March 28, 2006

by Ken Belford

The size of everything is increasing, 
including rulers. It’s called inflation
but it’s like driftwood on the tide.
The twist to the story is I make my own
measurements. When you became
the constant in my life, the world I knew
changed. I think I had fallen toward
the middle, that I had forgotten
about the strength of interactions.
If you want to know what really happened,
I was writing a code of narrow, black lines.
Now I know there are emission and
absorption lines, many possible worlds,
many random uncertainties. If you had
different values, the number of unstable souls
would increase. If you lived across the street,
I’m not sure I would have been able to
stay still long enough to catch your eye.


The size of everything

March 24, 2006

from "# 46" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

from A Coney Island of the Mind. © New Directions. Reprinted with Permission.

# 46

And every poem and every picture
a sensation in the eye and heart
Something that jolts you awake
from the rapt sleep of living

March 23, 2006

Poem Considers Sound Vs. Print

The veracity of meaning surprises him.
Once, a crow imitation worked. What
was said was uncertain.

Are you visualizing this moment?
Time passes similarly; here he is
a wave from dockside sloshing
against speakers and paper
cuts the imagined spillage. Yes,
it is a trick--what isn't?

The scientists test in dimensions of coffin, the variables
terrible and swift; the scientists
watch their lens swim. Poem watches
with curiosity, humming.

March 20, 2006

"Despite our prevailing anti-intellectualism I feel part of an innovative tradition among poets that is very much alive and courageously independent, if you consider the political tragedy and corruption of recent years. This tradition is particularly to be found in small presses, because they haven't entered into the capitalist nexus and dare to do the unexpected. In some ways the Internet has made access to cutting edge work easier because it is easier to locate books on line. I don't care if poets have small audience in terms of this culture's insatiable desire for blockbuster ratings or numbers of Internet hits on a title or author's name. Numbers aren't everything. Some powerful work is quiet and at first may even seem to set up defenses against being approached." Susan Howe

March 18, 2006

Poem Goes to University 3

                       for Earson

a portable podium, he said
that's what we need, disembodied

the carnival pretends when
the chaos is already circling your big top

transition is everything, the shift
between seeing and decoding the show

the speech he made was a trifle, disorganizing
and sharp, a disruption of the office mail

all the while thinking of the number of inappropriate
things I could do right now

March 15, 2006

"Poetry is inadmissible, and besides it doesn't exist."

Denis Roche

Why Chapbooks Rule

Chapbooks are small hand-made books that artistically enhance the literary text. They come out of a tradition of literary “pamphlets” that date back centuries and allowed an author to distribute their work locally to receive critical feedback and spark debate. In the 18th & 19th centuries

“printers sold their chapbooks to itinerant peddlers called 'chapmen', who in turn sold them to consumers. These chapmen, who hawked all manner of small goods for their livelihood, were often roguish figures who lived on the margins of society. [Of course, nowadays there are chap-women as well.] In general, chapbooks were inexpensive publications designed for the poorer literate classes. They were typically printed on a single sheet of low-quality paper, folded to make eight, sixteen, or twenty-four pages, though some examples were longer still.”

For more on chapbooks go here.

Some chapbook presses include book thug, leaf press, mother tongue press, greenboathouse books, above/ground press, belladonna*, nomados, and coach house books.

March 14, 2006


















art no view

special disinterest

































Poem Goes to University 2

The tuition is in fake money and the bookstore
imaginary. Nutrients flow one way. Water
is scarce.

Poem listens feverishly to the building's
blueprints that hover behind desks, disdainful
and dour.

The hill is unstable, but no one
seems to be concerned. Information

Evaluations and competitions are sold
at the buffet and the condiments non-recyclable.

Poem's degree is major and he has no
effect. Plastic knowledge is his profession;
he plies it with grease and a song. His pension
seeps into the ground.

March 12, 2006

Poem Goes to University

The tuition was too obscure so he didn't. But
then later he was invited to read and he did,
carefully, wearing nothing but a body. The class
filmed everything for a documentary on
ethics, let him back into the wild as
unaltered as possible. During the reading,
Poem ducked through glass cases and found
himself matching his tone to the sounds of
heating ducts and plumbing--the building
applauded and his grades never made it
through the mail.

