Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A reminder

that submissions for issue 12 of Otoliths close in a month.

The submission information is here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

To those of you

in snowy climes / on snowy climbs, let me just say: this is one day I envy you.

Top temperature here today, 38° C. For the non-metric, that's slightly over 100° F.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

today's Google word

bircra: Bikeshorts made from birch bark, as worn by (a) Hiawatha when canoedling & (b) Finnish poets who wish to maintain a sense of the sauna as they do Lapp after Lapp in that velodrome in the snow.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Reprising this.....

A footnote to Martin Edmond's Zheng He ficcione

His body was taken back to China and interred along with his testicles, kept, as was customary, in a sealed pouch carried since castration always on a belt at his waist.

Martin Edmond: Zheng He: A True Ficcione

All else you say is true,
though few know about the
voyage to Luca Antara. Most
thought we stopped at Java;
but he & I went further south,
in a small boat, with a
trusted crew. The same
who later kept the secret
of his burial. What history
records as happening
is a fiction. Certainly
there is an inland tomb, with
Allahu Akbar inscribed
upon it. & a nearby stela
gives details of the seven
voyages. But remember
Zheng He was both a
Muslim & a sailor: Islam
decrees a speedy burial
& the tradition of the sea
demands interment in the
ocean. We wrapped him
in silk once we'd reattached
his young boy’s balls to
their proper place with
gum arabic. & one day
out from Calicut, during the
first watch, accompanied only
by our murmured prayers
& the creak of wood being
pressured by the water, we
did commend his body
to the ocean. Entire again.

.....because of this.

The Chinese ships – two high-tech, heavily armed destroyers and a supply vessel – will spend the next ten days bound for the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia, which has been the scene of more than 100 hijackings within the past year.

The last time a Chinese military fleet set sail for anywhere as far afield as Africa with the prospect of a fight at the other end, the ships were 400ft (122m) wooden junks and the commander was a Ming dynasty court eunuch called Zheng He.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A / member of / the ferret family

Early translations of the Bible translate the word Leviticus as ferret but later translations have put the word to mean lizard.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I'm / sitting on / the front porch

having a post-coffee cigarette, & the spontaneous offering from the jukebox in my brain is
Me & you, &
you & me, no
matter how
they toss the
dice, it had to
be, the only
one for me
is you, & you
for me, so
happy together.

It's a song from another front porch time, the second half of the 1960s, when a regular attraction for the tourist buses was the short drive along Auckland's answer to Haight-Ashbury, four houses in the infamous Boyle Crescent. It's a song from a time of great music, not just the famous names but lots of one hit wonders, wonderful feelgood songs that I can still recall reasonably word perfect, even if I can't always place a group to a song.

I think the above is by The Turtles, check YouTube, find that my guess was correct. But I also find there another version of the song, which cracks me up completely.

The temperature here is heading for the mid thirties Celsius—high nineties in the other scale. So fuck chestnuts roasting on an open fire & songs of snow & chimneys for funny fat men to get stuck in. My offering for the festive season is embedded below, Happy Together, done by the Leningrad Cowboys & the Red Army Choir & Orchestra. Glazsnost indeed!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

who / sucked the / old fart dry?

Speaking on Monday, Pope Benedict XVI warned that gender theory blurred the distinction between male and female and could thus lead to the "self-destruction" of the human race.

       *      *          *      *      *
it is midnight in Madang
       *      *          *      *      *

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cuckoo's nest

is something of a false term, since all Australian cuckoos, with the exception of the Pheasant Coucal which I've mentioned before, lay their eggs in the nests of birds of other species, leaving it to them to rear its offspring. They choose a bird whose eggs are similar to its own—for the big channel-billed cuckoo, it's the nests of crows & currawongs; for the small black-eared cuckoo, speckled warblers & redthroats. In other words, young cuckoos are parasites.

The koel, according to my bird book, "lays her marbled salmon-pink egg or eggs in the nest of one of a number of hosts such as friarbirds or other large honeyeaters." Which explains why, this morning, in a tree in the front yard, a young koel, fresh from the nest, was angrily screeching for its pressganged "parents"—in this case, a pair of blue-faced honeyeaters smaller than it—to bring it food. & they were complying, over & over.

What I don't understand is why the cuckoo-raisers don't just abandon the fledgling when it becomes apparent that it isn't theirs. It strikes me as if some sort of bizarre imprinting-in-reverse is also at work. I'm guessing that there were/are other, genuine, offspring; what happens to them whilst Mum & Dad are out spending the major part of their lives attempting—not too successfully, judging by the screeching—to assuage the hunger of this space invader?

Couldn't find the camera to capture the scene, but I did find the photo below, of a similar occurence, at debra21's photosteam on Flickr.

Friday, December 19, 2008

When I grow up,

I want to get a job creating Google verification words,

& then write long Tolkienesque novels using the characters I have created.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Today the
postman brought
me the Grand
Canyon. Not
the walls: just
the space within,
deflated to make
for cheaper
shipping. It's
funny. I always
thought it
would be bigger.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Celestial Muscles

The cavity in the
skull over-
flows with
the training routines
of Italian body-
builders. But where
is its zenith in
relation to the observer?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Goody! Two shoes.

A journalist hurled two shoes at President George W. Bush on his farewell visit to Iraq on Sunday, highlighting hostility still felt toward the outgoing US leader who acknowledged that the war is still not won.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Note to self #8746

must buy
some new lungs.


disrupts the sky

as tonight's storm front moves in.

Still about 50 kilometres distant, perhaps an hour away.
The sentence is taken under consideration. The sentience is token, under construction.

ka mate ka ora

Guest-edited by Robert Sullivan, the latest issue of ka mate ka ora, a new zealand journal of poetry and poetics, is a tribute to Hone Tuwhare who died last year.

Michele Leggott, the N.Z. Poet Laureate & an associate editor of the journal, writes of the issue: "Yes, it's late: there was a much bigger take-up than expected to kmko's call for Tuwhare material, but it's worth waiting for: 8 essays, 3 sets of archival photographs and 25 tributes plus an editorial by Sullivan and a poroporoaki (farewell) by Hana O'Regan called 'He tītī me te waihoka pōhutukawa / Mutton Birds and Red Wine'. Much to savour, much to ponder."

Hone Tuwhare at Jerusalem, 1972
(photo - William Farrimond)

The photo above is of Tuwhare at the funeral of James K. Baxter. The extract below is from Tuwhare's poem for JKB, "Heemi".
but come simply to call
on a tired old mate in a tent
laid out in a box
with no money in the pocket
no fancy halo, no thump left in the old
Today the
postman brought
me a large Bo
tree. I have re-
planted it in
the overgrown
back garden be-
tween the lychee
& the macadamia.
Next week I am
going for a
holiday, & there
will be no-one
here to hear it
if it falls. Will

Friday, December 12, 2008

Chow Yun-Fat day

Since these days they have days for everything,

I'm hereby declaring today Chow Yun-Fat Day in honor of my favorite actor.

lines of

tude &

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Cacophony in the street. It's being dug up to lay new water mains. Been going on all week—concrete cutters, excavators, bob cats, picks & shovels, backhoes, dump trucks—but it's been slow going, about fifteen metres a day, because, like nearly all the elevated land around these parts, it's rock. So now they've brought in the heavy artillery, a jackhammer on the end of a huge posthole-digger on caterpillar tracks.


