The Story About “Cartoon Sight” and “Floozy Winds”

Is morning just a drastic plaything? Are the lords that blink on my amniotic fallacy just hysterical cantors? Am I just some dumb cheerful donkey? My hair needs to get swollen now with the foggy contrition of seductive leeches.

Margarine paints the day a deathly boring upset green like the sounds of the air in between bones where I huddle, an unsoothed monstrosity in the conspiracy of soreness.

The thralls stick on me like the bubble paste of wildly aggressive submission.

Whenever the “graininess” hugs me in his styles-of-doubt, “glowing” and “quivering” as flocks of white seagulls by the Gowanus Canal,

Gathering all un-idealized creations in one hush of dream at its dramatic fiercest and most desperate quotidian,

it unites to the source of bounce-light – yawn-jaw’s cartilage – rule-encrusted eggs – a trance of motor-dictation to the “clown thumpers”…

And here I am, standing between “cartoon sight” and “floozy winds,” a visually discordant surface-fret in the international law of poetry’s insane floppiness,

Trying to find an emptiness of nasal wind’s hiss and moan, un-nouned, a dark jittery bird, in your cold personality…

While the tremolo of morning sun sculpture, rhythmically castanet-like, sets up a conflict that causes a tension that demands release from the spasmic magma of hellish proprioception (oh and plus my money is sad like a horny flower).

One aberration, a limp lettuce nightmare, is left inside the trembling of the vocal chords’ mottled bubbly shapes’ pure negation, the forfeiture of some vague code, like an animal fist in the plumpness of my radical fantasy –

that “felt-need-for”, uh, spatially charged doodling – nerves strumming-in-ear or tone-texture haunt:

numb thought’s otherwise endless flights of fancy: “raw jewels” or toned puddles… crippled by error and its fixed, candy-colored pleasures:

I believe in the beauty of the singing, its thick, churning motion, its brave lipstick: the lipid flash dance of your –how do you say?– unbearable… “outsideness.”

Dear Diary

Rewrote two stanzas of Charles Bernstein’s “Foreign Body Sensation” in preparation for my reading tomorrow.

Ironed the black wool Morticia dress with the sleeve cutouts also in preparation for the reading. I bought it several years ago at Love Saves the Day in the East Village, a kitsch vintage store that is soon to close. I had wandered in there with Tonya Foster, was not “looking for” a dress but there you have it. It hasn’t fit me in several years but I’ve lost a few pounds and can now get into it, even if I can’t breathe all that well once it’s zipped up. Well, I’ll hardly eat tomorrow.

It’s a fabulous dress. G. accused me of looking like Adeena in it. Here it is, with me squeezed into it:

Tried to write another poem from the “words of the day” on my yahoo page. These poems are not very exciting, I think. Mere finger exercises.

Lightly researched Louise Colet and Emmy Hennings, as they were both mentioned in Chris Kraus’ book. Louise Colet’s letters to Flaubert have all been destroyed. A pity. She took up with Alfred de Musset (wasn’t he the guy who stabbed his hand with a fork?[later note: no, he appears to have stabbed his brother’s hand with a fork, at least in the movie version]) after she broke up with Flaubert, who really wasn’t all that nice to her.

I chided Gary today for his daily beer habit. He just came in smelling of it. Boys always smell like beer. I have never had a boyfriend who didn’t smell like beer.

We went to 86th St. and ate at Nyonya. I had these incredible curry mee noodles ( I know that’s redundant as “mee” means “noodles,” but perhaps most readers of this blog, all six of them!, won’t know that). I took many photographs as I always do these days, one reason being that when I take photographs I feel less of an urge to buy things, and yet I can still take something home from my travels. Here are the noodles (did I mention that Noodle was my childhood nickname?):

Atop the soup: “young” tofu, a hot pepper and a slice of eggplant both stuffed with seasoned fish paste, and roasted shallots. Divine.

Besides ironing and the Charles poem, I am procrastinating REALLY preparing for the reading. Perhaps I will do that tomorrow. I am also procrastinating on a huge project I’ve set for myself, which is creating a book partly from this blog and partly from uncollected & recent poems. It’s just so daunting. but I have made some progress.

Feeling keenly that my blog has not always been all that intelligent (I haven’t tried to make it so). At least not compared to Chris Kraus’ book. I am so easily given to a kind of gee-whiz breeziness. Maybe the book needn’t be all that intelligent? Like, it might have other virtues?

Gary discussed memoir writing with Kenny and Christian. Both Kenny and Rodney have urged me to write a memoir, and I like the idea very much, except that I would have to focus. Gary says my strong points are memory and description – anecdote, not so much. I am afraid of having to somehow connect or analyze the events of my life. It occurred to me that the events could be discretely described. Why not? Like I Remember without the I Remember. But then that might become a constraint, too. Kenny reminded me that Swoon was a kind of a memoir, at least in parts. This blog was too, at the beginning.

I have a drawer of diaries from I don’t know age eleven or so all through my time in Japan. Every time I think to “do something” with them, something literary, I find myself getting completely absorbed by nostalgia and thus paralyzed.

Apropro of journals, here’s a quote (that itself nests a quote) from the first page of my M.A. thesis on Bernadette Mayer:

Mayer demands from her writing a formal plasticity that matches? mimics? uses? the fluidity of experience. In this she emerges from a tradition of modernist realism whose foremost aim is to capture, in Baudelaire’s words, “the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent.” Here is an exaggerated, internalized realism — Proust or Woolf without the scaffolding of fiction, for she focuses on the details of the quotidian. She aestheticizes her own daily life in her writing, but her writing is not diaristic because it is designed to operate in a public sphere, conscious of itself simultaneously as art and as diary: “you better start doing things, like, the diary as book — ‘the lowest form.’ Everything’s high or low, Germans, everything’s perfect.”1 In his essay, “The Distribution of Discourse,” George Steiner writes about the “fantastically loquacious world of the diary,” claiming that “loquacity, copiousness and temporal duration characterize the idiolects of diary writers” — as they do the writing of Bernadette Mayer. Also, the diary has a history as a “woman’s form”:

Barred from public expression of political, ideological and psychological conviction or discovery, the intelligent woman in the ancien regime and nineteenth century makes her journal the forum, the training ground of the mind.2

The journal form permits the integration of the process of writing into everyday life, using daily experience as the stuff of the writing, but it also permits the inclusion of otherwise ineffable material, and a way out of a repressive world.

It’s funny, but when I look back at that thesis, written more than two decades ago, I realize that my concerns and enthusiasms haven’t changed all that much.

Apropo of enthusiasms… a chapbook is in the works… called Interests… composed of lists of interests culled from Blogger profiles of people whose interests linked to mine. A chapbook, ugh! A chapbook!

Too many projects all at once, and the new semester around the corner, I’m like some kind of crazy poodle, really.

On Mónica de la Torre’s PUBLIC DOMAIN and Kim Rosenfield’s re: evolution


Mónica with ? and Rosa Alcala

Snow is falling snow on snow here at Pratt Institute, where my classes have finished and I’m impatient to not be here but rather at home working on the plethora of projects that taunt me constantly with their charms. Will there ever be a life that consists solely of working on projects? I think of Peter-in-Mexico’s statement that he is not “a real writer.” What does it mean, indeed, to be “a real writer?” Shouldn’t it be that writing is pretty much all what one is obliged to do? It’s not that I mind my obligations… so much… but I can’t help but wonder what a life would be like devoted entirely to the realization of one’s poesis and techné. One manages to do an awful lot interstitially, but maybe not quite enough to completely form what one dreams of forming. “One.” Well, I mean me. It could be a kind of problem with my internal pacing. If I were only more deliberative and less generative, I could fully realize fewer visions better, but I suppose one can’t wish to be what one is just not. I mean me.

Even if I can’t be fulltime at the business of making stuff, I can still rejoice a little at the lovely pleasure of being surrounded by inventive and brilliant peers, whose very existence and productions serve to make being here on this planet and in this city exciting. There are so many good reasons to be a poet, but one of the best, for me, is the privilege of the company of other poets. How stimulating they are! How pensive! How intricate! And what is more fun than to attend a book party in the middle of the Fabric District, already a kind of heaven for me, celebrating three luminescent stars in the poetry firmament?

The party to which I’m referring was held last Monday upstairs from a Chinese restaurant called Chef Yu, and celebrated new books by Tan Lin, Kim Rosenfield, and Mónica de la Torre. I only had enough money to buy Kim’s and Monica’s books (although I later found out Gary already had the latter in his possession, so it turns out I could have bought at least one of the two Tan was selling, alas), so these are the two I will discuss on this snowy afternoon:

re: evolution Kim Rosenfield Les Figues
Public Domain Mónica de la Torre Roof Books

I should stress that I adore Tan’s writing, have read both Lotion Bullwhip Giraffe and Blipsoak engagedly (as to the latter, even though I personally have no desire to create poems that are remotely ambient, I think it’s an interesting notion), and FULLY INTEND to purchase his two new books in the near future.

