Saturday, December 27, 2014

Concrete Cheer

There is no end to things. To things that matter, there is no end in sight. To things that do not matter, there is no end of hope.

I turn time and time again to what does not matter as being the only fit pasture for my labored mind. I need peace. I do not need consolation.

If there is any one thing I am most grateful for it is that I feel no need to explain myself. Really, I would not know how to begin.

I enjoy art. I do not enjoy art for any reason other than to look forward to more art to enjoy. I am thankful for this Internet thing, by which lovely, intelligent art appears on the screens of my several electronic image receiving devices for me to take in and enjoy. I am quite sure I enjoy what I see. I am just as sure that it is good for me.

Being religious in nature (and that is a matter of nature I think) I am inclined to accept what is good and be grateful. If the good appears as fascinating, well-constructed, prompting images and poems or poems and images, so much the better. I claim nothing for myself. I am very glad if others are as happy that they do what they do as I am that I do mine.

What should I do with a poem, or image, except to create it? If I were God - and there are several strains of thought that suggest in strong terms that I am his child - I would certainly be content to create and to support with love and promise. That would be enough. The God of the Old Testament did not, to take one example, feel inclined to shout out to the earth that here was Adam & Eve, etc.

How should I promote my own creations?

I am not old, but neither am I young. I cannot tell if this is satire. I confuse even myself to a pleasant distraction that should hold me for, oh, a week or so.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Think Stop

I find that doing lots is fine, but seeing that one is doing lots is self-defeating. Admitting to oneself that one has lots to do is, for an artist, tantamount to surrender of the immediate fact of what needs to be done, specifically, in particular, now. The analogy is in painting. Imagine if Constable had said to himself (and others) "I am painting Hampstead Heath. My God, it's so big," over and over, wondering in part how to get it done. We would have a painting then of Constable having worried about having to paint Hampstead Heath, instead of what we have, which is very particular, and elegant, and raw, and grand.

So I think consciousness is fine where it does some good, but otherwise it's a waste of time and opportunity. How it does good is pretty clear, where one senses inner conflict and is more or less forced to a fresh perspective. But if all you are doing is going on and on about the burden you bear, well, what good is it? Has any great poetry (or art) come from hand-wringingly tedious averments of narrow capacity? I think not.

So, I am doing some things, and tonight I will do them, and then I will do more. Let's have no more spiritual twistings about projects. Let's not! Let's do, publish, and do more.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

2 Projects and a Mood Shift

Into two projects, something that occurs only occasionally. Well, this time is odd in that they both commenced at more or less the same time. One to be a book of visual poems, to be called The Drawings of a Tree, the other likely all block poems, to be called Director. I thought at first, airily, that the drawings would number 40 and take about 2 weeks to complete. 2 weeks. I had in mind a very clear idea of the form(s) of trees, taken from repeated consideration of the apple tree in our front yard. Director I thought would take 2 months.

The drawings are hard. Quite hard. I have tossed out a few and found the process and subject deepening, I suppose is the word. It's become complicated. Today, my energy produced one drawings. Then I found I had to do a painting to advance the idea... I haven't painted in 2 years and I have not missed it. In fact, I had a canvas ready to take a painting that had been sitting on my easel for that long. Credit to a clean work space and being prepared: I was up and running and finished in 10 minutes, and exhausted.

I am not in a good mood.

I really, really, hate painting. I hate it. lol! No, seriously, I really hate what it takes out of me, which is a lot, and it leaves me feeling like I have been woken at the edge of a crumbling cliff. I hate being in the world in the way art puts me, when it is hard. It becomes a fight, it is so physical. You fight the materials and your mind leads you, and the thing making it happen lays everything out in front of you like a dissected corpse, still pulsing.

You never leave the world in art, you enter it and drape it all around yourself. It is truly disgusting.

As to Director, well, that project has become unreal. Apparently, they have taken the turn of allowing me (is that's the word I want) to inhabit a film director's perspective, etc. It it, in a word, challenging.

I am in a better mood.

The problem with painting is finding a means to get outside the factory of self far enough to relax, to breathe. I find that difficult to do, even without the pressure of trying to establish any kind of reputation, etc. Art is a brutal practice, and poetry strings you out like nothing. So, doing both at once is, in a word, lovely.

No more complaints. Promise.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Concrete Formalist Readings: a Chat, concluding with an Analogy

I have finished the first series of Concrete Formalist Readings as outlined in my last post. Whether they are a first in Western Civ. is not a claim I am qualified to make or even interested in considering, except with a laugh. I am quite sure they are not the last, at least from my perspective.
First Block Poem Reading Series

These readings were conceived as a means of maintaining my self-respect in an utter dearth of interest in traditional poetry readings, while perhaps providing entertainment to myself and others, even food for thought. In other words, I was bored out of my mind and desperate for relief. While I struck upon and settled into the self-publishing mode in 2008, I had yet to arrive at a means of presenting my work publicly, or engaging the public aspect of projecting my work, that made sense, felt right, etc. Or indeed was anything I could enjoy.
The idea of reading over a four-week period, at four sites in the city, which would stake out a rectangular pattern occurred to me toward the end of a run with my son, Jackson. We had started out from our house and as we got going I explained my dilemma to him (wanting to figure out a way to read in public that made sense) and, somehow, as he sped off toward home at the end of our run while I slowed to a walk, the idea struck, took root, and fleshed out.

