Sunday, October 31, 2004

Look what

Jukka gave me for my birthday.

Many thanks, dear friend.

the Sunday Archive

Still Life, with mirrors
if you’re going to
send me something, send me a key - I shall
find the door to where it fits, if it takes me
the rest of my life
BOB DYLAN: Tarantula
There are more doors than there are
keys, & only rarely do we find
a corresponding set. The world or life or
living - whatever springtime name we care
to call it by - is like a room of mirrors,
in which we wait, either for Cocteau
or for the mercury to melt, so we
can see which way is out. Or maybe in.

To break a mirror would only mean
more pieces to pick up; & I already know
the fragmented picture of me they would
duplicate. Coming down off a threeyear
curing course of methadone that supposedly
will end the drugged decade that went before
has made me too damned conscious of the
myriad aspects of my self. The final

symptoms of withdrawal have forced me to
reflect, to try & separate which shards
of past possessed some flash of insight
& which were merely manufactured by the flash
when heroin hits the brain. Meanwhile I wait,
& watch the mirrors / watching me. Somewhere
beyond them I can hear a woman weeping. &
shortly after, someone come knocking at her door.

8/10/73

Saturday, October 30, 2004

a list for Tom Beckett

list
liszt
pissed
pitch
missed
mast
mist
massed
past
pasta
pizza
piazza
byzantine
bicarbonate
soda
coda
clerk
jerk
park
peak
fountain
mountain
slow
snow
piste
poste
lost
last
post
partum
list
My birthday today. I don't know if it has any significance apart from the fact that I've just completed my third lot of twenty-one years.

When I was born Pearl Harbour was still five weeks away, The Man in the High Castle was still a possibility.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Looks & sidelong glances

Karri Kokko at Blonde on Blonde takes a second look at an extract from Jukka & my The Oracular Sonnets; & Geof Huth takes a look at our The Sketchbooks of Hieronymous Bosch at dbqp.

Issue #22

of Shampoo is up. It includes work by Cassie Lewis, Clayton Couch, Barry Schwabsky & the wonderful Sheila Murphy amongst a lot of other good poetry.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Taxonomy

Genus: Jukka-Pekka Kervinen
Species: terminate and stay resident

I keep forgetting Carolus Linnaeus was Scandanavian.

The new unbiased, untainted E.U. "Justice" Commissioner

Socialists in the European Parliament have called for the proposed Justice Commissioner, Rocco Buttiglione, to stand aside after he called homosexuality a sin.

Mr Buttiglione, a friend of Pope John Paul II & Italian P.M. Berlusconi, issued an apology for his remarks & also said he regretted saying that "marriage existed to allow women to have children & enjoy the protection of men".

The Daily Telegraph revealed on Wednesday that Buttiglione, who is Italy's Minister for European Affairs, had been under investigation as part of a year-long inquiry into money laundering.
& suddenly I see a headline
YASSER ARAFAT HAS COLLAPSED!

oh Yasser Arafat we love you get up

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Mailer was never politically correct, but he was correct, politically

"Lyndon Johnson was first preceptor of the key that politics-is-property so you never give something away for nothing. Convention politics is therefore not the art of the possible so much as the art of what is possible when you are dealing with property holders. A delegate's vote is his holding - he will give it up without return no more than a man will sign over his house entire to a worthy cause.

"Such property relations are to be witnessed for every political sinecure in the land - judgeships, jobs, contracts, promises - it comes down to chairs in offices, and words negotiable like bonds.

"Politics at national level can still be comprehended by politics-as-property provided one remembers that moral integrity (or the public impression of such) in a high politician is also property, since it brings power and / or emoluments to him. Indeed a high politician - which is to say a statesman or a leader - has no political substance unless he is the servant of ideological institutions or interests and the available moral passions of the electorate. A politician picks and chooses among moral properties. If he is quick-witted, unscrupulous, and does not mind a life of constant anxiety, he will hasten - there is a great competition for things valuable in politics - to pick up properties wherever he can, even if they are rival holdings. To the extent a politician is his own man, attached to his own search for his own spiritual truth - which is to say willing to end in any unpalatable position to which the character of his truth could lead him - then he is ill-equipped for the game of politics. Politics is property. You pick up as much as you can, pay the minimum for the holding, extract the maximum, and combine where you may."

Norman Mailer; Miami and the Siege of Chicago (1968)

Monday, October 25, 2004

Have added

David Nemeth's second blog jammed to the sidebar.

a response to an email from Richard Lopez

Define the influences.

No poetry.

Science fiction (my brother) & crime novels (my parents). Some intuitive sense of discernment. The writers I liked most were those I later realised were the best. Sturgeon, Kornbluth, Blish, Leiber, Bester; Hammett & Chandler. In them the seeds of my later socialism. The writers I didn't like were right wing (realised later) even fascist – Heinlein. Think about the movie of Starship Troopers.

My mother wrote light poetry (typewriter). My father was a freemason & gave talks on aspects of the Craft (exquisite penmanship). Came down on the side of the typewriter. Something about touching the keys, approaching them, pushing the air away. A separatedness not found when I held a pen. Not yet realised. To come later.

Jazz. From age 12 or 13. Shortwave radio. The Voice of America (the beginning of one part of the duality; the other part started with the Vietnam war). Willis Conover at 11 p.m. local time. Ellington's A Train. Clunked Chords. Deelyeeda. Deelyeeda. You……..must take the A Train. & busstops. Never underestimate their importance in the way you grow up. People you meet. But mainly the shops near by.

So one busstop had a record shop. With a salesman who also liked jazz. Where I started buying. The boppers. Post-bebop. Charlie Parker dying. Tadd Dameron dead. Fats Navarro dead. But Miles very much alive. & the Modern Jazz Quartet. & Dizzy. & Monk. & Gerry Mulligan. & Rollins & Coltrane coming through. & also King Pleasure who put words to jazz solos.

& somewhere in there from somewhere before Bach. I remember playing Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring on a harmonica. Aged 8.

Hit parades. Nat King Cole & Frank Sinatra. Billy May & Nelson Riddle backing.

Movies. Lassie Come Home at age five or six. Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator at age twelve, the night before we moved to Wellington. & in between the biblical epics, westerns, film noir. I loved Bogart. & Gary Cooper. Do not forget me oh my darling.

