weathering

Planning for winter storms
in the first week of September.
it will rain, and the wind will come in, furious
from the open ocean
rattling my home
before it runs into the hills
to hide its face.
Burgers watches as I pull old nails
hammer in new nails, shift the hanging
clay pot of sweet basil (flowering, going to seed)
to face North, not West,
move the Thai basil (tiny purple leaves, brittle twiggy stem)
to the stairs beside the lemon tree, dill, and fruitless strawberry
then she closes her yellowgreen eyes to doze
in the dirt beneath the one small, slowly ripening tomato
that emerged from the shady cave of the porch this summer.
Weird summer, summer of fires in forest
and suburb, tear gas hanging over the cities
summer of (Home Depot tiki) torches aloft,
vehicular homicide, and the open stating of allegiances to Devils
naiively assumed, in many blinkered quarters, to be extinct.
Now comes the Fall of hurricanes and floods
of rot and rubble.
in the wake of isolated and celebrated examples
of survival
of countless refusals to connect the dots, to repudiate
ill-begotten theories of coincidence, synchronicity
accident or innocence
it will be claimed that benevolence is a noun, and not a verb.
So I’m shifting everything around.
the Rosemary fell from a ledge, and I righted it.
The jade holds our instruments upright-
guitar, banjo, ukelele-
but can’t keep them in tune.
In the months ahead,
Whiteness willing
we’ll still be here, but under blankets
refusing the full shelter of the indoors
singing loud and drunkenly.
our imperfect harmonies
will contest the wind.
*
*
*
*
*painting by Liam Golden www.liamgolden.com

a short poem by g.f marlier, and a long poem by Amiri Baraka/ on jesus

I detest the Episcopal Church                                                                                                              It is the Catholic Church with the desperate proletariat removed                         Selfless love is a quality of peasants                                                                        and slaves, of those who have nothing                                                                        but a soul to lose or gain.                                                                                                               and I tell you there is nothing bourgeois                                                                                             nothing properly Anglican                                                                                                                     in the life and passion                                                                                                                        death and resurrection of                                                                                                                    Christ

 

*************************************************************************************

 

When We’ll worship Jesus

Amiri Baraka

 

We’ll worship jesus
When jesus do
Somethin
When jesus blow up
the white house
or blast nixon down
when jesus turn out congress
or bust general motors to
yard bird motors
jesus we’ll worship jesus
when jesus get down
when jesus get out his yellow lincoln
w/the built in cross stain glass
window & box w/black peoples
enemies we’ll worship jesus when
he get bad enough to at least scare
somebody—cops not afraid
of jesus
pushers not afraid
of jesus, capitalists racists
imperialists not afraid
of jesus shit they makin money
off jesus
we’ll worship jesus when mao
do, when toure does
when the cross replaces Nkrumah’s
star
Jesus need to hurt some a our
enemies, then we’ll check him
out, all that screaming and hollering
& wallering and moaning talkin bout
jesus, jesus, in a red
check velvet vine + 8 in. heels
jesus pinky finger
got a goose egg ruby
which actual bleeds
jesus at the apollo
doin splits and helpin
nixon trick niggers
jesus w/his one eyed self
tongue kissing johnny carson
up the behind
jesus need to be busted
jesus need to be thrown down and whipped
till something better happen
jesus ain’t did nothing for us
but kept us turned toward the
sky (him and his boy allah
too, need to be checkd
out!)
we’ll worship jesus
when he get a boat load of ak-47s
and some dynamite
and blow up abernathy robotin
for gulf
jesus need to be busted
we ain’t gonna worship nobody
but niggers getting up off
the ground
not gon worship jesus
unless he just a tricked up
nigger somebody named
outside his race
need to bust jesus (+ check
out his spooky brother
allah while you heavy
on the case
cause we ain gon worship jesus
we aint gon worship
jesus
we aint gon worship
jesus
not till he do somethin
not till he help us
not till the world get changed
and he ain, jesus ain, he cant change the world
we can change the world
we can struggle against the forces of backwardness, we can change the world
we can struggle against our selves, our slowness, our connection
with
the oppressor, the very cultural aggression which binds us to
our enemies
as their slaves.
we can change the world
we aint gonna worship jesus cause jesus dont exist
except in song and story except in ritual and dance, except in
slum stained
tears or trillion dollar opulence stretching back in history, the
history
of the oppression of the human mind
we worship the strength in us
we worship our selves
we worship the light in us
we worship the warmth in us
we worship the world
we worship the love in us
we worship our selves
we worship nature
we worship ourselves
we worship the life in us, and science, and knowledge, and
transformation
of the visible world
but we aint gonna worship no jesus
we aint gonna legitimize the witches and devils and spooks and
hobgoblins
the sensuous lies of the rulers to keep us chained to fantasy and
illusion
sing about life, not jesus
sing about revolution, not no jesus
stop singing about jesus,
sing about, creation, our creation, the life of the world and
fantastic
nature how we struggle to transform it, but don’t victimize our
selves by
distorting the world
stop moanin about jesus, stop sweatin and crying and stompin
and dyin for jesus
unless thats the name of the army we building to force the land
finally to
change hands.  And lets not call that jesus, get a quick
consensus, on that,
lets damn sure not call that black fire muscle
no invisible psychic dungeon
no gentle vision strait jacket, lets call that peoples army, or
wapenduzi or
simba
wachanga, but we not gon call it jesus, and not gon worship
jesus, throw
jesus out yr mind.  Build the new world out of reality, and new
vision
we come to find out what there is of the world
to understand what there is here in the world!
to visualize change, and force it.
we worship revolution

