Friday, August 26, 2011

Joyeux Anniversaire Guillaume Apollinaire

Moi aussi, je suis fatigué de ce vieux monde
Vaisselle cassée pluie persistente
Le guerre partout cadavres dans les rues de Bagdad
Hélicoptère raids au Pakistan
Je veux construire une fusée et voler vers Mars
Où je vais construire la ville du future
Basé des plans que j’ai trouvé dans Les Illuminations de Rimbaud

Les religions ici dans ces états désunis de Merry Caw
Sont gonflés psychotique courroucé et sanglante
La plus grande religion est l’argent
Tout le monde vénèrent l’argent
Méme l’argent vénère l’argent

Mais voici l’ironie l’argent perd sa valeur
Il est basé sur rien
Comme la poésie
Mais la poésie n’a jamais eu aucune valeur
Sauf pour l’imagination
Malheureusement on ne peut pas vendre d’imagination
Ou le prêt ou le louer ou le quantifier ou le mettre dans une
L’imagination doit être partagée elle est sans limite comme l’air
Et va à rebours du capitalisme
Qui se nourrit de la dette et de la déprédation
Et se rend malade et se meurt
Le capitalisme s’effondre mais la poésie proliférer il est partout

Il y a de la poésie dans mon café il y a de la poésie dans mes
Poésie dans la syntaxe poésie dans la peinture
Le temps est la poésie de l’espace
Et l’espace est la poésie de l’escrime
On pourrait supposer que la poésie est une perturbation
         de langage
Mais il est en réalité une biologie

Des pâmoisons et des explosions
C’est la fin d’août il y a du soleil sur les fougères
C’est de 73 degrés Fahrenheit avec 65% d’humidité
Warren Buffet a annoncé qu’il va investir 5 milliards de dollars
         dans la Bank of America
Et NATO ne peut pas trouver Muammar el-Qaddafi
Neil Young joue “Cowgirl In The Sand” dans YouTube
Et j’ai fini le reste de mon café
Songeant si la supposition de Malebranche
Que les idées sont “êtres representatifs”
Distinct de la perception est vrai je ne pense pas qu’ils soient
Bien que je crois que le langage est largement hallucination
Puisque les mots ne sont que les signes de choses
Et pas les choses ells-mêmes
Ainsi, il sera très facile de construire ma fusée
Et construire ma ville de l’avenir sur Mars

Je dois agir rapidement la planète Terre se meurt
Il y a des tatous dans Missouri
Et des zones mortes dans le golfe de mexique
La glace arctique fond
Et les sécheresses ont décimé la Russie, l’Australie, et la Somalie
Chacun d’entre nous vous nous manquez Guillaume
Lorsque j’appuie sur le bouton de ma fusée
Je pense à toi
Et tes fétiches d’Océanie et de Guinée

Adieu Adieu

Soleil cou coupé

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Blue Stream At The Edge Of Thought

I like the way an orange feels in my hand when I bring it out of the crisper, cold and round and porous. It feels good to curl your fingers around an object, a tool, a breast, a doorknob. It is a better way to understand the universe than to merely think about it. The weight of things, their texture and shape, their density and temperature, express a great deal.

I rarely wear a tie. But when I do, the way the fabric slides through my fingers is a nice sensation.

The feeling of hot water splashing against the skin in the shower after running a few miles in cold, rainy weather is a remarkably good feeling.

It seems sadly ironic that the things that cause the most hate and violence in the world aren’t things at all. Religion, ideology, belief. Things without weight, texture, form, odor, temperature, density, velocity, or flavor. They aren’t even a gas. How can this be?

How can a belief about the origin of the universe or a prescribed form of behavior according to the narratives surrounding the origin of the universe cause so much havoc and death?

It is a little easier to understand the conflicts that arise out of political ideology. Ideas about conduct are imposed on you and have a direct consequence on the quality of your life. But it’s important to realize that the philosophies surrounding the construction of laws are abstractions. Conceptions. Theories. Mental erections with no actual foundation. Nothing solid holding them up. They’re less than air. Not even atoms. Mere electro-chemical impulses in the brain.

