Friday, November 30, 2012

Spain: Buffalo Days

Hunched in an old felt green armchair at 1001 Lafayette Ave.
Must have been Jeremy Taylor introduced us all
Because of the demonstrations against HUAC.

Hunched over a small acoustic guitar,
He played in the classical style
Almost painfully sweet these melodies he was inventing
Moreso coming from a man of such power.

He had drawn the cover of Landscape of Contemporary Cinema
My first published book, co-authored with Leon Lewis.
His work even then defined Iconic.
And Cindy, writing short stories under the name N. Howard.

Riding security with the Road Vultures.
Protecting by this act many young undergrads
Otherwise might have been beaten that day
During the protest at the McCarthy-era Committee's
Leaving D.C.'s confines first time in years....
Given the keys to the city, Buffalo, 1964.

Around the monument across from City Hall they rode
Spain in the lead, holding aloft
(Was it in his right hand, or his left?)
The black anarchist flag
Of the Spanish Civil War.

It was truly a sight to behold!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Asa Benveniste

These two contiguous paragraphs posted below from the only published prose essay of poet and publisher/printer/book designer (Trigram Press) Asa Benvensite, are excerpted from Language: Enemy, Pursuit which was initially published by Poltroon Press (1980) and reprinted in mimeomimeo, issue number 4 (Winter 2010), edited by Kyle Schlesinger and Jed Birmingham.

There is unpublished correspondence between Asa and Cid Corman (between the UK and Kyoto) praising Louis Zukofsky's 80 Flowers, and there were notes toward an essay on Zukofsky, which he was writing toward the end of his life, but they seem to be lost.  There are also his "last letters" to me in the 1980's which I published in Branch Redd Review (issue #6, 2002).   Tom Raworth's obituary for Asa was published by Critical Quarterly, vol. 32, no.3.

Gematria.  A fierce confrontation with word, one of the best ways to barricade oneself against the confused inlay.  Linguistics is not language.  No one "understands" language.  Communication is the last word to use to describe its purpose. Though to every poet, as to every Kabbalist, there must be more to those words than their beauty.  That their meaninglessness itself is part of the divine (linguistic) fabric.  In the end, at the start, early Kabbalists believed that the whole of the Torah consisted of one word only, though each of the lettters had seventy aspects, and the Torah as a whole had 600,000 meanings, on four levels of interpretation, all leading to the profoundest meaning which was "meaninglesss," which was not open to understanding but was only itself.

And is that true of poetry? One thing it cannot be: story.  It must not be based on experience  " of the forms of paralysis" (Satie).  It cannot be descriptive.  It cannot be about love.  It cannot be about hate.  It cannot contain specific meaning. It must avoid sensuality.  It must not be capable of restatment in another language.  It must not be allegorical.  It cannot be translatable into a foreign language.  It must have no beginning or conclusion.  If it's "about" anything it must be about language.  It must be language.  That's the only kind of poem which will keep its divinity.  It must have 600,000 meanings and in the end be "meangingless."


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

I voted for Obama in 2008, and I am  exercising my right not to vote today, but then New Jersey is not a swing state (now that Sinatra's gone), and is solid; and after his post-Sandy visit, maybe even  Chris Christie might just have another look at himself, and vote for him.  It is still a secret ballot after all.  Of course, one's cynicism remembers someone saying "it doesn't matter who you vote for, what matters is who counts the ballots."  Even though I have posted against Obama-driven policies and/or the lack of them, I can't believe the people of America will elect Romney.  If he is elected, will we still be permitted to say that Moby Dick is the greatest book ever written by an American?  Or will The Book Of Mormon be placed alongside it on the curriculum? 

If the land had not been abused, the rivers and the ocean would have someplace to go and to be absorbed naturally.  If only developers and their cohorts hadn't built apartments and expensive homes
where before there were only dunes (natural dunes) and least here on the South Jersey shore...yet, I myself bought into a beach and ocean view.  The probem was there, as Chris Gilmore once said, I came to the problem.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Nov. 1.  Am ok. Thanks to all those who tried to contact me.  No electricity three days, only battery radio.  Had written some stuff during the hurricane, but forget that, will just say must have been the eye here or near, much debris, damage, etc., ocean was wild of course, bulkhead outside this bldg. destroyed. The bldg. itself hard hit, though trees withstood it, but while waiting for electricity to come back, water pipe or some thing burst today and after some drenching, sons of building's plumber arrived to turn off the water at the main, so no water for I don't know how long, maybe a few days maybe a week or more?  I just don't know; maybe find out tomorrow; they won't let anyone from off shore come on island yet, and if you leave you can't return until they say so.  No deaths here I know of on this barrier island.  Being thrown back on oneself in the aftermath was, until the flooding and the fire alarm going loudly off, a rather spiritual enterprise of sorts though not necessarily recommended, and although the fire department said it was safe to go back inside, the alarm-fix people are not on island and have for the moment been denied entrance, so one waits.

Anyway, the lockdown is now lifted after 5 p.m. so I am fortunate, really, since I have a car and can go to a hotel offshore if need be.  However, only residents are permitted in now, and there will be long lines waiting to come over the Margate Bridge even when off island emergency services are allowed in to turn off the fire alarm.

For a more objective and less first-person impressionistic take on the hurricane as it hit Margate in particular, see for Nov. 1,  the blog of Glenn Klotz.

And thanks, great thanks, to all those who offered to put me  up.  I really didn't think there were so many  who cared.  ...  and to Keith, for the shout-out from across the seas.      

Margate, NJ

addendum: Nov. 2nd.

The sea was born of the earth without sweet union of love Hesiod says

But that then she lay for heaven and she bare the thing which encloses
every thing, Okeanos the one which all things are and by which nothing
is anything but itself, measured so

(Charles Olson, Maximus, From Dogtown -I)