For too long have we listened to the poetry introduction.

The poetry introductions of the past were sententious displays of shallow erudition, wallowing in a mire of studied cleverness.

The new poetry introduction will be casual.

First of all, the poetry introduction will follow the reading rather than precede it.

Or it will be performed in private.

The mind which plunges into the poetry introduction shall relive with glowing excitement the best part of its childhood.

The new poetry introduction will be mumbled, half-audible, and thus ineffable.

For the time is ripe for a poetry introduction not of the harp but of the kettledrum.

Not of the prune, but of the tangelo.

It is incumbent upon us to try to see more and more clearly what is transpiring unbeknownst to the poet in the depths of her mind, even if she should begin to hold her own vortex against us …

So that we may feel it, throbbing.

The audience wants to know everything: predilections, preludes, preferences, poignency

Peppers, pitchforks, pinworms, palatino

Pearls, peanuts, paw-paw, peccadilloes

Puppies, pythons, ponies, provocations,

Palindromes, pastrami, pablum, and plywood.

A dazzling pact has been proposed between the poet and the pasty proclamations of his introducer:

It is up to him and to him alone to rise above the fleeting sentiment of the poet, like a salvo fired in salute.

We submit that the new poetry introduction can only hope to be crowned with success if it is carried out under conditions of moral asepsis which very few people in this day and age are interested in hearing about.

Yet it is a matter, not of remaining there at that point, but of not being able to do less than to strain desperately toward that limit.

The poetry introduction is less inclined than ever to dispense with this integrity, to abandon it, under the vague, the odious pretext that it has to “introduce.”

The poetry introducer no more need cite the banal catalog of the poet’s accomplishments, such as Mairead Byrne’s The Pillar

or Rachel Levitsky’s Under the Sun

or Kristen Prevallet’s Scratch Sides

or Kim Rosenfield’s Good Morning — Midnight —

or Marianne Shaneen’s The Peekaboo Theory

or Rod Smith’s Music or Honesty

No more shall the poetry introduction be detoured, indeed derailed, by the banal reminder that it is happy hour, that drinks are two for one, but that the kind audience should tip the bartender on the second round.

Likewise neither shall the new poetry introduction be bogged down in the morass of readings-to-come, such as Jerome Rothenberg and Charlie Morrow here, tonight, at 8:00 p.m.

or Eddie Berrigan and Heather Ramsdell at the Zinc Bar, tomorrow night, at 6:59

or the Major Jackson talk on Sun Ra, Monday night at the Project

or Frank Sherlock and Tracy Smith at the Project Wednesday night

or the Subpress collective reading here, next week, at 2:00 p.m.

or the reading which follows it, Robert Fitterman and Murat-Nemet Nejat, which will be free to those sticking around from the Subpress reading.

No, the new poetry introduction must bring about a transvaluation of all poetry values.

The new poetry introduction must have more confidence in the moment, this present moment, of the poetry introducer’s thought, than of the silent army of readers waiting to take the stage.

And so, without further ado, bother, fuss, fiddling around, or delay

Without further stalling, hesitation, barring, blockage, or impotent, repeated stabs at humor

Indeed, without further postponement

Or lag

Or dawdling filibuster

Let us expedite our hastening with all due speed and alacrity

And welcome our first reader, Rachel Levitsky.

The Abuse of Mercury

Hot face with cold hands and feet.

Great tension, anxiety, fear.

Fear of a crowd, of the future, of the seriousness of his illness; feels sure he will die.

Aggressive restlessness; tumbles about in bed, cannot lie still; sudden startings.

Pulse frequent, hard, wiry.

Great sensitiveness to noises of any sort.

Stools green, like chopped spinach.

Burning heat in the body.

Despondent, irritable mood.

Sensation of small sticks in the rectum.

Violence of all the symptoms.

Remarkable intolerance of milk. As soon as swallowed, it is thrown up in heavy curds.

Indicated in hysteria, chorea, spinal irritation and neurotic states generally, with jerking, trembling, itching.

Twitching of the eye-lids.

