Saturday, August 30, 2014

Paige DeShong, "Funhouse," and Jerry McGuire, "Beating Your Media"

Like Irving Feldman’s “In Theme Park America,” Paige DeShong’s “Funhouse,” (part of a photographer/poet collaborative exhibition I put together some years ago) eerily captures the sense in which the whole culture, and we ourselves, as persons, become absorbed into the world (call it a “fantasy world,” or an “illusory world,” or a “mythic world”) of our mediations. It has the penetrating advantage of being “candid”—a singular expression of . . . what? The pure products of America going crazy? The woman (a friend of Paige’s) surrounded by figurations of her cultural iconicity, but enthroned and lit up like a celebrity in a nightmare: Fantasy? Illusion? Myth? You can have it all: and that says it all.



     Beating Your Media

 In a wonderful book entitled Talk’s Body, David Sudnow talks about his imaginative experience as a jazz keyboardist and as a writer—what it means to improvize (or to generate fresh gestures) in each medium (his next book, Pilgrim in the Micro-World, treated the phenomenology of early arcade games). When I first read the book, around 1980 or 81, I was struck by two ideas or processes he described that coincided with my own sense of my writing process: first, a sense of goalless play; and second, a sense of accident. Here’s an example of the first (my examples are from the Penguin paperback, 1980):
Playing the piano at home and alone, I often play differently from when I am playing for others.
I stop and start at will, not terribly bothered by mistakes. I switch styles frequently. I intermingle a little spate of exercises within an ongoing jazz improvisation. I mumble. I hesitate, start over again, erase what I did, and begin something quite different.
My talking to myself at the piano takes on many of the same qualities that talking to myself with words can have, and at times I daydream at the instrument, making musical movements that do not especially go anywhere, fiddle with the keys, bang on some, look out the window, brush against others, repeat a single key to listen to the sound of the instrument, play a figure again and again and again, forgettingaboutthespacing in accordance with a regular pulsation. (64-65)
Sudnow’s talking to himself reminds me of something the great filmmaker Hollis Frampton once told me—that the man who taught him (in the sixties or seventies) how to program a computer explained that he had reached a limit in his ability to handle complex problems until he learned to talk to himself while he did it. He (and I think Frampton, who did this and taught it to his students as well) was a little embarrassed by this, but acknowledged that it works: there seems to be a sense in which the mind has to vocalize—to invoke, perhaps—in order to intermediate between machine and conceptual problem.
Also, what Sudnow calls “daydreaming” here—and he has more to say about it than I’m repeating now—derives (directly, I think) from Freud’s ideas as expressed in “The Creative Writer and Daydreaming,” another of the seminal texts of my life. The idea of taking up the world (but what we’re taking up, I’m saying, is nearly always an instrument, a medium) through an invocation of freedom from specific purposes or goals certainly doesn’t describe what any writer does every single time she writes; but at the crucial spot of what Derrida called “freeplay”—a scene of the undefined and undefinable, of a wheel wobbling rather than perfectly measured on its hub—it suggests that what our instruments gift us with is imprecision, or, better, indeterminacy. Mediation, in this sense, is a freeing from the overworn grooves of “the natural,” of “common sense,” of “rules,” “laws,” “expectations,” of conventional thinking, conventional expression, and cliché of word and cliché of concept. Those moments when we catch ourselves idly playing in the air (see the last painting in Jesse Poimboeuf’s entry on August 20th), going nowhere idly or with manic enthusiasm, may make us feel detached from reality and all cares. But as in Robert Frost’s wonderful simile in “The Silken Tent,” such a perfect disconnect is illusory. Though in no