Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Got Silver by Your Hives

Pero los ramos son alegres,
los ramos son como nosotros.


So, we left the artillery
Blooming in the fields of blight
And crept along that music
As flower architects.
My fried rabbi, gloating,
Combs the night’s hair?
Father, you are my triple tomb and
No cherry blossoms in the
Graffiti ward, as the metaphors
Lounge upon that bricked
Naiveté. I have only one life and
Wear a sweater of shadows,
But my mouth seeds forever
Autumn’s hopeful decrees.
Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Poets have to self-publicize. Marilyn looks shocked, but here's another milkmag mention.

Also, I made the "Sexy" issue of MiPoesias . Issuu is such an incredible publishing tool and the magazine looks really cool. Check it out.

If you're in the neighborhood of Evanston, Illinois this Friday, I'll be reading some of my new poetry at Brothers K. coffeehouse, 500 Main St, 6:30 pm.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My chapbook Disharmonium was mentioned in the new issue of Arthur . Now it's official thanks to Byron Coley and Thurston Moore.

" a very nice new book of poems from longtime milk magazine editor Larry Sawyer. It's called Disharmonium ( Silver Wonder Press), and is a funny, surreal collection that combines mundane imagist language into a rich new mofungo."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Woof woof woof

Look, fried chicken, a lonely moon
With fey eyes, electric women
Wearing windows and nothing else
A crazed prisoner, perhaps flying,
With a mouth like a cavity, these
Jaws of Nebraska, faux natives,
Slander and oceans, tourists jiggly in the
Distance. Who texts such punks with
Shibboleth diction? What divine blackboard
Triple dunks boldly whose fairy?
Were there ghosts, dismal and grinning?
At the mall were no clichés or surgeries
But a sick levity and ticking quicksand.
Dogs selling bags of imaginary gravity.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

It was great to bring On the Road out of the display case and read a section from the scroll edition at Columbia last night as the el rolled by outside the big window on Wabash downtown. Kerouac’s large-hearted open letter to America still has the power to inspire and it was interesting to hear the inflections given the words by the readers as they stood in front of the large triple-screen flashing scenes from classic road movies. Thanks to Columbia College for sponsoring such a well-orchestrated event.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Of Tchaikovsky

Laughing, my sense
Of humor came to visit me in
The middle of the night. War
And famine jumped out the
Window. I pulled out a chair
For my sense of humor and
Then yanked it away at the last
Second, allowing my sense
Of humor to fall on its ass.
My sense of humor thought
This wasn’t very funny, so I
Attempted to make amends.
I cooked the most elaborate dinner.
There was a lit candelabra. The sounds
Of Tchaikovsky, D Major, Op. 35,
Like a sloppy kiss, laid its sticky notes upon
The air. Later I discovered that
Nothing would ever make the
Seasons change any faster and no
One would ever explain to me how those cars
Could slide past the window outside
Filled with such private

Monday, October 27, 2008

Benevolent as Gold

derelict page an in
vitation to grace, thus we ga
ther innocence almo
st tangential, a high minde
d echo, like a silo or dyna
mite. the eye must be
a salesperson to marry
these hours, their signifiers

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ti Jean

Jack Kerouac's On the Road works best when read aloud ... quickly, slowly, with a careful mind paid to the sounds and rhythms of the words as they loiter and rush across the page. The [. . . scroll of paper three inches thick made up of one single-spaced, unbroken 120-foot-long paragraph . . .] was written by Kerouac in three weeks in a marathon series of day and night writing as Kerouac transformed himself into the American Balzac. Because On the Road rolls outward in a torrent rather than _____ in stasis like a carefully crafted sculpture, the writing style and method of composition is American in the sense that the emphasis is on timing and production.

Kerouac churned out the novel like he laid it on an assembly line and the speech patterns of the sentences when read aloud have an obvious connection to jazz ... America’s only indigenous art form. When reading this mountain for the first few times, it’s nearly impossible for the reader not to feel swept away by the exuberance expressed by the book and the obvious reverence that Kerouac endearingly held for his subjects. The author, as Sal Paradise, casts out doubt and ventures in the Wilderness to find the elusive truth that he feels bubbling inside him. Certain aspects of On the Road give it a spiritual quality; as heroes Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty race back and forth across the country searching for what it means to be alive in various cars that are nearly like ships slicing the waves of farmland that crisscross middle-America. Kerouac’s bookish alter-ego Sal Paradise, even in name, jumpstarts a journey of discovery that leads none know where. Submerged in the book one also experiences catalogs of details of a 1950s America that Kerouac so lovingly documented. Kerouac also framed the downbeat characters in the novel unabashedly. His polyphonic portraits were nothing more than thinly veiled representations of his own inner-circle, which sometimes gives the book a feeling of inspired gossip. It was enjoyable for me to discover who each subject was and to eventually read their work. This has led many to claim that On the Road is the novel that set them on a path toward an active interest in many other artistic and cultural rivulets and streams. The characters, Sal Paradise (Jack Kerouac), Rollo Greb (Alan Ansen), Old Bull Lee (William S. Burroughs), Jane (Joan Vollmer), Damien (Lucian Carr), Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady), Chad King (Hal Chase), Carlo Marx (Allen Ginsberg), Ian MacArthur (John Clellon Holmes), and Elmer Hassel (Herbert Huncke) all seem on the edge of something: But what that something is doesn’t resonate completely. It’s a feeling being expressed in these pages, not a dismal or defeatist existential problem. The book celebrates life and emphasizes the journey (versus the destination) in a wholly unique way. Kerouac’s oratorio hums in the imagination and lingers in the mind. There’s something singular and elemental about this book like the smell of a winter fireplace, or sighting a planet in the night sky, or watching a dog catch a Frisbee in the park, or the sound of a lonely ship’s horn enveloped in mist, or gazing down on a panoramic view after hiking a woodsy hillside. Kerouac’s deft timing and sincerity reaches out through the page and grabs you by the arm, pulling you along for the windswept cinematic ride. [Pictured: Neal Cassady, circa 1955]

Columbia: On the Road Reading

Come hear me read a portion of Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road, Wednesday, November 5, at 8pm in the Conaway Center, 1104 South Wabash, on the Columbia College Chicago campus. Here's how I answered the introductory question of what On the Road means to me.

"On the Road was one of the first books I read that really ignited a sense of the passion that I hold for words. The musicality of the language was such an inspiration at a critical time in my life. Seeing the world through Kerouac's eyes in this book gave me hope for my own journey down life's proverbial 'road.'"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Get Your Yeats On

A rare, first edition of a poem by William Butler Yeats, "Easter 1916" , is sold at auction for $9,600.

Here's the poem in its entirety.


Image: William Butler Yeats, by Louis le Brocquy, 1994

(This has always been my favorite WBY poem.)

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Scroll Down

Amy King and Vincent Katz at

The blood, sweat, tears of Jack Kerouac: The scroll of On the Road .

