Sunday, January 31, 2010


Outside is the grim thistle. Through streaked-fly window the dull bisected horizon. A blue foil with cloud-like melt. That remains till dark and then falls away from me. I see the stars on nights when it is clear. I see the moon. There are nights when I think the moon is close enough for me to reach out and touch. I could stroke her cheek. In my eyes the moon is a woman. And she smiles. I would like to think her smile is directed at me, but I don’t know.
Now it is dawn. I stew low in the kitchen. It is a sparse affair, a table, a single chair, a cupboard inside of which are the following items: one bowl, one plate, one cup. What did I say? Simplicity is fierce like a potato. I am unworried by this isolation in which I live precisely because it is so simple, and in that lies my sense of a being who is supremely secure. In his own protected world. The water has boiled so I pour it into the French press. And that is how my day begins. With the simplicity of a pot of coffee. Is it simple? Well. The smell is one thing that you would notice. That earthenware aroma of bean treated by flame. How could one not like coffee. I suppose some don’t but I don’t know if I could like anyone who doesn’t also enjoy coffee. One moves in lesser realms.
My days are unlikely. They strike me as days drawn from another century. I hardly strike myself as modern in any way. My temperament is slow-moving and inclined toward what is wet and gloom-filled. Those things make me happy or happier. I think at times that I am not entitled to one moment of happiness, and this does not bother me in the least. I move. I rise. I get up. I brush my teeth. I come out of the bathroom into the kitchen to make coffee and this is how my day begins. I apologize if this strikes you as dull. Because it is. This is what being human means to me, because this is how I live my life, like a hog opened above a drain.
The phone rings.
Not today.
Why are you calling me?
I didn’t say anything of the sort.
You’re a liar!
This conversation. Kaput!
I put the phone down. I hate talking on the phone. I hate the intrusion it works into my day. For in spite of what you might think I’m a busy man. I work hard at my job. And I do not like to be interrupted by the distractions the day might bring. Oh we go toward the day.
I go.
I trundle these here sliding stairs.
One foot preceding another. I could tell you about the climbing of stairs, how the weight shifts, how the heart floats inside the rib cage, how the teeth rattle against each other and how one’s eyeballs slosh about in the cavities that hold them. The sensation of climbing stairs is familiar to you because you are human, a monster like myself. If we share nothing else, we share a common combustible fear. When I get to the top of the stairs I will sit at my desk and open my notebook. I’ll begin.
For now, though, I climb the stairs. I notice my right hand hurts. The hand that serves me throughout the night. For that reason alone it would be my favored hand but it is also favored since it is deeply scored like the field-stones leading to the water pump hidden by an overgrowth of wild forsythia and where another new growth, something vine-like and thorny, seems to have established itself. This scoring is quite beautiful. I don’t mean to brag. But it seems so to me. As for the new growth, I noted it in my notebook only yesterday. Using pencil. Held by my right hand.
Small details reveal much about the person who remarks upon them. A pencil, for example, that is specified in a certain way, for example. A subtle unveiling. You have learned a little about me. And I might not have even the slightest clue. In fact I know I don’t. You should feel proud of yourself, for your alertness. Your eyes are working fine. Behind your eyes there might be secret plans for riots. And devotion to a merciless insurrection.
A heresy.
There being no greater heresy than love.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Workshop

This looks like a very interesting workshop. I only wish I had the time to attend.


95 Cent Skool: Summer Seminar in Social Poetics
By jms | 1/20/2010 | 1 reacties »
The 95 Cent Skool is a 6 day long experimental seminar that will be offered in Oakland, California, July 26-31, 2010. It is convened by Joshua Clover and Juliana Spahr. It will explore the possibilities of poetry writing as part of a larger social practice, at a distance from the economic and professional expectations of institutions. We believe a dozen people sitting around a table can’t ruin poetry, but that costs, professional context, mythologies of individual genius, and client/service-based models can — and in our own experiences teaching in pay-to-play writing programs, often do.

Our concerns in these six days begin with the assumption that poetry has a role to play in the larger political and intellectual sphere of contemporary culture, and that any poetry which subtracts itself from such engagements is no longer of interest. “Social poetics” is not a settled category, and does not necessarily refer to poetry espousing a social vision. It simply assumes that the basis of poetry is not personal expression or the truth of any given individual, but shared social struggle.

The 6 days will feature:
• Morning discussion groups lead by Juliana and Joshua
• Two guest speakers: one on the political economy and one on ecology
• Afternoon group and/or collaborative writing sessions
• Dinners and drinks at a nearby bar

The 6 days will not feature:
• Workshops led by a “master poet”
• Agents or editors who will advise your work into publication
• A Richard Wilbur Celebration Night
• Instruction in reciting poetry to bring out the emotional content of the poem

The final program will be available later in the Spring.

Each participant will be asked to contribute up to 1% of annual gross income as their 95 cents exclusively towards operating expenses. The workshop leaders and as many other organizers as possible will donate their time. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Email us if you’ve got questions about how much you can pay. We will also help in finding free housing for any participants in need.

The program is open to any interested participant with any level of prior engagement with poetry. This program is not affiliated with any institution of higher education and no transferrable institutional credit will be offered. There is no application fee, but space is limited. Please send a note indicating interest and experience to

Please feel encouraged to re/post this listing to your blog or otherwise redistribute. If you would like to receive further information about the 95 Cent Skool, please email, or join the 95 Cent Skool facebook group:
The 95 Cent Skool will happen with the support of Small Press Traffic and 'A 'A Arts.

Thank you very much,

the 95¢ Skoolers —


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Window: a play for puppets in three acts


A man. A woman. Perhaps lovers.
Somewhere sometime.
Low music, intermittently.


In a dream I saw a woman swallow a python made of agate!


When I was born my brother ran into the room and screamed, ‘Get that thing out of the house!’


Why do you insist on the lung’s cloudburst?


That was nothing. Seven hammers and two butcher’s aprons, and three blind mice.


Price of an orange.


What did you –









I don’t –


Price of an –


Illness? A desperate longing?


[Slowly, with contempt.] Price of an orange. You dumb fuck!
It isn’t the fact, you being mean and everything. But you just couldn’t do it.


They didn’t have to burn them. They didn’t need to press them with stones.


Perfection is a form of terror. Who spews such nonsense?


Fight me if you want to. But it won’t do any good,
I still walk beyond certain fences. I’m protected
like a seashore, a porkpie hat.


And women accused of witchcraft.


Plurality is sweet in the singular form.



Who the fuck cares, who the fuck?


Let me sour a beer in a familiar dive. Smoke
like a red-winged blackbird.


Sack it, sister! Clock out!


No star is as bright as a cat entering a room.


Style doesn’t subvert class consciousness.


But those in power know only their own corruption.


I would love even in the harrow, under stone,
sky, tempest, tyrant. I would love, Jimmy.
I would, too.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Here is a wonderful poem from Remainland by Aase Berg, translated by Johannes Goransson, (Action Books, 2005):


Hare-spring conduit
hare track
rabies is freedom
in the Year of the Hare

Here in the blackfathermilk
of loneliness
from the man of the woods
with hare

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Criticism works away at what one knows; if it is to have any value whatsoever, an erosion of faith must be the inevitable result.

Man is nothing around which he practices a precarious posture before an abyss that is his immaterial birth.

Coffee is the philosopher's sacred mud. It sustains him in his state of agitated repose.

I would choose Blake over Shakespeare because his innocence is greater, though it is Shakespeare who exhibits more violent charm.

Poetry consumes various insults in order to produce one singular shame.

The writer needs at least three cats who will torment him with their greed, beauty, and magnificent indifference to Art.

The writer is first and foremost a reader.

Page after page of scrawl: the miseries of an ecstatic failure.

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A translation
by Philippe Bille
of my poem
In Praise Of Zen Being