from Percival Everett in “The Art of Fiction No. 235”

Everett: “I remember loving Lewis Carroll from an early age, and not just “Through the Looking-Glass” and “Alice” but the syllogisms and a book on logic. And then I remember quite well, early on, reading something I thought I shouldn’t be reading, Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage”, which I got from my father’s shelf. I think I was nine. It was fun because I didn’t think I was supposed to read it. As I look back, I think that it’s reading, probably even more than writing, that I find important. Reading is subversive because you necessarily do it by yourself. Which is why books scare people like Donald Trump. What’s interesting to me is that the poor people who identify with Donald Trump, they think of themselves as unlucky rich people. If things had just gone differently, they would be rich, too. The system has worked against them. It’s the same reason people play the lottery. Overnight you could wake up rich, and that’s an exciting thing. What you can’t do overnight is become educated. That requires a lot of work, so that’s not a goal. It’s something to fear. But that’s exactly why I find books so important. I don’t care what people read. If they read anything, then they might read something else. I just want to participate in making a different culture. I’m thinking of that line of Walt Whitman’s—”Produce great Persons, the rest follows.” It sounds flip when you just say it, but it’s true. That’s not to say that people are bad, but I want a readership that wants to read things because the work is difficult, not because it’s only fun. I want the fun to be in figuring it out. That’s what reading is all about, and to me writing is really just an extension of reading. But there, enough of my soapbox.”

Read the entire interview in The Paris Review.

Trinity (Nuclear Test)

Wikipedia Poem, No. 507

w507

“I wake up from sleep. And I fall asleep again! / From serving an era. To betraying a different era. I recite. / I will keep paying 150 yen to buy your smiling face.” Terayama Shūji

          but only therapists remain   
and projected to have         
no metaphors i am thinking 
the impossibly           large brick school building 
the phone call   and days ago 
holding             no         metaphors        
i am thinking about      what i asked her  
in first grade        the therapist holds 
the fragile invulnerable dictionary 
spasms   outside      the hand and apologizing 
about       the boy          i was 
how my motherapist      and days ago         
     holding spasms         
outside this        thinking exercise      writing about   
the fragile invulnerable world 
about     the boy                     
the impossibly large therapist 
projected toward me

Therapy (Pulling Red Thread)

Wikipedia Poem, No. 483

wiki483

   dazzle in bayonne
them i 
spot the battleship a 
brave 
   thing in me 
but 
      better in college 

baionnette
bayonne
diminutive bayon

i am a 
human who 
     sits unlike a trough 
purchased long at 
the 
      academic front leaking

a long narrow open container 
for animals 
to eat or drink 
out of

        control 
    frightens
thought

thread-eye
rarely painted red

Personal Poem

personalpoem1

“I weep for all of these or laugh.” Ted Berrigan

i meant to say something about light
i raze light not your light and
not artificial light    what of the artificial then?
an ungainly freudian monolith
gargantuan simple fleshy    constructed
of shit found in the tv street    about light

input output welding welded expository writing    damaged categoricals
empathy    but     there's always a corollary-but with men
who lick their long waisted fingers    clean of light
let's not talk of chivalry or boyhood    manhood    let's don't mention
one's compensation for time lost
    while mistakenly incarcerated
me daffodil lazy under laundered blanket   you baseless and imaginary

i meant to say something to you about lightness in chaos
clutter razes light not your lightness   aloof
a poof    proof of what makes one    the fleet-footed slave of truth
i meant to say something outloud    but i sank into the ocean    to you
with the rowers and singing maidens and maidenchasers
and the mist which unnoticed        by anyone not me    unmoored
    flares eternal
guides the way home

spacer1
Source: Berrigan, Ted. “Words for Love.” An Anthology of New York Poets, edited by Ron Padgett and David Shapiro. Random House, New York, 1970, p. 61.

Gender Politics

Wikipedia Poem, No. 472

gender-politics

“If I were in authority, I would forbid advertising.” Le Corbusier

to be loved   eyes closed of pain  
it is just like you not like you nothing flat  
traced with a number two pencil    nothing vested 
in hydrangeas something more like cutting 
something black ravage    to be
loved    afraid of course cutting
a slow-covered kitchen knife    something more
we will be loved afraid of pain
its dimensions feed from perspective
to follow up     thick unguent
    carving

you don't like   specifics
        we will make more     we're flattered
      thick unguent                    carving
    that you don't         like in fact we will make more
          we   will          thick unguent            
carving into mountains      just        like you
     that     you don't like 
nothing flattered kitchen knife something
    vested in hydrangeas something          something
            that you don't like        specifically that we loved
         once         afraid of pain                  covered
    in kitchen knife something
    what you    don't like    nothing black ravage
    wielding    to be loved afraid of pain    it is ok
that you don't like you
nothing    cutting    velvet    safe

Rabbi Said

Wikipedia Poem, No. 465

wiki465

“Sweet Love of youth, forgive, if I forget thee, / While the world’s tide is bearing me along; / Other desires and other hopes beset me, / Hopes which obscure, but cannot do thee wrong!” Emily Brontë

there's no time to   explain there's no           
dazzle in          order to wrestle among its   
ants ants ants ants ants ants ants ants ants      
to say       not           better in the christian sense 
the jain sits under a tree in        order to wrestle 
among its    ants ants ants     
crawl          up his perfect warmth even if           
i feel no such warmth       for the gourmand           
for the essentialist        for the part of me which insists upon 
treating others with          respect 
as productive as an ant productive

         this is    the         earth's horizon — 
handsy        in control       touchy-feely frightening 
the jain     it is being in its essential parthood
i insist upon treating others with respect
as productive as          a thing being   only eyes   the thing
even if i or it feel no such warmth           for this eye 
i         feel no such      warmth   for the same     tree 
or ant in order to wrestle among
among      its ants ants ants ants

