Tuesday, April 28, 2009

the situation you find yourself in

Say you need something. Late at night you need something:
a box of band aids, a quart of milk, shaving cream, razor blades.
It doesn’t matter what. Just the fact of your need. So you drive
to the grocery store in a modest sized city. Anywhere.
You’re there at night getting whatever it is you need to get.
Life is settling in on you. Now you've got what it is you need,
now you're waiting in line. The cashier is doing her thing,
checking the items of the guy in front of you, she does it efficiently
enough. A little grimly you think to yourself. You hear a voice,
behind you, it takes a second for you to realize the voice
is pointed at you. “Excuse me, pal.” You turn around.
He stands looking directly at you. His face is narrow,
slightly worn. Well, he is slightly worn. Not too tall,
thin and used up. He stands there holding a large
pack of diapers. He says, “Do you mind if I cut in front?
I got a taxi waiting. I need to get out quick.” Before
you answer he's already moving in front of you.
You think, okay, the guy needs diapers, needs
to get them home quickly. You know what that is like,
how desperate it can get on the home front, maybe being
new to the job of raising a baby, how your life seems turned over,
how responsibility seems to pursue you, maybe how love
itself seems to have loosened its grip on you. And you step up
and find it in yourself to pay attention to what is needed,
what you need to do. If it means late-night runs to the grocery
store for diapers, then so be it. You do what is asked of you
by the situation you find yourself in. Well, this is what
you were thinking, standing in line, waiting to pay.
Then you snap out of it and focus on what is going on
directly before you. You see the guy arguing with the cashier.
You see her take the diapers and drop them behind her.
You see her turn to her register, you see her open the drawer,
reach in and pull out some bills and then some change.
She hands this to the guy, who licks his lips. He turns,
looks calmly at you with a smirk on his god damn face!
He leaves the store, nearly running to his waiting taxi.
And you realize no one in the history of the universe
has ever exchanged unused diapers for a cash refund
with a cab outside and meter running. Not ever. No one.
A different scene comes to mind. Somewhere a woman
paces the length of a shabby apartment. Cursing.
His name is Pitcairn. That gone, used-up guy. Pitcairn.

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scrawled near base weeds behind the fast food joint

Her sacral saccade in
madding briefs and
aslant low hillocks of
her exfoliated shudder.

Oh her gesso
my looming

I admire her legs.

We flail
gladly, onto hunkered plains

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

fragments in search of a lecture: handout

The fear that a small wooden thread sticking out of the hem of my blanket may be hard, hard and sharp as a steel needle; the fear that this little button on my night-shirt may be bigger than my head and heavier; the fear that the breadcrumb which just dropped off my bed may turn into glass, and shatter where it hits the floor

Rainer Marie Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

frg. 1: Fear
· Setting out

frg. 2: And then went down to the ship
· Ezra Pound. The Cantos. “I have tried to write Paradise …”

frg. 3: The Force Pump.
· I. A. Richards

frg. 4: The Window With Bars On It
· Childhood recollection
· Basement apartment, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

frg. 5: The Importance Of Learning How To Count
· One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. Whereas prose is spatial, poetry is temporal. Ten. What the hell does that mean?

alt. frg. 5: Genetics And The Poetic Imagination
· Homer
· James Joyce

frg . 6: Speech Therapy
· My father’s stutter, stutter

frg. 7: Grocery Store Dictionary
· The process whereby a household dictionary is ‘convened’

frg. 8: Prodigious
· “Large in quantity or size”

frg. 9: The Knife Sharpener
· It was good to have sharp knives once again

frg. 10: X-Men
· Comics
· Superheroes in a beatnik café

frg.11: Tempus Fugit
· In which the audience is asked to imagine something, for a second or two

frg. 12: The History Of Canadian Blues
· An interlude musicale
· Richard Newell aka King Biscuit Boy

frg. 13: My Brother’s Transistor Radio
· Bob Dylan
· "Like a Rolling Stone"

frg. 14: High School Librarian
· Mr. N. R[..] C[......]

