Archive for the ‘poems’ Category

Back to the Skunkworks!

Just last week, a friend recently publicized a chapbook of mine composed and published airship2over twenty years ago, and the response, livelier than any to any of my work in recent memory, encourages me to return to the work that chapbook began.

I shouldn’t be surprised, in a way. This poem was the center-piece of the performances I gave during a tour of Germany in 1996, and then, too, the response was gratifying:  one audience member excitedly came up to me to say he would buy everything I would publish, and a friend I made during that tour, the German novelist Georg Oswald, approved with pleasure the approach I took to the material. And a few years later this sequence was well-received by Terry Matheson, a professor of English who has applied narratology to alien abduction reports and who was kind enough to even teach the poem below in one of his classes.

arnold_ufoSo, for interested parties, I append one of the first poems from this project, the last poem of my first trade edition, Grand Gnostic Central and other poems. and return to  back-engineering this “modern myth of things seen in the sky”.


Flying Saucers


Tuesday three in the afternoon 24 June 1947

Kenneth Arnold of Boise, rescue pilot, businessman, deputy sheriff and federal marshal, U.S. Forest Serviceman

At 9,000 feet crystal-clear conditions

Alone in his Callair between Chehalis and Yakima

An hour’s detour searching for a lost transport

Out of the blue a flash like just before a midair crash

Made him look left north of Mount Rainier

To see at ninety degrees

Nine seeming jet planes in a V pointed south


The echelon vaguely bobbing and weaving

Flashing reflections

Twenty-four miles off

Against Rainier’s snows, tailless—

Flying nearly forty miles

Between Mounts Rainier and Adams

Three times the speed of sound

The first crossed the ridge bridging the mountains

As the last came over its north crest five miles back


Nine crescents needing to be

Half a mile long to be seen

Flying that fast that far away

So smooth mirroring sunlight

Like speedboats on rough water

Wavering in formation

Like the tail of a Chinese kite

Wings tipping flashing blue white

Each like a saucer skipped over water



For the Record: “Reading Dudek’s The Caged Tiger”

One of the ironic aspects of the digitization of cultural artefacts and the blissfully ignorant acceptance if not celebration of this process is, apart from those documents excluded from the process in the first place, the inevitable decay of links and websites and the consequent disappearance of the works they hosted. Such was the case with the poem below.

When Louis Dudek’s penultimate volume of poetry The Caged Tiger was published, I read img20171218_14235601it with some irritation and sought a way to express it other than in a review. The compositional answer was to write poems that intervened in the original, engaging in a kind of dialogue; the relation of the new poem to the original is underlined in [28], below. The words in bold are Dudek’s; the numbers in [] are the page numbers of his original book.

The novelty or singularity of this formal maneuver to contemporaneous and subsequent compositional practice I leave to the determination of the learning of the reader; the poem was written the year of the publication of Dudek’s volume, 1997.


Reading Dudek’s The Caged Tiger




The transcendental then is merely the unknown

—No: how what’s known is—

inside out:  no silhouette

no eidos no idea:

The transcendental’s how you know

you’re facing the mirror



Aside from yourself

the world


How it all happened

to come


‘s beyond you



Neither this nor any mystery’s gnawed

The mystic’s “the tight-lipped”

Tongue’s quiver locked up




Art is a dead god’s tongue

whose words

we still like the sound of

“the music of the spheres”

night’s white noise

the whole spectrum

of electromagnetic radiation

visible and audible

only to the radio-telescopes’

timpani tipped to listen

idle humming

“I-am-I”’s sound poem




Time’s transcendental

A watch




As one of those

in downy feathers

mouth open

happened on

spring mornings




in the cage too tight to lie in

a small pot nobody empties

wire mesh hardly a reach up

nights icy rain

days the sun throbs

the face in the cool mud




The bass beat faster than a raver’s heart at daybreak

shudders the whole body in the spot and strobelit dark

College boys and girls in their personal fashion statements

each writhe alone in cigarette smoke fog and pheremones




The old are removed

to their graves

and the young come up

to fill their places

i.e., as a “[f]ine bod”y

closed in a dipping casket

Old Heracleitus

renewed every sun



Tha stance toward Reality

A week back I shared an unpublished poem “Unreal, that is, to the real itself…” and in the week since by a kind of weird serendipity I’ve been engaged in a dialogue concerning evolutionary psychology, reductive physicalism, by extension materialism and transcendentalism, so on and so forth, all of which tie into the question of the Real and what can be known of it.

