The day toughens when it bends with mirrors. The border is completely bullets. How do we break on through to the other side? If it rains a holiday on the sculpture we will come to our whiskers in pride and ribbons. We will cross at dawn. Your mind seems bruised with surprise. Well, it’s only natural. A gun bangs and a noodle whirls. This leaves more space for Monday. Only globules of this show that an enclave can be a thing of pain, including infection, chaos, and a blister broken by a mahogany shave. The garments are by Bach. Blood the story is shattering into words. The rustle of leaves in this anthology writhe in deeper attraction. Clasp the steam that is enriched by heaven. It exceeds communion. Bend your subtleties in exhibition. The raspberry is so improbably spatial that it swims in itself. There are now more mirrors, each with that focused ultramarine brain, and snow between loaves of pumpernickel. The dawn comes in daubs haunted and serious, like a human being or something. You know? Like an odor with heft and touch. We crave the push of ourselves into radical ramification. Pumpernickel in its convocation with life and its balanced burdens. Ingredients obtrude into antiquity. This means that to consider a moose as a form of hinge enriches ocher. Being examines its blisters, which, being such, do no injury to iron. This is eager to be at you. The desk, treading in its supposition, is flexing a leg to cylinder Apollinaire up to your willow, which has begun to take form as a monument or helicopter. The tonic is as the heart agreeing to tide pool its subtleties of artery and vein. The muscle of it spits goldfish to such pungency that life seems unprecedented in its deliverance. Take the highway to the end of the night. There stands Jim Morrison. His ghost. His voice. His coordinates, which are glimpsed with emotion through the mahogany of France to the syntax of crows, where it is then imitated by a simmering ultimatum, framed in coagulant blood, like the horizon. An enigmatic Mediterranean word echoes subversion in a language which breaks alpaca into its necessary anthology of bubbling syllables. Umbrella bones fall like wheels through the atmosphere for a bug. Its massive roots have the pasting of heaven. The Jolly Green Giant cleans his dish, or spoons it over an obscure papier collé clapper which is but a batch of tea. The present is a tense that a Hindu throws into a blue emotion, a puddle from Rio Tinto which develops an echo. I was lost until I came upon this throbbing Braque made of lips and fingernails. Quest combines the gift of energy with coffee because what the passion moistens is a garden. There is a bug there which is an abstraction boxing its way to forty inches of mutation to run a destiny. And a spectrum explodes so that you could fluff coal into willow, or go home and write a poem. The daylight, stabbed by pines, haunts everyone’s ambivalence. The sag has been shrewdly studied. The strain is a description of oval, but the Louvre abhors to put itself in a sweat for it. This is because it’s upside-down and the metaphors are hectic with eggnog. The result of this is bubbles.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Bed is the most important piece of furniture in our lives. It is a place of healing when we’re sick, a place of delicious languor when we’re lazy, or meditative, or lost and inconsolable. We are born in a bed. We die in a bed. We have sex in beds. We listen to the radio in bed. We watch TV in bed. We stare at the ceiling in bed. We suffer colds and mumps and malaria in bed. We forget ourselves in bed. We amuse ourselves in bed. We explore shape and hair in bed. We climb into dreams in bed. We promise desperate change and forgiveness in bed. We toss and turn searching for sleep in bed. And when we find sleep we assent to it gladly and break from the world to go drifting God knows where.
I once visited Percy and Mary Shelley in Geneva, Switzerland in bed. I wasn’t in bed when I got there. That is to say, my body was in a bed, but my spirit was sitting cross-legged on the floor of the cottage that Lord Bryon had generously offered the Shelleys during their visit.
During my visit. My oneiric visit.
“How vain is it to think that words can penetrate the mystery of our being,” wrote Shelley in his essay “On Life.” “Rightly used they may make evident our ignorance to ourselves, and this is much. For what are we? Whence do we come? and whither do we go? Is birth the commencement, is death the conclusion of our being? What is birth and death?”
We dissolve into oblivion in beds, and in losing consciousness, gain the consciousness of stars.
We discover the basements and underworld fantasies of our true selves in bed. We read in bed: magazines, journals, newspapers, iPads, books. Beckett in bed. Burroughs in bed. Beattie in bed. Moby Dick in bed. Ulysses in bed. Guy Davenport of Da Vinci’s Bicycle in bed. Proust in bed à la recherche du temps perdu.
Virginia Woolf’s lighthouse sending its “sudden stare over bed and wall in the darkness of winter” floods my mind with light and shadow and the murmur of the sea in bed.
Rimbaud’s Illuminations illumine my mind in bed: J’ai tendu des cordes de clocher à clocher; des guirlandes de fenêtre; des chaînes d’or d’étoile à étoile, et je danse.
Shakespeare in bed: “O sleep, O gentle sleep, nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee, that thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down and steep my senses in forgetfulness?”
And what mimics the sweet oblivion of death better than sleep? Isn’t sleep the rehearsal for that final sleep in which we exit the world permanently?
The memories of people who have passed enter our minds when we lie in bed and the mystic glitter of eternity permeates our muscles and relaxes and seduces us into something larger than our normal selves, the boundaries of our skin and limbs provoked daily by worry and the quashing chatter of remorse and frustration. We slide into simulacrums embarked on stars gluing raindrops together with the baked eyes of ravenous inner light and rise to our conscious selves in the morning wondering what is real and what is not real, what is it still stirring in us and will it crawl back into the night eventually or meet us again when our eyes close and we ascend, blithe and willowy, newly delivered to other worlds, other cities, other ecstasies thrashing in the linen of our secret sharers.
