Sunday, July 31, 2011

Many thanks to Skip Fox for seeing us through July. The driver/editor for the month of August is Ken Wolman.

Welcome Ken. Drive carefully.

Tom Clark and Arnold

Tom Clark  is associated with a mercifully unnamed grouping of poets several years older than myself who shook open the poetry scene of the 1960s and 1970s (after Olson and Duncan and Ginsberg and O'Hara) and who continued to create (those who survived like Bernadette Mayer, Alice Notley and Tom) significant, even extraordinary, work through their middle years and into graceful (poetically speaking) age. For the past several years Tom has given much of his artistic intellect and energies to what he calls an ekphrastic blog, Beyond the Pale, but noting the abuses of that term by the faddish over the past 40 years (some fad), let me say that Tom only occasionally writes a poem about the painting or photograph, and when he does it's never in the manner of period-style practitioners: following the narrative of the poetic eye in its mini-epic voyage across the sea of images before it, or taking on an ideal authorial voice which magically overlaps with that of the original artist, sometimes even blithely waltzing into persona, but always with a studied sonority.

Rather, Beyond the Pale is ekphrasitc only in the sense that it contains pictures and (usually) text set in intensely interesting juxtaposition. (This last 4th of July consisted solely of eight Library of Congress photographs of 4th of July celebrations in the America of approximately100 years ago.) Further, the texts one usually finds are those of others, usually writers long dead: poems, memoirs, parts of essays and autobiographies which are set into interesting and energetic juxtaposition with the paintings and/or pictures. The images might as easily concern The Dust Bowl as be realized by the brush of a master and have little in common except their stunning quality and/or historical-cultural-economic interest. All of themn work intelligently as well as artistically with the text(s).

I cannot say enough good about this blog. For me, Beyond the Pale provides a way to "tune myself" several mornings each week, recognizing the resonance (all over again) of that which is most meaningful, and of which I would be.

(I'm not sure how such things are followed. I am on a list and get an e-mail a couple times a week with about three links to the blog with short descriptions from Angelica Clark, Tom's wife, both the other's fair extension.)

(Thanks, Halvard, for allowing me to be part of this. Maybe not the main axle, but a shaft with cams!)

French Toast in Two Takes
–Tom Clark

1. Dover Beach, or the Futility of Thought

The sea is calm to-night,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the Straits; -- on the French
Toast, the light
Syrup gleams but a moment,
And is gone
Down the hatch; for it is the light of France.
The cliffs of England stand
Made all of cardboard; a hand
Claps by itself. It gives itself a standing ovation.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into a his mind
A state of crashing ignorance.

2. French Toast

I have not eaten French toast
In this century, but I remember
Eating French toast.
I get the idea
I am remembering
From a theory.
No, not a theory, a feeling.
A feeling
I experienced long,
Long ago, by the Aegean perhaps, or beneath
The white cliffs of Dover
As the moon
Lay fair.

When I remember reading Dover Beach,
By which I mean when I read
Dover Beach
In my mind, these days,
Which I sometimes do,
It's like that itch you can't scratch,
A memory passes across my mind like a shadow
And is gone, taking
Matthew Arnold,
His poem,
The history of English poetry,
The English language,
Greek tragedy,
The Aegean,
The Straits of Dover,
All the water
Between Cap Gris Nez
And Cap Finisterre
And me
And you, sleeping
In the room next to me
Along with it.

On second thought,
No, not taking you.

I wish you were here.
I have lit incense.
The moon lies fair.
It is almost time for breakfast.

(French Toast in Two Takes, 1976/2010)


Dover Beach
–Matthew Arnold

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.



