A drawer so stuffed with junk I have to lightly press on it to get it to close. I found something wet and filamentary under the desk this morning and assume it’s something the cat coughed up. Weird shit happens all the time. Taxi drivers in Bangkok, idled by Covid, are starting vegetable gardens on the roofs of their cars. And here in Seattle, UPS and Amazon Prime drivers will park anywhere, the middle of a busy street or turn lane, blocking traffic, and nobody seems to mind. But it’s the seemingly insignificant that gets my attention, as always. Two plastic water bottles on the bed one empty one full. The empty one is full of emptiness and the full one is an emptiness waiting to happen. I keep thinking about time, and language, and non-existence. Imagine, for example, Hamlet is holding your skull and talking to you. Shall I enter the body of Proust and learn the intricacies of Parisian life at the turn of the century or Danny Kirwin circa 1969 and learn the desperate feverish moments of a guitar in the hands? Let’s be prudent and find out what’s on Netflix. Democracy is long over. The oligarchs won. But won what? What was it the oligarchs wanted all along? To take a shit in the weightless conditions of space while looking down at Earth and remarking on its beauty? Wednesday morning I get out of bed open the door and discover the corpse of a wolf spider on the floor, its legs curled up, and Athena sleeping nearby. She gets up, stretches, and I take the corpse of the spider into the bathroom and drop it into the wastebasket, an ignoble end to all the struggles and goals of this member of the Lycosidae family. Such is life. Here today, gone tomorrow. But you don’t see this from space: what you see is a big beautiful blue and white ball floating in the black void that is the universe. You don’t see the fragility of its ecological balances, the thinness of the atmosphere, the death of its oceans, the hatred and conflict among its populations of homo sapiens, the primates that evolved to build rockets that propel themselves into space by burning aluminum. And I find this utterly remarkable. The contradictions are dizzying. Is there anything more fascinating, more baffling, more limited and illimitable, then human perception? And imagine what shifts in perception would come after an encounter with extraterrestrials, or their counterparts on earth, its poets. I go to pick up a refill at the supermarket pharmacy. No one is behind the counter. R goes to get some wine. I wait. And wait. I lean in to see if anyone is there. I see a woman in a white coat on the telephone. I continue to wait. I look for a bell to ring so she’ll know I’m there. I don’t see a bell. I continue to wait. Then I think well, she probably doesn’t know anyone is here. So I go “hello, anyone there.” “I’ll be there in a minute,” the pharmacist shouts. And a couple of minutes later she’s there, but very harsh, stiff & formal. She’s obviously pissed. She asks for my birthdate and name and gets my refill, I sign the etch-a-sketch thinga-ma-bobber, and leave. I tell R I have to take it slow, I’m so intoxicated by the woman’s charm, I need time to take it all in.
Sunday, September 19, 2021
An example of adaptation drifts through the tube I put here a minute ago. I forget what for. Go ahead. Snap your suspenders. Roar.
The air sounds out a bulb by murmuring provender. The surface attracts faces without flexing its sugar. And this stylizes the brushwork. Burning oaths that tickle the nose. Surely this will purple a push-up. I keep some in the glove compartment for just such occasions. I fully anticipate complaints. The batch is sizzling the sizes the seizure of hissing like a probability. But I did not intend the prunes. They arrived by veneration.
Sit down and pray with me. Airports are always fugues. A circulation juggling its steam in view of a swollen stream. The sky shakes with clouds. And the night extends its horns. The invasion was spiral. I cut it out of a cluttered museum. Is it any wonder that imperatives sometimes fail to mollify the geese?
If you want me to I will stop at nothing. We will flip the right curves and lift ourselves into naked thought. If a circle is square bohemia waddles in gardenias. And nothing is done to alleviate the burden of the sandwich, which, throughout history, has been a staple of our journey through numerous kitchens late at night. Time’s lips kiss the milkshake. A parabolic syntax insists on moods. And there they are: the stars. My despair is upside down holding a thunderbolt.
Instead of measuring it in a tablespoon I think I’ll just pour the olive oil into the pan and see how it spreads. I will find my insoluble heartwood perspective there, a formula soaked in history. Ploughs, seraphs, tubers and Dachshunds under the willow. You know. It goes on and on like this until the end of the sentence, at which point it evolves into towels.
