11 April 2018

First Avenue after/for Rae Armantrout

First Avenue
            after/for Rae Armantrout

(the) silence 
under peerless 
vehicle noise 

seems like 
the only 

doctor says 
you had 
a heart attack 

(you ask)

(busy year)

those bricks red 
for the office 
official order
for ignoring

speed past 

interrupt this poem 

child places bow 
in hair 
wails: but I can’t 
pay the rent 


Harvard says 
half of all heart attacks 
remain unrecognized

you’re not
so bad

didn’t mind
constant honking

or hated it            

03 April 2018


A little Robin, a little Emerald Tablet, a little Hondo

I look up. I think incandescently 
about my sister’s night sky app
that clarified the constellations 
from that dark corner in Texas
April night gathered outside 
                  here a true explanation
                  concerning which there 
                  can be no doubt:
as above, so below 
the secret humming beneath the secret 

I look up. I think who grouped them 
where they lay who drew ram, lion, 
water bearer come to bring needed nectar 
thirsty thirsty as we’ve been    are     who 
stole a world from us, corralling stars
                  to make the miracle 
of the one thing 
look up

NaPoWriMo -- not quite in the spirit here.

A Freud erasure: page 248 "Mourning and Melancholia" 2018...

09 February 2018

Three of my poems in Empty Mirror

Happy day: Empty Mirror has published three poems.

It includes my poem for Vito Acconci. It's also by him, being largely his words from a talk he gave at MoMA a few years ago.

RIP Vito. And thank you, Denise Enck.

You’re alone in a room you have nothing

for (and by) Vito Acconci
When I started out as a poet
didn’t want abstraction
abstraction used
by religion
didn’t want any of that.....

18 October 2017

Considering Translation and Cultural Appropriation because of my class on Plagiarism

Brings us to Nietzsche in The Gay Science: 

One can gauge the degree of the historical sense an age possesses by the manner in which it translates texts and by the manner in which it seeks to incorporate past epochs and books into its own being. Corneille’s Frenchmen — and even those of the Revolution — took hold of Roman antiquity in a manner that we — thanks to our more refined sense of history — would no longer have the courage to employ. And then Roman antiquity itself: how violently, and at the same time how naively, it pressed its hand upon everything good and sublime in the older periods of ancient Greece! Consider how the Romans translated this material to suit their own age … Horace, off and on, translated Alcaeus or Archilochus; Propertius translated Callimachus and Philetas …. How little concern these translators had for this or that experience by the actual creator who had imbued his poems with symbols of such experiences! As poets, they were averse to the antiquarian inquisitive spirit that precedes the historical sense. As poets they did not recognize the existence of the purely personal images and names of anything that served as the national costume or mask of a city … and therefore immediately replaced all this by present realities and by things Roman. … These poet translators did not know the pleasure of the historical sense; anything past and alien was an irritant to them, and as Romans they considered it to be nothing but a stimulus for yet another Roman conquest. In those days, indeed, to translate meant to conquer….”

Friedrich Nietzsche, “On the Problem of Translation” in Theories of Translation, 68–69. Quoted in this essay by V. Joshua Adams on NonSite.org

15 September 2017

And "Dear Ivanka" (or #dearIvanka) -- written when I was wondering why anyone considered the first daughter as a possible progressive in the cavern of our ugly ugly present administration

Super cool Rise Up Review published my "Dear Ivanka" poem, which begins with a quotation from Albert Woodfox and the lines:

How long and deeply I dreamed of being
a white lady. How distinctly I wanted 
to be tall and blonde like a pageant winner....

Another poem from April made it into Matter

(Oh the implications of this title.)Here is something from poem-a-day 2017, revised and in the world -- about family, politics, and family politics. It's called "Some Curses."

On summer barbecue nights, family nights

when the grandfather raised his voice
called damnation, was he saying damn nation?....

18 April 2017

One of last year's NaPoWriMo pieces published.

Did you know there were many nudist resorts in Palm Springs? Now you do.

If I could, I would change the second two lines of this poem pretty specifically.

But since it's on the fabulous Juked, I must have done something right. Here is "Palm Springs." 

25 May 2016

My First Revolutionary

My first revolutionary was Mario Savio. I was fifteen, it was 1977, and we met in a book that was lying around the house I grew up in in Houston.
[I met all my revolutionaries in books, which might hint that I’ve never been arrested.] [Never.]
Mario was dark and handsome and a leader of Berkeley’s FSM, or Free Speech Movement. A bright son of Italian immigrants, his first arrest was at a 1964 protest against the San Francisco Hotel Association, which only hired blacks for menial jobs. He spent that summer in the south registering black voters and returned to learn that his university was banning political speech on campus. It seems hard to believe now—or maybe not. (Though I’m not one to believe that trigger warnings are another kind of ban, they did come to mind.)
Anyway. On one December afternoon in 1964, Savio found himself in the middle of a protest about this speech ban, the ouster of a few students, and the disbanding of a few groups. So, after considerately imploring his listeners not to harass the union workers then painting the administration building and not joining their strike, he jumped on to a car and made a speech, a speech printed in that book in my mother’s house in 1977, a speech now featured on AP history tests. Today I found his words spliced into a Linkin Park song called “Wretches and Kings,” and some Bernie-or-busters are enjoying the video of the speech that’s here on YouTube, with a Marxist analogy that all can understand, claiming Berkeley’s board were the factory managers, its faculty were the employees, and the students were the raw materials being processed. Savio knew that no student wants to turn into a product, and he said so beautifully from the top of a car:
There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!
How can a sixteen year old gal not love a guy like that? I love him still. This semester, I assigned Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” as a text in a freshman comp class and saw what I’d never quite realized. You’ll see it for yourself:
If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go...perchance it will wear smooth - certainly the machine will wear out... If it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.
I guess Savio had been flipping through his Thoreau that semester.

            Mario Savio ended up as a university “lecturer”—basically an adjunct, like me, and died at 53 in 1996.