Cleaving auden

Auden and me
—for John Ashbery

Well, my dears—talk about
tacky straight boy—jealousy
Miss Jascha Jizzwad—such a bitch
in the—Times Literary Suppliment

Gossiping—years later
about W. H. Auden—and me
her sour grapes—routine about
the Yale—Younger Poets Series

Some queens—fester and bitch
for years—about unrequited love
they simply—can’t take scorned
romance—or rejected manuscripts

Some queens—get delusional
You know the kind—my dear
effeminate—waspy charming
“Finalists”—for The Prize

Jascha blames—losing it
The Yale competition—on queers
like Auden—plus Isherwood
And his kind—my dears

Jizzwad gets careless—with facts
“She was new to New York—from Buffalo”
where I’d never lived—having known
Auden through—his lover Chester Kallman

I first met Auden—as an undergraduate
around 1947—after a Harvard reading
he was never—swept away by anybody’s
“Mewling” or “mincing”—“goy gay persona”

I doubt if Auden—would have circumvented
the Yale contest rules—just to trick with me
instead he had—twelve tiresome manuscripts
to paw thru—boring bourgeois straight ones

He picked mine instead—seiving thru all the
other submissions—none of them with merit
Miss jizwad’s—rather dreary manuscript
at the bottom of the—putrid slush-pile

“I can’t help wondering”—Auden said
“Whether I’m receiving—the best
toilet paper there is—here in lovely Ischia
Oh my Mediterranean—hemorrhoids!!!

Cleaving silliman

In the New World Tree

“One element that
makes it spooky…”
—Jackson Mac Low

synchronicity—time moving backwards

time moving forwards—with your quick word-hoard

your flow of imagination—paying special attention to all the

sky-plagues and hell-brides—hell-serfs and whale-beasts

troll-nests and war-boards—cloud-murk and sea brutes

ring hoards and wave-vats—whale-roads and the gelding

monster haelfhundingas—lycanthropic wolf’s tooth

roggenwolf & brimwylf—grundwyrgenne & heorowearh

lots of dutch courage—bear-shirts and wolf-heads

the horse and rider—the keenest for fame

beowulf’s old england—the clans of the sea coast

the scyld scefing—the mead-benches shaking

blue-cloak one-eye odin—with gungnir his staff of power

two ravens hugin & munin—“thought” and "memory”

the world tree—yggdrasil a journey

niflheim, midgaard, asgard—roots, trunk, branches

balder the beautiful—hodr his blind brother

trickster god loki—ragnarok & the wolf fenrir

thor the strong—jormagund welt-serpent

grendel dread waters—the bog people

elves and evil shades—the shining ones

alfablot and elfshot—aelfsiden eyes into the future

keres and valkyries—black dogs and blue hags

devouring goddesses—haggard clairvoyants

noose and neck ring—love-death & brotherly love

snorri sturluson—prose edda soap opera queen

ancient germania—herminones & istaevones

houses of the dead—stone age ceremonies

battle axes—and the mound people

the pagan year—the groves of the gods

the hooded man—the hall turned to ashes

the wuffingas—sutton hoo

stepping aside some—authoring less linearly

"simultaneously”—in the present

moving forwards—moving backwards

in timeless—time

Cleaving the new year

A Cleave

for/after Phuoc-Tan

Are our—words eternal
will they live on—like our children
or will they dry up—fading
forgotten—in dusty corners
will they—grow
wild—in the world

Cleaving the new year

Letter to Diana Manister

I'm a writer—

Nothing else—matters to me.

As a poet—
I’m sure you understand

Death is final—Diana

The death of Sylvia Plath = the END

Whether it was suicide—or murder

That's all moot now—her oeuvre is complete

The loss of such young talent—is what's tragic

My work—isn’t over quite yet

It began with—the SF Gay Literary Renaissance

Since the ‘70s we’ve lost—a whole generation

The gay muse—wiped off the face of the earth

Whatever I write—is dedicated to them

And my—gone lover

I’ll write poetry—until my last breath

No matter what—because time is of the essence

Cleave it N=O=W, sweetheart!!!

Cleaving stein

The Snarky Rose

“When you get to that point
there is no essential difference
between prose and poetry. This
is essentially the problem
With which your generation
Will have to wrestle. The thing
Has got to the point where
Poetry and prose have to
Concern themselves with
The static thing. This is up
To you.”—Gertrude Stein,
How Writing is Written

the daily life—snarky quotidian
the static thing—snarky buzz
compared with—print & paper roses

the snarky—negative capability rose
the hurt-red bruised—manly rose
the betrayed rose—the third man rose

the Viennese rose—the zither rose
the day-to-day rose—the sewer rose
the contemporaneous rose—the immediate rose

the gutter rose—the anti-novel rose
the pouty rose—that never was
the writerly rose

Cleaving saramago

Pilar del Rio

“If I’d died before I met you, Pilar,
I’d have died feeling much older.”
—José Saramago

pilar del rio—serves coffee
in demitasses—she’s elegant
from seville—saramago’s second wife
nearly 30 years—younger than him
she meets him—in the mid-’80s
lecturing—in lisbon…
“blimunda”— del rio’s e-mail avatar
from baltasar—blimunda
a novel

Cleaving pessoa

Letter to António

Dear Antonio—I have to
Write to you—to tell you
That we can’t—meet anymore
Your love has—driven me crazy
You don’t know—your own strength
Your muscles—steelwork physique!

Our love here—in my bedroom
All night long—it’s just too much!
You’ve bent me—this way & that way!
You’ve banged me—too many times!
You’ve shoved me—up against the wall!
Upside-down—inside-out so rudely!