A bed is a sorcery of blankets and springs. Its suppleness bids us welcome. Its simpleness earns our trust. It is where we dream. It is where lips find lips and fingers find conceptions of skin that are smooth as the implications of cats, wicked as the trinkets of insinuation.
In France, if one goes bankrupt, the bailiff is entitled to take everything except one’s bed.
I love to sleep. Sleeping is my primary mission in life, my preparation for death, for the final sleep, the sleep to end all sleep. The sleep from which I will never awake. The bourne from which I will never return.
I am a candle in sleep, a column of wax burned down to the bone of the plate, a pool of wax and a tiny black wick, the last flicker of a flame snuffed into gentle wisps of smoke.
I particularly enjoy the two twilight states that accompany sleep: hypnogogia, the twilight state that proceeds sleep, and hypnopompia, the twilight state into which we emerge from sleep. It is in those states that I do some of my most important work, achieve some of my most important insights.
Thought processes on the threshold of sleep differ radically from those of ordinary wakefulness. Hypnagogia may involve a loosening of ego boundaries, openness, sensitivity, and a sweet, empathetic dissolution between the boundaries of the mental and physical environments. There is often a fluid association of ideas and a heightened suggestibility. Thinking turns supple. Pliant. Hypnagogic trains of thought turn abstraction into concrete imagery, or find abstraction in the concrete. Sudden éclats of insight and problem solving occur in these states between wakefulness and sleep. August Kekulé realized that the structure of benzene was a closed ring while half-asleep in front of a fire and watched molecules form into snakes, one of which grabbed its tail in its mouth, à la the fabled ouroboros. Visions, prophecies, premonitions and apparitions all emerge in this twilight world.
When I sleep I raise my antenna into the fireworks of dream. I am transcendentally amused beneath the blankets. I bump into stars and yell about feathers. I lay my knife down in the midst of the lobster recruitment. My skin is leather I am swollen and insoluble. I am soaked in railroads. The house is soft and unfettered. I do not deny my meandering. When we sew, we sew fire. I am literally mohair at the mailbox. And then I become music.
The piano agrees with a hit song. I dig it and strike it with my shovel. I personify myself with a hairbrush and include a little age which I shove into quarks. My glasses hit the glass of the window and it sparks a distortion of sound that tumbles through a voice shouting at a form of turret to enhance our collective memory. I float a bite of thunder in circles. I catalogue a moccasin behind the light. The ceiling convulses in exasperation.
I am your hirsute profligate palpable pronoun. The pronoun I, which diffuses into ink and becomes words, these words, which are brightness and wheels. I ramble in the sky below the cemetery. If feels explicit. I cannot escape the brass or the punches of dirt beneath my feet. I push the snow and yearn for you across the river. There is a mink caboose there that is eager in its reality and murders the mineral earth with its steel and carbon. I sugar a philodendron and the philosophers all cringe. They drill through a wall of stars and arrive in heaven bleeding tinfoil.
My desires embarrass me. I space my beard until it coheres into sex. Life is sweetness and elation on the vagina planet. My alchemy is the glue of development. I flail anthologies at the birds. My incentives are vermillion, my book is the waltz I perform on the water. I yank my throat out and scatter saga buttons at the taxi driver. My thumb is everything red that I lift to my sternum where it slides into vapor. A pair of friendly binoculars boils with Shropshire. I take my medication before I go to bed where extrudes locomotives and takes me to places where I can scratch my emotions with hypnopompic straw.
The first thing I do when I wake is make the bed. What a curious expression, make the bed. It is a little like making something. I’m attentive to the chaos of sheets and blankets and strategize how to make it smooth and harmonious again. A bed that appears orderly is an invitation to sweet, restful sleep. I like to tuck the sheets in at the bottom. When I get into bed it helps to produce a cocoon-like feeling. If my feet stick out I feel exposed. Vulnerable. I need to feel hidden, invisible, gone from the troublesome world.
The bed is a mode of transport. It is our vehicle, our spaceship into oblivion. It is where we welcome the bidding of our unconscious. It is where the sparkling cavern of our inner being lures us into its labyrinths. It is where we discover our secret selves, our shadow selves, old feelings that are suddenly and strangely renewed. Dead parents speak to us. Dead friends give us advice. When we wake, our eyes open and the light of day dispels the spell.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Age doesn’t matter. As soon as we decide that it’s high time we make a change in our lives, do things differently, stop procrastinating, alter our circumstances, get out of our rut, the first thing we encounter is that ugly, merciless, sandpapery thing called reality. Reality is always invoked when we dream of aspiring to new heights, get rich quick, or (more likely) try to get someone else to do something. Fulfill an ambition, take on a new responsibility.
But what the hell is this thing called reality? Is it internal, external, a product of the mind, something totally separate from the mind, an objective medium standard for all people or a wobbly gestalt skewed variably according to our culture and disposition?
What is consciousness? What is essence? What is being? What is existence?
Reality consists of pins and walls. Heliotrope and hemoglobin. Consciousness is more congested. It drips morals and opera. Consciousness has wings. Reality has friends. People in important places. Who write history. Who make history. Who are history.
But is this reality, or a disguise?
True reality is a truly pure experience. Keats’s strenuous tongue bursting Joy’s grape against the palate. But that’s Keats, not me. I’m dodging my own proposition. Did I have a pure experience today? I had many. The first was the feeling of the floor beneath my feet when I got out of bed this morning. The second was noticing the feeling of the feeling of the floor beneath my feet when I got out of bed this morning. The third was giving the feeling of the feeling an analysis and a history and sublimating it into cumulonimbus in the cloud chamber that is my mind.
