Thursday, July 22, 2004

how you see what you see

well, it doesn't take long:

Patrick screamed "like a young girl on a roller coaster"; and though he may have done just that, what an utterly shitty simile. In fact, now that I think of it, most smilies bomb in prose--almost always in verse.

Down with smilies!

Over at Language Hat, not too long ago, a great dialogue about commas. I have been toying with commas--using them or prohibiting use--and have decided that so much is at stake with the comma. I am apt to run subordinate clauses and lists of adjectives (in particular) together without "proper" commas. But simple lists, simply coordinated, for whatever reason, really do benefit from conventional comma placement, especially the penultimate comma.

Take my title for this post: a comma as cesura there between "see" and "what" would absolutely change everything. And too many writers don't recognize the opportunity for change, whether for aperture or closure...

In the works

Below is a new thing I've been working on; I mean, it is as fresh as it gets from me. I am writing a series of stories--book, maybe--based on my experiences as a dj, music troll, and writer in the Denver scene. Not about being those things, which is a pretention I won't engage. Just being in certain situations allows certain insights when taken out of context that offer undefined povs. Good for readers. Denver is a strange town squeezed between coastal prejudices and always in the shadows of Naropa, which either produces moments of unique brilliance or cultivates epochs of herd mentality--that Naropa-style, properly maligned, in my opinion. At any rate, the stories aren't really what you would want to call memoir--the experience is memoir, the events are revised at whim. Any comments or ideas are, as always, welcome. It feels good not to be too obsessed with poetry at the moment; especially, since my dissertation will be a novel, not a book of verse: and not this one. If anything, I hope you are entertained while's as rough as it gets, I mark "holes" with #s, I feel like I am confessing by putting unrevise work up, feels good.

Moving to, Moving from

Of Tulsa I remember most about the house June bugs clapping against our small front porch, our cat Stubs snapping them into his greedy mouth, and the Arkansas River lapping at our door during an unforeseen high tide. I remember, too, the apartments before the house and a smiley-face yellow plate with mac and cheese one night, carrots or peas the next. I remember our pets: strays. Five years ago I would have told you I remember my first kiss, getting hit in the mouth with a baseball, a broken arm, and tornadoes. Ten years ago, suspension chemical imbalances rebellion swimming pools. I recall not memory but conjunctions—movements and homes from Connecticut southwest to Oklahoma without apparent strategy yet simultaneous, similar, and concurring threads all wrapped up struggling to get me to where I am now and keep me put. Conjunctions because copulative—a large family, ritual, religion, late-emerging masculinity, girlfriend after girlfriend, submarine to first house. None of it my own. All of it shared.

The last joint was a two-story early forties get-up with wild front and back yards mowed twice monthly. I miss it. The red-bricked, urban home, like all the other homes, faced the city street front porch first, two peeling white columns, and thick-wood, front door window right. My study sat squarely above the four rooms below. It was my favorite room, the only reason for renting the dump. I set up the desk, small couch and library to best view the backyard through the porch door. After working all night, I often sat on the porch watching the morning rise through an old oak. I fell asleep in the pink and orange fractured sun.
I took a smaller room for my bed; I spent little time there as it was. A living room, dining room, kitchen, and pantry leading out into the back, an alley and the north neighborhoods beyond all squeezed into that house together meaningless now not layers but facts. The study, a party, the back porch, the sun, the poems, and quiet nights lit with cheap money luck candles all intersecting now pointing “there” and saying “at that time” and nothing else.

Floods for my brother and rain for my mother and parties for my friends. Meteorological fascinations in verse that covered for fear that each bolt of lightning once sang to me now hunted me. The roof wasn’t strong enough and my head too bald. I chopped-up favorite poets into Frank O’Creeley & Howe, Inc. The readings were fantastic all-nighters that grew into theme parties. The house was too much for me; so, I shared it with friends.

I hate being alone.

