Tuesday, February 28, 2006

outgoing mail involving lengthy recipient lists and local literary town-crier engine both kaput. tonight's musts: rebuild discrete recipient list and solve my computer woes- 6 y.o. pismo starting again with the crashy crashies- and get word out about this Friday's event.. 7 p.m. Spareroom Tom Rawroth and Joel Craig.


Desiring machine: I want each day, incrementally more badly, a swath of time to not write poems. To see Spiral Jetty. To rid myself of countless unnecessary things (protein powders, swimming caps, furniture). To walk home from work, ninetyodd blocks along the lake.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Not enough time to reflect on things.. I mean to get back to my notes of Friday’s reading with Kenny G. And movies movies. And a trip to Rockford that quenched a need to see a little more sky/expanse/universe. My reading last night on the one year anniversary of the ruinous hard drive crash.. the poems that have been made since, and since the fall and since losing other things. J asserted last night that all art is a process of dealing with mortality. Is getting closer to this- experiencing it more concretely- the cause of “maturation” in an artist’s work? Why in my twenties all I wanted to read was writing by others in their twenties? And now I want to read is.. no logic there. I’ll read anything. But preferably something with a sense of something being at stake. What does that mean? Time to leash my lyrical power animal? My inner “methodist” aesthete says no. Reading my new poems at people was more instructive than before. I alarmed myself by doing some on-the-spot editing as I read. That called out the parts to me that still have bumps. But I’m in this process for the bumps, bumps and all..so? Most just need to be longer. Also, something nagged at me for orphaning the poems from the merzbau of this space. So I’m reading up on Schwitters today shrouded in a hangover which is the only occasion I will fetch a Dunkin Donuts egg and cheese croissant- its yellow ectoplasm equals a certain form of forgiveness.

Friday, February 24, 2006

i've only been able to sample the Jacket humbug over flarf and the ensuing pro-flarf fallout, but i don't think this hoy bit is necessarily irreconcilable with the couer de flarf: "...if one follows Duchamp by dropping the medium as a defining limit so as to engage with poetics as a behavior and way of thinking, it's not a matter of creating poetry in relation to other poems: 'poetry' is simply a byproduct..." like dada, dandruff, and voodoo, it's a lived condition, an inescapably internalized flarfiness, that occasionally produces a poem.. even for those who have yet to manifest any written flarfy symptoms.

or, and i mean this lovingly, is a flarf poem like a poem in capitalist drag? i guess i'm thinking of some of its ends instead of all of its means.
Last night- a vegetarian Russian platter for two.. glory be to all manner of kasha and beet… then to the symphony for a serviceable piece of Mozart. Brendl at the piano meant we could have scalped our tickets out front to the fur-clad and needy, and that the performance was flawless, albeit a bit restrained. The second half of the program, a Schoenberg- pre-break with tonality- swelled the orchestra considerably.. the piece a leviathan of cresting and submersal. A bolt of double-bass and cellos (celli?) through the left center had a moment of Stravinskian say. Otherwise was frequently thinking of 50’s movie posters- Passion! Intrigue!


Also this week:
Bean actively plotting against my R.E.M.
Invited to attend a birth
Getting behind again on things I owe people
Jesse's book is here in the flesh! Beautifully designed and chockablock with inner music.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Able to get at it in bits, in the shortest of sittings lately, but every time I take in a few pages at a time of Break Every Rule, I find something new there, not in Maso's writing directly, but in my blizzard of marginalia from my first read-through, circa 2003. Next to her, "...what interests me is the holding back, the taking away, the terrible truncated shapes left without any real means to complete or resolve themselves. The fear that has calcified and assumes a kind of permanent stance.." next to this I wrote the word "wake." I can't quite place if I had been writing the "wake" sequence of The Mudra before, during or after reading this, and, having completed the life cycle of that book last year with the last of the readings I felt compelled to give from that book, I'd left that work off in a spot in my mind akin to Before Our Common Era. But remembering it anew, my concerns then, from this distance and how history has gone out from under that poem of jagged prose. That "wake" seemingly locked in place, not altogether successful in fully realizing my lofty intentions, but a stop along the way, which is all I expect of poems lately.

