Saturday, June 25, 2011

Warm-Blooded Dreams

Symposium on the Body’s Left Side, poetry by George Kalamaras
Shivastan Publishing, 2011

Imagine the warmth of a single life, a column of smoke, great crane migrations over the Ural mountains or the perfume of a Civet cat imprinted on handmade, Nepalese lokta paper in Kathmandu, Nepal, and you have a virtual approximation of the chapbook that is Kalamaras’s Symposium on the Body’s Left Side.

Kalamaras is a profoundly physical writer. Constant reference is made to physical sensation: breathing, smelling, touching, hearing, bleeding, healing, gnawing, seeping, tumbling, eating. His imagery abounds in sensual, erotic play: “… say my name sadly as you might the erotic texture of plankton,” “Would you kiss me even if I was not composed of starlight,” “I’ve spent so much time desiring women, I’m tired of my feet,” “I’d drag my paramecium self over the eyelid of certain women I’d one day hope to love.” The eroticism is mingled with celestial longing, with a craving for wisdom, the wisdom of the body, the wisdom of moss, and willow-root, and the heart pumping out blood in its cage of bone. There are numerous references to yogic lore and eastern religion, but the work itself remains true to the puckish instincts of poetry, which thrives on a playful contrariness, a subversive energy calling out constantly to the actualities of life.

It’s as if Kalamaras channeled Bo Diddley and the Buddha simultaneously. At the core of this work is a fabulous disparity, the fundamental paradox of all life: mortality. The inherent ephemerality of all living things. Curiously, this is the crisis that fuels all great art: the awareness that we are always in flux, and that with each ripening there comes a dissipation, fuels a mania for living as passionately and intensely as possible. “Then a sense of perspective frees me also,” observed Robert Duncan, “that I am indeed to die, as you are to die, makes life all mine to live.” The fuller resonance of this means that nothing circumscribes “the flowering of being into its particular forms.”

Symposium on the Body’s Left Side is part of an ongoing work called Bone Sutras.

In Hinduism, a sutra is a form of literary composition based on short, aphoristic statements. The texts were intended to be memorized by students, and so concision was a valued element in their composition.

Kalamaras makes a slightly different use of them; he combines riddles, koans, puzzles and occasional surrealist flourishes. He avoids strict linearity and logic in the service of a higher, more transcendent form of cognition. What Hart Crane described in a letter to Harriet Monroe as an “apparent illogic,” an inflection of language, that “operates so logically in conjunction with its context in the poem as to establish a claim to another logic, quite independent of the original definition of the word or phrase or image thus employed.”

Here, for example, is “Saluting the Bruise,” in which the poet remarks, through a series of puckish contradictions, on what Nietzsche referred to as the “eternal wound of existence.”

As if my heart was the canticle of the Milky Way, I am exact in my
Yes, I’ve said it before. I am in the business of regressing evermore

Chess? You require a blue and green board to combat your black
         and red regret?
I’ve skillfully hidden the black and blue, and now my strategy might

How distinct from one another are we, really?
I’ve ordered the mirror, buried the jar of ants in the sand, and still you
         speak through me in absolute threes.

As if my heart. As if my canticle. As if my Milky Way where the
         healing might begin.
I might be exact as an epaulet, confiscating the shoulder, even, of
         every civilian who dares salute the bruise.

This breath wherein the world goes on dying.
This breath wherein the world forever goes.

People tend to have strong feelings about the use of the second person as a literary strategy. Some people hate it. I like it. I like the ambiguity of it: the writer could be referring to the reader (or listener), to a hidden, mysterious identity, to oneself, which gives it an argumentative tinge, or to all of the above, simultaneously.

The line “I’ve ordered the mirror, buried the jar of ants in the sand, and still you speak through me in absolute threes,” speaks to the circumstance of a rite, a ceremony of magic, a shamanistic journey. The combination of mirror and ants is effective; the one an object of reflection, the other a teeming, as of words, picking up pieces of nourishment from the world, and then descending into the ground, into a deeper realm where these articles are digested.

Kalamaras brings with this chapbook a beautifully crafted inclusion in his Bone Sutras series, which in itself offers something unusual to contemporary poets and writers: a sense of the sacred, certainly, but one which is delivered in words that have the juiciness of plums, the tart vivacity of wild chicory, and the spicy warmth of Ethiopian red pepper.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Two By Four

Gallant finger. Nascent oak.

Rain agrees with myth. Visceral rips of rhetoric. Circulated comb invisible fruit. Morning in a taxi.

Intuitive blood. Iron being.

Cloth is living testament. Ravenous oval fireside spoon. Thin oddities mongrel truths. Circus where secrets sparkle.

Holy perspective. Esophageal hose.

Hilly conception in accentuation. Coffee under perpetual construction. Firmament dragging placental perception. Loads of jaunty angels.

Black hills. Startling beige.

Soap excels at tickling. Lobster juggling its scruples. Sunlight flopped on smelt. Romance of jingled adults.

Bistro palette. Splattered sweat.

Red house spitting knives. Language humors a syntax. Burning howling growling grammar. Focussed convocation of ears.

Spectral depth. Storied attitude.

Revelatory highway barked emotion. Staunch taste of outdoors. The sky gets bottled. Fly this into prophecy.

Boiling point. Exhilarating stars.

A spirit strains meaning. Because consonants thunder vowels. And syllables twang infinity. Phantoms pump the tongue.

And hypothesize. Stir tattoos.

Kerosene urges sputtering plausibility. Silver locomotives of art. Sanguine banks of fire. Emotions big as morning.

Restless azure. Eloquent eyes.

The story gets loud. Cemetery held by metaphor. Gloss on Mediterranean shells. Laughter gets algebra unbuttoned.

Ghostly forms. Indigo spirits.

Hammer in a canoe. Tall maples fluttered leaves. Galaxies of clinging pain. Water denies its flimflam.

Because tin. Because erratic.

Formula shouting its chrome. Resilience cocoons stratospheric poetry. Poke this into absorption. The metamorphosis of silk.

Teeming bighorn. Amorous sparrows.

Do anything you want. Be rubber be rubbed. Rubbed rubber ruddy rubble. Rumble in russet rumination.

Swallow circumference. Sip mind.

Hallucinations amaze the air. The lake is lonely. The lake is mosquitoes. The lake is wrinkled.

Fat glitter. Frantic waves.

A man named Tie. A woman named Hypothesis. A boy named Murmur. A girl named Green.

