On the river's bank, boat-legions rolled
in search of commerce, bridges to build;
souls, cargo (heavy, light), bought & sold,
coffers waiting in Philly to be filled.
Ladies stepped gingerly onto green banks,
white satin, black lace, versed in politesse or no-
patterns walked, insignias inscribed into air-
young ones, underlings already in their ranks,
sought to make the landing show-offy, slow,
down a hundred yards from a drunken fair.
Add a century, an Expressway looms over
the murk- wave-sounds, squeals, & metal-
which the Schuylkill cannot answer, hovering
under- slow-moving, patient, & settled.
The river's mind is settled- the human race
churns around it restlessly, adding bodies
shorn of dignity, bloated, pulp-bloody, blue,
having carried burdens the river never dreams
of, emptiness so incorrigible the Schuylkill's face
registers nothing but limp waves- tender, true.
The Keats-brain, peering in, questioning, elevates
the Schuylkill's mystery into frozen heat-
truth & beauty all in the browning, decay, fate
of all water-bodies subject to our meat-
I sit on the edge, watching overhanging leaves,
frozen myself by the gross negligence
of what lies beneath the river's surface,
& my own, as the summer sun inverts, grieves
for the masses, exploring no penitence
as I am, grounded, here, diving for purpose-
Anyone who's lived in Philadelphia for more than a few years knows the Smitten European Syndrome. On one's travels in Philly, periodically one will run into European folk, who passionately vow for Philadelphia against all the other American cities: for class, style, distinction, and dignity. It's just something that happens. Much of the European hoopla around Philadelphia has to do with architecture: after all, what a city essentially amounts to is a collection of buildings. As a collection of buildings in the continental United States, Philadelphia is peerless. What the Philly Free School amounts to, is an extended attempt to transmute the grandiosity, stateliness, and gravitas of Philadelphia's architecture into a body of higher artistic work; why I called one of our key pdfs Our Architecture Did This To Us. All these facets of Philly, as a construct, point to one essential reality: Philadelphia is an adult city; a city about solidity, on and beneath the surface. For the continental United States to grow into an appropriate awareness of PFS, all the sectors of America which remain Babyland sectors (the press corps are the worst, and NYC, with its bold-facade-with-nothing-behind-it emptiness, runs a close second) will have to grow up. What I'm doing here now amounts to planting seeds, because wheels this extensive and ponderous can only turn slowly.
As per other Happenings Ten Years Time Ago: on July 6, 2007, I read with a bunch of Chicago poets at Kate the Great's bookstore in Andersonville, Chi-Town. We wound up doing three Philly Free School readings at Kate the Great's; the final one, in the summer of '08, capped off a trip on which I lectured at Loyola behind Opera Bufa. Illustrated here is a Loyola syllabus featuring the book. But, back to the main: I forgot to mention: Philadelphia and Chicago do share many key issues. Chicago's image problem is a hinge to Philadelphia's: that to make Chi-Town simple is a fool's game. Down to rich Chicago suburbs appearing in 80s movies with which we learned our moves as kids (Bueller? Bueller?).
P.S. The class I lectured to at Loyola included poetess Stacy Blair.
Philadelphia is a city with an image problem. To make a long story short: Philly is impossible to nutshell. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: if Philly has a sun sign, it is certainly Gemini. Geminis do, often, have image problems: they tend to be too complex, too all over the place, to make easy summary possible. The press are wankers and adolescents and need their soundbites, and other cities come through just fine (at least on the surface): DC is the government, LA is Hollywood, Vegas is casinos, Frisco is queers and queerness, Nawlins is alcohol, the Florida cities are the Florida Lifestyle, the Texas cities are the Texas Lifestyle, Seattle went from Nothing to Grunge to Nothing Again, Pittsburgh/Cleveland/Detroit are junk/trash, and the funniest, for those who observe the tactile realities of the United States beneath the surface, is NYC as the power center of everything. Philadelphia is just too complicated, too ornate, as its architecture is, to do the sound bite routine. So you will encounter anomalies: Garrison Keillor, avant-garde hipster extraordinaire, on the Prairie Home Companion, confidently summarizes Philadelphia as a "working class city." On the other hand, a movie like 2009's Dare, which amounts to a staging of Less Than Zero in the rich Philadelphia 'burbs, emphasizes all the Easton-Ellis paradigm insignias of too much too soon, from queerness to sex/drugs/alcohol/money.
