April 30, 2007

Yellow Bastard Between Teal Lines

Can any body out there ever
really hear me, not like the cat
hears me with eyes I
know are not about me?

I have a new friend who knows it all,
A lover I once had lots of sex with

(oh, how even here, when
I’m trying to be the one to listen to myself
I craft - can’t stand long with that preposition
I ended with will also end with
purposefully here to end with)

A shaman woman
woe’s man who helps freely then
shatters like a bubble
pricked by turnabout

(this uncertainty principle is impossible)

Cast your fate to the wind not
to friends the ones who poker and chess
One can josh but will only be serious about business

(“never do business with friends”)

The other, after games, prefers only reality T.V.
Another woman friend either hides from the world
or is too much in it, how like my friend who
having found enlightenment,
isolates in the desert but only because it’s cheaper there.

A new friend who loves the arts
totally active full of bright intensity
will not abide my shadow.

Then there are the poets
their community of terminal self-absorption:
Who broods over the poets but the poets?
Speaking for myself
what I seek from poets
my self

Am I the first poet to find Narcissus
winking back from the pg.,
yellow bastard between teal lines?

(yellow negative space – some use white-lined notebooks
I use yellow legal pads)

Better to stop this scribbling
Stare into the yellow void
Seek your most intimate

—Ed Coletti

Posted by dwaber at 01:00 PM

April 29, 2007

What Michael Richards Couldn’t Know About Poets Either

Poets are ferocious
dogs holding themselves
on short leashes
skinny kids on beaches
big animals within
kicking sand in their own faces
burying the poet’s head.

(makes me wonder about poets
who write sweetly of red roses)

When that insecure cougar
springs out from my rib cage
I too am freed to suffer
my singular oppression.

—Ed Coletti

Posted by dwaber at 12:59 PM

April 28, 2007


—Ed Coletti
previously published in Kickass Review – Vol. VI, no. 6 - 2006

Posted by dwaber at 12:57 PM

April 27, 2007

The Notion of Wings

It’s the notion of
wings, that’s what it is
More like flight the concept
or flying, a verb
Have you ever flown a verb?
Poets and lovers fly verbs all the time.
It’s the exhilaration, that’s what it is
straddling the latest verb soaring
bareback rider rodeoing space
landing with a thud, hard realization
rodeoing now requires redoing.
Shake off the stardust, mount up anew.
It’s the notion of wings and flying the verbs
That’s what it is.

—Ed Coletti

Posted by dwaber at 12:53 PM

April 26, 2007


Words like smoke
like mist
like smoke


Perhaps each

—Richard Denner

Posted by dwaber at 12:51 PM

April 25, 2007


Words are familiar.
Only their positions are uncertain.
A pink diver circles Squaretop.
A dark hood caps Little Brother.

A chorus line of kachinas high step.
A bony dakini drinks from a skull cup.
Soft words become hard.
Quiet words become loud.

—Richard Denner

Posted by dwaber at 12:50 PM

April 24, 2007


I write, then I type.
I retrieve, I retype.
I cut and paste images of real objects.

A process of recovery and discovery,
a contemplation of silence
in this maelstrom of violence.

—Richard Denner

Posted by dwaber at 12:49 PM

April 23, 2007


Don't look at this poem.
You are staring.
I stare back.
Your eyes are clamped here.
It is damp here, but my throat is dry.

This poem is a shamble down an alley of broken glass,
relief from rowdy talk in the Tav.
You are asking questions this poem cannot answer.
At best you can rest here.
I cannot answer, but I sing a ragged song.

—Richard Denner

Posted by dwaber at 12:48 PM

April 22, 2007


What is the point, Jack?
Is poetry a conversation among the dead
and the poet gets it second hand,
a vampire moon sucking off the sun?

What is the poet, Jack?
A battered radio transmitting static between the stations
on a lonely stretch of road or a punch-drunk fighter
who's taken one too many hooks to the head?

Powerful emotions recollected?
The most exasperating art?
Potts makes an analogy with Mahamudra.
Williams hears a sort of song.
Garcia invents a ragged song,
and Yeats sees tattered clothes upon a stick.

Poetry is experience.
I awake to morning light,
thoughts sweet as honey buzzing in my brain.
Swatting them I get stung by real bees in a dream garden.

—Richard Denner

Posted by dwaber at 12:46 PM

April 21, 2007


any phenomenon,
i.e., any situation
available to [an]
awareness, can
be considered as
an ‘art object’.