Then the overlapping that / shapes us all. 14, 15, 16. Blackboard Jungle & Rebel Without a Cause. Poitier, James Dean, Sal Mineo. Juvenile delinquent; but at the same time learning to play the contrabass, arco, classical. College orchestra. Joyriding at night; & coming across in one of the escapades the beginnings of the university jazz club. The bohemians of the Uttar Pradesh. Digging them. Angelheaded hipsters, but the words barely writ yet across the Pacific. & at the same time, somehow, on the nights not joyriding or kept at home, joined the local film society, 16mm prints, Satayjit Ray, Renoir, Cocteau, Kurosawa, Bergman, Bunuel.

The melting pot. Add rock n roll & then black r&b. Start playing jazz. Add reading the writers you came to through film, Cocteau, Jacques Prévert. Discover the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico & Magritte. Move on to the Surrealist writers. Kerouac falls into your lap, On the Road recommended by a drummer you thought hadn't read a book in his life. Hear an album called Poetry & Jazz that has pieces by Whalen & Ferlinghetti on it, plus Hoagy Carmichael reading the master WCW. Discover Ginsberg in the daily papers. Write your first word piece, The Pied Bopper of Harlem, about a Charlie Parker character who comes along & knocks down all the oldtime jazz musos. Write your own music for your own group.

Get brought down by young man's angst. Decide you have to work it out & words seem a sensible way to go. Write your first poem. & another. & another. Colloquial words. Broken lines. A natural way of writing. Uninfluenced. Your mother says send them off to The Listener, a national weekly. You do. They are accepted.

So poetry.

As a Poet you are expected to write, to mix with other writers, to be influenced. So I did, & wrote shit. Angry young man shit, surrealist shit, school of quietude shit, imitative shit. But whilst doing it started discovering people whose writing I liked. Through Evergreen Review mainly. No local poets, never any local poets. & serendipity. Discovering a paperback in the stuff left over by previous tenants of a house which some friends of mine were moving into. Thinking the Miller on the cover was Arthur Miller, husband of Marilyn Monroe, author of Death of a Salesman. Halfway through realised it was Henry M. Had never heard of him before.

Which is where the other busstop comes in. The busstop opposite which was a secondhand bookshop. Where over the next few years I found more Miller, & through him Rimbaud, & Baudelaire, & 1930’s surrealist journals, & Paul Eluard & J.P. Donleavy & Borges & Apollinaire &

But the book that changed everything for me was NEW. The Book. Probably brought in through the Japanese Embassy where I started working in 1961, & out of where because of (a) no currency restrictions & (b) no inspection by Customs I managed to buy more (banned) Miller followed by the rest of the Olympia Press catalogue – Genet, Trocchi, Durrell, Burroughs, Nabokov, Southern; took out a subscription to Evergreen Review followed up by the rest of the Grove Press list; a lot of New Directions books; all the City Lights list, plus Totem/Corinth & the other small presses that were springing up in the U.S. (& which is why I have only ever read minimal amounts of Zukovsky).

The Book. The New American Poetry, 1945-1960, edited by Donald M. Allen. Sadly passed away this year. It is probably impossible to over-estimate the influence the poets, individually or collectively, in this book had on the writers of my time, my age. (Though not in New Zealand where it was the end of the decade before things started to change.) It is one of only two books I have managed to keep with me for most of my adult life. (The other is The Ascent of Man, Jakob Bronowski's book from his TV series of the same name.)

For me five poets in the book – Denise Levertov, Gary Snyder, LeRoi Jones (now Amiri Baraka), Charles Olson & Frank O'Hara - became my major influences. Many of the poems I wrote between 1962 & 1967, as I was developing my own voice, carry the influences of at least one of them. & other poets in TNAP, like Kenneth Koch, showed me that poetry could be / should be humourous.

From outside, add William Carlos Williams. I never got over Tract. & slightly later Paterson & Pictures from Brueghel. & there are other poets that I like, or at least poems by them – Eluard, Apollinaire, Rexroth, Whitman, Yeats, Celan – which helped keep me on the curved & wide. But it is the five + one that I owe most too.

They provided the diction. The voice comes from the other influences I've mentioned above. Include things physical or geographic - mountains, sea, trains; getting places by walking to them for most of my early adult years; & don't overlook such things as the music professor at university who would grab me in the corridor & say 'come here jazz man' & sit me down & play Bach for two hours at a time on the harpsichord he kept in his office; or a double-feature continuous movie house that changed its bill every two days & where I was exposed to the complete American International canon of Roger Corman & others during those years I was supposed to be obtaining an academic education from an English Department that hadn't read a novel written since 1900.

Why
does it
not surprise me

that
when I
am alone it

is
music that
I seek out?
start
the day
with harry k.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Sunday Archive

In Memoriam: Robert Desnos

J'ai tant rêvé de toi......
                                    that
was the line I meant to start with.
Instead, I find my mind alive with other thoughts.

I did not intend to expose your mysterious woman.
Only in your poem do I know her. Only in your poem
in my mind do I come to realise the mystery of her.

No, Robert Desnos. Ours are different women.
This woman of yours—you knew her
though you had not met, though your arms
had not been linked in a walk down any street
& your mouths had not passed the closeness of any night
together. Yet you knew her till your death, & perhaps
met then. For your death was her death, & you were thus
united.

            My poem was to be
of a woman who I had met, who I had done with
all those things you had not done. Yet one
who I cannot remember, & who, once forgotten,
becomes mysterious.

Whose body I should remember most,
for her words were confetti
that the wind caught & blew away.      yet the mouth
                                                                  whose inside
& the smile of her eyes                        I plotted
less than a match struck                  with my tongue
to be blown out a second later.

Who in walking with me seemed
no more than the passing of other      & the shudder
people in the same street.                   of her elbows
                                                                   the moment
Only later, together in a                        beginning orgasm
room, the pedestrian became not
passerby but participant.

This the mysterious aspect. Did I ever
make love to her? I tell you, Robert, I
know I did: but when I try remembering
the course of our carnality, it is non-
existent.
            (Here I would echo your poem,
but shamed by the beauty of your words, I insert
the beginnings of my own.)
                              Inside the mouth
of my memory, your tongue is mayhem. Words
you once spoke have become as gibberish
in my attempt to set them right in time. The rims
of your eyes are as sharp as razors,
but the blue of them is blurred, like sky
behind a seagull's beating wings ...