Experience spinning. Shrewdly dangling.

I feel your skin. Your eyes your arms. Your feelings your tumult. Your seething your screaming.

Your anonymity. Your weariness.

Glue eludes its garrulity. Alligators pound the ooze. We listen for France. We hear the sky.

Epidermal cries. Romantic immersion.

The sandstone library twinkles. The books occupy themselves. Poetry sweetens the corner. Paragraphs affirm our alibis.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Clicking of the burner on the stove.

Toby scratching his chin.

Ticking of the red clock behind the TV.

Steady grumble of an airplane, chop chop chop chop chop of a helicopter.

Toby eating: smack, smack, smack, smack.

Hush of water through the pipes going into the washing machine in the laundry room as S comes out to check on his wash. Hushed metal and wood sound of door closing.

Muted, metallic sound of my keys hitting the carpet on the hallway steps as I drop them and prepare to put my running shoes on.

I go for a run. A thirty-something woman walking a black poodle suddenly bursts out yeah! yeah! yeah! as I pass. I see her adjust a gadget hooked to her ear. Bluetooth.

Thud, thud, thud, thud of a heavyset, middle-aged man wearing a sweaty t-shirt that says Texas State.

Spirited exchange of robins in the vicinity of Galer Street and 8th Avenue West.

Dog barking in Bhy Kracke park.

Washing machine in its spin cycle sounds like a helicopter landing in the building hallway. Big rattle and rumble. Fury and force. As if it were about to burst apart like a self-destructing Jean Tinguely sculpture.

K running the power wash, hosing the parking lot and sidewalk, the hiss and splash of water accompanied by the rapid-fire, angry murmur of the pressurizer.

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump of rock ‘n roll drums coming from the CD player in the upstairs apartment.

My pen and glass case hitting the solid wood surface of the coffee table as I undress for bed.

Cat toy in the shape of a fish that makes a gurgly-burbly sound, like water bubbling in a cartoon aquarium.

Goofy, evacuative sounds of the plastic barbecue sauce bottle as Roberta squeezes out sauce for our beans and muffin cowboy dinner.

My heel burbles. I feel a lump under my foot. I am standing on Toby’s toy.

The owner of the house next door, a solidly built, muscular man in his early to mid-60s with white, short-cropped hair and the look of a seasoned warrior, runs some sort of power tool that makes an extremely abrasive sound, an electrical whir followed by a spinning blade grinding stone, or metal.

Sound of a small paring knife slicing through an orange, muted thunk, thunk, thunk as each piece drops to the wooden bread board.

Out running, I hear busy little scratchy sounds and see a dozen or so squirrels flow down the trunk of a tree. It looks like a squirrel waterfall.

Warm, mellow June evening: the distant hush of a jet fades into the sky.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Two From Burning Deck

Four Cut-ups, or The Case of the Restored Volume, poetry by David Lespiau, translation by Keith Waldrop
Burning Deck, 2010

engulf - enkindle, poetry by Anja Utler, translation by Kurt Beals
Burning Deck, 2010

Four Cut-ups, or The Case of the Restored Volume, may be the only book of poetry to indicate the method of its production in the title. This suggests a kind of baldness, an open declaration of strategy, and poetic philosophy. It is like entering a building before it is fully constructed, so that the beams, anchor bolts, and butt joints are exposed. There is the smell of freshly sawn wood and plaster. Voices echo. Buckets and stepladders punctuate the space.

Four Cut-ups has four sections. The poems are untitled. Vocabulary and imagery suggest shared source material for each section, which are titled “Alan, Benjy, Billy…,” “The reproduction of the seascape is unsigned,” “Iris & Bang-Utot,” and “Sucre in French is not sugar in English.”

“The cut-up method brings to writers the collage, which has been used by painters for fifty years,” observes William Burroughs in The Third Mind, “And used by the moving and still camera.”

In fact all street shots from movie or still cameras are by the unpredictable factors of passerby and juxtaposition cut-ups. And photographers will tell you that often their best shots are accidents… writers will tell you the same. The best writing seems to be done almost by accident but writers until the cut-up method was made explicit -- all writing is in fact cut-ups; I will return to this point -- had no way to produce the accident of spontaneity. You cannot will spontaneity. But you can introduce the unpredictable spontaneous factor with a pair of scissors.

The method is simple. Here is one way to do it. Take a page. Like this page. Now cut down the middle and across the middle. You have four sections: 1 2 3 4… one two three four. Now rearrange the sections placing section four with section one and section two with section three. And you have a new page.

“thought sugars” begins the poem on page 18 of the first section.

thought sugars
the storm / not
water, cognitive
discomfiture of
the bait in place
and position of
fact, after all o-
range is orage save
for n letters in a fine
rain of blue silk
- the gentle rain
its contour

orage, in French, means storm. The poem’s disjunctive structure is an analogue for the chaos of a storm. There is an acute feeling of velocity and turbulence tearing at the poem’s structure, as if the force within were almost too great for the poem’s containment. Disjunction both arouses and defies coherence. The poem’s subject is identical to its structure. Syntax rattles like a can of nuts and bolts. The action of the poem is under high compression. It could explode at any minute.

The poem on page 25, in the second section, presents a calmer climate. The subject is the seashore.

twice at the surface
of the sea and its waves
the representation
of water’s color
is bad. Shot of calm
sea. Slices. Fish
The other noises, voices
across the room
start up again. Lemon, housefly
glass egg raring
to reproduce

This is a meta-poem whose subject is the nature of representation itself, summed up nicely in the last pretty word, verisimilitude. It’s modesty of size and minimalist bareness belie a richness of information. “Twice at the surface” alludes to Heraclitus and his famous axiom about never being able to step into the same river twice. “Water’s color” refers both to the actual color of the water, but also the rather tame watercolors we often find adorning the walls of motel rooms. “Slices” refers both to slices of fish and the poem’s method of production. Two simple words, lemon and housefly, generate an entire milieu: a room in which someone is squeezing, or just squeezed, a lemon, which has drawn a housefly. We see the room clearly, like a painting by Jean Baptiste Chardin, or Fairfield Porter. It’s a calm scene, which is duplicated in a glass egg, a piece of egg-shaped glasswork, perhaps, reflecting the objects in the room, and so producing a verisimilitude, a world doubled by reflection.

