JH: You are far from a resistant reader! In my GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE series I take a sentence of six words (not counting connectors such as "eke", "&", "o", "n", etc). The next sentence removes the first word and adds a new one to the end. Future poems in this series will have variations on this procedure.
In D: GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE, I took words from Edgar Allan Poe's "A Few Words on Secret Writing" - with "n" as the connector ("n" as in "and", but also as a stray letter adding to the reading of the previous / following word. I replaced three of the recurring words with never-to-be-repeated words (line 3 - "wade" becomes "ifeov"; line 8 - "aoahe" becomes "ridiiot"; line 11 -"uderdudr" becomes "tfocei") in order to show the inevitability of the repetition. This is developed further in E: GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE.
In C: GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE, I cut the sentence in half in order to make lines, so the sense of repetition is different from previous GRANDUNCLES. Stanzas add to the variation. Here's the first of four stanzas:
home eke haven eke game
grave eke shame eke save
haven eke game eke grave
shame eke save eke name
game eke grave eke shame
save eke name eke knave
grave & shame & save
name & knave & dime
shame eke save eke name
knave eke dime eke dive
save eke name eke knave
dime eke dive eke groom
As to the title, words are cattle in such procedures, and here the word granduncles is assigned to the word cattle, with cattle still present: removals lying next to what was to be removed. Cattle as in livestock, but also cattle as in monstrous births, as Lanny Quarles has pointed out: "another association with mutant word as cattle it occurs to me would be from Philipp Melancthon's Deuttung der zwo grewlichen etc. (long title) of a wood-cut of the "monk-calk of saxony". this was a monstrous birth the protestants used as an indictment of the monastic estate." The poetic act will become more apparent with more entries in the series (individual poem as fragment of the whole that is the series. What of individual poems as read distinct from a poet's entire body of work? Does this lend to the incompleteness, the abandonment of a poem by the poet or the reader's ability?).
Poets have written with spacing as a major intended component (Mallarmé's "Un coup de dès" is a well-known example). The spacing of these poems is dynamic. In GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE, the spacing is more static, a slot to be filled with words, instead of space isolated from words. The set number of words and connectors create this space within the poem.
E: GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE
ACE o QWERTY o CERTAIN o INERTIA o SYLPH
QWERTY o CERTAIN o INERTIA o RESUME o STOP
CERTAIN o INERTIA o CAUSE o STOP o GULF
INERTIA o GONE o STOP o GULF o SOLDIER
BOATING o STOP o GULF o YEARN o HEW
STOP o GULF o ABBOT o HEW o CONCH
GULF o EXEGETE o HEW o CONCH o ROSE
BEETLE o HEW o CONCH o ROSE o MISS
HEW o CONCH o ROSE o WINDOW o COURSE
CONCH o ROSE o SILVER o COURSE o IRIS
ROSE o BREAK o COURSE o IRIS o BELL
FABLE o COURSE o IRIS o BELL o MORE...
In E: GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE, the last word of line one is repeated, but remains ever new through the progression resulting from the removal of the first word of a line and the addition of a new word to the end. SYLPH becomes RESUME becomes CAUSE becomes GONE which becomes BOATING. The fact that it is the only new word aside from the word at the end of the line identifies it as the same word that started out as SYLPH (true, YEARN in line five is a new word from the the one that started as SOLDIER, but by then the pattern has been established). The last word in lines four and eight get the same treatment as the last word in line one. Every single end word is not repeated as a new word because this would cloud the anew-repetition of the end word of line one. The words on either side (and, finally, only the reader's right-hand side) of the
repeated-anew word help to establish it as the same word of line one. I've been saying "new word" instead of something like "new appearance of the same word" for relative simplicity of explanation.
E: GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE is written in couplets to help the reader's eyes. The space between couplets are incidental and practical, as are the spaces between words and letters.
The words are capitalized to add further concrete distinction from the connecting "o" - the brevity and exact repetition of the "o" being two other distinctions. The last word of any GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE line, to date, is not followed by a connector such as "o", but a linebreak. This shows the connector is on a different trail than the words. I call them connectors here only because that's what I've always called them in my head when writing the poems in this series. The poems end with ellipsis points as the poem could go on forever, as could this commentary...