During the first party my closest friend was arrested for refusing to let the police into my backyard. Patrick, in cut-off shorts and vintage Hawaiian shirt, was drinking from a vintage tiki zombie mug. “You can’t just come back here officer. You can’t just—wha?—no, I will not unlock the gate. You have to ask.”

Patrick in his adamant pose wearing his old-school Vans drinking colada in the hood informing cops about his rights and taking deliberately slow sips from his vintage tiki zombie mug.

He’d talk about the cup that way and introduce it to the guests. “This? This is my vintage tiki zombie mug.” They would ask him about it.

I put them up to it, of course. “Ask him about his mug.”

“No, I can’t.”

“Yes, you must. It’s like show and tell for him. Ask about the mug.”

“It’s a cup?” People are so literal.

And Patrick stood out in crowds without my help not so much in response to his stature—thin and tall—his cowlicked part, nor his desire to tell stories of origin about everything from toilet tissue to mod music. He stood out because cracked double joints and squirted clear liquid from his nipples. He could talk about the birth of the light emitting diode while milking himself without blinking an eye.

“Hold my vintage tiki zombie mug; I’ve got something to show you.”

I was on my studio perch when the police knocked on the front door. Patrick yelled from the backyard, “You can’t come back here.” Rather than answer the door, I ran downstairs and through the kitchen in time to see Patrick being thrown to the ground by a cop with a mustache. Patrick’s pain always came in clich├ęs and awkward moments of self-realization. I watched his eyes follow the mug as it fell almost slowly shattering on the back patio. That moment with the vintage tiki zombie mug will remain with me longer than Patrick. His eyes following the mug. The mustache. The knock at the door.

Patrick screamed like a young girl on a roller coaster.

I spent thirty minutes talking to the police about “my housewarming party,” “my college friends,” “the easy going crowd,” “my friend’s over-zealous-albeit-drunken mistake-who-would-be-watched and had learned his lesson.”

“Come on guys? Is this really necessary?” My neighbors watched from their porches.

“He was way out of line!” The mustache did not move when he talked; he had yellow teeth.

“I just moved in, you know.” I took a second to think about what might encourage the police to let my friend loose.

“He’s a fool. And look at him anyway. He has never been in jail. Don’t take him in this state.”

I pleaded. It worked.

They let him out of the car then the cuffs. “You should know better, Mr. Taak.”

“Yeah! You should know better!” Someone was yelling from the front porch.

“You better straighten your friends out.”

“Sure. Thanks.”

My neighbors heckled the police when they let my friend go. Patrick apologized between dry heaves at 4 am. A young woman, I don’t remember her name, massaged his scalp and pulled the bangs from his eyes as he heaved into my toilet.

“There, there, you dumb-dumb. There, there.” She had cornflake freckles under her small eyes.

He wanted breakfast.

I watched him get sick and ask for food and her care for him as she cursed him. Her voice and his ran together and for a moment I thought they were talking to me. I was sitting on the floor leaning against the cabinets under the sink. I am so sorry man oh I really am you dummy can’t handle it there there my broken vintage tiki zombie mug I can’t believe it there there you dumb fuck.

As Patrick fell asleep, she let his head gently slide into the bowl of the toilet.

She was something. Beautiful brown hair, shoulder-length and pulled back with yellow barrettes. She had worn a striped, yellow and alternating white striped A-line dress to the party to accommodate my yellow theme. At some point she had removed it, folded it in half lengthwise and hung it over the shower curtain. She sat in bra and underwear for a few minutes watching Patrick breathe; I sat watching her; Mike stood in the door way watching me watching her and watching her as well. Patrick’s breathing making slight hissing noises across the surface of the water in the toilet, her small chest rising and falling with each of his, my eyes unblinking on her chest, Mike breathing for me.

As if disgusted with herself, she stood up, removed her underwear, grabbed Mike’s hand, and took him to bed.

I didn’t say anything nor moved from my spot near the passed out zombie mug owner for an
######more on mike

######on drifting: birth to denver, the trains, highways, hubs

Patrick didn’t talk to me for a week.

