Horizon-al Noon!


Following I transcribe the scribbling I just done in your instructive constraint (expanse?) of body-write. Feel-ya as free as pigeon to do with as-ya May (ist almost June):

[first, I didn’t have the computer screen too near, I went out onto a stump sits by a house I sleep in, sat at the edge of a fire-pile (unlit) in among what’s mainly maples, but there’s other unknown leafs alimb, & many itchy bugs afoot. So I made a listing page of the contemplation, as directed, & though I was not asked to write again @ the very end, I made that also in my list of horizoning to-do’s. I had in me some unspoken imagining of the question, but now find I glanced at it much to my over-thinking-chagrin. Still there is something here, & since you asked me to be a poet, & since your writing on the horizon asks a poet to practice being a poet, & to share, this be the sharing thereof (in three sessions: 0 {pre-sit}, 1 {midsit-freewrite}, 2 {end-sit gathering moment})]


Some beginning symbols (what cobs my current web):
Making a nest with balloon dinosaurs & plastic fire-trucks.
Objects of Home – stones & photographs.
Horizon as Home – eternally present/ever-receding.
Constant distance.
Be on that distance.
A journey through the valley & the forest.


Nest                      Horizon                              Stone

Snapshot             Comfort                              Far/Body

Nose                     Knows                                  Being/Free

Notice                  Nothing                              Connect/Return



What cloud (could) there graze come,
Come, comme fat-breathed cow,
Lazing infinities of directed vision
Possess also, there, their peripheries, Horizons.

That which meets out with in
Ground with groundless


That which is met is met & meets
In me—

—to be within an on of distant met & meeting
—to place a pace across a facile nothing, a reaching-over-there,
—to shift eye inner earring gold ajangle inner in her hair hangs where,
caught up with you, so far-fetching scent of I

You carry an eye to my furthest I,
I, past your horizon, am on,
& so are meeting our meetings met not.

Ill-captivated linguas dazed & frazzle in withins
Cascading waffles sculpt-id soft of waffle-whats
In worded thought.

A line which is not, makes
Much as a circle or a capsized bowl,
Upon which marbley May roll my
Many nights of moon,
When the low oblong look—

She waistes, engorged, us seams of lightful eye
(seems light, full, I) (she gorgeous: we waits)

Remember, from the edge of naught & none-where comes
The nothing-waters crawling out my glints thereon a sun
I the self of son eyes selfly sun, I sumtimes dun,
Looking larger on the false off far
Than feathers of dust come drift
The air of light seeming light
As air in light, when eye,
Above, at my noonest raised,
Cast burns apparent absently
On the ape-skinned race at Home.

& of a sudden flickering out the edges in a mind’s why
A surrounding forest sudden still & wafting pungent
Greens & seems & seams & seems – obstructeroscuro:

The end of vision.

There is, in close collection of roots & roofs,
Some barrier to the separation on which I
The light in light, a light enlight, begun become
Become again

                               & still—unwitness of
the great “forever-in.”

Sapling boughs give way to deeper green canopies
Of high maple over bright vinyl sided Homes,
Lawn mower roams
In echoes of unseen other yards, time immotorable,
Among the finches perhaps is heard a mockingbird,
& how are we to know?

Body—heart & lung—take & fill
Unsatisfied with the complicated molecule,
Mixtures big as air—by peeling off at edges
Deals in the common tongue of flower & primate:

We are Penelope together in the language of the unseen loom,
Weaving & unweaving the air.
Wilting & reposing. The exchange is thus:
If she goes, I also go.

If nothing is not illusion, then no illusion is not real. A negation often begs for cancelation of the thought, but here. Is is not & is. Makes simpler the line of the equation & expands the field of its plotting. What is, is not. What’s not, is. Don’t be overdeposited with the desire to cast off the remainder of the thought. Though meaningless, it casts a light. A color close to blue: My horizon to my Home. Illusion of my distance, joined. Illusion of a closeness, coined, “where e’er my hat’s ahung.”

At Home I’m told lives comfort. On horizon, there is Home. What’s more: each is a nothing recedes when I’ve done a little more than be tempted to touch.

A nest consists.
(But the of  {deepens   in} the animal)
{depending on} the animal).



A Swim through Isaiah Berlin, “The Hedgehog and the Fox”

A “swim” is a compositional form, a hunting methodology, a meander, a derive within the space of a text, field notes on the physical realm of the page. Its relationship to erasure is evident, relevant, & coincidental: One chooses a place on the page to begin, a word or phrase or fragment. One chooses whether or not to predetermine a path or whether to follow a natural affinity (in the following case there are 5 sections following 5 distinct approaches to path on each of 5 pages). Something emerges, or doesn’t. Meaning is made, or isn’t. Relationships within the text observed may be rewired, expanded, unhinged, clarified. Relationship of reader to Text may be tested. Linked here and above is the PDF of the article in question.