I feel sorry for the guys working out there. What seems as if it's going to be a long hot summer has settled in on us. It's about 36° C outside, humid as all hell. I'm inside, fans & airconditioners on, & they're working nominal eight hour days in the full heat, in reflective safety gear. I say nominal, because I note that they have long morning & afternoon breaks, & it's an extended hour that they take for lunch.


The postman has been. The standout item is a handwritten postcard from Gustave Morin announcing the publication of "one of (his) newest projects, Nein Typos, a suite of typewriter poems", just out from Reed Altemus' Tonerworks.


I'm waiting for the postal van to come (a) because I'm expecting the dvds of the first half of series four of Battlestar Gallactica which has only gone to tv here on high definition which we don't have & (b) Michael Steven has emailed me from New Zealand to say that a box of Lunch Poems, the chapbook of mine that he's published, is on its way to me for me to sign & number & send back. I'm somewhat excited about it because though this is, I think, my seventeenth book, it's my first "crafted with care in the way that only chapbooks can be done" publication.


& on the subject of books. I've just received word that a second selection from Series Magritte has been accepted.


& on the subject of publications. Issue #14 of word for / word has just come out & a couple of my pieces are included.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Just let me put my teeth in first....

A gun company will market a pistol to elderly Americans that will be subsidised by the government in the same way as a wheelchair or walking frame.

The company, Constitution Arms, claims its gun, called a Palm Pistol, has won approval as a medical device for people with arthritis or other disabling conditions who have trouble squeezing the trigger on a normal firearm.

Under the deal, seniors who buy the $US300 ($460) 9mm handgun will be reimbursed by the federal government in the US, magazine New Scientist reports.

Matthew Carmel, president of Constitution Arms in Maplewood, New Jersey, said the gun was "something that they need to assist them in daily living".

"The justification for this would be no more or less for a (walking aid) or wheelchair, or any number of things that are medical devices," Mr Carmel told the magazine.

The company's sales information states: "It is also ideal for seniors, disabled or others who may have limited strength or manual dexterity.

"Using the thumb instead of the index finger for firing, it significantly reduces muzzle drift, one of the principal causes of inaccurate targeting. Point and shoot couldn't be easier."

The company informed a medical technology blog that the US Food and Drug Administration had approved it as a "Daily Activity Assist Device".

It says it has already been fielding "lots of calls" about the device, expected to available by 2010.

However, a FDA spokeswoman denied the agency had formally labelled the gun a medical device, telling the magazine no determinations had been made about the weapon.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Food chain correction

Yesterday's coupling, sans lurking lizard, was repeated again today; & a correction is necessary to the order of the food chain I gave. It wasn't the spider that had the wasp, it was the reverse. More obvious today.

A biologist friend tells me that the wasp injects its eggs into the spider. The offspring grow by feeding on the flesh that surrounds them.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I've sung, acted, played music in various genres (classical, jazz, rock), written & performed my own words. But the one thing I never did, & would have very much liked to, was to be a dancer.

Come home, Joern. All is forgiven.

This is / what is

This is / what might have been

The bottom image is how the runner-up in the international competition to design the Sydney Opera House would have looked in situ.

The winning design came from Joern Utzon, a Danish architect who died at the weekend. He never actually saw the finished product "live", withdrew during its construction to ensure the project was completed. Lots of trials & tribulations which are detailed here.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The misspelt search terms

& phrases that bring people to a site are often quite funny, both in their phraseology & in the fact that the link provided in answer to the question or quest sure isn't going to prove satisfactory.

I have a regular stream of "fucking doges" searchers who must go away unhappy that my blog isn't a zooporn site. & Christ knows what the person who keyed in "my seman is green" would have made of the Geof Huth poem in Otoliths they were directed to.........

Monday, December 01, 2008

Series Magritte

It would have been good if it had been a nice round number like 200 since it's a only a couple of days short of five years since the first poem in the series appeared as a post on As/Is.

Still, I'm pleased to note that #190, Titanic Days, has just been posted to my Series Magritte.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Today the
postman brought
me a giant
squid from
20,000 leagues
beneath the
sea. I was so
looking for-
ward to having
battered jumbo
calamari rings
for dinner but
it didn't survive
the journey, &
squid soup
just doesn't
cut it somehow.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A follow-up on yesterday's post

HEALTH Minister Nicola Roxon has dumped one of her new men's health ambassadors over his "abhorrent" views about homosexuals, but her other appointee is still railing that "extreme feminists" are on a witch hunt to get him.

Ms Roxon said today she took full responsiblity for failing to vet the candidates properly before they were appointed this week.
shadows frightened
him.    Their         silence.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

rendered prost(r)ate

The Australian Federal Government has appointed six "men's health ambassadors" to spur men to watch their health and seek regular medical check-ups and tests for prostate cancer.

One appointee said his rural background and 30 years experience as a hairdresser and hair colour salesman made him uniquely suited to the role. Two of the others co-wrote a paper that claims homosexuality is a mental disorder and that gay people are more likely to molest children.

Hopefully, since they haven't drawn the same amount of press coverage, the remaining "ambassadors" might actually have some credibility.


out of srots

Sunday, November 23, 2008

millions, billions, trillions, zillions, sillions

sillion: n. An extremely high number of hits on a literary blog. [Middle English, from Old French milion, probably from Old Italian milione, augmentative of mille, thousand, from Latin; combined with the Modern American poetic nominative (Ron) Silliman.]
Which was what adding a Magritte codpiece to Google search did for my Series Magritte.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Magritte & my father

Series Magritte #35

The Liberator

I have always thought
of the subject as
Italian. The patriarch of
a transported family, sugar
cane growers in North
Queensland, the first here,
able to speak a little
English, his wife far less
because she never mixed
outside the community. He
is a picture on the wall
or a watcher at the festival
parade, no breath left
to play the tuba in the
marching band, no longer
able to keep in step
with a step he never really
was in step with. Eyes
on an embellished past as a
diminishing present passes by.


I see echoes of my father
also. Non-Italian. Freemason.
The attache case with the regalia
hidden inside, the pearled
candelabra reminding me
of jewels & embroidered
aprons. He never talked to me
about it. I never asked. He
never talked because I didn’t
ask. I never asked because
he never talked about it. Round
& round. We never came close.


Never a liberator. Quite
the reverse. A tight hold
on the family. Rationed
freedom. We escaped by
becoming birds or keys or
pipes or wineglasses. Every-
day objects that could always
be replaced. He never
noticed. The space inside
the outline is as it has always
been, a shadow of himself, how
he’d always seen us. The
eyes in the pearled lorgnette
are mother’s eyes. She is
held tightly. A second cane.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My father

once read Kerouac's The Subterraneans in an attempt "to understand me".

