Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Hummingbird Of Gerunds


We harvest rubies in darkness, study our desires when inflammation is needed. Tongue shards make it soft. Percussion suggests the trumpets are burning, and the seismograph is fondled. Frog Woman shoots lightning at the void. I rub the faucets for fog. The velvet air puts itself into a pair of roasting pants and sifts the rafters for semantic assemblies of osteopathic snow. Thematic octane is the pell-mell of things. Alpine weather provided with bones and iron thinking.
Fold it pop pop. The box flirtation is also broke. Fingered incarnated fingerboard lumps. Subversive verse feelings on the finger of wavy nuts. I hold the world in my mouth. Energy fences of abandoned horses that arouse the luminous hills.
Raw brown arena supported by exultations of ginger. I feel the cosmetic drool of a shaken raft let’s elect a hibiscus to be the queen of spring and eat a bag of onions. Supply me with an awning of squirting sherbet. I feel a storm is coming. I can see it in your eyes.
Here is an enigmatic Renaissance food dagger. It breathes with plausibility. It takes swirls of falling geometry to place a whistle on the snows of Pluto, but this is no whistle, this is a trickled ambience of pancake philosophy. Some things make better sense as a flutter of vanity. This is why I spend time with a handful of electrical indecisions while mechanical basement emotions crash into an agitated cauliflower chair. I come out shooting rays of sunshine and slide  on a reverie of pure immodesty for the sheer hilarity of discovering the insistence of ice.
Afterwards, my life combs itself with a sea cruise.
I support alpine art with old offices. I wear hemoglobin to picnics and swoon in gnarled carpentries overflowing with correlatives. The roots rain mountains and the mountains rain roots. The gymnasium bathtub package certifies our sequoias. The benevolence of membranes respond to the nails and I hum with raw assumptions about the gloom of pottery.
The world is about anything, really, including itself and volleyball. I have fat medium teeth. The knife thinks it balances my arm. An embassy of fog makes brown look spread into lutes, and the colors that engulf the sewing of genitals reaffirms the complaints of the helicopter warehouse. The clocks gush their own shapes of time. The almanac rises into sorbet.
Thus, I lend my lungs to dropping off rhapsodies at the center for radical ear pants.
Plastic has strength for manufacturing attention, but not the rags of shadow that adorned the cast of Hamlet one day and then went their merry way into the open plains.
Correspondence is my hiking carpet and is opposite the meaning of spit. I undecidedly play at paradise. Matter is my tray of geometry, the great aromatic highway of undisclosed destinations. Plow, noodle, plow, for the dawn of astronomy is artless in its shirt of unsewn stars. Palpate this, my friend, and tell me it’s not a capstan. This is bitter, but smoky like wood. I feel the mass of a nuclear face move over the prairie like a question.
But did I tell you? I have harpsichord work tomorrow. The dazzling hair of a placental rapture offers a perspective we can use later for the eggnog. Meanwhile, it’s time to power up the forest thermostat and give the lawn the support of some crocodilian arteries. That’s how flaky our eyes feel.
If I have the right materials I think I can complete what the ice started. My tongue is a moment of butter. Frenetic ink games and beauty with ears on purpose. I don’t worry about the sorbet but I do worry that the birth of meaning will occur without me. I can taste the embarrassment of meat.
Cloud Tooth says his distress is drooling. Go, let the boiling south go swarming around its swamps, its orchids and keys. The horizon’s benevolent kettle whistles on the stove of the turbulent sea. The distance undresses and whispers to the crickets. Our old Alpine silverware has been rolled into scorpions. We ask for a ticket to Australia and climb into our opinions of form.
Immense lightning and the memory of absence. The goodwill of the north with hills in the middle. The effulgent oil of sleep balanced in the understanding of wind. To lift the solitary is to grow satiated with poles. The hummingbird of gerunds is even now digging out its wings.




Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bathtub Math


Math fascinates me, although I don’t understand any of it. I don’t mean addition and subtraction, multiplication and long division, I mean those bizarre symbols and letters. I think what I’m talking about is algebra and calculus, those fancier manifestations of number and quantity. What do those symbols mean? How are they supposed to work? It’s like looking at Arabic script. Beautiful symbols, beautiful writing, but apart from that immediate visual appeal the meaning of those symbols, their parabolas and proofs, their vectors and functions, roots and probabilities, vertiginous theorems and prodigious trajectories, transformative powers and constructions in space, are an utter mystery. Not of a magnitude such as the origin of life, but a throne in a clearing of the forest, circles of titanic stone, or an ostrich at a strip club.
According to what I can glean from YouTube, a number next to an x means that it is to be multiplied by x. So that if you have 9x minus 3x minus 20 equals 10, what is x? Ok, so here’s what you do, you “combine like terms.” Subtract coefficients: 9 minus 3 is 6. That gives us 6x minus 20. We perform an inverse operation. We give 20 a plus sign, add it to ten, and get 30. 30 divided by 6 is 5. So the mysterious coefficient (x) would have to be five. 30 divided by six is five.
Ok, but what about something weirder involving a lot more symbols and mental gyrations? What, for example, are some good stress equations for the flying buttresses of Gothic cathedrals? For this we need to resort to continuum mechanics: the behavior of material as a continuous mass rather than as discrete particles. Continuum means that the matter of the body in question is continuously distributed and fills the entire region of space that it occupies. In Chartres cathedral, for example, ribbed vaults are supported at regular intervals and the piers themselves are supported laterally at the level of the clerestory by flying buttresses that lead to high exterior towers topped by pinnacles. The pinnacles aren’t merely decorative but serve a structural purpose, maintaining the integrity of the buttresses by overcoming local tension.
Complicated stuff. And done without math. Medieval builders used, at most, Roman numerals.
Astonishing.
Stress analysis is an amazing field. It even applies to staples. Anytime things are joined together there are stresses and strains. Stress analysis applies to solid objects. Stresses in liquids and gases are the subject of fluid mechanics. But what about the stresses and strains of daily existence? Of getting along with other people, a lot of them total assholes? And what about slammed doors and explosive emergency room tempers? Drug-induced elations? Caught zippers? Revolving doors? Stained glasses? Blister packs? Impossible-to-open-clamshell-packaging?  
Moose antlers? Lyrical daughters? Extraterrestrial probes?
The house of math offers an immoderate bed. Its equations are springs in a mattress of hyperbolic functions. Human truth is everywhere in all desires. Empirical desire cannot be conceived in isolation. What counts is total involvement. The decorative is abandoned. The book asserts its own burning. The hibiscus is a talking pan. The broom twists its tibia and the toads wear glasses. The world becomes a place of breath and melodies of sweat. Mathematics becomes more dependent on algorithms, on tattoos and coffee, on rules without reason, on improbable probabilities and castles made of sand, on camels drinking in a crowd, on the leverage of thundering algebra, on the breath of angels speaking in the fog, and declares itself to be primitive, graffiti and scrawlings on walls and sidewalks, on the cold raw elements drooling trinkets of eccentric iron.