Then where do a sense of right andwrong come from, and are they fabrications, inventions of thought, or do they have a reality of some sort, however intangible or diaphanous? Is compassion innate? Is joy innate? Is the impulse to destroy innate? Do animals have compassion, or a sense of guilt? I believe that some animals have compassion, but that no animals experience guilt. But this is just thought, an opinion I have, which is based on little evidence. If I were attacked by a lion on the African savannah, I might not be so disposed toward believing animals, lions especially, have real compassion. Or is hunger the ultimate driving force in all situations?

How do words refer to sensations, asked Ludwig Wittgenstein. Can we imagine a language in which a person could write down or give vocal expression to his inner experiences -- his feelings, moods, and the rest -- for his private use? -- Well, can’t we do so in our ordinary language?

I can’t see why not. Though a word is only a sign, a symbol. How might I communicate my inner life with symbols? That automatically creates a filtration. The language is a medium, like a skin, or tissue, in which sensations lose much of their purity.

My inner life and outer life are interrelated, the same way it is for everyone, all sentient beings. But the emotion I experience while producing a poem is hard to share with anyone who isn’t enamored of poetry. Most people are not. And what is that emotion? It is similar to the high produced by inhaling cocaine. It is a state of extreme sharpness, sensual acuity, and euphoria.

If I could communicate that sensation fully and accurately I would certainly sell a lot more books. So clearly, something is not working. Is it the fault of the poem, or the fault of language in general? Does the same sensation, or emotion, come out differently in French or Japanese than it does in English?

In what sense, Wittgenstein further asks, are my sensations private? That’s an excellent question. We have names in the English language for quite a range of emotion: love, hate, anguish, fear, anxiety, depression, euphoria, perturbation, exhilaration, irritation, exasperation, impatience, self-confidence, shame, embarrassment, joy, jubilation, enchantment.

And what of the word ‘soul’? It is “a kind of floater in the language,” says Robin Blaser. “They have said the word means breath, but that is the meaning borrowed from spiritus, an inhalation and exhalation of the world.”

It is “the inseparable freedom of a primal ambiguity, this convulsive beauty insisted upon by Lautréamont.”

Ponder, if you will, the secret, inseparable blackness of milk.

The feeling of light through a window in mid-August, warm, voluptuously warm, and golden. Shadow of a leaf trembling on the surface of a round, skull-shaped rock. Imagine the dreams inside that rock. The silence inside that rock. The cold, dark heart of the universe inside that rock.

The blue stream at the edge of thought, writes Blaser.

I wish I had ordered a root beer to go with my tea and water last night at Uptown China. The food was highly seasoned, salty. I love that food. But it makes me thirsty. Thirst is universal. No animal goes without thirst. So that we then know precisely what is meant when we say that we thirst for knowledge. As if knowledge were the cold hard water of a spring, a glistening under fern fronds where the water trickles from the ground, collects, and moves where gravity tugs it.

In those places on earth where it is still possible to stand in quiet and watch as the day darkens and the first few stars appear, it is not at all accidental to wonder how the planet manages to float around a single star day after day and not lose its course, drift, of a sudden, deeper into space. Or, at least, try to imagine what existed before the universe came into being. Before space and time and root beer and antelope came into being. How could so much appear out of total nothingness?

It is obvious that we all need a can opener. And love and affection.

Here is a definition of language: absence suddenly melding with presence.

