Thursday, January 28, 2010

Apps on PennSound

Proudly, recordings of me reading from my Apps are now up on PennSound, and in four segments: 1, 2, 3, and 4, or my Author Page. Thanks again to PennSound.


As of February 2017, here, also, are the Cheltenham Elegies on PennSound. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The many levels of Kristen Orser

Kristen Orser’s Folded Into Your Midwestern Thunderstorm is just out from Greying Ghost Press. It is a chap that, in many ways, extends the multi-leveled, multi-layered approach I noted in Orser's earlier work. Orser seems interested in “doubling,” playing semantic games with phrases which take on multiple, simultaneous meanings. The prolific way that Orser deposits these doubles or triple meaning phrases throughout the chap makes Folded a head-spinning, hallucinogenic experience. Rather than go into a minute analysis, it might be wise just to jump in at the deep end with one of the poems. This one is called Recently, The Fence:

A bit scary to spoon in someone’s mouth,
             the marrow of anyone. We keep

   the birthday party a secret:     Difficult
   to completely look like moon

   when Mother is asking the shape—

   A symbolic posture:     The robin
   is a story of existence.  My lower garments.

             I mean, I haven’t paid attention
             to rhyme recognition.   Which memory was first,

             the chestnut or the blue egg?           Winter

     is half measure. From your ribcage
     to your middle thigh, there’s a kind of radio silence.

              Decidedly unsayable—

                          The mouth opens,
                          has limitation. 

The word games here are extremely sensual and intense. The first phrases alone (“A bit scary to spoon in someone’s mouth”) ricochet in several different directions. “Spooning in someone’s mouth” evokes a lover actually giving his/her mate a taste of something; there is also the unlikely image of two lovers spooning in a third person’s mouth. There’s a pun on the more graphic/literal/gutter-minded “spooge,” which alters the perspective of the poem drastically. At this point, right in the first line, the reader must choose from a plethora of meanings, or make the tricky decision to engage all the levels at once. My next favorite mind-bending Kristen Orser moment in this poem is “We keep/ the birthday party a secret.” For the informed reader, “birthday party” immediately triples: “birthday party” could be a literal birthday party, or a sexual encounter (as in, two lovers in their birthday suits). The doublings and triplings in Orser’s chap are not only phantasmagoric but hilarious. Orser manifests a unique sensibility, and the chap is magnified, gravitas-wise, with each re-reading, even as the mood is comparatively light. She melds the hyper-sexual with the bizarre; I highly recommend this chap to anyone with an interest in sex, or word-games, or both (apart or together).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Apps


“In Your Eyes,” the song goes,
“the resolution of all my fruitless
searches,” only what I see in your

eyes is fruitless, and what Shelley
might have called “luminous green
orbs” look like turbid wastelands,

capable of ruining any day I might
have you nipping at my heels. This
is what I think about her, but don’t

dare say, she’s too young to know
anything about wastelands, I’m an
old scorpion with mud of my own.


There you are: towel-headed,
toweled, milling through large
crowds, slightly self-conscious
but convinced of your uppity
superiority— this you is me, I
push through crowds (antique
book stores, solicitous clerks, I
can’t tell if they mean me when
they speak), stumble up stairs,
nobody notices the freakishness
of my appearance, as I am you—
having lived your life, I’m past
your death— cogs cut, dusted.


Who told poets to be poets?
Nobody tells anyone things
like this anymore— Poetess,
she comes to me with “this,”
it’s all wine and roses for two
nights, but I’m left dizzy— is
this the end of poetry? There’s
a war between poetry & sex, it’s
always sex’s dominance we fight,
she tells me this, but we still make
love. And it’s good & hard. I’m
pure in this, I tell myself. I know
what I’m doing. I do, too, in ways
limited by perspectives, of which
this is half of one. Is it enough?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Apps


I’m looking
at the sky, writing
like a man writes
when the sister
lives in an apartment
with a husband
three blocks away,
casts her body over
here to do what
cannot be done
ad infinitum;
and that the evil
I saw in this family
was hers, the scourge
who ruined my life.
That night I had her
in summer’s sweat,
what it should’ve
been, what it was,
the sting of it lingers,
all in the sister, & for
once I don’t dare
bifurcate myself,
they do it for me,


Like the lamp by your bed
with no shade and the Stein
books you never read on
your shelf and the sweat
that rolls down the crack
of your ass when we fuck
(the smell of driven slush),

Like the granules these
things are or may be, as I
tell you what it is you like
about me discussing in bits
your bits that form a kind
of trinity hovering above
the places you place plants,

but it is not nor shall ever be
like anything else again, as
there is no simile for the
marks of incredibly bright
weakness around your eyes
as you lounge around in your
panties, two blues, guess which?


Wood-floored bar on Rue St. Catharine-
you danced, I sat, soused as Herod,
sipped vodka tonic, endless bland
medley belting out of the jukebox-
you smiling, I occupied keeping you happy,
un-frazzled- suddenly sounds behind us,
the bar wasn't crowded & a patron
(rakish, whiskey-flecked big mouth)
lifted a forefinger at beer-bellied
bartender bitching back, soon a real
fight, violence in quiet midnight,
I, scared, got you out of there

but you had to dance, you said,
had to dance so we paved Plateau, tense steps,
found nothing, you started crying & stamping
your feet like a child, I grabbed you & dragged
you back to our room you stripped, curled
into fetal position, beat your fists against
the mattress, in this way you danced
through the night, dozed & woke ready for more-

Incidentally, some more Apps will be coming out in Jacket Magazine sometime this spring.

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