way “strictly held,” we are “loosely bound / By silken ties of love and thought / To everything on earth the compass round.” Frost’s way of imaging this (and it’s just a stand-in for an amazing woman) is the world’s most perfect tent. His image requires a vehicle, a medium of concretion. And our play, whether it is with dolls, trucks, Truck, mathematical symbols, saxophones, legos, mystic writing pads . . . . . . no matter what we choose to play with (and we do have to choose), it gives shape first to our imagination of the world, and then to the world itself. Freud said, “Play is the work of the child”; as he knew better than anyone, it is also crucial to the work, and to the world, of persons who are not children. (Sudnow also saw this: “Jazz is close to sport in some ways. For example, playing fast is important, and the musician’s speed at executing long runs is ranked among players and fans much as batting averages are kept” [27].)
But Sudnow also says, “The body is a natural higher mathematician” (78). Nevertheless, if he admires its precisions and perfections, he loves its errant mischiefs. Discussing the perfectionism of playing (and he presents a long and persuasive list of reasons for jazz musicians to build a repertoire of phrases and to develop “at least the tendency to say the same fancy things over and over again”), he offers a useful map for recognizing such gestures, and in doing so, projects a mirror-map of what can be recognized as a deeper improvization:
Look especially for the absence of those little false starts being forever turned into the music as the improvisational hand aligns and realigns itself, getting a flexible rhythm under way, now forming up to take a longer stretch. Look for the presence of very long and fast lines that are more unidirectional than interweaving. Look for little in the way of things being said—I mean placed—for things being placed and then placed again, and then again, before a longer burst of venturing movements. Look for the disappearance of those clear mistakes that are then turned into parts of the music as the hand cycles back to pick up a sour-sounding note, doing it again for emphasis, making it of the music by elegantly integrating its harshness into a small digression. Watch out for the disappearance of that special sort of developing tension that resolves with the sense of “Wow, he made it come off.” Watch out for many imitations of that tension. (43-44)
O.k., it’s worth pointing out that, as Sudnow knows very well, one of the things great jazz players have done is add significantly to the historically accumulating phraseology of improvization, and that doesn’t come from single instances, but from building something bigger, a style. Nevertheless, this is one of my favorite celebrations anywhere of the productive impulsion of accident and error. The sense that what someone playing in real time does is not ask for a do-over but instantaneously imagine a build-in speaks to something fundamental in my understanding of how poems emerge. No doubt we don’t always just keep adding paint when we screw up—sometimes we have to throw it away and start over, or “fix it” substantially in revision. But what this sense of play suggests, I’d say, is a tolerance for the extraordinary, a sense that that’s what one was looking for without knowing it, of the production of the unpredictable: of “Wow, I made it come off.” (And yes, this is very close indeed to “Negative Capability.”)
I was reading today a good essay by Gideon Lewis-Kraus ( on the history and theory of word-processing autocorrection. While he’s a lot more enthusiastic about that software than I am, he does mention its surrealistic tendencies (as documented on the site called Damn You Autocorrect []). Even though it works brilliantly most of the time, he says, what fascinates us are its goofy errors.
In this, it bears a close family resemblance to Google Translate. Here’s an experiment with Google Translate in which a poem of mine (which appeared in my Venus Transit, from Outriders Poetry Project, 2013), written in response to Paige DeShong’s “Funhouse,” was translated first into French, then into Greek, then back into English:


