Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Kieslowski Haikus

Based on Kieslowski's "Three Colors" trilogy:


Remember music...
Is composition loss or love?
Love’s more than one song.


Huh? Huh?? No! No! No!
OW! OW! OW! HEY! Oh. Hmm...


Brother, where art thou?
A retired judge, his muse
Oh, Coen Brothers, you’re toast.

copyright 2011 Dan Coffey

A Note on the Blog's Intent

To those of you who have recently been directed to this blog to get the playlists for the Papers for the Border podcast, I wanted to say that the podcast info is only one aspect of the blog. I also intend to post writings on literature, film, and music. So, when you see the next post, don't be taken aback.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

We have reached the borders of Poland

Someone on a Polish Peter Hammill forum had this to say regarding Podcast #8 (loosely translated through Google): "Hammill has some connection with the feast of "devil Satan?". There was a smiley face after the comment, which I'm pretty sure translates into English as a smiley face.

No, "Michael Sh.". That wasn't the point of the broadcast. Just going with the Halloween vibe. It was all in (serious) fun.

"Booty" replied with a comment to the effect that the playlist was interesting, so that's something.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Papers for the Border #8 ~ The "Hammillwe'en" Special

Podcast first uploaded/broadcast 10/30/11. Here is the link: (It's also available in the iTunes store.)

The new -- Halloween Edition -- of Papers for the Border is alive! Alive! Episode #8: Hammillwe'en. Where we spend just over two hours exploring the darker side of the dark side of the artist known as Peter Hammill. Depressing? Hell no! Spinetinglingly unsettling and perhaps a little disquieting? Right on! Enjoy!

There are many wordless pieces of music herein, but the lyrics of the songs that aren't can be found at the lyrics section of Peter Hammill's website.The program for this episode is as follows:
  1. Dark Matter (6:56) from the solo album Sonix (Fie, 1996)
  2. Darkness (11/11) (7:00) from the Van der Graaf Generator album The Least We Can Do Is Wave (Charisma, 1969)
  3. Fogwalking (4:05) from the solo album A Black Box (S-Type/Virgin, 1980)
  4. Gog / Magog (In Bromine Chambers) (17:40) from the solo album In Camera (Charisma, 1974)
  5. A Ritual Mask (3:53) from the solo album Loops and Reels (Fie, 1992)
  6. Masks (7:00) from the Van der Graaf Generator album World Record (Charisma, 1976)
  7. Usher: selections from the solo album The Fall of the House of Usher: Deconstructed and Rebuilt (Fie, 1999)**
      1. Architecture (Act Two) (3:40)
      2. The Sleeper (Act Two) (3:18)
      3. I Shun the Light (Act Two) (3:45)
      4. She Is Dead (Act Five) (6:43)
      5. Beating of the Heart (Act Six) (5:19)
      6. The Haunted Palace (Act Six) (4:21)
      7. I Dared Not Speak (Act Six) (2:56)
      8. She Comes Towards the Door (Act Six) (1:06)
      9. The Fall (Act Six) (3:19)
  1. The Bells The Bells (4:08) from the solo album Loops and Reels (Fie, 1992)
  2. The Tower (interlude from "In the Black Room") (2:44) from the solo album Chameleon in the Shadows of the Night (Charisma, 1972)
  3. White Dot (6:22) from the solo album Singularity (Fie, 2006)
  4. The Music of Erich Zann (24:58) Composed (1979) by John Geist (b. 1949) for quartet and narrator. Performed by Kronos Quartet with Peter Hammill at The Barbican, London, 22 July 1994. Text by H. P. Lovecraft.***
  5. The Wipe (1:51) from the solo album A Black Box (S-Type/Virgin, 1980)

* Loops and Reels was originally self-released by Hammill on cassette.

** The original Fall of the House of Usher album was released in 1991 on the Some Bizarre label.

***You can follow along with the text of  "The Music of Erich Zann" here

Monday, October 10, 2011

PFTB Podcast #7 ~ Playlist & Links

1. Swedes ~ Chris Corsano ~ Blood Pressure (Hot Cars Warp, 2006)

2. Initially This ~ Fred Frith, Carla Kihlstedt, Stevie Wishart ~ The Compass, Log, and Lead (Intakt, 2006)

3. Boogie ~ The Red Krayola ~ Hazel (Drag City, 1996)

4. Spane ~ Derek Bailey, John Butcher, Oren Marshall ~ Trio Playing (INCUS, 1995)

5. The Wire ~ Steve Lacy ~ Dreams (Saravah, 1975)

6. The Salome She Always Threatened to Turn Into ~ Ashtray Navigations ~ Blues and Authentic River Songs (n/a, 2002)

7. Ballad ~ Fe-Mail and Carlos Giffoni ~ Northern Stains (Important, 2006)

8. Arnhem 6

9. Arnhem 7

10. Arnhem 4 ~ Maja Ratkje and Jaap Blonk ~ MAJAAP(Kontrans, 2004)

11. Of Strange Attractors ~ Maja Ratkje and Jaap Blonk ~ Post-Human Identities (Kontrans, 2005)

12. Mini Four ~ Sylvie Courvoisier, Joelle Leandre, Susie Ibarra ~ Passaggio(Intakt, 2002)

13. Fossils Come Alive! ~ The Curtains ~ Make Us Two Crayons on the Floor (Yik Yak, 2003)

14. My Love for You Has Turned to Life ~ MV & EE with The Bummer Road ~ Mother of Thousands (Time-Lag, 2006)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Papers for the Border #5 Tracklist & Notes

Here is what was played in the fifth episode of the Papers for the Border podcast, which was made available starting December 14, 2010:

  1. "It's Still '56" ~ Richard Buckner ~ Impasse-ette (Overcoat, 2002)
  2. "Anti-Sex Anti-Wiretapping (Made in Taiwan)" ~ s/t ~ God (Little Enjoyer / Gameboy, 2005)
  3. "Contextual Part 3" ~ Laminal ~ AMM (Matchless, 1969/82/94)
  4. "Bug Day" ~ The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall ~ The Fall (Beggars Banquet, 1984)
  5. "Slide 9" ~ AFCGT ~ AFCGT (SubPop, 2010)
  6. "Eclipse" ~ Ancient and Modern ~ Aki Onda (Phenomena, 2003)
  7. "Opium War" ~ Radio Experiment, Rome, February 1981 ~ Robert Wyatt (Rai Trade, 2009)
Looking back on these songs nine months later, I'm finding it difficult to figure out what I was going for. I remember that the "Anti-Sex..." song was the nucleus; I really wanted to include a part of that sprawling recording. While researching the recording, I came across a review that likened the musicians known as "God," Leif Erik Sundström & Bryan Eubanks, to another group of improvising musicians near to my heart, AMM. So I decided to throw an AMM recording into the mix, to see how it stood up next to the previous track.

