Chimes: 2024 edition


PICC on P.F.S. Post 2

 PICC (A Poet in Center City) #34 on P.F.S. Post.


PICC (A Poet in Center City) on Fieled's Miscellaneous

 More from PICC (A Poet in Center City) on Fieled's Miscellaneous: #14 and #62 and #16 and #2.


PICC (A Poet in Center City) on P.F.S. Post

 From PICC (A Poet in Center City) on P.F.S. Post: #s 18 and 44


Equations #45


Growing up with Emma, who had been in my class at CHS, wasn’t like growing up with Roberta. It wasn’t like anything. Emma, a lanky blonde with long, lank blonde hair, a chiseled, cat-like face, and long limbs, looked like a stunt double for Trish, and had been merely an acquaintance. She was quiet, and kept to herself. Her friends were among the geeks of the class. Why and how Emma knew to show up now, in the midst of all this turbulence with Trish, I have no idea, but she did. I laughed because she so resembled Trish, but I was also aroused. I liked the idea, past N and Roberta, of a real hook-up within my class, even ten years after the fact. She was there, at the Last Drop, on a succession of key summer days, in a sleeveless white blouse. After all these years, her cat-face grew on me as enchanting, compelling, suggestive of something her whole presence insinuated— she identified heavily with Trish, and had a female impulse to demarcate turf which could also be hers. Whether she’d been stalking us or just heard what was happening with us from the suburbs, I still don’t know. I knew she was commuting to Center City from somewhere. What she wanted was just one night with me, I later concluded. When, on the one late afternoon I made my way with her back to Logan Square, we were ensconced, she took out a bottle of Robitussin as though it were an aperitif, and she were Trixie Belle. She wanted, as she said, a Robo-trip. It was part of the magic of that night that Emma wound up encapsulating for me so many different partners at once, including partners merely being anticipated. I found it easy to begin making love to her, because she made it easy. Her equation was interesting, about female levels of awareness— everything about her physiology screamed, you always wanted me the most, but you just didn’t know it. You’re a man— you don’t know these things. I have delivered myself to you because you need me now, and I need you. Now you may begin to learn who you are. And we made love with great fluidity and rapidity, and then we made love again. Her fluidity was like Heather’s would be, and the sense of being lulled into a trance of perpetual, high-intensity intercourse, on the bed, then on the living room floor, on the couch in the living room, from the front, from the back, was like Jena. We each gave the other a show-stopping performance, manifesting (as was odd, and as I was not too dumb and callow to notice) an inversion of our years of starving for each other. The absolute ecstasy of several mutual orgasms was the tactile insignia, as it might’ve been with Roberta and N, of an eternity of denial overcome. This, even as what was built into us both had been noticed only by her. Why, in sex equations, women usually hold the cards: women are receptive to sensory data on a deeper level than men, and have a primordial understanding of physiology, of bodies and more bodies, which men do not. When bodies speak, women listen more. Emma and I shared a home, but only she registered what our bodies shared, what was in them. When Trish showed up, it was a red flag from nature that it would be Emma’s time to show up too. Even if it proved to be the cosmic design that after one night, I would never see Emma again.



Equations #25 in Argotist Online Poetry

 Equations #25 in Argotist Online Poetry. Many thanks to Jeffrey Side.


Equations on

 Equations: The Thesis Episodes on

Equations: The Jade Episodes on Peace out.


