Monday, July 30, 2007

The clock is a stooping cartoon dinosaur; the men are alarmed, but are unsure why. Each suspects the other plans to steal his work if he sleeps.

I was listening to John Tavener's 'The Protecting Veil': what does this music have to do with a protecting veil? How does this music express or suggest a veil? Tavener states his intent with the title, but take that away - what is left of veilhood? He urges us on towards veils of protection with those three words, but then what? What? If he had named the same piece of music 'The Birth of a Blue Whale', would we have dreamed along dutifully in this other channel, hearing/seeing the booming of the ocean, the hulk of a mother, the first flaps of her calf's tail? Not a veil in sight?

I realise here I have inadvertently chosen an example that mirrors the original. Is there an example that does not? Maybe all tropes are one substance suggested by different prompts. As though we each walk to the same pool and drink from it, and seeing our own reflection, claim it as our own unique well, over and over and over and over... when it is just the stuff that is there, undifferentiated, unselected, impersonal, not owned, just lived along with earnestly in the assumption that somehow the water that we assimilate is part of us uniquely.

This narrative, like all human narratives, is ultimately false (and not false), as it assumes eternal life; assumes that our vast impressions of ourselves are somehow acknowledged by the universe (they are), and that we are granted ownership and the power to create (we are): as opposed merely to finding pretty pebbles in the dirt and arranging them carefully to show to our parents, before they fall from our grey fingers back into the mud at the other end (this antithesis is of extinction, and is as redundant as that which it refutes).

Of course the music has nothing to do with veils and everything to do with veils. It is intrinsically and uniquely expressive of veils in ways that someone unaware of the title of the piece would instantly grasp. Of course it is nothing whatever to do with veils. It could equally be the soundtrack to a film of someone preparing food (there we go again). Big mirror, little mirror, cracked mirror, rippled surface, veil of night, pinpricks, light, dark, distance, void, the impossibility (and certainty) of knowledge within a cellular instrument. Yes and no. No and yes. Where are you watching this from? Yes, so am I.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

diamonds (dedicated to Don Paterson)

(In the lame way the mindless find sparks fires ice love
bright coal silence feeling

there on the hillside look
are men with nets and pins
marching to an alliance with the landscape

(I ask you: how hard can you squint?
If you dig your thumbs into your eyes
those images you see are called phosphenes
not phosphates (are they connected?)
but I don't know that they are real
not real-real
not like dreams and things are real.)

I feel this one deep inside me, he says
like tornadoes or a sudden urge

later they stack their devices at the bar
giggling a little
at the embossed pewter urinal
in which they bathe their eyes
(now brimming with unwept sparks-fires-ices-loves...)

This is what it means, I suppose? The unabashed stare
into the eye of the page
the focus on 'the drama of the inner'... Is that it?
Is that what it means? In a spotlight like that?

Oh no he isn't... etc.
This chanted enough times could drown China etc.
A butterfly flaps one wing
and 'a page turns
in the world next door'.
(I forget sometimes whether we ever remembered
whether there is a next door.
Oh I'm waffling needlessly -
this is no help at all.)

it feels so big, he says, squirming, feels like certainty
rightness, like nature rushing out glorious

Oh, time, gentlemen, please, hurry...
these diamonds when we tried them
floated like ducks

it flows, he says, from me to you in the channels unimpeded

weatherproof for anything
except gunpowder and alcohol
or a human gazing into the flash
to see the effable glory (one doesn't like to use cuss words needlessly)

oh but the love the fire in its depth
the way that it simply must be right!

All this eye-pressing, it seems to work somehow

Could this be why Silliman thinks the coffers are empty...

"The work of the Postmoderns delegates the production of meaning to the reader, their poetry being largely derelict in its responsibility to aid it. The reader is alone. For those of us quickly bored by our own company, the result is work that can be objectively described as extremely boring."

Don Paterson *justifying* his exclusion of the British avant garde on the occasion of publishing his Anthology of New British Poetry 2004.