Representative block poem
But enough background. The readings were a matter of first announcing the time and place on Facebook. I planned the readings, loosely, taking a book or two of mine. I took extra copies in the event someone showed up. I went to the spot, and read my poems (to myself) for 10, 15 minutes, and went home. I then commented on the reading.

I was surprised that these felt like real readings. I mean, I was expectant, even nervous. I was happy to conduct them. I was relieved at the conclusion. I found myself entering into the work, abiding in it for a time. Afterwards, I would wander around the area a bit, feeling good and alive. The experience was, in short, traditional, even if the mode was not.

I am sure I will do this again, alternating months, at least for some time. You can see from the map that I failed on the initial corner angle (NW) thereby mangling the bounds of a true rectangle. I have a protractor now, so that should not be a problem in the future. I found the four-readings aspect to be interesting in terms of how I felt about each locale. The first point (NE - our house) was a gut call on how to kick off the block. The second (NW point) was fun choice, as I could line out in any direction, knowing that the choice would also influence the third site, and the fourth most of all. But, I did not plan the entire block at once. That would have been cheating.

The third reading (SW) was difficult, as I was bound to a point along a particular line. In this case, much of that line crossed the Willamette river, and I did not want to go to the West Side. Not yet.

The fourth site, which I thought would feel anti-climactic (or be unfeasible), being non-negotiable, was perhaps the most satisfying. It put me in a part of town I had not been too, though it wasn't far away at all from our house. And then I thought - how funny, because I love visiting parts of town I have never been to. On a recent vacation day, I took a spontaneous tour, jumping from city bus to city bus, line to line, here to wherever, along with Jackson. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time. I don't know why, really.

But why - and I should answer this question - does this form of a reading series work for me? That is an ongoing think, and I may never get much farther (and may not want to) than to acknowledge certain facets and factors. As I've said, each reading felt and followed through as genuine. I made people aware of the readings. I have felt productive and happier with myself as a writer. I certainly feel that this form of readings, which mimics or echos the form of my writing, is just the solution I have longed for. I cannot be accused of grandstanding. I cannot be faulted for not trying. This form of reading is as close a cousin of my form of writing, and publishing, as I can imagine.

Finally, having this form for readings has allowed me to let go of doubts and consternation. I am perfectly at ease with traditional poetry readings, though I will continue to avoid them, you bet. But, as odd as what I do is, I have no doubts that what other people do is fine as well. I am grateful for latitude and options. And for friends who support me in what I do. There are several who seem to get it, commenting on the sites I have chosen, offering observations, etc.

So, this form of reading works for me. Granted. Could it work for others? Why not? If I had to explain it
further, I would compare it to plein-air painting. The artist (writer) takes her canvas & brushes (poems) out of the studio to a selected spot and paints (reads) there, the better to capture the light and perspective. I have never viewed reading as a passive endeavor. No poem is anything unless or until it is read, and it's success is bound to the degree to which the reader is sought to engage.  Lack of audience is no deterrent. One is obligated to make one's work available, and if there is no one there to hear it, all the better, that the work should exist, present and available, to the surrounding air.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Concrete Formalist Poetry: the Readings

I have for some time found conventional poetry readings (and the writing itself) to be somehow at odds with whatever it is I have made myself into, by a decidedly non-linear series of fits, starts, gaps, self-recriminations, glowing insights, etc. I have gone, I have listened, uncomfortable. With the set-up, the milieu. The niceties, real or not. The mike. The beer. The cheese.

The givens. The accepted this and that. The soft realities.

Anyway, I have no use for complaint when the creature itself is beautifully suited to its environs. Many are the brilliant souls who attend and support these events. Great are the experiences to be had. I too, in my youth (my youth! lol!) got much from that.

But now (via the afore-mentioned twists and turns) am something else, if not someone. What (feet to the fire) do I do about this?

So, it has been years. I gave a reading a couple years ago, well set up, that went all right, but the internal conflict was strong. It has gotten stronger.

I attended a great reading several months ago, including Kasey Mohammed and Rodney Koenicke, and this kid from NYC who was great. The reading had kismet. Close to our house, heard last minute. Maybe the best it could be.

I go to readings by my friend, John Beer, which are always wonderful for me. I go to readings by my wife, Endi, where my heart is too full to know what is going on around me.

For the past couple, it has sufficed, for me, to be a reader at church. But, that's kind of a cop-out. I mean, it's not presenting my work the way a poet needs to. Because a poet needs to engage, somehow, at least to engage the property, the quality, the institution of public interface. To invite, to perform. To read at church, before the altar of God, you must remove yourself from the conversation except to say, I will.

Then, I had this idea, which occurred after mentioning this dilemma to my son, Jackson. I explained the outline to Jackson and Endi while reclining on the cool wood floor of our kitchen after a run. Jackson remarked it was a concrete formalist reading idea, and so it is.

I offer a reading series, as a model for reading.