1.(Path: A Diving Bounce)
There is –
Hedgehog knows –
More than that
by no mean[s],
but a poet of
the Fox.

2. (Ringlets)

in                                              way
or                                                                  or
moving              to            no      centr
coherent                                                              scattered
incomplete                                                                essense
unchanging                                               centrifugal


3. (submergent)
There he is, a pluralist.
Ask first & ask second, of fruitful relation,
great question opposites,
to find the figures at that protean pole:
Say the many from the many to say of varied’s own bearer thereby,
as being,
a prophet from the centre.

4. (adrift)
Somehow darkness makes us pause & view, nor can dark corners, by greater a fox – so (or more: either) it is our reply – less than whole: maybe unaware of the hypothesis, but a fox & his ideals have genius,
No one can doubt.
No one should.

5. (laps)
on obiter tracts, But emerges believed, some: This & some. Take to attempt reason rather than fate. Light it casts it on to sources, both motive to most in what letters, essays & stories, writings, social stories – private: between nowhere & paradox – his historical holding, in short, is serious.

I’m sorry I am as I am


I was recently reminded that a planet is a wanderer. “Is” somewaylike making the berry middle of the turnover. Planet.

Venus said once to me, in a bus hoarse creak, “sorry for the moon over bad hotels” & perhaps I thought, “good for you.” But it’s become obvious to me since then that what she really wanted to say was “I love you,” only this is a hard thing to mean & say simultaneously.

I’m sorry I am as I am: Planet.

Mars frumped. Has been frumpy. Like some middle-aged detective in a murder mystery in Iceland or Denmark. Lens flares & open landscapes half-palmed-over with ice-white stones. Wondering the spit of self. His daughter probably has issues with him. Whose mother no longer worries in the pillow–found her own way without him. There is only the wandering mystery to sooth. & a windshield under electronic drones. The almostfreeze beading by the slow wiper windshield. Lingering red light.

A wink that doesn’t mean to wink.

My grandfather’s clock was left on Crete in a bloated oak crate in the sun. So I don’t know what time it is, nor how we get from here to Rome to home (to Florence I think by Elephant wing). Still, when there is chiming, we delight in the design. All the many molten hearts of Italy, an ember to the amber of our planet names (poets, all on island time, remember the long tick of the bubble in Boulder, & how do we find ourselves in America? We wander!

A shame if not to also wonder).

Yes there are long oceans between the flesh & what beats in it. Water the color of the warring planet. Just one of your bloodcells wanders further in a day than you will in a year, wanders further in a year than you will in your lifetime, further in your lifeline than Mars would dare dream. Within is the greatest drift of

heaven & earth & human.

I don’t mind the backward slide of Mercury. But I love the apeswing vine chide on the channels’ for-always-ness of nightlights in their mumbles.

It’s true: water just comes right out of the sky & wets us for no good reason, but don’t worry, Neptune governs the clouds with a dry writ. “I shall be in a trench,” he whispers, with the bulb-based tooth-fish, pretending.

Water for the hair on my head today. Water for the blue blood of a gas giant. One year is a single beat of the big fat heart of the sun. Here we are to stay. At home. Resting. Still. (This is how we know we are really travelling about at an infinity of directions at once, at all velocities possible: that we imagine there is a stillness & covet it’s return to our beings. A womb, of course, is a relative thing.)

I have been to a body space, now, ful, & what a good bello-ing song. Of course! It’s our dogs that dig for us. & of course they don’t quite know it’s for us. Bury whatever seems most ours for us. A simple urgency to keep the thing safe. Why so West? I could ask you. But, then, when I ask myself, Why Portugal? Why Lisbon? I sense the answer better by not knowing it. Because the ocean & the moon. Because the sailors know. Because because. The ocean in my town is like the ocean in my body. & I love the call to body that a body space ful gives.

In the space of home, whatever that means to you.

Whatever that means to me? I wonder if I will spend forever on this “whatever,” or if I ought to just comply to the object in the sentence. It means “whatever” to me: now shall I sit in whatever and be with my body & listen to what it has to say & not-say. Now shall I say with my body what I heard & not-heard.