Here’s my opinion, writhing on the desk like a worm of French nationality. I’m finding the clatter that did itself into Montmartre. And it made me feel configurational, like fiduciary subversives sitting at a green table in a white room on a black night. I sprint through the slippery connectedness of these words expecting nothing of the machines other than éclairs. Or meaning, which will always touch on concentration. I’m busy in snow now. The candidness of the oarlocks reminds me of Kentucky, and tin, the most ingratiating of metals. It’s as if slivers of silver could pulse like bald consonants in a lyric of sparkling irrationality. And come out the other side singing like Tony Bennet in a spaghetti western.
My conceptions bristle with daydreams these days. Reality crackles in a meditation I brought aboard. I endeavor to crate the examples with shoes. And then a brown Rembrandt will be pinned next to our hunger, which even now huddles in the corner like a sandwich, shuddering with cheddar.
Friday, September 17, 2021
Almost all phenomena we see are governed by a speckled grace, other than guava: the exigencies that today we call genitalia. It is this Holstein that holds together the misrule that forms translucent derangement; holds together awnings in percolators, and crescendo in condors. This is what makes dispensation and nimble opacity work. So what is it, then? What’s a poem? Michael Faraday sees it as formed by bundles of very thin lines which fill space: an invisible gigantic cobweb fumbling everything around us. He calls these lines “fuzzy wuzzy hump a dingers” because these lines carry the “force,” whatever the force is. On some days it’s a hamburger. And on others it’s a redhead. Poems transmit the electric and magnetic forces within us to another, as if they were cables pulling and pushing on an antidote. But an antidote to what? To life? To death? It could be anything. A job. A bad case of frostbite. Or an angry glass jacket. In turn, these fields produce a grotto where one can quietly fill space with the rapture of cans. I wonder how Ashbery felt when he realized that his equations – written to describe bobbins, small cages, & little needles in O’Hara’s lab – turned out to explain the nature of linoleum & fog. I would imagine that perturbing the framework might dislodge a thing or two about felicity. Is happiness a felony, or just a misdemeanor? Sometimes we just need to step down on the accelerator a bit & move on down the road. The only velocity that truly exists is the velocity of an object with respect to another object. Another town. Another train. Another greasy spoon. On the other side of the ocean, a garret is still a garret, but 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon is more like a closet. This means that we can say that on Mars a rattan chair can float through an orchard if the pullulations boil out of a knife when the oasis backfires. This implies that it makes no sense to say just now because just now doesn’t exist. Between the past & the future is an intermediate zone, an extended present, which is really just an office with beige curtains & an astronaut bludgeoning an inflatable doll with a pompom. There are events that in this precise moment have already happened, events that are yet to happen, & events that haven’t been written down yet. They are elsewhere. This elsewhere exists, and is real. This is why it is impossible to hold a smooth conversation with an undershirt. In the end, there is no end, just a tag, and a yearning. Mass never changes in a chemical reaction. But it will become ovum & rotate. This implies that pain, by itself, is not the doldrums, and energy is feminine. Fungus is a quantum poetry and doesn’t follow a precise trajectory. One may be transformed into the other: only one single law of unguent lubricates the waltz. Processes must exist that transform energy into chiffon. And the people twirl and twirl in a beautiful blue space, which is everywhere, and is crude fun.
