Saturday, September 30, 2006

Billy Collins Poem #2

“The The” was over but it wasn’t. In Florida there’s a fantastic fuck. In a fantasy there can be a gun goes off and anyone dies. In a fancy hotel fifty years ago. Lighting a cigarette. Licking an ice-cream cone. Getting a blowjob then giving. Admiring the flowers beautifying the island running down the boulevard and we’d have been grateful with just a green relatively free of shit.

The armistice fifty years ago at a fancy hotel in Florida where he got his first blowjob. A rock comes clean. A Poinciana in full bloom flames the shade to a state like sunny. Five hundred miles away a gun went off and no-one died in any official records. After work he bought a pint of coconut ice-cream and once home ate half a cup it on his apartment building’s roof.

When I was in Florida I didn’t see any coconuts not even in a grocery store. I did see cans. I played one with a stick and pretended I was the happiest motherfucker being in a dump. A real one. An egret hustled across a shitty road. I’m not in love with my body but it’s my soul and so I have spent all day pleasuring it and not being productive. I wish he’d stop saying slut.

In Germany the fine for knocking down a yellow jacket nest is up to 50,000 euro.

This one was submitted by A. Strauss

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I promised to put this up for Steven.

The First Collins poem

This is the first poem submitted for project
in which you the reader turns in a Billy Collins poem.
The How to Write a Billy Collins poem instructions are in the post
entitled Happy Poems. So read the instructions and submit, submit, submit...
Remember this is not a contest, but the winner will receive a wonderful prize.

here is a poem Steven Colbert ( submitted yesterday.

I wonder what a Billy Collins poem is, as I have never read one,
But I gather it has a rhythm that meanders
To the all-familiar la-da-de of the suburban
Hedge-row contained oinopoponton of the lawn-mower owning tribes
Who in times of crisis (or when the skies are the simple fact of grey)
Must recall, in a succession of very clear blurs
The menagerie of benders trailing back
To that first illicit thrill under the bleachers after dark
A satisfied slurp of cold Milwaukee's
Best, a cigarette,
The terror of finding all that lacking
And the wonder of what now would constitute as terrifying.
Here, in the leaden-laden 75th percent
We need the always present upturn of a question.
What, after all
All those six packs later (as if I'd ever buy but six!)
Was it worth, sinning, if those sins came origin less?
If Sin was but a name the namers fixed to blankness in a desperate bid for order.
And now, at the end, before things get askew
It's time to end the poem on an uplift, with a skeptical,
Even dour nod to show the Carnegies and Rockerfellers
How to balance the wealth and power of a neo-farious prince
With the age-old haunted alcoholic wisdom of the bard.

Also, for the three people who read this
I did not take any of the poems down
and plan to keep on posting

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Navajo Joe

The Incestuous Island Biogeography of Michael Palmer
by Peter Golub

All my brother architects are dead
or else asleep with their sisters in bed

The first time I read Palmer I had the feeling of language changing –I saw a kind of evolution taking place before me. This is not the first time I have had this feeling (e.g. I get this feeling when reading Stein’s Tender Buttons), but this was the first time I thought I saw some of the mechanisms behind this evolution exposed. It is similar to the feeling a child might get at Disney Land, while watching The Pirates of the Caribbean and catching a glimpse of a spring or cog pop out of one of the pirates. It’s like seeing the deus ex machina’s panties.

The mechanism I saw was mutation. Mutation, Drift, Natural Selection (the hitman of evolutionary world), and migration are the four major drives behind genetic variation. Of these four, mutation is by far the most sporadic, and in specific circumstances the most successful.

What causes mutation? Many things can cause mutation. For instance, in the virus HIV the high rate of mutation is the result of the reverse transcription it uses to make RNA into DNA. Its method of transcription is highly error prone, but since it can make copies at such a high rate the number of mutants that die is just lower than the number needed for the survival of the overall population. This makes HIV an optimal creature because it is always evolving to its environment. This is why it is such a slippery fucker to kill. It changes as soon as we develop something to kill it. As soon as we define what HIV is and how we should go about destroying it, it puts on a new set of cloths, sneaks back into the population, and wreaks more havoc on the immune system through its terrorist activities.

Question: What is causing the high rate of mutation in the poetry of Michael Palmer?
Answer: Incest.
Palmer’s poetry is highly incestuous. When a group of words gets together to make more words they don’t disappear after their children appear on the scene. Oh, no. They stick around to copulate with their progeny. Palmer’s words are highly incestuous, and the most incestuous word of all? Word. “Word” is the word that is by far the most promiscuous –it is the alpha male of this desperate population of words.