(the everybody word)


Long ago, I wrote a two-chord song for a girl in a window in Angers, France, & I called it Window. The two chords have since remained my favorite combination of sounds on a guitar. Windows have since remained at the center of my poetic inquiries. The woman & I shared a story for many years after; it’s a story I am continually trying to tell, & that the standard & multifarious approaches to communicating it always seem to come up short has been a frustrating & joyous catalyst for endless creative endeavor. Here is one:

I wish to combine the performative forces of the creative spontaneities I have practiced to date, the persistent symbols that drag me from one medium to the next, a philosophy of process—based somely in actual theory and mostly in my lazy ear (I will call it the un-naming of the birds)—into a film. Film, of course, combines all the arts & so, so far as combinatory efforts go, it is the formally fittingest one.

I begin in the felt sense. I hate the term felt sense. What other kind of sense is there? But it’s a term. A name. I love names. I love to imagine things without names & so I give the animals whose names I have learned a new name—there was a white feathery beast near a dock on a river in Tequila, Texas, whose name I could pronounce, Heron. But this seemed wrong. I like the word Heron & it goes well with the bird, but it seemed wrong. I felt like Heron stole the creature’s little heartbeat, made a guilded frame in a hall of portraits in a mausoleum of all the many wild & mysterious things that need no longer be understood or considered. In a very real sense, the naming of a thing does something to its vital & dynamic nature that can be beautiful, communicative, haunting, liberating in a lot of ways, but it’s hard to ignore the manner in which a name seems also to steal a thing’s essence… more accurately, probably, is that gaining a name steals this essence in me: obscures my capacity in ever-increasing layers to perceive a oneness in all things (while simultaneously increasing my mental map of how to conceptualize this ecliptical phenomenon (it’s confusing; regardless, I want to understand the creature, & the method of understanding it which has me calling it “Heron” is not the kind of understanding I want)—not the everybody word, but a momentary feeling, unique & unrepeatable, I might notice where I am standing, how the thing is moving; I love to hear animals breathe, I love to notice the sound of breath, when the sun is bright & I am breathing & the animal is breathing & I am lazy & she is lazy & it’s morning. This is the kind of thing I mean. Observation less taken as a naturalist for the purposes of categorizing, cataloguing for future study along the two-name grounds, although I must admit to loving this way of looking at creatures & plants also, but in an attempt at some universal empathy between myself & bird-thing, me-thing, water-thing, air-thing, thing-being-thinking-thing-breathe-thing-me-you-me-thing thing. Here we are. Here I am. This is the moment of the birdthingmething I think. It becomes sort of regressive & simple to talk about. Talking about it isn’t the thing that really makes it. Talking about it is something like the second or third or 29th or 29-thousanth thing I do, it’s pretty far removed from the experience, the perception of the experience, the reflection, the feeling of the reflection. Talking about it is another kind of animal; it’s also an animal I can breathe with, just not the animal I’m breathing with by the water. Talking about it can give an idea of the texture & the value of having the experience; maybe I learn something else, explaining it, but mainly I think it has the force of proverb, or, worse yet, just plain obviousness. “It’s nice to be near a bird & the water,” can seem pretty unworthy saying as a thing with any kind of having added to understanding. But it IS nice to be near a bird & the water. So go do that. Maybe…

I digroos.

Mainly I am excusing myself for not learning the names of my two chords—not filling my head with jargon about windows, not calling a woman from a window in France “wife” or “ex,” nor attempting to fill a grief & a joy surrounding my experience of her experiences with easily compartmentalized clinical terms, not naming a state of being “depression” so as to see myself as a malady, not internalizing rules of thirds & acts & dialogue & such, so as to formulate. Formulae are helpful. My formula is not this formula. It’s more of a dream. More of a breath by the water in the sun & a creature breathing there too. I defend.

Let I now defenestrate the defense.

Applicable theory for this exists, not least of which Kerouac’s spontaneous prose & Chogyam Trungpa’s Dharma Art & uncontaminated first glimpse & Ginsberg’s notice-what-you-notice/ first-thought-best-thought, but I want to talk about process at the moment.

Not knowing the name of the chord makes it mine in some way like a dream belongs only really to its dreamer. I can feel guilty about not knowing it as well; this limits my exploration of like sounds. Well, there are limitations. So be it. & this may explain what took me so long to learn anything about my two chords, or help to explain why what I am now learning about them is something I feel uniquely suited to. Why I want to express about them: my personal/universal/breathing/vital connection to their expressive qualities in me.

Recently I had been playing that old song again to see if I could remember it. I know I might sit & flog my mind in recollecting each word, but for the time was-ing, I wanted to see what I recalled without too much straining. “It was here. Now it’s gone away,” rests as the final, melodic line, & was somewhat mysterious to me at the time of composition. I was writing not to my sense of loss, but to my hopes, & yet there was this line at the end: “I want to be there, but I don’t want to be there. It was here. Now it’s gone away.” It haunted me, irked me. Well. I recalled the song mostly, but it was gone. After a few days peppered between other sorts of days where I would strum the song & feel like I understood this final sentiment… finally… I took an afternoon & taught myself a scale in the octave containing the two chords of the song. So now I know where my hand can go on the neck of the guitar to enclose & expand the two sounds. They are a bright series of chords. Daylight in its best hours. Quiet. Listless. Full. Outside. But I don’t know the name of what my hand, here, is. Someone will eventually tell me, I imagine. Maybe not.

