''In the Weeds''
I had thought to tell a tale but between having had & having thought
a plant fell out from within the crease.
I thought to have green fingers but I move so abstractly.
I am thinking now to describe what it’s like to touch something.
What is it to rub off on someone.
When two matters interact should I hope to keep my skin.
Ambling in the wind, lost in perfections, those blips
along the odometer of time, my feet in the weeds—
my head capitulates to them. Little plants, little events. That’s how
I think. A decapitation, a lovely guillotine wind lays my mind
in the weeds. That’s how
I touch a plant. My water touches its.
[from Some Beheadings; Nightboat Books, 2017]
Though I live in a mountain I hear the sun
.............outrage the skin
of a desert, it become a blister. But
is what I understand as one understands focus
.............and monument. The nature
of dance, its arms and legs. The monument
.............of the body and gravity
in relation to what departs from the pit
of self. How far
I stretch. What is the end of time, is it
the peak of a mountain? Is it
the way a tree stops upon its leaves? Is it
the concentric mind
of a tree, the rings and rings of a tree
that forever one escapes or falls into
If the dead center of a tree is not its mind
but the moment about which its thinking devolves,
then fallen am I
I am time as much as sand and water. I travel
along a landscape of laceration. Someone
and cannot entirely. A vastness
like the opening out of a molecule. (The rain
above a desert will not rain because being a question it cannot answer.) Who am I is the question asked in the mirror. This is not answerable, so I kiss the desert and come back a blister. The desert is all about me. It inherits me. I have come along with the nature of Everything. How fast I go when I eliminate the sandstorm.
Baby, give me just
one more hiss
We must lake it fast
I want to cold you
in my harms
& never get lo
I live you so much
Baby, jive me gust
one more bliss
neat nothings in my near
Can we hock each other
one tore mime?
All light wrong?
Baby give me just
one more briss
My won & homely
You wake me meek
in the needs
Mill you larry me?
Baby, hive me just
one more guess
With this sing
I’ll thee shed
Ode to the Harlem Globetrotters
…………vs. the Washington Generals
Because they always win.
Because Meadowlark Lemon.
Because for them, double dribbling
Because on your finger
…………your knee, toes
…………& elbows, the world can spin.
Because the ball
…………on a string.
Because rubber bands for hands.
Because the ball a banner.
Because where else do Generals
…………meet defeat without blood.
Because the best offense
…………is a quick depantsing.
Because mercy, not pity.
Because the bucket
…………of water tossed
…………on the cries of the crowd
turns like tears to confetti.
.......Mudd Club 4th floor gallery
.......Manhattan, April 1981
If you bomb
or tag the 2
dousing it in tribal
shrapnel, you're it
If you can lie
between the rails
Clear the Closing—
or press yourselves
& the wall
spray can rattling
like a tooth—The roof
the roof is on
the 6 will whistle
like a night stick—
Officer Pup throwing
@ that Mouse
Ignatz, in love—
you'll have found
risk. A calling—
Crash, Daze, Pray
like cave paintings,
avoiding the German
while the cars sit
in the yards
—what no one else in this
city owns. Making
5, B-Sirius, Crazy
Legs, Coolie C—
The city clears
the subway shaking
the buildings above—
We don't need
no water let
burn— Futura 2000,
Phase II, Quick
& Sex & Zephyr
& Lady Pink—
Fab 5 Freddy
a star. "Rapture"—
the whole planet's in
on it—Chilly Most
Being the Host Coast
to Coast—Freddy's painted
Campbell's Soup Cans that read
DADA & POP instead
of beef barley—
the UFO has landed
& a brother's
stepped out, alien, dressed
in white. Then when
there's no more cars
he goes out at night
& eats up bars—
graffiti like 3 card monte—
running, avoiding the pigs
like a black muslim
bean pie. DJ spinning
says my my.
