Friday, August 31, 2012

Notebook (Ted Berrigan, Stacy Doris, &c.)

Stacy Doris, c. 1997
(Photograph by Isabelle Levy-Lehmann)

“. . . and then nothing but a lone star remained in the sky, like an asterisk leading to an undiscoverable footnote.” Thus Vladimir Nabokov’s story called “Time and Ebb” clocks out, finito. I look it up after reading Raymond Chandler’s remark in a letter: “I have a strange feeling that I have met the beautiful closing simile before. It sounds like T. S. Eliot. I can’t place it and therefore must assume that it is false memory (paramnesis to you). The tired brain is often thus afflicted.” (Isn’t all writing so afflicted, slightly paramnesic?) No sign of a stray asterisk in Eliot. Gertrude Stein, though, in How to Write (“A Vocabulary of Thinking”) pins a solitary asterisk to a washy illimitable sky of prose:
. . . it should be suggestible in the noise of the pleasure of the bewilderment might and carelessly fanned in the joint of an aptitude meant redoubtably in the vacation of their willing to not correct as should in beside have for instance culling the fancy of what in by and with more as it could shown come to be this most as they made it fanciful to be certainly as the choice of winnowing as the asterisk of the change which can might in bestowal for the receipt of their enlightenment which named in the case of their freedom by the willingness of the and bountiful remorse of indelible as chosen considered may it in for having appointed as it was marble in the wood of the shallowness combined and combed to thrill about . . .
Und so weiter. The reading eye begins to bump along irregularly, plucking small usable planks of semantic flotsam out of the oceanic onslaught, drifting, unanchored, along the swells. (John Ashbery, out of “The Impossible: Gertrude Stein”—reviewing Stanzas in Meditation: “The bright, clean colors and large cast of characters in this poem suggests a comic strip. In fact one might say that Miss Stein discovered a means of communication as well-suited to express our age as in their own way, the balloons (with their effect of concentration), light bulbs, asterisks, ringed planets, and exclamation marks which comic-strip characters use to communicate their ideas.”) The “oceanic” prose of Stein’s “A Vocabulary of Thinking” is oddly akin to the clipped energies of something like Ashbery’s “The Grapevine” (Some Trees):
Of who we and all they are
You all now know. But you know
After they began to find us out we grew
Before they died thinking us the causes

Of their acts. Now we’ll not know
The truth of some still at the piano, though
They often date from us, causing
These changes we think we are. We don't care

Though, so tall up there
In young air. But things get darker as we move
To ask them: Whom must we get to know
To die, so you live and we know?
Syllabic consistency determining a starker music—the stripped down vicinity offering, too, few tangible handholds (that “piano” swept away so quickly by its own prepositional “at”. . .) Ted Berrigan, talking about “The Grapevine” (out of On the Level Everyday):
This is the opening of the poem: “Of who we and all they are you all now know.” I think that’s about the first line and a half of the poem. And it goes very fast. And so when you first come across the poem, in the beginning, and you read it, you don’t even know how to talk from about three words on. You can’t pronounce anything. It says, “Of who we and all they are you all now know.” And you feel like saying to that poem, now wait just a minute. I not only of who we and all they are do all not now know, but I don’t even know what in the hell is going on. You know, but obviously the person speaking doesn’t have time to wait. He has to get this said fairly quickly, or maybe lose it. But one thing I discovered while walking around that poem is that all those words had only one syllable in them. And so I developed a secret idea in my own head that whenever you could use a lot of words in a row with just one syllable in them, you were being terrific. And that rule has generally held up pretty well. . . . Frank O’Hara has a poem called “A Terrestrial Cuckoo” that begins, “What a hot day it is for Jane and me.” Now those are all words with one syllable . . .
Reading the choppy fleet brusqueries of the syllabics in Stacy Doris’s final book Fledge: A Phenomenology of Spirit (Nightboat Books, 2012)—some of that canny speed (that, too, of emergency—Doris died 31 January 2012 at the age of 49 after a battle with cancer), and heartbreakingly:
Please bee get my hands I
want my hands back I love
you—so time’s gone? Rind’s tight
that means no time’s not want
churns don’t eat don’t want calls
give to grab, extended
Let me just slide this up
then launch the bed in muck
let him have it alone
as the half and the half
half why we built this we’re
gone now to our shell game
on our boat that runs fixed
To squat for bright globe pails
as wind pet finch seethes dust
or rock so your shine won’t
scrape if I move you are
the one who moved while shut
my hands back from once you
wear a hat I grow out
The emphatic grid of the six-syllable line (with the monosyllabic pervading) barely containing the ferocity of the accruals (“I grow out”). Doris provides a note at the book’s beginning: “Except for flexibly taken compounds, there are mostly no two-syllable words in this book of six-syllable lines. The attempt is to push musicality-duration and naively literalize nonduality.” Preparatory brave refusals of twosomeness. The effect is a rhythm largely bereft of iambic slurry and ease, of a tautness assuaged by occasions of relief (“give to grab, extended”) that defines the meaning of the work. Pieces as if nailed together, uncompromising, a sequence. (Doris notes, too: “These poems are continuous. But because there are swells and hillocks, rough sections can also be imagined”—and proceeds to label such. “Swells and hillocks”—the oceanic.) One final piece, defiantly of the now:
If I turn to you I
turn in. We blow up
time with additional forks,
devastate companions
kayaking out, forecast
doneness with a trail. Get
lost in light with the jabs
each step on stilts: work tub
stuck in jump, so the numb
pinch of each dip weighs twice
velveted and here’s here

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Firemen’s Race, Cañon City, Colorado, c. 1900

                                                O divine average!
Warblings under the sun, usher’d as now, or at noon, or setting,
Strains musical flowing through ages, now reaching hither,
I take to your reckless and composite chords, add to them, and cheerfully pass them forward.

        —Walt Whitman, out of “Starting from Paumanok” (1860)

You lie in the dark and are back in that light. Straining from your nest in the gorse with your eyes across the water till they ache. You close them while you count a hundred. Then open and strain again. Again and again. Till in the end it is there. Palest blue against the pale sky. You lie in the dark and are back in that light. Fall asleep in that sunless cloudless light. Sleep till morning light.

        —Samuel Beckett, out of Company (1980)

That Dada Strain

the zig zag mothers of the gods
of science         the lunatic fixed stars
& pharmacies
fathers who left the tents of anarchism
the arctic bones
strung out on saint germain
like tom toms
living light bulbs
“art is junk” the urinal
says “dig a hole
“& swim in it”
a message from the grim computer
“ye are hamburgers”

        —Jerome Rothenberg, out of That Dada Strain (1983)

Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still.

        —T. S. Eliot, out of “Burnt Norton” (Collected Poems 1909–1935, 1936)

A duodene of birdnotes chirruped bright treble answer under sensitive hands. Brightly the keys, all twinkling linked, all harpsichording, called to a voice to sing the strain of dewy morn, of youth, of love’s leavetaking, life’s, love’s morn.

        —James Joyce, out of Ulysses (1922)

And then again the instant that I awoke methought I was a musical instrument—from which I heard a strain die out—a bugle—or a clarionet—or a flute—my body was the organ and channel of melody as a flute is of the music that is breathed through it. My flesh sounded & vibrated still to the strain—& my nerves were the chords of the lyre. I awoke therefore to an infinite regret—to find myself not the thoroughfare of glorious & world-stirring inspirations—but a scuttle full of dirt—such a thoroughfare only as the street & the kennel—where perchance the wind may sometimes draw forth a strain of music from a straw.

        —Henry David Thoreau, out of the Journal (26 October 1851)

That gnat is orange, I can see its two dark eyes and the famous membranous wings, it doesn’t make me strain at a gnat to think about you, now this other man has come in, you look at the map you can see all these millions of places that might exist, that you could exist in without stories, a place like New York City never told a story I’m sure of it, it’s like a habit and people are separate as a ruse of it . . .

        —Bernadette Mayer, out of The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters (1994)

We’d strain to touch those lang’rous
Length of thighs,
And hear your short sharp modern
Babylonic cries.

        —Djuna Barnes, out of “From Fifth Avenue Up” (The Book of Repulsive Women, 1915)

The stress being opposite the strain
an ouch wintering there.

        —Barbara Guest, out of “Savannahs” (Fair Realism, 1989)

. . . the slender nervure, the springing motion of the broken arch, the leap downwards of the flying buttress,—the visible effort to throw off a visible strain,—never let us forget that Faith alone supports it, and that, if Faith fails, Heaven is lost.

        —Henry Adams, out of Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (1904)

How about strain, does it mean
a severe trying or wearing pressure or
effect (such as a strain of hard work),
or a passage, as in piece of music?
Does Mercury refer to a brand of oil?

        —Charles Bernstein, out of “A Test of Poetry” (My Way: Speeches and Poems, 1999)

                                        So, so, there!
Aches contract and starve your supple joints!
That there should be small love amongst these sweet knaves,
And all this courtesy! The strain of man’s bred out
Into baboon and monkey.

        —William Shakespeare, out of Timon of Athens (c. 1605)

Do you pity him? No, he deserves no pity. Wilt thou love such a woman? What, to make thee an instrument and play false strains upon thee! Not to be endured!

        —William Shakespeare, out of As You Like It (c. 1600)

I'm not going to cry all the time
nor shall I laugh all the time,
I don’'t prefer one “strain” to another.
I’d have the immediacy of a bad movie,
not just a sleeper, but also the big,
overproduced first-run kind. I want to be
at least as alive as the vulgar.

