Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Screen Dump 667

Intellectualizing the late night pics of orphaned silos
you end up at a taproom sipping cosmos . . .
Chekhov's Uncle Vanya doesn't help
though Cate Blanchett gives you a second wind
and a cheatsheet on the symbolism . . .
We're all visitors here, anyway, yes? . . .
Passing through, so to speak? . . .
Isn't that part of the agreement? . . .
part of the understanding of the elements of style? . . .
the elements of the mundane? . . .
Retractions? . . . Forget it, crows have eaten the bread crumbs . . .
When was the last time you saw them? . . .
Before or after the pratfall? . . .
And now so much to discover . . .
so much to rethink . . .
The train leaving the station, passengers waving
to their delicate lives backstage,
their delicate lives . . . brief and undeniable . . .

Cate Blanchett in Uncle Vanya (2012)



Monday, October 3, 2022

Screen Dump 666

The time is past for going back.
          - A. E. Stallings

You've test-driven the tops and bottoms
weighed the pros and cons

put in for a hiatus from drifting aimlessly,
a far cry from the old days

when you were a pronoun-in-training, and
domesticity was a bargain-basement forget-me-not . . .

The boatman awaits . . .
Let's talk about your future

and the hellish commute to motherhood,
fatherhood, sisterhood, brotherhood . . .

Mourning inconclusively is a no-no . . .
Learn the lines of your face . . . Learn them well . . .

As resident cartographer of your double life,
you are within X years of enlightenment . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Sunday, October 2, 2022

Screen Dump 665

. . . when a person is capable of being in uncertainties,
mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact
and reason.
          - John Keats

You're lying in the grass
studying the azure map of the sky

comparing it to the veins
on the back of your hand

which lately have been speaking to you - in tongues -
to-and-fro, to-and-fro . . .

Perhaps you've arrived with someone else? . . .
Or, better, as someone else? . . .

The tingling ebb and flow . . .
The trials and trails? . . .

The excitement of then, yes? . . .
Aha! . . . You mean I'm excused? . . .

No one's excused . . .
A few bucks, just a few bucks

and you'll be off and running, again . . .
Sort of . . .

What brings you here? . . .
An erection year? . . .

Filled with unspoken conversations? . . . And negative space? . . .
Let us not forget the place of negative space . . .

And negative capability, for that matter,
which, for your erotification, offers an alternative . . .

To what? . . .
Your dreams of the Old Country, and its accoutered models . . .

Be nimble . . . Be quick . . . Jump over the dowsing stick . . .
yes I said yes I will Yes . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Saturday, October 1, 2022

Screen Dump 664

But what if you're not sprung from sleep by the light? . . .
To gurgle along? . . .
Snatching a banana or an orange
from one of the many overhangs? . . .
Gabbing up locals? . . .
Have you finished the book you've been reading? . . .
The one you couldn't put down? . . .
I saw you at the supermarket in the canned soup aisle
comparing sodium levels with a metronome . . .
You were so engrossed I didn't stop . . .
The word on the street is that you're up most nights,
pacing, in your new white kicks . . .
Disgruntlement is a no-no, you know . . .
At least here in the center ring . . .
Your white Tesla Model XYZ sits in the parking lot
of the latest development, assuming a different persona
for every Tom, Dick, and Jane . . .
And if he (or she) can do it, so can you . . .
It's time to bee-line for the rest room
where an open mic of horn rims is about to begin -
a Rimbaudesque excitement filling the water closet,
the sand waiting to smooth wrinkled souls . . .
You've seen those enjambments before, you know . . .
But so what? . . .
At least there's comfort in the familiar . . .
In the tried and true . . .
And with the clock ticking down it's bishop to queen four . . .
White on right, right? . . .
Yes, start whistling now . . .
It will carry you through the atelier
resurrecting that night when inappropriateness held sway . . .
It was indeed fun, wasn't it? . . .
So what if the constable paid us a visit? . . .
Let the swags move to the center, I say . . .
They'll soon be off the radar
traveling east along a bumpy two-lane
trying to absorb the changes that have occurred
in the four months they've been unlooped . . .
And don't forget to keep your eyes peeled
as you weather the ramifications of your latest tailspin . . .
Keep a pad and pencil handy, too,
next to your bed, even,
for those late-night archetypes
that are sure to emanate from your collective unconscious . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Friday, September 30, 2022

