a smorgasbord smattering of literary & visual art by Dale Houstman — intro to Once You Settle Into The Notion That There Are No Interpretations Expected… by krysia jopek
What do you get when you go to the fascinating and tres-pleasurable Kitchen of Post-postmodernism, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Poetry, 21st-century Digital Art, and Post-Dali Surrealism—and mix a little Ashbery with a dash of de Chirico, spice it up with some David Sedaris and Arcimboldo, add a bit of Derrida and Wittgenstein for good measure; do some tasting—and decide you need a dollop of Francis Bacon, Kelly Link’s experimental fiction [a la Stone Animals] and Dada? Continue on. . . .
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The Dream Is a Little Farm — new poetry by Dale Houstman
a hesitancy of evening
railed out to her underused comment
upon each hour’s frail immunity
of secreted detachments
which others sound deep to see
beyond the glass, people
in lieu, at lunch, on loan
as the system approaches
a violence of politeness
and a little lemon spurt please,
waiting in the airport’s soft century
with intentions for grand exploration
of small gardens, the skills of gravity
to love what is smoothest,
the lightest pain is heavy detail.
Thinking of tourism, tracking the column
“The Incoming Voice of the Personal Structure”
the prose, this immanent pyramid
disposable beds fixtured with porcelain wheels
to maintain the mobilization, a gearwork ordeal
until all is butter in the surgery light
is it white (is it white enough)
where we arrived and where first we seemed
to speak in fits of unfit revelry
then to revel without speaking.
Where once only I owed
uprightness to the wondering police
in our adolescence of incompletion
these dolls, these estrangements
where a litter of birds stood in sleeping
to fulfillment in motels beneath
and around our famous bleeder’s coyote
drenched in identity & panting
a winter’s breakfast
of short fastenings
where all the insects are one witness
to the cliffs of governance
whose geometry is a bend of leaves
in the pinned bedroom
the flatter beacons
push up into a starry texture
chosen in earnest drizzle the cranes
when I was most darling
a humidity of tourists less the wind
and a ladder against that windless
bluing hasp of the last possible boat
lovingly misnaming the water
in an evening which oddly costumes
with their infirmity of haste
the grace of the measure glass
the girl and her friendless pianist
and in the orchestral clearing
a civil coalescence, a yellow envelope
in which one wrong color
ends the Pompeian tension
an ambulance in the avalanche
the beauty’s convalescent rowing.
there is nothing acquitted
or sleepless in scale
white born wild
thought in deletion
and one last significance of beaches.
To Rebecca, Upon Falling
for Rebecca Walters
The knee looks worse,
but the hand hurts more.
People’s solace is misplaced
and I struggle to understand their error.
“Can’t you see how I wince
when you take my hand and coo
nourishing adages over my patella”
I imagine saying, but do not.
Pain is usually like this,
and most will eventually learn.
“You’re looking good” they shine,
and the sun pushes their flattery about the room
along with the little dinghies of dust
half of which (or more)
must be the raw skin of nurses.
The Wind Rewritten as An Absence of Birds
the fairness sets clamoring
under the dry downy disher
two wild drums creaking.
see the tuckering flint afloat!
wheezed and wan between
trees escaped in a light.
summer night equators
this medium close day
hides skin leaves.
sleep and a white and a sand
of redheaded meteorology
retired from gay motoring.
too swift blades
of conjuncture trams
blue exhaust and curtains.
fathom the startled hedge
of knees awning
milk shells and mantels.
black flag daffodil
in blue meres and shamble.
slow is as fond once was
branch of crusty kisses.
one fashionable mile
in coffeed dispositions.
Swans of Beaten Linen: Light Reflections
People lie in the sun not because they worship it – for they are healthy animals,
and only wish the sun to worship them. – Keith Tinder, The Fair Inconstant
And light’s sole occupation?: To elevate sight to the realm of possibility. The side benefits are in the main, metaphysical extensions of this release into chance (an arena of accidents), and are dependent upon subtle modulations in men’s ambitions. To “see” may be sufficient, maybe even the most difficult attainment: consideration, conjecture, and all the more limpid or less livid catalogues of philosophy are secondary: even crude reminiscences of some bloated existence, whose body will not withstand the scribbles and tattoos of explicating sentiment.
