Wednesday, April 30, 2008


on these pages, but I've been flat out putting together issue nine of Otoliths which will be going live in just under eight hours.

Let me just say that the time spent is well worth it! It's going to be another great issue. Full details tomorrow.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The mood took us

& we drove north on Wednesday afternoon. 700 kilometers, into the sugarcane growing area of the Burdekin. Put the feet up for a couple of days, used the "internet café" — the local video store — to catch up on emails but did nothing else. Drove back today, more or less sans pause.

The only major thing to report is that the koala signs which I've always been convinced are there purely to keep tourists happy are actually genuine, there really are koalas in the parts the signs say they are — we picked up one in the headlights scuttling rapidly across the road, fortunately on the other side, as we were driving home. There was a family of wallabies that weren't so lucky, three of them newly dead near a culvert. But on the other side of the ledger, we also saw an echidna disappearing into the grasses on the roadside.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Today the
postman brought
me the two
hopefuls. I’ve
set up a
match for them,
pencilled in a
couple of months
away. Have
borrowed from
the Mexicans &
they’ll both have
masks on. That way
the winner won’t be
identifiable until the
victorious one exits
the cage & un-
masks themself.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Today the
postman brought
me a carrot on
a stick. I said
neigh to it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Lucretius ficcione

Based on a number of observations, the seminal one being that not even death stops the college football machine—
.....such tumblings are a sign
That motions also of the primal stuff
Secret and viewless lurk beneath—
Titus Lucretius Carus proposed in his 200-page poem De rerum natura a number of radical & anachronistic concepts.

Unfortunately for TLC, Aristotle was still The Man, would remain so for 1500 more years, & only Virgil—felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas—had a few good words to say.

Fortunately for us, Lucretius also understood the grammatical structure of conceptual metaphors & wrote great Latin.

The poem survived; & with it kinetics, gravity & the first determinations of indeterministic quantum physics.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Today the
postman brought
me a vortex
on a special
buy offer. I
got sucked in.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A reminder

that submissions for issue nine of Otoliths close in a couple of weeks. It's HUGE already but there's still a little bit of room.

It'll be celebrating its second birthday, entering its third year. Ah, the proud parent.....

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I have always thought of

dragonflies as beautiful but benign insects

until I saw one today snatch a small butterfly out of the air & make a meal of it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I have cheated a little,

because the poems in each of the two preceeding posts are Series Magritte poems, & they've also been posted there.

Am getting back into SM again, because (a) I've once more got the time & (b) the putting together late last year of the video embedded below gave me quite a charge.

via The Continental Review

Three poems from Series Magritte

Read by Miia Toivio & with graphics by Marko Niemi

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Night Watch

i. The endocrinology

I stroll out to Wilshire Boulevard.
A group of part-time soldiers are setting out on parade.
There are bits missing.
A lot of raw fish has a tendency to do that.
"I'm a NASCAR fan," she said at a
birthday party in little osaka one recent night.

ii. The interval between first & second sleep

Marie-Ange sounded determined.
It was reflected in
her elegant handcuffs.

iii. Prolactin, a pituitary hormone

There's no longer a difference between theatre & shadow—
“I saw Brazil last night, Terry Gillem. Never saw it before. It was boring. I had to watch Chronicles of Riddick to clear my head of thagt junk.”
Today I get to prep for a colonoscopy.

iv. Unlike meditation

just a
wannabe troll
with no sense.

v. Altered consciousness

He prepared a candle-lit gourmet dinner
that would end up being eaten
by the mangy dog on the front lawn.

vi. Benign states

The babysitter got bored & went to watch TV.

Monday, April 07, 2008

espoir / désespoir

She drovedialectics west. Enthusiasmforensic. Aspirations. Hopepolyhedron. Then everything particulate disappearedpolyhedron in front of her. Life’s like catafalque that someshadeclothtimes.               Time                went                       by.                                Things began dichotomous to reform.                Dream?                Reality?                No matter.           She decided entourage to try it again.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

the pause & the comma

One the examplars I remember on the use of commas was the fact that
The hairy-nosed wombat eats roots & leaves.
The placement of a comma after “eats” creates another fact, this time about the sexual habits of the marsupial, if “roots” is used in the Australasian sense of sexual intercourse.
The hairy-nosed wombat eats, roots & leaves.
(& an aside—oh the foibles of a senile memory where the things that caught your eye when young are as if they never went away tho you haven’t thought about them for fifty years—bringing into play the U.S. use of “rooting” as a synonym for “cheering on”; a line from a U.S. news magazine—most probably TIME—describing how Cambridge University lost its annual boat race with rival Oxford “despite the rooting of ex-Cambridge cox Antony Armstrong-Jones & his fiancée, Princess Margaret”.)

