November 30, 2012

Between thought and expression lies a lifetime

Markus Veter, Together We Can Defeat Capitalism, 2006

The Sound
-- kim addonizio

Marc says the suffering that we don't see
still makes a sort of sound -- a subtle, soft
noise, nothing like the cries of screams that we
might think of -- more the slight scrape of a hat doffed
by a quiet man, ignored as he stands back
to let a lovely woman pass, her dress
just brushing his coat. Or else it's like a crack
in an old foundation, slowly widening, the stress
and slippage going on unnoticed by
the family upstairs, the daughter leaving
for a date, her mother's resigned sigh
when she sees her. It's like the heaving
of a stone into a lake, before it drops.
It's shy, it's barely there. It never stops.

What We Want
-- Linda Pastan

What we want
is never simple.
We move among the things
we thought we wanted:
a face, a room, an open book
and these things bear our names--
now they want us.
But what we want appears
in dreams, wearing disguises.
We fall past,
holding out our arms
and in the morning
our arms ache.
We don't remember the dream,
but the dream remembers us.
It is there all day
as an animal is there
under the table,
as the stars are there
even in full sun.

Fantasy Block
-- Ron Padgett

I would like to have a sexual fantasy
about the young girl I see in the gym,
the one who undulates up and down
on an aerobic machine revealing
the smooth skin of her lower back
as it swells out toward her hips,
her hair pulled up in back
with a tortoiseshell clasp
and a misty blush spreading
from her high cheekbones back
to her ears in each of which
a small silver ring is glittering,
but I can’t think of anything.

November 27, 2012

freelance patrol sounds the all-clear

Peter Doig, Cricket Painting (Paragrand), 2006–2012

* From Harper's December 2012:

-- Percentage change in the likelihood a child will eat an apple from the school cafeteria if the apple has an Elmo sticker on it: +68

-- Average number of times each week U.S. surgeons operate on the wrong patient or body part: 40

-- Percentage of British teens who say they are embarrassed to be seen reading: 17

-- Number of Washington, D.C. cops arrested n the past four years: 93

-- Portion of New York City taxis driven by women: 1/100

* "The media in America has become so cowed and compromised." -- John Sayles

November 21, 2012

In the foothills of my mind

Stephen Miles, William Burroughs after dinner joint

A Thanksgiving Prayer
-- by William Burroughs

Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shit out through wholesome
American guts.

Thanks for a continent to despoil
and poison.

Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and

Thanks for vast herds of bison to
kill and skin leaving the
carcasses to rot.

Thanks for bounties on wolves
and coyotes.

Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until
the bare lies shine through.

Thanks for the KKK.

For nigger-killin' lawmen,
feelin' their notches.

For decent church-goin' women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
evil faces.

Thanks for "Kill a Queer for
Christ" stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.

Thanks for a country where
nobody's allowed to mind the
own business.

Thanks for a nation of finks.

Yes, thanks for all the
memories-- all right let's see
your arms!

You always were a headache and
you always were a bore.

Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.

November 19, 2012

I'm fearful of flying
and flying is fearful of me

Marc Steinmetz, Hash Pipe, 1999

* From a 2009 LA Weekly interview of Will Oldham:

LA Weekly: I wonder whether in 2050 there will be people digging in old hard drives to find the undiscovered Jandek of 2009.

Will Oldham: Yeah, hard drives. They're a complicated thing. They will be complex things to excavate in the future. And maybe on a strong level they will strengthen small communities. But in a bad way they will diversify people extremely if people start to excavate hard drives and create more and more diverse interests. Wow. That's a lot of separation.

Have you heard about that woman whose recordings have come to surface in the recent year or two? She may be French, may be German, but sings in English, but whose recordings were supposedly discovered. Sylvia Bayer -- something Bayer. (ed: Sibylle Baier) Some friends in Kentucky have been playing it for me, and then I was staying with a friend and there was an Artforum and all these artists had their Best of lists. There's a story behind it, like a Darger type story behind it. This was discovered post-mortem in someone's attic and they were recordings made 30 years before. And upon hearing them, my first thought was of J.T. Leroy - immediately upon listening to it you think that's a made up story.
LA Weekly: So then I started thinking, okay, if mosquitoes are making music for a certain reason, then we are, too, and is that reason just as basic and primal.

