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.