The passing of a saint: The death of Sister Emmanuelle .

John Ashbery's "intentional unmeaning" ?

The last voyage of Captain Shock ?

The Chicago Tribune endorses Barack Obama?

Michele Bachman: still stuck in the Fifties.

A postcard from Japan.

Alan Kaufman's Outlaw Bible online.

Judge orders excavation at Lorca's grave.

Jackie Lalley's economic stimulus package.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

McClure's Rich Silence

It was really something to hear Michael McClure read his work the other night at Columbia College here in Chicago. I'd never heard him read before, although I'd spent a few hours with him at his home years ago, which is a great memory. Reading from Plum Stones and other books, McClure used his voice to really awaken a sense of wonder in the audience by offering rich silence in equal measure to the words themselves. Each was like a Calder mobile-sculpture that hung in the air until McClure moved along bringing the audience with him--marvelous to hear his "beast-language" poems too. There was something expressed therein that is inexpressible with poems that rely on a literal meaning. Peering inside each poem presented by McClure was a real gift.

Here's a link to an interesting renku and some of McClure's haiku followed by a few of mine.

coven of leaves
how hot is the breath of
tomorrow’s fires

jet insect above
make thick trails of smoke
of our hasty goodbyes

drop of honey
sweet golden lightshow
drown on my tongue

Monday, October 13, 2008

Some Vague Attention

Some vague attention
of wind stirs the golden oats

-Joanne Kyger

Desolate film,

haunt that totality
where we opera.

The size of Finland
my invisible alto.

Dream-starve the
metallic gauze of permanence.

A stethoscope heard itself,
left us thumping.

Drenched in owls,
these mysterious data.

Forests allow themselves that exact tangle.

Thax Redux

[Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips and Thax Douglas discuss the merits of giving senior citizens a free ride on the CTA.]

Sunday, Oct. 26
Reading: Thax Douglas and friends
Location: Myopic Books, 1564 N. Milwaukee, Chicago
Time: 7 pm


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Luckily I saved the PDF of Issue 1 before the "editors" took it off the Internet. Like all good pranks, it's now just a memory. Thanks to Gary Sullivan for mentioning my review of John Ashbery's and Joe Brainard's The Vermont Notebook in his Oct. 8 blog entry .

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Being included in Issue 1 is like one more chain letter, but it's interesting to browse through all the names. It raises questions of authenticity and identity, being assigned a "poem" without knowing the author. Then, finding out, (surprise), it's supposed to be me. The concept pokes holes in the ego. Someone, somewhere has a lot of free time. Here's the poem I "wrote." I wonder what Pablo Picasso thought about when he read the issue. I never thought I'd be published with Osip Mandelstam or Isadore Ducasse. Hey, he once wrote "plagiarism is necessary." Maybe that's what Vladimir Zykov, Stephen McLaughlin, and Gregory Laynor (the three responsible) had in mind by listing themselves as "researchers." More than 3,000 pages? I'll need an intermission.

Like a Spot


In heaven
Throwing trust

Your impetuous existence
A spot
New as coming
Of lightning

Friday, October 03, 2008

@ Myopic Books

Chicago is the place to be next weekend. Four Beat poets will be in town next weekend for readings and talks. This is a unique opportunity to see these talented authors read their work and share their experiences. [Pictured: Joanne Kyger]

Oct. 10
Reading: Joanne Kyger
Location: Columbia College, 600 S. Michigan Ave.
Time: 7 pm

Oct. 11
Reading: Michael McClure
Location: Columbia College, 600 S. Michigan Ave.
Time: 7 pm

Oct. 12
Readings: Michael Rothenberg & David Meltzer
Location: Myopic Books, 1564 N. Milwaukee
Time: 7 pm

A leading poet of the Beat Movement, David MELTZER was raised in Brooklyn during the War years; performed on radio & early TV on the Horn & Hardart Children¹s Hour. Was exiled to L.A. at 16 & at 17 enrolled in an ongoing academy w/ artists Wallace Berman, George Herms, Robert Alexander, Cameron; migrated to San Francisco in l957 for higher education w/ peers & maestros like Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, Joanne Kyger, Diane DiPrima, Michael McClure, Lew Welch, Philip Whalen, Jack Hirschman, a cast of thousands all living extraordinary ordinary lives. Beat Thing [La Alameda Press, 2004] won the Josephine Miles PEN Award, 2005. Was editor and interviewer for San Francisco Beat: Talking With The Poets [City Lights, 2001]. With Steve Dickison, co-edits Shuffle Boil, a magazine devoted to music in all its appearances & disappearances. 2005 saw the publication of David's Copy: The Selected Poems of David Meltzer by Viking/Penguin, a collection spanning over forty years of work that paints a vivid portrait of Meltzer's life as a poet through poems taken from thirty of his previous books of poetry. With a versatile style and playful tone, Meltzer offers his unique vision of civilization with a range of juxtapositions from Jewish mysticism and everyday life to jazz and pop culture.

Michael ROTHENBERG is a poet, songwriter, and editor of Big Bridge magazine online at His poetry books include Man/Woman, a collaboration with Joanne Kyger, The Paris Journals (Fish Drum Press), Monk Daddy (Blue Press), and Unhurried Vision (La Alameda/University of New Mexico Press). His poems have been published widely in small press publications including, 88: A Journal of Contemporary American Poetry, Berkeley Poetry Review, Exquisite Corpse, First Intensity, Fish Drum, Fulcrum, Golden Handcuffs Review, House Organ, Prague Literary Review, Tricycle, Van Gogh's Ear, Vanitas, Zyzzyva, JACK, and Jacket. He is also author of the novel Punk Rockwell. Rothenberg's 2005 CD collaboration with singer Elya Finn, was praised by poet David Meltzer as "fabulous-all [the] songs sound like Weimar Lenya & postwar Nico, lushly affirmative at the same time being edged w/ cosmic weltschmertz. An immensely tasty production." He is also editor for the Penguin Poet series, which includes selected works of Philip Whalen, Joanne Kyger, David Meltzer and Ed Dorn. He has recently completed the Collected Poems of Philip Whalen for Wesleyan University Press.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

O, Whiplash Nation

fortune smiles on the unwilling/ My line beckons

What of Julius Caesar

Above us a pox of stars / he led his men to victory.

Look/ Make toast properly.

My fragile exotic tapestry / clean as a shiny chromed fender

Look to the high moon driving.

Happy birthday, Black Mountain College .

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This Sunday @ Myopic Books

Sunday, September 21 – Mark Yakich & Johannes Göransson

Myopic Books in Chicago -- Sundays at 7:00 / 1564 N. Milwaukee Avenue,
2nd Floor

Johannes GORANSSON is the author of three books of poetry and prose and the translator of Remainland: Selected Poems of Aase Berg, Ideals Clearance by Henry Parland, Collobert Orbital by Johan Jönsson, and With Deer by Aase Berg (the last two forthcoming later this year). He is also the co-editor of the press Action Books and the online journal Action, Yes.