  1. I will pick a spot in Portland, Oregon to read my poems for 15 minutes, give or take, and announce the place and time (likely, on Sunday) on Facebook (on Friday). I will read my poems to myself, if no one else is there. If someone shows up, I will read aloud if they wish. Otherwise, we can read quietly, together. I will pick this spot on whim or impulse, but it will be only the first of a four-part reading series, to occur once a week over four weeks.
  2. The second reading will be announced in the same manner as the first. This will establish one border.
  3. The third reading, announced as the other, will establish the third geographical corner.
  4. With the fourth reading (where people may or may not have appeared. To be frank, it hardly matters to me if they do.) the block will have been established.

The reading series, occurring in four-reading sets, will establish a rectangle pattern when the sites are viewed on a map. In this way, the readings will echo the block form of my writing. I will enact read as I have written, in the form I commit to the page. I will, in a concrete and formal manner, enact, in my reading, as I write.

Should this plan work out, if I find I can carry it out, and believe it is productive, I will have more to say. For now, all I can reasonably say is that the first reading will be tomorrow, around noon, in Mt. Tabor Park, at a clearing to the East of the upper reservoir.

Friday, September 26, 2014

This means what he said with dishes still to do

A form for coming and going, for approaching, doing, and taking one's rest. For movement among tasks, all propitious singular to themselves. A stalwart affection. Trees against the wind.

The telephone call. A bit of work.

All the work and looking back as if you could, but you do, and you are not happy for it.

You do, tree, who cannot quantify the nuts.

Of nuts, unqualified, their barking proximities as if the soul, unskirted, demands skirts. And while you have the answers in hand, for all answers suffice, you look back, alone in doing so, and perhaps that is why, electing aloneness, a sleep, the regular sort so fraught.

Oh, we die every day and by choice.

See the monuments fluttering into the waste basket or stacked and quarantined dirt-thick on book store shelves.

I continue willing to confess hope in painting, or hope in stating that hope. Some species of wakening clarity. As if stepping off a curb thoughtless, honked.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Asemic [FABLE]

I am in a mood, said the bandit to the cavalier. The moon is a pool of liquid peach, responded he. Car bodies circle me like penitent testaments, said the bandit. You are a bloat of IF, sez the cavalier.

A man who is tired should not work
A man who is tired should not write
A man who is tired should not sleep
He should rest from care.

What is care? It is being awake with no answers, no cure.

It is interesting to write when you are tired. It is selfish. A disservice to the reader. And that is a disservice to oneself. But we explore this violation in a spirit of desultory voyaging. Kind of like if Erik the Red had had GPS.

What is time? It is a red flower, not a rose. A dahlia. The kind of thing you wouldn't be caught dead with. With which you would not care to be caught while, or in the state known as, dead.

What is death. It is a red red rose that traffics not in other red things, flowers in particular, with its upturned nose and creepily clustered eyelashes.

What is a burrito? It is perhaps the most functional form of food ever conceived. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They are always interesting and affordable and can be made quite different from each other.

Would it help if I died my hair pink?

Of course it would help. Look at the people with pink hair. Look at their faces. They don't need you and they don't need me.

I will close with a parable.

A man with two donkeys built a trap using a mathematical formula he had discovered in papers buried under a pile of books in his father's study. As night falls, the man withdraws to the hut he shares with his two donkeys, Esther and Chloe. Every night he has the same dream. Every morning he has forgotten the dream he had.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

New is Truth - True is Love

I seem to be seeing more (or less) form more (and sometimes fewer) people I know, on terms of production of art, and children, or lifetime contracts - or job commitments, etc. lately. This includes children and the elderly, democrats, republicans, and everyone beyond.  

I am quite sure that there was a lot of talk not too long ago about the universality of knowledge and art, being expression and the expressed, of the here of now, especially of the under-represented, and the role of the over-represented to shut the fuck up. Well, I like all that. And I think we are in a form of Golden Age of such. I really do. I feel bashful to be happy in art, but what you all are doing is just so interesting and fine. You can;t swing a dead cat in the digital world without striking the clean, observant, daring, apt. I really never thought I would see this - or, perhaps it is better to say that I am grateful that I have the wherewithal to perceive it in the first place.

Is art always great? I really don't think so. But maybe I have somehow placed myself to be among people who do great things. How. Well, it's you, not me.

This is what we have in the present age, due largely to the social network, is how persons quite well-known and remarkable in themselves present their work virtually universally, and the work of others, so that good things are present immediately either as primary or secondary texts. The pond freshens and refreshes, constantly, from established or new sources.

Or I may know nothing and simply being feeling something. I am fortunate to have my work that runs in and out of my life. I have lost the flavor or knack of judgement. We run hard, you and I, and if we love each other well we will not be counted a loss. Not now, not ever. Never.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Notes toward The Publisher and I

It might be something, to suggest that lack of personal insight into one's work is not a crime. I would have to love myself somewhat harder to take enjoyment in turning about and staring at what I've left behind, as if to offer an explanation, or a cure. I can justify nothing - that's a settled point - and there are three too many I's in criticism. No matter. People make lovely art with less.

But all the really good art is curious and the artists just as, or maybe not. I am at loose ends. I published The Hunting Party and have nothing on tap. It is a joyous time. I can do nothing or everything. Anxiety is at low ebb. My editor makes no demands of me for readings or baptisms. I am under contract to the soul of self.

