29 July 2011

What's Possible

I'm going on a vision quest
over the glens and mountains,
through giant spidery ferns.
Not really. I'm actually going
in a car to the store.
Daily allotment of
laughter and tears,
news of slaughter.
Victory. Metonymy.
Some trees. Duh.

27 July 2011

I Think You Might Be Doing It Wrong

Vicissitudes deepen and broil
to illuminate what, exactly?

This man today believes what
he believed yesterday despite

millions of dollars spent in
a tidal flux of warped information

coming from a thousand outlets.
His bagel has become politicized.

Rain has become politicized.
Apes from the future have

traveled back in time to destroy
us all, to save themselves.

26 July 2011

So Many Knives

Some have hearts painted on them like a set
of picture instructions, others with arrows

pointing to the backs of complete strangers.
Very few have anything to do with the moneyed class.

This knife yearns for the sea, this for a bike ride in the sun.
I know these things because I took a course in knife-reading.

You wouldn't believe the secret world of knives.
First thing you do is find your reflection in the blade.

22 July 2011

I Can't Believe Whitney Houston Called Again

"Hello?"

"Hello, Brad, it's been a while."

"Who is this?"

"You know who it is."

"..."

"..."

"What can I do for you, Whitney?"

"Freud wrote that in some cases we can obtain the sense of the dream only by subjecting the dream content to manifold inversion in different directions. Do you follow?"

"Well -- "

"For example, in the dream of a young patient, say you yourself, Brad, suffering from a compulsion neurosis, the memory of an infantile death-wish against a dreaded father was hidden behind the following words..."

"..."

"..."

"What are the words?"

"Just think for a minute: which one of our dreams has led who to become an internationally renowned artist with a cultural cache destined to outlive her by at least a generation and more likely two or three, and who sleeps poorly and has a copy of Kafka's diaries 1920-1923 on his toilet tank?"

"Wait, what?"

Click.

"Hello? Hello?"

21 July 2011

Cosmic Debt Impasse

What's to be done
on Capital (sic) Hill?
Oh my lonely dear.
Come out with me,
shoot the pigeons
from power lines.
Put on the Satan mask
and tell me you love me.

19 July 2011

Ezra Pound: "Canto I"

And then went down to the ship,
Set keel to breakers, forth on the godly sea, and
We set up mast and sail on that swart ship,
Bore sheep aboard her, and our bodies also
Heavy with weeping, so winds from sternward
Bore us out onward with bellying canvas,
Circe's this craft, the trim-coifed goddess.
Then sat we amidships, wind jamming the tiller,
Thus with stretched sail, we went over sea till day's end.
Sun to his slumber, shadows o'er all the ocean,
Came we then to the bounds of deepest water,
To the Kimmerian lands, and peopled cities
Covered with close-webbed mist, unpierced ever
With glitter of sun-rays
Nor with stars stretched, nor looking back from heaven
Swartest night stretched over wretched men there.
The ocean flowing backward, came we then to the place
Aforesaid by Circe.
Here did they rites, Perimedes and Eurylochus,
And drawing sword from my hip
I dug the ell-square pitkin;
Poured we libations unto each the dead,
First mead and then sweet wine, water mixed with white flour.
Then prayed I many a prayer to the sickly death's-head;
As set in Ithaca, sterile bulls of the best
For sacrifice, heaping the pyre with goods,
A sheep to Tiresias only, black and a bell-sheep.
Dark blood flowed in the fosse,
Souls out of Erebus, cadaverous dead, of brides
Of youths and at the old who had borne much;
Souls stained with recent tears, girls tender,
Men many, mauled with bronze lance heads,
Battle spoil, bearing yet dreory arms,
These many crowded about me; with shouting,
Pallor upon me, cried to my men for more beasts;
Slaughtered the heards, sheep slain of bronze;
Poured ointment, cried to the gods,
To Pluto the strong, and praised Proserpine;
Unsheathed the narrow sword,
I sat to keep off the impetuous impotent dead,
Till I should hear Tiresias.
But first Elpenor came, our friend Elpenor,
Unburied, cast on the wide earth,
Limbs that we left in the house of Circe,
Unwept, unwrapped in sepulchre, since toils urged other.
Pitiful spirit. And I cried in hurried speech:
"Elpenor, how art thou come to this dark coast?
Cam'st thou afoot, outstripping seamen?"

And he in heavy speech:
"Ill fate and abundant wine. I slept in Circe's ingle.
Going down the long ladder unguarded,
I fell against the buttress,
Shattered the nape-nerve, the soul sought Avernus.
But thou, O King, I bid remember me, unwept, unburied,
Heap up mine arms, be tomb by sea-bord, and inscribed:
A man of no fortune, and with a name to come.
And set my oar up, that I swung mid fellows."

