Distribution Automatique

Saturday, August 9

.Jean, rockin' out the night!

Hit it!

Preoccupation-(effect of trauma)
causes a lack of flexibility in the
thought process. A lack of resonance
can be detected if much is present.
This will lead to a narrowness of
theme or an obssessive gathering of details.
A *mood*will surround the whole.

An argument for sollipsism.The world
as it exists (existed) for you
comesin to being with your birth. YOu
wear the shoe (the world) whether it
fits or not. Sollipsism is at one
pole of freedom (the outcome of one
direction of freedom).



Barthes' method of naming essays
defines an area of maximum tension.
The ambiguity of the term is isolated,
as are words in the language. Now
placed in the vulnerable position. The
essay comes to protect the word.The
same might be said of Stevens'


One thing can be said of a game: it
predicts with absolute certainty, the
emergence of a winner and a loser. One is
immediately tempted to say, well, we
didn't need a game to tell us this.
With this line of thought one is soon
led to the conclusion: no, you didn't
need a game, but you needed at least
the idea of a game, but you needed at least
the idea of a game. (The idea of a game
gives a form to an outcome).

The success of language can be
directly attributed to the fact that
words stimulate other words. This
is what Steve McCaffery has called
"a general economy."


The energy of this exchange, in the
long run, keeps increasing- and, as
with money, inflating. Since obtaining energy was a
part of initiating a language in the
first place
Even in a summer season of exciting and memorable readings here in the East Bay, the group reading last night on Elizabeth Robinson's backyard stage was a standout.The ample crowd, filled every available spot to sit on Elizabeth R's ample deck, included luminaries Cassie Lewis, Taylor Brady, Laynie Browne, Toni Simon, Clive ("Batson")Worsley, Patrick Durgin and his companion Andrea, and, I think, Mary Burger and many others, if not already known, hopefully soon to be known to me. Great food, lots of good things to drink, totally pleasant conversation (ok, one gaffe by Nick: when I used the word "teamwork" when talking with Stephanie she literally flipped her plate of rice noodles into the air- I was chucking about this on an off all day today- somehow I ALWAYS seem to say or do clumsy things around our Ms Young!).

The first reader with Karl Gartung. (Significantly, Toni ran into Karl G with his partner, today in SF!). Karl's work incudes a kind of hypnotic repetition I started to find mesmerizing:

The mental perception
of objects
Chiefly material
conditions at a distance
following one another
or conecptual form
in temporal succession

(This does not capture the lovely way the verses are layed out side by side on the page so they can be read crosswise or up and down).
Karl's work has a strong mystical evocation and the language harmonizes well with such overtones.

David Habawnik's presentation included his singing some numbers -with a lively partner- from his musical about two gay baseball players in love.The audience was given scripts so they could sing along, and they did:


we hurt a little more than we say
we say a little more than we know
they charge a little more than we pay
so we pay a littleless than we owe"

Stephanie Young's reading was a revelation for me. First of all, she read in the dark with a flashlight. This added to the seraphim-like, revelatøry qualities of her reading last evening. She happened to include my all time favorite Stephanie poem: "STARTING TODAY I VOW TO ALLOW LOVING EXPERIENCE INTO MY LIFE."(this is a paraphrase as I couldn't bring along the well thumbed manuscript:"Telling The Future Off.") Stephanie also read from a new powerful group of sonnets- there is a Ted Berrigan aspect to Stephanie and Cassie's work that fascinates me, as Berrigan was my first workshop teacher (by the way Stephanie also admires the work of my second and very influential workshop teacher Bernadette Mayer). (Cassie and I talked at length last Sunday after the Oxygen bar Postcard Poem reading about Berrigan's strong influence on a certain group off contemporary Australian poets). Stephanie's work abounds in paradox, but exudes an exhilirating affirmative inspirational quality which may be the secret elixir behind that explosive new mix being addressed as The New Brutalism. I can't wait to see Stephanie's upcoming book from Tougher Disguises! Go Stephanie!

Thursday, August 7


On a walk to the office:

A) That I was reliving something going out cold and w/o change- untied shoes.
1) Criticism replaced assertions.
2) [You can't tell a book by its
cover]= small things bringing about
big results (Cole)- The thought
was -actualization (materialization)
The scale of actualization does not
necessarily give an indication of the
scale of the form- (This is
an idea of this thought)
3) The idea of micro-narratives
a few related events examined
closely for doubling, tripling or
other resonance
4) A thought about quitting smoking
5) Forgetting glasses- no new chairs


I got upset numerous times today. My
first thought is- I had a lot of
money to bank. Also- I was looking
for a check when I dumped over the t.v.
I wanted the money= a house and
we need a house. All of this, a result of
a growing sense of how to assert myself

Again-criticism= the failure of an

Yesterday I patiently recounted the
thoughts I had on the way to getting my
glasses from the office.



