Monday, September 15, 2014

Thwack Plaque

Goldfish are the change they tug. Urge conference, swan the greenhouse beneath a twinkle. Frill your photogenic tigers with papier collé. I will nerve my sparkle until it smells. Faucet a hunger until we happen to ourselves.
Henna is a sense there is a dot. It’s the inch we dribble so that we sob emission at its extrusion. Bobble a bubble below the clock by bubbling bucolic. Crash process, experience it as sleeves if it’s drawn by pencil. We can condense Wittgenstein’s alchemy by ruffling circumference.  
Norway’s anguish trickles its vowels. Severity flows from the clapper and vomits necks of sound. Curve it, carve it, blaze it with alpaca. Inspire boxing. This I nail to imbue bacteria.
Distill your scribbles through propagation. The bruise I opinion plays feeling by unrolling itself into trinkets. Our bulb aches defending them. Dig art, thwack our absorption behind a plummet walk. Energy is a fantasy that my proverb weighs.
The willow is so scrupulously itself that I’ve turned monstrous with cabbage. Galaxy an old garment that a pump accepts and get wet by gripping its ascension. Passion in pounds grows proud by amplification. I slouch there where gratification wallows in oddity. The thumb is besieged with honesty.
Fingers ripen in pungent suspension. Abstraction happens to everything sooner or later. Luxuries crawl to their abandonment. Consciousness fills this hair with pretty eggs and turns stuffing to thought and thought to stuffing. The pumpkin, my friend, is a paradigm.
I feel a life beneath my ribs. I hit my mouth with its debris. Snow is the swollen component beneath the words. The lucidity of it anticipates growth. We stir the prose and sip a whale.
The luminous altitude shook itself into a personality. This perturbed the ocher and made everything pull into bumps of poorly sewn conference. I spit my energy at a belt and developed a dream that shattered the atmosphere into Africa. If we continue shrewdly we will find that a meaning imitates the mineral wonder of Zambesi, and so grow to a pound of stunned conclusion.

Friday, September 12, 2014

How I Spend My Day

I gossip. I push and embody. I look for redemption wherever I can find it.

I get up in the morning and drink coffee and listen to news from France and scribble my way into sweet oblivion.

Beauty is elusive but I’m bent on finding it and wrestling it into words. Is that what made Mark Twain shave his head in Florence, Italy?  

I do not know. That is between Mark Twain and Mark Twain’s hair.

I scrounge for food and shelter. I am, improbably, a collar stud. I hate anything vague. A word slaps my lip and indicates tinfoil.

I argue with zippers and hoist meaning from rope.

I wheel and stir and tremble and endure. I convulse and turn and despair and measure.

I display feelings of experience and bump. I plant big ideas. I thunder pugnacity and bite the air. I convulse and grab and purify and slap the buttocks of my mule.

I sell books. I crack jokes. I trudge the winter streets of the soggy northwest and sigh.

I speed down the freeway. I nail abandon to the air.

I mutate. I plant adjectives in perfectly good forsythias.

I do the wash. I explode into light. I embezzle. I embarrass. I emboss.

I walk in circles dripping redwood and moss.

I like a lot of things but I don’t like routine. I’m athletic. The hives explain nothing.

A wizard once told me that the winter is sublime and this made me sparkle. Please. Sit down. Have a pancake. Watch your head. Think of this as a PhD in leisure. 

I’m excited. Aren’t you? I feel enriched by this excursion.

When I get home I’ll send you a loaf of pumpernickel. The highway is long but the pleasures and pains are pearls. Nevertheless, I must often strain to make my emotions pull hedonistic predicates into glandular tissues. Later, they will grow into kisses and lost horizons.

Infinity must be sampled intelligently, as if it were a contest in Florida involving math problems and breasts. It hurts less than bikini waxing, but the orgasms are worth it. 



Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I’ve never been into sailing. But there is a nautical term that has a great attraction. The word is ziuhitsu, which means “follow the brush.” Writing, which bears many similarities to the practice of sailing, requires a shiver of light. There is no shame in changing direction, particularly when the winds are curious sensations. If we remain stubborn and refuse a change of direction, we find ourselves groggy with torpor, and if there are no clouds or moonlight, there is a sensation of floating in space. There are times when it’s good to have a little calm. Some time to reflect. To make some propulsion. Each effect has a cause. The cause of color is dreams. William Shakespeare says hello. He is a frost giant groaning in the bitter Arctic air. He vacuums an elevator for roughly five minutes. Or is it ten? Did I mention that there are woods nearby? The woods abound with acorns. The age demanded an image and so I gave it acorns. Hummingbirds and wine. Oak. Oak is a beautiful wood, brilliant in its moral of pushing the poem forward, causing it to branch, emerge from the dark and run into the streets of Manhattan full of terror. Because that’s what poetry does. It makes a reckless infrared tennis shoe plausible as a construction crane. Tentacles of a giant octopus swishing back and forth over the windshield and hood. I never take the sun for granted. I lapse into obscurity whenever I feel like it. I’m timid at parties. I despise anything that involves badges, or potlucks. It is useless to worry. But I do it anyway. Somebody has to do it. Meaning, like radar, determines the sound of a shovel plunged into soft dark earth, and gives us a skull to ponder. For this is the realm of ziuhitsu and margarita means daisy in Spanish. The elevator rises to the fourth floor. The fourth floor offers housewares and kitchen gadgets. It is, I agree, sad to bring delicacies into this world and then get tyrannous about it. The man in the bakery shields his face from the heat of the oven. An upholsterer daubs a box joint with beads of glue. Life in the United States always tends naturally and inexorably toward the Whitmanesque. I do not know why. It must have something to do with space. Enormous shopping malls. Walmart. Home Depot. Target. It cannot solve itself. It must lose its geography to speed. The Navajo believed the soul to be part of a divine being called the Holy Wind. The Holy Wind suffused the universe, giving life, thought, speech and the power of movement to all living things. Their sandpaintings are full of symbolically expressed motion: whirling snakes, rotating logs, streaming head feathers, whirling rainbows and feathered travel hoops: magical means of travel. Easy to see why Pollock was so enamored of Navajo sandpainting. Again: Japanese zuihitsu. Starting at one place, ending up at another. Like life. The trembling of gauze in a quiet African room. Air mingling with air. Form mingling with form. Emily Dickinson watching through her window the light spread over the dark imagined land. And finding the eyes to bring it to life. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Flowers of the Wrist

Thoughts begin in air. They begin as neural impulses but until the lungs push them out of the mouth as words they remain nebulous, inchoate, formless. Words give thoughts definition, resonance. Thoughts assume life with air. Air from the lungs pushed though the mouth and shaped by the lips and tongue and palate into words, words given a particular order, structure, sequence, so that an amalgam results in a being, a town, a mountain, a forest, and events that happened, happen, or will happen to a being in a town, a mountain, a forest. A town, a mountain, a forest with names, directions, dirt, altitudes and streams.
Words that are written rather than spoken assume a different kind of life. Until fed the resonance of breath and voice they remain phantasmal. The power to be spoken, the imbuement of vowel and jingling of syllable invite the movement of the mouth. They enter the eye and by some neural mechanism they assume image and being in the mind. And so may be mulled and simmered before spoken. Meditated upon before pushed from the mouth into the all-accepting air.
Each word is a proposition. It’s naïve to believe that a word like ‘soul’ or ‘eternity’ or ‘universe’ have greater profundity than the words ‘bread,’ ‘plywood,’ ‘orange,’ or ‘shoot.’ Or, for that matter, conjunctions and prepositions: but, and, under, over, into, at, etc. ‘Before’ is a proposition and ‘here’ and ‘there’ are propositions.
These words are propositions. They have not yet been spoken. I’m writing them. I’m not speaking them. There is an exhilarating freedom since I haven’t as yet proposed their publication in air or magazine. As soon as I think to publish them inhibition sets in. I must think things more carefully so as not to appear stupid or pretentious. The vertebrae of their wisdoms as individual words already created and put in the world for the benefit of those who speak this particular language has long been established. These words are animals. These words have spines. I can turn the faucet of my mind and let these words drop to the sink of this sentence and fill it and grow into bubbles and enchant the hands with their warmth and quality.
These words are glue and provoke the music of adhesion.
These words are tinctures of pink and describe a cloud of emotion inside a grove of bamboo.
Words such as ‘God,’ ‘universe,’ ‘justice,’ ‘mind,’ ‘reality,’ etc., get a safari going. They reach far into the wasteland of human experience and propose a landscape of metaphysical scope. As instruments of air they touch the nerves with meanings whose forms and philosophies can never attain a totalizing fulfillment. Everything depends on the seeds of their planting, on the qualities of soil and climate. Some soil is arid and shallow with hard bedpan beneath. Some soil is black and rich and full of nutrients. This soil is rich for metaphor. Metaphors are flowers of the wrist as the hand moves over a sheet of paper toiling to bring them into being. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Golden Remedies