And Anticlea came, whom I beat off, and then Tiresias Theban,
Holding his golden wand, knew me, and spoke first:
"A second time? why? man of ill star,
Facing the sunless dead and this joyless region?
Stand from the fosse, leave me my bloody bever
For soothsay."
And I stepped back,
And he stong with the blood, said then: "Odysseus
Shalt return through spiteful Neptune, over dark seas,
Lose all companions." And then Anticlea came.
Lie quiet Divus. I mean, that is Andreas Divus,
In officina Wecheli, 1538, out of Homer.
And he sailed, by Sirens and thence outward and away
And unto Circe.
Venerandam,
In the Creatan's phrase, with the golden crown, Aphrodite,
Cypri munimenta sortita est, mirthful, orichalchi, with golden
Girdles and breast bands, thou with dark eyelids
Bearing the golden bough of Argicida. So that:

18 July 2011

W.H. Auden: "In Memory of W. B. Yeats"

1

He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
And snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Far from his illness
The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,
The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;
By mourning tongues
The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,
An afternoon of nurses and rumours;
The provinces of his body revolted,
The squares of his mind were empty,
Silence invaded the suburbs,
The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers.

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
To find his happiness in another kind of wood
And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.
The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.

But in the importance and noise of to-morrow
When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the Bourse,
And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed,
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,
A few thousand will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

2

You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:
The parish of rich women, physical decay,
Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.

3

Earth, receive an honoured guest:
William Yeats is laid to rest.
Let the Irish vessel lie
Emptied of its poetry.

In the nightmare of the dark
All the dogs of Europe bark,
And the living nations wait,
Each sequestered in its hate;

Intellectual disgrace
Stares from every human face,
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye.

Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;

With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.

17 July 2011

No End in Sight

There is a line drawn
from there to here.
Insert grad school
type language stuff
about structure here.
Somewhere is an island
known for having
the wettest spot
on Earth, I guess
450 plus inches
of rain annually.
That's a lot. If you know
where this is, please
tell me in the comments
so I can visit or
at least finish this
damn crossword.

16 July 2011

Love that Little Wizard

Dear Harry,

[breaks into uncontrollable sobbing]
[hands flutter like white owls]
[darkness rises in the brain]

love,

Brad

15 July 2011

Wallace Stevens: "Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock"

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.

14 July 2011

A Short Note from Management: New Greatness at InDigest

I'm a few days late on this, but we're very happy to add Joseph Michael Owens to the InDigest Editorial Family. Joe is our new blog editor, and he's already ripping it up and adding new content and is totally an all-around welcome breath of fresh air. You can meet Joe at his new online home, the InDigest Daily Arts Blog, by clicking right here. Welcome, Joe.

While I'm at it, please check out InDefinite Podcast Episode #15. It features the winner of the 2009 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, David Philip Mullins. He reads the very, very good story “Crash Site on a Desert Mountain Outside Las Vegas", which is taken from his likewise excellent collection of interconnected short stories titled Greetings from Below (Sarabande Books). If you need more convincing, Mullins is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop whose work has appeared in The Yale Review, The Massachusetts Review, New England Review, Cimarron Review, Fiction, Ecotone, Folio, and Gulf Coast and has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. Click to listen.

Henry Ford Enjoys a Coca-Cola

JPMorgan Chase profit rises 13%?
Well, smack me in the face
with a pineapple!
Just call me Pineapple Face
and watch me fade into arcane bits of language,
where I'll be everywhere
and completely forgotten!

13 July 2011

Spoil

I'd say something here about
the halls of power
if I knew a thing about them.
I can't even make anything up.
Spoils go to capital.
Marble draped in silk.
Silk wrapped around
corporate performance
reporting strong gains
for the third straight quarter.
We're out of the woods.
All animals bite.
Who is being asked for sacrifice?
You can put on a beard of bees
but it's not easy to remove.

12 July 2011

Dolphins Don't Smile

They're thinking about how, if they could,
they'd herd you and your children
into a killing cove. They'd make you listen
to Van Halen songs at high volume on repeat
until you confessed. They would market
tins of your brains as aphrodisiacs.
They'd use the black market for this
only so they could drive the prices higher
then they'd throw all the money away.
They'd develop lungs so they too could
sit and grow fat in high offices made of glass.
They'd turn their eyes to space.
They'd think of new ways to pump
the suburbs full of poison and put us on display.
They think of joining forces with pandas
and koalas to do something truly unspeakable.

10 July 2011

08 July 2011

Surprise!

You pick out shapes in the clouds.
A cloud of anthrax,
a cloud of white bees,
an avalanche burying the chalets.
How hard it is to be full
of anything but yourself,
harder still the harder you try.
Empty a box of stuff into another box.
Sweep the stairs out into the yard,
the alarm sounds, time for a pill.
In one dream we are valuable ore.
Yesterday I woke up thinking
that trip to the ER was a dream,
that today's the big day.
Clouds of falling fog,
clouds of suspended vapor,
a souped-up hog charging across
the bridge in the clouds.
I didn't cross the ocean just to sit here.
Before you know it it's time
to change the bandages again,
a package needing your signature,
if you don't sign you'll never
know what's inside.

06 July 2011

"Harvard" in Animal Farm


Issue #3 of Animal Farm is online and ready for you. I have a poem called "Harvard" in there; you might like it if you "went to school in Boston" or whatever. There's also a lot of other great poems, fiction, nonfiction, and some excellent book reviews to read. Many thanks to the Animal Farmers.