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.

I wish glass glue was rum


That which comes up from the deep: that which deeps.

Deep, come up! Up, come up!
Which up?

Come up, deep. Come up.
That, from the up, which ups us deep, deep, deep,
up from up from/up up from.

Tub, couch: lost                                           Did we limbs?
Dizzy swizzle sweadi                                 Knock, knock! Who’s here?
Now-ing & dealsome humidor               Me nervous.
Slasslnutnot few, few, pew.                    Slipsilk Mammont’ought
|Fin, eye, wardemdancer,                        Hollow, haste,
Likee leded ears &                                      Sob, sob, a-soak-ay que-caw!

Toast, raise them                                       Ask d’woman
Muses, thaw wumworm,                         Hem need to n’airs,
Knowing & feeling are many doors,           Please wait;
A meaty snail, Pammy! Or,                     Is roses rogue, tra la la la!
Ni’while sayd                                               Hello, space,
Dead ant e dote.                                          Wash, wash a dish.

Butt couché lot                                          Gig well, Sis, Mars!
Hazey hazey head                                     Now, now, Bluebeard!
Zwaard! Slew y’em                                   Meaner mast
Talls, tussel falls new, new toe            Lip(l)(y)es(s)(N)’ talka mome
When I… raceward…                              Raceward–
Keel’d ankle, ded sea                              Se passo, se passo, que caw!

Sips, taste ‘em,                                         Ascend wo nom
Grase is what we mow,                          Here, here—two ears
Lancel & Gremec,                                     Apple & d’Water
Me try nails. Pan, my dear                    Si, Guerra tu la la la la!
When I erase a word                                  Olymprima!
Landed on d’mote,                                  Wish, wish, I wish

Touch bush too well.                              Glass glue was rum.
Horsey horsey hay!                                 Canta hackhat be?
Z’wagons whailes eye must                 Move near to me—
Fatal fellatals weenstrewn                   Spliff, you take’m home—
Leafwaffles wanderdandy                     Lamp sun,
Neked d’knee did she.                           Papa say papa say saw

Space thins ‘em,                                     A scent Tahoma
Hair is how to grow                                   Laid nightcellar dada,
Glanced gull, g’morning ears!           Topple & tower.
Wet, my planet is—& my heart         Cigarette, you’re always alone,
Sum sol’m days—                                  Mollen pim
O, dandelion mead!                               Weep, she weep, ey weepshee

Mouth shuts bowel,                               As igloo is warm.
Ribs dew lid                                              Come Toucan, what beast
Swaggins sails, moist-eyed                Tombs near to me—
Flat elephants flame w/lust,               Castlemourn tum-tum tum-tum—
Finally down, down nod adda             Lambstone up as
Neck et need she did.                            Up as up as up was…

Earth spans ‘em                                     As into a home:
Zippity will-d’weeds,                          Cannes-Cannes! Two beers!
Gnaws & guilds a moss-maid           To lean to bean to
Lass, Hazel, weep weep, flail             Kiss till mon amnot mon hot.
Knifey, dardraw anadananda            Alan, tastes
Knot tie in d’shade.                              Sut. Sut cask(t) oak. Oak.

Heart opens mouth                                   & d’moon—
Roam an tough to turret                     D’halls mit damsels dey—
Clang & calling German jeer,            To pant a plant a panted flower,
What the planet is to my heart:              Razor raised agland,
Un wholed’Smee                                   Lemon(s)pie
Thinly in thy deem.                              Deep is deep as deep is.

Dideye damn?                                        Did ewe lamb?
Moses, thou were’t more                   Hedameda ats nat nay
Clang & fall angermaneither             To lamp about
Allmighty soil, a penny pour la        Easy, Caesar! Galalant
Whale seas whear                                           Yellow ape-
Nothing is not made.                                Ashes, ashes, ashes.


All the things & what they IS

I never really believe for very long that I know anything at all about any of it. So, when it becomes real (REAL as like when it becomes illusion with a real feeling about it) it is based on this lack , this not knowing, which can be a frightening & desperate & clutching onto ropes place–ropes I hold in the empty-knowing-real as tethered out of nothing, onto nothing. & into my nothing-net I go,

Such like thus I often go afalling.


Thy clock isnay mi god.

Have thee dream but first lie down
but first lie down & halve thee dream
Half the dream but first lie down
but first lie down but first lie down

Un move non still & hav thee dreem
& hef thee dreme Un move nun still
bu’ firs’ thee heed lie mov un stil
thi move unsit unstill nun moov

& haff thee dreme & haff thee dreem
bu’ firs’ & first bu’ firs’ & first
lie don thy heed lie don thee hid
& hav thi dream Un moov thi head

& mor Un moov Un still thi head
Thy click isnay my goad I sed
Thy clack am numbly got thy head
Thy cloak Un gloamly roam bu’ had

& have & halve lie stil Un stil
& hav thee lie Un still Un stil
bu’ first but firs’ Un moov Un moov
Un move Un move thy hed thy hed

Thy click isnun mi gud eye sed,
Thy click isnun mi gud.


