poetic language              issue one                  spring 2003


Halvard Johnson 
Emily B. Dufton 
Garth Greenwell 
Amy King 
Hank Lazer 
Chris McCreary 
Michael Farrell 
William James Austin 
John Byrum
  kari edwards
  Sheila E. Murphy
  Michael Basinski
  John M. Bennett
  Nico Vassilakis
  Geof Huth
  Raymond Farr
  Mark S. Kuhar
  Thomas Lowe Taylor








Halvard Johnson



Any Part of the Lake



Wedge of lake
between glass and steel buildings
           pushing for banks to do more
           to be both stronger and weaker
                      than before
           not asking for changes in policy
not trying to go to more board meetings
than ever before, not intending to prod



Hardly five years
lie between them, the closeness only
           an outward indication
           and postcards and no
           historic paradigm shift
dividing the lake from the riverbank
some aftermath of the war



Little yellow houses
across the river, such beautiful
           expressions of principle
           not universals but
           taking a short nap
manifest on the level of sound
some choice of genre



Very special moments
chains of inspiring provocations
           "caro amico" he was
           called by his friends
            four registers of voice
sounding out for all to hear
some humane gesture



Hegemonic task of re-
volutionary literature
           celebrating the end
           of "art," reweaving
                      the thread
            —bad dog, bad music—
as it were, the inner shell
the boundaries of gentleness



The final "arabesque"
no need to walk out much
           anymore, or take
           those figures
                      thrown into
           such sharp relief
fading from the approximate
into relative nothingness



Only four minutes left
no need to call our friends much
           anymore, no lake
           rising phantom-like
                     out of nowhere
           such rhapsodic songs
coolly developed—time standing
still, lusting after life, playing by heart






Emily B. Dufton



"you, shinl, adkins, go!"


"you, shinl, adkins, go!"

if there
6th floor
5floors above
       i know!
       i know!
             we are not going

i am envious

i am envious

"and if they ring, if they ring, i will cry 4 more times"
this is mass mfa
this is sister
this is birthday 111122
i will not do this now



i write ecris for the girl who lives below

Garth Greenwell



to turn from which is death          the mind

finding without that wall at which to thrust itself
itself          as good as not         the mark

that we are not beasts the mark
only of an idea by which we are

engulfed          and yet          because it is

implacable          because it will not          give

demanding at last the sacrifice of that
to which it had been life          demanding

we wipe from our flesh the mark
by which we are not beasts the mark          of reason

to turn toward which is agony          and yet



To be made incapable of harm          of

thinking that commandment which is not true
commandment        Christ

for a word I could speak I might not at once

unspeak, I would be marred so deeply
as to be

unrecognizable          Brother

you are all day long in the memory
of God
           to whom, in

obedience, or
cowardice          let me lift up my hands, that they

might be cut off



—or not as he should, to pray
his body be made some other use of than

they make it;       rather

in that glut of thankfulness
one welcomes a thing long longed for

with, thinking it
enough       either an end to grief          or grief

so terrible it is itself        its end

                             How terrible
the mind is, open        to the world

and yet it will not be shuttered, even

as in the next room a man cries          mercy
and does not mean it—






Amy King



Forgiving Kenosis


Skim the moment in the statue’s guestroom where
carbon songs of rapid writing buoy us further
along, having been so lexically anonymous
throughout the charade of benevolent decades.
We continue to capture and cleave a blueprint
of the tequila dead amid chartered zero waters.
They submerge our cancelled heritage, which empties
itself of firmer horizons and kaleidoscopic deposits.

These heroes also outline the mechanics
of our movie picture presence, as though
"to see" could possibly improve the pixels
an impregnated clock defends within its waxing
invisibility. Time marches over erosion even.
Stone falls from the nose and ears until we
cannot recognize the detonation. I once saw rain
become water in mid-air, forgetting its falling habit.





How to Add Blank Space

I cross out poker trip access
and insert the sail of cuisine rest
injected with a salt agent.
Mutable beings get dubbed "animated,"
and when sent through revolving
doors, their obligatory flavors emerge.

These are the world’s leading figures,
the disoriented, tasty things.
Eat them for true deception,
a cheaply disguised pay-per-view treat.
In the south, we call them
"rotisserie interventions of the closet kind"

While munching on enclosed porches,
the latest midnight in our blank stares.
Mosquitoes knock on the screen door.
Invitation is the same as getting in.
Buzzing out phototropes, they long for the ceiling
flavor of our benign, quiet limbs, vessels of repeat

Motion erasing swollen flesh in memory’s plight.