What might a stress analysis reveal about my current emotional state?
My current emotional state is a blend of rattle and hum, cyclonic vortex, debris clouds, exquisite anxieties and blunt, nihilistic depressions. The sky is an arena of cumuliform anvils and troughs of beaded lightning. My life, any life, is a never-ending song of fevers and looms.
There is always a vagrant story waiting to be born.
Is there sometimes a generality to these things, a mathematics of charcoal, of chiaroscuro? Of storms and flapping tarpaulins?  
In general, my state is characterized by rising currents and downdraughts. On a good day you can see Paris. On a bad day you would want to cover your head with a newspaper and avoid the freeway. I could not be a flying buttress. I have the personality of nitroglycerin.
Buddhists refer to our inner life as a bitter ocean of life and death, a constant churn of internal clashes and contradictions. Is there a polynomial for this? If so, it should not be a feather or foam cushion. It should be a low center of gravity.
I have to be what I am, or think I am, which is temporarily untenable, at least as a solid, or a pyramid revolving a footstool. This would be a situation in which the given force is rolled into a cricket of transparent quartz and plunged into language where it assumes a life of squeamish predicates and furious oratory.
There are no stress equations for emotional distress. Perhaps I could write one. Let us say that the sum of the pressure for a non-viscous, incompressible emotion in steady flow will be constant at any point, until it begins to boil, and overflow into curt behavior, and become a shape like tragedy, a mask with a downturned mouth and two ruby eyes glowing with inner fire. Then if X equals sand, and sand equals dune, finding the value of seaweed will require a sandwich and a little seclusion.
If the ellipsoid is sufficiently oblate, the rest of the formula will be simple as a road, a mailbox leaning slightly westward, and a roll of thunder coming from the east. Otherwise, the answer is feeling, and may be furnished with words, including sleep and sequoia, penumbra and yolk.
The spheres are beautiful and when the emotions are entangled there is a mathematics that holds the camels away from the carpentry during combing, for the camels must be combed, and houses must be built. I feel a snow within falling, numbing, a wonderful thunder pushing it into number, numb number, and I cry tones of neglected cloth, and embarrass the greenery with abstract fogs. Equations in shining muslin give their grace to the nettles of life, our parables undertaking the shinbones of the hummingbird and calculating significations of a widened purchase, odors trimmed with reflection, shovels eating mirrors of silence in a derelict garage.
Therefore, if density equals squirrels and knife is a function of life, St. Ives will appear in the mirror, and dishes and spoons will quake with quadratic reciprocity, particularly at dinner.  The sum of a hat is carried by integers of hat. Hat is integral to hat. The obtuse angle implies a sleuth or Walt Whitman. Nothing times nothing is anything at all. Think of it as the wings of a butterfly in Brazil whose gentle flight in the Amazon basin will result in a hurricane off the coast of Australia. The world is a nonlinear tablespoon. Sooner or later the trees will multiply the sky and the goldfish will compute their bowl in erratic circles, implying a sphere of glass in a one-bedroom apartment in Poughkeepsie, New York, and this will turn out to be another equivalent of parsley, which is photogenic and coincident with thought. This is proof that there are infinites sets which cannot be put into one-to-one correspondence with Limoges porcelain, but must be preserved in the cupboard, until they are needed to serve Leibnitz’s pi.