Still, we do live in these winding tributaries, these cold capillaries, these derivatives of the actions we might praise so highly and (in the process of praising) lose beneath ornamentation, nostalgia, endless machinations of religion and science. It is always beyond us, this simple performance, and for that we should be grateful.
If much is made of light, it is because light reveals all without comment. It is ultimately “hip,” blithe, and cool to our conjectures. Certainly, there exist sentimental correspondences in the sunrise, in the dying light, in the ways in which light sinks into the surface of a person’s illness and kneels. But these remain characteristics more of the human mind, as symptoms of a diseased appropriation of nature and the lure of new forms of necrophilia. Light itself is so disinterested in its revelations and creations that we are reminded of a new height of aristocratic disengagement, so pure and terrifying (because it is an extreme socio-pathic coolness) that we are forced to bear light as the final ecology of horror – light’s clinical intrusions, its distant courses, are finally too reminiscent of this century’s most scientific “enthusiams.” light can reveal all because it is hardened against emotion. At its brightest, light remains faraway, and untouched.
And just as a flayed prisoner, or the victim of kidnap, will pause to invest the torturer with several qualities of common humanity in an attempt to comprehend the event within a social context frame they have given their lives up to, so we drape these works of light in pathos. exultation, and the like, because we wish the light to love us, as if we were somehow of its family. Light is alone—singularly—and yet feels multitudinous, while we are multitudinous and yet feel alone and singular. From this we might conjecture that, in some ancient and mysterious way, light and man have exchanged consciousnesses, much to the glorification of light and the demerit of mankind.
Light is it own best confidante, and sexual double. We are envious of its easy egotism, we admire its royalist postures, and we are disgusted only by what it reveals to us. Most of all though, we are simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by the manner in which light makes love to itself in the open like any crude beast, and yet retains a rational detachment purer than Apollo.
Writing To Elude Oneself
If you write to elude yourself—to throw up horizons beyond the immediate—you remain caught between: there is the straight-edged recall of the previously experienced (mostly regretted), and there is the super-conscious manufacture of the obscenely “original”; total nonsense, random phrases from a hat, concrete poems, ink wads dropped upon absorbent surfaces. This second process—however (gratifyingly) puzzling to the spectator—cannot be, in the least, elusive to the writer, who remains aware of the game.
Words must be trained to group about a referential irritant, the entire piece should merely tend toward an invisible asymptote, compressing motion into the marvelous. This—of necessity—creates a confusion of simple meaning without cheating any “audience,” because (for the writer) something is always on the path to being fulfilled: what more could be fairly offered?
A world comprised of only the most understandable events, a universe lacking resonance, correspondence, approximate parallels, any taint of the strange, and a million other necessities. This is the physics not merely proposed by so many “modern” poets, but celebrated and schematized within their blueprints and armatures disguised as poems. The sounding of only those bells which warn, or the airing of only the most liberal—and thus most flimsy—of opinions, designed to rouse you only enough.
A person attempting to tread a way between the conservative and the liberal programs will discover a box canyon. The job is to inhabit that space which always lies outside what is “obviously correct,” to explore outside waters filthied by secure knowledge.
Anything less strenuous is pandering.
for Mary Shelley
In respect to so little solitude
each beloved’s off-hand proposal
finger curls a hair of sutured shadow
a half-scorched catalogue
of mal-insured countenances.
It must have semblance!
A long-planned relation
(I conjecture, safe from touch)
and, for one unbiased afternoon
that body we all endure
and also its politic gestures
twitched from the crowd
on the slave stage and shore
alive in mindful poverty
far from any water.