Physically, Kim’s and Mónica’s books are quite different. Mónica’s has a big, light yellow sans-serif title, and also the signature size and glossiness of a Roof book, its cover showing “film strips” of a painting? a photo? moving from, to me, right to left, beginning with an image in color of a person walking down the street about to be engulfed in a cloud, and as the images move towards the left the more the color desaturates and the cloud engulfs. Kim’s book, from the front, anyway, has the Frenchified simplicity for which les figues design is known… it is narrow and rectangular, dark gray with delicate text in a bright turquoise double bordered by two frames, one thick, the other not. On the reverse side, no blurbs, thank goddesses, but a manipulated photo plus drawing of very disorienting and disordered architecture (just the way I like it).

The covers and design qualities of the books speak to their content. Mónica’s is in a way a friendlier book, a bit broader in its humor and perhaps more easily entered for the uninitiated. Kim’s is more blatantly intellectual, a little subtler and harder to characterize. Still, both books are notable for a kind of lightheartedness, especially in approach to materials. And this lightheartedness, interestingly, pervades despite the profundity of the themes each book addresses. In Kim’s case, those themes are evolution, gender, and science (particularly evolutionary science) as it interacts with art. In Mónica’s case, the overriding theme is identity, although there are several sub-themes such as linguistic identity, obsession, war, music, and names.

Kim’s book is bracketed by essays on the work: an introduction by Sianne Ngai, and (count ‘em) two afterwords, one an “analysis” and the other a “research paper,” all of which lend a fascinated validity to the slippery text. I have heard Kim read from this work a few times now, and I must say that I love what her performance brings to the work, as bits are sung (and the text is scored for that), and other bits are deliberately hesitated through, or read with great aplomb. Reading the book inside my head feels a little different, a little colder, but there is something I like about that coolness. It’s what Sianne refers to when she writes in the (gorgeous) introduction that, “nothing could be less like a Joseph Cornell box than a poem by Kim Rosenfield,” or when she describes this writing as (citing Laura Mulvery) being “anti-fetishistic.” (Again, this, like “ambient poetics,” is not necessarily a quality I strive for in my own work, but it interests me, particularly insofar as it refuses both preciousness and a too-heavy signifying.) I’m not sure I want to surround re:evolution with much more commentary, especially given that so much of it is so thoughtfully (much more so than I can accommodate in a blogspace, especially in a post composed on a snowy day after finals at work) part of the book’s actual “theoretical surround,” but I would like to quote a couple of my favorite passages, which are naturally some of the most hilarious. They are de (re) contextualized, but then so is everything else in this collaged book, so I hope that won’t matter too much. This one had me screaming “eww!” at her recent reading at the BPC:

I saw some spittle, the most disgusting that I had ever seen and I had to put my tongue and lips upon it. The act was so nauseating that I could not control myself and my heart beat so violently that I thought it would burst every vein in me and that I would vomit blood. I continued doing that as long as my heart revolted, and it was rather long.

I don’t mean to suggest that anything I quote from re:evolution typifies it in any way. I don’t actually think it’s typifiable, despite being concerned with science and taxonomies in its content. I mentioned as much to Kim after her BPC reading, that I was still trying to figure out what the limits of the text are, and she of course countered by asking whether it needed limits. Well, that’s a very good question, and one that I will leave rhetorical. Here’s another favorite passage, somewhat similar in mood to the one above but again not typical of the book per se:

The extraverts will dominate the sexual scene. The young extraverts will come running into the early dawn from their empty rooms out into the clean open, their naked bodies still sluggish and unkempt, unbeautiful in their bed-besprinkled sleepiness, all ready for a hectic plunge into the river of life, in their crude immersion revealing no special exquisiteness of body or grace of motion as swimmers in the river of life, a little polluting the fresh dawn of day by their noisy assassination of the day’s wonder and beauty. Strange fishes in the awkward contortions of the day’s wonder and beauty. Strange fishes in their glad way through the exhilarating waters of life.

[perfect place for a pee break here!]

Every page of re: evolution brings a surprise – nothing is predictable – and the same can be said for Public Domain. With both a variety of appropriated sources and a variety of formal approaches, these books keep changing the music the reader dances to, and I applaud both DJs for never boring me. Thank you for no homogeneity!

Mónica’s musical range runs the gamut from detournements to Zukofsyesque, often macaronic, sound-centered poems, vispos that are also performance texts, co-interviews on language acquisition ( a wonderful collaboration with Sujin Lee that incidentally speaks to my profession as an ESL teacher), a partially erased text culled from letters to the editor, a whole almost Arabically vowelless page of text that seems to address war, a wonderful carnival of emails (with photos!) regarding “other” Mónica de la Torres, oh and very very much more. You will love this book and you will love Kim’s book, too, please buy and enjoy them both.

I haven’t told you yet, though, what is perhaps my favorite piece in Mónica’s book, a section of poems & texts entitled The Crush. All the pieces in this section deal with an infatuation – real? imagined? : “I have a crush on a musician, or is it his music.” I do so want to ask Mónica if this “really happened,” but of course, that’s beside the point. “This piece is therapeutic,” she writes, and, “If this piece seems adolescent to you, there you go.” It doesn’t matter if it’s real, but it’s convincing, it’s pathos-funny, it mimics the forms of obsession, and emerges as almost Yoko Onoesque conceptual art:

Tell one of our mutual friends that an acquaintance of mine wants to do an interview with Blank for the publication that I work for, and needs to contact him. Once I have his contact info, write him a letter for every pice of music that he’s ever composed, performed, or produced, each one revolving around the idea of air. Write it on a surface on which it will disintegrate ¬ a block of ice, sand, on the sidewalk with a watering can – take a picture, and fax it to him.

[and note that this is only one of the brilliant schemes that emerges in this list of how to move through her obsession]

Just to give some sense, also, of the phonemic sensuality of this book as well, I quote from another poem in this section (beautifully footnoted, “Lists could turn into lisps”) entitled “Telephone Cryptomessage”:

oh yo be
in co.,
cougar sweet
they roof,
fir, oh moon
o’ mere wrong
coo, no, totter

I need to say it loud: I love both of these books, and their authors. I’m thrilled to have such entertaining, ingenious virtuoso sisters writing in the same city as me, no less. Run, don’t walk, to the websites of les figues and Roof Books, or SPD if these books are stocked there, and get these in your backpacks. You will surely be amused and enriched by the experience of reading them.

Every Rebel Has Its Period

Favorite lines from Bruce Andrews’ reading last night:

Vastly cute absentee father

mermaid neckbone

the first lady: that condom

ironic extra ass

the guano of moral value

impeach the mind

do the new pluperfect awful inside of the inside

anal glaucoma, as in “I can’t see my ass coming into work today,”

Is he a house president or a field president?

penis sings water water [here he stopped to take a drink]


body sushi

[and my personal favorite…]

Every rebel has its period


chris cheek also gave a great reading, but I was so interested in his projections and his outfit that I forgot to write anything down. I am interested anyway in his obsession with “partials”… phonemes that suggest, but don’t complete, meaning, and how his work forefronts how compulsively and sensuously we read any text, no matter how fragmentary. Dig the groovy checker effect of his woven text/images…

Please to note, even though the photo is dark: KILT, KNEE SOCKS, BLACK BOOTS. Love it. Love it.

Eugenic Ether Hymen

A flagellated fee rigor woos the murky poi;
Bad deed tenements let out a nifty gut howl.
As addenda, Ed snuffles – oh swirly!–
And a cad, refereeing, oft tempts the ting-glum lox.
If a reevaluated goofing yins two yurts,
And this condescendingly pimping snowsuit is, um, wuss
Then a reappeared fluffier miniskirt mulls in its yolk, and,
ceding to fleetingnesses, houris play with vinyl polyps.
Like antimalarial diffident dingy piss,
a piffling baccarat ebbs opium onto you
with a fleetingness like –ow!- myrrh wool poop.

(please note, this is a near-anagram of the first eleven or so lines of the poem “Here in the Gynaeceum” that I posted yesterday)((with super-amount gratitude to and copycatting of KSM, that rascal!))