And vice-versa, so that the presence of anything equally implies the absence of which it is composed. Which is a paradox, like Solomon’s knot.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In Service To Poetry's Furious Scribble

The following is an exchange between yours truly and poet Mickey O’Connor on Facebook expressing our bewilderment over America’s docility in view of her population’s daily rape by an oligarchical elite and betrayal by President Obama. The energy of our writing grew weirdly joyful and reminiscent of a time in the past not that distantly removed from our current conundrum. You might call it the pre-9/11 world, before the schism between the population and government had not grown so extreme, and the American dream had not fossilized into potholes, prisons, and the fern fronds formerly recognized as American currency. At any rate, it seemed worth saving, if only on a blog slightly less ephemeral than Facebook.


didn't anybody take LSD didn't anybody stay awake for three straight days reading & writing & painting, didn't anybody else hitchhike from Boston to San Francisco in the dead of winter so headed south to Florida across Texas to California five days one nickel in their pocket ? Is everybody SOUND ASLEEP ???????????????????????

didn't anyone stay up all night on Dexedrine & Jack Daniels talking to angels & Blake & writing the Poem of the Future didn't anyone ride a Greyhound to New Jersey with a suitcase full of dreams didn't anyone sell sheet music to Magus for a hot dog?

didn't anybody swallow hashish walk all night Boston streets subways chant ' holy holy holy ' sleep at dawn in back pew St. Anthony's church til rousted by janitor? didn't anybody hear the voice from a closet see the words written across the sky spend hours typing transcribing ? didn't anybody dream a red tennis ball & bounce it along to a hillbilly song?

didn't anyone get naked swing from a rope into glacial milk didn't anyone thread a needle with hawsers of rimbaud rope & squeeze a camel into heaven didn't anyone meet Apollinaire on the Montmartre streets at dawn & say nothing because the air was pure & the belly was full of wine didn't anyone vote in america ink bubbles of fragile quixotic hope & get the proverbial rug pulled out didn't anyone grow wheat in Kansas sharpen a knife in Wichita polish old shoes in Milwaukee paint a porch in Pocatello hear Bartok in bar talk Buddhas in fuchsias toss greasy fries to shrieking gulls on Seattle's sad ruffian waterfront of goofy scrimshaw?

didn't anybody drive Eugene to San Francisco Los Angeles to Portland hiway coast road old car girlfriend marijuana radio sex back seat Santa Barbara sea shore park at dawn ? didn't anybody a cloud in trousers declaim poetry on street corner at the top of my voice as the secret mind whispers ? didn't anybody become addicted to amphetamine in service to poetry's furious scribble shiver in a chair cure themselves four years kundalini yoga hatha yogas' due diligence ? didn't anybody late nite table piled high with books study sweet Emily D. concision Rimbaud expansion Gregory Corso wild humor William Carlos Williams & a clear eye?

didn't anybody walk winter storm two feet snow in two hours stranded miles from home hitchhike a ride on old time milk truck open door on side wire cartons filled white milk bottles in back with beautiful long haired girl Denver years ago ?

didn't anyone lose themselves in Eine kleine Nachtmusik ride the green dragon of nerve delirium through the gates of dogma didn't anyone eat oatmeal in a Humboldt County hotel room cook on a hotplate measure redwood considerations with an imaginary yardstick & a blue guitar didn't anyone rent a trailer from an old Italian man obsessed with potatoes and listen to the Doors behind a Mexican restaurant among supernatural enchiladas & angelic cows?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Penchants Of Peach

I like crowds gatherings swarms I can’t say why maybe it’s the profusion I’m in love with profusion a surge of words for example words in a swarm of description words floating tumbling spilling through the mind as if the mind were a huge arena an empty space in the skull and light entering through the eyes was without substance or meaning until the energy of the light its photons activated nerves traveled in electrical impulse congealed commingled coagulated assumed the weight and form of meaning something red something shiny something viscous something urgent and moving like blood the way blood will appear on the skin after a thin barely perceptible cut and will bead and smear and eventually coagulate forming one day a scab.

It is sweet to carry an umbrella I must go public with this I will use antennas sticks goldfish apples sparklers myriad currents morning in the mountains mirrors and camels.

Nothing escapes necessity except the necessity to escape.

The world is a place of migration constant pursuit dusty banging cars meat bumped into action moving dunes cracked hands anarchic winds. You never know when it might rain but the desert is always encroaching. The hunger for freedom persists like a glowing metaphor the biography of time a palace in the clouds waves crashing on the shore blobs of meaning splayed on the sand gelatinous transparent lustrous.

