Last week I barely had a Snap.
I was another voice speaking.
I just followed the words.
Wrote them down. A man of duty.
Though I was astonished at what I had to write.
Today I can almost Snap.
Ordinarily I like to Snap here because,
Well, because I can project myself into the future.
It's only Tuesday in the Americas, and Wednesday -
The day of the Snap - in Australia. It's hard
To snap in June. For probably lots of good reasons,
People get emptied out in June. Papers are in, finals
Are over. It's time to take a breath between the
First spring harvest and that deep down - get ripe for the Fall -
Summer. I like the idea of all that. Except I have screwed up.
In June I always took "incompletes" at school. I wanted to
Keep reaping - slowly, more refined - all summer long. In truth
I hated closure. The speed and finality of it. I would get
To the bottom of the books in July and August. I would, in fact,
Finish reading "Light in August" in August. I also liked Vivaldi.
During Labor - when both my children were born in June - we
Played the "Seasons." Today it's Lucas's, my son's, 28th birthday.
In one week it will be his sister's, Pearl. It's kind of amazing how
In a poem - or is this a rumination? - so much will emerge. That no
Is ever fully ripe. We plant, tend and harvest. But there is no end.
Well, I, too, would be quick to say, that's a cliché. The rippling
Generation. And the music of that. Birth, etc., and death. My father's
passing. Everything at a certain kind of swim. Those of us who live
Near the waters. Oh, yes, I will not be forgiven not to mention
The atrocities. The rip in this country. A crazy way to die. Yes,
One constantly notices, the country, such as it was intended,
Is busy dying. Yet, among the growing wreckage -invisible and not -
Fertility under despair. But let's not go there. I divert too much.
I, too, have a real deadline for which I am way late, and may suffer
Punishment. For, at least, a minute, my son and I will go to lunch
to put a wash, a glimmer on the future, a wizened look
At a difficult past year, then take a walk to witness some local gardens,
the flush, June's unbearable, yet so lovely roses.
This is us at the hotel window, Black Mountain on the right, modest
university buildings below among trees, the new national museum on its
peninsula, Lake Burley Griffin spreading wide, and the hill with Parliament
House all so angular.
This is me strolling past Pollock's Blue Poles.
Another time perhaps it will be a picture rather than a lot of paint.
The teacher is asking the children what they can see and how the artist
may have done it.
This is the big room full of little Whistlers.
My legs are tired. I'd rather be sitting with a Whistler book on my
His Venice is full of dark details and a sense of dampness, poverty
Canberra is disturbingly clean, orderly, and quiet.
Each morning a hot-air balloon skims slowly over the lake, then its
flares, it rises above the museum and passes to the east - where I'm
champagne breakfast awaits them.
We test the cafes at all the museums and galleries.
The National Library's is best.
- Max Richards, now returned to Melbourne
how to be
for a meeting
I'd walk out
but I'm stale
snapped to the box
all my agendas
are flat threads
and my eyes
lord, are tired
pages and pages
and we keep
Sydney, 8 June 2005
angry steel cylinder
cycles the street
wire brushes scratching asphalt
sharp bursts of water sprayed
the back of my neck damp
not altogether disagreeable
it is only like this here
laced with barbarous activity
it is only like this now
leaves any thought of desire
it is only like this here and now
a palimpsest of this moment
an unrepeatable skin
glistening in the streetlight
it is only like this now
uv index: 0 low
wind: from sw at 3 mph
pressure: 29.84 in.
dew point: 61°f
visibility: 9.0 miles
Providence, RI 6/8/2005 2:23 AM
DEATH ON THE LOG
A small rock on a tight place, and
two hundred years it lasted --
Sign in at 18, sign out
at 40, breed sons to
take your place.
Killers with a code,
What did it take to wreck them?
a drunken boast:
"Tomorrow we take Norway."
Sixty ships, and
call in favours,
but up against Eric
Eric the kin-killer
Half way through
thirty five ships
skipped and ran --
Even the Jomsvikings
odds like that.
So the log ...
Out of the wreckage
thirty chained ankle-to-ankle
and Thorkel with his axe.
How a Jomsviking dies
How Jomsburg died
One to his brother:
"If after death, there's life,
I'll stab this brooch in the ground."
The axe swung
the hand loosened
the brooch dropped
twelve to go, and
the blonde haired boy:
"Don't muss my hair,"
looking at a man
who'd seduced his sister.
