Tuesday, August 29, 2006


JH: Poetry is a closer star! Brilliant! Sometimes pictures are part of my poems, as in G is for GRANDUNCLES (OF THE CATTLETRADE), where the pictures accompany their words.

In "Thus, We Speak of the Language of Hopeful No Return" the picture is an illustration, one that is no longer needed as I've decided to re-title the poem, probably "Lines, On A Plaster Mask Of A Drowned Girl". The new title clears up the ambiguity of the image, in addition to making the subject of the poem less fixed. The cast in my link is that of l'Inconnue de la Seine.
I had the idea of a title series, as opposed to a poem series, that would use the title "Thus, We Speak of the Language of ---- " for a variety of poems. The "Lines, On A Plaster Mask Of A Drowned Girl" poem was not an appropriate debut for this title series. I opposed a title series to a poem series, but are they severe opposites? GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE has, so far, an unchanging set of words in the title which lend to interpretation of the poem. Possibly too early to compare the two, as the "Thus, We Speak of the Language of ---- " series is unwritten, aside from the false start. What is a title to you? They have different functions - from a key, to a wish to title a poem something other than "Poem", "Sonnet", or "Song". Why do some poems get titles, and some don't? Does the poetic have anything to do with titles? Or is a title an act of interpretation? ---
but this is in the case of titles coming after poems. I don't know yet if "Thus, We Speak of the Language of ---- " is an instance of inventing a title before the poem, or if it is an instance of inventing a series. At this early stage, it's all words, sans categories.

AHB: I've always felt that orchestral music loses something in so often being identified merely by opus number. give me names for the work. titles start an imaginative flow, are one's first step into (or with) the poem. titles seem to anchor a poem. not so much that the poem is about what the title mightr indicate, but that the title assumes some boundaries. which, yes, is limiting, but then a poem wants to be abut something not everything. I shy from titles that might seem (too) interpretative, tho I guess by using them the author is saying go this way. starting with the title, which I do sometimes, seems directional. whatever one writes after the title bears this implied direction. I'm seeing your series as they appear on the Wryting list as they develope. that is, they weave together. in envisioning a book form, can you see twining them similarly? Robert Duncan opted for this, running several ongoing series thru his books as they chronologically appeared. this brings me to wonder how you look at the Wryting list and how it bears on your procedure. does the work that you post have to be fully finished, or some level of completion?

Saturday, August 26, 2006


JH: I agree that all writers should write reviews, whether publicly or privately. I don't write reviews, publicly or privately. My public writings are poems and Antic View entries. My private writings are poems (which are eventually public), emails, and titles of books that I mean to hunt for at libraries or bookstores. If I see a passage I want to revisit in a book I own, I write a page number, and sometimes a keyword, in the inside of the cover. If I see a passage I want to revisit in a book I don't own, I copy the passage in a notebook I use exclusively for copied passages. I often look through this notebook, which is comprised almost entirely of passages on poetry. I particularly enjoy remarks on poetry by people who aren't poets, as I find them largely indistinguishable from remarks on poetry by poets. Perhaps I don't write reviews because I fear this blurring of identities. Does one cease to be a poet when writing of poetry? Writing prose is where poet and non-poet meet, as is reading prose. Poetry is where the non-poet cannot go except as a reader. Does one cease to be a poet when reading poetry? The only two states of a poet being writing poetry and thought unguided by an outside poem (a poem written by someone else) (does reading a poem you've written count as a poem written by someone else?)? Every poet is a compromise with the poet's weaker elements.

AHB: I think I've harped on the writers write reviews bit before, and what I really mean is that conscious evaluation is needed for the writer. this is a constant. which I'm sure you do, whether you write it down or not. I need to write it, otherwise I remain in a sort of inchoate non-verbal glow. poetry absolutely astonishes me, in a baffling way. I cannot write 'privately', not in the sense that I think you mean. always, I'm aware of the Reader, that potential. if not the id then an id. I admire your method of gleaning. I used to do similar, even putting the interesting quotes and phrases that I found into categories. Auden published a nifty commonplace book. I should go back to doing that, as I am a collector of notebooks, always ready for a reason to fill another. you are kinder, by the bye, to your books than I am. I like to annotate, underline and write poems in books (mine only, not library ones). I even kinda appreciate the underlinings in used books that I buy, tho often these are insipid indoctrinations by the teachers. your stance towards poetry is my stance towards writing. well, there is a class of writing that lacks intensity, or crystalline essence: that's prosaic. which is the prose that doesn't exult, I guess. when I write of poetry, it's like looking at a faraway star. it necessitates description, but also this ethereal wonder. poetry, in this simile, is like a closer star, an abstraction of light. so I feel that, yes, the poet still exists when writing of poetry, but it's a cooler activity. I think all I'm writing here confirms your statement that every poet is a compromise with the poet's weaker elements. reading a poem that I've written is indeed a poem written by someone else. anyhoo, a recent poem of yours posted to Wryting-L:

