Notes from an Open Channel
Notes from an Open
These are the gauchos roaming
the pampas and those are the Gauleiters
gliding through a series of Zoom meetings
like those Hollywood squares we loved
as kids with everyone glugging
down jeroboams of Pouilly-Fuissé.
Some early glimmers of fame;
a few islands of camaraderie.
The tempo of August is quiet, even monastic
I may be able to communicate
by going through the correct channels
or communities of practice.
The interesting coveys of city poets,
their speech acts and interrogatives
into the nature of existence
bonds between kinsman or kinship,
mutual exile--getting lost--Wayfinding--
I hit rock bottom in Philly in 03,
except there was no bottom to hit.
Pennsylvania was a long state
just like Tennessee. Sounds coming
from the checkout, but nobody moves
Country music, with its dismal two
not theme, I’m drunk and ready to dance
and I am really drunk and she loves me.
The papers are calling for snow piling
up in Philly, or as we say here Fluffya.
Spring birds in flight
orient themselves and correct
for drift by listening to a chorus
of peepers in a pond far below
and rock lobsters scuttle from
head to tail in tandem conga lines.
The state of being lost
is a kind of vertigo--Not all
who wander are lost.
I think of the enlarged
posterior hippocampus of taxi drivers
whose words are of themselves
a point of entry, but those worded
inscriptions describe distances
like the genetic imprint of an ant
as a hot metal is poured down the heap,
leaving tiny ant legs disturbed
in their little sanctuaries.
A cloud mirrored in a painting
by John Constable without even
a view of what actually is the silt
brown Bristol Channel between England
and Wales. Why can’t I explain
the irrepressible dialectic of history
( two steps forward and one step back)
American democracy has
always reinvented itself.
The Wyoming frontier was once
stitched with Buffalo grass.
To reach the nearest city
just follow the rail line,
our permanent zone of transit--
a train, an ark--a fleeting vantage point,
slow to pass, yet still we rocked
in their wake as boats on the sea.
That one wouldn’t be able to cope
without spending at least three consecutive
days in the city was the unintended
complication of having a home
in the suburbs to which one could return.
A sovereign surveyor abruptly
ended his term looming above
a mountain of contending theories
about how our institutions
came to be inculcated in the dark
expressive waters of white supremacy.
The polis at the bottom
of our existence, the bottom
of the sea masks all civility,
relieving idlers of all
their convictions. The scapegoat
is dead in their lifetime
of some public darkness.
He may be ugly, but he is not
stupid. The moon is now a tangent,
an opacity on someone else’s
distant horizon, yet one need
not travel to Niagara Falls
to feel the impact of falling water.1
They say SCOTUS is the eye
of the storm, the branch of
government least swayed by
impressions fading into
the background, yet the obscenity
of President Trump belies all our
efforts to write or paint.
A push for a conservative
seat after R.B.G.‘s death as if
Roe v. Wade could be overturned
by some hydraulic pressure
like a gauge at a taking on the grounds,
uncomfortable room, caught like a bird.
Swedish Prime minister Olaf Palme,
inspired R.B.G. to open channels
of work force as a result of the military
industrial complex. Women began to occupy
positions of power in industry and politics.
I found out about R.B.G.’s death
while I was eating at a Mexican restaurant.
The grail of guac began to taste bland
and the chips were stale as cardboard.
Lincoln’s hand is clasping
a fasces-a leather thong that
tightly binds all thirteen rods--
one for each of the original colonies--
but there is a twist--
a bald eagle head sits atop the axe,
an American touch,
“E Pluribus Unum”,
or Out of Many, One.
A Swedish photographer once
propositioned me, saying, I was perfect
for the camera. I couldn’t be convinced
Still that interaction wasn’t a scene
or a support where something comes to pass
and it had nothing to do with fantasy.
We Swedes, on the other hand,
are more direct. Well, that’s civilization,
to disguise the elemental nature with the glamorous
socialite in a black, silk evening dress
Class consciousness is knowing what side
of the fence you’re one,
who’s there with you and are we
on the same page?