Equations #39


That first spring I spent in State College, Hope swept hopelessly away from my friends and I as a siren. With her pitch black hair, dark eye make-up, Cure shirts, she embodied the mystery of the Gothic, which was a countercultural subtext in the Nineties about outsider-ism, what it meant to subsist as a freak in the world. I didn’t know what she would be like up close— as of August, and the fall semester starting, the dimensional angle hit me as hard as Hope did, who was not taking no for an answer, with any of us. The attitude, once you gained access to her room, was as pure Don Juana as it could be. When she, frankly, pulled off her panties and offered me her crotch, the heat of it made me swoon, so that I could only half-function. She was too bold, too blunt. All of her was fiercely dark, and the fade into her was to cleave to the darkness. Yet, the tactile thing, about lovemaking and sex and the right kinds of delicacy and the right blend or savior faire towards mixing seductiveness, aggression, and restraint, was beyond her. Hope wanted sex to manifest as a Gothic ideal, a stand taken for burrowing into each other’s permanent, corrosive darkness. What two bodies are actually supposed to do to make sex a something pleasurable, was not a relevant reality, when all that black eyeliner spoke more. All of which meant that sex here fell down, past her sharp jaw-line, bulging eyes, and exotically wrought face, into a way of demonstrating rebellion, obstinacy against the normative, but also awkwardness between two bodies hardening and softening in and out of harmony with each other, with their own nudity, and with an attitude too militant, too fierce. I learned that, movies and other cultural talisman objects aside, real sex requires real tenderness, for men as well as women, and when tenderness goes missing, so, generally, does ecstasy.


Equations: The Thesis Episodes on PennSound

Equations: The Thesis Episodes on PennSound. Many thanks to the PennSound crew.

P.S. The Jade Episodes, also on PennSound, completes the book. Cheers. 


Equations #37 in Otoliths (70)

 Equations #37, from the 2023 edition of Equations, in Otoliths 70. Many thanks to Mark Young.

Here is Otoliths 70 in its entirety. And in print.


New Poem in Otoliths (69)



 Cabinet, the concluding double sonnet in the Aughts Philly section of Something Solid, in Otoliths 69. Many thanks to Mark Young. 

Here is Otoliths 69 in its entirety. And in print.

Equations #26 in Argotist Online Poetry


 Equations #26, one added to the book in 2023, in Argotist Online Poetry. Thanks to Jeff Side. 


Letters to Dead Masters

 A new way to read the epistolary novella


Chimes (Francais)


Metaphysics of the Double Sonnet

The metaphysics of the fourteen line sonnet are not particularly complex ones. Beneath the structural surface of meter, and prosody in general, the fourteen line sonnet both embodies, and is, a wave on the ocean, and a manifestation of a wave-on-the-ocean dynamic. An impulsive complex in the poet’s brain, mostly made of affective rather than intellectual material, coalesces to hurl itself into brief gestalt shape, as it crashes down in the produced little song. A sonnet sequence, like Astrophil and Stella, takes the wave-on-the-ocean principle and makes of it a catalog of affective consciousness, an imaginative diary of moods. Shakespeare, Donne, Keats, Milton, Wordsworth, even, later, Edna St. Vincent Millay— all are voices employing the sonnet to index a unique form of sensation— first, the mood (lunar, tidal), then, the will-to-text embedded in the mood, encompassing the reach back to other indexes, other catalogues (especially Keats to Wordsworth and Shakespeare), gaining heft from evidenced histories, before giving way to actual liquidity, in the collision of text produced into fourteen line container, compression and brevity sealing the simplicity of a literary history which has a unique charm and charisma. This, because when executed skillfully, the wave-on-the-ocean effect creates a correlative sensation in receptive readers, who feel themselves buoyed up, then down again (to more ocean, or the shore), all with a sense of gracefulness and gratefulness that the poet has again moved a bit of water, which can be imagined as a synecdoche for the entire ocean of texts, or books. If the fourteen line sonnet is a refutation of the discursive, it also dually offers itself to humanize literature, and, implicitly, discourse, with a purification of one kind of form or essence (affect), against the excesses of the unlimited, of boundlessness, built into discourse, which purify discursive possibility in turn.