Screen Dump 663

Emails bottleneck at the back door
dangling profiles and memory hooks and terms of endearment
setting off smoke detectors
with lines like You are always on my mind
shifting irresistibly in Aeron ergonomic chairs
permanent at MoMA
the meter clicking off degrees of freedom
between you and whomever
your knees weak from the algorithm
you've been tweaking from the get-go . . .
Everyone has flirt options
especially when cloud banks dictate seasonal rates
and we riffle through closets for long sleeves
only to default to comforters . . .
The plot kindles into you and your root cellar . . .
Do we have enough food and drink to weather the weekend? . . .
To weather the sparring? . . .
Bassoonists insinuate themselves into your dreams
retreating into anonymity when you look behind the curtain
and find your handwritten notes . . .
The drama of reading not unlike puppetry . . .
Pulling the strings, yes? . . .
Where will you be on the night of October . . . something? . . .
The loneliness of the high seas
with Ishmael quoting The Book of Job:
I only am escaped alone to tell thee . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Thursday, September 29, 2022

Screen Dump 662

Another late night of books
and you slip on a stanza
spilling the words you've been squirreling away
for your next encounter . . .
The assignment calls for recommendations
that can be folded into your disembodied days
of garden salads, protein shakes, vitamins . . .
Do you have the wherewithal
to recommence your life
as artifact, clattering along rooftops,
peering into windows,
scrambling to hide emails under the rug? . . .
There are benefits, of course,
as spelled out in the attached addenda . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Screen Dump 661

You're juggling impressions, trying to make it home
before someone asks you a question . . .
Even the guy in the 7-Eleven looked ready . . .
And where were you when you caved? . . .
You resolve to study epistemology,
especially now with the neighborhood Velcro'd
to detractions . . . Ladies and gentlemen,
boys and girls, children of all ages . . .
Yes? . . . Was there a message in that? . . .
Something we could latch onto perhaps? . . .
To parlay into a vacaciones during the null center
of the holiday stream when most wade in
and are carried along by current events . . .
I suppose you could take the alternative out for a spin . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Screen Dump 660

You find sentences with missing words,
words with missing letters . . .
Someone texts you about a field
of orphaned puppets . . .
A chamber group plays the same piece
over and over
overlaying the day
with misty undertones . . .
Extras appear at opportune times
knowing this too is simply a run-through
for the real deal
which you've heard is being touted
at local landfills . . .
Instead you decide to fill in the blanks
fill in the gaps
with what you think they meant
with what you think they want to hear . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Monday, September 26, 2022

Screen Dump 659

Backing into a parking space, half-smiling, earwormed,
the dime-store alchemy with its godless sneer
playing hide-and-seek in the darkening, overgrown garden,
you decide to break the mold, breathe,
the small script saying something about sincerity . . .
Intimidations aside, it couldn't have been avoided . . .
Of course, once you stepped into the ring
the bell sounded the beginning of the round
and before you knew it, you were rocked by a left
glancing above the timekeeper's toupee
for a clue to the full catastrophe: the ride over,
backpacks unpacked and returned to the back room . . .
This time there wasn't time to rehearse . . .
This time the experience was framed, matted,
and on the street in a wrinkle to be picked over
by disinterested parties who scattered
the unwanted, while, all the while,
the mimeograph machine, posing new questions,
awaiting the verdict, commiserated with sleight-of-handers,
who, ill-advised, convinced you
that this was not what you had paid for . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Sunday, September 25, 2022

Screen Dump 658

And you're swept into the arbitrary . . .
Those moments when the rational kicks in
creating the illusion of symbiosis
and you feel the connection, and think, This is good . . .
Walking fast . . . texting . . . you know the deal . . .
Your world filling with texture maps
and normals and shadowy displacements
fully rendered and baked . . .
I'm not convinced about that last part
especially now with things heating up:
He said . . . She said . . . I said . . . You said . . .
It calls for robustness with a narrow margin of error . . .
Tarjay had a special on those not too long ago . . .
We could all use a break
from the ins and outs, the ups and downs . . .
You mean trancelike? . . .
Yeah, that'll work, as well as anything . . .

Antonio Palmrini


Saturday, September 24, 2022

Screen Dump 657

Something about a porcelain figurine
followed by an intimate encounter
time shape-shifting, catching you mid-stride,
losses lost in the day-to-day . . .
Don't waste your time trying to make sense of it,
the step-by-steps were tossed out with the trash
along with the Revell Zeppelin
from the cracks of your childhood . . .
Your membership has been cancelled . . .
(The updates were worthless anyway . . . )
Go ahead, enjoy Miles's linking of the then
to the sanctity of the conundrum
far from the madding boring shit
as he called it . . .
The year will soon flip . . .
Leftovers announced . . .
Time to break out the resolve
to sort things out and again take on Sheila Heti's
How Should A Person Be? . . .
despite the comfort of entanglements new and old . . .
Engage the throttle . . .
Not sure to where, but that's part of it - the good part . . .
By morning, old everything . . .
Your head channel-surfing for ornaments . . .
'Tis the season, yes? . . .
Cassandra Wilson whispering Time After Time . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Friday, September 23, 2022