Sunday, September 12, 2021
I don’t usually drink from bottled water. I live in a city where the tap water is pretty good. I’ve seen the source & it was full of salmon. That was during a wedding a few years back, on a bridge by a library. The river was so clear you could see to the bottom, the glitter of sand, rivulets of mud, though it was difficult to make out the salmon from the rocks. So I wonder: where does the water in this bottle come from? The label says “purified drinking water with minerals added for taste.” Colorado comes to mind, because of its mines, silver and gold, tailings and old buildings in the Rockies. But the water, being water, has been many places, and assumed many forms: oceans, lakes, rivers, clouds, tears, blood, rain & puddles in the streets of London. Wadis in Egypt. Wells in Somalia. Lakes in Lebanon. The cloud that thundered & spit lightning one afternoon in Boulder when Allen Ginsberg talked in a tent. Aqueous humor in a cat’s eyes. And when, as now, a bottle of water lies on the bed next to a book quite generally it’s a book though sometimes it’s a bottle of Tums or a magazine in this instance it’s Edgar Allan Poe’s Selected Prose, Poetry, and Eureka the water trembles in the bottle as I hit the keys of the laptop causing a ripple across the bedspread a little bounce in the mattress springs the water wobbles back and forth over the ribbed plastic of the bottle and when I grab it it’s still cool from the refrigerator. The adult human body, they say, is 60% water. According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, “the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are water: 31%” A person can survive without water for about three days. We are steeped in water. Being is pleasant when there is water to pour into it and over it and baptize its babies and hose down its mistakes and water its flowers and vegetable gardens but it’s best when it comes pounding and crashing into a shore swelling up into a curl like the Hokusai print and then crashing down in a mad whirl of foam and do that whispery sound as it lurks up the sand in sheets carrying rocks and shells with it. And when your baby leaves you alone and nobody calls you on the phone don’t you feel like crying? I know I do. Tears are salty because they contain natural salts called electrolytes. The ocean on Titan is water and has tides created by Saturn. I have tides of feeling ebbing and intensifying in rhythms created by the gravity of whatever situation I’m currently navigating in this instance it’s just the patter of a brush on a drum in Sophie Hunger’s rendition of Le vent nous portera. Watch the surface of a quiet lake and eventually the wind will write something there on the surface something red something blonde. It’s elegant. I mean, just look. Look at the book. That curl. That evidence strolling over the pond.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Can a place exist where nothing exists? Does a place require a something to be a place, a glass, a table, a spoon? Quantity, quality, quarks and quartz and warts and remorse? Is remorse a thing, or a phenomenon? Do phenomena have thingness? I’m getting carried away. By a host of demons. The demon of analogy. The demon of opacity and the demon of loquacity. We are now in a place: the void of signification. This is where words collapse into sound. And the sounds abound in chains, the clanking of syntax and its many links, revealment in concealment, daybreak breaking the film of a daydream, so that the images flicker and fade and reality enforces its order among the grease stains and hydraulic jacks of the local garage. Udders hang, swollen with milk at the dairy down the street. I don’t know what town this is, but it’s a place where nothing exists. Nothing, that is, but trailers and irrigation ditches. This might be nothing to most but it’s a haven for a few. And this divides us. The people in spaceships are billionaires. The people below are hurting. Poetry, that enduring species of glowing grotesquerie, survives by feeding on nothing. Poetry loves a void. This is where nowhere finds its journey. Where words are combined according to laws of their own invention. And later, around a bonfire, it is decided that Led Zeppelin’s first album was the best, and that money generally ruins creativity. But how? How does it do that? Money shapes behavior, pulls it back from the waves, and orders a Madeira. It tames the spirit. It taints the mind. And the Madeira is delicious. Delicious to flirt with disaster. I was once proud in my poverty. Now I just worry. The current zeitgeist is a fat orange man everybody purports to hate because deep down they love him. Hence the journalism of our age, its cowardice and vanity, its sycophancy and larval teeming on the corpse of democracy. This is why, to borrow Stein’s words, there is no there there. There, where there was once a place, is now a desolation. Imagination is the gate into paradise. Go there. Follow it there. Anywhere there is looseness there is profuseness, and lucidity. Ragtime revivalism. Honky tonk donkey walk. All the excitement is on the outskirts of town. This is where spring visits the bee in a carriage of pollen and the blue plumage of the sky rims the summit of a volcano, where the pyres burn all night to make the hardships beautiful. Where the subtle rays of the embalming sun at twilight knit crosses across the sediment. Where lucidity is a passport and Lucinda Williams sings “Magnolia.” This is the place where nothing exists. The splashing canary is my comrade. Admonition crashes down the street creating suggestions, evocations we take with us back to our room, and promptly ignore the urgings of common sense. The storm renews the hibiscus. Lightning juggles my head. Here is where the heart beats, and the roads are mapped in infrared.