Looking Closer

March 11, 2006

Blackwater Belle

by hardy f

an excerpt from Flicker (Signature Editions, 2005)

obsidian sliding, a throat; the comma catches, and then what is heard is what is here, divisible not by focus, or measure.

the rock comes lost in a box of other rocks. deep black, revulsion even, the texture charted by the textbooks, revising its insane purples and blues. a necessary magenta falls away. the word as much as anything. "obsidian" and it was.

a throat as audience, beginning with attention, attending, the idea hooked into air, hooked into a palm, oblivion between fingers.

the only rock for miles and miles in the silt-sandy soil of the Peace River. downstream Dunvegan drowns in bridge. this chunk of hurt churned up from the subterranean chambers where rivers flow with four banks and water falls upward.

contorted masks of igneous, gneiss, quartz still hot, hissing out between teeth, past tongues of lava, eyes of mica. but here, once, on a plain stretch of summerfallow, is the dramatic entrance. a throat. sound. obsidian.

the word sets a pace and first is breath, wind, furrows, a comma disc cuts roots, thin sod, rhythm, the rhythm of steppe, murmur of water surges, convulses --a body heaving with names.

carving. carving away possible images of a face. carving away. settling on a method of handwriting after many nights of practice. settling for that face. that face.

finding strangeness, and love, in a palm cupped in practice, pressed to stone, stitched, the pattern believing in sight, believing in the stone. the hands cupping the stone believe in gradation, the granite hinges turning, await the taste of a stone tongue.

a picture may have been taken. holding the camera with a latticework of brown iris, precipice, pupil. the edges of the stone blotted out, a blur of inky black. this is obsidian, once.

the artifacts of conversation, touch, maybe the silence after. forgetting to breath. pressure, the subterranean seething in valiant black, a glass-sharp hush, inhalation without colour before its own obliteration.

the stone, obsidian, was lost. the oblique moment, stooped: an eye flash, toe stub, laughter even.

March 10, 2006

The gilly by Ken Belford

They put me to work on the shore, grabbing and landing the hens.
I brought fish to my lure but had no hook. It is easy to imagine
the Steelhead among the boulders. I charmed them
but did not deceive them. The Steelhead were drawn to my intrigue.
I did not chase them. I drew them from their hiding places
and soothed them. I brought them close so I could see them.
But I would not imitate the hen so I could hook the buck.
I would not need the techne reel. I carried no gadgets.
In high water I saw them in the bush. They were love-sick
so I didn’t tease them or set the hook. Fishermen brag
about their hot hens. And they brag about their technology.
The photos degrade the fish, especially the hero shot.
Steelhead are the most vulnerable to men.
Mimicry, language and gadgets are their tools of the slaughter.
The focus is mostly on the men and their desire
and little is on the fish. The fish is just a thing but
at the same time the men seek to experience the life of the fish.
The fish experiences the hard hand of the fisher, and
just as in hate and sex crimes, apathy and empathy are there.

March 7, 2006

Natural history by Ken Belford

                               - for Si

Constants change over time and I was unstable
before I lived with you. Bound to no one, I was rolled up
somewhere in the past. I’m a solid state left over now
that comes in two kinds; recall and retrieval.
There’s a difference but it has do to with
developmental inadequacies. Love has the power
to convince: a single outcome of so many possibilities.
There are many worlds and many histories. So many
stories trap dark matter – it’s a good thing most
matter is invisible. This poem was borrowed
from the fields and conjured out of nothing.
There’s a natural loss of coherence in it. Light comes
from clouds and the clouds are getting old.
There are wormholes in them, distant beacons behind.
Your brothers and sisters are a galaxy in free fall now.
Some bodies carry charges for a split second.
That’s all it takes, and it’s enough.

March 5, 2006

Poem Stays in One Place

Plants asparagus and
other notions starting
with a . . . pauses
to consider History standing
on the esker crest, surveying,
with a claxon or cowbell
and emblazoned lapels.

History ignores Poem.

Poem goes back to his
work placing himself
now the soil to his knees
prying his thighs apart.

There is something effusive
about roots, dangerous.

Culture comes and sniffs
his ears, decides not
to mark territory, trots
off in search of fresher meat.

Critics smell blood,

The topsoil now
spills into Poem’s mouth,
a sweet taste, triumph:
he is here.

March 2, 2006

Poem Goes to the Hospital

Becomes addicted to
placeboes and the sounds of words
tented over his laboured
breathing . . .

A tube is inserted through his nose
to his stomach so he can
concentrate on his language
unimpeded by meals, taste, tongues . . .

Cancer is planted at the base of
his cerebral cortex—this
to accelerate the rhythm
and repeat his motifs—but
it makes Poem tired . . .

Germs invade
the vents and siphons
into Poem’s system—he is
corrupted, nervous and
meaning slips
into fever,
delusional, he convulses, generates
a new form:

a sleek,
elegant twist of flesh
the nurses don’t see as
Poem floats out the white window.