I practiced within this octave exclusively for close to a month, hopefully gaining an intuitive relationship with the instrument, the sound, my body, the textures of feeling & sense that accompany me in the exploration, some agility, some wordless, un-named bird about a window (in front of which I play, when I have played). & now I have begun to record & expand still further. Here is the project:

Utilizing only the sounds (tones, notes, chords, vocalities) available to the Window Octave, I record my spontaneous explorations (but sometimes directed: as in, “this time I will play only one note at a time for 5 minutes” or “this time I will play three chords I like together, one at a time, for five minutes each,”  & I hope to find myself playing one note for an hour or an afternoon, or devoting an entire day to it, but the expression is spontaneous—not previously rehearsed, per se), afterward placing the sounds on editing software &, maintaining the tone of each sound, I manipulate according to an exploratory process, just whatever feels right: paul-stretch, tempo-shift, reverb, bass reduction-amplification, clipping, reversing, all hell loose, I think, for now. Perhaps something akin to the one-note method will find itself in use at some point, but for now I find variety helps. Sometimes I will then listen in meditation & feel a vocalizing potential. If so I will do the same with the vocals as I do with the notes. I find deep natural connectivity in the expression/exploration.

Each track moves very little in the linear sense, and perhaps rather than a song, what I have is a sound-scape. I’m still getting comfortable in the process & I don’t want to tell it what to be.

My aim is to end up with several hours of sound that can be then the basis for compositional sessions, conducted also in spontaneously directed method (i.e. “window”…”go”) sometimes writing, sometimes sketching, following the dreamwriting form of spontaneous prose I developed for my project, The Red King, while living in Boulder, Colorado. I’ve written much toward this process & perhaps I’ll bring that into this process write at some point. Seems unnecessary at the moment, but worth noting it follows generally the un-naming principle I’ve named here-above. Here-upon I will compose a film. From sound-scape to dreamwrite to photograph to film, I do not plan to follow a purely linear progression. That is, dreamwrite requires sound-scape, film-composition requires dreamwrite, etc., but I don’t plan to wait for the full soundtrack to start writing, nor the full collection of dreamwrites in order to write or storyboard or even film the film. I will go as it seems necessary, recognizing one is not the other, recognizing one is strongly integrated in the other, recognizing that this integral nature is not binding.

What I am doing is many things. I am doing one thing at a time. I am doing things together, one at a time, together. Finding. Having the dream & telling it as a function of having it.

This serves to integrate several activities I see as my artistic skill-set, thereby giving me a singular focus for them all—keeping me, hopefully, engaged, rather than scattered, about (at least several of) my creative debts.


Throw Shade


Despite your potential insistence to the contrary, it’s been a while since I’ve felt myself, in the truest sense, in a rankle—the truest sense being that of not merely a resistant reaction, but also of a perpetual discomfort regarding the thing which vexes—but that is precisely what I’ve got myself in regarding your prior letter and what seems to me a mishandling of imaginative inquiry/prompting: something of an incredulity at my having “fallen for” a teacherly trick, which I took to infer a certain amount of laziness and insincerity (on the part of the teacher, and for my own part as an advocate thereof) in the reading of a teacher’s advice to “go to the pool” to her student writer.

[I had in a previous correspondence recounted that the teacher had been “looking at a poet’s words and there was life lacking from the art, but, it seemed she could see there were not art lacking from the looking that was looking, it made her think of the daydreams undersurface of a pool in youngest India. Only the teacher knew the place she was thinking of, but said before the poet: “go to the pool,” And the poet when she heard it, heart it. Went to her own pool, splashed the neighbors rotten with her overlatelyzealous laughter, then put that in her song. How did the teacher know, she asked the teacher, all about what happened at the pool? There was no pool in my suggestion to you, the teacher replied, I went to the pool, so I reminded myself to go to the pool. Then you found what you found.”… to which the subsequent response encapsulates as follows, “I am surprised you fell for that teacherly trick: add magic to the process; add special to the process; make it holy; make it meaning full, like a bed of water.Don’t we all begin in a bed of water? Does this make it holy? What of the vile creatures that drop from a bed of water — do the poets run to their retreats also? Is this where the dark arts are found or do the poets only take what they can stand and leave the rest of it like so much litter, maybe even sweep into tidy piles? Fuck those poets then. Throw shade on their pale asses.”] 

When one rankles, one rankles; there’s no getting around it. But there may be some amount of moving through. One may treat a rankle as a wall. Or one may get curious about the feeling of resistance to a notion and begin to notice just where the discomfort is coming from & thereby somehow come to greater understanding. In the case of the wall, a rankle serves to reify the notion of one’s own rightness, or, more to it, another’s wrongness, & bolsters one’s illusory ego into an indefensible brittle thing. So I shall try not to treat it thusly. Though I have done, I shall try not here. Also (perhaps) worth (at least to me) mentioning is a delineation between intent and perception, which might could stand as a given, but shall not—that my reply makes no claim on knowing the heart of your words, though I have learned I can indeed trust that heart to be in a state of openness, but rather seeks to untie the knot of frustration I have with myself over my own reaction and my own perception of what the stance I perceive to have been taken seems to me to imply. It is my intention not to argue (if I argue) with yourself, but with myself in your presence. So there’s no dealing with “what you really mean” or “what you are really doing” or anything like that.

Here are the major elements of my rankle, in order of my repetitively thinking them:

  1. This take seems to lack imagination.
  2. This take insinuates I have chosen to be obtuse.
  3. I’m tired of quibbling over small things, aren’t there bigger fish to fry?
  4. Maybe I’m just unhappy with my process at the moment.

(again, not intended as statements toward your perception, but as full-light exposures of my own)


So what is it that drives me to thusly perceiving & why does it matter & what can I learn (& if you can learn something, should I be trying to impart something? No. I will leave the you part of this to you. No sermons or evangelism of any kind. Testimony. Belief. Owned, not thrusted):

So the swimming pool as a rather random association, placed in trust by poet in front of poet, seems to me to illustrate and extract the particle of the act, namely trust, that accepts the concept of teaching espoused by many, including Einstein: that a teacher doesn’t educate his students, but provides a space in space & time for his students to educate themselves. In my time at the school I noticed this teacher I’ve referred you to (& whose name I think I’ve left blank because I don’t want to invite the kind of influence a name may have, nevertheless her name is known to many) had many detractors who sounded off about what seemed to them empty gestures that simply “come across strange and mythical & mystical, but amount to nothing.” I paid attention to the detractors and often questioned them about their difficulties with a teacher who utilized parataxis & metaphor in the classroom rather than direct instruction. What they seemed to want from her was a specific enunciation of actionable theoretical means to affect their crafts. That is, they seemed to me to be writers who like to come from a workshop with a lot of comments about word choice and structurally prescriptive fine-tunings of the direction of their work. What they got was a teacher who would notice cows and tell a writer to spend more time at the farm, & when the reply was “I think I’ve been at the farm too much,” she would switch without hesitation or any sign of irony, “that’s what I mean, get as far away from the farm as you can.” She would make wild proclamations, invoke archetypes that may or may not have had anything to do with the writer’s aims, create swirling storms of imagery & symbol, open silent spaces & ask us to rest therein. She would ask questions that seemed to come from out of oblivion. & for the sort of writer who wants concrete commentary and direct theoretical application, I could see how this was frustrating. I try not to judge too much about it, but I do anyway. I think when you have a poet in front of you, you ought to do more listening than evaluating and rejecting.

Joe was so proud of his line he ran up to Anne & in what he describes as a giddiness, proclaimed he’d found something wonderful: “A poet says yes to all things,” he declared. & she gave him a blank stare as if to say, I was walking somewhere because I have to be there, why are you stopping me with this?Needless to say, Joe had hoped for something more. & I don’t think he’d worked it out for himself what he’d hoped for, but I imagine it was for Anne to jump up and down & clap & crown him king of the day! But a … “umm… ok…” was what he got. A poet says yes to all things. When I heard the line, I thought, of course Joe you’d say that, it’s a reverie, & you’re such a reverent poet, it fits you. I took my joy in his revolution. It was only after a great deal of struggle (personal & poetical) & reccurrence of Joe’s line into those strifely moments of mine, I began to recognize this was not a reverie, but a bless-ed curse of a thing. Unflinchingly true & pointing to a perpetual state of innocence that becomes the poet, the naïve actor at many times, who knows seldom what it is he agrees to/with. Who says yes, but god knows what’s really going on. It’s echoed for me over time such that it is like a birthday—something worth recognizing, that illuminates vast cascades of potential self-realization & can be a marvelous symbolism to reflect on, but which might also just be seen as an excuse to wear a silly hat. & I think both are pretty wonderful.