Screen Dump 656

Your hesitation speaks volumes which few if any will read . . .
It smacks of plagiarism, but don't we all? . . .
I could thumb through a few pages, if you like . . .
A votive candle, perhaps . . .
Sparks have been known to fly . . .
A past life here, a passed life there . . .
You yourself told many it was a superlative time:
a time of innocence, a time of confidences . . .
Turn that thing down, will you please? . . .
It's interfering with my tram of thought . . .
And you thought what? . . .
That we would forego the preface? . . .
Jump up behind me . . .
I've decided to pay up front, and make-do with whatever . . .
Tell the others to meet us at the restaurant-in-the-round:
they're all that's left you . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Screen Dump 655

Especially now, with the cat out of the bag
the holiday season ready to pounce
and your latest tête-à-tête simmering in the atelier . . .
Listening to covers while journaling
will buy you the anonymity
you've convinced yourself you need
and enable you to resume your place in line . . .
The Persian rug in the room is gone
as are the white beaches
with the beached iMacs . . .
You've been fortunate enough
to live the life of make-believe,
and get away with it, for the most part . . .
I'm surprised you were never called
to the front office, that strange transfer station
populated with mannequins
of questionable character . . .
If only you had described the beauty
of the algorithm you wrote that tied it all together,
you could have redeemed the coupons
downloaded in anticipation . . .
That would have been quite a coup . . .
Too late now . . . Too late for most things . . .
Enter your username and password
then click the box for Remember Me . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Screen Dump 654

You fail to anticipate the superfluousness
of the run-through
and run home to check your notes,
channel-surfing for answers to the 20 questions
choking the queue . . .
Your kitty kindles loneliness
then texts the stationmaster
who reassures all that there are still only three colors
and a partridge in a pear tree . . .
Someone arrives on the 11:05
and begins dismantling the prose
cluttering the entryway . . .
Who was that masked man/woman? . . .
Have you checked in with your sponsors? . . .
Perhaps they can spare the change
although it's unlikely that the 12-tone mini-u-et
will carry the burden of absence . . .
The viewers are sure to expect more . . .
You know this despite the fatigue
pestering your keyboard . . .
It's time to come clean . . .
Not a big deal . . . Never was . . . Never will be . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Screen Dump 653

And quieting dreams in the sleepers in darkness.
          - Wallace Stevens

Without the enjambment at the weary end
you'd be lost forever to the moon and its quieting dreams . . .
The cat mrkgnaoing, Move on! . . . Move on! . . .
Your pacing solves nothing . . .
Funny, you know this as well as I . . .
Yes, the scholarship is evident, but misplaced . . .
Your announcement with the shades drawn against the traffic light
opens a door and your eyes to the darkness
and back to an earlier season of silence -
the linguistic equivalent of hammering nails into flesh . . .
When was this, anyway? . . .
Yesterday? . . . Last year? . . . Five years ago? . . .
I don't remember . . . Do you? . . .
The tureen quivers with nonsense syllables . . .
The evidentiary moment remains . . .
Your car idling . . .
The snow, too, advancing . . .
Of course, the video shows that there's more in the final paragraph
than referenced in your text . . .
The Art of Omission, yes? . . .
So little time left out of tempo with footnotes no less . . .

Antonio Palmerini



Monday, September 19, 2022

Screen Dump 652

You skim the dog-eared blue-lined notebooks
lying next to your bed
for new words, different words
to ease the ache of repetition,
the ache of the old . . .
The hour arrives at the wrong address,
laughs, lingers, and you forget the difference
between high and low drama
the loss surfacing after closing
as if it mattered to the rent-a-magician
left waiting in the Green Room,
wand in hand, as generators,
prepped to weather the nor'easter,
exit through the gift shop . . .
Again, the rehearsals prove futile,
frustrating, the French horn player
running the changes
through their backward-facing bell
making it new, until, in an eyeblink,
it was old, boredom seeping in, abracadabra! -
the furniture, the cat, and you, gone . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Screen Dump 651

You see her in a mirror, in a wedding gown . . .
That scene from Seven Minutes in Heaven
with the trains running late
but they're going ahead with the auditions anyway
and ordering takeout . . .
When you least expect it, she calls
for a costume change
and it turns out to be good . . .
Tweaking the scene, too . . . Yes, this could be it . . .
And then you hear her begin: Evidently, . . .
Regarding the ending? . . .
Let me get through my fish and chips first . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Saturday, September 17, 2022

Screen Dump 650

You seek solace in idioms and run smack into a blank stare . . . 
The exigencies of Helvetica provide little comfort
as you stalk the caveats of typographers
and the roadworthiness of long distance scribblers
who are here for the free ride . . .
A typeface with élan will spring you from ubiquity
and into the world of graphic comics
where a curve is a curve at your beck and call
and the moon ready willing and able to deliver the latest
in fashionable footwear . . .
And you thought perhaps this was make-believe? . . .
A pretend-pudding if you will? . . .
Buying into that sort of thing could spell onomatopoeia 
and a trip to the mall rivaling Rimbaud's A Season in Hell . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Friday, September 16, 2022