Kerosene is a proposal a puff of breath on a feather.

The restaurant was closed. It had its own atmosphere. Clusters of hyacinth scintillating brocades a parable of green stirring as a summer in Seattle.

Glue speaks to the point of adherence, and adheres. The farm is an abstraction. Only the lonely recognize it as a place of pragmatic heresy. Fatalism is an oversimplification, like carving a bank robbery out of a Texas drawl.

Lust in a caress demonstrates the soul of the apricot a handkerchief inflated into a bird perched high and defiant on a finger of stone gargling the literature of the heart.

Description grows eyes. I feel purple. I want to linger here. Electricity is amazing. Have you ever played bingo during a lightning storm? Each muscle fulfills the motivation of bone.

Thought is a form of exploration. Thought renders life more agreeable, although some adjustments may be necessary, a little water tossed into the air a transcendental hat a palomino on a surfboard instants before it swells into a theory whose circumference sprawls over the terrain like sunlight.

This flowing this silver this business of writing is like finding mounds of cocaine on a Peruvian mirror I am awed by the alchemy of words odors that reflect the discourse of the forest upside down and Fauve the private sensations of genitalia the feeling of romance waxed like a console in the hall of mirrors at Versailles then pushed into morality or joined into sticky halves of DNA hippopotamus or slug the song of a mockingbird the hectic antithesis of insects.

The ground shakes the details of the horizon the phenomenon is delicate arms akimbo. I feel old but malleable. Can a lobster fly? Of course it can. It is like an anthology of poetry: another form of willingness.

Cotton is entirely mental but it can be worn with an air of moody approval or immersed in suds until it fades into broad-minded images of granite. Heady abstractions. Eyes floating in a bowl of milk.

Distance evokes the sky, which is indispensable for a diagnosis of turmoil.

Evocation rides the dragons of discourse. The sky bends into a worried look. The logic of glue implies contingency. Propositions are complex entities bound together in a certain way. There is syntax, which is a species of glue, and semantic properties, harnessed together by declension and chain to form new, complex relations. Milwaukee. Mania. Sedimentation. Stars in a puddle, oarlocks and collar studs, a giant crystalline lobster tap-dancing on a treadmill.

A constellation of drums excites a conception of art based on the weather. And when we arrive in Limoges, the thunder dissolves into punctuation. A river curves into the color ocher. The MGM lion runs down the aisle of the theater with an intestine in its mouth.

If you wrinkle a sheet of tinfoil in your hands a certain way you will discover a passion for politics, undress, and do fifty-two push-ups.

A skull unearthed in Denmark adorns the dashboard of a red Mustang convertible. We have all made this voyage at one time or another. We have all watched as the rain moved over the crest of a mountain in a veil of ephemeral agitation and felt the first few drops on our skin as we hurried to clear the picnic-table and make it back to the car before the heavens opened and the rain came down in torrents.

All the world requires an epilogue, a perfume or equation that expresses our essence, our endeavor to find rebirth in stone and quietude.

Deliverance comes in vermilion, gallant and stirring.

The sunlight surrenders its strawberries. The night secretes its definitions of pain. Larynx and eyeball bloom in the sun. A huge black snake weaves its way through a sentence, following an apparition of meaning, some possibility of warmth, references to worlds and times that map our relation to the universe and bring some materiality to the gauze of our understanding.

I see it all in a painting. In a still life by Cézanne. Undercurrents of sexual fury in a bowl of fruit. The sheen of initiation. The shine of expiation. The wobble of wood. The penchants of peach.

Finally, we turn to algebraic approaches. The ability to disengage oneself from a concrete situation. A combat, for instance, or riot. It isn’t adequate to say that speech equals thought. It just isn’t.

What one can say is this: a man speaks as a lightbulb becomes incandescent, that is, without any idea of why.