"She belongs to" "the tyrant," "though she thinks she's" "her own" (Alice Notley, The Descent of Alette)

Her life a cartoon
for which everyone else
writes the captions, each new scene. Until the day
of the throne, her amaze
at its offering, spatter
of gracious smiles from the attendants she never
could have predicted and she got to pull the lever. And
set the speed and tension. Adjust
the pressure.
Control the pitch and g-force. Decide
whether to be poised or precipitous.
Choose the sign: "Welcome!"
or "No Admittance!"

Then locks the brake and brace
back and crank, ease the speed forward
until it revs and throbs
so that the apparatus shakes,
shudders and shakes as if the whole world were sobbing, then
takes her calm between
her teeth, bites down hard (it draws
some blood, it tastes good),
picks her course, kicks
off the brake

     Mute (Google-Translate Version)

"Belongs to" "tyrant", "thinks it" "own" (Alice Notley, The Descent of Alette)

Life's a moving
in which everyone
written descriptions, each new scene. By day
the throne, amazing
forecast supply
cute smiles escorts who never
could be predicted and has to pull the lever. and
adjust the speed and voltage. Set
Check the height and strength g. Decide
if you want to be in balance or in haste.
Select the point: "Welcome"
or "no access"

Lock brake straps
and kick back, facilitating the advance speed
until it turns and throbbing
so that the clamping device,
chills and shivering like everyone sobbing, then
takes stand between
his teeth, biting hard (draft
little blood, good taste)
reiterated its course, kicking

Please note: I think my original version is a “better poem,” though I understand the many ways in which that’s open to dispute. All I want to point out here is that passing that poem through a distinct mediatory apparatus has produced eccentricities and deviations that are themselves provocative (“draft / little blood, good taste”; "in balance or in haste"), and while I’m sticking by my poem, the translation device opens its language up in ways I’d be a fool not to continue to consider—as a way of “reiterating its course,” maybe, iteration after iteration.
Just as any translation device always fails in some measure—and in that, achieves its specific success—the “correction” in autocorrection is a joke waiting to happen. We’re better than our machines, because we’re worse. We love that! Our gadgets give us directions and we wind up lost in the most fascinating spaces, inner and outer. We want to be lost, want our math to be off, our scene bizarrely lit, framed, and edited, and our algorithms scrambled. At least, part of what we do, which makes “the media” and, in general, mediation, so crucial to our self-discovering process as artists of one sort and another, is to enlens ourselves before the world. Like the magnificent filmmaker Guy Maddin, we take a bit of pride in not being sure which lens does what. Putting ourselves in a fantasy chair and letting its current shatter us is how we discover the fragments that matter—that “count,” however imprecisely.
And if, like Sudnow’s slick repeaters of phrases, we accommodate ourselves a little too comfortably to a given medium or mode of mediation, part of our training or instinct (perhaps both) presses us to fight the common currency, to beat our media before they beat us. Talk about love-hate.

* * * * *
* * * * *

Whole-hearted thanks to the fine writers and visual artists who gave me permission to upload their work. And to Hal Johnson, to paraphrase John Lennon: Thanks for the use of the medium. (JM)

Paige DeShong is an old friend of Jerry McGuire's who lives in Austin, up the hill from Barton Springs where she swims most days.  She makes jewelry and sculpture from various metals and found glass which she sells through her studio and at Her son August keeps her out of trouble.


Jerry McGuire splits his time between the state of anxiety and the state of Louisiana, where he teaches film and poetry at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Skip Fox, "Blood in Black and White"

“Blood” somehow always invokes, in itself, a crisis beyond itself. My blood, your blood, her blood, our blood. Bloodflow and bloodfeud. And what could convey such a crisis of red better than black and white—even the ecstatic scarlet is devoured, pulled into some sort of (always poorly comprehended) contest. Skip catches this (whether he wanted to or not) perfectly, the crisis invoked most directly in “living the cinematic trope” (a great film title: Centrifuge of Blood—in vivid B & W!). There are buzzing, blooming metatexts—a booming rush—all over this thing, all lurching from a sense of urgency, married to a sense of incompletion, the pitiful shock of en français, etc.: pointedness of ferret’s tooth, spurring on of dolphins, those non-fish in/out of water, literal arguments and tropes assuming the forms of dreams or movies, everything plunging, pulsing, pouring, everything—because of everything—stunned among visions that won’t resolve into something as simple as “immediate,” or “mediated.” (JM)