Mark YAKICH is the author of Unrelated Individuals Forming a Group Waiting to Cross (National Poetry Series, Penguin 2004), The Making of Collateral Beauty (Snowbound Chapbook Award, Tupelo 2006), and The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine (Penguin 2008). He is an associate professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans. Mark divides his time between the bedroom and the kitchen.


Sunday, October 12 / Michael Rothenberg & David Meltzer (In conjunction with the Poetry Center of Chicago)

Sunday, October 19 / John Tipton & Brenda Iijima

Sunday, October 26 / Thax Douglas, Jason Pickleman, Tim Kinsella & Elizabeth Harper

Sunday, November 9 / Hugh Behm-Steinberg, Lisa Janssen, & Jennifer Karmin

Sunday, November 16 / Katy Lederer & Special Guest

Sunday, December 7 / Sunday, December 7 - Daniel Borzutzky, Kristin Dykstra & Gabriel Gudding
2009 Schedule

Sunday, January 11 - Dan Godston & Special Guest

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Seeing what it pleases

Seeing what it pleases—
Dirt of the path making
A final net, or sleep,
And in that choosing sees
What? Which path
Chooses, to me,
What cannot be—
As if a snake snaking
Outside what darkness
What eye, in seeing
This life, but a seeming; no
Meaning, bites the
Mind from being.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Barack Obama: It's About Time!

Barack Obama is as "American" as a political candidate can possibly be and painting him as anything other than a patriotic American is a blind alley. His story is an American success story because of his varied background and heartfelt desire to help the underdog. Republicans, no doubt, will attempt to portray him as something other than one who intends to preserve the rule of law as expressed in the Constitution, although he has sworn to do so. He took the oath as did John McCain.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

I’ve heard that after a presumptive candidate accepts a party’s nomination he or she is subject to a briefing that outlines party goals and reveals certain details regarding national security that aren’t provided beforehand, because the candidate is considered officially in the game and therefore provided with a higher security clearance. This is conjecture, but the rationale that a candidate should be as knowledgeable as possible before the debates is a no-brainer. Often I’ve heard friends or relatives comment that political figures cannot reveal their true intentions because they have the national security of the United States to consider and nothing is more important, and that average citizens would not understand. We’ll never have a truly transparent government, but the level of contempt for honesty shown by Bush and Cheney reached new lows. As we’ve all seen with Iraq, when the American people are misled then our “blood and treasure” is squandered, which destroys our credibility and hinders our ability to drum up support among our allies when we truly need their help in a genuinely dire situation. This is what has nearly run us aground. Obama seems ready to provide new solutions to the disproportionate influence of the military-industrial complex that put us into a situation like Iraq and nearly crippled our economy. It may be years before we really understand the billions lost in Iraq on a nation that doesn't even appreciate, or want, our influence.

In his speech last night Obama proved to be sympathetic to the plight of middle-class Americans struggling through recession by providing real-life examples. This is a great thing, because for the last eight years it’s been obvious that George W. Bush, with trickle-down economics, is not sympathetic to the needs of those who aren’t millionaires. McCain seems poised to take up this myopic neo-con mantle by his recent comments that those who make $250,000 a year are still middle class. This puts him in the category of those who are completely blind to the struggles of average people in this country.

What Obama seemed to focus on the most was the idea of restoring “America’s promise.” He’ll be attacked by the Republican smear machine on his perceived lack of experience (although Bush had zero experience in Washington before his presidency, a fact that doesn’t seem to be heralded often enough by Democrats) and he may be able to defend himself against that by the force and experience of Joe Biden. By choosing Biden, Obama bolstered his position in that department and it seems certain that Biden will bring a working-man’s perspective to the ticket, as well as years of hard-won, foreign-policy experience.

The real question is how Obama will sell the idea of change to the American people. His die-hard supporters seem ready for an Obama presidency no matter what that might mean, but those on the fence are listening closely to the details offered. Middle-class, Bible-belt Americans for example who have experienced the downside of Bush’s misguided policies would seem to be an easy sell, but they will not like the idea of any government interference in their daily lives. The key issue raised by Senator Clinton--healthcare--seems to have been put on the back burner somewhat by Obama. This may work in his favor because, although it’s obvious that change is necessary to jump start the vitality of our economy and to bolster our position on the world stage, middle-class Americans will not appreciate a government program that doesn’t allow them to choose healthcare providers. When Obama says

“Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work.”

I’m glad to hear that someone who may possibly win the presidency is attuned to the needs of regular people, but it will be difficult for him to sell the idea of change to fence-sitters if he presents his idea in a way that can be labeled as “big government” by his opponent. It’s ironic that the Republicans gleefully strip away our privacy rights while championing themselves as supporters of small government, but that irony is lost on the masses. Obama will probably defend himself well against accusations that his perceived inexperience is a liability, but he should tread very carefully when explaining how his brand of change would affect average Americans in their day-to-day lives. Tax cuts are a great start, as long as Obama repeats this mantra tirelessly--that he won’t raise taxes on the middle class. This illumines the fact that there is a huge chasm between how the super-privileged (e.g., McCain) perceive the definition of what’s “middle class” and how Obama perceives it. Obama’s version rings true, while McCain is living in a fantasy land of the fabulously wealthy. McCain can't remember how many homes he owns. Where Obama could lose much ground, however, is in the area of social programs. If he hammers home the idea that conversion to green energy will create job growth through “green collar” jobs then he’s got a winner. That would involve a transition that would be somewhat painful but entirely possible. Any job losses experienced as fossil fuel companies switch to promoting wind, solar, and electric power could be balanced by new jobs created as a result of these new technologies. And it’s clear that we must get out of Iraq--a huge money pit. The Iraqis themselves are clamoring for our departure.

It’s the idea of change that could present the real problem, which is another irony. It’s obvious that we are in need of change, but middle America is historically resistant to it, unless they’ve witnessed it and can see that it works. Convincing this huge cross section of voters that Obama's brand of change is what’s needed will be difficult, and last night’s speech probably wasn’t the appropriate time to do so, but I hope that Obama and his advisers realize that there are probably many of those suffering from the economic aftershock of eight years of a Bush presidency who would vote for him if his plan provides genuine relief--without government intrusion. Younger voters embrace change but older voters on both sides of the aisle typically won’t.

Obama’s vision of America might put us on equal footing with the European Union who realized early on that social programs can help workers, but the wealthiest 2% of America, with their deregulation and hands-off economic policies will do what they can to stop the leveling of the playing field because they are directly profiting from the policies that have created our current economic fiasco. By “closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don’t help America grow”, Obama is putting himself in direct opposition to corporate America. (Although it’s been so bad lately that Wall St. has embraced Obama knowing that change of any kind is needed now.)

