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

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Jackson Mac Low: the poem I've been futzing around with for c. 16 days

[The following letter & poem are as found in our email correspondence from 2003.  The Naropa reference is to a question I had raised about using some of Jackson’s aleatory procedures in a workshop at Naropa’s Jack Kerouac school that coming summer, & the initials LP refer of course to Jackson’s Light Poems.  A small portion of the formatting has been modified or distorted in the transfer to blogger, but may be better viewed in the Jacket2 version. (J.R.)]

From: Jackson Mac Low
Subject: the poem I've been futzing around with for c. 16 days
Date: Wed, 04 Jun 2003 15:44:21 -0400
Dear Jerry

I'm attaching "Touching Chickens the Don until It Doesn't" to make me stop messing with it. The source is a mix of verbal materials I gathered from works by GM Hopkins, Charles Hartshorne, Gertrude Stein, and Lewis Carroll--with a lot of choices etc.during the makingtime. (That started on 20 May and just ended today, 6/4/03.)
(Once in a while I get bogged down this way.)  

The form is sort of a bow to an old friend I met the day I got here on my 21st birthday and by happenstances turned out to be an old friend of the lady I lived with in the village and a friend of
someone he introduced to me after an anarchist meeting who became one of my closest anarchist friends who lived near Woodstock. Both dead now.  

As for naropii--why chicken them by harnessing them with one of my ancient complicated groups of methods? This way they won't get the idea that all they have to do is just pop something into a machine and thereby make a poem.  

The old complex methods won't make them write any better, and they know nothing about their quasi-Buddhist roots + humanism + anarchism + unfashionable metaphysics & poetics & all the rest of my craziness. And they don't need to. A simplified LP method shd suit them much better. Tell 'em to each dream up a genus of "things" with some resonance for that particular person and bring names of members of the species thereof into one or more poems, writing in sentences etc. that include one of the species' names, thus designating an individual of that species (e.g., an instance of "arclight"). Otherwise I'd give them free rein as to forms of the poems and burdens thereof. A list poem such as LP 1 shdnt be encouraged.  

But all that's up to you. The mix of the humane and the machinic, the intentional and the quasi-nonintentional is where I'm at. Nothing a human being does can be nonintentional & why shd it? But the attempted mix is a good thing. We have to leave the door open to the fact that we're nothing and our identity's a dream, but one that's not only unavoidable but necessary for us to do the slightest thing.  

God bless Malevich! But he done his bit and got bit for it. Shittin' Bolsheviks!  

love to you both and to Matthew   


Touching Chickens the Don
until It Doesn’t

 { Hopetc 1 } 

                                                 It’s in a way touching
                    said Don to Andrea
                                                      that you’ve been calling Schwitters
             and his scarless
        discontenting and delusive
                         as snowflakes in a summer atmosphere. 

Are sunbeams’ living spirits a-dwindling?

                    The motionable shadowy selves of patience
                                                 seemingly immaculate
                                                     have never selected motherwords.
                                                                 Three banded canine bodies
snap at timbers overhead.       

                 Time developed
                                      corresponding discontented frights
                                                   with perfect navels.

                         thoughtfully blue
                                                                 conceived a blinding wince. 

                                                                           Dispensing with days
                                           they motionably lifted
           beating welcomes to the morning. 

Between impatience
                              and selection                         
                                    behavioristic discontented bandits
                                      snatch up violets. 

Aren’t you enjoying
                                       your new behavior’s singularity? 

Who was it called
                             beating patience
                                                                    miniSchwittersistic behavior
                                     of nonbehavioristic body tops? 

    Rooted be the healing glass of humankind! 

                              Spiritmystery light
       riddles all allaying pseudoimmaculate breath. 

                                                                         Time and sunbeams
                                                      always moving
                                                                                      never motionable
                                                              hymn a dwindling sweetness
                                                                                     coloring breath. 

      beating praise
                          cannot cap a scarless navel. 

Living minimotionably
                    ever moved
                                                                                                        banded trees
                                      never wink or blink at lilac erections. 

        Who conceived that chimney voice
                         winking at mothers’ patience? 

                              Who’d riddle a scarless navel with infinite light?
Infinity isn’t witty. 

                            Are you
           Beth and Mellie’s intellectual mother?
they say you’ve mothered three                                                                        timberless mysteries!
      Hand the golden glass no more to Mother.
                           What caps a mother's  mothering? 

No mother is scarless.
                                                                              Timber’s dwindling’s inconceivable!

      Who could’ve conceived
     or composed
           a conception of that dwindling?
breathing between three laws
on snowflakeaccumulating skydays

                              would share the timber overhead? 

        Your mother’s
 conceived your heart. 

Yours the breath your mother's heart conceives.               

When morning's wincing fingergaps share living blackness
                              the day
    is right as sightlight. 

 disperses the light of glowing flesh                                                           

                  Who is the banded bowman
                              snatching a longedfor wink? 

                                           Patient allayers look at him through immaculate fingergaps. 

All through the breathing world
                                             the day
                           dear and healing light
         arrives through vast

                                     distances from a swirling sphere of unimaginably fiery gases. 

                                                            beating praise
                                              is panning around in our blackness. 

                             from bearing and nursing humankind                                                                                                                                                                     are shared by humankind. 

                                                  Glass must often cap
                 before they can sweetly heal.                                                             

                                                                     Lightly breathing mystery
                                                                                    riddles the infinite rightness
of sightlight. 

Is any bare and lightless world
                                                     dearer than the daystar?
                                                                                                                                       Your mother’s
                                                                             breath conceived your heart.
What is the richness of a flash?
                                                                           However vast
it never is dearer
                           than the daystar. 

       Unnumbered painters
                                                                    with patience and impatience 
                                                                               mystery light. 

Not in a vast
                           do the mothers conceive all humankind.  

                                              Is Bethany’s healing mystery
         lighting more than breath?     

       What savior might conceive the infinite healing
                                                                  beggedfor by the world’s
                                                                                                        elemental wound? 

                                             Always being moved
         wounded and unwincing
                                                        the unmotionable atmosphere is dying.                              

                                                                                                            heaven will harbor
                                                                                          living spirit.
   The daystar
               unobservably maculate
          will glow unseen
                                                                until it doesn’t.     

Jackson Mac Low
New York: 20 May–4 June 2003

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