Screen Dump 649

Demonstrating the proper form for free weights
on the flimsy scaffold in the winkling of a storm
then the absence
the break in the purpling days and nights
the nights rife with howling
time witnessing the palpability
sauntering through the early morning railroad flat . . .
Perhaps you are still overwhelmed
despite the smothering insistence of imposters
who keep arguing
You think it, you did it . . .
One thing leading to another . . . then another . . . then another
the Rothkovian blur between love and hate rubbed raw . . .
the principal inducted into the minority of givers . . .
How sweet it is? . . .
Your first thoughts? . . . The accoutrements of passion? . . .
All part of the con hung out to dry
within view of the nosebleed section in this miniseries . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Thursday, September 15, 2022

Screen Dump 648

And now you're inventorying survival gear
as if your past lives left instructions on the answering machine
rekindling memories that years ago
provided you solace for something or other,
for what, exactly, I don't remember . . .
The clock's face again pokes in,
disregarding your previous comment
awash with remorse . . .
You're trying to reconstitute yourself as another -
another with tickets to a double-header . . .
Nothing better to short-circuit unhappiness . . .
Not unlike us, yes? . . .
Off-hours, you choreograph untried virtues,
tweaking missteps to captivate . . .
You backpedal . . . Indifferent . . .
How will you write this up in the final hour? -
the final hour, when distracted by claims of melodies,
you will be assisted by members of the alphabet
selected at random from drive-bys . . .
You'd think by now they'd be as encumbered as you and I . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Screen Dump 647

The rewrite, darker than riddles, upends you . . .
Is this how it is? . . .
You return to your room
and the tented books
and your search for a common theme
in the words of the dead . . .
The voices continue . . .
The feeling of motionlessness . . . again . . .
Did you think the misunderstanding had settled
after that morning in the coffee shop
when you asked about the book? . . .
Turn the page . . .
Read . . . Please! . . .
Go through the motions . . .
The chat was inevitable . . . Insignificant . . .
The font a diversion
from long ago summer evenings . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Screen Dump 646

The whole thing enigmatic . . .
You can hardly keep up
with inquiries
with instructions for dancing
so you shift down, and begin recalibrating . . .
Their shoulders seduce
their angularities the kind that sell . . .
so close yet so far . . .
Vendors arrive, and fishmongers . . .
Wine glasses mingle . . .
Their bangles speak of other worlds
spiritual melodrama
sustained incongruence . . .
And now they're crossing the street
and someone's asking . . . something? . . .
Sit down on this bench, please, take a break,
rewind the tape . . .
Meanwhile, This Is Us streams in the park . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Monday, September 12, 2022

Screen Dump 645

A voice in heels welcomes you with the answer . . .
The je ne sais quoi of close encounters, yes? . . .
Driving through a drive-thru, you tick off ways to improve
now that you've pruned tricks from your bag
under the watchful eye of neighborhood watchers . . .
You can't wait to unpack the layers,
especially the earworms of vacant storefronts
featured in mock-u-mentaries . . .
You cameo as a walk-on in a live model drawing class
thinking This is where I will find myself . . .
The odds appear in an email after months on YouTube . . .
Why are the plates at the Culinary Institute so large? . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Sunday, September 11, 2022

Screen Dump 644

I'd be at a loss to put my finger on the precise moment . . .

In those days trust was an add-on
not unlike cargo pockets on your camo shorts . . .

I'm not saying you don't aim to please
but doesn't it seem as if
Meta has become a retreat into itself? . . .
In Walter's day, for example, we switched on You Are There
and popped Orville's corn . . .

Options trumped options
which stymied some
mostly those who were on the cusp
of an aha moment . . .

3-In-Oil was touted as a multipurpose lubricant
ideally suited to multitaskers and pornographers
who featured PB&Js, restraints, and body cams . . .

Nothing was said about seductiveness . . .
I guess it was assumed . . .

What better way to spark the mood? . . .
To fix the mix? . . .
I'm sorry . . . What was your question again? . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Saturday, September 10, 2022

Screen Dump 643

So easy to misplace the definite article
in the folds of flesh that titillate you
juggling five balls
while trying to answer 20 questions
from this morning's inbox . . .
Enchanted by the movement
of the moment
the slightest twitch pinning you
to a recurring dream
dressed in the cloth of summer,
it begins . . .
Your online backordered item has finally shipped . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Friday, September 9, 2022

Screen Dump 642

The bathroom scale smirks your optical delusion
with a fright wig
waiting for long-overdue texts
from the not-so-dearly departed in-country
where someone will be charged
for impersonating you on YouTube . . .
You segue to those times
when car exteriors matched interiors
and you practiced eroticies
in a green van with green seats and green mats
dialing in Rockaday Johnnies
with a cigarette lighter that burned a hole
in your costume du jour minus one . . .
Your epicenter was dragged off-pointe
by a ballet dancer in First Position
sitting in an end-groove
through a Victoria's Secret Crayola Release
with too much to expect too soon
from streetballers wowing courtside
while Dylan roamed backstories:
I lived by the window / As he talked to himself . . .





