by Maryclaire Wellinger
among dunes that drop
wild beach plums, gone by
in late fall sun,
we walk out
toward the tidal pool
small sea, lapped by wind-
We peer through
the pool's shallow face,
our faces breaking
its surface like
pale white oars
pulled, dipped down, released
with seaweed planted
on our faces,
to lime external
Black-spined gleaning throngs
raze the sand, scraping
machined white pearl-teeth--
echinoderm . . .
shell-like, you whisper
at odd angles to
my silent spell.
I have these fragile
moments, but take your
on the chin.
My words roll nettled
against a soft tongue
where I am beached.
August 18, "The Imaginary Apparitions"
by Joanne Kyger
from "Places To Go"
They said the moon wasn't going to rise no no
where will it come up so we can see what's happening
in the night
the light sharply behind us.
I saw him like a shadow rise
far above us in the night
where the stars were, and he said, wait.
I can't wait.
Like stickle burrs the moon attacks us. The old things
closing around us. Everyone alone, groaning,
and the ring of light around the moon,
was there, it was hanging
I never finished, I lied, and through me
it came bursting
I never finished, and all alone
close to the moon
on the top of a hill or a piece of land
burr-like, he closes over us.
poet Joanne Kyger
"Tuesday, October 28"
It was a beautiful golden day
Now a black split shape
de foot. So long, Sayonara.
The fat cat lays down
dozing. I could use a little rest too
I only slept 11 hours last night,
wrote some letters, swept the floor,
planted 2 rows of onions, snow peas
And now I am looking forward
to washing my hair.
"October 29, Wednesday"
In a crowd of people I am suddenly elevated. No matter that
the crowd follows Ginsberg and Snyder, out on a quick
demonstration march thru the halls of a tall building out
into the gardens, their faces among the trees as little
Chinese sages grained into the wood. White walls, somewhat
Grecian in the fancy takes you. I AM ELEVATING! from a
cross legged position, I rise slowly off the ground in a
crowd of people, easy as can be. ELEVATED! Mr. Ginsberg
and Mr. Snyder frown, not so much? As they are on their busy
way, as groups of people pour their respect and devotion to-
wards them. Pour, pour-they're busy drinking it up all day
in teacups. Do you think we've sent these young ladies and
gentlemen in the right direction? That is to say, haven't
we sent thin in the right direction though.
With my back against a stone wall
in a courtyard, I am closing my eyes and-Now if you will
just observe me, I will move up off the ground, hopefully
as much as a foot, two feet, grind. In my Tibetan bathrobe.
reprinted from All This Every Day, Big Sky, 1975.
For the biography of Joanne Kyger (1934- ), go to the end of this page.
for Pierre Reverdy
by Andre Breton
The woman on her journey who passed through the Halles at summer's fall
Was walking on tiptoe
In the sky despair was sweeping its great lovely calla lilies
And in the handbag there was my dream that flask of salts
Breathed solely by God's godmother
Torpor fanned out like mist
at the Chien qui fume cafe
Where Pro and Con had just entered
The young woman could hardly be seen and only askance
Was I dealing with the ambasadress of saltpeter
or with the white curve on a black background that we call thought
The innocents' ball was in full swing
The chinese lanterns slowly caught fire among the chestnut trees
The shadowless lady knelt down on the Pont au Change
In the Rue Git-le-Coeur the tones no longer had the same ring
nighttime pledges were fulfilled at last
Homing pigeons emergency kisses
Joined the bautiful stranger's breasts
Jutting under the crepe of perfect meanings
A farm was prospering in the very heart of Paris
And its windows looked out on the Milky Way
But no one lived there yet because of u nexpected callers
Drop-in guests known to be more devoted than ghosts
A few like that woman seem to be swimming
And in love there enteres some of their substance
She interiorizes them
I am the pawn of no sensory power
And yet the cricket singing in the ashen hair
One evening near the statue of Etienne Marcel
Gave me a knowing look
Andre Breton it said pass on
The Moon Rising
When the moon rises,
the bells hang silent,
and inpenetrable footpaths
When the moon rises,
the sea covers the land,
and the heart feels
like an island in infinity.
Nobody eats oranges
under the full moon.
One must eat fruit
that is green and cold.
When the moon rises,
moon of a hunded equal faces,
the silver coinage
sobs in the pocket.
Two Sailors on the Beach
He wears in his heart
a fish from the China Sea,
At timies one sees it crossing,
diminished, in his eyes.
Being seaman he forgets
bars and oranges.
He looks at the water.
He had a soapy tongue,
He washed his words and was still.
Level world, hilly sea,
a hundred stars and his ship.
He saw the balconies of the Pope
and the golden breasts of the Cuban girls.
He looks at the water.
In Another Mode
The bonfire places on the field of afternoon
the horns of a maddened deer,
All the valley stretches out. The little wind
is prancing on its ridges.
The air turns crystal under the smoke.
--A cat's eye, sad and yellow--,
I in my eyes, walk through the boughs,
The boughs walk through the river.
They come to me, my essential things.
They are refrains of refrains.
Here in the reeds in the late afternoon,
how strange to be named Federico!
Maria Sibylla Merian
Sails to Surinam in 1693
A Sestina by Maryclaire Wellinger
"Mushroom and lichen are the cryptograms of plants--
most overlooked and least understood," I whisper
to my daughter when we set sail for Surinam.
In three months' time, we're sailing through rainforest-- deep red
bark of trees, flora and fauna, bathed in Alban light.
In a forest of black mangrove, we come upon a field
of red orchids, standing like a flock of Scarlet Ibis. This blank paper is an open fiel.d
Our pens wing across its surface as we render Surinam's plants.
Look at this orchid, its stem an arc-- tongue of light
on petals-- broad, glossy green leaves whisper
in the rain. (Oh, orchid, released from the rainforest's red
mud-- you are cousin to the orchid I once found growing
in red sand along a riverbank in Friesland!) Growing
into an artist-naturalist, my daughter, means arduous work in the field
to study insects and plants in natural habitat. The red
hairs on this caterpillar are more brown than the red of those berry-plants.
Our work-- to observe and to reveal. There's a faint whisper
of the European species, a similarity. Observe with care, in light
of what we know, the unique qualities of Surinam's butterflies as they alight
on branch or leaf. We'll study their metamorphosis, paint their growing
cycles." Palm trees encircle the plantation house, whisper
at dusk for the slaves to end their toiling in the field.
Maria closes her drawing book, with her new portraits of rainforest plants.
Waxing to fullness, the moon climbs above the tree line -- a ripe red
Mango sliced open. Bush negroes paddle their dugouts. A small boy with a red
monkey on his shoulder, smiles at Maria's daughter in the dusky light.
"We're far from Friesland-- slaves and bushmen, boy with monkey, plants
of the rainforest. I am a naturalist. And now you. My daughter,
the sun has burned your hair to whiteness of savanna sand . . . you chose this field,
you've worked by my side, gathering specimens. There's a hint, a whisper
of how this work has changed you. Our first engraving, our first plate, is a whisper
of the published book to come-- macawed brilliance of the color spectrum--red,
yellow, green, blue, orange, darks and lights the whole field
of color. The book will be a lens, movement of a moth's wing revealed to light
of day. By my sacrifice and yours, my beloved daughter,
Europe will see the soul of Surinam through microcosm in her rainforest plants."
Yellow fever sends me sailing home. I hear the Tucans' cry in the whisper of bow-waves
at dawn. I see the light of rainforest skies in ocean clouds --light melding to red.
from "The Stratospheric Canticles"*
by Will Alexander
". . . between impulses and repentances,
between advances and retreats."
Octavio Paz, Eagle or Sun?