Now, what might be causing this population to be so incestuous? Why is “word” always having sex with its daughters and sons? Well, the most common reason falls under the umbrella of island biogeography. The idea in a nutshell is that evolution isn’t a blanket of democracy that affects all individuals equally. No, it affects pockets of populations. For instance, it hits Swaziland with a virulent epidemic, New Orleans with a hurricane, and the Iraq with a beacon of freedom (yes, freedom is a force of nature). After a certain population has been hit by a catastrophic event it must evolve or die. Most die. And those that are left over will have to evolve again and again in order to survive in the new changing environment. Grow fur, gills, wings, fancy coreceptor molecules that thwart the entry of the virulent virus whatever as long as it helps that individual survive. Since everyone around is dying who ever wants to survive must change fast. When there is little genetic variation in a population (e.g. if the sexual partners are all first cousins) this creates a situation in which mutation is kicked into overdrive. Most of the progeny that result from these unions will be deformed and most will die shortly after birth, but maybe one will grow some extraordinary pair of wings or T-cells that allow them to escape this terrible island.

A man undergoes pain sitting at a piano
knowing thousands will die while he is playing

he has two thoughts about this
if he should stop they would be free of pain

if he could get the notes right he would be free of pain
in the second case the first thought would be erased

This here is the process of mutation. It is a man pushing at the keys, trying to find the right notes in order to save the population. This is Palmer sticking these words together, in abnormal ways, to see what these combinations will produce.

Here is how I see it. A single word is an individual organism. A word is paired with another word. Then that same word is paired with something else. And then something else. The same word paired over and over with words, which are not to different from it. This goes on until the poem ends. The poem is a collection of meanings that all resemble one another. A row of redheaded step children with their own peculiar mutations. Palmer stands behind them saying, “see, look, this is it, these are the words.” Palmer does this to make us pay attention to the ideas laid on top of these words, and the other words writing on top of these words. Words on top of words on top of words. This is exactly what an organisms DNA is like. It is genes written on top of older genes, on top of genes that have been turned of for millions of years, etc. Palmers work puts us in the memeticists shoes i.e. he puts us in his laboratory and has us count the different memes in each word. By creating these strange combinations he brings out recessive alleles, unforeseen phenotypic variation, ancient repressed memes that haven’t been expressed since the Carter administration, etc.

What’s all this for? Why put this gang of incestuous mutants before us? Well, I think Palmer is scared that language has become too standardized, too Billy Collins, too commodified, etc. He sees the work of Carl Rove’s eumemicists (meme eugenicist) at work and is horrified. So what does he do? He sets up his Island of Doctor Palmer and makes a gang of incestuous mutants, which are meant to stand in opposition to the nice blond blue-eyed children of the linguistic bourgeoisie.

Words say, Misspell and misspell your name
Words say, Leave this life
Misspelling is a kind of mutation. The reason to misspell your name is to cause it to evolve, to take on new meaning. This is also why the word “word” comes up so much, because it is in need of evolution, because it represents so many ideas that are in need of evolution.

Happy Poems

Recently I read a presentation on the poetry of Billy Collins, using a Francis Fukuyama article to set up the definition of what it means to be bourgeois, and then showing how Collins fulfills this definition. While writing the presentation I was reading some of Bill's work, which caught the eye of many of my young friends. I witnessed something that I had heard about for a long time -the natural appeal of Collins' work to the general reader. I had heard the "older" generation of professors outside the poetry world praise Collins, but here was the example first hand. My friends, many of them just barely in their twenties, gravitated to Collins like flies to a dung... it was amazing. My hat's off to you Mr. Collins.

Now I would like to present a little workshop exercise. This will kind of be like a Bob Ross presentation of poetry -we're going to make a happy little poem...