Sunday, April 9, 2017

I'm Telling You



I’m telling you there’s a strong wind coming so you’d better wear a wool hat. Don’t wear a broad brimmed hat. A broad brimmed hat will blow off. You’ll have to keep your hand on your head all the time to keep it from blowing away, somersaulting flippedy-floppedy into traffic and getting crushed by a truck. Wear a wool hat like my wool hat. Not like that hat I took to Paris. That was a broad brimmed hat. I had to tuck it under the seat on the plane both going there and coming back and worry about it the whole time. And when we were in Paris the tips of my ears froze. You wouldn’t expect a beautiful city like Paris to be so cold but it was fucking cold. It was like fucking Moscow. It was like the Russian winter that decimated Napoleon. I waited in line to see the inside of Sainte-Chapelle, wishing the whole time I’d worn a wool hat instead of a broad brimmed hat. I didn’t need a brim I needed wool over my ears.
Would you like to hear more? I’m nearly 70 years old so I’m full of advice.
Always keep a can opener handy. Or at least a jackknife.
If you can handle alcohol just stay drunk all the time. Don’t do what I did and get sober. Just stay drunk. If you use heroin that’s even better.
See as many movies as you can.
If you see things darkly you’re seeing them as they are. If somebody complains about your pessimism or your cynicism tell them to go get fucked.
I recommend the following books: Ulysses, by James Joyce; Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain; Middlemarch, by George Eliot; The Book Of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa; Visions Of Cody by Jack Kerouac; À la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust; The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia; The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson; Voyage au bout de la nuit by Louis Ferdinand Celine; everything by Shakespeare; everything by Montaigne; everything (including letters) by Arthur Rimbaud; everything by Gertrude Stein; everything by William Blake; Thing Of Beauty: New and Selected Works by Jackson Mac Low, edited by Anne Tardos.
Anne Tardos.
Also, Clayton Eshleman, Michael McClure, and Jack Spicer.
Tarantula, Chronicles, and Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan.
To be, in its purest sense, is to have access to all the representations of power. To understand their workings, their permutations, their mythologies.
Wherever you go always have a book and a bookmark handy.
Aquariums are fun but a little creepy. Zoos are horrible.
You can learn a lot about writing by playing with a cat. You’ve got to make the prey look truly enticing, unpredictable and alive. This keeps the cat interested and you can tire her out eventually and she’ll stop bugging you while you’re trying to read and listen to Vivaldi.
Be wary of ideals. Submit to nothing. You don’t have to resist loudly. You can resist quietly. But resist. Resist your own ideas of things.
Don’t rub your eyes if you ride a city bus. You’re liable to get styes and pink eye.
Try not to take yourself too seriously. Identity is an illusion. It’s like having a ghost climb into your body and plant ideas of ambition and power there. Who needs that? Life is hard enough as it is.
Avoid doing work that doesn’t suit you. Jobs are largely stupid. You will be subjected to the whims of petty tyrants, backstabbing coworkers and the thousand humiliations that attend the drudgery and weights of submission.
Life should have purpose so be on the look-out for anything that might look like a purpose. If you find it, consider yourself lucky. Purpose is a rare commodity. Life is mostly brutish survival. Having a sense of purpose about it is a real luxury.
Always have a few lightbulbs handy. A flashlight is especially useful. As the empire decays, power outages will become more common. That fact that I’m writing this on a computer and not by candlelight on a wobbly table is rather astonishing.
If you are required to work, try to do it somewhere warm and pleasant, like Portugal, or Uruguay. Chew your food well. Keep an eye on the railroad. If you like music, I recommend Bach and Robert Plant. Lucinda Williams. Linda Perry. Joan Armatrading. Brittany Howard. Alison Krauss.
Be puzzled. It’s ok. Don’t break your brain on worthless shit. Focus on the sublime. We’re surrounded on all sides by mysteries. Necessity necessitates necessity. But the growls and murmurs are free. “Everything belongs to me because I am poor,” said Mr. Jack Kerouac.
Stay fit. Keep the pounds off. Keep your narratives simple, and close to the heart.