Thus, We Speak of the Language of Hopeful No Return

less placid even is
the face of the ox who drags up the morn,
and more terrible is her placidity:

such peacefulness is remorseless for eternal

with the poem you include this picture. first I'm curious about the picture. it looks like a death mask, perhaps someone I should know (I want to say Goethe), but I don't know. you occasionally include pictures with your work. are the pictures part of the poem or um illustrative?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


JH: Dreams once affected my poetry more than they do now. Sometimes I would try to describe what I saw in my dreams, sometimes words would come to me in dreams. More often the impetus for poems come from nowhere in my waking hours. The past two months, the impetus for poems come from my series (GRANDUNCLES, and the unnamed series that includes "The Ducks of Cotton Mather"). So yes, my series prepares the land for possibilities. There is less blindness in this seeding than in unmediated inspiration. In pure (unmediated) inspiration—a synonym for, or rather a manifestation of, the poetic?—there is more compression than in the mechanical function of series or procedural work. The famous compression of poetry! Is the compression of poetry an illusion, of poetry or the poet, masking approximation? The varying blindnesses of the poet that allows the imaginary to be written in the face of the known is passed on to the reader via the poem. Mechanics beyond what's unavoidable in the act of writing poetry (the unavoidable being words and prior writing habits or the reaction against these habits) widen the poem rather than compress it. The poetic itself is flattened against the procedural, against the thematic (of the series). Compression, then, as loss. What does this waste of poetry entail? Inspiration as a spur to poetry becomes poetry (previous entries in the series, or procedural templates) as a spur to writing? Do you think that a certain amount of the poetic is lost in the writing, in any writing, even the most purely inspired? There are two kinds of the poetic, the written and the unwritten? The written poetic would be the revelation arriving on the page instead of in the mind, as in a dream in both instances. The unwritten poetic would be what rushes the poet to the page. When both the written and unwritten poetic occur in the same poem, do they have anything to do with each other? In other words, do they come from the same source? If a nonverbal and imageless inspiration sends the poet to the page, where the written poetic then appears, is this anything other than coincidence? Would both kinds of poetic in the same poem widen the poem, or compress it still further? Words by definition (ha) widen the blank space, and words by definition compress a thought into a row of letters. How to make a common word unique to poetry—is this a function of the sentence (a string of words) or the line (a string of words in movement—would love to hear your thoughts on this parenthetical definition of the line. The eye moves a sentence in order to read it, but the line has a different motion - yet there's incidental enjambment in prose of any considerable length. One object of my GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE is to create some poems within the series that address the movement of line and sentence)? Both, no doubt - I feel that I originally intended "the sentence or a line" to be a set in opposition to something I forgot while writing the parenthetical matter separating them. The line/sentence creates a new word, as does the poem (the poem being the only place where that line/sentence could exist). This would logically seem to be an elongation rather than a compression, but the new word, created by the poem, refers only to itself, and is not used in prosaic commerce. So its use is particular.

You recently reviewed five books for Galatea Resurrects

Anny Ballardini

Stephen Ellis

Jon Leon

Ernesto Priego

Mark Lamoureux

Great reviews - I look forward to reading many more from you! Any background on these reviews you'd like to share? What are your thoughts on writing reviews - how, or is, writing reviews different from blog, interview, or essay writing?