You’ve turned me—into a cripple!
Look at me—I’m a gimpy hunchback!!!
I limp over to the window—to see you
Saunter you way to work—in the morning
I wave goodbye—holding on tightly
To the handles—of my walker

I know you’ve—dumped Maria
To be my gigolo—here at my place
I’m not wealthy—but I’m generous
It’s nice to have—a young man
Around the place—especially at
Night when—I get sad and blue

I like to stroll—the streets at night
When you wear—the light blue suit
I bought for you—your breezy smile
Your swank expensive—alligator shoes
Your onyx-diamond ring—all the eyes
Of the jealous queens—cruising you

I limp just for them—I’m shameless
When we cross—Rua do Alecrim
Going down Ferragial—Remolares
Arsenal—Vinte e Quatro de Julho
Ricardo Reis—just back from Rio
Gets weak in the knees—you smile

We make our way—me the poet
You the young god—arm in arm
When we stroll—how time flies
Avenida da Liberdade—trembles
Like me when—you squeeze me
In a dark alley—making me faint

A man can—go astray
Even when—he tries to follow
A straight line—as we enter the
Rossio all of Lisbon—opens up
Four or eight choices—if taken
Will lead us—into infinite Night….

Cleaving pessoa

Sentimental Education
—for Maria José

“sick pageboy
of my soul
and Queen”
—Fernando Pessoa,
The Book of Disquiet

I don’t write—or publish
Nor do I write—merely
To produce art—but instead
Writing is—simply António
All my letters—so hopelessly
Illogically totally—over-refined

Lucidity—and precise poetry
Can’t speak—my inner dialog
The way labyrinths—always
Detour me—divagate me
Through these—Lisbon streets
To cruise—the Chiado

Most people—are other people
Their thoughts—someone else’s
Their lives—monkey see monkey do
Their feelings—in quotations
Oscar Wilde wrote—De Profundis
Disillusioned—he died in Paris

I ubiquitize—everything
Writing letters—leaving them
For somebody else—my love for
António scattered—thru them
Fooling myself—multiple personalities
Shifting persons—and tenses

I’m a foolhardy—closet case
Cheating the odds—playing against
Myself—with a score of doubles
Supposedly—a Fiction of Interludes
But actually—achieving nothing
The only real thing—is António

Lisbon is my City—a Novel of Love
A Map of Courtship—Carte du Tendre
Traversed by—a River of Affection
Lakes of Indifference—to the East
Sincerity, Thoughtlessness—Spite
Even now—the Twenty-First Century

Dead lips—chaste as Hunchbacks
I’m Maria José—crippled & dying of TB
Writing desperate letters—to António
The young—handsome metalworker
So alive, so muscular—each morning
Walking to work—beneath my window

António—my Portuguese Lover
My one & only—Sailor of Desire
His pubes—a Forest of Estrangement
His trousers—a splendid falling Curtain
Giving exquisite—pleasing exteriority
To his most powerful—male desires

Intensely becoming—handsome António
His exotic pungency—the tantalizing
Hurt of his—decadent gratification
His troubling—anguished convulsions
His long & slow—intimate exhaustion
Tinged with—disquiet & melancholy

Cleaving film dialog


Samson’s short opening to the HBO series Carnivàle makes for a fairly easy “cleavage” along the following lines:

Example #1

Before the—beginning
After the—great war between
Heaven and Hell—God created the
Earth and—gave dominion over it
To the crafty ape—he called man
And to each generation—was born a
Creature of light & a creature of darkness.
And great armies—clashed by night
In the ancient war—between good & evil
There was magic— and nobility then
And unimaginable cruelty—until the day
The false sun—exploded over Trinity
And man forever—traded away
Wonder—for reason

Some cleave poets prefer a lower case format:

Example #2

before the—beginning
after the—great war between
heaven and hell—god created the
earth and—gave dominion over it
to the crafty ape—he called man
and to each generation—was born a
creature of light—and creature of darkness.
and great armies—clashed by night
in the ancient war—between good & evil
there was magic— and nobility then
and unimaginable cruelty—until the day
the false sun—exploded over trinity
and man forever—traded away
wonder—for reason

The lower case cleaves sometimes project a more modern style; either way the cleave opens up the 2 spontaneous vertical stanzas with sometimes uniquely refreshing verbal and linguistic word-structures like Burroughs’ cut-up method.

For example:

“there was magic
and unimaginable cruelty
the false sun
and man forever

Using such “found” filmic texts is interesting; but perhaps not as gratifying and surprising as original texts with the poet opening up the textual “immediacy” of his or her own poetry. Something I’ve done with the following fictional Eraserhead text:

Eraserhead (2009)

“oh, i don’t know much of anything.”
—henry spencer in eraserhead

scene 1

tonight is—eraserhead night
i try to watch it—every chance i get
every night—seven days a week
i like to—reward myself
after coming—home from work.
my miserable existence—needs it
a little entertainment—to keep me going
it’s nice to know—i’m not the only one
the only post-apocalyptic—working slob left
here in the—fucking universe
henry spencer—reminds me
things could be worse—a lot worse…

scene 2

it’s like—david lynch says
a guy needs a nightmare—to wake-up to
that’s what eraserhead—is for me
it gets me ready—for the next day
what better way—to do it than a nice
snarky post-apocalyptic—horror movie
i’m that kind of guy—i’m real neo-noir

scene 3

the i-5 freeway—it’s grid-lock
everyday—everyday after work
everyday i take a—sideways detour
down through—grim depressing
industrial parks—past old brick buildings
down south of town—past the dumpy
old rainier brewery—that now brews coffee
driving slowly—through narrow twisted
grimy streets lined—with tilting old red-brick
warehouses—and dumpy biker bars
it’s called georgetown—an old gritty pearl
down in the overgrown—oyster industrial zone
down by elliott bay—south of seattle
down by the—dumpy town airport.