The final two tracks were simply cuts from albums that I had obtained a week or two before putting together the podcast, and thought they were perfect for PftB. The Wyatt track got me thinking about war, and so when I was looking for a short opening song (I was originally going to include the Henry Cow song, "War"), i thought of the Richard Buckner track. Recorded in 2002, but containing, apparently, a much older recording, I believe this is Buckner's unusually subtle way of making a statement regarding the Iraq War. The AFCGT album was sent to me by a friend, and I found myself fascinated by "Slide 9".

Why the Fall? Well, The Wonderful & Frightening... had just been re-released in an "omnibus" edition, and I realized that it was the one Fall album I'd never really given a chance. Ever since my discovery of the band around 1994, I'd written this album off as unadventurous and boring. When I'm wrong, I am very wrong. "Bug Day" "goes out to," as they say -- and this episode is dedicated to -- Matt O'Neal, a professor of entomology at Iowa State University, and a close friend of mine, as well as my son's godfather. Matt is in the process of discovering the skewed genius of Mark E. Smith and the Fall.

And, before you know it, there goes an hour. Thanks for listening and reading.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Papers for the Border Podcast #6

The latest PftB podcast can be found on iTunes, and here.

It consists of five tracks:

  1.  "Friendly Galaxy" by Sun Ra, from the album Disco 3000 (Art Yard, 2009). Originally released in 1978 on the Saturn label.
  2. "HOIB 2" by Hubbub, from the album HOIB (Matchless, 2004).
  3. "Missouri Couple seeks Law Against Hunting + Drinking: : Dean St." by Ecstasy Mule, from the album Ecstasy Mule Contemplate Hunting & Drinking When the Rainbow is Enuf (Batterie, 2008).
  4. "The Long Hot Summer," Charlotte Moorman, Jackson Mac Low, and others, from Cello Anthology (Alga Marghen, 2007). Performance recorded in 1964.
  5. "A Black Mass Part 1," Amiri Baraka and the Sun Ra Myth Science Arkestra. from A Black Mass (Son Boy Records, 1999). Play written in 1965, recorded in 1968.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 30: Teacher Appreciation Day pt. 3: Irving Feldman


"For now." "For the time being." "While this lasts."
Invoking time's passages (decaying, crumbling
under the lightest, the instant footfall),
they say and they repeat such halfhearted phrases
against the Absolute, which rises newborn
in vows, in devotion, and already has
overwhelmed them and refreshes everything
- even their unbelieving protestations -
with the new life's firstness without end:
for now, forever, for the time being
forever, while this lasts forever.


Though the heavens shall undergo revision
and new constellations wheel into space
their fresh, unfabulated imagery,
they will not hide the blacked-out sky they brighten.

both poems from Beautiful False Things (Grove Press, 2000)

National Poetry Month - Day 30 - Teacher Appreciation Day pt. 1: Charles Bernstein


This line is stripped of emotion.
This line is no more than an
illustration of a European
theory. This line is bereft
of a subject. This line
has no reference apart
from its context in
this line. This line
is only about itself.
This line has no meaning:
its words are imaginary, its
sounds inaudible. This line
cares not for itself or for
anyone else - it is indifferent,
impersonal, cold, uninviting.
This line is elitist, requiring,
to understand it, years of study
in stultifying libraries, poring
over esoteric treatises on
impossible to pronounce topics.
This line refuses reality.


This is a totally
accessible poem.
There is nothing
in this poem
that is in any
way difficult
to understand.
All the words
are simple &
to the point.
There are no new
concepts, no
theories, no
ideas to confuse
you. This poem
has no intellectual
pretensions. It is
purely emotional.
It fully expresses
the feelings of the
author: my feelings,
the person speaking
to you now.
It is all about
Heart to heart.
This poem appreciates
& values you as
a reader. It
celebrates the
triumph of the
human imagination
amidst pitfalls &
calamities. This poem
has 90 lines,
269 words, and
more syllables than
I have time to
count. Each line,
word, & syllable
has been chosen
to convey only the
intended meaning
& nothing more.
This poem abjures
obscurity & enigma.
There is nothing
hidden. A hundred
readers would each
read the poem
in an identical
manner & derive
the same message
from it. This
poem, like all
good poems, tells
a story in a direct
style that never
leaves the reader
guessing. While
at times expressing
bitterness, anger,
resentment, xenophobia,
& hints of racism, its
ultimate mood is
affirmative. It finds
joy even in
those spiteful moments
of life that
it shares with
you. This poem
represents the hope
for a poetry
that doesn't turn
its back on
the audience, that
doesn't think it's
better than the reader,
that is committed
to poetry as a
popular form, like kite
flying and fly
fishing. This poem
belongs to no
school, has no
dogma. It follows
no fashion. It
says just what
it says. It's