1968

Saturday, October 23, 2004

la rive gouache

Vermillion. Or
crimson. Washed
through. The
linkages are. Not
primaries. Re-
lated to. Within
the continuum
of the mnemonic.
Painterly. J.M.W.
(-esque). Threads
used to tie. Sea
to sky. To land.
Pictorial implications.
Colour against
colour. The binders
form or common
borders. Unlike. Words.
Use other words.
The. Spaces. In
between. Much
like. Life. The
comparing of one
experience against
another. The matching
the. Marrying up
the. Placing of. Them.
Pass by & re-
arrange the past
in passing.
Some colour.
Occasional song. In
between. The spaces.

Friday, October 22, 2004

today

the
desire to
write is underwhelming

Kirsten Kaschock's

a southern: needs to souls at NEGATIVE WINGSPAN has a soul-pricking magick to it.

&, sidestepping - sleighting - slightly, Steven J. Stewart at the sidereality editors' weblog writes in a brief review of her Unfathoms:
"This is probably the best English-language book of poetry I've read this year. If she doesn't leave a lasting mark on the world of contemporary American poetry it's only because we aren't ready for her."

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Bardo Thodol

The scoreboard
didn't move

at the end
of the fifth innings
of the sixth game
of the play-off series

whilst a visiting
Irish tenor sang
a saccharine anthem

but Amerika
kept adding names
to the Book
of the Dead.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Allegrezza Ficcione, Part 17

He had never passed through an international terminal so quickly before. It was almost aformal; things were done with an efficiency that he guessed had a great deal to do with his companion even though his companion never spoke, was never spoken to.

He picked up his tickets, a ridiculously low price which he paid for with travellers' cheques, deciding to keep as much cash on him as he could; was told to take his luggage with him – "The plane's fairly empty, & luggage has a tendency to get lost if there are connecting flights."

Only when they were in the Emigration area did the suit speak, asking for Allegrezza's passport which he took over to an official who stamped it. Then, after glancing up at a monitor giving flight information, he set off towards what turned out to be the most distant gate in the terminal.

The plane was boarding when they got there. The suit held out his hand, said "Go with joy, Allegrezza." They shook hands, & then the suit turned & headed back up the corridor.

The flight to Tashkent wasn't that bad, but the flight to Bukhara was all that the Iranian had intimated. There were no cabin crew. It seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to get the engines up to a thrust necessary for takeoff; & even then it seemed they became airborne just metres before the end of the runway. This with only a half-load of passengers. Allegrezza didn't want to think about what it would be like with a full load.

Just over an hour later they were descending again. It seemed too early to be landing, so he asked someone nearby what was happening. "Samarkand" came the answer. Allegrezza swore quietly to himself. He had been unaware that it wasn't a direct flight to Bukhara, made even more annoying by the fact that all he would see of this other fabled city of the Silk Road was the low terminal building. Through passengers weren't allowed off the plane; so he sat there for half an hour, with the engines still running & fumes coming in the open door.

They took off again, more easily it seemed this time – fewer passengers, less fuel? But half an hour later the left-hand engine started spluttering, fell silent, spluttered again then came back on. Stayed that way until they were descending towards Bukhara then gave up totally. The plane veered, was brought back on course, touched down with an expertise that seemed to indicate single-engine landings were something the pilot had experienced before.

He was the first person off the plane. Realised how much he was shaken & shaking when his legs almost failed to support him as he stepped onto the tarmac.

"Are you alright, Signor Allegrezza?" The question was asked by someone standing near the bottom of the stairs who appeared to be Indian. Brown-skinned, wearing a white shirt, levis & white joggers. On his head was a four-angled tyubiteyka, a duppi, white with black piping, & a red spot in the front that resembled a caste mark.

Allegrezza nodded. "Just wait a minute until I get my balance back."

The Indian smiled. "It is indeed a rough ride. I’m here to drive you to where you have to go. It'll be almost as rough, but not frightening."

He took the larger of Allegrezza's bags, & they set off across the tarmac, towards a small separate building near the airport's perimeter. The Indian knocked quickly on the door & opened it. There was a single occupant in the room, but his military uniform had enough bars & stars & decorations to have covered the whole of the Uzbek Army.

"Passport", he grunted. Allegrezza gave it to him. The General looked through it until he came to the Uzbekistan visa, stamped the page & gave it back. "Permitted to stay indefinitely."

"Who the hell was that?" asked Allegrezza when they were outside.

"A friend, who just happened to be visiting the airport."

The Indian walked towards an old righthand drive Landrover parked by itself, put the bag in the back, opened the passenger door for Allegrezza then went around to the other side. The engine caught immediately, purred almost, with an intimation of power that belied the age of the vehicle, that indicated that what was now beneath the hood was not what had originally been there.

"It's about a half hour's drive. South-east towards Qarshi, then south towards the Turkmenistan border. Unfortunately there's not much to see. Most of the country is the same. Flat. Dry. It's only when you head towards Afghanistan that it changes."

The house, when they came to it, was isolated & large. Two storeys high, with a satellite dish on two of the four corners. A covered balcony ran all the way around the first floor, a porch round the ground floor. There was a two-metre wide strip of garden &, almost incongruous in this landscape, an expanse of lawn with a few trees, oaks & sycamores, scattered across it plus a large pergola & what looked like, from a distance, a Henry Moore reclining nude. There was an orchard off to one side, & on the other a number of outbuildings, possibly garages & barns. He could hear a generator running somewhere.

A small man hurried out from the house as they drew up. He opened Allegrezza's door & held out his hand. "My dear Umberto. What a pleasure it is to meet you at last. Come inside. For the time being you can call me Aram Saroyan, or Yossarian – there are many names I answer to. We will have dinner soon. We will eat in the courtyard. There are fresh clothes that should fit in the room we have prepared for you. You will probably want to have a bath before you eat. Anil, show our guest the way."

