Sam Rasanke’s personal website is samofthetenthousandthings.wordpress.com/


Contributor Notes

Sam Rasnake

Sam Rasnake

Word Plus Word Squared Over Anti-pastoral as Truth

            The world is everything that is the case.

                           Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus




Because at their best, words are

too inexact, too impersonal, too

unreal – or, by default, they’re so

personal they drown in their own

excised moment, too real for mouth,

paper, or screen, too full of themselves

to be benevolent for any one purpose –

or they are absolutely the wrong choices:

the brain bending one way, the tongue

another until what is spoken doesn’t

resemble in the least a true intent,

as if one were even a possibility, like

a field of crows or a broken basket or

scraps of paper under a chair at night







In this piece I will not focus at all on

writing – too many words about words,

I guess.  In any case, this won’t be a poem

about a poem; rather, it will be about a bird

flying over a roof as though some truth could

be discovered or believed.  The bird could be

jay or wren or grosbeak – it doesn’t matter.

The bird isn’t the point.  It’s something else. 

On a porch, say, two people talking wouldn’t

notice.  Their equally flawed and animated

arguments, untouched, wouldn’t be given

even the slightest recognition by the bird

who’s only concern is the falling shadow

of a day in which he completely fits.







This is no brain matter, no grey matter

stilled to one silent clarity, and one only.

What we have here is communication,

a thought broken down to bit, fragment,

or smidgen – all signs of understanding,

but it’s the red herring, a gull pecking for

bread.  Before the image, before the bloated

idea – there’s the thing itself. “No ideas

but in things,” WCW writes in ‘27. Then

comes the notion of what? – a description,

placement, context maybe? – I would say so.

We think it to the tongue, speak its cruel arc,

and a word, dragging its skulls and femurs,

shreds the empty.  The air aches with nothing.






If Ron Silliman is correct, and I think he is,

then the “pen squeezed too tight yields ink as

blood or pus,” and the truth we’re making will

be no anodyne for pain, so we hurt, we write,

we hurt, we write more – and the hope is we

will discover something about the self – yet

knowing all the while the self is pure myth, has

never worn hat or coat or shoes, never walked

a crooked mile, nor sailed a sea or two, and

wouldn’t dream of dreaming, but bullies its

way into every talk, so we expand the premise

to include laws of physics and IT opiates of pop

& right & left, culting the perfect voice-body

of sweat into new religions of American Empire







fade in:

The car always breaks down outside

a small town with no name.


quick cuts:

Thick stands of trees on

both sides of the asphalt,

potholes waiting to be

filled in with a spring thaw.



One gas station, three trucks, two cars, quarts of oil stacked

in the window, a gaggle of old men – gnarled hats and ratty

coats – nothing better to do, by the candy machine,

drinking orange sodas, their talk a bit garbled –


                                                                              voice over:

“The baby could look like anybody”

“John or Joey, Mike or Dave”

“That plant’s played out”

“In everybody’s business”

“She shot her, who shot him –”


                                                     – having to do with

the one black sheep the town claims, who lives down

the road a piece, her unlit windows the subject

of all whispers –


                                                                    My days, they are

quick cuts:                                                   the highway kind

Large pile of stones,                                    they only come to leave

a broken mailbox,

dark clouds over

railroad tracks,



Footsteps on gravel then stone walk then porch.

A hand knocks at the door, and it opens.


                                                chocolate Lab running,

boy and rake in a swirl of leaves,

a cold rain just starting.


fade out:




from, Subjunctives of a Disembodied Poetic


            I made a supplication in this dream

                                                – Visions of Cody


1.  As


muzzled as a Jew, as

            kneeless as a Muslim

bending, or trying to,

            due east, heartless

as a Christian, all gifts

            in a bag – the Buddhist

with no hands or feet,

            the Hindu with no

tongue, no words to say,

            all non-believers without eyes

or ears, nothing to commit to

            the space-time continuum,

their moments chock-full

            of the doing – we muddle on

through our caves while

            truth’s final construct flickers

its flames of p’s & q’s

            against the cold, wet wall

we claim to know as

            if that knowing somehow

made us more reliable

            witnesses of a life lived

than, say, dung beetles,

            maggots, or spiders, though

I’m not convinced of

            our deserving the greater

recognition – it does go

            without saying that

I’ve purposely removed

            the comparison between

taxonomies of  hummingbird,

            cascading Cymbidium, and

a late summer sky full of

            stars, their names & numbers,

a sea of questions with

            no definitive reason for

saying otherwise – in

            other words – shooting fish

in a barrel – since

            you can’t help yourself

but look and look and

            look – since the point

may not be a fair one,




2.  So That


the grave will not be

the only memory to last,

or the salt of the sea

just after dawn from

your window the only

sense you hold on to,

so that the miracle of

sleep will stay with you

for as long as is needed,

for as long as is needed

to shore up your hard days,

I give you a steaming

cup of words to dangle

from your tongue



3.  After


wars of the heart –

after the books are

closed and threads of smoke

fan the clouds to blue,


say my name against

the dash as you drive –


say my name to the window,

to the steering wheel,

to the rear view mirror


and the wet road

disappearing, say

my name to the rain

(I’ve always wanted

to love the rain, but

have never been able to...



4.  If


that thing you were telling me the other day, the thing you said no one knew – and come to think of it, why did you let that go on so long?  I’ve never understood that about you – but then again, maybe that was just you remembering to live or forgetting to breathe or speak first – you’ve always had a problem with that – or great display – That would be your description of it.  You are the listener.  I’ve seen you stand in the fields for hours, or at least it seemed so, without moving – “just listening” you would say.  That’s your perfection, and you’ve honed its delicate craft, made yourself into the perfect human, into the one who hears the roots of plants moving deep into black soil





The Reason Why


            Once upon a time leaves me empty

                                    – The Band, “In a Station”


We live, or wish we lived, in the sure plowing

of stony ground as if to bury the stiff muscle

of the heart were the only choice, so we dig –

we dig, never finding bottom.


                                                  The Music

from Big Pink is the only fit our souls refuse

to let go of – like the summer hush of crickets

or deep rambles of creek, rock, leaves, moss, like


cows across the road, ditch, and fence wire from

my daughter’s house, waiting the slow morning

to its late afternoon of purples and grays over

their thick field of timothy and clover – blade

after blade, raising then lowering their perfect



             Above the far tree line, in strong, silent

circles of need, turkey buzzards are the world.