To Joseph Conrad, after reading "Heart of Darkness"
If the spirit of universal
genius is meant to float
down the river into naught,
to be attenuated by the
jealous against authenticity,
& if it turns quotidian life into
an unworkable mess, as
universal genius attempts to
forge alliances above spheres
which must be minded on Earth,
& if it expresses itself to the crass,
& the crass is everyone, & Kurtz
understands the parasitism involved,
saturation in/by malevolence, then
I'm down the river, up forever-
There was a concert somewhere, I was
there with a college friend who wound
up betraying me, & I murdered the son
of a bitch with a shot-gun; they told
me I could get off scot-free if it was
only one murder, & as I sat in the
balcony trying not to notice a show
of cadavers onstage I angled my
behaviors so as not to offend them.
Next shot: I saw the dead man's life
pass in sequence before me, & he
was bound by a five-year contract to
die shortly anyway, which is probably
why they let me off, even as the cadavers
played invisible instruments into open air-
If you are a "people person," it is because you don't know who or what people are, yourself included.
Contrary to what Stein said, the rules are not already known.
Never revile what's solid beneath the surface.
When a society succeeds in destroying the individual, it also succeeds in rendering itself obsolescent. The individual is the agent of human progress (to the extent that human progress is possible), always.
The primordial perspective poetry sets in place- one individual writing to, for, or about another individual- is also the most durable possible literary perspective.
Pop World/Pop Church, when it happens, is a cruel phenomenon, because it is meant, from its inception, to be erased. The individual is not.
The masses are always implored to admire things that add up to nothing. They are also implored to reject what's solid beneath the surface. What's solid cannot be widely popular.
Yet solidity, is all its myriad forms, is the only ostensible reason for the continuation of the human race.
The individual is solid.
This contradiction; solidity being the only ostensible reason for the continuation of the human race, yet solidity being widely unpopular; strikes at the heart of any perception of the human race en masse other than almost-complete absurdity.
The masses chop things into place, and are chopped into place.
America is more variegated, less absurd, than most other human race locales.
By the most solid standards, the twentieth century was far quieter than the nineteenth. Most of the noise was on the surface, and easily erased. The twentieth century "school" was of quietude; surface-level spectacles now razed to zeroes, permanently.
The profound silence of the twentieth century may have been supposed to work as a riposte to Keats and English Romanticism, a solid apotheosis of the individual. Even Deconstruction is suspect on this level.
Neo-Romanticism was conceived, developed, and disseminated to be solid.
Much more so than other American cities, Philadelphia is solid.
Solidity is louder than what's on the surface. The twenty-first century has already consolidated a position as louder, more solid, than the twentieth.
Philadelphia architecture is solid. Even before Neo-Romanticism, it stood beneath the surface as a representation of Philadelphia's solidity over the rest of America.
The principle of solidity in serious art has to do with depth and well-roundedness; the sense, in the work of art, that all possible imperatives built into the respective form have been honored and fulfilled. Post-modernity has been one long denial of both the possibility and the desirability of solidity.
Post-modern poetry denies thematics, outright and wholesale. This is absurd. Poetry which addresses no important themes is placed into circulation to preclude seriousness and solidity from emerging in contemporary poetry, at any time this chooses to happen.
There is no reason to read poetry which addresses no important themes, or will only address important themes in a deliberately obfuscated fashion.
The distaste for solidity in serious art is degenerate; and evinces a hunger for art, and all other humanistic endeavors, to be reduced to zero-level beneath the surface.
Jeremy Eric Tenenbaum, ensconced
with a U of Arts semi-disciple, sees me
bust in with a brazen brunette, who
resembles me so closely she might
be my niece; we sit, begin to fight;
she decides she wants red wine;
Mary H is standing across Pine
Street, spying on us; we leave; Mary
follows us; Jeremy, as is his wont, can
only pine for the poems he wrote in
the 90s at Villanova, that he meant
something then; we get the red wine;
Mary positions herself caddy-corner
the liquor store window; we walk past-
Blonde locks jut out over the tops of pigtails,
bleached beach/sand color by the sun.
Time's short between this photograph and my regard.
Picture: no flower lays or shoes, just
young grass hips. She is, I am, we were,
very young. The entire page of this album
flanks history; under my mind, another helpless
time explosion. I was, we were, are,
naked newborns, as our little limbs on film.