We all have two sides to our nature: our primal animal side and our historical side. Many of us, it seems, lose side of our animal nature. Society imposes this alienation on us. One can’t go around sniffing people like dogs or biting them playfully like cats. I can’t extend my nose like an elephant to explore some woman’s umbrella at the bus stop. I can’t bring my neighbor down with a swipe of my claws like a bear and have him for dinner; not, at least, without some nasty legal complications attaching to my person. I tend not to wash my food like a raccoon or emit foul odors like a skunk whenever I feel threatened. If I feel threatened, say, by a totalitarian government it would not do much good to stand near its capitol and fart in the parking lot.
“ is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built up upon a renunciation of instinct....,” observed Sigmund Freud in his great book Civilization and Its Discontents. The hostilities I’ve repressed, the lusts, the spontaneous and unimpeded satisfaction of my appetites have created an individual identical to everyone else in our society: conflicted, frustrated, neurotic, negated and neutralized. Release has been sublimated into art and poetry. Art, music and poetry are domains of uninhibited expression, provided that no one gets hurt, or killed, or loses an appendage. Sublimation is the technique by which unacceptable or potentially destructive instincts, appetites, and emotions are translated into acts of higher social valuation. When I think back on the artists who most prominently and wonderfully sublimated their impulses on stage I think of Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Burdon wailing the soulful “oh lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”
There was also Dylan’s magnificent song, “All Along the Watch Tower,” in which the joker tells the thief in words of evident desperation “there must be some kind of way out of here.”
Baudelaire uttered those words a hundred or so years in advance when he expressed the great universal sadness of being trapped in a mortal body forever stymied from a sense of wholeness and comfort and lists a variety of solutions and places where the soul may finally find some modicum of peace, when at last “my soul explodes, and wisely cries out to me: 'No matter where! No matter where! As long as it's out of the world!'”
Movies about outlaws are a form of vicarious release. Whenever a bank robber enters a bank and wields a machine gun yelling at everyone to get down on the floor I cannot help but identify myself joyfully with that character. The robbery of the bank in Heat is glorious with bullets smashing into police cars and the high emotion of a very narrow escape in which some people are killed and others seriously wounded. The adrenalin never fails to rise during this scene. Here we find not only the animal instincts in full expression but the death instinct as well: Thanatos.
Thanatos was a minor deity in the theological pantheon of ancient Greece. He was the son of Night (Nyx) and Darkness (Erebos) and twin to his brother Sleep (Hypnos) whose cave featured poppies and other narcotics at its entrance. The Greek poet Hesiod writes wonderfully of Thanatos in his Theogony:
And there the children of dark Night have their dwellings, Sleep and Death, awful gods. The glowing Sun never looks upon them with his beams, neither as he goes up into heaven, nor as he comes down from heaven. And the former of them roams peacefully over the earth and the sea’s broad back and is kindly to men; but the other has a heart of iron, and his spirit within him is pitiless as bronze: whomsoever of men he has once seized he holds fast: and he is hateful even to the deathless gods.
I was possessed with Thanatos the night I wrecked a friend’s motorcycle, riding home drunk on Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz mountains, failing to make a turn on Idylwild Road near the San Andreas fault and instinctively letting go of the handlebars and letting the bike fly into a ditch as I somersaulted through the air three or four times and miraculously hit the road on my knees. It’s amazing that I survived that accident.
My adaptations to this planet have not been entirely successful. While reaching heights of sublimated desire in poetry these interludes have provided a significant but temporary solution to transcending the conflicts moiling and boiling within my being. The rest of the time I crave intoxication. Or at least the relief of certain pharmaceutical substances, chief among them being the benzodiazepines, Valium, Xanax and Klonopin. Unfortunately, as with all really good drugs, they’re highly addictive and lead to far greater problems and hellish situations.
I can sometimes achieve vicarious results by reading Michael McClure’s Meat Science Essays, in which he describes quite vividly and beautifully a number of responses to psychoactive drugs. A personal favorite is his description of heroin. I will list some of my favorite passages:
The flash is a tremendous experience  -  a great physical cloudy blast in the body  - particularly in the head, arms, and chest. It is a sensation of great warmth and swelling.
There is no combat with circumstances or events  -  no boredom or intensity. Sitting on a bed or a trip are the same. There is quiescence even while moving; there is an inviolable stillness of person. You are a warm living stone.
A new kind of self takes over  -  there is not so much I. I is an interference with near passivity. This is a full large life -  there is not much criticism, anything fills it. Rugs are as interesting as a street.
There is time to study a face  -  thoughts are traced on it that you had not seen before. Suddenly you understand an old friend. Time does not bother, painful thoughts are fluffed like a pillow.
Comparing the high to normality, you ask where the daily pains are; they are curious. You sort through them wondering why they are problems. They look different and easy. You take them apart. Eyes and thoughts drift to something else. You go somewhere or you sit. You notice coincidences.
Jacques Lacan came up with the idea of the Das Ding for his conception of sublimation. Das Ding is German and means, quite simply, “the thing.” Life is made up of one attempt after another to achieve happiness through things and experiences, “human life unravels as a series of detours in the quest for the lost object or the absolute Other of the individual: ‘The pleasure principle governs the search for the object and imposes detours which maintain the distance to Das Ding in relation to its end.’”
Then Lacan drags language into the mix. This is where Das Dings (so to speak) get really interesting. Lacan considers the signifiers of language to be as fulfilling as the things themselves to which they refer. Which means that the plains of the psyche are filled with endless horizons, endless latitudes of potential fulfillment. “The function of the pleasure principle is, in effect, to lead the subject from signifier to singnifier, by generating as many signifiers as are required to maintain at as low a level as possible the tension that regulates the whole functioning of the psychic apparatus.” Human beings are thereby driven to create or find the signifiers which seduce them into believing that he or she has overcome the emptiness of Das Ding, the bottomless vacuity into which we toss the various toys, drugs and objects of existence that we hope will bring us relief.
Our historical side is what constitutes our personal identities, our code of ethics, the intimate geometry of our inner spheres and triangles, the semantic architecture of our irritants and triumphs, intrigues and questions, our simulations of whatever wildness pulls us out from under the millstones of worry. To each his or her greenhouse, to each her or his lighthouse. Pick a gender then mingle it with the foreign grammar of other erotic ardors. This leads to growth, and intricacy, which are romantic. The inner being is the lambent scripture of our golden remedies, éclairs of bursting indigo, majestic glissandos of imaginative bliss. Our intellects are nourished in books. The scarlet companions of our aquatic tapestries. The place where Id and Superego meet and marry. The graceful articulations of desire converting pain to pleasure and pleasure to pain. Cythereas of apricot and peach. Negligees of nervous touch black with candy hot with rain.  