Hank Lazer



2 poems from Portions




avant     i want
& if you
i am becoming

my father’s dying
body     okra tomatoes
sweet corn  sunflower

to my son
our neighbor says
"you look just

like your father"
beans     field peas
new potatoes      today’s

purchase   or to
gain purchase     terror
of bare relation

just now     being
here     it of
course slips away






mind felt as
subset of an
other    poem evidence

bodying forth      sounding
out     that comprehensive
set        its motion

felt    site of
unapparent containment    circle
outward &     "point

is the mind
operating in a                         Oppen / Letters / 90
marvel which contains

the mind"    or
mind in its
emergent simplicity force

occurring in words
i feel here
the transfer of





Chris McCreary



The Propositions


two of swords

of the world

whirl & whirr
of word

upon daily

unit shifter tipping slightly,
      shoving forward
its admiring tidings

playing aces
at an angle


gone soft,

ink released
as a final line
of defense


if orange is the new black,
then this page is a cage

illumination occurs in error,
community is corrected
with clarity & discernment

they waxed enthusiastic
of slide fasteners,

ushered in epaulet,
eton jacket


of arousal

wise uncounted

a sixty-second workout,
a fit of natural expansion

digits by fives

  shirk solutions & resurface smirking
all cross-bone styled
oracle of opposition,
of error

pool in error
elder in error

or arrow

advice gone silent

swords gone cyclical
& unexpected,

an unnerving swerve
averting tragedy,

another travesty
of digital transcendence

seems this mingled scent
of pepperoni & molten
               was absorbed by porous plastics

transfer this malignant script
               & strip it
of coding,

try a different
tree or server

circadian arcades
in seasonal swoon
as ten twins

the winner
is presented
w/ a silken shirt,
a satin blazer

& lovers under


too adroit for favor
or admiration


& triaged

left one dramatic stripe
of solid color,

left the herringbone

across the wire-rimmed

the picturesque

fifth word

of a world
gone weary

small blue thing,
ball of string

this seventh generation
is scentless,

is not suitable
for philatelic archiving

the offended syntax error commands
that sometimes you eat the bear,
sometimes the bear eats you


acquisitive restraint,

subtle tug
on baton
            & wand

battery of mismatch,

of plateaus & pinnacles
gone all multiple

open palm,
open eye

ambisextrous au pairs
jaunting on catwalks

                & promenades,
flaunting pajamaed plumage


around the sun

these countless challenges,

affection lost for glossy documents
sloshed by the radiator

radioactive eunuch grafter
            shafting slyly,

                 apples cored
                 at capture

sixth coin
a wish,
   a promised ultimatum

senses forgotten
at the summit,

falling pensive
yet again


stave off wands,

sworn depressive nine times over

calculation long on nostalgia
recovering comfort in stages,

an acquisitive obsession
w/ all things mundane & esoteric

wearer of layers,
tilter at windmills

glutton for comfort,
whore for more

if spit spreads death, then this
slip shod cloak & dagger
is a clipper ship lost from shore

mornings spent slipping
the occasional poem
thru mail slots of the sleeping,

these meditations
on an emergent sea


enacted, lessons

hang low-tapered
& beribboned

lasso of the torso,
torsion w/ a twist

the sebaldian
moment slips

the carnival closed,

the rides silent,
lights locked down

clock parts
in the ear

this wake of weathered


from distance

of modest divergence,
mocking charm of untruths

surface spurred
to further observances

to skittish jitters

out of pigment,

on the ligament

gode & scold,
blame shame on Sundays

as the leathers begin
to spread & swell

green tea leaves

gestures of lover
or somnambulist,

a burglar
dancing barefoot

w/ the diphthong
of longing

& feel all existential
w/ a papier-mâché face
in place over yr own


enamored of this
barbed wire kiss
my ass

           such utilitarian
tripwires & slipknots

            may dazed

     {o monday morning

                 pls show me yr glitch
                    bodice all deep imaged
                    so I might find this circle’s
                    cycle, this pool’s pull}






Michael Farrell



say two of us two bodies lie,
on a table one,
of us unable to move without the others momentum we;
each try to abandon the other without success,
take the expression you love mash on.

surface nothing to be scared of you fork,
out your cash in search of new perfect samples &;
we drape like newspaper to the floor this is,
our relation to the third law love is the.

message we can lead our donkey to carrots but try making her
read the ingredients on whats to us,
a simple tin in this example:

buried a principle of resistance
to civilization to time,
& so we say we express ourselves,
you mate are a parsnip a pumpkin a spinach.





the use of ether might induce,
france they let,
blood into;
the mud you can see taking,
a shower the students some who probably
decide to ride home &-
never return you read the story of.

those who make no sound &
those who make a,
will & this—
all prior to the.
great drama is.
the one who hurries,
the referee or god-
a risk,
dont move before history moves you or it.
will surely drop you you made your bed.

dont miss it stare out destiny
the lump that,
rises the frozen soldiers
the drunks & would;
heroin addicts,
have faced heartbreak,
before & lived the,
coincidences of reading.
& action the ability to see the integration
of life with death.
your tools!