VIEILLE FILLETTE NOCTURNE
6: 30 a.m. is when my heater keels over;
dried up somehow from the ice storm
which punctuated the night's prose on my
attic windows. This is where I live: the attic.
By 9 a.m. it's all slush, and my
furnace is hot and wet again. Cold
shower: I need one- present tense
of course. I will not stop moving
and wriggle a bit under covers,
twisting my body up in the blankets
like a fork in spaghetti. Three of them:
not forks, blankets. Three second-hand
covers collected and collect
hair and skin samples from their human
times: past, present, future.
Who knows how many have
come before me, but I'll burn
this when I'm done. Maybe then, I'll
As of the present moment, and the new pages in Otoliths and The Argotist, I've begun a new writing process/gambit: to compose with an acknowledged, conscious sense of mythology and mythologies, and of the mythologizing process; and to do so to facilitate awareness of what happened in Philadelphia (and a few other places) in the Aughts. Ten to fifteen years hindsight had better be enough, folks; and why wait for myths to be generated around you... why not put your nose to the old grindstone and do it yourself? Candor is important here, because the Aughts had an unblemished feeling about them of cohesiveness and integrity, and I do not want that to be lost. It's also revolutionary about the ascension of Aughts Philly and its cultural scene that, on a socio-cultural and socio-historic level, the good guys in American art, those who dared to put the art first and all the subterranean attendant crap second, found a way to win against the stooges, parasites, and floozies. The Philly Free School story, it turns out, is inherently a juicy one. Mythologies spun out from the Free School do not have to deal with the egg-headed professor syndrome, the spoiled rich brat syndrome, the mafia cartel consonant syndrome, or the hands-off puritanical syndrome. The rest of the sonnets from the first round of writing Something Solid are shot through with an awareness of/ fascination with dynamic individuals who dared to live a life with hands in many games, and tactile ones.
As if for the first time,
the long low sound of the water
and the train just beginning
to round the bend and blow
its way through the dark tunnel.
How many times I've sat here
in summer: considered the chicory,
drawn the blue bridge flung
from bank to bank, or wondered
the names of the red flowers,
their throats like trumpets.
How many times I've not
given in to the weeping:
I can almost see her- Mary- the one
who lifts the Potomac mud
to her face and smears,
as if it were a balm and not
the original problem,
or the one with the bucket of fish:
she should return them but that would mean
letting them slip, silver and whole,
finally cast out from her. I'd rather
let them wander in the waters,
cold and insistent and crying.
MY FAVORITE WORD IS RIVER
The lady maples dip their long green fingers into their own reflections.
And the train goes by twice, toot and toot.
The okra was so tall this year, ringed with crimson;
the Japanese beetles like scary mobile jewels. Imagine if her necklace walked...
(And ate holes in her thin skin, and had to be trapped
with sticky pheromone ooze.)
Is 2017 the year in which (almost) everything stopped dead? As Neptune continues its transit through time-warped, time-bending Pisces, we've reached a critical crux moment in the US about momentum, force, the surface and what's beneath, and the sense that the new century has scared the shit out of what's left of the last. I make no bones about an opinion which isn't going to change: most of the current media hoopla is about red herrings, red herring issues, red herring personalities. Beneath a surface which bristles with malign, childish vitriol, the issue is the same as it was five years ago: a Recession which won't leave, out of control inflation, liquidation of resources on both general and specific levels, and a society which seems incapable of running smoothly or cohesively in any direction. Neptune steps up to the plate and pushes everything to the bottom of the ocean: slime, grease, corpses, offal. Pisces energy is brilliant at the freeze-frame effect: there you are, passing through time without the comforting sense that time is moving forward. A bad LSD trip.
Yet, remember that Pisces and Scorpio are the two great magicians of the zodiac. Where Pisces goes, everything, even when seemingly frozen into place, is subtly, sometimes subconsciously shifting in new directions. Human consciousness, when it is most earnest, most truly human, is incapable of doing nothing. For those on a bottom-of-the-ocean kind of Neptune in Pisces trip, where I join you, sometimes, take comfort that the magic of the celestial fish is that through hitting the ocean's floor, you have pierced through to new levels of both honesty consonance and spiritual awareness. You are higher up than you seem to be.