"Writing a Billy Collins poem": A Poetry Exercise

Buy and read and re-read Nine Horses (2003) or any other collection by Billy Collins. These poems are your role models.
You are going to write a poem with many of the features of a Billy Collins poem.
Begin by reading all the poems in at least one of his books. As you read jot down three or four characteristics that you admire and that appear in several of the poems.
Below we give you a list of some features that we picked out.
Then we'll show you how to start and how to continue.
Here are some of the features of a Billy Collins poem. For your first exercise, plan to use every one of these in your first draft. You can cut the less successful features when you revise.
Billy Collins' line breaks are not avant-garde, but simply reflect the normal punctuation and pauses for breath. Many of the poems are written in couplets, triplets, or quatrains. They do not have end rhymes. So, when you start writing your poem, you can use similar "natural" breaks between your lines, and you can group the lines into stanzas of between 2 and 4 lines.
You will need a small animal. It could be a mouse or a snail. It could be a small, caged bird or a goldfish. Pick one. The animal will usually stand for you. Or you might stand for it.
Collins' poems are primarily about his own daily, non-confessional experiences. He appears in his own poems as a friendly and unpretentious "I".
Collins likes to address "you". Remarkably, even to readers who usually detest such poems, Collins does not offend. That is because he is flatters and teases the addressed "you". Be prepared to walk the dangerous "you" path!
Think of a slightly squeamish element that you can include, such as a dead mouse or a still-living bird brought in by a cat.
Include an extended metaphor that flourishes for stanzas, rejoicing into the surreal.
Include a conscious (in fact, self-conscious) descent into bathos (in the sense of anticlimax).
Refer to one or more famous people (such as Ken Kesey or David Hume) or a town (such as Omaha or Kathamandu) or a state or country (such as Florida or China).
Use commonplace language, such as:
"how fatuous, how off base of Whistler" (p.101)
Here we go. Time to start using the features in your work.
Line 1: Begin with a line that mentions a time. Most commonly, Collins picks a time earlier in the morning (page numbers are from
Nine Horses ):
"Every since I woke up today" (p.14)
"This morning as I walked along the lakeshore" (p.17)
"Long into the night my pencil" (p.86)
"In a rush this weekday morning" (p.101)
Line 2: Continue with a line containing a verb - an action of what you (or something) did:
"a song has been playing uncontrollably" (p.14)
"I fell in love with a wren" (p.17)
"hurried across the page" (p.86)
"I tap the horn as I speed past the cemetery" (p.101)
Line 3: So far, it's not too weird, too surreal, too Collins-esque. Don't get cute too soon. Take a little time first to lull the reader. So here, simply add another line of description, introducing (or extending) a metaphor or simile that represents what occurred. You are continuing the story.
Lines 4-6. This is when you begin your career as Billy Collins. Bring in your small animal (bird, fish, whatever). Introduce your slightly squeamish element.
Lines 7-9. Reference "you" in a charming yet clear-eyed way.
Extend your metaphor relentlessly for several more stanzas.
Conclude with a flourish that shifts the mood to one that complements the prevalent mood so far.
Revise. Revise. Revise.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

One Year Since the Flood

There is a Novelty to Science

There is a Novelty to Science
There is a passport in my pack
There is a rat inside your warehouse
There is a cat on my front porch

I’ve listed to your comments nightly
I’ve taken notes composed a song
I’ve named my heir the future brightly
I’ve never promised this would go on

The future changes on the beaches
She hangs her garments on my fence
When you engage inside her novel
Remember that she won’t stay long

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Andy Warhola

Where is your 15 minutes of fame? Did you leave it in the dishwasher or in the sockdrawer? Is it shrinking in your dryer while you talk to your friend, about his liver problems? Isn't there another friend who hates you now somewhere in North Carolina that wrote that really good postcard after high school when you'd just had lunch with your mother and she told you she had something to say but forgot. Do you live in a country? What's it like? The classroom your imaginary children sit in, watching the encyclopedia from the back of the really tall quiet kid that you tell yourself you could take on in his lonely lurkiness. Then you see his locker wallpapered in images of some actor you remember from a movie you saw at your friends house, about a girl and a boy who ended up at the ocean walking away at he end of the film.

This is Suicide Awareness Week

Today, I found out that it is international suicide awareness week.

Did you know that suicide is the number two killer of our fine college youth?
So, I just thought I would take this time to tell you all I love you very much; no matter what, we will always be proud of you; there is nothing more important to us all than your health and sanity. If you liver hurts? go to the doctor; if you girlfriend left you? go watch the sequel to The Player. If she won't even pay enough attention to you to dump you? read some D.H. Lawrence... If you are dying? read some D.H. Lawrence. If you are sick of reading D.H. Lawrence, and have already seen The Science of Sleep, can't drinking because you're worried about your liver, and still have a beautiful loving sexual partner... well, maybe you should kill yourself.
but really, be wall
be very very wall

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Science of Roger McDonough's Sleep


My young cousin said that academia
Was turning me from a nice hairy hobbit
Into a slippery skinny golem

-My precious, she could hear me say in the other room
As I typed away and looked over my articles,
My precious truth and knowledge