What about filling the MOon? (a NEW! poetic form & a reading of Cummings’ “Puella Mea”


Herefollowing is what I wrote to you when I heard you were looking for some theoretical gambol (tremble/tumble?) concerning my poetical invention, the Empty Moon, a 9-word variation on Jack Collom’s Lune. As the Lune’s 3 lines of 3 words, 5 words, 3 words, acts to translate the Haiku into a form more natural to English than the syllabic Japanese constraint—& it’s interesting to find how naturally one will find the insightful speech of others often breaking easily into a Lune—the Empty Moon’s construction of 3 3-word lines seeks a consistent relationship between the making of language & the dharma art concept elucidated by Chögyam Tungpa as approaching objects as they are. The truncation of the middle line marks an equivalence of each utterance & wants to make a poem that becomes—but is not capable of explicating itself.

The letter I wrote you meant to contain some formal tablature, but as you’ll note, it gets distracted by a bug & a poem & a loop, so here I’ll just express (but not really with the intention of explaining) what is not meant to be quite so complicated as it looks: the symbolism of the lines, acting as ciphers of the Heaven, Earth, Human principle of dharma art, conform to the planetary (or lunary)—Sun, Moon, & Earth, & can be applied in any order. The different configurations might express things as they are in somewhat different shades:

moon earth sunsun earth moon




Blue Bob’s shoes

Miss them so

All the night

(Moon, Earth, Sun)

earth sun moon

moon sun earth





My music foot

At its heart

Pools its loops

(Earth, Sun, Moon)

sun moon earth earth moon sun

Eclipses (Northern, Southern)



According to because,

Cloaked in opal

Wore an eye

(Sun, Moon, Earth/Northern Eclipse)

If there is an underlying principle delining what entails the distinctions between the symbols, I want not to say anything about it except that perhaps the earth line ought to feel like Earth & the sun line ought to seem like Sun & moon might ought Moonlike. You know where gravity has more sway, or light or phasing, orbiting, centering, pulling at your waters. These sorts of sensations might be at play, or you might not think about it at all. Really all you need is 3 & 3 & then 3 again.

But herewhat happened just then     A spider surprised

Surprised me on

My stupid leg


I jumpt at

Stupid ol spider

Stupid jumpt away!


& Stupid forgot

What stupid was

Going to say.



3 words is

The first (simplest)

Thought in symbol             that moves from

One notion into

Whole other notion.

One might say:          1 word rests          2 words move

3 go somewhere.

But I’m personally          far less interested          at the moment

in the movement       itself than I         am in this:       “That is this.     This in that.     This becoming this.   That, becoming, becomes.    Becoming becomes this.  We come in;    we are this.  We go out; we are that. We come in.”

Such are places Where our notions Bare us out. Bear us in. This is not A syntaxing jest Wherein the thought Must really sentence. As in this: “I am lost, We are found.” Where the verb Moves the subject To the state—Or in this: “You get moved, Chair falls over.” Where the verb Places a shadow Of the subject Within the state Into the state.

What happens here? It doesn’t matter, & it does.(First of all, Who really cares? It happens naturally. But it seems Like a place We can sit & we can Try & listen.)


—& also this: “Red red red. White white blue.”

—& also this: “Red, read blue, You blue bed!”

Here, color becomes Something like with, & you become A bare tenderness While nothing moves. Just so, this, if each line Is a becoming—in its form, An Empty Moon With 3 lines Makes 3 becomings, & so—superbecomes. A first fold If you will Of a notion (That of becoming Becoming a becoming).


This morning I   was thinking of   my brown umbrella   as I was   looking at it   through my window   with my coffee   & my Cummings.   Poem: “Puella Mea,”   a love poem   which buries icons   of the lovely, lifts a little   only a little   a new possession:

                                    Keep your dead beautiful ladies      ,so it goes,

Mine is a little lovelier

                                    than any of your ladies were.

& the poem   points to flowers   as a symbol   for the timeless:

(a flower such as the world had

                                    in Springtime when the world was mad

                                    & Launcelot spoke to Guenever,

                                    a flower which most heavy hung

                                    in silence when the world was young

                                    & Diarmuid looked in Grania’s eyes)

& how odd  the flower is,  as a thing  to call “forever.”  If an oak  or a mountain  had been there  near our Diarmuid  & his Grania   then, we know,  it would be  still here today.  But a flower  will always die  & her flower  is a flower  not an exactly  thing what’s in  the mad world.  This new flower  the poem makes  a testament of,  as both new  & long dead, just like, alike. Somewhere in this  is the dead  become also new. But because because,  the poem implies:  change, it is  the oldest thing  the new becomes. The flower is.  The flower was. It is the  flower that was.