Should my latest effort meet expectations or do as well as the others, I am sure to be rewarded. Long days, and a free hand. Publishing 28 books grants one certain permissions, such as, to enjoy life under the rule that others enjoy life, too.

I have wondered about my publisher, his life and all that. And it became apparent, over time, that we share much in common. While his press, Double Movement Publications, is his alone, he has a family, a job. We share similar political views and recycling practices, though he is given more to broad inclusion. His language is less colored, virtually blank. There is a tendency toward natural proxy, but then he is one in a long line of men, and women, and others, for whom the staple of truth is taken at seed.

If I were my publisher, and he I, no doubt we would bear similar thoughts respecting each other. Such is love as humanity under a common yoke. Such are flowers burdened by sunsets unyielding and sure.

The nest book should be...I do not know. I expect, given the rhythm I am in, to publish two more before the end of the year. But I enjoy this not know, being as unaware of the future as I am oblivious of my own past.

What is poetry, what is art? It is the fact of a thing having been made to the purpose of having been made.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Love Lived

It is curious, more than curious, to write, and to be alive, writing. It is more curious to paint, I think, but writing is pretty curious. Painting or image-making is more in the nature of a perfect, if parallel, rupture with one's life. I am not so sure of music-making, but I recall image making as being an emotional, sexual activity. There is a bump. A rupture. A rhythm, to be sure, but that pulse has a life to it, and the power of it is sometimes blinding and overwhelming.

The life of the artist too is sexual and blinding, being bought and sold. Traded. Apprised and spent. Painting is for the young and the very determined. One can be old and paint and paint well, but I do not know how to do it, not that and everything else. Work, family, etc. I can do it for drawings for my books, to be sure. And those drawings, accomplished only a couple or few times a years, with perhaps several black-and-white drawings for this or that book, cost me, emotionally. They cost me in ways nothing else does.

Painting or image-making requires going over to a thing that you cannot be sure will be safe or sound. It is not a place anyone enjoys. It is not fun, though it is very exciting. You do not like to see the end of a brush as being responsible for how your mind might come across.

Writing, however strange, is more comfortable. It exists as a species among a wide variety of conversation. What I like most, I think, are these works I see so much of, that combine or partake of the visual and the writerly. Visual poetry and asemic writing and such, of which concrete formalism is a slim & set part, is really quite new and fresh. I think concrete poetry called out some of this, and perhaps Pop art called out the same, in a way that, both voices calling out, new forms were born.

I know of nothing more elegant and right than new work being born. I cannot imagine anything better or more just for any artist to involve themselves with, or to assist in propitiating, then the voice of the new. Critical histories and assessments are another kind of, well, critical work. But it is not my work.  My work is to do and, having put more than a few years away, providing as a can a venue of sorts. An open venue, as comes naturally. I have done this, opened a kind of lower case gallery window for passers-by. This is right, small, and right, and no less right for being small.

Though small, the point is made. Formalism is not a thing that dies or can be said to be in or out. The shape of thought, or thought's shapefulness, its sex, is ever just and true to the fact of life in form. We can not vacate the elegant line or a purposeful splash of color than we can dismiss the words, I love.

I love, and yet I love anew, again, alive and again. This is what you do, time and time again, over and over again. The word for this is love, the life is love, lived.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Done, Digital, and Digital Done

Do what you like, or better, what others might not understand, yourself included, and post it. Done. And, having done, doing, what you like, or must, which you cannot quite grasp, nor others, perhaps. And post it. Done. If what comes to hand, minutes or hours, by oneself and with others, in response, you might say, or what seems to be a new thread, posted. Done. Not a woven pattern, not the marshaled column, exceptions encouraged. Done. Go post yourself, little warm breeze.


We are prompted who receive the Digital. Thank you. Done. And, done, ready.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Flipping Pasturage

Concrete Formalist roundup (i.e., THIS). I expect to do something more with what THIS is over the next year, give or take, not because I should but because I might. And, having written that sentence, I have exhausted my options and desires. Love that release.

Miasma is winging its way to me to be proofed and launched via Lulu. This was the hardest book, written over four months only (felt like 4EVER) where I had three very separate threads going, hanging on by my fingernails, not at all sure where they were headed if anywhere. The title came to me and the cover drawing, and so I thought to simply print out what I had. I did so and arranging found I had a book, 48 pages. Two of the elements threaded together while the third was set apart in a second section. I like the book, and was immediately taken by a title for the next one, The Hunting Party, being the name of Linkin Park's latest album (as mentioned by my son, Jackson), and reminding my of Chekhov's The Shooting Party. I love the title for a book of poems, more so I am sure following Miasma. 

But then the past several months have been difficult or at least wearying/hard. That's fine. I have been doing too much again things that needed doing, so sometimes we have to dig in and everything gets a little strange. So be it.

On the reading side I have Melville's last-published book Clarel - actually an epic poem - which I am enjoying in a group with two good friends, John Beer and Rodney Koenicke. We read aloud, discuss, and rotate taking notes. Good clean fun. Very strange book. We are all capable and wondering - engaged, enjoying ourselves and each other in the company of this piece by Melville who was himself a piece of work.