Here I am
posing in a mirror of scratch paper sonnets
sonnets as rare
as a live Aegean rhino
absorbing the cracklings of my craft
its riverine volcanoes
its spectacular lightning peninsulas
emitting plentiful creosote phantoms
from an ironic blizzard of unsettled pleromas
scouring through years of unrecognized pablums of constant arch-rivalry with extinction
bringing up skulls of intensive discourse
by the claws in one's mind
which seem to burn with systemic reduction
one then suffers poetic scorching by debris
by inaugural timber which flashes
by friction which flares up and harries
by unrecognized moltens collapsing in glass
of initial intuitive neglect
as if one's fangs
wee fatally stifled by incipience
by verbal rane war didactics
by territorial driftwood
by sudden undemonstrative detractions
by the diverse infernos of Trakl & Dante
one's youngish body stands
devoured by reverential print trails
by the loss of blasphemous nerves & upheaval
by demeaning neutralities
by a blank Sumatran solar psychosis
by a tasteless collision of rums in transitioni
by a conspiracy of obscured fertility by hubris
as one sucks in doubt froma wave of tumbling blister rees
therre exists irradtions flecked with a gambled synecdoche
with indeterminate earthenware splinters
from aboriginal density
a forge of Sumerian verbal signs
cooked with a tendency
towards starfish hypnosis
towards psychic confrontational drainage
conducting one's friction in a torrential furnace of osmosis & ire
means poetry scrawled in unremitting leper's mosaic
cringed in smoky interior cubicles
releasing various deleriums
as if pointed under a blackened Oedipal sta
with its dark incapable tints
with its musical ruse of unspoken belladonna
an imaginal flash of Russian chamber lilies
stretching under a blue marsupil sun
like kaleidoscopic tumbleweed
upon an anomalous totem of glints
upon rainy Bueons Aires transfusions
above the urinal coppers of a flaming polar star rise
like magical malachite rivers
flowing from moons
blowing through the 3/4 summits of motionless anginas
for only the tonalities that scorch
which bring to my lips wave after wave
of sensitivity by virulence
a merciless bitterness
brewed by a blue-black tornado of verbs
in a surge of flashing scorpion chatter
in a dessicated storm of inferential parallels & voltage
like a scattered igneous wind
co-terminus with the bleeding hiatus & the resumption of breath
resolved by flash point edicts
by consumptive stellar limes
by curvature in tense proto-Bretonian fatigue
juggling centripetal anti-podes & infinities
cracking the smoke of pure rupestral magentas
floating through acetylene corruption of practiced mental restraint
to splendiferous vistas mingled with inspirational roulette
always leaping like a grain rash of scorching tarntellas
or leaking moon spun alloestophas#
as if speaking
in irregular glossological green Dutch
a frenetic seminar on febricity
a reitteration of hendecasyllabic agitation & stinging
a ferocious vacillation
explosive as random "aggregational" nodes
mimed by a black consonantal dissection
its maximal priority
forked at "hypotactic inclusion"
with isochronous internal procedure
with phonic penetralia by distortion
primed by anomalous "nuclear accent"
by a cadence composing syllables & compounds
jettisoned by "hypotaxis"
by . . . paratactic co-ordination
Will Alexander is the author of six books, including Asia & Haiti, The Stratospheric Canticles, and Towards the Primeval Lightning Field. Asia & Haiti was a PEN finalist in 1996. His more recent work has been published in Orpheus Grid, XCP, Fence, Chain, and Hambone.
Fiery Mexican Sunset with Cows Grazing on the Beach
Oil on Canvas painting by Mark Fisher
This cycle of poems was begun on September 23, 2003, the autumnal equinox, a sacred day in Nature. On this day George W. Bush stood before the United Nations to harangue us with his corrupt dollar-words, oil-words, pseudo-democracy words & nuke-words. His speech promotes a culture of death . . .We call upon Our Muse-- the goddess of the autumnal equinox. We gather and arrange our words into poems which nurture life . . . mcw
Death to Van Gogh's Ear!
by Allen Ginsberg, written in Paris, December 1957
POET is Priest
Money has reckoned the soul of America
Congress broken thru to the precipice of Eternity
The President built a War machine which will vomit and rear up Russia out of Kansas
The American Century betrayed by a mad Senate which no longer sleep with its wife
Franco has murdered Lorca the fairy son of Whitman
just a Mayakovsky committed suicde to avoid Russia
Hart Crane distinguished Platonist committed suicide to cave in the wrong America
just as millions of tons of human wheat were burned in secret caverns under the White House
while India starved and screamed and ate made dogs full of rain
and mountaisn of eggs were reduced to white powder in the halls of Congress
no godfearing man will walk there again because of the stink of the rotten eggs of America
and the Indians of Chiapas will continue to gnaw their vitaminless ortillas
aborininies of Australia perhaps gibber in the eggless wilderness
and I rarely have an egg for breakfast tho my work requires infinite eggs to come to birth in Eternity
eggs should be eaten or given to their mothers
and the grief of the countless chickens of America is expressed in the screming of her comedians over the radio
Detroit has built a million automobiles of rubber trees and phantoms
but I walk, I walk, and the Orient walks with me, and all Africa walks
and sooner or later North America will walk
for as we have driven the Chinese Angel from our door he will drive us
from the Golden Door of the future
we have not cherished pity on Tanganyika
Einstein alive was mocked for his heavenly politics
Bertrand Russel driven from New York for getting laid
immortal Chaplin driven from our shores with the rose in his teeth
a secret conscpiracy by Catholic Church in the lalvatories of Congress has denied contraceptives to the unceasing masses of India.