Tom Clark was born in Chicago in 1941 and educated at the University of Michigan, Cambridge University and the University of Essex. He worked variously as an editor (The Paris Review), critic (Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle) and biographer (lives of Damon Runyon, Jack Kerouac, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Edward Dorn), has written novels (Who is Sylvia?, The Exile of Céline, The Spell) and essays (The Poetry Beat, Problems of Thought: Paradoxical Essays). His many collections of poetry have included Stones, Air, At Malibu, John's Heart, When Things Get Tough on Easy Street, Paradise Resisted, Disordered Ideas, Fractured Karma, Sleepwalker's Fate, Junkets on a Sad Planet: Scenes from the Life of John Keats, Like Real People, Empire of Skin, Light and Shade, The New World, Something in the Air, Feeling for the Ground and At the Fair. He lives in Berkeley, California with his wife and partner of forty-three years, Angelica Heinegg. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dave Brinks and Byron

"'O love, / where are you / leading / me now?'" Creeley asks at the conclusion of "Kore" (written in late Oct. 1959 after a session with Jane Harrison's delightful Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion*) interrogating the Fire, perhaps, "which no flood puts out," which no river ever quenches but in moment's eternity, the absolute virginity in the defiled particulars of experience, etc. Dave Brinks, below, is also guided, but now by the echo of what was, the wraith weavings of her reputed (but also as if remembered) wonders, the shadow of her eloquence (as though it glowed upon memory's wall before him). We haunt a post-Romantic world, as they say, yet are haunted in turn (at the very least) by "every raven tress" of its most enduring personage.

(Jane Harrison writes "At Leuctra in Laconia there was an actual temple (ναός) of Cassandra with an image; the people of the place called her Alexandra, 'Helper of Men'" [Prolegomena 323]. Indeed.)

* Oct. 30, 1959  letter to Duncan, Special Collections, 420 Capen Hall, SUNY-Buffalo.

She Walks In Beauty
                   --Dave Brinks

she walks in beauty
barefoot Kubla Khan
La Belle Dame sans Merci
pushing a Red Wheelbarrow upstairs
“Om” is the key word
two shoulders bent for a kiss
where Fire Is Born
which no flood puts out
Long Night Moon crooning
over wet magnolias
a faint stirring remains
or disappears how long ago
O Lakonian River so greatly loved


She Walks in Beauty
                     --George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
   Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
   Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
   Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
   How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
   But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
   A heart whose love is innocent!



Poet Dave Brinks was born in 1967. He was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana where he currently resides with his wife, poet Megan Burns, and their three children. Brinks’ blood is Choctaw Indian and Acadian.

Brinks is editor-in-chief of YAWP: A Journal of Poetry & Art, publisher of Trembling Pillow Press, director of 17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series, and founder of The New Orleans School for the Imagination.

His poetry has appeared in various magazines, newspapers, journals, andanthologies throughout the U. S., Canada, and overseas including:

ArtVoices, Exquisite Corpse, Gathering of the Tribes, Jejune, Lungfull, New Orleans Review, Scrisul Românesc, Shambhala Sun, The Nation, and VLAK.

Additionally, Brinks’ poetry has been featured by National Public Radio, PBS’ News Hour with Jim Lehrer, National Geographic Traveler, and Louisiana Cultural Vistas.


ARTVOICES, Interview with Peter Anderson – Brinks on New Orleans and Poetry;

17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series in New Orleans;

Stone Soup Poetry presents Dave Brinks, reading in Boston, featuring selections from The Caveat Onus;

A Look at Dave Brinks’ The Caveat Onus by Adam Peltz; 

Exquisite Corpse (ed. Andrei Codrescu), selections from Dave Brinks’ The Geometry of Sound;

The Joe Milford Poetry Show, Interview with Dave Brinks, June 7, 2011;

Nomadics (ed. Pierre Joris), Brinks reading in Brooklyn @ Zebulon, hosted by Roger Van Vorhees;

Poems and Poetics (ed. Jerome Rothenberg), featuring Dave Brinks; 

Black Widow Press;

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Stephen Ellis and Mallarme

 "There are deaths at 20 and burials at 80," Ed Dorn wrote, presuming that we are wired for living, that the shelf life of curiosity, wonder, and innocent openness approximates that of the body. A sensible assumption. And since Romanticism, a prevalent one, one to which  even Dorn is attracted. (As I am.) But perhaps it's not that way. Perhaps death of spirit is written in the genes as surely as the blossoming of body hair, as indelibly as that which drives the male gristly bear to eat other-fathered cubs, perhaps a callous disregard to life's possible joys was central to the survival of the species for hundreds of  millennia. Perhaps it was the only way to make it over the perilous heights of another ice age.  Perhaps. 

