Love IV

Love bade me welcome,
adopting a Black Power fist
with terrible conviction:
yet my soul drew back,
a study in trite ballerina glamour,
with fixed smiles and no sense
either of powerful wings or
fingertips that give off sparks,
guilty of dust and sin, trailing pieces
of cardboard and black drawstring bags.
But quick-eyed Love, in a blond wig,
with blue false eyelashes attached
to his lower lids, observing me
grow slack in rapid, jerky trajectories
from my first entrance in,
drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
if I lacked anything. Her staccato use
of her head and the mighty wing beats
of her arms gave weight
to the drama.
“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:
Love said, “You shall morph into a jokey,
sinister figure with slinky, sexualized movements..”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.” The fur dress
she crawled into, which rattled as she moved
and pulled her off balance, was a marvelous prop.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I? Let’s try
not laughing for a change.”
“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
go where it doth deserve.” Suggestions of real pain
remained safely hidden in the pop song sentimentality
and running mascara. And when the walnuts inside it
flew out, that was a fine bit of theatrical whimsy!
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
As always, his gawky elegance is entrancing —
giving way to wiggles that crinkles his arms
like a silken accordion.
The palm tree and giant swan,
also cardboard, are slowly wilting,
“My dear, then I will serve.”
The only effrontery left
was the effrontery of dullness.
“You must sit down,” says Love,
donning a mask with red beard
and multicolored afro ,”and taste my meat.”
Then he went into a fervent lap dance
for a blow-up Prince Charming doll
tied to a seat in the front row.
I thought I heard the flapping wings
of the Owl of Minerva, or a
kittenish duet, all wrist flicks
and shoulder rolls. It was like boxing
with the divine.
“Let’s try not laughing for a change.”
            So I did sit and eat.


Two-fisted launch of Frances Richard’s The Phonemes and I’ll Drown My Book, the women’s conceptual writing anthology (co-edited by Caroline Bergvall, Laynie Brown, Teresa Carmody, and Vanessa Place), both by Les Figues Press–fabulous.

Featuring Frances Richard reading as Frances Richard

and contributors to the anthology reading as themselves and others; themselves to include:

Julie Patton
Lee Ann Brown
Monica de la Torre
Katie Degentesh
Marcella Durand
Nada Gordon
Anne Tardos
Rachel Levitsky
Kristen Prevallet
Tracie Morris
Frances Richard
Kim Rosenfield

Hosted by Vanessa Place

Books will be available on site at reasonable launch discount.

*(Kickstarter contributors contact Teresa at to pick up your copy at the event.)

There will be drink. There will be pleasure.

Pierogi Gallery
177 N. 9th Street, Brooklyn, NY
Saturday January 28, 6-9 pm

On "The Men"

I’m modern, independent, self-determining.  Or am I? Quite often since the breakup I have had keen moments of realizing that I remain imbued with Gary’s tastes and opinions.  We had similar tastes, in many ways, to begin with. We both liked Bernadette Mayer, Clark Coolidge, Arabic music and Indian food even before we met.  And in the marriage our tastes blended into each other more:  he came to like Japanese food and Alan Davies, I to enjoy graphic novels and Jack Smith.  There were divergences.  I would never, for example, really warm up to DA Levy or Paul Blackburn (they were both just too “guy” for me), and he never really got into my predilection for long colorful scarves (which he said made me look like Anne Waldman) or chinoiserie in interior decoration, but still, by the end of the marriage, he was wearing a lot of purple, and in his own way, by the end, he exceeded me even in orientalism.
Not too long ago I finally got around to purging my iTunes library of a ton of music he had put on there that I had never liked – a lot of international rap and hiphop, primarily, and Asian pop sung in tinny little voices – and I felt sort of liberated – but it was interesting to me how much of the music I still like, that I would have chosen “for my own” – the Vietnamese ballads, all the 60s stuff,  just about everything Arabic or Turkish, for example. I do look at his blog. I shouldn’t, but I do. Sometimes I even download the music. Sometimes I can’t fathom why on earth he would enthuse over a particular album or group:  Deerhoof?  Really? But even now I still experience much of the music he promotes as “ours.”  It’s a bittersweet soundtrack for me now, of course, but it’s part of me. He should, I think, write at least a little more deeply and descriptively about the music he posts there. He has the chops – or used to.  He tends instead though  to put up a collocation of an eager adverb and a superlative – “jaw-droppingly great!”, and now and then an anecdote, while sort of dismissively characterizing more analytical approaches by critics as  “socio-semiotic.” Ah, well.

