Category: Writing

Virtuous Compositions

‘You exist as the stars exist,
participating in their stillness, their immensity’*

poetry compresses and pressurizes
the ragged edge of an improvisational ocean/sky
I confront the integrity of the line
purity of sketchbook ruminations now outlined
in graphite strokes of velleity

phase shifts embedded in oil stick
color whispering, pressed lips to canvas – bleed/drip
every touch a blossom brush with death
branching iridescent highlights of
a monumentally intimate asymmetry

I come upon the space enfolding
the butterfly lovers, immortal,
burning swans screaming in flight
silhouetted against a murderous apathy

internalized terror of what cannot be released
what rains down upon us, drawn and redrawn
by everything outside ourselves and our control
tracing a watermark of interiority

delineating Whitman’s path
between reality and our souls
infinitude revealed through our separation
I search for a home within
the windowless reading room

* from Telescope by Louise Glück
‘The land and sea, the animals, fishes and birds, the sky of heaven and the orbs, the forests mountains and rivers, are not small themes  . . .  but folk expect of the poet to indicate more than the beauty and dignity which always attach to dumb real objects. . . . they expect him to indicate the path between reality and their souls.’ from the Preface to Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Putrefaction plié

Dancing with death

dancing with death

exabyte choruses of jumbled debris
detritus and hubris, humility and dignity
Mao’s last dancer lifting Pol Pot corpses
in a ballet of ideologies as
art crumbles into propaganda

song lyrics and lyrical nightmares
conspire to create vistas of twisted
surrealist mindscapes, beautiful disease
even Charles and Ray fell prey
in a day/night haze of stalled flight

Isaiah Berlin argues value pluralism
beating a drum in honor of human tragedy
young pioneers of socialist realism dancing
immortalized with graphic clarity
denouncing enemies of the state
of a unified ego / positive freedom
collapses under the weight of oppression

a conscious self-mastery schoolmistress
raps her knuckles in the theater of mind/war
constructing corrective labor camps for the
multiplicity which refuses to comply with
posted slogans knowing the flogging will
continue until morale improves

an undecayable, sainted body
arises in a self-perpetuating
cult of personality,
becomes the god
birthing scribes who

indoctrinate the newly formed history
solidify the moral superiority
of the family of origin
in an attempt to root out the shame
of a peasant, anti-intellectual upbringing

there’s no escape
from the fatherland
cellular memories,
spinning ballerina delusions,
brought about by behavioral epigenetics
while vertigo overwhelms the
perpetually still dancer

Richard Diebenkorn - Berkeley #57

Richard Diebenkorn – Berkeley #57

incendiary convergence, blood-dark magnolia
caught in a wounded harvesting, profound incursion,
an exile – suicide volition in a fading Arcadia

oscillating secrets, pleasure traversal
dreaming plunge on a transparent, violet night
blue smoke ushers a vestigial solemnity

(the text intervenes –
a mutilation which language
supports and denounces*)

cavernous figurations, internal adorations
aesthetic conceptions underscoring
an invented landscape

elegant silence of seclusion’s verdancy
ephemeral horizon, an evasive, mirrored shore-line

inclination, reflection, formidable curiosity
abstraction of Diebenkorn’s expressive,
succulent brush-strokes

dancing exclamations of luminosity
hieroglyphs of absence enabling
an atmosphere of poetic contingency

glistering disquisitions, light echoes – shadow colors
bewitching lexicons, internal archways of lavish resemblances
banished beauty, castles built on unbounded mists

pale branches atop evasive stones, incommensurate
reaching toward scorched estuaries

impenetrable worlds of hearth ash
remains of an intense art

painted mountains, the apparent vanguards,
figurative defacements of a gestating destiny