For those of us who lived through the Aughts, writing and publishing on high levels, it must be clear: times is tough. The book junket routine many of us perfected in the Aughts involved a multi-pronged attack on literature dissemination, from any individual artist's manuscript on out: composition of manuscript, interspersed with submissions to print or online journals; readings and/or social appearances to create interest; publication of book, in print and/or online; and then reinforcement cycles of the same activities. The junket then was very rich: lots of flourishing journals and presses, lots of social action from scene to scene, city to city. In 2017, we notice that what was called The Great Recession five or six years ago never left, and, in fact, is continuing to plummet downwards, what with the outrageous cost of food, health insurance, and other living expenses (Obama did what to counter or even mention this?), so that book junkets, and the book writing process in general, have to suffer just like everything else. Capiche?
Here, I am, writing a manuscript of sonnets tentatively entitled Something Solid. I've had some new material appear in Otoliths 44 and in The Argotist Online, more to come in Helios Mss, maybe a few other places, but it stands to reason that I can't not notice another simple, irritating factoid: all the new poetry journals that have sprung up in the Teens (Ray Farr's I still count as Aughts, because it's Ray's) are formatted in the most revolting, most tacky possible taste, so that I can't even consider the idea of submitting to them. The imaginatively titled Posit is a key example, and there are dozens of others. The new journal scene is mostly paltry now. Which means that the bum's rush effect, whereby new material which passes muster is instantly passed on into submission land, is no longer in adherence at all. Now, if you have forty new poems, and if you place, say, fifteen of them, and then are stuck, there's really nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. If you're going to write the rest of your f-cking manuscript, you're going to have to bite the bullet and junk the junket.
So, you have recourse, possibly, to a more workmanlike approach. I place new sonnets here, on Art Recess 2, and make due with a lack of glamour and a surfeit of grit. Over a long period of time, waiting for the pot to boil again, poets have to decide what they're in this game for, why they're playing it. Without wanting to appear unduly sanctimonious, the more dedicated individuals, with the more passionate devotion to creative activity, are the ones most likely to survive the right way now, even as the recession continues to clear deck after deck and the idiots of the world offer up more red herrings. And I am, it turns out, forty poems into the new manuscript, and I am ready to be workmanlike when I need to be.
Ekphrasis: The Lost Twins: Abby Heller-Burnham/Adam Fieled
I place myself in the next room-
white-walled, high-ceiling'd, cavernous-
as the lost twins turn to face Abby,
in her own most vaunted masterpiece.
If I haven't seen them, they may leave
without attracting my notice. Yet I'll
never miss Abby, who both represents
and, as they well know, is them, & who
finds me irrelevant (as a male, a poet,
a clay figurine at such times in her
economy) as she paints, carrying David
like I carry Keats, & in fact those two
might get along famously, looking at
the inception of a new century, lost?
1819: as we follow Keats' brain around
London (blasted with senses that anything
he sees he could be seeing for the last
time), I like to think that all his own
prosody is mixed in with the security
of self-acknowledged Genius, continually
revealing itself to itself; yet his secret
Muse is, I imagine, a siren, like Psyche,
unlike Fanny; thwarted, Keats stakes
out places she may be, like the Gods
on the Grecian Urn, driven frantic by
female magnetism; drowsily numb but
not comfortably so; only skanky grease,
gutter-mud, preparing him to channel Heaven.
EXPERIMENTAL SPECULATIVE DISCOURSE. DO NOT READ DO NOT READ YOU FUCKING ME ME ME MEOH LAND MORE RUNS!!
Overheard in the social-media mind of a Fake U language luvvie speaking secret intelligence to the community culture and homeland Herself.
"Yeah, like we have to worry about Russia hacking European elections. Oh no, sorry that's the Obama CIA, as recent mass corporately censored news by Wikileaks prove.
And the German intelligence report from the seventh of this month that the US millions will not hear reported from the mass-media agents hysterically birthing a new Fakenews narrative in the immediate post-truth collapse of H.&C. straight after the election results, oh no no no no no, you will not know this real news from the mouths of the central anti-intellectual liabilities, Tapper and Cooper: that there is no evidence of Russian disinformation.
