Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Invisible Hand (again)

Ladies and gentlemen
allow me to present Adam Smith
inventor of the invisible hand
I wouldn’t know an invisible hand
if it was reaching up my ass
there is no supply and demand
in poetry no invisible hands
all the hands are shamelessly visible
on Keith Richards’s guitar strings
if you get my drift
there is no selfishness in the world
as selfish as poetry
which wants everyone’s full attention
and is totally naked
poetry wants you to take your clothes off
and make love to a squeaky toy
if you see an invisible hand
run before it grabs hold of your balls
and takes your social security
away this is what invisible hands
do they rob they steal they pilfer they filch
they take the elevator to the top floor
and look down at all the cars and people
and laugh like Claude Rains
holding a gun
with an invisible hand


Monday, September 22, 2014


money isn’t hard to understand
it’s only paper
it’s less than paper
it’s numbers
rain on a window
makes money silly
nothing of value in this universe
can be quantified
and printed as money
for the acquisition of guns
people kill for money
with meaningless jobs
money isn’t even paper anymore it’s pixels
algorithms dividends derivatives
a poem has far greater value
even a lousy poem
about work
in a meat packing plant
debt is insane
medicine and education should be free
or the limbs grow gangrenous
a giant rises from the shadows
and eats his young


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Whenever I Write

Whenever I write I like to dive into the paper. Kurt Cobain liked to play his guitar in the cupboard of his Lake Washington mansion. Me, I like to sit in a chair and develop an aesthetic that doesn’t involve admonishment, or evasion. I like to confront reality directly, get up real close enough to smell its perfume and laugh at how erratic, how ugly, how completely unreal reality is. I like the word ‘is.’ I like transitive verbs in general, though I also like nipples, greenhouses, and coffee. I like sentences that get sweet and seditious and slither through intricate ideas with the supple grace of an octopus. The whole business of consciousness is a fascinating proposition. But what is it? Who knows. There is a rise and fall to Wisconsin and Tennessee but a stupefying flatness to Kansas and North Dakota. What this says about consciousness sparkles with conversational potential. Am I a fiasco? I certainly feel that way most mornings. This is good for writing because it resembles fly fishing. If I see a totem of headlights I am glad. I feel connected to something spiritual. My existence on paper reaches for your eyes. I’m worried about our planet. It makes me want to grab a tube of Vandyke red and paint a sunset. This is a feeling founded on the idea that art can make a difference. But as soon as I remind myself that one of the attractions of art is its non-utilitarian side, I retrace my steps and tread more lightly on my dreams. The purpose of the chisel is in its shape. The purpose of writing is in its absorption. I’m antagonized by neutrality. Indifference is the real enemy. Conquer indifference and you’ve conquered a major evil. This prompts the question: can one write with passion and still remain open-minded? There is truth in wine. This we know. But why is that? And does one need to drink wine to feel the effects of wine? That is to say, is delirium a state, or a country? I see it as an eight-legged banjo. Or something wet and large like Great Britain. Comprehension is a form of drinking. The mind sips words and discovers that it’s snowing in England and sleigh bells are jingling and the colors of the sky are an alchemy of transcendent glory. This causes one’s writing to assume the murmuring ornamentation that occurs to woods like mahogany in the manufacture of desks. Time thickens into hawks. The heart flutters its raspberries in a seething cauldron of awakened syllables. One’s intentions become circular. Each pronoun is a forceps. The room is aglow with longhand. Nihilism feels rather good. Particularly when one’s thinking grows pinched like a museum. It helps to jump into the light of any language and realize that pain is sometimes sexual. There’s a certain despair that nothing can bungle except comedy. A brand new jackknife can stimulate rapture and if one’s words begin to float so much the better. Prophesy doesn’t come cheap. But who wants to prophesy? It’s a rather awkward verb to begin with. I recommend truffles. Discoveries are rarely made when we expect them. I feel the same way about orchids and birds. You need seclusion. Recklessness and talking and any aesthetic that bubbles out of the shadows groping for print. 



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.