In any case, my attraction to this passage, whether it was before/during or after "wake" was due to my desire to attempt to enact in a poem a sense of violation or trespass, and looking to the form to do that.. it became a project of syntax. I was trying to explore and undermine the sense of safety usually guaranteed by a line, a phrase, a word, a sentence, at a time when safety became an active pursuit.. it was our first summer in an apartment with more gang activity and gun-fire in closer proximity than we'd yet experienced and in the months immediately following "shock and awe" i was still trying to understand the cultural history and underpinning of violence that made preemption possible. Interesting that in the intervening two and a half years, a period of time I used to think would be adequate for righting the balance, putting out the bush fire and restoring some sanity to our foreign policy, the influence of war is no longer satisfied to exercise itself at the level of abstraction and form. I've seen in the work of a lot of other writers this imperative pivot too. I'm sure someone more inclined to writing essays for Jacket has already noted this, but I'm just coming to my senses.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

productivity (makes a bastard wordhorde)..

i'm learning a second. not the line by line of pyrenees but an english within english. a code of springs, a language of speed. it's hard to be near it and not think it's a joke, a violence, or a disability. i won't let it. i won't let it let me think globally of me, or self is to template as self is to style sheet. thrilled at a window, seeking reciprocity, where acronym, screenshot are n/a to explain a bug a or b: "I'll just have to conjure some electrifying prose." silence. tough room.


ah, a power outage. the first time i've seen my cubespace in natural light. i'm reading maso who calls double periods an act of force, an elusive finality.. and novelly, i don't agree. they're the opposite, a leaving.. of the door wide open, half way to infinity. or is that two ways toward the same thing? thinking of a lot of oppositional things this way lately.


i mean bastard lovingly.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Made in China show at MoCP is worth getting to before it closes next week. The picture is just a bit of a room-sized installation of floor-to-ceiling toy detritus with window-like breaks in the junk showing the nonplussed people who have to make this crap. Many of the other photographs in the exhibit convey the enormity of China's productivity with infinite factory floors made of staggering symmetries of machine and uniform-clad humans. The cafeteria lines, the worker dormitory buildings, the boxes of raw materials labeled 1,2,3, A,B, C. Surely human endeavors at such a scale require hyperorganizing, but the group so easily overwhelms the individual. Workers are lined up for calisthenics or meetings with supervisors that resemble military formations. There's a certain accidental pageantry. But so much indoors. Acres of fluorescent lighting. Ceiling is the new sky?

A photo of (I didn't write down the name of the city) that looks like Sao Paulo with its density of highrises that fill the frame, was 25 years ago, a fishing village. A factory girl returns to her family and beside an ox shows them pictures of her new life on her cell phone. How do people catch up psychically to several centuries of progress in such a short time?

An excellent video piece, a dual-screened form of essay by Chinese-born Austrian artist Jun Yang exploring the semiotics of national identity and globalism, viz a vis flags and competition like the Olympics. Talking about post-quashed-democracy movement, he says, the government has struck upon a salient discovery--"wealth as a compensation for a lack of personal and political freedom...wealthy people don't start revolutions."


Also mean to digest further the unfortunate performance of Dido & Aenas we beheld on Sunday. One of my favorite operas, and I'm not against contemporizing as such, but Broadway direction and meta-plots in this case are a serious no-no. J has suggested I read some Hal Foster essays in order to properly capture my angst with this production- which also included the farcical The Padlock, an opera that I'm quite sure did not have rubber chickens and fart jokes envisioned in the 18th century of its creation. Or maybe I'm mistaken.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Stein chops, Stein reading/a poem for one out of three cats

With Bottle.
With Bean.
With Ruby.
With a bottle she would rather have.
With her.
With her too small body.
With her too early.
With a bottle she would have
skin in its place.
She would have.
With a bottle she is a name and fits in my hand.
A name that fits in my hand.
She begins as a noun
with skin in its place.
She begins as a noun and becomes an adjective.
So bottle.
So lovingly.
Lovingly we.
Lovingly we caress the noun.
Caressing the noun when she sounds like Janet Leigh.
Bottle when we call her Little Wombat.