I saw your picture
in the 79th street
station. You said
you'd be interested
in any comments I
might have on the
condition of the
station. Mr. Fanelli,
there is a lot of
debris in the 79th street
station that makes it
unpleasant to wait in
for more than a few
minutes. The station
could use a paint
job and maybe
new speakers so you
could understand
the delay announcements
that are always being
broadcast. Mr.
Fanelli - there are
a lot of people sleeping
in the 79th street station
& it makes me sad
to think they have no
home to go to. Mr.
Fanelli, do you think
you could find a more
comfortable place for them
to rest? It's pretty noisy
in the subway, especially with
all those express trains
hurtling through every
few minutes, anyway when the
trains are in service.
I have to admit, Mr. Fanelli, I
think the 79th street station's
in pretty bad shape
& sometimes at night
as I toss in my bed
I think the world's
not doing too good
either, & I
wonder what's going
to happen, where we're
headed, if we're
headed anywhere, if
we even have heads. Mr.
Fanelli, do you think if
we could just start
with the 79th street
station & do what
we could with that
then maybe we could,
you know, I guess, move
on from there? Mr.
Fanelli, when I saw your
picture & the sign
asking for suggestions
I thought, if
you really wanted to
get to the bottom
of what's wrong then
maybe it was my job
to write you: Maybe
you've never been inside
the 79th street station
because you're so busy
managing the 72nd street
& 66th street stations,
maybe you don't know
the problems we have
at 79th - I mean the
dirt & frequent
delays & the feeling of
total misery that
pervades the place. Mr.
Fanelli, are you reading
this far in the letter
or do you get so
many letters every day
that you don't have
time to give each
one the close attention
it desires? Or am I
the only person who's
taken up your invitation
to get in touch &
you just don't have enough
experience to know how to
respond? I'm sorry
I can't get your attention
Mr. Fanelli because I really
believe if you ask
for comments then you
ought to be willing
to act on them - even
if ought is too
big a word to throw
around at this point.
Mr. Fanelli
I hope you won't
think I'm rude
if I ask you a
personal question. Do
you get out of the
office much?
Do you go to the movies
or do you prefer
sports - or maybe
quiet evenings at a
local restaurant? Do
you read much, Mr. Fanelli?
I don't mean just
Gibbon and like
that, but philosophy -
have you read much
Hannah Arendt or
do you prefer
a more ideological
I think if I understood
where you're coming from,
Mr. Fanelli, I could
write to you more cogently,
more persuasively. Mr.
Fanelli, do you get out
of the city at all - I
mean like up to Bear
Mountain or out to
Montauk? I mean do you
notice how unpleasant
the air is in the 79th
street station - that we
could use some cooling
or air-filtering system
down there? Mr.
Fanelli, do you think
it's possible we
could get together
and talk about
these things in
person? There are
a few other points
I'd like to go over
with you if I could
get the chance. Things
I'd like to talk to
you about but that
I'd be reluctant to
put down on paper.
Mr. Fanelli, I haven't
been feeling very good
lately and I thought
meeting with you face
to face might change
my mood, might put
me into a new frame
of mind. Maybe we
could have lunch?
Or maybe after work?
Think about it, Mr.

"This Line" and "Dear Mr. Fanelli" were originally published in My Way: Speeches and Poems (University of Chicago Press, 1999). "Thank You for Saying Thank You" was originally published in Let's Just Say (Chax Press, 2003). All three of these poems were re-published in Bernstein's collection All the Whiskey in Heaven (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010).

National Poetry Month - Day 30: Teacher Appreciation Day pt. 4: Susan Howe

from Speeches at the Barriers, the second part of the section of the book The Europe of Trusts (New Directions, 2002) titled Defenestration of Prague. Defenestration of Prague was originally published on its own by The Kulchur Foundation in 1983; The Europe of Trusts was originally published in 1990 by Sun & Moon Press.

from Speeches at the Barriers


Say that a ballad
wrapped in a ballad

a play of force and play

of forces
falling out sentences

(hollow where I can shelter)
falling out over

and gone
Dark ballad and dark crossing

old woman prowling
Genial telling her story

ideal city of immaculate beauty
invincible children

threshing felicity
For we are language     Lost

in language
Wind sweeps over the wheat

mist-mask on woods
belling hounds drowse

Iseult of Ireland
Iseult of the snow-white hand

Iseult seaward gazing
(pale secret fair)

allegorical Tristram
his knights are at war

Sleet whips the page

flying leaves and fugitive

Earth of ancient ballad
earth as thought of the sea

water's edge to say goodbye


Right or ruth

to the winds shall be thrown

words being wired or web

What (pine-cone wheat-ear
sea-shell) what

volumes of secrets to teach

Banks of wild bees in story
sing in no wood so on

Cornstalk and cornsheaf

prodigal benevolence
wealth washed up by the sea

What I find
signal seen by my eye

This winter falls froward

sound and suggestion speared

Free will in blind duel
sees in secret houses in sand

each day's last purpose
each day's firm progress

schoolgirls sleeping
schoolboys sleeping and stemmed

I will dream you
Draw you

dawn and horses of the sun
dawn galloped in greek before flame

fugitive dialogue of masterwork


sabbath and sweet spices
seaward so far and far

The woods seem to thicken

Merry men in Arden
(foresters feared foresters)

forage cold earth bescratcht

noise and noise pursuing power

Temper and order
The leashed stars kindle thin

Clear space of blackness

between us
(grey leaves grey gusts)

Dust people hover
Iceberg setting of universal

(The enemy is always riding by)

figural shadowing of invisible

tatterdemailion revel

houses containing vision
houses of recognition 

trim father nodding to trim mother

remembered name in Quiet
remembered precepts


Twenty lines of

boughs breaking into hindering

the thin thaw wanders off

October drawing to its long

late edge
Understanding of time endlessly

(trees hung with false dreams)

endlessly running on 

Distant forget
Tiny words of substance cross

the darkness

Who are they
(others between the trees)

falling into lines of human

Tread softly my misgiving heart

To chart all

Throw my body at the mark

Parents among savages
Their house was garlanded with dead

(fierceness of the young)

Then to move forward into unknown

Crumbling compulsion of syllables

Glass face
caressing the athwart night

National Poetry Month - Day 30: Teacher Appreciation Day pt. 2: Carl Dennis


The land of Israel my mother loves
Gets by without the luxury of existence
And still wins followers
Though it can't be found on the map
West of Jordan or south of Lebanon,
Though what can be found bears the same name,
Making for confusion.

Not the land I fought her about for years,
But the one unvarnished by the smoke of history,
Where no one informs the people of Hebron or Jericho
They're squatting on property that isn't theirs,
Where every settler can remember wandering.

The dinners I spoiled with shouting
Could have been saved,
Both of us lingering quietly in our chairs,
If I'd guessed the truth that now is obvious,
That she wasn't lavishing all her love
On the country that doesn't deserve so rich a gift
But on the one that does, the one not there,
That she hoped supplies could reach its borders
And hopes they're crossing even now

Into the land of the righteous and merciful
That the Prophets spoke of in their hopeful moods,
That was loved by the red-eyed rabbis of Galicia
Who studied every word of the book and prayed
To get one thread of the meaning right;
The Promised Land where the great and small
Hurry to school and the wise are waiting.
from The Outskirts of Troy (Quill/Morrow, 1988)


Though her feelings for the man across town
Who writes her weekly are a tiny fraction
Of his feelings for her, and will always be,
She doesn't return his letters unopened.
It may do him good to believe she scans them
All year long, even, as now, at tax time,
A bookkeeper's busiest season, her weeknights
Commandeered by the office and many weekends.