Yet the "argument" against this, is as ever, that which in our presence says otherwise. The fullness in voice and vision, the delightful complexities, etc. The voice I "heard" once while alone in the car next to me saying, "You know better than that," breaking off my silent list of self-congratulations or petty woes. (The voice almost broke into sound and afterward, the car silence sounded exactly as though it had.) Yes, I did "know better than that."Surely. Undoubtedly.  And in the same way I know giving "God's / / anatomy a chance / towards bliss," though it might be taken satirically, is the most viable direction in which to reach. After all, it's the most exciting. As the poet wrote, "Though it famish us, yet would we feed."

Cognate Contravention
                              --for Aija Uzulena

Submerge yourself
in the world

and reign, small,
supreme and disastrously

sublime. Only
a mind wracked by

illegitimate things
is beautiful, and as bully

as heart's scars
renewed as necessitating

orders of magi, descending
where sun rises,

and the reverse. Aspire,
always to the first

kiss that completes
the ignition of yet another

entirely new order, a
homeless skeleton that waits for

the caress that will give God's
anatomy a chance

toward bliss. Infinite
allure bears repetition

and the good grace of knowing
where to add more

and where to chisel and cheat
curves too beautiful to 

believe. Let's us continue to 
learn to read whatever we can 

make our own, for melody 
and method, practicalities

of pure spirit, and leave it
at that never, but to feel the ground

of loving disputation, bleached out
daily in a round of sound.

                           --Stephen Ellis



I bring you the child of an Idumaean night!
Black, with a bleeding pale wing, feathers
plucked, through the grass burnt by aromatic
herbs and gold, through the icy panes, alas! still
dark, the dawn cast itself on the angelic lamp,
palms! and when she [the dawn] showed this relic
to the father trying to smile as an enemy, the blue
and sterile solitude shuddered. Oh lullaby-singer
with your daughter and the innocence of your
cold feet, welcome a horrible birth, and your
voice recalling viol and harpsichord, with your
withered finger will you press the breast through
which flows woman in sibylline whiteness for the
lips which the azure air of virgin makes hungry?

                                     --Stephane Mallarme
                                            [trans. Chase Madar]


Stephen Ellis was born in 1950, and has lived, so far, in America, east of the Mississippi river, and further east, some years in North Arabia. He has learned how to use his hands and feet enough to realize that “to think” means “to thank,” and so often is given to say, “hand me that piece of thing, there, will you, please?” He edited, with Stephen Dignazio, 26 issues of the little magazine :that: (1992-1996), and was also the editor and publisher of over 120 broadsides and fascicles under the banner of Oasis Press (1996-2005), including in each series such poetic stalwarts as Kenneth Irby, Alice Notley, Nathanial Tarn, Robert Creeley, Lee Ann Brown and Peter Gizzi. His books include A Book of Currencies (1997), The Long and Short of It (1999), Interface (1999), White Gravity (1999), A Natural History of Suchness (2001) and Opulence (2010). In September of this year, he will be traveling to Riga, Latvia, to take part in the annual ten-day festival honoring Latvia's most celebrated poet, Rainis.

