Thomas Lowe Taylor



At the Margin


Rain stains the window in darkness pinging hard against the glass
while swirls of energy rail over the roof like sponges at dawn
claiming the night's heirs from their own songs, the coastal dunes
reline these grassy knolls into their own eminent strains of being

shoreline distances between nothing and nothing else remain
strong along the tide's lining of the hollow core of the margin's
lane among trees on their sides and piles of vegetable ruin
where the open hours reside inside green and blue again.

I'd clung along these leftovers at the edge of this plain next to another
plane of gray against a gray which is not the same, but moving forward
among what's been left by a continent straining toward completion
in hourly dimensions leaning left and forward in one motion.

You'd been the page itself whose words were grains of sand winding
among untitled monuments the wind whistling against your face,
stinging rows incite the sense of standing in the face of nothing
which is the nature of your sign and gesture along the arcade.

Outside, chaos un-tamed by what's been the light source itself,
song, movement and time collide against the tides moving one on one
as unconverted remains strewn beside tire prints from big trucks
as the feet of angels trail beside the forward constancy of motion

impel thought in its similarities toward a recognition of air
and color specific in the charges laid against unknown
substances striking your face and hands like unwelcome dinners
set around the table with no one in mind and then abandoned.

You become me in this haven the elements deny themselves,
disorder remaining in its own destination from the center
blazing inside itself like a sign and outpost of the known
into location and faction torn from time and the space it has.

A series of accidents, a series of mistakes belittle your witness
what cascades across the margin's opening in the darkness of the storm
and call you down into the origin of a safety you think surrounds
your partitions, called by the name you give doubt in its own term.

This wound betrays your stasis, walls moving in the sand beneath
your feet seem pulled down into the water, clams swimming
beneath your stains of sand, billowing inert forces penetrating light—
the door is open and calls you to enter into your own destiny.

This is the hour at hand, the blast from the black edge of the world
inhabits your own unknown hand, hesitant on these keys
at best believing you stand and hold what's been ignored too long,
a sentinel at the peak of the house relives your building and song,

lets the dizzying spin of thought's storm become a wandering tide
the loom and weft of open powers ride this hour in giving
anchor and palm their own distance rising throughout the wind's hour
thrown among the rolling dreams which come against your thoughts;

a broad gust reams the window tight against its frame and juncture
in the night's beating streams and shores flat and firm along the way,
scheming in between what's known and what's not and then dreamed away
too soon to leave and too late to cry a silent prayer into the graying sign

They drop a rubber ball through small net-covered hoops at either end
and flow back and forth with pure juice and determination unseen before,
holding themselves above the play of forms and sentences we call a book
nor left among other stars where the beaches erode and foam away at night.

A line grows in front and then out extends into the unwinding sea
a grid into unknown darkness filled with organisms and breaths
coming as they do from interior marks along the floor and ceiling,
an incandescence creates a pathway into structure and form like memory.

You called me down from silence through unbroken layers of roots
between what is above and what lies beneath your heart's feet
along a wash of light and time coming through the tide again
to mark the mind of your dream like blue and green and red mists.

This forgotten density of remove and stain neither clears the air
nor calms from beneath what cannot be removed nor claimed from
any other line along the sand inside your hand yet not recalled nor left
behind in the hurry to get from this precarious layer to a place of safety.

Night's barrier the pinpoints in the sky through empty dark ceiling,
reliquary to air's dominion in the discourse of the heavens and the line
along which no transparency folds or spasms into something new and fine.
Longer signs enfold and eclipse yet call you forward here at the margin.

Axe no dendrite plain and simple struts these after hours
intense emptiness of forgetfulness strikes you in the wind
swirling off the sand looking like fog that blinds your eyes
foam of the hour curling less remote than the distance ahead.