Will Oldham: You can diversify it a little. You can say some people's job is to fuck and reproduce, and some people's job is to do other things to support the reproducers, or to support the times prior to reproduction and post reproduction, and that's what makes for the complex society, that's not just beating her on the head and dragging her by the hair. And that's why there could be a crazy-great song that is so insanely emotional and has nothing to do with courtship whatsoever. It's relating to some other survival instinct, and making survival better, stronger and more complex. But then it must be related to that stuff. I think about those things, say, in watching the last election. Like, okay, where does a speech like that, and or where does the appointment of the Secretary of Agriculture fit into choices based on sexuality and survival of the species. That's insanely complex - and that's very good.

* McLusky, live Phoenix, Arizona November 2004. this set was the night after all their equipment was stolen.

* "We are bored when we don't know what we are waiting for. That we do know, or think we know, is nearly always the expression of our superficiality of inattention. Boredom is the threshold to great deeds. -- Now, it would be important to know: What is the dialectical antithesis to boredom." -- from Walter Benjamin's The Arcades Project.

November 14, 2012

we rarely practice discern

Luc Tuymans, Allo! V, 2012

Three poems by Jack Gilbert (RIP)

The Great Fires

Love is apart from all things.
Desire and excitement are nothing beside it.
It is not the body that finds love.
What leads us there is the body.
What is not love provokes it.
What is not love quenches it.
Love lays hold of everything we know.
The passions which are called love
also change everything to a newness
at first. Passion is clearly the path
but does not bring us to love.
It opens the castle of our spirit
so that we might find the love which is
a mystery hidden there.
Love is one of many great fires.
Passion is a fire made of many woods,
each of which gives off its special odor
so we can know the many kinds
that are not love. Passion is the paper
and twigs that kindle the flames
but cannot sustain them. Desire perishes
because it tries to be love.
Love is eaten away by appetite.
Love does not last, but it is different
from the passions that do not last.
Love lasts by not lasting.
Isaiah said each man walks in his own fire
for his sins. Love allows us to walk
in the sweet music of our particular heart.

The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
Get it wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind's labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not a language but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses and birds.

A Brief for the Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come

November 10, 2012

the closer you are the quicker it hits you

Daniel Arnold, Beach Cakes, 2010

First Poem for You
-- Kim Addonizio

I like to touch your tattoos in complete
darkness, when I can’t see them. I’m sure of
where they are, know by heart the neat
lines of lightning pulsing just above
your nipple, can find, as if by instinct, the blue
swirls of water on your shoulder where a serpent
twists, facing a dragon. When I pull you
to me, taking you until we’re spent
and quiet on the sheets, I love to kiss
the pictures in your skin. They’ll last until
you’re seared to ashes; whatever persists
or turns to pain between us, they will still
be there. Such permanence is terrifying.
So I touch them in the dark; but touch them, trying.

-- Bill Louma

The beautiful bird talk is certainly a form
of your tastebuds and fleshy lips. Verily
your delicates flavor a teaspoonful in combination.
The fan shape adds an extra boost. Coloring
also enters into it. At this point I am unfocused
by all the melting. Your ice cream face
and numerous aerial hairs make my heart
beat against the spikes of lucky stars.
This to me is pure vanilla extract.

-- Sarah Hannah

I always say, it must give way, it must all pass on
Soon, the husks, the frayed leaves clung to ossified sticks,
Illuminated by a flash of tedium: sleek
Silver Amtrak where I sit, a slow boxy stasis,
Shuttling endlessly between the same two terminals --
Boston, New York, New York, Boston -- until it is no
Longer clear to me which was origin and which is
Destination, and maybe origin is after
All and destination was, and where the hell does one
Reside, in shrub and tree -- leaf fall loaming into roots?
And then, suddenly, a coastal town, I never know
Exactly when, but somewhere in the middle -- a bay,
Egrets alighting, and then cows, and twists of briar,
And one gigantic trunk, long dead, full of green shoots.

