Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Meanwhile, on the other side of a continent, far, far away

Haute Couture Death Text
Jim Leftwich

opening at the ubu studio art gallery at 316a Congress St. in Portland, Maine

Visual Poetry
June 2nd- June 30th 2006
opening reception
Friday June 2nd

featuring the visual poetry works of:
Nico Vassilakis ( Seattle, WA)
Carol Stetser (Sedona, AZ)
Jim Leftwich ( Roanoke, VA)
Geof Huth (Schenectady, NY)
Luc Fierens(Weerde,Belguim)
Reed Altemus (Portland, ME)
this show is curated by Reed Altemus

Other pieces from & information about the show are available here. & Geof Huth has a personal piece on it at dbqp.

& I'm stoked, because three of the participants appeared in the first issue of Otoliths.

Books no good library should be without #1

"I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cucurbits, its breadth fifty cucurbits, and its height thirty cucurbits."
palaeontology of
gnats excited him

Monday, May 29, 2006

How many

blogs are
there out there?

When I was thinking about starting Otoliths, I was thinking in the singular. Tried to get otolith.blogspot. Taken. Went looking. Found this.

Just got an email from Cath Vidler, the editor of Snorkel. She left the h out when keying in the URL of gamma ways. Got this.

to go!
Dippin' the toe.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Monad Lisa

Yet the Monads must have some qualities, otherwise they would not even be existing things. And if simple substances did not differ in quality, there would be absolutely no means of perceiving any change in things. For what is in the compound can come only from the simple elements it contains, and the Monads, if they had no qualities, would be indistinguishable from one another, since they do not differ in quantity. Consequently, space being a plenum, each part of space would always receive, in any motion, exactly the equivalent of what it already had, and no one state of things would be discernible from another.

Friday, May 26, 2006

are times
when it
my speech
is nothing more
than a dry wind
blowing through
a hole
in my head.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I feel another ficcione coming on

No record of it exists except as a refutation. & the only record of the refutation is a fragment of a manuscript without provenance, attributed by the late Umberto Allegrezza, on the basis of stylistic & scribic elements, to Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi, better known as al-Khwarizmi, astronomer, the inventor of algebra, & rumoured to be author of a lost or — rather — hidden treatise on calculus & which, it has been claimed, was the basis for both Isaac Newton's method of fluxions and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz' integral notation.

The manuscript records the thoughts of al-Khwarizmi on a homily by his contemporary Photius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, adherent to a different religion, entitled "All Life is an Accident Waiting to Happen", aware that it was an ironic title since what Photius was advocating was the exact opposite.

al-Khwarizmi's piece has an equally ironic title; "All Accidents are a Life Waiting to Happen".

The latest issue

of Gregory Vincent St Thomasino's wonderful e-zine eratio is up.

Monday, May 22, 2006


The state of
bodily fluids

they just
don't move anymore.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Old Firm Re-forms


Following the enthusiastic response to THE FIRST HAY(NA)KU ANTHOLOGY, copublishers Meritage Press and xPress(ed) are pleased to announce a Submissions Call for THE HAY(NA)KU ANTHOLOGY, NO. 2, co-edited by Jean Vengua and Mark Young.

Submissions Deadline: September 31, 2006.

Send submissions (cutnpasted in body of e-mail) to Be reasonable in the volume of your submissions. Also, please submit just once (rather than sending staggered submissions). Note that we are open to visual poetry but apologize that we must limit it to black-and-white reproductions. If you have any commentary about the form itself, please also feel free to share that as well as we'd like to incorporate other poets' thoughts about the form within the book.

Submissions can have been previously published, but the editors need to know where. Participants will receive contributors' copies. Expected release date will be in Spring 2007.

(for further information, & to see what the poets in Ghana are doing these days, check out the Hay(na)ku blog)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Today the
postman brought
me a blow-up
sex doll &
a torch. I spent
the night in
shining amour.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


over                   over
over                   over


Wednesday, May 17, 2006


When his sight finally failed, he would spend the afternoons sitting in a cane chair on the lawn that sloped down to the river. Sun supporting his back, he faced the water listening to the subtleties of the sea that the tide brought sixty kilometres inland.

Later she would bring him camomille tea & small triangular cucumber sandwiches. He would remove the thin green & white slices, replace them with pages from Octavio Paz’ Piedra del Sol that he exorcised from the book with an elongated left little fingernail, folded them so they would fit the bread, & then ate them slowly.

She had often offered to read the poem to him, but he preferred it in the masculine voice.