     Blood in Black and White

5:53 a.m with weather en français (Channel 3) says
it's going to rain through the end of the week, five
days ringing in the changes, wind in the rigging, my
operation always "incomplete," I walk away stunned,
amazed, while slashing the upper regions, as movie runs,
masts in dismay. En français, indeed. Fucking in a foreign
language for instance. I just want to see you again, says the blind
man. Plunging into horror of falling water. Days lost, nights beyond
intent. Arguments raking the sides of dolphins with toy-sized
spurs, sharp as ferrets' teeth. You can barely see them beneath
the many-sided darkness stuccoed with wraith light, rising
and falling from sight amid gusts as a ghastly strobe marks
their passing back into storm-tosst seas as you approach, a lens,
thoughtless, yet pregnant with attention as a bell with fruit, you can
almost make out the fine lines of blood that appear to be pulsing
from the multiple and intricate serrations along their sides, lightly
glazing their torsos until they plunge once more into wave and foam,
disappearing all over again. An old movie, a scene from a recurrent
dream, or living the cinematic trope for an ancient and unconsidered
insistence upon what does not exist in the face of the booming rush
of each day. Blood becomes us, sea on which we bob, our season's
flood, this morning strands of water falling from eave to trough
beneath, ringing with proto-syllables, plunging deeper each day.

Skip Fox has written a number of books of poetry. Next year, Lavender Ink will publish his wired to zone, a novel.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Laura Mullen, "You Only Live Twice"

Leave it to Laura Mullen to invent (or re-invent) a form whose echoic back-and-foreplay mimics an embedded medium, one set of representations nestled in another framework of representation. The shock of such perfect integration is that it makes perfect sense, times two (at least). (JM)

     You Only Live Twice

He is armed. He is harmed.
Licensed to kill and ill, knows
There’s a no in Casino, and now
There’s a drain for the rain
Running down to the old gold
Where the cat buries its scat.
Now here is the nowhere
I lent to the silent secret
Agent who was a real gent:
Him with the scar in the car,
All the cards in his hand and
The ice shaken like dice…
He is mine he is Dramamine.
I am feminine, I am nine.

Laura Mullen is the author of eight books: Complicated Grief (forthcoming from Solid Objects), Enduring Freedom: A Little Book of Mechanical Brides, The Surface, After I Was Dead, Subject, Dark Archive, The Tales of Horror, and Murmur. Recognitions for her poetry include Ironwood’s Stanford Prize, two Board of Regents ATLAS grants, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Rona Jaffe Award, among other honors. She has had several MacDowell Fellowships and is a frequent visitor at the Summer Writing Program at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa. Her work has been widely anthologized. Mullen is the McElveen Professor in English at LSU and the Director of Creative Writing.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dean Ellis, Three Poems

I first encountered Dean Ellis when he took part (as poet) in an exhibition I organized of collaborative projects by writers and photographers. He turned out to be not only a poet, but a translator from Portuguese, an expert on Brazilian music (and lots of other music), and a sometime bartender at one of New Orleans’ best restaurants—an incomparable quadruple threat! (That he doesn’t mention the latter in his bio note is an insufferable display of humility.) His poems here participate in the great Romantic project of psychologizing the alien—taking the unknown, and perhaps unknowable, and registering its psychic (we’d say cognitive, now) effects in images. As in the best of Wordsworth and Keats, especially, there’s a deep investment here in the in-between, in gaps, absences, and particulars elusive of denotation—things in a mystifying middle, thrown into the world awaiting us, to be processed, even mastered. Of course this begins in a sublime and dauntingly mythic environment, reshapes itself into a discourse on (cinematic) images, takes a swerve through Graham Greene and Marguerite Duras, and ends in dreams—the movies that all of us make. Inasmuch as what we call “media” are fundamentally image machines, Dean’s poems are messages from our middles.

Cecil B., Boca Raton

Cecil B. paddles
a red kayak in fading
sunlight, heedless
of circuses and Biblical
epics. The sea is his
template, the horizon
a huckster, the current
his only commandment.
The breeze is a bullhorn,
he speaks through it
with sinewy wrists turned
against the flickering
sky. Jodhpur oars tread
the ingénue tide, breaker
hordes approach, await their
cue. The sea cleaves,
his breast swells with
vernal gusts. He sees the stars
concealed behind a curtain
of clouds, the Creation
that will never be His.

Cinéma Vérité, a Glossary of Terms

Soft focus: he distrusts
memory and relies on the
memory of memory.

Wide angle: the breadth
of his longing attenuates
the gaps.