He didn't like the book.

Google tells me

it's 110 years since Magritte was born.

It's also 110 years plus a few months since my father was born. He used to wear hats—they were de rigeur for his times. I have a memory of seeing a photo of him in a bowler. I could be wrong. It might just be wishful thinking, an attempt to find a point of commonality.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

dreams are
made of polyurethane.

Consequence. I am
insulated from

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The sign says it all

"My quietness has a man in it"

The painter Grace Hartigan, to whom Frank O'Hara dedicated "In Memory of My Feelings", one of the greatest poems of the last 50 years, has died.

The photo above is of the painter & the poet at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in the 1950s.
But who will stay to be these numbers
when all the lights are dead?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Today the
postman brought
me an invitation
to nominate
my favorite
painting. What to
pick? I've been
weighing up the
crows & ponds.

Friday, November 14, 2008

This "old man" talk

that's floating around — here & here, for example — is making me feel much younger than my years.

Thanks, guys!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A snippet from Leonard Cohen

"Dylan and I were having coffee in Paris a few years ago. He was doing Hallelujah in concert and asked me how long it took to write. 'Oh, the best part of two years.' He said, 'Two years?' Kinda shocked.

And then we started talking about a song of his called I And I. I said, 'How long did you take to write that?' He said, 'Oh, the best part of 15 minutes.' I almost fell off my chair.

And the thing is I lied. Actually, it took me closer to five years. Of course he lied, too. It probably took him 10 minutes."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

&, yes, it is a Nigerian scam

& it's got quite a history!

Seems like someone has accessed David's contact list this time around.....

Is this a new variation of the Nigerian email scam or a genuine cry for help from David-Baptiste Chirot?

I received the following email in both my Otoliths & personal accounts. The sender was given as david_chirot at yahoo.
How are you doing today? I am sorry i didn't inform you about my traveling to Africa for a program called "Empowering Youth to Fight Racism, HIV/AIDS, Poverty and Lack of Education, the program is taking place in three major countries in Africa which is Ghana , South Africa and Nigeria . It as been a very sad and bad moment for me, the present condition that i found myself is very hard for me to explain.
I am really stranded in Nigeria because I forgot my little bag in the Taxi where my money, passport, documents and other valuable things were kept on my way to the Hotel am staying, I am facing a hard time here because i have no money on me. I am now owning a hotel bill of $700 and they wanted me to pay the bill soon else they will have to seize my bag and hand me over to the Hotel Management, I need this help from you urgently to help me back home, I need you to help me with the hotel bill and i will also need $850 to feed and help myself back home so please can you help me with a sum of $1,550 to sort out my problems here? I need this help so much and on time because i am in a terrible and tight situation here, I don't even have money to feed myself for a day which means i had been starving so please understand how urgent i need your help.i have decided not tell my family so that they will not be worried.when I return I will tell them and they will understand.
I am sending you this e-mail from the city Library and I only have 30 min, I will appreciate what so ever you can afford to send me for now and I promise to pay back your money as soon as i return home so please let me know on time so that i can forward you the details you need to transfer the money through Money Gram or Western Union.Hope to hear from you.

My first suspicion. I have two email addresses for David, neither of which is a yahoo account. True, it's a reasonably valid sounding D-BC email, but why create a new account with a different providor for this email unless the sender was appropriating the name? But, whether or not it was genuine, I am in no position to assist financially, so I replied, copying David at his gmail account, to say that I was sorry but was unable to help.

An hour later (despite the fact that the 30 minute time window mentioned above was well & truly over when I opened the first email) I received the following reply.
Dear Editor,
Thanks for the mail,I am so happy for your repply am so greatful . i promise you as soon as i get back home i would pay you back.i would like you to send me the money through western union to the hotel mangament because of the problem with the lost of my make the payment with the information below, for i am still lucky cos i have found someone to reas me 800,doller in the next 30 minut so please do not tell any one about this i only trust and confirm in you ,so please any amount you can possibly reas for me now plaese send it now i need to retoun home

Name:clement leleji
Address:Ekko Hotel and Suites Room 6
State: Lagos
Country: Nigeria
Zip Code: 23401

After you have made payment,Send your payment details such as
sender Name:
MTCN 10 Digits:
Test Question:For who?
Amount sent:

Make the payment. Thanks and l hope to hear from you very soon.

David still appears to be continuing posting to his blog & contributing to the Buffalo Poetics list. So, forget suspicion. Make that fact. It's a scam email as far as I'm concerned. A Nigerian scam email, of a never before seen variety, the stranded poet genus. No longer several million dollars appropriated by some now dead relative that needs to be liberated to a foreign bank account once details & a deposit for expenses has been sent, but a low level, possibly generating only a few thousand dollars, Nigerian scam that recognizes that we poets are poor.

(added an hour later)
The first email has arrived again in my personal account, but this time Gmail has classified it as spam. What has happened in the interim to warrant the change in status?


"Who else would have eight tomato plants with individual trelisses and only come up with 590 tomatoes?"
—E.R.T.; The Blind Chatelaine's Keys, 11/9/08

inquisitive hay(na)ku
for Eileen Tabios—

is counting tomatoes
the new

Friday, November 07, 2008

Today the
postman brought
me a piano
accordion. I
don't know what
I've done to
make him
hate me so.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The print parts

of issue ten of Otoliths

are now available at The Otoliths Storefront.

A letter to my U.S. friends

What you will see in the post-Inauguration months is
a couple of highly symbolic acts—
Guantanamo Bay closed, the signing
of an international emissions protocol

a number of "liberal" laws enacted
mixed in with a couple of "conservative" ones
to show that an Obama Administration
is center- not far-left

little visible change to the political landscape
so that you begin to wonder
just who you voted for

recession named outright instead of being the
word that dares not speak its name

unemployment rise

money still remain tight
but the rich getting richer

Sarah Palin made-over
with a liberalizing moisturiser
& a trendy wardrobe
to hide the neocon underwear
that's emblazoned with 2012

U.S. forces still in Iraq at the beginning of 2010

more U.S. forces being sent to Afghanistan
& the first use of "surge" in that context

the phrase "that'll be done
in the next term of office"
being used more & more

disappointment, because things aren't moving as fast & as far as you'd hoped

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Notes before finally blacking out, Pt 3

I spent much of the day watching CNN. Even before I began, my optimism for a Democrat victory was high—witness the hay(na)ku in the post below, uploaded an hour before the first state closed its polling booths. My optimism grew as the results came in, but one is never sure of such things. There was the classic Dewey "win"; &, closer to home, I remember an election here in 1974 where the Labor Party's lead which, shortly after the beginning of the counting, had seemed impregnable, was slowly whittled away & it was only in the wee small hours of the morning that it was confirmed they'd won. So it came as a relief when one of the anchors, in response to a Dorothy Dix question from their on-air partner & using the quite remarkable technology on show all day, demonstrated that there was no way, from that point on, that McCain could win. Shortly after, the polls in California closed. One minute later, Obama was unofficially named as the next President of the U.S. From then on in it was like a rerun of West Wing. McCain gave a remarkably eloquent, gracious & inclusive concession speech, Obama a Presidential oration, also inclusive, very little use of "I" —if any; lots of "we". No hubris or arrogance. A down to earth speech that evoked memories of orators of the past who put their actions into words, & the speech of a man who obviously is not going to shirk the enormous task he & his fellow politicians &, indeed, the entire U.S. population have in the upcoming years.

