Wednesday, October 17, 2018

From a Work in Progress


A., the Estonian, was concerned about a letter he received from his publisher. Having little to do, I offered to help him with his problem, which offer A. immediately embraced. Posing as a psychiatrist, I wrote A.’s publisher a formal letter, suggesting he was clinically insane and therefore unpredictable. He could even be violent. Next day A. received a letter from his publisher in which the problems were dismissed. There were many assurances that A. would see his work published in accordance with his original intentions. No revisions or deletions were needed.  A. was overjoyed at this news. He offered to take me to dinner to show his appreciation. Gracefully, I accepted A.’s offer. However, I did insist we go to the most expensive restaurant in town, reminding A. – who was visibly crestfallen at my suggestion and as poor as I was -- that art always comes with a price.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

excerpt from August Diary

HEAVE THE SYCAMORE HO! 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

excerpt from DIARY (DAILY NOTES)


August 29

I worked four hours this morning. Now what?
***
Last night I dreamt. Why should I remember my dream and, if remembered, why should I reveal it to you?
***
An awkward conversation became less awkward the more we grew bored with each other.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

THE LAND OF MILK AND WATER IN THE DREAM OF THE BABY AT BREAST

The impression is of an impression of
a bedroom blazing out of darkness, 
where at the outer edge
a toothless maid holds the hemp bag
that will receive the severed head.

Further on how large mother is,
a giantess: she who holds
her dead son on her lap, her thighs
two monuments hidden beneath folds 
             of Carrara marble. 

One dry season, in California, 
there were two children
who leaned into her, supported her,
and in turn were supported by her,
at her breast baby dreamt of the wishing-thunder
in the bowl of fruit at the bar 
and the blood-orange clew
plucked clean for the compass eye.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Fragment from an Introduction


The essays that follow celebrate. It is that which is their only goal. I have no interest in demonstrating the ultimate qualities of a superior understanding, nor in revealing the flaws a certain tempered investigation might uncover. Leave both of those results to minds more lambent than my own.  I am no critic, merely a human who happened to learn how to read in circumstances unexceptional. As for the essays themselves: let it be known, they were never begun and never ever occluded. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

POSTCARD




Sinatra croons                                                                                      from a Crown                                                                                      transistor radio                                                                                      with cloudy                                                                                          dial, while a Kent                                                                                  long-lasting burns                                                                                  in the barrel of a                                                                                    glass pistol

Friday, March 9, 2018

SONGS WE LISTENED TO AND (MOSTLY) LIKED




Cassandra liked “When It Rains It Pours” by Luke Combs.
Sarah liked “Greatest Love Story” by LANCO.
Alexis liked “Nocturne op. 9, no. 2” by Chopin.
Abdul liked “Tennessee Whiskey” by Christ Stapleton.
Collin liked “Dance of Life” by Peder B. Holland.
Jenna liked “Perfect Symphony” by Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli.
Domino liked (with reservations) “I Will Be Heard” by Hatebreed.
Sharon liked “Small Bump” by Ed Sheeran.
Anna liked “1-800-273-8255” by Logic.
Michael liked (with reservations) “Rockstar” by Post Malone.
Elizabeth liked “Never Say Goodbye” by the Flamingos.
Kristine liked “Sick of Me” by Beartooth.
Shelby liked “Could You Be Loved?” by Bob Marley.
Rochelle liked “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton.
O’shaughnessy liked “This Is How We Roll” by Georgia Line and Luke Bryan.
Geoffrey liked (with reservations) “Party in the Parking Lot” by Christ Gentry (feat. Raine).
Yvonne like “Turnadot” by Puccini.
Wendy liked “You Should Be Here” by Cole Swindell.
Stephanie liked (with reservations) “1-800-273-8255 by Logic.
Jannika liked “Still a Fool” by Muddy Waters.
Tammy liked “How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin.
Feather did not like “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar.
Kristiana liked “Hero of War” by Rise Against.
Lakesha liked “Single Petal of a Rose [Ellington]” by Aaron Diehl.
Clarissa liked “Blue Ain’t Your Color” by Keith Urban.
Summer did not like “Without Me” by Eminem.








Sunday, March 4, 2018

A DRAFT, AN AMUSEMENT


                            
O BRIGHT ROUND BELL:   
a libretto for three voices and chorus in two acts

ACT THE FIRST
A desolate place.