So, Obama 1) is a patriotic American, 2) with Biden he has the experience necessary to do the job, 3) he was right on Iraq from day one, and 4) he’s sympathetic to average Americans.

It will be how he explains his plan to change America that will either give him the momentum to win or sink his aspirations entirely. He made it clear last night that he is decidedly pro-choice, which was no surprise. Expect McCain to use this as a wedge as he caters to the evangelicals who already dislike him intensely. So, that point can’t be used to persuade any fence-sitters. Once again, it’s the economy, stupid. If Obama can find some middle ground on issues like abortion (implement a plan to reduce teen pregnancy) and gun control (by considering the issue on a case-by-case basis, what works for Cleveland might not be necessary for Scranton, Penn.) and present himself as tough on national security with a genuine intent to “cut taxes for 95% of all working families” then we may be on the verge of witnessing the election of the first African-American U.S. president.

It’s about time!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Elizabeth Kate Switaj comments on Rob McLennan's poems up at milk magazine.

Thumbs up or thumbs down for my Urban Dictionary entry?

Francesco Levato designed a wonderful page for the Meltzer/Rothenberg reading coming up at Myopic . Many thanks to the Poetry Center of Chicago.

Celebrating Larry Rivers .

What's my favorite Ashbery line? "In a far recess of summer/ Monks are playing soccer." Now you know.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Maybe we should ask the Most Trusted Man in America .

Have you tried the Word Cloud Generator ?

Bill O'Reilly, back to school? Great idea.

More on the strange world of Francis Bacon .

BlazeVOX books needs help.

Bill Knott is still pissed.

Theories and explanations about the much debated [sic] .

Scientists say we can "see" sound and "hear" light.

Are you an apple or a pear ?

Feel the love: Celebrities and John McCain .

Friday, August 15, 2008

Once again will participate in the Poetry Foundation's Printers' Ball at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. Thanks to Fred Sasaki for making this happen.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Amy Winehouse and fake authenticity pay a visit to my other blog ... Environs. [pictured: "Jazz" by Karel Appel.]

"Art is a secret script that you can only read with your instinct."
Karel Appel, 1962

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Spliced Suddenly to a Closeup

What happens in poems
trains graze upon the prairie,
hours fall from the sky,

which is unlike anything except
horses speaking in autumn voices.

Beheaded table littered with night
into the mirror swim.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Our Meanwhile

If I were missing a hooray, saying
wake up and car it, you’d gaze a map of
moments and explore the thick foliage of
sleep. Who sent a laugh wrapped in morning?
Under the cypress trees a compass dreams.
Plot caught us deadpanning about the
after and grackles upon pine needles cackle.
But we are thoroughly neither where the
pointing shadows undress themselves and
sway. Our meanwhile, which made one so
Copenhagen, dealt us a pocket of knives.
Have you seen the horizon, without its
Lacan, giving birth to light? Wretched and
magical we return to conquer happy.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

“I was astonished at the closeness of his speech with its hesitancies word by word the forms of his writing. It seemed that, in his specialized – i.e. personal, unique, home-made, close to the nose, close to the grain, actual – world of writing and speech, the forms he wrote were precise notations of the way his mind thoughts occurred to him, as he noticed them, and the way they’d be uttered out loud. ... The main principle seemed to be that his mind moved syllable by syllable – as if his basic unit of thought was the syllable – as if thought-forms could be broken down further than picture image, further than thought-breath or whatever larger unit Kerouac or Olson or Duncan or Williams or others have used, could be broken down below words themselves even, to syllables, one by one moving forward in time, one by one at a time left on the page to tell what change mind went thru in the head at the desk or with pen in hand on the lap on a ship or a plane or in bed, slow as a live clock, monosyllable by monosyllable ... here Creeley was exhibiting his own personal objective yoga as it were of speech-mindfulness, a completely unique universe uncovered by awareness of the syllable as basic atom or brick of poetic mind. What was rare to experience was how much the entire set of mind, the set up, represented in the beginning of the poem, was modified by each new single-breath’d syllable. So each one word syllable modified by hindsight all the previous words. Of course that’s universal in speech, but to hear speech so bare that the modifications of mind syllable by syllable were apparent, were the theme and play of the poem, was like raw mind discovery to me anew, like rediscovering Cezanne’s method of creating space, or Poussin’s arrangement of planes or Pound’s quantity of vowels.” (‘On Creeley’s Ear Mind’, 414)

—Allen Ginsberg


Hearing Robert Creeley read at the University of Chicago years ago is one of the high points of my time spent as an audience member at poetry readings. It was only after hearing Creeley read that I began to fully understand the pacing and musicality of his poetry. I understood the importance of the parts to whole as never before. Because of his relatively simple diction my previous tendency was to read the poems quickly and then to reread them as quickly. After hearing them presented by Creeley himself, I slowed myself down and thought of their timing as I hadn't before. Creeley seemed more attuned to this than most other poets I've heard——famous or otherwise. After hearing the intonation of Creeley's poems I realized that many of them are brief enactments of a human drama, re-lived in the telling. They seemed to be less of a language experiment and more of a lyrical document of a psychological gesture. As Ginsberg hints above, Creeley was the master of set up.

His asides also provided such monumental context that I literally forgot where I was while listening.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn has died.

Along with Elie Wiesel's book Night, Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch showed the horrors of Hitler's and Stalin's regimes to the world. After criticizing Stalin in a letter in 1945, Solzhenitsyn spent 8 years in a Russian gulag as punishment. He was a literary celebrity after publishing One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch but then found himself out of favor again and by 1974 he was stripped of citizenship and expelled from Russia. His death yesterday was heralded as a huge loss for literature worldwide.

And here’s the TIME magazine story and the The New York Times obit.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I just found out that my letters to Cid Corman are now archived at Indiana University , which reminds me of my usual rant about the advent of e-mail and how it has contributed to what probably amounts to the loss of a large portion of the recent historical record of poets in correspondence. Cid’s responses were brief of course but filled with such incredible insight; I can’t imagine that we would’ve labored over e-mail the way we obviously gave thought to writing letters. I’m glad the letters exist now somewhere for safe keeping. In an extreme example, I used to get letters from Charles Henri Ford painted on rice paper. Painting letters on paper made of rice made opening them an occasion that can’t be compared to receiving e-mail. Convenience has cost us something and this is another instance when it seems that technology has trumped posterity. It's interesting to see who else Cid was in correspondence with and when.

drive—he sd

Aram Saroyan's memory of a conversation with Robert Creeley about his poem "I Know a Man" casts the poem in an entirely new light (and shows us the importance of punctuation).

I Know a Man

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking,—John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ’s sake, look
out where yr going.

—Robert Creeley

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


—after Nichita Stãnescu

There is magic in the wolf

who stares up at the flooding moon.