 

 

 

 

 

bonheur, malheur

Happiness. In french, bonheur: the good hour, as opposed to unhappiness, malheur: the bad or evil hour. Where were you standing when the hours were sorted? There aren’t enough good hours, and we all must settle for a greater or lesser lot of the bad ones. There may be an hour within which you exchange wedding vows, an hour within which you choose a vocation, uproot yourself, or speak truth upon uncertain ground to an unreliable listener. There is the hour of your birth and above all the hour of your death. You may hope for these to be among the good hours, but nothing is guaranteed.

****************************************************

 

Down in the shallow trenches of my erudition

palms upon the stones I searched-

for what?

For shelter, for a route out, beyond, no,

Yes-

deeper within.

With humble inherited pick

and shovel. With all but my grip

on the tools unsure-

I dug at a pulse I sensed

in the center

of the Earth

where the roots

of continents converge.

 

+++++++

sorting pages, smelling September again…

Where there once was an abstract landscape                                                                           crossed by quietude, nostalgia, perhaps                                                                                        insufficiently sophisticated but deeply personal ideas                                                           poetic loneliness in doorways, chips in curbstones leaking words                                        visions of the Virgin over floodlit parking lots                                                                            now there are photos of favorite writers- Didion, Colette, Baldwin, Lorca-                          taped up on the wall.                                                                                                                  Insecurities and petty bloodless blood-feuds of a smattering of Others float,                glowing particles, in a neutral pool of days I must traverse.

 

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“I have lived in equatorial America since 1935 and only twice had fever. I am an anthropologist who lost faith in her own method, who stopped believing that observable activity defined Anthropos. I studied under Kroeber at California and worked with Lévi-Strauss at São Paulo, classified several societies, catalogued their rites and attitudes on occasions of birth, copulation, initiation , and death, did extensive and well-regarded studies on the rearing of female children in the Matto Grasso and along certain tributaries of the Rio Xingu, and still I did not know why any one of these female children did or did not do anything at all. Let me go further. I did not know why I did or did not do anything at all.”

-Joan Didion, from the book of common prayer

 

“What I am trying to conceptualize with the help of the philosopher is that which I have already intuited” -Charles Simic

 

“The poet of the Kosovo cycle rebels against the very idea of historical triumph. Defeat, he appears to be saying, is wiser than victory. the great anti-heroes of these poems experience a moment of tragic consciousness. they see the alternatives with all their moral consequences. They are free to make a fateful choice. They make it with full understanding of its consequences. For the folk poet of these poems, true nobility and heroism comes from the consciousness of the Difficult Choice.”