What I’ve noticed from the folks I’ve labelled the teacher’s detractors, is that they will encounter a line or an image like this & if it doesn’t immediately find purchase for them, they dismiss it. If it seems overtrue or obvious, they dismiss it. If it seems proverbial & unsophisticated, they dismiss it. If it isn’t a clever play on theoretical impulse, they dismiss it. They do an awful lot of dismissing, I find. And most of them rankle if you try to call them a poet. I can understand why.

What perplexes me is that a writer can carry forth with any amount of prescriptive notions about what it is to engage with the world. Especially given the iconoclastic bent of the particular voices in the theoretical world they seem to espouse. They seem to get embarrassed by silliness or unserious argument or improper reading of a text for its author or its author’s intention or some such things. As though there were a correct way of writing a story, an incorrect way of noticing a detail.

I know bad writing. I try not to think of it as bad, but I know the feeling of reading something most people might call bad writing & how it somehow offends the act of reading by being a thing that exists. It relies heavily on cliché, it repeats itself, it leans into the moral or thematic message too obviously, it tries to be clever, its dialogue is unrealistic, its speakers/characters are inconsistent—these kinds of things. So often are the problems the same that it seems, I think, to many, that these elements of style are the problem in themselves. So a lot of writerly teaching revolves around “finding ways to avoid cliché” or “rephrasing something you’ve repeated,” or “varying your sentence structures,” little practical lessons like this. Fine. Training wheels are nice things for children.

I was in a Dharma Arts lecture, featuring Robert Spellman—a favorite speaker of mine I think because of his natural wit & his methodical challenge to accepted notions of mindfulness & creative thinking—which had come to the Q&A portion of things & a student had asked for advice, much it seemed to focus on the type of advice that reads “ways to avoid cliché,” advice on how to apply a practice of mindfulness to eradicating his work of the sort of self-delusional “I” that Spellman had been encouraging us away from in the course of the lecture. The question was something like “what are some of the focuses we can bring to our work that will help us deal with this problem?” A problem Spellman had explicated as having the effect of uninteresting writing. Spellman’s response was, in his tone, very understanding & forgiving & need not be read as flip, something to the effect of, “No, nothing like that. I think you’ll find that if you are with your writing and you’re doing it all the time, those things just work themselves out, not because you follow some kind of procedure about it, but because you get bored with doing it that way, you get bored with the way your writing sounds when you’re doing it in that self-referential way and you start to try to see things more openly, more clearly.” It comes close to a bit of advice that I’ve heard from many a writer—but importantly not the majority—that the only thing they have to preach to other writers about writing is that you should always do it. There’s nothing more to say about it for these writers. Just write all the time & all the little tricks you’re worried about now stop mattering to you.

Easy advice to give. Tough to take. It’s why when I hear folks being dismissive of truisms for their simplistic-ness, I wonder how true they really find the thing. It’s very easy to note how everybody already knows a thing. It’s not quite as easy to turn around & find one has taken the time to find this true-for-everybody thing at work in their own practice & lives & creative work.

Advice that gets more sophisticated than the “just do it” approach can also be helpful, but I also think it can be detrimental in that it begins to formulate an acceptable realm of what is good writing, & begins to accept theoretical query as constitutional. It gets off the point. There are suddenly rules. Too many rules.

Don’t rely on Cliché—I think of Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanna, a work riddled with integrative clichés, a brilliant, but, more importantly, fun, book.

Don’t repeat yourself—Well, Gertrude, what do you think of this little bit of teaching?

Be economical, not elaborative—Tell that to Joyce. (someone did, he said [economy] was for shoemakers, not writers)

The major issue of writers not coming into our own as writers has so little to do with the symptomatic style-monsters we spend so much energy slaying, & so much to do with how much attention we are paying, how closely we are listening, how sore are our backs from bending to the task. We don’t really want to listen to our work & to do it. We really want to have made our work & to have seen that it is good. I think some good advice—for a writer whose work displays cliché & as a critical reader (with opportunity to issue challenge) I find the clichés unthoughtful, uninteresting, reflective of a lack of sitting and being with the work—might be to repeat the “mistake” 20, 50, 100 times until you understand what it’s doing there.

Am I digressing? (Always be digressing) Well let’s come back around.


Go to the pool. Some possible reactions:

“This doesn’t mean anything.” Followed by a grumble about the teacher. Trash talk by the smoking table.

“This means everything!” Followed by a thorough worshiping of pools & teacher.

“Pool, eh? What about the river?” Followed into with a seeking of new opportunities to listen to one’s work.

I might ought to have placed number three in the middle. Can you tell it’s my preference? I think it follows my belief that if you put an image or a symbol in front of a writer, it’s always a gift. No matter what it is.

Look at the sunset.             Gift.

Sit with a tree.                     Gift.