"Aliens Straining At Sense" is great!, and I'm always glad to see the aliens. Aliens Straining at Sense
Could you tell me about this poem, please?
AHB: Wowzie!!! that's a procedure, and then some! you're watching language's fluidity, I wot, and the concept of structure. which, oddly, is what I do what I attempt flarfy works. I am
a resistant reader, at least compared to, for instance, Lanny Quarles, who I think got what you were doing in a basic and deep way. I've learned not to let strangeness stop me, whereas a lot of readers possess a rigidity, an urge for conformity. so I look at your Cattletrade poems, and look and look. I can be satisfied with that, and not throw out a work because I cannot knit a neat explanation for it. I've found that Jackson Mac Low's procedural notes are interesting as part of the produced poem itself. likewise, I think what you write above is a poetic act, one associated with the 'final product'. anyway, the alien poems are a series I wrote several years ago, and were lost on a dead computer for some time. I have written many alien poems, and alien cartoons, and even have flying saucers in a number of my paintings. I hope this doesn't mean I belong in the movie Slacker. I found on the net once directions for making a helmet to protect you from alien mind-control rays. I mean serious, lucid instructions. I like space opera aliens, or the Red Threat ones in 50's flicks. there's something underneath all the adventure that makes space aliens interesting, I mean widely compelling. mentors, demiurges, gods, angels, elves? in the Alien series, I allude to a law on the books in Chateaunuef-du-Pape prohibiting les cigares volant
from flying over the vineyards. Jung wrote about flying saucers. it's a fascinating weirdness that I don't think people have considered much. the series is just a possession of all that, and some political intent I guess. not as juicy an explications as yours, I'm afraid. anyway, another series you are working on, posted to Wryting, center on various somewhat well known personages, a series of poems within the larger series. one seems to be poems inspired by the titles of Perry Mason books. this is the latest one, on which I ask you to comment.THE WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD
the Laysan Teal has
a dark head & neck,
fourteen plumes (&
seven are of gold),
a white ring around
the eye, a blurred blue
ring around the bill,
blurred blue ring around
Cotton's incapable sleep
thievish is the Laysan Teal,
&, as such, surreptitious
seven of the plumes: hopeless
(the same that are of gold)
the Laysan Teal resembles
the female Mallard, but
the female Mallard is
buffy-brown in color
a pale eye-brow
a dark stripe through the eye
she peruses darkness
her raptures are unprinted
(raptures imperfectly corrupted)
the male Mallard has
a metallic-green head
& neck separated from
a purplish-brown breast
by a white ring
white ring around
the Laysan Teal's eye
their bodies generally go
unburied, male & female
HUMILIATIONS FOLLOW'D WITH DELIVERANCES
the Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)
is the sole representative of its genus. it's
marked like a harlequin & is also known as
the Rock Duck, the Mountain Duck, the Squealer,
& Lord and Lady. a mountain duck that frequents
swiftly running streams. hunters often hang rhymes
on their wings. always there's a line about rain-haunted
skies. "Come, barren Graces", while improbable, is
a traditional beginning to these rhymes.
NARRATIVES OF THE INDIAN WARS
the Ruddy (Spine-tailed, Heavy-tailed,
Quill-tail, Stiff-tail, Bristle-tail, Sleepy,
Fool, Deaf, Shot-pouch, Daub, Stubble,
Twist, Blather, Scoot, Hickory-head,
Paddy, Noddy, Dinky, Hard-tack) Duck is
equally fond of salt, brackish, & fresh water.
its flight is rapid, with a whirring sound,
occasioned by its wings' concave form.
they ease to whatever the dawn requires.
A VOICE FROM HEAVEN
tho web-footed, Mandarin Ducks
have the power of perching.
branches of trees overhanging ponds.
the tunefulness of iron clasps.
the Chinese, who use these ducks
in marriage ceremonies, are loathe
to part with them to visitors.
Herr Bibliothekarius, in April 1836, wrote
William Wormswork, "I could more easily
send you two live Mandarins
than a pair of Mandarin. Ducks."
they are the only ducks that prefer captivity,
"longing," in Herr B's words, "at the chains' clarion"