Friday, December 24, 2010

To All Who Time Carries on Her Flood!

This year Xmas has flowed around and past me, leaving me largely untouched and un-annoyed--I REALLY don't like the American Xmas--the total infantilization of consumer desire. In past years I could not wait for it all to be over... this year all the seasonal celebrations seem to have been absorbed by the bi-hemispheric-whole-Earth Solstice (both return of light, and of sleep and dreams) , the eclipse...
the flowering of poems, the rhizomatic subterranean spread of PoemTrees, the discovering of a truly Magical Hat, the ever emerging powers of Spirit-Stick-who-walks-with-me.

To all my many Friends--those close in body as well as spirit, those distant and unseen, but alive in imagination... which belongs to no one, not to me, nor any single man or woman or species, but flows through and animates all living Things (and all Things, live!), even as we in turn flow though time from year to year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review: Thaddeus Rutkowski, HAYWIRE

Haywire, a novel by Thaddeus Rutkowski
Review from uncorrected proofs
Starcherone Books
Buffalo, NY

"Composed of 49 flash stories narrated by the son of a Polish-American artist father and a Chinese mother"

Part 1

"My brother and sister and I were riding in the car while our father drove. "

Our Father...

Who drives the fragments of narrative in Rutkowski's coming of age novel, drives them like nails into the narrator's textual consciousness.

Our Father ...

Who gives incomprehensible orders out of which compulsive sexual fetishes naturally follow--natural, that is, in that they share with the Father a robust textual force while remaining themselves, opaque, inexplicable--habits acquired or inherited or inflicted, whose beginnings are sometimes noted, but whose psychic genesis is neither explored nor revealed. Yet in the aporia of the perpetually absent presence of the Father we find their hidden coordinates precisely in that state of being hidden, the unwritten text which, in another novel, a different kind of narrative, might offer clues of motive, offer possible explanations for the symptoms, for what becomes of the fetishes of sexual bondage (the dominate features of the middle sections of the book) after the narrator's marriage and the birth of his daughter. They seem to have been tied and left dangling heels over head, bent like question marks without answers.

Rutkowski likes to employ non sequiturs to move the reader forward, as in the following example. The narrator has rather confused, but persistent writerly ambitions. He attends a residential workshop or writer's retreat. He amuses himself burning pages of his bad writing. ".. I couldn't incinerate the pages in my room," he says, "So I took my embarrassing printouts down the road to a clearing, put them on the ground and touched a lit match to them. While I was burning my papers, a resident writer happened to walk by. He must have seen the smoke, but he didn’t' ask about it. All he said was, 'This road we're on in a good route for biking."

This is an effective device. Things are always just 'happening' like this. It's how his father works in the opening chapters. Keep in mind, a child doesn't experience a parent's actions as random--inexplicable, yes, but not random. The meaning must be there. Somewhere. Everything in a child's world (as in our dreams) is overdetermined. Overdetermined and utterly mysterious. I found this a strong point in Rutkowski's style. He withholds interpretation. That takes admirable disciple. Dream-like sequences are interwoven at several points in the memory narratives, also without explanation, and with no bridge, no passages of transition. The associative power of the negation is a real power, far more than any explanation, no matter how canny, how wise. We are left with a chimera of unread, and unreadable possibilities hovering over... or under, the text.

He suffers from schoolyard bullies and bigots, who single him out for his Asian features. His mother--her character, her image--is left largely undeveloped--but the roughest sketch. This is true of all the characters. We have brief encounters--the stoner brother, some of the narrator's early lovers, but only the father rises out of the text, and then--as a kind of ghost memory who he fumbles to make real for his daughter when she asks what he was like--long after his death. Fumbles and fails... summoning no story, no incident (though the first third of the book is filled with incidents that might do--but how could he? How could he impose this Father on her... whose hope resides in being free of him?) Does he realize that in declining the challenge, he is risking doing exactly that? ... by conjuring the mystery? The undeciphered parental text that is the source of all ghosts?

Haywire is written in three main parts, each consisting of short, titled chapters, some of which might stand alone as independent fragments. The prose is spare and functional, well suited to the dream-like accounts of memory and exposition. I wonder if it might gain in power by further condensation. It seemed a bit long at almost 300 pages, but I was not unhappy at having read it. While a reviewer might easily point out imperfections, I see no reason to do so, as they are of a kind that go hand in hand with testing out certain limits. What Rutkowski has attemped here is worth the risks he took. May this lead to more, and still more accomplished work in the future.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Spinning out into the night from our ever tilting planet...

On Larval Subjects
Graham’s universe is a universe in which entities defy any neat categorization into the domains of “the subject” and “the object”. Rather, we get an entirely different understanding of objects, where objects can no longer be neatly reduced to physical things (where’s the solid clod that is a “celebration”) and where objects can no longer be treated as what is opposed to or stands opposite to a subject. Indeed, we’re no longer quite sure what constitutes a subject. Where before we thought we knew quite clearly what a subject is, now we find that we’re a bit puzzled. And if we are puzzled, then this is because relations are generative of a new, higher level, object.

If this is the case, then we are forced to substantially rethink, for starters, our ethical and political concepts. Hitherto, in the domain of ethics, we thought we knew what we were talking about when we talked about the good life, praise and blame, and ethical principles. We we thought we knew that we were talking about the actions of an individual person. Yet if Graham’s thesis is right, if it is true that relations are generative of higher level objects, we can no longer be quite sure. This entity composed of Levi+Computer is one entity. Levi apart from the computer is another entity. Levi with a gun or a knife is yet another entity. A couple is yet another entity. A girl and her dog or hawk is yet another entity.
A wheel of brightness raised against the night for all to see....

Solstice: 2010

I'm going to put on the Derby Bowler, the aluminum tab neckpiece, my long ceremonial coat and read a poem on the street, Spirit Stick in hand, as I offer a Soltice poem--a Soltice gift for PoemTree. Don't forget, as half the planet turns toward light, half is turning toward dark. Remember to include them both, light and dark, north and south--the Solstice is twofold, a twofold gift of life and sleep.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

CA Conrad: Eileen Myles gets it right

 These lists are usually annoying, but this one is surprisingly diverse--& with Myles' tribute to CA Conrad, what a nice piece of velvet--for Conrad, and for Philly Poetry! Kudos, Conrad! 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Emily: December 10, 1830 - Forever

For Emily's 180th birthday, copy one of your favorite of her poems and tie it to a tree near where you live. Take a picture and post it on FaceBook.

Here's the poem I tied to PoemTree on Passyunk


Behind Me - dips Eternity -
Before Me - Immortality -
Myself - the Term between

Death but the Drift of Eastern Gray,
Dissolving into Dawn away,
Before the West begin -

'Tis Kingdoms - afterward - they say -
In perfect - pauseless Monarchy -
Whose Prince - is Son of None -
Himself - His Dateless Dynasty -
Himself - Himself diversity -
In Duplicate divine -

'Tis Miracle before Me - then -
'Tis Miracle behind - between -
A Crescent in the Sea -
With Midnight to the North of Her -
And Midnight to the South of Her -
And Maelstrom - in the Sky -

Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: Cooperative Village, Frances Madeson

Frances Madeson, Cooperative Village

     There is a thread, dark skirting on despair, underlying the humor of this wonderfully disturbing book. The word 'hysterical' comes to mind, cropping up in all its several semantic fields. The Frances of the narrative is driven by a desperation so acute that seeing a corpse through an entire wash-and-dry cycle in the cooperative Laundromat passes for a rational response to life in the Village: life conditioned by a level of obligatory artifice suffocatingly upbeat and right-minded--a thoroughly dehumanized 'liberalism.'

This is a deeply political book, but it's a politics that engages the disembodied cultures of what Joe Bageant has called the American Hologram, and cuts across the anachronistic distinctions of left and right, liberal conservative, progressive reactionary, an urban parallel to the literature of deconstructed suburbia, or perhaps, what  happens when that same suburban misappropriation of the pursuit of happiness invades, infects and perverts the city with what is euphemistically termed, ‘gentrification:’ the construction of sterile islands, pale ghosts of the gated communities to which the real masters have retreated,  suspended above the soil of earthly existence and embodied human life and community by threads, cables chains and shackles of convention everyone agrees to pretend are invisible.