Think of a zipper.                Gift.

Listen to that bulldozer and ask, “what does that bird look like?”           Gift.

That cartouche on the sarcophagus’ feet is upside down!                           Gift.

Go to the pool.

It’s a gift. Here, hold this. I trust you to open it. You are beautiful enough to open a gift, yes?

I don’t think I can over-ratify the value of dream-language in creative discourse for those willing to listen. A poet encounters a bright or dim light & if worth her weight in salt, will not judge the thing by its rhetorical merits, neigh (sic–a salt for the lick?), that’s a judgement best left for rhetorical gifts. She will judge it by her own capacity to see something in its light. If it is the sun, there are blinding glints coming off the water. If it is the moon, the stems are milky white. There is something always to find, for a poet.

You do not have to walk on your knees. For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. (Mary Oliver)

…so, in response to myself, and perhaps it’s valuable as a thing to say in front of yourself:

  1. Such is the value I find in acts of faith like the one at the pool.
  2. Such is the rankle I feel when I sense that no amount of imagination will ever be met with anything but rhetorical scoffs and skeptical shout-downs.
  3. Such is my hope, that a symbol may beget a furtherance of our dreaming, rather than a festival of argument & resistance.
  4. Such are the poetical things I find most true, yet spend so much of my time in service to the redundant and less-true.


Meanders on Walter Benjamin, “The Language of Man” (part 1)

This may take a while:

all communication of the contents of the mind is language, communication in words being only a particular case of human language and of the justice, poetry, or whatever underlying it or founded on it.

Certainly we cannot speak in language what may not be properly treated by language. This fact rather forgets sometimes it is engaged in “analysis of—” or meta-experience of—the particular phenomena it engages. Distinguishing between one and another, or, defining, is the purview of language. It is that which calls this “this” and that “that” and often plays at calling this “that” and that “this” and so on, and communicates equivalence and distinction to this body and that body. And certainly it is tempting to take this system (and it may be meaningful to distinguish here that a system is not necessarily built or developed by mind, but is articulable only, so far as we know, by mind; recognizable, so far as it seems, by mind—when a mind recognizes a phenomenon, has it created the phenomenon into language?) of disambiguation of phenomena to be the very existence it describes.

I’m thinking of photosensitivity as a most basic carrying out of what Benjamin seems to be calling language.

In a deep pool of water, there resides a culture of micro-organisms that move lower in the day and come close to the surface by night, because, when sunlight interacts with their cellular structures, it starts a process of adjusting buoyancy to a more advantageous state (a state which provides the culture access to nutrients and keeps the culture more remote from the forces and life-forms which may cause them harm or extinction). Light communicates to the organism in a way that distinguishes when and how to behave. A language of light? Perhaps? Well then in this sense, certainly how is anything not language? Cause-effect. And for human communicability of the meta-awareness of such analogy, how is language not the thing that is always happening? But of course language is not man-made, rather, similar to the micro-organism, it is grown in the cellular structure towards a disambiguation of light and not light, food and not food, danger and not danger, and so on. And could we say of the organism’s photosensitivity mechanism that this constitutes the “mental” aspect of the creature? And if so, is the creature itself not the speaker of the language of its mental life? This is all part of some larger body of the cell, which in humanspeak we make a distinction to draw analogies and understand concepts or to bastardize and oversimplify and etcetera. But in distinguishing between the speaker and the language and the language and the mind, we may also see it is not any of these aspects that has conducted the disambiguation; it is the human analysis which has done so. It is the language of mind and not the human heartbeat which has done so, but also yes it was the human heart—and the liver and spine, the grouping together of humans in society, the cultivating of crops and cattle, the cattle itself, the cow’s nervous system, the cud in her belly, the growing of the grass, the sunlight and the rain, the helium moving out from the core of the star, the dead stars casting heavier elements about the cosmos—indeed, everything that may be said to “be”—it is all of these things that have conducted the disambiguation, and the disambiguation takes part in them, not separate, but a part. The language of the language has not made in any real sense anything that wasn’t already making, and the world goes on causing and effecting as it will, no more or less than before, furthering in complexity, interconnecting, being its whole self/un-self, with discreet/undiscreet distinction as a piece of it. And would we call the mind of man so small a thing as to be made of language? And would we name the man of mind so large a thing as to say the little bug in the water thinks the whole universe is made of light and dark and the only thing to do with light and dark is to move up and down in them, and would that little bug be right or wrong?

Is it possible the faculty of man that is language is also a faculty that insinuates itself everywhere, while being no different in this way from anything else at all? Language makes a magic show of analogizing itself with all things? But the analogy is sort of silly. All things are all things anyway… “TADAA!!” says man of his language. “I know how you did that,” says the Acorn. “Quiet,” says the Octopus, “don’t ruin the show, this is for fun.”