I was startled the first time I opened Utler’s engulf -- enkindle. The work is so elemental. Utler’s poems are highly similar to Lespiau’s, they are small, fragmented, disjunctive, with no apparent subjectivity, though she makes no open declaration of her method of construction. She is a trifle less minimalistic, giving us a bit more description, a few more adjectives, and there is a peculiarly romantic flavor. Romantic in the sense Schiller intended it: underlying beauty is the sublime, which is a force of terrific power, too great for our mortal senses, and contends against reason while leading us to a higher, moral sense of the universe. Here, I am in danger of reading too much into Utler’s poetry, or misinterpreting it altogether, but this I do know: it is full of turbulence. The lines halt and burst and fracture because of the tremendous energy underlying its production.

In the margin to the immediate left of the poem on page 16, are two words: encounter: escape. These serve, like a chapter heading, to suggest the circumstance of the poem.

but feel only: stagger, well, murmur -- a murmuring
stream, so it’s called - not to know, just
to: plunge down towards finally
to: trickle to drip start to spill over
pinechoked till: deep in the lowland
- the gullet, it’s called - as if: sluiced
from the: spit- to the streambed - run-
off - exuded, poured out into
pitching flowing, meandering veins
fray - towards: waterstop - jugal dam,
gurgle and sticks stutters catches: on snares of
hornwort, toothed, flooding the: clearcut mouth

One can feel the poet in a state of considerable excitement struggling to put this scene in words that have the same immediacy and rawness with which the senses apprehend it. The sublime is apparent in shreds, stumbling, in images coming so fast the poet cannot get them down on paper fast enough. One feels the water on one’s skin, the sparkle of it, the turbulence, the ferocity of water cascading down a mountainside.

German would seem to be the perfect language for this rough, woodland ecstasy. I wish I knew German. I have heard enough German to be familiar with its sounds, and German sounds like earth and water in play and contention with one another. Elemental.

“sibyl - poem in eight syllables,” (Utler prefers lower case letters in all instances), has a vatic intensity. It is both violent and sensual. It begins with an epigraph, on the opposing page, by Marina Tsvetaeva: “Sibyl in cinders, Sibyl: a trunk. / The birds incinerate, but God has come.”

The word ‘sibyl’ comes (via Latin) from the Greek word ‘sibylla,’ meaning prophetess.

Syllable, in German, is Silbe, which sounds more like ‘sibyl.’

The poem is divided into eight small stanzas. Here is the seventh, penultimate stanza:

sibyl here: head swims, she: breaks in the swirling heat: whispers,
she whirs: sump, slough slick thighs the: reed belt she wets she en-
girds herself tongues gurgles - adder - she slips off and: sisses

The sibilants here, which I am guessing are in the original German, suggests both the hiss of a fire burning through moist wood, and the sound and movement of a snake. In this instance, an adder, which is deadly. One is reminded that beauty in nature is never without a threat of some sort, at least to our mortality. There is no sense of evil, but of forces too great for human consciousness. This is the sense that Kant and Schiller wrestled with. Human reason, on the one hand, and the higher, transcendental sublime of the external world.

This is a marvelous language, and one that I have not seen before. Gerard Manly Hopkins comes to mind. Sound and sense are so fused, so incorporate, as to produce a language that convulses with elemental intensity.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Personal Poem #2

It is 1:13 p.m. Friday afternoon in Seattle
Queen Anne hill to be more exact
I’m in the living room sitting here
in front of the computer typing this
which will one day be in all the literary textbooks
like an ode by John Keats
I will be famous and make appearances on Oprah
except that Oprah’s show ended
so this would have to be a fantasy Oprah
similar in kind to the fantasy of having a poem displayed
on the glossy pages of a literary textbook
for young students with literary inclinations
who all dream of having an enduring work
displayed on the glowing screen of an iPod
this is stupid
I just put earplugs in my ears
because Lewis is next door making a lot of racket
with his power tools and rake and leaf blower
he looks like a Vietnam vet at war with grass and dead leaves
wandering back and forth with grim determination
a gas-powered machine on his back
he will never be famous like John Keats
if he carries on like this
he should just sit down and lean and loaf observing a spear
         of summer grass
which would be a lot quieter
at 10:00 this morning I ate a slice of cherry cheesecake
and watched a documentary about life on Saint Hélène
a tiny island in the south Atlantic
after breakfast I began plunging into books
Imagine the task of mounting 10 Saint Pauls
without the convenience of Staircases
John Keats wrote to his brother Tom
August 3rd, 1818, on climbing Ben Nevis
the highest mountain in Great Britain
the whole immense head of the Mountain
is composed of large loose stones
chasms 1500 feet in depth
turn one giddy if you choose to give way to it
We tumbled in large stones and set the echoes at work in fine style
Sometimes these chasms are tolerably clear
sometimes there is a misty cloud which seems to steam up
and sometimes they are entirely smothered with clouds

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


We live in a world of gasoline. Everything depends on gasoline. Food, childbirth, furniture, jewelry, appointments, vacations, wars, exhibits, construction, exploration, diplomacy, clothing, cologne, haircuts and rock concerts. Gasoline.

The food on your table travels an average of 1,500 miles to get there. There is even a term for it: Food Miles.

The word in French is ‘essence.’ I prefer essence. There is philosophy in the word ‘essence,’ and fumes. Fumes of power. Fumes of thought. In one manner or another, there is essence in everything.

One fuels cars. The other is a problem without a solution, but fuel for endless discussion.

The word ‘gasoline’ reeks of chemicals, sinister refineries in Texas and Alabama, eyes burning with hydrocarbons, lungs straining for clean air.

I’m nervous around gasoline. You can smell fire in it. The perfume of death. The fumes are potent. They penetrate the olfactories, permeate them with the latent crackle of violence and revolution. The roar of explosion. The smell of anarchy. Molotov cocktails. Window panes blown out of a store.

I will postpone a trip to the gas station as long as possible. Sometimes (in fact, all too often) until the needle is on empty. I know it’s risky, but in some ways it is strangely pleasurable. I am daring fate, risking the loss of power in the midst of traffic. It’s weirdly exciting, but also stupid. One of these days I am going to pay for that peccadillo. I mean, what’s the big deal?

I hate self-service gas stations. It is one of the reasons I enjoy driving in Oregon, where self-service is illegal. You are guaranteed that someone will come out and pump gas for you.

