March 2017: Surrealism (1)

I like to turn to the surrealists for inspiration.  The poems I write may not always eventually be surreal, but reading the surrealists and using surreal techniques can lead the way towards writing something true and fresh.

“The word ``surrealism'' having thereupon become descriptive of the generalizable undertaking to which we had devoted ourselves, I thought it indispensable, in 1924, to define this word once and for all: SURREALISM, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which it is intended to express, verbally, in writing, or by other means, the real process of thought. Thought's dictation, in the absence of all control exercised by the reason and outside all aesthetic or moral preoccupations.” Andre Breton.

Some favourites of mine below and suggested reading: 

The Box of Books 1


Where to start in a box of books

on the floor, is where 
the gin of your lips exactly
as pillows are, as curtains are
when missing: this is Maximus 
Poems IV, V, VI

we are nowhere, there is no I

if two on the floor, with gin on your lips was
enough, we’d be three?
For Gin
Back in the box of books I remember
mystery, the full-clothed

offer, the daily tea of grace
drink, has made us, brave:
I count such shapes this evening in the universe.

paradise alley (some country roads 
have trees growing and the road 
turns in such a way it is special  
for a few feet
from A NOTE ON THE ABOVE by Charles Olson


Some country roads can't cry for the dead they make
I saw a badger
never did I see one alive and this country road
turns out dead things a fox,
a small baby
rabbit of fur and no eyes left

slow down the country road and get out

a badger is hiding from you a rabbit
will show itself and the fox
is the perfect shape of a fox stands still
runs to the wood of cars
and brick to be demonised for scratching
a baby, a baby, a baby

there are no women running
away from foxes

One Daughter
and Each the Father
of Him-Her-Self

unless they're born in Texas.


A (       ) thing in the forest -

all the women, all the women
of Texas flock towards it

they think a (         ) thing is just what they need

they believe men are filling them up
in fear and isolation without
such necessary mountings

we are here, we are here, they cry
through a word so (        ) they dare not spell it
or it go (        )

the women of Texas are not only from Texas

the (       ) thing in the forest
is a church
it plays music in its graveyard
it plays music in their (          ) as they arrive
like priests
to be visited by sin/s

the (      ) thing pulls back
it shows them the soft dead
it shows them men

cannot fill their graveyard (          )

or forgive them for
everyday confrontations
such as cross my path.


You haven't asked about the dress I'm wearing?
Why would you ... you
have other thoughts in your car diving

towards the end of the world. 

The Box of Books

Today I received a box of books. Not just any box of books, but books I have dreamed of owning. I was going to get in my bed and cover myself in them. I could get in the bath with them. I could sit in a bus shelter pretending to wait for a bus reading them ... but it is cold. 

In 2010 I found a copy of Post Modern American Poetry edited by Paul Hoover. 
When reading it, it felt like taking drugs might feel (I've never taken dugs) so forgive the exaggeration. There was a change in my brain. Something very exciting that language was doing. I had already found Kenneth Koch, which had changed and encouraged my own work, but here were poems and essays by Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley - I got in the spaceship, and went to space.

In Cold Hell, In Thicket by Charles Olson had an effect on me, I listened to it on PennSound over and over. 

Chris Eddy and I generally, when we meet, which is not too often, talk about poetry. 

Thank you Chris Eddy, you have no idea what a gift this is. 

The Box of Books

how many love poems
enter into
my feelings
from our tormentors, why love
red tongue, bad bed

and a box of books

how can our faces
touch the tree from its root
we have ignited

bright air

from a box of books

a Garden of Zoos
and razzle dazzle
set between his legs

-yes they eat

O who will pluck geranium
like a drink

I heard you asking questions
in the new territory

of a box of books

cleansing from each
a hidden positive and a visible deception –