Thursday, April 30, 2009

edi   ice

Sunday, April 26, 2009

& the Oscar for the most outrageous whitewash goes to.....

The Israeli military says it’s concluded an investigation absolving its forces of committing any crimes during the three-week assault on the Gaza Strip beginning late last year.

Regarding the conclusions drawn from these investigations, a Senior IDF Military Official said, "The bottom line is that the IDF conducted itself in an appropriate manner within the limits of international law. We kept a high professional and moral standard; all of this, against an enemy that was shooting at our civilian population and using the Palestinian population as human shields." A Senior IDF Military Official also stated that the investigations shed light on a very small number of mistakes and incidents that indicated inappropriate conduct. These unfortunate incidents were unavoidable and occur in all combat situations in which militaries are forced to fight in urban centers where civilians are used as human shields.

Friday, April 24, 2009



Thursday, April 23, 2009

Now out from Otoliths — Quaternity, by Scott Glassman & Sheila E. Murphy

Scott Glassman & Sheila E. Murphy
284 pages
Cover Design by K. S. Ernst & Sheila E. Murphy
Otoliths 2009
ISBN: 978-0-9806025-1-7
$16.45 + p&h
In Quaternity, Scott Glassman and Sheila E. Murphy ask, "...and what divination will rhetorize the oppositorum / attract the needed nightshade / counter pull assume high produce / to be revered osteo"? Do you understand the question? Whether you reply Yes or No, the point is that the excerpt can be understood to be a question. How? Through the push and pull of its music. Quaternity asks the reader to trust in words — the word itself and not what it supposedly signifies. For the word itself can be a musical note and it can suffice (more than suffice!) that certain combinations sing. The dictionary bows to Glassman and Murphy's seductive diction: "No curve to infinity can mimic bells." —Eileen Tabios

These collaborative pages elaborate vocal colors and chord-changing arrangements of sensory elision: musics of meaning. Quaternity is "lubrication-lit," aglow with the sensual pleasure of its making. Glassman and Murphy court rapture "where frogleaps suture kismet vines." —Tom Beckett

In Quaternity, Glassman and Murphy cease to make the usual "third thing" of collaboration – art and meaning immanent in shared composition – the end. Let the third be words and process, this material book, or tent camping, and start the box step waltz of four: author, author, writing, lunge. —Catherine Daly

I'm not a

superstitious person, but I do believe in omens in the form of birds or chance-heard music. & not to do with things that may be ominous: more along the lines of good day / bad day. Though I do remember, when I went back to do a degree part-time 15 or so years ago, coming out of an exam in a subject I wasn't too comfortable with—economics or calculus or some such—& having that sinking feeling obliterated when I heard one of my favorite songs being piped into the foyer of the building where the exam was being held & knew that I'd passed it comfortably.

& today, up at the shopping mall, my spirits brightened when I walked in to the bass-laden sounds of Booker T & the MG's Green Onions driving its way up the walkway between the shop fronts. Told me it was gonna be a good day.

Ok, so maybe it's a psychological ploy on my part. I remember a scene from Billy Liar in which Julie Christie, in perhaps her first movie, appeared at the edges of an openair market & made her way into centre screen. So much vitality! I used to use that, imagining myself to be the character, whenever I wanted to pick myself up. These days, though, knowing that I can quite make it as Julie Christie—I'll try, if the price is right, but you're going to be disappointed—I go for the smaller things; & since shopping mall music tends to be sourced from the oldies but goodies basket, the chances of getting something you like are quite high. & I need the odds to be in my favor.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A / ficcione I / had forgotten about

posted exactly four years ago to pelican dreaming.

The Veronica Ficcione

It is said of Septimus
Veronicus, the last but
one Praetor appointed
to the province of
Camargua, that his
initial infatuation
with this land of bulls
& flamingoes was
gradually augmented by
an anger at its
continued oppression.