Long shot: she tumbles
into the gaps and is
nurtured there.

Jump cut: he awakens
to time and its cruel

Tracking shot: she refuses
to exit the panorama
of his vision.

Mise en scene: what one
sees is what one sees,
and isn't.

Denouement: there is no
such thing as resolution,
only last scenes.

Upon Falling Asleep While Reading The Quiet American Or Maybe While Watching The Film Version Not The Original But The Superior Remake With Michael Caine Or Maybe It Was The Lover By Duras Or Maybe It Was The Film Version

Once I rode a rickshaw
with Graham Greene he
told me, as the driver's
vertebrae creaked forward,
and groaned a doleful
chorus with the wooden
wheels, you suffer as much
as the driver, you see, because
you are his burden and he
yours. It took me years
to learn this, he said,
and I am still learning. But
why then, I asked, do you
still take rickshaws? Because,
he said, they need my business
and I am too lazy to walk. And
then I awoke from the bubble-
wrapped dream, and tore the
cellophane from my eyelids,
and knew, quite unknowingly,
that I would never ride
a rickshaw, or know anyone
who ever knew anyone who
knew Graham Greene.

Dean Ellis is a writer and translator living in New Orleans. His work has appeared in The New Orleans Review, Bloodroot, Another Sticky Valentine, the St. Petersburg Review, the online series Working Stiff at and the KGB Bar Lit Magazine. His translation (with Jaime Braz) of Jacinto Lucas Pires' novel The True Actor was published last fall by Dzanc Books. He hosts the radio programs Tudo Bem and The Dean's List on WWOZ-FM 90.7 in New Orleans and online at

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Rita Costello, Four Poems

It’s no accident that Hank Lazer and David Saffo both built their poems with reference to phenomenology, which works its way through bodily processes towards a world that is never quite immediate, or never quite accessible as immediate. (As Merleau-Ponty put it, “Since perception is the ‘flaw’ in this ‘great diamond’ [he’s alluding to lines of Valery’s that translate ‘My repentance, my doubts, my constraints / Are the flaw in your great diamond’], there can be no question of describing it as one of the facts that happens in the world, for the picture of the world will always include this lacuna that we are and by which the world itself comes to exist for someone.”) The body—our first vehicle, but also the source of our first alienation—is constantly reaching, or, more hopefully, grasping; yet it is thrown into the world and history already decomposing, a vastly imperfect correspondent. We’ve spent that history, and we spend our lives, searching for ways of mediating this imperfection: cuneiform writing, the abacus, the telescope, the typewriter, the Stratocaster, the silicon diode, the sonnet, the M-16.
Rita Costello is wonderfully attuned to this sense of ongoing, embodied mediation. Her poems here invoke all sorts of tools, all of them fallible, all in circulation around the body or bodies, all of them somehow in on a Nietzschean joke of ceaselessly proliferating perspectives echoing into a void. Or maybe that’s me—Rita, I think, shows greater cheer and more hope than I do regarding the ways in which we build ourselves into the world—that’s what we want, to be sure—with our instruments, our vehicles, our media. (JM)


Back in the days of the daisy-wheel
typewriter—spinning out dervish dance
letters—we ruined our eyes in shop-class pinching
fingertips like tweezers down on singular
shapes of ten-point type. And, with crane-
like motions, we rescued letters from the alphabet
tray lowering them slowly, pseudo-steady, down
into lines of meaning, or at least as much sense
as seventh-graders can make from such great
resources as letters and language, which is probably less
than an infinite number of nimble-fingered monkeys. I
imagined sometimes, Sesame Street style, the steel-carved
A’s and T’s and D’s atop their firm-squared bases
as buildings—the model city, the sky-scrapers I
would someday walk between, collecting
the meaning of the world from their surface, like an
ampersand pressed, long and hard, into the skin
of an index finger, at least temporarily marring
the genetic code, the identifying lines that in a room-
ful of ink and sticky-rolling presses marked everything
as personal. Those nights I dreamed a hand
of sentences—firmly centered and set in the once silver
circle now rolled flat blue with ink—and stamping
out the lines even the most novice palm-reader
could interpret clearly.

