Friday, September 09, 2005


JH: There's nothing more satisfying than "furthermore" - here follows huge paragraphs on the issue of repetition and gratification. Aesthetics - my personal aesthetics are mostly internalized, and my reading on aesthetics has been perfunctory (my perfunctory, not another's). Perfunctory is a satisfying word too, yes? I've read two rungs above perfunctory when it comes to alchemy (whose rungs? what alchemy? -- the alchemy found in books available in this century). I like looking at the pictures (honest). The mysteries of poetry that I shamble after is the use of the line to create other unseen lines - whether as connecting tissue, pictures, etc. The human mind creates narratives based upon the slimmest of offerings - but a poem reader will often refuse to do so with a mere jumble of lines. So how to create a semi-solid narrative that's not too closed off from these invisible, unexpected, and unhoped-for lines is something that's on my mind when writing. This is just one of the mysteries - that I seek to find loopholes for, not really to solve. How about you, mystery-wise?

AHB: Perhaps due to impatience, I get bothered by things unclear. Movies or stories that don't explain outright what happened. What did Billy Joe McCallister throw off the Tallahatchie Bridge?. On the other hand, I like that blurry feeling with writing or any artwork, in which one feels the something. That blurry feeling is exactly what I look for in poetry, that I read at least. There's a poem by Emily Dickinson in which two butterflies disappear in the course of the poem: I like that sense of transition. I agree pretty closely with you sense of narrative not too closed off from the invisible. Which brings me to a specific Jeff Harrison poem called “The Way This Poem's Laid Out, Appius Claudius Has The Last Word”. You posted it to Wrying-L just the other day. I quote it in full:

they had good cheer, those feudal barons
enigmas of (not "to") one another —
cheeriest of all was Whippingcane Sam, that
open book (tho with only two pages exposed),
whose castrato would often belt out "Casanova
was a fortunate man, for such an unusual Orfeo"

the lyrics to "Casanova Was A Fortunate Man"?

pretty much "Casanova was a fortunate man, for
such an unusual Orfeo" sang variously for hours or
minutes on end to the dual pages that is the face
of Whippingcane Sam, who was metamorphosed
into a tome by the other barons (for a cause they
could only recall upon overhearing "Casanova was
a fortunate man, for such an unusual Orfeo"

what are the features of Whippingcane Sam's face?


The Dying Earth (1950)
by Jack Vance
illustrations by Mado Spiegler

The Quaker City; or, The Monks of Monk Hall (1845)
by George Lippard
with illustrations by Schlechter Duvall

Le Mystère des Cathédrales (1926)
by Fulcanelli
illustrations by Jacques Lacomblez


Mrs. Armytage: or Female Domination (1836)
by Catherine Grace Frances Gore
with illustrations by Debra Taub

The Nine Unknown (1924)
by Talbot Mundy
illustrated by Karol Brown

Heresbachius: Foure Bookes of Husbandrie (1577)
by Barnabe Googe
illustrated by J Karl Bogartte

one morning the castrato, perhaps
a prestidigitator all this time, perhaps
not, pulled a bookmark out of (or from
behind) Whippingcane Sam's ear

what did the bookmark look like?

untold museums and pages
have been searched, but
this miserable approximation

is the best that's been found

* * * * *

the piece is an intersection of narratives, seemingly. I can't say I catch all the allusions, but it bubbles with potential reading. Is it well enough for me to ask what the heck is going on here? I sense, as I often do with your work, that this poem belongs in a series or someway has other poems with which it relates. Does it? The title takes the reader outside the poem, makes the reader an observer (along with you the writer) of the process of its writing. Can you speak about that, and the poem itself? No is, of course, an acceptable answer.


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