Half an hour with his thoughts on Sunday
Hasn't hurt her so far, or stowing them in a shoe box.
And if April's hard for her, it's harder for him
In his landscape business. His customers want new lawns.
Lights are flashing on his phone when he gets home,
His back aching, his clothes crusted. But the calls
Must wait till he's done with a paragraph
For her eyes only on his luck with organic mixes.

Now his news may bore her, granted, but on gray days
When those who matter most don't seem to value
Her high regard as she'd like them to,
It does her good to think of her photograph
Commandeering the messy desk of a practical man
With taste and talent who feels compelled
To practice the lonely art of non-reciprocity,
An art that civilization requires for the virtues
Of graciousness and gratitude to reach full flower.

Yes, her busy schedule keeps her from visiting
The shelf in her heart set aside for him
As much as she'd like, but for all he knows
She may be thinking of him this very minute.
That's reason enough for the sudden rush of joy
She imagines descending on him out of nowhere
As he makes a note to himself about grub control
Or a lawn to be roto-tilled tomorrow and seeded.

Most days shes may see herself as dodging her way
Through a maze of traffic, a thin woman in a red raincoat
Rushing so as not to be late for her appointment.
Now and then he helps her think of herself
As one of those old churches that welcomed the work
Of every sculptor who made an effort, who took pains.

Some statues were given a niche in the entry arch
Obvious to all visitors, and some a perch high up
Visible to any monk in the choir
Willing to crane his neck or to any angel
Pausing among the the rafters to rest
Before darting away on another mission.

from Ranking the Wishes (Penguin, 1997)

National Poetry Month - Last Call

After today, poetry will no longer have to do its yearly "aw shucks" blushing, while it secretly wishes people would look beyond the trivializing nature of National Poetry Month. Until next April, when it becomes "important" again. I side with Charles Bernstein's take on NPM, and yet, it did seem like the perfect span of time to get in the habit of typing in a poem per day, which is to say, for me, anyway, do a close reading. (More on that later - I plan to continue this series not by posting more poems, but by reflecting on those that I've posted for the past 30 days.)

To do something special for the last day, I decided to pay homage to four of my professors at SUNY Buffalo circa 1990-92 when I was an undergrad: Charles Bernstein, Carl Dennis, Irving Feldman, and Susan Howe. I took creative writing classes from the latter two (I also took several other classes from Howe; she was too good to pass up - as a pedagogue, she was on fire), a modern poetry survey with Bernstein, and an "epic poetry" survey with Dennis. I felt lucky to be in their company. And through Bernstein and his "Wednesdays @ 4" series, in the company of so many great poets on a weekly basis.

So, the last entry in the NPM series will be four entries, each containing several poems by one of the four poets mentioned above. Thank you Charles, Carl, Irving, and Susan; I owe you half a lifetime's worth of wonder and inspiration.

Friday, April 29, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 29: Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge



Walking in an arroyo, I mistake a rock in the distance for a person, which on approach emptied of him, denser than a mirage.

I fear an object can be negated by thinking, as it remains in sight.

Though I say, "It's basalt shaped like a man," his menace is seamless.

Walking, trying to assimilate speaking into breathing, as into shadow, cool cut in light suddenly all over the place, like honey.

The hiker is tall with spiky, white hair cropped after polling readers of her Web page on style options.

Now, I frame feeling in a story for them, intransigent, no natural breaks, for example, "blinded by tears," "can't express my helplessness."

I use the Web, and words leave no trace, like a bird in the sky.

The bird, time, is an internal sense, auto-affection, but their sentiment creates auto-affection more pure.

Monkeygirl links a photo of us looking in my bathroom mirror to a site about mirrors of Web personalities, "Something's going on here!"

I wrote, "There are things going on more personal than I usually log in."

"Why don't I put them somewhere private, a Word.doc or paper diary?"

Means are involved.

The chorus is the people who are moved.


Don't assume emotions are engaged in this.

You're distracted by the day, rudeness, a package not sent, and your emotion is passed onto a screen.

Readers take care of it.

That night, we stoked gossip with identical entries about losing a dog during fireworks, then finding him under a bench at a restaurant known for sixties decor.

One by one, Web visitors copied this onto their own sites, as though they'd lost a dog, too.

Others suspected code "just for cool kids."

I've no distance from the hearsay.

It's a broader situation in which protagonist belongs to narrative, the way an outcome may be full or empty.

One finds a sweet spot, reversal.

The illusion of a person in a wash doesn't create emptiness when I recognize a rock, at the same time feeling its presence, a cut, and my response extend, like a stain.

Then, there's the animate problem of a rock moving from one side of the trail to the other, at night.

Will it subject itself to strange, internal obligation it feels, beyond its level?


I had health problems and went to bed.

The doctor allowed my dog, a small poodle, to sleep with me.

Guido and his friend put camp beds in the hall.

My room felt drab, so I taped pictures of nieces and nephews on my bathroom mirror and became addicted to bidding on-line for antiques.

I found an Aubusson rug the right size, just trees, but Guido said it was a fragment, nothing to focus on.

Veined hands with blue nails apportioned eggs on Georgian silver he set formally.

Objects were symbols, not belonging to experience, the way a speaker is supposed to, re: distinctions between concrete and figurative, the vase empty or full, like conversation.

When my strength improved, I wanted my own space.

I embarrassed him by talking and gesturing with no one there.

I spoke to someone with whom I needed to correct things I'd said and done.

Collecting's not hearsay; you're not part of the narrative, the way friends became attached to my dog, carrying it, begging kisses.

How did that person get inside, to whom I exclaim, bargain, whom I initially isolate in my experience of a neighbor I meet, being a "stranger"?


Is the person not existing, when I mistake a calm, his emptiness of entity, mirage, moon in water?

Analyze, using any neighbor.

When communication's difficult, think of honey, hard with no natural breaks, or all over the place.

