Sunday, September 30, 2012

you're wrong.
So, so wrong.
Whoever's out
there is
mighty silent.
Good.  I
finally found

my wine glass.
On the top

of the
fucking piano.
I finished the Epilogue and am feeling spent.

Near Homophones

Every time I return to my "Tammy" manuscript I find more typos and mistakes.

Every time I return to my "Tammy" manuscript I become aroused.

Every time I return to my "Tammy" my thoughts about this project expand.

I've realized that I need to add one absolutely final section in order to pull the book together.

You see, in the last 2 parts of the manuscript, as it currently stands, there is a character with my name--Tom Beckett.

The character, Tom Beckett, is mostly referred to though as Tommy.

"Tommy" of course is a near homophone of Tammy, the title character.  This is significant.  Significant for Tammy and Tommy both.  Significant for me.

The final, epilogue chapter, is going to begin with Tom Beckett, author of The Tammy Trilogy, in conversation with John, a poetry friend.

John's quizzing Mr. Beckett about The Tammy Trilogy and about Mr. Beckett's sexuality.

I wrote a few pages of the epilogue yesterday and then stopped and did other things.  Some of which I wrote about in my post yesterday.

I've now figured out how to end the Epilogue and hope to do the rest of the writing today or tomorrow.

Writing The Tammy Trilogy, my pulpy little dirty novel about sexual metamorphosis has been a very interesting journey for me.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Of Music, Writing and Divers Things

I'm just in from mowing the lawn.  I listened to a lot of great music on shuffle on my Ipod and got to thinking about music and writing and divers things

I saw a classified advertisement earlier this week for an acoustic guitar,with a case, supposedly in excellent condition. I bought it this morning.

It had a broken string but I couldn't see anything else wrong with it, but then I really don't know anything about guitars.  I took it to Woodsy's in downtown Kent and  had a guitar tech take a look at it.  He found something else wrong with it, said it  would cost about $60 to fix and said it would be ready by Tuesday.  I had only paid $50 for the instrument itself.

I  started  writing this post and the phone rang.  It was the guitar tech.  He said that he had gone ahead and repaired my guitar today. I could come and pick it up.

So I did.  The tech showed me the guitar and explained the work he had done.  I asked him to recommend some self-instruction books.  He did. He suggested a book on Guitar Method that comes with a CD and a DVD.  I told him I can't read music.  He said hardly anyone can.  He asked if I was interested in learning to play any particular kind of music.  I said that I wanted to learn to play a blues song.  So he then suggested a book of Blues Guitar Photo Chords.

Can you tell I'm excited?

I'm really going to give it a shot.  I'm uncoordinated and I don't have rhythm.  How difficult could it be?

My brother John likes to go on about how when I babysat for him and my other brother Jim, I would put on concerts for them and make god awful sounds with a toy guitar and my bongo drums.  Accompanying them of course with my song stylings.  Oh, Johnny!  I'm back.


I was thinking earlier today about how I've been working, off and on, on Appearances: A Novel In 365 Fragments and how slowly that project is going.  Whereas,  over the course of the last week, I wrote over a hundred pages of erotic fiction.  And interestingly, these linked stories themselves add up to something like a novel.  More about that some other time.

I could write a lot this week because I knew exactly where I was going and because I was writing in a straight forward way.  Appearances  is writing toward the unknown.

Eileen Tabios earlier this week gifted me with an inscribed advance copy of her latest book of poetry, 5 Shades of Gray.  I want to quote one poem from this superb book:

Poetics (#2)

"Move to the limit
of what you know--

Start there"

That is quite possibly the best piece of advice a human being could be given.  I really admire Eileen's book.  It is for me her best book so far.


I've been thinking about my life in poetry.  I've made and lost friends in my poetry life.

Geof Huth is a lost friend. Which makes me very sad. Probably my fault, but probably unavoidable.