Fog no hopeful truth its own dominion present in your heart
another rope to the infinite which calls you forward again
leaning throughout your memory’s time like a trimming
or a loot on the plane of insignificance you call your own days

your own dishonor came too soon to be recognized for what it was
a silent edge on the mirror of forgiveness, your own face unrecognized
by the followers behind you crowding up into the figment of the mass
which is no other than your other breaking into a billion future scenes

or blood on the sands of the hallway, imperial magnificence a stolen bribe
and the raw meat of the sacrifice clings to the rug in the upper corridor
where silent weepers hug the wall without sound or pity in their quiet
houses of the holy abandoned and then reground by the stones of time

at edge and screen, no specific moment stands out, yet the scene recalls
what it is in the name of silence a matter misting outward calls again
your colors red and blue and green an invention of sky's mind
which flames and flutters its film among the plenty of the hours.











Pete Lee




dawn: no end:
glen and glade,
wan and woe,
wed a weed, o dew. . .

o lack, o knead,
o leaden wand,
dog gone!

need an edge...
go on, now: a ledge,
and down we go —
a new deal, no?


In Silent Pre

dawn youth hair
uncombed breath
visible under street
light leaning out
open side
door of van drops
bundle of news
papers         whump



i, a beast of habit,
exist in a stable nexus:
i haunt this table,
i sit in a bath,
i hustle i bustle i lust,
i inhale, i exhale,
i beat an exit in the heat,
i hunt lint, i bleat. . .

but it's a thin tune —
a lean tale, built in haste —
it isn't able, hasn't the silt —
i hate it!
as a late aunt saith,
"best be late than last" —
then she set the axe
as the hex bit.










Thomas Fink



Dented RepriseV

              for Ariana

the dirty

jeers. Sold e-bay.
And blather
came home

And if you go
racing Babbits,
and you fear their
Dow could scald,
tell 'em all hoopla,
stoking chatter filler,

to pivot through
the squall.
Go ask phallus
when it's tending
He looked at me fright-thighed
and vainly said,
"Am I screwed

'cause I'm no
longer hung?"
In fealty to our dime,
we cannot tolerate their rind.
The royalty in our spine
can't exonerate their reduction.

to our

We will re- vive.









Thomas Hibbard



The Invincible City of Dog Food

"The stereotype is the nauseating improbability
of dying."
—Roland Barthes

harboring unresolved armor
at the top of the stairs
as a way to stimulate burrowing phobia
the virility of a stolen god
face it: you're going to die
out back in a weedy mud puddle
the same as everyone else
what good is running away
to other people's nestled clearings
essence of putrefaction
what good are four-wheeled i.d.s
to prove to oneself there's some
added fancy reinforcement
won't make the dog food any tastier
where sketchy green crops hold out arson


The Birth of the Evil Boxes

"Worse than the great'st infection
That e're was heard or read!"

it was essential the People's Republic of China
makes mine workers let go
clemency in darkness to clarify
the complexity of careful examination
like taking candy from a baby
like Faroyar ram on blue shield
bringing into the light
authenticity splattered to the first heaven
compact serene dungeon
picking a shopping-center-in-pasture
so astonishingly intricate and varied
so intensely strict that royalty
agrees it would be nice to move somewheres else
out where heterosexuals
know why the early bird catches the worm










William James Austin



Elysian Fields

the new downtown shopping mall is amazing.
so many avenues for walking and for looking in-
to and visiting philharmonics and clowns

we celebrate the brand names
that marry us—
mutual of america! general electric! united artists!
we believe the invitations, that we will save and save
while skeptics bankrupt

mythology, then, is our major industry—
grand openings, going out of business galas
and the best ever easter parade—
the family can window shop all day long
and, whenever they want, go home

relax. it's only god's confetti.
solitary, wrinkled and beggarly
ulysses returned to ithaca.
his trip was no bargain,
the small print a king-sized
arrow on the installment plan



the courtyard unlaces its hospital gown.
a reticent breath, almost ancient,
stirs the maple trees

outside miles of snowmelt, arms and legs
carving new angles of meaning—
the vendor, chiseled into the coming night,
passes a last newspaper over the barrier—
a rusty, waffled sign lets go its grinding fist
and falls, missing someone by inches

or consider this—
tradition became a sickbed,
food was brought in
usually through the nerves,
the patchwork was internalized
as the next modern man

records were kept


The Crossing

when you're sitting around sometimes
you have thoughts.
someone once observed that the supremely crafted poem
and the supremely improvised one
are identical, that perfect spontaneity
makes perfect sense.
I'd say they are not the same, though pretty close.
each extension wears the mud of its pathway.
I think I know what I'm talking about.
have you ever seen a cat with her litter
suddenly bite the annoying one?
it's a painting