* from Anne-Marie Albiach’s The Wasting Away “of Chance”
posted for Charles Miller’s dVerse prompt Meeting the Bar: Form for All and was created following a random method of word selection (including allowing another poet to choose words) from multiple texts and then arranging them poetically. The texts include the complete novels of Jane Austen, Women’s Poetry in France 1965-1995 translated by Michael Bishop, Possession by A.S. Byatt, American Hybrid A Norton Anthology of New Poetry, Gerhard Richter Paintings from Private Collections, and Richard Diebenkorn The Berkeley Years 1953-1966. Please join us at dVerse Poets Pub.

ars poetica, a seduction of lexical lists
mélange unmoored from belonging
pulse thrum in the anechoic room

how will we find purity amidst semantic noise;
the salve of metalanguage in a sea of allusions?

language transfers mental content
(words are containers)
speakers eject thought into an external space
(in this way language is reified)

‘a poem should not mean but be’

positing a fantasia,
a condition of meaningfulness –
unfurling with the cosmic significance
of a blue lotus blooming improbably
at the base of a Bodhi tree

cartographic games of death,
hybrid experiments that assuage
our fear of floating into the void


a terribly human snow angel
sculpted and melting, transfigured
to cloud and stream

whispering Rilke’s empty freedom
attained by seeking what’s beyond
a treatise of identity,
Hillman’s String Theory Sutra

(this poem has a mimetic twin
that plays arias in another dimension
through a telekinetic gramophone)

where, a reader may ask, does virtue lie?

Dickens’ acuity akin to the Delphic Oracle unsettles
telescopic vision reveals Bishop’s calculated descriptors
alongside Ashbery’s nuanced reflection:
convex mirror distorting the ruminating Self

(my face imprints the air within a breath of yours)

Carson’s accordion of grief,
a Sanskrit obituary contrasting handwritten notes
each word translated to illuminate a place
where no light is permitted

we poets enact a query
demonstrating the fragility
of the sacred phoenix’s flight

philosophical conceits drown
in a tidal wave of lyricism
roaring, irremediable, shifting selves
litter an infinite shore

(we build cairns for those without name,
stone markers in the sand)

Anna Montgomery

Anna Montgomery

salience exists at the edge of chaos
where order, complexity and entropy collide
perhaps the random latticework
underlying your strategic contingency
is complex dynamic phenomena

an equivocating nontrivial correlation
apophenia propagates elegant proofs
at the percolation threshold
niches and differentiation
enigmas of probabilistic epigenesis

amidst our cognitive architecture
meta-cognition, 1/f noise, signs of life
coherence and self-organization
leading to philosophical inquiry
on the shores of an island of trickery

limited rationality in domains of disorder
fractals creating a quandary of scale
in this space of perturbation,
phase transitions and energetic states
neuronal diversity the dynamic key

Duomo’s counterclockwise
cathedral clock, Uccello’s unique
ecological contribution

Note: I’m hosting Meeting the Bar: Creativity today at dVerse Poets Pub. Please join us!


“Man is not free to refuse
to do the thing which gives him
more pleasure than any
other conceivable action.” – Stendhal

III 1: Pure potentiality and suffering

forceps bruise her unformed head
Shakespeare’s extraordinarily gifted
sister is born, made aware
of her conscious mind, she will
now address the reader as an I
already creating lexical lists,
exploring the avenues
of concurrent thought
am I dreaming or the
universal dreamer?

III 1.1: Anything can happen

it does

III 2: The sanatorium collides with the imaginarium

I keep you under lock and key
like the Marquis de Sade
my kaleidoscopic star,
you blow my mind
and arouse my (curiosity)
I’m repelled, terrified, and
utterly besotted by your shenanigans

III 3: Neologisms ignite the thaw

I will write my way to freedom
into or out of sanity depending
on the size of my nonsense
dance to the compelling
beat of semiotic erotica

IV 1: The awakening and immersion

Your image arrives in my mind
and I realize what it is
to melt in the presence
of another’s beauty
travelling an infinite distance
to caress the contours of your face
embrace your anarchic heart

