Monday, January 28, 2008

Goodbye to All That

Weldon Kees

Wonder whether I'm the only person whose first thought on being wheeled into an ambulance was "I have to stop blogging." My guess is no.

Anyway it may have been my second thought because, as you can imagine, things at this point were running together a bit. My first thought was maybe more like "This is incredibly weird."

But there I was with Joe, a sturdy, bear-like human being, and he was cheerfully slapping electrodes under my clothes and we were making a sort of psychedelic small talk.

In any case I'm okay — I just fainted for the first time in my life and had a small seizure (apparently fairly normal when the brain's deprived of oxygen) and scared my husband half to death.

This all happened in a restaurant and he had to shout "Help!" at a certain point and this is not something that Finns (a very reserved people) are wont to do, unless forced to the greatest extremity.

So the whole thing has taken a lot out of both of us and I just thought I'd keep you (faithful reader) in the loop.

Will I stop blogging? Probably not entirely, at least for now — but I do have to change the way I do it and the way I do a lot of other things, or these tangled ganglia are going to assassinate me.

So (speaking of tangled ganglia) here's one of the finest poems of the last century, for my money — one that, as usual, seems strangely apropos.


"Wondrous life!" cried Marvell at Appleton House.
Renan admired Jesus Christ "wholeheartedly."
But here dried ferns keep falling to the floor,
And something inside my head
Flaps like a worn-out blind. Royal Cortissoz is dead,
A blow to the Herald-Tribune. A closet mouse
Rattles the wrapper on the breakfast food. Renan
Admired Jesus Christ "wholeheartedly."

Flaps like a worn-out blind. Cezanne
Would break out in the quiet streets of Aix
And shout, "Le monde, c'est terrible!" Royal
Cortissoz is dead. And something inside my head
Flaps like a worn-out blind. The soil
In which the ferns are dying needs more Vigoro.
There is no twilight on the moon, no mist or rain,
No hail or snow, no life. Here in this house

Dried ferns keep falling to the floor, a mouse
Rattles the wrapper on the breakfast food. Cezanne
Would break out in the quiet streets and scream. Renan
Admired Jesus Christ "wholeheartedly." And something inside my head
Flaps like a worn-out blind. Royal Cortissoz is dead.
There is no twilight on the moon, no hail or snow.
One notes fresh desecration of the portico.
"Wondrous life!" cried Marvell at Appleton House.

— Weldon Kees

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Radical Stupidity

The phrase "radical stupidity" popped into my head the other day and I'm not sure whether it appeared in order to describe this Ukrainian army recruiting video (which I had not yet seen) or as a promising name for a new school of poetry.

I prefer the latter but we can confidently build the church of radical stupidity upon this rock. Because the clip (which is apparently quite real) effortlessly attains sublime heights of cheesiness that Sacha Baron Cohen can only dream of.

No translation necessary (as you'll see) but here's somebody's stab at it:

girl 1: would u take us for a ride on your BMW?
BMW driver: even to the end of the world!
soldier: hey, i’d like to drown some vodka, girls!
girl 1: just a second!
girl 2: where do you live?
soldier: right here - daytime at work, and at night in the clubs!
girl 1: which work???
soldier: contract of course!
blonde girl: contract?? marriage contract or what?
girl 3: army contract, stupid!
BMW driver: hey, don’t you wanna ride in my car?
girls: forget it, take yourself for a ride!
narrator: it’s about time for new heroes! with contract based service in ukrainian armed forces!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Self Portrait of Sylvia Plath as Wittgenstein

My copies of Court Green 5 arrived, featuring a Sylvia Plath Dossier. Just starting to read it but this jumped out at me, from Jason Schneiderman's five-part "Anachronistic Fair Use Self Portraits of 20th Century Sylvia Plath (with 'Daddy' Fixation)":