He wandered back inside & had disappeared by the time Allegrezza followed the Indian in. They walked through an entry space & out into an internal courtyard paved with what Allegrezza thought of as Alhambra tiles. Large, shady, small flower beds & a small fountain which fell into a pool in which koi swam & water lilies grew. Again a covered first floor balcony with stairs leading up to it on each side of the courtyard. The house itself was apparently only one room deep all round, the rooms externally connected.

"Aram Saroyan? Yossarian?"

"He will tell you his true name in good time."

Previous Part / Next Part

Well worth checking out

Nominate the miraculous, the dead, at the last-minute with double threads deli, maybe mayo, lettuce; combat that outlasts ozone is the third sickle. Dead. Say day, unearth it. Vaults bees touche a woman tracery that methane loves; borders scorch refraction; halberd euphemism superimposed. Who valence, complacent, allots? A troubleshooter whose witch fringes music, and throatiness. A blow sickness. This.
A terrific post at the anonymous Hoth's The Red Dragon & The Black Beast

My congratulations

to Ron Silliman on the occasion of the 200,000th visitor to his site (it was 27 short of that number when I called by last night).

According to my calculations it will be 2014 before I achieve this milestone. By which time, of course, Ron will be receiving his two-millionth visitor. & R.D.'s H.D. book edited by R.S. will be going into its third printing. Or pressing.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

a weather report

Rain, finally, after months of dry. Bucketing down. So dark I turn the lights on at 1.30 p.m. only to have them go out five minutes later as the power goes off. Thunder & lightning, directly overhead, only nanoseconds between flash & crash, not even enough time to count to one. I sit in the open area beneath the house, some metres back but not far enough to escape the rain which sweeps in everywhere. I do not care. The gutters flood. Through a blurring curtain falling off the roof I watch the water start to lap over the edges of the pool. Ten minutes ago it was several centimetres lower down. The cat cowers under another chair. The turtles of the Woolwash Lagoon will be hurrying to lay their eggs. At the first sign of rain...Branches break off trees. There are no birds.

The storm moves away. The birds return. The power doesn't come back on for another twenty minutes.

Monday, October 18, 2004

from Alan Ramsey's column, Sydney Morning Herald, 10/16/04

Here are (extracts from) two letters from readers. The first said:
"In times like these I tend to reread Albert Camus' Notebooks  and one entry, from August 1937, haunts me. It reads: 'Every time I hear a political speech or I read those of our leaders, I am horrified at having, for years, heard nothing which sounded human. It is always the same words telling the same lies. And the fact that men accept this, that the people's anger has not destroyed these hollow clowns, strikes me as proof that men attribute no importance to the way they are governed; that they gamble - yes, gamble - with a whole part of their life and their so-called vital interests .'"

The second. "Yet another fear campaign. Next time someone utters that hoary old line, 'never underestimate the intelligence of the voter', the response should be - after you've stopped laughing - 'but never overestimate their social conscience'. Hugh Mackay has noted a hardening of the heart in recent years. Well, we've got the perfect leader.
"The notion this is the land of the 'fair go, mateship, the Anzac spirit', is a myth. Australia is an insular, insecure country, uncertain of its place in the world, clinging to old allegiances; a land of 'what's in it for me?' and 'bugger the rest of you'. Where real estate agents, stockbrokers, managers and hairdressers are lionised. Where extreme, ignorant, intolerant media opinions proliferate and are applauded.
"And overarching all this is Howard. When first elected, I thought this place would be too big of heart, too full of spirit, for such a small person. However, four (terms) on the trot, lies and twists et al, he is the man! J.W.Howard, this country's choice as leader. Think on that.
"Yours in utter despair."

This poem

was originally the dedication & epigraph for Blues for New Lovers (see below)
for Amiri Baraka

                  & twenty
volumes later ( but
how many thus far
gone?)
             you will be buried
in unhallowed ground,
black man /
                       whom I love.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Sunday Archive

Blues for new lovers

Above the midnight the invisible bird of day looks down.
MAX ERNST: Beyond Painting

   1
The day washed out
& now the black
moves in. Lolling tongue
of night that dribbles
against the window like a
shut-out animal. Persistent
softness of the rain, of
narrow branches
that drift across the
iron roof ...
                  & other
branches. The shape of them
reflected on the window
until the wind
brushes them away. Ephemeral
chinese paintings beside
& beneath & around which
the animal stalks. Is now
resting, paws thrust out,
like twin rivers.

   2
Inside,
apart from it,
we
also
rest.

This is all
too immediate, too
violent
to be devoured. Dis-
solved. Resurrected
as memory, some time,
times later.

If it had
continuity, a certain
pattern perhaps, we might
follow it, return to it
as one returns to a
melody, faintly
remembered.

                        & all this
night, shards, charred
fragments of music
would fall as flowers
fall, the colour
drained out.

   3
Your voice seems endless: &
carries my, after the moment,
shattered
body
      like an ambulance.
                              Black
journeys that I come out of
with the movements of a
drowning man, gasping for air.
Words crowd like birds
round the broken water.

   4
That you should go
so gracefully
through this room
is incredible.
That you should have
such poise, such
presentation in this new
setting, with the

black light behind you
is likewise. A rare
event.

         Before, as we
lay, matched & matchless,
your face was pitted
with black shadows.
                              Have I
instilled you with this
new beauty? Or are you
suffused with dreams, the
disproportionate magic
of the gods?

   5
The rain has
stopped now:
                        & my thoughts
move away with its drift,
with the wind, down
through the pine trees.

You, too, are distant.
& silent. Have
stopped moving & now
sit, abstracted, in a
corner chair where your body
glistens eerily before
my eyes.

            Have you
recovered? or learnt
where you are?
                        Your thoughts
& how you gather them. Like
flowers. Placed
in the vase
your fingers make.
                  The
new
      set of responses. Not
grace. Or beauty. Not new
skills, but a rearrangement
of them. A
reformation.

   6
& now your fingers
find me. & graze my skin.
In the soft light
form flickering shadow-patterns
that you move through. Towards
me. Gliding like a boat
caught in the tide's
drift.
         & as you slowly
lower yourself, the night pauses.
White lilies glint. Trains
howl in the distant forest.

            The land
outside
is a mountain
                  of mad moonlight.

1967

A new issue

of Blazevox is up.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

A Question of Doorways #2

A prisoner is facing execution. All avenues of appeal have been exhausted. They are prepped; & led into a room in which there are two doors in addition to the one through which they entered.