FIRST VOICE:
Upon the bright round bell
The buried things that could not sleep
The sun did rise to warm the hills
Upon the bright round bell  


SECOND VOICE

Within the season first
Within the season last
By means of compass points

THIRD VOICE
The north 
The south
The east 
The west

FIRST VOICE

Within the realms of seasons
The world is found and found and found
Round a ground
Sounds abound



CHORUS
Round sounds bound aground
Abound around aground
The sound is deep and good
Good, good friend resound with all
All manner of sound and all manner of ground
And all manner of thing shall be well
Shall be well shall be shall be shall be shall be
And all manner shall be well
                            
THIRD VOICE:

We saw the clouds that caused us harm
We saw them bright and true
We saw the clouds of war that carried us away
And felt their solace too
In heavenly choral spheres within spheres
That turn in skies above us
Maps for heavenly skies
Oh, bright fiery latitudes
Tempests סֶלָה
Tempests סֶלָה
Tempests סֶלָה


FIRST VOICE:

We saw them saw them saw them
The land did meet the sky did meet the shore
Everything upon the land that met the sky
That leapt upon the shore to see
Tumultuous the seas
What a churning, boiling thing the sea is
What a churning, boiling thing

SECOND VOICE:

The wind swept all four points
Hear the music
The wind swept all four points
Hear the solemn voice
Another voice joins in
Angelic instruments of lighter fluid
Mad drums of insolent youth
Bitter composers wildly striking batons
Upon an enraptured atmosphere





THIRD VOICE:
Hear the bells the bells that ring
Hear them as they sing
Bells oh bells of beauty
Bells oh bells of song


CHORUS:

Upon the bright round bell
We buried things in hell
The dog that caused us harm
The claw that rang alarm
The sea that turned the dawn
The harp that felled the beast
The moon that lit the path
The night that held the vault
That in the morning held  
The children’s moon
Above the trembling bell
O ring bright bell
O ring the loud the clear
O ring wise bell
That calls to one and all

FIRST VOICE:
Upon the bright round bell
Of Nature’s measured fell


SECOND VOICE:
We saw armies of the heart 
Legions in formation
Armies of the heart
Prepared for every season


THIRD VOICE:
The garden where we roved
Too far and farther reaches
Raising flowers glowing red
Young gather to be seen


FIRST VOICE:
To be heard 
for spring 
has come
Birds of air
Fish of river
Beast of land


SECOND VOICE:
Do stroll about 
like living garlands
The rain did fall 
and now has gone
The earth prepared 
its bed

THIRD VOICE:   
All belts 
arrows 
and milk 
Doth 
move in 
lambent 
conjunction
With an inner 
mechanism 
of delight

CHORUS:

                             Raising 
                             flowers glowing
                             Raising flowers 
                             glowing red
                             Raising flowers 
                             raising flowers
                             Glowing red so 
                             glowing red
                             In beauty 
                             and obscurity

NARRATOR


It strode toward us                                                               
like a ragged beast
from a wind-swept plain.          
They said, you are not well.
Spend time in the country.
The windows must be closed.
One said, drink malt.
Another, not malt, only milk.
Another said eat two pounds
of potato every day for three weeks.
After that you can try vegetables and apples.
Maybe a little fish.  
Mucous being problematic.
I went down to the effigy fires.
I was thinking always of my childhood.
I was one broke bastard.
There’s little money in madness,
despite what Kaye says.
I had good times, you bet.
My parents loved me, as best they could,
they did not know what to do with children.
The small village where I was born I don't remember.
I wish I'd never left.
They took me away against my will.
If such can be said.
Reading was something I did.
Comprehension not all that good.  
Language seemed like music.
Solace of lee, of friend, of bulwark, of fervor,


of isolate storms on the coast. 


END OF THE FIRST ACT



ACT THE SECOND
The same desolate place.

JOHN CLARE:
                             What was that?
                             What was that sound?
                  

CHORUS:
                             Tell us you name
                             Where were you born
                             Why are you here? 
                             Why were you there?
                             Our minds are curious
                             They ask of anything
                             The source of its evil
                             The reason its shame


JOHN CLARE:
People of the chorus, voices joined as one, let me answer by means of a simple ballad composed recently. I call it A Ballad of Ballad of Song of a Ballad of Song of a Ballad of Song of a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Song a Measure a Meter a Rhyme of a Verse and a Verse of a Pome a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a Ballad a gone!
                  