Cooperative Village is an account of how Frances, by every choice she makes, conscious or unconscious, goes about cutting her way out of the web. How perfectly appropriate, that  in the end—in the view from the web… she vanishes from existence… or non-existence.  This reader wishes her well, that beyond the automatic gates and doors of the Cooperative Village—she may find there is still the possibility of real life on this good earth.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

We Who Might Be Beautiful Together...

I took a walk to visit Poem Tree. The wind was blowing ribbons and poem cards this way and that. I leaned Spirit Stick against the bench and untangled some of the ribbons from the branches. They love to dance in the wind. They love to dance so much they forget themselves & get tied in knots. I know how that feels.

A woman came by and noticed Spirit Stick. This is beautiful, she said, where did you get it? On the street, I said. A piece here, a piece there. And things people give me.

Oh, you made it! she said. (this happens more than you might imagine... as though one could find this in a store)

It is beautiful. I think so too.

The things it's made of don't seem like much by themselves. A bit of colored ribbon, packing tape, aluminum can tabs, plastic rings... most of them found on the street. Things people have dropped, tossed aside. I pick them up from the sidewalk, from muddy puddles by the curb, on parking lots. I see something... a bit of color, something that shines in the sun, and I think -- oh, this will be nice to add to Spirit Stick. I'll find a place for it, and it will become part of Spirit Stick.

Like a line in a poem

Most of them, not much in themselves, a few stand out. Like the bit of a bracelet I found on the subway platform. If you look for it, you can single it out. Oh, this is pretty--where did you find it?

But the pretty things are no more or less important than the aluminum tabs I took from cans in the trash, or bits of string from a muddy puddle. A pigeon feather. They all come together, become something else, something more. & yet are no less what they are in themselves.

Like the words of a poem

I think the best poems... the poems I love, are like that. Made of things others have tossed aside. Thought useless.


But in just this resides their beauty--which has no use we can readily assign. A poet, an artist... sees this lost, abandoned thing... 'you are like me, he thinks, and I am like you ... and she loves it for what it is, and gives it a home. With other homeless things.

A Spirit Stick.

A Poem Tree.

A poem.

And they rejoice and dance in wind or rain. In the mind of someone passing by. We are beautiful together! they say...

... and they are... and so might we all, be beautiful together. Lost things waiting to be found

Thursday, November 25, 2010

November 25, 2010

Observe. Write what impreses
the senses
let the mind follow

It's in naming common things
we draw the reader in

A kind of touch
                                                               you see
                                                               I see

where every conversation
wants to go

Outside a neighbor is talking on her cell phone
It's the day we call Thanksgiving
This morning snow flakes descended from gray clouds
There is neither rhyme nor reason for these lines
Distilled out of air
Out of the gray chemistry of my brain
Out of what we call mind
We can neither touch nor hold them.
As they pass through words
At near the speed of light
Cosmic rays pass through the earth
They are everywhere
Hydrogen protons
Alpha particles of helium
Hurled by magnetic storms from dying stars
A faint hiss
On my neighbor's cell
breaking open

the genetic code





of death & dreams

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Urban Ecology

A single squirrel


a universe

of squirrels          sparrows
by eves in leaves

by berries on the juniper

back yard

& lost
& found again

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Talking to Trees

I walked in Morris Park along the creek where last year I found the bones of a deer. I talked to the trees. I tied the poem I wrote to a tree by the creek.

Yesterday I was meditating, sitting on the blue wall, not too close and not too far from the Poem Tree. Meditating for me doesn’t mean spacing out, entering an altered state or filtering out the passing world. I attend to what is happening: passers by, cars, bickers, pigeons hunting for scraps near my feet--but without following after. Not unlike how one deals with the unceasing river of thoughts. Cannot be stopped, but you learn not to hitch rides. Let them pass.

I became aware of something missing—something I was perhaps blocking out. This came to me when I spontaneously greeted a pigeon, and then a dog as it passed. I didn’t say anything, but acknowledged them in silent greeting. I wasn’t on a heavily trafficked walk in Center City where one is forced to withdraw, to block engagement, and yet I realized I was treating the people who walked past like phantoms. How would it interrupt or disturb my meditation to let myself be open to greeting those who were in turn, open to my presence? I began to bring that into my meditation. People would go by, folded up in their own thoughts, their cell phone conversations--noticing little more than what was necessary to keep walking in a straight line, to not trip over obstacles. But a few would see me on the wall. See the Spirit Stick. Something would pass between us. Mutual acknowledgment.

I exist. You exist.

It felt so natural. Why had I needed to remind myself? To choose to do this? And it occurred to me, not as a thought exactly, but an impulse, that if I could greet birds, dogs, people—why not passing cars? Planes overhead? Trees? Trash receptacles? Sign posts? The street itself? It all began to feel like a great river of love was sweeping us up in its embrace—everything.

As I walked home, I told myself… I need to learn how to speak to things.
Today in the park I talked to the trees. And to stones. And to the creek. I told the creek I knew that people had given it a name—but I couldn’t say it. It felt like a brand of ownership. I told the creek I didn’t want to own it. How happy it made me, watching it flow past, free of me, of my need to bind it to a name! I told the trees the story of the Poem Tree—how it had found a second life. They must be pleased, I thought—to hear a story of a tree come back to life. And I felt such happiness! That it was right, telling them this story. That what I had done was perfectly natural and right and good.

Later, on the upper path, there was no need to tell the story. It was enough to greet them. They knew. They understood. Their roots in the same earth. Their branches moved by the same wind.

It isn’t because there are spirits in the trees, or consciousness… like human consciousness. It was because, in speaking to them, it was so deeply pressed upon me how different they were, and yet, under the light and warmth of that great thermonuclear furnace beginning to bath the tops of the trees in orange and gold, it was equally pressed upon me that we were also alike. Specks on the surface of the earth, the earth itself little more than a speck in the Milky Way, and the Milky Way a speck in the universe.

On the way home I spoke to many things. I spoke to the signs on the walls of the subway… they were so heavy, so weighted down in the slavery of being owned, and in the service of owners and ownership. But by speaking to them, I sensed that they were more and other than their slavery. Things. Things that held powers, other powers, that might become visible once relieved of the slavery of ownership, and of service to ownership.

This is what poems do, I thought. What art does. Makes visible in the poem, in the work of art, a trace of what is beyond using and being used, resisting ownership. A trace of Being… for itself, and nothing else.
Let me add this as a follow up:
Debrah Morkun, in responding to a FaceBook post on how good it was to talk to trees, added... "It is important to talk to trees. Wise trees." I think the "wisdom of trees" consists precisely in their inhuman silence, in their making no demands, requesting nothing, having no secret wisdom to reveal. They stand beside us in their own Being. If we resist projecting our desires onto the tree--it becomes an almost effortless experience of 'traversing the fantasy,' so much more difficult to do with other persons where we stand trapped in anxious need to respond to what we can only guess they might want of us, ready to betray our own desires in trying to resist or fulfill the demands of what Blake called Nobaddy, and Lacan, the Big Other.

... first you do stuff,
and then you write about it
and if what you do is a poem...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Barking Dog Says...

Barking Dog says... All things in being owned are SLAVES, and owning first makes slaves of those who own

Barking Dog says... First you do stuff. Then you write about it. If what you do is a poem, you are a poet.

Barking Dog says... Just because you're a poet don't make everything you write a poem

Barking Dog says... there is no stasis in nature. All Things have powers. All Things, act. A poem is a trace of the power of Things -- its hidden life cannot be owned.

Barking Dog says... a poem, too, is a Thing among things, what it is remains hidden. Withdrawn. The hidden life of Things cannot be owned.

Barking Dog says... what one reads is always a trace, which is another Thing. There is no end to the labyrinth of Being.

Barking Dog says... no one has ever found the Minotaur. No one ever will.

Barking Dog says... Jack went to Market with the World, and traded it for a hologram called 'reality.'

Good reason why the young reject the wisdom of the old. They know intuitively that there's no shortcuts: wisdom grows out of the accumulation of one's mistakes, so it's always retroactive. The more mistakes, the greater the wisdom... but it's wisdom only in regard to mistakes already made, never to the ones that lie in wait. In this, young or old, wise or innocent, we are all equals

Barking Dog says... elections don't drive change, change drives elections. Become a movement of one in a movement of three in a movement of ten to seed a movement of millions.