I’ve made my polemical stance in this regard known in an ironic manner in the poem inf.26.47.dore“Get Real” (it is a poem after all; how can it not be ironic?) so in light of the past week’s ink spilled (what is the on-line, digital version of this expression?) on the matter, I share here the prefatory poem to my second trade edition, Ladonian Magnitudes ‘topos tropos typos” (a confession’. The opening words are Charles Olson’s.


“for nine years
“three words constantly
“forced me down

“or kept me
“in or possibly
“steadied me…


topos tropos typos” (a confession


there is a freedom to be learned

a tradition earned

every wave of particular


not men or women, some

generation, not a sapling

scored around the oak’s core


but decision

not to attend what’s passed

for the new, not to accept the world


as given), &

stopped my reflection

the light


more vivid
that night

than the rain
wet street

(“E’en thus along the gulf moves every flame,

“A sinner so enfolded close in each

“That none exhibits token of the thief



the archetext!


“…where lives the virtue of poetry…”

Yesterday, Canada’s Chris Banks baldly posed the question to his Facebook friends “What is authentic poetry?”. I (mis)remembered, after my own initial contributions to winding or snarling the ensuing thread, I had written a poem that addressed at least “the virtue of all authentic thinking” (and I’m hardly the first to imagine or suggest that poetry can be a kind of thinking). I post that poem, below.

It was written at the same time as the poem that opens Ladonian Magnitudes, “topos tropos typos’ (a confession”, itself composed before even my first trade edition, Grand Gnostic Central. It’s title is a quotation from Charles Olson. Whether it is possessed of any qualities that might be construed as “authentic” I leave to the judgement of the reader. For my part, I cite again, as I did first in yesterday’s thread, Novalis, from his Fragments and Studies 1799-1800, #671:  Schwer schon ist zu entscheiden, doch einzig mögliche Entscheidung, ob etwas Poesie sei oder nicht”:  It’s already difficult to decide, but it’s the only decision possible, whether something is poetry or not.


“Unreal, that is, to the real itself”


where lives the virtue of poetry

and all thinking free

of the tyranny of the real


in perceiving the real

flow, elementally

fluid, hence watery


form forms


seen in Winter


as slippery

hard and cold

as ice to the head



as the sea, unfathomable

God as Melville says


from the masthead


a shriek above

the water


a shriek

above the water


the same


‘Thanks’, plural of ‘thank’

IMG_2516In part because it’s American Thanksgiving and in part as preface to my launching a new chapbook this Sunday, I post here a sequence of faux haikus originally shared over a number of days on my Facebook author’s page in 2016 that each mark (or, more philosophically, “trace”) a moment or spot-in-time of gratitude.




Walk to work over Park Mont

Royale:  birdsong &

melt burble in stereo.




Ekphrastic “tiny heroes

hunting flying grass-

hair butts” from an ex-student.


Facebook messenger giggle

threads nearly daily

with ex-student writer friend.




Not my fault but likely got

a student expelled

& yet I still feel regret.


Is it the Waldmeister garb?

Everyone asks me

directions on the Mountain!


Suffocating poetry

festival panel:

Happy, two friends to sit with.




An invitation to watch

a friend’s family eat

chicken, vegetables for all.


“He thinks everything he says

is a pearl”—a brown

pearl, a soft brown oblong pearl.


[This gratitude haiku is

in breach of Facebook’s

Terms and Conditions of Use]




A session on the Holy

Mountain, the Living

Room, Eichendorff Anlage.


The Extending the Table

cookbook my sister

gave us years back used daily.


Everything for tomorrow’s

Basic Raw Vegan

Protein Overnight Oats on hand.




A damp, cool, April Monday

morning; walk signal

turns as I step to the curb;

green buds heart high on

pussy willow; chickadee

trio met on Mont

Royale for palmseed breakfast;

lithe black Lab mongrel

mindless joy hunting squirrel,

redpink tongue aflap;

retiree, I imagine,

crouches down before

March End Prill, camera balanced

to film the melt stream.




Feeding the Mountain

chickadees again this time

four & lower down.


Fritz Lang on meeting Goebbels

& high-tailing it

out of Germany on YouTube.