scene 4

the afternoon winter sun—slants down
down on the desolate—nightmare neighborhood
the dirty freeway pylons—constantly vibrating
roaring with trucks and cars—motorcycles
heavy with insane crushing—rush-hour traffic
zooming by above us—making me feel
like a fugitive rat—escaping busy downtown
making me feel—insectoid and cockroach-like
scuttling my way—down through that lawn of
nice bermuda grass—in blue velvet (1986).

scene 5

you know the scene—i’m talking about?
that weird lynch-o-maniac—domestic scene
with the camera—burrowing way down deep
inside the bermuda grass—giving you the creeps
as if some alien creature—is living down there
invading suburbia—weaseling its way
down through all the—nicely well-kept lawns
all the nice well-kept citizens—there in all the
nicely well-kept—seattle neighborhoods

scene 6

and then there’s—this poor guy
who’s innocently—just watering his lawn
all of a sudden—he keels over dead
a surprise heart-attack—down he goes
he drops the hose—it still keeps spraying
the camera zooming in—down into the lawn
way down there—in the dirt and rootlets
way down there—where darkness rules
weird insectoid noises—from another world
how quickly suburbia—changes into Dis
when you’re—dead and dying down there
facedown in your own—lovely front yard
eyeballing it—face to face one last time
way down there—way down there deep
deep in your own—fucking green lawn

scene 7

the scene always—seems awfully weird
in a strange—sexual perverted kinky way
like having a heart-attack—making love
getting it on with—your wife or girlfriend
or simply doing it—to yourself?
dying while—squirting your brains out
what a way to go—but it happens
eraserheads are always—kicking the bucket
it happens all the time—that’s the way
that’s the way—i want to go
making love—watering my lawn

scene 8

everyday for me—is eraserhead day
especially coming—coming home from work
that’s when being—eraserhead comes out in me
that’s when i become—henry spencer my hero
the traffic is always—usually moving slowly
but that’s okay with me—i’ve got plenty of time
anything’s better than—freeway traffic up above
the mean inhuman—maddening grinding
bumper-to-bumper grid-lock—up on the freeway
all that crazy commuting—going on day after day

scene 9

i like to take my time—driving home
i’m not in any hurry—way down here
in the dumpy little detours—and side-streets
beneath busy i-5—way up there above
i don’t need it—to make my so-so life
into a rat-race—anymore than it is now
i’m just a simple guy—like henry spencer
taking my time—working my way home
thru normal—post-apocalyptic ruins

scene 10

i drive this—ratty little red t-bird
you know—the cheap ersatz retro kind
modeled after those—early sports-car days
there’s no way—i could afford those classic ones
from back in the ‘50s—when t-birds and corvettes
mimed the sleek imagination—that detroit was then
those postwar—streamlined aerodynamic days
so i like to pretend—i’ve got a little class
taking my time—tooling my back home
being the guy—i wish i was back then


Carnivàle (2003)

Clayton Jones: “Je-sus Christ.”

Samson: “On a bicycle.”

Cleaving Carnivàle (2003

Carnivàle (2003)

“Before the beginning, after the great war between Heaven and Hell, God created the Earth and gave dominion over it to the crafty ape he called man. And to each generation was born a creature of light and a creature of darkness. And great armies clashed by night in the ancient war between good and evil. There was magic then, nobility, and unimaginable cruelty. And so it was until the day that a false sun exploded over Trinity, and man forever traded away wonder for reason.”—Samson, Carnivàle (2003)

Cleaving Carnivàle (2003)

Carnivàle (2003)

“The clock is ticking, brothers and sisters, counting down to Armageddon. The worm reveals himself in many guises across this once great land; from the intellectual elite cruelly indoctrinating our children with the savage blasphemy of Darwin, to the craven Hollywood pagans, corrupting them in the darkness of the local bijou, from the false prophets cowering behind our nation's pulpits to the vile parasites in our banks and boardrooms and the godless politicians, growing fat on the misery of their constituents. The signs of the end times are all around us, etched in blood and fire by the left hand of god. You have but to open your eyes, brothers and sisters. The truth is that the Devil is here. The Anti-Christ, the Child of Lies, the Son of Darkness walks among us cloaked in the flesh of a man. Does the Lord not weep at this degradation? Does He not tremble with righteous fury? And shall he not seek retribution? I open my eyes and I see a black sky that tears apart and screams with a voice that is thunder, 'Rise up, rise up brothers and sisters and take your place at my side. For you shall be my scythe and your face shall shine like a thousand suns and the streets shall be sanctified by the steaming black blood of the heretics.' And together brothers and sisters, together we shall build a shining temple, a kingdom that will last for thousands and thousands of years.”
—Justin, Carnivàle (2003)

Cleaving Eraserhead

Rick Warren as Reverend Eraserhead

Rick the Mutant Baby

“Sangre de Cristo! Blood of Christ!
Rivers of Blood! Mountains of Blood!
Does Christ never get tired of bleeding!”
—William Burroughs,
“My Protagonist Kim Carson,”
The Place of Dead Roads

Mutant Baby—You Turn Me On!!!
C’mon Rick—Be My Mutant Man!!!
Neocon Baby—Devil’s Offspring!!!
Mutant Spawn—Inaugural Queen!!!