Friday, April 7, 2017

The Idea Of Being Water


If the wall swells I can feel it in the bacteria of life. I feel curiously explored by my own heart. A land of shadows squeezes out of the subtleties of the paragraph, snaps and airplanes, currents, drafts, tossing waves. The dream of life explains itself as a pulp, a soft moist mass of desire and drugstore awnings. Sometimes a little supposition is bent toward the howling of an animal in the darkness, followed by the smell of coffee in the morning, the merry ubiquities of birdsong, elephants, redwood, rolls of paper towels, apparitions still lingering in the brain.
Here, there, and everywhere in a Cupertino garage.
Life is a journey. Or so they say. I’d call it an odyssey. It’s more like an odyssey. Swords and robes and tents on the Aegean, the sun of a new day striking on the ploughlands, rising out of the quiet water and the deep steam of the ocean to climb the sky, rung by rung, until the blue air is filled with light, and the oats sway in the wind, and the horses of wisdom stare at George Clooney as George Clooney stares back them and a car at the bottom of the hill explodes.
Fuck, I’m tired of this imagery, filling the air with an arbitrary dream, I want a drill to fix the drywall, gently screw those screws in, get the heads nicely flush with the surface, then swab on some mud, add some tape, swab some more mud, and that’s how it’s done, how a hole in the wall is smoothed, integrated into the wall at large.
We still have imagery but the hole is again.
The hole is a symbol of something.
Chimeras? Space probes? Yoga?
I hear the cat scratching at the wall. The painter withdraws from the canvas, squints his eyes, ponders it, then returns to add a little more yellow. Buffalo roam the hills. Thoughts strain to rupture the brain with a new epiphany. The paint is thick and yellow and creates a little light for Rembrandt’s philosopher, there in the window, I don’t know what to call that yellow, let’s call it Rembrandt yellow, philosopher yellow, the yellow of thought which is a quiet yellow, the yellow of acceptance, the yellow of endurance, the yellow of lilacs, the yellow of Amsterdam and breakfast and swirls of spirit.
There was a strong smell of bacon on 4th Avenue West today. That must mean something. I think it means bacon. Or that which is in itself and is conceived through itself and may be distinguished by its odor, which is penetrating, and is an epiphenomenon of morning activity, in this case breakfast, which is a contingency of bodies coming together.
Or spirit, which floats in the air, and is a thing of the air, and a motion of the mind, a thing that appears to the intellect, or intuition, and has a charm and a disposition.
The ghost of a pig, for example.
Or a winery on the Kitsap peninsula.
Aromas of rose petals, nutmeg and dark chocolate. Black licorice, plum, and a hint of sage. The world is a tapestry of energy concentrations. Much of it enters through the nose, which is a domain of nerves, receptors within the mucosa of the nasal cavity. The odor registers on the brain and becomes a search for understanding, a yearning, a pair of arms, and embraces immanence, the grand nature of the universe itself. And the universe loves this sort of thing. Don’t agree? Fine. Go ask the universe.
The universe says yes, I will marry you. But you must be willing to kiss my stars, and crawl on the ground with your sisters and brothers the crocodile, and howl like a wolf in the middle of the night, and alarm the neighbors with the sudden reality of themselves, which Artaud called The Theatre of Cruelty.
The gist being that if you keep flapping those lips something eventually jars loose and reveals the blue hand of the screaming zebra.
The words in the hips of experience. The experience of air, of water, of fire and earth. The experience of banks. The experience of rungs on a ladder and gauze and waterfall and wax.
Especially wax.
The dribble of it, the wick of it, the fragrance of it. I want to be that. I want be something other than what I am. I want to be mercy and protein.
A comet. An icy lucidity. An open field.  Invent new genres of being, a new sky of essences. To imagine oneself as being in the world, of living in the world, untangle phenomena and get at the bottom of things. The source. To emerge into the knowledge that my thoughts and the thoughts of others are woven into a single fabric of being. Life is the first certainty that life is inexplicable, that the permanent mobility of each minute diffuses into mist when it’s falling from a rock. That the absence of a temperature is the absence of a word.  That the substance of the world can only determine a form and not fulfill the binoculars of France.
Roughly speaking: objects are chopsticks.
I don’t want innocence. Innocence is circular and sterile. I want a fan of lightning, silhouettes of gingko, and a neck of fable.
I want to be a river, a long moving magnitude of catfish and mud. I like the idea of being water. I like the idea of being an idea. I like the idea of being. I like the idea of flowing, meandering, divagation, opening my mouth and emptying into an ocean.
I want take a midnight bath and cruise its paraphernalia of tongues. I want to pull a silence from the other side of night and fill it with words. Make (as they say) something up. For the hell of it. For the fun of it. For the it of it.  
There is a sky at the bottom of the ocean. It is made of churchyards and clouds. One day it will rise to the surface and assume its proper place high above the ground. It will spill its bags of moonlight. It will hang scriptures of lighting from the ribs of the void. It will obscure nothing, it will oppose nothing. It will reveal everything, then drop as rain and crawl back to the hard embrace of the ocean.
I will wait for you at the end of this sentence and show you that the ocean was really just a sink. And tear it out and give it to you in the form of a swan.
Feed it your wounds. It will enter you as an oscillating light. And when you fill a glass of water late at night, you may give it the freedom it craves, and I promise you, it won’t end there.



Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Forgotten Greatness Of Poetry


I am fascinated by corollaries, by flux and spatulas. Syntax lingering among words of might and sinew. Nouns in an uproar of meaning. Adjectives dripping suggestion. I see fugitives and ducks. Warps and woofs. I live in a world of looms. I can see people pulling and people pushing and people in theatres watching movies. The ground is abrupt. Thinking is sand. Handsprings migrate through successions of sounds. It’s structural and yet spreads into barley. I like a sky that spins with swallows and alters the suspension of time.
I like a man that can do drywall. I like what rambling does to the irregularities of the face. I’m a rhetoric glistening with failure. I know how privacy happens. An airplane shakes with biography and this makes me giving and foreign. There is an experience that composes this sentence and it’s full of zippers. I churn inside to tell you there is a point to Chicago. These words are haunted by your eyes. Your eyes are the ghosts of this sentence. This sentence is the ghost of your eyes. It’s an invocation of beans.
What does it is goggles. Goldfish cause these words to move forward into another sentence, another domain of possibility, another map to unfold on the table and study the streets for signs of nudism. Nudism, as you know, is largely a hospitality. Pronouns bond to it like bone. The impact of the body in the water causes it to splash all over the guests.
And this is an answer. And a provocation. I know what it is to have a body, but I do not know what it is to be a moon or a horseshoe. The imponderable features of thought slide from the mouth in speech. It changes nothing, at least not right away, while buffalo graze at the side  of the road, and Wyoming greets us with a sign and a constellation of bullet holes. 
A stream of words passes through me on the way to writing. It’s a pleasant sensation, like travel. The elevator doors slide shut. The elevator begins its ascent and suddenly stops and everyone looks at one another hoping for an answer, a response, a good joke, anything that will help make one short moment in life explicable, a skein of cause and effect that is easily untangled and put to work again. The elevator starts up and everyone returns to their daydreaming.
The harder I try to represent the delicacies of the garden the more my writing begins to resemble a rhinoceros. I decide to be satisfied with a rhinoceros. But then the rhinoceros grows a pair of velvety wings and the writing assumes a lighter feeling. I decide to make the rhinoceros an angel. But the harder I try to make the rhinoceros appear to be an angel the more does it begin to resemble the delicacies of a garden.
I surrender to the facts of light and shadow. I clear my throat and begin to speak. I feel an exaltation of words emerge. They shoot out of my mouth in flames and taffeta. Large black holes that tumble across the floor causing the furniture to disappear.
And reappear. Because that is what it does. What thought does. Things appear and disappear. They float through the brain like clouds. But if they’re written they become tenable, industrial, and a little beside the point.
They become wine. They become intimate and Wittgenstein. They become art in the United States and crusty white and colored threads and an almost abstract kind of literalness. Every fresh and unfulfilled preoccupation prove more immediately fruitful than all the things I had in my brain yesterday, which are now busy reaffirming something else, an embodiment of light, of poverty and war, for no other reason than the smashing of fragments, in order to keep turning them over to find something new, a wholly irrelevant weather of hotels and whirlpools and the forgotten greatness of poetry.