William James Austin


from trans/text/ual


word-scar the deaf and blind.
what else can an old blabbermouth do?
skin cracked, weathered in baby oils
and reversione—
slid into some virgin slot
one within the other

who strangled life
from the dual-ist—
man within woman,
woman within man—
mind against body

if I might only . . .
and be one eye one hand . . .
and set this without fever
as empty word-cradles
who got nothing to rock,
no bastard jerking cry,
no story

why there be history?
dispersals back and forth, here and there,
             turn and re-turn—
we just language on stone.
what can it mean?
any cancer will kill what feeds it.
somebody gotta do something.
somebody gotta dig up the body,
make sure s/he's zeroed out,

          if two's down to
           one's down to . . .
in case the quantum's no-matter is
           partnered up

how many times I gotta step on something
before it gonna not split?
how many tim I got ston soming be na it?
h o n y I go tste on ing?
hoooooo . . .


skyglass over gramercy park,
bustle under blank.
an intrigue, really,
this clarity tracing
serpentine appled branches,
this grand merci
for all that, some say, bad news.
I'm serving up a grammar-see through
one within the other.
I'm going for one last rewrite,
a final mirror copy
where the reversal
                                 runs off at the margins,
                                                    stumbling drunk
on sullivan street.
just the tussled image
broken-framed in glass and backwards, to out-live
what's born for the dirt bath.
an earth narrative, tell us, with an explosion or two.
imagine such panorama moored to the lens,
roiling life with plenty of spill-over
and threaded so captured
by nothing more
than currents inward/outward curling

                   e + in + x turn all

I do a lot of walking. I'm here. there . . .
below 14th street mostly,
within the image
I have chosen, the romantic weave
that never quits re-citing itself. this is me for god's sake.
underwritten by the animal, the hot terror stuff
thrusting up, jerking around, wiping out.
I won't dignify the lawgiver. knock it off the agenda, save the guts
if it has any. my dick in hand
and maybe I'm connected. alone in some lower east side flop joint,
alone and loaded on every fucking thing that happens,
that has happened.
                   it's where I cum from.
patterns itself.
                                  no first word.
        no singles parties.
the artist a-wash in provisions.
keep a-head for the combo plate at the diner.
the world is hyphenated—
a killing spree

the downtown cats don't purr
like they used to—
I smell of education, they say.
wheelchair jesse, x-whore, won't take my phone calls.
it don't pay to love her.

I'm not too worried about the cops.
I look guilty.
hell, everyone looks guilty.
the writing goes well one day
and not so well the next.
each remaking a betrayal,
one within the other.
I'm waste deep
in eden shit.
my narcotic ally hugged me with promises and vanished.
I imagine his cloudhead pressed in skyglass. I'm thrown out—
             chapter and verse,
                                          book by book

into these streets





John Byrum


"we have convinced ourselves" was written in 2001 and revised mid-2002
for a reading at the "An American Avant Garde: Second Wave" symposium organized by Dr. John M. Bennett for the Ohio State University Libraries and held on July 26 & 27, 2002.


"we have convinced ourselves"

We have convinced ourselves that we are aware of states of affairs evolving over time.

We have convinced ourselves that many of the states of affairs of which we are aware occur outside ourselves.

We have convinced ourselves that we can describe those states of affairs of which we can be aware.

We have convinced ourselves that the states of affairs of which we can be aware are as we have come to describe them, at least approximately and provisionally.

We have convinced ourselves of the existence of our descriptions of the states of affairs of which we can be aware.

We have convinced ourselves that the occurrence of states of affairs is a matter of our description, and also that states of affairs occur independently of our descriptions.

We have convinced ourselves that the states of affairs we describe evolve over time.

We have convinced ourselves that our ways of describing change over time.

We have convinced ourselves that we use language to describe the states of affairs of which we can be aware.

We have convinced ourselves that we become aware of states of affairs by means of our languages of description.

We have convinced ourselves that our awareness of states of affairs causes us to form the elements of our language, which we then use to describe those states of affairs.

We have convinced ourselves that our awareness of the possible configurations of states of affairs constrains the possibilities of language, and also that the possibilities of language constrain our awareness of the possible configurations of states of affairs.

We have convinced ourselves that states of affairs of which we are not aware may occur.

We have convinced ourselves that we may someday become aware of some of the states of affairs of which we are not currently aware, and that we may then find ways to describe them.

We have convinced ourselves that states of affairs we cannot describe may exist, and that we may some day find ways to describe some of them.








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Eratio poetic language issue one, spring 2003, edited by Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino.