these baby boomers
these anxious millennials
water in a stream


while in a gold room
Ivanka clips her toenails
with a gold clipper


secret service men
in dark suits and sunglasses
under pink blossoms


Cherry tree crotches
and crotches of aides


wet, open, toothless,
rosy mouths of infant ghosts
pink as cherry blossoms


Flat wet petals -ha!
What have the blossoms to do
with Ezra’s ranting?


Culture appropriated
for a famous line of verse


In a dark subway tunnel
Pink plum blossoms on my skirt
Aspiring to spring


pink goldfish cherub planters
fragility of all things


(my verses extracted from Mel Nichols’ Cherry Blossom Renga, composed on facebook)



April is the cruellest month, breeding

breakups out of the thin man, jinxing

memory and desire, frizzing

my gray roots with spring pain.

Winter drove us crazy, covering

time with youtube, feeding

my little life by taking ubers.

Bummers surprised me, coming over the transom

With showers of pain; we’d stopped at Angelica

And went on in phonelight, into Prospect Park,

and drank coconut juice, and talked for seven hours.

I should not have been rushing, but lissome, and moist.

And we were once children, in Bolinas, or a suburb,

He took me into his head

And I was frightened, He said, Nada,

Nada, hold me tight. And down we went.

I tiptoed near him, never felt free.

We texted each other, and then it went south.


What are the arms that clutch, what words grow

out of this dusty sadness? Son of man,

You cannot say, or guess, for you know no sound of life

A few broken teenagers, on the live stream,

And those near-dead girls give no shelter, the website no relief.

And the dry phone no sound of real life. Only

there is shadow inside your big head.

You live in the shadow of your big head.

I tried to show you something different.

You sent me videos of your shadow walking

Long and tall like a Brancusi figure

shrouded in fear and in dust.

Frisking the wind

The homely zoo

My kind iris

What are your wiles?

You sent me an email seven years ago

now call me an unhinged girl

Yet when we came back, late, from the East Village,

Your arms thin, and your hair silver, I could not

speak, and my mind reeled. I was both

living and dead, and I am Nada.

Looking into the heart of night, your silences

owe their leering to the sea.




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Fudging an interest in the frantic morning, hangul specks on my missing milkteeth. Arrogating the irritant, which is not real at least not in this morning of smooth distrust. Lend me your hankie – today doesn’t feel solid yet – because of the anxious fluff on the thinktank of everything. There’s a poetry on my waist that smells like incompleteness, but then, everything is incomplete, and then you die, like a silly rabbit. I don’t mean to be negative… there’s a brightness on the terra cotta and pale blue – both – and that’s your homework – to understand that more completely – not the levelings of the imaginary city or its meticulous restorations – the “human community” is just chaotic… we can’t seem to get it right, and most people are too austere in their sophistry … a smudge… on an iphone… a fried cricket… fruit I listen to for its dumb lyricism… the grapes sing prettily, even the horrible news is full of poetry… but I don’t mean exactly to celebrate it for that because life is too…. The easy seductions of puns, dandies, cats, all abloom in my womanly voice as imaged flutter: these are the cantilevers of my inveterate secretions. Come on, we’re either posing, positing, or ovapositing the brittle germs of our little theories.

day now starts to take shape beneath my wondering arms: the star reason, the man reason… and person reason… I’m not sure why I always want to break the day into mists… something to do with havoc… the not-so-erudite lisp of my human musing…. the women have ponytails… the men… stocking caps… nested like phrases on their active heads this rattly morning. Now when I think of you I think of me… green screen, flying…. in a shao-lin goddess kick through the air, aimed… at you. I do also wear the chiffon – it streams behind me to show my vigor and my direction. I feel anyway like just part of the season, an ingredient in a dish, not the whole dish… light on the teal girders… hoping this revels some externalized inner cadence… trying to “externalize” the day: it starts again like a pop tune. Every day thrust into windy life… work… the slurring of midlife a kind of milky whirr. An admired hat or groovy stranger… the discomfort of receptivity – I watch everyone with curiosity, blue and gold gems crowding the scene like fires – not saleable and not dismissive.

I wonder if you think of the starlit movements of the hairy mind in all your snits and rages. So I don’t sleep as an elegant duck, sleek and tucked and rotund in comfort. No. Those happy workings are here revealed as flimsily mundane renderings, not so much toxic as averagely creative, and that is what I mean by distraction: his green hair, her leopard tights, etcetera.

on the Snyder/Berrigan Reading

Magnificent readings from Rick Snyder and Anselm Berrigan at the Bowery Poetry Club on Saturday.

Here’s Gary’s intro for Rick:

Sometime between 2002 and 2004—my memory of the exact year is too hazy to retrieve—Rick Snyder stunned New York’s experimental poetry scene when he announced that he was leaving not just the city, but the east coast, to study Classics in Los Angeles.