Later I heard a fog horn
Coming from my neighbor’s house
And looked up from my fish dinner

Sent at 12:52 PM on Sunday


alas, you are lost

your meat paws

im still in love

crossed paths

pocketed water

more coffee

my liver has migrated


in my body

i spit blood for some reason

andrew and i drank

1 bottle of polish vodka, flavored with rowan berries

(picked after the 1st frost)

4 whiskeys each

2 beers

3 pink gins (each)

that's all

the night before last

and i am now without clarity


i will carry the ash left from your city/ from your lost liver/ in my cuped hands/ to the tomatoe plant/ growing near that swampy area/ behind the house/

i have been completely alone for four days now.

i don't drink

i don't go outside

i translate


do yoga

been writing in russian


you are a ascetic

you are septic


i never want to see another living soul again

i am the septic tank


most souls are dead


then you are welcome


my dream

was this


in my septic tank


i was at a nightclub

and i was oggling a beautiful girl

and then i went to pee

and peeing the girls boyfriend

came out with the pee

I peed out her boyfriend

and he said

were you looking at my girl

me: yeah!


and i said

I'm dying

of cancer

and he said - what are you doing in a club if you're dying of cancer

and i said

"que? que voy a parar de vivir antes de morirme?"

"what? Like im going to stop living

before i die?

and then he made me come out and repeat it to all the pool tables

and then i WOKE up

Sent at 1:01 PM on Sunday


if i remember correctly water in the freudian interpretation

refers to sexuality

pee is water

from which potential rivalries

may appear

Roger: such as the man walking in.


i think i am going to post your dream online




either livejournal or on foundationpit

or both

it reminds me of a dream i had

which i can't recollect just now

although in my dream

when i finished peeing the guy out

i had transformed into the girl i was goggling over

and her boyfriend proceeded of fuck me right there in the bathroom

i was a woman roger

a woman being fucked by my own lust

i think your dream is a lot my palatable



mine is just a feminist guilt trip

Sent at 1:12 PM on Sunday


i love it! fucked by your own lust


a feminist quilt trip

Saturday, September 16, 2006

one might ask

the list of links on this blog is growing. some of them are links to russian poetry websites, which can for the most part only be read in russian. one might ask: why have these links, if the russians who might take a gander at this mess already know of these sites, and the americans won't be able to read them? the answer is simple. and this could be a kind of masthead for this bloggeraroo... all the links i put up are links that i myself use. so the links list serves as my personal bookmark function. when i am at another computer i use this links list to see what this or that site happens to be up to. so as you could have guessed it is all onanism, onanism with an attempt at exhibitionism...

i've been looking for places to publish

it is late
it has taken me two mahler symphonies to get through the a's on:

I have come across some pretty interesting journals
among these are:
they only publishes the insane
they only publishes writing about food
these seem to be an interesting group of folks
they are collecting stories about certain states

there is really too much stuff out there
maybe we should all stop writing
and think about what we've done :)

Friday, September 15, 2006

translating- Marianna Heide

friday is always the day of translation. today i am translating geide and running into the usual problems that one finds in a poet that uses a multi layered language. when met with this predicament the translator (i.e. me) must make up his own multi layered meanings. sometimes this works sometimes it doesn't. we will see... but my brain is racked... also, i have noticed that there is a strong narrative quality to much of geide's work (as well as the work of many other young russian poets). this poses a problem because almost all of contemporary american poetry worth reading is very lyrical and oftentimes philosophically opposed to the narrative style. one of the main reasons this opposition exists is due to the idea that poetry is supposed to be first and foremost about truth; and it is thought that the lyric is more truthful than the narrative. i, of course, disagree with this veiw on many grounds, and what i have seen coming from the russia is example of what i mean... anyway still trying to figure out the schema to place on top of this mess... this wonderful pilous mess...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

o i remember

monk is an angel

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This is My 9/11 poem. Thought I'd give it a shot

A Life

I am a life

You must accept me

My irreparable sins are a part of it

You must forgive me

Anything I do must be accepted

It hangs from a tree

A body


You can almost hear the noises

Coming together to make music

When I think back

It is my has been wishes

Put into the future

Hanging in the past like radio signals

Do you see what I am getting at

When I say

You don’t understand a thing

That when you created me

I immediately became your keeper

Like a child watching over a room

Full of bloodied soldiers and wash basins

Mormons live a long time

I forget the answer to the last question but the state of Utah has the third longest longevity in the US.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

smoke angels

What do smoke angels and Thelonious Monk have in common? Stay tuned to hear the answer to today's geo quiz.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Conceptualist Cowboy Song

