An old favorite, written for Thanksgiving 2002:

Fleshy Red Thing (a Thanksgiving Poem from Gary & Nada)

Fasten off wattle (using red). Attach red to any head-cluster

insane fasten of secure ends. Make sure wings

hang free so they appear to “flap”. Repeat for red wattle:

wrap around your finger to form spirals. Hang snood red

on neck. Cut around red or wattle. To create eyes, draw

a black void on each pom-pom, then cut out all yellow and

glue construction in place. Perverse people can order

wattle dimsum dumplings in New York’s Chinatown.

Uninflate “nose” at one end, then knot off the wattle. To make

turkey talk, cut out a pair of small felt triangles and glue

them to opposite sides. What is the bright red appendage?

Loose changes in your neck can make you look older.

It feels like your ear lobe. Carefully moisten a V-shape

arising from the forehead. Glue on two googly eyes and fill up

with blood. Make the turkey’s lungs knot together

in center of folded napkin (do not inflate them).

You put your whole wattle in

You put your whole wattle out

You put your whole wattle in

And you shake it all about.

I don’t dare write a truthful personal ad: “Enlarged pores, dozens

of new age spots, emergent wattle. Boop-bleep-boop-

whooo-blip I’m Ronald Reagan. I’m … mind?” As in mammals,

birds have a four-chambered heart; however,

a Turkey’s heart is proportionately larger and more powerful.

I’m sure you’ve all read T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zoneby “Hakim Bey” many times. Check out this festive bibliomance:

The TAZ as festival. Stephen Pearl Andrews once offered, as an image of anarchist society, the dinner party, in which all structure of authority dissolves in conviviality and celebration. Here we might also invoke Fourier and his concept of the senses as he basis of social becoming — “touchrut” and “Gastrosophy,” and his paean to the neglected implications of smell and taste.” (p. 105)

….The essence of the party; face-to-face, a group of humans synergize their efforts to realize mutual desires, whether for good food and cheer, dance, conversation, the arts of life; perhaps even for erotic pleasure [does pumpkin pie count as erotic pleasure?], or to create a communal artwork, or to attain the very transport of bliss — in short, a “union of egoists” (as Stirner put it) in its simplest form — or else, in Kropotkin’s terms, a basic biological drive to “mutual aid.” (p. 106)

I suggest reading through until the end of page 106, as a kind of anarchist thanksgiving Hagaddah.

My first turkey is now sitting in a brine of apple cider, orange peel, cloves, star anise, and brown sugar.

The rest of the menu:

appetizers: jicama with lime, crackers & cheese, kumquats

cranberry sauce & relish

turkey with some crazy gourmet stuffing (wild mushrooms!) I bought at Citarella (if it turns out weird, I have some sourdough bread as a backup)

mashed potatoes

roasted yams

green beans almondine

baby brussels sprouts (cute!)

watercress and spinach salad with grape tomatoes in a light balsamic dressing

Here’s a little more Schutzman ibid. from the same essay. I love this stuff.

…what captivates me in the face of a joke is that something nonsensical is brought to my attention but yet never fully disclosed. [this is, of course, the joke of poetry] There is always that bit of sense one cannot get at. That is masked. The word “mask” comes from the Arabic word maskharat,meaning clown or buffoon. And the word “buffoon means “to puff.” The fool represents the elusive puffery or mask that disguises what we call sense in such a way as to make us distrust it. That is, through the fool we awaken to the sense of having been taken, once again. The fool’s non-sense reveals common sense to be just another spectacle that has been determined without us, that speaks for us, just as the body speaks the hysteric.

Mady, if you google this, write to me and let me know you’re there. We were meant for each other.

The Buffoonery Syndrome

Now and then I come across bits of theory that help me enormously to understand my own behavior and practices.

Here’s something from “A Fool’s Discourse” by Mady Schutzman in The Ends of Performance eds. Phelan & Lane, NYU Press 1998.