Further poems can be seen at his blogspite, TOAST –

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Richard Lopez and Herrick

The echo of Elizabethan poetry and song in the poetry of Robert Creeley has been noted by the likes of Tom Gunn, Tom Clark, and Wallen Tallman from the 1960s on. What is a wonder is that so few other poets are seen as carriers of that Renaissance love for the softly melodic lyric, the sparsely ornamental, the quiet inventiveness of the line, the muted overstatement, etc. But since the 1960s many poets have been such "pollen bearers," though the Lady of Renaissance praise and (at least since Robert Duncan who proves an interesting case) has been radically reconfigured. But no matter her piercings and tats, no matter her list of her losers lovers, her intrusive interjection of self, her brash self-satisfaction and psychological sufficiency, she remains one of world's most popular lubrications, a way of sliding through life with less friction. Even an an old man, Sir Thomas Wyatt, giving voice to his younger lover, wrote "dear heart, how like you this?"  (How not like everything less?)

from BLAST

right in the center of it
she skimmed the streets
on what looked like 
a logan earth ski circa ‘78
get outta my way
i heard her cry 
as she ground the trucks
against the scrim 
in an ode to concrete
so sweetly it would
make old orpheus blush

         --Richard Lopez
                            10:32 pm 3/22/10

* * *********************

Upon Julia’s Clothes

Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free
O how that glittering taketh me!

                              --Robert Herrick



richard lopez works too much, reads till his eyes fall out and when he can find nothing else, ahem, he writes.  He’s published 2 ½ chapbooks [the most recent is a split chap with Jonathan Hayes, Hallucinating California], and doesn’t know when the next book will get done.  lopez is happily ensconced with his wife and son in a bungalow in Northern California.  He’s also a member of the publishing collective, Hank’s Original Loose Gravel Press, with poets Steve Tills, Jim McCrary and Henry Mancini.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Marthe Reed and Proust, two of two

The "springtime virulence" of Marcel's memory circling Proust's stupidly devious M. Vineuil, his presumptively fragile (though robust) daughter, and the overwhelming mystery of the endearing hawthorn-blossoms' whiteness with their bitter almond scent (bearing his passion) becomes the sounding ground for Marthe Reed's second lively offering this month, though her poem follows Proust's lyrical voice beyond the literal occasion into the awareness of feminine exile and (with luck) the compensation of imagination. Text flows into text, mind through mind, voice into voice.

from Swann's Way

As we were liable, there, to meet M. Vinteuil, who held very strict views on "the deplorable untidiness of young people, which seems to be encouraged in these days," my mother would first see that there was nothing out of order in my appearance, and then we would set out for the church. It was in these 'Month of Mary' services that I can remember having first fallen in love with hawthorn-blossom. The hawthorn was not merely in the church, for there, holy ground as it was, we had all of us a right of entry; but, arranged upon the altar itself, inseparable from the mysteries in whose celebration it was playing a part, it thrust in among the tapers and the sacred vessels its rows of branches, tied to one another horizontally in a stiff, festal scheme of decoration; and they were made more lovely still by the scalloped outline of the dark leaves, over which were scattered in profusion, as over a bridal train, little clusters of buds of a dazzling whiteness.… (Moncrieff trans., pp 60-62)


['there was nothing out of order']
          --Marthe Reed

there was nothing out of order
that I can remember
in love with hawthorn

scattered in profusion
a swift

girl in white
so fine a point
to remain outside

and only passion
somewhat boyish
to restrain a smile

as though in a transparency
a bitter
colour, in which I imagined

an intense vitality
almost red in
springtime virulence, the irritant

latent in her
even for knowing

all the wretchedness of exile
the farthest limit
scattered its

water and gates
the balmy scent of the lime-trees


Marthe Reed has published two books, Gaze (Black Radish Books) and Tender Box, A Wunderkammer with drawings by Rikki Ducornet (Lavender Ink), as well as three chapbooks, post*cards: Lafayette a Lafayette (with j/j hastain), (em)bodied bliss and zaum alliterations, all as part of the Dusie Kollektiv Series. Her poetry has appeared in New American Writing, Golden Handcuffs Review, New Orleans Review, HOW2, MiPoesias, Big Bridge, Moria, Fairy Tale Review, Exquisite Corpse, The Offending Adam, Galatea Resurrects, and Eoagh, among others.  Her manuscript, an earth of sweetness dances in the vein, was a finalist in Ahsahta Press’ 2006 Sawtooth Poetry Contest.  She has guest edited an issue of Ekleksographia and served as assistant editor for Dusie Kollektiv.