        —Frank O’Hara, out of “My Heart” (The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara, 1971)

                                        In cities,
I strain to gather my absurdities
He buckled on his gun, the one
Poised like Nijinsky
at every hand, my critic
and when I stand and clank it gives me shoes

        —Ted Berrigan, out of The Sonnets IV (c. 1963)

And in a little while we broke under the strain:
suppurations ad nauseam, the wanting to be taller,
though it’s simply about being mysterious, i.e., not taller,
like any tree in any forest.

        —John Ashbery, out of “Chinese Whispers” (Chinese Whispers, 2002)

      Giorgio frowned at the unwonted garniture on the fruit of the sea soup. “That guy is so dumb he makes me sick,” he said. “Wait—I’ll bring you new bowls and a new bowl of soup.”
      “Why don’t we just skip ahead to the rollatine?” Alice said. Her voice betrayed a certain strain. “Marshall, since you are the nearest thing to a father I have, would you make the announcement?”
      A bottle of Est Est Est was produced and Marshall, in a speech, informed their startled friends that Alice and Giorgio were married, and had been since the mayor of Palermo pronounced the few necessary words.

        —John Ashbery and James Schuyler, out of A Nest of Ninnies (1969)

We talk in careless—and in toss—
A kind of plummet strain—
Each—sounding— shyly—
The other’s one—had been—

        —Emily Dickinson, out of #663 (Johnson) / #274 (Franklin), c. 1862

A great effort, straining, breaking up
all the melodic line       (the lyr-
ick strain?)       Don’t
hand me that old line we say
You dont know what yer saying.

      Why knot ab       stract
      a tract of       mere sound
      is more       a round
      of dis abs cons
            t r a c t i o n
      —a deconstruction—
      for the reading of words.

        —Robert Duncan, out of “For a Muse Meant” (Letters, 1958)

—I can’t read any more of this Rich Critical Prose,
he growled, broke wind, and scratched himself & left
that fragrant area.
When the mind dies it exudes rich critical prose,
especially about Henry, particularly in Spanish, and sends it to him
from Madrid, London, New York.

Now back on down, boys; don’t expressed yourself,
begged for their own sake sympathetic Henry,
his spirit full with Mark Twain
and also his memory, lest they might strain
theirselves, to alter the best anecdote
that even he ever invented.

        —John Berryman, out of Dream Song 170 (His Toy, His Dream, His Rest, 1968)

                                        . . . like those huge terrapin
Each daybreak on the wharf, their brine caked eyes;
—Spiked, overturned; such thunder in their strain!
And clenched beaks coughing for the surge again!

        —Hart Crane, out of “O Carib Isle!” (c. 1926)

i greet you, day, with joy, clear
thankfulness, for with what strain
i held the bow, withheld the arrow
you, my heart, only know, you who by the holding lost
how many years

        —Charles Olson, out of “all things stand out against the sky. . .”
        (The Collected Poems of Charles Olson, 1987)

As much of grief as happiness admits
In Heav’n, on each Celestial forehead sits:
Kindness for man, and pity for his fate,
May mixt with bliss, and yet not violate.
Their Heav’nly harps a lower strain began;
And in soft Music, mourn’d the fall of man.

        —John Dryden, out of The State of Innocence and the Fall of Man (1674)

His eyes were the palest blue
A solitude of strain, collected, consumed
He was like a thwarted cocoon

        —Lyn Hejinian, out of “Chapter 102: The Blue Man” (Oxota: A Short Russian Novel, 1991)

Lift your flowers
on bitter stems
Lift them up
out of the scorched ground!
Bear no foliage
but give yourself
wholly to that!
Strain under them
you bitter stems
that no beast eats—
and scorn greyness!

        —William Carlos Williams, out of “Chicory and Daisies” (Al Que Quiere! 1917)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Notebook (Raymond Chandler, &c.)

Raymond Chandler, 1888-1959

Somewhere in a notebook list of similes, Raymond Chandler writes of “a nose like a straphanger’s elbow.” Is it how that elbow is about at nose level, the hangdog commuter haggardly pitched behind it—is that what makes the line so perfect? Or is it the blank flesh-stupidity of the elbow itself made nose material, and suddenly requiring a personality inimical to it? Is it Roland Topor who used to assemble physiognomies out of magazine-clipped body parts? Café Panique. Others: “a mouth like wilted lettuce”; “cute as a washtub”; “a face like a collapsed lung”; “smart as a hole through nothing.”

Some “Chandlerisms” (out of a Frank MacShane-edited book of Chandler’s notebook entries, points of casual self-mimickry):
She threw her arms around my neck, and nicked my ear with the gunsight.

Take your ears out of the way and I’ll leave.

I left her with her virtue intact, but it was quite a struggle. She nearly won.

The only difference between you and a monkey is you wear a larger hat.

. . .

Kropp’s Piano Concerto for Two Lame Thumbs

. . .

She made a couple of drinks in a couple of glasses you could almost have stood umbrellas in.

Above the sky-blue gabardine slacks he wore a two-tone leisure jacket which would have been revolting on a zebra.

. . .

He wanted to buy some sweetness and light and not the kind that comes through the east window of a church.

She sat in front of her princess dresser trying to paint the suitcases out from under her eyes.

I had been stalking the bluebottle fly for five minutes, waiting for him to sit down. He didn’t want to sit down. He just wanted to do wing-overs and sing the prologue to Pagliacci.

The boys who talk and spit without ever bothering the cigarettes that live in their faces.
(The lines about the bluebottle fly show up in Chandler’s 1949 novel The Little Sister. Small difference there be between self-mockery and public utility.)

Chandler originally titled Farewell, My Lovely (1940) The Second Murderer, out of Shakespeare’s Richard III. Out of the notebooks:
Second Murderer: What, shall we stab him as he sleeps?
First Murderer: No; then he will say ’twas done cowardly when he wakes.
. . .
First Murderer: How dost thou feel thyself now?
Second Murderer: Faith, some certain dregs of conscience are yet within me.
First Murderer: Remember our reward, when the deed is done.
Second Murderer: ’Zounds, he dies: I had forgot the reward.
                                                                                                        Act I, Scene 4
The Second Murderer quashed by Knopf, Chandler next proposed Zounds, He Dies. It, quashed, too.

Out of a list of titles found in Chandler’s notebooks: “The Man with the Shredded Ear,” “The Man Who Loved the Rain,” “We All Liked Al,” “Too Late for Smiling,” “The Diary of a Loud Check Suit,” “The Lady with the Truck.” MacShane’s note:
Chandler’s interest in titles even led him to invent a writer, Aaron Klopstein, whom he described as a suicide in Greenwich Village at the age of thirty-three. Klopstein published two novels entitled Once More the Cicatrice and The Seagull Has No Friends; two volumes of poetry, The Hydraulic Facelift and Cat Hairs in the Custard; a collection of short stories called Twenty Inches of Monkey—a title derived from an animal dealer’s catalogue in which monkeys were advertised for vivisection at one dollar an inch; and a book of critical essays entitled Shakespeare in Baby Talk. Klopstein shot himself with an Amazonian blow gun.

Chandler’s Shakespeare (out of the MacShane-edited Selected Letters). In a 28 September 1950 letter to Hamish Hamilton:
I know that mystery writers are regarded as hacks in certain quarters simply because they are mystery writers. This is a confusion of thought, to my mind. A writer who accepts a certain formula and works within it is no more a hack than Shakespeare was because to hold his audience he had to include a certain amount of violence and a certain amount of low comedy, no more a hack than the Renaissance painters were because they had to exploit the religious motives which were pleasing to the church. My definition of a hack is a man who lets someone else tell him how and what to write, who writes, if he is a writer, not to an accepted formula, but to some editor’s definition of it. But the frontier is always vague.
And (out of a c. 1951 letter to H. F. Hose):
Most of us become impatient with the messiness that is around us and are inclined to attribute to the past a purity of line which was not apparent to the contemporaries of that past. . . . For myself, I am convinced that if there is any virtue in our art, and there may be none at all, it does not lie in its resemblance to something that is now traditional, but which was not traditional when it was first produced. If we have stylists, they are not people like Osbert Sitwell—Edwardians who stayed up too late; nor are they pseudo-poetic dramatists like T. S. Eliot and Christopher Fry; nor bloodless intellectuals who sit just at the edge of the lamplight and dissect everything to nothing in dry little voices that convey little more than the accents of boredom and extreme disillusion. It seems to me that there have been damn few periods in the history of civilization that a man living in one of them could have realized as definitely great. If you had been a contemporary of Sophocles, I think you might have thought of him almost as highly as you do now. But I think you might have thought Euripides a little vulgar. And if you had been an Elizabethan, I am quite sure you would have thought Shakespeare largely a purveyor of stale plots and overelaborate rhetoric . . .
And (out of a 22 April 1949 letter to Hamish Hamilton):
There is something about the literary life that repels me; all this desperate building of castles on cobwebs, the long-drawn acrimonious struggle to make something important which we all know will be gone forever in a few years, the miasma of failure which is to me almost as offensive as the cheap gaudiness of popular success. I believe the really good people would be reasonably successful in any circumstances; that to be very poor and very beautiful is probably a moral failure much more than an artistic success. Shakespeare would have done well in any generation because he would have refused to die in a corner; he would have taken the false gods and made them over; he would have taken the current formulae and forced them into something lesser men thought them incapable of. Alive today he would undoubtedly have written and directed motion pictures, plays and God knows what. Instead of saying “This medium is not good,” he wouldn’t have cared a rap, because he would know that without some vulgarity there is no complete man. He would have hated refinement, as such, because it is always a withdrawal, a shrinking, and he was much too tough to shrink from anything.
And (out of a 1 July 1937 letter to the editor of The Fortnightly Intruder):
The best writing in English today is done by Americans, but not in any purist tradition. They have roughed the language around as Shakespeare did and done it the violence of melodrama and the press box. They have knocked over tombs and sneered at the dead. Which is as it should be. There are too many dead men and there is too much talked about them.