There is a uniformed guard in front of each of the two doors. The Prison Warden tells the condemned person that one of the guards is a pathological liar, the other invariably tells the truth. Behind each door is an electric chair, but only one of them is connected. The guards know which is which.

The Warden says to the prisoner that if they enter the room with the unconnected chair they will be set free immediately. There are two options. One is to pick a door at random & risk the 50-50 chance of choosing the live chair. The other option is to ask one question of one of the guards, & based on their answer enter the room where the dead chair is with certainty.

What is the question they should ask?

Not Apple Danish but Astral Finnish

from an email from Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, 10/13/04
btw, Mark, we met you know, I saw a nice dream where you and I met, and you spoke Finnish ! That's all I can remember...
from an email from Karri Kokko, 10/15/04
For what it's worth, I wanted to tell you I saw you in my dream last night. As it happened, you were sitting beside the road in a residential area of Helsinki, just a block away from where I used to live as a teenager. You were sitting on the ground, cross-legged, and presumably reading a book or writing something in a journal. I've seen your picture, and although this guy looked nothing like you, I recognized you immediately. Walking up to you, I said: "Täällä se pelikaani vaan uneksii." You looked somewhat puzzled, at first, but soon enough picked up who I was. We started talking, in perfect Finnish, of course, just like two friends carrying on an old conversation, and eventually launched on a long, meaningless walking journey through the city. Nothing important happened, and I don't remember any specifics about our exchange, but the overall feeling of the dream was delightful and pleasant. Strange things happen over our collective internet, wired or not.
What's Finnish for spooky?

Friday, October 15, 2004

on the two minutes of the debate I could bring myself to watch

Like a
comedy
of manners

or a
masque
where one
protagonist

wears the face
of a weasel

& the other

the face of
a horse.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

zotz

Malcolm Davidson visits the zoo where a cageful of capuchins are forthcoming. & fifth. & sixth. Gdansk, Malcolm.

turtle dreaming

I have just realised I have lived without music for a month when once I couldn't live without it. It is not through choice. It is through / forgetfulness. Also, I drive with the car radio off.
I try to make up for it by listening to the Very Best of Miles Davis. One swallow does not a summer make.
I have been reading the same book for two weeks. I could not even tell you what it is called. I know it is not a book of poetry. Maybe it's not even a book.
During the time I have been without music I have driven a thousand kilometres checking out the countryside around so I know where to take the visitors when they come. I have visited / passed by salt farms, fields of dry grass, pools with water lilies, the highest hill hereabouts, lagoons, the river, railway lines, power stations. What I am really trying to do is plot the topography of my relationship with the landscape.
Day by day the land dries out more. I try to keep my fluid intake up.
I wonder if there will be crocodiles this year.
There are turtles though I have only just discovered them. One afternoon I parked in a different place to where I normally do at the Washwool Lagoon & saw turtles sunning themselves on a treetrunk that had fallen into the water. More turtles on a log further down, more swimming. Perhaps fifty in all, & I'd never noticed them before. Most of them the size of bread & butter plates. A few of dinner plate size.
Two days ago we found a turtle by the roadside, heading away from the water. Or possibly trying to find it but lost & heading in the wrong direction. We rescued it, took it back to the water. At first there was only disturbed mud but a few minutes later its head appeared above the surface. I think it was a short-necked turtle. I carried it by spreading my hand across its shell. The turtle withdrew its head.
It will be National Coming Out Day soon. Perhaps that is what the turtle was trying to do & we prevented it.
I wonder if there will be any surprises this year.
I don't think I surprised my parents.
Just horrified them.
But that was in another country.
& besides

behind the times ephemera

Left
to its own
devices &
desires

will the
mayfly
eventually

become
a june-
bug?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

is that a battery on your back, or are you displeased to see me

Have a look at the photos on Is Bush wired?
Many viewers thus saw a squarish bulge the size of a large battery pack under the back of Bush's suit jacket, with an S-shaped cord appearing to snake up the right side of his back.
There was a Robert Heinlein novel, The Puppet Masters, about aliens that clung to people's backs & took them over. & in the episode of Doctor Who I watched last evening - the Australian public broadcaster has been re-running every single one of the zillion episodes of the series; tonight we change Doctors to Tom Baker, my favourite - spiders from the planet Metabelis Three take people over in the same way once they've been transported to Earth by means of the mystical magical mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, the jewel lies in the lotus. Or was it the vibrator envigorates the vertabrae?
letting
the beast
out

letting
it in to
feed

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

hey mr tambourine man

It's probably apt that I add Karri Kokko's Blonde on Blonde to the sidebar on the day when he posts a black piece.

The Allegrezza Ficcione, Part 16

Allegrezza almost stumbled as the door closed. He sat down in a chair, got up again, walked around the room, sat down, got up & went & stared out the window seeing only his own reflection.

He didn't know whether to leave Iran or to stay & see how things played themselves out. He felt he had discovered enough clues or, at least, hints to verify his ancestor's story, but things were not always what they seemed, stories were embellished, or deeds misrepresented.

He had a bath, he masturbated to try & ease his tension. It didn't help. He tried to pick up Idoru where he'd left off on the plane to Baku, but the first paragraph of the new chapter threw him.
"See how things work, Laney? 'What goes around, comes around?' Know those expressions, Laney? How some things get to be clichés because they touch on certain truths, Laney?"
He turned on the TV & watched the Government channel with the sound turned off, trying to lipread. It was all talking heads, very little pictorial stuff, only backdrops of maps & posters of the Ayatollah Khomeini.

At eleven o'clock the phone rang. He picked it up.

"There is a name on the list. You can sleep soundly. I will see you in the morning."

He could not sleep. He slept.

At nine there was a knock on the door. This time the suit was alone.

"Pack. Pay the bill. I will drive you. I saw in your passport there is a visa for Uzbekistan. Do you still have dollars? Or dollar Travellers’ Cheques?" Allegrezza nodded. "Good. The fare will be cheaper then. There is a plane leaving for Tashkent at noon. It is never full. From there you will fly back to Bukhara. We will stop in at a travel agent I know on the way to the airport to arrange for your tickets. We will talk in the car."