Thursday, September 8, 2022

This amazing young woman who brings much joy to my world turns 33 today. I wrote this poem for her 24 years ago:

My Daughter Dances to Strauss's Annen Polka

          for Tara

The gauziness and smiles are as soft-edged
and wonderful as a Degas. Around me,

shadows on lawn chairs consult programs;
an early summer breeze flutters leaves

beneath a star-laced, darkened sky.
My daughter dances to Strauss's Annen Polka,

floating with the wide-eyed innocence
of a nine-year-old who has yet to glimpse

the world of the backstage. Look at her
taut sureness, the steadiness and poise,

the promise of her young movements
as they transcend choreography with a joy that,

one can only hope, will buoy her through a life
filled with huge pockets of uncertainty.



Friday, September 2, 2022

Screen Dump 641

You jog to the kiosk and reopen the book
to the chapter that keeps rewriting itself . . .
You share your identity with thieves
especially when separating out
the transformationals bundled with the software
partying in a two-family on borrowed time
after which you realize
one has to have been there . . .
The time of the year, that is
stretching out as it does,
improvisationally,
letting the images populate, walk and talk,
guided by a simple motif . . .
nothing too strenuous
nothing too contrapuntal . . .
something to carry you into a wooded glen
where you can chill,
surrounded by fascinating incidentals . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Screen Dump 640

A vast someone reappears
with a memorandum of understanding . . .
You dawdle, hem, haw,
find too much air in the sonatina
soundtracking the flights of dirigibles . . .
The rudimentariness of the arrangement
a coherent jumble
the laws of attraction misconstrued
which you insist was OK . . .
What were you thinking? . . .
You make a mad dash for your new hairstyle,
your new look, your new persona,
jotting notes in the margins
translating some obscure writer as if
the time is opportune to think about what
you thought you had wasted, I mean, wanted . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Monday, August 29, 2022

Screen Dump 639

You audition for the part
parading your naiveté as freshly-laundered linen sheets
the bed made with dreams of first times
around the block alien -
all perspective
all logic
out the window . . .
Your 180? . . . Inconsistent
and undeniably out of character
but then, perhaps not . . .
The recipient? . . . Conveniently guilt-ridden
(Would do me in!) - 
a placeholder
a stand-in
a once and future insignificant other
the security camera's fuzzy evidence a TKO in the first round . . .
And the disruption? . . .
Appalling . . . Nothing to be done . . .
You nailed it . . . The part . . .
The opening curtain, though, snagging . . .
The audience, hushed, now whispering,
clearing their throats, shuffling their feet . . .
The unwritten novel of a passion
crumbling, falling away,
replaced, most assuredly, by dry-eyed re-entry
into the world of the living . . .


Sunday, August 28, 2022

Screen Dump 638

That you disfavored substitution was well known
to those who practiced brevity
especially now in light of the upheavals in drag and drop . . .
The joking was endless . . .
The trip to the dump . . . a capstone . . .
Word got out and began changing the meaning
of utterances dragged in off the street
as stand-ins for what, no one knew
which was OK since it was something close to music . . .
You complained about a terrible sandwich
carrying on about the avalanche of sandwich boards . . .
a throwback to tamer times . . . with no takeaways . . .

Antonio Palmerini


Saturday, August 20, 2022

Screen Dump 637

You grow invisible hands
worrying the semantics of the morning coffee . . .
wondering whether the alphabet
can handle it . . . invisible hands
shadow-boxing invisible puppets
brought in to engage misfits . . .
then the interruption . . .
the deliberate nonlinearity
of the outer Cape
with its math and models . . .
Do the data fit the model? . . .
Welcoming interruptions . . .
Welcoming the next session's green . . .
Odysseyites mount this hand-me-down thing
on the logic of long haulers
as if Ubers have always been part
of the inner circle . . .
But what about those in the wings? . . .
What are they waiting for? . . .
At the museum you wait for an OK
but the security guards
are more interested in time-off
in the Cy Twombly room . . .
time-off before punching out
of the Cy Twombly room . . .
Did Cy ever take time off
staring at the empty canvas
for three or more hours
before knocking off another masterpiece
in 15 minutes? . . .
The audio-guide says his brain
was crammed with images awaiting release . . .

