from The Posit Trilogy '17

To Joseph Conrad, after reading "Heart of Darkness"

If the spirit of universal
genius is meant to float
down the river into naught,
to be attenuated by the
jealous against authenticity,

& if it turns quotidian life into
an unworkable mess, as
universal genius attempts to
forge alliances above spheres
which must be minded on Earth,

& if it expresses itself to the crass,
& the crass is everyone, & Kurtz
understands the parasitism involved,
saturation in/by malevolence, then

I'm down the river, up forever-

Murder Dream

There was a concert somewhere, I was
there with a college friend who wound
up betraying me, & I murdered the son
of a bitch with a shot-gun; they told
me I could get off scot-free if it was
only one murder, & as I sat in the
balcony trying not to notice a show
of cadavers onstage I angled my
behaviors so as not to offend them.

Next shot: I saw the dead man's life
pass in sequence before me, & he
was bound by a five-year contract to
die shortly anyway, which is probably
why they let me off, even as the cadavers
played invisible instruments into open air-

Aphorisms Pt. 2

No community is as rich as a community of one.

If you are a "people person," it is because you don't know who or what people are, yourself included.

Contrary to what Stein said, the rules are not already known.

Never revile what's solid beneath the surface.

When a society succeeds in destroying the individual, it also succeeds in rendering itself obsolescent. The individual is the agent of human progress (to the extent that human progress is possible), always.

The primordial perspective poetry sets in place- one individual writing to, for, or about another individual- is also the most durable possible literary perspective.

Pop World/Pop Church, when it happens, is a cruel phenomenon, because it is meant, from its inception, to be erased. The individual is not.

The masses are always implored to admire things that add up to nothing. They are also implored to reject what's solid beneath the surface. What's solid cannot be widely popular.

Yet solidity, is all its myriad forms, is the only ostensible reason for the continuation of the human race.

The individual is solid.

This contradiction; solidity being the only ostensible reason for the continuation of the human race, yet solidity being widely unpopular; strikes at the heart of any perception of the human race en masse other than almost-complete absurdity.

The masses chop things into place, and are chopped into place.

America is more variegated, less absurd, than most other human race locales.

By the most solid standards, the twentieth century was far quieter than the nineteenth. Most of the noise was on the surface, and easily erased. The twentieth century "school" was of quietude; surface-level spectacles now razed to zeroes, permanently.

The profound silence of the twentieth century may have been supposed to work as a riposte to Keats and English Romanticism, a solid apotheosis of the individual. Even Deconstruction is suspect on this level.

Neo-Romanticism was conceived, developed, and disseminated to be solid.

Much more so than other American cities, Philadelphia is solid.

Solidity is louder than what's on the surface. The twenty-first century has already consolidated a position as louder, more solid, than the twentieth.

Philadelphia architecture is solid. Even before Neo-Romanticism, it stood beneath the surface as a representation of Philadelphia's solidity over the rest of America.

...............................................................................................................

The principle of solidity in serious art has to do with depth and well-roundedness; the sense, in the work of art, that all possible imperatives built into the respective form have been honored and fulfilled. Post-modernity has been one long denial of both the possibility and the desirability of solidity.

Post-modern poetry denies thematics, outright and wholesale. This is absurd. Poetry which addresses no important themes is placed into circulation to preclude seriousness and solidity from emerging in contemporary poetry, at any time this chooses to happen.

There is no reason to read poetry which addresses no important themes, or will only address important themes in a deliberately obfuscated fashion.

The distaste for solidity in serious art is degenerate; and evinces a hunger for art, and all other humanistic endeavors, to be reduced to zero-level beneath the surface.

Shenanigans '08


Jeremy Eric Tenenbaum, ensconced
with a U of Arts semi-disciple, sees me
bust in with a brazen brunette, who
resembles me so closely she might
be my niece; we sit, begin to fight;
she decides she wants red wine;
Mary H is standing across Pine
Street, spying on us; we leave; Mary
follows us; Jeremy, as is his wont, can
only pine for the poems he wrote in
the 90s at Villanova, that he meant
something then; we get the red wine;
Mary positions herself caddy-corner
the liquor store window; we walk past-

Let Us Compare Mythologies


As of the present moment, and the new pages in Otoliths and The Argotist, I've begun a new writing process/gambit: to compose with an acknowledged, conscious sense of mythology and mythologies, and of the mythologizing process; and to do so to facilitate awareness of what happened in Philadelphia (and a few other places) in the Aughts. Ten to fifteen years hindsight had better be enough, folks; and why wait for myths to be generated around you... why not put your nose to the old grindstone and do it yourself? Candor is important here, because the Aughts had an unblemished feeling about them of cohesiveness and integrity, and I do not want that to be lost. It's also revolutionary about the ascension of Aughts Philly and its cultural scene that, on a socio-cultural and socio-historic level, the good guys in American art, those who dared to put the art first and all the subterranean attendant crap second, found a way to win against the stooges, parasites, and floozies. The Philly Free School story, it turns out, is inherently a juicy one. Mythologies spun out from the Free School do not have to deal with the egg-headed professor syndrome, the spoiled rich brat syndrome, the mafia cartel consonant syndrome, or the hands-off puritanical syndrome. The rest of the sonnets from the first round of writing Something Solid are shot through with an awareness of/ fascination with dynamic individuals who dared to live a life with hands in many games, and tactile ones.