Friday, March 17, 2017

Thoughts On An Old Oak Desk


I do most of my writing at an old oak desk in the bedroom. It had once belonged to my grandmother on my father’s side and shared a place in the farmhouse living room with a player piano and a gun rack with an impressive array of hunting rifles. My grandmother kept a diary at this desk, making brief daily entries about the weather and people visiting and the health of the cows they continued to milk in the barn that stood in a shallow gully protected from the wind until they were in their eighties. The last time I visited my grandmother and grand uncle was in the summer of 1968. I remember they still had a few cows but I can’t remember them being milked. I do, however, vividly remember my grandmother’s knobby, arthritic hands. It hurt to look at them. I see my grandmother’s hands in Keith Richards’s hands. How odd that of all people it would be Keith Richards who would most remind me of my grandmother.
The desk was varnished and stained with a dark brown color many years ago. It has a flap that is pulled down for a writing surface. For a long time I had assumed the desk was a relic from the late 19th century and a life on the prairie that had lately been the province of the Assiniboine and Chippewa and endless herds of buffalo but there is a large hollow space inside where a Philco radio was housed. My grandmother probably got her desk from a Sears catalogue in the 1920s. That blows some of the romance for me, but the desk’s inherent dignity does nothing but arouse my respect whenever I pull the flap down and begin to read or write.
I would prefer to do my writing at a much larger desk and in a much larger room with less furniture and certainly not a bed or a mirror to my immediate left. One glance to the left and I get to see yet again how old I’ve become and how futile it appears to be sitting at a desk.
What happened to my life, I wonder, where did it all go?
I started out in my twenties wanting to be the next Richard Brautigan. Then in my thirties I wanted to be the next Tom Robbins. I didn’t begin submitting work until I was in my forties. Most of it was (predictably) rejected, but a lot of it wasn’t. I managed to publish quite a few books in my lifetime, books that I’m proud to have written, although none of them sold anywhere near enough to generate a livable income. That never happened.
I don’t know what it would take to make a living as a writer these days. Hardly anyone reads anymore. And when they do, they read dreck like Fifty Shades Of Grey or The Da Vinci Code. How does anyone manage to write those books? I would if I could. I’m a total whore.
I’m also a junky. I’m addicted to words. I love language. I’d learn as many languages as I could if I had a brain that would cooperate with that project. So far my focus has been French. And I must say I do love French.
I strongly suspect that it is my passion for language and abandonment to words and various linguistic ecstasies that prevent me from writing the next Fifty Shades of Grey or the next Twilight series.
The very wordiness of the above sentence is a dead giveaway. When it comes to prolixity, I am a Ford motor plant.
I’m a shameless cornucopia.
I enjoy frequent linguistic orgies at my grandmother’s old desk, which is a strange thing to have in one’s brain, but there it is, the weird incongruity of my impulse to write wild, orgiastic prose on the surface of a desk that where brief, Spartan descriptions of milking cows on bitter 4:00 a.m. mornings occurred.
You know those musty attics stuffed with old clothing and toys and National Geographics? That’s my brain.
The dead amaze me. Tom Raworth, David Bowie, John Lennon, David Springmeyer, Janis Joplin, my grandmother, my father, John Byrne, Ted Joans, Philip Lamantia, my old cat Toby, all had strong, vivid personalities and full lives and now they’re gone, completely gone, so completely gone I can’t comprehend it, and I will one day be joining them.
Darkness and sympathy are interwoven and slow and that’s the way they should be. Faithful in remembering and listening and hearing and experienced in hot water and marriage and believing in helping someone to forget themselves.
I keep biting my tongue. I eat too fast. That’s the problem.
Any day can be singing a movement of a little water when the head is everywhere a head should be and cause a description to conclude in food.
Thought is just a distraction. Thoughts come, thoughts go. Words become a luxury, an exuberance. What we think of as thought is all that is there in the mind at the moment that it’s in the mind but what’s a mind and, more importantly, where is a mind? If I think of thoughts as clouds that would imply that the mind is a sky. The sky itself has no location. At what point can one say that one is in the sky? At what altitude? There are phenomena that cannot be described as crowbars or soap.
Leibniz proposed the mind as a machine, not to explain the workings of the mind, but to demonstrate the absurdity of explaining it in materialistic terms:

One is obliged to admit that perception and what depends upon it is inexplicable on mechanical principles, that is, by figures and motions. In imagining that there is a machine whose construction would enable it to think, to sense, and to have perception, one could conceive it enlarged while retaining the same proportions, so that one could enter into it, just like into a windmill. Supposing this, one should, when visiting within it, find only parts pushing one another, and never anything by which to explain a perception. Thus it is in the simple substance, and not in the composite or in the machine, that one must look for perception.