I'm very grateful for poetry friends like Eileen Tabios, Tom Fink, Sheila E. Murphy, JBR, Crag Hill, Mark Young, Richard Lopez, Rebecca Loudon, Alex Gildzen, Nicholas Manning, Steve Tills, Jean Vengua (though we have been woefully long out of touch--my fault), Allen Bramhall, Anne Gorrick, Lynn Behrendt and a host of others.  I hope I don't screw any of these friendships up.  I'm just saying: I value you folks.  Even if we never meet outside of this virtual world we inhabit.



Friday, September 28, 2012


"Vowels the spirit, Consonants the body."

--Robert Duncan

There is a syntax and vocabulary of being rooted in language, rooted in sound.  The limits of my language are the limits of my dichotomous self.

I just pulled a chicken roasted with olive oil and tarragon out of the oven. It's going to rest a while now before its eaten.  It's a simple thing to make.  And one of my favorite things to make for dinner.

At some point, the remains of this dinner will be used to make delicious soup.

A tomato salad is marinading in the fridge.

I'm going to steam  asparagus later.

This is one of my favorite meals.


Writing and cooking are married in my mind. Drinking and writing ,and sex and writing, too.


I just completed the last erotic story.  Over a hundred pages of fiction written in a week.  Yikes.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A few minutes  ago I  read the first few pages of Charles Bernstein's college thesis on Gertrude Stein's The Making of Americans as viewed through his understanding of Wittgenstein.  Bernstein studied with Stanley Cavell at Harvard.  Cavell is one of the greatest explicators and students of Wittgenstein.  You can order the thesis for your kindle or as a pdf.  Google it, it's pretty easy.

Reading these pages, I relived my early love of Stein, Wittgenstein and Bernstein.


I was steeped in Stein and Wittgenstein before I ever encountered Charles' work.

I was fixated during a early period of my life as a writer with the idea of writing a book comparing the work of Stein and Marcel Duchamp.  A book which I gave a lot of thought to but which I was utterly incapable of writing.


The first time I met Charles in person was at his apartment on Amsterdam Avenue in NYC.  I was working on The Difficulties issue devoted to his work at the time.  I got lost on the subway.  We had lunch together at a little place around the corner from his place.  At his place he showed me some of Susan's paintings and a beautiful art work by Arakawa that had been given to Charles in gratitude for a review he had written.  I was impressed and clearly out of my league.

That was the same visit during which I read in NYC for the first time at the Ear Inn on Spring Street with Clark Coolidge.  No pressure there.

Best of all, my correspondent Fielding Dawson came to the reading.  Wow.  And I got my first glimpses of Bernadette Mayer, Lewis Warsh, Bruce Andrews, Jackson MacLow, Diane Ward and many others.


I put the three erotic stories I wrote this week into one word document, changed Puppy Love's font size and started to pick through each of them again for typos, etc.  I started thinking of the project as THE TAMMY TRILOGY.  The manuscript is comprised of "Becoming Tammy," "Puppy Love, " and "The Symposium (Day One)."( It stacks up to 84 pages!) Then I realized there is one final, absolutely final, part that I need to write.  I've already started.  It will be called "Day Two."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I wrote for hours today.  Over the course of the last week or so I've written over 70 pages of erotic fiction.  And it seems to me to be page turner stuff.  I'm hoping to finish the project pretty soon.

All of this hard work for something I will probably, at some point, delete.

And yet, it is work which is important to me. Particularly this last installment of the "Tammy Trilogy" which I'm 18 pages into now.

I've learned a lot in the process of writing these pages.

Weird, eh?


Monday, September 24, 2012

Dear Reader

Earlier today
a friend
asked me
to send
her my
naughty story
"Becoming Tammy."

I hesitated
because I'm
always afraid
of what
I feel

and in
this case
about  how
others might
react to
the story.

But I
did send
the thing.

I did.


I'm now in the process of typing up and revising the sequel to "Becoming Tammy."  I won't tell you the title.  You clearly don't much care.


I'm truly disappointed that no one took on any of my questions a few posts down.
So it goes.


Oh, well.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Yesterday I watched (for the second time, actually) Daisies, the great Czech film from 1966.  It's available from Netflix.  Watch it and let me know what you think.  It's short but enjoyable.