People Are Forming Various Sentences with Their Bodies

Wikipedia Poem, No. 455

yakyak-sm

After Ron Padgett

there is no rush dear
cognitively 
certain your lover enough 
         water tells me 
you were 
      born last month

        we've eaten too much sugar
and 
our birthday was two days enough time 
to drink
          we've eaten too much 
sugar
and our birthday was 
two days enough time 
to indict 
      oneself
         always enough time 
to 
drink smart 
      complete
dancing particles 
of 
          night
below the poetry oneself
always 
past
i'm cognitively 
certain your shoes
         but we must have
dragged 
          shit in on our 
      birthday two days 
enough 
time to 
         indict 
one's wants 
to 
     write
the poetry 
   one wants to 
         drink
      we've 
eaten too 
       much 
    sugar
and 
          our birthday was two days 
       enough

“To Psychoanalysis” by Kenneth Koch

I took the Lexington Avenue subway
To arrive at you in your glory days
Of the Nineteen Fifties when we believed
That you could solve any problem
And I had nothing but disdain
For “self-analysis” “group analysis” “Jungian analysis”
“Adlerian analysis” the Karen Horney kind
All—other than you, pure Freudian type—
Despicable and never to be mine!
I would lie down according to your
Dictates but not go to sleep.
I would free-associate. I would say whatever
Came into my head. Great
Troops of animals floated through
And certain characters like Picasso and Einstein
Whatever came into my head or my heart
Through reading or thinking or talking
Came forward once again in you. I took voyages
Down deep unconscious rivers, fell through fields,
Cleft rocks, went on through hurricanes and volcanoes.
Ruined cities were as nothing to me
In my fantastic advancing. I recovered epochs,
Gold of former ages that melted in my hands
And became toothpaste or hazy vanished citadels. I dreamed
Exclusively for you. I was told not to make important decisions.
This was perfect. I never wanted to. On the Har-Tru surface of my emotions
Your ideas sank in so I could play again.
But something was happening. You gave me an ideal
Of conversation—entirely about me
But including almost everything else in the world.
But this wasn’t poetry it was something else.
After two years of spending time in you
Years in which I gave my best thoughts to you
And always felt you infiltrating and invigorating my feelings
Two years at five days a week, I had to give you up.
It wasn’t my idea. “I think you are nearly through,”
Dr. Loewenstein said. “You seem much better.” But, Light!
Comedy! Tragedy! Energy! Science! Balance! Breath!
I didn’t want to leave you. I cried. I sat up.
I stood up. I lay back down. I sat. I said
But I still get sore throats and have hay fever.
“And some day you are going to die. We can’t cure everything.”
Psychoanalysis! I stood up like someone covered with light
As with paint, and said Thank you.
It was only one moment in a life, my leaving you.
But once I walked out, I could never think of anything seriously
For fifteen years without also thinking of you. Now what have we become?
You look the same, but now you are a past You.
That’s Fifties clothing you’re wearing. You have some Fifties ideas
Left—about sex, for example. What shall we do? Go walking?
We’re liable to have a slightly frumpy look,
But probably no one will notice—another something I didn’t know then.

paculum-spec2-sm

Source:

Koch, Kenneth. The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch. New York: Knopf, 2007. Print, p. 609.

Polymer

Wikipedia Poem, No. 447

IMG_7308

considers well-produced risk
how far is too too far is too far
so far balanced well-produced

eye real human skin simple ethical
boundaries thrilling well-adjusted
someone balanced tests my mind

well-adjusted too far
balance test my conservative mind
well-produced polymers risk

produced conservative polymers
risk well-produced polymers risk
eye read as human skin simple cells

ethical boundaries push up against the world
i think and play out loud in thinking fields
artificial intelligence eye reading humans

i love you bot lately i’ve been thinking
i know polymers that push up against
the psychological understanding

runs of progressive reading human
skin simple ethical boundaries that
push up against the path forward

as it understands ideological boundaries
push up against psychological
boundaries push up against these

conservative habits and progressive tendencies
ideological boundaries push up against
the psychological risk taking

that plays out with considerable risk
well-produced polymers risk
conservative versus progressive

well-produced samples
boundaries that push up against the world
i’m thinking of a field between artificial intelligence

and game theory eyes read as human
someone who is balanced asks a lot
of artificial intelligence a lot of injury

or with violation but stretches
and tests my ethical boundaries push up
against containers risk well-produced polymers
thrilling the eyes read as human

Mary Ruefle

Wikipedia Poem, No. 437

wiki437-sm

“We are human beings. Our expressions are always inadequate, often pitiful.” Ruefle

best case
clitics
a doctor in exile
for his weird name

notes that his patient notes
inflect
particle daughters   (i’m

with flesh the victims
repress
popular 45s
or cheap vector images

pressed in the factories of the sun
mary ruefle’s munificent markers
derive healing clitics

if the litter
loves god
and by coincidence
is intellectually repressed

let her grind
those students
into dog food