I promise not to go on too long here. So I won't. Adieu.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Ontology Murders

Poetry is not the poem any more than humanity is the child. That would be to insult the child to label it so.

If a poem is constituted, first and last, in being the most reliable means by which poetry is enacted, so be it, but we cannot be convinced.

God is the answer to Why, as art answers the question Why not.

Purity is best rendered in acts of utter self-neglect.

I do not care much that art and poetry meet, but I would like to see poetry and interstate trucking brought into closer proximity.

The first fact was being from which no other facts could be deduced. The first fact was a point of being. A poem can suggest this truth, which is all we can do on the artistic end of the spectrum. On the opposite end is plain old worship, which is another sort of pure form.

Poetry matters in the same way that accidents disturb my sleep.

Conversation should not be conducted in neglect of meaningful silence.

All silence is a kind of conspiracy against meaning.

The fact of a thing exists at a 270 degree angle to the shadow of its being. When I say shadow, I mean old friends.

I was true, then more true, then alive to death before I suddenly was true again.

The new thing is not the old, but the old made new by understanding.

You say you fell, but I saw leap.

Language has in common with music an elaborate scheme for the exchange of tickets.

Criticism is essential, as is weeping.

I trust that at the end of day I will be credited with having fashioned my own coffin from out of virtual paper.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Discussion

for John Beer

I had in mind this conversation with this guy that began at the left margin, where we traded quips. It got to a point where really we were repeating ourselves and each other, so the conversation moved toward the right margin, but slowly. Achingly. Looking down the page, we had about 20 lines to cover, so that we were taken up with cross references. Active ones at that. Some of these propelled the discussion at both ends, while others seemed to embed themselves on a letter or punctuation character. Things got noisy, with people coming and going and a variety of bands on stage. People calling out others' names, laughter, cigar smoke. Things then began to wind down with one or two small accidents, of course. The day crew cleans those up. This guy, a friend, really, and I ended up at a new, usual place, which is what we almost always do, for reasons that they, I am glad to say, keep to themselves.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Form is Marriage for all

Form is the formal knight, dressed in the white of a blank page

Form the span between the tomorrow of plans and appointments and what tomorrow brings

Form is the arch of category rainbows, a situational span above the ark of inherited forms

To assemble forms under the direction of all that is

The name, form, where the sound, form, invokes love of form

Form the matter not the measure

To assemble and discern after the assembly

Form what happens all the time, while getting dressed, or between relationships

A middling terror. A hop, skip, and jump

Form is the discussion that led us to form as the conversation regarding form

A looping effect, like a rope tossed, twisting on the ground

A shape

A sphere

Form is the concern that distills time to such a point that people take their share

Directing traffic, at the center and apart

A curtain of no substance hanging loose across a bedroom window

Emily Dickenson turns in the gate

Form is never second-rate

A variety of of bodily gestures and moves and symbols that lead to form

Not the first or the last. Never the first, or the last.

A statement released to support other statements while indicating recent events

Not people, or things, but what things dream of people

A personal history, if that person is Caesar

Twice the work and three times the hardware

Form is the lawn before and after it is cut, from a certain perspective, today, for instance

Tiki torches, and the ladies who surround them

The moon, when the moon is what we think, with concern

What gentlemen do, when they are gentlemen

What people do because they are people

Form is the shadow cast by form upon the object of our making

Form is the mirror we push form to to look upon itself

A draft of a speech, the speech, and all manner of murmuring

A triumph of tendency over fact


Marriage of one

Marriage for all

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lana Turner says, Yes

I have courted thought. I have read it, considered it, and discussed it. I have argued about it. I have thought hard, been thoughtful, and thought it over. But I know nothing about thought. I have even stopped thinking. Oh yes, I no longer think.

What I do is I perform and behave as one who has thought, and who, I fancy, is not stupid. The critical issue in thought is to not be stupid, or oblivious, or mean. No, the glory of thought of not in what you might come up with but in avoiding error. A person who avoids error is, well, impossible. But thought is not the answer to what it means to be wise. It is the answer to what it means not to be stupid.

I may not be stupid, but I am willing to think about it. See, I believe that progress consists of taking away. Sometimes. Certainly there is nothing I want to say.

HOWEVER! This leads to...what? Well, it leads to writing, because writing, like thought, is both not what we hope for it, but more interesting (meaningful) than our expectations allow. Meaningful is not a word I enjoy typing out, because it gives license to thinkers. But I do not like licenses. I like thought kept in its place. I like everything kept in its place. Who decides what place? Not me, that I can assure you! We can discuss who, when you stop pretending that thinking is the end-all of human existence.

I am happy to discuss anything, not that anyone asks. It's not like people are lining up for conversation with me. But, I do write poems, and I have breached the walls of thought, I have cleansed the Augean Stables of self-doubt, so that I am left with what I do. I write poems. Why. Because. The tendency to write poems is the cause, the effect is poems having been written. One publishes these poems. I publish my poems. How I publish them is my business. I have lost the sex of scourging myself for the this-and-that of publishing....

Because...I don't care. I don't care how anyone publishes. How much less should I care how I publish? How much? Plenty much, like, I don't care at all. At. All.