You wish to communicate, the way light scatters inside you, an expanding zone revealed in the distance by constellations of objects of the wish.

I recognize your shadow ahead as sound in the mind of the listener, like knowledge revealed by a visitor in my dream.

Considering splits between sight and fear on the trail, front and back of surfaces, between missing you (bathos, synthesis) and one with whom I grapple, who seems to pull strings and elicit feelings not mine:

Dream total epidermal contact with the puppeteer, open as virtual.

Communication (transmission) dissipates, like an expanse of sky confirmed by emptiness.

It passes through the beam of her emotion refracted all over, evoking alienations of beauty on sociality.

Each time she begins is thought, a move.

Momentum with no beginning takes the form of communication in groups, except during his drive cross-country to live with her.

"Oh yeah, it's bad," she writes back. "I'm used to being able to check in, Webcam, Flighttracker, e-mail."

"Now there's nothing, except the phone at night; well, it seems like nothing."

from Nest (Kelsey St. Press, 2003)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 28: Michael Earl Craig


Little black ants are invading our bathroom.
They're coming in through a hole in our tile.
Tonight I look at one walking all over my floss case.
I have trouble crushing the ants.
But if I inadvertently flick one into the sink
and stare up at a spot on the wall
I seem to have no trouble flipping the faucet on,
full blast, and hosing him down the drain.
Grandma says I should write "it" -- should hose "it"
down the drain. "Him," Grandma says,
"is too..." and she pauses...
I'm on the phone with my grandma.
She has no idea what the fuck she is saying.

They say one of the hardest things
for the young monks to master is

I close my eyes and see a very large man
with a bright orange vest and hard hat.

When a young monk is battling distraction
they send him down the mountain
to take tennis lessons from the heathens.

The large man is yelling sown
into an open manhole in
the middle of 42nd St.
Something about Gustav Mahler.

It's convincing, the young monk in the rain
with his wire basket of new balls.

"Mahler had visions, Douglas!
Hallucinations, Douglas!"

The new balls smell like Magic Markers.

Grandma is still making her point.
This is what I like about her.
Her voice comes somberly through the little grate
in my cell phone.

from Thin Kimono (Wave Books, 2010)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 27: Jefferson Hansen

Red Shift

"a shift in the spectrum of a celestial object toward longer wavelengths caused by the object's movement away from the viewer."

your distance was at first violet
and it made you
alluring, always teetering
between tangible or tantalizing

then you sped
to indigo or blue
looking back only

you turned from me and I ran
but you moved much more quickly
you became green then yellow
and orange

I was afraid for you

you flared red for
a singular moment
and disappeared

I ran after
expecting the colors
around me
to change
but they remained

from Lyrical Eddies: poems after the music of marilyn crispell (Anomaly Press, 2005)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 26: Julie Carr

Today, five poems from Julie Carr's book 100 Notes on Violence (Ahsahta Press, 2010).



melted ice.
that which can be.
that which cannot.
a strategy.
the end of the day.
the heat at my neck.
sugar high.
the inside of his mouth.
the mother skirt.
hot sidewalk by the DMV.
the buzz in my head.
the fear running up the side of it.
other kinds of balms.
whatever the children want.


Of men: Walked through the dark: jogger behind me: "overcoat of clay" (Dickinson)
Of gravity: And if I were to release my hold.
Of mirrors: The enigma of looking into one's own eyes as if the eyes of another: the "sudden appearance of the unavailable." (Nancy)
Of insanity: "The rhythmic range of words fills me with horror" (Roubaud)


Of home: Majesty and Amber
Of the sun: I cannot break into it, its daily resurrection, daily assault.


Knowledge: I'm on a mission. I cannot stop.
Of work: The white plastic cup top, the cup in its sleeve, my hand on the cup-sleeve, the weight of the full cup.
Of marriage: How are you feeling? What are you thinking? What are you reading? What are you writing?  Where are you going?
Sex: The inside of a tree is wet. This music is guided by God.
Of the sun: Where run to?
Of being alone: The inside of my lip is raw. Tastes raw.
Of fatigue: A bird taking flight over and over and over and over. A bird taking flight over and over.
Of speaking: Run to the rock.


Of music:

Of memories: Sidewalks and trees. Faces and rooms. My mother's voice: "Jula," her name for me, now in permanent disuse.
Of death: Cars at dawn cannot be counted.

Monday, April 25, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 25: Peter Blegvad

2 from Peter Blegvad


          The Objects:

  1. Cylinder of dust
  2. Salt cross with a crust of iodine
  3. Plank of pine
  4. Loaf of rust
  5. Hollow cone of tobacco which contains a tin coin
  6. Pillar of yeast in linoleum jacket
  7. Circular puddle of yogurt and neon
  8. Arrow of ice wrapped in surgical gauze
  9. Coin stacks, several columns - voltaic piles of gold-plated bamboo
  10. Water in a Bakelite box, and a box full of oil
  11. A yolk of leather in a tobacco egg
  12. Citronella spilled in a spiral upon a blanket of fat
  13. Mixture of paragoric and dew in a creosote cone
  14. A disc of wicker beside a pill full of zinc
  15. Figure made of two copper pyramids glued base to base with sap
          Their Titles:
  1. "Silo"
  2. "Referee"
  3. "Threshold" (meant to be flat on the floor, part of a door none can see)
  4. "Altar from a Metal Cathedral"
  5. "Dunce's Trumpet" (for V.)
  6. "Dry Cell"
  7. "Lunatic Mirror"
  8. "Signal from a Memory"
  9. "Ladder of Kings"
  10. "Ransom to Secure the Release of a Mother and Child"
  11. "October Seventh"
  12. "My Uncle's Monocle"
  13. "Fuel for a Tiny Machine"
  14. "Two Equivalent Forms"
  15. Quote from Swedenborg to the effect that angels fucking shed light


Very early I clearly realized the pleasures of seeing and song. I learned to sing at an early year. In the cot I recall my singing about a certain thing I saw. I recall a song in the key of C concerning a thing seen just so.

I sang: "A-P-R-I-C-O-T abbreviates Attain Perfect Realization In the COT."1
I sang: "Cot contains certain shining irreducible contributions. So does the charnel. So does the Ferris-wheel gondola."
Singing words devised for seeing "through not with eyes"2
"I am not I when I see"3
"I is another4
Words devised to peep into the gone or the coming were shunned by me. I referred to a single moment. Early in a clearing I recall my singing songs of my seeing things just so.
I sang: "A net, a gem at every node, in each all others shining show - Whole kit and kaboodle lit by an apricot's golden glow."