I make no claims upon it
will not burn it or suck it dry
before you are gone
only I want to see it beat
and respond to the world
its liberty astounds

IV 2: Without a room of her own watching the procession of the sons of educated men

a spiritual medium scrys:
you know nothing of the frustration,
the rage to master
crushed by the tides
of apathy, misogyny, and abuse
my ferocity burns mountains to ash

your terrors haunt you,
mine devoured me long ago
I am free of fear but dead
yet continue to believe
I am alive

IV 3: Conflation of the immensely attractive and talented jester genius, the teasing diver, the downtrodden poet philosopher, the spiritual professor, a faithful cuckold (almost), a foreign artist, the intriguing flatterer/thinker, all the gods and monsters, matter and antimatter, and me, the one who refuses to be cast as the observed

Hofstadter laughs at my quandary
we no longer need to get together
fuck, or even exchange e-mail, now
that we understand that our consciousness,
our ‘I’ is distributed among all our brains
as part of the ‘strange loop’
it makes human interaction redundant
I’ll keep to my cave
Zarathustra Rapunzel
consummate performance artist

unless, of course, mind melding
isn’t the primary agenda
linguistic experimentation is
akin to sexual creativity
was Joyce masturbating
or gifting us a vital energy?
(he so wanted to be natural)
will my art be tainted like Bronte’s
with rage and sexual frustration?

I gave up everything for you
but gave it to someone else
who shattered it into pieces

V 1:Fluid cyclicality

an enormous aureate ouroboros forms
and proceeds to consume itself –
it’s in its nature

V 2: Chameleonic desire, a great daimon

the most profound expression of the self
or even more ontological than this ‘I’
the loam out of which a self emerges
Plato’s divine spark longing
to unite with ever more
transcendent forms of beauty

V 3: Interstices and penumbra of the soul

Eros awaits in the density of allusion
cartographic intertextual patterns
that gather in erotic cathexis
vast ecosystem arises
integrates with the eternal

V 4: Skeleton key

for a moment I thought
you caught sight of
me in the corner of your eye,
availed your coruscant intellect
and emotional intensity to really see –
not observe but engage,
an eye that challenges but invites
a look that doesn’t degrade,
demand, or destroy but makes whole
a look of recognition
often only given by
an inner paramour

V 5: Anything can happen

I will live here in the poem
and begin to see what is possible

Notes: This poem was written for Victoria’s excellent prompt on literary allusion at dVerse Poets Pub. It makes allusions to James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (perhaps the most allusion laden literature ever written), Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, and the philosophical writing of John Riker. The title Saudade is Portuguese and means the feeling of longing for something that you love and is lost. Another linguist describes it as a ‘vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist.’


Click on the picture to zoom

This is my poem for Open Link Night (up early) at dVerse Poets Pub.

Joe asked us this week to share where the inspiration for our poem came from so here goes: I was reading Keith Waldrop’s translation of Anne-Marie Albiach’s work yesterday morning and found an excellent review of Figured Image. I was drawn to doing something new with the inspiration I found in The Line The Loss. I admire her work a lot despite the fact that I can’t seem to embrace the flattening of language the underlying philosophy advocates. This poem was born out of those sources, The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse, my desire to paint and use Photoshop for this week’s offering, the fun of experimentation, remembering some artistic tools I’d used in a previous poem Apophenia & Creativity: A Kind of Self-Possession (the Train Wreck Rewrite), my dry wit, the inanity of transhumanism, and a deep and abiding love of language. Thank you, Joe, for asking!

Nora’s Irresistible Missives

Brief, brutal act
ransacked pages

wrote love’s stages
their rages inked
taut cages wrought

here she first taught
what he sought out
she caught his core

James Joyce’s score
‘strange-eyed whore’, Nora –
jibdoor obscene

Letters unclean
to be seen, shown,
his keen mind blown

gifts to atone
she alone knew
his moan’s timbre

Written for Form for All at dVerse Poets Pub on Than Bauk James Joyce and Nora Barnacle’s erotic letters were the inspiration for this piece. A jibdoor is a door made flush with a wall without dressings or moldings and often disguised by continuing the finishings or decorations of the wall across its surface.