Emily Hall by Mungo Campbell (click for interview)



Thursday, August 18, 2022

Screen Dump 636

Keep going . . . with the words, I mean . . .
the paper spree boggling the metric
with autofictions-a-plenty
into the facades of north Jersey . . .
Climbing into back seats
searching for the person you were
or the person you wanted to be
as cameras spoke in foreign tongues
with subtitles thrown in
randomly for effect . . .
Knowing what and how much
challenged the cutting room floor
not unlike two roads
diverging in the yellow wood
with blue lip gloss
for the final scene
cookie cutters and all
while a voice from the back room
chimed in with something
about an Aqua Velva Man . . .
You prided yourself a documentarian
but lost altitude between the lines
tailspinning into the chaos
of single room occupancies . . .
Some of it admittedly easy . . .
And here's Ashbery, for example,
late at night in his small,
unprepossessing study
on the ninth floor
of a rental apartment in Chelsea
grading his poems A B C . . .
Imagine the synaptic activity . . .
Code breakers as oddsmakers
striking poses in stretch limos
called in when the air
was sucked out
and stand-ins began carrying on
about staying after school
for makeup tests making out in cubbies
to that summer's theme escaping
in colorful hot air balloons . . .

Felicity Jones in The Aeronauts (2019)


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Screen Dump 635

Then you would become a sous-chef
slathered with olive oil for the full catastrophe,
keenly aware of the archival method
of posthumous publication
especially when the sommelier
training for the Leadville 100
would take you to the wine cellar
for a peek at his training log . . .
Chaos under the guise of calm reigned . . .
You would reciprocate whenever possible
with quick-study dioramas
and modifications to the soaking tub . . .
The tenor of those days was typically dictated
by the nature of the homework assignment
which as contracted had to be completed
after assuming three of the five yoga poses
emailed in the wee hours . . .
That confusion was always bright
in the hillocks surrounding the lap pool
mattered little . . .



Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Screen Dump 634

The daily patdown . . . a costume change
with earbuds, boomboxes tagged and repurposed . . .
Nymphets frolic in the park's pool . . .
Investigative journalists look on for miscues . . .
At Stewart's a septuagenarian, commenting
on your aesthetics, asks about online courses . . .
a cosmic unraveling, harkening back
to that winter afternoon at the manhole
when filled with footnotes
you opted out with a trustee . . .
After shedding his false-face he began pacing
the air . . . you went off-script stammering
eulogies to snowstorms, making an hallucinatory exit
while morphing into a looking glass with fruits
far off and geometric . . .



Monday, August 15, 2022

Screen Dump 633

I can't go on, I'll go on . . .
          - Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable

You begin the day with edits . . .
The incredulous insist on separate checks
tweaking their counterproposal . . .
You know you can do this, yes? . . .
The tomato plants look surprisingly well . . .
The philosophical watering no doubt . . .
The dryer is beginning to react
to the way you crank out words
and feel sure about the bespoked . . .
Walking through the undergrowth
on the way to the firewood lean-to
in dress shoes is reminiscent
of your college biology field trip
when the professor commented
on your fortitude . . . and more . . .
Then the dream of a woman with two kids
running in the passing lane on a highway
and arriving with time to spare . . .
For what, you ask? . . . This happened
and it happened while you were away
only to resurface with black-capped
chickadees and goldfinches
at the tube feeder with two cats
repositioning themselves
and deer looking on from the woods . . .
How many acts in your next one? . . .
Will there be a costume change?
a script change? Of course there's never
enough time to go on with the makeover . . .
A pint sounds like a plan . . .

Craig McDean


Monday, August 8, 2022

Screen Dump 632

And here despite the opening credits
is the turnkey scene
with all gathered 'round for takeaways
from the beloved soon-to-expire . . .
takeaways to clutter the walkups
of your immunocompromised self . . .
Cue up The Last Station
for Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy's spin
on what matters
when it all begins grinding to a halt
with a drizzle of rice vinegar . . .
Turn the page, please . . .
A bear walks into a bar on a dog day afternoon . . .
Again, please . . .
Life out of balance . . .
OK, field notes wither you . . .
You'd think they were the only ones . . .
How about a pop-up pastoral with odysseyites
waist-deep in knee-jerk conceits
dropping PEZ with the intensity of slam dunks
while sampling craft beer à la carte? . . .
You're right to worry the absence of joviality . . .
The countdown, then . . .
How about that? . . .
Is that enough? . . .
Is it enough to parse
the short attention span of Youtubers
while your double traces your moment(um)
sitting at home on a yoga mat
fingering designer beads
the requisite number of times? . . .
The book escapes your late night hands
and rewrites itself to mirror the dystopia du jour . . .
Time is running out . . .
And not because of nothing either . . .

Mirjana Grasser





  

Monday, July 25, 2022

Psychology 101 : Adrift in Theory

(reposted from Friday, May 27, 2011)

Wolfgang Kohler's ape, Sultan, snaps together two sticks
and snags a banana from the ceiling of his cage.

The hole in Wolfgang's theory
is greater than the sum of its parts.

Pavlov's dogs drool to the tintinnabulation of bells,
happy they won't be rocketed into space for at least 40 years.