Whose light is a sling for stones,

a worm's pocket filled with eyes?

My heart is elastic, waits for

the gondola bearing god.

We are entranced by every Vesuvius.

The idea of it gnaws the mind.

And look, your frail teeth

put the moves on a cabbage.

What fugitive cathedral

exhales its pious cargo?

Only the grass can know

the rabbit’s mathematics.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It’s interesting to find out that former Jane’s Addiction frontman and Lollapalooza creator Perry Farrell is still going strong. The first two Jane’s Addiction albums made up part of the soundtrack of my senior year of high school and I have a distinct memory of listening to their first album and thinking “I like this but why does everyone keep talking about some band called Guns n Roses?” As a poet, I’m sometimes mistaken for an important person, so I got e-invited to the Lollapalooza After-Hours Party at Golan Studios Saturday night. Perry Farrell, my high school memories thank you.

cloud capsule

sleeping forest of why


through summer’s sieve
float across
a high-wired silence.


one who sighs
this is for you

the oatmeal oars
mowing the sea of yes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm looking forward to the David Meltzer/Michael Rothenberg reading at Myopic on October 12. Thanks to the Poetry Center of Chicago and Francesco Levato for co-sponsoring (scroll down). This comes at the end of a weekend-long symposium at Columbia College on the Beats with readings by Diane DiPrima and Joanne Kyger.

What: David Meltzer/Michael Rothenberg poetry reading
When: October 12, 7 pm
Where: Myopic Books, 1564 N. Milwaukee, Chicago

This is a fascinating page about Thomas Merton's Red Diary. It's interesting to see what Merton was reading at the time and the quotes he held dear--I'm still amazed by the possibilities of the Internet. I love stumbling across pages like this.

For example, I otherwise would not have found this quote, of which Dostoyevsky wrote "All the essence of Christianity is contained in this prayer."

"O Lord and Master of my life, give me
not a spirit of sloth, of despondency, of lust or
of vain talking; but bestow on me thy
servant a spirit of chastity, of humility,
of patience and love. You, O Lord and
King, grant to me to see my own errors
& not to judge my brother, for blessed
art thou unto ages of ages."

St. Ephrem

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I'll bet you didn't know that Henry David Thoreau has a blog. He must be pretty old by now, but he still makes a lot of sense. (Pictured: Woods near Walden Pond)

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

“In what concerns you much, do not think that you have companions: know that you are alone in the world.”

“Men are born to succeed, not fail.”

“If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see.”

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”

Monday, July 21, 2008

To bolster his standing in the polls and to appear ready to tackle the world’s toughest issues, John McCain in a bold move meant to grab the headlines made his first visit to the Internet today. His sweeping tour of the region will find him visiting sites such as, Slate, Wired, Google, and perhaps even Facebook, although McCain’s top advisors admit that a visit to Facebook may be too much for the aging McCain to tackle in one afternoon. Joking with blushing Cindy that he may have to IM her later, a term she was seemingly unfamiliar with, McCain appeared relaxed and self-assured as he emerged to face the cameras outside his home before beginning his historic tête-à-tête with “the Google.”

--Me Tronome News, 7-21

To them in the observatory

That mind and I survive
together and I lust harmlessly the
cross of schedules.

With a heart full of groceries

I wander appetite roads
wearing an enormous blue
mustache like a dessert.

Perhaps you have seen her
indeterminate No
from where she reigns
atop the mosque of sleep?

I’ll continue to prism
the vast outer centuries
until the gavel comes down
upon my conscience.

Who's purring genius,
so thoroughly sidewalk,
climbing what's rafters.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tomorrow @ Brown Rice

@ Brown Rice
Come out tomorrow night to hear my collaboration with musician Dan Godston.

Monday, July 21, 8 p.m.

1st set
Larry Sawyer — poetry
Dan Godston — trumpet, small instruments

2nd set
Laura Emelianoff — open harp
Eric Leonardson — springboard

B r o w n R i c e !!!
4432 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago IL 60625

Doors open 30 minutes before the show begins. Brown Rice is a half block north of the Montrose / Kedzie intersection, close to the Kedzie station on the CTA brown line. The entrance is below a sign that reads "Perfect".

Friday, July 18, 2008

Michelle Malkin on Obama's "Delusion"

“In this struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart bombs.”

—John McCain

“We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.”

—Barack Obama

An argument devoid of logic or coherence usually begins with an ad hominem attack. Neo-conservative commentator Michelle Malkin who has made a name for herself by appearing on Fox News, is adept at that type of attack, which is probably rewarded at media conglomerates like Fox, who pad every broadcast with a virulent array of every type of logical fallacy. The sad fact of the matter is that using logical fallacy does in fact work on voters. Appealing to history, appealing to popular opinion, the red herring, ad hominem attacks, and use of straw man tactics and overgeneralizations are the foundation of each and every Fox news broadcast. Malkin’s latest flimsy whinefest attacks Barack Obama (not his platform, or his arguments) as well as John McCain (somewhat indirectly).

Her mention of “Kumbaya Liberalism” further distorts the facts involved and also turns a blind eye to the gravity of our situation. It’s easy for me to remember that the promoters of the Iraq War reminded the American people that the effort would involve “shock and awe” but also the “winning of hearts and minds.” Any educated person realizes that the yoke of tyranny breaks most easily when the common citizenry have changed their minds about a situation involving repression and decide for themselves to take action against their oppressors. There is no more effective weapon, if this process can even be called a weapon. In its plainest terms it is a war of propaganda. It’s apparent that Malkin not only is incapable of remembering her American history, but that she’s also engaging in a war of propaganda against a large segment of the American population who does in fact now agree that the war in Iraq should be reaching its conclusion and that it wasn’t so much a war of winning hearts in minds, but a war to protect our economic interests in the region. Weapons of mass destruction were never found. Malkin doesn’t allow herself the foresight necessary to realize that the weapon that must be used against future enemies of the United States must be the “war” involving diplomacy. The United States doesn’t have the necessary resources to wage a worldwide battle on multiple fronts indefinitely, so Obama, and to a certain extent John McCain, understand that speaking softly and carrying a big stick only serves us up to a point. Both candidates have weighed in on this topic and stated that military muscle needs the support of a progressive diplomatic effort. The real tragedy is that understanding is not fashionable and many are mired in their selfish interests. Fox News has helped to quash the idea that understanding our enemies is worthwhile. The act of understanding or evaluating does not mean that the idea of the use of force has been taken off the table.