I am alive, being, doing. and developing. What I say now is not what I have said before, though certain threads reoccur. For one thing, it is achingly clear to me that the influence (or confluence) of the tendencies (or, thoughts?) of David Hume runs through me like the kind of thing that runs through people, etc.

David Hume, the Lana Turner of Skeptical Thought.

We are done for now, but we will do more, because in the fact of doing, we will have left evidence of having done. This may qualify for thought. It certainly serves as an axiom. On the other hand, what is new? The stars, the leaping things of the field, your warm hand.

Where I have gotten to is to not worry about what I do. But first I had to learn to disregard what I have done, or to offer to myself an understanding of it that would serve as a counterweight to other ways of writing and publishing. Therefore, I do not care one way or another. It is all equal, and passes for a kind of accumulation of behaviors and tendencies. I am alive and writing one particular history which is inexorably tied into other histories. I control, to an extent, the words I type as having been sponsored by my predilection to write. But there is no plan.

Do not let me convince you that there is a plan. There is a cause, but no plan.

I am a twig. a leaf on a river. I have no purchase. I have no point to prove. I represent what I can, and whose work I might, but this is not intended

In time the sun outshone its works, where love outshines the sun.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

In Which I Cheer Up

Hedgehog leaps the sty, plants his feet, and arms outstretched, breathes deeply. To the West the old weather-vane, fresh on the heels of Winter, trots out a squeaky spin. Nothing is fixed. Nothing is repaired. Only time has transpired to produce the effect of gain or relief. Which or both, I cannot say.

In a sudden movement, the tectonic plate tilted and in a blinking render itself as a vast plain of erect and colored sails, spread as from wave of wind, spread and on moving.

A man arranging colored glass ages as the glass cannot know to age, not having asked how, and being incapable, if it were, of establishing proper controls, or even taking notes.

Sentences, like street savvy & muscular blonds, swing past the pressed suits of business as usual, except that one, there, the little man crumpled in a corner, his colored socks, mismatched, the skin of his face shifted around like rumpled bedding, but that was all you could ever say, at least to me.

A man drops a coin and picks up (solicits) a paragraph that hangs in the air like a pressed foil ornament, the air of the day apparent where there should paper be white, the space gelatin like, and the paragraph - why, it's a prose poem, a perfect block - described in letters so black they seem to absorb the light from one's eyes.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Frame to your Mother

Seeing a lot of frames lately. Hearing some too. Not using pronouns. Doing a lot of that to start the blog.

I see frames not as literary/critical devices. I think the most recent iteration of frames had something to do with deconstructing frames as implicit context forms (who's the framer; framers dictate frames; frames reinforce the power structure of framing, etc.). But I think that spiel has run its course, so we are more or less allowed to think about frames in a somewhat unframed discussion.

I see frames somewhat, these days, the way I see painting stretchers. I mean wooden stretchers one assembles into a rectangular form to accommodate a stretched canvas. But I don't see frames accommodating anything really. I tend to see them as having been erected, then collapsing. The way painting stretchers can collapse one way or another if you but some laterally intended weight on them.

I see frames that do not bend, but I think they might bend and even fall apart. No doubt, to be assembled again. When I was painting, I would choose the stretchers (for framing the canvas) by laying them out on the floor of the paint supply store, substituting lengths, until the proportions suited the painting I had in mind. I never erred in this practice. I have never stretched a canvas then thought, Oh dear, this is all wrong. No, the stretched canvas always suited the painting, the way a pool accommodates the swimmer.

I wonder if this anecdote points to anything other than a kind of tendency. Probably not. But right there I am letting a frame go, I suppose.

I have done this letting go of frames more often than is good for me, I suppose. I write a kind of poetry that I should work to present as the poetry I write, with explanations and frames, frames of frames. But perhaps the block form of the poetry precludes further attempts to frame. Nature abhors a clean surface, you know. Nature wreaks havoc on lovely blocks.

Well, let nature have its way, I say. I will make blocks and time and the elements can kick them around, or not, as they see fit. I am a terrible framer. I don't explain things very well. But I can put something together as well as anyone, or so it seems to me. I may be a bit of a block, myself. I don't know that such a person can do much to change their relationship with themselves. Such a person can be employed, or they erode. Even by themselves, sitting there, they prompt thoughts of another way to do things.

Well, I hope I am a nice block. For a block, that is.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Write Real Books, People. Not like me.

Every now and again (yeah. like, every 4 hours) I kind of wonder why I call  myself a writer. No, that's not true. I never call or think of myself as a writer, except for the collateral that would suggest I write.

No, I have made too many mistakes to claim anything for myself. You will see in these blog postings at least a strong suggestion that poets/artists follow more conventional publishing channels than I have. But I have not quite said that I made a mistake doing what I do. I do so now.

I think self-publishing is a terrific error.

I came to this realization - why, just the other day, when it occurred to me that the difference between writing and no one ever reading it, and not writing at all and no one knowing, was immaterial. Now, this is dour, is it not? But consider, I have no groups or publishers or avenues or school to which I belong. I self-publish, via, to no notice or acclaim or even "likes." My life, in terms of being a "writer," having published, is exactly what it would be if I never published. I am not bravely alone. I am simply alone.