Pure experience is what we experience before the experience is clouded with judgment and words. Before we make a history of it. Before we paint it, describe it, sculpt it, post it on Facebook or incise it in copper. Before we sprinkle it with notes and blow it out of a horn.
History is to reality what rhythm is to melody: a C major in flames, the inconvenience of different pitches for organs, a polyphonic composition stuffed with accidentals. Jack LaLanne pulling a tug. Tommy James singing “Mony Mony” for Hubert Humphrey.
When consciousness meets reality the result is milk. Traffic lights blossom into prayer wheels. Laundry folds itself into armies of tide pool angst and march around like generalities of floral chambray. Rain falls up instead of down. The acceptance of frogs liberates bubbles of pulp. Time sags with basement ping pong tournaments. Garrets ovulate glass bagatelles. Realism percolates prizefight sweat. Details sparkle like crawling kingsnakes in the mouth of a Mississippi attorney.
Reflection reveals that the most direct, primordial facts are in fact the phenomena of consciousness, not utility belts.
It is not that consciousness is inside the body, but that the body is inside consciousness. In other words, consciousness is a cocoon in which dollops of meaning bounce around like outboard motors. The end result is a recruitment of facts, paint, and carpet samples. Martian butterflies invade the capital of a clank. Hats turn to airplane crashes for inspiration. Their brims flap. Their crowns flop. Their bands burst.
Thus the reality and enduringness of hats is assured not only by the transformation of profane space into a transcendent space but the transformation of retail into geese. Every construction is an absolute beginning; that is, tends to restore the initial instant, the plentitude of a present that contains no trace of history, or haunted house. The push must entail a pull. Pullulations of words float empires. Meanings get entangled in description. In the obscurities of form, infinity gives birth to a railroad, and time is nailed to space.
The relation between the phenomena of consciousness and the stimulation of the brain is identical to the relation between what one senses in the ear as a glockenspiel and what one senses in the eye or hand as elephants on the rampage, circumcision, or initiation.
Incense suggests something entirely different. Incense insists on texture, the theater of experience, which employs dialogue and glucose. There is no circumcision. There is only shouting and dermatology.
A cat enters the room seeking affection and repose. The law of causality is thus a habit of thinking that derives from velvet. With reflection, we see that the materialists put the cat before the repose, and so lose an important distinction between real estate and the astronauts lost in the catacombs of a harmonica.
Esse est percipi: to be is to be perceived. But what about Dark Matter? Dark Matter is perceived through its gravitational pull on the more familiar normal matter of stars and treasury bonds, while dark energy is perceived as poetry, a raging monsoon of pajamas and hogs.
Why does consciousness imagine the existence of such a thing as flavor? Because The Blob had none. It ate everything. And was a B movie of moderate success. And starred Steve McQueen. Who would go on to play Doctor Thomas Stockman in Henrik Ibsen’s Enemy of the People.
Flavor is an invention of the nose, which detects gooseberry pie, and tingles with toast, which is salutation, and dusky with butter.
The black sticks of writing, which we call letters, creates Calibans, crustaceans, and free will. Deep reflection inevitably brings us to Boise, Idaho, where giant potatoes tempt us into restaurants, and eggplants exceed their dimensions in arbitrary vectors of regret and exile.
The gist of my argument is that true reality is a table. It is not separate from the mind, it supports the mind, stands on four legs, and can be extended with leaves, or the frolic of whales.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Is there anything more emphatic than an ovary? There is a house that thinks so. Cézanne lives there. He paints things. Apples, chairs, baskets, skulls. Men playing cards. Women frolicking outdoors. Women sitting meditatively in chairs. Women in hats. Women in scarves. Women looking sad. Women looking determined. Women. The walls of his house are fat but the windows are swollen. The world presses itself against the glass creating colors and birds. The laundry is a feast of folds and wrinkles. The shirts are deviations of sleeves and collars. Everything speaks a language of mute tumefaction. Even the chimney has something to say. Nothing in the house is unscratched, unscathed, unexplored or sloppily ellipsoidal. Unless it truly means to be ellipsoidal. And then it isn’t sloppy so much as wobbly, or cheerfully decrepit. Nothing is so reduced to utility that it doesn’t flow into this world on a continual basis, meeting perception with its own agenda, which is secret, and soaked in metaphors, like a high school gymnasium, or incoherent telepathist. Because really, when you think about it, what doesn’t communicate with the mind directly? Well, people don’t, that’s for sure. People resort to language, which is narcotic, and agglutinates in inkblots. But none of this matters, because this is the house of Cézanne, where all is mutation, and perfectly imperfect, or imperfectly perfect, the way some bowls can be when they’re filled with soup, or fruit, or light opera. The plaster presses itself against the wall like an innocent bystander. The page of a book on divination agrees to become a nipple and propagate raw silk. The smell of raw participles knocks on the door of moths. The sky disturbs the roof with its lusty details. The radical éclat of a mountain on paper embarrasses a counterfeit destiny. The energy of an experience battles the ennui of a grease stain. A thesis weeps for the death of a narrative continuity. For such is the soul of the house of Cézanne that the name of a thing will carry it into life and cause it to have being and colloquy.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
The logic of veneration is rubber. How does the egg take form in the chicken? Is it rubber? Is rubber involved? Probably not. The truth is it’s calcium. Anatomy, concentration, and pianoforte.
Mosquitoes, meanwhile, hunger for blood. Baudelaire sits down to breakfast. He ponders his eggs. They’ve been scrambled. But this answers nothing. The true answer is light. Morning light. Clean morning light.