So much so that
two years into his term
he renounced his
citizenship & declared
the province independent.
Rome responded. Four
hundred soldiers & another
praetor. A short battle
on the riverbank ended
when Septimus caught
a passing flamingo &
held it out at his side
distracting the newly-
appointed official so
that he attacked the
bird, not the man.

Bullfighting aficionados
regard this move with
awe, now honour
the initiator by calling
it a veronica. History
says little else about
the time. Rome's attention
was taken up by
The Triumveral Wars that
came soon after. The man
that Septimus killed
is known only as
the last Praetor. Capes
have replaced flamingoes.
A blue-winged kookaburra perched on a branch directly above the clothesline. It intently watching the garden, looking for lizards & such. Me intently watching it, worried it's going to shit on the washing that I'm hanging out.

Monday, April 20, 2009

J.G.Ballard, 1930-2009

“The marriage of reason and nightmare which has dominated the 20th century has given birth to an ever more ambiguous world. Across the communications landscape move the specters of sinister technologies and the dreams that money can buy. Thermonuclear weapons systems and soft drink commercials coexist in an overlit realm ruled by advertising and pseudoevents, science and pornography. Over our lives preside the great twin leitmotifs of the 20th century — sex and paranoia.”
from the author's introduction to the 1974 French edition of Crash.

During these assasination fantasies / Tallis became increasingly obsessed / with the pudenda of the Presidential contender / mediated to him by a thousand television screens. / The motion picture studies of Ronald Reagan / created a scenario of the conceptual orgasm, / a unique ontology of violence and disaster.
The section headings of "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan", included in The Atrocity Exhibition.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

geographies: Silver Valley, Idaho

The world of vectors
is a great place. North
Pitney has built a human-
sized maze that changes
as you walk through
it & can be scaled to
any size without loss
of resolution. Then go
down Mac Thi Buoi
& cross Nguyen Hue
towards the trendy
Ton That Thiep. A ton
of trendy papers to
choose from, rhythm
instruments at the
guaranteed lowest
price, energy scattered
elastically into modes. The
sets are finite, soft errors
are detected, but every-
thing is oh so sassy!

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Friday, April 17, 2009

the / study of / an isolate sun

sol étude

Thursday, April 16, 2009

found pwoermd


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

For four days now

Oh, the ragman draws circles
up & down the block
the unbidden ayem song has been one of Dylan's songs from the mid-sixties,
Well, Shakespeare, he's in the alley
with his pointed toes & bells
a different verse each morning. But I don't mind. This is the Dylan
Mona tried to tell me
to stay away from the train line
that I like, the wordsmith sans pareil, the fancy dancer, the Bojangles of the bards. The obligations met, the anthems finished; & now, in his "Blonde on Blonde" days, he's having fun.
Grandpa died last week
& now he's buried in the rocks
It's the Dylan I keep coming back to. &, since so far we're only four verses in, it seems that for the next week or so I'll continue
To be stuck inside of Mobile
with the Memphis Blues again.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Series Magritte staggers along towards the double century. Have just added #196, Magritte's take of a Fantômas poster. Plus I've filled in a gap, posted some poems—out of sequence—that were supposed to have appeared more than two years ago in a print journal which never came out.

Friday, April 10, 2009


I do not see black-eyed birds at the red fruits. What is it that keeps them away? Do they not see them? Are the vibrations they give off in wavelengths that are impossible to detect if the eye is black? Are the red-eyed birds attuned to them? Is there some sort of symbiosis at work?


It's birds with red eyes that are drawn to the (r)edible things in the garden—the bird's-eye chillies, the red gelatinous berries on a tree which I haven't yet been able to identify, the small red dates on a palm that grows near the pool.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


he posted to his blog so that, when he looked at it later, he would know he was still alive.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Street seen

The lawyers, on their way back to Court after lunch at a nearby pub, are all dressed like undertakers. What hope then of a not guilty verdict?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Let's do lunch

"It would be easy to suggest that the glum tone of many of Young’s poems reflects the frustrations of writing poetry in one of the most conservative, philistine regions of Australia, the heartland of Pauline Hanson’s xenophobic political movement. Young does complain occasionally about the ‘town of the/ collectively unconscious’ in which he lives and works, but the source of the unease of his Lunch Poems is just as often located far away."
From a review by New Zealand poet Scott Hamilton of my Lunch Poems which I discovered via the most recent poetry links post at Ron Silliman's blog.