AHB: I love the depth of your explanations. I can't match that. The unwritten poem bothers me. it floats away from one's grasp. seemingly like every work is a compromise with weaker elements. Before I read Magic Mountain, I had this image that I could not really put to words. MAGIC and MOUNTAIN evoke something beautiful, poetic and impossible, and I had this picture of of of... something. I liked the novel, especially that unnerving final image of ghostly Hans Castorp, but it was 'just a story'. In the same way, these poetic energies arise, but what goes onto the page seems less than I imagined. regarding line, when I lineate, I feel a musical precision occurs. or if not occurs (that's presumptuous), then at least the music is a major insistence. by music I mean a complication of time, where the reader enters a fluid expanse, registered by the least syllable and letter, and how meaning dazzles that. My ear in this is almost surgically adapted from Creeley. The line, of course, has a visual tempo as well as its function in beat. whereas the sentence offers a completion (or suggestion thereof), a semantic whole. the reviews are just reactions, and I will be so bold as to accept several meanings for just. I try to register something interesting and effective in what I read. Eileen Tabios has a nice project in Galatea Resurrects, offering space for reviews. she even will send review copies (which she has accrued) to prospective reviewers. I asked to do some, a lark. I'd bought Ernesto's book, Stephen (whose work I don't mind championing) had given me his, and the other three came from Eileen. I asked for Anny and Mark, and Eileen suggested Jon, whose work I didn't previously know. my goal isn't to explain the books, nor to suggest a complete reading. I just want to note what caught my attention. I think all writers should write reviews. by this I mean formally commit to the process of evaluation. whether these are published or remain journal jottings, it seems like a good exercise. I've written on my blog that everything I write there includes a question mark. however declarative I may be, I'm still just poking at the thing. I'm not against negative reviews, but criticism (one sees it all the time) in which there's a momentum of style, the Joan Houlihan School of Snide Rebate, that's just gamesmanship. I don't mind not getting it.a publisher once told me, if he didn't understand a work, he wanted to publish it. that strikes me as an excellent basis. do you ever write reviews or reactions, for yourself if not for John and Jane Q?can you describe the tension between your writing and The Other?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


JH: "The Henry Green of U.S. Civil War Battles" is a departure from the others poems in this series. The possessor is reversed, with the author belonging to what would typically be subject in this series. Green's writings are not described, unlike Shakespeare's sonnets in

"Shakespeare Sonnets of Francois Mauriac"

Green's writings are characters in this poem, instead of, as in the other poems belonging to this series, descriptions. Neither of the statements in the previous sentence are entirely true, but the sense, the invention, of their accuracy is what permitted me to write the poem. Is this a discussion point, that a blind eye is needed to write poetry? The physical blindness of certain poets (Homer, Milton) comes to mind here, and the fascination some commentators have with this blindness. I've only read mentions rhapsodizing on this sightlessness, that I can recall, but I'm sure there's an essay somewhere. I read a supposition that ancient tribes blinded their poets so they wouldn't wander off (from the tribe, I suppose, rather than the subject matter). There was sightlessness involved in this poem. I wrote half of it one day, and the second half the next day. The night between, I was awakened from sleep with these words in my head, which I immediately wrote down:

why abhor surprise
when it's the sole chimera
Fate provides us?

is not forgetfulness a surprise?
could not oblivion be the pounce
on that monolithic exposed nerve?

The lineation is the same as what I wrote down that night. As I read what I had just written, I decided to put it in "The Henry Green of U.S. Civil War Battles". I also got the idea then to add a line from two of my early poems, "all surprises should be filthy with dust". These stanzas and the line occur in a section of "The Henry Green of U.S. Civil War Battles" distinct from the other sections in having no title. The poems in this section are separated from each other by a tilde ( ~ ) rather than an asterisk. This gives it the look of a poem in a different series, a series as yet unintroduced apart from "The Henry Green of U.S. Civil War Battles", placed in the center of a similar poem in another series. And, indeed, I may interlock series in the future. I speak of sightlessness being involved in the poem, as there was no accompanying picture, that I can recall, in the formulations of these lines that woke me up. Something made me add them to my current poem instead of letting them become a new poem. There's is a blindness in all poetry, in all composition, in all human endeavor - is this list in descending order or is all equal? If descending, why must poetry be first in everything? Wishful thinking? Is "wishful thinking" part of a definition of poetry? What separates the wishful thinking of poetry from any other variety of wishful thinking? An asterisk, or a tilde? Also, please say something about your superb "ninjas in the expansion joints", also posted on Wryting-L