The stolen fluid’s reflections
held gruesome consequence
for the innocents (what few)
& appeared—as life will—
to be a sinking fishing boat
carved many years ago
from wild willow
I reconsider) might
have interested him
if we convened as colleagues.
And yet, the current situation
we deplore and punish ourselves
arose and crashed
in a too-white assemblage, stately
the fascist opportunity parade dancers’ theme
There will come
the trumpet men. The handsome dive bombers
and there will be
cloud cake and creamed ogles.
And through it all (and more! more! more!)
a simple hometown parade shall meander. For said event
you need dancers. And we are those very dancers.
Do we also love to be loved?
Do we also yearn for an Oscar?
Is this the uniform of a garden caretaker?
Why do the emeralds
taste so sour this time of year?
Are the diamonds ready to peel?
Reach out one hand to stir the comrades.
There will be potato soup for the subscribers.
A moon in every pot of chicken!
A chicken on the moon by the end of this decade!
on the leather
mi amore. mi amore…
Hooray for Hollywood!
Hooray for the Red, White and Imperial Blue!
Hooray for the Emerald Isle too!
Goo goo goo joob.
You can hear those radiant bootlings
doing the tarantula crawl
from Minneapolis to Dublin.
Cute are their patent Caligulae!
“Rum for the rummy
and none for the dummy.”
Heroes of the Near Sustenance!
the gratuitous state
The abandoned dairy factories
refashioned into residences for birds.
The superfluous milkmaids ordered
to move into smaller rooms
away from the birds
away from the dairy machines
away from the milk ponds and pasture volcanoes.
The women recall their former existences
on a steeply inclined street
blanketed in brown clouds
as they were blanketed in brown smocks.
One of the younger girls played Lady Macbeth
where she ignored the catcalls of emperor farmers
while the bed linen sharpness of the milk ocean
hung in her chest. Bird on a roost. Moon on some toast.
The ghosts of the bankrupted cows
watched her burning at the stake
and setting free the birds trapped in her heart.
Let us splatter blood on each wing
to proclaim a new and more profitable art.
Why we have not been rediscovered by Europe
is difficult to comprehend.
Why the drugged nature photographer refuses
to take pictures of the beautiful pyres.
Why the ornithological essayist sleeps
with decayed horizons
stacked in his branches.
Above a park down the long street
milkmaids heard policemen arguing over women.
How could anyone have survived
or even arrived there through the checkpoints.
A delicate gas hangs over the gardenias.
Yellow shadows writhe in the waters.
Think of the sweat and blood
swirling in the preservation tanks
awaiting the review of our bodies.
Think of the classical music
which frightens the sparrows from the milk rivers.
We had been seeking the perfect place
to build a dairy factory.
Now the birds are settled in the plastic masts
of half-drowned milk galleons.
The ocean is handsome
surrounding the white mountains
blocking the white ships
and the fabled passage to the White Sea.
Lenin in a Saab with Diem
This is the enameled and lion-shaped moment Mater told us about;
are we somewhere in Switzerland’s bureaucracy, asleep in cocoa idleness?
We shall formulate a science whose languid fascism is neither star nor shark:
that is to say, we shall promote quasi-periodicities
like Mademoiselle Fourier seated in her dark foyer
with her yellow hat and her manly shoes. Good shoes! —
we promised good manly shoes!
But soon there were more spooks than sports. I dreamt
that our vehicle was a swift green Triumph in an armored forest
or in the People’s Park filled only with the successful & the early.
Though—and how could I forget—
we shall all be successful.
There is a child in an Iron Maiden in my memory reading history
which is the elevation of the object to the position of a woman;
and finally, when is a substance itself rather than its documentary?
And when shall we stop driving through these orchards
of medicinal Civil Defense tangerines
and public cisterns where the lonely theorist
seduces his patroness every night anew?
I believe we suspect one another
of spreading pertinent rumors.
But we had been told Mademoiselle Fourier
fluttered from room to room, needing only pin money
to purchase her occasional American cigarette,
and a cup or two of a pear tea she enjoyed,
and a small jar of German tooth whitener,
and an ocean of transubstantiated lemonade.