Thanks Ron.

Monday, April 06, 2009

What fucking hope is there?

"Netanyahu's cabinet with 30 members, including two women ministers, is Israel's largest to date.

As the cabinet held its first session, an extra large table had to be brought in to seat all the ministers.

Two prominent Israeli newspapers, the Yated Neeman and the weekly Shaa Tova, which cater to Ultra-Orthodox Jewish readers, digitally removed the two women ministers from the first group photograph of the new cabinet.

Publishing pictures of women is viewed by many in the Ultra-Orthodox community to be immodest."
Al Jazeera

"Among the myriad of superfluous ministries handed out by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his recent orgy of coalition building is the Ministry for Information (hasbara in Hebrew), a throwback to the days when right-wingers were convinced that there was nothing wrong in settling Palestinian territories and that all that was needed for the world to accept Israel's occupation of the West Bank was a fluent English speaker who could argue the country's case on CNN and the BBC."
The Jerusalem Post

For some reason,

even though Both Sides Now is a favorite song & Joni Mitchell a favorite singer, I had never put the two together, had forgotten she'd written it, had always associated it with Judy Collins whose version was the first I heard.

Finally put it all together, forty years after the fact—would that everything could come as quick. Caught a reasonably recent Joni Mitchell doco on cable, some of it concert footage, amongst it a beautiful version of her singing her song.
I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Friday, April 03, 2009

geographies: Oaxaca

Made sense at the time, later they wept at their naivity. Read of the greater use of ethanol in motor fuels. Bought up all the corn around town. Dreamt of gushers of money. Could not comprehend vast acreage under cultivation in the U.S. Midwest. Did not understand white corn for food, yellow corn for biofuel. Did not understand genetic modification, hybrid crops, subsidies. Did not understand why no-one rushed to buy their stockpile or why those they'd bought it from did not come back. Did not realize that since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, it was much much cheaper to buy corn grown above the border.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Just a reminder

that submissions for issue thirteen of Otoliths close on April 27.

Guidelines are available here.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Gallery Readings

The evening takes place in a gallery where the best contemporary New Zealand painting is on show. It's a dealer gallery; the exhibitions change every fortnight. Perhaps it's Ralph Hotere whose paintings are on the walls, or Colin McCahon, or Milan Mrkusich. In those days worth thousands of dollars; these days probably millions.

The narrator is comfortable in these surroundings. He writes about art—reviews, essays, even a book—so to him the paintings are the perfect backdrop, the perfect stage design. He likes the space; hessian walls, good acoustics. Intimate. Add to that an audience that enjoys—perhaps even delights in—being there.

It's near the end of the evening. Now the narrator is where he has always wanted to be, out in front of a rock band.

The poet & the narrator have taken it in turns to read. Then a break so the audience can buy a coffee next door, or some wine further down the road. The poet reads first when they start up again, followed by the narrator whose set this time is four blues written especially for this performance & backed by the band. They're simple lyrics; rhymed, one piece in ¾ time, another working over & around the famous Booker T. Green Onions riff. "Yr poems & yr songs will never right the wrongs that you have done to me/ & yet yr wrongs will never cloud the songs that you have sung to me....."

Then the narrator segues into Route 66. Driving rock, the Stones in everybody's mind, getting into everybody's blood. People get up & start to dance. The gallery owner is in the middle of them, then he suddenly rushes across to the switchbox shouting "the paintings, the paintings" & turns the power off. The room is plunged into silent darkness. A minute later the power is back on & everybody is dancing again. The narrator leaves the band to carry on on its own & joins the throng. The poet prowls the room looking for someone to take home & bed. Eventually everybody goes home happy.