The questions are invisible

fish, but otherwise, no
we never expected three
I like the quiet
there's a lot to walk to
I like the train in my sleep
we want to stay
we want to stay mobile
I was just getting to that
No, I didn’t go to school for this


Written in the margin of a book at a time I thought I wasn’t writing

We live here for reasons like Paris.
There are others.
Reasons like us.

Friday, February 17, 2006

A more "official" write up of last night's reading over here

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Walking home after a lecture by MG…

R and I linger in the building to be a surface for one another’s ideas that must be out, ricochet after the reading. His composition of peripheries. A process, a method of memory and history. “A force captured by juxtaposition.”

I remember this building, on 280 S. Columbus, that I first came to in 1991, summer, a junior seeking refuge from high school, taking a class called Mixed Media. All manner of material was made available in a vast room with stained floors and scuffed walls, appearances unimportant in a place devoted to making things. This was a refuge from suburbs of slipcovers and lemon-scented pledge. It’s curious what becomes memorable. A vast room with stained floors where anything was possible. We were told to make whatever we wanted. Everything was possible. There was no stipulation for form or content.

I spent the summer hammering nails into a board because that was my only reference point for making things. The last time I had hammered nails into a board was 1979 or 80, in a basement, in a suburb called Justice, with my dad, making bookshelves. Not meant to endure, those shelves or this memory, flimsy and yet I took them for myself when I moved away from the suburbs in 1996. And the seven different apartments I would have in the city.

And two in Providence. Providence, winter 2001, sleeping next to them full of books. The overpowering presence of them, the reason I was there and J was elsewhere. The audacity of hope that brought me there. The phone call that would be received in 2000, spring. It was just a message, J wrote down some numbers for me to return, but we knew. We knew that this was would be an offer that I couldn’t let go. It would make us leave Chicago.

The message of some numbers I don’t remember. When I wasn’t home. When I was working. At the Art Institute, mounting and masking slides for one of its libraries. The overpowering presence of books, being a whole wall of a little room, where I felt small against the miles between a place I called home and there. It became too much. I had to mask them too. My extra set of sheets, black, fit them perfectly, held at the top by some sort of end I don’t remember and draping resolutely to the floor. Those bookshelves the size and shape of a bed.

R and I walk out into the night, briefly warm before the next cold front due soon, rain turning to snow and back to rain again in the minutes we linger before parting ways at the corner. I open my umbrella that fits both of us. She remarks on its preposterous size. I know, I say. It was bought for two. On a day that J and I walked the streets of Evanston in a heavy rain looking for an apartment for him the year we would spend apart. It would be 2001-2002. A courtyard building, an English Garden unit, almost as much as we had paid for an entire coach house for ourselves and full of instruments a year before. English Garden here denotes a sunless basement rampant with centipedes and anchored on either side by retirement communities. Big enough for one person and a few instruments, but instruments that had to be quiet. Like the accordion with moth-eaten bellows. It would be three blocks from where he would go to school. 846 miles from where I went to school. “History is the history of possession, as survival seeks to possess life.” We had planned to see more of each other, but those plans were made before September 11.

I leave R off at Jackson and walk south on Columbus. I don’t pass a single other person the entire way home. The floodlights on the ridiculous volleyball fields are staging some sort of precipitation. Rain, snow. Across the street down a slight hill are the softball fields featured prominently in the brat pack vehicle “About Last Night.” This was one of the first R rated films I ever saw. I would see it on cable late at night, curiously, because I was at an age without an inkling about sex. Movies like this fascinated me because something was happening just below the surface of what I could directly understand. This generic word was an unseen force that made people nice to each other and then angry. It made things indecent. “Some people would want to put pants on a horse.” It submerged a language I thought I understood. Insinuation, innuendo, curse words—all made possible. A language I thought I understood. It made people move out of perfectly nice apartments. Learning the mechanics of it all, the health books, the urban legends told at recess, caused a disappearance. How long –several years- before I’d realize I would miss this.