Eraserhead (2009)

Rick Warren as Reverend Eraserhead

David Lynch Made a Man Out of Me
A critic comes of age as Eraserhead just gets better with time
by Nathan Lee, The Village Voice, January 16th, 2007 2:24 PM

Like every touchstone of my nascent cinephilia, I first encountered Eraserhead on crap VHS. It was the late 1980s, I was 15, and I didn't know what I'd seen, but it was love at first sight. Nerds in space. Mutant babies. Domestic derangement. Radiator ladies. Inexplicable seizures. Enigmatic orifices. Weird routines. The hardcore bizarre and ineffably beautiful. Totally. Like. Awesome. David Lynch became an instant culture hero. I all but draped myself in Blue Velvet (movie, soundtrack, poster) and was soon hosting Twin Peaks geekfests indulgently catered with cherry pie and strong black coffee. Along with Heathers, the Pixies, shoplifting Marlboros, and hatred of Orange County, Lynchian surrealism played a major role in defining my suburban artfag weltanschauung.

Hand in glove, my brain with Eraserhead. Even more than Blue Velvet, Lynch's non-narrative nightmare scratched an itch in my imagination. Here were my two favorite genres, horror and science fiction, spied through a murky crevice of the underground, a perv-o-licious perspective that forever altered my taste in movies. Out of similar fissures, the philosophic horror shows of David Cronenberg would strike deeper and sustain me longer, and I would come to find Lynch's Hollywood Hallucination mode his richest ( Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire). But Eraserhead came first, its swarming spermatozoa impregnating a love of the avant-garde that rapidly metastasized.

Some years later in San Francisco (still smoking but now into Stan Brakhage, Sleater Kinney, and moving to New York), I returned to Lynch's debut rather reluctantly, as you might pick up a writer beloved in adolescence and now suspected of irrelevance—hello, Hermann Hesse. A new print was booked at the Castro Theatre, drag-queen mothership of Bay Area cinephila, a movie palace in the old style, or at least what a degenerate film nerd like me imagined that to be: frescoed walls, red velvet curtains, chandeliers, uncomfortable seats.

I remember one thing only of my reunion with Eraserhead: the discovery that to see the film means nothing—one must also hear it. Viewing it alone in the dark in my bedroom, its aphonic oddities may have been diminished on TV, but they well enough amazed. Watched on an appliance, it sounded like one: a refrigerator on the fritz perhaps, or a vacuum cleaner stuck in the bathroom. In the larger reaches of a grand old space, bounding off marble and chandelier, the soundscape of Eraserhead opened a vast new dimension. Choose your onomatopoeia: clang, drone, hiss, buzz, squawk, howl, khzzsh-shzz- frphft. All of which echoed as if housed in an intergalactic seashell cocked to the ears of an acid-tripping gargantua.

(Speaking of which: "Eraserhead's not a movie I would drop acid for," wrote J. Hoberman in his very first assignment for the Voice, "although I would consider it a revolutionary act if someone dropped a reel of it into the middle of Star Wars." Was Tyler Durden reading?)

New York, 2007: Committed to smoking, bored with rock, into Inland Empire, and dreaming of expatriation, I preview the restoration of Eraserhead at the Museum of Modern Art. At the ungodly hour of 10 a.m. And for what? A chance to play the auteur game, for starters, dutifully noting the first appearance of motifs from Inland Empire, parallels with the production design of Blue Velvet, etc., and . . . yawn. Some new observations. The debt to silent comedy. And perhaps a Cocteau influence? Eraserhead feels steeped in Blood of a Poet.

One thing is clear on third viewing: the genius of Eraserhead as sculpture. What a masterpiece of texture, a feat of artisanal attention, an ingenious assemblage of damp, dust, rock, wood, hair, flesh, metal, ooze. The immaculate restoration brings all this to new light. It doesn't deliver a visual revelation on par with the aural adventure in San Francisco (although the rumbling of the subway beneath MOMA's Titus 1 makes for a fantastic effect), but it well enough amazes. I'm captivated by floral wallpaper, plastic flowers, rose-patterned drapes, twists of dead tendrils, and especially that dry mound of earth by the bedside from which sprouts a dead twig, and which resembles something you'd see installed at Matthew Marks. This dense, consistent iconography keys to the overall parody of natural process, and calls for further analysis.

Shanghai, 2015 . . .

Eraserhead: 4 Ladies in the Radiator

Cleaving jesus

Rick Warren as Reverend Eraserhead

The Eraserhead Sermon

Praise the Lord—and Pass the K-Y!!!

Listen Up—All you Palm Springs Queen Bees!!!

There’s a New Jesus in Town—So Get Used To It!!!

You Should Have Listened—to POTUS PALIN, my dears!!!

Half-Baked Alaska Jesus Freaks—They’re Cream Puffs!!!

The New Leviticus is more than—just Laying of the Hands!!!

We be the New Neocons—for Jesus Christ Inc!!!

And you Thought—Hurricane Katrina was a Bitch!!!

It’s Time for a New Beginning—a New Christian AMERICA!!!

Praise the Lord—and Pray for Sodom and Gomorrah!!!

There’s No Time Left—There’s No Room in the Inn!!!

It’s Time to Get Virgin Mary—Out of the fucking Manger!!!

And into modern Mainstream Holiday Inn—that’s Right!!!

We Need Three Wise Men—right now in the White House!!!

We Need a New Eccumentical—Christian State of Life!!!

We Need to Get that Missionary Position—Back Again!!!

Back in the Cozy Bedroom!!!—Where It Belongs!!!

Praise the Lord—We Need Jesus Back in the Board Room!!!

Back in the Board Room—Where Fast Money Talks!!!

