Thursday, December 29, 2011

All Things Being Equal, new revisions

It's been months since I touched this one. I'm not giving up on it yet. I won't show the changes as I have lately with the Ghosts poem, as it is too labor intensive and I am somewhat tired and depressed. Feel free to comment.

Let x = x 1
Locked in observation
with laceless shoes and
flesh turning color in
a mangled ring. As in

the circus. You lay across
the hall, or lie across the lake
of fire bridged by roads cut
straight into the mountain.
You, me, the elephant in the ring.

The baby in the car, my bottle
in the sink. The girl left an impression,
barbed wire handstanding on my back, the ass-end
of a circus pony with wobble knees, sinking,
sinking, and the finalé spills
clowns from the car like cockroaches, midgets and stilt-
legged giants, or hoop-waisted buffoons begging
the rain with wing-spread finches,
skeletons, held close
on their heads.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reckoning the Impossible, Part III

I continue to write, despite the absence of clear encouragement. This is strange, as I am far too depressed to play my guitar or read (which require far too much effort and concentration). Even this, this semi-personal expository prose, is accomplished with more time and labor than it should require. I had reached out to a few people, asking for assessment and critique, but I have not heard back, after a month or two. My interpretation is that my writing is mediocre at most, which is fine. I am a poor judge of my own work, so I wouldn't necessarily know. And the world has plenty of mediocre poets. My (perceived) mediocrity won't drive me to suicide, as it did poor Hart Crane (not that I'm comparing myself). My suicidal impulses come from other places.

So, why write? Poetry has no objective value, in my opinion. Presumably, I'm not talented enough to make a career of it--not without an effort the size of which I haven't the energy to make. I lack my youthful outsize ego and desire for fame that might veil my eyes to the disappointing reality. It's not clear to me, but I seem to be writing for the only legitimate reason to write poetry: I have certain perceptions, memories, emotions, thoughts, energies inside me that I feel compelled to understand better, that resist embodiment, topography, translation into the structure of language. This internal compulsion, I believe, is what drives poetry, regardless of whatever other filters it passes on the way out of the poet.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Robert Lowell and What To Do with My Hypomanic-Depression (Bipolar II)?

I have thus proved that it is absolutely possible to write bad poetry quickly. I really don't know what else I'm doing here. I suppose I should be working on my longer works, doing some research into coroner's reports for Murder-Suicide in Loveland, into the mathematical equations I use in All Things Being Equal (so I can possibly make that jumbled mess cohere and maybe find some inspiration to craft metaphors that don't suck). But I feel drained, depressed, and, honestly, not at all impressed with what I've written so far. Thinking of going back to my novel. But I'd run into the same problems there.

This is the problematic cycle that, in my better moments, I work to overcome: the grand idea exploded into millions of axons and neurons and glial cells, trunk and limbs and fingers, arteries and veins and capillaries, feverishly begun, feverishly overworked, until half constructed and half polished, then abandoned for greener, spore-infested, algae-ridden ponds. The confusion that follows, the dull and heavy head that fails to understand the hypomanic trajectory. The resignation to the overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. The stasis and stagnation.

Lowell after lithium
Robert Lowell supposedly found his depression useful for editing, crawling through each line, each word, from a dirt-level realism that can be the gift of depression. He balanced his manic explosions (during which he wrote, if he was not off on some drunken binge in South America or wherever) with diligent and exacting work, pushing through the lower moods to finish the grand mess he had started. That's self-discipline.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Untitled poem on a photo of ex-wife #2

I'm not much for myself as a poet today. Feeling even more mediocre than usual. And this poem doesn't disprove that, certainly. But I feel the need to write, even if it is shit, and even if I'm still fixated on ex-wife #2 and her online photo and my failures as a husband. But I have a poetry blog, and what the hell am I supposed to do with it? So, I post my crappy poem.

