November 6, 2007

The Controlled Burn

Seeds unlocked nutrients, the stock
is sprung, ignition cracks through
clouds, unstacked the faller’s log
books fall and the biomass is maintained.
Sediment corrects itself and recalibrates
the general economy with no
road in. You see, the mercantilist narrative
can’t live here and I will never export
the poetics of land. The line is struck
a careful interaction with the history
of poetry. Where the edges are, a glimmer
of smoldering sense hushes and goes out.

October 7, 2007

Poem the Avatar

is all that we are
pushed and patrolled
Poem looks about, peers
through the petrol haze
at the library call numbers’
sequence and scratches his head

if it were a heading
the world would read: Caution
Under Construction—Check
Back in Two Weeks

Identity brushes past Poem
down the library aisle glancing
at his ineptitude, noting
his pout and defeated slouch
--a faint odour of
ginger and justice lingers
as she passes

so Poem heads for the facsimile street, walks
out looking for clues to origins and
why water is so expensive

the sidewalk or small
path through the orders of knowledge

what now, Poem asks
looking up from the white edge
of invention—what now?

August 2, 2007

Free Radicals

oxygen in the air interacts
with molecules in atoms
with an odd (lonely,
unfulfilled) number of electrons

this often occurs during childhood
and it is clear that instability is a matter of
support—who is around you

highly reactive radicals create
a chain reaction, like dominoes
and then the trees fall faster
and good old houses go
and ethics leave

cells may function poorly or die if this occurs
and this general malaise is called progress

but a defense system of antioxidants
often identified by their distinctive colour textures—
the deep red of cherries and tomatoes;
the yellow of corn, mangos,
and saffron; and the blue-purple of blueberries
and a good poem—
these create resistance
to the unstable atoms
and this defense is called community

in this context, oxygen in the air interacts
freely, with a radical poetics,
and cells maintain joy sustainably

June 24, 2007

the old road

discussion was inadequate,
it didn’t move us—
that new language wasn’t there
now or then

when inscriptions sank blood
and charters bloomed in the ditch
i was there, shining,
a bobble in the wet loam

parchment bark timed by
the traces of access
and construction, less
overgrown and constant
than the land could bear

edges, boundaries sunk
in, filled in, and then recut
with the scythe of pure politics

to distinguish but not name
or the reverse—the lichen
remained an impossible
feat heightened by loss
under the recurring suggestion
that this was once something

June 2, 2007

Poem, A Haunting

a nice trick that, there
and not but hoping for
some contact, a brush of
breath or return word
like “yes” to ease the lonely utterance,
to ease the lonely
otherness that follows us
all always giving

into sleep would be giving in to
the imagined presence of
you—clandestine and uncertain
reader, there
and not

a vague after-image
like recognition, or the shift
beneath us as something larger moves:
language, soil, the news . . .

Poem and you meet in a bar
not the usual but one at the edge
of downtown and the conversation
is about line breaks, line
breaks and repetition, line breaks
and where to pause and let the other
possibility occur, words lingering
suggestive but not fulfilled until

you break the linguistic sign into
a question of waiting or giving love

the next evening, Poem waits
in a bar, a different bar, wondering
whether to write or go home

May 14, 2007

Dear Poem Re: Resistance

So sorry but my right
turn signal seems broken I
apologize if I

‘ve cut you off Poem
you see I am trying
to decide who is status

quo and who is the resistance
with your penchant for shifting
codes and flooding the market with cheap

pharmaceuticals and me, with my
child car seat instructions and
an identity that is far from

stable. Poem, is it you who teaches
me ethics? Or is it me that
pulls you from that bright

brink of clarity?

Poem Tries to Hail a Cab

Code whizzes by and Poem is left
ineffectual at 1st and Main
centrally unheeded and unsure
of how to proceed. But he is
in no hurry and likes who
stands with him there, shivering,
bemused: Editing weighs options,
jokes about what could have been;
Font gazes the opposite direction,
admiring the way the street curves
into the industrial park and her shoe is untied;
Paper, unflappable, is telling stories about publishers and
their odd habits of self-destruction.
Laughter, warmly uncomfortable on the curb,
ebbs as the vehicle of time management
flashes by. Poem is worried the others
may catch cold, who will pay the fare,
that this is an elaborate
symbol for the state of poetry
in the world, huddled there,
waiting for something.