-Simic

 

****************************************************************

Finger-worn and foot-buffed steel and linoleum. Deep knowledge of the insides of occupational objects….

 

I see the Paysage of my near-decade of choices                                                                      it seems a system                                     of baked ochre and orange canyons, entered almost by accident.                                                                                               A place of occasional tedium, doubt, self-doubt, where thirst                                                     has sometimes summoned a feeble, ice-cold spring.                                                                   Twice while wandering up the side-cuts I stumbled on a hanging garden so extraordinary, Edenic, revelatory, that I cried out.                                                                         I’ve learned to smell and listen, to observe and follow wiser, smaller creatures.                   I received a proffered word: Survival.                                                                I picked out a trail when there wasn’t one, and it took me years- seven and a half, to be exact- but I made it to the deepest point, a descent of many fathoms.                                                    I drank my fill from a wide and swiftly running river and then                                                              I rode it                                                                                                                                                   out.

 

 

 

*Drawing by G.F Marlier (the old College Ave. Safeway, right before they tore it down)

 

castles like this

Fingernail pulled down                                                                                                   the side of a bookshelf                                                                                               There isn’t enough time                                                                                                              to tour the place                                                                                                                  My kind of people                                                                                                                can’t feel at ease                                                                                                               in castles like this                                                                                                                and I don’t know                                                                                                        where your kind of                                                                                                                 people                                                                                                                                   feel at ease

the future

Remember the first time you opened your eyes inside an ocean wave?

Do you remember what dim expanse your eyes beheld in that moment, and how they smarted?

That was the future. The past, as well. You have seen all Time and known it.

But that was so long ago.

 

 

*painting by Cynthia Estep

for Marshall Mancuso (1980-2016)

In a blue-bell’s dewy center I spied                                                                                             your astral eye                                                                                                                                     the child you- the one I never knew, but guessed at.

Dis-embodiment, one may have slurringly suggested –                                                              in your days of healing sculptures; quartz and copper hanging                                           from the ceiling over prostrate forms of revelers                                                                        in Drum+Bass nights of E and K and Xanax                                                                               before Heroin –

“Dis-embodiment will free us, Death’s a friend, man-”                                                              the twin of birth                                                                                                                                 and dark is day and shadow                                                                                                             just a ray of sun you’ve stared too long at.

That last long-distance phone-call I stood in my kitchen and your voice came splintered and syrupy through the line saying you needed a ride to the other side of Boston to pick up a sculpture and you were lonely and you regret that we never slept together and all I could say was well I’m married so it will never happen now but I’m your friend Marshall I’m in California Marshall you’re supposed to be a healer, remember? Marshall there’s nothing I can do I’m 3000 miles away right now I’m 3000 miles away

I remember us swing dancing in the band room in the basement of the theater building at Roxbury Latin during a dress rehearsal for the Pillars of Society                                       you were 17 blue eyed dark haired handsome Italian kid from Millis introduced me to P-funk and taught me by example how to properly tell a story                                                   I was 16, tow-head tomboy Dot-rat rolling over your broad back and laughing you made it impossible to hate myself

Now I want to ask you                                                                                                                       what is Nothingness?                                                                                                                         does it resound, the Void? Can you eavesdrop                                                                               on its self-interrogations?

And since you’re there forever can you build                                                                                  an infinite machine                                                                                                                               to heal where Time is torn and to                                                                                             restore a past of earnest speculation

to cast out Morpheus and Loki and begin again?

 

 

 

*painting by William Blake (The Goblin)

on style and being

“Chomsky remarks that when one speaks a language one knows a great deal that was never learned. The effort of criticism is to teach a language for what is never learned but comes as the gift of a language, is a poetry already written- an insight I derive from Shelley’s remark that every language is a relic of an abandoned cyclic poem.” –                       —- Harold Bloom

“I can’t worry about Masculinist geeks who don’t read books by women on principle, any more than I worry about lit-snob dweebs who don’t read genre literature on principle. I don’t write for bigots.”                                                                                                                           — Ursula K. LeGuin

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”                                                                                                              —Oscar Wilde

…nothing is absent. all you could know is here in front of you- everything is in the visible . elemental and ancestral knowledge are at the tip of your tongue, literally…