Here in the gynaeceum

Today I feel like… a large group of worms
with a flattened, unsegmented body, fleshy
and flawed and desirous of exaggerated
compliment. Fluttering or waving freely,
gaudy, ostentatious, conspicuous, and
impudent, my wingless wings are firm
and pulpy, like fruit, or like fleams,
especially those used for opening veins.
I am rigid and pliant, stiff and easily
bent, capable of modification by a group
of yellow pigments or a person who
flattens something. I guess that means
I am a Flathead, erroneously named by
confusion and marked by my windiness
of speech. I vulcanize a whole new rubber
tread on the bare underlayer of the fabric
of this verse, like a signal given by a drum or
bugle or a bend or turn as in a line or
wall. What is done in revenging puts a new
vamp on savagery, but with a dull or rounded
apex that draws back the veil of inadvertence
and undergoes diminutive revving. It vamps
again or anew, falling into an earlier, worse,
or less complex condition, like the flesh
at the edge of an incision that can be retracted,
or drawn back in, as in claws. High-pitched,
shrill, piercing, brilliant, intense, as a sharp flash
of light, it passes close to or skims the surface in
opposite directions parallel to the plane of the contact,
causing it to flow in a stream or fall in drops, let flow or drop,
send forth or spread about, or cause to flow off without
penetrating. Today I am about the size of a pigeon
and am related to the petrels and albatrosses, like
a leaf base enveloping a stem of grass, or membrane
around a muscle. She is the nominative case form,
her the objective, her or hers the possessive, and herself
the intensive and reflexive, except as in, “our dog is a she.”
This is a collection of sheeny things bound together, partly shaved,
like a regular fem or female animal: severe, intense, acute;
strong, biting and pungent; a kind of daisylike chrysanthemum
breaking or bursting into pieces suddenly. Here in the gynaeceum
I, costumed as a person or persons whose appearance or habits
are like those of a gypsy, release combinations that are free
to turn in any direction and will keep their original plan of rotation
no matter which way the wheel is turned. A circular or spiral motion;
whirl. Revolution. Vortex. Coil. (see tugging at the ear in perplexity)

Wrong Face

There’s something wrong with
my face (other than my drunken

Russian souvenir shop balalaika,
a ‘zippy zither’) – Remember

the time your chemistry caught fire?
And then there was something

about a tarantula having baby
rainbow suspenders worn by Mork

or an extra nose tattooed on your face
next to your real nose. Ha!… Monkey Face!

Bathed in any pumpkin seeds lately?
Frickin’ Komodo Dragons — like a particularly

bucolic avant-folk experiment.
Researchers have devised what they call

the “still face experiment” to see
what happens when interactions are

disrupted. The seagulls look at the
chicken-thing bobbing in the water.

The birds all look like seagulls or
cormorants in the artificial sky:

Blood Blood and Black Lace Blood
The Exorcist The Experiment The Eye Face

Whats new seagull face? WOOOOOOOAHHH
yah. Really? So what’s the truth

behind the seagull face? wings catchycolours
action seagull experiment flare practice …

Is it all a science experiment? A dream?
A supernatural pocket in the universe

with a tentacle face and in possession
of a lot of people’s souls?

Baby Jesus and I rode over to my new
rehearsal space, his features are composed of

people’s moms naked yeah I remember
the pop rocks tale, the Alka-Seltzer/seagull

experiment, and the bloody mary story.
Secondly, I have a sneaking suspicion

that the monkey face didn’t stay put.
I also have a monkey face (I am famous for it) —

so realistic if you get too close.
The star of all the wildlife films is me.

Really? So what’s the truth behind the
seagull face? My innocent look, baby duckling []

none [] hedgehog [] snail [] piranha []
seagull [] newt [] pigeon. The FACE experiment

was conducted on a moderately fertile
Night Of The Seagulls with strands falling

onto my face — I think this might be
an experiment with “alternative distribution

systems” of gentle lavender vomit.
Like a baby seagull, our robots rely

on a sense of normalcy. O Analogy Police,
I will not lick my human’s face.

I can swear to you that the seagulls were
vultures, expecting some statistical regularity

in their experiences. An object in the shape
of a face changes into a separate seagull face

the heat is coming off the sidewalk in waves
and you see that there’s something wrong

with my face—like it’s a jigsaw puzzle
not put together right. There’s something wrong

with my monitor. There’s something wrong
with my script, and I can’t figure out what!

There’s something wrong with my throat.
I can’t swallow properly and my voice

is hard and rough. There’s something wrong
with my ears. What if there’s something wrong

with my puzzle? How do I send you
the picture for the puzzle?