Grinning, the seducer
pulled the hair forward
Thorkel swung his axe
... and Blondie jerked back
two hands on the ground
Eric barked with laughter.
"Your life for that!"
"All or none," said Blondie,
and Bloodaxe agreed.
... so that was how Jomsburg ended, twelve alive on the log, not near
enough to reconstitute the fort, which was no doubt in Bloodaxe's mind
when he graciously agreed to spare the last twelve lives.
of the Apocalypse
it was discovered
that there were
only three of them
they said that Death
had been delayed
sends his apologies
and would be
arriving as soon
A graveyard: a grave; a man.
The grave is rather close.
And, on his other side, a small lithe woman
with a daft look. Behind him,
a funeral, indistinct, blocked
out by the small daft woman.
He is not looking into the camera
but at something somewhat further off
amongst other things
he looks worried
(Columbus Circle, 1998)
True I swear it: in the middle of New York at city rush hour
the strangest of intimacies never gets itself going
because one is insane to offer and the other is too sane for comfort
so all that comes are rationalizations for why it was not a Good Idea.
I am in the Circle, walking north on a winter evening from my job
for my weekly visit to my shrink so I can tell a few truths
a few lies a few things still not sorted out
and then there is this woman, maybe early middle age,
blond hair poking under her winter coat hood,
not at all unpleasant to look at, and she says
in a very demure voice
"Pardon me, would you like to come up to my apartment
and relax for a little while?"
Of course I am shocked like Captain Renault who finds
gambling going on here so I ask her to repeat it
and she does, but of course (of course!) I back away
and say "No, no, sorry, I really can't"
and she nods and I turn and walk away bemused
thinking "What in the hell was that about, I'm no great beauty,
why me," the rationalizations start: Maybe she is an escort
too old for the out-call business anymore, or maybe she trusts me,
I have one of those faces women can trust,
because how could she know I won't go up there and
do a Joseph Kallinger on her uterus,
and how do I know she doesn't have a friend in the house
waiting to steal my wallet and my clothes,
emasculate anything my wife left over,
stick a shank in me and leave me for dead,
and how do I know she isn't a pro in search of an easy mark
and do I have SO LONELY I WOULD BANG A KEYHOLE all over me
goddamn bitch how dare you read me so easily
and by the time I pass Lincoln Stationers my head has taken me
to all those places, inside her, nipples in my mouth,
or her friend's auto-knife held to my throat
gulping with terror
and I wonder why people don't think I'm a risk taker
I am not because strange women not even holding swords
make for a lousy system of love
but I have perhaps turned my back for the hundredth time
on what might have been a gift
Hard to say which it is when you've got my imagination
FILM, E[D] R[USCHA]
["Sometimes found words are the most pure
because they have nothing to do with you." - E.R.]
OPEN 24 HOURS
Part of a little ceremony.
I'll explain that to you later.
How's this for entertainment?
What was our arrangement?
Barry Alpert / Silver Spring, MD US / 6-8-05 (4:19 PM)
Initially conceived of as a six-line acrostic likely to be completed
during my viewing of two short films directed by Ed Ruscha, "PREMIUM"
and "MIRACLE", this work quickly demanded that I drop the
acrostic process in favor of intuitive choice. Interference from the
composition of an acrostic sixteener, "ED RUSCHA'S PREMIUM",
during that film alone, argued that neither work would be finished if
I stuck to my original strategy. Backing up one compositional process
with another to insure the production of at least one piece of writing
out of a session as audience in the dark may have, in this instance,
yielded two presentable texts, but I'll delay the posting of the second
until I'm comfortable with revisions for which I just saw the need.
Despite this possible success, I may soon abandon my recent experiment
with writing two texts during the same short period of experiential
time because on most occasions I lose that sense of continuing attention
which probably insured whatever seeming coherence I was able to render
out of an already difficult physical situation. "It's just too
as always now
the river valley
fills with green
the burgeoning leaves
falling in waves
the surrounding bluffs
catching up as
flickers in furze
eyes catch leafturn
something as fast as
that car there
Edmonton June 8 2005
You would believe it
if I'd stopped
in the middle of this,
left it wide open.
Such flair of language
like missed appearances.
The way to
Love shows its teeth,
moving through circles
lifted by the devils of chance.
Leaving is made
by those who trust
in warming the blanket
for those they leave behind.
I state plainly,
the reasons for aloneness,
for the snowing