1 - Unidentified cabaliste, Speaker's Corner, London 1972
2 - William Blake
3 - Gertrude Stein
4 - Arthur Rimbaud

These can be found, set to music, on the album credited to Peter Blegvad, John Greaves, and Lisa Herman: Kew. Rhone. It was initially released in 1977 and twenty years later re-released as a multimedia work on CD-ROM.

National Poetry Month - Day 24: Elizabeth Willis

I'm including both of the following poems by Elizabeth Willis because (1) I missed yesterday's deadline and (2) I think they need to be read together.


A witch can charm milk from an ax handle.

A witch bewitches a man's shoe.

A witch sleeps naked.

"Witch ointment" on the back will allow you to fly through the air.

A witch carries the four of clubs in her sleeve.

A witch may be sickened at the scent of roasting meat

A witch will never sink nor swim.

When crushed, a witch's bones will make a fine glue.

A witch will pretend not to be looking at her own image in a window.

A witch will gaze wistfully at the glitter of a clear night.

A witch may take the form of a cat in order to sneak into a good man's chamber.

A witch's breasts will be pointed rather than round, as discovered in the trials of the 1950s.

A powerful witch may cause a storm at sea.

With a glance, she will make rancid the fresh butter of her righteous neighbor.

Even our fastest dogs cannot catch a witch-hare.

A witch has been known to cry out while her husband places inside her the image of a child.

A witch may be burned for tying knots in a marriage bed.

A witch may produce no child for years at a time.

A witch may speak a foreign language to no one in particular.

She may appear to frown when she believes she is smiling.

If her husband dies unexpectedly, she may refuse to marry his brother.

A witch has been known to weep at the sight of her own child.

She may appear to be acting in a silent film whose placards are missing.

In Hollywood, the sky is made of tin.

A witch makes her world of air, then fire, then the planets. Of cardboard, then ink, then a compass.

A witch desires to walk rather than be carried or pushed in a cart.

When walking a witch will turn suddenly and pretend to look at something very small.

The happiness of an entire house may be ruined by witch hair touching a metal cross.

The devil does not speak to a witch, He only moves his tongue.

An executioner may find the body of a witch insensitive to an iron spike.

An unrepentant witch may be converted with a little lead in the eye.

Enchanting witchpowder may be hidden in a girl's hair.

When a witch is hungry, she can make a soup by stirring water with her hand.

I have heard of a poor woman changing herself into a pigeon.

At times a witch will seem to struggle against an unknown force stronger than herself.

She will know things she has not seen with her eyes. She will have opinions about distant cities.

A witch may cry out sharply at a the sight of a known criminal dying of thirst.

She finds it difficult to overcome the sadness of the last war.

A nightmare is witchwork.

The witch elm is sometimes referred to as "all heart." As in, "she was thrown into a common chest of witch elm."

When a witch desires something that is not hers, she will slip it into her glove.

An overwhelming power compels her to take something from a rich man's shelf.

I have personally known a nervous young woman who often walked in her sleep.

Isn't there something witchlike about a sleepwalker who wanders through the house with matches?

The skin of a real witch makes a delicate binding for a book of common prayer.

When all the witches in your town have been set on fire, their smoke will fill your mouth. It will teach you new words. It will tell you what you've done.


Sarah Wilds, Deliverance Hobbs, and Dorcas Hoar were witches.

Martha Corey, Dorothy Good, and Rebecca Nurse were convicted of consorting with devils.

Sarah Osborne did not go to church regularly; Sarah Good was seen begging for food.

Tituba was a slave.

Giles Correy was pressed to death in the summer of 1962.

Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, and Mary Parker were hanged on September 22nd.

A family in reduced circumstances may resort to witchcraft in order to procure food.

A family of witches will put off a bad smell like that of wild animals.

Bridget Bishop, Martha Carrier, George Jacobs, John Proctor, and John Willard were hardcore Salem gothic witches.

Kate, Leah, and Maggie Fox were professional upstate rapping witches.

Mary Baker Eddy was a witch.

Witchcraft can be contracted like a pox and appear in lesions on the skin.

The ability to understand the language of one's enemy is evidence of witchcraft.

George and Mary Oppen fled to Mexico to avoid being tries as witches.

Louis Zukofsky hid his witchcraft in the music of a long poem.

Charles Reznikoff and Lorine Niedecker lived largely incognito.

An accused witch is taken into a courtroom backward so as not to bewitch her accusers.

Eugene Debs was a witch.

Ronald Reagan was a cardinal in the army of the witchhunters.

Samuel Beckett and René Char lived for a time underground, as witches do.

Leadbelly was a witch.

Spencer Tracy and Paul Robeson were witches by association.

James Baldwin and Woody Guthrie were witchlovers.

Joe Hill was a stonecold singing witch organizer.

Simone Weil, Orson Welles, and Edward Dmytryk were witches.

John Wieners and Tallulah Bankhead consorted with witches.

Susan B. Anthony, Gloria Steinem, and Barbara Jordan were witches.

Un-American witches may appear to believe less in money than in other forms of circulation.

Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, and Dalton Trumbo were witches.

Alfred North Whitehead was a witch sympathizer.

Charles Olson worked for FDR.

Sappho worshiped with other witches in ancient witch temple.

Frank O'Hara conceived "Personism" as a defense of witchcraft.

Billie Holiday was a witch.

Billie Burke, Veronica Lake, and Elizabeth Montgomery were witches.

Robert Creeley voted for McGovern.

Nazimova was a witch, and Garbo was bewitching as a humorless Russian.

Hattie McDaniel, Madame Curie, and Mercedes McCambridge were witches.

Anne Hutchinson was a monstrous talking witch.

Arthur Miller was a witch.

Maria Tallchief danced bewitchingly.

Very few people were actually afraid of Virginia Woolf in spite of her witchcraft.

The supernatural powers of the aristocracy have occasionally mingled with those of a commoner.

Hilma af Klint, Hilda Doolittle, and Helen Adam were witches.

Teresa was first known as the Witch of Ávila.

Joan or Jeanne attempted to escape prosecution by leaping from a tower.

Agnes Martin, Agnés Varda, and Agnes Moorhead are witches.
When Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Robert Kennedy spoke,
the power of their words could be felt in disparate locations at the same time.

Engine trouble at 20,000 feet may bring a witch back to earth.

Harvey Milk was shot right in City Hall while trying to reason with a witchhunter.

I have personally known witches whose voices seemed to rise out of a hole in the earth as if it were a mouth.

Hannah Weiner saw words - like the Apostle John - and if she is not a saint, she is a witch.

Both poems are from Address (Wesleyan University Press, 2011).

Saturday, April 23, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 23: Rosmarie Waldrop


And what is the zero that marks the place of one-who-writes? A page like snow?
White without seven dwarves? The invention of a bee see? elbowing elemen(t)s
toward o.p. cues? With increasing speed and frequency? The moment the Greeks
added vowels to the alphabet so that we don't have to draw on anything outside
the word to construe it?

Shapes not found in nature. To take us out of our body.

But I long for it. The body. Even if blue veins run from the knees to the ankles
and the feet are swollen and bulge out of the shoes. And how can I long for some-
thing that is right here? A bit scattered my brain, perhaps. Not yet the bones I've
carried around all my life. And by my own strength,

So I embark. On writing. With a shout at the sea around me, the surface of language.
The vessel's not important, but the shout is. It brings the body. And with it the 
patterns I love, rhythmic, paratactic, the old oral forms, repetition, alliteration. And
if I don't use formulae and proverbs I at least play among their echoes in the inner ear.

Words that sleep in the body all night and in the daytime come out and touch
you like a warm hand.

Yet all the while I sharpen my pencil to a fine point. My alphaknife to dissect the
world. And remember the phoneme, an abstract value like that of zero, which
makes possible the existence of language.

Intricate lines, complex, across gaps and fissures. Toward the distance needed for
full understanding. Where the void opens its one eye that never closes. In the
middle of the mind. Not in the proportions of body. And I'm unsure, does it
make me blind or seeing.

Swallows, missiles, helicopters, wounding bodies, budding leaves, the sun rising
out of the sea, streets glistening with rain, tin cans, plastic bags, armchairs, playing
cards, a prisoner on a leash, chimneys, cigarette butts, colors shifting in the sky,
rooftops, maples, humvees, tanks, fields of wildflowers, and landmines in one
big, blooming confusion.

Or the other side of language. Where I am mute and the unsaid weighs heavy.
On the tip of the tongue. A foretaste of death.

from Driven to Abstraction, New Directions, 2010

Friday, April 22, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 22: Clark Coolidge


The city lulls you
as you farm on by
occipital baiters hide there
blew the can mine out behind Manton
thrives on its sewerage, screwtape smilers
dodge punted, the graphite edge comes burying down
no longer landed but a little cotton box out of greyboard given
parted and only then the handshake baken
suspired violet streaks over Manton

Somewhere out there west where nobody indulges his knowledge
in a rust of gloomy O's riling and falling formative deadly
ugly as an angel's pin, a glancing skid off the finger traffic
down Barlow's Pew, soporific avenue cluster of tanks only to plead
brute arrival veiling down the bay doubling up the newel varves
trunk troubles, arc light saddle buries, worries and tongues
gait under the streetlamps arguable, there are no Boscomb Delves
so long dishing here

I wait up
for the raisins to light on my ham branch
backyard's a spinner and I'm the bubblemaker
long white gooseneck held out for your appletown fencing
malmatching the yard with its hole sizes
violins begin to come through, hide and then hide
the sack burned out of the hill into roses
bushel of quartzes

Car stops, they get out
who ever wanted to make a movie about missing assholes?
well, they got them here
they get back on
tracks, span of wreckage, zero exit
it got them there
Providence once gone about itself a monster appears

Is this pathetic emplacement just these window chairs?
could you continue till nothing satisfies?
fill your notebook with unknown bloods
be slanted almost gone, headache for
pill rolls from one end to the dumpling
girder bust oil barrage till the bay hangs
lovely but yet you must skid

Mind those pads in parlors
that tray
my dog old Lamp
cut out of Olneyville in the dark
end of the tracks they take
habits, cobble skills
brought back tuckings under
larval motor gains, follow the stains
then step down and pluck your fare
I'll eat after you, I'll make
a believer out of the Scarborough Dulls

The Act of Providence, Combo Books, 2010

Thursday, April 21, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 21: Meghan O'Rourke


The dog did no harm.
The bee did no harm.
The grass, the grave grass, no harm.
The wind did no harm.

The mud did no harm.
The fly, the sticky fly, no harm.
The snakes did not hurt us.
The trees did not either.

The sky, no harm, the moon,
no harm. The wild cats of San Juan,
sleeping in the wet harbor,
did no harm!

The river did no harm.
The land kept going green.
It is bright here, where we sleep
by the lake. Let us pause

to praise the warm, cool
light as it bends
around the unharmed earth,
our faces buried in the woollen dark -

How could you think
it would hurt us? What made you worry?
That whisper the earth makes, turning in space?
I hear it too. It only does what it must.

So hush, hush, hush


from Halflife, W.W. Norton, 2007

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 20: Christina Pugh


Closer to a bell than a bird,
that clapper ringing
the clear name
of its inventor:

by turns louder
and quieter than a clock,
its numbered face
was more literate,

triplets of alphabet
like grace notes
above each digit.

And when you dialed,
each number was a shallow hole
your finger dragged
to the silver

then the sound of the hole
traveling back
to its proper place
on the circle.

You had to wait for its return.
You had to wait.
Even if you were angry
and your finger flew,

you had to await
the round trip
of seven holes
before you could speak.

The rotary was wired for lag,
for the afterthought.

Before the touch-tone,
before the speed-dial,
before the primal grip
of the cellular,

they built glass houses
around telephones:
glass houses in parking lots,
by the roadside,
on sidewalks.

When you stepped in
and closed the door,

transparency hugged you,
and you could almost see

your own lips move,
the dumb-show
of your new secrecy.

Why did no one think
to conserve the peal?

Just try once
to sing it to yourself:
it's gone,

like the sound of breath
if your body left.

Hayden's Ferry Review Issue 27, Fall/Winter 2000-2001

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 19: Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert is the author of The French Exit (Birds, LLC, 2010) (the source of today's poem) and maintains a blog with the same title.