frg. 15: Hand-Written And Framed On The Wall
· Leonard Cohen
· "Go by brooks, love … "

frg. 16: Chagall
· Lawrence Ferlinghetti
· "Don’t let that horse/eat that violin … "

frg. 17: My Criminal Past
· Whereat the stolen property is displayed as proof of abject state

frg. 18: Mermaids
· ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ by T.S. Eliot

frg. 19: Staring Out Windows
· University College reading lounge [University of Western Ontario]
· Winter is determined to be the better season

frg. 20: On Blind Poets
· John Milton, briefly

frg. 21: … That Lead To Other Thoughts That Lead To Their Unraveling …
· William Blake. "Tyger! Tyger! burning bright …"

frg. 22: How My Boots Got Dry
· W.B. Yeats
· ‘The Second Coming’

frg. 23: An Open Letter To The World
· My literary review. Mine, mine, mine!
· World Letter

frg. 24: My Flooded Basement
· My flooded basement

frg. 25: Not Enough ‘Poetry’ To Continue
· Wallace Stevens

frg. 26: What The Editor, Writer and ‘Infamous’ Workshop Leader G[........] L[...] Told Me
· In a letter
· G[........] to Jon
· Iowa
· Punishment

alt. frg.26 What Gertrude Stein Had To Say About Iowa
· You are brilliant and subtle if you come from Iowa and really strange and you live as you live and
you are always well taken care of if you come from Iowa

frg. 27: The Transcendent Desk of Saint Thomas Aquinas
· My desk and one other

frg. 28: R[.............] J[..............]
· Iowa City, IA
· Drinking from plastic cups
· Montpelier, VT
· Riding bicycle home, neatly drunk and fearless


Was this a lecture? Was it useful? Like a hammer is useful? Like dental floss? You tell me.
I didn’t see Neruda in Paris, in 1957.
In 1957 I would have been two years old.
Well, okay then.
I was here, and so were you.

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Each time we exert our will we are exhibiting hope inside emptiness.

Fanny Howe, The Wedding Dress: meditations on word and life (2003).

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allude to Shakespeare by 'using' a language


If a freaking yeti were to walk into the café where I brood
like a hammer in a sack I would be like all, ‘hey yeti, fuck off,
I hate you!’ and the yeti would be crying and shit and then
he would get up exit pursued by a bear and I would be like
laughing my ass off, then I would begin weeping myself etc.
but with serviette or some such paper product placed against
mine own ‘gorgeous’ face so as to kind of disguise my tears
as if such betrayed a weird tic or seizure or something.