Or a postcard of the same.
Well: indeterminacy shrinks as the mass swells,
and soon there’ll be smart scales for the butchers,
and shorter hours for the cows and their crows.
The very air shall be tempered
by alternating periods of neglect and concern.
Clouds continue to skid across the road,
and we cannot work the ghosts out of the bugs anymore;
certainty is a form of melancholia
and there is not one thing left inside nature
which is what we are driving to prove.
a poem must express its only page
Does every lake whisper “ship”
Into an expectation of birds
Like every absence appears unfinished,
A railway expectant with an edge of water?
Each edge should be officially folded
Until a triangle in accordance with the manual
Making a patriotism in which each bird is explicit
Until a triangle in accordance with the manual
As every ship is a continuation of its lake
With folded edges preserved on another page, seemingly absent
here, a Mexico sleeping along an unfinished railway
To hint at the absence explicit in an idea of “water”.
Every railway official suggests a Mexico
With every ship sailing its absence to an unofficial Mexico
And every unfolded Mexico is unfinished officially
As is every bird’s ship & railway & lake.
a lion tulips in the leaf-lightning
A lion tulips in the leaf-lightning
for leaves tattooed on piggy banks which dream
that all the steam-leaves are blue porcelain
like lion-tulips in the leaf-lightning which dreams
of steam-stars & gondola-stars & stars made of pigskin
that help the giraffe grow hair in the leaf-lightning.
A star gondolas in the tulip-lion
for lightning tattooed on piggy banks which dream
that all the porcelain giraffe-stars are porcelain blue lions
like tulip-steam in the leaf-lightning which dreams
of gondola-stairs & tulip-stairs & stairs made of pigskin
that help the tulip-lion grow a heart in the leaf-lightning
of steam-stairs & giraffe-stairs & stairs made of pigskin.
all new poetry ©2019
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two poems from A Dangerous Vacation (Caliban Book Shelf, 2017)
maybe we will go
Maybe we will go
to see the chain of lights decay
(year beneath years
minutes to muffins
above the streets of braised night
as the anxious moon wakes the mustangs
in the snow murdered crossroads)
There are service stations
smothered beneath the stage constellations
as each body acts the human
in the pink willowed average
in the slush of psychology
) In the flowerbed a gardener reloads
his arsenal of suitcases
with fallen leaves)
Maybe we will go
to see the promoter of diamonds
with his tiny pushcart
(year beneath years
minutes to muffins)
A Sun waving
to our pale children
from a long white car.
later, a baroque grudge
In Paris (A room
woven from blue gutters
where evening flows
into every shop sign) Downhill trees
by language (passionate
arthritis of each window.
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Turned On and Discoverable — visual art exhibit [October 19, 2019]
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Poetics—or, Once You Settle Into The Notion That There Are No Interpretations Expected…
…Words Do Not Add Up To Language (And What Then Of Tactics?
“Where might we purchase words to change the world?” the question of a Roman publican or a poet princess.
But is truth sufficient to render an utterance fashionable? It lies in each utility to wake in banality slumber through brutality and still words a coconut salve on our anxious diversions. Distraction is the tactic. That is a very ornamental swelling you have. Even the abrasions entice. In pictures and in plaster and in palaver. This searching substance held in responsibility’s meter.
And so this obligation to challenge the world. To dream of barricades. To expose the undersling of words. To drown the Bastille revelry. We shall obstruct the ardor of easy meaning that assumption ruin’s sole festival gift to the collective? And poetry is perhaps rude to interrupt what might otherwise be pure insensibility? Diversion.
These long days nonsense is a doily on a worktable. This inamore communion of reader and convenient display to cast upon its remainders of detouring paraphrases and the restless shadow cast by huge allurements. The come on in sung by the pitchy swan. Still the potential for meaning is more provocative than meaning itself. And then friendly boredom sets up the domestics which become effective memorials to The View.