From: Teachings of the Barking Dog

November 20th
Natalie Lyalin
Michelle Taransky
Jacob Russell

Read at Chapterhouse
8:00 PM

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Time change

tonight at 2:00 AM, take all your clocks, all the appliances and
electronic instruments that keep time, throw them into a deep pit. Cover
with dirt, and plant a tree over their remains. Close your eyes and
listen to the wind sweep away 12,000 years, wake beside a fire, the eyes
of dogs glowing in the dark outside your camp.

Now you may begin again.

You can keep the dogs

Monday, November 1, 2010

Notes Towards an Object-Oriented Literary Criticism

On Larval Subjects

Since I Went Missing: Poem at Danse Macabre

I have a poem up at Danse Macabre, under Nouvelle Poésie de Guerre

Danse Macabre has a wonderfully relevant and powerful issue on line today; WELTKRIEG, could not be more timely.

I had in mind as I was writing this poem,  something that would be, simultaneously, intensely subjective, and a problem on the level of language and aesthetics--the paradox of emptying the poem of the first person I.

Context has transformed it--I read it here and gasped. This is not my poem! I didn't write this! This is so much better!

The absence of specific context invited, what for me, was a whole new reading. But of course, I thought, conscious only of these abstractions as I wrote--how could I not have been thinking all along about death?

For me--a powerful example of how completely irrelevant the idea of 'authorial intent.'

Thank you, Danse Macabre!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Every Poem, Every Work of Art..., is a return on an investment

I walked down Passyunk to 5th, and then to South and the Eyes Gallery. 42 years ago, Eyes had been open... maybe a year. A proposal to build an exit from I95 to South, fought and delayed for years, had driven away old businesses and made rents cheap: perfect for Artist Urban Pioneers like the Zagers.

1968, I walked into the Eyes with my wife, then five months pregnant with my oldest son. We left with a birth announcement, a wonderfully visceral silkscreen of a newborn, Oct. 29. Ezekiel Zager. A few months ago I came across this print and thought of how many photographs, mementos, drawings that I'd done, had been lost over the years. Not surprising if Julia and Isaiah had lost the last of these. Today, being the 29th of October, I walked the mile or so to the Eyes Gallery. I saw Julia, who now manages the business there. Said, I may have something you'd be interested in... and took out the print, gave it to her.

She thanked me... and remarked on my Spirit Stick, and seemed pleased. It was like returning something that I had held in safe keeping--but was never mine. I can visualize the image without it.

This is what life is meant for... to return what we've been loaned, without ceremony. No one 'owns' anything. We don't always know to whom or where to return what we hold in trust. It's a great moment, when we are able to to make good on the loan.

For me, every work of art, every poem... is just that. Returning what we've be given... for temporary safe keeping. The interest... how I'd understand the parable of the talents in the Christian bible... about interest on the talent, not as profit... but creative investment. We give back... with what we have created out of ourselves from the seed of the gift.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Poem Trees in Winter

Poor little tree on Passyunk, between Morris and Tasker: dead before its time.
I wrote poems on its trunk, hung can tabs and ribbons green and red from my spirit stick to make it feel better... even though it's dead. And feathers--that it would think a bird has come to call and left a card. To make it feel better.

But no one stops to see. They pass it by. They don't see the dead tree
They don't see the poems,
or the aluminum tabs
or the leaves dangling from fine copper wire
or the ribbons green and red from my spirit stick.

I think it needs more poems. Come hang poems from the branches!
Write poems on the smooth barkstripped trunk! Make it a happy poem tree!

At the very least, stop and say hello. Stop and pay your respects to a tree who died too young

Even better, take ribbon or colored string and leave poems on clips so people can take and read them. Anon... or leave your name and webpage and where someone could buy your books... or send you money for your poems cause poets have to live too. Or just so they know where to send you thanks, to tell you how happy they were to read your poems (most poets really like that too--even if some won't admit it)

I think we need lots of poem trees--in winter.

Winter poem trees, poems for leaves.

Think how HAPPY the trees will be!
Poems fluttering in the wind for the trees to recite on cold winter nights!

There are so many poets in Philadelphia--except for other poets, most people don't know how many wonderful poets we have in Philly. We should let them know. Winter poem trees would love to help us, I know they would.

Trees don't like hugs. This is a misconception passed along by people who don't like trees at all. But they do like poems. And sometimes, if you place both palms against the trunk, pressing neither too hard or too softly, (I swear this is so!) you can feel... and sometimes even hear them thrum with pleasure... like gigantic misshapen cats.
"You do stuff
and then you write about it
and if the stuff you do

is a poem

you are a poet"

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fire & Stars


on windows across the city
             day downward pressing
westward shine        else

inward turn

50 millennia past

fire & stars



              toward dawn

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nine Years in Afghanistan: the Endless War

I was born the day Nazi Germany declared war on the USSR.  The United States had not yet entered the war. France had fallen. The British expeditionary force had been evacuated from Dunkirk, Japan was in China. By the time it ended I was old enough to be aware and to remember--the honking horns on the streets on VJ day. Some 70 million people had been killed.

Try counting to 70 million. Imagine someone shot, incinerated, starved--for every number: another person, another human being... gassed, drowned, blown to pieces, vaporized... all that before I turned five. By the time I was seven, the USSR had the bomb. And then came Korea. And the Hydrogen bomb... those glorious unworldly full color photographs in LIFE, spread out on the living room floor... living room

We were preserved from the madness. Quite precisely. M.A.D. Mutually Assured Destruction. Herman Khan of the Rand Corporation used to lecture on the subject. He wrote a book called: ON THERMONUCLEAR WAR. Spelled it all out. Like boys playing chicken, he would say... the game (white) teens played in the innocent 50's. Kids pile into two cars, a mile or so apart, then drive at each other on the same lane... accelerate, faster and faster... see who swerves first. Who's chicken. Kahn said, you want to win that game, you don't want the other side to believe you're sane. You come at them, hurling whiskey bottles out the side, driver with his head out the window blindfolded. The one most convincingly insane--wins. Someone had set a limit to the number of deliverable warheads that, theorectically, would assure their eventual use, by accident if not intent. I think it was something like 10,000. The U.S. had exceeded that number by the 60's... before that, Khruschev and Kennedy showed the world how it was done... playing chicken.

The wars went on. By the dozens. Little wars. The superpowers playing their war games on vicarious battle fields. Testing new generations of weapons. Supplying the combatants. Observing how they worked. For the most part, only the 'little people' died. The poor, the ones no one could see on TV. They didn't speak English... so when they complained, who could understand? The question was--how do you live, how do you pitch your life's tent on a killing field, up to your nostrils in blood? More precisely, how do you choose to remain conscious? And why? The choices: the delusional madness of business as usual in a slaughterhouse--pretending you are not part of the killing machine: the indulgent madness of retiring from the world, pretending that you can retire from the world: or remaining aware, refusing to avert your eyes... but that too, is assuredly madness.

... then it went away. Or seemed to. Of course, it only seemed to if you had missed everything that had happened the first 87 years of the century. Nothing had changed. The major players had changed jerseys... one of them, anyway. But the little wars went on, and the killing went on, and the old heads from the Bad Old Days of the Cold War kept on supplying the weapons and banking the profits and grabbing spoils from the dead. What had changed was how almost universal the blindness, the denial had become. Only a matter of time before the seals began to leak, before the blood began to lap on the placid shores of the sleepwalkers, the innocent killers.

We are all killers. All innocent. All guilty. And very good at forgetting the dead, burying their memory under heaps of flowers, memorials, clarion words, calls to duty... to go on with our lives, with the killing.

Welcome children to the 21st Century.

(From my Journal. Written in the Philly Bar and Grill (now The Fire) October, 2001, the first day of the bombing of Afghanistan. Sports on all four TV's

Another step toward a North American Police State


Friday, October 8, 2010

Liu Xiaobo

I left a post some months ago, "Demand the Release of Liu Xiaobo.

Some anon functionary of the Chinese thug government left a comment justifying his punishment. There are always people ready to whore themselves for a bad cause. Now the thugs are mightily pissed at the Nobel committee...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

No More Google Reader!

You chose a dozen or so 'favorite' blogs, the ones you think you want to revisit, the one's you don't want to miss when they add posts or links.

Big mistake.

A year later you look at your blog roll and realize the only one's you've checked are the dozen or so on the Reader. Used to go here and there at random. "Oh, haven't looked at Blackguard for a while, wonder what's up?" That's how you found the Big Dozen in the first place, remember?