Nobody publishes a word that is not the cowardly robot ravings of a depraved mentality
The day of the publication of the true literature of the American body
will be day of Revolution
the revolution of the sexy lamb
the only bloodless revolution that gives away corn
poor Genet will illuminate the harvesters of Ohio
Marijuana is a benevolent narcotic but J. Edgar Hoover prefers his
And the heroin of Lao-Tze & the Sixth Patriarch is punished by the
but the poor sick junkies have nowhere to lay their heads
fiends in our government have invented a cold-turkey cure for addiction
as obsolete as the Defense Early Warning Radar System
I am the defense early warning radar system
I see nothing but bombs
I am not interested in preventing Asisa from being Asia
and the governments of Russia and Asia will rise and fall but Asia and
Russian will not fall
the government of America also will flass but how can America fall
I doubt if anyone will ever fall anymore except governments
fortunately all the governments will fall
the only ones which won't fall are the good ones
and the good ones don't yet exist
But they have to begin existing they exist inmy poems
they exist in the death of the Russian and American governments
they exist in the death of Hart Crane & Mayakovsky
Now is the time for prophecy without death as a consequence
the universe will ultimately disappear
Hollywood will rot on the windmills ofEternity
Hollywood whose movies stick in the throat of God
Yes Hollywood will get what it deserves
Seepage of nerve-gas over the radio
History will make this poem prophetic and its awful silliness a hideous
I have the moan of doves and the feather of ecstasy
Man canot long endure the hunger of the cannibal abstract
War is abstract
the world will be destroyed
but I will die only for poetry, that will save the world
Monument to Sacco & Vanzetti not yet financed to ennoble Boston
natives of Kenya tormented by idiot con-men from England
SouthAfrican in the grip of the white fool
Vachel Lindsay Secretary of the Interior
Poe Secretary of Imagination
Pound Secretary Economics
and Kra belongs to Kra, and Pukti to Pukti
crossfertilization of Blok and Artaud
Van Gogh's Ear on the currency
no more propaganda formonster
and poets should stay out of politics or become monsters
I have become monstrous with politics . . .
(just one more last section of Allen's long poem to be uploaded . . . mcw)
Below is what you'd find on the poet Allen Ginsberg's desk on a certain day in 1979, starting with the top shelf and moving down. You may know Ginsberg' s influences well enough to understand Allen's references to the "Complete Works of E.P.," "T.S.E." and "W.C.W". If not,I have printed out their meaning below.
Prajnaparamita Sutra N.Y.Phone Directory
Buddha figure Invoice: Emily Dickenson
Box of F.B.I files Rinpoche
Basil Bonting W.C.W.
Complete Works of E.P. T.S.E
Pico de la Miranda Whitman
Leaves of Grass File Folders
Sappho Old calendars
Typing papers Blake portrait
Poems. 1980-81 Letters, Bills
Smith-Corona Electra Scale
White Out Rollodex
Main Business, U. of Charleston
More on Joanne Kyger
Joanne Kyger (1934- ) is a West Coast poet who emerged as the Beat movement was beginning to wane in the 1960's. The daughter of Jacob and Anne Kyger, she was born 19 November 1934. Her father's career as a navy officer led to a peripatetic early life; her father retired in 1949, and the family settled permanently in Santa Barbara, Ca. Kyger attended the University of California at Santa Barbara from 1952 to 1956, where she took classes with Hugh Kenner and Paul Wienphal both of whom were important to the development of her poetry. She left the University one unit short of her degree, and the following year moved to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Kyger soon got a job working at Brentano's Bookstore in San Francisco's North Beach, and she usually spent her nights sharing poems with friends at poetry bars. In 1957 she met John Wieners at The Place one of the poetry bars and through him met Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer; it was also during this time that she first met Gary Snyder. Duncan and Spicer were the doyens of a group of poets who would gather on Sundays to read and discuss each other's work. Kyger said of those meetings: "They (Duncan and Spicer) would read what they had written, and everybody else would read what they had written. And you would be severely criticised. A lot of people would be so heavily criticised that they wouldn't come back."
Later Kyger moved to the East West House, where such writers as Philip Whalen, Lew Welch, and Jack Kerouac were occasional residents. In 1960 she moved to Japan, where she and Snyder were married on February 23. There were two ceremonies: one by the American consul and another at the Daitoku ji monastery in Kyoto. Her life with Snyder in Kyoto and later in India is the subject of Japan and India Journals 1960 64 (1981).