What we do know, as Russian Foreign Minster Lavrov reminded the audience in Munich earlier this week, and that you cannot read reported anywhere across the US Fakes news media operating under a true news blackout: the Americans with six, or is it eight hundred military bases across the world(?); did hack and tap Merkel's phone, and most other European leaders, spying on US 'allies', and with potus 44 only promising to stop after Europeans found out about it.
And, of course, it is considered no big deal and to be laughed at because as far as US liberal me me meers and more more Murkrons are concerned, the US of us has never left intellectual teenagehood, because when yohl hack and tap it magically doesn't count, matters not a jot, because ya'll have the minds of brainwashed children with infantile anti-intellectual standards that are totally antithetical and to the cornerstone US principles of free speech and democracy, and on show to the world in all the very very angry and divisive globally destabilizing Russia ate my homework belief in nonsense and 'fake news' invented by a handful of slimy anti-American globalist grifters to deflect from the anti-Americans in bed with the Russians lies and crime/s they committed when they sold the very same folk they are laughably failing to paint the commie reds they want the US millions to conceive as, those they sold 20% of US uranium to through a Canadian front bank; because the people lying to us demanding immediate banning and censorship of 'fake news' do not want to address in person and speak about the true news of the millions of dollars they received in 'donations' from the Russian beneficiaries of the sec of state's decision - to her fake 'charity', half a million for an hour of lies spoken by a predatory forty something serial philanderer that 'never had sexual relations with that' waffle; and all not declared, even though Her Majesty pwomised.
And revealed not by the intelligent and morally truth-loving upright US Facebook millions in the hawkish and outraged certainty of an ugly mass mob of clueless misled fact-free neo-liberal Facebook war-hawks claiming to be all about equality love tolerance and unity, furiously spewing hate and demanding change by clicking online for the removal from office for treason of a fresh intern and seventy year old orange faced apprentice and commandeer in chief.
More passionate about the crime of Caitlyn Jenner being turned away from the ladies at the Oscars, than the solitary cruelty meted out to a suicidal Chelsea Manning, avid lip-service luvvies more consumed with an irrelevant distraction of gender and identity rights than world peace and knowing the truth from the false notes in the music of what happens. No, these true stories and real news is not served up to the world by a handful of shallow Hollywood elites and their Fakestream media co-dependents, angrily lashing out now at the common silent conservative (with a small c) majority, lecturing us on everything from what they are wearing to world peace and pedophilia.
Standing up for a convicted pedophile when it is an elite film director, and viciously dismissing as a moral disgrace a victim of it if the victim is a young gay English libertarian firing up young conservative republicans with the politics of Free Speech and not much else that he spouses.
No, not these Reader, but one man caged in a small room, confined to a speck of this earth in a tiny bubble surrounded on all sides by the deepest most unsecretive corporate military industrial state, one sole voice from seven billion, imprisoned in cruel conditions, unable to leave in half a decade and more, all because of US foundation wreckers and grifters that just wanna drone, blow up and silence this one eight billionth part of humanity, without which none of this truth would be broadcast, because s/he is the only one brave enough to expose their espionage with Russia. And the very rats, as rats do, accusing the other side of the crimes they committed. You dirty rats, you dirty Democratic rats.
As a far more adult, intelligent, and sensible sounding European Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told us, and who a pathetically sad and tragic teenage-minded deep state telegenic Skull and Bonesman death-hawk, J.K., looks like a clueless child in comparison to; in Munich earlier this week":
The German (CIA hacking and tapping Merkel's phone) story was shown to be a fact. You know when it happened, several years ago. It was confirmed that top officials had had their phones tapped. And the other day there was a leak showing that the 2012 presidential election campaign in France coincided with cyber-espianage on the part of the CIA. And talking to a journalist today, a CIA representative said that he had no comments to offer. So I repeat: show us the facts.
I swung a loop from the warehouse
space back into the gallery itself-
throngs of hipsters milling around,
whiskey, wine disappearing from
the little island space situated near
windows picking up western sun-
light; night descended on Cherry
Street; an ambiance of anticipation.
When anything can happen in human
life, nothing usually does- spectacles
like this were exceptions. Avalon established
eye-contact; off we pranced to the stairwell-
Mike Land grinned lasciviously, as usual,
& polished off a beer he'd received gratis.