Also in this issue Corpses a collaboration between Laura Bell and Ian Ganassi
Thirteen Ways of Gazing at Wallace Stevens
How does one stand
To behold the sublime
Not cross-eyed, its too serious in here. As serious as a broken
Jaw in Key West. Ask not how French it is, but how American.
Am I imagining finding a glass washboard on the dump?
Not a typo, a slight stutter after words. And there are no
Ordinary evenings in New Haven, take it from me.
Nor in Florida far far away. A touch of the clap from
Their gritty soil. To gaze at him is to gaze at all
His buddies. I read so much about the ill effects
Of influence I had to stop reading. Which is to say,
If youre paranoid theyre out to get you.
If youre not paranoid theyre out to get you.
Except that theyve already gotten to most of us.
Meaningless meanings. A rock band called Same Old Shit.
Well-dressed, with identical beards, and a portrait in robes,
The archival impulse, the malady of the quotidian.
But no man is a snowman. And yet he was either a judge,
A magician, or a magnifico. Death is the mother
Of beauty...//Momentary in the mind/The fitful tracing
Of a portal/But in the flesh it is immortal. Having smoked
A joint, he went from being impossible to being spectacular.
Omne ignotum pro magnifico (est). The walk from Wallace
Place to Stevens Street was longer than I had imagined.
The name scrawled on the cement when we moved in, initials
Of the former occupants, their son, his mark. Meanwhile,
In the thin green flower gardens of Haddam, Connecticut,
The stairs were coming at me thick and fast. Im a happily
Married man. But it was all true. I could barely see through
Them but I saw enough not to go there. In the headlock we were
Not a seesaw. It didnt kill me but it didnt make me stronger.
The perfect hemistiches. Just between us, however, my stop is
Right around the corner, by the way we came. But which way?
Whose way? Was it really such a big deal? Once we got the lawyer
Paradigm out of the way we could indulge. We wanted a bauble,
Something gaudy. And we got it. For someone so godless he sure
Had a super superego. And for someone who Lived a skeletons
Life, he sure was chubby. Must have been all those pears.
A break in the admissions policy reminded me of how broke I was.
Money is a kind of poetry. Poetry is a kind of poverty. It is
To have or nothing. But Peter Quince was too quick at the keys,
My dear. As though we were Shriners at the Fairport
Convention, caravanning down the street in our tasseled hats.
John Barleycorn must die. This is not a sonnet.
Eye as in Eye
Believe Ill take my pneumonia for a stroll.
If it could it would leave me in its wake.
Eternally sleeping cats—
Why do you think they have nine lives?
A match made nowhere, in the gutter, on the bridge, etc.
Alphonsina, wheres your guitar?
A monograph by Sherlock Holmes on Cremona violins.
The glove was a universal size but it didnt fit.
He publishes his friends. Grow a beard why dont you.
An acute intelligence,
An acute pain, something piercing,
A pair of brilliant blue eyes.
But green is the most fashionable color.
Besides, on the internet theres no way to know.
The lucidity of a flashlight
In that of broad day.
Who ought to be in pictures.
Flattery will get you a guarded smile.
Or just get you.
We think, therefore we are sad.
The solution, obviously, is not to think,
To avoid ones own company at all costs.