So… one of the things I noticed I have become more and more enamored of as I notice I am becoming more in possession of my own independent opinions is the writing of Lisa Robertson.  It wasn’t really Gary’s thing, and I remember at least one other guy poet I hang out with not really being much into it, either. I suppose they experienced it as too precious, or too mannered, or too impenetrable, or something. I admire all these qualities, and in fact, the first time I met Lisa, I said to her, “I write a little bit like you, but not as well.”  If I hold anything against her writing, it is simply that it is too exquisitely well-done.  I have a fantasy of her sitting at some very perfectly organized writing desk, with an air of profound concentration, perhaps looking out at redwood trees (why, I wonder, redwood trees?), and I can almost imagine her internal thought processes, how gradual and methodical they must be, not like mine that more resemble a frightened sparrow trapped in a padded elevator.  Her writing and person give off an air of being both sublime and logical.  This is of course a total projection, but I admire this construction of My Lisa Robertson as a kind of goal made unreachable by the constraints of my sloppier and more fluttery personality or chemistry.
A couple of months ago, someone (I think it was Arielle Greenberg? or Danielle Pafunda?) posted on facebook a few lines from LR’s book The Men, with a superlative gush about how much she loved it. I loved the excerpt she posted so much that I ordered the book.  It is strange that I didn’t have it.  I had heard her read from it many years ago at a Segue reading, at that same reading where I had made my awkward introduction to her. I had been interested in the poem, but there was something about LR’s elegant and distanced way of reading it aloud that kept it at arms’ length from me.  Interestingly, I wrote my own “the men” poem a couple of years later.  I knew that my poem (“Orgone Gophers,” which appeared in Folly)  owed some debt to hers, but mine was so different, goofily bop-prosodic, neologistically bumbling, that it seemed like quite a different animal:
Orgone Gophers
Cooing pop huckles. Minarlagy of funf. The latter craal-skeevers (anxious like bucket): froos, angle, insecure.
I keen my meringo this hopey day. I murv it. The hopcakes are waiting for the nested parlances, the nested parlances for a 6-month grace period, after which they will expire.
It all comes together as perforations in the ample slough — beastborne, tolerant, mint, and gland-handed.
Where’s my speed, the clock’s a muffle, the clown raises sham hackles, the plain stripes badger the nonplain
stripes as limits to patience.
The men hack outside the door in explicatory gasses. They muddle and wink, halving their trousers. The parts rattle by in pink bones. The men are wuthering. A stag wuthers the hard waiting.
The men lift up the thorny leaves of togetherness. There is a pad there.
Under the pad, another man, horning a thought as a drawing. The pink ones wonder — bastard hardcake? Terrible wuthering intertwining a lumpy duddle.
The plaid couches, pro dusk and anti-dawn, haunched by men and soaky weapons like flags rolled up in glands while the plaid maidens change their lamb sprockets.
Inches and inches and inches of man, boozling and edgily nuzzling. Piranha potatoes! Limbering the cud. Sweat drapes. Miracle sinews absolute the free fibers of a flexibly ordered man, half red and half blue, on a night
watch and skin patrol.
I don’t can’t — can’t can’t — a man. Hip dud. Catafrack. Pone.
My poem is related but different. It has the same quality of affection, I guess.
But I wrote it, you see, without having actually read LR’s entire poem.
And when I did… last week… oh!  The sky opened!
I’d like to note here that others have written on/responded to the book very interestingly. These links are worth reading just on their own merit.

What is remarkable about The Men is the extent to which it expresses the ambivalences of how one feels about men. As LR  writes, “The concept  of the men is elastic.” It is simultaneously adoring and patronizing, intimidated and pitying, critical and indulgent, yearny and austere. Men are clearly The Problem, on both a micro- and a macro- scale, but if you are a heterosexual woman, they seem to be The Problem one always wants more of. I have not even begun to approach a solution to this conundrum, and I expect I will go to my grave with it yet unsolved, since I seem not to be the type of fish that can go for long without a bicycle. 
Close readings, especially of book-length poems, aren’t really good on blogs, so I won’t do that, but here are some things I noticed while reading
~ the first section functions musically as a kind of overture
~a repeated trope is this notion of “falling upward” – both in vertical relation to men’s power and into the exhilaration of desire for them
~there are moments that sound like a Ted Berrigan poem (“It’s 6:45 and I’m 39”)
~there’s a sweet little Proust reference: “Albertine”
~she remarks on the Aspergian qualities of men: “At such times/ in exhaustion/ they show you the liner notes”
~and yet there’s something Aspergian, or more precisely, obsessive, about the poem-project: “I study them more than any other object.” or “I’m making a record of the men as I know them”
~there are what feel to me like Scalapino moments, too: “such as the experience of the lily behind me”
~but the book this book most reminds me of is Alan Davies’ NAME, even in the “handfeel” of it… it is as yearny, and as elegantly paced
~The word “little” appears a lot:  “little teeth”
~”The funny pathos of men –  I salute this”
~It’s hydromel because in part this book is a song about the deliciousness of men, their palpable heartbreaking sweetness.  These are not the men who charge about so much as “the men who breathe into me, tender, phallic, kimonoed.”  These are the luscious and vulnerable men “both sublime and beautiful, delicate and copious”:  “Nature/ is weak; the men feel pain/ They fear death.”  They are not so much going out to war hairy-legged in togas to come back with their shield or on it, at least not in this book.  These are the men you LONG for: “Trashy sweet brain adoring and adoring them.”
~”Each of us psycho-sexually is a man, dreaming and covulsing, plunged into some false Africa manically like a poet”
I asked my sweetheart to read bits aloud to me from the book, because I wanted to hear it in his hydromel voice.  He read this:
Let the thought here be planted
That the men want to float
Just the pink tip of their
Thing touching the firmament
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked. (He doesn’t really get poetry.)
And I just almost swooned.