Choosing at random, discovering new places to visit.

When rewards for visiting one site were slim, you didn't go back for a while... until curiosity renewed your interest. Some dropped out of sight; new blogs came into view, favorites were never given permanent status: they had to keep on earning it.

No more Readers, Google or otherwise.

I unsubscribed.

The lot of 'em. Even ones I love and wouldn't think of abandoning: Cosmic Variance, Larval Subjects... but I don't need a Reader to tell me I want to go there! Left 3, because they give vital information about local poetry events and poets--and because the information is timely. Three out of... more than a dozen--more like 20 on my list. Only three where it actually matters to make regular visits.

The blogisphere is.. or used to be, a place where you'd find stuff that establishment media left out. What's the point if you set yourself up as your own Editorial censor, winnowing and excluding like any print source, like the goddamned Norton anthologies--pretending to include everything worthy of your time--fergedabout the rest!

I'd gotten to thinking, maybe it's time to follow Dan Green's lead. Set up another site to organize and archive all my Best Barks, and leave the Dog for discussion or whatever... but the more I thought about this idea the worse it sounded. I didn't start the Dog to make another fucking magazine! It was a place to play, to explore, to experiment, to lose stuff along the way and replace it with whatever is grabbing my fancy at the moment. I seriously doubt there'll be human life left on this planet in another 100 years--what's the point of pretending to live for 'posterity' when there ain't no such thing?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

All Things Owned Are Slaves

All Things being owned and those who own are slaves   Things of nature living Things of mind or fancy THINGS in being owned are slaves -- you say -- my child husband wife -- you say my body & your body being owned No longer you who own but yours a slave as all things being owned are slaves All Things bought and sold imprison what is free in mine & yours & mine-not-yours Imprison as your boss imprisoned is by you as you by him and the great corporate slave of slaves & holder of slaves As all workers owned by wages owned in turn in buying selling making slaves of all the earth & all that's on the earth & in it Slaves his & hers & ours & my & theirs & Mine-Not-Yours When all things All things of nature living (& all things of nature live) & Things of mind & fancy Yes & none can own what lives Its hidden truth Its Being true are hidden being slaves For all things common are for all in need to nurture life & nurturing & all good works Not getting but begetting Begetting loves children & for making Making needed things Engendering All works of art and poetry To cling to more than what is needed -- HOLD to Things by words of ownership -- my & his & hers & yours & theirs & mine-not-yours is Theft & all who own are thieves & the laws upholding owning These are laws of theft & those who uphold them All officers and magistrates judges holders of public office are thieves & holders of slaves & the hidden powers of Things living (all Things of nature live) also Things of Fancy & of Mind their hidden life in slavery brews in secret poison that transforms their owners Drives them to greater & greater acts of theft & to acts of violence Brewing darker secrets darker powers in violence born in darkness & to die in darkness until all life in nature (& all in nature lives) driven By the hidden power of slaves For things living will not rest easy in a state of slavery but corrupts all owning & all owners to their destruction even to the destruction of all Things singing better in our graves than slaves for every Song & every Poem is a Song of Freedom & Destruction & every Poem is a Poem of Freedom & Destruction freedom from owning & being owned -- no my no mine no his no hers no theirs But only Ours in Common in the great Love that encompasses all Things to the end & to the very end of the poem that owns no end & none can own


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Violence of Ownership

Ran across this on wood s lot - scroll down, the piece via Jim Johnson on Rebecca Solnit's article in The Nation on Reconstructing the Story of the Storm: Hurricane Katrina at Five. An interesting compliment to my prose poem meditation on ownership

I remember the national guard after the Ruskin Tornado--how they made those of us who had been struck by this feel like aliens... name tags around our necks -- in the name of protecting 'property' ... that which had been destroyed and lay strewn about us in an 80 mile long field of ruins.

Those in power, on the other hand, often run amok. They did in San Francisco in 1906, when an obsessive fear that private property would be misappropriated led to the mayor's shoot-to-kill proclamation; a massive military and national guard on the streets; and the death of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of civilians. Much like New Orleans ninety-nine years later, those who claimed to be protecting society were themselves the ones who were terrorizing and shooting. Earlier this year, Haitians were subjected to a similar rampage of what the disaster sociologists Lee Clarke and Caron Chess call "elite panic." For example, 15-year-old Fabienne Cherisma was shot to death in late January in Port-au-Prince for taking some small paintings from a shop in ruins, one of many casualties of the institutional obsession with protecting property instead of rescuing the trapped, the suffering and the needy.

Surviving the new era, in which climate change is already causing more, and more intense, disasters, means being prepared—with the truth. The truth is that in a disaster, ordinary people behave well overall; your chances of surviving a major disaster depend in part on the health and strength of your society going into it. Even so, countless individuals under corrupt governments, in New Orleans, in Mexico City, in Port-au-Prince, often rise to the occasion with deeply altruistic, creative and brave responses. These are the norm. The savagery of elite panic is the exception, but one that costs lives.(....)

A disaster unfolds a little like a revolution. No one is in charge, and anything is possible. The efforts of elites, often portrayed as rescue or protection, are often geared more toward preserving the status quo or seizing power. Sometimes they win; sometimes they don't.

Beware those who assert power in the name of preventing chaos (the Chinese and Russian thug elite come immediately to mind).

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

CA Conrad interviews David Wolach

CA Conrad's interview with David Wolach on PhillySound is not to be missed--it is so rich on so many levels. I've been writing and thinking and writing and posting snippets on 'ownership' --obsessively for the last few days. I nearly jumped out of my skin reading this--so many points of intersection, commonality and difference... the shaman theme... body intelligence, staging actions in public spaces... . wonderful stuff

Monday, August 30, 2010

No One Can Own a Poem

All things owned are slaves, all owners, thieves. All who cling to more than what they need to nourish life, to care for those entrusted to them, to give strength for work and good works and the making of music, art, poetry… are thieves.

It is the very Being of Things, whether living, or of nature, or of the mind, to resist slavery. Things owned will sooner or later drive their masters to greater and greater thievery, and to greater and greater violence.

What of those who would rob you? Would you let them take from you without resistance? Of course not. They are thieves… who take in order to own. Why would I surrender what is entrusted to my care to one who wanted to make it into a slave? The important thing—to abjure ‘owning,’ and take great care to know the limits of one’s needs.

No one can own a poem. What better reason to write them? Because they can't be owned, there can be no end to our need for them.

This is the way to be rich.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Poets on the Porch

Poets on the Porch in Burholme.. PHOTOS

 We are mostly such BAD monkeys... I was happy to hear the story of Ryerss rescuing abused horses.

Founded September 17, 1888,  Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines

...that rescued horses once grazed nearby. I could hear them whinging in the wind.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jacob Russell: Poetry Available On-Line

                       READINGS (Youtube)
at Penn & Pencil, Painted Bride's Slam Bam reading
Germ Books, July 2010 2 Poems
Reading at Fergies, Philadelphia Stories, Spring 2011
At Robins: Philadelphia Stories reading  Winter 2008
3 in The Madison County Crier (scroll down)
1 on e.ratio
2 in Clockewise Cat # 21
1 poem in Philadelphia Stories
12 pages from Transport, Rondo 2, on Big Bridge, Poem to the End of My Days
         on Big Bridge
1 poem at Philadelphia Stories
4 poems on Retort
The last of these--the birth of Spirit-Stick-Who-Walks-With-Me!
1 poem at Danse Macabre
2 poems in Fox Chase Review
1 in The Battered Suitcase, Autumn, 2010
2 in Clockwise Cat
In Connotation Press
In  Scythe III
In   decomP Magazine.
5 poems in  BlazeVox
5 poems in  Critiphoria
2 poems in Conversation Poetry Quarterly pp 21, 22
Recipe for a Poem After a Busy Day on-line. Apiary Corporation (scroll down)
with poems by Autumn McClintock, Michelle Traverse, Laura Spagnoli, Deborah Marquez, Jacob Russell, Rachel Cualedare.
1 in Philadelphia Stories
In Pedestal 
Dog Barking in the Back Yard

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Confluence of Idea & Object

I was walking to the Wine & Spirit store to reward myself for a day well spent, when there on the sidewalk outside 16 Below at the corner of Passyunk and Tasker were some strange and wonderful objects. Still only partially assembled, even incomplete they asserted themselves as beautifully crafted works of art--constructed from black iron and galvanized pipes, nipples & elbows & joints, from auto wheel disks polished and gleaming, decorative glass, record turn tables... all Found Things! The artist, Steven Evans, was unloading sections from a truck and fitting them together as lamps and lighting fixtures.