Indeed, what Dare actually is, is a meta-movie, staging something daring: accurate reportage of what the Philly 'burbs really add up to, beneath the surface. And, as the movie unfolds, the sturm und drang around putting the pedal to the proverbial metal towards an apotheosis of affluent, wasted youth, brings to the surface yet another Philly complexity; the kinds of kids and families who might hire Rocky Balboa as a plumber or maintenance man. They were there in 1976, too. You just didn't see them then.
Ten years ago today, on June 9, 2007, I stepped into the post office, on Chestnut Street between 20th and 21st Streets in Center City Philadelphia, to mail out the first copies of my Dusie chap Posit. A decade and many books and e-books later, it is interesting to reflect, on June 9, 2017, what it means to spend ten years publishing at or on high levels. What it brings to the surface, for me, is an awareness and an acknowledgment that we are living through a transitional time, where publishing is concerned. The splintered or splintering effect in publishing, created by the competing, not always commensurate demands of online life against print life, has created a sense of the whole enterprise as a whirling dervish highwire act. Posit, in 2007, was released as a print chapbook and an e-book simultaneously; Mark Young's journal Otoliths had that double-pronged effect going then, and still does. Beams came out as an e-book later in '07, and pirated print editions soon appeared on the market; while later books like Apparition Poems and Cheltenham were released in print without precise online counterparts. To make up that difference, I placed the pdfs on sites like Scribd and Internet Archive, where they have enjoyed some success. But the point, that the publishing imperative should, of necessity, become a double imperative by '17, is one which adds gravitas to a semi-Sisyphean conception or paradigm model of publishing, in which only the super-diligent and highly motivated might survive, and the idea of standing, confidently and suavely, behind print alone, is an antiquated one.
In fact, from '17 on out, it looks like in many ways online is winning, which I did not expect. The reason is simple: online offers a more pure, less riddled-with-corruption reading experience than print does. The paradigm which held sway in my mind for many years, of print and online holding commensurate weight and finding ways and means of balancing each other out, now in and of itself seems antiquated. Online, of course, cannot be completely utopic; the human race en masse are not capable of producing utopic contexts; but many of us at least do not feel, by '17, that we've stepped into a Rosemary's Baby-level Satanic orgy when we read online. Amazon is just that, an obvious, obviously corrupt jungle; as is the University library system in the United States. It is the province of rackets and racketeers; if you didn't think print books could kill, think again. The problem, for myself as a literary individual, is that I love print books. I adore them. Yet, if the integrity and the purity is online, that's where I'll be. When I stepped into the post office on Chestnut Street ten years ago today, many poetry voices were still dismissive of online as a viable context for poetry; I had no idea then, that so many of these were racketeer voices. So, unbelievably, if you want to ride the publishing cutting edge in '17, you may have to admit that print can be expendable now. Preservation techniques have made online a suitable venue for Eternity, and the Eternity Sweepstakes; and print has become a fool's paradise's, at least part of the time, for clods and literary clod-ism.
High or serious art is usually considered the province of the big cities, here in the States. That's generally where the schools, the money, and the prestige are. Yet, as I get older, I can't not be curious as to how the Philly Free School will fare in other parts of the country, like the Bread Basket, or Dust Bowl, or Great Plains, or what have you. One of the most salient mysteries built into America, as a construct, is this large chunk of the country, comprised of small and mid-level towns and cities. What would a rural community see or not see in PFS? The way I imagine it, a small town hidden in the Bread Basket somewhere might have an intrigued response. In small towns and rural communities in general, the populace lead slower lives, and live to more advanced ages. Philly Free School art is meant to encourage contemplative duration; that is, is meant to be consumed, assimilated, and interpreted over long expanses of time. And slowly, piece by piece- not like the McDonald's, disposable version of haute culture espoused by New York. The idea is that if this particular population were to be drawn to, and drawn in by, the Philly Free School, it would be because our oeuvre radiates a certain kind of depth, of dimensions and mysteries which in and of themselves require slow, patient study, to yield the greatest receptive reward. I am attracted to the Bread Basket as an idea and an ideal in relation to us; the kind of audience who would be willing to dig beneath the surface of the paintings and books and stay there. Yet, I am no expert where Heartland mores and tastes are concerned. Who knows?