Monday, May 15, 2006

sea (s)hell

I have lived with the sea all my life. A street away, a tram trip, an hour's drive. Something that I've always thought of as an integral part of any life I might live. It's been the wild sea of the West Coast of the South Island, the oil-soaked sands of Taranaki, the harbours of Wellington & Auckland & Sydney. The tourist beaches of Queensland.

But I have never lived on its edge – or, more particularly, on a cliff that dropped sheerly down into it – before. & its closeness frightened me. Its hypnotic ability. Perched above Waitemata, the sparkling waters when the sun or the current full moon finds it & the weather is fine. But bring the rain, the clouds; & it acquires a depth – I unintentionally wrote death there first – a presence that is like living with a fatal disease that is trying to coax you into suicide.

Today I flew above it for over 2000 kilometres. Unable to be seen, the siren song lost beneath cloud, no need to put wax in the ears at 40,000 feet. & now, as I write this, it's about forty kilometres away, unseen, unheard, unhypnotic.

There are two Amiri Baraka poems that exemplify the extremities. The beginning of the first, The Turncoat, is how the sea usually is for me.
The steel fibrous slant & ribboned glint
of water. The Sea. Even my secret speech is moist
with it.
But over the past week it has been the end of the poem he dedicated to Gary Snyder, Way Out West, that has been calling to me.
Walking into the sea, shells
caught in the hair. Coarse
waves tearing the tongue.

Closing the eyes. As
simple an act. You float

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Birkenhead, Saturday night

A low-
key departure. Call it
the Icarus manoeuvre —
an unnoticed splash
as WCW noted
about the Brueghel
painting. But
that’s the way I
wanted it to be. Slip
in, do the readings,
slip out again. Nothing
to show for it
but a few stray
posters. No questions
asked for unwanted
answers. No-one
to add to the
Book of the Dead.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Auckland Harbour, Thursday morning

with some
reluctance the

sun returns
muttering of

& re-


& how
it owns

the copyright
on rainbows

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Birkenhead, Wednesday morning

Confused images. The
rain comes in over
the sea wearing
a bandit's cape. I feel
without housekeys
in my lefthand pocket.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Downtown Auckland - Birkenhead, Tuesday evening

Freud would be
having a field-
day if, as a
150th birthday treat,
he was riding
my shoulder &
reading my thoughts
as I ride this ferry
into the dark
tunnels of
the harbour.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Auckland, Monday midnight

sea gun-
metal. Slight tide.

action. I
am a camera.

I lay
siege to this

& almost
won. Now I

in anonymously.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Would be good

to fly out to
New Zealand to-
morrow morning
with a couple of
new poems in
my bag, but
no room left
after packing
     seven pairs of underpants
     seven pairs of socks
     nine shirts
     three pairs of trousers
     two pairs of shoes
     some books
     a couple of packs of cigarettes
     & a toilet bag
so I guess I'll
just have to pick some up
in the duty-free store
on my way
through the airport.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Your fallen Orpheus

for Ross Ritchie

Ross Ritchie Thought II (1964) AUCKLAND CITY ART GALLERY

The shadow
of the despairing man
seems longer than a
mile. He is
your fallen Orpheus,
stripped of his lute
& now more naked
than those women
in the foreground.

Movement of the wind
is memory
of movement
in the macrocarpa trees;
but they no longer
hear the music. What
was, what is. Em-

The other people
in the painting — the men
in evening dress, the
women undressed
for another kind
of evening — do not
concern themselves
with anything going on
behind. Untouched
by memory or shame
they spend their time
participating in an
empty orgy that
echoes out the
hunger of the age.

This moment, in the
gallery, I stand in
what must almost be
the same spot as
you stood in your studio
to cast the last
glance that
the painting. The summit
of the background hill
has since lost
sight of you, & now
it is my time to turn
& leave the ground
your fallen Orpheus
walks upon.

Wellington, N.Z. 1964

Friday, May 05, 2006

Del Ray Cross reaches two hundred

"I’ve been trying to appreciate being alone
and I’ve been very successful. which makes
the perfect boyfriend better.
here he is rounding the hallway corner,
no more antibiotics,
a nice change of pace,
200 ghosts spitting ice.
and here we are asleep on the greenish couch we cuddle upon."

Del Ray Cross: (poem #) cc
posted at Anachronizms
Ah, Del Ray, may your Cs become Ms.