Praise for Gaze:


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Anny Ballardini and Baudelaire

Happy Birthday

As the poet said, "It's easy to be a Romantic if you don't have to mind the evidence." But what if the evidence won't ignore you, but rather, it "minds" you incessantly with its brute obtrusion, distensions of  ego, chaos of meager lusts, whiny confusions, etc.? At such a crossing of the possible and actual, one of the most abiding fountains of grace has its source (which Baudelaire, perhaps, gives voice to, especially when seen set against the draining realization--implicit in the poem's final word--of what is, even as it includes him). Add to the grace of one who fronts this stupidity without losing an inner openness or willingness or love for existence, another: that others love one for it! An abundance of abundances, like a billowing of birthdays, the best one might expect. Of certain note in the world even (especially) against the resounding emptiness after the death of a beloved parent.

(There are lines in Anny's poem which strain the meter on Emily's popped-top-of-head test.)

                                               --Anny Ballardini

Baudelaire and my father
One dandy the other simple
One Parisian the other a New Yorker lover of mountains
Why did I look for my father in Baudelaire
For Baudelaire in my father?

Est-ce le spleen?
Does it imprint people like color
A scent you breathe where
There’s the stagnant paradox
Of an excess of love?
Silent sorrow
Gentle hidden painful retraction
Faced [over and over again] with insensitive distance
From the freezing surrounding outside
The selfish gratuitous disregard of their need
Struggling alone in their abÎmes
Who and how could [I] ever fill
Cross through, reach out/into _ grasp
Their one Truth
By my father mystified in a sublime Je crois
By Baudelaire in L’Art
Irony by Baudelaire
Ironical hinting by you, my Father
My accomplice
Happy Birthday

July 2, 2011


          --Charles Baudelaire

Music doth oft uplift me like a sea
     Towards my planet pale,
Then through dark fogs or heaven's infinity
      I lift my wandering sail.

With breast advanced, drinking the winds that flee,
      And through the cordage wail,
I mount the hurrying waves night hides from me
     Beneath her sombre veil.

I feel the tremblings of all passions known
     To ships before the breeze;
Cradled by gentle winds, or tempest-blown

     I pass the abysmal seas
That are, when calm, the mirror level and fair
      Of my despair!

(from The Poems and Prose Poems of Charles Baudelaire, edited by James Huneker)


Short bio:

Anny Ballardini lives in Bolzano, Italy.  She grew up in New York, lived in New Orleans, Buenos Aires, Florence, completed her studies with an MFA at UNO, University of New Orleans.  A poet, translator and interpreter, she recently won a scholarship for a PhD in English at the U of Verona, she also teaches high school; edits Poet’s Corner, an online poetry site; and writes a blog: Narcissus Works.  She has translated several contemporary poets into Italian and English.  Her collections of poetry: Opening and Closing Numbers, was published by Moria Press in 2005; Ghost Dance in 33 Movements by Otoliths appeared in print in 2009.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Steve Tills and Wordsworth

Wordsworth's cloud wanders without wondering into Steve Tills' poem as well, but the closest thing to flowers is the bum's rush of strokes articulating air and page with the repetition of mathematics while waiting for what might well be the blessing of a final one. ("Tasting like electricity running through the molars," Bernadette Mayer once told me.) Wordsworth's "spots of time," like his future of tranquil memory, have dissipated like a wisp of airy matter. In fact there's no future at all. No reason to keep swinging, as they say, through this "curse" except to mindlessly repeat this purposeless activity. Rugh Stuff indeed. A "sport," they say.