here’s the new year’s day poem I read at the marathon; Brandon Downing wanted me to call it New Year’s Dayquil, but I just stuck with the title of the poem I mangled in order to construct this poem


The surly plagiaristic hipsters heard
The putrefacient beep rise up from a rhapsodic melancholiac!
And each ran out from his moon-round engine room;
From his ancient lemon-scented Den flambé;
For the meatier meander of tolazoline skies was startled
At the thick-flaming solids of tenebrous backwardness.
The daily did sing:
Your thought-creating iguanid is my wife!
I’ve been star-gazing!
there’s a dance of saga in the disarray!
I’m wishing! And so am I, hebraical cryogen!
Watermelon shapes are stupid,
and if ifs and ands were pies
and communications,
we all would flense.
Blazon your accompanyists, and ridge your horn!
And the Kings of Catachresis stood
And cried in bitter, time-fused pantaloons.
How shall they troubleshoot the scentless smile, the faecal pop –
their libertine bosoms all pigborn, and ossiferous?
They’ve got so many Hasidim!
How shall the paradisiac, for petulance, eschew the mauve spiritism?
Fecklessly you had a tampon of tsarinas!
Anchor, sapphire puss!
To retrain! to dismay! to spin!
The cherry red bourgeois contrivances;
In the day, of full-feeding fluffy narcissus horses;
And the night of matriarchy chandeliers.
Shall not the Game-Bird tranquilize the oval foxily?
Of syncopation on the laborious watermelon shape?
To fix the clog of Hellenistic tics;
To invent allegoric whiskerless spoons:
And the privy admonishers of slick termagents
mew like light patients
For heaps of perspiring bone,
In the night of veneers & processes
To turn man from his smile tattoos,
To restrain the child from the timidly, velvety-plumaged
if not gray-pink, womb,
To cut off the nympho from the salvo,
That the rebukingly blueberry day may learn to obey.
That the pride of the breeze may fail;
That the lust of the perfumer may be quench’d:
That the ornamental gazelle in its infancy
May be appall’d; and the nostrils open’d way up;
To teach mortal worms the path
That leads from the gates of the tentative hello.
Leonard Nimoy sitting in the front heard them cry!
And his shudd’ring waving hypocritical sousaphone
Went enormous above the red flames
Drawing clouds of flaccidity thro’ the heavens
Of ultrasonic singsong as he went:
And his Books of greasy air & gossip
Melted over the land as he flew,
Heavy-waving, howling, colorizing.
And he stood over his opinions:
And stay’d in his moisty place:
And stretch’d his yellowish-beige clumps over Jerusalem;
For Caruso, a monastic shrimp
Lay bleach’d on a garden of eye makeup;
And Molly Ringwald as white as dental implants
On the mountains of a poesy so serflike
it resists fire.
Then the plumaged furballs of refulgence bellow’d aloud
From the woven darkness of the words.
Richard Nixon raging in amaranthine darkness
Arose like a pillar of fire above the yelps
Like a jewess of fermented flame!
The sullen Earth
Forth from the passably plummy dust rattling breasts to breasts
Join: shaking convuls’d the shivring cicada-like cicada breathes spangled
And all flesh naked stands: Poets and Fiends;
Mothers & Implants; Husbands & Concubines:
The gelatinized twinkler shrieks with delight, & shakes
Her druggy womb, & clasps the solid stem:
Her bosom swells with wild desire:
And theories & blooms & glandular wire.