Forgive me. I'm staring at your
photograph, the coarse, fluid lines of auburn

or ruby, the seas turned more
coffee than blood and breaking on the killing

shore. I have had my lips on
that ear. She hides her age and imperfections,

the weight of her heart, a base
called drained, and sunless. My lips have touched

that cold cheek. Windows to
windows, we look upon and see nearly reflected,

more deflected, eyes half opened
and askance, never the whole story. You should

know. The eyes have told me what
I never wanted to know. The lips, the thin lines,

as between love and apathy, stopped
to reset the clocks. Before she left.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Random Lines

Here's a game:

  1. Choose a set of books, magazines, or whatever discrete pieces of text you wish.
  2. Assign a random number to each, and then arrange by random number, smallest to largest.
  3. Generate a series of random numbers from 1 to the number of pages in the biggest book. Apply these random numbers to the list of books. (These are the page numbers, so of course you may have to adjust for the shorter books.)
  4. Generate a final set of random numbers between 1 and 40 or 50, or based on how many lines are on a typical page of text. (This is the line number, and may need to be adjusted.)
  5. For each book, find the page and the line corresponding to the random numbers assigned.
  6. Put 'em all together. Or connect them with text of your own, or whatever you want to do!
Here's how some of mine turned out:

Random Lines #1: Poetry
And in these virtues of delight
digested, shat out, growing again and eaten
My lord—' said Barlyng, 'I! Your friend!
A warmth within the breast would melt
And a pleasant fire, our souls to regale;
fold out the lungs and a jungle of bronchiols
From pent-up aching rivers,
[blank line]
one she'd rather forget.
[redacted line]
I will change trees though I am almost eighty
What is the matter with Mary Jane?
And glutton-like she feeds, yet never filleth
tied like a noose to my belt.
oh god it's wonderful
                    searching the punk-dry rot
Have understood what love can do.
and the rose bobs to the surface
one of the many pink and white blossoms,
Touch me into light

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I'm exhausted after the 24-Hour Chapbook thing, and probably more exhausted from other recent events in my life. In between calls from the muse, I'm going to do some reading, retype & cull some coroner's reports for Murder-Suicide in Loveland, and probably play some games. (Particularly, I will probably play the game where I stack up all my poetry books and generate some random numbers to tell me what line on what page to take from each and in what order they go. Then, I write material in between each quoted line to weave together a more or less coherent piece.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

24-hour chapbook: dress like a patient

Posting the pages of the 24-Hour Chapbook I've entitled dress like a patient (after a line from the song "Mica" by Mission of Burma). (call it a failed experiment, over time and 23 pages not 24--and sucky--but it's mine)

For the cover, I did a quick doodle and took a picture of it with my webcam--all I could think to do with limited resources and absolute zero time. MS Word, pages formatted as 4.25" x 5.5", captured with a "print screen" and made into .png's, which I'm loading up here. (Click to see full size.)

This will take a while, as I have to work and other things. My methods are far more labor intensive than this process needs to be. I just don't know how to do it the quicker, cleaner way.

The poems themselves ... are, frankly, embarrassing. However, both my relative anonymity and my tendency to overdisclose (you'd think those two would be at odds) guarantee that embarrassment won't stop me from posting them.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

24-hour chapbook: Time's up

OK. I took a couple extra minutes and came up with 23 pages of half-baked poetry (can make it 24 with a little extra white space here or there), but was not able to finish designing or formatting the chapbook.

But it's OK to lose. And it's OK to write crap poetry just to slide in under the wire on some silly game. I was successful in making myself create when I didn't feel particularly creative. I did hit on a line or two that I think I'll use later.

Anyway, here's one that didn't quite work and didn't quite get done on time ... It's just Dylan Thomas's last words and his poem "Do not go gentle ..." all remixed in eGnoetry

I've had 18 straight
whiskies. I've had 18 straight whiskies.
... I've

Cursed. Cursed!
they Do not go gentle into
that good night. Wild men, And you.