You can't invent a color, only name it,
like how I just named those contrails Benjamin
and then the sky behind them Benjamin II.
Now, retronymically, I refer to Ben as Ben I.
If he becomes famous, they'll stop calling
clouds "clouds" and call them "nonlinear
clouds" or "pre-Benjamin" for clarity.
I can think about fame all day, and
compose apologies for my friends' friends
who I've variously snubbed, write them
into emails with personalized P.S.'s:
P.S. My love for you extends forever
in all directions, or sometimes seems to.
P.S. I include a swatch of Yves Klein blue.
P.S. If the sky is a piano store and clouds
are baby grands, we just hang out in the back
and listen to a Casiotone's preprogrammeds.
P.S. This P.S. is my email's last will
and testament. It's leaving everything
to you. P.S. Like my love for you,
like the infinite crystalline watchface of
God of the sky, my email will never die.

Monday, April 18, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 18: Ron Padgett


Sometimes when I phoned
my mother back in Tulsa, she would
say, "Hold on a minute, Ron, let me
turn this thing down," the thing
her TV, and she would look
around for the remote and then fumble
with its little buttons as an irritation
mounted in me and an impatience
and I felt like blurting out "You watch TV
too much and it's too loud and why
don't you go outside" because I was
unable to face my dread of her aging
and my heart made cold toward her
by loving her though not wanting to give up
my life and live near her so she
could see me every day and not
just hear me, which is why she
turned the TV down and said,
"Okay, that's better," then sometimes
launched into a detailed account
of whatever awful show she was watching.

from How to Be Perfect (Coffee House Press, 2007)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 17: Wallace Stevens

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections,
Or the beauty of innuendoes.
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms,
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving,
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (reprinted in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, eds. Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair

Saturday, April 16, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 16: Matthew Henriksen


Heaven must subject itself to the city for

the city to lose function. A throng of sparrows
and one gutter pipe must be all that sing.

The multitudes wilt from their professions and,
thus, professing.  Hollyhocks taking in light are merciless.

God dreamed a professor of cinema saw the final image
on the last lost reel to Satan's Nightmares.

No one deemed God safe after that.
He took to wandering Brooklyn

with aimless pleasure, looking for
bridges to cross: crossing, and returning.

He'd lost his desperation, and without it
how could civilization admire itself?

This was the beginning of the third year
no one called for anyone. So it is writ.

from Ordinary Sun, Black Ocean, 2011.

Friday, April 15, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 15: Gilbert Sorrentino

Impromptu Solo on a Balcony

Messages spelled out in stars
Bright points of someone else's daylight
Write themselves past Venus and past Mars
But Mr. Blank cannot translate them right
Messages spelled out in stars

The balcony coal-black the chump alone
Leafs through his mind's huge trash
Creased photographs sad notes a bone
A letter scrawled about some distant crash
The balcony coal-black the chump alone

The lump of coal that hurts him is his heart
Small hurricanes crash through his brain
Our inventor cannot make a part
To fix the valve that regulates his pain
The lump of coal that hurts him is his heart

An odd and spidery foreign constellation
Flickers out a note to "Mr. Mud"
Señor Blanco reads the salutation
Which seems to be in Greek and signed in blood
An odd and spidery constellation

He doesn't know and yet he knows
The letter surely deals with waste and loss
The night grows blacker and his nausea grows
Are all the stars irreparable dross
He doesn't know and yet he knows

When he reaches out he touches nothing
Mr. Blanco's heart is frozen coal
When he reaches out he touches nothing
The stars crash toward the inky pole
When he reaches out he touches nothing

from a suite of poems titled Twelve Études for Voice and Kazoo
published in Selected Poems: 1958-1980 (Black Sparrow Press, 1981)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 14: Paul Haines

2 by Paul Haines








from Secret Carnival Workers (H.Pal Productions, 2007)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 13: Bernadette Mayer (The Return)

I came across this the other day, and not only is it a good poem, but the date fits.


a clear cold sunny day, beautiful to some,
horrible to others. we're making maple
syrup again, smoke is rising from the evaporator,
it's hearty, everytime i begin to do something
something else intervenes, i wouldn't even think this
if i weren't in the mood to have the thought.
bernadette mayer, in a rush to put down her
weird thoughts, like everybody tells her to,
writes down too much, only a fraction of which is
even ever read because she is so disorganized,
plus she has had a brain hemorrhage, rendering her
even more mixed up in her constant thinking,
and she has lost the fine motor coordination
in her right hand - she can't handwrite, she has
to cook the chicken liver while phil is not in
the kitchen. at the moment her left knee is
so fucked she can barely walk, making the long
bushwhacking walks in the country that were able
to salvage her sanity, impossible. she tries
to do what others suggest but now she just plods on.
it's the last straw, hobbling from room to room,
hoping for change. she is lost but has no choice
she can't attempt suicide again for fear of failing.
she will cook the liver. she also cooks two pierogi,
eats them & sits in the sun

from Scarlet Tanager (New Directions, 2005)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 12: Roberto Bolaño


I was out walking, sweaty and with hair plastered
to my face
when I saw Ernesto Cardenal approaching
from the opposite direction
and by way of greeting I said:
Father, in the Kingdom of Heaven
that is communism,
is there a place for homosexuals?
Yes, he said.
And for impenitent masturbators?
For sex slaves?
For sex fools?
For sadomasochists, for whores, for those obsessed
with enemas,
for those who can't take it anymore, those who really truly
can't take it anymore?
And Cardenal said yes.
And I raised my eyes
and the clouds looked like
the pale pink smiles of cats
and the trees cross-stitched on the hill
(the hill we've got to climb)
shook their branches.
Savage trees, as if saying
some day, sooner rather than later, you'll have to come
into my rubbery arms, into my scraggly arms,
into my cold arms. A botanical frigidity
that'll stand your hair on end.

from The Romantic Dogs: Poems 1980-1998 (New Directions, 2006). Translated by Laura Healy.

Monday, April 11, 2011

National Poetry Month - Day 11: Julie Doxsee

Plane Ticket

You are
a little book when

I take you by the staple
& make my fingers an

OK. OK, you are
a bird.

from Objects for a Fog Death (Black Ocean, 2010)