I thought I'd juxtapose this quote from Tim Love's essay on the avant garde/mainstream schism here:

'The formalist's stock criticism of free verse applies even more strongly to avant-garde writing. Each year the "Cambridge School" of poets (a school that nobody belongs to) hold the CCCP (Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry). CCCP poems tend to have broken sentences, multiple styles and perhaps most strikingly, multiple voices. Dialogue with the reader isn't just implicit. Eliot's "that's one way of looking at it - not very satisfactory" becomes integrated into the poem (indeed, at the readings it isn't always clear when the poet's introduction ends and the poem begins). In contrast, mainstream poems have an air of dramatic irony - they, like an actor in a farce, seem unaware of what's going on behind them, things obvious to a well-read audience. [My italics]'

More to come.

Bhutanese Fire Puja, Harewood House 2006 - draft

Buddhist abbots show up in dirty track suits
with spark holes
and coke cans
and no matches
and it rains a little
as they borrow a lighter for the flares

(look this thing is all fire
words are fires and faces gather around them
flush from flaming lippy fricatives -
fire is to be seen bursting all over this scene)

and Lord and Lady Harewood
sit slow with silk scarves

and faces that don't move
as the monks change into cassocks
and perform
throwing sparks and pebbles
that we scrabble for
and the firelight glistens
on the beard
of Lord Harewood Lord Lascelles in whose grounds this scene
unfolds, with his mansion black behind him and the moon
behind that his snowy beard snowy the word combed snowy
like a fantasy wizard
sparks everywhere no movement of his face not even
at the end
when they rise and walk
into the vast shadow
all those slaves in Barbados
carved from their black bones
and cast with their big eyes into the future.

They leave without pebbles
not having scrabbled for them.

giant cowslip

stone path to the cascade
through scent of jasmine and high grass
stupa in silhouette with tourists
out there even
on the path to the boathouse
images forming urgently
above the rushing water
a red flower like an alien asshole
or a claw, or a crab
all of these
I try to take in macro
but shake too much
time runs past
along the river
rattling the trees
flattening the water
on the stones
whipping up petals
into my face
lowing on up the slopes
down which strangers come running
to catch the sunset
against the Buddha's profile
but I don't think Buddhism is a peaceful thing
a sunset a flower a breeze a calm lake
I think it is the war of all things
at all times
and carving a hole in it
with the most vicious weapons available.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

a quick ramble about shambo

So today they came and took Shambo the Welsh Hindu bull with bovine tuberculosis despite the monks holding a continuous act of worship around him dragged them out of the way led a garlanded bull out to be taken away to receive a lethal injection and head out of all sorrow
...into whatever but that all happened 300 miles away and I only knew of it because of the TV that had imported the moment or some part or some properties of the moment, carefully selected, over here to where I happened to be looking in open like a fool to whatever they decided to upload into my head and I couldn't help but feel sad for Shambo and ignore the 2,000,000 other cattle killed today and I have to wonder if this transfer this shift this import and this selective teleportation of only the poetic, the magical, the evocative, the demonic elements present at Shambo's stall is some kind of actual metaphor or metonym. I can't quite get at this one, but the process occurs in reality, rather than just in text or language. Representative forms from the story of Shambo are implanted in me, I assimilate them and respond as the semiotics direct. The signs are not Shambo, but I believe Shambo is real. (This may be delusional on my part, but if so then the world is far stranger and more sinister than I think.)

Although I know I am being manipulated by story-tellers (tricksters) I still respond. If I think of 6 million Holocaust victims I feel little; if I am told the story of just one, or shown a face, or some personal effects recovered, I feel more. What is this process? Is it only knowable as story-telling? Is it more fundamental, or am I ignoring the depth of meaning inherent in the term 'story-telling'?

I am some kind of robot, and people can send signals to me from afar, instructing me to dance or throw up my hands or weep, and I will obey. Poor Shambo, says the robot, befuddled with words and images and the manipulation of signs. Do I object to my response, or do I attempt to claim it as somehow my own, and not something prompted and controlled by others? What is my free will regarding Shambo? Do I have any free will once I am exposed to his story? Even if I fight it I am reacting to the dictates of others.

Maybe I will strive robotically for total indifference to all such stories of bulls. Why will I do that? Why did the idea of doing so occur to me? Is this story influencing my urge to strive in such a way? The only sensible and proactive approach is to remove myself from all exposure to symbols and influence for a long time, and then ask what I will do next. After this hypothetical cleansing of interference, assuming it to have been totally successful, would I have any will to do anything other than satisfy the requirements of the body and shamble around with a vague interest in bright things? Forget it, let's go with Shambo and embrace garlanded slavery, and believe for a few stupid moments that we are free.