My perceptions sparkle with intriguing problems. The past, for instance. The past is not so easily done away with. We’d all like to live in the present as Mr. Alan Watts encouraged us to do. But the past is a drug that accelerates the mind. It’s hard to let go of the past. In the morning the stars abandon the pavement and return to their homes in oblivion. But as the eyes open to consciousness the past seeps into the mind like the smell of twine and straw in a North Dakota barn. Cows wander the valley. A huge frog leaps into the water: kerplop.
I have constructed this emotion with tinfoil and stilts. I wear the mask of a typewriter. I have roots in Minnesota. I have a glass hat and a junkyard monstrosity pregnant with parables. My labors are varnished with hope. The desire to escape desire is itself a desire. And yet the great blue sky is dear to my hoe and there are so many verbs I don’t know what to do with them all.
I operate a tug outside of Baton Rouge. I do this in my imagination which is where all the fun is but there is no paycheck for me at the end of the month.
Poetry is like that. Adjectives float in a pool of English and our intentions do not always agree with the directions our minds take.
I have a map of Kentucky, but that does little good. I’m not in Kentucky. I’m in a state of mind I call Broadloom. I am hectic with reflections. I weave them into gearshifts. Which I then sell to automotive dealers. Who tell me that a wool gearshift will not work effectively. I should use denim, at least.
I make inquiry of a cloud of vapor. I pound on a cloud of vapor. The vapor responds with more vapor.
I love the pointlessness of things. The vaporiness of vapor. The brickness of bricks.
The simplicity of the spoon celebrates the grace of abstraction. I sigh, and sip some coffee.
I fold the day into an anecdote and pin it to the wall.
Monday, May 12, 2014
I go online and discover British poet Tom Raworth has posted at his blog a picture of Gregory Corso’s marble burial slab at its location in the English Cemetery of Rome, Italy. A friend sent it to him via smartphone. It’s rather amazing pictures can be sent that quickly, or taken that easily.
Corso is buried near Shelley and Keats, the way he wanted it. The inscription on the stone reads:
It flows thru
the death of me
like a river
‘Spirt’ is, of course, meant to be ‘Spirit.’ But I like the typo, and I think Gregory would have liked it, too. His spirit was all spurt, all huge ejaculatory élan vital. He even made brooding look cool. He didn’t brood quite like Hamlet, the master of brooders. Gregory’s irritabilities had dash and impishness in them. He was a wise old fool like King Lear’s companion, speaking truth to power in jokes and sparkling wit. Corso was a fool in the tradition of the Sacred Clown, the Native American Contrary, but did not suffer fools - the truly foolish, the stubborn, the obtuse, the pretentious - gladly. He could be exhilaratingly honest. He was full of mischief. But he was also tuned in to the sublime, the divine. He was like Shelley’s twentieth century incarnation, wild hair and trenchant vision, cutting through the bullshit of the age, the stuffy academicism and snickering, postmodern irony of the intellectual elite. He fully, unflinchingly recognized the pain and frustration and tragedies of life, but just as fully counterbalanced it with waggish, spirited philosophy and jingly bells of an ineluctable goofiness, a wonderful sense of the absurd, a carnivalesque ribaldry à la Rimbaud’s “Parade” with its collection of ragtag carnies that ends with the line “J’ai seul la clef de cette parade sauvage.” His work possessed a marvelous comedic energy, yet as bizarre and giddy as his lines could be he could just as easily slide into great cosmic epiphanies, or the imponderable treasures of reverie and dream. I learned life were no dream, he wrote.
I learned truth deceived
Man is not God
Life is a century
Death an instant
Impulse and perception are the stuff of life. There is a kind of fever we tap into when we’re exposed - and sensitive to - the possibilities of art. Art is synonymous with possibility; it dilates consciousness the way amphetamines and hallucinogens dilate consciousness. It is all the stronger when we discover the underlying fusion of art and life, that perception isn’t passive at all but creative in and of itself. The underlying absurdity and sadness of existence in daily realities, soap bubbles, warmth of a cat on our lap, wrinkles, suitcase snafus, hope, rubber bands, giddy inspirations, honey luminous and amber in a glass jar, orange peels on a gray sidewalk, gropings in the dark for a light switch or clothes, veins of rain down a sad Sunday window, brandy twinklings, star breath on lunatic glimmers of wilderness lakes, are what flavor the dishes of this spectacular movable feast, this endless highway, that ever alluring horizon in the sweet trickle of twilight.
I go for a run in the afternoon. It’s mid-May and raining heavily. It’s cold. If there weren’t so much foliage in the trees I would think the date to be closer to Thanksgiving or Christmas than Memorial Day. I curl my hands into a fist. They feel cold and sting a little. The sensation is simultaneously pleasurable and painful. My pants are soaked. How can a sensation be painful and pleasurable at the same time? It’s the intensity of it. Anything intense has qualities of both pain and pleasure. And sometimes a pain is pleasurable and a pleasure is painful. Though I think it’s mostly the former. Sometimes a pain if it isn’t too lasting and intense can feel strangely good, perhaps because it’s a feeling, plain and simple, and nothing makes you feel more alive than a mildly painful sensation that mingles itself in the nerves with electro-chemical impulses little stabs of lightning with no clearly identifiable quality good or bad and it all flows into the brain where it gets processed and sublimated into thoughts about it, rumination and speculation and wondering how and why and what is all this business about and why is it so cold and rainy this far into May? The robins sing. The sidewalks are littered with seriously green samsara.