Pure product of the heady time in which it was made, Daisies has manic feminine energy and a quirky but quite charming choreography of movement and  color.  It is a gorgeously filmed movie.

I would characterize it as an existential/surrealist-leaning comedy.

Two sisters decide to "go bad" and head out on a giddy romp in which they attempt to assuage their physical and metaphysical hunger.  The famous scene where they absolutely  demolish a banquet hall is priceless.

Check it out.


I made a few adjustments to Appearances yesterday.  I'm still thinking though about the long erotic story I mentioned writing in previous posts and have embarked on a sequel to it.  It is, I should say, quite naughty.
Yes. Quite.  I have also, you see, physical and metaphysical hunger.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Before my Kent State reading my oldest daughter emailed me with advice that she said I once gave to her lawyer husband before a job interview:

"Never wear your tear away pants to a job interview."

Observations & Questions

I'm having 2nd thoughts about having described the story I wrote about my in last post as "pornographic." It's certainly erotic.  And a number of very explicit gender bending sex acts occur in the piece.  But it also has heart, and at least one--I think--especially touching scene.

The story's called "Becoming Tammy."  I finished it this morning.  At least I believe I caught most of the typos and mistakes, for whatever that's worth.

Is it strange to write about something I produced for my own pleasure which very likely no one else will see?   Should this sort of activity--erotic writing for one's own delectation--be mentioned in a context like this?

I wonder about the role of sexual fantasy in the lives of writers, visual artists and thinkers I admire.  Derrida is on record as saying that what he would most like to ask his favorite famous dead philosophers about is their sex lives.  Of course he refused to respond to a question about his own.

It's something that most "serious" people don't speak/write about in public.  What would be gained or lost if they did?

What risks are or are not acceptable to take in one's art?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Words are more erotic than pictures.  Suggestions and hints are more erotic than commands.  Though, of course, commands have their place in the erotoverse for sure.

Occasionally I write pornography for my own pleasure.  I don't publish it. I don't typically keep it very long, but enjoy the process of doing it.  I've occasionally shown the work to others, but not very often.

It's the sort of thing I do when I'm feeling discouraged about my other work.  It's taught me some things about narrative.

I've been doing some of this sort of work this week.  I'm almost done writing a piece.  It's 35 pages long so far. I'm closing in on the end.  I think it's beautiful but I'm not sure many people would agree.

There are a couple of passages I'm tempted to quote here, but I'm going to refrain.


I once wrote a sex book of a more innovative sort called EXPOSURES.  I had a publisher who'd agreed to take it on.  I wound up withdrawing the manuscript, chickening out.

So it goes.  I haven't always had sufficient courage to follow my desires.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

I read 4 longish pieces at Kent State yesterday afternoon.
It was an interesting experience.

Although it was attended by a small crowd,  it was attended by an attentive one.

It was actually a big deal to me to do a reading in the town in which I live to people I mostly didn't know (with 4 notable exceptions).

I'm no judge of how I read.
People were kind to me.

Video will at some point be posted on the web.
I'll let you know about that as soon as I know about it.

Folks asked interesting questions during the Q&A following my reading.

Of course I thought of better answers today.  Always the case, isn't it?


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Third Table/Der dritte Tisch

I recommend this pamphlet by Graham Harman from documenta (13) to anyone who wants a brief introduction to OOO (object oriented ontology).  Here's a taste:

"The real is something that cannot be known, only loved.  This does not mean that access to the table is impossible, only that it must be indirect.  Just as erotic speech works when composed of hint, alllusion and innuendo, rather than of declarative statements and clearly articulated propositions, and just as jokes or magic tricks are easily ruined when each of their steps is explained, thinking is not thinking unless it realizes that its approach to objects can only be oblique." (12)

That first line is my favorite: "The real is something that cannot be known, only loved."  Wish I'd written it.

Actually, though ,I can imagine a joke or magic trick being effective through the performed deconstruction of its process.  Some of my poetry works that way.  And, really, I think poetry is related to jokes and magic tricks.  Not to mention philosophy.