######his silence and (s)mug hipness

######the continental divide

That was the first party—The Yellow Party. Yellow, Red, Brown—all one four months’ mess and loss of control. People brought blue objects as a sort of admission fee. They left their gifts at the door and added to the Blue Manifesto written on paper I pasted to the large foyer wall. Blue plastic wrap, blue Christmas ornaments, blue dogs, blue cats, blue cow, blue Madonna, blue vinyl pants, blue chuck taylor’s worn out, blue panties, blue socks, blue stockings, blue bras, blue water glasses, blue bottles of various shapes and sizes and levels of translucence, blue wigs, blue beetles, blue dildos, blue cakes, blue vinyl albums, and many nameless blue creations.

Parties like these have cycles. I always used the cycle to my advantage to slip away into my room or study with a few chosen guests or a flirtatious woman for hours on end. There were well-wishers, true socialites, campers, unknowns, super stars, and always the punks in attendance.

Pam was a consummate well-wisher. We knew each other for five years. She is the kind of friend who you know everything about and who knows everything about you yet acts like a complete stranger. Pam was my friend-at-a-distance. She, like all well-wishers, arrived as early as possible and sat with her friend du jour on my couch, legs crossed, top leg wildly circling.
“So, great party.” Well-wishers like Pam pretend to not know how to function socially, but really don’t know how to get beyond small talk.
“Yeah, should be a great night. I mean, I hope it is, Pam.” I was in the chair across from her staring at the ceiling.
“I am surprised you and Sandy never met.” Sandy wasn’t talking. Pam wasn’t happy.

Sandy was shy. She had her blonde hair tucked neatly under a blue farmers’ cap—the kind with the plastic adjustable band in back. The nylon netting was blue; the poly front was white. Centered on the front over a blue bill was the word M O R O N also blue in a non-seraph font.

“Moron! Drink?” Mike looked at Sandy.

“Ok.” She took a bottle from him. Mike sat down next to her purposefully close.

“She got it for tonight, Norris.” Pam referred to the hat.


“Sandy, you’re not a real moron?” I asked; she smiled. Mike got up and went out back. The screen door slammed shut.

Well-wishers are hard work. They make me nervous.

“I like your shirt Norris. I do. Pam told me you wear it all the time.”

“I clean it you know.”

“I didn’t mean—”

“I didn’t mean.”


“He’s a smartass, Sandy. A bonafide Smart Ass. That’s why we love him.”


“But he does have good taste in music.” Pam left me with Sandy; she went into the other room to dig through my records.

I sat for twenty minutes before another guest arrived. I sat and stared at Sandy. She watched me watching her; I think she mocked me.

“Ok Moron, let’s go.”


“You and me.”

#####make out memories and tie into kissing intro
person and tense
more on conjunctions theme
conversation in study about "going places"--that denver conversations all the artists have

Summer-ing & Comp-ing

I feel guilty for not continuing a few of my Dagzine projects: problems for poetics, problems with poetry market, etc. September 11, believe it or not, will be the day after I turn in my exams. I will get back into the swing of things, then, I guess. I hope you all will put up with the meager offerings until then.

I am knee-deep in comprehensive exams mess. I am leaving town for my B-Day and will be studying poolside in Las Vegas.

I thought I would share what I have read so far, since June 15:

From Nietzsche:
  • Birth of Tragedy
  • Human, all too Human
  • Daybreak
  • Thus Spake Zarathustra
  • Gay Science

From my "Novel as Document" list:
  • Chopin. The Awakening
  • Defoe. Journal of the Plague Year
  • Darnton. The Great Cat Massacre
  • Dostoyevsky. Crimes and Punishment
  • Eliot. Felix Holt, the Radical
  • Faulkner. The Sound and the Fury
  • Ginzburg. The Cheese and the Worms
  • Joyce. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • Kempe. The Book of Margery Kempe
  • Nabakov. Pale Fire
  • Saramago. History of the Seige of Lisbon
  • White. Tropics of Discourse
  • Bataille, Georges. Blue of Noon
  • Bronte. Wuthering Heights
  • Capote. In Cold Blood
Poolside, I will be reading Gertrude Stein, TS Eliot, James Weldon Johnson.
I doubt I will sleep much.
I doubt I will want much sleep.