The place we usually go to get our gas now is a mini-mart called the Plaid Pantry at the bottom of the hill at the intersection of Valley and Taylor Streets. There are four pumps. Quite often, all pumps will be in use. If there is still, say, a quarter tank left in the car, I’ll go back at another time. But if the needle is on empty, it means waiting.

I have often wondered about the disappearance of gas stations. There used to be one on every corner. Now, there is only one within a radius of 5 miles, and that’s within a city. It seems paradoxical. The more cars there appear to be on the road, the fewer gas stations there are to provide them with gas.

Of course, no gas stations at all should be the norm. No cars. A modest fleet of trucks, buses, and trains should be all that we need for transportation and the delivery of goods. But this is Utopia. The actuality is far different, and more intractable. The world teeters on apocalypse. Conferences convened to solve the problem of climate change end in abject failure.

The use of petroleum is nothing less than insane. Pumping oil out of the ground, or the floor of the ocean, destroys the ecology and is just plain ugly. But the real menace is the carbon that it produces. 350 parts per million of CO2 is as high as carbon emissions in the atmosphere can go without destabilizing the climate. Atmospheric CO2 reached 390 ppm in 2010. The results have been catastrophic. Between April 25 and 28 of this year, over 300 confirmed tornadoes culminated in 317 fatalities. 41 people were killed in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Hospitals filled to capacity. People with broken bones were told not to go to them. In Birmingham, a tornado produced by the same supercell, was so huge that television reporters could not zoom their cameras out far enough to get the entire funnel into the frame.

In May of 2010, while BP’s underwater well in the Gulf of Mexico was hemorrhaging millions of gallons of oil per day, Roberta and I stopped driving as much as we could. We are aware that this little modification in our driving habits won’t change a damn thing, but driving just doesn’t feel right. It’s like trying to drink again after a few visits to AA. The spirit sickens behind the wheel. One turns the ignition key feeling an acute sense of toxic decadence.

I bought some gear at REI so that I could run small errands, pick up books at the library or medicine at the Safeway pharmacy, while I was out running. Seattle’s public transit system is decrepit and dirty, but we live close enough to downtown to either walk or grab a short ride on one of the buses to get to an exhibit at the art museum or restaurant or movie. A short ride on the bus is tolerable, although the best option is the monorail. It only goes a mile, but it’s a blast. One has the sensation of flying through the city on a magic carpet.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dress Code For Poets

In general, a blowtorch should be worn with a jalapeño. When it gets very hot and you have received inspiration from a sunflower, you may wear just a blowtorch with a parachute, or an amazing disease.

Scarlet fever must always be folded and inserted in a copy of the Koran.

Under no circumstances should the tinkle of your armpits interfere with the opulence of your convulsions.

To improve your conflagration, you may use metaphors to claw your way into heaven. For example, when you visit the underworld, you must never look back, but always look forward, chewing a stick of licorice and making sounds that rival that of really mean rodents.

Allow your shorebirds a respite equivalent to vapor.

You must never wear motorboats. They interfere with the snap of prepositions. Also see to it that your jewelry matches the steamy combustion of your ganglions.

A poet who wears a waterfall conveys palaver and a free disposition regarding punctuation.

Makeup can be an asset, but do not go heavy on the mascara. Highlight your personality with a few peccadillos and a sudden ejaculation.

The skin being our primary item of clothing, I recommend that you protect it with a crossbow and a bar of soap.

Never massage an area where you have applied your perspicacity, as this can destroy its mood.

Studies have shown that a stylish, immaculate haircut plunges the mind in bold contrast to a zipper.

Every little hair that grows on the body has a function. The eyebrows protect the eyes from sweat and the eyelashes keep out dust and little insects. Stray facial hairs, however, can give a look of impassioned gallantry in the face of utter colloquy.

Never wear anything that drips. Water, for instance, or milk. Remember: the entire universe is at your disposal, and comes in an infinite array of colors, including beige, saffron, and juggernaut green.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Five By Five

Clean needs start in destiny. Incongruous hats pushed into snow. Words blasted into convulsive yucca. Heaving crustaceans muscular as sound. Embryonic bubbles blown into upholstery.

Painting is unfettered by steel. Proximity trebles the spectral molasses. Tuna served on broken plates. Opposites beg for purgatorial fog. Apparitions knotted in gaslight moss.

Push-ups eat their own form. Brass pipes meditated by exigency. Write pretty so pistons burn. Bend the air into bananas. The puddle does its cartoons.

The water shivers with hypothesis. Greetings grow imponderable and sizzle. The lake is excused from enthusiasm. I will wrestle your gaze. I will give you iron.

The pines haunt everyone’s ambivalence. Black holds green in opals. The physiology of swans lengthens. Inflated legs energize the rebellion. What I mean is upside-down.

What I mean is growing. What I mean is beads. Totems fiddlesticks art and rectangles. Machines that pulse with description. Appeals to invention and radicality.

Quixotic coherence turning into palms. Pain and connectedness thickening thought. A sonnet will sometimes cry. Prose accommodates a frantic crimson. Secrets coiled on the floor.

Eyeballs hissing airplanes and froth. Romance bargains for more gold. Procession on an ocher path. Words earn an agreeable spring. Sweeten the biology of tongues.

This is becoming totally cochineal. Long and wide and Dionysian. Being is bells and viscera. A spilled glass of water. The shine on the water.

Rivers move lumber through books. Hungry eyes awaken the words. Hungry fingers awaken the skin. Forehead holding an orthochromatic allegory. The spine must shoulder wings.

Aerodrome bent to a theory. Age forgives its morning energy. Dancing is home to sugar. A studio is shrewdly studied. The strain is a symptom.

But the symptom is strained. A seashore sips the sand. Blisters and sweat indicate ships. Coordinates soliciting position and heed. Willingness and meat and spoons.

Space cracking under the sea. Stethoscope hanging from a neck. Periscope rising through the waves. Telescope floating masses of stars. Five senses commingled in holly.

The taxi overcomes its welcome. We are waiting for light. The sorcerer imitates a propeller. Do you see this wilderness? Winter makes it bristle with music.

The tinkling of little bells. Words carved out of air. The lucidity of tin mosquitoes. Height itching with sporadic width. A mouth under strange development.

You could say winter plaster. Or a mouth that opens. And patches itself with words. The thread is plainly red. The door is curiously slammed.

And then opened by harmonica. Does any of this caucus? Yes and no and maybe. I feel lift by lifting. A pi dribbling fresh circumference.