say, ain't that
disks behind Blondie—
SAMO AS AN END
TO MINDWASH RELIGION—
45s stacked high
as a Dag-
Hungry, this B-
to the top—Yes
You don't stop—
Woke up this morning wrestling the vulture of the post-trip blues. Planning starts months in advance and after that prolonged period of anticipation, when I’m finally thrown into the flash pan of gleeful experience, it all passes seemingly instantaneously. Fortunately I’ve learned that keeping busy is the best way to handle such woebegone moods, and why I was out fiddling about in the yard this morning before any of the neighbors had even left for work. And keeping busy for me has always been spliced with creating. I find ways for them to be one and the same. Where I’m most myself. And I am using a very broad understanding of the term, to include anything I might personally do, no matter how small or personal, as well as conceptually internalizing the creativity of others. Whether channeled through specific art forms, the broader connections which result from culture, even certain physical activities (at least those that don’t involved numeric values), its all liberating play to me, an expression of like human emotions, finding forms for the endless possibilities within our imagination, the intense wonder of interacting with life through the body. I welcome, seek, chase, immerse, heal myself with it all. So ever onward. No man is ever an island.
We cross our bridges when we come to them, and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.
............--from 'Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead'; ..............Tom Stoppard
The Arrival of the Past
You wake wanting the dream
you left behind in sleep,
water washing through everything,
clearing away sediment
of years, uncovering the lost
and forgotten. You hear the sun
breaking on cold grass,
on eaves, on stone steps
outside. You see light
igniting sparks of dust
in the air. You feel for the first
time in years the world
electrified with morning.
You know something has changed
in the night, something you thought
gone from the world has come back:
shooting stars in the pasture,
sleeping beneath a field
of daisies, wisteria climbing
over fences, houses, trees.
This is a place that smells
like childhood and old age.
It is a limb you swung from,
a field you go back to.
It is a part of whatever you do.
IBS: So what is it that makes some memories stay with us and not others?
PA: Siri [Auster's wife] has done vast amounts of work on neuroscience and questions of memory. What she tells me, and what I'm convinced is true, is that emotion consolidates memory. If it's just an ordinary occurrence in an everyday moment of your life, you're not going to remember it. You don't recall what you ate for dinner on April ninth thirty-sixth years ago. But on that April ninth thirty-six years ago, your parents had a tremendous argument in front of you, or someone died, or you broke your arm, you might have a clear memory of what you ate that night. It's possible. There must be something sufficiently powerful to make a deep impression on you. Then again, there are things I remember that seem entirely insignificant, and yet, there they are. Little scenes without much emotion to them that come back for no apparent reason...
IBS: Our senses takes us back to such moments.
PA: Smell, more than anything else for sure.
IBS: Sound, music, color... they transport you straight into the past. Of course, it's all connected to emotion, as you say.
You lie in my insomniac arms, as if you drank sleep like coffee. Then, like a bear tipping a hive for honey, you shake the pillow for French cigarettes. No conversation—then suddenly as always cars helter‐skelter for feed like cows— suburban surf come alive, diamond‐faceted like your eyes, glassy, staring lights lighting the way they cannot see friction, constriction etc. the racket killing gas like alcohol. Long, unequal whooshing waves break in volume, always very loud enough to hear—méchants, mechanical—soothe, delay, divert the crescendo always surprisingly attained in a panic of breathlessness—too much assertion and skipping of the heart to greet the day ... the truce with uncertain heaven. A false calm is the best calm. In noonday light, the cars are tin, stereotype and bright, a farce of their former selves at night—invisible as exhaust, personal as animals. Gone the sweet agitation of the breath of Pan.
Twilight folds over houses on our street;
its hazy gold is gilding our front lawns,
delineating asphalt and concrete
driveways with shadows. Evening is coming on,
quietly, like a second drink, the beers
men hold while rising from their plastic chairs
to stand above their sprinklers, and approve.
Soon the fireflies will rise in lucent droves—
for now, however, everything seems content
to settle into archetypal grooves:
the toddler's portraits chalked out on cement,
mothers in windows, finishing the dishes.