I needn't sort out
My world in inches
Or measure my life
In years or feet.

A certain intention
In whatever dimension
Will be remembered
As sour or sweet.


So go back and connect and add thought...
At some point I came to the conclusion to
just let it unfold...at times, it seems,
I had already known what it means to be
dead...Bruce mentioned the polar ice caps
and I mentioned that Ed Bowes liked the book
*Alone*...I went to the library to find Alone...
to be alone?...[leave time for the punctuation...]

Writing offering us a chance to think about
the ought to be rather than the Is (thinking
about Platoon)...
Lately I keep thinking that it doesn't
really take much of anything for us to
be sure it's there- so writing easily
responds to "touches" (all artistic media)

Touchings? In the
Jane Goodall sense?

LIke sex, art offers us "touchings" ways
that we can feel each other's presence in
the world and to sensitize each other to
each others touchings of other things. The
sexual apparatus gives us an organ whereby
we can feel the emanations of another's
presence in an overwhelmingly powerful
way. Through these
touchings we offer each other an
experience of boundlessness. In the
sexual and artistic release, we touch
upon the boundless potential of some
actuality, through the medium of direct
Two poems from my postcard book with Stephanie (forthcoming from Cafe Expresso)

Stephanie Young

Onion Ring

Another exotic clock- I'm wrong
again, I can't be so blase
in the face of yr embodied
futures. "I'll take the teapot
from work" & I should decide
what I'm doing for food, shd
notice yr thoughts
propelling me always
too far forward? Too far
pronouns have got me
stranded in time-In time I'll be 5
in time for clock of a party standing exactly behind me

Nick Piombino

Terror confuses one and delights
another. Late for the party, open
the windows. Hungry, hankering,
halting, hopeless. They eyes have
it, the eyes hate it. But don't
explain it now, hide and cover
your tracks. Attractions burn
and melt away, creating a tunnel
between wanting and waiting.
Go between. A bridge to its
Stephanie Young and David Hadbawnik are reading in Elizabeth Robinson's backyard on Thursday, around 7. If you want to participate in the potluck dinner come with something to eat at 6:30 pm. Probably you've already been there and I'm the only one in the Bay Area that doesn't know this address by heart, but just in case you are prone to memory lapses, it it 3116 Deacon Street, between Prince and Woolsey. Bring a blanket or a sweater if you're sensitive to a chill.
My apologies to John Erhardt for my rude quote. The fact is, I am a major Barrett Watten fan. Also I felt justifiably insulted, as I published loads of articles in L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E and I chafe at his dismissal of all the work in the mag. The other thing is, I suffer from some degree of guilt about the fact that I have not written about BW's work much, considering how much I like it. He is quoted frequently by me, most recently in my poem "Tessera"- which I plan to read on Sunday at 21 Grand. It was published in a recent Poetry Project Newslatter (Gary and Nada, editors). He is the rare writer whose EVERY WORD I like. I highly highly recommend his Sun and Moon collection "Frame." His "Total Syntax" is a classic and his "Bad History" is not only fascinating, it is a kind of underground hit. I liked all his chapbooks, every single one. They are hard to find, so, don't miss your chance, as SPD still has some the last time I checked. Johnny, baby, what's not to like? OK, I will admit to the charge of some pedanticism. But it is passionate pedanticism, not lazy, noodling around didacticism. OK, Barrett can be a grouch. So, how many writers do you know who aren't? OK, Charles Bernstein isn't. But he is too nice! (But don't stop being so nice to me, Charles). Etc, etc.

Wednesday, August 6

On July 25 The Skeptic...John Erhardt didn't find much of value in L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E and then goes on to express his legendary "skepticism" by finding Barrett Watten's writing boring.

Reminds me of one of my favorite aphorisms. "When a book and a head collide and a hollow sound is heard, must it always come from the book?"
(Georg Lichtenberg, Notebook D, 1773-1775)

The less I live in an imaginary
future, the more I can commit
myself to an actual present. The
more I commit myself to my actual
present, the more I can see the
actual past. It may be that out of
*this* I'll find the puzzle about
"writing" (=actuality) more approachable.

I have so many things Iwant to *say.*
This is why I write. Experience is
a puzzle I have pondered on so
long that I needed an auditor, a
listener and eventually that became you,
dear reader (which includes*me*- otherwise
this would be possible, but not

Lately, I think more about the past.
Traditionally, of course, this was *the*
realm- the only acceptable realm-
of the writer. This changed, when writers
had a long history of imagining to
look back on - perhaps.