—John Byrum


Posted by dwaber at 12:34 PM

April 20, 2007


If poems can't slug it out
with kids and mayhem and shopping life
overdrafts and broken cars and jobs
they're not worth shit: of course
sometimes it's necessary to be sleepy
and on that day a sleepy poem is the true poem
Sometimes one is filled with questionings:
            The Grand Canal
            Endless Life
            Difficulties and Exultations
            The Wasted Land
            The Piano
            Paradise Regained
but these are only the answers
and they're not of much use
It's the spaces between the blocks of words
we love and inhabit
The anticipation of what's coming next
neither empty nor silent
Your expectations seem to be eternally denied
You think that's bad
but it's not bad
though we're given to understand it's necessary

—Martin Stannard
First published as part of the sequence "Arising" in "Writing Down The
Days — New & Selected Poems" (Stride, 2001 — www.stridebooks.co.uk)

Posted by dwaber at 12:20 PM

April 19, 2007


whale of a poet suddenly removed his eyeglasses
crooked gaze displayed all pathos of secret relish
passionate letter stripped of white handkerchief
forecast unaware of secret visits in the garden
show this letter to the proper author
I have ventured a scheme to lock me into my room
what instinct betrays vast error
illustrious fool filled with big picture innuendo
she didn't think there was anything funny in that book

—Audacia Dangereyes

Posted by dwaber at 12:07 PM

April 18, 2007

Good Friday Recessional

The silence.
Clinks from the chain
of the censer.
Wood groaning beneath
the weight of feet.
No song, no celebration.
Only the unspeakable speaks.
So we come to terms with
what we are without
our word, our art.

—Gale Swiontkowski

Posted by dwaber at 12:02 PM

April 17, 2007

Darwin’s Cathedral

I have never understood
how foot soldiers at
Gettysburg, or in Flanders
or Attica, could trample
crops in a field, uproot
another man’s fences.
They, of all men, would
comprehend the labor lost.
We make the world we live in,
as birds form their nests,
termites their tunnels and hills.
Even the realm of God and sin
and goodness and song
is ours. We build like coral
on the efforts of our ancestors.
What we destroy is a breach
in the honeycomb.

—Gale Swiontkowski
(Title from the book by David Sloan Wilson, 2002)

Posted by dwaber at 11:46 AM

April 15, 2007

Fleecy Textures And Tough Underlying Structures:[i] An Art Of Poetry.





What is poetry? We surely know what we mean when we speak of poetry. We also know what is meant when we hear someone else talking about it. What then is poetry? Provided that no one asks me, I know. If I want to explain it to an inquirer, I do not.[ii]


What is poetry? What poets make. Who are poets? The people who make poetry.[iii]


What then is poetry? Poetry is that which poetries.[iv]


What is the relationship between poems and poetry? Do poems poetry?


Some do, some do not. It is a long story. This is not the place to tell that story. So I will just say yes. When I say a poem poems take that to mean something very like poetry is that which poetries.


But but but I hear you say. Tell me how.


Luckily for you, some hints can be provided, such as: one word (e.g. pcoet[v] or grahoor[vi] or à-Dieu[vii] or love) then another if one is not enough (though there will be cases when even one word is too many). Go on until you are done. Then stop.


Here is another: if someone is chasing you down the street with a knife just run.[viii]


What else do you need to know?


But but but.


OK. “Lookee here,” as Buddy Guy says.[ix]


Among the many ways of poeming one is to poem amid the democracy of all being, looking directly and with great pleasure at this very moment’s bright-leaping essence.[x]


It helps if you commune with the powers of the universe – beyond the grave – through sinewy imagination, and energetically-charged language.[xi]


This may fire you along a comet’s path of spiritual discontent,[xii] but that is a chance you will have to take in order to poem with great dexterity and the perfect pitch of a machine urban dialect, to take (to be?) the measure of our cacophony in the darkness.[xiii]


However dark it gets, do not forget open-winged exaltation.[xiv] Or light-as-air wonderment. Do not forget to get some of that into your densely detailed, thickly textured, richly imaged stanzas.[xv]


If you feel no pull to poem amid the democracy of all being in open-winged exaltation, but prefer to tread the via negativa[xvi] through a dawn field in Provence on the path to the Absolute, you might want to try to pluck a music beyond hearing from the strands of a fallen world,[xvii] a kind of “aboutless” music, a beautiful sunset melody on the edge of silence.[xviii]


Dig deep into the interplay of ecstasy and lacunae,[xix] then burst out of the Big House in an explosive linguistic gunfight, and speed north on a getaway signifier.[xx]


And do not forget to leave as many signifieds as possible at home.


Or you might want to try a little gushing-forth of love affairs and chemical addictions.[xxi] Or to be absolutely truthful and an obsessed romantic at the same time.[xxii] Or to be an unironic, unsentimental optimist[xxiii] celebrating pleasure for its own sunlit sake.[xxiv] Not easy but you can do it if you want to. I have seen it done.


Good morning E--


I would wish you a happy new year (and I do) but I am having trouble interpreting this morning’s post, and am not sure that wishing you something so seemingly trivial as “happiness” is exactly in order, as you seem to be shooting for something bigger (I know you have warned me repeatedly not to confuse your persona w/your real self – whatever real self means – but ...).


I have two questions:


FIRST. You write:


“But what has all this taught me? That I have mastered absolutely nothing.


Nothing. Like, I actually once believed, The day I cease burning, I cease poetry.


Oh, Bite me, Tongue.


I have learned nothing and must start all over again.”


What’s wrong with that? Serious question.


