Sunday, April 30, 2006

comments on "inevitable spraying", version 2

It is, of course, hard to say whether this is the same poem as version 1. I say, "of course," not just because every line has been changed but because the original was an improvisation, the starting point the first line, "two words said in conjunction", the second line an act of bravado, "like an inevitable spraying of vigor", the third line ready to concede failure, "lost all hope of underlying success", the fourth line finally stepping away from the set-up and working on the "project". Need I tell you that the sexual shenanigans that follow are purely imaginary?

In making a new version I started with the lines that seemed to me most interesting in an assonance/alliteration/word mash/non-meaning sort of way, "disarming qualities of imprecise / calculation where quantum medication" ... I eliminated "quantum" after I decided it was too faddish a word, like "surreal" used by people when they want to use a fancier word than "weird". But I continue to like "disarming qualities of imprecise calculation"; as the poem's new set up, it declares the forthcoming to be ingratiatingly vague. Then "calculation" turned into "figurement", which isn't in my dictionary (though "disfigurement" is), a word which suggests the figures of numbers & persons (& guesses?) ... whether the very next word redirects one from a possible reading to impossible reading or whether one could continue trying let's just say I recommend not straining but enjoying the way "all whom're comers" rolls about in the mouth and the following rapid fragments of image.

Many words recur from version 1. But version 1 has become less the foundation for the poem (as it asserts itself in version 2) but a box of objects that can be propped in new poses.

I'm made a bit uncomfortable by "fish" in "the indistinct fusion of celebration, / breath, and fish" as I've heard "fish" used derogatorily among gay men to refer to the smell of the vagina. Is the word objectionable in this context?

"inevitable spraying", version 2

disarming qualities of imprecise
figurement whence medication unmended
concerns all whom’re comers, quarters
hind and head, and the spinning
of the silver coquettes on a long trust
breached occasionally by a dazzle
of fluke or the tipping of smoked glass
on a titter of nose, the disguise as
see-thru as a dogma-lacquered taboo, thin as
the hopes inevitable in a dish, success genially
underlying Project W’s tender rigging,
some jury, some jerry, jugs swung on bristly ropes,
and the pricks of firm black rubber
stood up to tongues, all wet attention,
brutal vigor, the hair trail from her navel
to the indistinct fusion of celebration,
breath, and fish, a left-leaning bother
all told, a nakedness projected on a
conjoined word, the men and their
called bets under a flowered alarm

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Phone rang this morning a little after nine. Kent got it.

Where's Glenn?

Huh? But I thought on Saturday I didn't show up until 2 o'clock. That I worked from 2 to 6.

Nine o'clock.

Oh. So I had it backwards. It's 9 to 1.


I hopped in the shower, gobbled a bowl of cereal, then Kent zipped me to the library in the Jeep. I was an hour late so stayed till 2.

Turned out okay, right?

Yeah. Turned out okay.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

migraine day

Laurel endured a 3-day migraine this week. When I said I, too, get migraines. She asked what triggers them.

This is what I posted in her comments:

"It's rare for mine to go for more than one day ... Used to be I could say I'd never had one last more than one day ... alas, 's no longer the case.

My migraines may be very powerful tension headaches tho they come with furious nausea and sensitivity to light & sound & smell & touch ... & probably taste, but with the nausea eating's not happening anyway ... When I had a checkup last year my new doctor looked at my back, dropped a word I didn't quite catch, and said that would be why I have so many headaches. What does that word mean? I asked ... Said he, Curved back.

For more'n ten years now I've been working through yoga & weights to stretch my spine and loosen my tight tight muscles/tendons/everything. Big progress. But it brings on migraines. If I've gotten in a fierce batch of stretches I can almost feel the reactive tightening -- and in the morning I can have a migraine that incapacitates me for the day. Lots of great progress, really. Range I never thought I'd have. ... And I've paid for it all along the way. Strange to think pain so brutal all I want to do is drive nails into my head is price worth paying. But I figure I'm going to have the migraines anyway; might as well suffer toward improvement than merely suffer in decline."

Last night I did some stretches. I wouldn't have have called them "a fierce batch," really. It was sitting. To stretch my hips so when I can sit cross-legged on the floor for an extended period. Sitting cross-legged on the floor can get very tiring, even painful. So I do some stretches I picked up in yoga class and these stretches have improved my sitting. I also did down-dog, which is named after the stretch a dog does when it sticks its butt in the air and lengthens its spine down to the outstretched forepaws. Anything else? Oh yeah. A very brief boat pose. That one is probably the one that puts the most stress on my upper back. You sit on the floor, legs straight out in front and lean back, then you lift your legs so you're balancing in a V-shape on your butt.

Nothing seemed painful last night. I had to do a lot of head and shoulder shaking to integrate the moves. I lay down. I felt okay.