Writing to Blanche Knopf (22 October 1942) about the sleek meretriciousness of marketing (and of some of those who knavishly cotton to its precepts), Chandler complains about having “to ride around on Hammett and James Cain, like an organ grinder’s monkey”:
Hammett is all right. I give him everything. There were a lot of things he could not do, but what he did he did superbly, But James Cain—faugh! Everything he touches smells like a billygoat. He is every kind of writer I detest, a faux naïf, a Proust in greasy overalls, a dirty little boy with a piece of chalk and a board fence and nobody looking. Such people are the offal of literature, not because they write about dirty things, but because they do it in a dirty way. Nothing hard and clean and cold and ventilated. A brothel with a smell of cheap scent in the front parlor and a bucket of slops at the back door.
Rather like some members of the latest crop of archly dumbed-down neo-confessionalists . . .

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Notebook (Lyn Hejinian, Thomas A. Clark, &c.)

Thomas A. Clark

What to do now, little gumshoe? The slow slop of the imprecise vagaries of day turn out not to coalesce and all is floody with lingual excess. There is no “that it is” and the “unmanageable pantheon” isn’t out there in the world-ruckus, it’s here, sitting acroup in the sizzling neural capacitor, and worded beyond belief.

Being one way of proceeding in the nil fandango of sun-up—barely up, dull dime in the sky. Out of the toss of sleep, its stifling reveries of bicycling around and around a cloakroom stuffed with winter wraps. What of the uncommon vinegar of Lyn Hejinian’s—
          One day I wake and I’m sick of virtuosity, it makes me spit.
          Virtuosos have lost their credibility with me. They’re quick but they spin around a slick pole.
          Practicing sleight of hand is dishonest work, there’s no need for it. Its values are trumped up, and all the while the anxiety it pretends to distract us from is precisely what it activates.
          Pretending to be timeless, virtuosity taunts us. It’s about fast power, and loneliness—about the lack of good company. It’s a bad dream. That’s how it draws us in—and that’s what it draws us into.
Out of The Book of a Thousand Eyes (2012). Suspect learnedness, its supposed wiliness, up against the abettors of plain speech. A particularly American feverishness for “clarity,” for what’s “simple.” Disputably a somewhat odd “stance” for Hejinian.

Thomas A. Clark, out of “At Dusk & At Dawn” (The Path to the Sea, 2005):
to sit out in the air
and take the shape of the air
its cool spaciousness and precision
and never mind what comes to mind
but attend and cease to attend
remaining cool and spacious
this is the poise of being alone
to be one and no other
and at the same time discover
your shape as a mere integument
that is less a shape than a notion
let it blow away or drop
sitting on a bench in the garden
as the sun goes down or comes up
as longing stretches out
and begins to detach itself from
the initial object of longing
it becomes present everywhere
and can be found in everything
forming and informing everything
the weight of this stone is longing
the curve of that tree is longing
and longing makes the lightest breeze
sigh in the tall dead bracken
longing is not for this or that
but is longing for itself alone
to know itself in late afternoon
longing is a kind of lingering

Hejinian’s The Book of a Thousand Eyes sees its beginnings in the talk / essay “La Faustienne” (1994 / 1998), reprinted in The Language of Inquiry (2000). Faust—“the figure of the modern genius—driven, thrilled, libidinous, learned . . . a figure for whom epistemology is an artistic romance and the encyclopedia its masterwork”—accedes finally to speech’s own foul inadequacy (“I try to find a name for the feeling, / The frenzy, and I cannot find one” says Goethe’s Faust). Hejinian:
. . . If one genders the players in the tropes of Western epistemology, one typically ends up with a model in which the quest for knowledge is a male enterprise and the keeper of the known is woman. This trope seems to incorporate aspects of male desire into its imagery while leaving female desire hidden, not through inadvertence but by definition.
      This opposition is descriptive, even definitive— or is meant to be—in terms of the dualism that is the basis for much of our Western thinking. Visibility and invisibility, light and dark, seeing and blindness, consciousness and unconsciousness are parallel pairs of opposites, whose ultimate case opposes Being to non-Being, life to death.
      But the postmodern critique of binarism suggests that there may be no opposites, that Being (or the actual being of each and any entity) exists not because it is the opposite of non-Being but because it is “true of its own accord.” It was on this premise that I began a writing project, called, at least for the moment, The Book of a Thousand Eyes.
      The Book of a Thousand Eyes is a night work, in that my interest is in the processes of assimilation and assessment that take place in the figurative dark and silence of night, where opposites as such can’t exist because they always coexist. I have wanted to write in the dark, so to speak, when the mind must accept the world it witnesses by day and out of all data assemble meaning. The writing would do so—assemble (a Faustian project) and, in its way, make knowledge (the work of La Faustienne).
A project surely directly akin to that of Shakespeare (according to William Carlos Williams’s assessment in Spring and All):
His actual power was PURELY of the imagination. Not permitted to speak as W.S., in fact peculiarly barred from speaking so because of his lack of information, learning, not being able to rivals his fellows in scientific training or adventure and at the same time being keen enough, imaginative enough, to know that there is no escape except in perfection, in excellence, in technical excellence—his buoyancy of imagination raised him NOT TO COPY them, not to holding the mirror up to them but to equal, to surpass them as a creator of knowledge, as a vigorous, living force above their heads.
Pure Faustienne.

In “La Faustienne” Hejinian quotes lines that become the third piece in The Book of a Thousand Eyes:
The bed is made of sentences which present themselves as what they are
Some soft, some hardly logical, some broken off
Sentences granting freedom to memories and sights

Then is freedom about love?
Bare, and clumsily impossible?
Our tendernesses give us sentences about our mistakes
Our sentiments go on as described
The ones that answer when we ask someone who has mumbled to say what he or she has
          said again
In bed I said I liked the flowing of the air in the cold of night
Such sentences are made to aid the senses

Tonight itself will be made—it’s already getting dark
I’m not afraid to look nor afraid to be seen in the dark
Is there a spectral sentence? a spectator one?
Is it autobiographical?
No—the yearning inherent in the use of any sentence makes it mean far more than
          “we are here”

Because we are not innocent of our sentences we go to bed
The bed shows with utter clarity how sentences in saying something make something
Sentences in bed are not describers, they are instigators
(Recall Williams’s “If the power to go on falters in the middle of a sentence—that is the end of the sentence . . .”)

Clark (“Riasg Buidhe”): “When we have put distance between ourselves and our intentions, the sensibility comes awake.”

Hejinian (The Book of a Thousand Eyes): “There are birds in the tree singing as precision / Remain confused I tell myself they say.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

Notebook (Mary Ruefle, James Schuyler, &c.)

James Schuyler, 1923-1991
(Photograph by Joe Brainard)

I love the way travel buoys up the usual fissiparous tendency, parceling out the knots into a looser and looser reticule, that bag left holding nothing beyond what’s recently leaked through it. (Or sex: see Pliny’s dictum, that it both “helpeth the voice, which being sometime before cleare and neat, was now become hoarse and rusty” and “mundifie and quicken the eiesight.”*) Pliny, who wrote a handbook “on the technique of throwing a javelin while riding a horse.” Francis Bacon, whilst refusing to adjudicate the merits of said handbook, deemed the Natural History the silliest kind of rubbish, “fraught with much fabulous matter, a great part not only untried, but notoriously untrue, to the great derogation of the credit of natural history with the grave and sober kind of wits” and henceforth proceeded to perish “of a chill that he caught while stuffing a chicken with snow, to test the preservative effects of refrigeration.” (Pliny himself had been “asphyxiated by volcanic gases while investigating at close quarters the great eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79.”)

Walking the dog in a downpour. “Gulled by an abstemious infarct. Modicum’s mash-up.” Assembly required. Reader left holding the bag.

Mary Ruefle, out of Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures (Wave Books, 2012):
I do not think I really have anything to say about poetry other than remarking that it is a wandering little drift of unidentified sound, and trying to say more reminds me of following the sound of a thrush into the woods on a summer's eve—if you persist in following the thrush it will only recede deeper and deeper into the woods; you will never actually see the thrush (the hermit thrush is especially shy), but I suppose listening is a kind of knowledge, or as close as one can come. “Fret not after knowledge, I have none,” is what the thrush says . . .