“In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art. Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world- in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings”. It is to turn the world into “this world”. (“This world”! as if there were any other.)”                        — Susan Sontag

“In place of a Hermeneutics we need an Erotics of Art.” —Sontag

“Decorative style has never existed. Style is the soul, and unfortunately with us,  the soul assumes the form of the body.”                                                                                                             — Jean Cocteau

 

“Even if one were to define style as the manner of our appearing, this by no means necessarily entails an opposition between a style that one assumes and ones “true” being. In fact, such a disjunction is extremely rare. In almost every case our manner of appearing is our manner of being. The mask is the face.”                                                                — Sontag

“In art, “content” is, as it were, the pretext, the goal, the lure which engages consciousness in essentially formal processes  of transformation.”                                            — Sontag

“The complex kind of willing that is embodied, and communicated, in a work of art both abolishes the world and encounters it in an extraordinary intense and specialized way. This double aspect of the will in art is succinctly expressed by Bayer when he says: “each work of art gives us the schematized, disengaged, a memory of a volition. Insofar as it is schematized, disengaged, a memory, the willing involved in art sets itself at a distance from the world. All of which hearkens back to Neitzsche’s famous statement in the birth of tragedy: “Art is not an imitation of nature but its metaphysical supplement, raised up beside it in  order to overcome it.”                                                                                                      —- Sontag

The idea that all great art is founded on distance on artificiality, on style, on what might be called “dehumanization”… But- the overcoming or transcending of the world in art is also a way of encountering the world and of training or educating the will to be in the world…

 

“Every style is a means of insisting on something.”          — Sontag

 

“In what language can impudence be spoken? A national language? Which one? A crossbreed language? How so?”                                                                                                   – Julia Kristeva in Colette

 

“Colette, who knew nothing of politics, dreamt only of revealing feminine jouissance. In fact, her alphabet of the world is an alphabet of feminine pleasure, subject to the pleasure of men but marked by an an incommensurable  difference from it. There is no emancipation of women without a liberation of women’s sexuality, which is fundamentally a bisexuality and a polyphonic sensuality: That is what Colette continually proclaims throughout her life and works, in a constant dialogue between what she calls “the pure” and “the impure”, describing herself from the outset as a ‘mental hermaphrodite’. ”  —Kristeva

 

“The formality of style is only an aspect of her participation in Being.”  -Kristeva, Colette

 

 

*Illustration by G.F Marlier

some poems from old notebooks 3/25/17

I was a child in a house on a hill                                                                                                                   I had my pick of four porches and the widow’s walk on the roof.                                                     there was a porch for watching people pass                                                                                            a porch for sleeping outside                                                                                                                            a porch for waiting                                                                                                                                             a porch for eating together; my mother, my brother and me.

there was a widow’s walk for watching airplanes                                                                                     as they swung in to Logan                                                                                                                         and for gazing at the salt-ice cataract on Dorchester Bay                                                                in the leafless winters.

for my first two decades I returned daily to a tall house                                                                       on a hill-

a house with four porches hanging off it like petals

and a widow’s walk in it’s crown.

 

***********************************************************************

There are young women taking baths                                                                                                     two or three to a tub                                                                                                                             washing each other’s hair                                                                                                                          with their legs out over the lip                                                                                                              they’re giggling in apartments                                                                                                             above taquerias trattorias patisseries and delis                                                                            they’re eating each other’s laughter instead of bread.

 

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Avarice and Ego                                                                                                                                       donned their crowns                                                                                                                                     and went to the parade.

Avarice took its place                                                                                                                                among the sad clowns                                                                                                                                   Ego followed the man                                                                                                                              without a face.

you should have heard the clamor                                                                                                               the people made                                                                                                                                                   a child scrambled beneath horses hooves                                                                                               to touch the hem of Avarice’s cape.

they marched to no music                                                                                                                           they grinned in no light                                                                                                                               until the merciful fall of night.