This morning I woke with a migraine. I took medicine for it, hoping I could head it off before it became incapacitating. Didn't quite work. Finally I had to call work and say I wouldn't be able to make it in. It's mid-afternoon now and my head is feeling kind of light and wobbly, my neck stiff, and my body generally fragile. But I'm hungy! A nice change from the nausea that had me hunched over the toilet at 8 a.m.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Until Sundy I never would have believed I could ask a cat to kiss me. We'd been playing with one of Kent's weaving reeds. I was lying on my belly on the floor, propping myself up on my elbows and Sundy was poking at the reed where it lay between us. I said, "Give me a kiss." I made kissy sounds with my lips. Kent was watching and started giving Sundy lines, "I'm a cat. You're embarrassing me."

Sundy arched his back, rubbing against the couch. He dipped his head. "Kiss kiss," I said, my lips softly popping. Finally Sundy lowered his face to my mouth and sniffed. I felt the soft hairs around his mouth on my lips and his breath. That counts as a kiss. He's done it uninvited. But it feels extra special when I ask and he obliges.

Monday, April 24, 2006

comments on "inevitable spraying", version 1

At a party in SF Sunday I was making a new acquaintance. Rachel, her name was. Her husband was sitting to my left and he & I each had a plate of food in his lap. When David offered to fetch her her own plate Rachel insisted she wasn't hungry. The three of us had shared a few of those what-do-you-do generalities ... David is an architect, Rachel works in PR. I work at the library. Rachel & David were related to the party's hosts by marriage, I think, one of them the sibling of the host's sister's husband, something like that. Rachel had decided to mingle a bit and was rising from her chair when I had an inkling her face, which had seemed familiar in a she looks like someone I know but isn't sort of way, actually was a face I knew, somehow. Abruptly I said, "Rachel, what's your last name?" "Dacus," she said. That would be Rachel Dacus the poet. So I dropped my full name and she recognized it from our online poetry interactions. And she sat back down and we talked shop. Poetry, that is.

Among other things we talked about revision and workshopping and I said I will now & then post a poem on LoveSettlement from one of my old notebooks. Then I will comment on it and post revisions, which I will comment on, noting what changes I like, what still isn't working, hopes for improvements, dismay over lack of progress. I haven't done that in awhile. Last night I started reading through Tales of the Blue & Yellow Sun / Work Journal, Part Two, a notebook from 1982 & 1984 which I've mined for other poems I've revised here. Apropos to what Rachel said yesterday about poems that would detract from one's carefully-cultivated reputation, poems which should be burned in order to prevent their being posthumously discovered, I paged past "I walk a night of solitary lights. / Follow the candles as they bob, / the lines singing Ave Maria." (from the "Ave Maria" sequence in Disney's Fantasia?) and "Ghosts close-up / reveal their intentions / unlike politicians on talk shows / who hide behind polyester ties when cornered" ... These weren't offering the potential I was looking for. As I said to Rachel, however, when I was a baby poet I had to give myself permission to try things, just to write, to commit failure to the permanence of the bound notebook.

When I decide on a poem to post here I want a poem that has interesting things going on in it. I also want to have no idea or no clear idea how those interesting things could join up to make an interesting whole. I want the process to be a challenge. I don't want to pick a poem that with a tweak or two would be finished. I want something to look back at me with some defiance, to resist when I try to push it one way or another.

"Inevitable spraying" -- the title is merely a phrase from the poem -- was written in July or August 1984.

"inevitable spraying"

Two words said in conjunction
like an inevitable spraying of vigor
lost all hope of underlying success
while the men of project W
performed fellatio on the other wives’
three dildoes encountered for
men of distinction alarming
disarming qualities of imprecise
calculation where quantum medication
is concerned in all quarters
and related conquettries.
The breach of trust in infilitrated
relationships she viewed from afar
like thinly disguised sunglasses
seldom removes taboos unknown
to Mr. Squid’s third left lung
Unbother Mrs. Torrid’s left pet
called King Fisher who telltales
four-wished call beckoners
Unassumed by revealing naked

Thursday, April 20, 2006

cat battles

Sundy and Sutra are brothers. They like wrassling with each other. They charge across the house, one in pursuit of the other. One lunges from behind the couch or out from under the table when the other is passing.

Sutra likes to lie on his back, his big fluffy belly making him look extra big, while Sundy pounces on him from above. Sometimes Sutra makes small mao sounds, usually when Sundy seems to be on top or in control. Sundy is always silent. Neither ever hisses.

I was watching one of these tussles this morning ... the two cats were facing each other, sitting up. Each was resting on a left forepaw so he could raise his right. Whap! went Sundy's paw on Sutra's face. Swat! went Sutra's paw on Sundy's face. Whap! Swat! Whap! Swat!

I had to laugh, which made Sutra look at me and broke up that particular interaction.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

would've made a nice picture

Sundy poked his nose into the bathroom. He must've come from poking around under the porch. The whiskers that jut up above his eyes had acquired some dust/dead moss/leaves, some sort of lightweight detritus affixed to the whisker by spiderweb and nicely symmetrical, the longest whisker over each eye so enhanced. He looked like he had antennas.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

it is so raining

I ate lunch at a cafe and walking home it rained so hard my socks got wet through my shoes. Fortunately the clothes were done drying so I could take out my floppy wool socks and put them on. That felt good. It is cold here.