BALLAD

My name is John Clare                                          I live on the air                                                      I wander this land                                                  with nothing in hand                                                                                               
My name is John Clare                                          I eat when I’m able                                                a guest at crude table                                              I drink of the dew in the air                                                                  
For the sky up above                                              and the furious seas                                                do threaten the meek                                              and most of the mild

My name is John Clare                                          Who lives on the air                                              Hallowed be my name                                            John Clare, John Clare                                          O piteous mad John Clare


 




  













NOTE (For Composers of Choral Works and Contemporary Operas):

This fragment is what remains of my effort to supply a libretto to a composer friend.  I somehow managed to lose sight of my original idea, only to find myself at a stopping point without having reached any kind of conclusion. So, at present, it remains a fragment: that is, incomplete, broken, in desperate need of expansion, deepening, and refinement. Which I would certainly prefer to do, though I have no solid belief that shall ever be managed. My past record of acting on intentions is not good. I give up easily and am too ready to let early difficulties signal it is time to resign. If you are a composer of choral works; if the fragment interests me, please don’t hesitate to contact me. It would give me great the greatest pleasure to see my name attached to a libretto in much the same way that Gertrude Stein allowed hers to be.

Jon Cone






                             ADDENDUM TO THE ABOVE:

Whatever significance this libretto ('libretto') has exists                        only to the extent that it remains shrouded in beautiful obscurity. 
Like the ingredients of some weird alien food.
Or incomprehensible instructions for distilling light                              from cucumbers.

Jon Cone






Saturday, December 23, 2017

IT HAS COME TO THIS, THESE



This shall be the one I use. 
This, no other. 

Then this shall be the one I refuse. 

This, no other, I shall refuse. 

And this, and this, and this, these 

in the cumulation of small tolerations shall be set down
and their futures determined, 

in waves consonant with 

the turning nature of 
the world. That is, 

the seas above below within.  

Friday, November 24, 2017

POEM

for those who know pain

What did you,
what did you

do today? A
few, some two
or three,

radiances.  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

COLD HOUSE by Jon Cone (Toronto: Espresso-chapbooks, 2017)

Hello Friends,


My collection COLD HOUSE is now available for  purchase from Espresso-chapbooks of Toronto, Ontario. Please consider buying a copy or any of their other wonderful titles, and so help the small independent presses.


Here is the link:



Sincerely,

Jon Cone






Monday, November 6, 2017

from THE LYRILIAD



I was a certain
moment, and
you were more
than a moment.
You were the
moment's all.







Friday, November 3, 2017

NEWLY MADE, GIVE OR TAKE

Letter to Edith


A light went off just now. Not the light 
    of an idea        above my head, but a 
literal                light - a bulb
The wiring             in this 
wayward farmhouse is shabby


Almost made it, someone once told me. 
The words     hung secluded        in blue air 
in such awful           trembling manner    as to
suggest         complicity          with pale
leaves           turned over   in
winds         below     humid thunder

They are small           unanchored

praises         sung by crows    and
tyrants       who     rule by tantrum and
proclaim          wood from the pine
works best
                                                









Sunday, October 29, 2017

A SNEAK PREVIEW OF MY NEWEST





Here is a look at the cover of my newest collection, which will be officially available shortly. I will post ordering information when it is ready to be shipped. Thank you for supporting the small press.


Jon Cone







Friday, June 23, 2017

Q: WHAT IS THIS RADICAL DONATION YOU SPEAK OF?

THE ICE MAN
NO LONGER
DELIVERS


The Frigidaire lies down
upon its crown of noise.
The mind exists. It snows
like a hum hum hurrah
awaiting compensation.

The day will end.
The week will end, the month.
The year will exit by its key.

No antiquities afoot.
No cha cha cha.
What remains is mystery:
the radical donation
to the Arctic nothingness
of the hum hum hurrah.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

OR FELL AND FELL AND FELL/THROUGH THE HEAVENS: A CONVERSATION WITH KLIPSCHUTZ ABOUT “A VISIT TO THE RANCH AND OTHER POEMS” (Last Word Press: Olympia, WA, 2015)






 

I had intended to speak with Klipschutz about A Visit to the Ranch some time ago, but things got in the way and I found myself able to perform only the smallest exertions in order to live. So, instead, I spent time undergoing treatment, falling into debt, and eventually managing to recover enough to engage in the following conversation. The book was published in late 2015 but still carries great currency. 



J:  My first impression is how deeply rooted these poems are in the people and places of the Pacific Northwest. What encouraged you to write in this special way?



KLIP:  The book started as a sheaf of 10 poems centering on Charles Potts, a mentor of mine who has lived in the Bora Bora of the Northwest, Walla Walla, WA, for many years. Charles wears a lot of hats—both literally and figuratively. After several other careers, he is now a horse rancher. As well, he is a king hell poet and a publisher. Wearing the latter hat, he published my 2002 book Twilight of the Male Ego, which gave me what self-respect I have as poet. It speaks for itself that Charles and Walla Walla inspired 10 poems, prompted by four visits to Walla Walla and spanning 12 years.