& I thought—to my umbrella  out the window—I should come  sit under you  in your shade. So I did. & a spider  on my leg  wrote a letter  in pure surprise.

To the Moon:

Phase is becoming.

Moon moves from

New to Full.


But the moon

really does nothing;

I fill it,


you move it,

we empty it.

We do this,


(have always done):

make the moon

be a thing.


Moon is not

anything at all—

Moon is empty.


Moved is moon

when we moondle;

we are moondling


when we move.

When we moon,

the moon moondles.


It is not,  the Empty Moon—as a form—static in emptiness. Nor is it  a brick pile  awaiting your blueprint. An Empty Moon  it simply asks  that you fall  into your nature  as a writer,  as a reader,  as a human  rea write being; as one who  makes one’s moons  & fills them  without ever blinking.  Fall & fill, as you will, any size room  with a moon  of any phase  that you see.  Not the time, nor ample space, nor materials around, for us to  make each moon  from its base  to its tip,  nor even try  a little twist  in the tale. An Empty Moon,  well, it becomes.


Spider was found.                     I jumpt again,               (I will not)

This time hanging                    but next time                No reason to.

from my hair.                           I won’t jump                I won’t jump.


So then why

in my nature

do I always?


Douglas Hofstadter studies  video feedback loops  to understand consciousness.  Of the mind, to truly unbury—what we are: When one loop,  as he observes,  encounters the gaze  of another loop, each loop incorporates  into the other. So we know, one of another, by becoming other  in a segment  of our loop.


An Empty Moon

is a loop

& a loop


can be useful  with our listening,  with our looking.


Here, I am  using Empty Moons  to read poetry  (but the form  is pretty versatile.  All you need  to do is  point at anything. Need not make).

A reading of/ the Cummings Poem/ that I mentioned:

[I like the way taking what is there & reading it for what seems there pulls out from, comes close to. For instance, it was nice to notice how the speaker’s love is mentioned first as mine, & lovely ladies ladies are a lovely are they lovely? The combinatories of the more prone-to-Moon gestures see how many times the flower is a flower, is frail, & such. & how she does not come in as some hyperbolic demolisher of the old beauties, but…just… perhaps a somewhat nicer than the great ones known to all. A little…  The way what is, is. A comment may come from, but it is noticing, more than making much of. Noticing—but a little]:


Harum Omar & Master Hafiz

                                    keep your dead beautiful ladies.

                                    Mine is a little lovelier

                                    than any of your ladies were.


Dead & little                                         …only a little

Keep mine anys                                         keep your dead

Of your were…                                     beauty, & mine.


Ladies lovelier than

Ladies lovelier than

Yours or mine.






                                                April feet like sudden flowers

                                                & all her body filled with May



& sudden flower

Filled with May

All her flowers

All her flowers

All her feet

All her flowers

All her flowers

Filled like feet

Like sudden feet

Like sudden feet

Her body filled

Her, all flowers             Her, all flowers

& all feet

& all filled


& all filled

& sudden like

May with April


May with April

Like her feet,


Her sudden flowers.



                         so pure surprise

(it were so very new a flower

a flower, so frail so glad)

as trembling used to yield with dew            so it were

so so frail

glad as trembling

glad as trembling

new with dew:

surprise a flower




surprise a flower,

so glad dew.                             so yield to

so yield to.                                so frail so

so very so


so very so

so were it                           a flower trembling

a flower trembling        a flower used

                               a frail flower

a frail flower

trembling with surprise

a new flower                                         a new flower

were so used

so it were.





Thus herendeth thus I offsignator,





the cows and the stars and the vegetables in the fire


I am thinking of the spaces of the poet, the stupid Pearl, the pleasant pump, the elevens and the Russians who have inhabited the inhabitants there. And more often than I would have suspected at the time, I recall the campsite in Big Pine, before we did not go hunting for Methuselah, and find there a microcosm of life’s applicable lessons and the frivolous ones as well. It’s as if we spent a whole poetic adolescence in that clearing by the rock and with the cows and the stars and the vegetables in the fire. Heavy drunk and clear head by morning. Time does nothing because it IS nothing. Time does nothing because EVERYTHING. I forgot where I started. A spliff at waking walking out onto the deck to find the shape of a bird, and your revolutionary nonsense. Gravity always goes down, but it’s all relative to where I keep my heart and where you keep your heels. Gravity goes wherever the action is.