I read in one of last year's New Yorkers that with the rising water due to global warming the Netherlands are (is?) going to get flooded really bad. Most of the county is lower than sea level and they can't just keep building higher dikes. I hope Michael's baby saves the world when he grows up. Save Holland, baby!

Monday, April 10, 2006


The weather report has rain all this week. Rain! Damn. It's only sprinkled so far today. Dunno 'f them clouds currently blotching up my view are going to let loose or just drift by.

Yesterday I went to APE, the Alternative Press Expo. Over at DIR I listed what I bought.

Being as I was there by myself it was nice running into a few familiar faces. Tara, the head of North Branch ... Rory, the owner of Comic Relief ... Jennifer Joseph, publisher of Manic D Press ... and chatting briefly with some of the creators at their booths.

In past years I've always had trouble carrying around my booty because these folks aren't retailers, really, so they don't have a big stock of bags to drop the wares into. So I brought along a plastic grocery bag (plastic cuz of the rain), but when I grabbed it from the cache at home I thought, well, since the vendors don't tend to have bags I could bring some extras to offer them. So I brought a wad. Whenever I bought something I asked if the vendor "could use any bags, because I brought extra." "You're providing a service," said Justin Hall. It felt a little goofy but in a cute way.

I gave one to Tara when she said she'd had to make two trips to her car to offload her purchases.

I forgot all about the panels and just wandered the hall until exhaustion set in.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Mark States

Mark States has transformed himself from mild-mannered coffeeshop poet of the 90s to fierce slam poet of the 00s. He's still a skinny little dude and he doesn't look scary even with the hood of his sweatshirt pulled low on his forehead, his wet eyes gleaming in their cave.

But Mark's connected with some rough personal material -- growing up on the mean streets, getting beat up, drugs in the family, being so poor he had to skip meals, etc -- and he's upped his performance chops. He's got most of his pieces memorized and he even makes some illustrative gestures. That upthrust fist still doesn't look like it's going to sock it to the Man but it does help keep your attention.

Poets just don't put the work into performance that they oughta. I don't. I muse to myself about doing a few slams, enough to see what happens to my presentation, to my work. Enough to see if I connect with the crowd.

Mark's example sure demonstrates how distinct the coffeeshop is from the slam, genrewise. Mark says he's got a good chance of making this year's Berkeley Slam Team. Judging by his performance at last night's Poetry & Pizza I can believe it. Mark's put in the work.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Info Desk Blogging

I'm happily ensconced now at the Claremont Branch. Not that things haven't gone wrong or weird. Our computers have gone down a couple times, which is harried making. But the problems are different problems than the ones in Technical Services, so, you know, the novelty is good.

Right now I'm seated at the Information Desk where I answer reference questions. While sitting here I glance around. Nearby are racks of uncataloged paperbacks. By "uncataloged" I mean you can't search the library's catalog and find these paperbacks listed; it's purely a browsing collection. I remember glancing at one of the books and thinking, "Lethem. He's supposed to be good. Maybe I'll check that one out."

About fifteen minutes ago a patron came to the desk -- my first reference question of the day -- and asked if I could help him find a book. The catalog says the book is on the shelf, but he went to the shelf and it wasn't there. The title? "Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem" ... My eyes probably dilated. I turned my head to the left and stared for a beat at "Motherless Brooklyn", the very book I'd been considering taking home. "Would you like a paperback copy?" I said. The patron shrugged. I walked over to the paperback rack and lifted "Motherless Brooklyn" from its place and handed it to him.

I can see clearly the titles of 12 or 13 books on the paperback racks. The coincidence was so odd I almost felt like I'd been set up.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

how hard

How hard is it to write something no one else has ever written anywhere? It sounds like a bit of a challenge, doesn't it? Am I so original that I can concoct a phrase that no one ever anywhere has rigged up just that way, the words in an order perfectly comprehensible but as yet utterly unattempted? I don't know.

Maybe it's easy. Really easy.

What with the recent noise about the Washington Post hiring a rightwinger to be their "conversative voice" in the blogosphere, a blogger who turned out to be a serial plagiarist, I became curious again about how often we (let's say, I) say the same shit as ever'body else.

So I went to my featured poems page and started grabbing phrases that it seemed unlikely anybody else would say. I would put these phrases into Google in quotes and Google would give me back one page. Mine. For instance:

"its distaste for his wrinkled kidneys"

"a thumb you want to plumb him with"

"the mechanical lung and a bathing cutie"


Well then. I could try other phrases, phrases that were sure to have been said by others, phrases I maybe even stole from others.

What about:

"does it matter whether john is walking"

"Go and when you come back let me know."

"even the grass bowed."


Hm. It's not until I choose really generic language that I start coming up with other pages.

"The picture of three men"

"many roads cross"

"It's okay, he whispers"

... in all three of these searches I found my own poems easily (only for "many roads cross" did I have to scan past the first page of results).

4/12 Update: Funny. When you click on the links above, this blog entry shows up alongside the original poem. Sometimes the blog outranks the poem.