Neuroscientists say that intelligence is really about dealing with uncertainty and infinite possibilities. The human brain has about 86 billion neurons and that each neuron can have tens of thousands of synapses, which puts potential connections and communications between neurons into the trillions. They also say the brain may operate on an amazingly simple mathematical logic. I find that depressingly reductive. Whenever the quantitative gets involved things become confining and granite. I like granite. But I like it more as a mountain than a wall. Blake said that the body is a prison and the senses are the chief inlets of the soul. There are limits to our senses. The mind itself is capable of far greater visions. Math does not enter into it, other than as a snake biting its own tail, or a geometric parameter: “Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.” “Energy is Eternal Delight.”
Can one be well in a world that is turning evil? The images of Aleppo are shocking. It is nothing but rubble. The United States is now engaged in endless war. Every time I see an image of Trump, I become nauseous. His smugness, vulgarity and obesity represent everything that is predatory, bullying and destructive. And now he’s the leader of arguably the world’s greatest military power.
My grandmother’s desk is a place of refuge. It’s stern dark wood is a sanctuary. When I pull the flap down and put a book on it, it becomes dulcet in study.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Genesis


Jelly blooms in my hand like a sweatshirt. I can pay my bills now. I’ll pay them with corks and vignettes. I’ll pay them with pretty little tales about my life and times as the captain of a shoe. There’s a science to sparkling, and this leads me to think of pleasure as a class of fugitive sensation punctuated by hotels and minivans. The bills arrive later in the mail.
Money assumes strange forms. Sometimes it’s cowrie shells. Sometimes it’s a negotiable instrument and sometimes it’s a cow. The Fula People of West Africa use coin belts. The Maori used pigs and potatoes.
Imagine pigs as loose change. Pockets stuffed with spuds. Imagine a language in which heaven and hell rub together like ravens and the words are in love with their own illusions.
Genesis is the name of the young woman in charge of housewares. She looks like Elsa Lanchester in The Bride of Frankenstein. People are afraid to go into the housewares department. Everything is dusty. Genesis stands in the center aisle between rows of pots and pans staring into space with blood-red eyes, electricity crackling around her body.
You can buy a good sauce pan for a pig if Genesis is in a good mood. Otherwise, money is just foolish and the impulse to buy anything is better kept as a secret. The work of our organs is the work of our organs. Immediate certainty, the thing in itself, be it a saucepan with a domed glass lid or a thermodynamic handshake with a heartwarming ohm, is interspersed with molecules whose component atoms justify their doodles in cheerful museums.
One day, I hope to explore space as a NASA astronaut. Though I would settle for being Superman and getting free coffee at Starbucks in exchange for saving planet Earth from being stuck by a gigantic asteroid.
I would ride that asteroid into Omaha and get a room at the Bored Bug Hotel. Even the bear comes down from the mountain when he’s hungry.
Have you had contact with the supernatural lately? Ghosts? Poltergeists? Snapping turtles? Yesterday a dark bank of clouds rolled up the Mississippi at about 11:00 a.m. A few minutes later it began raining heavily. The river swelled. The waters rose. When they receded, we were in Paris, floating down the Seine.
I’m not saying this was supernatural. I’m just saying that if we need to verify whether such and such a thing exists we need to examine our own complicity in the construction of our experience. Who can look at a river and not feel that river moving through their body? A thought may be nothing, nothing in itself, but if it’s a thought about something, that something might be a vapor, or a Lincoln Continental, and invite our speculation further, so that it becomes a vowel or a story about a vowel, a tray of ice cubes in which a vowel might milk a consonant for its jewels.
When a representation about the world makes that world a world and not just another waiting room in a dentist’s office, makes Beings become Beings, words become words, the pure gaze of the reader can be applied to its inventions without restriction to the world of an imperious grammar of Being, to nuclei of indecomposable meanings, webs of sticky hindsight.
I am implicit in these words. But I am not entirely within their compass either. I am at the periphery. I am in the margin, peering in. Floating among the reeds.