Harman is always worth reading.  Even when I have quibbles.  He always makes me think, always delights me in some way.  

Tomorrow afternoon, I'll be doing this:


Today I've been doing errands and household stuff.  And thinking hard about tomorrow's reading.  I rehearsed this afternoon.  If I remain calm, and don't speed up the reading in a blind panic, then the four pieces should take about 45 minutes to read (with a little blather mixed in).  Then there will be a Q&A and snacks.  I like snacks.


Sunday, September 16, 2012


Friday, September 14, 2012

It's raining and starting to feel as if the weather is beginning its tumble toward Fall.

Couldn't sleep last night.

Today I've been thinking about the reading next week,tinkering with a transitional moment in Appearances, and taking care of domestic stuff.  I cleaned up the kitchen, went to the bank, stopped at a rummage sale, shopped for groceries, sorted laundry.

Had a very good hour on the exercise bike this morning.

Called Mom and wished her a happy birthday.

Listening to Wilco now.

The mail just arrived.  Some of the envelopes are soggy.  Oh, and there's a fresh copy of the London Review of Books!  Unfortunately the CD I was hoping for hasn't arrived yet.  Maybe tomorrow.

When I talked to Mom she asked if I missed working.  I told her that I missed people that I worked with but not doing public health work.  She asked if  I felt lonely.  I said I did feel somewhat isolated but that I lunch with people I know from time to time and run into folks all the time when I'm out walking about town.  Mom said maybe I should get a hobby.  And I said, well, I have a vocation: poetry.  There was a silence.

Then I said, but I am seriously thinking about picking up a guitar and trying to teach myself to play it.  Mom said "Won't that be a solitary activity too?"

I said "Yeah, but I can pretend I'm listening to someone else play."

She said "Yeah, I guess you could."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Whether or not any of the work I've done as an editor, publisher, interviewer, poet, reviewer has mattered to anyone else, it has mattered to me.

I tend to get tripped up by my false steps, my self-consciousness, self-doubt.  The fact is: failure is part of the practice of any art.

I'm working on my 4th decade as a practicing artist.  You can like or hate what I do, but admit it--I persist.

In anticipation of my reading at Kent State next week (see blogpost just below this one) I've been thinking back through my personal history as a poet.

Where did/does poetry begin for me?  Really I believe it was in puns, jokes, Zen koans, Surrealism,  Gertrude Stein and Wittgenstein.  The recognition that words could have multiple meanings, and that images could vibrate through space and time,  rocked my world.  Repetition, catachresis , parataxis were/are paths I follow to allow the possibility of the opening of worlds I'm writing toward but don't yet know.  And maybe never will.

Kent Reads Alumni Author Series

is the series featuring me next week.  I'll be reading at Kent State University Library, 10th Floor, Room 1018, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2-3 p.m. Am hoping peeps show up.  I'm planning on reading Zombie poems, Vanishing Points of Resemblance, Andswerving Fragmeants, and Overpainted Thresholds.  And there'll be, I'm told, a Q&A at the end.  I hope some of you come by.

Monday, September 10, 2012

"...its unseen back-side..."

"...every perception of even an ordinary object involves a series of assumptions about its unseen back-side, as well as about its background; on the other hand, an object always appears within a certain horizon of hermeneutic 'prejudices' which provide an a priori frame within which we locate the object and which thus make it intelligible--to observe reality 'without prejudices' means to understand nothing."

--Zizek, Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism

I'm very slowly wending my way through Less Than Nothing. Very slowly, but with great pleasure.  The bit quoted above is the passage I've been savoring this morning.  Savoring its acuity, as well as its erotic tinge.


We are
all inevitably

partial to
one another.

Yet the
parts we

are aren't
inevitably the

parts we
can read.


I'm struggling in this never ending political season with all the different spectrums of the truth at play in the world.  Certainties of any stripe tend to make me nervous.