We Need Jesus back on the $100 Bill—Pray for It Now!!!

We Need Jesus high up there—On Mount Rushmore!!!

We Need Jesus in Our Hearts—and Our Billfolds!!!

We Need Jesus Where It Counts—in the Beltway!!!

We Need Jesus—in the Smoke-Filled Back Rooms!!!

We Need Jesus—at the Gas Pump and in Detroit!!!

We Need Jesus—in Ivy-League Snotty Princeton!!!

We Need Jesus—on greedy corrupt Wall Street!!!

We Need Jesus—in Poughkeepsie!!!

We Need Jesus—in The New York Times!!!

We Need Jesus—in The National Enquirer!!!

We Need Jesus—in The TV Guide!!!

We Need Jesus—Back on Sunset Boulevard!!!

We Need Jesus—Back on Mulholland Drive!!!

We Need Jesus—Back in Blue Velvet!!!

But Most of all—We Need Jesus Desperately Now!!

We Need Jesus—back in ERASERHEAD!!!!!!!

We Need Jesus—To ERASE this Shitty World!!!

Cleaving william carlos williams

The Cleave Genre

“The cleavage is complete”
—William Carlos Williams,
Spring and All, The Collected
Poems of William Carlos Williams,
New York: New Directions, 1986

Cleaving other poets is one thing—cleaving movies is another. There are many different ways to cleave poetry and movies—the version of Fight Club (1999) below is in the pre-cleave hyphenated stage. As such it’s pretty much one long horizontal typically linear narrative—with the usual beginning, middle and end that most stories have.

Cleaving this basic stream-of-consciousness horizontal narrative into 2 new “stand-alone” vertical narratives is what makes a cleave narrative different. The immediacy and surprise one finds in reading down each vertical series of lines is something that makes the cleave genre unique to both readers and writers alike.

The vertical narratives don’t always make sense in terms of the horizontal storyline “closure”—instead the writerly-reader comes across little gems and nuggets of phrases otherwise embedded and hidden forever in the main horizontal Text.

In this sense the three-way compositional process is like William S. Burroughs’ “cut-up method”—which online programs can facilitate easily with cut-and-paste pages much more easily composed than the older Burroughs scissor and paper method.

Since Phuoc-Tan Diep invented the form, cleaves have been created by many poets in many different forms concerning many different subjects—and the theory of what cleaves can do has been discussed on The Cleave Page:

So much so that we’re putting together a Cleave anthology—coming out in May—to showcase the talents and scope of the Cleave form and where it’s going. The Cleave has similarities to LANGUAGE poetry—but many other interesting streams of cleavage has entered into mix.

William Carlos Williams mentions the “cleave” very early on in his Spring and All (1923) when he says:

The form of poetry is related to the movements of the imagination revealed in words—whatever it may be

The cleavage is complete—

Why should I go further than I am able? Is it not enough for you that I am perfect?

The cleavage goes through all the phases of experience—

It is the jump from prose to the process of imagination that is the next great leap of the intelligence—from the simulations of present experience to the facts of the imagination—

The jump between fact and the imaginative reality—

—William Carlos Williams, Spring and All, The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, New York: New Directions, 1986. pp. 219-221.

Cleaving spicer

Jack Spicer

“Billy the Kid—
in a field of poplars
with just one touch
of moonlight”
—Jack Spicer,
Billy the Kid (1958)

Jack Spicer—a quick study
Not just gay—but avant queer
Full of self-loathing—abject loneliness
Like Rimbaud—like Baudelaire
Hating everybody—especially himself

Ask America—she’ll tell you why
The Cold War zeitgeist—HUAC faggotry
Spicer’s 4-F—the ad hominems flowing
Don’t ask why—please don’t tell, baby
Whatever you do—don’t be a Poet

Be Elizabeth Bishop—flee to Brazil
Be a decent law-abiding—Poet Laureate
Be a good closet-case—shut your mouth
So what if America—hates you a lot
Spicer’s attitude was—be a Snot

Genteel readers—you’ll never know
“The Unvert Manifesto”—says it all
Billy the Kid—shoots his brains out
Jack Spicer—North Beach clairvoyant
San Francisco—queer Georgekreis cult

Spicer’s lover—cute Billy the Kid
Spicer’s father—a Wobbly drunk
Labor anthems—bored Jack Spicer
Both the Gay Left—and Gay Right
Their Political Correctitude—stunk!!!

Spicer’s poetry—Berkeley Renaissance
Before that—the Boston Public Library
Insights into—serial Emily Dickinson
Hiding there—Beinecke Rare Book Room
Martyred Emily—the Amherst cocteau

Her Heurtebise—hot house hibiscus
Her greenhouse orchids—serial verse
Before Jack Spicer—and Robin Blaser
Before the Radio—in Orphée could speak
She tuned into—New England tropes

Jack tuned in too—a quick study
After Lorca—followed by Billy the Kid
Imaginary Elegies—Heads of the Town
Up to the Aether—The Holy Grail
His Vocabulary—doing him in…

Cleaving silliman

Ron Silliman

“I write to know
who I am”
—Ron Silliman

He says—he writes
To know—who he is
I’m just—the opposite
I write—to forget

“I’m straight”—he says
But I’m—more backwards
A kind of—Weimar drag

His message—“Be Here Now.”
Mine—is more subversive
Anywhere—but here, my dear
Give me—Dr. Caligari’s Closet!!!