     on the release of Adolf Eichmann’s prison writings,
     February 2000

Confronting an actual Eichmann, one had to resort to armed struggle and, if need be, to ruse. Confronting a paper Eichmann, one should respond with paper.
Pierre Vidal-Naquet

Thin papers amass bulk only      by unimaginable
numbers      stacked—fighting numbers
with numbers, innocent     victims alike.
Thirteen-hundred pages still fit in a box      too small
for a single body. It would take a lifetime to write
a mass grave, a thousand blue pens in place of blood.

     essentially the same

mirrors and copulation are abominable,
because they increase the number of men
—Jorge Luis Borges, “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”

I blame my birth on propaganda, not the sort to entice
blonde breeders to the Reich, but that good old American right-
eousness in exposing the faults of others. My mother     in the third
grade, good Catholic girl suddenly made impure with the realization:
If we’re saying this about them, what are they saying about us? I imagine
to get there she must have seen her own world in that other; how else
could such transubstantiation occur: one moment trusting     blind
faith in all authority, then bodiless, nation-less, questioning of all
existence. The body is only a consumer of bread     as malleable as the funhouse

mirror. The world splits to so many mirrored images, that all our poles
are fractured     multiplication. Humanity as a whole meaningless against us
and them. Old as shadows in Greek caves or two-headed creatures      broken. We
are never solid. Searching only brings us closer to the mathematical eyes of the fly
as the only way      to see ourselves—here a people, here a thought, here a war—and all the fly

is attracted to. Don’t we all want to think of molecular science as mythology? My
atoms will never, have never been part of another, of you, of the brick wall
I keep running into, arms thrust out, fingers splayed and cracking with the
force of speed not really mine at all. But the propaganda is all shifting
to seek stillness anyway; borders that do not bleed and eyes so dead
all perception melds to singular substance: the mass that raises the bath-
water is never part of the water. The thoughts of children are always swayed
by educational filmstrips. This bread is my body, take me into yourself and
believe, a body is a temple, sculpted, freestanding, closer-my-god-to-thee architecture.

     Paradelle for Grandma, Just Moved to Assisted Living

When her mind went, she couldn’t remember
when her mind went. She couldn’t remember
the wind echoes ripples across the water.
The wind echoes ripples across the water.
The water remembers her when she couldn’t;
across the went-mind, wind ripples echo.

She could not remember the day they took her;
she could not remember the day, they took her
away from the home where deer awoke her mornings.
Away from the home where deer awoke her mornings,
from where the deer took her day. They remember
mourning away the home; the her she could not awake.

Her mind stayed home, though her body moved
her mind. Stayed home, though her body moved
the mountains, her eighty acres, three ponds, and
the mountains—her eighty acres, three ponds—and
her body moved though the eighty mountains and
her mind stayed home: her three-acres pond.

The mornings moved her home, her echoes went though
the deer, the day, her three ponds, her—remember
eighty?— acres, mountains, mind. She awoke
water. She couldn’t remember the ripples and where
they took her wind across, when the body
could stay home, not away from her mind.

Originally from New York, Rita D. Costello has lived all over America (and China). She is Director of Freshman/Sophomore English at McNeese State University and co-editor of the anthology Bend Don't Shatter. Her work has appeared in journals such as: Glimmer Train, ACM, Baltimore Review, Fireweed, Pank, and Hawai’i Review.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

David Saffo, "like Mom's) chocolate-coated nuggets"

What is going on in Tuscaloosa?! On the heels of Hank’s fine citations of The Phenomenology of Perception comes this dizzy(ing) multi-tasker from David Saffo. It’s a miracle, man. So many questions: all dead, or only mostly dead? which way is up? who’s the guest speaker? “for” whom? is it possible to make only a small section of my screen rotate 360 degrees? what constitutes “a good hour”? Alas, we may never know the answers to any of these questions, but clearly the (physical) notepad is the medium of the future in Alabama, and boys, we salute you. (JM)