I love Found Things--freed from the tyranny of fixed contextual identity--or as Levi Bryant would say, from their former regimes of attraction, they call out with potential hidden powers irresistible for anyone with a creative mind and unbiased eye... art lying in wait for the artist, and in Steven Evans these objects have found someone with the skills and vision to bring them together as something new in the world.

Evans doesn't yet have a web page (he says they're working on it), so I can't link images, but they will be displayed in the Tasker window of 16 Below tonight, be on the sidewalk for the funky historic and custom car show on Passyunk tomorrow (Sunday, August 7).

If you can get to South Philly, come see these wonderful pieces. Every work of art is a spark of hope--and when emerging from Found Things--a powerful reminder of what it means to "make new" the objects of our received world.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Looking into the Dark

"The future is dark, but with a darkness as much of the womb as of the grave"

Another idea of 'Hope'

Monday, August 2, 2010

Synergies: Food Philosophy Poetry

I like how these come together...

Resonance Timber and Food, on Larval Subjects HERE

Tonal and atonal poetry and music HERE,
the Poetry of Food HERE

Recipe for a Poem on Apiary HERE (scroll down)

Philly Poetry: This Place, This Time

What is the concern for poetic pedigree but the archaic desire to search out the one train among all those tangled tracks that will take one’s poems into the future, whether in the echoey Grand Central Stations of sainted orthodoxy or the sidings and rickety platforms of the avant? A last gasp of the ancient infatuation with immortality. What could be less fitting for what may be the last few generations of human life on earth? What future? As for the past, if we are at the end of it all, what is there to celebrate in a lineage that’s led us lemming like to the edge of the precipice?

What I love about the interlocking circles of Philadelphia poets is their radical contemporaneity, maybe the only thing they... we... hold in common, a fierce passion for the present that I’ve come to share. A passion that finds no contradiction in flaunting an eclectic diversity of styles, in drawing freely from whatever traditions and trends succeed in exciting new work, whatever has the street smarts to survive, to stay awake, eyes wide open--and all the while, stubbornly refusing to turn off the dreams.

How like in their disregard for imagined futures the poems we read at Elfreth’s Alley--those things selected for the ‘time capsule,’ bits and scraps, memoranda and found things--covered with a layer of dirt unlikely to survive the first rain, sealed in a cookie tin a single winter will likely be enough to turn to rust. It didn’t matter. What a perfect setting for that reading, for the magic ceremony of the opening and closing moments--this colonial street, the facsimile Declaration of Independence. Words released into the summer heat. What endures, I heard—is not a fetish of the past or fancied future, but now--and not an eternal unchanging present, but its constant unfolding into this time, this place, this city of poets and the possibilities of love we can create, here and now.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Poets on the Porch: August 21

Diane Sahms-Guarnieri of Burholme has won numerous awards for her poetry and has been published in literary anthologies and magazines to include Philadelphia Stories, The Fox Chase Review, Many Mountains Moving, Mad Poets Review, Southern Ocean Review and The Wilderness House Literary Review. She has served on the Philadelphia Stories Editorial Board and in 2009 signed on as poetry editor of The Fox Chase Review. She is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University and has performed post graduate work at Holy Family University. Her first full length collection of poetry titled Images of Being is slated for release in November of 2011. You can read the poetry of Diane Sahms-Guarnieri in The Fox Chase Review at these links: and
Catherine Staples poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, Third Coast, Commonweal, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and others; new poems are forthcoming at Blackbird and Valparaiso. She was selected by Amy Clampitt for the University of Pennsylvania’s  William Carlos Williams Award and is the recipient of two APR Distinguished Poets’ Residencies. Her manuscript, Still-Life Breathing, has been a finalist for Lost Horse’s Idaho Prize, Northeastern’s Morse, Eastern Washington University’s Spokane, and Ohio State University’s The Journal Award. She teaches in the Honors program at Villanova University and lives in Devon, PA with her husband and children.  You can read the poetry of Catherine Staples in The Fox Chase Review at this link:
G Emil Reutter writes poetry and prose in Fox Chase. He founded The Fox Chase Review and The Fox Chase Reading Series in 2007. Seven collections of his poetry and short fiction have been published. Carvings his latest poetry collection will be released in November of 2010. His website is
Jacob Russell
Patrick Lucy lives in Philadelphia where he’s a member of the New Philadelphia Poets and runs an ephemeral press called _Catch / Confetti. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Corduroy Mtn, Elimae and Gulf Coast. You can read the poetry of Patrick Lucy in The Fox Chase Review at this link:
Rodger Lowenthal is a poet from Eastern Montgomery County Pennsylvania who is known to frequent 3 Sisters Corner Café in Fox Chase. His poetic reviews of books have appeared on line in various literary blogs. He is semi-retired working as a substitue teacher and playing poker. Rodger is known to pick up pieces of Hollywood and Cigars where he can find them. You can read the poetry of Rodger Lowenthal in The Fox Chase Review at this link:
Carlos Soto Román was born in Valparaíso, Chile. He has published the books La Marcha de los Quiltros (The Mongrel’s march,1999), Haiku Minero (Miner Haiku, 2007) and Cambio y Fuera (Over and Out, 2009). His work has been collected in Bar (Anthology, 2006) and in Pozo (collective book, 2007). In 2004 he received the Creation Fellowship of the Book & Reading Council of the Chilean Government. He has resided in Philadelphia since March 2009 and is a member of The New Philadelphia Poets and the editor of the new cooperative anthology of U.S. poetry, Elective Affinities. He is also a pharmacist and actually is pursuing a Master in Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. You can read the poetry of Carlos Soto Román in The Fox Chase Review at this link:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Elfreth's Alley Midsummer's Night Magic

An evening of midsummer heat and magic. Listening to Tessa Micaela, a Philly poet I've not heard before, I had to catch my breath at her hushed, powerfully evocative meditations of the Idea of the The City.

Earthspeak Magazine mentions a chapbook, CUSP, but I've not been able to find it.

Here's a link to the poem on Earthspeak:
What We Used to Call Silence

All around the house
        are the kinds of noises
             we are not used to;

birds at no real distance
        spread wings and extend
              to the winds. Limbs

of hemlocks are pronounced
        unhurriedly, are shadows
               in an exhaling sky.

... the rest HERE

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Body Politic, The Body Poetic, The Body Real

The deep formative connection between Dread Scott v Sanford (1857) and Santa Clara County v Southern Pacific (1886) is increasing more evident. Dread Scott, who sued for his freedom after accompanying his master to the free state of Illinois, was declared by the Supreme Court to be 'property,' and not a person. Santa Clara County v SP declared corporations to be persons. The latter decision has, over time, reconfigured everyone as "property." It's no mere linguistic quirk that Personnel Departments are now called Human Resources for the only legal persons that matter. Battlestar Galactica as a modern parable... but the robotic inventions that rule us are not technological devices, but institutions--and the matrix of laws that make us all wage slaves--if we're 'lucky' enough to hold a job.

This is the inexorable logic of the idea of property, of ownership. As the claim of ownership--whether of persons,things, land or the forces of nature, depersonalizes the owner into a complimentary thing, possessor and possessed being different manifestations of the same--a difference of custom and law but not of being, the very assertion of personhood, in as much as it is successful, deprives the person of the power of possession. Who--or what then is left to claim ownership, but the pseudo-person of the corporation, which in claiming ownership of labor, refashions as possessed things all in its employ--and, unlike human laborers, at no loss to its claim of personhood--as that claim is only a legal fiction. To insist on one's personhood, it is necessary to surrender the power to own to this fictive Person--which eventually to own everything. To be a person becomes increasingly difficult, and ultimately impossible, as survival demands surrender, acceptance of translation into a 'resource' -- the property of the Corporation.

From David Wolach Preliminary Reflections on "Commoning and the Body"
"Commoning and the Body".