Algebra testifies to parenthetical solutions. Consider it riotous but numb. You cannot calculate a parakeet. The ruby is an opinion. Yet the horizon is clumsy.

Finally it is all words. Metaphors that anneal by speaking. Which is always so helter-skelter. Pack your suitcase with elation. Act seminal at the gate.

And here you are now. Where you always have been. Sublime and humming a tune. Feeling vital and pleasantly insoluble. A flower grown unofficially pectoral.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Three Books

Either Way I'm Celebrating, Poetry & Comics by Sommer
Birds, LLC, 2011

The Source, Prose Poetry by Noah Eli Gordon
Futurepoem Books, 2011

Novel Pictorial Noise, Poetry and Prose Poetry by Noah Eli
Harper Perennial, 2007

Last March Sommer Browning and Noah Eli Gordon visited Seattle to do a reading at Pilot Books on Capitol Hill. Pilot Books has, alas, since closed its doors, and so ends what had been a charming little space for poetry readings. I congratulate Pilot Book’s proprietor, Summer Robinson, for providing a relaxed, mercantile space for experimental writing in a world of growing illiteracy and harsh, capitalistic aggression, and wish her luck on her future endeavors.

After the reading, I purchased three books from Sommer (Sommer Sommer, not Summer Summer)and Noah at a generously discounted price. Sommer’s Either Way I’m Celebrating, and Noah’s The Source and Novel Pictorial Noise.

Browning is a cartoonist, and brings a cartoonist’s quirky sense of humor to her poetry. The work is frisky, spirited, and charmingly eccentric. It is also highly perceptive, smart, and imaginative. While humor is one of the more prominent elements of her work, it doesn’t lessen the impact of the words, which mingle drollery with trenchant perceptions of contemporary life. Much of the work reads like aperçus of present-day absurdities, concise packages of colorful provocation, flippant and poking, but never mean-spirited or crotchety. There is a strong current of verbal play moving through them, a keen sense of affable subversion, an evident awareness of the inherent instability of words and a willing sensibility alert and ready to exploit this feature to the hilt. Here, for example, is an untitled piece from the section titled “To The Housesitter,”

It’s the hour’s soundtrack.
Little train wheels

strain against their rails.
The preservation department
forgot to fall back.

The archivist subtracts a rebellious hour.
She wraps tissue paper around a man’s

ephemera. A habit keeps the chairs on the floor.

The archivist catalogs a blueberry for the library of beds:
½ inch diameter, blue, soft, sweet –

she accidentally
eats it.

There was a séance inside, and now her belly
is a ghost.

In the section titled “Vale Tudo,” which Browning reveals is a Portuguese phrase meaning “anything goes,” and is a Brazilian mixed-martial arts combat fighting style, Browning presents a diaristic series of small, informal pieces describing the idiosyncrasies of the motel/hotel milieu, a road trip of poetic fragmentation and semantic Jiu-Jitsu. A simple breakfast, the kind one eats when one is not quite awake and the disorientating effects of the road have mildly compromised one’s comfort zone, putting one’s perceptions a bit off-balance, is described in odd, metaphysical twists: “A plate of eggs, zigzags of bacon, and slices of toast. A Modern wrote about this in his noblest tractatus: breakfast must be analyzed on the basis of reason, not faith. Hush, the sugar’s shaking. Hush, her wrist clicks as she pours. Hush, that your heart was open as this cup.”

Gordon’s The Source has an immediate feeling of solemnity. The cover is a dark puce with the textured, imitation leather graininess of a bible. The work is divided into six parts and is a prose poem whose genesis is driven by (you guessed it) “The Source.” It reads fluently, very smoothly, in a manner very similar to John Ashbery’s Three Poems, or Rosmarie Waldrop’s The Reproduction Of Profiles, with a tone that is quite solemn on the surface, assuming, as it does, the language of philosophic inquiry, but with a very acute subversive current running underneath, so that the words, while referring constantly to the source they attempt to define, create a sensation of infinite flux, a feeling of words being liberated from the exigencies of semantic pertinence and set free to self-perpetuate a discursive, verbal adventure. The more “the source” is defined, the more it eludes definition.

A source is, of course, in its most literal sense, a spring. Gordon exploits this metaphor in a rich unraveling of chimerical digression. The words come bubbling from a propositional font or wellspring in the geology of the imagination, engorge from tributaries of philosophic immersion, percolate among a tangle of rhizomatic roots, and emerge, ceaselessly and serially, in emerald streams of evanescent inquiry. Inquiries of their origin and nature; inquiries of their character and essence.

The Source of The Source is defined as being a “touch sadomasochistic because it suffers a sense of its own belatedness, hates fussing with nature, and would like the world to be all weeds,” “a Roman shirt stitched from the scraps of various sources, keeping us warm,” “a representation of representations,” “If it can be seen as imperative and prescriptive, this deification of the Source knows but a single law -- itself!,” “In these circumstances, the Source confines itself to a string of paradoxes and takes refuge behind a barrage of high-sounding words,” “If anyone asks you what the Source is, send them to their own senses, because anything written can seem like straw,” “The Source’s stories or episodes are not simply added to each other, or juxtaposed with each other, but constitute a cumulative and organic development, one where customs and social arrangements, like a dog barking in the backyard, account for the phenomenon of consciousness.”

Aha! Consciousness! The Source, like consciousness, “makes a concept consisting of nothing but its distinguishing characteristics, and unceasingly dislocates itself in a chain of differing and deferring substitutions.” How do we know the world? We explain ourselves, and our situation in the world, by means of propositions. But propositions are doomed to communicate a new sense, however they may, with old words. Familiar, everyday words, words people exchange at the bus stop and drugstore counter, workspace and intimacy of home, but whose representations must be tweaked and twisted to articulate some phenomenon outside their usual representations. Tweaked by crazy people who delve into the mysteries of things, scribble their thoughts on paper, and call themselves poets. Sacred Technicians, Dharma Bums, Pscychodynamic Hockey Pucks and Cladogenetic Calliope Chimes.