James Schuyler, out of “For Joe Brainard” (The Home Book, 1977):
Last night I finished Arthur Randell’s Fenland Railwayman, of which it might be possible to say that it contains not one memorable word, and therefore has a pleasant clarity, like a clear glass of water. Of course there is no such book: “During a long dry spell we often ran out of water, so a supply was sent to us from Wisbech in old engine tenders which were put opposite the railway cottages so that the water could be run through canvas pipes into our cisterns. The water was not very clean—it sometimes had a dead bird in it or little wriggling creatures—but as our cisterns already housed a few worms and snails we took no notice. Each house had a charcoal filter and once the water had passed through this it was as clear as gin.” And there is the clarity, a superior one.
See Arthur Redvers Randell (1901-1988), railway worker and molecatcher—author, too, of Sixty Years a Fenman (1966). The lines in Fenland Railwayman continue: “Sometimes it took a few days for the tenders to come along with our supplies so, in the meantime, we would fill baths and buckets from wagons which came from Wisbech where they had been “hollow sheeted” by the tying of new tarpaulin sheets over the top with a shallow depression left in the centre, This was filled with water, so when the engine brought the wagon along we only had to fill our buckets and empty them into the cisterns. The water tasted strongly of tar from the sheets, but it seemed to do us no harm—certainly none of us down here at Waldersea ailed very much.” Schuyler’s “not one memorable word” akin to Ruefle’s “wandering little drift of unidentified sound . . .”

Hermitry. Oceanic hermitry.

Out of Pascal Quignard’s The Roving Shadows:
What the individuals who feel part of the collectivities in which they work are looking for is fusion with a larger body. They rediscover the old joy that came from abandoning oneself to a containing vessel. They surrender the subjectivity the learning of language brings to each of us, and renounce also the problematical privileges that come of being identified by a name. They give themselves up to the desires of others; they delight in the many, repetitive, fetishistic, obsessive, sempiternal joys of the masochists. To cite Ammianus Marcellinus, they prefer the restoration of a known tyrant (who humiliates them within the bounds of the laws they have laid down to limit excessive injury)
      to unpredictable anxiety;
      or to the absence of a father figure;
      or to his contempt;
      or to loneliness.

John Keats, to J. H. Reynolds (19 February 1818):
. . . The flower, I doubt not, receives a fair guerdon from the Bee. Its leaves blush deeper in the next spring, and who shall say between Man and Woman which is the most delighted? Now it is more noble to sit like Jove than to fly like Mercury. Let us not therefore go hurrying about and collecting honey-bee like, buzzing here and there impatiently from a knowledge of what is to be arrived at; but let us open our leaves like a flower and be passive and receptive, budding patiently under the eye of Apollo and taking hints from every noble insect that favors us with a visit. Sap will be given us for Meat and dew for drink. I was led into these thoughts, my dear Reynolds, by the beauty of the morning operating on a sense of Idleness. I have not read any Books. The Morning said I was right. I had no Idea but of the Morning, and the Thrush said I was right, seeming to say:
“O thou whose face hath felt the Winter’s wind,
Whose eye has seen the Snow clouds hung in Mist
And the black-elm tops ’mong the freezing Stars;
To thee the Spring will be a harvest-time.
O thou whose only book has been the light
Of supreme darkness which thou feddest on
Night after night, when Phoebus was away;
To thee the Spring shall be a tripple morn.
O fret not after knowledge—I have none
And yet my song comes native with the warmth.
O fret not after knowledge—I have none
And yet the Evening listens. He who saddens
At thought of Idleness cannot be idle,
And he’s awake who thinks himself asleep.”
Now I am sensible all this is a mere sophistication—however it may neighbour to any truths—to excuse my own indolence. So I will not deceive myself that Man should be equal with jove, but think himself very well off as a sort of scullion-Mercury or even a humble Bee. It is no matter whether I am right or wrong, either one way or another, if there is sufficient to lift a little time from your Shoulders.

In “The Custard Sellers” (subtitled, “bits of a Lapland summer dusk”), James Schuyler’s “The Mister” makes a short speech:
The hooves of snakes pounding two-bit pieces into rings like shipwrecked sailors in a prison yard (the sentry strolling, strolling in an olive green kimono with a Fuji fan) opened some puffy flowers at or near my boot in which I had my foot. The lonesomest trail led where roots writhe it out with moles, through the shale and shells of bugs in amber like a palace powder room. Whereupon I shut the book—having written—I forget what—I can’t make it out. You’ll understand. Tell Dodo Rafferty.
Keats’s “mere sophistication” akin to Schuyler’s “I can’t make it out.”
* Pliny offers numerous remedies to “quicken the eiesight”: “to clarifie & quicken the eiesight that is dim and ouercast with a mist or cloud, a collyrie or eie-salue made with the ashes of mice heads and their tails, mixt with hony, is a singular medicine . . .” And: “a fomentation of Rocket, brused and stamped somewhat before, quickeneth and clarifieth the eye-sight.” So, too, “the leaues of those radishes onely that haue the longer roots . . .” And: “The greene Beetle hath a property naturally to quicken their sight who do but behold them: and therefore these lapidaries and cutters or grauers in precious stones, if they may haue an eie of them once & looke vpon them, take no more care for their eie-sight . . .”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Notebook (William Bronk, &c.)

William Bronk, c. 1975

Morning’s lateral slant, its honeyed light drubbing a brick red wall “opposite.” End of a sloppily truncated week. The kind of incipience that bestirs means nothing in the hopper. The nothing dodge, dogged by the nothing, perspicacity hounding its own vacuity, nose scouring the scald intemperancy of the chance mutable ground. (What the fuck?) Thomas A. Clark: “to make a short song / out of nothing, a few words / to keep me going / to take nothing’s notation / is a mile’s occupation . . .” Note, though, how precipitously that nothing sucks particulars into it: “the thistle and gorse / the kiss, the blessing, the curse / are built on nothing / the cairn, the old fort, the hill / the tibia of the gull . . .” (The hollow bone of a bird: strut and truss of nothingness . . .)

Out of Cid Corman’s 1976 William Bronk: An Essay, excerpts of Bronk’s 1 June 1961 letter to Corman:
It is possible that I try too hard, or rather that it is wrong to give the reader an impression of great and unsuccessful effort. It has to seem easy or better accomplished. And ‘strident’ yes. It may seem that, though my own stridor doesn’t offend me; only other people’s stridor. If the poetry is ‘hurt by that search for, insistence upon, what you call a world’ in your eyes (or ears)—it isn’t in mine—maybe I really consider the search—if that’s what it is—as more important than the poetry. Now we come to this music business. It is unnecessary to say that I am not against music, which I quite obviously revere. But poetry is poetry, not music . . . What I aim to do is to make a statement which has form which is composed of the contents of the statement. I am after ‘the weight, the texture, the strength,’ not of words, but of statements, something initially more static than you are, the shape of the rocks as they lie against each other not the sound they make as they tumble together. What was breath in your metaphor becomes rocks in mine to your great disadvantage but this is my letter and I’ll make the metaphors . . .
The question of whether a barrage of statements etc. is theoretically open for me also. But as you notice, that’s where I place my stakes. This is not because I can defend it as a thesis or intend to. It is only my style which is inevitable to me and not consciously mutable. It is not for me to decide. It is you the reader who has to do this, although conceivably I could become so fed up with it myself that I would just stop. I’m sure I am often dull and my statements do sound pompous—may even be intended as pomp. ‘Others’ must look out for themselves. I am the instrument of the world’s passion if I am anything at all. You also are such an instrument. But you’ll have to take care of that. My poetry does not exist in a world in which there are people who vote and make history. (If I misunderstand you, it is because I intend to.) There are many people in the world and if I assume that I speak for them by virtue of speaking only for myself it is because of the conjunction of two conditions:
1) we are encapsulated and remote from each other
2) we are interchangeable if not identical though we may appear different in different lights.
I think I might be perfectly willing to live in a world in which there were ‘others’ to whom it was possible to be related. But it is only in a barely perceptible way that I live in such a world. I have to give a faithful account of where I live so far as I am able. Not very far. But I can’t give an account of your world, or some other world which is not the one I see. If this sounds complacent to you, think of it as the complacency of a man whose parachute has failed to open but who is too complacent to start walking to safety in mid air . . .

The belaboring officious sun attends to a different wall, obliquely angled to that of its earlier ministrations. Cautery of brick. One comes to solace through the interminable featurette of one’s sententiousness, its varietal slurp. Sweet imperturbability in the dazzle of camouflage light. Either the world asserts itself in canny particulars, pig with apple in its mouth, or decamps with shreds and doodads trailing, dehiscing under what beleaguerment its lingual onslaught portends. The eccentric siege of language mucking up the sensorium, “green, my fluent mundo.” Piecemeal offertory with all the aptitude of the snubbed, ever and anon. To make of language itself a feasible daub refusal of pertinence or disclosure, the world caught in its wickets. Can the chimeric buzz.

Off for a couple of days.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Roger Smith, “Mason Jars,” 1943
(“Jar at the left, having been sterilized, is ready to be filled. Second jar shows the position of the lid immediately after filling, the rubber gasket is placed in between the lid and the mouth of the jar. Third jar: the metal band is screwed on tightly and then slightly loosened and processing begins. After processing is completed, band is tightened again. Jar at the right shows how the band can be removed when the food has thoroughly cooled and the vacuum will hold the lid tightly in place. A truly all-glass package. To open, insert a knife to break vacuum, and lid lifts off easily.”)

To be idiomatic in a vacuum,
it is a shining thing!

        —Frank O’Hara, out of “Poem” (1957)

The self, in any case, is a vacuum: nothing until it is filled. Continuity of perception . . . is all we can call mind.