Conceptualist Cowboy Song

Oh, it’s been a long time going

Since you sang me any songs

So I’d like to take this time right now

To say I’m movin on


Counted petals to your name

I’d really love to impress you dear

But in the end it’s all the same

When I said I needed money

On that summer afternoon

You laughed at me and took pity

And said you’d be there soon

Then you drove down to my city

And crawled inside my bed

When I wrote you 80 sonnets

You poured wine over my head

I’ve been collecting cowboy songs

And Andy Warhol prints

Finding babies in the magazines

Std’s in my bacon bits

Oh it’s been a long time going

And I can’t say that I’d mind

If they started on my coffin

And told me when it was lined

I’m a young conceptualist artist

I was born in 1812

I died around the Yeltsin years

When I was stabbed by Christmas elves

So I think I’ll soon be leaving

Leave my shadow on the wall

When you take it down and wash it

I won’t be missed at all

The Return

The Return

my friends embraced me when I came back
I looked up to see a smoke detector flash green
she took it down
-you want it
-why not take two
she walked into the other room and brought me another
-oh, no I couldn’t
-don’t be silly –there is more where this came from
-wow, these are such good quality
they would cost a fortune over there

later we walked through the cemetery and talked about my trip
my experiments with old German short wave radios
and how I ate seventeen radio valves with two other writers
who had become rich in the mayhem of the 1990’s
their mafia stories about riding in a green Volga
once with a bag full of transistors
being pulled over by a cop
what do you do
show him what’s in the bag
the quantity overwhelms him
he stands there as you drive off

I would sit listening to their stories
thousands of miles away from here
philosophical discussions about how much is enough
to simply stupefy a person
how much happiness (H+) is too much
a deluge of that which you have always wanted

I tell my friends stories about the group
who ate nothing but blue paintings
how the master
lived in an apartment full of young men
who painted for him the most brilliant work
he would come up behind one and say
that is good Ivan
take it to the kitchen we will have a feast tonight
everyone gathered around
while Dimitry ceremoniously put on the bread frame
and lay the painting in the middle of the table
I was always the guest
he would cut a piece of the buttocks
painted in indigo and put it on my plate
I would break off a piece of frame
and make a small bow to show my gratitude

as I dished out my stories
everyone listened
once in a while someone would intervene with a
that is so weird or god I have to get over there
or at least out of here

the story of how two men tried to shoot me
for having crawled over the gate of an abandoned industrial complex
and how I had nothing to give them but a set of radio instructions
I was hoping to bring my wife when I returned

it is exciting to return
I tell my friend who wants to leave forever
I say, leave for six months and come back
she says, I cannot work here
the sounds coming from the sky
are covering my mind with lichen
I feels my fingernails are trying to say something
when I digs them into the backs
of my students
I want to know what I have to say
the air here just doesn’t transmit or something

Eventually the novelty wears off
And you even learn that not everyone was happy to see you
That one girl
Who you thought loved you
Because of her generous act with the smoke detectors
Said that you took them against her will

You see a friend in the street and she takes you aside
And tells you how shocked and disappointed she is
While you stand in bewilderment

How could anyone believe
That I could take two smoke detectors just like that
Just imagine the situation, I said:

-no I don’t think you should have those
-nope these are now mine
I cannot help myself
And I think I will take these books as well
And this coffee

It is nonsense, I say
Anyone who could possibly believe this about me
Doesn’t know what “me” is at all

But if this is the case
What was the point of all those words and packs of cigarettes
When they might not have been words at all
And the cigarettes may have been tampons

Sadly you walk to the airport
To fill yourself with the noisy air
And sneak into the lavatory with a camera catalogue
Get into a cab
Arrive wherever it is your next trip will be

And you leave the camera in the cab
Remember only three days later
You call frantically
All the cab barons in the valley
You call the major and ask him to make a public announcement
But nothing
And then the next week your neighbor comes by with the camera
-Sorry, he says
I was out of town when you had the major make the announcement
I had the camera all along
I tried to come by but you didn’t answer the door

You invite him in but he smiles
Kindly refuses
Upon closing the door
The camera takes a picture
You walk to your bathroom to see
What it might be

At first the photo seems to only whisper
You connect it to an amplifier
You hear a slow violin, drums, a wa-wa guitar, an elephant
A moon, a giant chewing off a fingernail, and yes there
Somewhere behind the harmonica she is standing
Saying, I have missed you so much