Since the rise of the U.S. to the status of the world power, an always significant but, dependant on the current realpolitik, shifting number of nations &/or political groups have used the U.S. as their muscle. There are subsequent trade-offs—economic, military, political, environmental—as payment for that "assistance", not all of them popular, & the perception of the world—friend or foe—was of an U.S. that was arrogant, self-righteous &, always, moved to act by self-interest. Sometimes that self-interest coincided with the self-interest of others, & so.......

Bear in mind that it's the political rulers that I'm talking about here. No matter how many Dylans or Pollocks or Miles Davises the U.S. produce—or Paris Hiltons or Sons of Sam, for that matter—it's the actions of the Administration that shape the geopolitical landscape.

For better or worse, nearly all previous Administrations had the interests of the nation—or at least their vision of it—at heart. What George W. Bush did was to introduce personal greed & a level of hypocrisy never seen before to the mix. No longer "My Nation 'tis of thee" but "My Cronies 'tis for thee". Make no mistake about it: the Bush years have left the U.S. morally bankrupt in the eyes of most of the world. & now, economically bankrupt as well.

What the election of Barack Obama has done is restore much of the U.S.'s reputation instantaneously. The Democrats would probably have won no matter which of the two main contenders for the nomination had been chosen. I have no doubt that Hilary Clinton would have been a good President, but the need, & the universal mindset & necessary momentum, for major change would have taken longer to address, to bring about, perhaps eight years. The immensity of Obama's win has swept those eight years away. The symbolism of Obama's election cannot be overstated. It's not just the winds of change, but the winds of goodwill that are now blowing towards the borders of the U.S. from all directions. I have known only one act of similar symbolism in my lifetime; the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.

With Obama's victory speech, I felt two circles were finally complete. You could hear echoes of Martin Luther King Jr. resonating in the words, made more poignant by the sight of a weeping Jesse Jackson in the assembled crowd. The dream may not have yet become total reality, but it has a whole lot more substance.

& the last time I saw footage of people of goodwill gathered in Grant Park, just over forty years ago, they were being brutally dispersed by the billyclubs of Chicago's finest. Don't tell me it was coincidence that Barack Obama chose this venue.

Today I saw demonstrated the true meaning of e pluribus unum.

Finally, with the results of three states still in doubt, but with Obama leading in North Carolina & so likely to pick up at least another 15 electoral college votes, let me just say that I'm quite pleased with my predicted outcome.

electoral college votes prediction hay(na)ku

Biden, 359.
McCain Palin, 179.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

This, & that

A couple of varietals, one old, one new, have been included in a couple of recent uploads to the web.

The old is a marquee piece, Pour Prévert, some autumn leaves, which is included in the Autumn anthology that Anny Ballardini has added to her wonderful Poet's Corner at Fieralingue.

The new is a chess(checker)board piece, Envelope Artifact, which is part of an adjunct folio to Visual Poetry Today, Geof Huth's selection of & introduction to visual poetry for the print journal Poetry that has now been posted to the Poetry Foundation website.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Obama for President

(from the New Yorker via The Observer of 11/2/08.)

An eloquent & ringing endorsement of Barack Obama for President of the U.S.
"The election of Obama — a man of mixed ethnicity, at once comfortable in the world and utterly representative of 21st-century America — would, at a stroke, reverse our country's image abroad and refresh its spirit at home. His ascendance to the presidency would be a symbolic culmination of the civil- and voting- rights acts of the 1960s and the century-long struggles for equality that preceded them. It could not help but say something encouraging, even exhilarating, about the country, about its dedication to tolerance and inclusiveness, about its fidelity, after all, to the values it proclaims in its textbooks. At a moment of economic calamity, international perplexity, political failure and battered morale, America needs both uplift and realism, both change and steadiness. It needs a leader temperamentally, intellectually and emotionally attuned to the complexities of our troubled globe. That leader's name is Barack Obama."

The full text can be found here.

A Barack Obama hay(na)ku

have a
righteous wind at

back," he
told his audience.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Studs Terkel, 1912-2008

"When Studs Terkel listens, everybody talks."
(the late CBS newsman Charles Kuralt)

& for once, about to do the talking. He waits to give a Labor Day address in 2003 to marchers outside the Congress Hotel in Chicago where members of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union are on strike.

Issue eleven of Otoliths is now up

Reed Altemus
For Robert Saunders

Issue eleven, the southern autumn, 2008 issue of Otoliths, has just gone live. As usual, the contents are wide-ranging. There are text & visual poems, photographs, paintings, & a variety of prose pieces. There's even an essay on otoliths.

The contributors to this issue are Anny Ballardini, Michael Aanji Crowley, Sheila E. Murphy, Sheila E. Murphy & John M. Bennett, Eileen R. Tabios, Marcia Arrieta, dan raphael, Philip Byron Oakes, Michael S. Begnal, Halvard Johnson, Peter Ciccariello, Naomi Buck Palagi, Aaron Crippen, Raymond Farr, John Martone, Jeff Harrison, Andrew Topel, Felino Soriano, Reed Altemus, Iain Britton, Bill Drennan, Charles Freeland, J. D. Nelson, Mary Ellen Derwis, Joe Balaz & Mary Ellen Derwis, Alexander Jorgensen, Craig Rebele, Gregory Braquet, Marilyn R. Rosenberg, Michele Leggott, Martin Edmond, Angela Genusa, Bobbi Lurie, Charles Mahafee, Spencer Selby, Thomas Fink, Thomas Fink & Maya Diablo Mason, Cara Benson, harry k stammer, Samit Roy, Geof Huth, Stephen Nelson, Jaie Miller, Paul Siegell, Dorothee Lang, Stephen C. Middleton, Vernon Frazer, Tom Beckett, John Moore Williams, Elizabeth Kate Switaj, Manas Bhattacharya, David-Baptiste Chirot, sean burn, Scott Helmes & John M. Bennett, John M. Bennett & various collaborators, John M. Bennett, Doug White, Steve Wing, Julian Jason Haladyn, Zev Jonas, & Robert Gauldie.

The two print parts of Otoliths ten should be available within the next week from The Otoliths Storefront & the first eight parts—issues 1-4, parts one & two of each—are now also available from there as low-cost downloads.