Next door the shoulders
of a house the color of yellow
bathroom tiles are half raised
as if in apology. The kids
have thrown the pool noodles
onto our lawn as well as tubs
of firecrackers, tulips, magnolia.
I was on my lunch break
from the Complaint Dept.
at Western Union when I decided
to go to the Museum
of Natural History, with its
endless interior hallways
and then I found
my friend Olivia rummaging
through a bin. She was listening
to F.D.R.’s Four Essential Freedoms
as read by James Baldwin.
Never have I heard such musical
talking, a waltz really.
Kerouac once read his novel
about Neal & Maggie Cassidy
while Steven Allen noodled
on the piano. So what’s Kerouac?
Kern being “Cairn” and “auk”
language of. Then kerr means house.
A scattering of bachelor mags
have loosened their hold like noodles
in a flat brine of city water.
The fence dog has lifted up its legs
and run into the house.
The dawn sky blushing. Crow’s “auk”
16 years with a cackle absent raven mind
all day the wind stirs up the magpie
brown carpet of leaves unweaving
at the slat fence.
At the concrete bridge
in an alcove of leaves
green thumbprints from
an unseen hand.
A wind hammer demolition job
of surf suite roofs and palms
trees imported from Florida queue
up Lumina Ave. A hand bears
A voice in the hand
is worth two in the sand,
said Feel Good Phil,
a voice of the proletariat
whose presence on the crew
of roofers stapled to present
punctuality the enigmatic origin
of the cotton kingdom
which was built by hand
out of fever, sun, water
and soil, animal energy,
human labor, and mother’s milk,
grain, flesh and cotton, pain,
hunger, of fatigue; blood,
milk, semen & shit: (John Locke
lodged no complaint against human bondage),
his whip, his gaping mouth;
A licked interface, a salt lick;
the forever poised shift
between forced bondage
and the stained foot-prints
the roofers left behind
to mark their passage--
Each word such a constituent
particle--units of labor,
money, raw materials--more
“simplified” less likely to accrete,
snag or clog somewhere in the circulation process.
Asphalt bubbles black ooze
under the crumbling bridges
of California and in the overflowing
sewage drains of Houston
and the rusted railroad tracks
of the NE corridor
Streets of the capital lined
with parking spaces, haystacks
and a slow opening of sycamores
in Metuchen, NJ toward the end
of knot weed season
A red mirage followed by a blue wave
Opposite colors mingle
from yellow to purple
like nebula where the welt
by the hot metal’s impact
blooms on the underbelly of America.
Roger Williams sought
to make head or tails
of the language spoken
by the Narganset
A brief observation of
the costumes, manners
and worship etc, a little key
may open a box wherein lies
a bunch of keys
A certain word in Cherokee
meant “I love you” and “I will bear
your children, but I won’t
give up my seat on the bus for you.”
In the farmer’s market
cherry tomatoes are sold out,
but cobs of corn are sold
just before rotting.
Half empty tour bus
passes by. I write
the Great American
tour bus epic conjuring
cities of farmers
markets with fresh bread
and sassafras tea
Fifty miles North East
of Charleston, SC where
350,000 acres of former
rice plantations were bounded
by the Ashepoo, Combhaee and Edisto
rivers it was rumored that the Lumbees
were the last descendants
of the lost Roanoke colony
now obscured by the mist
swaddled cotton fields of Robeson County.
The table of contents
of American history is a
fusillade of facts:
(The Fugitive Slave Act,
The Tuskegee experiment,
the Birmingham church bombing
& black creativity Phillis
Wheatly, The Sugar Hill Gang,
Jesse Jackson)but despite
the turnings of this
400 year gyre there’s little
evidence of an arc bending towards justice.
At the metal railing
of the bridge I vent by throwing
the peanut shells on
a passing tugboat, the memory
sticking like rough honey.
we understand not one another,
Is there a bridge