Last night—he was reading
Thomas Pynchon—Against The Day
I’m still stuck—in Gravity’s Rainbow

William Carlos Williams—Spring and All
Got him going—Zukofsky and Creeley
Armantrout—and Watten helped him
I’ve read—In the American Tree

It’s Xmas Eve—I’m on the run
Is there—room in the inn?
My wife (virgin)—she’s pregnant
Three wise thugs—are trailing us

Cleaving bishop

Elizabeth Bishop

Letter to Robert Lowell
January 20, 2009

Dear Robert,

I don’t know—I’ve always felt
Writing poetry—was really more like
Not writing poetry—and now all this
Poet laureate business—makes me feel
Very uneasy—“poet by default”

At first, well—I just said no
Aaron Shurin—would be better
He’s cuter—and a better speaker
Than me—he’s written much more
Poetry than I ever will—plus his
Students in SF—they love him so
While most people—simply despise me

A letter just arrived—from D.C.
I told them—the Rose Garden stinks
Well, thank you—but no thanks
How can I—intellectually carouse
And give a—decent poetry reading
When Baghdad is—going up in flames?

I can’t even—look at desert now
Lemon cake—so yellow & radioactive
Looking out the window—the moonlit Dome
The grim view—from the Library of Congress
The NYTimes—and Washington Post conniving
I feel like a scullery maid—a Polish girl
Instead of a Bard—politicians woo me

I wish I were back—at home in Key West
My landlady Faustius—and me on the porch
Settling down to our—cognac and cigars
I wish you’d visit me—take a trip to Havana?
The Beltway—a small marbleized Tea Room
This Washington job—so Faggy Bottoms

The New Yorker though—I’m proud to say
Is quibbling with me—as they always do
Over an indelicacy—in one of my poems
I guess I’m just—too politically incorrect
For either Cold War—or New World Order
It’s so difficult sometimes—dearest Robert
Being America’s—proud dyke poet laureate.

Cleaving borges


“I’ve reached the point
where tedium is a person,
the incarnate fiction of
my own company”
—Fernando Pessoa,
The Book of Disquietude

I got to the station—past eleven
He’d already signed in—at the hotel
Room 19—was waiting for me
The day—August 25, 1983…

We were dreaming—each other
I was in the—Hotel Las Delicias
I’d got a one-way—ticket for
Adrogué—and Borges

He was dying—not in the hotel
But in a house—on Calle Maipú
That belonged—to our mother
He was dreaming me—or was I?

Who was—dreaming whom?
I thought—I was dreaming him
But I don’t know—maybe he
Was dreaming me—instead

How to find out—if there is
Only one man—dreaming or
Two men—dreaming each

Cleaving borges / pessoa / saramago

Daniel Santa-Clara

“immediately recognizable”
—José Saramago
The Double

My dear Double—how can I forget
There’s you—what more is there?
I’ll send you a dream—how’s that sound?
Then you send me yours—okay?

Let’s pretend—we’ve never met
Which is the truth—except in dreams
I may be the older twin—it may be you?
Somehow, well—you discovered me

That surely counts—for something
Aren’t all doubles—aware of themselves?
I didn’t know—I had a doppelganger
Until one day—you popped up

The tricks Borges—went thru, my dear
The games he played—with his doubles
Lucid dreams—sitting on benches
There in Cambridge—Massachusetts

Interrogating them—by the river
Dialoguing with them—his oneiric double
Trying to find out—was his twin fiction?
Or was Borges—the Other’s dream?

Cleaving borges / pessoa / saramago

Daniel Santa-Clara

“The outer world exists
like an actor on a stage
it’s there but it is
something else”
—Fernando Pessoa,
The Book of Disquietude

She feels like—she’s an actress
An actress—in a movie
What movie—what actress?
Oh, who cares—it doesn’t matter

Let’s get back to—the literary life
You mean, my dear—gay pulp fiction?
Yes, my dear—the story of my life
Pulp Fiction—an Ace double novel

Sci-fi paperbacks—‘50s thrillers
True Detective Stories—those covers!
True Confessions—those cheesy ads!
How exquisitely—campy she said…

Remember back when—you & me
Upside-down—making love way
Back when—meeting each other
Bored cruising—Rexall Drugstore?

Cleaving borges / pessoa / saramago

Daniel Santa-Clara

“Literature that I have
created and lived”
—Fernando Pessoa,
The Book of Disquietude

So it is—with you and me
We’re both thinking—about each other
So why not—discuss it while we’re
Here in the—authorial Aether

This Blogosphere—labyrinthine
Full of Borgesian—bourgeois delights
We’re doing it—she says to me
With a smile—maybe it’s doing us

Tact with attitude—testing me
Her purpose—to weave us both
Together thru time—continuously
Listening responding—spontaneously

A doppelganger—drag act
Doing dialog—heteronymically
Like Saramago—doing Pessoa
Lyric—into dramatic poetry

So that we can—know each other
Seeing thru—each other’s eyes
Performing—transgressive Text
Subversive stanzas—stealth…

Tertuliano Máximus Afonso

Tertuliano Máximus Afonso

“Tertuliano Máximus Afonso
felt his penis grow hard,
unsatisfied again.”
—Jóse Saramago,
The Double

Suddenly—it seemed
He’d reached—the end of the road
He was dreaming—but didn’t know it
An anxious immediacy—seizing him
Violently awake—a Wetdream!!!

There with Helena—next to him
The whole bedroom—a slithering orgasm
She clutched his hand—kissed him
Holding him tightly—as he lost it
Curving his stomach—Nocturnal Emission!!!

