A HYBRID NOTEBOOK OF POETICS AND PORNOGRAPHIES

Pornography Disclaimer

This is a an imaginary diary of facts, confessions, or messages. This is a notebook of working but broken ideas, lines, images, notes on books I'm reading, writers I admire, and brief fantasies of language. Here unfiltered  all mannerings pseudo-private, publicized, ur-. Here I am art and unrevealed: poetic, political and pop. These are my moonlit rough beginnings and should not be taken literally, directly, truthfully, reliably, and none of it is legally binding. These lies are all choreographed, but only haphazardly. Beware.

21.12.08

MY LOVERS IN THE YEAR OF RAT

OR A SHORT CONDENSED LIST OF TEN (OR SO) BOOKS I COULDN'T AND DIDN'T WANT TO LIVE WITHOUT IN NO, OR, IN A SUBLIMINALLY PARTICULAR, ORDER:

preluded by a few lines from Sabines' book, translated by Jeffrey Levine and Ernesto Trejo:

So here's how it's done: you put on your mask,
assume your voice, embroider your dreams.
Put on the face of a lover,
the wounded face,
the contented smile,
Monday and Tuesday, and the month of March,
and the year of human solidarity,
you eat on the hour as best as you can,
and sleep and make love, 
and go on secretly rehearsing for the final act
that no one will witness.

Hallelujah Blackout by Alex Lemon
Little Boat by Jean Valentine
Tarumba by Jaime Sabines
Watching the Spring Festival by Frank Bidart
Exceptions and Melancholies by Ralph Angel

Envelope of Night by Michael Burkard
My Emily Dickinson by Susan Howe
Truant Lover by Juliet Patterson

Warhorses by Yusef Komunyakaa
The Man with Night Sweats by Thom Gunn
Factory of Tears by Valzhyna Mort
Theories and Apparitions by Mark Doty
Hagiography by Jenn Currin
Totem by Gregory Pardlo

A Worldly Country by John Ashberry

"he didn't look like a good loser, a dark angry expression on his face, his head down, and while the men, speaking French, scattered along the porch in search of glasses of ice-cold champagne, the lady went up to the little gaucho, who was left standing alone, holding his horse's reins in his left hand (at the other end of the long yard the little gaucho's father headed off toward the stables with the horse the German had ridden), and told him, in an incomprehensible language, not to be sad, that he had ridden an excellent race but her husband was good too and more experienced, words that to the little gaucho sounded like the moon, like the passage of clouds across the moon, like a slow storm, and then the little gaucho looked up at the lady with the eyes of a bird of prey, ready to plunge a knife into her at the navel and slice up to the breasts, cutting her wide open, his eyes shining with a strange intensity, like the eyes of a clumsy young butcher, as the lady recalled, which didn't stop her from following him without protest when he took her by the hand and led her to the other side of the house, to a place where a wrought-iron pergola stood, bordered by flowers and trees that the lady had never seen in her life or which at that moment she thought she had never seen in her life, and she even saw a fountain in the park, a stone fountain, in the center of which balanced on one little foot, a creole cherub with smiling features danced, part European and part cannibal, perpetually bathed by three jets of water that spouted at its feet, a fountain sculpted from a single piece of black marble, a fountain that the lady and the little gaucho admired at length, until a distant cousin of the rancher appeared (or a mistress whom the rancher had lost in the deep folds of memory), telling her in brusque and serviceable English that her husband had been looking for her for some time . . . 

(I'm just in the watching the first petal of this novel curl black at the edge of its rose, but goddamn I'm drinking it, Bolano's strange year. This interlude is an excerpt of one sentence that dreams for five pages!)

2666 by Roberto Bolano
The Quiet Girl by Peter Hoeg
My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk
The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima

The White Book by Jean Cocteau
Queen of Fashion by Caroline Weber
Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore
The Sea by John Banville 

prologue: I did a bump or two of Heidegger off a mirror. In the mirror nearness is a gathering up of space, where we dwell among that absence which is our own, that we cradle, that we build to remark upon the abyss--only I have a Dyonisian tongue and would go a step further than Heidegger to say we dwellers seek monument and revolt. The boy was abducted by an alien, but they left the goat part behind. The poem was not abducted. It was a cup, a bridge, an embrace to frame that darkness which we know alone and fear and pray to. Darkness of the embrace that out of space and noplace beams us up into the Unseen. how Shadow drinks up loss. Chaos. Laughter like the sea. Liquid of the Year, I'll hold you here. 
. . . . . .

20.12.08

BACK IN A WINTER INDEX

Finished the semester, finally have some late nights to myself again, long hours for reading and listening.

Read handfuls, heartfuls, dreamfuls: 

think there is a conversation between Adolfo Bioy Casares Asleep In the Sun and Kafka's The Trial, for their similar protagonists who can't believe their predicaments, though I think Casares has a better sense of humor. His outcome is not less disturbing.

Miguel is inside an index of slightly horrifying hardons, and he likes it. Guest's much slobbered over book is worth the rave, but for me his best poems touch depthless and so beautiful sorrows:

"But here in the night made of alarms
a train shambles
through the dark
and it's hard to hear the trees speaking
the language we made 
for them. Or I did
thinking of you
who taught me regret.
There are nights when I dream 
of stolen oranges.
How we ran away with the sun in our arms."

I like to think about his line breaks and what Freud would say about the anxiety of a line break. There's so much of Guest as a writer in them, impulse wefted into craft. Like too his joy in tangent, though in many of the poems I start to feel as if I'm reading prose, not because he's writing prose but maybe because what I want from a book of poems is not the same as what I want from a poem. One or two of these at a time last longer for me. 

Playing a lot of video games too on playstation. Starwars I'm mindlightning and saberswift. Dead Space alien alone, mutations and weaponry. 

Next week's my birthday, finding a proper silence for it. A proper descent. Listening to Bach arias and Brahms piano variations on a theme by Paganini, and Pink's new album too. 

secret birthday: Dexter marathon. Bolano's 2666. Gifts to me. 

Doty, am I your theory or your apparition? Goddamn that clapping poem, that cathedral of the imagined self that is real. 

Glad--not the right word--helped by, affirmed, hopeful that in his New and Selected only two poems from his first book were included! And only five from his second! 

Fire from Fire, marry me! You're homo-hot. 

Speaking of marriage, Willa Cather's My Mortal Enemy--symmetrical little novel built around the cold myth and death of an eccentric who gets herself disowned for love. Temperamental passions, I prefer Dostoyevsky to Tolstoy. But she blurts out little gems like this:

"Look for that little short one, about the flower that grows on the suicide's grave, die Armesunderblum, the poor-sinner's-flower. Oh that's the flower for me, Nellie; die Arme-sunder-blum! she drew the word out until it was a poem in itself."

Miguel is aspiring to be a romantic.


My photo
I've got one foot in the grave and the other's in my mouth.

Poetry Disclaimer

My work has been awarded the Katherine C. Turner Prize from the Academy of American Poets, a Swarthout Award, and has twice been nominated and shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize. My first book, A Book Called Rats, was selected for the Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry (Eastern Washington University Press 2007). I'm curating editor for the online journal of poetry: PISTOLA and my poems and reviews most recently appear in Massachusetts Review, Beloit, Ploughshares and RAIN TAXI. I currently teach writing and literature at Santa Monica College in southern California.