Feeling inclines toward feeling and detours are genial when the yearning is soft.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Because The Sky Is Crying

Rivers start as threads
Of water in the mountains
Tumbling down in inexpressible purity
To become tea or coffee
Words are the residue
Of a long incubation
Let’s talk about God
Fireworks in all the colors of the spectrum
The poet chisels the air
With the roar of a wildcat in an antique store
Pain is sometimes a diversion
Or a simple drink of water
I struggle every day against the embarrassment
Of the pump on my grandparent’s farm
Eyeballs and olives and other beautiful spheres
Balance it out
With the taste of rain
The rivers of China
Are radical as ants
Even the lobster has a purpose
On a spectral farm with spectral cows
Drink the sky
Hoist a sentence on your tongue
A word emerging from the tip of a pen
A broken beer bottle in the street
A poem written in 1971
Teleological as the color yellow
Tendencies of deep affection bubble at the surface
Of a dime on the coffee table
An abalone gliding in a mountainous wave
Is the eye in the wind
Of a soul in a storm
Dissonance is indispensable
Observes Marcel Proust in a rowboat
I hold in my hand a fire
Forged in the pathos
Of cause and effect
Because the sky is crying
And poetry is a suitcase
Full of soothing walls
And a voice hanging in the air
Here for instance is a pair of pants
With belt buckle in the form of a swan
The curtain rises on a pair of lovers
And Erica Jong in an airplane
Jotting everything down
Fondling the vapor
Of the human breast
In a motel room in Omaha
All the rivers are nerves
Of light flaming into space

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Smell Of Rain Aboard A Train

Pain is sometimes a diversion, like a simple glass of water, or the smell of rain aboard a train. The dreams of the lobster are the property of the lobster, whereas the rivers of China are spectacular with the physiology of the fugue. Nothing is static. Everything moves. Each story has its paths, each washing machine its cycles. Pleasure and pain are one and the same. I know you don’t believe me, but believe me, extend this cognition into something soft and permeable, so that it may be better understood as a tongue. A muscle. The raw volume of a skinny inquiry doing cartwheels on a strawberry.

Or rainfall in North Dakota. There is a power in bread called life. Climb through the tangle of thought in your head and tell me why the sky is leaning against the ground in August. It takes a lot of sweat and wood to build a fire, but sheer bravery to combine pineapple with bacon.

I live in Seattle, as you may already have guessed. Here is a map of the Rio Tinto Zinc Mines, and here is a strand of Pythagorean string dripping words. You will find a pair of fingernail clippers in the drawer to the right under the bathroom mirror beneath a beige comb. The Sumerians scratched their alphabet into clay. But you can do better. You have a pen. You can tease the surface of a sheet of paper into revealing interactions of cause and effect.

The sky is crying. But not because I love hamburgers. Not that, no. But because it is harnessed to a paragraph where it is bullied into performing the function of an image. An image of air. Of heaven. Of clouds and stars. Everything that a sky does, including totems in the fog.

Here, for instance, is Shakespeare dipping a quill into a bottle of ink. The texture of his words have been baked in a philodendron, moistened with a rag, and pushed into unthinkable abstractions, a storm at sea, the redemption of trees, witches on a moor, oak and iron and hope, an old harmonica with the sheen of infinity. Fold it into a sparrow and give it to a sorrowful Elizabethan.

No prison can imprison the mind. The mind is a pigment that is easy to smear into a sweet conflagration of arms and legs in motion around a lotus. Infinity is real. Saturday is an illusion. The pickle is an appliance. Violins and bugs implicit as a web. And yes, these are only words, but they cry out for utterance, stamp and envelope.

Dear Bob Dylan why are you always juggling piles of laundry in the hallway? Can’t you see that the smell of spice has imbued the room with dragons and indigo? That a Wall Street Bankster is playing a fiddle next to a window? That the world is throbbing upside down? That if a balloon of thought excites the globe of the head it must result in a sonnet? How many roads must a man walk down before he becomes a seagull snatching a French fry from the lips of fate?