fragment from a contest

[Translator’s note: My fear has stolen something from me. I am afraid of butcher’s aprons, cigarette lighters, dust, halos. I am afraid my mind went walking. I am afraid of hubcaps, burlap, pennies, dusty jawbones, metronomes. I am afraid of worms and pavement cracks. Anaphora is a form of fear and so: of moss and ivy, cornerstones, inscriptions, marginalia, graffiti, enclosures, broad sheets, variable spellings. I am afraid of yogurt, toy rocket ships, eye pencils, toothpicks, gusts, metallic, funnels. I am afraid of starts, coughs rolling down long dark hallways, the bells that always stop at seven, staplers, gods, hollow gods, stapled gods. I am afraid of tall men with one eye, ghostless dead, wooden dogs, the word ‘Peru’, men who do handstands for their children, microphones that smell of iodine, iron lungs, watercress, I am afraid of all that calls to me in this new world where language has been mugged, and kicked and punched, and skewered. I am afraid of chicken, turning on its spit. I am afraid, shivering, pullulating, obverting, reduced to pork, afraid. I am afraid of old keys, slippers, fruit flies, tennis balls, turnips, orange peel, lavender, forests, canoes, soprano saxophones, minnows, fishwives, wrist bands, bee hives, torture chambers, walnuts, chipmunks, bears, viral video, bare-knuckle fighting, assassins, marshmallows. I am afraid of tea stains, yellow teeth. I am afraid of the walrus if the walrus is Juan. I am afraid of mold, mildew, showers in basements, resumes. I am afraid of touching your wound, your monkey, your toothbrush, your ordnance, ordinals, ordination. Stairways that go nowhere and stairways that do. Rusted hulls, gulls, gall, gills, gaols, goals. The ribbed portion. The level reading. The heavy air. The humid light. The desk of the dead man, where he slumps at his desk, translating. The dialect of what matters most to those who live in now. The now. I am afraid of this moment, the next, the next. And binary code. And the plumber’s assistant of the strange milky left eye, wandering, appraising. I am afraid of diamonds, jewelers. I am afraid the arc of this hunched convulsive art, dream versus nightmare, locked, invertebrate. Your name, my name, her name, their names. I am afraid of poor typing, poor spelling. Ugly things. Beautiful things. Plastic spoons. Dental hygienists. I am afraid of argyle socks, pipes unattended, old studies, bookshelves, carbon dating, cross-eyed women doing the splits, shuffling psychos, absinthe, flying saucers, Bigfoot, bowling shoes, arcades, old unused diaries, panty lines, nuns, folding bicycles, wet towels thrown on the floors of change rooms, low tide, peanut brittle, middle-aged figure skaters, finger puppets, Punch and Judy, wires, dried turtles, physics equations, rinds, fingernail clippings. I am driven to a ‘kind of pseudo-afraid’ by bass clarinets, one armed drummers, death metal performance artists, videographers, sentence parsing, jelly fish, greens eggs and ham, the word ‘homoeroticism’, the word ‘plankton’, the word ‘watercress’, the word ‘plenitude’, the phrase ‘coming of age’, the word 'slack', the word ‘moist.’ I am made afraid, raised to a state of ‘fear fearing itself’, by barreling bison and erupting sausage. The Sieve of Eratosthenes. One or two or three or seventeen things. Of which I am afraid. I am even afraid of that of which I am not afraid. I am afraid of everything that is actual and everything that is not. Everything that might be but is not. Everything that will be but won’t. Everything and anything. Anything and nothing. Nothing and everything. All things that are, are light. And light makes me afraid. Omnia sunt, lux sunt.]

The above post was reposted by someone -- with minor alterations -- to a website with which I have no connection whatsoever. No permission was sought, nor was there any attribution. All my attempts to have my work removed from this website have thus far proved futile. Attempts to pursue this matter further have led to me to the point where a message reads: 'This user has decided to delete their account and the content is no longer available.'

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

fragment 27


Winter. A sky brought low with cloud. I’m in the lounge, reading Yeats. Puzzling my way through the widening gyre and those falcons that cannot hear, wondering about ‘the center [that] cannot hold.’ I try to imagine his ‘rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem’ in monstrous terms: thick-limbed, carrying in one claw a hammer and bucket of blood in the other, and extending a killing horn back to the symmetrical tiger of Blake. It is the fearsome tiger in this comparison that seems truly loved.

My boots were often wet back then. By the time I was ready to leave they would be dry.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

for it to make edge-wise in this living hatch


What skirrs beyond |an eye-globe pitched
To where is kept brim | from the ricked oak tree
And I am too much sold | for these loud brunts:
Any a gall-shod beast |and burst-lit seed extending

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Yoursebl live on demigorgon offspring fearfnll love.

Susan Howe, The Birth-Mark: unsettling the wilderness in American literary history (1993).


The above is not a mistake, but surely one of the more surprising sentences in American literary criticism.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

fragment 7


There were never many books in our house, when I was young. We weren’t that kind of family. The only dictionary I used through all the years I lived at home was one purchased in sections from a local grocery store. Every week a new section would be added to our shopping cart. As the weeks passed, the dictionary grew before me like some kind of weird alien sibling. It assumed its final form when my parents bought the red binder into which all sections were carefully placed. I have loved this dictionary for many years. It resides in my father’s house.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


I didn’t fully understand what I’d been told,
but galloped ahead. The lash I understood
to be the first step, unleashing and re-threading
of a turbo-charged hand-scallop. Next I hauled
the lanyard about two feet. Gave an extra six
inches for safety’s sake. No sweat. I broke for
five the better to appreciate and review what I’d
accomplished so proceeding would be smooth.