I get home. I take a shower. The shower feels terrific. They always do. The body blossoms. The body opens its pores to little tongues and trickles of hot water. I grab a towel and dry myself and take the new can of shaving lather and press it a little too long and vigorously because I’m still used to the old can of shaving lather which I had to press long and hard to get the last little squirts and splurts of lather out of it, lather that turned wet and drooly, like cream. I now have a large mound of lather which I smear around my face and rinse the rest of it off. Who invented lather anyway how did lather work its way into human civilization? I’ve used soap before when I ran out of lather and the soak worked out ok so what’s up with lather? Is lather rather unnecessary? I’d rather lather than soap and soap is hope and rope and dope and ropey dopey soap. Soap is great in its own way neat and cubed bars of olive oil and canola, slippery ingots of liberated glycerol, pellets combined with fragrances Amazon lily baby rose chamomile bergamot black amber and lavender.
I read Kitaro Nishida on Will, then “Angoisse” by Rimbaud, which fascinates me. The two seem related. There is a connection. Will often takes action as its goal and accompanies it, but will is a mental phenomenon which is distinct from external action, and action is not a necessary condition for will, writes Nishida. Rimbaud’s “Angoisse” presents a highly complex figuration. He makes reference to ambition, which is an expression of will, as “continually crushed” (continuellement écrasées), i.e. unfulfilled, and in a spectacular manner. The poet begs his anguish, personified as the She of the poem, for pardon, for an affluent end that will compensate for the ages of indigence, that a day of success will lull he and his anguish-inducing ambitions to sleep on the shame (as if shame were a mattress), of “our” fatal incompetence. It’s a strange attitude, simultaneously disparaging, suppliant and conciliatory. There is a sharp sense of personal failure and deep frustration running beneath, but one that seems alloyed with a kind of sanguinary expectancy, of compensation for the heroics of being a poet in a world where only material, quantifiable attainment is the measure of success. I’m not sure that I fully understand this emotion, but I know that there have been numerous times in my life when I’ve felt acutely disappointed in fulfilling certain ambitions, wallowed in foolish obsessions, tirades, and bitter self-recriminations, and fallen back on the knowledge that higher awards are obtainable to the imagination. We have a tendency to think of will as some special power, Nishida writes, but in fact it’s nothing more than the experience of shifting from one mental image to another. To will something is to direct attention to it. One minute it’s soaked pants, stinging hands and the dribble of cold rain down the shin, the next it’s a mound of happy lather and a room full of steam. Warm water and open pores. A razor across the skin.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
When we bring the outdoors indoors we expand the brain into heartwood. A magician is anyone who forests this figure if I pull an arabesque out of a brocaded pain. Our cardboard argues a secret. What is life? A brass band churning in the Pacific. This lightness is heavy. Grasp the castle gate and guide it. Anonymous as lumber (yet tall as a tendency), I correspond to pine. Your hypothesis has passion in it, worship and trauma and pools of music. The cement fluttered its good government by plume and harmonica. There are fish if you don’t believe me. My morality of sliding on the road argues bubbles. I like concentration. The fish are sparkly our endurance is forlorn. A punch unrivalled by prospect represents five doors, two oysters, and a constitutional monarchy. It works as if by magic, like Schrödinger equations, those crisp little numbers that give rise to wave-particle duality, Howdy Doody, and lapis lazuli. There is no art delivered to humankind that has not the works of nature for their principle object, without which they could not consist, and on which they so depend, as they become actors and players, as it were, of what nature will have set forth. Only the poet, disdaining to be tied to any such subjection, lifted up by the vigor of his or her own invention, does grow in effect another nature, in making things either better than nature brings forth, or quite anew, forms such as never were in nature, as the Heroes, Demigods, Cyclops, Chimeras, Furies, and such like. And that too gets a thumbs up, because the polynomials are linearly independent, and the things that are swimming in a paragraph come to a jagged edge of thunder where reality accords better with certain janitorial discretions. A black holds green in opals. The physiology of a seashore sips the sand. Eighteen blisters and a dead nettle beam the kind of bloom that a moccasin of paint and semiabstraction abhors to put itself into a sweat for anything but mediation. Your afternoon has tricky eyes. Analysis and eyeballs in sly coordinates generate Apollinaire. Build this vista on a preposition or snicker in candy. Seclude Euclid’s eyeball in a summer resort. Here is a button. Rather be a painted incarnation of life and strike a cab that a yellow merits. Hearing must effect a phenomenon of sweetened sound or at least sense it. Cart category to the cartwheels. Barbell interpretation to a pipe wrench. When we bring cotton the thing is skin. Cocoon unfolded on a badly scabbed hand. Algebra rendered olive on the path to Technicolor, a spectrum of art pounding harmony to bones. Here is a bottle of bourbon eloquent as iron. Personification is amusing as a suitcase when the parlor shapes itself into a moody conviction. Toss anything that starts to thrill at a house on fire with garish bulbs. When shadows are pinned to consciousness the trees are libraries. I find tutelage in eggs said the cook arriving at two p.m. on a Friday morning. Plump the procession if they drive the sky to laughter. A handstand circulates scratches. My phantoms are milky but our floats receive heartfelt miscellany. What is a nation? A fist of port. We push the bolt open. It carries an amulet. It opened its hand and said “build a great fortress. Build it of skunk cabbage and gerunds. When it is done the world will go on steaming, scheming, revolving in Ursprache.” This is it. This time I mean it. I am sitting down to read a book by Raoul Vaneigem. I have scratched the excess metal from the parts that have sounded an awakening, a nice piece of obstetrics like “Algiers” by the Afghan Whigs, and watch as the jets gear up for the upcoming season. Holes that are gashed in kitchen walls make you feel thick. Oasis the eye but moose the pulse. It takes gingham to be a chirp. It is pleasant to me that I have written using words. There are lozenges and ponds and places of incision to be made blue for our prayer. A gargoyle is not the same as logic. The question is: are there molecules enough in cartilage to grasp a sheet of plywood? Is there a moral to guide our lives if the beat goes faster than the dots in Blondie? The snake is umber, a radical construction of Hindu honey. Life makes a smell like a novel going bone black into giddy expansion. Fiction is a squeeze to gloss, a biology to predicate on dancing. This is why one’s drawers are stuffed with fishing lures and silk. Those sweet experiences of adolescence begin to blacken into the same gurgle we make later in life when the energy of our gallantry drags itself from our age and hatches the stippled ocher of alligator chalk on the back stoop of a Florida restaurant. It is then that a stepladder comes to burst our daydreams into swordfish, and makes a sound like tinfoil, or books.