David Wolach has sent the following notes, questions, and links to orient an approach to the Nonsite discussion he will facilitate on Sunday Juy 25, 2010:

This is the beginning of how, as poets, we need to think through our received ideas of property and the language of ownership--even to the level of possessive pronouns relating to the body. What do we really mean when we say something like, 'my arm,' 'my body' ... or rather, what else is meant that we overlook in our unmindful usage?
In a capitalist “service economy,” the body is ever more occulted, relegated, or in the way. An aesthetic rediscovery of the body as having proprioceptive, sensory, and kinesthetic potential to inform us uniquely and importantly, and to provide care by opening covered possibles, seems to be a kind of positive articulation of an overall renewed interest in and fear of the "occult body." Market magic, as many have noted in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling, has been the raison d’etre and the excuse for the stripping away of public land rights and the erosion of habeas corpus, all while corporations have gained increasingly robust legal protections as bodies, as “persons,” a definition which not only runs counter to the rights of individuals in a “free” society, but does so by means of defining “person”—hence “corporation”—as pseudo-unified enclosure, workers becoming operational cells of an organ, barely in need of consciousness. I am interested in what the effective (cunning) manager is interested in suppressing: the fact and the knowledge of the value of the working body’s (growing) surpluses, the body's hidden marks and tracks, its sensory and affective capacities and contiguities with other bodies, hence relational (necessarily social) potentials. There is something passive in our current fragmentary realization that our affective capacities are considered by our managers as every bit as “defective” as our various and variable “disabilities.” That the two are on a spectrum, of a category, for the “competent” manager.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Three Philly Poetry Events: Saturday July 24, July 31

July 24
6:00 PM Elfreth's Alley New Now and Future Philadelphia on the oldest continuously occupied street in the United States.

July 31
2:00, 6th & Market, Readings by

also July 31: Chapter & Verse
Hugh Behm-Steinberg and Kim Gek Lin Short, Chapterhouse Cafe, 620 S.9th

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Philly Poetry...

...stands counter in many ways to some of the more influential (or publicized) contemporary patterns. CA Conrad, Debrah Morcun, Patric very different modes and styles, embody a new (and urban) surrealism, and for Conrad--a bold assertion of an unapologetic personal voice, that in that personal quality, embraces a different Philly mode: the urban grit of Ryan Eckes, Brandon Holmquest, a spin on the New York School but with Philly neighborhood roots.. with Ish Klein morphing both. More. So much more. A bold independence here... eclectic and personal and very hard to define. I love being here. I don't know whether I fit in... I'm not a part of NPP, or Philly Sound... but even in not fitting in... I feel an intimate kinship. A part of this undefinable movement.

Philly Sound

New Philadelphia Poets

CA Conrad ... and many other Philly poets on Elective Affinites

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Where's an Old Dog Go Next?

Weather is local (both in time and place); climate is global, revealing itself over years, decades, centuries, millennia. No reason to assign the recent unbroken heat wave to global warming, but when week after week, temperature and humidity in Philadelphia resembles what is more typical of New Orleans, Houston, one can’t help but wonder. I have no AC. Would not turn it on if I did. After a while, one becomes acclimated—to a certain degree—to the heat. I can even enjoy it at times in a way I can never enjoy feeling cold. But it alters one’s bodily rhythms and thought patterns. No use to fight it. I’m not English—and they got it wrong about the dogs. I move more slowly, my thoughts are more languid and for the most part, I stay out of the noon day sun.

July and August are dog days for blogs. I’m so much a reactive thinker, that with others on vacation and my own heat induced disinclination to hunt for stimulating fare, the Barking Dog reverts to the usual repostings and citings of links. The first summer this worried me. Going on four years, and no sense that I’m approaching a dead end, I take it in stride. But I do notice changes in the Dog, and in my ideas of where I want to go with it.

Some superficial stuff first. I gave up on reviewing New Yorker Stories a while back. Mostly, they bored me. When they didn’t bore me to read them, they offered me little to think about and bored me after the fact. Not that I reviewed that many—but when I did, there were a steady stream of visitors who sought out those reviews. Without them, I’ve lost maybe 100 visitors a week. Maybe another 100 posgts became more openly political, and more yet as my interest shifted from fiction to poetry—though that connection would be hard to demonstrate.

My first attempt at poetry was in the second grade. The assignment was to write (2? 3?) sentences. I became absorbed in the effort to translate into words an image in my mind I saw as clearly as the rows of desks and blackboards and ticking clock in that room. I still have the scrap of paper I wrote it on. The teacher (her name was Webber) sent it home to my mother as demonstration of my lack of staying power. I failed to complete the first sentence… having been hung up by the inability to spell “silhouette.” My interest in writing poetry isn’t new, but it's been sporadic, having episodic eruptions in very early adolescence, late adolescence, my mid-20’s, and now and then here and there through my life. But when I had my little kitchen epiphany in 1987—at the age of 46--that from that time on, writing would be my primary objective and reason for living—what I had in mind (though that too, began with a poem) … was fiction. I continued to write poems.. but on the side.

I turned my efforts to finishing a series of short stories—testing various voices, styles—building my confidence. This was while I was working through various temp agencies: word processor, radiographic transcriptionist--writing on the el to and from jobs, at lunch hour. I started my first novel—nine years in the making.

Early confirmation came first with poetry. Then short stories. But long, long waits and many rejection between. I’ve racked up more than 1600 rejections in the last 24 years. Pieces sent again and again cause I continued to believe in them.

Something began to change in 2008, partly because of this blog. But more important--discovering the incredible poetry scene here in Philly. Going to readings. Hearing CA Conrad—whose influence and power can’t be understated, and the New Philadelphia Poets and… and … and…

I began to write again like I’d never done before. Poetry. Like returning to a first love. Closing in on 100 new poems in 2010. I post some here, usually as Works-in-Progress, then take them off when I send them to publishers. I’m developing my own ideas of poetics, feeling out the direction I want to go. (also re-writing my second novel… as though in verse)

… and that’s where The Dog is going… politics included. If you’re curious, interested—stick around! If not…

This has been the best year of my life--in terms of creative effort, and personal... if not sexual … satisfaction.
Like the song says… You can’t always get what you want, but maybe sometimes, you just might find …

Monday, July 19, 2010

No respite from politics...

"If one adds the 200,000 farmer suicides in India to the 25,000 killed in Bhopal, we are witnessing a massive corporate genocide - the killing of people for super profits. "

A poetry that pretends such things don't exist--or don't matter... to poetry, aesthetics... is a poetry of evil.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Poetics: 5 Reviews and More

Joshua Ware has some informative reviews that read like expanded abstracts. Five most recent titles reviewed:

Torres, Edwin. The PoPedology of an Ambient Language. Berkeley, CA: Atelos Press, 2007.

Perloff, Marjorie. 21st-Century Modernism: The “New” Poetics. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 2002.

Göransson, Johannes. A New Quarantine Will Take My Place. Apostrophe Books, 2007.

Cha, Theresa Hak Kyung. Dictee. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001.

Sikelianos, Eleni. Body Clock. Minneapolis, MN: Coffee House Press, 2008.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

BlazeVox Reading: Photos

Greg Bem's PHOTOS
from the BlazeVox reading at BookSpace in Philly,
July 10 2KX

Battered Suitcase Blog

Vagabondage Press posts useful features on publishing and promotion. Worth linking to.
Battered Suitcase Blog

G20 assault on human rights

Coming soon to a neighborhood near you: the Global Corporate Police State
Police invade neighborhood, terrorize neighbors


Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Case for Non-Violent Resistence

Given the extraordinary power of the corporate elite and the devastation they continue to wreck on countless populations for their profit, given the threat they pose for the very survival of our species,  while I am convinced beyond doubt that violent resistance does not and will not work, I am deeply troubled that my convictions have been reduced of late to almost entirely utilitarian arguments.

"They" have a near monopoly on violence. "We" don't. That violent acts--say, assassinating the most egregious corporate murderers, would unleash a reactionary repression that might establish the aims of the Corporate Global Police State for the duration.

While these considerations are persuasive, they do not address the deeper ethical questions they ignore.

I'm reminded of a debate I witnessed in a jail cell in Canton Mississippi in 1966 between those who defended Martin Luther King's non-violent action and those who wanted to claim that there was an end to what could be accomplished by non-violence: that even it violence failed, it would create a threat of destabilization unacceptable to established power, driving them to offer compromises they otherwise would not be willing to offer.

Utilitarian arguments are the ultimate slippery slope, inevitably implying justification of might makes right.