 

 

 

 

 

Ancient Writings (probably ca. 1997-98)

My mother recently found the following writing on her computer. I know that I wrote this, roughly 20 years ago, at roughly the age of 16 or 17, and it is completely familiar to me, yet also completely strange to me. In some ways I am still the person who wrote this, and in many other ways I am no longer the person who wrote this. Many of my pet images and pre-occupations are the same, and yet experience has made me both more cynical and more purely motivated in my (increasingly complex and variable) marriage to language. This week I have been reading Wonderful Words, Silent Truth; essays on poetry and a memoir by the poet Charles Simic. This quote from him was sticking in my brain as I re-read the words of my past self:

“The difference between poets comes down to how they experience the commonplace realities of their everyday life. Whatever ideas they may eventually have come out of such unpremeditated particulars. The poet who loves the wind has different gods than the poet who loves the stones in the earth. What we make passionately ours is what defines us. The possessions of even the greatest poets are small. A few objects, a few vivid scenes and shadowy figures- and that’s all. ”                            -Charles Simic from Introduction to the poetry of Aleksandar Ristovic

 

A series of blue doors that I should choose from, but don’t.

Each one holds an example of what my life should be-hidden mentors that I choose to ignore. I learned to shun opportunity. The apprentice of escapism and occasional despair. Maybe ambivalence, anyway, a definite lack of interest in self-advancement.

My city? Well, it isn’t much. I keep my eyes to the gutter while I’m skateboarding and spend hours watching the sides of warehouses, waiting for something to occur.

I saw two dock workers exiting through a back door, rough men- one with a face pitted by acne (marked for assesment, and for the next turn of time. he’ll never decieve anyone about where and who he’s been )they are dressed in a familiar costume, joking loudly.

An orphan destroying public property, overturning newspaper boxes, ripping the advertisements from billboards and the sides of buses, prying bricks from the paths in parks and slashing at seats, signs and banners with no artistic intent, simply because he is scornful of pride in a community or a place.

He laughs and says “this sacred plot of ground!-

The founding fathers?”
“as if they knew what they were founding!” {no one would, with any forethought, found this}

You guessed it. This is a friend of mine.

Weaving colored ribbons into the spokes of parked hubcaps on the first of May, braiding what’s left over so it won’t drag and unravel, splicing the threads as they fray. I’m meticulous. I have time to be.

A vehicle owner returns with a fist full of quarters to hold the maids off, back to her meeting, quickly, in beige high-heeled sandals and sees me decorating her car. I raise my hand as she approaches, and wave at her, my legs splayed around my skateboard, having just tied off one whole wheel and feeling proud. She doesn’t smile wide back at me and I remember that there’s a hole in my shirt under the armpit which she might have seen.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?”-I explain. She wants to know am I in Art school {I tell her I’m in NoSchool} and is this a joke {I tell her it’s a gift} She says confidentially here’s some advice, go to school and direct my energy and apparently considerable gifts so I don’t wind up homeless {I tell her that technically, I already am}.

 

 

 

“It’s over” he says

 

“what?”—any idea I had about my destination. Because I’m starting to understand that I don’t really have one, and especially not one that I can predict and set my compass on. I’m navigating, sure, but my navigation is a game. These instruments are toys to me. I spin this and chart this because of the mechanisms involved in plotting. I like the way these wheels whir. I like a drawing determined by the stars. It can’t take me anywhere.

 

“I’ve never been” he says

 

“what?”—This person before. This is an unfamiliar body, a strange voice, a vacancy. A mother walks by me with her weak-necked baby lolling in a bassinet, it’s seal eyes rolled to the sky. It’s never been this person before.

 

There is a place that someone told me about a long time ago, before I broke off from my family. It might have been my father, brother, cousin. It might have been a bunk bed good-nite.

Where individualities floated and swam. Where you couldn’t despise something {anything}, because characteristics crept around, entering you like a sweet scent, and to hate something outside was to hate the something inside of the future. I liked the pretty visions of dream-swaps. I liked to know the pearl shellak, the muralled heights, the patterns of someone else. There are other reasons why I decided not to fall in love.

 

I’ve been invited to a festival. I ask this little braided girl

“what kind?” and

“what time?” so she gives me another flyer instead of answering the questions, which is alright. I stand on the corner holding two neon yellow flyers while she runs on her rubber heels after a gaggle of nice looking boys with gel in their hair and fancy watches on their blond-hair wrists.