David Saffo teaches English at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Hank Lazer, Three Poems

The hand-made chapbook is supposed to give us privileged access—not unmediated (we’re not that naive), but privileged—to those distinctive processes we suppose “take place” when a poem comes into being. Especially as compared to mass-produced commodities like the major anthologies, they feel handheld, unplugged, analog. Hank Lazer’s three hand-written notebook poems are a good place to start in thinking about the way poems get mediated on any page. (And indeed, they are all meditations on that kind of mediation.) Each framing (and framed by) a quotation from Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception (trans. Donald Landes), the poems foreground a variety of challenges to transparency: first, there’s the opacity of Merleau-Ponty’s prose; then there’s the elliptical complexity of Hank’s language in response to Merleau-Ponty; and there’s the additional challenge of the hand-written language that is deployed in ways that subvert conventional left-to-right reading. Finally, there’s a multiple resistance in the digital representations as we crank our heads around trying to get it all in. (Take my advice: download these jpegs and open them in a program that allows you to rotate the texts—or, if you’re strong enough, you could simply pick up your computer and rotate it to read them. JM)

Hank Lazer has published seventeen books of poetry, including Portions (Lavender Ink, 2009), The New Spirit (Singing Horse, 2005), Elegies & Vacations (Salt, 2004), and Days (Lavender Ink, 2002). In 2008, Lyric & Spirit: Selected Essays, 1996-2008 was published by Omnidawn. Lazer’s seventeenth book of poetry N18 (complete), a handwritten book, is available from Singing Horse Press: Pages from the notebooks have been performed with soprano saxophonist Andrew Raffo Dewar at the University of Georgia and in Havana, Cuba.
Recent features on the Notebooks appear in Talisman #42 (, including an interview conducted by Marjorie Perloff) and Plume #34 (, including a conversation with Glenn Mott, and an mp3 of a performance with Andrew Raffo Dewar).
Audio and video recordings of Lazer’s poetry and an interview for Art International Radio can be found at Lazer’s PennSound website:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chantel Langlinais Carlson, Two Poems

Chantel Langlinais Carlson writes, “Both of these poems were written using a quill (in response to a cfp I saw that was looking for writing that did away with 'newer' forms of technology/writing implements) . . . it proved a much more challenging process than I imagined, but it also made for an interesting writing experience! It looks easier in the movies.” (It’s worth noting, as a matter of principle, that everything looks easier in the movies.) Anyway, I asked her to send jpegs to document the whole process, and the result makes me very happy that Chantel (rather than I) undertook this effort to get back to goose-based technology. (JM)



Past thyme and rain on the window’s
stillness, a woman’s gaze
turns to blue. Quilled in blue seeped through
to vein the blood with ink
now gone dry. A woman’s gaze turns
to her skin, Rorschach forms
islands and daggers and ships sail
across life lines once held
in a gypsy’s palm. The bourbon
moon never tasted so
good. A woman’s gaze turns to shut
ticks and stocks of time-crossed
memory. Drawn feathered. Drawn blue.


My genius tired of beat boxing
in the corner, choking
on consonants I never caught.
He pulled cobwebs off his
eyelash and blew them into air
forming feathers that took
flight. I, too busy to notice,
stepped over them—now I
am ready—but never was good
at catching fireflies.
To wake the lost ghost kidnapped by
inconsistency, I
write. The corner shadows wisp–then—
only silence answers.


Chantel Langlinais Carlson received her Ph.D. in Modern Drama with an emphasis in Creative Writing from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2007. She is currently an Instructor of English at Texas Christian University, where she teaches modern drama, poetry, film, and composition. Next Stage Press recently accepted her one-act play, The Exhibit, for publication. Her poetry chapbook, Turning 25, was published in 2011 by Nous-zot Press. Her poetry has appeared in Ekleksographia, damselfly press, The Southwestern Review, and The Louisiana Review, and her critical work has appeared in the Interdisciplinary Humanities Journal and the Louisiana English Journal.