Bill Lavender



from Nonfiction

sometimes the poem is simply there when i write
with no more forethought than that the idea simply
coming when i sit down and begin to type or maybe
i should say that there is no idea there is only the poem
that is written and sometimes as it may surprise you
to know this one it might take weeks of getting ideas
or sort of dreaming about it during the day and trying
out a phrase or two and imagining visualizing i guess
you could say a certain structure a rational geometry
or a method or a goal or a music and yes it is right
to say here that i visualize a music and then i sit down
at night to write it after thinking about it all day
and i put down a word or two and realize i really
don't have anything that is going to get the poem going
nothing that is going to make it cross over that night
nothing is going to bring it to that level of reality that
for example this piece you are reading or hearing has
and it is very frustrating rather like fishing and thinking
you've got something on the line and it turns out to be
a stick or a clump of moss when you get it to the surface
and this may go on for weeks night after night until finally
one night when i sit down i do begin to type and the poem
begins to appear and once it begins in that way usually
i finish it though might go back and change a word
here and there or make some minor alteration generally
try to keep revision to a minimum what i do is try
not to think about it too much because too much
thinking is usually bad overall i've also found that
a little thinking and a little tinkering can be good
i don't know that i understand all the ramifications
of this wavering but as i said i try not
to think about it too much antin as you know talks
about poetry and thinking as i recall
this is part of the rationale of improvisation but i am
thinking that antin too must go through some of what
i have described in terms of process here that is he
must think about where he's going to go with the talk
in the days or hours or minutes before he begins
speaking but the difference is that he does not have
the option of silence once he gets up on the stage
he doesn't have the luxury that i have of putting off
the coming into being of the poem to another night
the thought is mildly terrifying to me but i can also
imagine how one might sharpen improvisational skills
especially with practice with reading and talking
and thinking about not just what one is going to say
but what one has said before and how that has worked
and not necessarily in terms of the ideas expressed
but the rhetorical level the grammar and vocabulary
the dialect and the ideolect of the talk and you might
know certain people in the audience and not know
others but know that they know the ones you know
and that would give you an idea of their vocabulary
their social and linguistic alignment and that would
allow you to begin to tune in to their wavelength
to be thinking about a topic and a direction for the talk
that is specific to this audience and situation and it
is well known of course that david often does research
before his talks so if you think about it this way it
doesn't seem dramatically different from writing
or at least the preparation for the poem would seem
to me to be much the same especially in terms of
the thinking that would get done and the rehearsal
the trying out of certain phrases either subvocalized
or even voiced perhaps in the shower or the car
and this may not be really what he is talking about
when he says the relation of poetry and thinking
but it is shall we say a possible path through the complex
of social acts that comprise the creation of a poem
obviously there is more to the terrain than this
but for the moment we are on the path
of poetry and thinking that is of poetry as thinking
wittgenstein proposes that thinking
might be something that is done with a pencil
that is the physical language either written or spoken
is the only empirical evidence we have that thinking
exists all this mental work we do all this cogitating
and imagining and calculating and agonizing and envisioning
none of this becomes solid until we speak it
or write it or indicate it with mathematical notation
or musical script so let's imagine or rather let us say
hypothetically that thinking is a metaphor
for something that happens entirely in language
a set of very concrete empirical events that occur
according to a set of rules that we might call grammar
a set of rules no more human whatever that means
than the rules that govern say gravitity or chemical
reactions or the patterns waves make in the sand
on the seashore so that not only the entire field
of psychology but most of philosophy all of metaphysics
and incidentally the cultural structures of identity
would all be a sort of hallucination based on this
metaphor or rather as the concept of hallucination
itself is bound up in the tradition let us say that thinking
is a model used to describe and predict a set of