["Golf Gods, Forgive me]
                   --Steve Tills

"Golf Gods, Forgive me
for loving the foursome
up ahead,

deliberating so much
over the scoreboard,

counting strokes

instead of breaths
or blades of grass,
                or angels
in the lonesome clouds . . .

If I had had it,

two deuces all over again,
4 pars and a quadruple

bogeyman, yeah, if.

Just one thing, just one
secret, just one reason

to keep swinging
out here

on this curse, these
courses without destination."


         ["I wandered lonely as a cloud"]
                           --William Wordsworth

     I wandered lonely as a cloud
          That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
          When all at once I saw a crowd,
          A host, of golden daffodils;
          Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
          Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

          Continuous as the stars that shine
          And twinkle on the milky way,
          They stretched in never-ending line
          Along the margin of a bay:                                  
          Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
          Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

          The waves beside them danced; but they
          Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
          A poet could not but be gay,
          In such a jocund company:
          I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
          What wealth the show to me had brought:

          For oft, when on my couch I lie
          In vacant or in pensive mood,                               
          They flash upon that inward eye
          Which is the bliss of solitude;
          And then my heart with pleasure fills,
          And dances with the daffodils.



Steve Tills has published approximately four  and  a half  books (Invisible Diction, Loose Gravel, 1996; Mr. Magoo, Hank’s Original Loose Gravel Press, “1997”; Behave, dPress, 2004; Sleeve from  The Helen Keller Series, PO25¢EM, 2005; Rugh Stuff, theenk Books, 2009.  He is the founder of theenk Books and co-founder of the recently revived Hank’s Original Loose Gravel Press.  He edits and  publishes the journal Black Spring. He is also co-founder with Patricia Schwartz of the brand new 2011 Literary Guild of the Finger Lakes.

William James Austin's Blackbox
Jill Chan's Poetry sz
Mark Young's Otoliths
Mark Young's Otoliths 
Del Ray Cross' Shampoo
David Brazil and Sara Larsen's Try
Sarah Sarai's My 3000 Loving Arms

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Laura Mullen, William Wordsworth, and Dorothy Wordsworth

Bernadette Mayer, I believe, once called clouds "the absolute structure of desire." And old crone one minute, a basket of camels the next. A game one best plays with another.Yet the one with which Wordsworth identifies reminds one of little, perhaps, except an empty, airy buoyancy. Note, it too is alone, presumptively sharing his later "bliss of solitude."

On the day of Wordsworth's lonely wandering, he was accompanied by Dorothy who, in her journal, speaks often of her companion. (It's also interesting to note the precision and clarity of her descriptions of the flora and the weather compared to her brother's!) Perhaps she was obliterated by on of William's  "spots of time," or an "emotion recollected in tranquility" had a caustic effect on his memory. Laura Mullen's book investigates this "blind spot[-of-time]," the hurricane Katrina, and much more. Intelligent and wonderfully written, I highly recommend it. My blurb: "I envy you the first reading of this book."

I Wandered Her Voice
   (retrospective mix)

Floats on high
Almost crying                                 though much
                                                     of what constitutes
                                                     the present (what
                                                     wealth) should be read
(Undulating landscape "rolling hills" beside her take)
                                                     closely even interrogated,
When all at once (at once part of his elaborate math: singular gaze
In tension against the mass or) crowd [I saw] (revision)
Host the device a little fast or slow a slur or skipping
A cricket owns the world / Plays legs and face / Plays every last
                                                     Possible cover version
Close to the lake, under the table,
All summer, dreaming of surviving
                                                     It could be self-pity, the tape
Fluttering and dancing
Continuous loop margin the parable
My past your past our impossible
Insect-sized life, actually
                                                     Never ending