Another Dance Review
For Susan Matheke
How disgusting it must always be to grow old.—Donald Justice
One mans depth is anothers height/One mans bark anothers bite/one mans satire anothers suicide note: the poets instinctive response to dance is lyrical. But for the critic theres a faint odor of sulfur in the air, and lapsed angels falling through the firmament sucking each others thumbs. Then the sand bag holding the curtains gave way and fell on my head. I woke up seeing stars, which made the rest of the program feel
Like a dream, or something on PBS. And indeed several of the dancers might have produced a good impression of Jackie Chan or Charlie Chaplin, and thats what I admired most—the athleticism and sense of humor of the choreography, some of which was athletic to the point of seeming dangerous. The most dazzling piece was a tour de force involving six or eight dancers running in a circle while, on the outside of the circle, they passed
Bricks backward from hand to hand at about the speed at which they were running. This resulted in two moving circles: the dancers moving forward and the bricks moving backward. The pace then quickened until the circle broke apart, at which point the dancers began tossing the bricks into the air, seemingly at random, to be caught and thrown again by other dancers. After a period of this virtuosity the curtain fell with bricks still in
The air, and immediately one heard the clatter of the bricks hitting the floor. Did that prove it wasnt a dream since it didnt wake me up? Or am I actually reviewing a dream? In which case shouldnt this poem be titled Dream Review? Especially since, when a dancer friend read it, she felt the choreography was impossible. And I tend to agree. If anyone out there has seen or knows the brick dance, write to the address on your
Screen. Elsewhere on the bill was a piece combining jazz, modern and ballet techniques, which seemed more focused on slinkiness of body and costume than on any thematic or aesthetic purpose. But rather than being a weakness, this pointed up how dance inevitably evokes sex, no matter how sublimated the choreography. How many serious dancers have been erotic dancers in their salad days? Beautiful bodies inevitably provoke
Erotic attention, since beauty is wholly arbitrary, unrelated to truth, something we have a jones for, a magnificent dish that comes with a sign saying take me, but not specifying how or how much. There may even be a sadistic component considering the sacrifices some dancers make for their art. A brazen idol, a golden calf (or ass), a hard life, but, like the Old Testament, worth the price of admission several times over.
She called him honey-dripper. Not in my presence she didnt.
I can walk it from here, do you have a problem with that too? That smirk you hear in the blues is on you.
And speaking of that smirk, I dont hear it in the blues. I hear it in rock, and sometimes in jazz and Latin music. (Thats assuming were talking about the same smirk.)
Sun Ra, for instance, at the Five Spot just before it closed, the most postmodern of jazzmen, able to turn on a dime from pure cacophony to immaculate swing, and a precursor of Dr. Funkenstein.
But everyone moans his or her own version while waiting to succumb, which you did posthaste. The fool persisted in his folly and became dead. As for your baleful influence, it didnt kill me, but it didnt make me stronger.
With no congas, he said, it sounds like I Love Lucy.
I remember when I lived in the East Village how we struggled to soundproof my apartment, stapling egg cartons to the walls to mute the percussion.
excuse me for being mice elf again
my paraphrase cant compete with the original
I twang it out and leave it there.
But the old guitarist says (among other things) that non-verbal communication only gets you so far, no matter how subtle, clever, strong the communication. Unfortunately verbal communication isnt all that much more effective.
Sam Rivers trombone player tried to talk some sense into me, to show me the way it was really done. But did I listen? I was too busy missing other opportunities.
The past is a possibility that no longer exists—the only tense we have is the present, and maybe a tiny pinch of the future.
Meanwhile Trane was trying to cram as many notes as possible into what was left of his life.
If you get near a song play it.
He did know what he was doing.
But enlarge or blow up the piano player, or fire him onstage—it builds character.
A diminuendo in personnel.
Not many people who know the album Mingus ah um realize the joke: the name sounds a bit like the Latin adjective magnus (with its feminine and neuter endings: a, um), and if Latin had an adjective mingus it would mean something like pissy, from the verb mingere, to urinate. But Charles knew it. He set a record for torque and evil temper; on the one hand firing the piano player onstage, on the other making some of the most intense sounds going. This wasnt just any old music but the real deal, and so much of it intimating clave.
Much later, the memorial concert was a memorable evening except that Frank Grillos son wasnt Frank Grillo, and Tito teasing Daniel Ponce with Danny Boy. Not to mention we were over our heads in New York, like in the Mariana trench.
Those who cant hack it move to Vermont, said the chauvinist Manhattanite. If I can make it there, Ill make it anywhere... and so on and so forth.
Sometimes the music seems too much of a good thing.
On the other hand, if you know the tune well enough its almost like theres no reason to listen to it again, or thats what Elvin Jones reported thinking as he sharpened the needle on the family Victrola with his fathers whetstone.
But for things to be seamless, without seeming, to be promoted to the position of ribbon, it cant be done. Thus the seams are showing, and thats an understatement.
Sun Ra, for instance. By definition. Heaven forefend.