Sunday, July 18, 2004


For the Mac users: The recent changes to Blogger work best with Mozilla browser...

Friday, July 16, 2004

the thinking man's Zuk

has received Olson and Creeley's correspondence through the mail.

when you start digging in, let me know. i would enjoy reading along with you and blogging about it all.

i haven't had a chance to do so: i bought the complete set while participating in a tutorial on Maximus Poems.

let know...we'll chew correspondence...Olson is wicked; but Creeley could dish it out, too. I know you're familiar with Olson and Dahlberg's conversations.

The Legend of Ezra Pound, American Poet

While watching Will Ferrell play Ron Burgundy this afternoon, matinee-time, I giggled at the idea of Ferrell hamming it up as Ezra Pound in a movie largely set in that hot and airy cell...and then realized what a genius move that would be. You could even take the title from The Pisan Cantos. Possibly one of Olson's poems to/for/against Pound.

It is comedy after all.

What do you think, Josh? You and me next spring write the screen play. Having tackled the Pisan Cantos and Bios for our docs, we should be able to throw it down in short order.

We could pitch it to David O. Russell (Spanking the Monkey and Three Kings,) who executive produced Anchorman. He has the eyes and ears for such things, in my opinion.

I am going for it.

July 16, 2004

today is the day that blogger made it harder to use browsers other than IE and Netscape.

another blunder from blogger...and for what? for a toolbar! PLEASE.

what really gets me is that with each change blogger makes, it is getting tougher to take advantage of all the tools from a Mac. Now, even in IE, I cannot preview posts before posting. I have to post to proof.

April 25, 1974

this year is the 30th anniversary of the carnation revolution in portugal

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

on the diatactical

...experiencing blogger probs again,
but when it all comes together,
I will address in more detail some of what is going on
with Lance Phillips, Josh Corey, Chris Lott, et al, about poetry.
Publishing any posts with HTML code won't work for me right now;
please check out their sites and the discussions by navigating from my blogroll.
I left a comment on the diatactical at Chris Lott's Cosmopoetica.


I have been listening to:

Clouddead Ten (Mush)
Kris Kristofferson Kristofferson (Monument)
Kenny G's "Anal Magic" shows WFMU
Erroll Garner Plays Misty (Mercury)
Modern Jazz Quartet Blues on Bach
Johnny Lytle The Village Caller (Riverside)
Main Hz (Beggar's Banquet)
Thrones Thrones (Kill Rock Stars)
Unicorn Unicorn (EMI) (This record was produced by David Gilmour, 1974, I think. If you like Uncle Tupelo or Son Volt and early Wilco, find this and their second lp--Unicorn 2.)
Yo la Tengo Painful
Galaxie 500...everything thanks to the box set...

Don Lonie records. This guy's chatty lps can be found in spoken word sections of well-stocked vinyl shops nationwide. His most famous is Don Lonie talks to teenagers--and boy does he talk. He has the nasal voice of fifties dad knowledge and jokes to high schoolers in auditoriums about teen angst, drinking, sex, etc. I use this in every set I play.

For Mature Adults Only. An lp that sets awful poetic tales to gospel chorus music--each track begins with a tale; for example, "Juan" about how nobody cares about "a boy with crippled legs" and ends with a rousing (not really) gospel piece.

Swingle Singers records. Very cheesey. Irresistible.

Groupies. A vital album for those who exploit the tongue-in-chic girlie humor from that oh-so-slutty-but-intelligent-cause-I'm-street-smarter-than-all-those-guys-and-a-feminist-too attitude. Groupies tell their sordid tales and philosophize about British cock, STDs, drugs, and the groupie biz. Supposedly says something about "that" culture. Laughable, naive and truly sexist on its own because someone took this interview seriously as a critique but to be sold as an oddity and the women interviewed were either too high or self-involved to give a damn. Wonderful in any mix with Riot Grrrl rock--i.e. mix this in with Le Tigre's "John Cassavetes"--a constant, rhythmic repetition of "I use drugs." I call it "the mirror in the groove."