                                                     Sudden lurch of sound
No one else                                    (How lonely altocumulus?) Plays
Version after version hurrying
Off to the dance, n'est-ce pas?         Oh, but it's so Late! Last (fake
Bliss) chance!                                 Sister as mist
Numbers nothing, reminds us she was accompanied, sees the blossoms
Some lying down, resting "as if for weariness," whose dream
What 'progress' impossible having
Waved away these visions of other
                                                      Dancers frozen posed
                                                      Out-done out of it
"Late"                                             Waves
On step forward two steps                When on my completely transparent
                                                          goes by right
Recording and then
                                                     What wealth
And then
Cortege of                                      Only
My heart                                        This show

The surface in places removed by the force 

                                   --Laura Mullen, from Dark Archive
                                     (Berkeley: U of California P, 2011)


         ["I wandered lonely as a cloud"]

          I wandered lonely as a cloud
          That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
          When all at once I saw a crowd,
          A host, of golden daffodils;
          Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
          Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

          Continuous as the stars that shine
          And twinkle on the milky way,
          They stretched in never-ending line
          Along the margin of a bay:                                  
          Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
          Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

          The waves beside them danced; but they
          Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
          A poet could not but be gay,
          In such a jocund company:
          I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
          What wealth the show to me had brought:

          For oft, when on my couch I lie
          In vacant or in pensive mood,                               
          They flash upon that inward eye
          Which is the bliss of solitude;
          And then my heart with pleasure fills,
          And dances with the daffodils.

                                           -- William Wordsworth


Thursday 15th. It was a threatening misty morning--but mild. We set off after dinner from Eusemere. Mrs Clarkson went a short way with us but turned back. The wind was furious and we thought we must have returned. We first rested in the large Boat-house, then under a furze Bush opposite Mr Clarkson's. Saw the plough going in the field. The wind seized our breath the Lake was rough. There was a Boat by itself floating in the middle of the Bay below Water Millock. We rested again in the Water Millock Lane. The hawthorns are black and green, the birches here and there greenish but there is yet more of purple to be seen on the Twigs. We got over into a field to avoid some cows--people working, a few primroses by the roadside, woodsorrel flower, the anemone, scentless violets, strawberries, and that starry yellow flower which Mrs C. calls pile wort. When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side. We fancied that the lake had floated the seeds ashore and that the little colony had so sprung up. But as we went along there were more and yet more and at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about and about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here and there a little knot and a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity and unity and life of that one busy highway. We rested again and again. The Bays were stormy, and we heard the waves at different distances and in the middle of the water like the sea. Rain came on--we were wet when we reached Luffs but we called in. Luckily all was chearless and gloomy so we faced the storm--we must have been wet if we had waited--put on dry clothes at Dobson's. I was very kindly treated by a young woman, the Landlady looked sour but it is her way. She gave us a goodish supper. Excellent ham and potatoes. We paid 7/ when we came away. William was sitting by a bright fire when I came downstairs. He soon made his way to the Library piled up in a corner of the window. He brought out a volume of Enfield's Speaker, another miscellany, and an odd volume of Congreve's plays. We had a glass of warm rum and water. We enjoyed ourselves and wished for Mary. It rained and blew when we went to bed. N.B. Deer in Gowbarrow park like skeletons.

                    --Excerpt from Dorothy Wordsworth's Grasmere Journal, 15 April 1802



A Professor at Louisiana State University, Laura Mullen is the author of four collections of poetry--The Surface, After I Was Dead, Subject and Dark Archive--as well as two hybrid texts, The Tales of Horror, and Murmur. The composer Jason Eckardt’s setting of “The Distance (This)” (from Subject) premiered in New York and Helsinki and will be released on Mode records in August 2011. New work is out or forthcoming in Action Yes!, Cerise Press, Ghost Town, The Denver Quarterly, Viz Arts, and New American Writing. Mullen is a contributing editor for the on-line poetry movie site Rabbit Light Movies.