According to San Francisco poet George Albon, no less a figure than W.H. Auden once claimed that the ideal home for the poet—if he or she was to be truly contemporary—was somewhere that had recently gone from hopeful boomtown or near Utopic status to disappointing, crumbling—ideally frightening—Dystopia. For reasons that George explained, but which were nonetheless still unclear to me, while New York had been that place at the time of Auden’s residency here, Los Angeles—Rick’s new, if temporary, home—was Dystopia Central, and thus where you as a poet speaking of and to your time wanted to be now.

I was not exactly convinced by this, and am still not. But there is something distinctly contemporary and American that resonates with this idea of boomtown/utopia gone afoul—which seems to be not only part of the “natural” course of our cities—consider the steady “clean-up” of New York only to end in the apocalyptic 9/11 attacks and subsequent economic slump—but our online and other, conceptual, spaces, too.

Of all of the poets I can think of, Rick Snyder seems particularly keyed into this entopic aspect of American space and culture. It’s almost frightening, for instance, what he sees, focusing on what is still the primary site of most poetic dissemination: paper. As he playfully writes in Paper Poem:

Your papers litter the floor
your litter papers the floor
your papers had a litter
and none of them survived
the poems you put on them

That Rick seems to be particularly aware of the seeds of Dystopia in every Utopia is particularly evident in his first full-length book, just out from Ugly Duckling Presse: Escape from Combray. Combray refers of course to Proust’s fictionalized childhood village, and this book features a detail of a map of Rick’s own “childhood”—poetic childhood, anyway–“village”—Chicago, where, as he writes:

cars volleyed
back and forth
but no one else
was out

the storefronts
were dark and hollow

the higher windows
flickered in
tv light

and far ahead
the expressway
glowed so bright
I could hear it

And here’s my intro for Anselm:

One reason, perhaps, that the audience for poets is composed mostly of poets is that to really get inside a poem, it’s very useful to try to put oneself inside its compositional gestures, almost as if, in reading or experiencing it, you are writing it yourself. For me, some poets facilitate this more readily than others, and I’m thinking of those whose work is imbued with a sense of its making-at-the-moment, like Philip Whalen, and Bernadette Mayer, and Allen Bramhall. I would include Anselm Berrigan among them. At the outset of each Anselm poem, I feel as if an exploration or adventure is about to start, rather like waiting in line for a ride at a carnival or starting a road trip. His poems seem not so often created with strategy aforethought: rather, their strategies emerge in time as discoveries. They are full of the propulsion of lyric, but it is a totally non-precious lyricity enriched with a swirl of influences (many outside of poetry) as well as what he endearingly calls a “messiness” that shows up in the poems as multiple unpredictable registers and vocabularies, although what dominates is his own “Anselm voice”, which strikes me as kind of boyish and at once funny and sadly ironic, and not at all ever stuck-up.

Asked in an interview a few years ago about the ratio of “found” to “created” language in his poems, he responded,

I could be a pain in the ass and say that all language is found and all language is created, but I’ll spare you that even though I just said it. I’d say it is something like 85/15 created/found. I’ll take a little from here, a little from there, but I like to come up with my own combinations as much I can. My mind is a just a little too blank sometimes. I often think that there are no words in my head until I write them down.

Anselm thinks and writes and talks about writing a lot, and always engagingly. I love these two quotes from his mutual interview with Marcella Durand in Gary’s old magazine readme from ten years ago:

I leave wide open the possibility that this world is not the real world. But I’m interested in this world as a subject for poems. I had an interesting experience once, which suggested to me that the dimension which we take ourselves to reside in is rather thin, and could be torn away as if wallpaper.

The compositional space I operate out of is living, and ideas related to artifice, language, form, etc. I take to be encapsulated within that space, so that it’s completely open as to what a poem can do, or be.

Nick Piombino responds to the readings here.

Some favorite lines:

(from Rick)

I guess the ass is cleaner and better and doesn’t have any teeth

It curls up at the corners like a dog’s mouth but only if you think about it

They don’t have syntax so we can eat them

I hear the watercooler bloop bloop when I close my eyes

(from Anselm)

It’s uselessly unhip to penetrate a machine gun

I pushed the stroller calmly, deliberately, past the wild turkey

I only eat chicken before I swing

My bones are filled with pink lemonade

No one listens to bios

I hate pathos


Words and voices by Nada Gordon, translated idiolectically from a poem by Kimberly Lyons. Images from the 1942 version of The Jungle Book, The Magic Sword, and The Legends of Belly Dance (the dancer is the great Najwa Fouad). Sung to the tune of Pur Dicesti o Bocca Bella as sung by Cecilia Bartolli.

This is my third movie, but I should say it’s really more like 1.5, coming in between the rather more epic Op.1 (“You Won’t Ever Learn”) and Op. 2 (the still-in-progress-at-the-time-of-this-wr iting “The Garden of Life”), which is also more elaborate..

Those two are not really you-tube-able, so consider this a kind of teaser.

p.s. I need to tweak the sound at the beginning, make it fade in. Well, later.