Monday, June 30, 2008

Genji Monogatari XXI: The Jeweled Chaplet

The page on which
Munch's Dead Mother
& Child
carried ads for eBay
giving the current
offering on a range
of evening gowns
suitable for wear by
the Mother of the
Bride. It did not bode
well for the journey.

the p.d. book, the p.d. blog

A final note on the book. My deepest thanks to harry k stammer for the cover — it's a detail from one of his paintings. Yes, another renaissance man. Poet, painter, musician.

&, it's probably apt that, after 2+ years since I asked him to, Ron Silliman has just shifted his link to me from pelican dreaming to gamma ways. All things come.......

Sunday, June 29, 2008

If not
     Polka Dots &


     at least

A covering note,

a Meritage Press Announcement,

A RELEASE Special Offer for:

Poems by Mark Young
Selected and with an Introduction by Thomas Fink
ISBN: 978-0-9794119-5-3
Price: $24.00
Release Date: Summer 2008
Distributors: Meritage Press and Lulu at

Meritage Press is delighted to announce the release of PELICAN DREAMING: Poems 1959-2008 by Mark Young, Selected and with an Introduction by Thomas Fink.

Mark Young was born in New Zealand, but has lived for more than half his life in Australia. First published in 1959, his work has appeared in a large number of both electronic & print journals, & he has been included in many anthologies. His publications range from the first book on modern New Zealand painting through more than a dozen collections of poetry & his co-editorship with Jean Vengua of two anthologies of hay(na)ku to a speculative novella, the allegrezza ficcione. These days he spends most of his time editing the e-zine Otoliths & nurturing the steadily-increasing catalog of its print publishing arm.

To celebrate the release of PELICAN DREAMING, Meritage Press is pleased to offer a special discounted release arrangement good through August 31, 2008. You may order the book for $19.00 (a 21% discount from the book's $24 retail price) plus free shipping/handling for orders throughout the United States. (For non-U.S. orders, please email us first at Send a check made out to "Meritage Press" to

Eileen Tabios
Publisher, Meritage Press
256 North Fork Crystal Springs Rd.
St. Helena, CA 94574

About this project, Mark Young shares:

"My father died when he was 93, &, even then, his death was at least partially due to complications from an amputated leg. Which means there are longevity genes in my family. So it's somewhat ironic that the earliest poem in this selection / collection, "Lizard", written when I was seventeen — 'When one is seventeen, one isn't serious' wrote Rimbaud, in error, but he can be forgiven for he was only fifteen when he wrote the line — stems from feelings of mortality brought on by the teenage angst that beset me at the time.

"As the subtitle of this book indicates — Poems 1959-2008 — those feelings were somewhat premature. But they're still around, since my vision of a neat fifty years of poetry was taken over once again by similar feelings: I wanted the book out there in order to make sure that I was around to see it.

"There is a rough chronological order to the book, based on the order of the books from which the selections were made, but that is for convenience. I have nearly always followed the maxim 'Let the poem shape itself.' So there are streams & themes that overlap across collections, across times, in a variety of concurrent styles. As Thomas Fink writes in his Introduction:
"'If anyone these days is hanging onto a notion of consistent stylistic evolution as aesthetic merit, this volume will do its best to disorient them, as Young's 'many mansions' feature a variety of architectural modes. Could one predict the flights of Betabet from the unified narrative of 'Grafton Bridge,' much less 'Lizard'? 'George W.'s Language Primer' and 'Maxims for Tom Beckett' are both very funny poems, but their humor is achieved in extremely different ways. If someone didn't know who wrote either 'The Baggage Card' or 'The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even,' would s/he necessarily assume that the same author was responsible for both? Mark Young has the courage to be traditional, imagistically or narratively direct, discrete, serial, surreal, 'experimental,' and 'difficult' in the same season, year, or cluster of years. The reward is ours.'
"Tom's selection was done with total independence. All I did was give him the poems, in a variety of formats — e-books, chapbooks, full collections, blog postings, manuscripts — & let him have his way with me. Or, at least, my output. My gratitude for & pleasure with what he has selected & written to in his Introduction is immense. I have gained insights from his insightfulness. The reward is mine. &, I hope, yours."

For more information, please feel free to contact

& a Nota Bene from Tom Beckett

"I've had the privilege of reading this book in manuscript. It is as fantastically and variously beautiful a book of poetry as one can find. If you only read one selected poems in the coming year, read Pelican Dreaming."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Getting near, almost here...

My Pelican Dreaming: Poems 1959-2008 selected & with an Introduction by Thomas Fink, is nearing publication from Eileen Tabios' Meritage Press.

