From Something Solid: The Wilderness Sequence



The routine social maintenance of our domain—
another drunken night at McGlinchey’s, eyes & ears
to the ground as usual, broken then only by your
arrival. It must’ve been Nick who met you first,
I don’t remember, but I saw you were fixated on
him. Hannah: novelist, politico, of course, but looks which
teetered ambiguously into divisiveness for those
who knew you— heavy brows, wavy hair, tall, a bit
tomboyish, also, but articulate, a charmer, & yet I
registered the sense that if I ever got you, it would
be something gratuitous, a surprise, because closed
seemed to be the fortress, & choosing Nick seemed
to betray a masochistic streak. That night, his front
swelled visibly with your arrival— I stepped back.

You were, must’ve been, I later realized, underwater
somehow, surveying currents, examining the wildlife,
surreptitiously & invisibly carving a watery path to me.
I had only what the male of the species always has—
the equipment to complete your circuitry, potent or
impotent in any time or context, waiting latent to
take our moment, make it crescendo through the reef,
weed, rock, as though destined, written into ocean’s
records an eternity ago, when all life dwelt in the ocean,
all encounters occurred in resplendent semi-darkness.
And all this still sitting with the gang at the Glinch,
holding your own with a bunch of macho punks, who
were taking something in Philadelphia by force, me
selected silently, the tomboy an Ocean Queen, crowned—


I’d made plans to meet you in Bar Noir
on 18th; you were there; we drank. What
happened after that, in the Logan Square
flat, is that in defrocking you knocked over
an antique lamp bequeathed to me by my
aunt in Mahopac. Serendipity, I thought,
stunned then into silence by your bedroom
élan. Outside, a sultry night simmered; this
night of all nights, scattered green glass littered
my bedroom floor, & I finally got taken, past
liquor, to what eternity was only in your mouth—
as though you’d jumped from a forest scene
ferns, redwoods), a world of pagan magic,
into a scene still undulant with possibilities

Of all possible resolutions, I remained innocent,
transfixed by your sexual power. I naively hoped
we’d hook up again, bolstered by soul material
which took you seriously as sister & lover. As I
unveiled the public highlight of our Mid-Aughts
run (actual press attention, significant amounts of
money involved), I was undone that you’d already
latched onto another, not against any grains of
what we’d established, which was just cacophonous
frenzy, heavenly but inchoate, but still painful as I
swam some very worldly waters, sleazed & slimed.
Was it even you anymore? You took the podium,
began your screed: here’s what Philadelphia could be.
For me, we’d already realized an ideal Philly, limpidly
set as an expression of the ecstatic, in an enchanted
grove in Logan Square. The night proceeded from
act to act— our enemies were taken aback— I now
had an economy of big-boy curating entanglements.
I knew that place— the wrong kind of underwater,
piranhas hungrily looking for what might be real to
tear it to shreds, offal everywhere— was not for me,
just as (to be stern) you were not for me either. All
the politico moves were about barnstorming fortresses
set against you, ravishing them through pure force
majeure. You were pure angel/demon, Hannah. I’d
have to retreat to the back of your consciousness— an
old conquest, not especially vaunted, burrowing down
into holes to find reality, missing the beauty of unreality’s dance—



Hannah Miller



Hannah Miller was an important social presence for the Philly Free School in the mid-Aughts. Hailing from the West Coast (So-Cal), she split her time then between books & politics; and she was devoted to a liberal socio-political vision of Philadelphia that Mike, Jeremy, Nick & I approved of. 

Among other new appearances of Hannah online, in & around Philly Free School, Poetry Incarnation '05, & the Highwire Gallery, Hannah appears in the Something Solid sonnet Undulant, which I can be heard reading here, and is also featured in the new Monday Journal.


From Something Solid: The E Sequence (Ecstasy)

 The Painter

The compact red book I ran around with:
Crowley’s Book of the Law. I was goaded
into knowledge that a reckoning was at hand.
An archetypal Goddess had manifested as
a tactile reality in my life. An image had been
seared into my mind; a painting called The Vessel;
it was hers, & yet I was a married man. The only
path forward that tempestuous autumn of ‘01 was to
cheat. The book laid down a gauntlet of what
it meant to act in the world with a genuine sense
of destiny; to be a man who had the mettle to be
a real force of nature. She knew, my wife, that I
had been possessed, & that winds were blowing
me in a new direction, towards the forbidden.

I had, it seemed to me, no choice. The night I
spent with the painter, in a studio in PAFA, I
discovered what it meant to have a hinge to
true will about matters of the heart. She kept
paintings there, of Dionysus & Apollo, & she
would make me a myth, too. We shared red
wine that had the effect of being blood between
us; our chalice was the air, the sound of water
pipes late at night in an old building, darkened
corridors meant to hold only us, bathrooms
which could be used as portal-ways into starry
worlds. As I gathered steam, I felt the book
hover in the air as well, a piece of text writ in
boiling blood, pummeling towards spring.