All that is asserted here is that all expression, insofar as it is a communication of contents of the J by its whole innermost I guage. On the other hal necessary to ask of whic to say: the German langl of everything that we co direct expression of that mental entity. It is then~ communicates itself in la distinguished from it. TIi. precisely in its languageinto which all linguistic t precisely over this abyss i and the linguistic entity J study of linguistic theory, it is, rather, the frequent being that constitutes a d of which is found in the paradox has a place, as remains a paradox, and i What does language ~ corresponding to it. It is I itself in language and no speaker, if this means son Mental being communica tha t it is not outwardly identical with linguistic b What is communicable i therefore communicates mental being only insofar insofar as it is capable oj Language communicat festation of this being, h( tion” 1 ( J (‘ langua§ municates itself.” The la not the lamp (for the me ble, is by no means the communication, the lamr the linguistic being of a linguistic theory depends even the appearance of t means, “That which in On this “is” (equivalent t On Language as Such 63 cation of contents of the mind, is to be classed as language. And expression, by its whole innermost nature, is certainly to be understood only as language. 

The faith which holds its canon as also its proof of the veracity of its canon is the only sort of faith there is. If a Biblically-centered community is engaged in what would seem uncompassionate behaviors bolstered by a belief that those behaviors are “scriptural,” it is useless to point to evidence external to the collection of documents that make up the moral world of the community. You have to locate your reasoning inside the canon in order to affect a look at changing behaviors. An external approach is tantamount to heresy.

A Biblical circularity exists also in the sciences, whereby the precept of skepticism seeks a process that cannot be interrupted or corrupted by deus ex machina results to a line of inquiry, as the explanation “this is up to god” seems to put a period at the end of a sentence in a language that wants no punctuation. Should it surprise us, then, when an approach which endeavors to remove the hand of God from its functioning yields results which seem to suggest God is superfluous? Of course God is superfluous to a system which has begun with the understanding that bringing God into the mix is superfluous to the aims of the system. In the interior analysis it seems simple, we’ve discovered that by eliminating God from the line of questioning, we eliminate god from the results, ergo, as you can see, there is no need of god anywhere. The trouble comes when we want to make the endeavor into the whole of the world. Well, look, we’ve put limits on this thing on purpose, maybe let’s not go into the wasteland where the limited starts making assertions about the limitless. Let’s not be stupid children.

Let’s be stupid children!

Once, in my time at Naropa, after a particularly contentious discussion in a particularly contentious class, I went with Troy and Cliff and Eric back to Eric’s apartment, which was our tradition on the day of the class, for a bowl and a blunt and some free-scribbling where we might allow the contours of the disagreements and alignments of the prior discourse to soften, magnify, de-formalize, fade in and out, that I think we were intent on allowing the discourse to breathe all the many airs available to it, that we might not think we understood something, but rather had been given fodder for poetic growth and development. Even so, when Troy was in the mix my blood was often up and I could be pretty rigid and argumentative about things, which I think was good for me to see & I’m not sure if it was good for anyone else, but there remains in my hopes that potential. Well, in any case, we got onto a line of argument where I was insisting that narrative was universal as a creative concept and I was relying heavily on Gestalt to make my claim. Troy was mainly saying, “No it isn’t,” so by design I was at an impasse with him. And Cliff began to argue from the point of view of his bathroom floor in Denver, where nothing happened and nothing happened next, and I began to be persuaded.

“Late at night on the bathroom floor, nothing happens. And it’s creative.”

“That’s narrative. You just don’t want it to be.”

“Talking about it NOW is narrative. But on the floor it isn’t.”

“But you find value in it and so you return there. Again, narrative.”

“You’re surrounding the state with narrative and calling all of it narrative.”

“Yes. I don’t see the problem.”

“The problem is you don’t see what’s not happening when it’s not happening. You start out thinking everything is a sequence that fills in with meaning by mental connectivity, and so everything conforms to that for you, but I’m just on the floor and sometimes I’m not even aware that’s where I am. And the poetry there is sometimes just a bass string and there’s nothing in mind to connect one thing with another.”

In argumentation I still can’t see a way around the narrative, but argument is not always the best lens for finding what ought to be found. There is a bathroom floor in Denver where, at night, Cliff no longer sits, and once did, and the only way to talk about it is in narrative; one way to experience the non-narrative is to experience the non-narrative. And then there’s no way to explain it without applying narrative, and so the illusion persists.

“All mental communication is language,” I use my words to say. Try disproving me using language. You won’t be able to do it. It doesn’t mean you’re onto something.