My own answer is you’ve learned an awful lot. To KNOW you have mastered nothing is the beginning of wisdom, isn’t it? (not to go all Ecclesiastes or Buddhist “only don't know” (as a command) on you). Isn’t that poetry’s greatest lesson? Absolute beginning, every time? In fear and trembling (and burning)? To know you’re nowhere, nothing, not even on the first rung of the ladder, to not even know if there IS a ladder, isn’t that what the muse wants, no DEMANDS, from us?


Full disclosure: when I first set out on the path of poetry, I wanted to learn how to write a poem. I didn’t know what it was I was wanting, in a way. But I knew I wanted to make at least one REAL poem before I died. What I didn’t know was: there is and there isn’t at the very same time any such thing as a REAL poem. There is NO solid ground under a poet’s feet. So: I’m just where I was when I set out, wanting to learn how to write a poem. Now I can add, whatever that means.


So I may be reading you through my own glass darkly. But whether I am or not, (and if I am, it’s with all the compassion I’m capable of) I’ll ask you again:


“I have learned nothing and must start all over again.”


Again: What's. Wrong. With. That? Isn’t that GLORY?


SECOND. You write:


“.....where the shadows against stone shall peel themselves away from the walls so that her eyes, too, shall become stone. Stone seeing stone. Stone be-ing stone. One is World. Which is to say, the poet becomes Pure....


.....absent such purity for failure is inherent,”


What does purity have to do with poetry, besides the fact purity sounds like poetry? (Maybe if one’s from Boston or thereabouts the two words are indistinguishable ...) I think poetry is a (pun intended) purely HUMAN endeavor. Humans have NOTHING to do with purity. Or, better maybe, being human has nothing to do with being pure. Except in the sense we’re purely human.


You also write:


“This is the year I shall rip away your Veil.


Rip it. Tear it into pieces I shall swallow and expel as luminous shit.


Poetry -- I shall give you exactly what you have given me. I shall


Damn You.”


Sounds to me you’re simply (?!?!?!?!) burning hotter than ever. My bet’s you will have a great (and painful) 07, as you will force a breakthrough into life/art realms yet undreamt of. And my bet is you’ll have poetry with you, every step of the way. Even if not one word gets written down.


What else are these rages except those of an absolute beginner? An absolutely passionate beginner? A devotee, a Mirabai?






Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must poem.[xxv]


If you are called to turn usual simplifying “time” into visionary space, bounded by endless insistent ocean,[xxvi] do not hesitate. Go for it.


If you are called to inhabit the grief-engorged plateau that lies between imagination and the already known,[xxvii] go for it.


It you are called to meditate on loss, presence, and the persistence of language to redeem what has vanished, if you want to redeem loss by folding it over into a capacious, labyrinthine process of response that turns the never-ending occasion of depletion into a recurring event of plenitude,[xxviii] go for it.


If you are called to be a surrealist of the sacred, whose poems are shimmering cornucopias of xylophones, gazelles, minarets and herons, spilling forth their abundance, the seen and the Unseen, suffused with spiritual awe and love of God,[xxix] an old wisdom tradition come up off the streets,[xxx] go for it.


If you are called upon to demolish inscribed cultural myths and to reawaken language to its larger consequences, if you are called on to ask whether we are to be plural and particular, or whether we are to sit in rows taking dictation,[xxxi] go for it.


If you are called to make exuberant excursions into the hyperreality of the cosmos, where William Blake merges with Sun Ra in the ecstatic flicker of evanescent transience, and blaze with an holographic imaginary that is our only defense against the Dark[xxxii] and to be “splendiferous” in your “blind electrical surges”,[xxxiii] go for it.


If you are called upon to levitate into a trance, into el momento, to create nuestra poesia,[xxxiv] go for it.


Get ready think differently.[xxxv]


Wield your poetry like a flint, striking sparks, cutting to the bone.[xxxvi] Touch the heart, not lightly, with a ping of pain, yet without wounding.[xxxvii]


Diary your dildo desire.[xxxviii]


With rare and perhaps dangerous words, lead us further and further into the enchanted forest.[xxxix] Revel in plainspokenness, in the polysyllable, in the linguistically convoluted, in plainspokenness.[xl]


Valorize “Old Growth” with an ear tuned to the music of time, an eye keen to see the traces of the past in the present, and a true traveler’s curiosity and empathy.[xli]


Query and glimmer and refract light in some miraculous way.[xlii]


Set your hair on fire.[xliii]


Let song sing itself[xliv] if it wants to. If it doesn’t want to, don’t make it. Whatever. It’s OK.


Whoop the wild silent whoop of intuition leaping the synaptic canyon that separates the rational and familiar from the wild and exquisite.[xlv]


Endure the vicissitudes of politics and fate.[xlvi] Sunlight falls on the odors of salt, horses, braided hair, and olive.[xlvii] Endure exile and belonging. Be utterly necessary.[xlviii] Like a palm tree.[xlix] Like a persimmon, the deep orange fruit arriving late in the year.[l]


Be utterly unnecessary. Be / Free, a genius, an embarrassment / Like the Indian, the buffalo / Like Yellowstone National Park.[li]




If you are a lyric poet, take it personally. If, outside, every signpost says “love”, make a coat of language and choose west. Lo! Madrigals drift from a yellow cab on the Lower East Side.[liii]


Save your work for 9 seconds.[liv] Then email it off to friends and enemies. Post it to your website.