This is the feeling, that something is just below a veil, more perceptible really with the imagination than with actual data, that I still relish in as many other places I can find it. It makes me a little cautious about knowledge. Like the double edge of any pregnancy, whether thought or flesh. That which is conceived is also given mortality. With experience comes memory. With memory comes the possibility of forgetting.
beautiful typo: amensty. in a post where i implicitly agree there is too much yesyesyes, the amen sty is something to avoid indeed.
Ideas to go: on mineral water tour of Europe (Gerolsteiner, San Pellegrino), to Omaha to see my best pregnant kung fu friend, to drive there and see the Des Moines Art Museum on the way, to go to Costa Rica, to R’s village where the village elder tapes fried onions to a leg rash, to China to see what’s on the internet, perhaps instructions for uncorking my liquorous yak horn.


In the last few days… tId/a/th
Up late enough to hear the freights. Freezing rain. Cat stasis. Yanging anonymos at the other place. Fish with rose petal sauce and cake with Tita’s tears.


Quoting Maso quoting Woolf..
“Ephemeral, imperfect stories without their old authority. ‘Notebooks’ maybe ‘rather than masterpieces.’”

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

something for jeff to do on the plane.

other trip to-dos: bring lots of odwalla bars. avoid large gatherings of quail.
another bootleg cleverism
easily for
gravlox hungry
just keep
leaving me
quiet ransoms
schwinns trust
us verbs with xing
yon zoetropoli
Two things I've long considered to be unequivocally not funny, mimes and Gilbert Gottfried, are the funniest things about The Aristocrats.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

my alternate contributor's note..
KS is not a professional poet. Her work appears or is forthcoming in journals edited by her friends. She used to edit Conundrum magazine, the inventory of which was sold at a Public Storage auction for seven dollars and fifty cents. She has worked or is working with the elderly, textbooks, computers, children and food.
misread: easy to be a rectangle in an inauspicious fashion milieu.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Things I did/ate/that happened…

Everyone’s leaving the country, hostile to beauty, or wants to. Perogies in a true Chicago joint with a berg of sour cream, "snowy wallop," where I’ve also not been enough, in and out of the country, on one lake, like a sea in her poems, a border that invents itself every moment, every immigrant, over asparagus, sailing with possibility. Watched Grizzly Man a and again. In relation to nature, Danny’s has gone plaid, Division on a weekend night gone to invasive species, Bud, hot wings, mock-up ass-kicking. The car has started a spiral of repairs on the same day I am trying to pass off this conveyance as poems for a colony. Waste of time? How much money? Even my thing? JB in town for pancakes says we’re living subscriptions, there will be nothing left to inherit. Thinking maybe companies will send coupons for 20 percent off in my memory.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I should have known it was a premonition when this afternoon at the grocery store I looked at a fellow in line and thought “Laszlo Hollyfeld.” Later J calls- been refangling our home media necessities- saying we’re back on the land line teat and against our wishes have cable, the building’s been shooting it at us gratis for a year, it's included, there's nothing we can do. Aw nuts. I feel like someone just bought me a car and gave me the clap. The last time more than 5 channels were pointed at me my brain was still in a developmental stage, open to second languages and instruments, filled instead with Weird Science and Bobcat Goldthwait.
interesting timing. how deep is the spare tire/vault that keeps floating out one of these stories every time it's a bad news week for the admin?
Questions before starting the day..
What’s this, a budge in the kabuki? Just when we thought spying was so 80’s like Spies Like Us, Duran Duran, but must plaid return for the “static, obedient, politically benumbed?” We’ve invented nothing, not even the desire to tell one’s own culture to fuck off. Are we de facto Boheme who lost the year and name of the ship that dropped us off? Are the choices really to make some money or more money? Like my cat’s favorite gameshow, What’s In the Box? Where’s today’s Augustus John?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

jordan makes a good weird deer!