Then I started to notice other poems in my “uncollected” binder set in the Northwest, from those trips and others. A year and one more trip north (and to Walla Walla) later, the manuscript was starting to get there. A few poems set in San Francisco—where I am between trips—found their way in. The next year was devoted to revision, after which I tortured my publisher with last minute changes and additions.



J:  Looking at this collection within the context of what has happened to the country since it was published, I find it hard not to read some of the poems as containing premonitions, an early articulation of how many people feel themselves no longer to have roles to play in the American Dream. 



KLIP:  You may be thinking of “Triolet for a New American Century,” and the air of disenfranchisement that seems to find its way into much of my work. Though I’m not sure I predicted anything. This train’s been coming at us through the tunnel for several whiles. Overall, my poems tend to be, at root, arguments with myself—at times refracted through characters and narrators. You know the guys who win arguments in the shower? I lose them! And build poems from the fallout. 



J:  Let me draw attention to “I Visit Doug Spangle in Portland.” Which is a direct, straightforwardly composed poem. The language is simple, the lines follow the patterns of speech. Near the end are these lines, with the sound of such heartbreaking truth: 



She has five children
by five husbands
five siblings &
a hundred-year-old mom
every one of whom
depends on her 



And which concludes: 



I wake to sleep upstairs
in Doug’s library
till morning when
we’ll walk Mt. Tabor again. 



So much is going on in this poem, so much is suggested rather than stated. That women are the ones who work to save broken families, either literally or metaphorically, is a truth that tends to be overlooked. Men disappoint women far too often. The poem is allusive, reminding me of James Wright’s “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island” and calling to mind Theodore Roethke’s “The Waking.” Finally, the poem concludes with a suggestion of transcendence, and the means to achieve it, the walk up the mountain. 



KLIP:  Is there a question there? There doesn’t need to be! To be mentioned in the same context as Wright and Roethke is a fantasy of mine. It’s not true but I’ll take it. The title of that one comes from my Frank O’Hara fixation. The woman in the stanza you quote is my friend Christine. She is married to Doug and deserves far more than one stanza in a poem by me for all she does. She gave me grief for getting some of the facts wrong. I think I threw in “five” one too many times. What she didn’t realize was my forward-thinking modus operandi: I was using alternative facts!



J:  Above, you mention poet, editor, publisher Charles Potts, whose presence is evident throughout, including in the final, title poem. His independent political streak is celebrated in “The View From Mt. Forgotten” and the inspired homage “Pieces of the Poet, Horseman at Seventy.” What effect has he had on your writing life?



KLIP:  When I met Charles I was over 40, and he was in his early 50’s, which I note because my course, such as it is, was already set by then, bad habits and all. And as I say in a brief introduction to Visit, our literary tastes both overlap and diverge. His effect on my outlook, though, is major. He is an example of how to build a family and working life that allows you to both write and promote other writers. None of it has been wasted on me, even if I’ll have to wait till my next life to put any of that wisdom into action.



J:  I’ve been reading a great deal of Wallace Stevens lately. There’s much to admire in Stevens, particularly in an age when many poems that are published could be (perhaps, in the best examples) just as well presented in prose paragraphs. That is, poetry has lost much of its music because poets no longer read widely from the tradition of English poetry. They read peers, but no one else. I go on because it seems to me Stevens would be a fine addition to the education of a young poet. For Stevens, more than any other Modernist, had a wonderful ear for the metered line. A Visit to the Ranch has some poems that call him to mind, in particular his practice of composing often longer poems out of discrete sections, which are then numbered and placed in
sequence. (A detail I enjoy in these assembled poems is his use of Roman numerals.) “The Chocolate Exhibition” is one such poem, which begins: 



Wall plaques, photographs, back-bending implements, 
pods with seeds and captions under glass,
 a replica cacao tree (please touch).  



Another example is “Charon Takes a Busman’s Holiday” where these lines occur: 



Leaves dance. A steady mist
coating salted townships in a plastic pocket map.
Name and number on the backrest of a bench, for revenue.
 
[Editor's note:  The lineation above is not correct. For some reason I am unable to present the lines from both stanzas as they appear in the book: both stanzas should be three lines.]





KLIP:  I am constantly going back to Stevens, and would be thrilled if any of his secret sauce has rubbed off on me. I agree with you wholeheartedly about him. He’s a corrective for self-obsessed and political poetry that doesn’t have room for any time and place other than here and now. And I count myself as one such offender. All I can do is to try not to disappear down that rabbit hole, and to instead go outside, walk in the woods, and look around me at the world and other people, places, and things.