The invention of a genuine literary form is rare. What appears in the book Something Solid, and which I call a double sonnet— a twenty-eight line poem, one fourteen line sonnet on top of another— must, of necessity, manifest a slightly more complex metaphysic. A wave-on-the-ocean, if it were merely to become two waves on the ocean (two moods), would be redundant. Rather, what a double sonnet is attempting to accomplish is a larger ocean wave (still compressed, still brief), capable of moving in the direction of, even if not able fully manifest, discourse, and the discursive or intellectual. The wave is built to rise higher, with greater authority, into the air, so that affect can reach around for other tools of the trade or craft— imaginative creativity (metaphor), perspective shifts, bits of dialogue— and employ them in a redistribution of literary resources, so that the sonnet may take new ground. Now, the sonnet’s sense of completion, and the correlative sensation of completion in readers, hinges to something new— a sense, in the middle of the double sonnet, of sitting on the crest of the wave for a few moments, opening up whatever view fits the poem’s intentions. This means that, by the time the wave exhausts itself, the experience does not have to suggest, when interrogated, a paucity of interesting ideas. Rather, interrogation of the double sonnet is designed to reveal a slow motion version of the original model, so that the reader can assimilate, encompass, and re-imagine data as the poem itself is experienced, in real time.  

To synthesize: are there reasons to prefer the original model? Yes— those who enjoy the game of extreme brevity, of seeing how much data can be compressed into a small space, how much velocity packed into a quick ride, may cling to possibilities inhering in fourteen lines. This extends, also, into the poetry crowd who fetishize tactility, materiality in general, the anti-cognitive. It is not just the original sonnet that holds up the proverbial cross to discourse; some forms of poetry, as an entire enterprise, do an analogous task. Keats, here, is an exemplar. What poetry represents a commercial pursuit follows this predilection through. For those otherwise attuned, who relish the idea and ideal that poetry become synonymous with developed intelligence, the double sonnet should at least be an entity commensurate with the original model. By taking games cramped by tininess, like the volta, as initiated in Renaissance Italy (as, at the conclusion of the octave or the beginning of the sestet, a turn or twist is added to the poem thematically, as a point of emphasis), or Shakespearean or Petrarchan rhyme schemes, and replacing them with freedom to establish novel games, or just to develop whatever topoi are at hand, the double sonnet opens up a region of pure, unmolested literary promise: the strengthened wave, or the slow, sure wave (slow, sure mood), that can stand being freighted with the armatures and artilleries of the new century.


La métaphysique du sonnet de quatorze vers n'est pas particulièrement complexe. Sous la surface structurelle du mètre, et de la prosodie en général, le sonnet de quatorze vers incarne et est à la fois une vague sur l'océan et une manifestation d'une dynamique de vague sur l'océan. Un complexe impulsif dans le cerveau du poète, principalement constitué de matériel affectif plutôt qu'intellectuel, fusionne pour se lancer dans une brève forme de gestalt, alors qu'il s'effondre dans la petite chanson produite. Une séquence sonnet, comme Astrophil et Stella, reprend le principe de la vague sur l'océan et en fait un catalogue de la conscience affective, un journal imaginaire des humeurs. Shakespeare, Donne, Keats, Milton, Wordsworth, voire, plus tard, Edna St. Vincent Millay - tous sont des voix employant le sonnet pour indexer une forme unique de sensation - d'abord l'humeur (lunaire, de marée), puis la volonté de -texte intégré dans l'ambiance, englobant la remontée vers d'autres index, d'autres catalogues (en particulier Keats à Wordsworth et Shakespeare), gagnant du poids à partir d'histoires attestées, avant de céder la place à une liquidité réelle, dans la collision de texte produit dans un conteneur de quatorze lignes, compression et brièveté scellant la simplicité d'une histoire littéraire qui a un charme et un charisme uniques. Ceci, parce que lorsqu'il est exécuté habilement, l'effet de vague sur l'océan crée une sensation corrélative chez les lecteurs réceptifs, qui se sentent portés, puis redescendus (vers plus d'océan ou de rivage), le tout avec un sentiment de grâce et de gratitude que le poète ait de nouveau déplacé un peu d'eau, ce qui peut être imaginé comme une synecdoque pour tout l'océan des textes, ou des livres. Si le sonnet de quatorze vers est une réfutation du discursif, il se propose aussi duellement d'humaniser la littérature, et, implicitement, le discours, par une épuration d'une forme ou d'une essence (l'affect), contre les excès de l'illimité, de l'illimité. , construits dans le discours, qui purifient à leur tour la possibilité discursive.