& I am dumb to tell the crooked rose

Let's put it down to the birds. Raucous. Crowcus. The black & white of it, sulfur-crested cockatoo & crow arguing in the tree above me, plus a raptor — kite or eagle; I cannot be sure because the leaves obscure it — leisurely casting its predatory eye across the landscape as it drifts through the sky. Smaller birds chatter in swift flight. Slightly larger ones call cooingly from static perches.

I am hanging out the washing. Have taken the day off work to get ready for my trip to New Zealand. I am consumed by trepidation. If it was a new place I was going to I would probably be excited, but visiting the places & people of the past sets off some sort of nervous reaction. Last time I was there I didn't recognise people I should have. Have I changed that much, too? I have new teeth & am nervous about reading. My eyes are getting worse & I'm nervous about driving over there, especially at night. But the hills killed me last time when I walked them. I am going deaf — or at least hear less easily than I used to. My words are drying up.

My sister emailed me to say she was laying out sweaters & blankets so I wouldn't be cold when I was in Auckland. I'm sitting here in shorts & T-shirt, the sun's out, supposed to be 27º Celsius today as it approaches winter. A good day for washing. But I'm heading to more southerly climes, so into the wardrobe to get out long-sleeved shirts & more sweaters. Which haven't been worn for so long they need refreshing.

Winter clothes. & as I'm hanging them out, a line of poetry arrives in my head. Someone else's words. My youth is bent by the same wintery fever. I can't remember whose words at first, think about it, narrow it down to two disparate writers, e.e. cummings & Dylan Thomas. Both of them cloud writers. The one great banks of — are they? — cumulus, piling up on the horizon. The other sparse wisps of often-broken words. One who should be read out loud, preferably with a Welsh lilt, the Richard Burton of Look Back in Anger, not Antony & Cleopatra. The other whose work should be looked at on the page, read to one's self, to join the letters to make words.

But at a time they shared my shelves, probably still do, anthologised somewhere. Most, if not all, of the New Zealand poets at that time would have claimed Thomas as an antecedent &/or contemporary. Only one or two of us were heading down the road that cummings stood as an indicator for but was soon passed as we realised the other treasures that were waiting there.

Then I remember the line that comes before, that I've used as the title to this post, & realise it's Thomas. & I continue to hang out the washing, not under milkwood but under a tree that's shared my life for the last three years, & I still don't know what variety it is.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Don't you wish

you worked in a discipline where you could publish papers entitled
Survivorship, cannibalism, body weight loss, necrophagy, and entombment in laboratory groups of the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus, under starvation (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

My brand of cigarettes

has changed.

I no longer smoke a brand with a man's name - John Player, Peter Jackson, Lucky Strike.


The packet has what looks like a mutant's arm on it but is, I believe, a representation of an artery with the fat being squeezed out of it.

The carton displays a gangrenous foot, missing a toe & the other four in various degrees of blackness.

& that reminds me. Somewhere I read, or was told, or inhaled, that every cigarette I smoked took five seconds off my life. If that's the case, the last twenty years have been a bonus.

Monday, May 01, 2006

from the editor's desk (ahem)

12.01 a.m., Australian Eastern Standard Time, May 1 2006

It is with a great deal of pleasure (& more than a modicum of pride) that I announce the first issue of Otoliths.

It contains work from Dan Waber & Meghan Scott, Michelle Greenblatt, Daniel f. Bradley, kari edwards, Nico Vassilakis, Michael Farrell, Alex Gildzen, Eileen Tabios, Tom Beckett, Nicholas Downing, Francis Raven, Geof Huth, Andrew Lundwall, Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, John M. Bennett, Bill Allegrezza, Sheila Murphy, Martin Edmond, David-Baptiste Chirot, Ernesto Priego, Laurie Duggan, Reed Altemus, Jordan Stempleman, Irving Weiss, Jeff Harrison, Bob Marcacci, Marko Niemi, Lars Palm, pr primeau, Michael Rothenberg, Jack Kimball, CAConrad, Dion Farquhar, Donna Kuhn, Richard Lopez, Michael P. Steven, harry k. stammer, Thomas Fink & Gregory Vincent St Thomasino, plus "mini-chapbooks" from Jean Vengua & from Ray Craig.

I've started working on the print version, & will finish it off when I get back from New Zealand. It'll be print on demand, & for economic reasons will be in two parts, one b&w, & one primarily colour. Contributors will get a complimentary copy of both parts once it's ready & they've sent me their postal addresses. In addition, the two chapbooks will also be released as separate entities.

Now on to issue two. I hope what Dan Waber wrote to me is true. " If you survive the launch of issue one, the rest is easy!"