Realizing a friend’s “today’s good”

status updates are

his own gratitude haikus.




Rainer in Heidelberg e-

mails me RE: a fish

& crow for a new haiku.


I’m here! Chickadees call; in

among roots, under

a bench two tiny Chipping

Sparrows; standing still

roadside a Mallard I could

look in her black eye;

white underwing then bark grey

back of a Cooper’s

Hawk pair; trunks and branches arch

a hall for birdsong;

quack honk pair call overhead

two Canada Geese.




Haematite & red

jasper pendant stones gifted

from friends worn daily.




Overhead overheard a

sparrow hen’s sighing

invitation to her cock.


Searching for chickadees I

spot a hawk broad wings

spread glide in two slow circles.


The gratitude haiku I

could write every day

about my Bedrock of Love.




More to be grateful

for today than seventeen

syllables can say.




Kisses waking me

three times last night after three

days cities apart.


Discussing poems

& coming to understand

some matters are style.




One martini to

dissolve pedagogical





Sunday morning sun warms rain

wet pavement; German

summers rise to memory.




Sitting myself free

from an intoxicating

toxic old mentor.


Getting progressives

have fought so much against they

forget what they’re for.


That uncanny first

green of grass & full foliage;

May in Montreal.




Scholarly duties

discharged—time to write & read

& think—poetry!


Morning walk to school;

chance meeting with Adrian,

gentle bookseller.




Distant Keel scholar

friend reads my latest poems:

“More soon! Herzlich, d.”


Brunette shoulder-length

mop, fair-face toddler; behind-

soother grin, “Bonjour!”




Doktor Pfeiler asks to read

“Bochum” at the Ruhr

Uni Anniversary.




France outlaws food waste;

Neckar gulls rise & circle

Hölderlin’s tower.


[Dear friend, the pseudo

haiku means thanks for the news

& Celan’s poem!]


I read hash high mice

horny but too stoned to climb on

yawn then lick themselves.




Tropical muggy

Montreal summer monsoons

cooling afternoons.




Despite knowing better grave

nostalgia wins out;

music of my youth.




Day after I’m told

chemo’s on the horizon

Archer season six.




The chick says Feed me!

The cock says Fuck me! The hen

says Leave me alone!


Message with Georg

about how The Walking Dead

is a great Western.


Every day Petra’s

home not teaching I ambush

and stroke her soft skin.




The naturopath

asks if I was an athlete

in my younger days.




The inanities

of my fellow travellers

to Toronto end.


Cloudless skies warmer

than forecast; little Grey Goose;

yellow fields like home.


The wisdom of George

mindful of his feet; Uncle

Andrew’s belly breaths.




A baker’s dozen

sparrows flutter dust bath tubs

in reno dirtsand.




Three hot tropical

I imagine days; frozen

red grapes to snack on.




Rigpa, Amor, learning, Poesie:  what more do I need in my life?




What I have to say to you friends needs more than a haiku’s syllables




Couchlock or sitting full lotus, meditation bench, or straightbacked chair




Empty the cache, re

boot, meditate, and get back

down to the real work




For the moment, a poem…

201118_lIn No Man’s Land

Wise Kung Fu


Waited out

One whole moon

on ‘is lutestrings


What tunes could fill those twentyeight days a woman’s monthly round

Did he have a copy of the classic anthology at his fingers’ tips

Asleep fingers twitch dreamquick licks


from March End Prill


Six new poems up at Dispatches

Dispatches from the Poetry Wars has most generously posted six hitherto unknown poems of mine in their summer upload.

It’s a vast and provocative site, well worth the time.



Saint Patrick’s Day 2003

Below is a poem from my 2011 volume March End Prill (BookThug) marking an intersection of the calendar’s circle and history’s line of singularities.

Saint Patrick’s Day 2003


libera agonalia nefastus publicus

I’d love to tell of sudden fish



late end of January Friday afternoon

New Square Fish Market New Square NY NY Luis

Luis Nivelo single handed lifts a flashing carp on the scale 20lb

Then out and down club up to club it for Sabbath gefilte

    tzaruch     shemirah     hasof     bah    !