we rose in the great gust of gifted good morning. we ran the slope to its downward friction, smack dab into all that we left. that was the point all along, evidence (the tracks of our shoes) to the contrary. stories always head to some plain of typical reaction. not to say that we posed, good friends. we just read too much. ninjas on the roofs of everywhere, cracked and blighty with all they've had to tell: these essences of implosion constitute an accepted governing. smudges in primary documents cover the estimates of the ruling class. it will only take time to disagree, and love still lasts longer. Last Language executes a question by wondering if all that sand was worth the fight. amazed, you might be, dear Reader in your association, to learn of battles mentioned in newspapers and other sites of presentation. did you think the Kennedy Camelot helped you out of bed? you were loving way before that. I saw that very fact in a particular cloud that came to me, possibly just recently. way before the Philippine nugget bore its registered fruit, way before those insinuations of practice thru out the organizing system of economic contempt, the ball had rolled and rolled. too many people trip on the wording, haha, laughs Excellent English. Tundra sweats a bundle with the effort of the lower clime. Yeti looks freak out in the city that we share. we've expanded easily, to subways, parks and all the implements. this gestures toward the closing number, like a bell in the gloaming. we love, in situations of desperate cooling, while the land cracks up good and solid. Everest snow will muscle down on our apt phrases, just as the champion army stops for a bunch of water to enliven future situational ways. how far, wondered Excellent English aloud (where the problem world exists in dots and dashes), will the information go? no one knows but the creek rises. a creek! I cry. my god, I am given to yell for the flourish of rocks worn smooth by the water's delight. why do I say delight in a gravitational imperative? because plain things surround darkened excesses. so we came to a bridge over a river, a dynamic landscape in every respect. the river looked cool and precious. the view gave us an image of integrity divided by the ratio of our attention. we crossed in a pathetic equation of interest and the spark made softer by the dilation of love. oh love, the great what. love sees wars, even, in the elemental press towards exacting a place from the edge of nowhere. discussion doesn't diminish the fret of finding more oil in the garden, we just wonder why our vote always kills. we're at the same loose ends as always, as Reader frankly can distill. Yeti, our distinguished colleague and less than upbeat Wookie, yowls something strange without benefit of a word. made plangent by the test, we all agree. the story takes its toll, as you, rare Reader, perfectly know.
AHB: poetry as wishful thinking: maybe could be. in the sense of idealized. which may distinguish from wishful as in wanting or envious. in your series, you wish a collision of these disparates, a collision that makes sense, that synergizes. “Ninjas in the Expansion Joints” partakes of similar collisions, insofar as it and the series of which it is part bring together differing elements hoping that they will blend. this Everest series, as yet untitled, came out of my reading. I read Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, about a disastrous climbing season on Everest 10 years ago. the story stuck with me, and I ended up reading 4 or 5 more accounts of the same events. with this "expertise" in hand I had a place of which or in which or to which to write. the pieces in the series share an elegiac tone. recently I began what I thought was an Everest piece then thought it was shrouded somehow, slack. so I googled a number of phrases and played with the text. it became much more disjunctive, but I managed to deflate what I came to realize was a corny phrase: sardonic wind. the tone no longer remains as was in the poem, and I don't know if I can add it to the series, tho I like the poem. one senses a story amidst it all but I don't comply with any exact telling. your series have a shared mechanical function, where you prepare the land for possibilities (seeds). I rarely avoid narrative completely, tho plot often irritates me. I'm more interested in novels that de-emphasize plot, unles he novel is strictly whizbang plot. anyway, I think in both cases we savour touchstones of characters. these repetitions instill a sense of process and development. do you think? I look forward to seeing a collection of these works of yours, so that I can fully perceive the relationships with series, and the relationships between series (assuming you would put these series all together). do dreams affect your work much? Charles Olson woke at least once in the middle of the night and wrote something on the wall.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


JH: Very in your element! Series, then, are a repetition, rather than a continuation? Continuation may be defined as what prolongs the flash, but a flash is a flash for only so long before it becomes a new day. Repetition may be defined as what prolongs that prolongation, the labor (procedure, or the very act of writing) reflecting itself at a certain point (fairly early in the process, I'd say) instead of retaining the flash, as representation is more about the materials of the representation than what is represented. Procedure is an obligation to its work rather than to its assignment. Is the assignment the poetic? The work is utility, and the flash (inspiration) the poetic? The words are a necessary evil that is the sole proof of the flash? The words obscure the flash, making the poem fictional in the process of making a narrative, and in doing so remove all indexes to the flash. So far I've been talking about the individual poem, and not a series. A series would leave the flash initiating the first poem in the series further and further behind with each new poem, logically speaking. But does a series provide more complete evidence of the flash, a fuller picture? Series as Cubism, and the non-serial poem being a scene through a window? New views of the flash with every new entry in the series, with the material obscuring the indexes in previous poems being left behind as individual to those poems? New material (words) cannot conceal the same area of flash in one poem as was concealed in a previous poem in the series. In addition, further poems alter reading of previous poems, and vice-versa. Any poem has its own flash, distinct from the poet's, or so the shape of a poem presents. In a series, this concept of flash (the concept of a poem's, its words', own flash) isn't presented as strongly, since it is weakened by all its instances.