2. i. m. LC, 7 January 2007 – 7 January 2007 (written 8 January, 3:19 – 8:48 a.m.)



And Abel’s

Baby died. Say



Write it

Down. Revise. Revise.



Still wrong.

It’ll always be



What else

Could it be?


6 – 10 January 2007


—John Bloomberg Rissman


[i] David Miller on Christopher Gutkind’s Inside to Outside; blurb sent me by Beth Sibley, to whom this ars poetica is dedicated.

[ii] After Augustine, Confessions.

[iii] Dictionary.

[iv] à la Heidegger, for whom a thing things, nothing nothings, the world worlds, etc.

[v] David Melnick, PCOET.

[vi] Michael McClure, Ghost Tantras.

[vii] Jacques Derrida, Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas.

[viii] Frank O’Hara, “Personism”.

[ix] Patrick Pritchett on Anselm Hollo’s Braided River.

[x] Jane Hirshfield on Ko Un’s Flowers of a Moment.

[xi] Anne Waldman on Alice Notley’s Grave of Light.

[xii] Publisher’s Weekly on Alice Notley’s Alma, or The Dead Women.

[xiii] Mark Irwin on Alice Notley’s Alma, or The Dead Women.

[xiv] Donna Seaman on Patiann Rogers’ Firekeeper.

[xv] Albert Goldbarth on Patiann Rogers’ Firekeeper.

[xvi] Michael Palmer on Gustaf Sobin’s The Places as Preludes.

[xvii] Andrew Joron on Gustaf Sobin’s The Places as Preludes.

[xviii] Robert Baker on Gustaf Sobin’s The Places as Preludes.

[xix] Frederick Garber on Steve McCaffery’s Seven Pages Missing, vol. 1.

[xx] Sianne Ngai on Steve McCaffery’s Seven Pages Missing, vol. 2.

[xxi] Liz Rosenberg on James Schuyler’s Collected Poems.

[xxii] Howard Moss on James Schuyler’s Collected Poems.

[xxiii] Ken Tucker on Kenneth Koch’s The Collected Poems (which should be titled The Collected Shorter Poems, but don’t get me started...)

[xxiv] Thomas M. Disch on Kenneth Koch’s The Collected Poems.

[xxv] Cf. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

[xxvi] Robert Creeley on Eleni Sikelianos’ The California Poem.

[xxvii] Fanny Howe on Eleni Sikelianos’ The California Poem.

[xxviii] Patrick Pritchett on Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s Drafts (39-57, etc.)

[xxix] Carolyn Forché on Daniel Moore’s The Blind Beekeeper.

[xxx] Coleman Barks on Daniel Moore’s The Blind Beekeeper.

[xxxi] Michael Palmer on Bob Perelman’s Ten to One.

[xxxii] Charles Bernstein on Will Alexander’s Exobiology as Goddess.

[xxxiii] Douglas Messerli on Will Alexander’s Exobiology as Goddess.

[xxxiv] Cecilia Vicuña on Jaime Saenz’s Immanent Visitor.

[xxxv] Bernadette Mayer on Eleni Sikelianos’ The California Poem.

[xxxvi] Barbar Kingsolver on Martin Espada’s Alabanza.

[xxxvii] Howard Zinn on Martin Espada’s Alabanza.

[xxxviii] Kevin Killian on Eileen R. Tabios’s Ménage à Trois With the 21st Century.

[xxxix] John Ashbery on Andrew Zawacki’s Anabranch.

[xl] John Koethe on Andrew Zawacki’s Anabranch.

[xli] Anselm Hollo on Andrew Schelling’s Old Growth.

[xlii] Fanny Howe on Rae Armantrout’s Veil.

[xliii] Cf. “Anna May Wong” on Archie Rand and John Yau’s 100 More Jokes From the Book of the Dead.

[xliv] Robert Creeley on Tom Pickard’s Hole in the Wall.

[xlv] Forrest Gander on Jose Lezama Lima’s Selections.

[xlvi] Carolyn Forché on Mahmoud Darwish’s The Adam of Two Edens.

[xlvii] Michael McClure on Mahmoud Darwish’s The Adam of Two Edens.

[xlviii] Naomi Shihab Nye on Mahmoud Darwish’s The Adam of Two Edens.

[xlix] The palm tree is from a line by Darwish.

[l] Ann Y. Choi on Pak Chaesam’s Enough to Say It’s Far.

[li] Philip Whalen, “Further Notice.”

[lii] Boston Review on Nathaniel Mackey’s Splay Anthem.

[liii] Tom Raworth on Simon Pettet’s Selected Poems.