Following her divorce from Snyder in 1964 Kyger returned to the Bay Area. She has said about this time, "I just took off on this big energy cruise. I had lots to say to everybody, and it wasn't like playing second fiddle anymore." The following year Donald Allen published her first book, The Tapestry and the Web. In 1966 Kyger married the painter Jack Boyce, and together they travelled through Spain, France, Italy, and England. Upon their return Kyger and Boyce stayed briefly in New York, and then returned to the San Francisco area. Within a few months they moved to Bolinas, north of San Francisco Bay, where Kyger has continued to live (she and Boyce separated in 1970). In the 1970's Bolinas was known for being a center for wandering poets, as well as a home for Philip Whalen, Robert Creeley, Donald Allen, Tom Clark, and others. Kyger has maintained an active presence in the community, and has been particularly concerned with environmental issues. She has also continued to travel extensively including several trips to Mexico while continuing to publish her poetry.
Selected Bibliography: The Tapestry and the Web (1965), Joanne, Places to Go (1970), Desecheo Notebook (1971), Trip Out & Fall Back (1974), All This Every Day (1975), The Wonderful Focus of You (1980), Up My Coast, The Japan and India Journals 1960-64, Mexico Blonde (1981), Going On: Selected Poems 1958-80 (1983).
More on Will Alexander and
" The Stratospheric Canticles" available through Amazon.com :
Paperback: 80 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.25 x 9.25 x 6.25
Publisher: Small Press Distribution; (April 1995)
" The Stratospheric Canticles" is a book of crucial magnetos made visible only by the swarms of unidentifiable birds clustering the machine...like a shroud draped over the invisible man.
Other Books of Poetry by Will Alexander:
Above the Human Nerve Domain (Pavement Saw Press, 1999)
Towards the Primeval Lightning Field (O Books, 1998)
Asia & Haiti (Sun & Moon Press, 1995)
The Stratospheric Canticles (Pantograph Press, 1995)
Arcane Lavender Morals (Leave Books, 1994)
Vertical Rainbow Climber (Jazz Press, 1987)
Will Alexander's poetry is uncanny in that it evokes--perhaps invokes (how will we know?)--an imaginary landscape VIA grammatically correct sentence structure; others (like jake berry also on pantograph press)offer hybrid species of such blitzkrieg tongue, mixing juxtapositionary prowess with ruptured syntax. alexander's uncanniness lies in his containing the furious monsoon of image collisions within hyper-vernacular language use. this is poetry that disturbs not in speaking in tongues unknown, but in the fact it mumbles in the everyday voice most everyone recognizes. of course, bring a dictionary.
if you like antonin artaud, william blake, jake berry, jim leftwich, andy dimichele or mina loy you will be affected by THE STRATOSPHERIC CANTICLES. highly recommended.
Also by Will Alexander
Above the Human Nerve Domain
Hardcover limited edition. $75.00
50 or less copies made. Homemade & handbound.
Pavement Saw Press
P.O. Box 6291
Columbus, OH 43206
or from Barnes & Noble
The domain of poet Will Alexander's nervy curiosity ranges from the icy Himalayas, to African savannahs, from physics, astronomy, and music, to alchemy, philosophy, and painting. Orishas, angels and ghosts all sing to this poet, instructing him in their art of verbal flight. This is a poet whose lexicon, a "glossary of vertigo," might be culled from the complete holdings of a reconstituted Alexandrian library endowed for the next millenium.
Will Alexander's writing is "movement / as dialectical alterity." In reading Above the Human Nerve Domain, one recognized that what one thinks and one's corpus are both "subjective exclusivity." On this "language of disrupted ghosts" thought is corpus, "a body condensed in grace."
Will Alexander's dazzling Above the Human Nerve Domain embraces the here and now, the after and before. Scanning its images, words roll around the mind's cavernous tongue. There is the feeling of being lost in the returned gaze of this quantum diorama, here primary and human, here blended apart from itself. But upon second seeing confusion seems to evaporate and the gaze of the diorama seems simultaneous with our own. The inner and outer don't cease to exist but are given equal footing to comment on one another "in which mnemonic trance / co-intuits" as we're reading this writer "with active double eurekas."
"This glorious set of whirling prosodic proofs exult that a body can be struck by stanzaic facts of light. The reader is dazzled by expanding forms of predictory anaphora arriving as an "instantaneous beam." The author of Vertical Rainbow Climber, Arcane Lavender Morals, Asia & Haiti, and The Stratospheric Canticles has done it again with strobic precision.