Malkin’s selfish interests probably involve working her way up the ladder at Fox News, but in the meantime she is spreading the kind of misinformation that worsens our situation. Both Obama and McCain are correct in their realization that we need to think of a way to stop the self-perpetuating cycle of hatred that is the cause of these horrific acts of violence. The jihadists who committed the terrible deeds she mentions are too far gone for rehabilitation but our only way out of the costly efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan is to use all methods at our disposal—military might as well as diplomacy. We have proven that we have the muscle but attempts to add some brains to the equation are routinely demonized by fanatics like Malkin. Her knee-jerk response is the type of absurdity that got us into a situation where we are spending trillions of dollars rebuilding another country at the expense of the economic health of our own.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This Sunday at Myopic Books, 7:00 pm – Evan Willner & David Welch

Myopic Poetry Series/1564 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622/Contact: 773.862.4882

David WELCH has published poems in New Orleans Review, Pleiades and the 2007 edition of the Best New Poets anthology, with new work forthcoming in Ninth Letter and Salt Hill. He is set to receive his MFA from the University of Alabama this August, and will begin teaching at DePaul University in the fall.

Evan WILLNER is the author of (Blazevox, 2007). These days he teaches literature at DePaul University and is hard at work on Pirke Avot, Book of Fathers, a new redaction of the Talmud.

And here’s a pic of the Poets’ Loft in Marshall, California (for the quietly indulgent).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Um, Mr. Bush

Re: Offshore drilling

"The lifting of the moratorium — first announced by Mr. Bush’s father, President George Bush, in 1990 and extended by President Bill Clinton — will have no real impact because a Congressional moratorium on drilling enacted in 1981 and renewed annually remains in force. And there appears to be no consensus for lifting it in tandem with Mr. Bush’s action." AP News/7-15

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Hokusai braved the bad
weather of his own life
to create the great print
The Great Wave Off Kanagawa
which is sold today
at Spencer’s Gifts
at Woodfield Mall in
Schaumburg, IL

Friday, July 11, 2008

There's something about a good author photo that helps sell a book. Like it or not, I know my decisions at the bookstore, involve, in whatever minimal way, a quick face- and blurbcheck as I pick up a book of poetry for the first time. Who can resist the quick flip to scan the blurbs on a back cover before opening the book? I've read of judges of poetry contests who not only mask the names of entrants but who also refuse to look at the front and back covers of a book, in an effort at objectivity. Book covers with their author photos, blurbs, and in their general design, grab the interest and provide some brief context before taking the plunge. Which is the coolest author photo here? Hands down -- Ralph Ellison. (Blaise Cendrars, Jack Kerouac, Michelle Cahill, Umberto Eco)

The Forest of Did

Meet in the Forest of Did
and at the appropriate hour, see.

The heels of our shoes were coated
with algorithms, and our tongues wagged.

In one of our conversations I note
that you are very beautiful for a human.

I’m no longer operating that anyone.
These leaves know time each night.

Even with lime eyes, I’m still
able to recognize what sarcasm.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

You may not know about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) legislation that was recently passed in Congress. The Act grants immunity to telecommunications companies (telecoms) regarding retroactive lawsuits. Because it was recently discovered that large telecommunications companies (e.g., AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile, Verizon) have been spying on average Americans by turning over documentation of their phone and Internet habits, lawsuits were filed by those whose records were stolen—but because of new FISA legislation those lawsuits have been taken off the docket.

FISA in its current state is similar to measures that were championed by Vice President Cheney immediately after the events of 9/11.

In fact, FISA is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.

U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment --The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


Without probable cause, FISA enables “government agencies” (a term that is so broad it’s nearly meaningless) with the help of telecoms to record phone conversations, text message exchanges, and e-mail exchanges without a warrant (which effectively eliminates the Judicial branch of our government from the process—a crucial checks-and-balances step in the process that limits the power of the Executive branch and provides necessary oversight). The very foundation of our democracy is built upon the premise that none are above the law.

In fact, the passage of FISA has much more to do with shielding the telecoms from lawsuits and less to do with stopping terrorism. At issue is the idea of securing warrants. Under the previous FISA legislation, which was passed in the 1970s, a warrant was necessary before law enforcement could view information such as e-mails or listen in to phone conversations. The process of obtaining a warrant for such purposes had been streamlined after the events of 9/11 considerably. In many cases, most observers had stated that a warrant under the old version of FISA could have been procured within 24 hours. If the surveillance that occurred prior to the decision to obtain a warrant was successful there would be no reason to believe that obtaining the warrant and waiting an additional 24 hours would present a problem. It’s been proven by intelligence agencies worldwide that any terrorist event on par with the events of 9/11 would take years to plan and stage, giving authorities ample time to detect the activities of terrorists and thwart their plans. FISA allows government agencies, at the behest of the Exective branch, to conduct searches with the help of the telecoms without judicial oversight. Essentially this makes law enforcement judge and jury, which is contrary to the principles on which the United States was founded. Imagine a situation whereby it is legal for law enforcement officials to enter your home unannounced and without a warrant. FISA enables a search of your virtual “home.” Not only are your communications with others fair game but also other vital information held on your computer or in your phone. Purchase histories, social security numbers, credit histories, medical histories, and other types of information can now be brought in with the FISA net without your knowledge. This information can now be shared with others without your knowledge. Those who defend FISA, or who would like to see even broader legislation, counter the defenders of the Fourth Amendment with scurrilous accusations meant to call into question one’s patriotism. But those who defend FISA without a critical eye are ignoring history. As Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The Founding Fathers of the United States knew that oversight, or checks-and-balances, was the only stopgap against the type of corruption that turns public servants into despots.

The fear marketing used by the Bush Administration to advance their agenda has worked. Bush’s time in office has been marked by an aggressive push to increase the power of the Executive and the FISA legislation recently passed is another step in that direction. Most nations on earth do not enjoy the civil liberties that we take for granted. Even most highly industrialized nations in this technological age do not hold the idea of the rule of law dear.

“…an unprecedented campaign (Strange Bedfellows) [began] Tuesday to hold Democratic lawmakers accountable for caving in to the Bush administration on domestic spying. A group of high-profile progressives and libertarian Republicans are rolling out a new political action committee called Accountability Now to channel widespread anger over pending legislation (FISA) that would legalize much of the president's warrantless electronic surveillance of Americans, and grant retroactive legal immunity to telephone companies that cooperated with the spying when it was still illegal.” —Providence Journal

Barack Obama’s recent vote for passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) after it was revised is being called a cave-in by the far left and merely a compromise by others. Obama can’t be viewed as soft on national defense if he wishes to succeed in his bid for the presidency and this is a step in that direction. I hope that he follows through on his claim to provide the kind of oversight necessary to keep FISA legitimate. Throughout American history, politicians on both sides of the aisle have used various forms of domestic spying as a tool to advance their agendas. That’s why recent FISA legislation is such a loss for average Americans. FISA proponents have sold it as a vote for the fight against terrorism when the existing legislation wasn’t in true need of an overhaul. The new FISA legislation opens the floodgates to every kind of potential violation of privacy.

The true danger of wiretapping lies in its lure of invisibility. Bush’s version of FISA places the telecoms above the law.