[liv] Cf. Horace, “Ars Poetica”:...let [your works] not come forth / Till the ninth ripening year mature their worth. (tr. Philip Francis)


Posted by dwaber at 02:21 PM

April 14, 2007


our place
of harp
and john player

our place dubbed
sligo’s hall
or simple hell

whose broagh forgets
new turns
the presence
a birth
before being born
or forgotten

—Lawrence Welsh

Posted by dwaber at 01:16 PM

April 13, 2007


Space defines old motels:
maybe the Jayhawker
in Kansas or hitching to Gloucester
for one last
Maximus go round


Who burns every letter
lets manuscripts go
like caged butterflies
keeps a room tight, squeaky
clean like vestiges are
no more?

They’ll have to pick through
erasers, chirp like black sparrows
see the beauty in absence
call up treats with invisible ink
dance around the table radio:

Mozart and The Supremes
Bird and a coroner’s cap


The stars hold with offshore breezes
the trinity of Olson, Duncan
and you never get left
they just search harder and farther

they just mumble and fumble
your name

—Lawrence Welsh
“Elegy for John Wieners” originally appeared in GYPSY

Posted by dwaber at 11:40 AM

April 12, 2007




of the








never needed


sand –









another’s list –



on cue


bare fangs

crave a numbness




strasse royal



standing man’s pipe




or reflected in



untimely will



—Lawrence Welsh


Posted by dwaber at 12:31 PM

April 11, 2007


for Ed Dorn

in souls
bold enough
to chance
or break down
and whisper
peace will find
its own
slip through ink
get removed
then stamped
on invisible pages

—Lawrence Welsh

Posted by dwaber at 11:24 AM

April 10, 2007

          to Al Filreis

Even John Cage worked within the limits of his name.
I am only describing something—and that never stopped
Cage from introducing himself.
You have a question for the six-year-olds;
a question for all-the-same-height third graders;
a question for the spinning middle school kids
          who also sing.
You have a follow-up question for the one-word answer:
yes, no, Whitman high school students;
and many questions for the I-like-it, I-don’t-like it
college students—the college students.
And for openers you problemitize “problemitizing”
          for the graduate students.
And you have a question for the adults
          and many more for yourself.
Or the question you asked me—to gloss
          the Wallace Stevens line:
“Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.”
And where do questions come from—
          and where do they go?
“Nothing + Nothing = Something, that is ‘Nothing,’
which is really Something,” I said not knowing
where that came from. But is it all about the questions?
It’s the amplitude you feel, hear, see, and
for the moment—and longer (we hope)—we feel,
          hear, and see too.
I am describing you at our limits, that is, our best
          failed distinctions.
As there are suppers and there are suppers:
a butterflied fillet of sole resting on its crunchy skin.
And it’s not that you grew your beard, but
you never shaved it off, and that it continues to grow.
Your beard in its place is an invisible element
of that place—made visible.
Here is a line for not talking, which isn’t silence,
(the privacy of public communion).
Here is a line for braving dark distances on foot.
Here is a line for space and classical amber bees.
And one for all the ones crossed-out.
I am only describing, as words are one way,
          and walking is another.
So cross the street and step out for a walk,
one we will never take again. I am only describing something,
the way the finest grit becomes the sand we love.
And its warm color comes from whatever light there is,
even if there isn’t much at all.
And old John Cage doesn’t go away—new John Cages
          just get added.
And where, dear John, is where?

—Thomas Devaney
First published in jubilat and from A SERIES OF SMALL BOXES (Fish Drum Press, 2007).

Posted by dwaber at 12:39 PM

April 09, 2007

Poetry is

the antidote to the poison of rationality; the best friend
entropy ever had; the botany of the impossible wedded
to the chemistry of the ineffable; the jewel in the heart
of the flotsam; the mote in the eye of the lotus; the
canary in the mind. Or else, to lift an image from one
old poet, it is “all the history of grief” consolidated into
“an empty doorway and a maple leaf.” Or perhaps it is
a vision of the harsh mugs on Mount Rushmore, aeons
hence, eroding into long, mournful portraits by the
geological equivalent of Modigliani; or that of two
crows perched on a withered limb, just across the
street from the county seat. Or maybe it is simply
the antique urgency of this mouth moving at this
moment, with all these other mouths, continuing to
shape and tune a common tongue, a common song,
leaping from the body into someone’s arms, or head,
or breakfast, leaping into the very air that mothered
it in the lungs, dancing and leaping even as we sleep,
even as we sag, bend, curdle, and vote Republican

—Mikhail Horowitz

Posted by dwaber at 01:52 PM

April 08, 2007

Look Over Me
          for Merle Haggard

I’ve got a mind to see the internal world

as those felt and faithful places

ready for the restless form towards grace

the acceptance

of the inaudible male tames the cede from stakes

assumes the cause is free

since it turns to closeness and is overcome

in the broad outshine of the small town

together as it is

as together they dance and promise

to task the boundaries

as together they sing me back home


—Jordan Stempleman

Posted by dwaber at 01:49 PM

April 07, 2007

As the Perfumist Goes on Attacking What Cannot Defend


            “So much depends on recognitions and misrecognitions—noticing, rethinking,
identification—identity and mistaken identities—pairings and partings.”