Self Portrait of Sylvia Plath as Wittgenstein

1. There is a Daddy
1.1. The Daddy is the case
1.2 The Daddy does not do
1.3 The Daddy does not do
1.4 The Daddy does not do anymore
1.5 The Daddy is like a shoe
2. There is a daughter
2.1 She lives in the shoe-like father
2.1.2 The daughter is foot like
2.2 The daughter is poor
2.3 The daughter is white
2.4 The daughter has foot-like lived in the father shoe-like for thirty years
2.5 She barely dares to breathe
2.6 She barely dares to achoo

The whole series is a lot of fun, especially (for my money) "Self Portrait of Sylvia Plath as F.T. Marinetti" and "Self Portrait of Sylvia Plath as Tristan Tzara."

Reminds me that I left Longfellow and Wittgenstein hanging last year when things tightened up (not that Henry and Ludwig noticed). Intend to knit those loose ends back together in due time.

Also in the dossier and the rest of the issue, as edited by Lisa Fishman, Arielle Greenberg, Tony Trigilio, and David Trinidad:

Dossier: Sylvia Plath

Amy Gerstler • Amanda Auchter • Terrance Hayes • Anne Shaw • Jane Satterfield • Kristi Maxwell • Tim Dlugos • Jeanne Marie Beaumont • Baron Wormser • Ron Koertge • Judith Harris • Rachel Loden • Ivy Alvarez • Amy Newman • Rebecca Laroche • Sara Burge • Sarah Murphy • Amy Lemmon • Angela Veronica Wong • Susen James • Leanne Averbach • Kathleen Ossip • Patricia Spears Jones • Robyn Ewing • Peter Davis • Michael Broder • James Brock • Robert Siek • Jim Klein • Nicholas Grider • Meg Barboza • Jean Valentine • Maxine Scates • Diane di Prima • Muriel Rukeyser • Lee Ann Brown • Sylvia Plath • Laura Mullen • Wayne Koestenbaum • Jan Beatty • Jason Schneiderman • Debora Kuan • Mary Jo Bang • Susie Timmons • Jenny Mueller • Judith Kroll • Catherine Bowman • Lee Anne Sittler • Scott Keeney


Jan Beatty • Susan Briante • Sarah Blackman • Daniel Khalastchi • Noelle Kocot • Michael Montlack • Chip Livingston • Kristin Abraham • Kevin Carollo • Susan Cataldo • Chelsey Minnis • Ross Middleton • Brian Young • Daneen Wardrop • Margaret Brady • Ron Koertge • J. G. Brister • Neil de la Flor • Maureen Seaton • Amanda Nadelberg • Jeffrey Bahr • Karen Garthe • Mark Yakich • Jenny Mueller • Sharon Dolin • Dorine Preston • Kristi Maxwell • Zach Savich • Kathleen McGookey • Aaron Anstett • Jason Labbe • Grace Ocasio • Noah Eli Gordon • Joseph Campana • Julie Carr • Mary Ann Samyn • Jack Anderson • Jordan Davis • Denise Duhamel • Steven D. Schroeder • Kathleen Rooney • Brent Goodman • Nathan Hoks • Roberto Harrison • Suzanne Rhodenbaugh • Andrea Rexilius • Stephanie Strickland • Nancy Kuhl • Todd Fredson • John Azrak • Kerry James Evans • Sara Michas-Martin • Terita Heath-WIaz • Allison Campbell • Michelle Taransky • Anne Heide • Ron Drummond • Sarah Vap • Jason Schneiderman • Pat Nolan • Jim Klein • Emmy Hunter • Tom Christopher • Ian Harris • Adam Clay • William C. Olsen • Caroline Morrell • Chad Paries • Alice Notley

Ordering information here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Nixon Vets the Candidates

Dick thinks Susan could have been a little more tactful about his White House years in the comment box over the weekend. But he's grudgingly consented to give us the benefit of his counsel on some of his old enemies and new bĂȘtes noire:


Another rich boy who thinks he has it coming to him, like Kennedy. He'll probably fold, like his candy-ass father after he talked a big game.


Dumb as hell but friendly, as I said when he was my mole on the Watergate committee. Sam Dash ran rings around him, and he's even dimmer today.


Used to think I saw a bit of myself in him in his better moments. But of course they're not like us. They smell different. Plus the bastard compared me to Bernie Kerik.


Growing on me, especially after he appointed Fred Malek (who counted Jews for me in '71) as his national finance co-chair. Even calls Malek "an inspiring public servant who has served our nation well." Credit where credit is due.


Best instincts of this bunch of clowns by far, even if he does look like Gomer Pyle. What's in the water in Dogpatch, Ark.?


Whatever it was, she didn't drink it. Now Bill loved the lucidity of my mind, like Gergen said: he got me.

But I always say that if the wife comes through as being too strong and too intelligent, it makes the husband look like a wimp. I mean Pat is spinning in her grave, for Christ's sake. And she never had to lock up the interns.


We don't owe the blacks a damn thing. Especially one who thinks he's better than we are.

What's Segretti up to these days? We need someone working full-time on that middle name.


Did his best to screw us with the Pentagon Papers, back in the day. Now everybody laughs at him, which is perfect.


Elmer Gantry in a $5,000 suit. All that poor-mouthing about his father the millworker: what a load of crap. I know what it means to have nothing, but we're Republicans. We don't talk about it.


Are you shitting me?

The guy I don't understand is the other Dick. Why isn't he fighting for it? Did he set his own office on fire?

I'm pinning my hopes on a brokered convention — which could happen if the voters never settle on any of these pygmies.

So if they deadlock in the Twin Cities, I'll be there before you can yell Milhous. I'm just saying.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Poem for Primaries

The above tricksy dicksiness, of course, from the great Pat Oliphant (born in Adelaide, Australia — who knew), a greeting card in my collection since MCMLXXXII. "Of tendentious or tangential topicality, tickling the turbid, turgid, turbulent twitwits of our tempestuous times," it says on the back.

My own recent disappearance owed as much to a medical mystery tour as to my mother's death, fresh as that peck of dirt may be. We were at a cardiologist's office at the height of the recent violent gale and it drove me back to Julius Caesar's tempests dropping fire, my first WS ever on the page and to passages like this:

Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man
Most like this dreadful night,
That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars
As doth the lion in the Capitol,
A man no mightier than thyself or me
In personal action, yet prodigious grown
And fearful as these strange eruptions are.

And those eruptions and passages — given the just-concluded Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary tomorrow— put me in mind of my own WS (but this time Wallace Stevens) spoof, written right after the capture of Saddam Hussein:


A cold cellar-hole at the end of the day,
When faithless pretenders cover the sun
And nothing is left but my candidacy—

There was dead Checkers with her list of slights,
Slow tongue, green bile, black list, white mind
And April, cruel as rumors of my demise.

To be, on the lawns, where no helicopter lands,
Without that preening statuette of dog,
That dog surrendered to the moon;

And to feel that the light is a Key Biscayne light
In which everything is lofted up to the elect
And no returns need be tallied;

Then there is no use in counting. It comes of itself;
All the blue votes turning a brilliant red,
Even in Chicago. The wind moves on the lawns

And moves in myself. The last Iowa sweetcorn
Is for me, the snows of New Hampshire drift up
Into an empire of self that knows no boundaries,

I become an empire that fills the oleaginous pipelines
Of the earth. The bitch is still yapping
By gravestone-light and I am whipped high, whipped

Up, sculpted higher and higher, cool as a sphinx—
I sit with my head like a Rushmore in space
And the scrofulous hound smelling blood on my wings.

From The Richard Nixon Snow Globe, Wild Honey Press

Is Christmas over? A good thing, perhaps, to judge from my sleepy progeny:

But they're still playing the holly-jolly muzak in the doctors' offices, for which (at the very least) someone should be ritually disemboweled.

Too many wake-up calls of late, as if we needed them, but I'll be here as time and vicissitudes permit, with love (real and true) and poesy for all.