Friday, May 9, 2014
I’m fascinated by the textures of the coffee table. It has to do with the way the light enters the room and touches the surface. The table is sturdily constructed of wood and was varnished many years ago so that parts of the surface shine in the light as if still recently varnished and others are more velvety, having witnessed the rubbings of many a sponge, many a dish towel.
I see elsewhere things that appeal to my perceptions. A circle rolls into a paragraph and causes it to go into endless equivocation, thus resembling a voyage of persuasion zipped with participles. All my senses are engaged, including the ones still cooling in igneous rock. I hear a knife slice through onions, smell the color of ivory in a Tiffany lamp (a combination of jasmine and chattering fairies), feel the diplomacy of ice melting in a glass of root beer. The paragraph gets up and walks around, feeding me with so many sensations I have to sit down and catch my breath, rest my talkative bones. It reminds me of my days aboard the good ship Pins and Needles, the days swabbing the deck, joking with the first mate Aristotle Jones, and battling ennui in Arctic Waters. I’ve seen hurricanes as big as a woman’s nipple, and once I was brutally attacked by a pink balloon.
A realtor had put up a bouquet of balloons to attract prospective buyers. The wind was blowing. The balloon conked me on the head. I went into a fugue state and bought a two-bedroom condo with brass doorknobs and more pink balloons.
The heart is an engine of muscle and blood, Jupiter in a bathtub. Reason is only an instrument, a thing like a sponge. The heart pounds away in our chest, blood circulates, the water is warm, the faucet drips, an anonymous morality boils with airplanes. Life is silly. Life is catching. Life is contagious. I have a bruise that smells of pure energy. And desks and lamps and treadmills and walls.
Think of me as a seismograph. I find paradise in pancakes. I can take a pound of sugar and bake it into an ounce of thought.
I ache to believe such things. As a poet, I try to capture the worry at the airport. But as a pilot, I try to avoid the worry at the airport and go straight to the cockpit and become a poet. My suitcase is a dock crying out to the unknown. I gun the engines. I reach for the stars. We are air-born. Permit me to offer you a dish of candy. 30,000 feet below Iowa does a series of handsprings. Ohio sighs with a large emotion, brown and black and genealogical.
I am a spell. My knees are angels my nose is a star.
I jingle when I walk gaping at the antics of summer, and I may seem distracted, and I may in fact be distracted, but I know a hawk from a handsaw, and that mushrooms gather humidity into their being and incorporate it into their flesh, living, as they do, on the decay of other matter.
When meaning deviates from its course and swerves into unbridled heterogeneity, there is consolation in the immaterial as our aesthetics burn the empire down and we hang from the ceiling stitched with headlights and dates. Later, when the loops arrive, we can penetrate one another, blur distinctions, and bubble in buoyant sympathy like pink balloons.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Every perception is created. Every memory and sense and mood and mania is created, brought into being by a dynamic of interrelation. The only thing that separates our interior lives from the external world is skin, and skin is an organ, a living membrane, not a wall but a porous, actively engaged medium, saturated with nerves and cells and affiliation.
Thinking is a wave on the surface of a great intuition, observed Kitaro Nishida.
Words are magnets. They draw everything to them. Histories, fables, thoughts, speculations, beliefs. Moonlight illumining a dream of water, jellyfish flowing into themselves, the roar of a chainsaw severing the ears from their slumber, summer awakening the colors of L’Éstaque. The eyes climb into the words of a seminal rumination and so escape the impenetrability of mass. The fork is a dollar of air. The biology of the comma anticipates the hem of a pronoun. A cardboard vagina insinuates feathers. How can impressions that are not needed by the intellect be jettisoned from all relation to the rest of consciousness? Adjectives float in a pool of English, the heat of another moment shines in a shovel full of coal, the consonants whispering mutability is a virtue, pay heed to your pain. The wind demonstrates its meaning in the trees.
Baudelaire sits down to breakfast. Constancy fulfills the morning light. Elegance is a muscle in the sorcery of being.
I venerate the sticks of a calamitous gyration. The angels of contrast ride the dragons of art. I have constructed this emotion with tinfoil and stilts. A contagion of nerves escorts the cauldron of an ancient heat to a bank of sea wrack where the sand defers to the surf.
The constellation of little white dots on my jeans is where the cat’s claws have penetrated. Perception has this ability to circumvent the coffee table and blur distinctions between inside and outside. Experiences create me. I am soaked in ambiguity.
It is true that storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it, observed Hanna Arendt. Instead, it brings about consent and reconciliation with things as they really are.