And some of this makes me think of one of the best British TV shows ever—The Prisoner. Not just because Patrick McGoohan drove a Lotus Seven, but because of the kooky dialog and the swinging Sixties sets.

Just don’t be surprised if someday you are asked for “information.” [Where am I? In “the village.” What do you want? Information. ]

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Philip Metres just turned 38 and so did I, so I was glad to find his entry from a few days ago about Leaves of Grass. I do the same thing—bring out Leaves of Grass to read occasionally to help commemorate milestones or else to just enjoy how my response to the book changes over the years. I can’t think of a book that’s more American. After finding this article on Silliman’s blog, I had to write something. Is Leaves more of a question or an answer? Can it be both? Leaves of Grass evokes some sense of inspired awareness, but not a simplistic religious pluralism. It isn’t that Whitman calls for us to worship what is around us, but he does make the case for a spirituality that hinges on our awareness of the interrelatedness of ourselves and our surroundings. Does a greater awareness mean greater freedom? Or is a heightened awareness of ourselves and the world we live in just another, albeit more elaborate, illusion? At its core the book celebrates existence in a way that hasn’t been seen since. I don’t see Walt Whitman as a prophet necessarily (but if anyone else does, I do agree he wore it well and suffered a bit from vanity but what poet doesn’t), but he points the way to what might be the only way to truly exit the modern condition. In the mid 1950s Jean-Paul Sartre (in the play "No Exit" I believe) formulated an opposite perspective and even went so far as to famously exclaim “hell is other people,” but Leaves of Grass conquers its literary “competition” through quiet persistence. It seems to just get better with age. Whitman reworked Leaves tirelessly. The book went through eleven successive editions until the time of Whitman's death in 1892, by which time 283 poems had been added. Jim Morrison once proclaimed himself an "erotic politician" but I think that applies more to Walt Whitman. There's more sex in Leaves of Grass than nearly any other book in the American literary canon, but Whitman takes us there through his spirituality. It's dangerous and still just really, really good.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Let me not to the marrow squash of true mine fields
Admit imperialism. Love is not love
Which alters when it alternative medicine finds,
Or bends with the recounter to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed marketer
That looks on temptation and is never shaken;
It is the star-chamber to every wandering barley,
Whose wraith’s unknown, although his heirloom be taken.
Love's not timeshare’s fool, though rosy lipoprotein and chefs
Within his bending sickness’s compendium come:
Love alters not with his brief houseboat and weeping willow,
But bears it out even to the edge of door knobs.
If this be erysipelas and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no managing editor ever loved.


I occasionally like to perform the Oulipian N+7 routine on canonical poems as my own personal seventh-inning stretch. The ingenious methods of the Oulipans (of which Raymond Queneau famously said—“Oulipans: rats who build the labyrinth from which they plan to escape.") become apparent only in the process of applying their constraints. Shakespeare can become something entirely now: instead of the assignment or chore it is to many. I sent my Oulipian constraint, the "witch hunt," to Harry Mathews , who commented that it made sense in theory but he'd need to see it in practice. I'm still working on it. Plus, I get to include the history of the seventh-inning stretch, according to Wikipedia anyway. That's Queneau at the photomat having some fun.

“The origin of the seventh inning stretch is the story of Brother Jasper of Mary, F.S.C., the man credited with bringing baseball to Manhattan College in the late 1800s. Being the Prefect of Discipline as well as the coach of the team, it fell to Brother Jasper to supervise the student fans at every home game. On one particularly hot and muggy day in 1882, during the seventh inning against a semi-pro team called the Metropolitans, the Prefect noticed his charges becoming restless. To break the tension, he called a time-out in the game and instructed everyone in the bleachers to stand up and unwind. It worked so well he began calling for a seventh-inning rest period at every game. The Manhattan College custom spread to the major leagues after the New York Giants were charmed by it at an exhibition game, and the rest is history.” —Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

My chapbook Disharmonium is now available at the Silver Wonder Press Web site. Sometimes I look in the rearview mirror and think about the many poems I've written and why. I never felt as though writing poetry was a choice on my part. I remember first reading poets such as Ed Sanders, Clayton Eshleman, Blaise Cendrars, Arthur Rimbaud, Emily Dickinson, Gregory Corso, Harry Matthews, Aram Saroyan, Anne Sexton, Ted Berrigan, Guillaume Apollinaire, and others and thinking "that's who I am," not "that's what I want to do." The daily struggle of rewriting a poem only to leave it in frustration, perhaps coming back to it on another day, is what I know to be the writing life--if there is one. Some come fully formed from an overheard conversation, or a half-remembered dream, and some bubble up from the memory as if they can no longer exist in the deeper imagination and must either exist on the page as something separate from me, or they disappear and are replaced by other ideas. Poetry has allowed me to meet myself halfway and try to define what I find there. When I look in the rearview mirror I don't see the Atomium in Brussels, but it makes a good photo. Thanks for listening.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I'll be reading a section of the novel On the Road, Wednesday, November 5th at Columbia College .

Time: 8:00 pm
Place: Columbia College,
Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Babel Fruit

Thanks to Ren Powell for inclusion of some work from my new chapbook Disharmonium at Babel Fruit.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What softening deep

stews night

hears the invi-
tation of the rain
in dust-bin mind:

climbs your
hindsight: reclines there

(inside the ear.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I sleep then eat details

first person is served in New York
not in Chicago, we sigh
high on the loveliness of time,
the way it billows
purling, streets
deep as Lethe,

fields of concrete
with quests,
occasional cops
who gallop by

lights singing
the street is a
June thesis on ease.

Like Woody Allen
in Bananas, I want
1,000 deli sandwiches
chips no fries though
at Billy Goat.

Traipsing Western
later we use the
aleph* to scan
all directions simultaneously
on the lookout
for stray poets.

Ed Dorn’s Illinois,
lag and sway
drunk on summer
er days.
I’d like to live to
70, too, I guess.


*Aleph or Alef, is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the number 1 in Hebrew. Its esoteric meaning in Judaic Kabbalah, as denoted in the theological treaty Sefer-ha-Bahir, relates to the origin of the universe, the "primordial one that contains all numbers".

I'll be performing at Brown Rice with Daniel Godston (pictured) on Monday, July 21.

To be announced.
4432 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago IL 60625

Friday, June 20, 2008

I'll be one of the featured readers at Brothers K coffeehouse, at Main and Hinman in Evanston on November 21 at 6:30pm. Come out to hear some of my new poetry.


There you will glimpse the portal to the self and cherish it. Your excuses were nailed to a tree then resurrected.

You well know about my penchant for dismay. This night is a lamp in the moon.

The doors of autumn are rusting. What miracle plays hide-and-seek with the afternoon?


She walks half-mad statues. A thick smoke of reckoning collides against her sky. Where he’d lost it.

Close the ghostly curtains of dimes.