November 8, 2012

make a new cult every day to suit your affairs

Lynda Pogue, Heatwave

Cosmopolitan Greetings
-- Allen Ginsberg

Stand up against governments, against God.
Stay irresponsible.
Say only what we know & imagine.
Absolutes are Coercion.
Change is absolute.
Ordinary mind includes eternal perceptions.
Observe what’s vivid.
Notice what you notice.
Catch yourself thinking.
Vividness is self-selecting.
If we don’t show anyone, we’re free to write anything.
Remember the future.
Freedom costs little in the U.S.
Asvise only myself.
Don’t drink yourself to death.
Two molecules clanking us against each other require an observer to become
scientific data.
The measuring instrument determines the appearance of the phenomenal
world (after Einstein).
The universe is subjective..
Walt Whitman celebrated Person.
We are observer, measuring instrument, eye, subject, Person.
Universe is Person.
Inside skull is vast as outside skull.
What’s in between thoughts?
Mind is outer space.
What do we say to ourselves in bed at night, making no sound?
“First thought, best thought.”
Mind is shapely, Art is shapely.
Maximum information, minimum number of syllables.
Syntax condensed, sound is solid.
Intense fragments of spoken idiom, best.
Move with rhythm, roll with vowels.
Consonants around vowels make sense.
Savour vowels, appreciate consonants.
Subject is known by what she sees.
Others can measure their vision by what we see.
Candour ends paranoia.

On Going Back To The Street After Viewing An Art Show
-- Charles Bukowski

they talk down through
the centuries to us,
and this we need more and more,
the statues and paintings
in midnight age
as we go along
holding dead hands.

and we would say
rather than delude the knowing:
a damn good show,
but hardly enough for a horse to eat,
and out on the sunshine street where
eyes are dabbled in metazoan faces
i decide again
that in theses centuries
they have done very well
considering the nature of their
it's more than good
that some of them,
(closer really to the field-mouse than
have been bold enough to try.

-- Mary Campbell

Coffee: the tightening at the heart,
The wreath of ice, like thorns
Arranged there to give pleasure,
The interpenetration of the nerves
And mind, until thought
Bites at your breast -- keen lover
Or gourmand to a sentient peach.

A little later in life, not much,
Cold beer ungirdles that tight
Garland, turns the nerves to rivers,
Gives them sense of their own
Latent, riotous joyfulness, as if
They were in bed in fact, always in beds,
And by them willows loosing their long hair.

And oh, the cigarette: beyond
These sexual illusions, the pure bliss
Of smoke loved for its own sake
The moment at which the body of man,
Alone among the animals,
Finds itself satified by nothing,
Or by a desire crafted to fulfill
A source of satisfaction.

November 4, 2012

Their voices are bringing trees to their knees

Tony de los Reyes, Border Theory (ambient crossing/ambient bond), 2012

-- The Dust Congress is 10 years old today. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by!

Circle of Lorca
-- Frank Stanford

When you take the lost road
You come to the snow
And when you find the snow
You get down on your hands and knees
Like a sick dog
That’s been eating the grasses of graveyards
For twenty centuries.

When you take the lost road
You find woman
Who has no fear of light
Who can kill two cocks at once
Light which has no fear of cocks
And cocks who can’t call in the snow.

You find lovers who’ve been listening
For the same roosters to sing
For twenty centuries
Roosters that have swallowed stones
Out of each other’s tracks
But have never met
Anywhere on the road.

When you take the lost road
You find the bright feathers of morning
Laid out in proportion to snow and light
And when the snow gets lost on the road
Then the hot wind might blow from the south
And there is sadness in bed for twenty centuries
And everyone is chewing the grass on the graves again.

When you get lost
You come to the moon in the field
The light all lovers soil
The sheet no one leaves clean
The light cocks are afraid to cross
The same moon woman danced under
For twenty centuries
With blood on her face.

When you get lost on the road
You run into the dead
Who have broken down stones
In their throats for twenty centuries
I saw two little crazy boys crying
Because it was morning
And when morning comes it comes
In the morning and never at night.

I saw two security police taking out a man’s balls
And I saw two little crazy boys
Crying by the road who wouldn’t go away
But two has never been a number
Because it’s only legal to pass one at a time
It’s only a drum you can carry but you can’t beat
It’s the evidence they need to make you disappear.