Twitching in the face, mouth, muscles of neck, abdomen, extremities.

Child stupid, semi-conscious; does not understand; muttering delirium; stupor, restlessness.

Head burning hot, with fever and anxiety.

Face hot, dark livid, covered with livid rash.

Tongue dry, parched, cracked.

Eyes congested; pupils dilated.

Stools watery and offensive.

Skin of face and of entire body covered with livid, purplish eruption, disappearing on pressure, returning slowly.

Copious, watery and exceedingly acrid nasal discharge.

Tickling in the larynx, with hacking cough upon inspiring cold air.

Derangements of appetite incidental to having a cold, with strong craving for raw onions.

Abdominal flatulency, copious, burning, pressing downward and causing more severe colicky pain.

Sense of “insecurity” when passing flatus.

Even solid stool passes almost unnoticed.

Stool watery, jelly-like, with great amount of flatus.

Burning in the anus and rectum.

Worse early in the morning, desire for stool driving him out of bed; from eating and drinking; in hot, dry weather.

Better in the open air; from discharge of flatus; from local use of cold water.

Loss of appetite; sour eructations, craving for starch, chalk and other indigestible things.

Stool accumulates in the rectum because of lack of desire (and inability) to expel it.

Stools hard, knotty, covered with mucus, followed by bleeding and cutting pain in anus.

Tip of nose looks red.

Thick, red rash all over the body, like scarlet fever rash.

Burning, acrid leucorrhoea, watery; aversion to sexual intercourse.

Menses copious, black, too early, clotted, with sense of great exhaustion and chilliness.

Acrid, hot, watery, coryza, corroding the lips.

Hoarseness and burning of the larynx.

Constipation of hard, crumbling stool, covered with mucus; after stool, smarting and soreness in the rectum.

Diarrhoea of green, mucous stools (occur also during menses).

Leucorrhoea like the white of egg, with colicky pain about the navel.

After urinating, brown, slimy discharge from the vagina.

Tendency to use profane and vulgar language on every occasion.

Distrust of everybody; hypochondriasis; mental irresponsibility and fickleness of purpose.

Sensation as of a hoop or band around a part.

Sensation as though a plug were pressing in different parts of the body (head, eyes, ears, chest, abdomen, etc.).

Excessively irritable, fretful, sulky.

Child cannot bear to be touched or looked at; objects to being washed.

Face covered with pimples; cracks in the corners of the mouth; yellowish crusts on cheek and chin.

Tongue coated thick white, as though covered with milk or whitewashed.

Moist eruption on and behind ears.

Finger-nails split easily; horny growth under the nails.

Horny excrescences over the body.

Gums spongy; bleed easily.

Appetite abnormal; craves acids and pickles.

Constant belching of gas.

Diarrhoea, watery, slimy, windy; stools mixed with hard lumps.

Thick, hard scabs over the body; on the chin; bleed when touched.

Skin covered with pimples and vesicles.

Soles of feet very sensitive; horny growths on the feet.

Great lassitude and drowsiness.

Skin cold; covered with clammy, sticky perspiration.

Tongue thinly coated white, with red papillae, red, in streaks or dyr in the median line.

Pustules on the body, leaving a bluish-red mark; they develop slowly and are slow in passing through suppuration.

Tired, as if bruised all over.

Bag-like swelling under the eyes.

Fever without thirst.

Tickling in the little spot on the posterior pharynx, exciting cough which stops as soon as a bit of mucus is raised.

Severe concussive cough; it painfully jars the head, so he must bend the head back and hold it to relieve the severity of the shock.

Diarrhoea of yellow-green stools, in the morning, with abdominal soreness.

Enlargement and burning-stinging pain in the ovaries, especially right.

Bearing down as if menses would appear, followed by scanty discharge of black mucus.

Hoarseness and aphonia, in professional singers.

Cough, excited by laughing.

Viscid, jelly-like mucus in the larynx, coughed up in the morning.

Easy expectoration of substance looking like boiled starch.

Face aged, withered, bluish.

Pains increase and decrease gradually.