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Herds of Diamond Centipede

These questions, “what do I want,” “what is it possible to want,” and “what am I” compared reveal my relation with the universe. Right now what I want is a rocking chair, a bag of earth, and the language of rocks delivered into my bloodstream intravenously. Because if I speak like a rock with the needs and desires of a rock I will arrive at the geometry of faucets in which answers evince kilowatts of personality and a knot is a knot is knot. That is to say, a convolution of rope, which smells of the waterfront. If I follow the logic of rope, I will change tenses when it suits me and signify texture with my bones and cackling scraps of consciousness littered here and there like words. Like the glamorous shine of a terra-cotta caboose.
It follows, then, that blood and bone offer imponderable moments of meaning. In this state, the best of ideas which can be come to me in on the backs of lurid creatures blasted into lavish definition by the candy of enigma. I have often thrilled to the splendor of hardware. I can be sincere as an armadillo or ironic as a cat. I can include a conundrum of bone. I can wish for sanctity and redemption. I can hope for bowling. Asparagus. A freshly mown lawn. And yet I do not like asparagus and I own no lawn. What I am this moment is determined by intrigue and the contour and texture of time, which is 9:09 a.m., and time for breakfast. I make scrambled eggs and toast slathered with cherry raspberry rhubarb jam and watch the news on Le journal de France 2. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has resigned after only five months in office but will form a new government tomorrow, which will exclude left-wing Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg who made outspoken attacks on the deficit-slashing policies of France and the Eurozone which he blamed on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Monsieur Montebourg said the rapid deficit-cutting within the Eurozone was an “economic aberration” imposed by Ms Merkel’s “right-wing dogma” which was “throwing Europe into the arms of extremist parties which want to destroy Europe.”
What is reality? The question simulates wax.
But really, what is it? What is reality? A slice of toast still warm enough to allow a pat of butter to melt and become absorbed into the soft substance of the toasted bread.
The sharp granule which has strayed from Toby’s litter box and is under my heel in the bathroom.
Edges, snow, studios, coasts.
Reality is that hurricane of inscrutable pink in the candle next to the coffee cup with the faces of the Beatles as they appeared in 1965.
Charles Baudelaire listening to Wagner.
As for goals, I have no goals. I want to visit Paris at least one more time. I want a haircut that resembles fog.
I’m an aging organism. An organism full of other organisms. Organelles, mitochondria, bacteria. My being is a constellation of microbes and cells and colloidal particles such as spaghetti.
Emotion is sweat. The lather of high intensity evolving into a travel accessory. Free will when it mulls a moment in a rocking chair. A conundrum ranked as a grassy thought. The feeling of fingers in electricity. Coal and the hardware of song. Spit and adjectives. Claws and wings. Eternity turning viscous with gestation, the birth of another star. And when the buttons are green the emotion is partly mercury. Who turned the faucet? Tattoos argue gloom. Their narratives obscure the parchment of skin with a scripture of the streets, dragons and roses, snakes and palm trees. As for me, I prefer abstractions. The charm of antiquity, the contempt of dragons.
Herds of diamond centipede moving toward a carnival of aphids.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hand of a Thousand Fingers