Put against this fact the following. Two years ago I joined the Catholic Church (I know, hang on). In those two years, I have taken on the role of lector (reader), cup minister, council member, and sponsor. I am about to take on bread minister. That is about as much as one can do, technically speaking (occupation-wise) and remain a lay person. For my efforts at my church, I am praised, thanked, respected, and liked. I have made friends for life - and beyond, when it comes right down to it.

Further, there is no end in sight to what I can know and experience through church. I am considering how to take what I know to the streets, to people who need material, emotional, and perhaps spiritual help. The prospects are endless, the groundwork sure, the material fascinating, the community innumerable, present, and enthusiastic.

But, I should care to write poems. I should care, you say, to...what? Make a name for myself? Impress people? If I could have impressed anyone, self-publishing was not the way to do it. The chief impression I have made as a writer, as far as I can tell, is that I have avoided making an impression.

I do not think this is admirable. I think it is dumb.

Let's look at it this way. Since dedicating myself to poetry, having written 26 books, nothing has changed. If my writing has made a difference, it is one I am unaware of. What I publish meets no acclaim, no reaction. I might publish, on a Monday, a book of 40-some pages I have spent more energy and time on than I care to recount - to no response - and then, that Sunday, having read a short couple passages from the Bible, receive more response than I have experienced in the past five years of writing.

This isn't about being discouraged. I have never felt encouraged enough to be disappointed. This is about choices, and not making a monument out of yourself. I can either confess having made a mistake, or I can pretend otherwise. I am not very interested in pretending these days.

So, if a young poet says to me, what should I do, I would say go straight unless you're dumb just like me, in which case I can't help you. But - I will not applaud you. I have long maintained that if my work was great it would be recognized regardless of how I published. I maintain that view but add now that it can be pretty sweet not being great but having some kind of dialogue going on, because, you know, it's okay just to be a part of things - the way I am part of a little local church and perfectly happy with that.

With writing, I have driven myself into a psychotic idiot-logic corner where transparency veils oblivion. Maybe this too is a lesson. Maybe I had no choice but to do things the way I have. Maybe I am like an eagle, soaring the currents. Sure, pal. These are the kinds of things poets say who have no other excuse, and no one to talk to. Could I do things differently now? Uh, no. That's not how this sort of thing works. I have made choices. I live with those choices. Being a poet is not a straight-line life. If writers live at the boundary of conscience (and don't they all say that?) then one should not expect the life of a writer to be an easy one. It should be a little ugly, at least a little.

But who's to say that the ugly is not true, or that the world is poorer for lovely, perfect failures, like this "career" of mine? Ah well, I am not too discouraged. I would rather live in honesty than die a liar. So I say, write real books, my friends. Write books and talk to each other.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Writing Intent: Of

I see that I write about intent a lot. Perhaps I am a poet of intent. Perhaps intent is the medium of the amateur, one who never achieves anything more than to live in desire.

If so, I am happy with intent.

I am never more alive than intending to write only, then writing with only that intent; or, having written with my intent intact. Certainly, I do not claim to have achieved anything. But then the world is not perfect, even with all the poetic achievement that others have realized.

I am not alone intending, but I am present in intent in a way that others, perhaps, are present with their achievements.

I do not mean to suggest anything to a purpose, to being right, to being anything other than what I state here. I write a lot about intent. I suppose, that if everyone were to intend well, the world might be a better place. Not to write, for only writers are defined by writing. For us, writing is more than a means to one or another achievement. And for me writing is at its best - speaking personally - an event where the person intends to write, and write well. To write truly, without impediment.

What is writing? It is an occurrence realized in artifact. I do not feel, personally, that I am present in what I have done. Such matter and material is only a trail. No, I am present in desire. In desire I am present and write. In desire, I care to exist. From the perspective of writing, I do not exist, regardless of what has been written.

I have in fact a strange career. For the life of me, I cannot locate it, yet it seems to have no boundaries. I am not forever starting over (oh, I remember that feeling...) but, 20-odd years later, I am nowhere I can name as being one thing or another.

I do know, that if you were to say You have done this or that, I would say It does not matter. Or, if you were to suggest that I do this or that (for my "writing") I would respond the same.

Who is this person, capable of a committed marriage, raising a child, a career - who joined the Catholic church, for Pete's sake - who is so utterly absent to transaction in the world he has cherished longest, which he holds most dear, that of poetry?

I do not have a plan, and whatever logic this makes eludes me. Except to note what I note here, I have no purpose. I gut myself, I exhaust myself, and my intent and desire remain.

Perhaps nothing makes sense that propels sense-making. Perhaps I am not alone in anything I think or feel.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Title is Piquant, Maid or No

I am not quite sure what Piquant means. And, I will not look it up to look like I know more than I do at this very moment. No, that one there.

Already he is losing friends who uses words the definitions of which as the maid rises to her breakfast he is not certain. And, quotes. I have lost all feeling & care for quotations marks unless they of themselves support their inclusion. Capitalization within a sentence is fine, though I think the practice began in novel dialogue, Hemingway comes to mind. Briefly, granted. Au revoir, Hemingway. Do not be too piquant.

I post here "in the vein" (HA) of concrete formalism, which is sweeping the front hallway in preparation of the day, when the maid stops to wonder what's next, across the classrooms and college greens of no one's mind, but I hope I do nothing to support it. Concrete formalism, I mean. Not colleges or maids.