Read Eileen's pre-publication post about it.

I'm so excited
& I just can't hide it....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

if not



           at least


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

if not


                    at least

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Today the
postman brought
me the kingdom
of the blind. It’s
from a club
I recently joined,
& it’s my turn
to be King
for a day.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Texas crude

Before the war, Saddam Hussein's regime pumped 3.5 million barrels of oil a day, but this has fallen to just 2 million barrels.

Dr Mamdouh Salameh, an oil economist to the World Bank & the UN Industrial Development Organisation, told a British parliamentary committee last month that Iraq had offered the US a deal, three years before the war, that would have opened ten new giant oil fields on "generous terms", in return for lifting sanctions. "This would have certainly prevented the steep rise of the oil price," he said. "But the US had a different idea. It planned to occupy Iraq & annex its oil."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cataraction Item #2

single light
seen as firework.

She said / He said

What lips my
lips have kissed, &
where, & why, I
have forgotten, &
what arms have lain
under my head
till morning; but the
rain is full of
ghosts tonight, that
tap & sigh upon
the glass & listen
for reply; & in my
heart there stirs a
quiet pain for un-
remembered lads
that not again will
turn to me at mid-
night with a cry.

Thus in the winter
stands a lonely tree,
nor knows what
birds have vanished
one by one, yet
know its boughs
more silent than
before: I cannot
say what loves have
come & gone; I only
know that summer
sang in me a little
while, that in me
sings no more.
is no parenthesis
& death i think

for life's not a
back in my arms
laugh, leaning
each other: then
we are for

which says
eyelids' flutter
is less than your
ure of my brain
cry—the best gest-
all flowers. Don't
lady i swear by
than wisdom
are a better fate
approves, & kisses
my blood

Spring is in the
to be a fool while
kiss you; wholly
will never wholly
syntax of things
any attention to the
first who pays
since feeling is
If not
with the


at least

Saturday, June 21, 2008

If not


         at least

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cataraction Item

It's a full moon.

When I close my right eye & look only through my left, I see a white disk.

When I close the left, I see a white daisy, no separate center, many petals missing, those that are left stretching in towards where the carpel should be.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dear Tom

Thank you for the titles. I think I’ve done them justice, even if what I’ve produced wasn’t exactly what you had in mind for them.

But I’m drawing the line at the last one. Not for any moral reasons, nor because it’s too great a challenge. It’s just that I sense a terrible potential to suck me in, to give the subject too much attention, to become overly-involved to the detriment of all else. Plus, in these salacious days, he’s a fucking boring writer.

So forgive me if I call finis. There’s a fragment below, just to show I did give it consideration.

My bill is in the mail.


The Marquis de Sade's Stand-up Routine
Citizens, Citizens. Great to be with you in Sodom on the opening night of this 120 day season of Anal & Banal or, as we call it amongst ourselves, Just Another Day at the Orifice. Hope I live up to what you’ve heard about me, hope you’ll keep coming back for more. Each night will be different, that I can promise you. But I’d come back during the first three months. We tend to run out of steam after that. After all, cantharides is in short supply, & Viagra hasn’t been invented yet.

My name is Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, Donny Osmond for short. (Starts singing, to the tune of Paul Simon’s The Boxer, “I am just a Mormon.”) I’m the master of ceremonies for this revue, chief writer, poser of all the tableaux, participant in some. With my two lovely vice-captains, Juliette & Justine, I’ll be trying to make the next few hours as pleasant as possible for you, but don’t be surprised if occasionally there’s a little pain.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

This is probably

a fairly good representation of my eyesight at present. My left eye still provides reasonable sight, the right is very much like the right image above.

Friday, June 13, 2008

+ / -

On the positive side, I have just completed going through the galley proofs of my Selected Poems 1959-2008 — amazing how you pick up things on the zillionth go-through — & will shortly be sending the corrected pages off for publication.

On the negative side, I have just discovered why my eyesight has been getting more shithouse of late — cataracts have developed in both eyes, & I'll be needing an operation to remove them.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I don't want to go "splat", he said, lispingly

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA launched a telescope Wednesday to scout out elusive, super high-energy gamma ways lurking in the universe.

Glast — a NASA acronym standing for Gamma-way Large Area Space Telescope — began its five- to 10-year mission with a midday blastoff aboard a Delta rocket. Everything went well and, in just over an hour, the telescope was orbiting 345 miles above Earth precisely as planned, generating applause in Launch Control.

"We couldn't be happier," said NASA project scientist Steven Ritz.

The $690 million telescope, supported by six countries, will pick up where NASA's Compton Gamma Way Observatory left off before its deliberate destruction in 2000, but in a bigger and better way.