Save our Shambo!

Why does that remind me of this?

Postscript: Shambo executed last night. Monks in mourning. Durga festoons Shambo with flowers upon his arrival. Now looky here!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

soup recipe (the dreaded Babel of langpo)

(note: all ingredients below
may mean different things
to different readers
assuming readers are eaters
I can't cater for local differences
at this level of nuance
and some variation in the outcome
regarding flavour, zest and nutrition
must be expected.)

1. Many, many cloves of garlic, fired, seared, enraged
but unbowed (purple Spanish is best, but there we go already).

2. Onion always oniononiononion
desquamated and stripped and peeled
delayered with art

3. Then a hillside tumble
of leekcarrotsugarsnapspinachcabbagelentils
into the bruisèd alembic
to caramelise fervently
many minutes of dissolution

(I spotted a tricky reference to Krishna
and honey and cancer
and sunshine
in caramelise
again the readereater is advised
to exercise discretion
concerning which ingredients
are most likely and only ingest
elements already roughly familiar
from his/her own diet-narrative
--no one really eats sunshine or cancer,
for instance. Really.)

4. Stock, much stock beef blood stock
for of injecting testosterone-syntagmeme chokes

5. Fish sauce and fermented bean ooze

still slow heat at the vessel
agitation must feel natural
and unforced
if ingestion is not to be troubled
with peristalsis of lies
and echo of jackboots
in a soupy night.

6. Pepper of all kinds ground and befuddled
now raises the prima materia (one clear word,
one indisputable sharing of essence, one most simple consommé
in which everyone agrees is transparency and good intent)
dripping into daylight
all that remains
and all I am doing is sharing a recipe
and war between us already
there is.

Monday, July 23, 2007

new executive orders

Reichstag thermite blah
white hot in the ruins of recount
of a democratic party late in the day
and the barbecue just cold ash
(many inconvenient truths)

(the false-flag (Iwo Jima? Ground Zero?)—
of the fathers—Toratoratora!Atta! Atta!
Our Allfather Hiroshima
(the well where words wither)—)

"total wipeout in 2008 of Republican..." you believe this
Pearl Harbour Blah Pearl Necklace
a spurt of new executive orders
that they'll let this happen
already in place about all our necks
(Martial Law/Scooter Libby/The Bohemian Grove)
like they won't do something?

(Get this burning issue off me!)

"you could sense something was gonna blow
question was what and who"

(a rigged explosion in democracy
- the falling man)
"Something's in the works," he stated,
"in the works...Chertoff has predicted them."

Habeas Corpus, Port Authority
the thing that penetrated the Pentagon
clearly had no wings

(and get this: the world watched in horror already in place)

like everyone their own twin tower now, rigged to blow

Sunday, July 22, 2007

quickening (in parataxis)

—two years old—folded up still—like wings, wings in a chrysalis—furled, maybe that's the word—looking out, yes—laughing, of course (ha ha ha)—crying too, of course—still folded, coiled up—animal-unknowing,all that—three and a half/four better—more like it, better—first time flies out—little bird, scared, of course scared—high branches etc—dizzy,sudden swoop there!—recovery, catching—catching self, see—just above dead leaves—litter & hum—forest floor breeze, all that—flies into (own chest)—cave, maybe, myth, all that—dreams in there, you know—story writing itself—ghostly hand at table, likely—like that—woods, wild animal faces, maybe—primates, mostly, wild of dreams—fascinated—size + power + movement, after all—what he is after all, who—now clear memories, floodgates—first moment of love, after all, yes—wind now, wind—up hurtling himself—all starts here like this here—love, memory, who and what—quickening—wind—unfurling—


heading home

observe closely what heading we are on


heading for disaster

subject: heading

This heading
will take us to our home on the World Wide Web.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


at two years
still folded up into himself
looking out, laughing, leaning out
but still coiled
in his animal-unknowing

at three and a half or four
for the first time
he flies out of his body
like a little bird falling scared
from a high branch
dizzy with the sudden swoop
catching itself in the air
just above dead leaves

litter and hum
of a forest floor

in a dream he flies into his own chest
sees his story writing itself
sees woods, wild animal faces
and he is fascinated
by his size
his power
his movement
who he is

now will come his first clear memory

and here
is his first moment of love
before the wind catches him up
and sends him hurtling
I began writing seriously a decade ago and was slow to learn. For years I was
awkward, sloppy, given to overstatement, the sentimental image, the theatrical resolution.
From The Chinese Notebook by Ron Silliman

