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?