I made a terrific Italian style soup in the crock pot yesterday.  It was composed of canellini beans, chard, fresh tomato, olive oil, onion,  garlic, chicken stock*, sage, salt and pepper. And homemade croutons.

The onion and garlic were cooked a bit in the olive oil before combining all the ingredients in the crock pot. I set the pot on high for an hour and then switched it to low for the next 5 hours.

 It was so good I ate the leftovers for breakfast.

*If you don't dig  chicken stock, vegetable broth or stock could be substituted.  Although that would probably make for a sweeter soup.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I am incomplete.
Reality is too.

Reality is too
Much with us.

Mess with us
And you’ll see.

"People who believe that they are strong-willed and the masters of their destiny can only continue to believe this by becoming specialists in self-deception."

--James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room

Beliefs of any kind are problematic.  I, for one, believe in a well-tempered skepticism about any statement of belief.  I believe I am hungover and horny.


"Realism does not mean that we are able to state correct propositions about the real world.  Instead, it means that reality is too real to be translated without remainder into any sentence, perception, practical action, or anything else."

--Graham Harman, Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy

I believe that everyone's life is more or less fictional.  And that the  "more or less" is important. That being said, I am partial to you as you are partial to me.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Really happy with progress in Appearances today.  Feel like I've turned an important corner in the project. 126 segments written so far.  4 of them today!

That said, have been struggling with my depressive tendencies lately.  Which I'm thinking about a lot as I read the new biography of David Foster Wallace.

Depression, anxiety.  Have wrestled with them all of my life.  Since before I even knew what to call them.  This is not unusual, I know.  Small comfort though.


I'm 59 years old.  I retired from my job in public health at the end of last year.  After 34.5 years of service.  The idea was to shake off old routines, to get out from under the stress of enforcement work, etc., and to embark on the project of Appearances: A Novel in 365 Fragments.  The writing project was to be my new job, my purpose.

Of course nothing is ever simple.  Not an object, idea, plan or relationship.

Before I started Appearances I knew a little.  Not what it was going to be about.  I knew some of the elements of the constellation of characters which would populate it and I knew I wanted to try to stretch myself into a larger form than I ever had before.  To see if I could keep it up and make it interesting to myself, and--potentially-- others.  And if I could do that, perhaps I could do it one more time before I die.  That was quite literally my thinking.

It still is.


Reading and music have always been my salvation.  Writing threads a path between both worlds.


Sex is just a dream indistinguishable from writing.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

I am a third of the way through my work in progress, Appearances: A Novel in 365 Fragments.  It's taken me 8 months to reach this point.  I'm off the pace I'd set for myself at the beginning of the year.  I doubt I'll have a first draft, as planned, by the end of this year.  But, then again, I've never seriously attempted anything on this scale before.  And I am determined to see it through.


Watched the great black and white noir classic D.O.A. this afternoon.

Also this afternoon found a decent used copy of Whitehead's Adventures of Ideas which I've been thinking I need to have a look at.


My poetry reading at Kent State is a couple of weeks away.  Am looking forward to the occasion with mixed emotions.  Trying not to psych myself out about it.


A pivotal question in Appearances:  "How much of one's life is fictional?"  I think it is a very important question.


Started, just barely, reading the new bio of David Foster Wallace:  Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story.  It looks promising.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Over the course of the last year I've entered two chapbook contests.  Clearly a mistake.  Kind of like playing the lottery.  I knew in doing it I was going to lose.  Still I did it.  How stupid was that?


At the gym this morning on the stationary bike I read the first 50 pages of the facsimile edition of William Carlos Williams' Spring and All.  It's been at least 30 years since the last time I read this text.  But I'm appreciating it at another level now.


Listening now to the B52s.


I really believe that the future of poetry is aligned with the future of philosophy.  I hope philosophy comes to realize that too--that it needs poetry and improvisation.  Of course both disciplines will need to flake off from institutional constraints and think more and more in terms of collaboration.


Thunder in the background.  The remnants of tropical storm Isaac have worked their way up from the Gulf.


The flame red gladiolas on our kitchen table mesmerize me.