Diablo! 57-year-old Skver Hasid Zalmen Rosen

11 children “Luis, what?!” I heard that fish talk! 

tzaruch     shemirah    Old Abraham

buried last week? Adonai?    hasof     bah

“account for yourself

“the end is near

“pray & study the Torah”



St Patrick’s: Shamrock Irish triple deities

long before Patrick’s Trinity; Roman festival

of Mars, an enormous phallus paraded

through the streets: green for sex festivals the fashion;

Middle Ages the day Noah boarded the Ark:

World Maritime Day.



…Saddam Hussein’s got 48 hours…

…the Day of Iraq’s Liberation is near…

…do not destroy oil wells…

…do not follow orders to use Weapons of Mass Destruction…

…“I was just following orders” no excuse…

…we are a peaceful people…

…not intimidated by thuggery or murder…

…new and undeniable realities…

…a policy of appeasement toward…

…plotters of chemical, biological, or nuclear terror…

…the just demands of the world…

…to overcome violence…

…the future we choose…

…& may God continue

to bless America



Thursday morning Kenneth Masterson out the front door for his paper

“five or six dead fish about 10 or 12 inches long out by th’edge of my yard”

in the street more some rush hour road kill more across

“don’t look like they’ve been hooked”

might be white bass no ponds or lakes near

“really bad storms I wonder if some twister didn’t just pickemup & dropem”



imagine being “jess a pohet”

in Baghdad; who gives a fugg


if you care little abt Saddam

& less abt Geawge Dablya,


jess wanna pen yr little

quirky sufi scrapings


in peace, pumpin yr 2 wives — thassall

ye kin afford– chewing yr majoun like:


you’ll be incinerated along with them

maddogs jess ’cause ya happen to be an Iraqi!!!


I believe it ain’t unright fr me to

feel some solidarity with benighted pohets


‘n’ artists cowering in bum shelters,

disfigured into faceless monsters a la


Saddam. I is dead certain

there are more than one confreres there


who write Je est un autre — only we

aren’t allowed to see them, knowem.


Is there such a thing as Iraqi samizdat

how to send ’em secret artists a sign?



Multiversic takes on 9/11

Despite its being the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks Sunday, I had decided to, here, pass over the event in silence. Then, The Griffin Trust website posted Fanny Howe’s “9/11”.

I was struck—as I often am—by the commentary accompanying the poem:

Is it virtually impossible to write about certain events that are too immense, too devastating, too charged on so many levels? To go into the specifics, one risks being maudlin, self-absorbed, short-sighted, too emotional. To try to broaden the discussion and perhaps recklessly try to scale something to the universal, one risks being too political, polarizing or simply missing the mark.

Howe’s poem, of course, avoids being too “self-absorbed” and “too political”—by “suggesting the heart of the event’s impact, is how it affects who and what we love.” I wonder what the commentator thinks of Shelley’s The Mask of Anarchy or Charles Reznikoff’s Testimony or Holocaust.

By way of contrast and to broaden and concretize the discussion, let me offer these two poetic texts that both fail to escape the commentator’s extremes: “The Tao of 9/11”  by Peter Dale Scott (that both goes “into specifics” and is “too political”) and one of my own, excerpted from a longer work, that, too, is “too specific,” composed, as it was, in real time.

Writing a poetry including history is no easy matter, and the question how far the “heart of the matter” escapes history’s particulars and the machinations of power no less demanding.



Get Real: a poem

I recently got caught up in a brief on-line debate as to whether emotions, sensations, and other mental phenomena were “really only” neurological states or not, which, later, reminded me of the poem below that had come to me a little like a joke concerning the same topic-ish.


Get Real


A neurobiologist, a theoretical and a computational physicist, an anaesthesiologist, and Deepak Chopra walk into a lecture hall to discuss The Nature of Reality.

Better to have staged a dramatic recitation of Plato’s Sophist, the Tao te Ching, or The Divine Comedy; even better if nobody knew Greek, Chinese, or Italian.

Better to’ve performed Schubert’s last sonata in B flat or had Ahad Master improvise, had everyone enter an anechoic chamber to hear their blood circulate and nerves hum,

Gone to The National Gallery of Canada and gazed on Barnett Newman’s Voice of Fire,

Had everyone guided through a sequence of novice yoga moves or instructed how just to sit and fix the wandering mind on the breath swelling their bellies,

Fast forty days and forty nights, take a heroic dose of Psilocybe Cubensis (with due care to set and setting), cry for a vision, or participate in a potlatch,

Consider the view of the proverbial fly on the wall, the air in the room.