J:  One of my favorite poems here is “Free Translation of Du Fu From Memory.” Tell us what went into writing it. How are we to interpret the title? How free is free, some might want to know, in this case?



KLIP:  The poem itself seized me, and in fact seems to be channeling Stevens, in the main. Mortality and romance and wonder and weather came together in a way that doesn’t happen nearly enough to me, in poems or life. Afterwards, I thought it sounded Asian in sensibility, and needed a title, which sprung to mind. Two things about the title: In my youth, Du Fu was referred to as Tu Fu. Then several people, Charles Potts among them, impressed upon me that there was a new linguistic sheriff in town and that I’d better get with the spelling program. Beyond that, I got a kick out of the sweats a few fellow poets went into when they thought I knew Chinese. All of which to say that motivation and result can be two different things when it comes to a poem.



J:  You seem to enjoy working with the prose poem. There are several in this collection, among them “And Here We Are”; “Dear Campaign Diary”; “The Ballad of the Marcus Whitman Hotel Conference Center”; and “Saturday Night on Paradise Ridge.” What is it about the prose poem form that appeals to you? How do you determine when a poem is to be given this shape rather than another? Are there aspects of subject or theme that you feel are more naturally suited to the prose poem?



KLIP:  Truthfully, I go by nerve. Some of the ones you mentioned started out as verse poems. When the line breaks start to feel arbitrary and the language of an individual piece starts to feel more essayistic than lyrical (word choices, et cetera), out of desperation I might remove the line breaks and see if the piece feels less labored. I do, however, like to use multiple paragraphs. They function like stanzas. Have I put you to sleep yet?



J:  Any final comments?



KLIP:  Thanks for taking the time, and for your thoughtful comments and questions. Also, the first five people who write me at klipschutz@earthlink.net and include a mailing address will receive three Four by Two trading cards, including one featuring a couple of short, potent poems by . . . Jon Cone. 






J:  My pleasure. Thank you for taking the time to chat. Be well and best of luck in all future endeavors.


***
A VISIT TO THE RANCH is available from Last Word Books 111 Cherry Street NE, Olympia, WA 98501. Here is the ordering link:
http://www.lastwordpress.com/


Support the small, independent presses!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

LIMINAL: SHADOW AGENT (a comic book script synopsis) by Jon Cone


In an alternative universe, the superhero Liminal, Shadow Agent,  receives a mysterious communication from Bobby Smith, Genius Child. Smith is so designated because he belongs to a rare group of humans known as the Genius Children. They aren't literally children. They can be any age, race, gender; they come from all classes of society. Thus a poor farmer is just as likely to be a Genius Child as a professor of philosophy. What they share is participation in an unexplained, unpredictable transformative event that seems, to the rest of the human population, to have given them complete understanding regarding the mysteries of existence. The terms 'Genius Child' and 'Genius Children' were coined by the popular news media, when the early accounts of the Genius Children were reported.

Liminal
 goes to Bobby Smith’s place of business. There he learns the nature of Smith’s predicament: a malevolent being, known as the Nihilist, is invading Smith’s astral body, threatening his existence and that of all other Genius Children with whom Smith shares a metaphysical hive-mind connection. Smith asks Liminal to enter the astral realm and do battle with this evil presence. 


Liminal agrees, but first he meets with Base 39, his colleague in the practice of metaphysical arts. Together, they enact a magick ritual that gives Liminal greater powers to use against the Nihilist. From a meditational launching pad on the top floor of Base 39 's apartment, Liminal leaves the material realm, while Base 39 stays by his side, watching over his inert, vulnerable physical body. Once in the astral realm, Liminaconfronts the Nihilist in a series of metaphysical battles. As they battle, Liminal and the Nihilist constantly change forms. 
The final confrontation finds them on a high-cliff, above a vast sea of flame into which the Nihilist  prepares to push the wounded, dying Liminal. (This scene relies heavily on Frazer’s The Golden Bough.) However, a sudden reversal causes the Nihilist to experience a storm of tumultuous despair. Liminal suggests the Nihilist end his astral-psychic pain by leaping into the sea of flame. Which the Nihilist does. After defeating the Nihilist, Liminal returns to his material body just in time to witness Base 39’s  own transformative event.  The story ends by moving beyond the world of the comic book. This script is an homage to the great metaphysical comic books from an earlier era – "Doctor Strange", "The Specter”, “Deadman”, as well as well as Jack Kirby’s “Fourth World” series – and is undeniably marked by the influence of Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, and Alan Moore. 


Jon Cone
Iowa City, 2016