Something Special from Jeff. My mom found this at a thrift store. A rarity worth having for the polyester-suit Sear's studio photo on the front jacket. A grotesquely crippled man with a hook for a hand sings songs for the lord in true country-crooner style. Straight out of the Marty Robbins or George Jones style-book. The only song worth playing more than once: "He is more than just a swear word": He is more than just a swear word/ A more than I don't care word.

Ok, back to comps reading.

Bastille Day!

Richard Virenque won the stage for the Tour de France today...a french day all around.

And tonight lots of french red...notes to come

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Long Tall Sallies

Jordan's list of words he doesn't want to see in a poem.

I would add "rebuke"

Two machines recognized

This poem is a machine
takes images
from grand things
some things
outdoors from the foothills
Evergreen or Genessee.
It builds seeing
the image, its sighting, and recollection
into metaphor
some thing, naturally,
we cannot see
a frenzied image
stretches lines across
any number of returns

long enough to undercut
original images
in all seriousness
what seemed big looks smaller
the rhizomal network of Aspen
the Eastern slope made simple
this machine produces fires
lit from abandoned loose-leaf
love letters, the engineered
mountain suburb,
protestants redacting anything resembling
wild growth

This machine is
a broken anamorphosis.

The next machine is
a car, two thugs, and a briefcase
a noir cliche
verbal bombast
a none too-subtle yellow light shines
whenever it is opened
provokes dumb awe
philosophy has a similar machine
called a spectacle.

Wrongly Versed

Wrongly Versed or He doesn't want to play, he wants to be right

I am saying this wrong right now
because I am not saying it the way
you are hearing me say it right now.
I am still saying this wrong right now

because I insist I am not saying it the way
you are hearing me say it right now.
I will always be saying this wrong right now
because I insist I am not saying it the way

you are hearing me say it right now.
We want to participate in something
bigger than ourselves and anything bigger
than you or me is always silently unstressed.

Going about undoing your rules for my voice;
going about undoing my pining for yours:
Verse is a turning only if it turns as it might not as it will;
otherwise, it is simply nothing more than rhetoric.

In Cor Rect Ness

stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress
stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress
stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress
stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress

stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress
stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress
stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress
stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress

stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress
stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress
stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress
stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress

stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress
stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress stress stress, stress

A Cor Rect Ness

da da da
da da da
da da da
da da da
da da da
da da da
da da da
da da da
da da da
da da da
da da da
da da da

da da da
da da da


Ammendments are landmarks, cover,


Say, hey, we did this because we could--
      either a cut or an addition.

In Tulsa, 11939 East 17th St,
      a garage becomes a living room.

In New York, 181st & Broadway, or so
      Hudson Heights becomes, broker-created.

Both measure a pyschological distance:
      either a growing, shut grin or a shrinking, empty lot.

Ammendments add value to nothing.
      A tall oak bends in the doubled path of a waxing then waning arc,
      the measured weight from head to toe, of a child rope-swung:
      it remains green, brown, bark, still, one tall, oak tree.

Either the tree is there or it isn't; nevertheless,
analysands must pay for the lesson learned.

Sometimes, for no reason, my vision folds
inward--an envelope lip-folded over a secret letter
to one secret love from which many loves followed,
names I never bothered to learn, civics lessons,
cars slam into guard rails without moving, cups
fall from shelves without breaking, people slowly spit
on the back of my neck but are only breathing blocks behind:

the whole world catches up to me in one blink,
shatters and folds itself into predisposed seconds
of discovering unnames, unsaids, unowned shells
cracked, crumbled, assumed, measured,
unrolled.      I was a fan of shag carpet.

