web analytics

on “words nd ends from ez”/Dawn’s Erasure


Notes: This text was originally published in: Shifter Magazine 16 special issue on Pluripotential. Edited by Sreshta Rit Premnath & Warren Neidich

Had lost faith in the poem. Or in myself, in my sight as it spewed sentences, one after the other, like sheep I was counting, & never enough.

Studied Pound for a year or more. & his tropes, his failures. The Language poets too, tho the opacity of their work mirrored Pound’s, their coldness regarding the object suggested their having been burned, you know, by objects. How had they read Stein & Zukofsky? What, in the poetry of the forerunners of the Language moment, was not autobiographical? To their credit, the poetries of Bernstein, Coolidge, & Silliman are constantly invoking pleasure, & often across layers of meaning. But I don’t think I understood, or saw, this then, as I was, & in spite of myself still am, looking for an author.

& this is perhaps why a section of the avant-garde chose to really erase themselves from their work, or erase some sense of the self, in an attempt at grasping the lack, of the former. & to what pleasure.

The avant-garde tendency, to be bound in sandpaper, is present in the selection techniques of reading used by Jackson Mac Low, which, even in tribute, produced books “of” Emily Dickinson, Pound, & Kurt Schwitters’ language, that are set, if not in Dewey Decimal, on the mind’s shelf next to those of the original authors. There they are ground away, & facets of the original language are exposed as a beautiful dust.

Mac Low took (away) not only the first line of Pound’s Cantos

And then went down to the ships

but the rest of the first page, leaving only the

(e)n

in “then”. It took him pages of selective reading to produce the first line of his “tribute”:

En nZe eaRing ory Arms,

over the course of three years to erase 90% of the Cantos, producing an 88-page poem that acts as a “topographical map of the features of a work otherwise obscured by its narrative thrusts” (Bernstein). The poem is reduced to a textual surface, an alphabet, & then an enhancement of certain variants within that surface.

I began reading (into) Mac Low’s selection-tribute to Pound, Words nd Ends from Ez (WNEFE), toward the end of June 2009, finding Mac Low’s selections of Pound’s Pisan Cantos in the Mac Low anthology Thing of Beauty,
& shortly thereafter decided to use WNEFE as source material, to which I could a apply a flexible constraint that was a mix of free association & homophonic translation. The process of “translating” WNEFE then took on the form of a Rorschach, a non-representational blot that nonetheless began to resemble images of my past in blurred fragments, & present, where it appeared as the faces of my friends surrounded by literal, textual, auras.

Tho I undeniably was using this avant-garde text (of Mac Low’s) as a sounding board for my own egoic-world picture, what excited me more than the feigned correlation between our works was the possibility of doubling Mac Low’s. Most of WNEFE I transcribed, some by hand, some by typewriter, & I did this for aesthetic as well as practical reasons. I wrote Words nd Ends from Ez, and I wrote it with semantic & emotional content. I married my text to Mac Low’s, breaking its form composing the actual matter of my subconscious, & fitting it around WNEFE, turning WNEFE into a mnemonic score. &, while much of my poem, which I called “Dawn’s Erasure,” was composed of objects bearing the features of my friends present & past, it also stank of place, from the beginning, which probably could have been “Genesis:” I instead translated “En nZe eaRing ory Arms,” into

Genessee, even here, whoring our missus[.]

Deeper than name, the surface is familiar, or familiarized. Opacity & secret betray surface. A circle is not about anything, we have only inscribed upon on it, eye, flower, & planet.

Spicer said “the edges of mirrors have their own song to sing.”

Every edge is a mirror. Let us return to mirror as a creative kind of failure.

Full (fool) circle.

from “Dawn’s Erasure”:

III

Even conservative buddhism encourages the digital record
the pure binary essence reborn biologically
hunted & infused by our descendents
scrolls diffuse light to rest of silicon valley
curiously dustin left portland’s
collectives of pop
in basement shows
to keep rare & a little drier
the alphabetic self projected in secular metals
these tantric pretenders
wld let gresham in
& stay long enough to see it.
Incentive:
sex.
Arizona’s gold
is last/in paper
-s of July, go to the show
but go to the best show.
My sister never pretended to be a buddhist
but while claiming big sky
crossed me.
Now my only chance at seeing her
is in a hot place
and that’s about summing it
since 2000.
Even a rap show
can’t beat the heat
-the urban suburban detailbumping
the alphabet

-s digital
ninjaz.
The yak gleaming at me thru the golden piano
A dozen states redden as we pray to Sabbath
ap missles
going off everywhere
but Whitney’s like straight up “whatever”
black ops, whatever
Mt. Erie sucks
the asshole
fucked my day up
counting cars
as the clang from the bluffs

pitch determines what the cars are doing
& remember the asshole’s fireworks
every year, competing


haggling over Chris’ complete erotic cs lewis
holiday in the grey states
poverty visited by rock
tastier,
Franco-buddhists & Hassid-buddhist
piss digital
& earn Whitney’s ire
which spills over European port cities
and is against liberty
Seneca believed in a theographic economy
spun the omnia patria bullshit
believed in the divine right of kings
& that gutenberg
proved the lutheran
& then folded
abasement
is mutual
little angel,
vagina dentata
as the gears emerge from the schematic
so will my river shoes find their engine
This isn’t shakespeare
but sarsparilla
insured as if it were
art
Don’t blame me or my lingo
for gestalt operatics
shake for the hunnies
even if they ain’t hunnies
thrice I soaked my pants
before Mrs. Free started checking me
Intellectual profit
above
this new deck
atomic-magnetic
gateway
drug
tried & finished
my time in the desert
w/ this.
Where Brad forgot Nate
& Nate’s punk domestica
terrifies
Sister, get lost in the atom
& Brad thinks
a purer form of entertainment
wld have a million names for itself
it grammars
proj├ęct
so natural scansion
offends even
us!
Whose boat is a natural reaction
Bloatie give here
you have to forge my name on the lease
& I’ll do my best to copy the landlord’s

The look of Galactus makes me sick


Heliocentric (or the opposite)
& mewing in his stain
I’m allergic to this tree by the door
& noone to complain to but
you, Whitney, & the sky
that & the neighbors know just what we’re doing
& condemn us for it.


But the coldlab is golden
see here
comes Travis
my sister flew
for a nogood
in the age of terror
our fight
is water
on skates
an aphrodisiac
set to kick tunes


the water rose
from under Arizona
& bloomed


speech a rat cast in gold
& spun to pop memorials
here & queer
three Idaho Gem shirts
confirm my existence
spake my lady


It made us look better or ruined the show
when Brad gave him the mic


I bought a jacket w/ what I didn’t give my sister
we toked at the cathedral
& I almost threw cummings in the seine


Andy you’ve killed me
go spread it on the back of some farm or wall street

Dan’s first tat or nut


for whom darkness is light
& dawn extends the erasure


Tried to quote the whole thing
before winter set in
Morgan picked me of all people
to drink pine needle tea
& sleep in the snow w/ our axes
Jesus deliver
a canard
second-rate
after all
the singing.


PDX > “Denver” 7.19.09

More poems from: James Leary