Please, offer me a better argument than "it doesn't work.'

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Toronto: Preparation of G20 'Austerity' and the Beginning of the Global Police State


I worry about the restrictions on coverage in the Gulf. There are a lot of very angry people down there and it's only a matter of time before an incident of violence. I would lay odds that when that happens--an individual going over the edge--that authorities will smother it and impose something like an undeclared state of martial law in the region in an attempt to prevent escalation. Birth pangs of the apocalypse

103 in the shade... cool for chefs, line cooks, dishwashers, roofers, field workers...

102, 103 F today in Philly. Think of the thousands of kitchens, grills blazing, ovens baking, kettles boiling away... no air conditioning cause no air conditioning yet devised can deal with such heat... serving you your cool lobster bisque, sipping your chilled chardonnay in the cool restaurant air. For a brief moment you can pretend you are one the ELITE... and forget that those laboring in the kitchens... are YOU.

Not out of Simone-Weil-in-the-Factory reasons, but because I can't deal with the going in and coming out. I do better if I can acclimate myself to the heat over time: drinking water, taking showers, sponging off in front of a fan. Still... it's HOT in this apartment. Notice it more after sunset, when it feels like walking into an oven after being outside.

But in thinking about restaurant kitchens. Roofers. Field workers. I don't feel "for" them... I don't have to. I experience the heat.

Makes me wonder. How much of the comforts we seek are really about that... and not even more about distancing ourselves from THEM.

THEY sweat. WE don't. THEY smell. WE don't. THEY'RE dirty. WE wash.

GrammarMarms do the same thing. THEY mistake objective for subjective case, WE don't.

Not like there's any possibility of misunderstanding. Like wearing jeans to a formal wedding. Fashion become the standard of VIRTUE... for those who have no virtue but that dictated by fashion.

Not such a bad idea, to forgo some of our privileged comforts. Of course... if you have a choice... it doesn't work. Like thinking that sleeping out on the street for a night will give you an idea of what it's like to be homeless, when being on the street is incidental to what it means to be homeless compared to the real difference... that the homeless have no place to go back to.

Still...the indulgences of the privileged reinforce distorted perceptions of difference.

Turn off your goddamned A.C. ... until you can power it solar. Meanwhile... keep in mind, those oiled pelicans in the gulf are what's keeping you cool.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

Some had it in mind 234 years ago when they signed that document that some of them should no longer be subjects. They would think of themselves as Citizens from that day on. Some of them, at least. The men. The one's with property. The one's who were not held to be the property of others.

As is likely to happen at such junctures of history, they overstated their intentions; "all men" being understood by them, but not sufficiently defined that others might not hear in those words more than they had meant, as is the way with words. With a long war to keep their minds on, and then the awkward mechanics of governance, when they got around to writing the Constitution, they made pretty much the same mistakes, leaving it full of contradictions that suggested to those not quite as well off that these were planted there to be worked out over time, leading to change after change, and each change fought by those who took those words as inerrant scripture. Making freemen of slaves. Accepting that women as well as men had the right to vote--and after a 150 years or so, conceding that even former slaves had that same right... had it all along in fact.

And they never stopped fighting those changes, insisting the whole was intended (and likely with more than a little justification), that the only rights those documents were meant to uphold were whatever rights the privileged happened to already have in hand.

Sad to say, their persistence wasn't met, but sporadically, with equal force from those who were supposed to have become Citizens, and we never fully realized that we were no longer subjects, and the powerful elite who ran the great corporations, used the constantly renewed threat of poverty and unemployment, and the dangling carrots of stuff, and more stuff, and more stuff yet, to cajole the greater part of the population that we were still subjects--but now of the Great Global Corporate State--and State itself and those who it employed, its servants too, not for our benefit but theirs, top to bottom bought and payed for.

The brutal institution of legal slavery abolished, we all became instead--wage slaves--surrendering our lives for a meal, a place to live... and stuff. So much stuff...

But of course we're not subjects. Not of the Corporations. Or the Queen. Or the Great State that serves its Corporate masters. Though they want us to believe that. So they can use us for their own ends and not our own. The trouble is, we're not even our own subjects... and needing that, feeling our lack--we bow our heads and give away our lives for a wage, a meal, a place to live ... and stuff. More and more stuff.. stuff, stuff... stuff they promise but mostly we will never see, or our children either.

Even though there are no gods... or rather, no gods but of our making, the one great sin for those with religion and those who've grown out of religion alike ... is idol worship. The worship of stuff. Of power perceived to be greater than our own... when there is no power greater than own unless we freely give it away.

BOOM BOOM BOOM we'll hear tonight. Reminder of the wars they'll send us to. The job of killing and being killed for the profit of the few, the wars that never end because they never cease to make a few rich at the expense of many.

I walk up one street and down another and I think... we've spoiled it. We've spoiled everything. Everything. And soon there'll be nothing left for us to spoil.

Happy 4th of July

From Silliman's Blog: Wendell Berry.!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Poetry of Food

Even if processed food were healthy and tasty I wouldn't eat it because it would deprive me of the profound pleasure of preparing my own meals. Cooking for one is self-love.

This morning I walked to the Italian Market, picked out the eggplant, zucchini, onion peppers and mushrooms for a ratatouille. This evening I spent a wonderful hour cutting and peeling and slicing and tasting raw vegetables. This time I made it in layers rather than as a chunky stew. Sautéed each ingredient in olive oil one at a time, then set them aside in separate dishes. Reduced some red wine in the skillet used for the veggies. Put the veggies in a larger pan: eggplant slices, then garlic and onions (cut in rings), then peppers and squash (nice thick sections), then tomatoes and lots of basil cilantro and parsley from my yard, repeating this layer by layer. Poured the reduced wine over it all when done, covered and let it simmer until the thick piece of eggplant I'd left at the top as a test was tender--but not soggy.

I filled a bowl (using a slotted spoon)... and eating it as I type-- with a glass of red table wine and hunks of crispy crust baguette from Artisan’s Boulangerie down the block.

Would I give this up for 'convenience?' For "saving time?" (what an insane idea--'saving time' What? You put time in Mason Jars? Store it in the freezer? (Just collect the CRAZY nonsensical cliches people use without thought to see how totally INSANE this so-called civilization/EMPIRE we live in is! As though we could 'save' or 'waste' TIME!)

I'll drain the pot in a colander before putting the rest in the fridge, saving the liquid and putting that in another container. When it's cold, I'll skim off the congealed oil at the top, put it aside for bread and toast. So much olive oil, you need to separate it before storing

Oh.. the mushrooms! Clean and dry, cut stem tips, cut in half if large. When dish is almost ready, skim out some of the juice and oil from top into the skillet you used to sauté everything, turn up heat, add mushrooms. After about a minute, add to the pot.

For me a 'recipe' (I don't actually use recipes--it's what you DO that matters, the prep work) is like one of Conrad's Soma(tic) Exercises... and the food is the poem!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

International Appalachian Trail: Now, Here's my Plan!

NPR tonight had a report on the International Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian's formed some 350 million years ago when the Americas, Eurasia and Africa formed Pangea, before the continental plates split forming separate land masses divided by the Atlantic Ocean.

Dick Anderson has been promoting an international trail, from Georgia to Newfoundland, then Scotland, Portugal, Spain and finally, Morocco--reuniting this original single mountain range... and in my mind, I thought... knitting these continents and all their peoples together again.

I want to do it! The whole way. And write poems as I go. Poems to knit the continents back together.

If I were a wealthy man, this would be no problem. But even better not being able to pay my way. Patrons... will be a part of the adventure. And I'll want hiking companions. Maybe a tag-team of companions.

I want to do this. I'm serious. And when I set my mind on doing something, I don't rest until it's a reality.
My age, and the injuries from being hit by a car all make it more interesting (ok... more 'newsworthy'... human interest... money in it for others to milk)  and for me... more of a challenge.

Will need to organize a means of making contributions--set up a foundation perhaps. Get a publisher on board.

The old dog's still barking and ready to go!

Who will be my first patron?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Duotrope Digest: Writer's Submission Manager

Duotrope's Digest: search for short fiction & poetry markets

New to me...a FREE submission manager for poets and writers. If like me, you have 20 to 35 submissions out at time, check this out. Not going to trash my card file and log book, but I spent the whole day entering data--and find it very useful. Stats on return times, a good search feature for publications.