Envision yourself in a bath, in West
Philadelphia, high as a kite (pot, more),
& you may have a vision of her as pure,
like the America we dream of, like Doris
Day. She may only appear that way once.
Even in the course of the bath, where,
as you wouldn't guess, heaven and hell
loom right around the corner, not the
narrow but the wide way, & it seems like
eternal life, until she tightens her grasp,
you feel around for an exit, no dice,
& her eyes tell you You're gonna die... yes, you're gonna die, right now. Bang. Bang. Bang.
Two deities turn stone-white, hanged.
Yes, Steff. I fucking do. A weekly interactive event cud be made of it. And
is being made of it. Please, Steff, i thought better of you. My bad. I
don't even wanna tawk ti ye right now laaargh, you have deeply upset me.
I was trying to limit my eructions here and get off Kim's page so as
to let the vibe evolve without any oppressive asshole here like meself
making unpleasant scenes, but you just forced me into a very fucking
theatrical bit of drama kween shite now. Hope you are proud of yerself,
Steff, for making me lose it and shout obscenities at ye.
But that's just me. I am so fucking caring. I always do it, get taken advantage of by people I think better of than this.
has ruined my early evening this has. Why me? All the fucking time.
All i will say is that if you continue to read Waterford Whispers please defriend me
now. Go on, do it, de fucking friend me, like the last of the armchair
dudemanbrosistaz i do not cannot and will not have anything whatsoever
to do with at all in any capacity because shit happens when you have ten
thousand social media friends that are sent to try us and make us
better people. Anyone that reads or worse, enjoys reading the excrement
from these hateful people in Waterford that helped Putin get clown-face
into office ... nah, nah, sorry, you are either with us in the
Resistance or you are against the good people of the mega Resistance.
are not real satirists, them jealous bastards in Waterford, not like
me, who spent sixteen years studying the ancient texts before being able
to understand and name the poetic precepts found in the definitive
texts. One of which is the authoritative satire text on the matter in
the Book of Ballymote, that begins with a question obviously meant to be
asked out loud, and then answered, out loud, crooning: Cis lir fodla
aíre? ‘How many types of satire are there?'
Ní hansa. A trí .i. aisnés ocus ail ocus aircetal.
Not difficult, three i.e. declaration, insult, incantation’.
'Aisnés: declaration; a declaration in prose, reproach without rhyme.
Ail: Insult; verbal injury or derrogatory nickname which sticks, rhymed or not.
Aircetal: Incantation/verse. Divided into 10 varieties with several sub-varieties.
1. Mac Bronn; son of the womb, son of sorrow. This satire is told to only one person. (gossip)
dallbach: (blindness) An Inuendo. In this satire, the victim remains
anonymous while the deeds done or not done are explained in detail.
Further subdivided into three subtypes:
a: firmly established. Done when there is sufficient evidence for the poet to be able to prove the contention.
Focal i frithshuidiu: word in opposition. "A quatrain of praise and
therein is found a word on the verge of satire" That which looks like
praise but is actually derrogatory.
4. tar n-aire: outrage of satire. A reproach made through negative comparisons about the subject.
tar molta: outrage of praise.' Praise soooo overblown as it is
ridiculous or ironic. The praising of qualities that the subject
6.tamall aire: touch of praise.' Similar to tar n-aire but not as flamboyant.
7 tamal molta: Satire which praises the subject faintly. Merecer states
that this could be a praise poem that praises the subject about the
shine of his shoes.
8. Lanair. full satire. The name, family and residence of the victim are detailed in a very public way.
9. ainmedh: full blown sarcasm.
glam dicind: a religio magical ritual using public satire and
incantation against an unjust king.' It involved 30 clergy, 30 poets and
30 warriors and the spell being spoken just before dawn, by all seven
grades of bard, circling a thorn-bush on top of a hill that divided
territories, facing north, speaking their part of the satire into their
left hand, in which was held a rock and thorn, keeping the legs straight
and bending their back perpendicular up and down. Honest. Search online
and discover the truth of it.
assholes in Waterford haven't even read it and do not know it exists
and yet they claim to write satire, Steff? Really, Steff?
didn't quit my job in teaching Geography to underprivileged kids in the
Hamptons to go read the Waterford fucking Whispers, Steff.
