitting lately.  No regrets, but need those routines. Just as much as I need breaks from them.


Got home last night after several days in Connecticut and an overnight stay in Maryland.  It was good to get gone for a bit--catch up with family,etc-- but it's nice to be home now.  Need to reestablish routines and get back on track.  Am behind on a lot of projects.