It was another fifteen minutes, after they were driving, that he spoke again.

"I am glad you do not ask questions because there are not many I could answer. But I am sending you to a man in Bukhara, an Armenian, who should be able to tell you a lot more. There will be a high price for his answers, but most likely one you will be willing to pay."

He pulled over, stopping outside the least likely travel agent Allegrezza had ever seen. It appeared to be a tea shop from the front, tables & chairs on the pavement, a counter open to the street. No greetings from the customers, but Allegrezza sensed a reaction of something more from them than a recognition of the suit, almost a mute military salute.

Allegrezza followed him inside, towards the back, then through a beaded curtain in the side wall & into a small room where two men sat in front of computers. The suit asked Allegrezza for his passport, gave it to one of the men whom he told – ordered – to book a seat to Bukhara through Tashkent.

The suit laughed. "If you thought Iran Air was bad, wait until you fly Air Uzbek. Old Antonovs, more of which fall from the sky than land. It's the only way they can get new planes, insuring them for more than they’re worth."

The man at the computer spoke. "The tickets are booked. You can pick them up at the airport. Pay for them there. Here’s your passport back."

They went out to the car. Once back in the traffic the suit continued talking.

"What I can tell you is that the name was on the list. Two names, in fact, a Christian one, Giovanni Allegrezza, & a Muslim one, Rashid al'Farah. The same person, but one who converted to the True Faith. That he served the Master well, with information & with scholarship. They had a contract, five years of service & then the Master would assist him to travel further East, would provide him with letters of introduction to people who would help, who also served the Master.

"I am sorry that you won't be following the same route as your ancestor. I would like to have driven you directly to Bukhara, travelling along the Silk Road, but the geo-political conditions of this modern world mean that I am persona non grata in Turkestan. So a different method of travel & a different way, further than you need to go & then back again. Nor will I give you any letters of introduction, or any names. I leave that up to those who will meet you. These days the committed word is a dangerous thing to carry round, to let loose in the air."

"This list you speak of," asked Allegrezza. "What is it? & if lists are unsafe then why do you keep it?"

The suit smiled again but this time there was little humour in it. "It's true I am the keeper of the list, but I keep it well away from me. It is a duty that was passed to me. Perhaps it is little more than an honorary title, for these days we are little more than, how is it you describe them, a Benevolent Society. Looking after the descendants of those who have served the Master. Certainly we still have some power, but it is covert, not overt. & we seek not to influence but to guide. We work within regimes, but are still looking for a regime that is stable enough to last for more than a few decades. When we find it perhaps then we can consolidate again.

"The overthrowing of regimes means that sometimes we may come down on the wrong side. I was a follower of the Ayatollah. The keeper of the list before me was a member of SAVAK, the Shah's hated secret police. He gave the list to me before he died, around the time when the Shah left the country."

"What happened to him?" asked Allegrezza.

"As an agitator for the Ayatollah I had no choice. I killed him. It was expected of me. He expected me to. Regimes change but Hassan endures. He made the sacrifice willingly."

There was no further conversation until the airport.

Previous Part / Next Part

Sunday, October 10, 2004

wanna know how Jukka spent his Sunday?

self-similar writing

asemic texts in fractal dimensions

The Sunday Archive

The absence

The fire. We are here,
& are now uncertain
why we came. Have driven
far / over rough roads / propelled
by — what? Promises? or the
escape promised
by the black back-country night?

Either way, we came un-
questioning, unerringly, like
migratory birds. Did not
deliberate, but came
straight up out of the city,
in the manner of our information,
a smooth measure of words
pinpointing the exact
location of the barbecue.

What we passed through / we did not
see. Our eyes clenched tight
as diamonds. Night-
piercers: but nothing
entered them until the fire's
reflection, the vajrachchedika.
Nothing transcendental: the bare
image — sparks coming off
to form a crackly calligraphy
in the night. & our
friends gathered round, mournful,
like lost Indians.

                     Yet there were
others here, a group
of musclemen,
                     & they
were full of noise. They sang & danced,
their chattering setting up
a vibration, a personal applause
as they flexed their muscles
in gaudy competition amongst themselves.
They were separate from us, & wanted
no part of the fire
we had come so far to find.

                     What was it
the man inside the house
had said? "The musclemen are less
than stone monkeys."
                     This much was true:
but here they were something
more than we were. We had arrived
at somewhere
they had always been. Had come
miles
           to be shown we should have
remained where we were ...
                                 & move
from there.

1968

Saturday, October 09, 2004

the arrogance to come, the hubris, hopefully, to follow

It seems as if the conservative Coalition parties have been re-elected in the federal Australian election with an increased majority. Let me make the prediction that once the "I am humbled by this result" speeches are out of the way we will witness a rightwing arrogance that is unprecedented. It's time to ensure the chariot of hubris is ready to be called out. If we can find a driver.

& let me also predict that within a few days you will hear George W. Borg claiming that this victory is a vindication of the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. & its coalition of the washing-up water.
in
the link
of an eye

Friday, October 08, 2004

god forbid

There is a Federal Election in Australia tomorrow. From the public opinion polls it appears that the conservative Coalition Parties led by John Howard will be returned ahead of the almost equally conservative Australian Labor Party led by Mark Latham.

But it will be a pity if Howard is re-elected. Labor has more of a social conscience, even if it has voted against same-sex marriages, will still probably do little to improve the health of indigenous Australians (who have a life expectancy of at least twenty years less than the population average) & has not mentioned the question of humane treatment of refugees.

Latham, at least, is promising to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq. Howard is still claiming he did the right thing sending them because even if Saddam didn't have WMDs he was working on re-acquiring them. & Howard publicly agreed to send troops – even though there were already elements of the Australian Special Forces in Iraq – only after George W. acceeded to his request to phone him twice to show the world what an important person he was.

There are the usual collection of "minor parties" contesting the election. They have little chance of winning seats in the Lower House, the House of Representatives which is based on single electoral districts. But in the Upper House, the Senate, which is made up of representatives from the States, & where election is based on achieving a quota, usually through the exchanging of preferences, of that State's votes, they do get elected.