The comma is a formal punctuation mark, an interruption of the meaning, a break before or isolating another thought or phrase, tho oft not recognized as such in speech. The pause is a thing of one’s own choosing, in time & spacing, not usually specified in writing tho I & others / following on from Olson “(wishing) a pause so light it hardly separates the words, yet does not want a comma....follow (the poet) when (they) use a symbol the typewriter has readily to hand”.

All of this prerambling because, interested in seeing how Barack Obama comes across away from the rally, still on the platform politicking but as a talkshow guest, I watched him on cable. & was intrigued, in a series of statements about “what the American Public want”, to hear him say the following
they want healthcare if they get sick they want the best schools for their kids
no doubt conceived with a comma after “sick” but spoken without it, & with the only pause in the words inserted after “healthcare”.

I’m rooting for him, btw.

Friday, April 04, 2008

I'm tempted

by this sidebar ad to a gmail email.
Poetry Writing Software
MasterWriter is everything the poet needs in one program. Free Trial.
Put my /feet up.
Churn em out.
A book a day, an
MFA in a morning.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Rochelle Ratner

I don’t know if there is such a word as intenuate, to increase, an opposite to extenuate, to lessen, but if there isn’t I’ll invent it anyway. My sadness of late has been further intenuated by a midnight email telling me that Rochelle Ratner has died from cancer. I had known she had been ill, passing references in emails—“I just wanted to be back in touch. I had a few health issues which prevented me...”—but I hadn’t known how seriously.

One of the things about starting a magazine is that it gives you a chance to work with people who you know of, but probably, in other circumstances, wouldn’t get to know. The ripples created by the first issue of Otoliths, contributed to mainly by people I had had previous correspondence with & who I reached out to, brought in a second round of writers & artists which then brought in a third & that it is how it has grown.

Rochelle, whose work I knew but whom I didn’t know, was part of that second round. She has graced the pages of three of the subsequent issues.

When I moved into the book publishing side of things, she asked if I’d be interested in seeing a manuscript, a collation, something that she later described as “Poem? Journal? Memoir? Found text?” Though I had no firm publishing mission statement—still don’t—one of my beliefs was that there would be books out there that, for one reason or another, mightn’t otherwise see the light of day, but which definitely deserved to.

Rochelle’s Leads was one such book.
"The germs of this book began in 1977, when I visited friends in London. As a child, I’d been told I had a speech impediment, but I vehemently refused voice lessons. Then, in a London pub, talking with a friend from the Lancashire/ Yorkshire border, it was almost as if I fitted in at last. Without realizing it, I’d probably inherited aspects of my grandmother’s accent. And I’d never missed her as much as I did at that moment. That was when I began planning a trip to Leeds, where my grandmother was born and spent her childhood. I knew I had to write about it, and began a series of poems as the journey took shape. Once there, I copied from books and records I’d found in the Leeds library. I began writing down what people said. What I hadn’t expected was that, as I later tried to shape the materials, I would find other peoples’ words more powerful than my own. Poem? Journal? Memoir? Found text? Think of Olson’s Maximus or Paul Metcalf’s writings."

We had fun putting it together, seeing it take shape, adding photos to the text assemblage, adding more photos, seeing it build into what it finally became, something we were both proud of.

She sent me some poems for Otoliths in early February which I quickly accepted. In the covering email she wrote:
“Did you see Anthony Rudolf's great review of Leads?
The London Magazine - August / September 2007
If not, I can scan in a copy. This book has gotten more attention than my last 3 books put together. I'm delighted.”

Unfortunately, that’s a scan I will never get to see.

In a post earlier on today to the Spidertangle list which has been forwarded on to me, Karl Young gives a beautiful summation of the sense of Rochelle that I got from our correspondence.
“During her last months, she was bald from chemotherapy. In our telephone conversations, she said that she didn't like people feeling sorry for her or acting like the funeral was already going on whenever she entered the room. One of her responses to this was to buy flamboyant hats when she went places other than the doctor, the hospital, etc. She said that her capacity for "attitude" had been diminished by the chemo, but that the right hat could reactivate it so she could face whatever situation she might find herself in.”

Genji Monogatari XV: The Oak Tree

The rock is rough, the
walls tumbled &
crusted over with
lichens, healing
crystals persist. Oriental
Tofu (Frozen) 300g. is
temporarily out of
stock. The magician,
in his Bono style semi-
transparent sunglasses,
gestures again. German
winter faba beans
decode what his cutting
lines truly mean. Only
in dreams are biotech
companies attacked
by wild animals.