Gordon reveals in the note at the back of The Source his process for putting the work together. He avers that between January of 2008 to September of 2009, he culled from page 26 of “nearly ten thousand books at the Denver Public Library,” bits of language which he fused together, occasionally altering some nouns to read “the Source,” and stitching together a verbal flux, a kind of perpetual motion machine, since works such as this never achieve their goal, nor ever pretend to an achieved, totalizing conclusion. There is never a Sum, but dim sum, the history of the world told and retold in verbal dumplings, mixtures of syllable and dough that are baked in the mind, and served on a sheet of paper. Or sent spiralling into the air of an auditorium or coffeehouse or lodging house "inhabited by bohemian writers and artists -- a royal antidote against all kinds of infection save creating some sort of shock of moral awareness." [The Source, page 76].

Gordon also reveals that he chose the number 26 because it corresponds to the number of letters in the English alphabet and represents the numerical value of the Tetragrammaton, the four Hebrew letters that form the name of God.

“In relation to language, we are both makers and made,” observed Heraclitus. The source of our words is boundless because the driving force of our lives is boundless. Assertion alone cannot give sense to its thought because every proposition must already have a sense. What assertion asserts is the sense itself. It is circular. And because it is circular, the relation of structures is unending. Language is driven by a relation between properties that inhere in the words presenting them. Contradictions expand our perceptual and cognitive boundaries. Higher faculties of recognition than those based on logic are awakened.

Gordon’s Novel Pictorial Noise is a “composition of noise” based solidly on the quintessential palpability of signs, and the proposition that “the world’s not weirder than we think, but weirder than we can think.” Structurally, it is interesting, in that it juxtaposes a single line, or short set of lines, on the left page, and a short prose poem on the right. The words to the left are bare fragments of minimalist audacity lacking enough syntactic cohesion to hang a meaning on. In brief, a kind of noise.

The prose poems on the right are rich displays of verbal acrobatics. Here the noise conveys an imagery abundant in cartilaginous elegance. Tissues hold. Sinews clench. The poetic membrane percolates an osmosis of thermal reverie.

“It is a terrific problem that faces the poet today,” observed Hart Crane, “a world that is so in transition from a decayed culture toward a reorganization of human evaluations that there are few common terms, general denominators of speech that are solid enough or that ring with any vibration or spiritual conviction.” These words were written 86 years ago, and yet their pertinence to today’s world in the 21st century of toxic narcissism, sociopathic politicos, corporate greed, unchecked capitalist predation, Sarah Palin, WalMart, Wall Street, Walleyed Media Moguls, and polarized religions and cultures seem to have even greater resonance. Gordon’s prose poems are epistemological in flavor, but it is an epistemology in embryo, a polysemous blastocyst on the outskirts of meaning.

The idea of the picture, an image one might entertain in one’s mind, mind’s eye, as they say, is a large part of this project. The prose poem on page 35 chooses the photograph as its point of departure:

A photograph. A photograph admits. A photograph admits space. A photograph admits space around its subject. A photograph admits space around its subject’s a way to feel contained. I admit contentment with the Ajax bottle above the sink Alice Neel made from oils. I admit a train whistle, a dab of wisteria, a strip of duct tape’s upturned corner. Coincidental nonchalance or comic fortitude? I admit both, admitting this sort of disposition harbors dangerous potential. Cue the music and evening’s wash of unaccomplishment meant to make amends with whatever the day left undone does it. Now, I’m admitting a hue of a bluish green, adding color to the scene.

In the above piece, Gordon uses repetition to mimic the development of a photographic image in a tray of film emulsion, further elaborating the image with each repetition. The word ‘admit’ plays a key role, referring first to the admittance of light through a camera lens, then building on its associative meanings as a phenomenon of allowance and opening. An opening to the world. An allowance of whatever might be found in the world. This latter position is more difficult than it may seem. Delusion and denial are huge human addictions. Anyone who has experimented with hallucinogenic drugs knows that the world we normally experience through our five senses is subject to change. Senses may be dilated and discombobulated. Will the real reality please stand up?

As Wittgenstein pointed out, our sense of reality is heavily dependent on language. Propagandists all know how easy it is to manipulate people’s view of reality. Gordon’s achievement in Novel Pictorial Noise is to employ enough noise to rupture the static of mediated experience and playfully prod us to admit something new.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Giving The Finger To The Invisible Hand

Happy Birthday Adam Smith Inventor of the Invisible Hand
Of the market 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 real and so
Are the fingers and thumbs
The Dainty Thumb of the Poetry Market
Commingles with the Fingers of Controversy
Which expand into Cyclones Of Perfect Dereliction
And wash over the body like a tide
Of guitar strings vibrating with Keith Richards’s
Open G Tuning you get my drift
Don’t you I mean there is no selfishness in the world
As selfish as poetry which wants everyone’s
Full unabated attention and is never invisible
But naked yes totally naked
Poetry wants you to take your clothes off
And make love to a squeaky toy
The door is open go ahead walk outside
If you see an Invisible Hand run before it grabs hold of you and
Your head off although since the Invisible Hand is, you know,
It is more likely you will feel the effect
Of the invisible hand as someone on Wall Street
Taking away your Medicare or Social Security
This is what Invisible Hands do they rob they steal they pilfer they
Take the elevator to the top floor
Of any building and look down at all the cars and people
What Invisible Hand is causing these things to happen
Are we puppets no we are not puppets there is no Invisible Hand
In Obama’s pocket just your money
And Tim Geithner and Larry Summers and Hilary
Clinton enjoying the many wonderful things they have bought
         with our money
Premised on the fable of an Invisible Hand which Adam
Smith never really intended what he meant was any individual
That has unintended consequences particularly those that arise
Serendipitously and that leave in their wake little ripples
Of benevolence washing the arid shores of our existence
Which is silly I know but not as silly
As the presumed consequences of poetry which is an Invisible
Raised to the Rats of Wall Street
As if Wall Street
Gave a Flying Fuck

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Four By Four

Silk which development coppers. The air is dimes. Studio remembered under mirrors. The antique gun perseveres.

Images pepper the antenna. My quixotic nails bend. Palette dipped in burns. I fiddle a feeling.

Hectic oysters built it. Indigo tastes of vespers. Pretzels crawl in absence. I jingle their positions.

It eludes all index. And explains your sleeve. Construction irritates a button. Jauntily thick between cherries.

Rain evokes a throat. The fire cut inside. You glow and ache. The stew is written.

Thought seeds morning ecstasies. Parabolas on a highway. Insults squirt a stream. Drag calliopes to paper.

Which carries audacious despair. And residual insights unlock. Deliverance unfolds the ermine. Just a rattlesnake voyage.

In fractious rain debris. Broken freight and hickory. Luminous heaven pushes faith. Greenery imposes constant sensation.