Things as they really are is this: we all die. No one gets out alive. That much we know for sure. Some age into common maladies, treatable maladies, usually back problems, pain hard to manage, and their twilight years are spent moderating pain and watching TV reruns and visiting grandchildren until a final week in an adjustable hospital bed surrounded by family and hospice workers giving you liquid morphine drops until the lights go out.
There are those who die suddenly of heart attack. Car wreck, bullet, bomb, avalanche, fire, shipwreck, slip on a puddle of grease.
There are those lucky few who age into wrinkles and wisdom and stay busy in the garden or attending the occasional conference and go quietly into the night, slide away into sweet oblivion, fade into non-existence as gently and sweetly as a sugar cube in cup of hot chamomile tea.
Not entirely gone though. No one is entirely gone. Not disappeared totally. Not as long as friends and loved ones survive, not as long as things you once treasured still live, still produce actualities of sensation and movement and shape. Then your life continues, continues outside of your body, like this, like these words, sounds with meaningful shapes, resonances, ramifications.
Snow falls gently through the night. Individuality sparkles like Christmas. Mahogany speaks to the endurance of form. This is why I stopped worrying about my hair. What’s hair? Hair is a group of syllables impersonating a paradox. The restless fathoms demand gold and submersion. Hair does no good there. My eyebrows have become scrapyards. It is in ramification that affinities embark on a voyage of unknown destination. Ramifications that make the jigsaw jig. Ramifications that shine like money in a dish of candy. Ramifications that predispose the symmetries of summer to excess. Once I was fat but now I’m bizarre.
My thoughts are extended by crickets. Detours are marvelous. Detours are where the dead linger and flag us down. Give us directions. Urge us to continue until the horizon bristles with sunset. Even the river hints at something larger than itself.
Ramifications that remedy the relics of a failed rationalization. Ramifications that ransom the random and randomize the rainbow.
I ache to believe such things. And then listen to Bach and discover that money is immaterial. And that I am a spell. And that the orchid has a frivolous solemnity. That the knees are angels and the nose is a star. That I jingle when I walk gaping at the antics of summer.
It is in ramifications, these endless associations that move through the mind like rivers, like those luminous colors we find in clouds during winter, the coldness of the air making colors more vivid, that’s where death meets life, life meets death, in a crepuscular cabbage of folds and convolutions, a gulp, the eyes bursting open, parameters broken down, that we find our souls, our true selves, that thrilling sense of being alive and not just brushing our hair in the morning as usual, but jumping a fence. Redeeming our bones in a life above hills and dirt.
Sunday, May 4, 2014
How ironic that so much information should be bundled in a single letter: I. It looks like an I-beam. I is eyes. Nose, chin, legs, arms, fingers, thumbs, knees, nipples, testicles, ovaries, bones a complex nervous system, hair, eyebrows, elbows, blood, a personal history involving uncles and aunts and parents and kids, maybe kings, maybe queens, maybe a bloody civil war, rivers overflowing their banks, barns vomiting sparks into a prairie night, guns and outlaws. Consciousness in a gliding vowel. I hear by my eye that I is a cry in the sigh of the sky.
When I say I what is meant is consciousness, my consciousness, the activity in my head, the feeling in my nerves, the grout holding my condition together in a coherent mass. When I say you what is meant is you, whoever you may be, you the one who is reading these words, assisting in these perceptions, these thoughts, you in a situation similar to mine, a being with skin and blood and bones, a taste for anchovies perhaps, perhaps not, but passions, likes, dislikes, not my passions and likes and dislikes, but your apparel, your zinnias and kettledrums, whatever makes your world, that is who you are. So who am I? I am the one telling this story. Which isn’t even a story. It’s more of a collage, a beam of light in an attic, a bumbling, a mumbling, a search for jelly and paste, correspondences and coleslaw, meditations on death and life.
And here is the reason: it’s fascinating. Life is fascinating. It’s so fascinating that there is never any single way to get it out there, put it in words, frame it in paragraphs, in a plot, bring it into focus like a smear of bacteria on a glass slide, or a constellation of stars in a distant galaxy. Life is a momentum, a motion rolling through the medium of the world like the motion rolling through water that we call a wave, a swell.
I can tell you who I am not. I am not Jeffrey R. Immelt, the current CEO of General Electric. I am not Bob Dylan, most definitely not the Bob Dylan who did the ridiculous Chrysler ad that aired during the 2014 Superbowl, nor the really cool Bob Dylan on the Blonde on Blonde album cover, the Bob Dylan who wrote those marvelous songs, who brought Dada and Surrealism into rock ‘n roll, who unleased the imagery of surprise and ferocity into the kettles of the night.
I am not Iron Man, Captain Kirk, Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlet Johansson, or Angela Merkel.
I am an immigration of ideas, a cluster of feelings, an emotion, an emulsion, a constellation of opinions, a variegation of paint and apparel, a vascularity, a distillation, a diffusion, a contradiction, a walking antique, a story in search of a plot, a lambent introspection bubbling over with words, an ornithological disgrace, a love of literature, a gathering of skin, an appeal to common sense, a bizarre bazaar, a group of intentions, an incentive to lie, a jackpot of truth, a memory of hills, an aesthetic, a Weltanschauung, a polymer, a pulse, a polemicist, a pronoun.
Friday, May 2, 2014
There is structure in poetry and trees and endurance. A daily extravagance shows writing to be soluble when scrubbing is preferred to tin.
The distribution of anger makes engagement painful to see. This is no sign of milk. Hectic subtleties fondle their own goldfish. This proves that eyeballs are reckless in their vision when a boiling invents consciousness and the lamas weave into their true nobility.
Writing demonstrates invisible shapes of rain falling up to the sky on paper.