Many of the minor parties are single-issue, though some, like the Greens & the Democrats, are traditional broad-based political parties. There are the usual right-wing crazies that derive from their U.S. equivalents & are usually supported financially by them. & this election there is a fundamentalist Christian party, Family First, loosely (?) aligned with the Assemblies of God, which is fielding candidates in every electorate as well as the Senate. Its logo is a stylised Australia with the stars of the Southern Cross displayed, put together in a form that replicates a Bishop's mitre.

& their policies? Well so far one of their volunteers has had to be reprimanded because he advocated burning lesbians "because they are witches" (kari edwards also referred to this at transdada) & a Senate candidate believes that brothels, bottleshops, Freemason temples & Moslem mosques should be torn down because they are visible manifestations of Satan.

& the Prime Minister? (Who, I must point out, just like the owners of pets are popularly supposed to grow to look like their animals, is resembling his political caricatures more & more. A fat little irritable mouse with (George W. (?)) bushy eyebrows.)

Well the Coalition has brokered a deal with Family First, agreeing to consult with them over policy in return for their preferences. & The Australian newspaper reports that the deal was personally brokered by John Howard.

Some Liberal candidates have been asked to sign three-year voting agreements before being included in the deal.

Family First has ruled out some Coalition candidates who "don't necessarily reflect the family agenda we have" – such as lesbian Ingrid Tall, and supporter of gay marriage Warren Entsch. The party will however give preferences to Ross Cameron, who is a conservative Christian but who recently moved out of his family home after publicly confessing to having an affair while his wife was pregnant.

anonymous Hoth

The person I call He of the Heteronyms has taken a new name. Or rather has done away with names altogether. No signature now appears at The Red Dragon & The Black Beast. It's almost an oxymoron. The anonymous Hoth.

It's not surprising. He stopped posting to As/Is because he was "bored". The posts on his early blogs would quite often be deleted after a couple of days, sometimes after only a couple of hours. His hay(na)ku blog disappeared altogether, was resurrected. Then both his blogs disappeared. I've likened this coming & going to Cthulhu's Island, from H.P.Lovecraft, a writer whom it turns out we both like.

But under any name……

Let me quote from Why Hay(na)ku, a post by Crag Hill who is not only a writer of excellent hay(na)ku but an excellent writer about the form. I've included a bit more of the post than is immediately relevant because it's worth the wider dissemination.
Why me? Why now?
Every word counts. That's hard to resist in The Age of Logorrhea.
The form encourages paring, discourages padding.
Lines shaped by word count rather than syllable, engendering more rhythmic variety among poems and within the poem itself.
Enjambment abound, bounds.
Poems start small, grow taller, taller, then hunkerdown, dip, curtsy, until they build toward tall at the end. I read the sea there, gentle tides. (I'm so damned land-locked right now, I read the sea just about everywhere.)
They often arrive on my tongue before I can even locate pen or paper.
And if you've had the chance to read some of the poems found through the links above, the form's not so rigid that it breeds sameness. Mark Young's hay(na)ku do not read like Joseph Garver's.
A couple of Joseph Garver hay(na)ku.

      demons
      love men
      in such ways

      as
      to bring
      them to fire

      unquenchable
(from As/Is)

      it's
      all intermission
      it seems, tragedy

      yet
      to be,
      and always forthcoming

(from a comment box at Series Magritte)

& a recent anonymous post from The Red Dragon & The Black Beast which I'm including here because it's possible it may disappear from its original site & I'd like to record it for posterity
The
third method
of beginning a
process
is the
commonest and most
usual
one, because
it is secret.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The Central Story

is #48 of my Series Magritte poems.

I have added

Anny Ballardini's narcissusworks to the sidebar blog links.

She is also the curator of Fieralingue's Poets' Corner which is a site well worth checking out. I have added that to the other links section of the sidebar.

A note on the seasons

In Australia the seasonal changes have been decreed by bureaucrats. Forget your equinoxes & solstices, Spring starts on the 1st of September, Summer on the 1st of December.

The Aboriginal people, the traditional owners of Australia, with their special affinity to the land, have a different set of guidelines. They allow sometimes two, sometimes six seasons, depending upon what part of the continent they are in & what the weather is actually doing. These can be as simplistic as wet / dry; cognisant of subtle changes – a distinct season can be that approximately two-week period of time between a specific tree coming into flower or an insect emerging & the beginning of the next season that it presages; can be of varying lengths; may be missed out altogether in a particular year.

What has sparked this line of thought is an email from Richard Lopez in California in which he remarks that "fall has arrived, the leaves on the trees are turning yellow and orange (tho many are still stubbornly green) and falling." Here it is the second month of "Spring", the temperature yesterday was 35° – that's Celsius; in Fahrenheit 95° - & the leaves are falling. It's brought about by the shock of heat & lack of water. & though there are some yellow & orange leaves amongst them they have a hard brittle quality. When the wind blows they crackle.

I am a romantic when it comes to the seasons, espcially autumn. I love the Nat King Cole interpretation of the Jacques Prévert poem Les Feuilles Mortes. I love Vernon Duke's ballad Autumn in New York. I loved the way autumn came in New Zealand & changed the leaves of the imported English trees to orange & yellow & red. I loved Spring when the flowers came through, the cold Winter, the not too hot Summer.

When I first came to Australia I missed the green of New Zealand; only in south-east Australia could I seem to find it. It took me almost a decade to come to terms with the Australian landscape, with the brownness prevalent in so much of it. But now I appreciate the subtleties of it, its unforgivingness, the desolation of so much of it, the flora & especially the fauna.

Pressed, I would probably admit that I like it. Hard-pressed, I would probably have to admit some love.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A tremendous poem

by kari edwards at As/Is.

Adding

Allen Bramhall's Tributary.

He says he "plans to write about EACH AND EVERY ONE" on the Buffalo Poetics List. Me, I'd rather go out into the garden & eat worms.

Like several of us, he also has a poetry blog, r/ckets and s/ntries.

The Allegrezza Ficcione, Part 15

"It is said that the sage Bodhidharma brought the teachings of Buddha to the Kingdom of Wei. & that is true if you accept as the beginnings three temples the size of privies, a few old men who claimed to be monks & who ate only dried waterlily shoots to prove it & a handful of believers who could not reach consensus on a single point. Let us say, therefore, that it was Bodhidharma who planted the first seeds, even if they grew into straggly plants.