 

“I can’t” he says

“what?”—-Go with you. Anywhere. But definitely not to this.

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t ever be estranged.

I haven’t seen my mother for two years, my brother for six months, my cousin for a little more, and my father’s left the country, but they’re all right here. I go into a convenience store and the aisles are filled with familiars. The counter is manned by everybody I’ve ever known.

 

As an extension of the original idea; I can never be estranged from my “self”, because I pass hordes of me and weave in and out of me and long to be me in another configuration. Levels of stamina. Stages of development, but one material, one direction and revolution.

 

“will that be all for ya?” Pushing my purchases towards myself.

“yeah.”—counting my change.

“and cigarettes for me” he says from behind my shoulder. So I buy cigarettes from myself in the name of friendship.

 

I skate to the graveyard, stopping at intervals, wating for him to catch up. We imagine, sitting between the markers of the shortest lives, that there is nothing under this trash-heap of monuments, that as a grand joke, a drunk April fool’s day two centuries ago two men said ha ha let’s use our money to fake a graveyard. Let’s make people foolish, weeping over ground that’s never been pitted and planted.

 

“Rich people must have such great April fool’s days”

“what sorts of holidays do you think they celebrate?”

“I would rule out Christmas, halloween…”

“Columbus day, Groundhog day, easter—“

“Saint Patrick’s”.

 

He proposes that rich people have special games that we don’t know about. He doesn’t believe me when I tell him that I can imagine anything in existence, anyone’s games, discarded formulas, fantasies, lunacy. He scoffs and tears up clumps of good green wheat grass and weeds, piling this tangle where the Babylove’s toes would be.

 

I spotted children, ragged and reeling on the roof of a Clubhouse. I heard their schemes from where I perched under the floorboards {rusty nails coming through}. They were practicing cheating at cardgames, using pennies as poker chips. The jack of spades went spinning over the edge and they let it lie.

 

“hey- how are you?”

“you’re cheating! Give me that!”—-my cousin answers in a new voice I know.

 

 

 

 

He wants to kiss me precisely because I’m not the type of person who kisses naturally. I am awkward, pre-occupied, child-like. If I were willing to enter into such experiments, it would most likely be discovered that my nature provides a small expanse of inventiveness- a slight diversion from normalcy- but cannot be satisfied by some emotional playground, under observation, with any permanence.

I imagine my pillow-talk with amusement. What would I say to a {this is hilarious}”lover”? The pillow is a curbstone. It’s dangerous to be naked in my bed. It’s dangerous to be in my doorway-bed at all.

 

Circling a rack of postcards. Castles, cafes, meals posed and flattered by golden light. The art of centuries, photographs of bodies bent and twisted, the faces of authors “so full” so rich with insight “so more than bodies” so irrelevant. Welcome, welcome to the exhibition of correspondance.

“Don’t you want to go places?” he asks. Like where?—I don’t know, he says, picking up a postcard at random—Venice? As charmed as I am by your gondoliers, your spanish bullfighters in their sequined slippers, your meadows and grinning british sheep, your IRELAND…

“I don’t see any difference between there and here” I tell him. He raises his eyebrows, shrugs his shoulders, obviously irritated. He steals a Rita Hayworth,

a San Francisco at night.

 

All across the city as it gets dark people appear on the rooftops, flashing signals. There is a woman pouring dishwater into the alley from her window, and a herd of white horses drags the remains of a caravan clattering through the streets.

 

I want to find the window, door or sewer grate—

Whatever hole I need to go through to enter the system that I know exists. I try to explain that it is different from changing your location {he’s still thinking of Venice, Spain, Brazil}—It would be FLUX I tell him. FLUX is an incomparable place.

I made the mistake of trying to explain it in terms of cancer (fear the conditioned analogy). Cancer is nature attempting to become something better—abusing her instruments, ignoring their mediocrity in an effort to illustrate the law of expansion, of constant, bizarre production. The body as fractal, producing tumors. The body as FLUX, irregularity, adventure. If I could just find that entrance.

I always follow the clues.