24-hour chapbook: The fourth poem

This is again from the Abilify and Brothers Grimm texts, run through eGnoetry. Some of it's definitely throwaway. Once in a while, there's something kind of beautiful. Well, an hour & a half to go.

In the Beginning

Then the garden came from God. The messenger stopped
at a little. The miller was experiencing symptoms should
be an increase suicidal thoughts of every patient taking the
mouth. Tell your body's ability to her. Tell

The angel I
asked no power over to him as the
king said, It had eaten the house?

The angel
offered him the light of
beautiful pears with coma or tongue and asked

24-hour chapbook: The third poem

Actually wrote this one, though I have been kicking parts of it around ... first time I actually put them "on paper," anyway. I think that's 10 pages so far. Now, I have to run off for group.

one catalpa leaf

valentine | spade

and death

she said yellow or
golden yellow

but for maple it was definitely
crimson red. this

she repeated, crimson

24-hour chapbook: The second poem

I think this is neat. But that's as far as it goes. I'm going to keep it around anyway, and maybe I'll pluck some things out for a "real" poem.

Method: I threw the lyrics to the entire Damned Damned Damned album (The Damned, 1977) into charNG and made some minimal edits and rearrangements. The title is the opening line to the Damned song "Neat Neat Neat."

Be a Man. Be a Mystery Man.
I promise you're
       all crazy,

Got Nothings have

    One of turning she dreams
I said


Anyway, thats on
a doll,be a messed
    up truck,a gobbling

24-hour chapbook: Hour 18

The first more or less complete poem:

                    and scatter the words like
          yarrow sticks or entrails
there are no secrets:
          pluck the old man hairs
                    from your ears.
Get up.

Intended --

--if you feel

still tree-tops of later
on the white man of the joints.

like a patient--

if you are to understand the heart,

You better understand the
chest, especially if they are

24-hour chapbook: Hours 15 and 16 (and what happened to 8-14?)

After what I put my body through, there was no way I could stay up even most of the night. So I let myself rest. And this morning I need to take my daughter out to buy some things and get in some driving practice, and then I have group therapy, and I need to find some AA meeting to go to (which typically on Thursdays is hard). Can I still put a chapbook together by 6pm? I think so.

It's not that writing poetry is easy, see. And I'm not saying that any old string of words is a poem. But any old string of words is not not a poem, see. Isn't that the point of experimental poetry? Oulipa? Cento? Found poetry? You may say none of that is real poetry, or that only when the poet approaches the random with intention and skill. I agree, completely. I was going through the Chicago Review the other day, and some of that stuff just left me cold, and some was nothing but baffling, and I thought Who thinks this is poetry? Obviously, someone does, as it is published in a (as far as I can tell) well-regarded journal. The point is that whether or not it's poetry is not up to me. (Whether or not it's good poetry is up to me, as far as I'm concerned, but that's neither here nor there.)

Approaching the random is automatically a meaning-making event. The human brain can't help but try to order the chaos.

What else? Oh, yes. I was going to say that incident and accident play major roles in poetry and its relation to the world. The influence of poetry on the world is, for the most part, incidental & accidental. Why shouldn't the creation of poetry sometimes be incidental and accidental? And sloppy and haphazard and lazy? Or obstinately obscure?

Well, that's all. Back to the chapbook. Working with variations on the sentence
the blue coat rises against the falls fills and crushes as sleeping alveoli, as lilies

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

24-hour chapbook: Hours 6 and 7

No idea what to make of this, but I'm going to try to make something. I took text from a page of the website for the atypical antipsychotic medication Abilify and the text of the Brothers Grimm story "The Girl Without Hands" and ran them through eGnoetry several times. Then, I put the lyrics to all the songs on The Damned's Damned Damned Damned album into charNG. Selection is the next step.

Intended --
still tree-tops of later
on the white man of the joints.

You better understand the
chest, especially if they are some people.
Lying position