        —Guy Davenport, out of “Ernst Machs Max Ernst”
        (The Geography of the Imagination, 1981)

I tread the stars
in perilous anatomy

over bottomless pit
only intricater,
I thread evolving Heaven

“nequaquam vacuum”
flamestitch I symmetries:
weaver oriole’s nest

I construct ahive
suns one can’t gaze upon
surpassing foresight,

only Hand with Language . . .

        —Ronald Johnson, out of “ARK 96, Arches XXX” (ARK, 1996)

. . . They had signed themselves with such noms de plume, such fiery plumes as Total Wreck, Eccentric Scoop, Link-Block, Vacuum, Maple Leaf, Plug and Foam, Gravity, Smoke Box, Short Rail, Third Rail, Signal, Smoke Stack, Headlight—and not necessarily because they were shy or were afraid that their efforts to express themselves might evoke ridicule.
      A greater reason for hiding under various noms de plume was the fear that they might be considered incendiaries by their employers because of their knowledge of mechanical problems or because of their accusation that many accidents were avoidable and were caused by the company’s failure to replace old rolling stock with new railroad stock—old wheels with new wheels—old hand-and-pin mechanic with new foolproof air brakes.

        —Marguerite Young, out of Harp Song for a Radical:
        The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs

                                        The whole is stable within
Instability, a globe like ours, resting
On a pedestal of vacuum, a ping-pong ball
Secure on its jet of water.
And just as there are no words for the surface, that is,
No words to say what it really is, that it is not
Superficial but a visible core, then there is
No way out of the problem of pathos vs. experience.

        —John Ashbery, out of “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror” (1975)

            Unclutterable provenance. Where vacuum of
the notes not hit outline the ones that are.

        —Clark Coolidge, out of “L.A. in Time” (Odes of Roba, 1991)

We cannot discern whether we have entered a microcosm or a landscape or a lackadaisical simulation of time. Pleasure is a figured vacuum that does not recognize us as persons. We stand annulled in our ancient, ostentatious coats.

        —Lisa Robertson, out of “Seven Walks”
        (Occasional Work and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture, 2003)

      The most important events make no stir on their first taking place, nor indeed in their effects directly. They seem hedged about by secrecy. It is concussion, or the rushing together of air to fill a vacuum, which makes a noise. The great events to which all things consent, and for which they have prepared the way, produce no explosion, for they are gradual, and create no vacuum which requires to be suddenly filled; as a birth takes place in silence, and is whispered about the neighborhood, but an assassination, which is at war with the constitution of things, creates a tumult immediately.
      Corn grows in the night.

        —Henry David Thoreau, out of the Journal (26 February 1840)

The late plays of Shakespeare are aerodynes, in which, by a series of baffles (the verse, with its emphasis on quantities), they have their power straight from the element they move in, that they displace, and they go in speed from zero to as fast as sound. They are motion, not action—by power of vacuum, they use it and occupy it at the same time.

        —Charles Olson, out of “Quantity in Verse, and Shakespeare’s Late Plays”
        (Human Universe and Other Essays, 1965)

                                                                          . . . when you consider
the abundance of such resource as illuminates the glow-blue

bodies and gold-skeined wings of flies swarming the dumped
guts of a natural slaughter or the coil of shit and in no
way winces from its storms of generosity; when you consider

that air or vacuum, snow or shale, squid or wolf, rose or lichen,
each is accepted into as much light as it will take, then
the heart moves roomier, the man stands and looks about . . .

        —A. R. Ammons, out of “The City Limits” (Briefings, 1971)

Reality is a vacuum.

All men are murderers.

        —Wallace Stevens, out of “Adagia” (1930?-1955)

—Did you know that a handkerchief and a cannonball fall at the same goddam speed in a vacuum? Well that’s where we are, in this great big goddam vacuum where a handkerchief and a cannonball fall at the same goddam speed, you know what I mean?

        —William Gaddis, out of The Recognitions (1955)

. . . the new thing that has happened, or the old thing that has happened again, namely the breakdown of the object, whether current, historical, mythical or spook. . . .
      The artist who is aware of this may state the space that intervenes between him and the world of objects; he may state it as no-man’s-land, Hellespont or vacuum, according as he happens to feel resentful, nostalgic, or merely depressed.

        —Samuel Beckett, out of “Recent Irish Poetry” (1934)

Heaven’s, but forty is a terrible age at which to take a year’s leave of absence. I feel that a vacuum cleaner in under my hair would be a great boon. So he put to sea.

        —William Carlos Williams, out of a letter to Marianne Moore (27 December 1923)

Life keeps insisting. Nights I worry
about the spiders inside the vacuum cleaner.
I notice the squirrels look simian bounding.
foot over branch, about the trees
and wonder if I wasted my youth
imagining this future.
Do I hold a sword or am I a ghost,
marking the tedium between
drunken midnight, wistful sunrise
blood-mouth metronome beats
between here and deep unconsciousness
a sea of little niggling tasks.

        —Jennifer Moxley, out of “The Sense Record” (The Sense Record and Other Poems, 2002)

I remember the washing machine and the vacuum cleaner going at the same time.

I remember, when one stops before the other, a moment of “fake” silence.

        —Joe Brainard, out of I Remember (1975)

      There are no finalities in Nature. Everything is streaming. The Torricellian tube was thought to have made a vacuum; but no; over the mercury is the vapor of mercury, and the mysterious ether too enters as readily through the pores of glass as through chimney of a volcano.
      If I come to stoppages, it is I that am wanting. To the wise navigator, beyond even the polar ice is the Polynia, or open water, —a vast expanse.

        —Ralph Waldo Emerson, out of the Journal (31 December 1853)

Hour on hour, rise after rise, it is the fugal space, coiling and repetitive, never outrun, never encircled or sucked dry. It is, accordingly, an unresolved landscape, a demanding one full of mock vacuum and suction and woo. You watch the land for signs and signals, for inflection, the way a sailor scans the sea, and for the words to size and fit them. There are rumples, crackles, and squalls of hills. There are flurries and flutters, bulges and swells. There is a salience, a shrug, a pizzicato. Chops and shoals. There are stillborn or baby bluffs, buds of buttes. Lips and flares, feints and fade-aways, yelp and bone and dimple.

        —Merrill Gilfillan, out of Magpie Rising: Sketches from the Great Plains (1988)

All he had was a sleeping bag, a bible and a doorway out of the snow. These words scratched my way slowly into existence. Drill-like, the sound of an upstairs vacuum cleaner. Bath salts. I see suffering.

        —Ron Silliman, out of “Paradise” (The Alphabet, 2008)

Meditating among liars and retreating sternly into myself, I see that there are really no liars
      or lies after all,
And that nothing fails its perfect return, and that what are called lies are perfect returns,
And that each thing exactly represents itself, and what has preceded it,
And that the truth includes all, and is compact, just as much as space is compact,
And that there is no flaw or vacuum in the amount of the truth—but that all is truth
      without exception;
And henceforth I will go celebrate anything I see or am,
And sing and laugh, and deny nothing.

        —Walt Whitman, out of “All Is Truth” (Leaves of Grass, 1860)

Naturall reason abhorreth vacuum, that is to say, that there shoulde be any emptye place, wherin no substance shoulde be.

        —Thomas Cranmer, A Defence of the True and Catholike Doctrine of the Sacrament (1550)

      I confess I do not believe in time. I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another. Let visitors trip. And the highest enjoyment of timelessness—in a landscape selected at random—is when I stand among rare butterflies and their food plants. This is ecstasy, and behind the ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain. It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love. A sense of oneness with sun and stone. A thrill of gratitude to whom it may concern—to the contrapuntal genius of human fate or to tender ghosts humoring a lucky mortal.

        —Vladimir Nabokov, out of Conclusive Evidence (1951)

                                      You can dodder in the slop,
septic with a rage not for order but for the love

the senses bear for what they do, for detail
that’s never annexed, like a reluctant crumb
to a vacuum cleaner, to a coherence.

You can be bead after bead on perception’s rosary.
This is the sweet ache that hurts most, the way
desire burns bluely at its phosphorescent core:

just as you’re having what you wanted most,
you want it more and more until that’s more
than you, or it, or both of you, can bear.

        —William Matthews, out of “Nabokov’s Blues” (Blues If You Want, 1989)

      What is a poem? A poem is nothing. By persistence the poem can be made something; but then it is something, not a poem. Why is it nothing? Because it cannot be looked at, heard, touched or read (what can be read is prose). It is not an effect (common or uncommon) of experience; it is the result of an ability to create a vacuum in experience—it is a vacuum and therefore nothing. It cannot be looked at, heard, touched or read because it is a vacuum. Since it is a vacuum it is nothing for which the poet can flatter himself or receive flattery. Since it is a vacuum it cannot be reproduced in an audience. A vacuum is unalterably and untransferably a vacuum—the only thing that can happen to it is destruction. If it were possible to reproduce it in an audience the result would be the destruction of the audience.

        —Laura Riding, out of Anarchism Is Not Enough (1928)

Dear Russ,
      I am writing to you in the middle of a poem about Helen. What there was to her about your body I should have never ceased to wish to know. It is as if there was a dark fleshy space between us labeled, “I am not myself.”
      There is utterly no reason for imagining Helen. Whether she was in Troy or Egypt, she would be the same figure of imagination put into being by a vacuum, the same vacuum by which I write poetry or you paint, or, I suppose men fought for her.
      Or becomes more unreal every minute. I do not love her. As the thought of you or anyone I loved.
      Hold us to the real, lady of the seven webbed fingers, hold us to their hard hearts bouncing to and fro against each other.