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

a short walk poolside (first attempt at something)

1979 at the swimming gala
with the whole school lined up
around the pool
and she swam her length or two or three
(much I don't remember)
and all the school can't have been there
as I recall the pool area was too small for all those kids
so it's really like a dream where everything fits
into a place too small
and there is that steamy shouting of swimming pools
and she swims through all of it
all those faces
boys and girls laughing and steaming
and maybe she swims a good time in her heat
I don't know
but I know that she gets out of the pool
age fourteen in her swimwear
and walks the length of the pool
past the spectators
with her costume skewed by the swim
and one young breast exposed
just a budding and small thing
not even a breast back then
but something that everyone sees and laughs about
and she isn't alerted to this
because of the noise
and she doesn't know
until someone shouts something out loud
some boy who just doesn't know
and this is the phenomenological equivalent
of a mouse on a battlefield somehow triggering a cannon
with a ball that falls far off
in the future.

And I don't see her again
for several years,
but later she gets a cyst
in that same breast
and she needs an operation to take it out
they stitch it up, but it embarrasses her often
with boyfriends
as they don't do it well
and it leaves a scar
then she gets an abortion at some point
and struggles for a long time
with what it's all about.
Then she goes for a biopsy
and right in there, that exact same place
where it all hit.

(And he looks at her
and he tries to imagine roses
pink roses growing and swelling
singing in there where the cancer is.
And every day he imagines roses
even makes it a ritual
every day at dusk.

Even when she goes in
he thinks of roses
but most of all wonders
why he couldn't stand that day by the pool
couldn't rise in the heat
and the shouting
and cover her up.

And he has to wonder
who these imaginary roses
are really for now
now that it's all too late
for any stupid roses
to change anything.)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pope, get your ass to Mombasa

Pope, get your ass to Mombasa
hit the hot shanty streets
in the Popemobile
a sack of condoms to throw to the kids
a T-shirt saying condoms are cool with Jesus
(make that in Kiswahili too)
order in a lot more Popes
more Popemobiles
more archbishops, deacons, cardinals
(all of them funkier than old John-Paul
all of them mobile, angry, armed with many condoms
and the message)
go out spreading the word
from the North Coast to the Cape
condoms are cool with Jesus
in Mombasa and Nairobi
Addis Ababa and Gaborone
Cape Town and Natal
Kinshasa and Kigali
don't stop driving, waving, talking, giving, saying
sorry for the previous reticence people
telling how the New Funky Pope got the message in a holy vision
Get thee to Africa, Pope, to help with the new Holocaust
and issue me no Papal bull

tell them how condoms are beloved of God
how they ensure redemption amongst all users
that the very act of putting on
of a condom
is a holy act in itself
is a prayer
and a hymn
to a God who cares more for life
than scriptures and stuffy old men

you can lie a little if you have to
Pope, you're a missionary
getting the message across is your mission
whatever it takes
so get your ass to Mombasa
Maputu and Mogadishu
Khartoum and Harare
Pope, your road to heaven leads due South
out of Vatican City
winding down ice cold, logical
from Alex to Cape Town
better get new tyres on the Popemobile
a non-stop driver, some caffeine pills
and a truckload of you know what.
Bon voyage, Funky Pope,
now you're on a mission from God.
The Vatican lies about condoms: here
More flowers from Deb. Click the pic to see a big version.

Golem: a prolapsed sonnet

If I had a time machine,
there's one place I would certainly go:
to that room, to that murky and flickering scene
(back thirty or forty years or so)
where they reared me out of mud
and slapped me into waking;
carved a word into my head, drew my first ever blood
-- one word only, and the air all shaking, shaking;
one word for all of my future time --
(a word I have never yet read).
That's probably where I would go, just to know;
just to see what it said,
and if I rhyme.
(links to golems here and here )

killing poem

killing someone must be something else
you do it slowly
stand in front of the chosen-at-random victim
and tell him what's happening
maybe you have a gun
maybe you have him wired up to a bomb
either way you tell him
you're deciding whether to kill him
tell him that he is a whole world,
that he knows nothing beyond his own nervous system
that the sky the stars the earth
are all contained within himself
tell him this: The vast circular night of the cosmos
is all contained within your skull motherfucker

and that you might just snuff it all out
for no reason other than the mighty caprice
of a killer
then you can do what you want
do it, watch him die confused
or walk away in an act of godlike compassion
either way you are all-powerful
a destroyer of worlds
limping home through the rain
in a funny hat
Deb. C. sent this rose. Thanks, Deb!