Chuck Connelly's cigarette has burned to ashes;
he talks politics to Roger in the drive.
"It's all someone can do just to survive,"
he says, and nods—both nod—and pops another
beer from the cooler. "No rain. Would you believe—"
says Chuck, checking the paper for the weather.
At least a man can keep his yard in shape.
Somewhere beyond this plotted cityscape
their sons drive back and forth in borrowed cars:
how small their city seems now, and how far
away they feel from last year, when they rode
their bikes to other neighborhoods, to score
a smoke or cop a feel in some girl's bed.
They tune the radio to this summer's song
and cruise into the yet-to-exhale lung
of August night. Nothing to do but this.
These are the times they'd never dream they'll miss—
the hour spent chasing a party long burned out,
graphic imagined intercourse with Denise.
This is all they can even think about,
and thankfully, since what good would it do
to choke on madeleines of temps perdu
when so much time is set aside for that?
Not that their fathers weaken with regret
as nighttime settles in—no, their wives
are on the phone, the cooler has Labatt
to spare; at nine the Giants play the Braves.
There may be something to romanticize
about their own first cars, the truths and lies
they told their friends about some summer fling,
but what good is it now, when anything
recalled is two parts true and one part false?
When no one can remember just who sang
that song that everybody loved? What else?
It doesn't come to mind. The sprinkler spits
in metronome; they're out of cigarettes.
Roger folds up his chair, calls it a day.
The stars come out in cosmic disarray,
and windows flash with television blues.
The husbands come to bed, nothing to say
but 'night . Two hours late—with some excuse—
their sons come home, too full of songs and girls
to notice dew perfect its muted pearls
or countless crickets singing for a mate.
War of the Worlds
It turns out
we are not going to die.
What was coming
is not coming.
have not incinerated whole
crowds of earthlings.
Their great machines—
there are no great machines.
The children are safe asleep.
It turns out
we are never going to die.
Ode To The Maggot
Brother of the blowfly
And godhead, you work magic
In slabs of bad pork
And flophouses. Yes, you
Go to the root of all things.
You are sound & mathematical.
Jesus, Christ, you're merciless
With the truth. Ontological & lustrous,
You cast spells on beggars & kings
Behind the stone door of Caesar's tomb
Or split trench in a field of ragweed.
No decree or creed can outlaw you
As you take every living thing apart. Little
Master of earth, no one gets to heaven
Without going through you first.
If you're one of seven
Downfalls, up in your kingdom
Of mulberry leaves, there are men
Betting you aren't worth a bullet,
That your skin won't tan into a good
Wallet. As if drugged in the womb
& limboed in a honeyed languor,
By the time you open your eyes
A thousand species have lived
& died. Born on a Sunday
Morning, with old-world algae
In your long hair, a goodness
Disguised your two-toed claws
Bright as flensing knives. In this
Upside-down haven, you're reincarnated
As a fallen angel trying to go home.
Crossing a City Highway
The city at 3 a.m. is an ungodly mask
the approaching day hides behind
& from, the coyote nosing forth,
the muscles of something ahead,
& a fiery blaze of eighteen-wheelers
zoom out of the curved night trees,
along the rim of absolute chance.
A question hangs in the oily air.
She knows he will follow her scent
left in the poisoned grass & buzz
of chainsaws, if he can unweave
a circle of traps around the subdivision.
For a breathy moment, she stops
on the world’s edge, & then quick as that
masters the stars & again slips the noose
& darts straight between sedans & SUVs.
Don’t try to hide from her kind of blues
or the dead nomads who walked trails
now paved by wanderlust, an epoch
somewhere between tamed & wild.
If it were Monday instead of Sunday
the outcome may be different,
but she’s now in Central Park
searching for a Seneca village
among painted stones & shrubs,
where she’s never been, & lucky
she hasn’t forgotten how to jig
& kill her way home.