A roof what is a roof when there is no meaning in a crawl with a liberation in it causing jungles? Make climbing in a swamp go into suds. Nourish bacteria. Blow a nose and molt, counsel a crow and cram, believe an evolution and sew, riddle an allegory and put a scratch on the skin that studies encouragement. Consider the long climate of bones. Moss and pumpernickel.
I like to tattoo densities. Redeem a heart that we might drip art.
Area is a form of stirring when the stars pierce the sky of Oklahoma.
Noise is flimsy if the injury is time. Autumn spreads itself over the tenses conjugating heaven. This is when we sway and lift the stars into our eyes. The mind is kinetic among its silent bells. Each cocoon anticipates what we spout if our eyes hang by an orchard of words.
It happens that England is navigable.
I am always agreeable except when I’m not.
Infringe on a dream. Study caresses. Sparkle like Chicago. Garnish your eyes with supposition. An edge of light in black thickets of ambiguity.
All the real is real and all the wet is wet. Diagnosis chews the Möbius cloud into bottles of sparkling cuticle. I’m feeling Byzantine. Go ahead. Say it. Whispers are about the plugs that a fast line can slide into experiment.
Call it parlor magic. Call it water. Call it an umbrella. The light is cows and smells of arrival. Meditation is meant to be shared with sunlight. And needles that litter the floor of the forest. These, too, are specific and propaedeutic.
Go wild inside yourself.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
You can learn a lot from sugar. It was while waiting for a cube of sugar to dissolve in a glass of water that Henri Bergson learned the true nature of life, duration, and time. He learned that our conception of time in hours and minutes and seconds and months and days is an artificial construct imposed on the laminations of experience that constitute true time. Time is fluid. There is an external time which is that of clocks and mathematical configurations and time which is internal and miscellaneous as the chromatic tones of a harmonica or the tones embodied in keys, scales, and harmonies of a musical composition. There is the time of rigidity, geometric time, the time of a mechanical universe perfect in its movements, regular in all of its interrelations such as that conceived by the Enlightenment Deists, time as coiled springs and gear train and escapment, and intuitive time, a concrescence of many potentialities, a drop of experience which diffuses into the general flux and coheres into a prairie sunset, zipper on a jacket or cartilage of a thumb.
We feel, intuitively, that none of the categories we have devised to characterize certain experiences such as multiplicity, mechanical causality, finality of intelligence, etc., pertain exactly to the things we experience in life. As soon as we begin to break something down into its component parts we discover that it’s related to many other things. Experiencing is an active process. Awareness can be enlarged, fine-tuned, facilitated by knowledge or drugs. Language articulates being, but it is not being. It is doomed to abstraction. Being impinges on language but must exceed its inherent linearity to approximate the real actualities of being alive.
There are qualities whose fugitive character eludes definition. Elude language. Qualities of color and texture, flavors, odors, the infinite provocation of our senses, and our senses themselves always feel just short of something ineffable, something pulsing through time like the contractions and dilations of our heart moving blood through our circulatory system to nourish the billions of cells that create our individuality, our nerves and muscle and blood.
Categories are a form of shorthand. We need them for basic communication. But beyond that, we need art and poetry. Logic fails because it is a bound system. Creativity is protean. Logic is perfect for describing mass and volume, force and quantity. Logic can determine that a certain weight and shape and atomic structure is an apple or a sun, but it cannot determine the flavor of a particular apple or the feeling of heat on a Venetian plaza in the middle of June.
L’universe dur, observed Bergson. The universe has duration. But what does that mean? Of course the universe has duration. That’s what time is all about, duration. Waiting. Expectation. Anticipation. History. We wait for something to happen, we try to imagine what such and such an event is going to be like, what the consequences will be for us, and then it happens, we’re in the moment, and as soon as we experience the event we’ve been anticipating it becomes the past. It becomes memory. It becomes a story. It assumes a phantasmal quality, a milieu of the mind partly real partly imagined, partly nebulous partly concrete. The past and the future are abstractions. Nothing is ever quite as real as the present moment. It is in the present moment where time is water and our minds are sugar. Dissolution is the start of something new.
“For a mind born to speculate or dream I could say that while it remains exterior to reality,” observed Bergson, “it also deforms and transforms it, perhaps even creates it, in a manner similar to the figures of people and animals that our imagination outlines in the passing clouds.”
He goes on to say that there are certain powers complementary to our understanding, powers of which we have only a confused feeling when we remain closed within ourselves, but which illumine and distinguish themselves when they manifest themselves in a work, so to speak, such as in the evolution - the ongoing development - of living organisms within nature.
Change is more radical than one assumes at first. The truth is that change is perpetual and no state is static but is in a continuous mode of transfiguration. No state however distinct can be broken down into distinct components. Each continues in a ceaseless flowing. Our conception of time links events artificially, as if time were an absolute entity outside our particular reality. It is not. Each moment is a creative act. There is no such thing as destiny or predestination. Nothing in our lives is mapped out ahead of time. The thread that connects our sun to the rest of the universe is tenuous but strong, connecting the minutest parcel of the world we experience to the entire universe. Nothing is isolated; all is interrelated.
The essence of things eludes us always. We move among relations discovering endless varieties of combination, but the absolute is not within our capacity: we halt before the Unknowable.
Our frameworks crack. They’re too narrow, too rigid for the experiences we try to confine within them.
The more we deepen our understanding of time the more do we realize that duration signifies invention, the creation of forms, the continual elaboration of absolute novelty. Ultimate reality is one of affiliation, collaboration, communion. Vital properties are never fully realized but always on the way toward realization: they are less states than tendencies.
To live is to continually create oneself.