Why Not?

a kind of promise

the talk of a

terpsichorean chance

some kind of

balance and talent

we wondered on this


apropos of deep reds and dark looks

and we walked around “of course”

everything seemed drunk

when it was

“into the phallic woods you go, girl”

from your funny words towards

“the love of my life” etc.

to whatever we stumbled through


here all this dedication pouring out

upon my disk drive I swear to thee

the sort of

of comparing me to this or that

cute bird with “pin-prick wings” or

a “super beak”

flying/singing in a cartoon or computer moonscape

will win you either

the left or right ventricle of my heart

Actually, when I went to Japan I only brought one smallish box of books. It contained a few texts from the essential text list below as well as all of Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu(though I still[!] haven’t finished it), Kafka’s diaries and parables, Carl Sandburg’s Rutabaga Stories, and Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, which is really the only book I need. It’s not from this century, though, so it’s not on the list below.

Mostly, on a desert island I would just want to have Internet access. Barring that, the Oxford English dictionary and a limitless supply of notebooks and writing implements.

Otherwise, here’s a rough draft of my list of essential texts, subject to revision:

Alan Davies Name

Clark Coolidge Solution Passage

Carla Harryman Under the Bridge

Collected Frank O’Hara — not just Lunch Poems

Mina Loy Lunar Baedecker

Tristan Tzara’s poems/ manifestos — in French so I could have more of a brain teaser on the desert island.

Alice Notley How Spring Comes

Bernadette Mayer — but it couldn’t be any single text — it would have to be a sampler. If I could have just one text I guess it would be Studying Hunger because it’s so bizarre. Would be best to have the unedited version.

This is

off the

top of



Will give it



Heriberto is brilliant. Frustrated and adolescently lashing out, but brilliant.

Kasey is brilliant, too, but I wouldn’t take ANY of his essential texts to a desert island with me.

I mean, The Maintains? Forget it.

I did, however, take Solution Passage to Thailand with me on one occasion. Sublime beach reading.

List of Flaws

Assless (yes, I have no ass)



Unattractive (it’s actually the first ones with lots of more stuff)







Too altruistic (what, put together with the last one, makes me a schizophrenic)




Way too sincere

I always need a girl to take care of me

I always pretend that I don’t care about just giving caress and not receiving it

I always pretend that I don’t care about myself

I always pretend that I don’t care

I always pretend that I’ll be fine (when I’m dumped)

I always pretend that I’m a grown up

I always pretend that I’m a teenager

I always pretend that I’m a child

I always pretend that I’m a gentleman (I actually am, but I’ve been forcing myself to it since I was about four years-old)

I always pretend that I’m drunk

I always pretend that I’m not drunk

I always pretend that I’m in love (sometimes I pretend it even to myself)

I always pretend that I’m not in love (sometimes I pretend it even to myself)

I always pretend that I’m less than I really am

I always pretend that I’m more than I really am

I always pretend that I’m smart

I always pretend to my relatives and some not so close friends that it’s all right

I can always blame all on me

I can’t accept that there’s something good about me

I fall in love too easily

I have some crooked teeth

I just fall in love with unattainable women

I need to always be in love

I need to always be right

I need to always have the last word

I need to always receive caress


[dear readers, I’m not sure how to get the accents and tildes working here]

Cecilia Vicu?a’s work is a meditation on and an enactment of the fine.

Not fine as in the sense of “precious” or “luxurious”, as in fine wines or “she lived surrounded by finery,” but fine as in “precise” and “delicate.”

Not “delicate” as in weak. Vicu?a’s fine is penetrating and effective, like a string cutting cheese, like laser surgery, like the fine link of the copula in an uncannily exact metaphor.

Not fine as in “refined” — which calls up sugar, oil, and pretentious manners. Vicu?a’s fine is the fine of nature, like that of spiders’ webs. Or the fine of manipulated nature, like goats mixed genetically with spiders to give silk in their milk. The fine of DNA.

It is the fine of lines. Her book Instan is a perfect illustration of the principles of the fine. Simultaneously writing and drawing, as in the Japanese verb kaku or the Quechua verb kellkani, the pages of the first section of the book, “gramma kellcani (the drawings)”, are reproduced from finely pencilled originals. The printing is in grays, not black, showing the tiny variations of shade characteristic of pencil. Because these variations are the traces of an individual’s force and pressure, they serve to humanize the writing and reconnect it with the body of its creator.

The letters in “gramma [“grandmother” and “grammar” as well as amma, “mother”] kellkani” morph into lines and then back into other letters. Words fuse into lines and then into other words Sometimes the lines separate to indicate connection but do not actually touch. Sometimes the words arrange in spirals, or crisscrosses, or wave patterns. Some look very like scientific diagrams. Sometimes the words are in Spanish and sometimes they are in English. The drawn lines show how the words are connected and also how they are distinct: compacto, compose, compartir. “Gramma kellkani,” like so many of Vicu?a’s other works, is as much an essay on comparative linguistics and metaphysics as it is a poem as it is a drawing. It is as if Vicu?a, unlike Mr. Casaubon in Middlemarch who never manages to find “the key to all mythologies”, has truly found, if not the key to all languages, a graphic and probing way in to some specific truths about them.

Into the mine of the f(emin)ine.

Or the filaments of the infinite.

Or onto the tightrope of the written word into sound and its unpredictable trapeze into meaning.

Ironically, lines as she uses them foil linearity, making the eyeballs dance and loop-de-loop, making the reader turn the book to all angles, maybe even rotate it entirely. What a truly fine way to cause a revolution, to turn the world upside down!

Part Two of Instan, “el poema cognado/ the poem”, illuminates the mechanism of the “gramma kellcani” drawings:

An instant is present

it “stands,”

a filament of sta, a state of being stamen,

a thread in a warp,

a web in ecstasy.

An instant — the smallest divisible unit of time we can experience? At the end of “gramma kellcani” the lines have dispersed into points which are surely stars? They have no more meaning? Except that –wow — they inhabit — nay, they create — the Milky Way, the fine trickle of light which is also milk:

To carry back is to relate

a flowing of milk: time

becomes language and love.

And Vicu?a’s love (in a kind of lightwordmilk), with its dimensions at once personal, political, and metaphysical, transmits as if through a miraculous verbal breast fashioned of the finest fiberoptic technology; “ad?nde,” she asks coyly, as if she truly didn’t know she were giving it,

la leche

de una teta



a suckling

of musical


Just as Vicuna’s fine can be graphic or liquid or light, so also can it be sound, as when in her performances she enters a room first with her voice — amar/ el formans …. formans: “a bunch of frequencies in the human voice” Carlos Guedes — small (fine) but, even unamplified, capable of filling the huge hall at St. Mark’s church with its shivery resonances.

A moment of trance where transformation begins:

silence to sound, and back.