Always in a hurry.

Great longing for fresh air.

Great desire for sweets.

Apprehension and dread of meeting people, of being in a crowd. Going to some public entertainment brings on diarrhoea.

Erroneous perception; as to time, minutes seem hours; as to gait, a slow gait seems fast.

Feeling as though the affected parts were expanding.

Headache, relieved by tightly bandaging the head, with creeping, crawling sensation in the scalp.

Great heat in the eyes; it dries up the eyelashes.

Coughing when singing a high note; chronic hoarseness.

Excessive gastric flatulency; seems as though stomach would burst; gas belched up with great difficulty and much noise.

Diarrhoea, green like spinach, in flakes, as soon as he drinks or eats sweets.

Ulcerative soreness in the middle of the urethra as from a splinter. When passing the last drops of urine, cutting pain from the posterior urethra to anus.

Better in the open air; when the wind blows in his face; from belching up of gas.

Sore, lame, bruised feeling all over, as though beaten.

Fears being touched; dreads having anyone come near him.

Oversensitiveness to pain.

Head hot, the rest of the body cool.

Taste as from a bad egg; pressure in the stomach as from a stone.

Stools offensive, brown, putrid, bloody; after stool exhausted, so he is obliged to lie down.

Skin covered with itching, burning, small pimples and boils.

Black and blue spots on the body.

Face pale, sunken, cachetic, cold, covered with cold sweat; eyes sunken; agonized expression.

Great anguish; despair; fear of death; suicidal tendency.

Sleeps with the hands over the head.

Pulse small, rapid, intermittent.

Eructation of bitter, sour substance, irritating the throat as though from an acid.

Burning pain, as though from a live coal, in the affected part (carbuncles; stomach; abdomen).

Diarrhoea of dark-brown stools; of cadaverous carrion-like odor; worse from eating or drinking.

Diarrhoea like chopped egg, horribly foul, preceded by restlessness and anguish, followed by great prostration and burning in the rectum.

Every effort is followed by exhaustion; when lying still he is less conscious of his weakness.

Dry, bran-like, scaly eruption, with itching and burning, worse from scratching.

Saliva profuse, acrid, excoriating the parts it touches; worse from exposure to sharp wind.

Voice uncertain; hoarseness.

Discharge of fetid, green, purulent matter from nose and ears.

Great mental depression; talks of committing suicide. Often accompanied with cerebral congestion and sexual furor.

Profound depression, followed by sudden, but temporary, cheerfulness.

Hypersensitiveness of special senses.

Pain about the eye, in the bony structures, extending from above downward, into the eye-ball.

Fetid odor, like old cheese, from the mouth; on young girls at puberty.

Burning-itching in the vagina, inducing self-abuse; parts sensitive.

Worse in the morning; in cold air; in the winter, when obliged to be quiet; from abuse of mercury.

Gary didn’t put me in his hat poem.

This despite the fact that I own some interesting hats, such as a fleecey gray hood with “bear ears” and a wildly fuzzy “cossack” hat.

Dream of the night before last:

I am pregnant, so I buy a pair of athletic shoes to accommodate my heaviness and my swollen feet and ankles. The shoes are bright orange.

The people I am hanging out with are in some kind of new age yoga community. One person says to me, “How could you buy those shoes? You know they were made with sweatshop labor under terrible working conditions.”

I reply, “well excuuuuse me. I’m pregnant and I make $2000 a month. How am I supposed to afford a politically correct pair of shoes?”

This dream reminds me of something I witnessed at one of the peace marches early this year. Two big working-class guys walked past a group of anti-sweatshop protesters. One of the guys said to the other, “Shit, if we didn’t have no sweatshops I couldn’t afford to buy no clothes.”

Therein lies the quandary.

Watched a movie about the Cockettes last night with Gary. Made me lonesome for San Francisco in the late 60s early 70s (YES, I remember).

One moment in particular was so poignant: Reggie, a Cockette who died of AIDS in 2001, saying something to the effect of “all the wars, corruption, lies, malls, etc. — so terrible — just give me a torn dress, a hit of acid, and let me go to the beach. that’s all i need. that’s a lot!”

The acrid coven sleeps in its testament,

I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away waitresses

with my hand.

The kittenish mosquito and the red-faced coralline lynx turn aside up the bushy twitch,

I peeringly view them from the vowel plasm.

The flathead sprawls on the infectious snout of the patriarch,

I witness the shamefaced eve with its inflammable hair, I note where the ardent floodgate

has fallen.

The blab of the pave, tusks of sharks, sultans of propagandists, talk of

the alphanumeric swan,

The heavy diaphonous run, the molecular dust with its interrogating paranoid dart, the

pathos of the windmill on the granite concubine,

The civilian grebes, clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of monastic fingernails,

The cheese splash marathons for cozy macabre streams, the fury of index contusion,

The flap of the satiric deadlock, a Tiffany clone inside borne to the

immovable whippet,

The meeting of mescal waxworks, the aphasia lapidary, the information and revulsion,

The convulsive mutagen, the twinkle raven with his star quickly working his

passage to the centre of the cyclopean timbre,

The impassive loaves that receive and return so many glitter pranks,

What groans of over-fed or featherbrained who fall hardboiled or in


What exclamations of megalomaniac chrysathemums taken suddenly who hurry home and

give birth to spellbound embers,

What living and fuzzy portal is always vibrating here, what howls

restrain’d by decorum,

Arrests of jellyfish elves, slights, adulterous offers made, dervish auroras,

rejections with convex lips,

I mind them or the show or resonance of them-I come and I stimulate.

Bowery Poetry Club introduction for Corina Copp, 10/18/03

One discovers very quickly in Corina Copp’s first ever and fancifully titled new book, Sometimes Inspired by Marguerite, the enchanting (enchanted) conceit that sits behind the title, and indeed behind the whole book. Marguerite, it turns out, is a kind of unyielding, cathectable, projectable muse. In Poem 2, we learn that Marguerite (already referred to in Poem 1) is “a mannequin — her name is Marguerite — she sits behind me at the store — where I sell wooden-handled hairbrushes.” Immediately on discovering this, I thought of a notorious literary character who begins his life as wood, and after a series of adventures and deeds both bad and good, finds that he has become a human.

The analogy to Pinocchio is not as frivolous as it sounds. In Collodi’s masterpiece, impossible things happen one after another in a fast-paced atmosphere colored by Commedia de l’Arte. It is a story of strange dilemmas and of the transcendence of the merely given. In it, slapstick and pathos coexist equally. Plus, in the story, you never know what is going to happen next. This description could serve just as well for Sometimes Inspired by Marguerite.

In the same way, Cori’s book is an arena for all sorts of impossibilities to come into being and engage with each other.


Other woman parts her teeth, reaches all the way into her mouth and drags a carcass as white as enamel, carcass of a wee baby, blech blech blech. Other woman wraps it in a dolphin fin, finally figuring on lighting the room it’s daahk in heyah

It’s gorgeously constructed, funny and profound, and it caresses nouns as passionately as it does verbs. It’s unafraid of long lines, verbal richness, tone changes, and experimentations with grammar and diction.


If men with pitchforks in their eyes

were serving dead birds to sad girls, okay or for naught

or for nay or no or as punishment nearly worthy or no?

By the composure vested in me I’ll throw them all out as unmentionable as

an onlooker in a drain may drip as a pipe would by the by

a stance so sore appear decipherable

and plain like our elegant sane in a lane in the rain.

Its acumen regarding gender, the psyche and the socius flows freely. It doesn’t trade wit and lightness for that acumen.



is sick of finding the present for reproduction is future and past oriented, full

sex outside oedipal all over the body borders on botany, to be in relation one

must mar self a bit in order to pump syntheses into my armed waiter, then he,

I’ll need a he to multiply self, I’ll need a he to her having a person…

Marguerite, as muse of such a book, although a mannequin, is clearly no dummy. The poems she sometimes inspires are, by my reckoning, startlingly fucking wonderful poetry.