L'invention d'une véritable forme littéraire est rare. Ce qui apparaît dans le livre Something Solid, et que j'appelle un double sonnet — un poème de vingt-huit vers, un sonnet de quatorze vers superposé à un autre — doit nécessairement manifester une métaphysique un peu plus complexe. Une vague sur l'océan, si elle devait simplement devenir deux vagues sur l'océan (deux humeurs), serait redondante. Au contraire, ce qu'un double sonnet tente d'accomplir est une plus grande vague océanique (toujours comprimée, toujours brève), capable de se déplacer dans la direction, même si elle ne peut pas se manifester pleinement, du discours et du discursif ou de l'intellectuel. La vague est conçue pour s'élever plus haut, avec une plus grande autorité, dans les airs, de sorte que l'affect puisse atteindre d'autres outils du métier ou de l'artisanat - créativité imaginative (métaphore), changements de perspective, morceaux de dialogue - et les utiliser dans une redistribution. de ressources littéraires, afin que le sonnet puisse prendre un nouveau terrain. Maintenant, le sentiment d'achèvement du sonnet, et la sensation corrélative d'achèvement chez les lecteurs, s'articulent autour de quelque chose de nouveau - un sentiment, au milieu du double sonnet, d'être assis sur la crête de la vague pendant quelques instants, ouvrant n'importe quelle vue. correspond aux intentions du poème. Cela signifie qu'au moment où la vague s'épuise, l'expérience n'a pas à suggérer, lorsqu'elle est interrogée, une pénurie d'idées intéressantes. Au contraire, l'interrogation du double sonnet est conçue pour révéler une version au ralenti du modèle original, afin que le lecteur puisse assimiler, englober et ré-imaginer les données au fur et à mesure que le poème lui-même est vécu, en temps réel.

Pour synthétiser : y a-t-il des raisons de préférer le modèle original ? Oui, ceux qui aiment le jeu de la brièveté extrême, de voir combien de données peuvent être compressées dans un petit espace, combien de vitesse peuvent être compressées dans un trajet rapide, peuvent s'accrocher aux possibilités inhérentes à quatorze lignes. Cela s'étend aussi à la foule des poètes qui fétichisent la tactilité, la matérialité en général, l'anticognitif. Ce n'est pas seulement le sonnet original qui tend la croix proverbiale au discours ; certaines formes de poésie, en tant qu'entreprise entière, accomplissent une tâche analogue. Keats, ici, est un exemple. Ce que la poésie représente comme activité commerciale suit cette prédilection. Pour ceux qui sont autrement à l'écoute, qui savourent l'idée et l'idéal que la poésie devienne synonyme d'intelligence développée, le double sonnet devrait au moins être une entité à la mesure du modèle original. En prenant des jeux à l'étroit par la petitesse, comme la volta , comme initié dans l'Italie de la Renaissance (comme, à la fin de l'octave ou au début du sestet, un tour ou une torsion est ajouté au poème thématiquement, comme un point d'accent), ou de rimes shakespeariennes ou pétrarquiennes, et en les remplaçant par la liberté d'établir des jeux nouveaux, ou simplement de développer n'importe quel topoi, le double sonnet ouvre une région de promesse littéraire pure et sans encombre : la vague renforcée, ou la lente, sûre vague (humeur lente et sûre), qui supporte d'être chargée des armatures et des artilleries du nouveau siècle.