Orphan of Silence

My poem for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub, Orphan of Silence, is here:

First, dear reader, I would be remiss if I didn’t introduce the actors, led to believe they are attending a masquerade party. All are unaware of their real role in the following poem:

Sherlock Holmes as The Master (stand-in for Mikhail Bulgakov)
Irene Adler (Lily Langtry’s stunt double) as Margarita
Professor Moriarty as Woland (Satan in disguise)
Behemoth (a giant black cat that walks upright) as Himself
Hella (red-headed succubus sexpot) as Herself
Azzazello (messenger and assassin) as Himself
Koroviev (monocle wearing, ex-choirmaster) as Himself
Special Guest Star: Abadonna (Angel of Death) as Himself

Sherlock Holmes is the most perfect reasoning
and observing machine the world has ever known
a flesh half-brother to Babbage’s analytical engine
awaiting the algorithmic potential of Ada Lovelace’s
programming genius, an Irene Adler, the woman
who, for him, eclipses and predominates her entire sex

They meet in connection to a case involving royal sexual proclivities
a matter of national security to keep these exploits quiet
but here, my indulgent reader, is where we diverge pleasantly, one hopes,
from the original scandal and propel, through blackest magic,
the characters into the absurdist fiction of Bulgakov’s masterpiece
The Master and Margarita, one of the 20th century’s greats

They think they are attending a masquerade, as divulged before,
to capture the blackmailers and solve the case but their real
purpose at the ball will be revealed in time, how perverse!
Woland never apologizes for his perversity, it is his birthright
and so he feels nothing but glee at the prospects of the evening
where one character disguises another except, of course,
his retinue: Behemoth, Hella, Azzazello, Koroviev, and Abadonna

Hella greets Holmes at the entrance hall, seeing through his disguise
she whispers in his ear, her hot breath introducing an inferno into the
cold, crisp workings of that computer, frying his circuits and rewiring
his desire, suddenly it occurs to him what the woman could be –
worse, he begins to see his abhorrence of love as some kind of
failing of imagination, of mental machinations, a straightjacket
on the mind that he’d willingly maneuver out of this evening

Irene is already in attendance, decked out in negligee at the arm
of Professor Woland who is promising tricks that will so astound
the world will bow to his every whim – the monocle clad Koroviev
is conducting a choir of naked nymphs pouting ohms and ahs in
metronomic precision, creating a squirming sensation for all in attendance

Behemoth is complaining that this poem won’t allow him to show
off all his wit, niggling ingenuity, or copious personality –
‘I’m sorry to say this is true, they’ll just have to get to know you
through the original work, you’re too awesome for poetry, great cat.’

Azazello is happily performing the duty of bouncer, simultaneously
appearing and disappearing pedants, cranks, parvenus, virtuosi,
enthusiasts, rapacious, and incompetent men of all kinds
like the author of menippean satire he relishes his role, if anyone
really challenges his authority he summons Abadonna, who arrives
with bellowing music, whinnying horses, and magnificent wings
to smite the unworthy and offensive from the ballroom floor

Woland sidles up to Holmes handing Irene to him: ‘Did you know
that Margarita here once used inductive and deductive reasoning
to figure out that Orson Scott Card was politically opposed to same
sex marriage simply by reading parts of Speaker for the Dead,
realizing that he meant to deny them full citizenship and found
barring their legal rights to be an excellent way to accomplish this end?
I sit with him on the Board of Directors of the National Organization
for Marriage. Impressive mental acuity don’t you think? Though less
impressive in this day and age of Google. I reminded her she could
simply look him up on Wikipedia, that’s how I found him.’