After a century of neurasthenia, fainting, and “the vapors,” it is widely known that the predominant “new” female malady in the late nineteenth century was hysteria. But perhaps less well known is that Jean Martin Charcot, the French neurologist who degined hysteria and charted its “phases” in photographic tableaux, named the second phase of hysteria “the phase of clownism,” or the buffoonery syndrome. It was characterized by a seried of protracted movements and grand gestures that closely resemble the gestures of heightened exhilaration displayed n today’s popular fashion advertising. A woman so delighted by her hose is literally lifted off her feet into an impossible posture of glee; another dons her polka dots and blows her tuba in the streets in tribute to her newfound soft drink. Irrepressible joy an d ecstatic uprisings erupt constantly over new fragrances. Women perform sheer energy, broadcasting the infinite potential to be preposterous and making a bizarre and yet enticing show of the violation of the female image. In corporeal expletives and exclamations, the hysteric (of both medical science and contemporary advertising) embodies the gender disorders of the social body and simultaneously screams her distress. Her excessive visual presence both disguises and disclaims her assigned absence within the social sphere. Put yet another way, in her overstated assumption of the mask of femininity, she indicts the very power politics that her body economy suffers. She plays the clown.

Introduction for Tom Mandel, Bowery Poetry Club, 11/20/04

You probably already know that Tom Mandel, the first generation offspring of Austrian Jews fleeing Hitler and a former student of Hannah Arendt, is the author of a dozen books of poetry. You may be aware that his first book, Ency, published in the legendary Tuumba chapbook series in 1978, has been described as “a foundational work in the early history of Language Poetry.” You may already know some of his other books, including Realism, Four Strange Books, Letters of the Law, Ancestral Cave, and his booklength collaboration with Dan Davidson, poignantly titled, given Dan’s suicide in 1996, Absence Sensorium. You may have heard that Ron Silliman described Tom’s book, Prospect of Release, as “the most intensely felt poems [he had] ever read.” And if you checked his website this morning, as I did, you may even know that Tom has said of himself, ” I’ll be writing my whole life. I wrote a poem on November 20, 2004.”

What you may not know about Tom Mandel is that in addition to being a writer, he is also an entrepreneur and strategist, a maverick leader, and a champion of “new ways to think, write, and work.” He even has his own slogan: (lead with ideas TM)

The tenets central to accomplishing his mission stem from core poetic values:

Broad Reader Connection

Connecting with readers, understanding their needs and how they use intellectual strategies, and providing value through high lyric and philosophical investigations to help them realize their potential.

A Global, Inclusive Approach

Thinking and acting globally, Tom enables a diverse set of references that generates innovative poem-making for a broad spectrum of readers and publishers, innovates to lower the costs of human folly, and shows leadership in supporting the communities in which he works and lives.


In everything he does.

Trustworthy Computing

Deepening reader curiosity and trust through the quality of his words and lines, his responsiveness and impetuous dynamism, and his unpredictability in everything he writes.

At Tom Mandel (lead with ideas TM), you’ll find total commitment to his mission of helping his readers scale new heights and achieve thought forms and expansions of verbal experience they never thought possible.

One more thing that you may not know about Tom Mandel is that he used to be my boss. That is, I was his secretary. It was hardly a humdrum working relationship — how many bosses write collaborations with their secretaries? I rooted out of my files today a play we wrote together in perhaps 1987. It involved a lot of sound effects like barking, trumpets, and a waltz played on a cheap Casio. Tom had the following exquisite series of lines:

The world is a broken thing of shards intermixed with sparks of the divine light. Our job is to gather up these sparks and return the world to a wholeness which it never had. But you cannot close the customer if you don’t do a trial close first. Look have I given you the information you need to make a decision. Fine and if it does that for you just let me ask you do you have a budget for this puppy and if so how you gon’ to pay for it [?].

To answer that question today, to pose many more questions, and of course, to lead with ideas, Tom Mandel himself is here today in person. Please welcome…