Friday, October 31, 2008

he hopes
it's an
& not a
he &

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I have a dream

It seems an appropriate time, on the cusp of a momentous occasion, to post a few extracts from the greatest speech I have heard (albeit via TV), that given by Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered on 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream today!

The full text & video can be found here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Notes before finally blacking out, Part 2

I, like many others around the world, have held for as long as I can remember a dualistic attitude towards the United States, splitting it, as it were, into a cultural aspect & a geopolitical aspect.

Culturally, I have admired & been influenced by much of the art, music, literature, dance, cinema & theatre that the U.S. has produced. Geopolitically, I regard it as a bully of the highest order—arrogant, self-serving & -centered, resorting to blackmail to force other world States to support its prevailing views, uninterested in the long-term consequences of its actions.

If we take the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki as the beginning of the modern age, since then we have seen the U.S. refuse to recognize Ho Chi Minh as the legitimate nationalist ruler of an entire country, an act which basically sowed the seeds of the Vietnam War; refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Castro's Cuba; refuse to recognize the Ayatollah Khomeini as a legitimate leader of Iran; support Saddam Hussein in Iraq's subsequent war with Iran; support Israel but not recognize the right of the Palestinians to their own state; support the Mujahideen against the USSR in Afghanistan & so essentially create & train the Taliban; support the corrupt regime in Saudi Arabia solely to ensure oil supplies were guaranteed & through that act trigger the resistance that eventually became Al Qaida; depose Allende in Chile. They are just some examples. A much more extensive list, some of which, I admit, I would quibble with, can be found here.

These acts were done by both major political parties, so there is no case for allocating blame to one or the other. & for much of the time, there was sufficient strength in the U.S. to be able to support a reasonably stable world, to support the view that the U.S. was genuinely interested in maintaining what it called democracy & that it, itself, was also a democracy. But the vision has been corrupted of late by greed; these days, war is perceived as a legitimate business opportunity; it is no longer the nation as a whole that is being looked after, just the loudest lobbyists.

When the Administration is strong, it can hold those groups at bay or, at least, in balance. But when the Administration is weak, & those lobby groups have extreme influence, or when the President is a puppet with a Svengali pulling the strings, then implosion is the likely outcome.

Had Al Gore challenged the 2000 election results in all the Florida electoral districts, instead of just selecting a few to dispute, then we might be living in a different world, with a stronger U.S. But he didn't; & ever since, Bush has been pursuing his—I did what Daddy couldn't—& his cronies personal agendas; & the result is we are living in a world that is terrorized & terrifying. Even now, yesterday in fact, with economies in turmoil, Bush is still bleating that a free market, without regulations, is the way to go.

McCain strikes me as being more of the same, & as for his running mate.....& that brings me to the core of my concern: how can a significant portion of the population of the U.S. seriously believe that this pair are equipped to run the country, to halt the ever-gathering momentum of its slide into mediocrity?

I hate to say this, but, after the buffoonery & ineptitude of Bush, voting McCain/Palin in would confirm the ridiculousness of a once-great country. Plus plunge it into disaster. Obama offers the hope of change, & the potential to turn things around. It's going to be a tough ask, but I believe he has the ability & the goodwill of a goodly number of able people to be able to pull it off.

still in Iowa......

Spencer Selby
Mark 08

Saturday, October 25, 2008

This ain't no gold-plated trumpet that I'm playing—it's a frugalhorn!

My cheap expensive shot for the day at the wannabee veepee.

It's bad enough spending $150,000 on clothes that you're going to wear, but when they're bought not to be worn.......

"Mrs Palin said the clothes were not worth $US150,000 and were bought for the Republican National Convention. Most of the clothes have never left the campaign plane, she said.

"'That whole thing is just, bad,' she said. 'Oh, if people only knew how frugal we are.'"

I'm amazed

by how much an ezine holds.

Have just finished doing the collations for the print editions of issue ten of Otoliths. Ended up with 192 pages in the b&w Part One, 100 pages in the color-based Part Two. They should be available from Lulu within the fortnight.

War & Peace, eat yr heart out!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Life is made
up of short
poems that
make sense
only as stand-
alone pieces.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Palin drones

"All the while, Palin's stoutest defenders are often the Joe Sixpacks in her crowds, who shrug off her critics, ridiculers and perceived adversaries in the news media. They say they appreciate Palin for, above all else, how 'real' and 'like us' she is."

The drones' main function is to be ready to fertilize a receptive queen.

Notes before finally blacking out. Part One.

I was born five weeks before Pearl Harbor. That means I have lived during the terms of twelve U.S. Presidents, from FDR onwards. I guess I'll make it to No.13.

It also means that I have seen the death of Empire as a concept, & its replacement by Superpower. The latter is not be confused with Superbowl, although the underlying principle of a pissing contest is common to both.

Truman was the first President I was conscious of, though only vaguely, & perhaps only through later imposition of perceived memory. I was definitely aware of Eisenhower.

I was aware of the Cold War. My sister's boyfriend went off to fight in Korea. I knew of the Berlin Airlift. The Russian Embassy was across the road from where we lived in Wellington; I saw the protests about the quelling of the Hungarian Uprising.

My perceptions of the U.S. were colored by comics, Hollywood, jazz, the crime novels of Chandler & Hammett, science fiction, rock, a composite milieu that, in the main, contrasted with the glaze of Norman Rockwell on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, the spin-doctoring of the Luce publishing empire & its Time & Life figureheads.

Somwhere in all this, I read dos Passos' USA trilogy, Steinbeck. I still haven't worked out why my brother had them.

I was vaguely aware of Joe McCarthy & his witch-hunts. Spying was big, Communism the spawn of the AntiChrist. We'll get back to that a little later on.

Dienbienphu & Algeria brought down the French empire but they still continued nuclear testing in the Pacific, not so far away from little old New Zealand. The U.S. refused to support the Vietnamese nationalist leader who drove the French out, Ho Chi Minh, because he had communist tendencies. Look how that ended up.

The U.S. didn't learn. They refused to support the Cuban nationalist leader, Fidel Castro, because he had communist tendencies. They preferred the Mafia. Crime was something they understood.

The U.S. came to believe they owned most of the world, & what they didn't own would be overcome by Captalism, the U.S. answer to the other big C. Anybody who spoke out against them was punished.

China didn't exist. It's the political version of the ostrich principle—don't recognize them & maybe they'll go away. Look how that turned out.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I'm / beginning to / see the light


Today the
postman brought
me a letter from
Leonardo da
Vinci. I had
to reflect on it
for quite some
time before
I was able to
draft a reply. I'll
be so glad when
he gets around
to getting an
email account.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Who the picture of McCain reminds me of

Hokey Pokey, Do the

For the benefit of those aurally-challenged people in the audience, John McCain signs the underlying message of his campaign—"I'm a dickhead."