Apparition Poems: Two Part Preface: 2013-2022

Though no sustained narrative buoys it up, Apparition Poems is meant to be sprawling, and epic. An American epic, even one legitimate on world levels, could only be one made up of disparate, seemingly irreconcilable parts— such a state of affairs being America’s, too. The strains which chafe and collide in Apparition Poems are discrete— love poems, carnal poems, meta-poems, philosophical poems, etc. Forced to cohabitate, they make a clang and a roar together (or, as Whitman would have it, a “barbaric yawp”) which creates a permanent (for the duration of the epic) sense of dislocation, disorientation, and discomfort. This is enhanced by the nuances of individual poems, which are often shaped in the dialect of multiple meanings and insinuation. Almost every linguistic sign in Apparition Poems is bifurcated; either by the context of its relationship to other linguistic signs in the poems, or by its relationship to the epic whole of the book itself. If Apparition Poems is an epic, it is an epic of language; the combative adventure of multiple meanings, shifting contexts and perspectives, and the ultimate despair of the incommensurability of artful utterance with practical life in an era of material and spiritual decline. It is significant that the poems are numbered rather than named; it emphasizes the fragmentary (or apparitional) nature of each, its place in a kind of mosaic, rather than a series of wholes welded together by chance or arbitrary willfulness (as is de rigueur for poetry texts).

This is the dichotomy of Apparition Poems— epics, in the classical sense, are meant to represent continuous, cohesive action— narrative continuity is essential. Apparition Poems is an epic in fragments— every poem drops us, in medias res, into a new narrative. If I choose to call Apparition Poems an epic, not in the classical (or Miltonic) sense but in a newfangled, American mode (which nonetheless maintains some classical conventions), it is because the fragments together create a magnitude of scope which can comfortably be called epic. The action represented in the poems ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the heroic to the anti-heroic; there are dramatic monologues set amidst the other forms, so that the book never strays too far from direct and directly represented humanism and humanistic endeavor. The American character is peevish if not able to compete— so are the characters here. Life degenerates into a contest and a quest for victory, even in peaceful or solitary contexts. Yet, if the indigenous landscape is strange and surrealistic, it is difficult to maintain straightforward competitive attitudes— consciousness has to adjust while competing, creating a quandary away from the brazen singularity which has defined successful, militaristic America in the world.

Suddenly, American consciousness is beleaguered by shifting sands and multiple meanings— an inability, not only to be singular but to perceive singular meanings. Even as multiplications are resisted, everything multiplies, and often into profit loss, rather than profit gain. The epic, fragmentary narrative of Apparition Poems is a down-bound, tragic one, rather than a story of valor or heroism. The consolation for loss of material consonance is a more realistic vision of the world and of human life— as a site of/for dynamism, rather than stasis, of/for multiplicity, rather than singularity. Apparition Poems is a vista into “multiple America” from Philadelphia, its birth-place, and a city beleaguered also by multiple visions of itself. No city in America has so much historical heft; nor did any American city suffer so harsh a demotion in the brutally materialistic twentieth century. Yet, as Apparition Poems suggests, if a new America is to manifest in the twenty-first century, it might as well begin in Philadelphia. If the epic focuses on loss followed by more loss, rather than eventual, fulsome triumph, then so be it. And if Apparition Poems as fragmentary epic imposes a lesson, it is this— the pursuit of singularity in human life is a fool’s game; the truth is almost always, and triumphantly, multiple. 

With twelve years hindsight, and with a sense of affection for the text, combined with an acknowledgement that I am partly being arch, it seems to me that Apparition Poems has established itself as a less-than-wholesome book. The sense, in the text, of both perversity and perversion in a generalized sense, creating textual angles meant to cut or incise rather than (as is more usual in America) to caress, make an approach to this text after all these years what could, possibly, be considered superfluous. The problem with an abrupt dismissal, and it is a less-than-wholesome problem, is the recourse the book has to philosophy and philosophical thought, still within the bounds of the aestheticized, as a reaching or attempted journey beyond perversion, or into perversion transcendentalized again into allegory, loaded metaphor, and formal reinvention. Once poetry here has attempted intercourse with the higher frequencies of discursive thought, we deduce that an interrogation is necessary as to whether this intercourse is possible, in a real way, at all. To answer this query, it must first also be interrogated, even into more open air than we might like, what intercourse is possible between poetry and philosophy; further investigating, when we understand what the possibilities are, whether this form or manner or intercourse is desirable or not.

The apparition which haunts the book: a sense of depth and solidity, held within an individual consciousness; a sense of wholesomeness; leads the protagonist beyond the landscape of the carnal, and of jejune inquiries into language, which fall short of achieving more intellectually than stylization or stylized modes of disjuncture and deconstruction. The only oxygen which reaches him, which can propel the shards of a decimated consciousness into at least an imagination of wholesomeness, is that supplied by a desperate surrender to discourses aimed higher than aestheticized language is designed to reach, and at the conditions and terms the aesthetic generally offer. The image arises of a Don Quixote figure, pacing the streets of Center City Philadelphia in the middle of the night. In the state of perversity, perversion, and the less-than-wholesome within which the book was written; a trance of sorts; it never occurred to the author that a reliance on the aesthetic, and on stylization in general, could give way to limpidity if control was relinquished into those more limpid discursive spaces. Rather, bifurcating the philosophical so that it could also fulfill the terms of the aesthetic, and of stylization, seemed a viable tactic towards giving vent to that sense of the fragmented, the jagged, the incisively sharp, which animated his consciousness.

Philosophy, and philosophical discourse, aims, at its highest pitch, for the most objective kind of truth. Language becomes a conduit for vistas opened, meant to answer questions that cannot be answered by the quantifications of scientists— the being of beings, the precise nature of human consciousness itself. The poet’s aim is more about a sophisticated form of entertainment— language as a conduit for the pursuit of sumptuousness, imagination strained to make things, or things-of-the-world, transitive to other things (metaphor), along with a lower, compromised version of objectivity, functioning in harmonious balance with imperatives to imagination and melopoeia. The real intercourse possible between philosophy and poetry is thus a borrowing, by poetry, of a more objective lens with which to view poetry’s traditional objects— eros, affectivity, metaphoric creativity. What philosophy can take back, in its turn, is a something intermittently useful to the philosopher and his discourses— a sense enjoyment or playfulness in a lower mode of discourse— waters warmer, if less ultimately nourishing, to splash around in.

 The assignation of desirability or not desirability to this congeries of circumstances manifests a sense of ambiguity, which can only be answered by individuals forced to confront it. If I continue to affix my own assignation of less-than-wholesome to Apparition Poems, it is because the point at which philosophy appears in the book has a hinge to a less-than-traditional poetry aesthetic, which substitutes rancor, discord, and semantic/syntactic explosiveness, in several directions, for sumptuousness, and metaphors constructed and perpetuated in a textual Theater of Cruelty, to borrow from Artaud, all of which push against the bounds of what might be considered entertaining, for poetry’s conventional pursuits. What entertainment could then be derived from Apparition Poems, would be the emergence of philosophy, as an objective antidote to a subjectivity jaundiced by immersion in a jungle of overly sharp, hostile metaphors— thus alienated from the wholesomeness of the conventionally aesthetic.

As an individual, confronting a text, it may be acknowledged or unacknowledged that Apparition Poems creates new waters for higher discourses to play around in— play, here, being a function of metaphors-as-toys, aesthetic landscapes as stomping grounds, idiosyncratic syndromes as vehicles of possible universalization. The book, in other words, cannot cure itself, make itself wholesome— though, through its sense of reaching for philosophy, it tries— but philosophy itself, engaging in a mode of investigation here (ransacking the Theater of Cruelty for points of interest) can do for the book, what the book cannot do for itself. If all these things happen amidst an ambiance of mischief, of willing transgression, so much the better.


Adam Fieled, 2013-2022