I have nothing to do to support what I do as long as I do it as well as I can, and I have nothing to say to support what I have done assuming that it is worth people's time to read/view and enjoy, but I do post to the Facebook page of Concrete Formalist Poetry, where other post, so, who knows. Maybe we have saved lives.

But the point of her toe as she hops about in imitation of cook when once she espied a mouse is that we are of a condition for naming a thing even as we are clearly intelligent and perhaps have no need of titles to know that a Thing is There. But, if so, perhaps words should not suffice for feeling, and this we cannot allow, not without an appointment. Sorry, Sir. Madam is engaged in corporeal speculations with the gardener.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Testament & Testimony - for Endi

It has been a few weeks since I posted here. I feel the lack, even as I have been busy, which tends, I think, to point out personal issues of compulsion. Not that we should allow personality to dictate thought, though it does; not that what we do not allow means anything, though it does.

I wonder if the world grows up, if we know more now than we did ten minutes or years ago, and I believe we do. What I disallow or forget does not disappear, it simply assumes a different sort of costume in the ongoing drama in my mind. I should say that I take the term "mind" to encompass active thought and conscience. What is present, and what is true.

One's mind falls out, here and there, taking in art and life, responding where it might, given opportunity and proximities. There is no cure for intelligence except to write, to give oneself over. I have always liked writing (literal or visual) that appears to me, minor judge that I am, to give itself over to a knowing that eclipses mere intelligence. The greatest, most influential, work tends toward personal testimony. The best fiction replicates it. The best poetry enacts it.

And the best painting invests the world we see, read, and listen to with a presence akin, if not identical to, testimony. Testimony. Testament. The "Here I am" of literature, and more. How we believe...Beethoven, Jackson Pollock, Malcolm X. Our children.

Here I am. In any event, regardless of occasion, the believable testament wins. And so I turn to a purpose, which is to say that I know of no current poetry that is a truer, clearer, or obvious testament of the writer's Here and Now than that of Endi Bogue Hartigan. I do not link to her books. I am not an agent. My purpose is not to promote, but to state. I deplore promotion; I live to state. That shows my philosophical petticoats, I know.

I am one person in a world I happen to believe in for a variety of reasons, one of which is the life and work Endi offers and presents.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Wake, say

It's all pretty obvious, isn't it? We have got into a habit.

Others (others...) - they do this and that, skirting around, batting balloons of this-and-that labeled with the name of some hither-comes-Harry toward each other. hah.

haha, say we.

100+ years to build a cathedral. A lifetime to paint the right painting. All morning spent putting a comma in, and all afternoon occupied with taking it out.

For every baby, a history of diapers. For every scholar, a library. The saint, a litany. The scientist, a laboratory.

Day into day, night from night. Jukebox music counterpoints paper, erasure, television, donuts. More music. More art.

Can we be brought to court? I hope so. We would enjoy our day in court. The attention, direct questions, an audience of mute compliables, and free coffee.

It is curious to me that anyone should believe that the period, such that we employ at the end of a sentence, means anything when we cannot agree on what poem should be written today.

I mean, when we all write the exact same poem, we will be getting somewhere people, so let's all concentrate.

...which is to say, that the word "form" means only insofar as one's means accommodate form in meaning.

Which is to say.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Form for Work/Love for Life

Understanding or love (it muuust be looove) of form in art is not form in life.

This, I know.

How, otherwise, to account? I am taken over, two weeks shy of 55, by my work, in poetry, in religious writing, as I was when I was in my early twenties. I have shed myself of pretension of success or even conversation. I am not in dialogue, even as I show what I think and do, and - more importantly - have found a means through blogging and Facebook to assist in artists viewing other artists' work.

And so, in the spirit or nature of a scientist, a critic of reality. I relate. I am taken over by the ebb and flow of thought and writing. I am compelled - feeling does not suffice - to pursue the various threads of poems, writing about poems (as in this blog) and writing from a faith perspective.

The "form" of the middle-aged poet, as I understand it, is to follow through, to supplement. Perhaps to seek out and encourage the like-minded, or teleological dependents. I have none of this.

I - whatever "I" means - am somehow positioned simply to speak. I am not at a juncture, or crisis, or within a school. As much as have written in support of "form" I have never bothered to establish or defend anything.

I have no argument, prayer, or complaint, with respect to poetry. I do not know how not to work. When I am not writing, I know it is because I am preparing to write.

It has been this way for over 30 years.

But, I have to say, I am surprised. I thought that the drama of need would have been bled out of me. Really, I have nothing to prove. Perhaps my surprise is the result merely of having grown up in an environment rife with the expectation that artists should prove themselves.

How stupid. How utterly wrong. Does a cloud have to prove it is a cloud? Must a rock declare itself a rock?

Are we not more than rocks, or clouds?

Well, I have tipped my hand, have I not? ;-) It is somewhat apparent, even to me, how faith and art have come so close. Clearly, it is a matter of spirit and belief and, I suppose, energy.

Is it possible that the great gift of art is, in fact, release from one's own expectations?

If so, or, against this, how do book sales compare? Or the utterance of one's name in conversation...