Emotions vitally glitched diffuse in the critical atmosphere of poetry but the ashes must be language itself. Language stuck in the ecology of poetry. Not the word more than the image not images but always the distracted expedition in the duress of sentiment. Intently bifurcate architecturally. Branch. In leafing grasp the false bark and note crevices and catches. This information is marketable. Word.
And as one fixes upon The View in their angled correspondence not disdainful. Every day there are delicate combustions leaving a soot of pure hustle. Amatory traitors in delicious strangulation of language. Let us linger on that crime. To lie about the real and to congeal into the ever-receding. And then what of tactics? A slog of middling fidgets with passports at the ready as we near the neutral waters. The liner berths where we only desire to breathe.
Can we elate beyond endurance?
Be disappointed in all proffered repulsions?
Chatterton! Slave of isolation.
And one is being flown into or being flown out of the wild yearning continent.
All coming together at last. And so…
Poetry in a lithography of voices waltzing ganglia and excretions. Neurals and nebulae. The handlers have arrived. Warm gazebo retreats for Whitman Weekend. We are compelled by that insidious hum beneath our bonnets to be black violets clumped about the evaporation of interpretation. The imagination is the floral residue of forgotten procedure. A passion’s joke. A smear.
The poet can retro-fit the incessant noise of truth be told to poetry before the poet and spark a system famous for a brittle countenance. Another trainee departed and no penetrating generation. An employment of sensation and difficult now. Difficult.
To sublime the private out of the public out of the saleable out of the ecstatic out of the function out of the lushness out of the house out of the bone. An ideal obsession forever calling you on your dime. Poetry is an emotional state in and out itself. There is no need to remain in place or wait for the subject to dismiss you. The common-song steams from the underrated body. A place where self becomes style. Superficiality is a manufacturer.
Also the superficial is the underrated body…
A poem committed while not watching will satisfy by eluding the anxiety of demanded interpretation.
The gradual disappearance of explanation.
The non-referential distraction meets the mud of sentiment. The hot plunge of imagination is cooled and does not dwell any longer. So school in sensory as opposed to rhetorical clawing at the act of the world meaning itself. Thus the poem is the artifact of The View’s perturbation. Those representations of the plastic world whose objects seem positioned to mean so much. And so and so. Purposefulness is so quaint.
Perhaps write to elude yourself. Remain between the preciously experienced and the super-conscious manacles of original content. The doily of nonsense seeks its own absorbent surface. This is where tactics intrude to save reality from language. There is a enlivening irritant node where a sweet piece bends to kiss necessity’s asymptote. This conflagration of meaning lacks only the audience. There is nothing always on the painted path.
A world comprised of only the most understandable events.
A universe lacking resonant trajectories.
Dolorous correspondences between physicists.
The sounding of only bells which warn of opinions.
Designs to rouse the only merely.
A person attempting to untread a way.
A box canyon is a correct obviousness.
Anything less strenuous is pandering. And so.
The poem itself a user of us. To mime the texture of psychological states that just talk us up it needs to create a redolent distance. Demilitarized meaning and a rusted hunting machine. Poetry will refuse to breathe until each word is one of those dissonant bells. Verbal ambushes dance wit5h yellow roses in the garden. Achievements. Pretty gloves. Exhaustion.
And what then of tactics? All that to just end in results? We need maneuvers to elude easy settlements. Our responses are not weapons and words do not add up to language (and what then of tactics? But is truth sufficient to render an utterance fashionable? And so this obligation to challenge the world. To dream of barricades.
..And Poetry Lacks Time.
Poetry is a communication of desire formed by desire for communication.
Poetry farms the air and education cans it for asthmatics.
Poetry is an ecstatic hospitality.
A system imagining systems.
A system knowing they are imagined.
A system desires the proposed or pities the same.
Poetry is the government which ghosts are apt to form.
Just as a pinned butterfly lack motion poetry lacks time.
Yes poetry is a commodity.
It only lacks a critical mass of consumers.