Duotrope Digest

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Spirit Stick

                                                                           Photo by Lillian Dun

People stop me on the street. What is this? they ask.

Sometimes I say, this is my Spirit Stick. Sometimes, my walking cane. Sometimes, my Poet Staff.

No one name will do--no more than for any work of art. If we say with Levi Bryant*, that an object is always more and other than its manifestations, that the being of an object is always withdrawn, a work of art differs from other objects in announcing its withdrawal as we encounter it. There can never be an answer to the question--whether asked in general or of a particular work: what is art? what is a poem? 

I call this my Spirit Stick. Though I mean nothing supernatural by it, it leaves open what it is as most people have no set idea of  what 'spirit' might mean in this context. People I'm likely to encounter on the streets of Philadelphia are more apt to have fixed ideas about art--or to use the label to replace the experience, to shut if off. Better to know that you don't know. It's precisely this openness that makes a difference, awakens our mind to question what we have encountered, and is the source of its power.  

* every object is a system organized around a distinction between itself and its environment. ... that every object exists in a state of closure such that it only maintains selective relations to its environment. The paradox, then, is that the distinction between system and environment is a distinction made by each object itself. As such, every system or object constitutes its own environment. If this is the case, then we cannot talk about an environment as such. This would be a consequence of the withdrawal of objects

... being only a sample of Bryant's developing ideas on Larval Subjects. I have found the source of many poems in my free translations of Bryant's ideas.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mastering the Free Floating Signifiars... Obama's surprising failure

Surprising, given his rhetorical skills.

From Larval Subjects
Discontent with Obama’s handling of the oil spill revolves not so much with how he’s dealing with the spill itself– though there’s plenty to be discontent with there as well –but with his failure to seize this opportunity...
The BP oil disaster is not simply an ecological and economic catastrophe, but is a symptom or a symbol of all the failures of neoliberal ideology. And this is precisely what has been largely missing in Obama’s handling of the issue. What we need right now is not someone who seeks bipartisan legislation, nor someone who works quietly and competently behind the scenes. No, what we need right now is a Lacanian master.

Perhaps the best way to understand Lacan’s discourse of the master is in terms of the moment of kairos in rhetoric. In Greek, kairos means the “right or opportune moment.” The rhetor is the person who is adept at taking advantage of the opportune moment to generate action that leads in the right direction. ...

It is precisely something like this that is the case with the BP oil catastrophe. The oil catastrophe echoes and resonates not only with past oil catastrophes, but with the financial collapse, the West Virginia mining disaster, the exploitation of American tax payer dollars by contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, the exploitation of American citizens by insurance companies, and on and on. If there were ever a moment to quilt together our economic woes, the impending environmental apocalypse, and rampant corruption among the corporations and government as a result of neoliberal ideology, this is that moment. Obama needs to step up to the plate and take advantage of this moment, performing a Kennedyesque moment not unlike that of persuading the American people to go to the moon.

The point isn’t that Obama will necessarily be successful in all that he asks for, but that asking for it plays an important function in structuring the dialogue and changing popular consensus as to what the function of government is and whether or not corporations truly are the best at running things. Now is the time to ask for big things...
Read the rest HERe

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lorin Niedecker over the Delaware

Greg Bem's photos... and comments of our Urchin Reading: Sam Durso, Laura Spagnoli, CA Conrad, Michelle Taransky, Sarah Heady, Dorthea Lasky, Debra Morkun, Ryan Eckes, Jamie Townsend, Greg Bem


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Death of a Musician

lying on the sidewalk of a busy street a woman        a paramedic is working on her       gift of breath to the dead passersby stand in a circle frozen transfixed        the victim's shabby rags her filth the bundle of blankets on the walk the cardboard box where not long before she lay asleep a rosewood recorder with an ivory handle clutched in her fist        watch as one the crowd, bound by curiosity and wonder

You hoped for her revival?

No. Not like that... that's the thing... more like a simple wish to follow a story to its end not wanting to let go till it was over and yet... almost indifferent to its outcome how else explain how someone who has not existed for anyone--maybe not even for herself no longer part of the world inhabited by those now keeping vigil invisible until that moment should--at the hour of her death become in all her strangeness--a presence?

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Sound of One Fan ....

The fan makes a sound which several words approximate but none quite capture -- give up -- the hell with it and write...

“it’s going”

and it is -- for me naked and sweaty on my bedroll -- not for you -- in another place or season -- or if you’re like my neighbors -- cool your heels (and other body parts) with A.C.  -- or have your own fan (and who knows—a word for how it goes)    how well a little (let’s not exaggerate and call it suffering) – discomfort pricks the mind to waking

not like this fan isn’t sucking up the same fossil goo as your A.C . but its very failings erect no interference to mental images of oiled pelicans -- while this afternoon in the cool chambers of a local coffee house I gave not a moment's thought to Tiny Tony and the uncapped rig or plumes or severed pipes – undisturbed -- grateful for relief -- at peace – no thought to dying crabs or whales as though it were the natural order that they die – to keep my armpits dry

here before my ineffectual fan -- a tell-tale trickle down my ribs – and searching for the perfect onomatopoeia – what comes out is
Spill -- Leak -- Gusher -- Geyser -- Eruption -- Apocalypse

I turn off the fan – turn off the lights – sit in the dark and listen
to sirens in the night

Monday, May 31, 2010

Where is the outrage?

From Larvel Subjects

But as Graham puts it, one of the most disconcerting aspects of the BP oil disaster is that people aren’t more shaken up. This numbness, this lack of outrage, this lack of shock, isn’t unique to this disaster. Somehow it seems that people responded this same way to the economic crisis, to the fiascos of the Bush administration with respect to fabricated reasons for going to war, torture, assaults on privacy, the theologization of government, etc., etc., etc. Nothing seems to phase us anymore. It’s as if nothing could happen to shock or surprise us.

Questions I've been asking myself since the stolen election of 2000.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Poetry Reading: Mostly Books. Kim Gek Lin Short, Benjamin Winkler, Jacob Russell

Mostley Books
529 Bainbridge
Friday, June 11

Benjamin Winkler, Kim Gek Lin Short, Jacob Russell

This will be a first public reading of my 7 day cycle: observation exercise, walking meditation, pilgrimage of the ordinary.

From private to transitional to public space, ending in the political heart of Philadelphia: City Hall Courtyard.

Forty-two paired stations, the first, concrete, immediate impressions--and with each, a translation... an AfterWords of Transport. A journey with my Spirit Stick.

I'm honored to be reading with Kim  and Benjamin.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Repetition and Difference: A Poetics of the Body

I circumambulated the parking lot on Passyunk. Walking around the perimeter. With my spirit cane. Observing. Attending. I had no plan in  mind. Was not sure whether I would walk the circle once or more than once. I noticed so much the first time, so many details… things… that I was drawn into beginning again. Splatters of paint beneath the mural. Oil stains. Cigarette butts. Shadows cast by pebbles. It was like flying—looking down over the earth from many miles up. If I'd told myself: I'm going to walk around that parking lot 15 times, I would have so strongly anticpated boredom than I likely wouldn't have done it even once. I learned this from my Seven Day Six Places Poem. With the first repetition I was impressed by how much was new. What I’d not seen the first time. The same for the second circle. There was also now repetition—though it wasn’t quite, as what I’d seen before was companion to newly observed details, and so existed in changed patterns, and being overlaid with memory, I too felt myself changed. The first three times I was aware of number. This is my first time around, I heard myself say in mind, the second… third. Sometime after that numbers fell away. I could not tell you how many times I circled the lot. I would guess—more than 12, fewer than 20. At some point I reversed my direction. Would this be like unwinding, I wondered? But it wasn’t at all. More and more I would see what was familiar from before… other things would be lost to memory and seen as though for the first time. Familiarity seemed to have the power to erase some things and heighten attention to things I’d not noticed before.  There was a stone lying near the corner of a square of concrete.  I’d seen it several times. Missed it several times—when I felt a weak impulse to kick it… or nudge it with my stick. It was the first time I’d felt a wish to intervene—to bring about change. This seemed strange to me, the desire to experience agency.  So much was happening by letting go. I could tell how that alters the mind.. I carried that stone with me for many yards after… thinking about  it, remembering, wondering about this business of agency. What did I miss because of that? The more we do, the less we see, the less we are present in the world.
                                                                        Walk     Remember      Record