With superior new technology and insight gained from Compton and other telescopes, Glast will be able to do in three hours, or two orbits of Earth — survey the entire sky — what Compton took 15 months to do. What's more, Glast and its particle detectors are much more sensitive and precise, and should provide an unprecedented view into the high-energy universe.

"In a sense what Glast is doing is giving us a chance to peek behind the curtain or look under the hood for how things are working, and it's only by doing this sort of exploration that we're able to learn these things. It's a form of scientific enlightenment," Ritz said earlier in the week.

Gamma ways — at the extreme end of high energy — go "splat" when they encounter Earth's upper atmosphere, so scientists must look to space observatories to uncover the secrets of gamma wadiation.

Physicists want to know more about the huge jets of particles and radiation shooting out of black holes at nearly light speed, and the gamma way bursts, or explosions, that take place in the universe every day. They also want to see what else might be out there shining in gamma wadiation, possibly shedding light on the mysterious dark matter making up so much of the universe.

The Universe is home to numerous exotic and beautiful phenomena, some of which can generate almost inconceivable amounts of energy. Supermassive black holes, merging neutron stars, streams of hot gas moving close to the speed of light ... these are but a few of the marvels that generate gamma-way wadiation, the most energetic form of wadiation, billions of times more energetic than the type of light visible to our eyes. What is happening to produce this much energy? What happens to the surrounding environment near these phenomena? How will studying these energetic objects add to our understanding of the very nature of the Universe and how it behaves?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Flowers on the
tree outside

seen only
when they fall.

Anonymous. c. 550 CE

included in: Rivalling the Six Dynasties: Poems from the Eastern Turkish Khaganate selected & translated by Umberto Allegrezza; The Uzbekistan Historical Society; Bukhara, 2000.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


For a couple of years, at the end of the sixties, I made my living as a poet. A variety of gigs — readings, the sale of chapbooks — underscored by royalties from a book on painting & the money from a poetry prize . Mind you, living was cheaper then; bread & milk probably less than 10 cents each, cigarettes less than 50c, books weren’t that expensive. Plus I shared a low-rent house close to everything, & my regime then was to walk everywhere.

For some months, one of the gigs was a regular Sunday night spot working with the house band — the Claude Papesch trio, comprised of some of the best jazz/rock musicians in New Zealand (Bruno Lawrence on drums, Doug Jerebine (later known as Jesse Harper) or Dave Russell on guitar, the leader on electronic piano) who would otherwise have been “between gigs”) at a local nightclub. Some of the numbers we did were quite intricate & rehearsed, others kept simple — a medium tempo blues in B♭, or “just do it with a Bo Diddley beat.”

The Bo Diddley beat is a kind of rhumba rhythm — One & two & three & four & one & two & three & four & ..... — often pared to its rhythmic essentials rather than relying on chord changes. Probably the best known example of it is the Rolling Stones’ version of the Buddy Holly song Not Fade Away.

Ah, it’s amazing what the mind retains. Hadn’t thought of any of the above for years, until I read today of the death of Bo Diddley.

Vale Bo Diddley, oh Bo Diddley.

Monday, June 02, 2008

a curious Cabinet of Curiosities

Cornelius Gijsbrechts (1670):
A Cabinet of Curiosities with an Ivory Tankard
(showing reverse of cupboard door)
Oil on Canvas, Statens Museum for Kunst

A bit of a freakout

at the weekend, to discover that Blogger is now scheduling postdated posts & publishing them when that nominated time arrives rather than publishing them immediately despite the future timestamp.

With Otoliths, I get around the blog latest-post-is-the-top-post by giving the “cover” of an issue a post date somewhere out beyond the scheduled date of the next issue. This means that I can build the forthcoming issue without things surfacing until I want them to. (Sure, using something like Google’s blogsearch gives a window into what’s in the next issue, but I can live with that.)

Fortunately, after some rummaging around in Blogger help, I discovered that you can still postdate — though it’s a little bit fiddly — by publishing immediately, then going in to edit mode to overwrite the timestamp with the desired time & then republishing.

I breathe easier.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

a found Saussure hay(na)ku

Genji Monogatari XIX: At Writing Practice

She was in a hurry to
be inspired; so, rather
than be bound by the
limitation of words, she
opened two additional
browser windows & used
satellite & aerial imagery
to explore brief snippets
of everything from the
lo-fi aesthetic of classic
reggae 45s through to
Mstislav Rostropovich
playing Bach. Too much
distraction—what she was
after was not conceptual
knowledge but keyholes.
It began to snow. She
watched it for a while &
went outside & wrote
                       on the pathway.
Then she wept bitterly.