One cannot allow oneself however to believe this as sanctity and balm for the dispirited.
Some poetry develops alternative narratives.
Some advertises the rhetoric that would be practiced in those narratives.
Poetry is a story begun around a campfire which soon becomes a forest fire.
Your listeners think to sacrifice you to the flames.
You to create an object terribly urgent and suggestively incomplete.
Poetry is (and thus is not) that stunned mindfulness ornate as loss.
Poetry is the study of borders in the political realm of statement.
Poetry is absolved from the derailment of expectation.
Every stutter may be poetry.
Poetry is an arbitration of language narrowly avoiding meaning’s shiver.
Regret is manufactured.
There is a nostalgia for content.
Poetry promises to appear
it shall deliver
a poem must represent
that poem which represents
nothing so well
one swears it has revealed
all he never wished to see
missing meaning closely
sparks regret the poem
seems to promise all
it will never deliver
and so it is tragedy
in its smallest container
poetry as ecstatic hospitality rendered
into language as enticement
into the habitat where it is observable yet
an impossible compromise which makes poetry
as an object
Much poetry stinks rather more than it might if it were written solely by the dead…
My Two Talents.
My two talents appear to be sleeping and writing. I often think of them as the same thing, but
there you have it.
(and what then of tactics?
All that to just end in results? We need maneuvers
to elude easy settlements. Our responses are not weapons
and words do not add up
to language (and what then of tactics?
But is truth sufficient to render
an utterance fashionable?
And so this obligation to challenge the world.
To dream of barricades.
Effective memorials to The View.
This Is The Level Where All Our Things Are Taken.
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Where I was born and where I’ll die are unimportant.
Was born over there (near some people) and moved over here (near some other people’)
Back then I fell in a hole.
One shouldn’t expect much from a hole.
A young friend tried to help but gave up and biked away.
Early discovery: children will only do so much for other children.
This always applies as well to adults.
I lost one shoe escaping.
I was afraid to mention the event.
I’ll give the “near-rescuer” credit – he did try and he did fall in.
Then he did try and he did get out.
And that’s my earliest incident.
There is always a gas drifting above the trenches, but – even there – the occasional joke, love poem, or half-remembered song may share the sky with the chlorine. Art and imagination don’t always win, but they don’t give up either. Unless they do. And that’s the only victory for imagination. Oh well.
I have not been radical enough.
I have not assumed my position when assuming my position would have been useful.
I have expected to be kept comfortable.
I have preferred safety to killing a president.
I have stayed indoors too much.
I have watched others do the heavy lifting.
I have treated revolution as a Spectacle.
I have never been brave enough.
I have never been cowardly enough.
I have sometimes thought art was good enough.
I have waited for something essential to happen.
I have faked being a social being to gain the benefits of being a social being.
I have felt rudely interrupted by the demands of love.
I have carried on too long in pursuit of a meaningful nothingness.
I have confused violent thoughts with cultural rebellion.
I have fallen into a cozy cynicism.
I have applauded demanding violence from a distance.
I have found myself in strange places and not extracted any value.
I have either focused too tightly or too loosely.
I have enjoyed writing.
I have taken poetry classes.
I have lied to look smarter.
I have told the truth when it didn’t matter.
I have told lies when it did matter.
I have disparaged the easy route of meaning.
I have thought I was surrounded by idiots and brutes.
I have considered the times corrupted and decadent.
I have not denounced enough.
I have reveled in things I know are part of the “problem.”
I have allowed a certain shroud of ghostliness to be my main vestment.
I have settled.
I have not regretted regrettable acts.
I have avoided guilt by assuming meaninglessness.
And yes – writing is rude to interrupt what might otherwise be a life of pure insensibility.
And behind every “good” man there is a “better” absence.
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[Dale Houstman can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase copies of A Dangerous Vacation via PayPal, to sing elaborate praises or vociferate diatribes of agitation prompted by his literary and visual art, what-have-you—or to just shoot the shit! He loves to collaborate, I can attest! kj2]