 —Tom Beckett



this growing and endless speech frees itself at next take

gathers the further step past the loss of remains

from the generous


from the awaiting when offered

never to become the native and irrational place again

but those untended places


folded to know they were here

uncertain and no longer materials out there otherwise

out looking for their own




—Jordan Stempleman

Posted by dwaber at 01:47 PM

April 06, 2007


since I don't plan to have children. I wanted people to love it
and make a fuss, and, in turn, tell me what a great job I'd done.
My book wasn't reviewed in that many places, and when it was,
one reviewer even called it sloppy. The grandparents weren't as doting
as I'd expected. They went on with their own lives
and didn't buy the book any presents. No one took a picture of me
holding the book in my lap. My husband wasn't jealous
that I was spending too much time with the book. My dog
sniffed the book and walked away, unthreatened. Other books
were getting cooed and fussed over, books cuter and more enchanting than mine.
There is no greater pain for a mother--seeing her child left out. Soon I knew
I had a book that would never accomplish much with its life,
that it wouldn't win prizes or be displayed in prestigious bookstores.
That my book would probably be a drop-out, that I'd have nothing
to brag about when my cousins showed me graduation pictures of their kids.
That my book wouldn't buy me dinner or take care of me
when I grew old. I tried not to let the book sense my disappointment.
I tried to love it for the book that it was, but it began to have the telltale signs
of depression, hanging out with the wrong crowd,
dressing like a rebel. The book reminded me of myself as a teenager,
but when I told it that it shivered in disgust, blaming me
for bringing it into this world in the first place.

—Denise Duhamel
previously published in Gargoyle magazine

Posted by dwaber at 11:43 AM

April 05, 2007


  on “Heidegger and Poetry,” for New

Jersey College English

Association Conference, Seton

     Hall University, March 18,




different philosophers, one

   pre-, one post-3rd Reich, Derrida says. Okay,



                                                         language, poetry,

                                       and sha na na,



                     are important too. Initially,

                Nazis seem to

          the left—being so

        oppositional yet

      turn so


  compete with Communists after all, and,

likewise, Martin


adapts left,

  adapts right.


      His bud of being slips through anyone’s lapel.


Let be BE the elephant in the room

                                                easily lending itself to


                                                                           it IS

                                                         the room thru

                           gently deconstructive feats

or BE the water in the air we breathe




                                                                        of IN-ITSELF

                                             like salt from water

                           and drinking

            the good clean

existence with all

         nominally frothy

         preconscious being

           on the side—

            I mean on the left,

             but, on the right, man

             criticism sure fails us, so

               we could do with a good poet like Hitler.

                Hey, for 5 secs I’m curious

                 about supply side economics, which after all play

                off a 60s “everything will

               be ok w/o the govt” ‘tude.

              Reagan never calls me, thank God.

             Point being left and right work

            on a continuum


          and Heidegger is the bridge,


        overarches. As

       traditional right and

      left fail, paths cross over them.

    Heidegger “surfs electromagnetic waves,” Marshall

   McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy says, and

  his late sixties Playboy

interview foresees one

genocide after another. He’s sorry,

he says, it’s not inevitable, he’s just calling

it as he sees it likely to happen and it did happen and is happening.

  Goodbye enlightened constitutional


       our electromagnetic body is goin’

         all tribal on us. Sounds hokey but

           a place to start. I want to thank this poem/talk for

                                        making me think of McLuhan,

                                       and is it farfetched to think

   Heidegger knows Mac’s early media work when

in some of MH’s last important work, he writes that

   technology needs to

     touch a poetry embedded

        in it—not

           that influence matters much, but

             Martin at least stylistically I

                   think influences Marshall, and


                           is a course we


                             take & teach.


             McLuhan opposes Heidegger to Cartisian rationalism.

        Hedegger fits for McLuhan because Mac

   feels the rational as ratios—pentagonal

interactive sense-goo, not hard logic or

truth as we know it, though


    Neocon “we’re cooler than truth” or

      Nazi “we are truth” frames also might—I

             mean do—reference at least one Heidegger,

                             and what am I standing on?


       I’m too New Left by

     half to

   work for Humphrey and root

for Nixon and I’m kinda right—things get

            bad & Carter’s

                                   someone way outside and

                              that last weekend I work so

                          hard I


                   him over the top

            by just a little

     in NY state,

deciding the election, but then let the nation down,

                                     and, in 1980, go 3rd party,

courting disaster, but disaster doesn’t work. It’s

                                                      boring AND
                           it sucks. There’s something

                         Nazi/Heidegger in it

in that little is leftover except maybe

        Dasein, being there. That sounds good to this

                                        New Leftist

                     but inevitably we

          don’t flourish; is

it any wonder, is

             what we need FAME (from  

         Indo-European for SPEAK)? Better



                                                       be good,

                                                 as E.T. tells

Drew Barrymore. Be light. Be “all inside”

              as J. C. Penny’s mall campaign asserts.

     Be light inside. It’s all good in so many ways, so

    fully Left—not priggish or Weatherman Left. I

mean cultural left, Sgt. Pepper left.

   Uh, er, like, er, as right wing politicians

     tweak the consensus, the Beatles

        lead audiences culturally left,

                 how Bobby Kennedy explains why he’s

so lovingly

            mobbed: “Oh, I’m the Beatles.”