Metaphors crack the coordinates. History dreams the empire. We rattle incandescent colors. Formulas obscure the summer.

Butterflies knock their talk. Lyrical ooze embedded within. The monster draws grace. The office occasions rhetoric.

All the forges roar. Eyebrows harnessed to heaven. Halibut sliced in mushrooms. Daylight crashed our eyes.

Handstands tickled in orange. Phantoms experience your music. They dance on antiques. And a bistro’s bread.

One could leaven gesture. Another leaven their straw. This line gets operating. And a spectrum explodes.

You could say altitude. I know your cemetery. It has three necromancers. And a dark orchard.

Each crow elbows salvation. When does day toughen? When it bends mirrors. And birds thrash linen.

Emotion patched with bones. As if pleasure moistened. Or perception filled Spinoza. Consider a vague orthogonal.

Or a growling stomach. The truth wears radar. It is heard raw. Like meat or philodendrons.

My intent is birds. And mirrors and raspberries. Simply to say dissonance. Hop and sow enigma.

Have you considered sticks? They make me crackle. Like orchids gargle tornados. I endorse those billows.

The bounce of sculpture. The bounce of meat. The bounce of beauty. The bounce of feet.

Quixotic by tangible fluff. Flux and whispering fire. The glow of coal. The pink of willow.

Daylight stabbed by description. Fruit that wheezes charcoal. Caravaggio shrewdly churning tissue. Soliciting thin Italian contingency.

Serious hammers of myth. The power of corollary. The wash of spouts. An exercise in crying.

A war during France. The bark of dogs. The fireworks of idea. Iron accentuated by guns.

Ascension achieved by hymn. Hearts in crisp emotion. The blast of trumpets. The riddle of drums.

Paradise haunts the mouth. Someone paints the trees. Words reach from pain. Pleasure arrives in birds.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Three Things That Truly Matter

Assuming the universe is infinite, would it be considered to be an open or a closed system? If the universe is infinite, it is not isolated from anything and is, therefore, an open system. But couldn’t you also assume that, since there is no effect on it from an outside environment, it must be closed? So which is it? If there is neither space nor time outside of the universe, what could it be isolated from? Perhaps it is strictly a question of mass. If the universe has enough mass its rate of expansion will decrease and it will then fold back on itself.

I do know this: I love water. If I want to go for a swim, I undo my belt, drop my pants, and dive right in.

A lake is a closed system. A river is a moving system. The ocean is a large funny hat.

I like to throw dreams in the air in the form of words. Words are little engines of haphazard maneuver. Adjectives are humors. Nouns are allegories, little puddles of brazen infinity. Verbs are locomotives, pistons of sound running on diesel and heat.

Light stimulates the growth of books and cuticles.

Muscles carry the weight of our being. The skin wrinkles. Time folds into morning. Morning folds into maple syrup. The rungs of the ladder redeem the indignity of purpose from the stains of sequence. If you must personify the light, use an affidavit. Don’t just drag an irritation. Send it to the Ambassador of Sand and Clouds.

Everything is ignorant of its own emptiness. Anger can sometimes bring a new perspective to the rank autumnal explosions of semantic dancing. Anger can also sometimes lack perspective. One must decide if the wash is worth doing, or can wait another day. In the alchemy of morning, the thumb is an abstraction and the bathroom is a naked assumption.

Your pickles burst with history. Your hands hold a kimono. We are desperate. A soft, percussive feeling shines behind your words. Enough is enough, you say. I agree. The moose was useless. There was greater subtlety in the stand of birch without this animal. A spring bubbles forth. Everything trembles with life. Even the piano gives birth.

The moose, uninvited, sits down and plays a sonata. I do not recognize the composer. Christmas ornaments hang from his antlers. His eyes shine with divine madness.

Each thing, as far as it can by its own power, strives to persevere in its being.

Take honey, for example. How sticky, gooey, transparent, sweet. Even the thought of honey diffuses in the mind, shining and coincidental. Words gather like nerves in infinite speculation, spread like honey on a piece of bread, easing into themselves as they ooze toward enlightenment.

It is a participation in turnstiles that hunger for symbolism. I once followed a man to the subway and saw his shadow break into a thousand red animals. One of them pantomimed probability theory. Another folded a napkin into a replica of Paraguay.

There is a way the light shines on the surface of a river and all the ripples and waves and stirrings on the surface indicate the character and singularities of the current.

One cannot help but think of blood and the circulation of blood. Are thoughts made of blood, or something else, storms, tornados, dumplings, or a combination of blood and storms and tornados and dumplings? I mean, what is it? This ability to choose a pair of running shoes, or a dog or a car? Is this ability only an illusion? Are we guided by something we do not clearly understand?

If each of us is a conglomeration of cells, is it the cells who do the choosing? Are we archipelagos of bacteria operating under the illusion of freedom of choice?

Right now I want some coffee. That’s simple enough. And why isn’t the vet calling back?

It’s nice to have objectives, particularly during a bingo game. But really, when it comes down to it, it is just three things that truly matter: eating, sleeping, and curtains.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Some Songs

It’s Wednesday, June 1st. I can hear someone tossing their laundry into the dryer. It’s a funny sound, air in a hollow drum of metal reverberating with the thrust of clothes, click of zippers and buttons, slam of the dryer door, setting of the dial, then a long monotonous hum, a gentle, steady drone of neutral diffusion. This is the “Song of the Dryer.”

Our cat is on a feeding frenzy. I worry that he might have worms. We look for little rice-like pellets in his favorite places to sleep, the pillow under the study lamp and the end of the bed, but can find nothing. Something seems to be bugging him. It would be helpful if cats could talk. He sits by his bowl until we put food in it. If I scoop out a generous dollop of cat food, he sucks it up in seconds, and is back again a few minutes later, and will sit by his bowl until one of us breaks down and gives him a little more. This is “The Ballad Of The Cat.” Poignant, compelling, utterly silent.

May was not a kind month. The refrigerator required repair, water got trapped in the door of our car, Toby - who is an indoor cat - got a bad case of fleas, and I came down with the flu. On top of which, the weather was awful. Cold, wet, gloomy. May may as well have been November. Except November is generally nicer than this.