Hephaestus gimped by. Bullshit, he spat.
You know it, I echoed. Away he humped as
I renewed my purchase of the task. The pintle
chain was tangled, so I untangled. Applied grease
to the sever horns. Used a winch to tighten the wing
leader up to about the head of the weighted grim.
Nicely done. Then Aphrodite sashayed by,
diaphanous Aphrodite from payroll. I paused
to admire her magnificence. Her liquid rolling hips.
I jerked myself back. Again to my blackened paws

I drifted, gripped the south yaw, wound it once twice
thrice about the stud pin, extracted its center gort,
which I half-noted was missing several punts and
heavily pitted. This is where things began to go south.

I don’t know why I figured a compass trout was plugged or
that I could re-route the trundle-set anyway. I pushed
at it hard, using my hips against its frontal globe.
Across the shop floor, reflected in the walk-in freezer door,
I could see it, the grind prop sheathing in then out,
far into the dock-niche. Suddenly in one long
loud unforgiving crack the whole thing shuddered
to a sickening end-stop. Silence like a flood. My heart
the single pump. Just then Hephaestus leered
around the corner. How he lived for
this kind of shit. Guys blowing it, fucking up.

All I could think to keep myself from losing it
was Aphrodite, transcendent Aphrodite,
acutely sweetly imperiled, while I balanced on a trireme’s
oar-lock tearing my coarse shirt, set to leap overboard
to save her from that vast tumult of wild dark water.

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Friday, April 10, 2009


Truth is water. Attraction makes it open.

Fanny Howe, The Birth Mark: unsettling the wilderness in American literary history (1993)

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

a poem to complete section 40 of W.S. Graham's 'Implements In Their Places'

YOU ball peen hammer ………………………
YOU toilet plunger ……………………………
YOU needle nose pliers…………………………
YOU hoe……………………………………

Monday, April 6, 2009


And then the storm of shit begins.

Roberto Bolano, By Night of Chile (2000, tr. 2003).

Friday, April 3, 2009

the cullings

From Reports of
The Princeton University
to Patagonia (1896-1899)

A creeping small,
glabrous with short

Dorsally scabrous,
subapically awned,
the awn exceeding the flower.

Stems clustered from a running

Very closely imbricating,
more or less silky.

Obtuse, their margins, thin-purplish.

Cleft from the middle, moderately
bulbous-thickened at base.

Small, handsome.
Often curved,

Floating, stemless, pubescent
with fibrous roots.

Dense tuft,
in simple and compound

One third way leafy.

Having a straight cylindrical


Flowers numerous, somewhat
salver-shaped and nutant,
and rather obscured.

The labellum, its rostrum

Leaves and stems unknown,
yet common in mountains,
certain meadows.

Leaves all radical.
Nerves slightly
or not
projecting from the surface.

Fruit a drupe.

Dense bush,
with leafage of boxwood.


At length distending
and rupturing
the calyx.

Placentae fleshy,

8-12 ribbed,
yet abounding in the tropics of

Magellan, moist pastures of
Fuegia and Falklands,

Of North Patagonia, near the mouth
of Rio Negro,

At confluence of Rivers
Limay and Neuquen

– in the rainy zone as high as man –

By Hatcher at Coy Inlet,
Nov. 18th
year not noted.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

nice going, august

I love the rain.
I hear someone speaking in Spanish.
Now they are laughing in Spanish.
Another woman is explaining
how to write a paragraph. This is crucial,
she says. This is crucial. Someone asks
How was your summer? Like those
clear moments when glass shatters
We will never outlast them.


Traditional, Jon Cone. Arrangement, Mary Ruefle.

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beauty? language? threshold?

This stuttering sky strung this day and hour
under which the world conducts itself, oblivion
to its what? Could you describe it? Would
that be meaning added to the world as is?
The iron gate at the park entrance sort of floats.
What color is it? What atomic weight? Where
the brave horses heroically still on hind legs?

Here the noisy avenue is muffled, a surf heard
in semi-swoon. What else? Maybe an idler
left behind catches a cyclist who seems a flash
of bloodied form hurtling through greenish cloud
set down beside the pond with its ordinary frogs.
So much is simple drift. The stone benches
for example are wonderful. But let’s be honest,
impossible to sleep on. Questions appall me.