i've been enjoying the archive and the long-distance patina on the voices.
last week i was guerilla-marketed to/at on the train and it's a creepy feeling, like watching someone break into your house. at first i thought i was just being paranoid, but the more people i tell, the more it seems certain that it was an out-and-out ploy.
on a pretty empty train home, a man is sitting in front of me and a woman with big hair, a rollerbag and not a trace of a midwestern accent is sitting across the aisle from him. she has angled herself toward the aisle so i can look up and see her as she executes a series of short, chirpy phone conversations on a gleaming new device. after the phone calls she fondles the thing at eye level, reveling in its additional functionality. the man in front of me cranes his neck- not even necessary- in her direction. she turns, gives him a pert smile and a cheerful, "oh, are you looking at my phone?" by now i've abandoned my book altogether because this is a highly unusual train interaction between strangers. "aw yeah," he replies, "i've been meaning to get me one of those." she explains that she just got it for free for renewing her contract with [name of provider here] and she's been so happy with their service for the past year that it was a win-win since "they're the best deal around." now i'm really intrigued because we just terminated our service with the same provider after 3 years of highly shitty service, and i've noticed [name of provider here] recently unleashed a spate of new commercials championing themselves in very similar terms as this real live human with big hair is parroting in front of me. a side note, same company is desparate to regain marketshare as they are now ranked last among the big competitors. i can't believe i'm sounding so business-like, but if this is going to pollute my environment at the level of human relationships, i want to have a little heads-up.
i still haven't accepted flat screen tv's spewing ads at me in my coveted "in-between" spaces like the grocery store line and in elevators, and the print ads in women's bathroom stalls are pushing it too. friend from sweden says at least we don't have them covering entire buildings here.. yet. but really, how much of the world will we condition ourselves to tune out?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

During a week that I'm reading, talking, thinking about the implications of branding to art and the artist, that in spite of the crassness of the term there are upsides there (thinking of the end not as a purchase but as attention) the company today held a meeting to roll out its new brand identity. I was wishing I brought my notebook to take down a few bits of language since I don't usually see/hear this side of things, the one I recall is "me-too" used as an adj. Then a corporate movie full of quick cuts to get us excited with a Who soundtrack and what the hell?- there I am slouching at my desk surfing the internet.. 1, 2, 3, 4 times! I remember the day last fall I looked up and there were 2 dudes with a camera angling down over my half wall.. scared the bejesus out of me. But me? Slovenly poet surrounded in her cube by maps of foreign cities where she'd rather be, a corporate poster lass? Chalk one up for the New Sincerity.
the way some painters are renegotiating the tension between abstraction and figuration right now is really interesting. volker's work echoes the von plessen exhibit that still haunts me from last summer. once again, it's all happening in germany. j's peeps research reveals the us is light years behind deutchland in intermedia work too. we're learning our words...
Good friends and current reading regard design. For the past week/s I've been thinking that poetry is the most out of the world whereas design is the most in. Design is doing an elegant waltz with the beast outside our garrets. In collaboration with others plus mainstream culture.. is the trance of the navel markedly less? Seems so. Not how to write but why to write. Ignoring the franchise phenomenon, branding, celebrity doesn’t seem to work. Enough objects and environments already imbued with identity, where to put ours? She makes me a wood pillow to think it over. He made a bench in shape of a swoosh. Just do it. Just sit down.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Reading notes, Links Hall Friday the 3rd

(crossposting this here and at the Chicago Poetry blog..)

The evening began with “Educational Policy Speech,” one of Daniel Borzutzky’s dispatches from Istanbul, read by the evening’s proxy, Matthew Goulish. It starts by praising all that is good, wrinkles, boredom. Goulish holds a pen and thrusts it with Dole-like emphasis. There are breaks in the rapturous prose where he deadpans, “applause.” Then come the rails against the sexu-pedagogical perversities of community college professors, those whom the speaker scorns as “operatives” of liberation. “Such enemies can only be eaten,” he declares in a turning point of the address. What follows is a detailed plan for the war on education which involves marinating, filleting, an epicurean rhapsody of ingredients and preparations, including a “special sauce.”

Then Terry K. read.