From making light via Wood's Lot. &, just to show it's genuine, there's links at both sites to the YouTube video of these final few post-3rd but not yet off-camera debate seconds.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Maybe it's because McCain reminds Australians of ex-Prime Minister John Howard—the same old & tired arrogance, out-of-touchness, not to be trusted, vacuity, neither style nor substance, Bush puppetness, who not only lost the last election decisively but also lost his own electoral seat, something that I think only one Australian P.M. had ever managed to do before—but in a recent poll, asked who they would vote for if they could vote in the getting close now U.S. Presidential elections, 85% of those reponding said they would vote for Obama.

An arrogant seasonal hay(na)ku

& humility—
can't stand either.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

These days

I confront the computer with trepidation. Nothing comes easy, at best. At worst, nothing comes.
      or drifting
            or drifted away

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Cultural Revolution

Shi Xinning
Duchamp Retrospective Exhibition (2000-2001)

Long after The
Long March,
Mao finds ready-
made refreshment
at the Fountain
of R. Mutt—how
I wish I had
come up with
this ficcione.

My thanks to the wonderful & always informative Vitro Nasu for bringing this to my attention.

& a bit more information.....
"The first of Xinning's Mao paintings, "Duchamp Retrospective Exhibition" (2000-2001), immediately became a classic. It was a triumph of free artistic creation, a vehement challenge to the reduction of art to the propagandist socialist realism that had been practiced for decades, even after Mao's death. In Shi's works Mao is required to be and do what he denied his people; he becomes a dedicated protagonist of political events in the capitalist West, and lounges in a bourgeois manner next to high-society beauties on sofas or in villa gardens."
Excerpt from a text by Ulrike Münter, "Burned into the Collective Memory: Mao Zedong - The presence of the past in the paintings of Shi Xinning".

Though I did write this a couple of years ago

The Mao ficcione

Mao Zedong as he
is now known
started the Long March
with 100,000 followers
& three movies. When
they reached Shanxi
there were only
8000 people &
one movie left. Loss of
faith, starvation, accidents
& the continual harrassment
by Jiang Jie Shi’s
Guomindang army
accounted for the attrition. The
two movies — The Battleship
& Les Enfants du
— were lost when
a landslide carried
the mule that was carrying them
away. Stagecoach was the
only one to survive; but,
fortunately, the pedal-powered
generator that provided
the electricity also
made it through un-
scathed. It is said
that by the end of the
March all the survivors
knew every word of the script
by heart. There is a poem
of Mao’s that starts:
“The long shadow
of John Ford
guards the entrances
to the Shanxi Caves.” That
Zhou Enlai who
drove the generator
is equally revered is
evidenced by the number
of bicycles in China today.

One of the 400 or so poems selected by Thomas Fink for my Pelican Dreaming: Poems 1959-2008.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

a definition

palin drone

a speech that makes no sense read either forwards or backwards
word whose
parts are possibly

in the wrong

Monday, October 06, 2008

the / rise & / rise of p.o.d.

Actually, not everything. But color books—phew!

Have received an email from "the founder & ceo of lulu" saying that the printing cost of Lulu's books is being changed. It's minimally going to affect b&w, but the cost per page of color books is being increased by a third.

Back to the abacus!

(I suppose I could sign this "the funder & chief cook & bottlewasher of otoliths.")

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Today the
postman brought
me a blow up
Sarah Palin
doll. Oops,
I'd better add
a hyphen be-
fore the postman
brings me Home-
land Security.

A reminder

that submissions for issue eleven of Otoliths close just before the end of this month.

The full guidelines can be found here.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The False Mirror

Given a list
of words. Asked
to repeat them
back. A test
for veridical
memory. Eye,
reflection, looking-
& cheval-glass,
sky. Alice. All
synonyms of. Or.
Associated with.
Not included. Her
initial answer. The
thought made
visible. Mirror.

who / Sarah Palin / reminds me of

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Poems / I'd like / to cover #2

      —by Robert Desnos
I have dreamt so much of you
that you lose your reality.
Is there still time to touch that living body
     & to kiss on its mouth the birth
     of the voice that is so dear to me?
I have dreamt so much of you
that my arms, grown accustomed to crossing
     each other on my chest as I embrace
     your shadow, might perhaps be unable
     to hold & enfold your body;
&, confronted with the actual presence
     of that which haunts me & has
     ruled me for days, for years,
I would, without doubt, become a shadow.
O sentimental scales in which we balance.
I have dreamt so much of you that it must
     be past the time for me to wake.
     Though standing / I am asleep, my body
     open to all appearances of life & love; &
     you, the only one who matters to me today —
     I am less likely to touch your face & lips
than the first lips & face that come along.
I have dreamt so much of you
walked so much, talked, slept with your ghost
     that there only remains to me perhaps, for
     all that, to be ghost amongst the
     ghosts & shadow a hundred times more
     than the shadow which walks & will
     walk gaily on the sundial of your life.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

is / middle America / near Middle Earth?

“Advisers said that.....opponents patronised Mrs Palin at their peril. 'She continues to be a huge asset who speaks directly to the middle American voter that the media so often ignore.'"
Will I be eaten by orcs if I continue to patronise her?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

my "beings punctual" reworked

by harry k stammer

Deep thanks, amigo.

Cover poems

I have just caught part of a video of Bryan Ferry's recording of Dylan covers, & it prompted the thought that, if covering other people's poems was possible, what poems would I cover.

Numero uno on the list would be Rexroth's The Advantages of Learning. I posted about it 3½ years ago at the pelican, & have delved into the archives to purloin & repost what I said then.
There are certain physical characteristics you saw in your parents as they aged that you knew you would inherit. The hair colour you shared with your mother, how it would fade. The pattern of the thinning of your father's hair, & the extent of it—good to know that when he died in his nineties he still had plenty of it. The skin blemishes, the way lines formed on their faces. Your father's shoulder slump that you also share.

But it is a poem I feel I have most grown into, unshaped by genetic inheritance. One I came across more than forty-five years ago, that moved me then, that spoke to the inner me in a way I had never experienced. I do not know if it was some sort of premonition or whether it became some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy but it is the poem that I have most inhabited, that has most inhabited me, over all the inter-vening years. & even though I have read much that I have liked / loved since then, even though I have written much in which I expose or privately see parts of me I would have preferred remained hidden, it still remains for me the poem.

The Advantages of Learning

I am a man with no ambitions
And few friends, wholly incapable
Of making a living, growing no
Younger, fugitive from some just doom.
Lonely, ill-clothed, what does it matter?
At midnight I make myself a jug
Of hot white wine and cardamon seeds.
In a torn grey robe and old beret,
I sit in the cold writing poems,
Drawing nudes on the crooked margins,
Copulating with sixteen year old
Nymphomaniacs of my imagination.

Kenneth Rexroth

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thank you, Nicholas #1

"The formality is not dry or overworked, the occasionality never sentimental or gratuit. In this way, the two aspects harmonize one another: they exist, not only together, but with an extraordinary complementarity. It is perhaps for this reason that Young’s poetry seems almost more comfortable with itself — with its status as well as with what it has to say — than much of the poetry of the New Americans which constitutes its vital, and readily declared, lineage.

