Five Pieces


Michael Basinski





In the interludinal gap: Under her picture she wrote this caption:



Center your attention, place the thumb into the overripe peach, pay heed to Nut, I who am ells broke into many fragments, badly eroded, now damaged, less than a quarter of the dream becomes legible, now impossible to date, unfortunately many of the beginnings of each of many lines are lost and in some places only a few letters, disjointed here and there, ghosts who never meet, come now, ill fitting, writing is writhing like a Hostess cupcake, with the asemic writing on top, squiggles, and his heart is at the middle, soft, that white vanilla creamy stuff, bland vanilla surrounded by Devil’s food snack cake to burn him in effigy.





Sounds for a Workday



For solo or ensemble performance. As long as it pertains to an average, boring workday, realize each of the following words by saying something related to that word, a phrase, a fragment, a state of being, a tone, a sound, or a vocal gesture. Orchestrate. Improvise l. Listen. Exaggerate. Variable duration.

















Full bladder





Love Lyrics Buffalo, New York



Buffalo has a humid continental climate with warm summers and no dry season.


Her ghost said: squeeze pig, I make you quake your nose to define ripe, not your thumb.


O warning old he left old with where beginning only one waning flame.

His ghost said: I don’t have the money, I don’t have the time, I don’t have the words, I have: the Pontiac Catalina totally restyled for 1965, with deep-set grilles,

vertically stacked headlights, and a pronounced hood bulge. 


I was wet in antique gold and the silver carousel horses and the rain needed her to feed me organic chemistry, Lady Locks.

His ghost said: Jell-O from melted pig quiver bruised soft peaches eating is my soft love for you.

Avalanche in his pants.


And her spider bites occurred in the breezy night fog.

There was little left during the day light hours but found, when strolling, an occasional brutalized sock, some beautiful dark blue gym shorts, exposed elastic waist band, a yellow towel, Egyptian cotton, Luxor yellow, as a yellow sun that had been, slept in, Mut.


Her ghost said: use my cup me, my fingers are yellow frogs in cattails to feed as fog to sink your teeth into the hand that feeds you, figs.


Her ghost said: cuffs, on, so Michael, tarantism is a form of hysteric behavior, your curly hair is as thick as thick fog, fog to hang around all day long said Autumn Lewandowski, meteorologist for Channel 7 News.


His ghost said: my love for you my memory: clouded.

She felt curved over the corpse of July lies.

Cloud nine.

Head in the clouds.

Under a cloud.

Not a cloud in his sky.

Her ghost said: come to me shipwreck sweetheart, my sweet heart of a peach, stone, clouded leopard, Neofelis nebulosi who hunted the mythic gods of Karnak, I am your first city cry Ur.


The cap was drawn down over his eyes, and his arms and legs were pinioned.

At two minutes to noon a signal was given and, out of sight, Grover Cleveland pulled the lever.

He dropped through the trap and his neck snapped, and in just over 23 minutes the doctors announced that his heart had finally stopped.








“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make.”

     —Count Dracula.


One insect sound for solo or ensemble performance. Consume air or gulp air at double letters only. The sound of air intake gulp must be audible. Each letter is an insect sound or any combination of letters is an insect sound. Arrange performance to taste. Orchestrate tone, tempo, and pitch. Listen. “Insect” is over at dawn or when the line is performed accurately from start to finish.  




























Salt is a Preservative



Alcheringa, alatory geometry, salt might force a memory to survive, longer than she should be preserved, an absence of the sea we never saw, deep in there everything you did, I did, some place, a place in time might be ever and forever or never and will never be lost, some say: gone but not forgotten.

Another school of thought believes salt contains magical properties that cast a spell, a net over a knot of egrets, a curse, words, surround me with stinging graveyard nettles, makes me human again.



Oni konia bronia ma.

Nie niu nio nie nia ni.


Shelley’s ghost said to Mary, “What is all this kissing worth?”

His ghost uttered the proper words in his mind and the heart (East Star, the sun rises) so that he could fuse the future with the past into an eternal blissful harmony, Spring Equinox, Now.

He believed in divine words, magical combinations, and heka.

On Walden Avenue we spoke Waldenese.

Lawa nowa wola salata.

Koty buty reby ba.


When you wrote in my yearbook: remember all the parties.

I don’t remember.

In the deep blue sea, Mariana Trench.

Hypnotize myself to resurrect my want, say: sound the exact words to remember everything, today, particularly, in the dark, deep in there, way, a fish or blue sea snail in the hippocampus.


Kawa soki oko.

Rama jura raju.


To feed need.

Always hungry.

In the background of his skull a ghost was incessantly singing:

♫ Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream.


In formless Cheektowaga, Ga-sko-sa-da, was one of the few native American villages along the Niagara Frontier, was, located in central Cheektowaga. Ga-sko-sa-da, or Falls Village, sprawled along the Indian trail that was on the north bank of the Cayuga Creek in Ji-ik-do-wah-gah.

The Shrine of the Holy Relics of the Saints is located at St. John Gualbert’s church.

In spring the ponds in the Walden fields were filled with millions of polywogas all black and alive and his ghost new those words, had an auditive faculty, that they were power, magic: kau bau sekhem ab.

Jamambi, jabambi, jamac, jamac.



In a bar on Bailey, right by East Ferry, Rusty’s, her ghost played “You’re so Vain,” on the jukebox.

Her ghost said: I played this for you.

Carly Simon sang: ♫ I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee.

His ghost thought well, yeah, I am a cloud, of sorts, watching shapes appear in a cloud full sky skull, thunderstorms, severe, cloudy core, and they disappear.

Carly sang: ♫ And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner.

Her ghost said: I wanted you for my partner. I was one of the girls that dreamed that YOU would be MY partner.

My mother would say, rain clouds, stay, out of the rain, or melt, as if to her I were a witch of salt.

His ghost said, cosmetics, make up for lost time, let me make it up to you, wasted my time daydreaming, lost, in waiting thoughts, wait for a never rainy day, weight in, wade into.  

Fugazi sang:

♫ I am a patient boy

♫ I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait

♫ My time is like water down a drain.

His ghost said: she touched me I was touched, screw loose, scream, burst a blood vessel, sunken vessel, and gray, matter of time, all of it, time, it’s about time.

♫ And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner

♫ They’d be your partner.









Michael Basinski’s books include Unexplained Noises (Buffalo Ochre Papers), Lot Sa Nots O, and with Ginny O’Brien, Combinings.  Combination of the Two, an exhibition of O’Brien’s and Basinski’s cooperative visual work and visual poems opened in early January 2019 at the Western New York Book Arts Collaborative.  His most recent books of poetry are Tub Bunny (Spuyten Duyvil) and Salvage (BlazeVOX [books]).  In 2018 he published Opems (Burchfield Penney Art Center), which documents his large scale visual, sound, and performance poem exhibition titled Opems: Verbal-Visual Combines.



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