        —Jack Spicer, out of “Helen: A Revision” ( My Vocabulary Did This to Me, 2008)

These swift intrusions of real meaningful intent gave me an insight into what our communicative troubles are about: it’s just a kind of fear of being understood, or misunderstood, with love as the basic energy—for to be understood completely implies a kind of vacuum.

        —Jack Kerouac, out of a letter to Allen Ginsberg (18 September 1948)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Notebook (Ernst Meister, Thomas A. Clark, &c.)

Ernst Meister, 1911-1979

Out of Ernst Meister’s In Time’s Rift (Wave Books, 2012), Graham Foust and Samuel Frederick’s translation of the 1976 Im Zeitspalt, Meister’s “penultimate collection, and the midpoint of an informal trilogy constituting his ‘late work’,” an untitled piece*:
such scales.

One of the trays
by a sepal
from a poppy;

by the breath
of a languishing child,
the other.

By such
bewildered pointers
our being.
How that “beset” makes of that minuscule poppy’s sepal both jewel and threat; how that counterweight of child’s breath—languishing, uncertain of its push, and pushing—manages to keep the pans balanced, even. Bewildered and plagued. Seemingly a fierce constancy in Meister, that inconstancy, that vacillatory static, urge and restraint, plunge and retreat. Forces large and small endlessly poised in equilibratory “countersense.” See**:
“In the deepest reaches
of the oldest dove’s wing”
conceals itself,
going at the blow.
Where the oldest squab is,
negation sits in the nest,
grief-eyed beyond measure.
Concealment “going at the blow,” and measurelessness buried in the reaches. In the excellent Introduction to In Time’s Rift Foust and Frederick point to Heidegger’s formula “Das Nichts selbst nichtet”—“nothingness itself nothings,” so copious and inciting is its force. Meister: “Nothingness wants / to conceal itself / in what is dead. / In this it is / quite real.” (“Es will sich / im Toten / das Nichts verschweigen. / So ist es / ganz wirklich.”) Of Meister (1911-1979) who, following the 1932 publication of his first book Ausstellung (Exhibition) renounced publication for twenty-some years—his second book, Unterm schwarzen Schafspelz (Under Black Sheep’s Clothing) only appeared in 1953—the translators note:
      Like the American poet George Oppen (1908–1984)—who also fought in the Second World War . . . and who stopped publishing poetry for a prolonged period before, during, and after it—Meister takes much stock in “the little words,” words that often prove crucial to his efforts to, as Oppen says, “lay down the substantive for its own sake.”
They quote the lovely Meister couplet “I look at a window, / square of sky” pertinently to note how Meister’s seeing—that at in lieu of the commoner, unseeing (merely “making use of that aperture”) out—measures the world dumbly, that is to say, unabashedly, in momentary innocent concert with the sheer mechanics of the senses. The final poem*** in the book:
Did you, sun, thieve
eyes from me,
or I from you,
in that moment’s glance
when the universe no longer
concerns me, extinguished?
* None of the poems in In Time’s Rift carry titles. The original reads:
solche Waage.

Die eine der Schalen
von einem Blatte
des Mohnkelchs,

von hinsiechenden
Kindes Atem
die andere.

Von so
ratlosen Zungen
unser Wesen.
** The original:
»Unter dem teifsten Flügel
der ältesen Taube«
verbirgt sich
der Gegensinn,
widerlaufend dem Schlage.
Wo das Älteste ist,
sitzt Verneinung im Neste,
gramäugig unermeßlich.
*** The original:
Hast du mir, Sonne,
oder habe ich dir
Augen gestohlen
in dem Augenblick,
wo mich, erloschen,
das All nichts mehr angeht?

Sentences out of Thomas A. Clark’s “In Praise of Walking”:
Early one morning, any morning, we can set out, with the least possible baggage, and discover the world.

It is quite possible to refuse all the coercion, violence, property, triviality, to simply walk away.

. . .

Convictions, directions, opinions, are of less importance than sensible shoes.

In the course of a walk, we usually find out something about our companion, and this is true even when we travel alone.

When I spend a day talking I feel exhausted, when I spend it walking I am pleasantly tired.

The pace of the walk will determine the number and variety of things to be encountered, from the broad outlines of a mountain range to a tit’s next among the lichen, and the quality of attention that will be brought to bear upon them.

A rock outcrop, a hedge, a fallen tree, anything that turns us out of our way, is an excellent thing on a walk.

Wrong turnings, doubling back, pauses and digressions, all contribute to the dislocation of a persistent self-interest.

We lose the flavour of walking if it becomes too rare or too extraordinary, if it turns into an expedition; rather it should be quite ordinary, unexceptional, just what we do.

Daily walking, in all weathers, in every season, becomes a sort of ground or continuum upon which the least emphatic occurrences are registered clearly.

Of the many ways through a landscape, we can choose, on each occasion, only one, and the project of a walk will be to remain responsive, adequate, to the consequences of the choice we have made, to confirm the chosen way rather than refuse the others.

. . .

A dull walk is not without value.

To walk for hours on a clear night is the largest experience we can have.

. . .
How tempting it is to attempt to apply the sentences to writing, and how wrong. (See, though, A. R. Ammons’s “A Poem Is a Walk” (1967): “There is no ideal walk, then, though I haven’t taken the time to prove it out completely, except the useless, meaningless walk. Only uselessness is empty enough for the presence of so many uses, and only through uselessness can the ideal walk come into the sum total of its uses. Only uselessness can allow the walk to be totally itself.”)

Out of the Ian Brinton-edited Andrew Crozier Reader (Carcanet, 2012), Carl Rakosi’s story (told to L. S. Dembo, 4 April 1968) of being tracked down by Crozier (and subsequently returning to writing poetry after a period of some two-and-a-half decades):
      . . . I got a letter one day that had gone the rounds of a number of different cities, before it finally reached me, from a young Englishman named Andrew Crozier. He said that he had run across my name in an article by Rexroth, had looked up my work in magazines, and copied every single poem I had written. He had made a bibliography and wanted to know whether I had written any more. Well, the thought that somebody his age could care that much for my work really touched me; after all, there were two generations between us. And that’s what started me.
      There’s an amusing bit to that letter. You know my legal name is Callman Rawley, not Carl Rakosi, and Crozier had a great deal of trouble tracking me down. Fortunately he was not discouraged by a letter from my publisher saying that he doubted if I was alive and that he had heard that I may have been a secret agent for the Comintern and died behind the Iron Curtain. However, this was only a rumor and Crozier must not breathe a word of this to anyone! I can guess where this rumor might have come from. My publisher must have gotten to someone who knew my old friend, Kenneth Fearing. Fearing and I had been roommates at the University. This is just the kind of prank he would play. I can hear him laughing like hell over it.
Rakosi’s letter to Crozier at being “found” (handwritten on paper with a letterhead reading “Callman Rawley / 4451 Colfax Avenue South   Minneapolis 9, Minnesota”):
                                                                                                                        June 7, 1965
Dear Mr. Crozier:
      What an unexpected pleasure to know that you like my work enough to go to all that trouble. Impertinence indeed!
      I can answer one of your questions without any difficulty: I stopped publishing because I stopped writing (I’m glad you didn’t ask why I stopped writing). The other question I can only take a stab at. I chopped up my poems because I had a passion for order and clarity, and it didn’t seem to me I could achieve that except in small pieces. I was a fool and regretted the butchery later.
      If you are ever in these parts, look me up. And forgive me for taking so long to answer.
                                                                                                                        Callman Rawley
P.S. I’m curious to know what reference Rexroth made to me. I didn’t see it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Notebook (William Bronk, Albert Camus, &c.)

William Bronk, 1918-1999

Brutal usufruct of being, and dying. How accede to the temporal norm? Out with the dog in the stacked-angular noirish light. A single cardinal’s piercing whoit whoit discrepancy baffled by the lowering sky. The essential parsimony of glut. Anything to pinprick my pinprick.

Out of Gretchen E. Henderson’s On Marvelous Things Heard (Green Lantern, 2011):
When I hear pieces by Anton von Webern, Pauline Oliveros, Charles Ives, and Arvo Pärt . . . in which melody disperses among instruments in pointillistic fashion (Klangfarbenmelodie), or synchronizes through vibrations, or intermixes quoted song phrases from hymns and patriotic songs, or repeats aural gestures . . . or fill-in-the-blank with techniques of your favorite composer-confounder . . . I am made uncomfortable in the most wondrous way. I cannot trust my ear to tell me easily if it is music, but slowly my ear becomes accustomed, even in vogue, then after a while, negligent. Here lies the danger: indifference, at which point interruption and invention must recur.

That rut of seeming: intelligibly rote. The sly affability of the customary, its familiar empty skirts. Obdurate solace of being, and dying. Nothing in that drawer. William Bronk (“Costume as Metaphor”): “We know nothing of the world and will never know. All we say is metaphor which asserts at once our unknowing and our need to state in some language what we don’t know . . .”

Two anecdotes out of a lecture by Morton Feldman (“XXX Anecdotes & Drawings”):
      There is a marvelous story about Duchamp and an art student in San Francisco many years ago. Duchamp goes to this art school and he sees this kind of tough, macho San Francisco painter and Duchamp looks at this picture he doesn’t know. He says to the fellow, “What are you doing?” And the painter says, “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.” Duchamp pats him on the back and says, “Keep up the good work!”
      Kierkegaard wrote a marvelous thing in Either / Or. He said he feels that when he dies, they are going to ask him only one question, when he gets up there. And the question is, “Did you make things clear?” Did you make things clear?—that is what they are going to ask him up there. In other words, in his own life, did he make things clear. How he felt, how he wrote, everything. And I am very concerned with making things clear. And maybe I’m using metaphor as a way of saying it in different ways in order to be clear, you see. Stendhal had a big sign on top of his desk, it said, “To be clear at all costs.” To be clear at all costs.
Prongs of a dilemma. Brash clarity, dundering obfusc. (Brash clarity versus dundering obfusc.)

Out of The Iliad (Book XX):
Terms of reproach we both might find, whose weight
Would sink a galley of a hundred oars;
For glibly runs the tongue, and can at will
Give utt’rance to discourse in ev’ry vein;
Wide is the range of language; and such words
As one may speak, another may return.
Translated by Edward George Geoffrey Smith Stanley, Earl of Derby (1864). Versus the lines as rendered by Alexander Pope (1715-20):
Long in the field of words we may contend,
Reproach is infinite, and knows no end,
Arm’d or with truth or falsehood, right or wrong;
So voluble a weapon is the tongue;
Wounded, we wound; and neither side can fail,
For every man has equal strength to rail . . .
(Brutal usufruct of translating.)

Toward the end of The Myth of Sisyphus, under “Absurd Creation” (in the section titled “Ephemeral Creation”), Albert Camus writes:
Of all the schools of patience and lucidity, creation is the most effective. It is also the staggering evidence of man’s sole dignity: the dogged revolt against his condition, perseverance in an effort considered sterile. It calls for a daily effort, self-mastery, a precise estimate of the limits of truth, measure, and strength. It constitutes an ascesis. All that “for nothing,” in order to repeat and mark time. But perhaps the great work of art has less importance in itself than in the ordeal it demands of a man and the opportunity it provides him of overcoming his phantoms and approaching a little closer to his naked reality.

Versus. Pascal Quignard, out of The Roving Shadows:
The definition of modern art was provided by Pierre Guillard on 11 August 1932. Pierre Guillard had studied science and was by profession an engineer. He rushed at Millet’s Angelus and stabbed the canvas several times. He was overcome by the attendants. At the police station to which the Louvre’s attendants took him, he declared:
      ‘At least they’ll talk about me.’
      Self-promotion, the refusal of subjection and the hatred, in all that has been, of the this was—this is the triple thesis of modern art.
      An allergic reaction to dependence, the discrediting of what went before and the elimination of the erstwhile—these are the arguments of progress.
      Guillard damaged the peasant’s trousers and wounded the stooping woman in the arm. The sky was irreparable.

William Bronk, out of The World, the Worldless (1964):

Seen by starlight from the window, fat
blue spruces patch the lawn with darker dark.

Arranged in pairs. People no longer plant
these trees in pairs, with bird baths set between.

Fashions in ornamental planting change.
Houses and yards lose style in twenty years.

Seen by starlight. The universal stars.
Something here is certainly laughably wrong.

Ideas are always wrong. Their separateness
causes a threat to neuter each other out

and leave us without a world as it does here:
heavens and styles collide meaninglessly.

The unsubmissive mind has freedom to be
nothing, worldless—not to exist at all.

Because the various world we sense is not
ever apprehended as one, or formed as one,

ideas are always wrong, always unfixed,
and often their power to make the world real is lost.

Huge factors stand ready to leap in
to alter or destroy a world we defend alone.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pascal Quignard’s The Roving Shadows (Reading Notes)

Pascal Quignard

Out of Pascal Quignard’s fierce and elegiac Les Ombres errantes (2002), in Chris Turner’s translation, The Roving Shadows (Seagull Books, 2011):
In 1933, Tanizaki published a short text in which he expressed regret at the loss of shadows and darkness.* . . . His regret was all the more poignant for being provocatively argued. In that argument Tanizaki expressed his nostalgia for the lavatories of old Japan that were places of near darkness, places no longer tolerated by the whole of Japanese society, which had suddenly been won over by a general desire to excrete in dazzling, puritanical, imperialist, American neon light, and to do so into a spotless porcelain pan, surrounded by gleaming white, hygienic tiling and the fake fragrance of flowers.


Junichiro Tanizaki expressed regret at the passing of the writing brush, which made less noise than a fountain pen; at the passing
      of tarnished metal objects;
      of opaque crystal and clouded jade;
      of streaks of soot on bricks;
      of the peeling of paint on wood;
      of the marks of weathering;
      of broken branches, wrinkles, unravelled hems, heavy breasts;
      of bird droppings on a balustrade;
      of the silent, inadequate light of a candle to eat by, or the light of a lantern hanging above a wooden door;
      of the freer or dulled or vacillating thought that arises in the human head when it buries itself in shadow, the soul moving closer to the boundary of the teeth;
      of the deeper, more hesitant voice that accompanies the glow of the cigarette which catches the eye;
      of the more persistent taste of what is eaten and the less haunting impression of the shape and colour of dishes as one grows older, food becoming gradually more connected with the darkness of the body with which it merges.


. . .


He did not distinguish shadow from the traces of the past. He regretted the passing of grime on boxes and rust on knives, nails and flat-headed screws.
      He missed the moon, too, as the only night-time light in humble dwellings;
      undergrowth and the frightening creatures to be found there;
      the thrilling shadow roving and fading beneath trousers and robes;
      listening to music with the lamps snuffed out.
Monsieur de Pontchâteau had made the Granges de Port-Royal des Champs his hermitage.
      Monsieur de Pontchâteau had at first collected miniatures, before he became infatuated with books. From the moment he began to enjoy reading them, he lived for them alone. He was always ready with this phrase from The Imitation of Christ:
In omnibus requiem quaesivi et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro (I have sought rest throughout the whole world and found it nowhere, except in a corner with a book).

To live in the corner—in angulo—of the world.


In the angle mort—the blind spot—where the visible is no longer visible to sight.
      In the dead zone where the two human rhythms (first the cardiac, then the pulmonary) embrace and around which they generate sonic ecstasy and, perhaps, music—and, from music, time.


Such is Lake Avernus and such the gates and the howling that are beneath Tartarus.
      Such are the lakes the ancient Etruscans made for, carrying the severed, re-modelled heads of their ancestors on spears.
      Such were the boiling pitch and Cerberus: the visible does battle with the invisible. But only the visible shines. Only its victory shines, since even its defeat is brilliant.


One must mediate on this point: the victory of the invisible does not shine.


. . .


At the dawn of the last century, Walter Benjamin wrote that the inventions of photography and cinematography had introduced—into the very heart of the things they had brought to light—the absence of shadow.
I date the globalization of warfare on the earth’s crust from the year 1853. After the genocide of the American Indians and their transportation (‘transportation’ is a word the Germans and the Turks picked up on in the decades that followed), after the genocide of black Africans—democratically flaunted segregation and slavery—the Americans turned their gaze on the rest of the world.
      Commodore Matthew Perry triggered the two world wars in the summer of 1853 in the Bay of Edo.
      The Japanese shogun, alerted by his men, anxiously observed the American paddle-steamers that dropped anchor in the harbor. The Japanese shogun addressed this message to the American officer:
      ‘We do not wish a devilish humanity to enter our territory. We ask you kindly to return to your country and remain there under the venerable protection of your dead. For, in times gone by we have met the Christians and it was not a happy experience.’
      In response, Commodore Perry, at the prow of his ship, shouted over his loud-hailer to the shogun of Edo:
      ‘Either open your borders to free trade or we shall impose it on you by force.’
      What Commodore Perry called free trade meant American commerce.
      American commerce is quite close to what the ancient Romans called the Pax.
      No one has ever known what these words (free, peace) mean, either in English or Latin.
      The Commodore was flanked by his paddle-steamers and steam corvettes. He slowly tilted his guns and armed them. Then, amid cries of admiration for the four extraordinary ships that were threatening them, the Japanese sailors and fishermen who had gathered on the quayside became targets.
      The Americans fired.
      The Japanese yielded.


The Western world then set about protecting ethnology. Field studies became honourable pretexts for beleaguering those ends of the earth that were still closed to the use of fiduciary money, and for infecting the eyes of the poorest with desire in order to destroy them with a mirage.
      Gifts of medicine and food destroyed traditions. Through assistance, freedom became sedentarized. Subjecting human groups to industrial products and alcohol, that assistance opened them up to useless consumption and stupefaction. Having first grabbed them with money, it tied them in to credit and social humiliation.
There was a time—a long time—when men and women left on the earth only excrements, carbon gas, a little water, a few images and their footprints.