The Studio

 The vista which then opened was one I never
could’ve anticipated in the Nineties— the PAFA
campus was set as a series of jeweled buildings
smack in the center of Center City Philadelphia,
a few blocks from City Hall. Mary was then still
in enough good standing to maintain her own
studio on campus. I had to sign in as a guest on
the ground floor every time I visited. The room
was a large rectangle, & the elongated back wall
was one big window, looking out on the western
progression of Cherry Street, towards Broad. Until
Mary & Abby, I had no fixed notions of painting;
now, I dived in with the frisson of one let loose in
a wonderland. Everything about Mary was magical
to me, & the canvases arrayed around the studio,
largely male nudes, recumbent or not, plugged into
Mary’s fascination with classical mythology, & made
a case for Mary as a Don Juana, a seducer of men.
Heady stuff, & often Mary’s tales were about men
who had posed for her. Vertiginous, but I was on
the verge, nonetheless, of a full-on love affair, maybe
marriage, to a women powerful enough to be called
a Creatrix, a female goddess in the world, & I knew
it. Sleeping with Mary meant something it never could
with others; rather than a mere palliative, if you could
get her to put out in the studio, you were plugging into
a mythological web, glistening & intricate, stitching
yourself, possibly, into history, & the come was in color

Riot Grrrl
Prize partridge around Media, Mary was also a bad
seed or rebel par excellence. She doped & fucked her
way in divergent directions; got dropped into hospitals;
rode with her assumed husband on a motorbike;
in the parlance of the times, granting complete credulity
to her tales, a wilder riot grrrl never drew breath.
What mattered to me was whether I had her or not.
This remained variable, as Abby also appeared, & both
of us caught viable action on the side. One night
she arrived by cab to Logan Square, in frilly dress,
hair in a bun. I grabbed her & fucked her on the floor,
& that (somehow) was it— marriage consummated. Even if Mary
never really got tired of moaning about my drug
shortages— Klonopins, Ritalin. Couldn’t love be enough?
The only one who ever drove me into delirium fits
with jealousy, Mary was. She was adept at being
a little lost sheep, for anyone (curator or not) to salvage
& rescue, if I had displeased her even for a night.
The only one who ever made me weep from pure
obsessive anguish, so that so much of my life became
dramatic, I might as well have been back with the Outlaw
Playwrights. I knew now how to evaluate compositions,
the quirks of colorations, what the Renaissance taught
us about body-soul unity; more importantly, for me, I
knew what body-soul unity meant when an individual
falls in love. I cannot say, the only one I was ever in
love with; but the deepest sense ever was, of love running
in red blood through my veins, out of my pores, into her.


 Maybe its because October nights on the East
Coast can still be sultry; it was still reasonably
early, 10:30; us three in our usual semi-stupefied
lethargy got a rush of energy, decided to take a walk
over to Fresh Grocer at 40th & Walnut, get some
grub, often in short supply at 4325. I got French bread,
Mary got vegetables for stir fry, for Abby too, &
as we walked home what awaited us was little
we didn’t want. We were too stoned to be self-
consciously anything, but you can bet we were
stared at, with our symmetrical features, sculpted
cheekbones, & yet West Philly had glitter all over it
because everybody hit the street simultaneously,
we walked, levitated with everyone, & everyone levitated with us—
the house party a few nights later was beyond
levitational. Every young painter in Philly crowded
into the lived-in, yellow lit kitchen to do whiskey
shots, & drove a bunch of points home about how
the city was now working together, firing off on all
cylinders at once, even as Mary abstained, as usual,
from alcohol, which took her nervous system & trashed
it. The painters were obliging about the poet’s participation,
as laughter ricocheted into the grassy backyard area,
with its rusty fence, small concrete plots, placing us
in a city space with real green in it, even as trees
began to yellow, & as the warm weather held.
When the door to Mary’s room shut an hour later,
we took the starlight in with us, painted & owned it.

Live Forever
We had it then— not just the embedded depth
of soul love, but glamour right on the ground,
as the formation formed by which Mary & I spent
all of our nights together. Our route— West
Philly to Logan Square & back— took two
disparate locales, made them whole, out of
a sense that they were meant to be wed, just
as we were; Logan Square with its sleek, modish
urbanity, West Philly with its rusticity, climbing
ivy, plus the obvious inversion of a well-worn
media cliché against it. By New Years Eve, 2003,
there was so much gaiety in the air, we’d pierced
a hole in the obdurate, obtrusive surface of human
life, to find ourselves in a tropical paradise—
I relate to it, now, as a clear demonstration that
Heaven on Earth happens. In Abby, we had a soul
sister; in the large co-op twin on Baltimore Ave.,
a safe haven; my flat in Logan Square created
a different, representatively recent kind of stage;
all were playgrounds where the dope, pills, every
thing else was shared by all, as all of our bodies
were for each other & no one else. The profound
ecstasy of that New Years was that a bunch of
artistic misfits found ways & means of being
completely at home in the world, against constraints
that needn’t have been there, with a serene sense
of what it might mean to live forever. We were
right, then & there, to be who we were, & we knew it



From Something Solid on PennSound

 A big chunk of Something Solid is now up on my PennSound author page. Many thanks to the PennSound crew. 


Sutcliffe Park: Conshohocken, Pa, 2022



Gun and Knife (after John Tranter)


“Please, please, I’m begging you—
don’t do it at 3 am, when
I'm sleeping, but rather at
high noon, in a public square,
so that everyone can see a
thousand rosy rivulets run
like waterfalls away from
my innards. A sawed-off
shotgun, please, fed to me
like cornbread, what I know
is really best, no need for
a spoon, just shove it in.
Then, when my brain dots
& streaks several unready
awnings, the knife, have it
be long, terrible as angels
dancing & as merciless,
plunge it, deeper, deeper,
so that I feel my aorta
being severed, really feel
it, how shockingly irrevocable,
just like that, so that literal
nothingness becomes my
only reality, which it already
is, which is why I’m begging
you, please, please.”  


A-Nunymous Nude #3



E-Chap: Major Odes: Funtime Press: 2022


Tilt Shift: #s 3, 4



Fantasy: #s 2, 3




Montreal Impasto #3



A-Nunymous Nude #2



Fracas #2 (post-Impressionistic)



Green Tones #4



Green Tones