My parents threw a lot away.
We had a few dogs, puked a few times:
acid not bleach. I still stand in a utility closet.
Did I know then that the black and brown cords,
plug ends, broken cassette players, fabric
speakers, the knotted-wire mess untangles
to here, unravels into an always half-smirk,
double-lipped with alternating current, all
copper mouthed drooling.

We enjoyed digging into Oklahoma clay.
Orange, wet, compact:
      either a buried sunrise or submerged sunset.

I only just remembered a neighbor's parent's smile.
Now, a 23 year smirk; he offered it to Jeff
Whitewater, my Cherokee friend. The other half
of that cord used to punish was held by a woman
who liked to say she loved us afterwards.

Monday, July 12, 2004

The Open Road

Signs illustrate the attempt to naturalize the violence against immigrants.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

from The Oklahoma Stories

One way I get to telling.

On hot days, I lie on concrete at the side of the pool and let the sun shrink my skin while I breathe in and out real deep. I get heavy quick. When no one is looking and it’s something all of a sudden, I roll into the water and make my way to the bottom near the drain. I swim slow circles around the black hole and wait. The water, sounds, all the blue, the colorless chemicals, and my thoughts, too, leave--all of it drains.

When I see stars and turn inside out, I kick to the surface to flirt with a girl, splash her, and talk a mile a minute about some thought or truth I have discovered down below. I get lost in the telling, and they bail me out with questions that lead to answers they always already have.

book rieview

Richard Greenfield's A Carnage in the Lovetrees (which I always want to call A Carnage at the Greenfield's for some reason, help me with this Richard...) reviewed at Verse.

Philosophy of Fiction

Fiction is a renewable new—an actual rerun.

Fiction is neither real nor fantasy but surreal and traditional. Fiction is at once overwhelming and underwhelming; it is in opposition with itself.

Fiction is a place you can return to. Fiction always feels like the first time.

Fiction is schizophrenic, repetitive, schizophrenic repetitive, ticked off and compulsive.

Fiction is not so much a nominalization as it is a thing. It never was a verb. Fiction is not an act nor is it acting. Fiction cries, “Action!” (not “Cut!” and definitely not “Print!”) It directs. It plots. It plays games and changes the rules mid-game.

Fiction is a bad cheat with a bad temper. It has no poker face.

Fiction is not new wave, no wave, synth-pop, country, r&b. It has no flava.

Fiction is a punk who loves jazz. A quagmire; a total wreck. Like Mingus wielding his rifle in a run-down loft the night before he is evicted, fiction creates theories of conspiracy in front of documentary cameras. Only, the conspiracies come true.

Fiction is a self-wish-fulfill-er.

Fiction lumbers, doesn’t dance.

Fiction is genius—the genius of “the place.” It refuses to wear a guise other than itself. Fiction is here and elsewhere.

Folks know fiction when they see it but leave it well enough alone. Fiction is a hearty “So’s your old man!” An “I can do it, too.”—better than you, better next time.

Fiction always works on itself. Always revises.

Fiction does not fast: is not sober: reads anything: does not limit itself to one “look.” Fiction looks and is never bored at what it reads.

Fiction has body image issues. Fiction does not like what it sees in the mirror: is guilty, self-indulgent: gorges, often, on the details of everyday life only to purge itself of the minutia in overlong sentences that tickle and tease their way forth in awful impatient heaves leaving gaze, reflection, and criticism-before-the-fact on the floor.

Fiction is a long time coming.

Fiction is moody.

But Fiction swings. Both ways. No shit.
looks like I can post again...did anyone else experience troubles getting blogs from blogger to open during the last week?

oh well...all's well.

Friday, July 02, 2004

I am experience a lot of trouble opening any Blogger pages right now. Takes three or four reloads to get anything--even to open my own blog. So, I am going to resist frustration and anger and simply read.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

My earlier comments on the Civil Disobediences anthology are meant to be my opening notes for a review I am going to write for a quarterly when I finish the book. I have read enough to make the comments I did; in no way should they represent the book itself as much as my views about the idea for a "poetics of engagement."

I let folks know when the full review is published.