Over the last 600 million years, the earth has passed through seven mass extinctions of species. The first dates from the beginning of the Cambrian, 540 million years ago. We are contemporaries of the last of these extinctions. By the end of the twenty-first century, half of the plants and animals that still exist will be extinct.
      The following will have disappeared:
      4,327 species of mammals;
      9,672 species of birds;
      98,749 species of molluscs;
      401,015 species of coleoptera;
      6,224 species of reptiles;
      23,007 species of fish.
      The Eden is gradually receding from the Garden.
George Bataille’s The Accursed Share is one of the finest books of the shadows. Human societies court chance and death. The whole world serves as a basis for the general exchange that is what we once called warfare. The single market has its single goal, which is itself. The market has sought to expand into the totality of available space.
      It has succeeded.
      The available space has now extended to the earth.
      As a result, the earth has entered into competition with itself. Competition, expansion and profit are rational only in the limited, dual state. On a wider scale, the moment the propensity to grow finds nothing to oppose or compete with, it becomes the whirling of a shaman before he collapses ecstatically into the dust which the weight of his body throws up in the moment of his fall.
It isn’t clear when clean and dirty became separated in human societies and consciousness.
      When did the corpse appear and the anguished need to remove it from sight?
      Inhumation preceded sapiens sapiens.
      Art is among the oldest prehuman practices and is much older than money, into which nothing from the sphere of art can be converted.
      Art is the sempiternal contemporary of a separation that does not subordinate it.
      It was born before the disjunctive, arborescent filiations became fixed between man and beast, between the social and the asocial, order and disorder, the adorned and the repellent, the heavenly and the hellish, life and death, form and non-form.
      The sacred, the unclean, that which defiles and that which must be set apart (or concealed from view) are not clearly distinct.
      The sacred has never been so omnipotent as it is in modern societies. We have never before separated ourselves to this same extent from corpses, menstrual blood, spit, snot, urine, faeces, belches, scabs, dust and mud.
      We are all obsessive priests in our kitchens.
      We are insane tyrants in our bathrooms.
      It is difficult to dissociate the notions of hygiene, morality, sacrifice, thought, racism and war. We constantly have an eye out for the other, for what is socially or sensorially unclassified, for parasites, mice, saliva, for what is marginal, for what lives in the interstices (spiders and field mice or scorpions are never either inside or outside), self-taught academics, mammalian fish, Christian Jews, single mothers, undrinkable water and border dwellers—whether in terms of national territories or the body—sperm, pins, nail clippings, sweat, phlegm, ghosts, phobias, fantasies (which hack through the wall that should separate wakefulness from sleep). Art is a parasitical production.
      The one who brings forth that which did not exist until he came along is of the realm of the inappropriate.
      He is out of place. This is the very definition of dirt: something is out of place. A shoe is clean when it is on a floor. It is dirty as soon as you put it on the table cloth among the flowers, the silverware and the neatly aligned glasses.
* See Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows, translated into English in 1977 by Thomas J. Harper and Edward G. Seidensticker. Tanizaki:
Paper, I understand, was invented by the Chinese; but Western paper is to us no more than something to be used, while the texture of Chinese paper and Japanese paper gives us a certain feeling of warmth, of calm and repose. Even the same white could as well be one color for Western paper and another for our own. Western paper turns away the light, while our paper seems to take it in, to envelop it gently, like the soft surface of a first snowfall. It gives off no sound when it is crumpled or folded, it is quiet and pliant to the touch as the leaf of a tree.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Laurie Duggan’s The Pursuit of Happiness

Laurie Duggan, c. 1972
(“what happened to the young man in that photograph? Petersham 1972.”
—Laurie Duggan, “The Nathan Papers”)

To be resolutely notational, loyal to the local, committed to the occasion’s temporal jut, its immediacy, recording through quotidian errancy (and its duff of routine, the execrably dull)—that difficulty. (My ongoing reverie of a lengthy piece called The Notebook Without Pity. Dashed—ever dashed—by my need to expunge the ordinary, to gussy up the obvious, to conclude with some salient boom of “meaning”—the boy applying some bigger circuitry’s probes to the frog’s severed leg, determined to make it flex “for thee . . .”) Did I think all that reading Laurie Duggan’s The Pursuit of Happiness (Shearsman Books, 2012)? No. I did, though, marvel at the way Duggan’s persistently notebookish writing allows “small vernacular moments” to emerge unhindered and whole out of the slurry of the day. He notes (“the very idea” combining disbelief and innocent supposition so that the remark acts as a baffle to its own intent):
the very idea of a ‘collection’
that one thing next to another could itself seem ‘natural’
And (seeing clearly enough to record the purity of the notational method, or “stance”):
the notebook as a record of failure. I mean in the sense that only a few words of innumerable pages make it in any interesting way. not these.
(Momentary maintenance of the idea that that “not these” might look obliquely back to Silliman’s Tjanting-opening “not this”: I doubt it.) A kind of genial doubt pervades The Pursuit of Happiness. In the book’s long final piece, “The Nathan Papers,” Duggan writes (directly succeeding some bemused doodling—“cnr Kent & Liverpool Sts, breakfast / Chinese English, its charm / ‘Mellow Real Estate’ / ‘Eating World’”):
I thought ‘maybe this is too long’, but then I thought ‘it’s too late to stop now’
And, toward the end of that piece:
in a place like this it is expected that you take notes.

a man cuts up a newspaper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

‘persons of interest’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

a well-groomed young punk: ‘The Rancid Transplants’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


people who used to sit around writing things like this were once considered mad. I remember all of the ‘writers’ who would come and sit in the City of Sydney Public Library circa 1972. some had volumes full of writing. but often it was the same thing, over and over. the same sentence, the same phrase, the same word. as though there was a blockage somewhere. even a lapse of memory, meaning each sentence, each word was, for the scriptor, a completely new utterance.

maybe the band should be called Pig Latin?
(Echoing brilliantly an earlier jotting: “maybe poetry should be like a girl’s scrapbook circa 1960? / horses, / horses, / horses . . .”) Here’s a page or so out of “Oňati Notebook”:
The weather lifts,
or not,

sheep up hillsides
possibly dry tomorrow


these are the Basque colours
(white, black, red, yellow, green, blue)


these, the numbers (1-5)

I have mailed my friends (a strange contraction)

and I have already forgotten who’s who
in Wilkie Collins, eighty pages in


Answer to Philip Whalen’s ‘Mysteries of 1961’:
‘Mr Knibx’ was Basque!


Outside the door, the sound
of a mop, inside
the click of a washing machine.

Am I light headed?
or washed-up?

‘nothing in that drawer’

I ran out of town, meaning
there was no town left


Autumn trees, burnt patches amid pine
up a few steps, a peak,
unseen elsewhere, suddenly there.

Trail signs peter out or don’t exist.

Back in the town hall square
observe pigeons, a barn
on the slope of that hill
(the mountains so close, so distant)


The mind floats
beyond all this,

of a past

trapped in one language
reading becomes difficult

a drift of grammars
assonantal or consonantal shifts

the woods
above the town

above the trees
what fades

and what assumes a smoky light


Out from Oňati
on the slopes, frutas kiwi,
champinones y boletas

I’ve yet to name that sharp mountain,
its contours not visible on a map
Several things to note. How ferociously Duggan attends both to the there of the world (“burnt patches amid pine”) and the here of writing (“I ran out of town, meaning / there was no town left”). How that intensity is allowed occasionally to lapse impartibly into washy impercipience (“reading becomes difficult”), thus aptly mimicking the diastolic mind (“forgotten who’s who”). The nods to Whalen and Ron Padgett (“‘nothing in that drawer’”)—and elsewhere Robert Creeley and Jonathan Williams (Duggans includes a piece called “Written in a Kentish Pub on Hearing of the Death of Jonathan Williams”*). How a kind of anthropological (somewhere Duggan talks of an “anthropologist among the carriers of prospecti”) omnivorousness (somewhere, too, the fragment: “container vessel”), all senses extended and out moves the piece along, using (including) everything, signs petering out or not.** (At the beginning of a piece called “Grenadines”: “to arrive at a place / without baggage // to leave with / spectral architecture.” Possibly summing up my experience, The Pursuit of Happiness plucked off a shelf of new books . . .)
* Isn’t Williams one of the presiding genii loci of the tiny pieces collected under the title “Bin Ends (Dogs, Part 6)”? See, say:

her suit
Ghost Writer

In Bloomsbury

‘a self congratulatory glass of something is definitely in order’
Language Poem

al limone
Or the untitled “‘the only hippopotamus in Montenegro is on the loose’” or the mock papyral fragment “Mr [         ]urine Man.” Too, out of “The Nathan Papers,” the Williams-inflected “Sky News: ‘alleged yob speaks’, / a panda walks on hind legs, / Saddam in underpants, Kylie’s breast ok.”

** To note: a series called “Angles” (split, in The Pursuit of Happiness, between “Angles 1-18” and “Angles 19-32”), while maintaining Duggan’s overall wide-angle variousness, seemingly provides looks into distinct recesses, nooks (or—to change the metaphor—angles up particular fish for momentary close examination). Distillates. See:
3     (London Victoria)

the shake-spe-herians
rant at a neighbour table

(as the deaf would drink
at the Forest Lodge, their signs

speedy, erratic)

(poetry is not
endless speech)

the roaring queens roar on

we in the pits
put up with it

then head out for Kent


on Clapham High Street:
—drycleaners of distinction—

5     (Brighton)

the Sunday market:
battered legs of a shop dummy
a broken exercise machine
Cliff Richard’s ‘Hits’

. . .


hop poles recede in fog
‘a delay in services
due to a fatality
in the Meopham area’

. . .


red-tailed kites
over ploughed fields, Bucks.