The joint gallery readings are why the narrator & the poet are forever paired in the collective memory:
"...In the Barry Lett Art Gallery
I heard Mark Young and David Mitchell lay down their lines."
Bob Orr: Jerusalem

"My memories of Mark in Auckland are of poetry readings at Barry Lett Galleries and at the Wynyard Tavern. Dave Mitchell was part of a double act that combined the rhapsodic, the laconic and the hip. Wreathed in clouds of cigarette smoke, through which I still see art works by Ralph Hotere and Colin McCahon, as though smoky nicotine were one of the cultural pigmentations of the ’60s; with lots of flagon red wine from the Henderson valley, drugs that were subculture rather than mainstream entertainment, and the jazz of Thelonious Monk (‘Round Midnight’), these occasions set my youthful benchmarks and probably gave me much of the life I’ve had. For which I am most grateful. "
Ian Wedde: Antipodean Hipster (A review of The right foot of the giant)
but they were never friends though something / more than acquaintances. They had gone to the same secondary school; for four years they shared the same turf; but the poet was a year ahead of the narrator, & in the hierarchy of schools, that meant their paths never crossed. The narrator was something of a jock—rugby, cricket, basketball—who later played in the school orchestra, had one of the leads in a rare school play, a Shakespeare suite directed by Richard Campion, the father of filmmaker Jane, who was teaching there at the time. He never came across the poet in any of these activities.

They probably met sometime after the poet went to university, in that overlap between uni & the teachers' training college of shared parties, shared pubs, shared acquaintances. The narrator has no idea of when. But Wellington in those days was, though small, a very active city; & because it was small, anybody who was into anything soon got to know everybody else who was also into something. The musicians knew the painters knew the poets knew the actors knew the gays knew the dopesmokers knew the dancers.

The first firm date that can be put on anything was 1963, when the narrator, having taken over as editor of a little magazine, included some of the poet's pieces in it. This does not mean that the narrator discovered the poet; far from it. But he did discover a kindred spirit in that both of them were influenced by the new American poets. It might be said that they walked the same street, though on different sides of it, but it was a far distant street from the main road of New Zealand poetry.

The narrator moved to Auckland, the poet went overseas, came back, also moved to Auckland. The narrator had the knack of turning out quasi-SoQ poems which he placed in the leading N.Z. literary magazines, & some of which were subsequently included in a number of overseas anthologies. He began to develop a reputation which he used to parlay publication of the poems that meant much more to him, but generally two or so years after he'd written them. The poet remained much more true to his craft, which meant he didn't publish much. The problem for both of them was that there were only a very small number of literary magazines in N.Z., & they were all running behind the times.

The next bit is guesswork, an interpretation of a number of invitations that are posted in a gallery on the narrator's page at the new zealand electronic poetry centre. The first is a mainstream reading, the narrator appearing as one of ten readers. The poet does not appear, though there is a note in Big Smoke that credits him with arranging it though the narrator believes (a) that if he'd organized it he'd be reading & (b) that the poet would never have allowed the wanky name that appears on the poster as presenting the evening. What is important is that it was the first reading in a newly opened gallery. The second invitation is the shape of things to come, a combined reading by the poet & the narrator, with a rock band in the mix.

There were at least another four readings over the next three years. The poet believes that there was another one at the usual gallery, & knows of one more held in a different gallery in town. Some of the readings had music, a couple had another poet included, Hone Tuwhare in one, James K. Baxter in another. But however many there were & what format they took, they had one thing in common—the poet & the narrator working as a tag team. Different styles, different approaches, but each was the perfect foil for the other.

These days, with so many places to publish & such ease to do so, one sometimes forgets just how hard it could be to disseminate one's work, especially for those working outside the traditional & isolate mainstream of a nation's poetry & who did not see any importance or necessity in being "nationalistic" in their subject matter when the world was becoming more & more international. Add to that a felt need to show that there were other, equally valid—in the eyes of the poet & the narrator, even more valid—traditions that one could draw from, other paths to follow. The gallery readings did all that.