Friday, July 13, 2007

get out of your own way

So the wise people say:
I throw this burning stub
into the waste bin from over here
three times without trying, without thinking

the world will explode
I will wake in tall grass
with my old friends
(we will swim together in spheres of light etc.)

and the first time
I just got it straight off
just flew without a thought
bing (steel bin)

since then a war has started
the air is violated and distorted
and words fly weird as sick birds

and an ugly stranger follows me about
everywhere I go, grabbing at my sleeve

deep resonance

Basho sees frogs jumping in ponds
and fancies worlds collide

someone should tell him the dungheap
is starting to slide

Thursday, July 12, 2007

hairs in streetlight

in my lamb kebab I saw hairs she says
and I baulk
this is just way too much this hairs thing
too much

I can't do hairs are you sure
yes she says I saw hairs in there
creeping in

but it should all be interior-of-sheep
I know
but I see hairs
growing there monstrous

and I have to stop under a streetlight
and pull a face
at the very idea

how can a person even approach such hairs
such strange wayward hairs so late like this?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


why do men have deep voices and women not?
eventually I hit on the answer
it's so that when a man climbs up
to the mountaintop at the head of the valley
and stands there looking out
with his feet planted firmly
and he begins to boom out his clear manly call
and it echoes down
across the pine trees
and bounces off the crags
and drives chamois and squirrels
into their holes
the women who have been busy
in the valley
with their hanging of red rags around the stone houses
will hear him
will abandon their tasks
and come rushing up the mountainside like falling leaves
suddenly caught in the updraught and the sunlight
of his voice
and so that when they arrive perspiring and flushed
they will cluster about him in a flock
issuing cooing sounds
they will fluff their feathers and primp
and he will know from their voices
that there is not a man among them
to trespass upon his ardour

Friday, July 06, 2007

code flowers

And more... We like flowers here!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


head rolling in locusts
hahaha no you fool
this was an applicator head
for receiving said wax

hold steady now
(the perfect medley!)

the words was born zigzagged
said wax, spoken wax:
words of honeycomb petroleum
lit like locust light

under the face there
pat-baby-doll-ooh-like-that rolling

optomotor optomotor optomotor head

which secrete bees scratching and numerous
all the curlers under


Monday, July 02, 2007

If I should cast off this tattered coat,
And go free into the mighty sky;
If I should find nothing there,
But a vast blue,
Echoless, ignorant – What then?'

— Stephen Crane, The Black Riders and Other Lines

Sunday, July 01, 2007

John Taverner's 'The Protecting veil'

The build is a Lancaster bomber coming slow
up the mountainside
lost in the mist maybe, who knows

something similar happened near here in January 1944
(a large pond and yearly flowers)
it was a training mission with a Canadian air crew
hit a hillside in the mist in the trees slid down
burning I guess carving a crater that filled
with green water and green life
I wonder if it's haunted
it has an eery green feel

but this bomber doesn't hit
although it comes to an abrupt cessation
or not quite
it continues in the background
and I suppose Taverner is saying
but the foreground is now quiet melody and playful stuff
that at first feels to do with growth
as though children were acting plantlife
but then it is clear that it's more, it's the veil
itself being woven and maintained by an intelligence
yes it's like plantlife, but it's as though a vast canopy
was forming from the mathematics of cellulose and sunlight
with the quiet roaring of that bomber shut outside
and I guess we feel safe
in this space
created by the music of a god
though I can't help feel
that the entire edifice depends on concentration
and attention
and our listening
and that if our attention should lapse
the whole thing will collapse
and leave only the roaring
suddenly filling everything
and that seems a desperate and fragile and conditional and doomed way
of protecting anything.


This is thought to be the skull of the first ever gunshot victim in the Americas.
I thought that was pretty much a haunting poem in itself.

Read more here