That put behind us, it can be then said that it was Hsuan Tsang who truly brought Buddhism to our land, who brought the strong seeds that grew into a forest. A long & perilous journey that he undertook, that we knew he had begun only after he had finished it. Who could not have accomplished it on his own, but who, being a simple man, would not admit that he was worthy of the assistance of the Hosts of Heaven. I have corrected the story, added in those who I know to have been his traveling companions, so his true adventures can now be told.

& yet - there must always be an '& yet' for there is no journey that does not contain the traces of an earlier one - a commentary on the Mahayana Sutras of the Masters Asanga and Vasubandhu says there was one who came from the north before Hsuan Tsang & left with the Sutras. A man from the Eastern Turkish Khaganate, from the Takla Makan desert, who had a vision that he must first travel east to Wei where he would find the true faith struggling to survive, learn what he could of it so he could then learn more. Who would then travel west, retracing his earlier steps, until he arrived back from whence he came; & then go south, across the Karakorum, down through the Hindu Kush & into India, to find the Sutras. Who would take them back to the Great Tang where they would flourish.

But the Kings of the Four Corners of Heaven were not yet ready to welcome Gautama so they caused misfortune to befall this man whose name is never told. In Afghanistan, in the Bamiyan Valley, his legs were crushed by a falling rock so he could travel no further. (In another version, it is implied that the followers of the Hinayana, the Lesser Vehicle, caused the rock to fall, seeking to prevent the rival teachings from spreading.)

There he stayed, & taught. & people came & were so inspired by what they heard that they decided to glorify the Buddha, carving two enormous standing images of him into the sandstone of the cliffs with the details of the Buddha's face shaped by a mixture of mud & straw covered over & fixed with lime.

It is also whispered that there is a third statue at Bamiyan, hidden in a secret cave deep within the cliffs whose entrance has only ever been known to a few, a reclining figure as large as the other two but with a different face, that of the teacher, because some believed he was truly the Buddha reincarnate.

This is all I know of that story. But I know that when Tripitaka saw the Buddhas of Bamiyan he knew that he had almost completed the first part of his quest. & I know that the Monkey-King was so excited when he saw them that he jumped up onto the head of one with a single leap & shouted with joy."
A Preface to Monkey, by Wu Ch'eng-en. Dated The 181st Year of the Ming Dynasty.

Previous Part / Next Part

xStream #24

A new issue of xStream is up with work from Crag Hill, harry k stammer, Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino, George J. Farrah, Wayne Wolfson & Scott Wilkerson together with the accompanying auto issue & a new issue of Wryting.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Sargasso Sea on which we surf

You post things, & think they disappear without trace. But it seems like there's a Sargasso Sea out there, all binary & briny, to which things drift & then break off, to wash up on unexpected shores.

Such as this.

The Hay(na)ku Anthology

This week's reminder of The Hay(na)ku Anthology (details here) is Nicholas Downing's because at A New Broom.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

this blog

#1
on a
Google search for
rotten
egg mother
mung shit down

The Allegrezza Ficcione, Part 14

The following entry was found in the visitors' book at the Poets' Memorial, Tabriz.
For Shahryar

Given the here
& now

of this place
it is

not surprising
you

found only the
past

worth writing
about.

U.A. 13/2/97
Previous Part / Next Part

The Sunday Archive

My hands had forgotten Lorca

Though my body was full of him, for I
had spent part of last Saturday discussing
his poetry with a Chilean sailor, my hands
had forgotten Lorca.

                               Until tonight, when,
glancing through an anthology,
I came across a poem of his, called Córdoba.

&, opening an atlas to search
for this city, realised as I ran
my fingers over the map of Spain

that I was stroking Lorca’s face.

1964

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Andrew & Jeannie

have been their usual busy selves at Poetic Inhalation.

There is a new double issue of Tin Lustre Mobile up, plus new e-books by Steven Stewart, kari edwards & harry k.stammer plus an e-chap of collaborations, tiptoe laureates, which includes the Kervinen-Young "Spectroscopy".
f   r       g   m       t   s

Weird tales

Yesterday afternoon there was a kookaburra on the clothesline. Nothing strange about that - we have a garden that has lots of kookaburra food in it, lizards & large grasshoppers, so it's not unusual to find the birds perched on branches or the pool fence or the clothesline, wishin' & a-prayin' as the song goes.

What was weird about this bird was that it had something sticking up out of the top of its head. At first I thought it was a feather, then, as it changed the angle of its scanning, I thought it was a leaf. Not so. When it turned its head in another direction I saw that it was a piece of blue plastic, something like the closures that you find on bread wrappers, with letters, possibly PFP, on it. I took some photos, but since I have an el cheapo camera, poor resolution, part of a combination with binoculars, I can't be sure exactly what it said.

I asked the kookaburra about it. Its reply was that if it told me, it would then have to kill me. I left it at that.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Cthulhu's Island

This post should really have a voice-over from David Attenborough, all breathless BBC, for its subject has displayed a tendency to delete his posts or, at worst, delete his blogs altogether.

I am quietly adding The Red Dragon & The Black Beast to the sidebar. I am giving as its owner the name Simon Hoth. He posts as Simon, & since my previous nonemclature of him as "Hoth" - He of the heteronyms - has now been picked up by David Nemeth in his listing of newly-linked blogs I have decided to put the two together.

Tread softly when you visit. He has a tendency to run away. Whatever name you use to call him to you.

Now it's Jukka the calligrapher

at both Nonlinear Poetry & textual conjectures.

The sites overlap more than they ever have; but if I were genotyping I would describe them as having the same father but different mothers - though close, like sisters - because, to me at least, the images on each site devolve from what has preceeded them on that particular site.

It is interesting to see the progression in his work. He experiments, masters each new technique that he has developed, moves on from it but brings it & its precedents along & uses them when he feels they would augment so that, at times, there is the synergy of several styles in a new piece. The constants are an incredible ability to use space (for unlike a linear creator, these pieces are worked within a fairly defined area), an excitement, a sense of discovery, of mysteries of which we see only a portion but can find for ourselves now that we have been shown an entrance.

Every time I visit his blogs it is with anticipation. I am never disappointed. Jukka fills me with awe. I truly believe we are watching genius at work.