did I stop working at Cantor FitzGerald two days a week advising hedge
fund managers, to become friends with or have anything to do with anyone
at all on the planet that does read this fake news that is just a lot
of self-indulgent overlong wanky trash masquerading as satire when it is
most definitely - you have my word as the foremost expert on it - not.
the qualified Satirist can judge. If I want to know about how to steal
and write meaningless and incredibly shit poetry under the banner of
conceptual performance art I'd go ask Kenny G. If I wanted to know about
occult practices that summon dangerous evil spirits I'd call Nance and
Hitlary. If i wanted the opinion of a trusted social-media friend I
would go to my private account and ask one of my family. And if I wanted
to know how to write fake news I wud go to WW and their boss Vladimir
Not just anyone can decide what Satire is
and isn't. Waterford Whispers is not, in my authoritative opinion as Eireland's most
beloved and professionally qualified English language fucking satirist
slash praise luvvie slash fucking slash fucking slash fucking fill in
the fucking blanks, Steff, and jus do az ye aaargh fucking told
Or that's it. There's no more 'we', no
more 'us', no more kewl beloved fucking warm kind understanding Mwoh the
cleverest most boastful most arrogant and most unpopular of Kim's
social-media friends, that came first in my Satire class, Steff, first in
my praise Class, Steff, first in my Love Language class and first in
every fucking thing at the online university whilst training for this
very important role of being here for you lot. Teaching all you lot, Steff, just what is and what is fucking not Satire.
are one fucking evil Dark Shadow-loving bad vibes vampire with terrible
taste in literature. Whatever the fuck are you reading WW for? I
thought better of you. You are skating on very thin fucking ice here
Post a selfie of you holding a card saying
'Very Sorry, I Am Not Worthy', please, Steff. Thank you. And with a
suitably contrite expression.
Don't care if you
have to fake it, Steff, but obviously prefer it if you are genuinely
sorry because that means you are starting to learn, understand what you
have done wrong and are beginning to recognize just what's at stake in
the coming months and how important it is we in the Resistance refute
with every breath in our bodies them horribly untalented bastards in
Waterford publishing this evil W.W. fake news that is totally out of
control and you and everyone else in the US just need to know that we do
have to stop them and Putin, Steff, we have to because there is no alternative to
stopping this fucking oppressive tyrant and his evil fake news minions doing the work of a divisive
ugly scary fearful world-ending dark side undermining US democracy.
are the world's last best hope, and as a lover of language and caring
individual I just need people like you and all the rest on the list here
to do exactly as you are told without any fucking dramas or any fucking
theatrics and certainly, no disloyalty whatsoever to the Resistance.
Or, as I used to tell the Hampton crowd, ye can just fuck right off. Gottit?
get out of my site and do as I say because we need to stop this
tyrant, and we need every hand on deck, every mind with mine, or the
world ends on 5th April 2020.
Do you want the world to end, Steff? Do you want little whatever the fuck wotsisname is to have no future, no life, fuck all, just because you were too fucking lazy and stupid to do as ye aargh fucking told?
Awh, WW Fake news.
The ice caps are melting and the world is going to end on 5th April
2020. That I know because I played with the tatwas in the House of the
Dead on Ushers fucking Quay, and burned some rose petals at a Spirit Dreaming
event in Washington fucking DC, and I asked the Great Yétaz, aka Yétaz the
Mighty, when was the end date of the End Time and this is the fucking answer I
To prepare for it I am starting a cult, with
very reasonable joining fees and annual rates for a daily update about
the end of the world.
Yétaz the Mighty also told me
directly by telepathy that we may be able to shift this date years down
the road, if I get enough gold and platinum star membership packages
sold in the first year of opening this sacred opportunity to join the
cult and sect of the favored ones that will be spared and ascend in the
VIP package Orb of Light Salvation Vehicle, shud Yétaz not change His
mind and decide that the only human beings being spared are me, someone
else, our mates, and paying members with the intelligence to purchase a
gold star plus or platinum package, with a special opening one time
offer of 20% off if you can answer this question correctly. What is
Yétaz the Mighty's favorite color?
What is Yétaz
the Mighty's favorite fucking color, Steff, hey, hey, c'mon, why don't ye
ask ye new mates at WW see if they can fucking tell ye all this shit
when they are not tossing theselvs off just so a deluded few hundred
thousand can laff at their sick jokes done in service of a Russian
dictator. Proud of yerself now are ye, hey, now you are a dictator
loving tool of Vladimir Putin?