recurring events it isn't of course the only such model
modelling might in fact be a universal condition but
it is easiest to see in discourses like quantum physics
we all know for example what an atom is we've all
seen pictures of atoms they look a lot like pictures
we've seen of the solar system with little spheres
orbiting around a central sphere and sometimes
they are modelled as tinker toys that can be stuck
together in various ways in various combinations
and we're all familiar with the periodic table and the way
the elements arrange themselves conveniently in a grid
and we all know the difference between an element
and a compound and we know roughly what a nuclear
reaction is when a stray particle splits an atom a bit
of the atomic glue gets knocked loose and that tiny
bit of matter is converted to pure energy but we also
know and the physicist should be the first to remind us
that these models do not represent reality in any sort
of graphic or empirical way they are models that have
been built from intuitive and initially grossly inaccurate
metaphors they are the record of the history of
the scientific experiment which is to say the history
of cosmology and warfare that begins with the pre
socratics democritus invented the atom and it has
served as a complex sign and tool for prediction
of the behavior of matter in certain conditions
and it culminates in the atomic bomb or the nuclear
reactor and so we can say that the metaphor of the atom
has served us well and we have given democritus
his due but it is important to realize that the atom
and the incineration of hiroshima are of differing
orders of reality that is if the west had not been so
fascinated with democritus' particulate fantasy we
would have come up with some other system
to annotate our experiments and perfect our weapons
and that system could have just as well predicted
the incineration of hiroshima or who knows another
system might have resulted in the incineration of say
los angeles as it might have been a wave theory
or something with a metaphorical base in eastern
religion and in the same way that the system of
metaphors we call physics led to the atomic bomb
we could say the system of metaphors we call thinking
leads to a poem but it leads there without necessity
it is the effect discovering the cause but discovering
in an interested and mythifying way it is a path yes
but there are many paths we could imagine that
lead to the poem or rather we should say from
the poem since all these paths are after the fact
of the poem and are language events themselves
this doesn't mean that thinking doesn't exist or that
thinking doesn't work for prediction and predication
but thinking is a different order of event from the poem
the incineration of hiroshima is an act and then a fact
antin's improvisation of tuning is an act and then a fact
but an atom is neither fact nor act but a mnemonic
a marking system and so is thinking think of it
as like an avalanche that begins with a few grains
reaching a so to speak critical mass and gravity
starting them to tumble everything follows from that
and that is what i think when i read in wittgenstein
that thinking might be something we do with a pencil
and then what i want to oppose to this is the palpability
of thought like a conversation i had with schoolmates
when i was nine or ten and we were talking about
going to sleep at night and how sometimes
we would be having these lovely pleasant thoughts
and then the thoughts would take off on a tangent
that was less pleasant or frustrating or boring or scary
and then we'd try to get back to the pleasant thought
and maybe pleasant is too bland a word let's say back to
the wonderful thought that we were thinking before
taking that wrong turn but we would not be able
to get back there even though only a few seconds
had elapsed we could not remember what the thought
was that was so wonderful and made us feel completely
at peace and descending into sleep as into a place
of utter safety and the remarkable thing that quickly
became apparent was that the three of us were having
this conversation as one one of us would start a sentence
and another would finish it and another would
start the next that is that we all had the same
experience of thought while laying down to sleep
and the sudden discovery of this commonality
was an experience almost as pleasant and indeed
as fleeting as the wonderful thought that provoked it
we took it as an ironic verification of our mystical
moments in the free float of reverie ironic because
what our moment of community verified was the utter
isolation of the self in the vacuum of thought
we were three language worms dangling through time
in our separate but identical bell jars and i wonder
if it was only in me that a suspicion began to arise
that the separation might be both more and less
than its visualization



eratio poetic language issue seven, spring 2006, edited by gregory vincent st. thomasino