AHB: Interesting how this conversation sounds like physics. series as fireworks. a concatenation of awe and surprise. I think of series in terms of Moebius strips, where physical space loses its safe definition. I recall reading an essay somehow relating poetry to Klein bottles. I say somehow because I lacked (and lack) the physics, or mathematics, to grok the argument. but I appreciated the picture of bent space poetry that I gleaned. a series does seem involved with physical space, how the sections relate. a linear timeline exists, but a 3-D expanse also appears, as each item in the series defines a new core of reaction to the initial impulse. here is another one of your series within a series. you posted this to Wryting-L this week.
The Henry Green of U.S. Civil War Battles


O, the jollity
pleasures mask!
the jollity masked,
also with a dustjacket
of "Pack My Bag"



the waters of Nanterre
(translation of two passages
from Madame de Créquy's
Souvenirs), yes, but there's
turf 'neath your tent,
same as any camper



"Caught" (1943) was designed
to put a lantern in your face -
ah, your face was already day!


why abhor surprise
when it's the sole chimera
Fate provides us?


is not forgetfulness a surprise?
could not oblivion be the pounce
on that monolithic exposed nerve?


all surprises should be filthy with dust



falling stars never look for me,
though "Arcady or A Night Out"
would have them do so



before "Concluding" was
Nature's palmist, this 1948
novel was artifice's psalmist



...besides, "Mr Jonas",
I silent away among names

* * * * *

context determines here. you've placed these poems within the context of the Civil War, so the reader must relate them to the battles (I see an odd epitaph for Stonewall Jackson in Chancellorsville) and the larger context of the Civil War and Henry Green, whatever that relationship is. each poem chooses a different direction. the poem moves in a line (tho the reader can choose to read out of order; my eye naturally would jump to Gettysburg), but each sectional unit also practices its own territory. a chain reaction in which the excitement of each unit joins together as a whole or wholeness defined by the title, the relationship of Henry Green and Civil War battles. I presume there exists a larger context, a gathering of these series of series, which definitely resonates micro/macro.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


JH: The title of that poem is "The Ducks of Cotton Mather". Others in this series include The Birds of Nikolai Gogol, Sharks of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, The Roller Coasters of Phillis Wheatley, The Wasps of Zane Grey, The Etiquette of Erle Stanley Gardner, The Geological Time of Aphra Behn, The Poisons of Felicia Hemans, Shakespeare Sonnets of Francois Mauriac, and The Comets of Edward Albee. I take a category, such as ducks, and write a description of individuals within that group. The descriptions are headed with titles of works by the author named in the title. Why use authors instead of just titling the poem "Ducks" or some such? To double myself as author, functionally. All description, prosaic or poetic, alters what is described. To place an author before myself in the poem - the name sharing the title with the subject and the titles of the author's works heading the description - allows me, personally, perhaps, rather than theoretically (theoretical: what is an attempt to prove, to persuade; the wildest theory mimicking an instruction manual or a handbook entry in intent... and the personal unable to persuade due to lack of empirical evidence; one can attempt to prove Freemasons are running the United States - or how a particular helmet can protect one from alien mind-control rays, the directions for construction bearing this information in themselves - and back it up with evidence outside of the author's head, but you cannot prove to an audience that the reason you are a murderer is an abusive childhood) to treat the subject ventriloquilly, how Jeff Harrison would write of ducks while keeping Cotton Mather continually in mind (or rather, the works of Cotton Mather as they've come to my attention). This series is personally procedural more than it is physically procedural. My explanation of GRANDUNCLES OF THE CATTLETRADE can be supported by comparison of the poems, the movement of their words are described by the commentary. My explanation of poems in the series (as yet unnamed) that includes The Ducks of Cotton Mather cannot be proven. Procedures, physical and personal, assist me in seeing the poetic, in regarding the poetic apart from the poem - the poem a shadow or halo of the poetic, the poetic a shadow or halo of the poem. Lines crop up for these poems, poems that are in a particular series, ("St. John Chapter Eight, Verse Six & Eight" is another series of mine) and no other. What do series say about the poetic? Why lines, themes, and approaches for a certain kind of poem and not for another? Do you consider poems that fall outside of series as more integrally poetic, or otherwise preferable? Procedure, and series, as an alembic, and poems that fall further from the author as purer? What of recurring characters? Do they but resemble series, or are they a series?