              He’s willing to take his audience somewhere new,


the Beatles weren’t always in black people’s radar so

                                      say black pepper left or

                                     Bobby left,

                           which might include Bill

                          Clinton, in that Bill takes

                        a lot from Bob’s 68 speeches

                cuz the two Kennedys don’t

             trust entrenched



     so just ad hoc making things possible, providing

opportunity, the conditions of being,

dasein, always

figures in for

Bob and Bill

   so there’s at least one Heidegger in them but

         could Bob have solved anything that way?

                                                  Bobby argues that

                                               without the war

                                        they could try: where


                         I’m now: we need


         not working against us thru

voter fraud, war, governmental negligence, aggressive


           disregard, incestuous hiring, and criminal  

                                    payoffs….Now I’m crazed


                if I New Left it,

        fuzzy if I don’t.

FDR changed “progressive”

to “liberal” because

progressive’s Repub big cousin Ted’s faction

or maybe progressive just sounds too Red.

And then, McLuhan says, Franklin & Hitler need radio

  to heat their respective nation-state’s oral


       and get people into

         the program and


                   talk radio still seems to set the agenda.


Heidegger may have wanted a show. He wanted to be


Nazi philosopher king or Nazi philosopher Larry King or                    

       anyway SOMETHING. But no one ever answers    

                                                  his letters.

                    So Derrida has a point

that at that point the Nazis



              hot for Martin H. and he writes more


of philosophy as over. The way’s not through Mein Kampf—

                           the camp, the clearing

                                       is through poetry and art,

                               even marginally discredited

                            semi-modern art


                 and there’s definitely a lefty

            way to take all of H.

        Let’s beeeeeee; Babe, Heidegger’s hip, though

      temporarily in a weird cult called “the Nazis,” but

     forgive him

    that; “We on the left don’t blacklist”

famously explains

Zero Mostel as why

   it’s fine



      Jerome Robbins helps with Funny

       Thing on the Way to, since,

         as Heidegger

          says, How

           we think is more important than what. Let

            us be cool, coolly Jerome    

             Robbins West Side Story cool cool.

The left hinges on Heideggerian Dasein,

                                           but Intelligent Dasein,

                                     cuz we’re

not smooth Cartesian operators.

         Heidegger’s master

              move is to turn the primacy

                    Husserl gives the turn of

                          perception into the turn

                                 of being—where you

                                     flow more than take in—think

                             more than drink, make more than take,

                           everything thought from the ground up,

                  the less enframed and frozen and always already,

              the better, so no wonder he takes a shine to Hitler—

            Heidegger’s a weird mystic rad brother—or

           anyway family,

         and Hannah makes this point. Arendt

       feels it unfortunate

      Heidegger is

     where and when

    Nazis dupe him.

Poor baby!!!

She LOVES her mentor.

   But Heidegger really is Nazi.

          Even if his wife Elfride, who

           conceives Marty’s oldest son with another man—

          a mutual

      friend she loves—before Martin makes love with


more a good Nazi than her philosopher husband,

                    Heidegger rats out who knows how many

professors’ ethnic

and/or political orientations. You

     chalk up some stuff to

       ordinary enthusiastic Nazi service,

         but the personal


               go on till war’s end AND after it

                   you want to wring his neck

                       for sucky apologies about that

                                              whole Nazi thing.

                             Horrors? Nazis? Am I missing the


           Heidegger might

     know all about genocide from friends closer to it

but it’s a matter of proportion,

priorities, what one cherishes—

    some of my best Jewish friends are fantastic, but

what’s best big picture?


Let not a little holocaust impede our Nazi union.


   Plus I as Heidegger take credit for where

          Husserl leaves me, removing my Being and

Time dedication to

    the Jewish Husserl from its wartime edition,

          and otherwise

                   dissing the poor guy.


If language is the house of being, can it be used to build itself?


Martin puts

   his foot down. “Poetry

     is the letting go of language.” The greatest


                                                       of poetry’s

          worldly, even meta-worldly, import,

       Martin Heidegger,

says that.

Point is in some fashion the language we let go of is

                  the bureaucratic nation-state

             that loses credibility

     in Germany post-WWII

and the US post-Vietnam.

   Wired totalitarianism is one replacement,

          but what’s the other?

                It doesn’t have to be the anticipated



                                      mode. Wherever

supplely strong and gentle intuitive light

          fills reason and poetry suffuses politics,

                       Heidegger will say he’s sorry.



—Stephen Paul Miller

Posted by dwaber at 11:31 AM

April 04, 2007

Referencing Vast Leakage or temporary extrusion

Roland Barthes, interior@speech.noise

The opposition spread under the protection of power. There are
those that no conscious illusion is perpetrated. An entire orality
which produces a drift of bliss & fear. Fetish objects on the
other hand leaves expression to the pheno-text. As a creature
of language which permeates him very quietly the subject
returns were we fond of neologisms. This text bores me like a
spider dissolving. The text you write must prove the sentence is
hierarchical. Similarly, it is not only establishing the opposition of
the way two girls must be politicized. Where is this elsewhere?
Nine times out of ten societies object to undifferentiated eye &
noteworthy Desire. Do not deign to be the persistence of the
thing. Neurosis are the means of ungratiated sucking, a glimpse
of scandalous truth, still far too much heroism to identify
accurately language’s image. We are scientific clandestine sites.
This is to want a text which seizes the subject the way the
reversal of origins could not be written. And when something
remains a potlatch under respectable appearances, this is how I
have my best ideas.