April 14, 2007

The general theory of paradox and entanglement, by Ken Belford

My first marriage was a closed curve
and together we traveled into the past,
wasting time. Time passes more slowly
at the bottom of a well. We could not be
brought together. Today I went back
in time and deleted my old love poems,
and kept my past and present separate,
between the knower and the known,
and remembered when time was passing
and nothing was happening.

The accumulated reader paradox states
whenever multitudes of poetry tourists wish
to attend a reading, the poets of quietude say
there are no such readers, no such love.

When the past collapses, and things seem
too late, and we think first love never happened,
when it seems nothing in the past is real, then
we know there is no paradox in reading from
back to front when we open a book of poems.

Not machines, but faster than light,
poems allow for time travel, but it is
only possible to go as far back in the past
as remembering we could never exist,
even though everything is possible.

The meter of a poem is consistent and
can never be changed because one does
not have full control of the poem.

New poems can be copies of old ones
with changes caused by time, and any event
that changes a line, creates a new one.
New poems are flexible and subject to change
but published poems are change resistant.

A small change in a published poem
will alter the immediate future, whereas
a large change in a known poem will
alter the distant future. The date of
an unpublished poem is easily changed
because the lines are fluid.

Attempts to travel into the past
to change a poem are possible, provided
the changes do not interfere with the present,
but the poet should know there is no possibility
of returning to the present to witness the change.

As soon as one attempts to write a poem,
one undergoes time travel. This is
the McKinnon effect. If poets write stories,
readers encounter slippage, which prevents them
from reaching the end of the poem. This is
the Budde effect. A poet who travels into
the past to change his Grandfather poem
is snapped back into the present the moment
the lines are changed. This is the Bowering effect.

Poem’s Left-headed Leave

prosthetics of thought wrought
in post-op—the reconstruction zone

Poem is in dense
clothing, the weight warm
as the lab coats lead him out
to the white white van.

the measure thrown
off and despite that phantom
limb they keep saying how
great everything is
and how about those canucks . . .

the turns taken from the writing
when form colludes to lift
agency from the page, when
the bureaucracy of the text takes over

Poem the automaton cranes his neck to see
what was missed, where they are taking him,
where the cut will be deepest,
why ‘will’ is just the future tense . . .

a minor death, authenticity,
when all the charts say it
must be so

the hospital air is sucked
dry of germs and
expectation of anything else

Poem is under
a thick anesthetic and this
produces a new age of art.

where the advocates? where
are the warriors? a hum-like
dirge is all that we hear

Poem does not make it—
asphyxiates in transit—
and is pronounced 2:13 a.m.

gas sniffing

the whole continent
bagged and burning
nostrils flared in danger

out back, exhaust pipe
lit by a low orange sun,
the boys lean on their pick-ups
and talk about girls

jobs across the mountains,
across those creatures made
numerical by distance, elevation,
the logistics of pipeline placement

the motorhand maintains the mud
pumps and seizes
the moment to smoke

for miles the plume
turns eyes: a show, a residue
an imprint dug up later
to tell us where we’ve been

February 22, 2007

Poem’s Poem of Love

Not saying the word reliably, historically
like weather or the knots
in thinking around
emotional language, tangled
in this bright mid-day moment (of reading)
and the medium
and a pronoun . . .

And “you” is never easy—
a striated sign of things
to come and counter
to the sense of sentence, its ease
and assurance—so the word
“with” becomes still uneasier and
I walk into the sunlit room,
poem in hand, a proximity,
molecular and climatic,
twined and tugging tight
half listening to the news
of storms forming
over the warming oceans . . .

A deligitimized ground, standing
there, as if through a semblance
of scientific instrumentation, who
is who’s target is the question and
the water line wavers in the
refracted calculations--you look up your altitude
in an archaic book of symbols,
you look up and tell me we need
to flee . . .

Love is resistant to anti-
biotics, bodies react to themselves
and become something else; later
we hear 21st century love retreated from the coasts,
subsided in the mountains, subsisted
on salmon and berries . . .

We read “red” in the remaining
records, and “faith”—but these
codes fail, these letters fall still, cars by the side
of the highway house
sparrows and squirrels,
a reorganized polis . . .