Fred Skinner's pigeons play ping pong for food pellets during the day,
launder money at night in the school's photography lab.

John B. Watson, Behaviorism's father, beds down his lab assistant
and is given his walking papers. He stumbles into advertising

and rises to VP writing copy for cigarette ads.
One of his grad students, Mary Cover Jones, counterconditions

four-year-old Peter's fear of animals using scoops of ice cream.
She sells her idea to Ben and Jerry.

Sigmund Freud smokes cigars, collects Egyptian artifacts,
wears out 306 couches, bifurcates humans

into those who wish for a penis and those who fear for their penis.
He sees no happy medium.

Clifford Beers jumps out of a fourth floor window into a mud puddle,
foiling his suicide attempt and priming his pen for a "Mind That Found Itself,"

while Gustav Theodor Fechner's opus "The Mental Life Of Flowers"
is too much too soon.

Harry Harlow tricks rhesus monkeys into falling in love with stuffed animals.
They hide his booze, sending him over the edge of a visual cliff.

Alfred Binet puts together a test to measure intelligence.
He should have stuck to law.

Hermann Rorschach spills a bottle of ink and markets his accident
for countless James Joyce wannabes.

A stick of dynamite drives a crowbar through Phineas Gage's frontal lobe.
He becomes a sideshow sensation

and prefrontal lobotomies become the therapy of choice
for society's square pegs.

Ugo Cerletti and Lucio Bini compare notes with Mary Shelley,
use an electric current to induce epileptic seizures in patients with mental illness.

Erik Erikson studies art, comes to America as an art therapist,
and promptly loses his identity.

Philippe Pinel unchains the insane at La Salpetriere;
they join SAG, and get bit parts in J. L. Moreno's psychodrama, "King of Hearts."

R. D. Laing maintains that the world, not people, is mad,
drops acid with patients, dies of a heart attack while playing tennis in Saint Tropez.

Tommy Szasz argues that mental illness is a destructive social construct, a myth
and nothing more (or less) than “problems in living.”

Carl Jung has a midlife crisis and explores the occult; 
Alfred Adler strives for superiority; Abraham Maslow actualizes

himself in full view; Tom Harris assures us we're OK.
The sixty-minute hour turns out to be fifty-minutes long.

Philippe Pinel unchains the insane at La Salpetriere


Sunday, July 24, 2022

Screen Dump 631

Met a little boy named Billy Joe
And then I almost lost my mind . . .
          The Shirelles, Mama Said

Again, you are credited with holding things together . . .
Nightmarish, yes? . . .
The heat loosening the jaw . . .
Underwriters squawking about clowns
in huge blue suede shoes
doing drive-bys on knee scooters
soundtracked by The Shirelles' Mama Said
then slow-dancing to Dedicated To The One I Love . . .
The chemo gushes through your skinbag . . .
And now you're demanding what? . . . a recount? . . .
Taking stock of your hits and misses? . . .
A tad late, yes? . . .
Where have you been? . . .
Why the weathered hollow? . . .
The underestimation? . . .
The overestimation? . . .
The planting of trees? . . .
Theoretical, yes, but still the missing pieces . . .
I mean you've got this jabbering extra
who in the late innings is demanding a recount? . . .
But didn't you expect this would happen? . . .
I guess not . . . and that could be a good thing . . .
Clutching a ripped-out portrait of you
from five decades ago
leaning into a cue stick
for the eight ball in the corner pocket . . .
But the game was played out
and pocket protectors lined up to rue the day
you left with a Hi Ho Silver Away . . .
More about that later . . .
But now allow me to channel surf
with the rest of the plaintiffs slathered in grease . . .

Olympic Goldmedalist Gertrude Ederle (1926)

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Screen Dump 630

Tracking the commotion of the birds . . .
I'll give you that . . .
Reconnecting with the airspace
jammed with hearsay
as if we didn't know . . .
I'm sorry about the ramifications . . .
It was sudden . . . and there . . .
the misty offset was to be expected I guess . . .
Playing . . . well, not really playing
but you know . . . the outer limits
and the notion that once there, always . . .
Diverting the next installment
and, I guess we can at least try . . .
If nothing else, being forced to make-do
with the stuff at hand
while those on board suffused with energy
are having a helluva good time . . .
The hidden drama as such . . .
I meant to deliver the renderings
in time for the mounting . . .
the one you've been hampering about . . .
Oh, I suppose . . .

Eva Tokarchuk


Sunday, July 3, 2022

Screen Dump 629

Your paper-thin past resurfaced last night
regurgitating its conceit
with little imagination and little hope
for a paid leave which though still in the works
seems iffy enough to release the logjam
and fire up the drone . . .
You delivered lines from a backroom whodunit
so as not to get sucked into an obsession
before disappearing
into an adjacent performance space
where a misanthrope walked on eggs . . .
breaking many and leaving several wide-eyes
in a quandary . . . Remnants of your past life
lie  strewn here and there
as if holding forth in some makeshift vestibule
which in retrospect is a fitting tribute
to endplayers of all persuasions . . .
Your future is at risk of being grayed out . . .