Neptune in Pisces Revisited


Is 2017 the year in which (almost) everything stopped dead? As Neptune continues its transit through time-warped, time-bending Pisces, we've reached a critical crux moment in the US about momentum, force, the surface and what's beneath, and the sense that the new century has scared the shit out of what's left of the last. I make no bones about an opinion which isn't going to change: most of the current media hoopla is about red herrings, red herring issues, red herring personalities. Beneath a surface which bristles with malign, childish vitriol, the issue is the same as it was five years ago: a Recession which won't leave, out of control inflation, liquidation of resources on both general and specific levels, and a society which seems incapable of running smoothly or cohesively in any direction. Neptune steps up to the plate and pushes everything to the bottom of the ocean: slime, grease, corpses, offal. Pisces energy is brilliant at the freeze-frame effect: there you are, passing through time without the comforting sense that time is moving forward. A bad LSD trip.

Yet, remember that Pisces and Scorpio are the two great magicians of the zodiac. Where Pisces goes, everything, even when seemingly frozen into place, is subtly, sometimes subconsciously shifting in new directions. Human consciousness, when it is most earnest, most truly human, is incapable of doing nothing. For those on a bottom-of-the-ocean kind of Neptune in Pisces trip, where I join you, sometimes, take comfort that the magic of the celestial fish is that through hitting the ocean's floor, you have pierced through to new levels of both honesty consonance and spiritual awareness. You are higher up than you seem to be.

Bite the Bullet, Junk the Junket


For those of us who lived through the Aughts, writing and publishing on high levels, it must be clear: times is tough. The book junket routine many of us perfected in the Aughts involved a multi-pronged attack on literature dissemination, from any individual artist's manuscript on out: composition of manuscript, interspersed with submissions to print or online journals; readings and/or social appearances to create interest; publication of book, in print and/or online; and then reinforcement cycles of the same activities. The junket then was very rich: lots of flourishing journals and presses, lots of social action from scene to scene, city to city. In 2017, we notice that what was called The Great Recession five or six years ago never left, and, in fact, is continuing to plummet downwards, what with the outrageous cost of food, health insurance, and other living expenses (Obama did what to counter or even mention this?), so that book junkets, and the book writing process in general, have to suffer just like everything else. Capiche?

Here, I am, writing a manuscript of sonnets tentatively entitled Something Solid. I've had some new material appear in Otoliths 44 and in The Argotist Online, more to come in Helios Mss, maybe a few other places, but it stands to reason that I can't not notice another simple, irritating factoid: all the new poetry journals that have sprung up in the Teens (Ray Farr's I still count as Aughts, because it's Ray's) are formatted in the most revolting, most tacky possible taste, so that I can't even consider the idea of submitting to them. The imaginatively titled Posit is a key example, and there are dozens of others. The new journal scene is mostly paltry now. Which means that the bum's rush effect, whereby new material which passes muster is instantly passed on into submission land, is no longer in adherence at all. Now, if you have forty new poems, and if you place, say, fifteen of them, and then are stuck, there's really nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. If you're going to write the rest of your f-cking manuscript, you're going to have to bite the bullet and junk the junket.

So, you have recourse, possibly, to a more workmanlike approach. I place new sonnets here, on Art Recess 2, and make due with a lack of glamour and a surfeit of grit. Over a long period of time, waiting for the pot to boil again, poets have to decide what they're in this game for, why they're playing it. Without wanting to appear unduly sanctimonious, the more dedicated individuals, with the more passionate devotion to creative activity, are the ones most likely to survive the right way now, even as the recession continues to clear deck after deck and the idiots of the world offer up more red herrings. And I am, it turns out, forty poems into the new manuscript, and I am ready to be workmanlike when I need to be.

Ekphrasis: The Lost Twins: Abby Heller-Burnham/Adam Fieled



I place myself in the next room-
white-walled, high-ceiling'd, cavernous-
as the lost twins turn to face Abby,
in her own most vaunted masterpiece.
If I haven't seen them, they may leave
without attracting my notice. Yet I'll
never miss Abby, who both represents
and, as they well know, is them, & who
finds me irrelevant (as a male, a poet,
a clay figurine at such times in her
economy) as she paints, carrying David
like I carry Keats, & in fact those two
might get along famously, looking at
the inception of a new century, lost?