Life is green and lifts itself into a fist of anger. Coffee dances among the nerves. My thumb is out I am hitchhiking in my sleep. Here is a sentence lathered with the absence of stolen money. Here is the sensation of a cherry bursting in the mouth, and here is a fury of rain pelting the surface of a river. Enhance your behavior with sweat. Put some quarters in a jukebox and toss that old bleeding heart into a song of woe. I am all shook up with no place to go.

Except Texas. Willie Nelson driving a jeep ignites a mockingbird and ruminates on a bag of nails. There is a balloon of thought over his head and he realizes that he is in a cartoon called life.

Life is funny and strange. We all know that. There is no reason for it. For life. For struggle. For birth and death. Pin the cocoon to a human tear and it will one day emerge as a butterfly, eloquent and chronological, a mask of indigo on a face of rust.

Time imitates the movement of stars, but life is forged in the furnace of a wound.

The hole in the wind, said the poet, is where the intoxication of trees find their symbol of grace. It is where the appeal of gauze is in its sympathy. And where folds of cloth flap for no reason. Red buttons on a white shirt. A vague emotion resisting description. A spectral cow. A cripple’s brace.

Money is the engine of war. You can’t wear it. You can only exchange it. Its value is gained in honor, and lost in dishonor. It’s very simple. Simpler than you can imagine. Soap furthers the glide of the hand on the skin, while Joseph Priestly describes the air to a skull on a painter’s table.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Tao Of Water

Clouds are water. Odd to think a substance can change so radically from one thing to another. Liquid, solid, gas. Water.

Montaigne writes about inconstancy among humans as if it were pervasive as rain. But I’m not sure I agree. He writes: “Nothing is harder for me than to believe in men’s consistency, nothing easier than to believe in their inconsistency.”

This has not been my experience, except in the case of politicians, such as Obama, who say one thing to get elected, and do another once elected. But this is duplicity, not inconsistency. Most of the people I have known over a long period of time have been very consistent. My view of them may have altered, but they have remained very much the same.

“Our ordinary practice,” observes Montaigne, “is to follow the inclinations of our appetite, to the left, to the right, uphill and down, as the wind of circumstances carries us. We think of what we want only at the moment we want it, and we change like that animal which takes the color of the place you set it on. What we have just now planned, we presently change, and presently again we retrace our steps: nothing but oscillation and inconsistency: ‘Like puppets we are moved by outside things.’ Horace.”

This was true when I drank alcohol. There were mornings far too numerous to number upon which I awoke with the pounding headache and sharp anguish of a hangover, after swearing to myself for the umpteenth time I would never drink so immoderately again. But once I made it to AA, and quit drinking, and eventually smoking, I was left with a course that was pretty steady.

I’ve led a pretty Spartan life, largely self-imposed as the result of pursuing a chimera called poetry. Maybe that’s why my behavior has been so spectacularly consistent. I haven’t had the financial means to indulge my desires. All I’ve ever wanted to do is write. And read. I’ve always loved books. I’ve always loved writing. I’ve done what I could to support myself with menial jobs that provided just enough money to procure shelter, food, and a few creature comforts.

Which isn’t to say I’ve been free of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy has been a pretty useful cover for working around people I could not stand. It has been a tool of survival. I don’t have any reservations in that regard. No one can hold down a job without pretending to like people you otherwise loath. Particularly managers and supervisors.

What troubles me now isn’t a chaos of contradictory actions left in my wake, but the inheritance of the decisions I made when I was in my 20s. Despite the mythology of opportunity engraved in the stone of the great American swindle, there are few opportunities available to those below a certain income. And those opportunities are becoming fewer as the rich become richer and the poor become poorer. The career path you have chosen after leaving high school, if not before, will remain your career path for the rest of your life.

I decided very early in life to become a writer. This was at a time when it was still somewhat possible to make a career out of writing. Not journalism, necessarily, which used to be a pretty good opportunity for up and coming writers, but creative writing: novels and short stories and poetry. Writers such as Norman Mailer, Tom Robbins, Richard Brautigan, Joan Didion, Erica Jong and Joyce Carol Oates demonstrated that it could be done.