In writing, I lunged into the future-
in poetry, I began to love only the
timeless- but in part this detoured
me from seeing a more short term
future. The timeless- what is that
except the long term future linked to
the long term past.

What do I see in this past? I see
a confusion of motives, a mixture of
longings which constantly interfered with
each other. I see an attraction for the
unknown, and a partial addiction
to the unknown. The problem with the
unknown is that it enticingly draws
me away from acknowledging the known.
It turns me away from the known,
in a way- making the known appear
pedestrian, commonplace. What interfered
with this compelling formula, little
by little, was my taste for knowledge.
And knowledge is the known, even the
commonplace, everyday known, the simply

Why did I deride this *thereness* so
long - and in what way do I turn
back to it now? Because if I *commit*
myself to upholding parts of it, whole
areas of the actual, then I want to
know even more about them. And this is
another path of knowledge, besides driving
headfirst into the available pathways of
exploring the unknown directly. Poetry
is one such way- psychoanalysis another.

There is an accumulation of knowledge
that comes, willy-nilly, with committment.
It is the kind of knowledge borne out of
unflagging attention. Such attention is
not forced. It is a product of affiliation
and proximity. One must hurry to know
things on a visit because no matter
how much time is allotted, it is
durational, by definition. But the time
of committment, like the timeless world
of the unknown, is limitless. And
even then we must hurry, because even
in the larger time of committment, life
itself is a duration. I think Emerson
put it- how could we kill time
without injuring eternity? But this is
untrue, because revery is invaluable and
is a form if killing time. But in a
larger sense, Emerson is right. The
form we give to eternity, is the form we
give to time.

And I thought the past is past- but I was
wrong. I needed to get it behind me, in
order to make things possible again. But
I forgot that my past still belongs to
me. I could forget this, because in my
mind I gave it over to the others that
have dwelled in it so long. I could not
write about them, because my past belonged
to them. But now that I have become able
to commit myself to a few activities and
people I feel certain about now, little
by little my past is becoming my own
again. It's like welcoming back an old
friend Iwas never sure of. Welcome
back old partner- I will never turn my
back on*you* again.

I was remembering my first marriage. How
demanding I was! How much I expected of
her! My ambivalence must have been
*infuriating*. When we met, I loved literature.
Then I turned to psychology. Later, she also
did. We went to the same therapist, dear X.
He was barely a few years older then both of us-
and apparently just as confused! This was a
bit of bad luck I payed dearly for. And yet,
in his way he tried to tell me about
committment by exemplifying it. But for a rash
young man, this was not enough. LIke so
many others he made Freud into a strong
father- when what psychotherapy must teach
is to be our own strong father. Subtly,
he conveyed aspirit of authoritarianism
from which I rebelled- and missed his

Tuesday, August 5


As I watch the conductor lead the orchestra
(in what I believe to be Sibelius) I've
not yet heard the announcement
his use of the reed
instruments and the flutes in contrast with
the string brass woodwinds
he uses the various areas of experience:
flutes: the natural
landscape, tumultuous emotions

natural landscape-flutes
the naked passions- woodwinds

The orchestra draws the various instruments
together as a unity, but it is
the conductor that embodies the
unifying identities- [some identities
lowering themselves, making themselves to be

The parts are drawn together into
a unified whole by virtue of a
central guiding agency which blends
all the attributesofeach individual
contributor of energy.


/ / / / / / /

an hour



minutes "become" hours by means
of the unifying greater "identity." Yet
each individual aspect, like each
area of the orchestra, as in the Sibelius
Symphony (still not named)
retains its individual essence,
astoundingly, but the very same
greater agency that unified it.
The "agency"is really the onlooker,
that very small part the takes
into itself the job of coordination,
and by that means supervises
this construction. And we, the
rest of the audience,admiringly
watch onwhile the leader, in a
state of contained, yet steady
exaltation which brings all these
underlying great and gigantic
forces all the way to their
triumphant unification in the
confirmation of the existence of
this identity- Symphony #2 in D by Jean Sibelius.

Sorry, Alli . Whatever metaphysical "powers" I might have attempted to employ seem to be null when it comes to car travel. I tore my side view mirror off my rental car in a parking area today and had
to bring my car back in and trade it for another one. Back to square one on the metaphysical front!
Nada and Gary are back!
Which New Brutalist Are You?
You are James Meetze. You are very suave & are a dashingly good dresser. You strongly desire to bring emotion back into "innovative" poetry, yet you disdain pure confessionalism. You are the spokesperson for The New Brutalism and behind that charming smile and those shiny western shirt snaps, you are secretly planning world domination. You love kittens, which shows your true sensitive side. Your poems make people weep.