AHB: There's something time-fluid about series that seems necessary to me, I mean for me. a stand alone poem seems to drift, whereas in series, an anchoring proposition exists. I realize this is an odd attitude, for I surely see single poems by others as being complete (I was going to say universes but that's too forceful and imaginary). I feel I must relate all my work, ALL of it, as if each work were an unfinished sentence, accumulating towards some whole. I might be defining myself too carefully here. maybe I note a tonal consistency in series, or standpoint perhaps. but let me return to the time-fluid idea. series instigate commitment, for reader and writer, an involvement in passage. that attracts me. everyone has flashes, 'inspiration'. the returns, when one is not guided by that magnetic example, these are the work of the artist, where the artist thoughtfully configures the gift. does this sound fuzzy? in your series, you have a flash of how to proceed. you then labour to hold that flash. and by doing that, you extend the moment. recurring characters, images and themes propose solidities, touchstones. perhaps you are right, series as alembic, as the author falls away and what remains are the themes and characters, the word with living intent. whew!!! see how out of my water I am in speaking of this.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


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.








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 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,

the same

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
more reddish-brown



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

the same

white ring around
the Laysan Teal's eye

their bodies generally go
unburied, male & female



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.



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.



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"

Friday, August 04, 2006


JH: Your "you can see poets becoming literature" came to me as the actual poets dying and the written word remaining. Literature as letters (missives; characters of an alphabet), as written matter. You read literature with everyone else, yes, and you read literature along with everything else. The back of a cereal box is as read and removed from your production (writing) as Tess of the D'Urbervilles or one of your own written poems. I've earlier formulated, poetry + time = poetry, and can now progress to poetry + time = literature. What then does literature plus time equal? I would claim that time has no equal bearing on literature, save for physical destruction, or alteration, of instances. Writing being mnemonic, literature is a structure from which poetry can be received.
AHB: You're right. Literature lives on after the poet, and the poet exchanges his/her life to the thingness (that's a Heidegger word) of literature. I like the image of literature as a building—or holy grotto, to pretty the picture—in which poetry resides. I fear I may step into icky territory but literature is like a church. you go to it with a certain respect and expectation, a receptivity. it's a timeless place, where writing from millennia ago, in any/all languages, can be accessed. having presented that image, I don't want to harp on any religiousity of literature. but let me now switch topics. you've recently been plying the Wryting-L list with quite a bit of work, at least two series. I'm only just now catching up to this work, having been offline the past week and more, but let me offer Exhibit A, if it please the court.


fuaefshff n hetiusafhie n oissichoa n wade n fdoudf
hetiusafhie n oissichoa n wade n fdoudf n weiie
oissichoa n ifeov n fdoudf n weiie n aeohdeff
wade n fdoudf n weiie n aeohdeff n iuhffde
fdoudf n weiie n aeohdeff n iuhffde n herdhwid
weiie n aeohdeff n iuhffde n herdhwid n aoahe
aeohdeff n iuhffde n herdhwid n aoahe n raeodu
iuhffde n herdhwid n ridiiot n raeodu n suisduin
herdhwid n aoahe n raeodu n suisduin n uderdudr
aoahe n raeodu n suisduin n uderdudr n desiaeafiun
raeodu n suisduin n tfocei n desiaeafiun n udai
suisduin n uderdudr n desiaeafiun n udai n onstduf...

this is not your usual poem. it would certainly shock many readers. should I, as typical dumb resistant reader, wonder how you produced this text? should I take it as a conundrum, something coded? I ponder it wondering how to pronounce the words. I should add that this is part of a series, but its fellows don't offer this particular challenge. what's the poetic act here?