The water in the car door event drove me nuts. I heard it sloshing for over a month and thought it was a bottle of water trapped under one of the car seats. I searched everywhere. No bottle. Nothing. I was teetering on the verge of some serious frustration. Then Roberta noticed the sloshing when she was opening the door. “It’s in the door,” she said. “You’re kidding?” I answered, incredulous. She wiggled the door. The sloshing was unmistakable. This was the “Song Of The Car Door Sloshing.”

She took the car in to Hobb’s Garage on Garfield. The drainage hole in the door got plugged. Same damn thing happened to the refrigerator. Only the drainage hole was nowhere to be found. It was behind a panel. It required special tools, special skills. We had to call in a repairman.

It was the flu that got me really depressed. This is common. For one thing, I took antibiotics, which not only kill the offending bacteria, but the bacteria (microflora) that normally live in one’s intestines, functioning almost like another organ. The resident gut microflora positively control the intestinal epithelial cell differentiation and proliferation through the production of short-chain fatty acids. They also mediate other metabolic effects such as the syntheses of vitamins like biotin and folate, as well as absorption of ions including magnesium, calcium and iron. Iron is needed for producing red blood cells, the lack of which results in brittle hair, anemia, a craving for licorice, and naked despair.

Whenever I get a little depressed I like to watch YouTube videos. The opening scene of Adventures In Babysitting is a favorite. I love to watch Elizabeth Shue dance around her bedroom while the Crystals sing “And Then He Kissed Me.” The energy is glorious. Sexy and goofy and bursting with elation. She uses the bedpost for a microphone and makes a wedding veil out of the window curtain. How could anyone not fall in love with this woman?

I also really like Nolwenn Leroy’s version of the traditional Breton song “La jument du Michao.” The people in the video remind me of the people I used to hang out with the in late 60s. The kid with the slouch hat and long hair could be the young Arthur Rimbaud.

I marvel at the new song Robert Plant and his Band of Joy put out, “Monkey,” which is actually the creation of a rock group from Duluth, Minnesota named Low, and members Alan Sparhawk, Mimi Parker, and Zahary Micheletti. Plant sings “Monkey” with Patty Griffin, a pretty singer and song-writer considerably younger than him. It’s weird to see Plant looking so old, crags in his face, sags in his jowls, but his hair still long and blonde and curly, he could be Druid priest, or King Lear’s wise and aging fool.

“Monkey” is a weird song. The lyrics are highly evocative, but extremely elliptical, like Neil Young’s “Down By The River.” With the help of the music, the song communicates on a very deep, intuitive level, and even though I don’t know what is meant by the phrase “the monkey dies tonight,” it sounds prophetic and eery, like something from a David Lynch movie.

It’s often a good thing to have a song splashing around in your head when thoughts turn ugly and somber or thinking just gets onerous and tedious and you want to empty your head of it all. Listen to the Beatles. That effervescence has turned classic like Mozart. Not Mahler, Mozart. Most definitely Mozart. The Beatles always had that spritely Mozart sound never that somber Mahler pathos with its fevered unrest or the grandness of Beethoven’s towering dramas. Even a relatively ominous number like “A Day In The Life” has moments of quirky humor.

Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet” is a moving portrait of one’s waning years. The mood is bittersweet and reflective. I can listen to that over and over. It’s a good song to hear when you get old and crepuscular. Unfortunately, I can’t find any decent video for it. They’re either plastered with ads, really bad covers someone had the moxie to post on YouTube, or terrible amateur recordings made during a performance using what must have been a cell phone. The sound is awful and the image of Dylan’s now aging figure trussed up in glitzy cowboy clothes à la Hank Williams and a Texas Swing band goes in and out of clarity.

I also really like this new young lady from England, Adele, whose “Rolling In The Deep” is large and powerful and whose cover of Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” is performed with stunning sincerity. I usually don’t go for a video dramatization of someone’s song, but the video that goes with “Rolling In The Deep,” with that odd figure in the eighteenth century costume of an elegant aristocrat with a wig and cane dancing in all that flour or cocaine or heroin or whatever it is, is pretty damned interesting. So are all those glasses of water, the water trembling with the drum beats. Very cool. Here again, though, no way around the ads.

Music cures nothing, but it can help with a few of life’s more indelicate circumstances. Delusions of grandeur. Bad cough. Aching muscles. Worn book jackets. Hospital bills. Strange cities with complicated intersections and slow traffic lights. Corrupt politicians. Lying deceitful sociopathic presidents.

What’s your favorite sensation? If I had to pick just one I couldn’t do it. Getting into bed is high on the list. So are eating and sitting in the shade on a really hot day. Getting silly with a bowl of jello. Hot water hitting my skin after a long run in the rain and sleet on a cold winter day. Feeling cat fur or the soft muzzle of a cow. Walking barefoot and drinking from a garden hose. Squirting lather out of a can of shaving cream. Squeezing paint from a tube. Riding a horse in ocean surf. Hearing the roar of jet engines and that first feeling of lift as the wheels leave the ground. Carrying something heavy like a piece of furniture or sack of cat litter a long way and then putting it down. Quitting a job and walking into the sunlight. Finding something I lost. Ambiguity (sometimes). The flavor of almost any food except broccoli or liver. Opening a present. Weird colors like violet and infrared. A room that is illumined by a single large candle. Meditation. The smell of rain. Walking on a path on the side of a mountain. Pulling a shirt off when it’s hot. Being excused from an onerous task because someone else has offered to do it. Or it is already done. Or there is nothing to do. Not even think. Or make sense of the world.

Anybody can describe logic. But can you describe cotton?

Don’t knock reason. I think reason is great. The sleep of reason produces monsters. But music is not a product of reason. It operates best without reason. In that respect it is very similar to poetry.

Poetry and songs have a lot in common. Both use words. Both strive to charge the mind and emotion. Both employ alliteration and assonance and rhyme. Both are steeped in reverie and wish fulfillment and dream. But they’re two different species. Same phylum, same family, but different species. Like insects. Ants, aphids, lacwings, pill bugs, locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, millepedes, earwigs, gnats, moths, scarabs, houseflies, tarantulas, wasps, yellow jackets, spiders, mosquitos, weevils, wood ticks, beetles, hornets, termites, cicadas, butterflies.

Which is the song, which is the poem? Is the ant a poem and the cicada a song? Is a spider really a novel? Is a wood tick a ballad? Is a hornet a sonnet?

Many insects are hairy. But many are not. Ladybugs, for instance, are shiny red little pellets of insect joy. Dragonflies are magnificent. Dragonflies are fugues of lucid buzz.