The owner of the house we are renting made it clear the house was meant to facilitate access to the past. She showed us the kitchen, which contains the "icebox" from the early part of the twentieth century , the original wallpaper, now streaked and faded, the ceiling and walls with cracks showing through. There are beautiful cloth hangings in many places in the house, from Tahiti, and many tall ancient wooden icons, some with faces, the one in this room a carving of a early clown or circus figure in a tin man type hat, wooden figures distributed here and there, a hanging from the ceiling of twigs and painted eggshells, an old display case full of seashells, a gorgeous nineteenth century ornate metal hanging lamp, a dark medieval style table with dark leather slung chairs around it, and few shells spread around the center of the table. A small table with a plaster head of a man and some framed pictures in front of a picture window. The place is redolant of the thirties and forties. Since we got here, Toni has taken to playing early jazz, some by her father, the jazz saxophonist Bill Simon, and lately Billy Holiday, the unforgettable torch singer. Toni is named for her godfather Tony Scott, the clarinetist best known for playing behind her and with Charlie Parker. One song by Billy keeps repeating in my mind and today I played it again and again, thinking it wasn't long ago that I was more in the mood for Joni Mitchell, as were a few other bloggers I know. Early this evening, Toni was half sleeping draped across the couch while I sat nearby on an ancient rocking chair while Billy Holiday sang to us, the newish stereo system atop the the dark wood cabinet from an antique record player, the summer wind blowing in through the garden door:

"You go to my head and you linger like a haunting refrain and I find you spinning round in my brain like the bubbles in a glass of champagne...
You go to my head like a sip of sparkling Burgundy brew and I find the very mention of you like the kicker in a julip or two...the thrill of the thought that you might give a thought to my plea casts a spell over me...'Till I say to myself, "Get a hold of yourself, can't you see that it can never can be?"...You go to my head with a smile that makes my temperature rise, like a summer with a thousand Julys, you intoxicate my soul with your eyes...Tho' I'm certain that this heart of mine hasn't a ghost of a chance in this crazy romance, you go to my head, you go to my head..."

You Go To My Head (S.Simons-G. Marks)
Recorded in New York on March 21,1941
Shad Collins-trumpet Leslie Johnakins, Eddie Barfield- alto saxophones Eddie Heywood- piano John Collins- guitar Ted Sturgis string bass Kenny Clarke- drums Billy Holiday-vocal

Love Songs
Billy Holiday
All of Me/You Go To My Head/Until The Real Thing Comes Along/ My Man/The Very Thought of You/Easy Living/They Can't Take That Away From Me/I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm/Them There Eyes/Night and Day/The Man I Love/Me, Myself and I/The Way You Look Tonight/ If You Were Mine/I can"t Believe That You're In Love With Me/Let's Do It
Jean Gier rocks out on Nightjar 2
Kasey says Stephanie nailed the Oxygen bar reading.

Monday, August 4

The Oxygen bar reading of the postcard poem books published by Cafe Expresso (Cassie Lewis) consisted of each set of poets who did postcard poem books doing readings of six of their poems alternated between the two readers. The books are handmade, beautifully printed and are rapidly becoming collector's items-they sold well at the reading and are available from Cassie Lewis. There was much made at dinner about how Cassie had shrink wrapped them so well and Del Ray was so delighted, he dropped the shrink wrapped sets on the floor several times at dinner in the Ethiopian restaurant just to demonstrate the solidity of the package.My book written with Stephanie is coming soon and will most likely include one of the collages, about 15 poems by Stephanie and 30 by me.

Duets are an engaging form for readings because of the interaction with the other poet you are reading with which is personal and is informed by the experience of exchanging the poems and the medium of this interaction is the relationship between the two readers. When I read I had to make mention of the feelings of shyness that meeting this group of close friends brought up in me. Since I am a relatively new friend of one of the group- Stephanie- there is that inevitable feeling of being, well, kind of looked over. Did I pass muster? Only time will tell. I can say I think this is a group of excellent poets who are close friends who are spurring each other on and inspiring each other. The work is in every case engaging, moving and thought provoking. Since I read in the first half I felt more relaxed watching and listening in the second half. Patrick Durgin, who I will be reading with this coming Sunday at 21 Grand was there, Taylor Brady, Stephen Vincent, Kasey Mohammed, Bill Marsh and his companion Octavia, who Toni talked with about nineteenth century novels and other things.Toni got a chance to talk with Stephanie, Clive and Clive's son. I explained to Stephen Vincent that probably the dream Brian K Stefans wants to publish is the one he reported on the poetics list about garment workers sewing poems into people's clothes, the one that led Maria Damon to sew these beautiful needlepoint poetry pieces for Stephen and me. At one point Kasey, Bill, Patrick and I think Tim talked blogging, while laughing a lot the whole time. Always that subject of the strangeness of meeting bloggers in person when you know them fairly well through blogging and letters. Tim talked with me at dinner about his dissertation and read his work powefully, as did the others. I recognized Kasey immediately. He said maybe I recognized him because of Jim's cartoons. Toni mentioned Kasey's great links.