Eva Tokarchuk


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Screen Dump 628

Little ones, no less, notwithstanding, trip over the hill
to grandmother's . . . walk backwards, hands down . . . as told . . .
You appear, seemingly out of nowhere, accoutered in code
shouting objectification, objectification . . .
willing to own your obscurantism . . .
It was this way on this year's last day . . .
Several vaxed and boostered called in with COVID . . .
The beaches filled with bodies . . .
Fans outnumbered readers at the double header . . .
Someone with little brouhaha jumped into a sea of words . . .
You shared an app that displayed the names of the high peaks . . .
The downpour slammed, quashing the trailhead . . .
Then breakfast at a greasy spoon . . . with you totally immersed
in The Modern Rustic . . .

Jarek Kubicki


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Screen Dump 627

And somebody spoke and I went into a dream.
          - The Beatles, A Day in the Life

You plant bonsai off-center . . . count crows . . .
The deep woods tease . . .
endless . . . especially with the notion of furthermore
the road humming along with distant inklings
as if you didn't need much fossil fuel
to convince the engines of thought to reconsider . . .
There was nothing in the script about Speak, Memory . . .
so they pampered Lolita
and you sort of turned off your brain
and enjoyed the ride
eschewing first-hand accounts of survival in extreme conditions . . .
the whole autofiction thing: throwing open windows and doors
bypassing the talk-talk of what happened
going directly to the inside of what happened . . .
The string said 10 dimensions
but there were no buybacks at checkout . . .
This is you following the dotted line to your past life . . .



Sunday, June 5, 2022

A Day in the Lives

You think about the day's heat . . .
how you had considered
ordering in again
from the newish sandwich shop in the neighborhood . . .
how you made the decision to leave your apartment
get some fresh air
walk to this restaurant
get away from the poem you've been troubling over
the apprehension of confronting the empty page
the excitement of the writing once begun
of crafting a poem out of nothing-at-all
as if an act of prestidigitation . . .
pulling words out of a hat
massaging them, playing with them, pushing them around,
shaping them into different, sometimes odd,
unconventional, but magical pieces.
The walk works . . . you feel surprisingly refreshed.
It seems a perfect day.

~

The sommelier uncorking your bottle of red
is troubled by a feeling of anxiety.
He’s been thinking about his ex
whom he hasn't seen in months.
He woke this morning thinking about him . . .
thinking about the confused feelings he still has.
He's doing his best to perform his duties
present the bottle
uncork it
place the cork on the table
pour a taste into a stemmed glass
making sure to twist and lift the bottle ever so slightly
to eliminate drips and end the pour
step back and await your call.
His white shirt is inconspicuously immaculate
as are his black trousers.
He's been a sommelier at this three-star restaurant for three years.
He enjoys it.
He enjoys the respectability of being a master sommelier . . .
the years spent honing his expertise.
He sees that there are other tables awaiting him.
His mind flits about.
He had considered calling out of work
but was struck by a sense of loyalty.
Loyalty didn't seem too lofty for what he was feeling
so despite the muggy, withering heat 
he came to work
hoping it would derail his obsessing.

~

The two women at the next table are regulars.
They are good friends.
One of them lost her husband to cancer a few months ago.
She has mornings when she doesn't want to get out of bed.
Her friend suggested grief counseling.
She went to a few sessions but they didn’t seem to help
so she stopped going.
She is thankful for her friend.
She enjoys her company
and the times they spend together.
At this restaurant, for example.
It's one of their favorites.
They chat with the sommelier.
The chef will soon join them.

~

The chef is on the phone with his wife.
She’s telling him that their son has been arrested for a DUI.
On top of that he mouthed off to the officers
so they cuffed him and took him to the station.
The chef and his wife are at wit’s end.
In the past year their son dropped out of college.
They're pretty sure he’s doing drugs.
He's become indifferent.
He doesn’t seem to care about anything but getting high.
He’s become increasingly disrespectful.
He was seeing a girl but she hasn’t been around.
He says he’s going to get a job and move out,
get his own apartment.
He can’t stand living there anymore.
He mocks them when they suggest that he needs help
that he should see a counselor or therapist.
Someone to talk to.

~

Elsewhere, the sommelier’s ex is driving an SUV.
Three friends are with him.
They have just enjoyed dinner at a restaurant
and are excited about tomorrow’s round of golf.
Last week he received a recall notice
about a potential hazard with the SUV’s tie rods.
He made an appointment for next week
to have the them replaced.
In about one hour, on a hill, the SUV’s tie rod will snap.
The SUV will crash through the guardrail,
flip onto its side, careen down an embankment into a river.
Everyone will be killed.