Every tremor in the sea is an exploration of eternity.

You left your heart at the theater and never went back for it.

Scenes from summer, like a frieze. A reef of pillows lines the bed.

Solemn hour of newborns, birds insult the air. My lust is a picturesque pier.

How to describe a life’s cleavage? There is a silly hymn called ecstasy with white, aquatic eyes.


There are bridges in my pores and blades in my blood.

The legendary beauty is a transparency of the first magnitude. Of circular robes and occasional stars.

Blueish is the sky of artifice above the ruins of history.

Scissor arpeggios from your favorite song. Tread water in his memory.

Lunch on Time's jambalaya.

Nobody is sleeping in the sky

—after Lorca

Foist the molten day
upward into surf and let it
drown there, in the greenest
eye. Shine the moon, so
due for cleaning.

Let's liaison in the fire.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

8 Wikipedos

Elena Yevgenyevna Dostay,
the Russian archer,
shot not arrows
but Freedom.

My woebeg-one
what have you d-one,
like a country s-ong
about an archeoastronomer.

Hey you, why not try
latent semantic analysis?
Just the sandwich,
not the meal.

The secret cheese that
powers Hollywood
comes in two varieties,
blockbuster and huh.

Tom Clancy, your
Debt of Honor—
stop writing
prosthetic fiction.

Footballer Hugo Gatti
nicknamed “El Loco”
was known for achique
& plain weirdness.

Shibata Zeshin
did nothing much to
stand out from
his contemporaries.

Bronx martyr
last of the Mo-ricans,
Carlito Brigante
in Carlito’s Way.

future sports drink
& also beautiful
river in Sweden.

Wikipedo : Term coined by the author to describe a new type of poetry written using the “random article” feature on Wikipedia, our modern-day equivalent to the oracle at Delphi. Short poems meant to be written, and forgotten, as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nice to be included in this collage with such good company. This image is from the Here Comes Everybody blog--a great resource filled with many interesting interviews. Too bad that the print version was sidelined due to copyright disagreements among the interviewees.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm working on a series of ekphrastic poems with the photographer Jelena Glazova. This is the second in the series. The photo is an image of a woman dancing -- blurred. It's interesting as I write these that they begin based in the image and then find their own path of associations, without much of an explicit meaning --


This is a melody, composed of flesh,
that shreds each moment of specificity.
But North of what nowhere is this night?
What cavern inside us did we mine of dream?
What guides the lips that dine upon our
minds? Eaten to ward off superstition,
our fingers visited the origin of myth—
transfixed. A limousine or shadow calls
to us to dance like gristle, incognito.
Your tongue pronounces whims
uncontrollable (as through our lives we fell).
Blurred bones twist like wan guitars
in the mists of transparent speech. Yes, you
are out of reach. I orchid against you, are
you listening, but tropic climes deride us.
Train your eyes to quit their leash.

Friday, June 13, 2008


in the brambles
of the mind
soft gathering
we go

but of our
what shore-
line at the
edge of

this, a
moment upon
which we

Thursday, June 12, 2008

To the Nearly Living

I am summoned from my bed
to the ancient city of the dead

Over the archway
to the doorway
we float upon a myth.
Howling toad called race,
disappear in the assurance of immortality.
Stricken match called consciousness,
cool yourself upon the coals
that this knowledge of our similar teeth
allows us all to eat the same caves.


There are lives awaiting bread
An empty village in the sun
Knowledge has a face
The water takes her time

There is a gift inside your eyes
There is a mirror in the breeze
A quick philosophy to stones
The water takes her time

There is a luster to the earth
And an echo in the vine
There is such envy in the clouds
The water takes her time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


As heretical coat hanger
looks like Michael Jordan
summer of was and slushies
shudders in the early stages
I can’t believe you brain-
checked Madonna but look
la belle dame sans merci
faints accordingly at the Met
zilch version diabolized
thanks your moral authority for
another ukulele election night
basic needs go unmet but
city poignant weird big
middle finger glowing
Ross and Chandler implode
$2,300 is cheap for a brutish
erstwhile facsimile else
we quarter each other and,
cues blazing, become
lifeless bulldozers at O.K. Corral.
Lights, or fists, awaken.

Monday, June 09, 2008

It's surprising -- reading a Guardian article and finding they've linked their Philip Lamantia reference to a page on

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Chicago Tribune - Printers' Row Book Fair
@ Dearborn & Polk

Sunday, June 8
Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Stage
From 12:30 - 6:00 pm / Maxine Kumin, Li-Young Lee, Sonya Arko, Margaret Brady, Esteban Colon, Larry O. Dean, Kristin LaTour, Toni Asante Lightfoot, Patricia McMillen, Erika Mikkalo, Raul Nino, Ron Offen, Donna Pecore and Larry Sawyer.

I'm last in the lineup and understand that we're closing the show.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


Ether of calm
in the summer’s soft
yolk, I’ve known shadows
and freshly killed customs
walked among panthers and seasons.
I’ve known hope
its idiot coals
and followed their rivals
those dark wicker jackals.

Stood among years
in a fringe of
nervy lightning -
constructed worlds
from the tea of
that dissonance.
I’ve launched ribbons
too ripe for sleeping,
split rotten gardens
and slept conveniently inside.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Shelf of islands, my books are antennae.
Let the movies turn your topsoil.
Insects and endorphins allow grief
and wings for every eye drawer, as
often I strip the preening lamp of strays
and fence the morning from its doves.
What beautiful ocean still hums and lies?
What calendar pours all our days?
Seize for me the viscous world and
juice again a summer's sun.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Myopic Books Poetry Series

All readings at Myopic begin at 7 pm.

1564 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622


Sunday, May 25 - Hadara Bar-Nadav & Ray Bianchi
Sunday, June 1 - Jennifer Karmin, Amina Cain, & special guests
Sunday, June 8 - Garin Cycholl & Juan Manuel Sanchez
Sunday, June 22 - Abraham Smith & Steve Timm
Sunday, September 21 - Mark Yakich
Sunday, October 12 - Michael Rothenberg & David Meltzer (in conjunction
with the Poetry Center of Chicago)
Sunday, October 19 - Brenda Iijima

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

If you're interested in hearing some of my work, I'll be reading my poetry on Sunday, June 8, as part of the Printers' Row Book Fair. I'm looking forward to hearing Augusten Burroughs.

When: 4-6 pm
Where: Chicago Tribune, Printers' Row Book Fair, Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Tent

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bill Berkson Reading @ Myopic Books, Sunday May 18

Don't miss Bill Berkson and Philip Metres reading at Myopic Books this weekend.

All readings begin at 7pm.

Myopic Books
1564 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz calculates that the war in Iraq is costing Americans $25 billion each month and is tied to the nation’s current economic crisis.

This is the war that was described as a "mission accomplished" by George W. Bush, who has also said that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11.