"The same type of intriguing reconciliation between form and occasion also occurs in the tone of this poetic. There has always been, for me, a strangely almost cosmopolitan flair to Mark Young’s poems — the sophisticated frime of a repressed flâneur — which sits intriguingly next to the down-to-earth pragmatism. To watch him one moment lunch with O’Hara, converse with Magritte, then dream with Bosch, is to experience the breadth, not so much of influences, but of interests and of an intelligence. Also, and just as for O’Hara, Berrigan or Rexroth, there is something sly, and darkly astute, to Young’s plays at insouciance. Every clever click of the lexical fingers or flick of the grammatical wrist carries beneath it an undertone: an analytic, and often political, force."

From Nicholas Manning's review of Pelican Dreaming. Jacket 38, late 2008.

Thank you, Nicholas #2

"These poems, read together in this excellently selected book, speak and sing to and of and with each other. Their humor and humanity, frankness and wealth of example and reference work together to create an appetite of readerly curiosity to want to keep reading and thinking, laughing, and connecting, and with this a desire to get to know the poet more, to come back to particular poems more and more."

Nick Piombino on Pelican Dreaming, at ::fait accompli::

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Missed / out on / an Emmy, but

have just shared the inaugural Galatea Publisher Award with Reb Livingston's No Tell Books. Sheesh! Thank you, Eileen.

Do I have room on the mantelpiece for the gilded chateauette that accompanies it? Do I even have a mantelpiece? Do I get half? The navel up or the navel down? Which portion do you want, Reb?

I think, in light of the post immediately below this one, that it's slightly ironic, but, hey, maybe the Federal Reserve will now come & bail me out. I was never one for bake sales.......

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I / have spent / the past week

reading, weeding the garden, catching up on cable movies, adding some more things to the next issue of Otoliths, deliberately avoiding putting (metaphorical) pen to paper.

Mainly, though, I've been doing a deal of soulsearching about the future of the book component of Otoliths; &, regrettably, have come to the decision that the round outlined immediately below this post will be the penultimate formal round I'll bring out. There'll be the occasional single book & the print copies of the e-zine after that—I have a few commitments, & there are still some things in the wind that I'd dearly love to do—but to the full-on schedule I've been running with for the past couple of years I bid adieu. The reasons are multitudinous, but basically they're variations on or combinations of three things: market, economics, geography.

The obvious response is what market? I've previously outlined some of my thoughts on this in response to Eileen Tabios' questionnaire about book-buying habits. But one thing I noted in the fuller responses she published was the high percentage of books bought that were selected or collected volumes especially by authors with a longtime reputation. New books by newish authors didn't show up much. Additionally, I am limited to direct selling via Lulu. My non-U.S. resident status & lack of a U.S. bank account mean that places like Amazon or Barnes & Noble are out; I refuse to go through SPD because their markup means that the books would be —to me, at least— overpriced, especially those that use color; & if I set the selling price at what I thought reasonable, I'd lose money on everything I sold through them. Plus, 50 copies of, say, seven books per round, paid for up front because that's the way print on demand publishing works, even for the publisher, would be a total impost I couldn't afford. & booksellers? These days they work on sale or return, consignment stock in other words.

If I followed the—what seems—normal route of many small presses, that is, publish a book & that's the end of the story—should the author want copies, s/he has to buy them—then I wouldn't have any problems. There'd be no expenditure. But, even though I don't pay royalties, I do give the author a number of copies, the number varying on the basic cost of the book, they get proof copies to check, they can buy any additional copies they want at a significant discount, the cover artist gets copies, I pay for the ISBN. So, adding all that up, I have to sell quite a few copies to recoup my costs. So far, I think I've broken even on roughly 15% of the titles I've sold & they have all been relatively low-cost productions where the author(s) have done their own p.r. & now, the exchange rates being what they are at present, the $AUS is currently worth less than cUS80 so that a $10 book converts to $12.50 in local currency plus I get slugged an additional credit card charge because the transaction was in a foreign currency.

So the distances are, Galatea. I would love to keep copies & sell directly as an additional avenue. But whatever market there is is primarily in the U.S.A. & supplying it by this methodology would mean a couple of trips across the Pacific for a book, & the postage is horrific. As well as that, if I was paid by check for a book, it now costs me $15 per check for the foreign exchange conversion, even if the check is for less than that. Forget about it.

But I've enjoyed doing it all. I've brought out some great books, & I'm proud of the catalog which will continue to be available. I've had immense help along the way, especially from harry k stammer who has made the books great-looking as well. My thanks to the cover artists, & to those typesetters who I've occasionally had to call on to negotiate some tricky passages. & my heart-felt thanks to all the authors I've had the pleasure of publishing. I hope I've done you proud.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New Books from Otoliths—Beckett, Edmond, Fieled, Huth, Manning, Puckett, Rosenberg

A September septet of new books from Otoliths. The direct URLs are given below. The full catalog can be found at The Otoliths Storefront.

E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S: The Final XIV Interviews + One
Tom Beckett (curator)
372 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9805096-1-8
$19.95 + p&h

E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S: The Final XIV Interviews + One contains interviews with Ernesto Priego, Catherine Daly, Karri Kokko, Jill Jones, Javant Biarujia, Barry Schwabsky, Peter Ganick, Joseph Lease, Stephen Vincent, Alan Davies, Noah Eli Gordon, the late Mary Rising Higgins, Jessica Grim, & Tom Mandel, plus more than 100 pages of poetry from those interviewed, much of it new. The interviewers this time around are Tom Beckett, Bruce Holsapple & John Tritica, Thomas Fink, & Sheila E. Murphy.

The + One is the shoe on the other foot. Done especially for this final volume is an interview by Nicholas Manning with Tom Beckett, the creator & curator of this important resource for contemporary poetics.

The Evolution of Mirrors
Martin Edmond
108 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9805096-6-3
$12.50 + p&h

“To dance we need those three original muses: memory, voice, occasion ...” Martin Edmond begins his new book of prose meditations, The Evolution of Mirrors with an account of the evolution of the Muses, the daughters of Memory. As his own memory moves from Ohakune to Alexandria, Sydney to San Francisco, we are invited to look into a series of mirrors trained upon the past. “We remember in order to write but we write to forget,” he quotes himself. At times his lapidary prose echoes Borges, elsewhere he appears to be channelling Pessoa. Whatever he writes, though, he remains one of the true originals of our epoch, a stunningly inventive writer whose prose is as haunting as any poem, whose poetry is as circumstantial as Thucydides. As memory folds into memory, mirror into mirror, something starts to come into focus, some justification for our – perhaps quixotic – belief that “across all versions there is something incontrovertible, a substratum of truth.”—Jack Ross

When You Bit...
Adam Fieled
72 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9805096-3-2
$12.50 + p&h

Not all vampirism transpires on a grassy hill deep in the Carpathians. We may all, in fact, be vampires: blood-crazed, hungry, equipped with sharp teeth for a life-and-death struggle. The struggle is for love, in all of its myriad manifestations: physical, emotional, spiritual. In When You Bit…, Adam Fieled has crafted what may be the first post-avant sonnet cycle. It concerns these themes; how we feed on each other, consume each others’ vital resources, prey upon weaknesses to get those first teeth-marks in. In these sonnets, we see a sensibility equal parts Barrett Watten and Sir Philip Sidney; the post-avant impulse towards openness meeting a Renaissance-like ideal of courtly love, phenomenological inquiry, and good old-fashioned heartache. The goal, perpetually renewed in the text, is always the same: to make the reader complicit in attacks on frigidity and an embrace of the artfully carnal.