Not since boyhood—had he creamed this way
Totally spontaneously—chicken child idiot
Squirting his brains out—like an adolescent
Each splurge—a douchebag of desire
Echoing from down deep—his darkest manhood

Oozing up from some—subterranean abyss
Tertuliano closing his eyes—embarrassed
Helena shocked—amazed by her husband
Was he dreaming—of beautiful mermaids?
Riding the waves—beneath the cliffs?

Such spontaneity—wasn’t like him
Her husband—never much of a Romeo
But what should one expect—from a professor
Was he having an affair—with some student?
He’d been so very tense—and moody lately

Helena—his beautiful wife
Leaving the intimacy—of the bedroom
Still redolent—with love’s surprise visit
Fixing breakfast—making coffee
But Tertuliano—laid there in bed

Thinking, thinking—thinking some more
What paradoxical—perplexing thoughts
Impudently pleased—witness to it all
Dreaming about—António Claro his twin
Claro’s strength—his flesh, his hands

Helena could never know—the awful truth
The sordid side—the prodigious prick
These two men—identical in every way
Down to the birthmark—on their thighs
The scars of accidents—on their knees

Everything identical—paradoxically twinned
Except for one thing—Claro was more hung
Claro was more manly—doubly endowed
Tertuliano was amazed—shamelessly jealous
Claro would always—please Maria better

Better than Tertuliano could—no matter what
Claro’s penis—twice the size of Tertuliano
Twice as thick—twice as big and comely
Claro had 12 inches—what a quirk of fate
To be perfectly Double—yet twice as dicked!!!

Cleaving pessoa

Gay Poet Laureate

“Notable United States gay poets
include Dennis Cooper, Gavin Dillard,
John Gill, Dennis Kelly, Tom Mayer,
Paul Monette, Harold Norse and
Jonathan Williams.”

Nothing, my dear—can possibly be
More disambiguous—than being me
Being a male—homosexual gay poet
Here in America—in the Land of the Free

The only problem—being a gay poet
Especially being—the Poet Laureate like me
I’m imprisoned—by L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E
The First Amendment—just isn’t me

“Don’t ask / Don’t tell”—Call the Cops!!!
After all—The Family Protection Act rules!!!
Especially for me—a queer WPA Poet…
During this fucking—New Depression…

Cleaving pessoa

The Bridge

“Fernando Pessoa’s disguises
were assumed out of the
conviction that poetry is more
real than the poet.”
—Michael Hamburger,
“Multiple Personalities,”
The Truth of Poetry: Tension in
Modern Poetry from Baudelaire
to the Nineteen Sixties

Thank you—I am Dennis Kelly.
I’m the first—USA Fag Poet Laureate
I was very pleased—to come across
My name in Wikipedia—the Encyclopedia

I plan to donate—my $1,000,000 salary
To the esteemed—Wikepedia Foundation
As well as to—Google and Youtube
To please Gay Posey—and the Dyke Muse

To be or not to be—American chic
To be suave & sophisticated—to be camp
To be Metrosexual—Manhattanesque
To be Whitman again—the Brooklyn Ferry

To be Hart Crane—standing there
Gazing out the window—Columbia Heights
My sailorboy lover—still sleepingnaway
What a crisp morning—New York skyline

The Bridge—the Seagulls
The way they lean—into the Breeze
How can I possibly—pull it off right
Spanning Ages—with cables of Words?

Cleaving pessoa

Disambiguating my gay dossier

“The multiple selves
that elude biography”
—Michael Hamburger,
“Multiple Personalities,”
The Truth of Poetry: Tension in
Modern Poetry from Baudelaire
to the Nineteen Sixties

This is my Wiki story—just for you
I believe the Internet—is the future of poetry
That the future—of male homosexual
And gay poetry today—is online now

That homoerotic poetry—and gay poets
In the Future—will disambiguate themselves
Thru the Blogosphere—thru Wikepedia
Thru POD—(Print on Demand) publishing

Presently, my dears—I’m disambiguating
I’m disambiguating myself—rather quickly
It’s a career move—dontchaknow
Disambiguating—my faggy dossier

After all—Nero fiddles
While Rome burns—Peter Ustinov
Plays such a decadent—Roman emperor
Does he really need—me as Petronius?

Glancing thru Wiki—the gay poetry page
I can trace my own—dossier as a poet
For example—one can trace my tiptoing
Thru the tulips—in Anthony Reid’s opus

The Eternal Flame—2 volumes (1992–2002)
Ian Young’s seminal—Son of the Male Muse
Both of Gregory Wood’s—gay lit tomes
As well as Winston Leyland’s—SF Renaissance

Gay Sunshine Journal—Gay Sunshine Press
Chicken (1979)—Size Queen (1981)
Gay Roots Anthology (1991)—as well as Coote’s
Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse (1983)

What’s next
—Quo Vadis my oeuvre
How will the Male Muse—diversify me?
With the Blogosphere—so snarky
With Youtube—POD publishing?

How will it—disambiguate me?
My modest metrosexual—little dossier
Like Melville’s—The Ambiguities?
Like Charles Olson’s—Maximus?

Cleaving pessoa / saramago

Against Boredom

“I don’t think, therefore I don’t exist.
I’ve forgotten who I am. I’m unable
to write because I’m unable to be.
Through an oblique slumber, I’ve
been somebody else. To realize I
don’t Remember myself means
that I’ve woken up.”
—Fernando Pessoa,
The Book of Disquiet

When I’m dreaming—I’m forgetting myself
Returning to myself—forgetting things like
Where I’ve been—what I was doing and
What it’s like—to play “Interrupted Death”
I’m lost in it—this mysterious performance
Lucid as José Saramago—my new Other

Pessoa performativity—what a field day!!!
Pessoa’s heteronyms—what a playground!!!
My idea of writing—isn’t psychoanalytic…
Critics like Roditi, Hamburger—and Paz
They see Pessoa’s work—as schizophrenic
Uniquely articulated art—how boring!!!