I recognized by the time I was 18 that, unless I hit the jackpot à la Brautigan or Kerouac, I would never be financially well off. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make. But then, I was only 18, it was 1966, and Bob Dylan made the open road look sexy and cool. “How does it feel / to be on your own / with no direction home / like a rolling stone.”

The biggest change I saw in people came between 1970 and 1980. People who, in their 20s, had been full of passion and creativity and joyfully embraced a life of simple, inexpensive pleasures, became obsessed with careers in their 30s. They became dull, lifeless zombies. It was sad.

For someone who prides themselves on their creativity, it is embarrassing to admit to being so consistent, particularly when it comes to one’s principles. I wish I could say I have changed my mind more often. But I haven’t. I have always despised war, the military, the ludicrous posturing of male aggression, a vulgar, craven materialism that seems so much a peculiarly American trait, willful ignorance, bullying, intellectual squalor, Babbitry, and sentimentality.

The one area where I have felt the most out of control, the most regret for past actions and stupid, mean things that I have said, is anger. Rants. Dry drunks. Occasions upon which I am grateful there wasn’t a recording device around.

I’ve never hit anyone, killed anyone, or cheated anyone. Never stole, never told a lie that hurt anyone. This is depressing. I’m starting to feel like a little goody two-shoes.

The closest I have come to betraying my principles, is when, in a moment of weakness, circa 1973, when I was in my mid-twenties, I applied for a job at Lockheed. My application was not taken seriously. No one called for an interview. I can’t even remember what I applied for. I probably left that part blank. I just wanted a job that paid enough money to allow me to rent a decent apartment and feed myself.

Life must have been very different in Montaigne’s time. It is highly probable that I simply haven’t been tested. Life was rougher in his day. My life has never been so hard that I’ve been tempted to steal or kill. I’ve had it pretty good as far as that’s concerned.

“No one makes a definite plan of his life,” says Montaigne. “Our plans go astray because they have no direction and no aim. No wind works for the man who has no port of destination.”

What if you become the sea itself? One day salt and waves, the next day vapor splayed out against the sky. One day ice. The next day bubbling and boiling.

But always water. “The best man is like water,” says Lao-tzu. “Water is good; it benefits all things and does not compete with them. It dwells in lowly places that all disdain. This is why it so near Tao.”

Monday, August 1, 2011

Reality Is A Cobra In A Magician's Bag

I like crowded restaurants where plates and silverware clatter and different conversations go on simultaneously at all the tables, voices meshing and sewing and interweaving. Looms of sound and image. Keep your sleeves off the table there’s bound to be goop or syrup. Waiters and waitresses are all busy. It is a marvel how they remember what plate goes to which person. The patience is monumental. Flavors search for you as you search for flavors.

I turn to answer the glass, the structure of things. The light that separates night from day, day from night, and the light in between. The twilight light. Half light. Light of reminiscence. Reflection. Moisture. Coiled hose, still dripping. The strange silence amid the tangle of plants.

Orchids tremble in the smell of dirt. The greenhouse humidity brings tears of sweat to the skin of men with the sea in their eyes.

The words drink themselves drunk, until there is history. Buffalo graze on South Dakota hills. The morning has a girth and heft, it has been hammered together in a valley of sweating gods. The day is bronze. Our effort, as artists, is to make the invisible visible. Piebald, slalom, and facet. Robin Blaser bends over the steering wheel, thinking of the miracles of Mary in Egypt.

What do you call the craft of the poet? How does a poet barter for food? What form of work is it to build a house of words? For what flowers? What African birds? What new Picasso knocks at the door of the new? What stream of words turn to limestone and grow hungry for heft? Sometimes the river finds itself in a kitchen sink. There is power in walking. There is a wilderness in words. You can go anywhere. Reality is a cobra in a magician’s bag.

