To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dave Brinks: from The Caveat Onus, Book One, Section of the Bat, with Notes on the Text

the caveat onus ::: one

stared into
everwhich at everwhat
this slender hour comes forward
barefoot to the sun
if only I had gray green
black brown yellow eyes
or a door I could see
through terribly clearly
slowly the answer
becomes an epitaph
a flip of the coin
juggling apples
tracing hexagrams

the caveat onus ::: two

O tough assed angels
deadly reckoners of cheap promises
guardians to the gates of no paradise
and bohemeths that cometh
like Whitman oversized comets
landing in city park lagoon
ordered me to be made
and while more than once
I gazed at my feet
more than the heavens
and more true I said yes
having done many things
but never against you

the caveat onus ::: three

words of the koan
ho-hum like eiderdown
my eyes have the patience of sleep
a loveless faith to love itself
and as I am no more
happy than happy
eventually there are days
I can’t know anything
to which of you is not meadow
smelling faintly of heather
the breath of a young girl
mouth open
going to the sun

the caveat onus ::: four

I observed my fingers
never knowing when to stop
because of an abeyance of light
because of my desire
to please you
but to go on forever
to say I have a million thoughts
to steal chocolate
or what a lack
of seriousness might mean
the apparatus can then answer
in straight sentences
I write to kill time

Dave Brinks Jan ‘05


The Cycle. Caveat Onus is cyclical poem of meditations based on the numerical value of 13. Each meditation consists of 13 lines, each section contains 13 meditations; and the entire work is comprised of 13 sections in all.

The Composition. I began writing Book One of Caveat Onus in mid December 2004. It was fully my intention to take my time with it, but those circumstances changed. As such, I completed Book Three in November 2006, with the final 13 meditations, Coda, following shortly thereafter.

Hexagrams. One of the operations of this work is that each meditation should function loosely as a hexagram, actually two hexagrams (the first six lines and the last six lines); thus leaving the middle line (the seventh line) to serve as a kind of spine, or as I would like to think, an axis mundi, the center of a sphere, with a line moving through that point in space, in opposite directions.

The Delineation. Each section begins with a totem animal. Each totem animal directly corresponds to the Bak ’tun Cycle of the Mayan Calendar where the solar year is divided into 13 moons rather than 12 months.

The Symmetry of Sonnegrams. The 13 line form throughout Caveat Onus, the sonnegram, is a form which I conceived specifically for this work. It creates a peculiar matrix with regards to the readings of each meditation. Often, and very clearly, the meditations can be considered as follows: first line – last line; second line – second to last line; third line – third to last line; and so on, moving inward, until one reaches the final line, which is the seventh line. In addition, this symmetry provides for the converse to be true as well, beginning with the seventh line, then moving outward.

The Matrix. The matrix reaches its most distilled form in the final sections of each book (Owl, Hawk, Rabbit) wherein a complete expurgation of my theories on chance methodologies, double-helix intuitions, numerical gyroscopes and shamanistic connections is fully drawn upon and simultaneously employed. In fact, the final section of each book can be considered as two giant hexagrams (the first six meditations and the last six meditations) with the middle meditation serving as the overall central axis, and most literally, the vanishing point for each book.

Vanishing Points. My understanding of vanishing point is that point on a physical plane, for example, in the works of Leonardo da Vinci, where everything disappears. Alternately, my understanding of vanishing point has a very specific frame of reference directly corresponding to quantum theory; and, in this context, can be described simply as that irreducible point in space where zero mass is found.

Architectonics of the Work. Notes on the Text is intended to provide an entry to the overall structure of the Caveat Onus and thereby does not presuppose to be a summation of its parts.

Postscript. The circumstances as to why this work wrote itself so quickly have a lot to do with the evening of 28 August 2005; when it became apparent that the eye of the hurricane was going to come ashore and move almost directly over New Orleans. After that night, due to the inundations of land by water spanning a period of several weeks, the only significant light that New Orleans would experience after sundown came from the moon. And just as the moon is the guiding principle of water, so it is with this work.

D.B. 29.viii.08

[The following written in celebration of his emergence as a poet: “The Caveat Onus, for those of us lucky enough to have watched its development, is present in its first installment as a poetry event of consequence – a cycle of poems, geared to a life & expressed through a system of words & numbers, that could make it (I would dare to predict) one of the significant long poems of our time. Pivoting on the number 13 & never abandoning its symmetries & variations, it charts the works & days of Dave Brinks, citizen of New Orleans before & after the floods, world traveler in the ways that really count. I can only say to him as someone once said to someone else, ‘I greet you at the beginning of a great career,’ & hope & trust that it sticks.” – J.R.]

Caveat Onus: The Complete Poem Cycle is forthcoming as one volume (240 pages) from Black Widow Press in June 2009. For further details see]