Holmes picks up some irregularity in Moriarty’s speech (of course he’s
seen right through the disguise you doubting Thomases!) but he’s
too focused on the allure of Irene’s breasts to take that thought
to its logical conclusion and is therefore as taken aback by
what happens next as you will be once you find out what it is

This surprise of her curiosity and skill he finds titillating, that he suddenly,
in his mind’s eye, sees her performing all these mental gymnastics
in the nude ending in the splits is quite enough to secure his
seduction, of course, on her end, his monumental reputation has
already secured her affections though she had previously come to
the conclusion that a man of such meticulous rumination would not
consider a consummation of mutual attraction beneficial, yet here
was a glimmer and she thought the devil might have something to
do with the introduction of Holmes’ strange, rhapsodic nature

At this point, because, my covetous readers, the story might get too long
and confusing, Moriarty, disguised as Woland, disguised as Satan,
addresses the audience to reveal his most glorious trick of all, the one
that will secure his domination – slowly his head revolves 360 degrees
unscrewing, a counter revolution like the oppression of the state,
to unveil his plot – the entire ballroom inhales for the surprise at
finding two small, white cartoon mice beneath the robotic head!

‘I am not Professor Woland, nor Moriarty disguised as Woland, nor even
Beelzebub disguised as Woland, but Brain, and this is my assistant, Pinky’
‘Narf!’ ‘We are his experiments, he underestimated us and in the nights
leading up to tonight we built this robot in his likeness so that we might
gather you all here, stealing Woland’s retinue and astonishing you all
with our surprise: this time we will be successful in our aim to take
over the world. For once our plans have not been foiled; you are all
hypnotized and will do anything I command! (To Pinky) Are you pondering
what I’m pondering?’ ‘I think so Brain, but where are we going to find
enough Weiner schnitzel and dancing bears to fill up Buckingham Palace?’

In the panic that ensues Sherlock and Irene sneak out the fire exits to begin,
against all sense, a tempestuous love affair in the upper bedroom of 221B
Baker Street, immediately transported from the ball by the wicked powers
of the robotic Moriarty, which as you well know, conceals the blueprint of
a wild scheme for world domination executed by two laboratory mice

What precisely occurs once they reach the flat we leave to the copious
imagination and deductive powers of you, salacious reader, (beat)
‘Heavens, that is quite a graphic imagination you have, I will avert my eyes’
you’ve made even Behemoth blush which is very unbecoming in a cat

The introduction of Pinky & the Brain’s ‘grit’, an intrusion into Holmes’
own delicate and finely adjusted temperament became a distracting factor
which threw a doubt upon all his mental results, for grit, in a sensitive instrument,
or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, could not be more disturbing
than a strong emotion like his newfound love in a nature such as his

Thus the inner workings are slipped sideways and like the Master
he finds himself committed to the asylum awaiting the loyal love
of Margarita to strike the bargain, attend Satan’s ball, fulfilling all its
wild requirements: wearing the outrageous and heavy poodle pendant,
showing deference to all, and who could forget the anointing in blood!

Thereby getting the story right, releasing him from bondage to spend
his remaining days in the upper bedroom of 221B Baker Street with Irene,
where despite her continued protestations he gives up his ambitions,
broken by the state of things in the postmodern world, reason slain
by the singsongy refrain in his mind ‘We’re Animaney, Totally Insane-y,
Pinky and the Brain-y —– Animaniacs!!!! Those are the facts!’

Notes: Hahaha (maniacally, in the fashion of Dr. Horrible, who it should be said is a consummate aficionado and proponent of the craft of the evil laugh) not today, cartoons never explain themselves! MASOLIT forever!

In all seriousness, I am hosting Meeting the Bar today at dVerse Poets Pub where we’ll be exploring the high/low cultural divide through the lens of postmodernism and hopefully having some fun doing it. Please join us: