As/Is







1.14.2023


Volo: A Chapbook

 









1.10.2023


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.

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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.

  









1.09.2023


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. 

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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     










12.26.2022


Cesar Santos (Miami, USA): "First Tattoo"


 









12.19.2022


Unpacking Visionary Deadness



A number of semi-manifestos were penned around the composition of Apparition Poems in 2009 and 2010. The author introduced a phrase which was meant to carry signifying resonance, as an ensign, defining an aesthetic, defending a position, and opening a vista onto both what was then a contemporary Zeitgeist and what literary creation entailed in America under the aegis of that Zeitgeist— visionary deadness. The phrase centers itself on a contradiction in terms— that, of course, the visionary, in both the broad sense of experiencing visionary consciousness (i.e. not continuous, not cohesive consciousness, and interpretive of what’s seen as the manifestation of symbols, rather than quotidian, non-relatedly objective matter) and the tactile work of imposing a newfangled aesthetic, as a product of untamed imagination, is itself the product heightened, illuminated life, rather than decay, erosion, and decomposition— perpetuators of inert matter into grounds of permanent dissolution. The artist’s conceit— yoking together by force the harbingers of illumination with harbingers of doom— was born of circumstances, both personal and impersonal, warped by the turgid sense that the Aughts, in the city of Philadelphia, had left excess waste products in all channels, which by 2009-2010 were eroding, moving the locale from dynamism into stasis.

How to find enchantment in this sense— dynamism to stasis, the downbound— must register as an appeal to the affective. When emotions are thrust onto a skewer, by a sense of reversals, intransigence, and ontological confusion (the being registering his or own sense of being as jostled, shuffled, or physiologically wrecked), what the mind takes cognitive pleasure in seeing is an acknowledged awareness that a low level of objective truth— the existence and subsistence of states of decay, erosion, and decomposition— establishes its own hegemony in the world of things which populates the mind, creating a warp or sense of warpage by which darkness creates its own sense of illumination, chaos creates its own simulacrum of order, and despair creates an inverse mode or manner of exultation. Visionary deadness describes this syndrome or sickness, this perversion, and warped jouissance, and works towards a definition of what the book Apparition Poems is, and what it perpetuates in its totality. The cognitive enchantment with death, and its own ensigns, suggest that the mind relishes the game or challenge of transmuting what is dead or dying into the living matter of freshly created art, and that the ultimate game which emerges is a simple one— to blow Gabriel’s horn, summon things from their grave, compel, by force, what is dying to live vibrantly again.

Stretches and strains appear in visionary deadness as an aesthetic sign. What is summoned from a grave— dead, inert matter— would seem to hold no attraction even to a warped writing consciousness, especially one attempting to attune itself to philosophical frequencies. Dead, inert matter, unilluminated by outside forces or energies, is quite dull and dreary. How, with the flip of a light-switch, do we make the whole imbroglio of visionary deadness palatable? When what is dull and dreary (dead, inert matter) is moved up a few frets to a new key, it ceases to be dull and dreary and is illuminated by both the mysticism and the mystique of horror, and the horrible— what could bear the monikers eerie, macabre, sinister, ghastly, haunting. Apparitions are often named as such. The matter informing the poet’s consciousness, thusly acquires an imaginative glow. The appeal transmitted out, through the book, is a mystique of the imagination, from within a haunted house, where death boasts a patina of excitement and excitation, just by being close to an ultimate suggestion of surface beneath the surface, life beneath life. Words take matter and forcibly reanimate it, all done as a mirror to a higher plane of objective intelligence— just as plummets into the warpage of the moribund reinfuse and recertify the poet’s sense of the transcendental (surface beneath surface, life beneath life), plummets into knowledge of flaws in the structures of both reality and the universe which contains and shelters all certain reality, are a flight upwards into (conversely, and perversely) greater depth, and greater awareness, through the reification of this knowledge.

 









12.05.2022


Quelque Chose de Solide









12.02.2022


Parfait

L'affiche de Monroe, s'aspergeant de
eau de Cologne, étais-tu, toi-même, encore une fois
être parfait, comme vous l'avez dit; comme Jennifer était toi,
vous-même à nouveau, parfaitement, car vous n'en aviez pas besoin
être dit, n'aurait pas pu être de toute façon, alors.
Je t'imagine, errant jusqu'à cet endroit humide
sous-sol, avec un sens de symétrie dans votre
cerveau sur ce qui avait été, serait. Par
le temps était venu, tes cheveux avaient foncé,
mais le noyau de toi est resté brillant, aussi brillant
comme dans la maison de South Atherton
Rue. C'était à ton tour de couper le milieu,
offrez votre vision de la perfection à un homme qui
vous paraissait plus qu'une curiosité, plus aiguë.

Le choc de faire l'amour au milieu d'une mer de papier,
piles sur piles - ma propre vision de la perfection
était arrivé, sur les ailes des Symbolistes, comme
ils étaient moi, moi-même, encore, etc. L'espace que nous
pu habiter cet automne, un d'ici
saison d'armistice contre l'Enfer, ne pouvait pas durer, mais
nous n'en avions pas besoin. Au contraire, si nous coupons dans chaque
l'autre à angle droit, une empreinte de coquillage fossile
serait laissé sur State College, & le monde entier;
piquant, assez ravissant pour durer notre
propre version non déformée de forever. Il a donc
été pour moi. Quant à où et ce que vous coupez
au milieu de, pendant que nous parlons - nous verrons si je suis
assez pure pour en savoir plus, Emily. Peut-être.

 










12.01.2022


Onduleux

J'avais prévu de te rencontrer au Bar Noir le
 18 ; tu étais là; nous avons bu. Ce qui
s'est
 passé ensuite, dans l'appartement de Logan Square,
c'est qu'en défroquant tu as renversé 
une lampe antique
que ma tante m'avait léguée
 à  Mahopac. Sérendipité,
pensai­je, assommée puis réduite au silence par l'élan
de ta chambre. Dehors, une nuit étouffante
mijotait; cette nuit de toutes les nuits, du verre vert éparpillé jonchait
le sol de ma chambre, et j'ai finalement été emmené,
passé l' alcool, vers ce que l'éternité n'était que dans ta bouche
­ comme si tu avais sauté d'une scène
forestière (fougères, séquoias), un monde
de la magie païenne, dans une scène
encore ondulante de possibilités—









11.22.2022


more adeena

OBVIOUS

OBVIOUS









10.12.2022


Elegy 702 and Form


Form, in the Cheltenham Elegies series, is meant to elongate an impression of plasticity. Form itself is, at its most congenial, a mode of implied Inter-Dialogism with an assumed audience. When the brain registers that a formal gambit has been made, the elegy (or any piece of writing which might be formal) at hand becomes something beyond a series of thematic gestures, meant to evoke sorrow, pity, and compassion; it becomes a way or manner of expressing that the elegy is being used as a mode of possible innovation, pushed into the front-lines or avant-garde, as the elegy has not very much been pushed before. In 702, an implied palimpsest over Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats puts the emphasis on a tone that mixes the normal elegiac imperative with archness. The apostate figure in the poem, who is obviously meant to be construed as a writer himself, casts a spell over the elegy, employing Keats’ formal parameters in a way that conflates Keats own melopoeiac imperative with a nod to both Modernist fracturing techniques and post-modern irony. The form becomes a tribute to the apostate’s vision, as channeled through a Keats lens, and also an implied jest at his youthfulness, and youthful sense of exultation in the Romantic. The form itself is fractured lens, because seeing through it as we do a succession of scenes which we are unlikely to find in Keats or Wordsworth, it manages to ironize itself:                                       

 

His heart ached within a drowsy, numbed trance.
     Cameras panned to him pacing the black-top, even
blacker at 3 am, which opens out on the expanse
      of Mill Road, down the hill, past the school. Night deepened,
he was lonely enough to cry, heartsick for being
      the only one of a scabrous tribe gutsy enough to say the name
           which even then had rent Cheltenham, riddled
with bullets like a dog’s corpse, assassins fleeing
     the site of the hit, where the one kid, bound for fame,
          did for himself the trick of ditching a tepid middle.

 He levitates past himself, flies with bugs into crevices,
       is the pilot of the few airplanes wafting by, Pegasus-like
for a mind intent on flight, meeting divinity, heaven’s bliss
       from a cockpit. Myers’ schoolyard glistens like spikes.
She knew him then, at her end— saw how the spine
    imposed truth on empty gesture, feeling on pretense,
       vital life on the living death of their shared enterprise.
This, he could never know; yet without knowing how, why,
    he strode past her emptied house that night, tense,
        sweating in summer’s stew, pallid in cold surprise.

 The apostate flies around a small room, piles of books,
    papers scattered, forests of drafts, faintly heard bird-song.
Verdurous plains suggest themselves; moss-softened nooks;
   just out of time, to a mind o’er spelled by word-song.
He can only fly as he reads, over & over, the lays
      already fastened to moss & flower, secured above
          shallow stream. His friend waits, in stealth. 
The early morning ride he caught then, from love
     given, wasn’t her— she had gone the way
         there is no coming back— yet he slept himself back to health.  
   

The topos which is mixed into the Cheltenham Elegies series— a community maintaining a shared fixation on ostracizing a threatening or menacing individual— takes flight here, into a sense that the characters most prized by the series are the ones who hold out against this impulse, towards a stance of entrenched rebellion and non-conformity. John Keats, as a poet, is not a Byronic outcast or a Shelleyan pariah— he tends to present himself as middle-grounder. Yet, the co-opting of his form to perform a literary task which raises this topos puts Nightingale in a new space, where Keats is emphasized as something with, potentially, an explosive sense of rebellion and non-conformity built into him, beginning with the odal form, invented by Keats himself. Keats is unwitting here, but everything about the poem leans on the odal form to make its own obstinate statement of the individual’s triumph over a community, and the sense of embracing a writerly identity built into the form itself, which Keats may or may not have intended (but one which one thinks Byron or Shelley would have smiled on, satanically). Co-opting the individuals who have supported him into the matrix of the poem, with form embraced as a mode of punkish rebellion, so destabilizes the Keatsian impulse, perhaps even deranges it, that the palimpsest over Nightingale makes an awkward fit with the original model, towards a recognition that the usage of Keats, or at least a portion of it, leans towards instrumentality. Yet, ultimately, and oddly, the poem is about love— individuals rising up with certain integrity to defend the innocent. Because this is the truth, the betrayal of John Keats is not a complete one. Even if love here is more beleaguered by worldly concern than is usually found in Keats.   

  

 









10.06.2022


Elegy 567: The Primitive, the Civilized


What Inter-Dialogism presupposes— that the individuals involved in the interpenetration of brain matter are in adequate condition and in a state of responsiveness so that the interchange may occur— is derailed in Cheltenham Elegy 567. Here, the conditions of Inter-Dialogic exchange are met, but in a state of violent extremity— the protagonist of the first movement has a pistol being held to the head of his possible interlocutor. The question then arises— for Inter-Dialogic interpenetration of brain matter to occur, do extreme conditions expedite the process of brain interpenetration or do they thwart it? Elegy 567 does not attempt to answer this question directly. However, it is implicit in the poem, and in Danny bothering to sign the offered voucher without complaint or any response at all, that a congeries of elements— the protagonist’s tirade and the brandished weapon, not to mention the implied presence of others— coalesce to posit a brain altered by extreme circumstances to both accept what would otherwise be unacceptable and to alter generalized circumstances with a signature pulling back on assumed authority.

 I.

Always with the cheap shots, Danny. Always with the sense
that more than half of you and your bullshit judgments were
just arbitrary, just made up trash you used to push people
down because you knew you could. Now that I’ve got
the pistol to your head, I’m announcing that you will now
sign this voucher, OK? From this day forward, you can’t
rank us, configure us in any untoward way, shake up our
deals unless you can prove a reason for doing so, or put us
in the hapless position all over again of being vassals for
a bunch of lunatic brats. And before you leave, one more
thing— I’m handing you back the spreadsheets for the last
six months, because we both know they’re fictionalized nonsense,
& before I shoot your feet I’m willing to be circumspect—
 
II.
Cheltenham: if you want to get out, you better have a gun.
The word on the street (and this just happened) is that Danny
had a piece pulled on him as he sat & listened. The leader
demanded leniency. He signed the voucher & left. Now, I’m
pulling back on my investments with his group, thanking
the Lord in heaven I didn’t grow up in the land of cheap-shots
& below-the-belts (or Hatfields & McCoys, what have you). The leader
I mentioned is leaving, anyway, to a place less mean-spirited against,
well, everybody. And he’s willing to vouch (I love this) for the fact
that he’s not really from around there anymore. Who is, these days?
 
The second movement offers a perspective shift, from in extremis asperity back into routinized normality. What the second movement seems to signify— that the implied community’s opinion of Danny and his antics was, or had turned, negative— adds weight to the idea that Danny, being Draconian in whatever position of authority he held, himself thwarted the delicacy of Inter-Dialogic brain interpenetration with raw violence. When Inter-Dialogic tensions are expressed, as they so often are in the world, with knives and guns, rather than language, the primitive achieves victory over the civilized— death wins over life. What the protagonist of the first movement achieves by employing both, language and weapons, is a reunification of circumstances with an awareness of intelligence, ability to reason, and willingness to employ rhetoric to achieve justification in the situation at hand— in other words, to take the possibility of Inter-Dialogism and its refinements, and place them back on the proverbial table. Because he does this bearing firearms, the shift back from raw violence and coercion back to reason and civilization is well rounded, etched in communication signals that no one in his milieu can miss. Thus, even if he has to work twice as hard, the result (as is professed in the second movement) is a bold triumph in the conflation of two Inter-Dialogic worlds, the primitive (messages expressed with weapons) and the sophisticated (messages expressed with language). His rhetorical fluidity is aware of this— his own triumph, and the release of long-suppressed animosity— and a path is cleared for the right, efficacious form of communication to occur, however explosive or hostile.

 









10.04.2022


Elegy 427 & the Self-Posited


The tensions inherent in Meta-Dialogism— competing voices vying for a place in a single consciousness— are re-explored in Elegy 427. Here, self-consciousness fights back against its own power to discern, and the battle is seen to be a losing one. The drama which attends 427 as a construct is itself attendant on an edifice erected by an individual, for the edification of an individual— a self-posited, self-sustaining pact with a place (Glenside, a borough of Cheltenham Township, and the borough which has the most claim to reality as an autonomous locale in and of itself), which becomes a rampart employed by consciousness against a sense of uselessness in the world:

When she starts at Rizzo’s, winds her way around
to Easton Road on Saturday night, it's with full
control, absolute mastery— here’s where Glenside
stands, where it’s going, here’s why. The game
continues over to Limekiln Pike— Wawa, Tail
of the Whale. Not just the surface, but who’s
hiding where, with what, & again why. Yet deep
in her heart, the ultimate why, life or death in
a sense of purpose, remains barren. The spider
in the glass case, frozen in the Humphrey’s
Pest Control window, is to the point— Humphrey’s
never answers anyway— the spider tells her
where the real action is. Then the beauty of it—
her sacrifice to/for Glenside— becomes just another
heist in the world. Limekiln Pike is too steep to climb.

This individual desires that the voice of the self-sustained, self-posited pact should subsist as something dominant in her consciousness. The drama of fluctuations and oscillations, wherein the pact is either workable or nullified by both the corruptions inherent in Glenside and in the human race in general, enacts itself in Meta-Dialogic acknowledgements, an array of voices which command the narrative sense built into her brain. When what speaks most eloquently refutes the possibility of the pact (or, as in the poem, sacrifice), and affirms the reality (or spider) of an anti-idealistic world, predicated on the prevalence of killing, massacre, destruction, the interior voice which knocks the pact from its perch is about futility, and the impossibility of sustaining an ideal in the face of spider-webbed realities. The mimetic process, for the reader, involves itself building up a rampart, wherein this character (heroine) is someone we can believe in and take seriously, against the impinging sense of doubt and disbelief that she can be dismissed as impractical or romantic, or both.

 









8.19.2022


Cheltenham Elegy #702 in Argotist Online Poetry


Argotist Online editor Jeffrey Side is up and running again with a poetry section for AO. Here, in the refurbished AO poetry site, is Cheltenham Elegy #702. Thanks again to Jeff. 









8.08.2022


Readings from P.F.S. Post (EP)


Selections from P.F.S. Post, taken from its seventeen year life online, read by me. EP length (17 minutes).

Track Listing:

Vlad Pogorelov: No. 32

Christopher Goodrich: Upon Hearing that She and the Man with whom She Cheated are getting Married;

Drinking Together, Li Po and I admire Wang's Garden

Jeremy Eric Tenenbaum: dear gr

Steve Halle: supermarket tabloid tableau

Nick Moudry: High Noon

Chris McCabe: from The True History of the Working Class (March 26, 2008)

Cheers!










7.25.2022


The Fall by Mary Evelyn Harju (post-Impressionized)