logo


Also in this issue “Corpses” a collaboration between Laura Bell and Ian Ganassi

_______

Contributor Notes




Ian Ganassi

Ian Ganassi



___________

                                   

 

 

 

Thirteen Ways of Gazing at Wallace Stevens

 

                                                                        How does one stand

                                                                        To behold the sublime

 

 

Not cross-eyed, it’s 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 you’re paranoid they’re out to get you.

If you’re not paranoid they’re out to get you.

Except that they’ve 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. “I’m 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 didn’t kill me but it didn’t 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 skeleton’s

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 I’ll 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, where’s your guitar?

 

A monograph by Sherlock Holmes on Cremona violins.

 

The glove was a universal size but it didn’t fit.

“He publishes his friends.” Grow a beard why don’t 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 there’s 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 one’s own company at all costs.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                               

Another Dance Review

 

                                                            For Susan Matheke

 

How disgusting it must always be to grow old.Donald Justice

 

One man’s depth is another’s height/One man’s bark another’s bite/one man’s satire another’s suicide note: the poet’s instinctive response to dance is lyrical. But for the critic there’s 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 that’s 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 wasn’t a dream since it didn’t wake me up? Or am I actually reviewing a dream? In which case shouldn’t 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.

 

 

 

 

                                                                                   

Music Review

 

 

She called him honey-dripper. “Not in my presence she didn’t.”

 

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 don’t hear it in the blues. I hear it in rock, and sometimes in jazz and Latin music. (That’s assuming we’re 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 didn’t kill me, but it didn’t 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 can’t 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 isn’t all that much more effective.

 

Sam River’s 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 wasn’t 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 Grillo’s son wasn’t 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.”

 

Isn’t everybody?

 

“Those who can’t hack it move to Vermont,” said the chauvinist Manhattanite. If I can make it there, I’ll 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 it’s almost like there’s no reason to listen to it again, or that’s what Elvin Jones reported thinking as he sharpened the needle on the family Victrola with his father’s whetstone.

 

But for things to be seamless, without seeming, to be promoted to the position of ribbon, it can’t be done. Thus the seams are showing, and that’s an understatement.

 

Sun Ra, for instance. By definition. Heaven forefend.