I was not surprised that I enjoyed reading with Stephanie, and that a lot of feeling was brought out, but I was surprised at how much I learned about her poems by watching and listening to her read them. Although it seems like ages ago, we wrote these poems together in the month of May. Many postcard poems that Stephanie wrote were lost in the mail, unfortunately. I sent her one every day for 30 days, each with a collage made by me for my collage book "Free Fall (2001)" chosen for the card which I made myself from blanks I got at an art supply store.These had been passed around by Stephanie to the audience at one of her recent readings (probably the one at David Hadbawnik's place, because he immediately put them on view in the library he works in.) (By the way, Stephanie is reading with him in Elizabeth Robinson's backyard readings series on Beacon this Thusday) Stephanie chose her favorites, which were mostly short, lyrical poems. Over 20 of my poems were parts of one long poem which I used for this collaboration. Circumstances made it impossible for me to respond to her poems as they came in, as I had to construct all my cards at once, over a period of a few days, and then mail them to her one by one. Cassie and I had a long talk after the reading. I noticed she mentioned Ted Berrigan in one of her poems so I mentioned that I had taken a workshop with him and that he had helped me to get some poems published in the 70's. Cassie and I had a lot of ideas in common, including the fact that poets are always in danger of either isolating themselves, or becoming pretentious windbags (my phrase) or self absorbed bullies. I let Cassie know that the Bay Area poets are a breath of fresh air for me, that the postcard poem form is a powerful one because it arises out of friendships. We agreed that people are more important to us than concepts or theories. Kasey then joined us, then Taylor Brady who kindly gave me a copy of his Krupskaya book "Microclimates." Toni and I were glad to give Patrick a ride back to Berkeley and we got a chance to plan the visit he made to us today, which included a beautiful walk on the Quarry path in Tilden Park.

Gorgeous weather today. Have to go watch the sunset from my bedroom window which has a view of the bay. Reminds me of my collage age poem, "The Dream Bay." Maybe I'll post it one day for you.

Sunset obscured by the fog. Every day starts with fog and coldness which usually burns off in the afternoon.

Sunday, August 3

"Let us define the limits. There are no boundaries in things. Laws try to impose some, and the mind cannot bear it."

Blaise Pascal

Five Fingers Strong...Alli Warren writes: "I'm damn upset about missing the postcard poems reading. If anyone's got some sort of metaphysical power, I ask that you transport my spirit away from Phoenix & drop it off somewhere near the Oxygen Bar. There'll be a tip involved."

O.K. Alli, at 7pm tonight, wherever you are, close your eyes and tap your feet in those pretty wedding shoes, and you'll be there with us! (My tip will be your smile).
Stephanie Young invited a group of us first to go to a fine tapas restaurant on Valencia and 18th Street (Stephanie, Catherine, Taylor, Bill, Octavia, Toni and me)(see Porthole Redux ....Catherine Meng for a wrap-up of the dinner conversation) and then a few of (Stephanie, Bill, Octavia, Toni and me) went to see Stephanie's partner Clive Worsley play the part of Buddy Joe in Sara Moore's witty and charming comedy "The Supers" directed by Amy Mueller with music by Marc Ream and dramaturg assistance by Nancy Maloney. Nick, the super, was played by Kevin Blackton, Gabby by Sara Moore and The Girl by Nova Dague. After the play, Clive explained to us that this work was conceived, written, rehearsed and staged during the course of the 26th Bay Area Playwright's festival! (Two self-effacing assistants and their friend, constantly bullied by their boss Nick, an insensitive and "not the brightest bulb on the string" super, eventually figure their way into standing up to him and actually receiving an apology.) This hilarious and touching one act play, replete with some wonderful out-of-nowhere Bollywood style song and dance bits, is memorable for its likable characters, their laugh-out-loud interactions and their life-affirming relationships. All the acting was excellent and Clive Worsley and Sara Moore's acting work together was particularly outstanding. Our little group of bloggers and their companions agreed this was a terrifically enjoyable play and a great evening, as planned by the inimitable Stephanie!