And I’d like to think
of us, by the side of the derelict
highway, bereft and happy,
a fistful of yarrow and a wooden cup of tea
but the future tense may
not be, love’s love sprung
from the old language, from
the subject’s regime . . .

February 16, 2007

The half-theory of poetry, by Ken Belford

Poets are natural resources.
Poetry is the ultimate reality.
When there are no new poems, nothing is happening.
There is a cause for every word, and every word has an effect.
Poems only come from previous poems.
The supply of poems depends on the price of ink.
The demand for poems is carbon based
and depends on the amount of pages a publisher is willing to pay for.
This is called the demand for poetry.
Resources are wasted when poems are forcibly fixed to universities.
Sometimes there are shortages, sometimes there are surpluses,
and sometimes people pay too much for a book of poems.
All poets pay rent to their publishers
and the main cause of cost differentials is locational.
A poem in the pocket is better than one in the future.
Money cannot create poetry.
Poetry that is present is an indictor of national wealth.
Poetry that is still unwritten comes with high interest.
Each poet is a self-owner.
No poet is superior.
Whomever harms a poet is evil.
Free trade of poetry is the key to social peace.

February 13, 2007

February 9, 2007

Poem’s Dwelling

"The real dwelling plight lies in this, that mortals ever search anew for the nature of dwelling, that they must ever learn to dwell."
--Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought

where and where a conjunction
occurs, Poem’s home is
in a thrumming arc of self
effacement and unraveling
scene traced back to the eye

a point, a punct of filiation;
knowing in time spent not
knowledge but a strange sense
of self-friction, thigh on thigh or
night’s finger on ethics; it seems

a rhythmic disassociation, Poem’s
body out-doing itself in a physics
of resingularization; he props
himself on the precipice of
an eyelid, shifting, sees static

walls lined with tricky
contradictions: unrecorded music,
overdo lessons, scientific discoveries;
Poem’s place curls in his belly,
a pang of loss, and unfurls

Poem the Spiritual

Poem trips over the word
that isn’t there. The stumble
puts food on the table, accrues
interest. Praise is bestowed
for not looking back, closer,
and Poem soon forgets
to watch where he is

Back in the day, it wasn’t
even a question; the speeches
moved Poem’s parents (now
disavowed, but still recorded
in the court registry) like
the weather or comedy. The gut
they called it—Poem was
using his gut. The food was
from a long
way away.

The first ulcer came. Poem
misheard it as “Ulster” from the history
books colliding and the old country’s
ferocious hunger
became his own.

The second ulcer wasn’t one but was
related. It hung on Poem’s
free-wheeling pace and gradually
slowed his progress. The visual
icon held his gaze on his death-
bed, smoldered over his shoulder, held
his attention rapt, clasped it when he should have
been busy watching
his footing.

January 12, 2007

The writing carpet, by Ken Belford

Poetry is everywhere and language is going
too fast. Repressed for thousands of years,
poetry is in the in-between now but much of it is
still kept on the shelf to help academics understand
the world. Before I was born, the breaks
were called theory but now poetry has filled
the chaos gap and I go around saying
what I just said. I write catastrophe models
with a low frequency variance called contact.

You can’t do anything very well
if you’re in denial about the existence
of poetry. Most of my poems are full of chaos
but some call it life, or love. Sometimes I think
there’s a need to cancel all the poetry classes
for two or three generations and then start over.
Even the President is saying the Gross
National Product is threatened because
the people are no good at poetry.

Poetry is like walking. It’s easy but it’s hard
to tell someone how to walk. Most just watch
and by imitation, learn how to do it.
When there is no poetic knowledge,
there can be no evolution, and when there is
dissonance, there is an illness called war.

January 2, 2007

Poem Cracked the Liberty Bell

He didn’t mean it: the plan, the body,

the shape of semantics, the visceral signals
cried out for disruption. Poem wrings
his hands. Indecisive art.

Freedom was the name
of the security guard at the door.

Form is never more. Philadelphia
folds around the absent sound.

Is it new mythologies Poem seeks,
dodging tourist lines and
palmed-bill allusions?

Poem’s research is a re-
calibration of intent.

No, fashion isn’t Poem’s strong suit.

A rhythm of activity presides.
Besides, the bell wasn’t really
there to be broken. Poem
resides in it; Poem,
alive again, takes the job
of tour guide. Misleads.
Breaks again.