Queer theory—especially interrogations
Transgressing my way—into performativity
Discovering Pessoa’s—unprecedented boredom
With the usual hacks—the Freudian has-beens
Interpreting heteronyms—as failed identity
Rather than—ventriloquistic “poetic drag”

Performing it new—here in the Blogosphere
Deconstructing it—straight male unitary self
Tacky presumptuous—domineering dildo-ego
Patriarchal poetry—that Gertrude Stein
Objected to—with Tender Buttons and
Lifting Belly—with Miss Furr & Miss Skeene

Cleaving pessoa

Against Boredom

“No one has yet
defined tedium in a
language comprehensible
to those who have never
experienced it”
—Fernando Pessoa,
The Book of Disquiet

I get nauseated—thinking about it
Not just boredom—with other worlds
But with myself—inside these worlds
Whether real—or imaginary worlds
These heteronyms—of mine live
For one reason—to escape boredom

I escape—frustrating tedium this way
Detouring my way—around the usual
Disappointed longings—and discomforts
Nagging me—making my life weary
Transcending—the same old boring
Tacky visceral—intellectual uncertainties

Heteronymity is—performance art
Giving some meaning—to the boring
Day-to-day hegemony—of immobility
Seizing us—with profound emptiness
Making us yawn at first—ending up
Screaming—in the wainscoting

Boredom—not just with ourselves
But all our other selves—as well
Alberto Caeiro—The Magician
Ricardo Reis—The Hanging Man
Álvaro De Campos—Jaded Queen Bee
And of course—our Twins in the Mirror

Our heteronyms—exist for one thing
To help us escape—from our prison
But then they bore us—so we move on
Their voices—like broken records
Nauseating—repelling us even more
Than before—when we were alone?

We end up like—cheesy prisoners
Freedom worthless—when we’re
Bored, restless—full of gauche ennui
Abhorring life’s—crummy puniness
Even though—our chains disappear
We still stand nude—on an auction block

There’s a placid beauty—to writing
A trunk full of—scribbled alter egos
Shadows of ourselves—winged others
Twin partners in crime—the kind of
Doubles that—become us for awhile
Doppelgangers—in the dark mirror

This Trunk—deep as the ocean
Frigid as the Atlantic—turgid whitecaps
The impossibility—of being ourselves
All thrown together—scraps of paper
Scribbled notes—indecipherable
Glossed anguishes—pale palimpsests

We end up—here in the interstices
Meandering around—in these margins
Were we awake—when I jotted down
My others—that never existed?
Am I as incomprehensible—to you
As they were to me—strangers?

Cleaving pessoa

Against Boredom

“Tedium is boredom
with other worlds”
—Fernando Pessoa,
The Book of Disquiet

Prose—bores me
discursiveness—depresses me
I need some surprise—some ad lib
in each & every—Line, my dear

maybe not—every Line
but at least—two out of three
call it what you want—call it maybe
magic realism—LangPo surrealism

many vast all-knowing—intelligentsia
have written about it—tres scholarly
madam perloff—bernstein & silliman
susan howe—in the Beinecke Library

tiptoeing thru—postmodern tulips
stein’s cubist roses—along with all
those red wheelbarrows—kitschy jars
in tacky tennessee—quotidian woods

poetry bores me—without spontaneity
busy miss cage—motherly mac low
the I chiNg—and weird permutations
doing miss pound—with pisa dice

most of POMO poetry—tres de rigueur
but what I need—is poetry flash
a little surprise—now & then
to add some life—to my soirees

horizontal—clickity-clack Lines
choo-choo cha-cha—train tracks
but also vertical—veridical is nice
adding a little spice—oriental express

Vertical surprise stanza #1

Prose discursiveness—
I need some surprise—
in each & every maybe
not but at least—call it
what you want—magic
realism many vast all-
knowing—have written
about it—madam perloff
susan howe tiptoeing
thru—stein’s cubist roses—
those red wheelbarrows—
in tacky tennessee—
poetry bores me—
busy miss cage—the
I chiNg—doing miss
pound—most of
POMO poetry—
but what I need—
a little surprise—
to add some life—
also vertical—
adding a
little spice…

Vertical surprise stanza #2

Prose bores me—
depresses me—
some ad lib—Line,
my dear—every
Line— two out
of three—
call it maybe—
tres scholarly—
bernstein & silliman—
in the Beinecke
with all—kitschy
and weird
with pisa dice—
tres de rigueur—
is poetry flash—
now & then—
to my soirees—
is nice—

Cleaving saramago

António Clara

“the original of which—
I am the duplicate”
—José Saramago
The Double

António Clara—stretches
out in bed—feeling Machiavellian
full of skill—and cunning
pondering—the possibilities
of resemblances—twins
absolute identities—and

my whole bag—of tricks
to script—the ongoing play
the momentary—unpleasantness
this wretched—so-called twin
Tertaliano Máximo Afonso
—conjugal disquietude
for Helena & me—wishing that
I António Clara—were more
like Helen—so concise, pithy
full of repartee—ready to debate
this Afonso upstart—face-to-face
with no witnesses—to blab about it

perhaps a terse—telephone call
a quick conversation—leaving Afonso
dumbstruck—breathless & stunned
by the skill—of my machinations
my dialectical—genius & timing
putting a stop—once & for all
to any of his—nefarious plans for
Helen and me—present or future
how to lose—this copy of myself
this bastard—embryonic double
this despicable—doppelganger?