The text is (should be) that uninhibited person,
non-site): anachronic subject, adrift
At least some examples?
of an epoch, of a character?
word for word?
denote a class notion?
another edge, mobile, bleak?
the institutions of text?
but the opposite?
doesn’t every narrative lead to Oedipus?
an anagram of the body?
my reader’s pleasure?
the sentence is a body?
all this verbal display?
the very materiality of that once existed?
how can we read criticism?
boredom of all narratives?

Roland Barthes, grief@ruthless.sexuality

the more ravaging term
then perhaps the subject
concerned with destruction
grasps at every point
but quickly exposes itself
we are all caught up in the truth
the leisure of bygone readings
where we can hear the grain of the throat
whenever I attempt
without ever introducing anything
the very utterance
the other reading skips nothing
psychoanalysis must be traversed
but it is doubtless
violence must be coded
if it were possible to imagine
we have either the course
outside bliss but not necessarily
deplored except
like a bird who understand nothing
only in total atopia


Posted by dwaber at 12:03 PM

April 03, 2007

Growing Up

One part’s abstract-- listening
to an underground river clearing
its throat in the desert & thinking
about the Yucca tapping their roots

down to those drops-- &
the other part’s a scene
from a movie: waking up
to a pale moon in half-

morning light feeling the tip
of a knife at your throat, and
just before hearing him say,
there’s a scorpion on your neck;
I’m going to flick it into

the fire thinking I guess
this is it, he’s finally going
to do it.
On one side
of this is hearing the sharp

sizzle of a scorpion
in flames; on the other
is the rest
of your life.

—Rick Benjamin

Posted by dwaber at 12:13 PM

April 02, 2007

Two Arts

My old last name
nearly rhymed
with taxidermy.

Rhymes with “attorney”
my mother would say
to anyone who asked how
to pronounce it.

& If my sister’s life
had been hers
to draw up
she’d be a lawyer

today, not just someone
who meditated for twenty
years in the middle
of a forest never making

a name for herself. She should
have used her head for something else
besides a hair garden
, mother says.

My sister’s name still rhymes
with attorney. If you take out
the “t” in the word poverty
and put an “n” in its place

that’s how you spell it.
It’s not that hard
to change your name.
You fill out some forms

& they put an ad in the paper
in case you’re changing it
for the wrong reasons.
The rest is like blowing

air through a pipe & making
a glass bubble.
Or that other art,

bringing back to nearly
life some dead form,
performing that act
of animation.

—Rick Benjamin

Posted by dwaber at 04:12 PM

April 01, 2007


I think of you, the mistress of ceremonies with your fist held
In a tiger's grin, a bouquet resembling delphinium
Between your teeth. Every man I love becomes a woman.
First, there is the critique of the human subject,
Where "subject" comes out into the open, lights his fingertips,
And disappears a gold-plated elephant, entirely remaining
A free agent unmoved by historical and cultural acrobatics.
Like most battles, many bottles are closed, out of reach,
Never opened. Either way, the laurelled genie knows her way
In. She persuades, sketches, or merely snakes through
The backdoor the audience forgot to spot long before.
Of course, there are many rusty hinges, all with equal access.
Rising, one may move by the tendrilled whispers heard
Within each framework, but pretend concern for open sesame.
Eventually, she approached me about a missing kiss—
Mechanics of another kind? Two lips, tender teeth, a tongue
Dewy wet, and still, in a distant neighbor's eyes, we
Could hear the urban decay through some Holiday imitation.
Her voice fell a beat behind mine. Her skill at jazz phrasing,
Variation and vibrato wrenched diamond-cut moods from
My seediest pop songs. Someone should study
The extracting power one has with another: only everything's
A signal when you turn your radar on. Interlocking legs twirl
Voices out of words. The smallest story of two people coming
Together imitates a circus tent in winter holding
Everyone beneath it. The sheer beauty of ten thousand minds
Colliding with seesaws, airborne, trampolines, top hats,
Harmonized buzzsaws, skirts with wax feathers
On phonographs, contortionists, brick-a-brac, eggshell
Statuettes, painted miniatures onto photographs,
A lush Ashberian medley blends discord to dance to,
So that understanding may begin with seclusions,
Ignite collusions, and a body may ask,
Where do you live? And, Why aren't you with me
In this room here tonight? There're a million ways apart
When two or more prayers gather in conjugal thought,
And a painter lifts his pen, arouses the medallion of a kiss
That will gently float always on the air between our lips.

—Amy King
This poem will be included in the forthcoming collection, I'M THE MAN WHO LOVES YOU (Blazevox Books 2007)

Posted by dwaber at 03:24 PM