Linger there in the trees and listen to the birds. Robins, sparrows, jays. Bobolinks, flickers, cedar waxwings. The cliffs are vertiginous. Nothing represents anything. Each thing is solidly its own thing. Unique. Rough. Smooth. Edged. Round. We are in the realm of the immediate. A woman gazes out of the window. Someone across the street is sawing and hammering. The city is the human grasp. Property is the blade of exclusion. There is a large, interior war in everyone. The battle for autonomy. Freedom from the needs of the body and its insane desires.

Summer warms the wood of the boardwalk. Abstractions kill the clouds. The clouds kill abstractions. No ideas but in things. No prawns but on prongs. Everything is in flux. Powerful flux. Even flux is in flux. Flux would make a good name for a laundry detergent. Churn of water and clothes and suds. The noise of machines. The punch of the real. Designs hammered into leather. Thesis flies when the tongue wags. Have you ever seen a tongue wag? No, but I have seen a thesis fly. Flutter in words and hover over a sheet of paper like an hallucination of animals. Animals that appear hungry. Hungry for expression. Hungry for meat. The expression of meat in hooves and legs and muscle and blood.

Images on a cavern wall. A sacred subterranean world of stalagmites and stalactites and dripping limestone columns and places were the skulls and bones of Leviathan mammals repose in the soft cool dust of eternity.

Paradigms of stone, beautiful asymmetries, curves, voluptuous lines adjusting with mastery and grace to the incongruities of stone, horses stampeding Paleolithic plains. The air is charged. Dragonflies hum over lava beds. Obsidian bubbles. Bare feet. Fires in pools of water. There is no point. Nothing with a point. The mind is a ship sailing insoluble water. Waves are ovations, water applauding the infinite horizon. There is a railroad underwater. We can hear it gurgle.

My words are contrary to the world. My words run wild among olives, participles tart and luminous. The sun is a bomb of continuous explosion. Explosions of gold that drool warmth among the bones. That lick the skin until it is dark. Nerval dreams in a forest where the trees eat the light and birds in their parliaments chatter until the sun drops.

Poke the fire. The flames curl around the wood. Flames from the words squeezed until the juice of meaning dribbles on paper. All shook up. Please don’t step on my blue suede shoes. The effervescent hair of the trees in the emerging wind is a mark of ablution. Sandstone indicates the passage of spirit.

Capitalism is dying. The dollar is losing its value. People are buying gold like crazy. The flow of money has stopped. The market is black and gangrenous. I wear whatever is tangible. These are tangible years. These are empirical years. Time itself has become obsolete. Talk is nimble in the bars where dissolution grows ripe and the faces are wooden and women cover their bodies in tattoos. An alligator rides a woman’s bicep. The sheen of the bar reveals the grain of mahogany. A brook ripples through a man’s mind.

Let’s all yell French ocher! French ocher! French ocher! at the dump. Morality is a thing of the past. The halcyon past. It’s been ripped to shreds. It’s worthless. It’s taking up room. Valuable room. Box it. Put it in the attic. Build a birdhouse. Make it out of clay. Shoot the rain. Shoot it with a machine gun. .50 caliber Browning. With butterfly bullets and the brain of a moose.

If you’re looking for coherence you should visit the ocean. There is wisdom in the ocean. The wisdom of salt. The wisdom of depth. The wisdom of wave and wind and trough and crest. Essence and flight and hymn and marrow. Push and pull. Scurry and lark. Watch those waves swell, grow higher, crest, and curl, and crash into the sand. The way the water murmurs and whispers as it moves up the sand, then pulls back, revealing bubbles, little holes and places where the sand puckers, reflects the clouds until it dries.

The sky is butter at sunset. The blue of the sky darkens into vermilion and solferino. Star by star glimmers into incident scintillation. The water comes in again, slaps itself down, and says listen, listen to this eagerness, this eagerness to engulf. To seduce. To bring you into my depths, where it is dark and silent at the bottom. Where walls of rock glide with the smoothness of breath into an abyss of lambent apparitions. Where Neptune sits on a coral throne, and the light turns blue as the language of drifting souls. Where quarts of eye and spine move in the lassitude of reverie. Where idioms of being fold into light. And the ink of eternity trembles on the verge of language.