Longfellow Memoranda
Geof Huth
148 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9804541-9-2
$13.50 + p&h

"This book is an accident of the imagination. The poems were originally written within the pages of a tiny book I had ordered online to serve as my diary for 2007. What I needed was a blank or near-blank journal whose structure fitted 2007, and this offering was from 1917, a year that met my requirements.

"Once I had the book in hand, however, I realized that the four short lines allowed for each date would not serve me well as a diary. The book was primarily a place to note the birthdays of important people in one’s life, with an extract, facing each day’s entry, from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a poet whom I do not much admire.

"Nevertheless, I spent 2007, the 200th anniversay of the birth of Longfellow, creating a poem for each day of the year, a poem based on or inspired by the bits of Longfellow’s verse that faced me each day. My goal was to use his archaic poetic diction, and the British spelling of the book, to create modern poems with a scent of the past." —Geof Huth

Nicholas Manning
160 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9805096-2-5
$13.50 + p&h

Paul Valéry wrote that “a poem is a really a kind of machine for producing the poetic state of mind by means of words.” Novaless is a device for producing reveries composed of precognitive, poetic thought constructed as a schematic screen of letters and symbols flowing continuously across several axes. Each generation of poets must crack the codes for detecting culturally jammed poetic wavelengths. Like Ray Di Palma’s ur-texts, The Sargasso Transcries and Marquee in the early 70s, Manning’s Novaless permits us to listen directly to these currently camouflaged poetic bandwidths, where strata of definitions, distortions and dreams may be accessed and deciphered, tracing an essential foundational blueprint for future visual/verbal poetic wordscapes. — Nick Piombino

Nicholas Manning’s gifts of a poetic intelligence and sensibilities are immediately apparent in this diction, this sense of relation and proportion, and overall in the choices he’s made. Here, in Novaless, he sets forth his cosmogony, and it is boundless and it is brilliant, and it is on the tips of our tongues. All things, divine and physical, grammatical and pragmatical, and in line with Theogony and Metamorphoses . . . — Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino

Like stars sending light beyond their time to us, Nicholas Manning’s Novaless reads like a constellation of remnants of geometric form, metaphysical lingo and traditional lyric, making and unmaking voices of these almost-characters, in these practically-places, painted in variable gradations using a vast pallet of colors. In the end, the narrative (mythic, intertextual, anecdotic) defaults to the way these poems function “by reason of their own noise”, as they come at us “in excited semitones” from worlds made and unmade. Languages, history, landscape fold in and over themselves, interjecting, unbalancing, as all the while some ultimate equilibrium – physical, intellectual, global, universal – is sought within the units and disjunct unities of these carefully-wrought verses. – Jennifer K. Dick

Novaless is “wild reportage” of experience and perception. This serial poem re-visions narrative, delimits boundaries, refracts syntax, weaves languages, and re-imagines punctuation — with “all perfectly attuned”. In this space, we traverse “across * the field * of visions : / the distance of the world its / latitudes and longings / in glowing lines”. Novaless is a luminescent first collection. – C.S. Perez

Tales From The Hinterland
Caleb Puckett
60 pages
Cover design by Mary Ellen Derwis & Joe Balaz
ISBN: 978-0-9805096-4-9
$10.00 + p&h

In Caleb Puckett’s Tales from the Hinterland, prose and poetry swim among the blocks of text. Is “Paolo’s Politics” – a lovely lyric of a piece – flash fiction? A prose poem? Some fascinating hybrid that has characteristics of both parents? Puckett’s collection leaves a reader contemplating these kinds of questions, even as its whimsical realism deftly dodges similar ones: is “The Case of the Missing Chin” surrealism? What about “Make the Man,” with its sympathetic characterization of a very odd protoganist? “Claims,” given line breaks, would be a recognizable poem. Certainly words like “slither-love” and the play with language and syntax in “A Latin Maxim” are more familiar from poetry than prose.

But Puckett’s collection resists easy categorization. “The Assault,” one of my favourites, offers a staccato beauty in the musical language; its images speed by as if seen from a swiftly moving train. There’s a similar resonance with other art forms in “Postmodern St. Louis.” Authors interact as if on stage. That sense of framing – the theatre, a window, a single moment – connects several of the narratives in Puckett’s collection. “Magician’s Commiserations” (another favourite) is the closest to a ‘traditional’ narrative, but like its siblings in the collection, the voice is haunting, ironic, and exquisitely drawn. Prescient undercurrents – vaguely foreboding, mercurial and sometimes almost capricious, but never quite – move heavily beneath the tightly crafted surface. It’s a description that fits Tales quite well: vaguely foreboding, tightly crafted, and often hovering above its own darkly musical undercurrents. An excellent collection. —D. Britton Gildersleeve

Marilyn R. Rosenberg
56 pages, full color, 9" wide x 7" high, coil bound
ISBN: 978-0-9805096-5-6
$19.95 + p&h

RED is blood, passion, life. Yes.

Circles and eggs, although squeezed are repeated, and imply renewal. Some have the illusion of cut-outs, holes. We feel like we can see through areas, looking back or hinting to the future. The muse hides as time flies.

Rosefish represents M. Rosenthal Rosenberg; the Granny apple is transparent. Uninvited, the mouse brings annoying problems. Asides abide.

Calligraphic marks, the living line, become beings, ghosts, are language. Bold letters become organic and architectural objects in each underwater and sky atmosphere, the mindscapes; fragmented words are strong entities. The reader is enticed to turn the page and read on.

Reading upside down excites, as it irritates the reading process.
      Circular-like images are fragmented. Half of the visual poem suddenly overlaps its capsized other half; read in one direction, turn, now differently reread each strong colored panorama.
      RED has a beginning, middle and a starting again.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I sit outside & plan what I will try to accomplish today. A poem perhaps, a few more pages added to the next issue of Otoliths. But I procrastinate too much & know that I will probably accomplish nothing, get sidetracked, end up reading a book or surfing cable tv. Fill in the expanding spaces with what I'm doing now, sitting outside, smoking a cigarette, maybe watering the tomato plants.

Which means I am selling myself short with my musings. If I don't achieve any of these quite modest plans, why then don't I plan on doing more major things & not do those instead.