All humans are essentially wild creatures and hate confinement. We need what is wild, and we thrill to it, our wildness bubbling over with an anarchic joie de vivre. We glint when the wild light shines. The more suffocatingly enclosed we are - tamed by television, controlled by mortgages and bureaucracy - the louder our wild genes scream in aggression, anger and depression.
Consumer societies are stealing children away from their kith, their family of nature, in a steady alienation. This is not about some luxury, a hobby, a bit of playtime in the garden. This is about the longest, deepest necessity of the human spirit to know itself in nature, and about the homesickness children feel, whose genesis is so obvious but so little examined. Writer on Native American spirituality Linda Hogan describes the term susto as a sickness of soul caused by disconnection from nature and cured by "the great without."
[via the hammock papers]
Let us be painting painting painter
singing singing singer
On the verve of verbs.
--Gordon Henry Jr
So, “this is poetry,” is not poetry. We would rather be verb than noun or object even if the poem brings us to a final word as if settled on image or object image. A flat stone soaking water, a rainfall of women’s voices, secret children of muses syncopating, in the weight of clouds running down roads in the passes of august memory. The noun lives in colonies, the verb escapes with a slice of bread taken from a table set, with fruit and a pistol, a shining watermelon glass of Kool-Aid, painting painting painter. Just as we would rather be singing singing singer, the echo coming from some filmy shore as we pass, paddling paddling paddler, gliding without enough names for water, over the surfaces named water, even as we believe this is poetry, even if we believe the event remains too limited, the extended, possibility of no context, no place, just the voice, in a small room, walls of books, rotting clothes, empty subjects, hanging jackets of winter, the voice alone, at a station, perhaps, singing, singing, singer, without enough names for lyric, for an uncertain longing, with sounds we call lyrical, even as the words end somewhere, in the extending impossibility of fixed context, stopping, coming to rest where the noun lives in colonies and the poetry, singing singing singer, coming to rest, now and again, the verb singing breathing breather, breath, without even names for poetry, poem, poet, coming to rest, as if we could be poet or anything other than breathing, breathing, breathing, breather, poet, breathing, breath, breathing, breather, poet, breathing, singing, sounding, singing, singer, sounding, poet, singing, the sound, sounding, song, poet, breathing, sound, breathing, song, breather, breath.
[via POETRY June 2018]
self makes itself up out of everything. A shift of inflection within a phrase, is this another self attempting to make its appearance? If the yes is mine, is no a second me?
Self is never more than provisional (changing as it does when faced with somebody else, an ad hominem self changing when set in another language, another art), always bearing within it a new persona, a new character which the slightest accident, the slightest emotion, the slightest blow to the head will liberate to the exclusion of the previous self and which, to general astonishment, often emerges, formed instantaneously — therefore already having taken complete shape beforehand.
One is perhaps not made for a single self. One is perhaps wrong to cling to this. One takes unity for granted. (Here, as elsewhere, it is our will that impoverishes us, sacrifices us.)
In a doubled, tripled, quintupled life, one would be more at ease, less corroded, less paralyzed by the hostility of the subconscious toward the conscious (the hostility of all those other “selves” that have been dispossessed).
What wears one down the most over the course of a day or a lifetime is the effort and the tension necessary to maintain an identical self faced with the continuous temptations to alter it.
One wants too much to be someone.
--from Postface; Henri Michaux
--A. E. Stallings
I dreamed there was a flower called “Sea’s fool”
That bloomed wild, dawdling on the shore, unkempt,
Wind-tousled. Glamored by the name, I dreamt
The pink tinge of a second-water jewel.
With trefoil leaves, in clover-globes, it grew
Along some rocky fringe of coast I knew,
In pockets of sand along a tidal pool.
Dreaming, I didn’t wonder what it meant,
But waking, there was no such thing: “Sea’s fool”
Was something I had dreamed up. To invent
A thing only to lose it—I could see
The plant clear as its name, could almost feel
The heart-shaped leaves’ rough cat-tongue texture, real
As the fool’s grief dreaming of the seizeful sea.
[via poetry daily]