Artifacts of Reference, No. 12



Artifacts of Reference, No. 6


inversion* of “Sexualizing Picasso on the Cross”


Codger, old maid or bone-dry instep, a stagnant silence over cloud
Interior remains sneaking under—yes, me, yes, my polite
Infertility—uncooked acedia, never invulnerable frost
Protects a circle-bare sky or dank reverie of useless yttrium
Yields free under these asses, cool, must remain.


*here, an inversion is a poetic exercise in which one takes a poem (or some portion of a poem) and reforms each word, image or concept into an opposite. so, plainly, black may become white, water morphs into a photograph, or (in the above example) brimstone transubstantiates by way of the mirror to scaly, despairing yttrium, and so on. one must strip away the limits of reason: black does not need to become white, etc. there is no 1:1 relationship in the practice, and, frankly, anything goes: the platypus has no pure opposite. to apply an inversion on a word is usually a trifle, a line can be more difficult. still harder, a stanza or an entire poem as singular unit for reform. one should first thoroughly grasp connotation, denotation, implication, tone, musicality, color, volume, breath, etc., before one is able to charge ahead. the inversion is particularly helpful as an exercise to help break through writer’s block.

above, is an inversion of a work in progress called “Sexualizing Picasso on the Cross”

untitled, 012520142200

what characters?
what images?
what emotions?

& how that 
projects, flickers
onto the clean 
white wall. where?

where is the heroism?
(cocksure bravado of loss?
the drowning son
saltwater bites his lungs
his inutile hand
breaking the ocean’s lens?

ooh, there
I’ve gone and given it
peel through the pteridophyta
knee-high, back to skull-island.

they’ll remember you if you tell them
who? what character? 
which image? emotion?

and what will they boil
for tea that morning
after his funeral
— well attended
— tastefully adorned (not too colorful
— a slow silent sob, no one weeps (not even … 

will it be black or green or chamomile
over-steeped or sweetened? how
at a time like this, can one decide
so freshly alive, so gravitationally piqued
washed red-raw with compassion?

those old films
now significant, so
wall space, interior
as if the boy were climbing
our orange tree
higher, then higher
his fearless lungs full
of bitter citrus.

what’s lost?
again, what emotion?

QUOTE, draft 100520131220

unlicked filth on bentbranch fingers
               & a chemical thin residue

lean waits to be pleased
across his mottled brow
               & thensudden cheekbone spikes

no gleam. despite his mottling hair

a swamp alive
               & long ago wet precious &
                    as a cradle

unprintable man
loved at impossible distance and when
               & when
wise brown eyes close
               & back turns
into every crack
memories like steam rise.

QUOTE, draft 092720131931

It’s a gift, reading your smells, the
Oils on long green fingers, distinguished
From the chemical thin residue
Leans, waiting to be pleased
Across yr brow, the sudden spike
Of cheekbones. There’s no
Smell there, despite — Yr hair, swamp alive
& long ago wet, precious &
Fragile. You, an unprintable man
Loved at an impossible distance & when
———————————————–& when

I close my true brown eyes
Turn my back
Memory like steam flies
Seeping into every crack.

Untitled 07182013, second draft

I don’t give a shit
About the jungle
Or your long trek
To profitable madness
As I sound out that place’s strange name
Sweating, mosquito-thick, blood green
Impossible to itch
An incantation
The machete blade
Turns to coin.

Reminding my shrink of this story
He hands over a live freshwater trout
I really can’t compete.


sinuous rills [draft, 033020131336]

crack the association, windows holding something back
curtains cutting social tongues, an uncaged robin

blinds like bobbins scored
spooled around with money
i’m hungry because i’m bored
i’m a cave shadow collapsing, honey

you can do this, put one foot in front of the other
remember that the eye is the you, capitalized
blinds bobbing under the weight of the projector

i’m a cave shadow collapsing, the protector
of a long-gone princess, follow?

improv for bernie, 111820121309 [draft1]

The thing is wide & white
But bearing a ring of amber
Which carries across memory
_like a whisper-washed hair or
Blade, but I think back on her question
And yes, I am killing myself adoringly
Melting my body to the mat

For this knuckle of pint. When I think

Of her the follies rise,
Precepts enjamb in pain, a sweet round
Aftertaste stalking the long dark nap.
Don’t change a word. You
Are wise & wind torn & yr ears are tuned
_to just
Frequencies — the grass whimpers above each follicle
Lip quivering by truth-run conceit. We have
Suffered, but in my ocean, beside your ocean, …

I think: “Bare it,” I say.