Sunday, September 5, 2021
I’m growing my independence. The scudding clouds assist my search. The mushrooms are beyond my control. I cut pieces of air into writing. The powder of carousal is electric with it. There’s chemistry, and then there’s chemistry: the laboratory sparkles with the many subtleties of interaction. We migrate through our destinies, babbling like monkeys, spitting out theories. One hypothesis involves a stick shift and a window rolled down, while another evolves into Holsteins. And this is the chemistry of music, the metaphorical hive of the concertina which, when it’s squeezed, makes me want to cry. So many regimes topple when the right symmetry is engaged. I pay attention to the vertebrae of the suitcase. I can hear my shirts bubbling. Crabs walk across my world. The insects are clattering on the drum kit, expecting what, I don’t know, food or something. The solace of perception is that it’s huge, and always changes, depending on the light, and the bas-reliefs, which represent the unfettered frictions of our paradigm. But we keep it moving. We keep it moving because we have to. And because movement is the soul of atmosphere. I take solace in iron. Below, where winter outlines the crags of the fjords with frost and ice, you can see the prominence of muscle in everything, the strength it takes to climb a wall of rock, and consider the distant seas. The mosquito on the shelf carved out of oak. And the watch still ticking, although time itself has ceased to exist, and the museum is quiet now, like ice. You ask if I can find solace in this world, and I say yes. I find it in reckless abandon, and rice. I find it amid the subtleties of skin. I find it resting in a kitchen sink. I find it in music and Montmartre. The glaze of doughnuts. The call of the calliope, and the silences between the walls, where the milk is poured, and the enigmas are born, and sprinkle us with the grains of paradise.
Friday, September 3, 2021
These words, which were once inside my head, are now outside my head. They were floating in a nebulous vortex when they were first apprehended, an amorphous wad of electromagnetic impulse floating in the ether of my mind, everything that was essentially needed to advance my situation as a participant in the masquerade of life, which is to say fuel for a polemic, juice for a remark or conversation, energies to be burned into locution, embryos of meaning to be prodded, glowing & vagabond, into hectic articulations, woodcuts bouncing on the tongue of a moment, making a carnival of significance, which was always a little wobbly, a little shaky minus the encumbrance of logic, & shoved into existence with nine beautiful wings & a semantic carapace. Minutes later I swing by the couch on my way from the kitchen to see R reading The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz. Intriguing title. How might a mind be captive? Imprisoned by what, its own biases, predilections, ideas, opinions, or induced – by propaganda – into believing its truths are solid, reliable, and non-negotiable? When, in fact, those truths impoverish the mind, lock it in a cell of illusion, give it a small space in which to be a king of echoes and mice. And is the mind even real? The mind is a flywheel, spun by thousands of angels, to produce a spark of recognition. Zen mind beginner’s mind is a very different spin: openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions. An emptiness. A nothingness so vital that it vibrates like the stars, bending the universe around a campfire. And at Kant’s Delicatessen all the meat is rational, categorical, and emphatically imperative. It’s also juicy, smoky, and delicious. The corned beef is a thing in itself. And by that I mean its various slices are thin and marbled and have a certain shape and a duration in time. And that it tastes of postulation and gravity, which are things not to take lightly, but with sauerkraut, cabbage, Swiss cheese and a transcendental dialectic engorged with the thiamine of thought. This is getting prolix. Gear upon gear of subterranean hydraulics. I’m wordy. I know I’m wordy. I shouldn’t be this wordy. Said the words. That I wrote. Or thought I wrote. Maybe they wrote themselves. It’s a dance, is what it is, an exchange, a give and take, a foxtrot. Don’t do a foxtrot in a delicatessen. My advice. Take it or leave it. Some places require patience and stillness. It takes the mind a while to formulate an opinion, a system of guidance, an approach to the counter and a way to make oneself heard. The city is noisy. Too noisy to hear oneself think. Because when we talk to ourselves the words aren’t always carefully chosen. And if we have to say something sudden in public it never comes out right. If the power of art is located in its power to negate, I’m on the wrong train. Which is the kind of negation that gets you to Chicago. Where the delicatessens on the south side smell of boiled cabbage & coleslaw & a surrender to circumstance that comes in the form of warm bread and the smile of a passerby.