For me, the poetic is what stands opposed to industry, to the circularity of routine, the predictability enforced by purpose, circumstance impoverished by utility. There is a sense in poetry that poetry has its own physics, its own laws. It doesn’t. But the illusion of illimitable experience is exciting and sweet.
One can, however, defamiliarize the world using the right set of images and syntax. And here what is strange is that language, a preeminently social medium, is ruptured and broken in such a manner that it loses its social function of communicability and becomes something else. Becomes wild and precipitous.
The more I’m forced to do something I don’t feel like doing the more deadened I feel inside. Being contracts. Mind contracts. Poetry is an antidote. Poetry is to the venom of servitude what antivenom is for snake bite.
There are numerous occasions in which it is to our benefit to do something against our will. I have no solution for that. I just know that a shot of whiskey or a glass of wine helps when the task has finished. I would compare poetry to whiskey or wine. But the comparison holds more liquid than is apparent. Poetry does more than rejuvenate the spirit. It opens vistas.
Why are some people more receptive to its influence than others? I can’t say. I don’t have a clue.
It happens that, by a physiological curiosity, that phonation is linked to a current of air emanating from our lungs. The mouth shapes the air into sounds that become signs, symbols, images. Signs for desires, signs for needs, signs for objects, and all of it linked to breath. To pneuma. The spirit as air.
The most intense, most intimate, most private emotions are struggled into the air. Struggled into sound. Struggled into sense. Into sense and sentence and sentience.
Steam, silk, abstraction. Mathematics and law. Rovers on Mars. Lovers in morgues.
I find it curious that we are never the same around the same people. Some people are easy to be around and some people make us feel awkward and fearful. Some people bring out our best, as the saying goes, and some people make communication so difficult that expressions come out of us wrongly or stupidly distorted, awkward and inappropriate.
Continual practice with language makes it easier to disguise one’s feelings. It also makes it possible to discover feelings, to embellish them. To give them fur and fangs and tails and scales.
Declaration, fantasy, convulsion.
Sensations before they become automatic.
Whatever it is that constrains being, causes us to modify our reactions, the speed by which our minds respond to a given situation, to conserve certain ideas, to restrain ourselves from saying certain things or using certain words, are deformations. Sometimes these modifications are performed in order to acquire a better understanding. This becomes increasingly difficult according to systems of belief, different gods, different mythologies, different values.
I’ve noticed over the years the powerful seductions of deception. I can see how incredibly easy it would be to lose sense of one’s authentic being and react with such conformity to the social environment that even in private the truer feelings would go numb and obscure.
Nothing destroys a poem faster than the desire to make oneself understood.
Infinity, remarks Poe in Eureka, is by no means the expression of an idea, but of an effort at one.
A word is a proposition. It produces an image linked to a system of reference, actual sensation, or act. Configuration, fragment, or hook.
Language is a comparable to a hand with the independence of its fingers, only this hand has thousands of fingers. The ears are astonished to find what a pair of such hands can do on a piano.