Christian Bok was amaaazing! He launched into Seahorse and Flying Fish by Hugo Ball for starters.. an uber-verbal, proto-lingo utterama. Then “Grain Memories” from his most recent book “Crystallography.” I wish there were a button I could press in the world that would produce Bok, Obi-wan Kenobi-like, bellowing “Sim!ulacrum!” I see there’s a boatload of mp3’s online of Bok performances, which is only necessary given how high the work rates on the aural axis, but is there much video? The facial expressions and postures are, after all, part of the show. Glad I was in the front row for this one. He faux checks his watch between poem/runs. He’s got an “official” voice like a professional broadcaster—I think, I’d watch more sports if the commentary was this. In fact, I’m going to dub a hockey game with this as soon as I’m able. Then Eunoia begins.. Chapter A, ribald indeed! Everything’s a headline. “Hobos shoot photos of foot-long schlongs!” In an aside between chapters, Bok: “It’s pretty relentless, hey?” As the sections go on, things get more vowel (adj.), carnal. “Ubu gulps up brunch!” Then he read from the Cyborg Opera, the syncopated, percussive “Mushroom Clouds,” and then a “side effect poem” to the Mushroom Clouds which was the most virtuosic display of beat-boxing I’ve ever beheld, done to some notation as he clinically flipped the pages of his manuscript all the same. The Imperial Decree of Ubu Roi is then performed on behalf of Donald Rumsfeld who couldn’t attend this evening to give it himself.. “juggernaut of bugaboo!” He closes with another Hugo Ball piece, I didn’t catch the name, only that it’s “a sort of Dadaist dirge.” Great Scott, it was Cookie Monster possessed by the EU! All hail the silliness that got us all into this language racket in the beginning, and which will never let me tolerate another reading in the precious key of “poet’s voice” again.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Citizen Badly

This menu is too complicated. Oh I can hardly decide. I’ll have the Sumo Godzilla, but it has to be exactly as it is described. Because once I had it here and it wasn’t. And I want extra soup with that. And extra salad. And for your chef to feel the sin of pride. And for it not to be too long.

(Epilogue: I don’t remember it looking like that.
what a great idea this is.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Happy Melissa Day

Today is the birthday of my kindergarten best friend. I haven't seen her in 25 years but I still recall the day she stood on top of my stuffed Garfield to prevent me from leaving her house. We had been arguing about something I don't recall, but my insufficient appreciation of Barry Manilow was a frequent source of tension. Seeing my helpless Garfield, his Cheeto-colored face sink beneath her indignant 60 pound frame filled me with a fury I could barely contain. Fury, and pragmatism, led me to run at her like a wild bull, knocking her clean off my precious, with whom I made a hasty escape. It was the first time I ever touched someone with malevolent intent. Not to worry, countless shovings off my bike and into ditches left the karmic balance restored. Somewhere in my mind I've chalked up these moments in our relationship to her having to share her special day with an oracle varmint.
dagummit, missed my chance to get tickets online for weekend o' rock at the end of the month, animal collective and yeahyeahyeah shows at logan aud. will we line up, elbow, echo and squash? i hope to know/so.

wish we had gotten to this. i had initially heard that the audience member at the pre-concert lecture flipped out when images of stalin's executions were shown.

an unexpected package from ugly duckling and last night spent with daniil kharms blue notebook.

from no. 15

Your cowardly eyes are unpleasant to the gods.
Your mouths open at the wrong time.
Your noses don't know vibrating smells.
Eat your soup- that's your business.
Sweep your rooms- that's what the age demands of you.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I heart that today my job asks me to answer this question: “what does Thucydides think of poets?”

Like yesterday a woman next to me in line at the post office was hurriedly putting a package together, using every stray element on her person make a passably postal skin as an elderly woman also in the line in exuberant pink lipstick and pancake makeup watched her from an intimate distance. Lipstick taps Hurry on the shoulder, “were you born in December?” Hurry, surprised, “why yes.” Lipstick, “I can tell.”
The other state of the union:

A family friend assisting in rebuilding efforts in Mississippi returned last week to report that in the county where he’s been working, the only thing that is functional is the casino. The casino is open for business but surrounded by devastation, debris-strewn beaches and roads, flattened homes and schools.

I overhear an adult man sounding out a word he’s reading on a T-shirt I am standing near.. G-G-Genesis? Guinness, his wife corrects, it’s a beer.

Most or all of the third graders at one of the schools I used to visit as a poet-in-residence had heard gunfire outside their homes, were required to stay indoors because playing outside was unsafe, knew to avoid the older kids at the park down the street and to scatter when they started “having words.”


Observation made while watching the intermittently bored and self-congratulatory audience of legislators..
“..the preponderance of comb-overs. That’s evidence you’re living in a bubble.”

Heavy Rotation