Ron Silliman

from Ketjak2: Caravan of Affect

for Colin & Jesse

Papermint petty. Piano clusters. Danto’s Comedy: philosophy becomes art criticism (Mary Boone assigns value). Please send please very much. All the world’s a mall, Jamal, and we are but shoppers searching for an angry fix at dawn, that release of anxiety we just know the next purchase will bring (register’s ring releases endorphins). The Cessna’s propellers, its song. An old man with a gentle face, vertical lines over his shrunken upper lip, wears a white hat with a narrow brim. What do you mean, justify margins? The good shape lollipop. Putting my shoes on last, then standing dressed. Microarchitecture. It must nestle itself everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere. Even bracketed, deconstructive terminology is always already jargon. This is or is not an object. “You want to buy rubles?” she asked, mere child on the elevator. Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. Arkadii’s industrial-strength slingshot, just for the gray-winged ravens the size of cats. Blood Thursday. Having seen a revolution and two world wars, the old woman’s eyes were drained of emotion. A musical composition is what the mind immediately reconstructs of the experience from the score or while listening, and by memory the whole effect of the experience, an intellectually reconstituted esthetic consistency, which may differ in almost every way from the composer’s intentions, and which may be supplemented by related and in many cases unrelated events that occur externally to the reading or performance, or by imagination or reverie while listening or remembering. Was that Quine? Kill what you eat. The restaurant was open but had run out of food. A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. The wine had come from the Little Birch Tree, the hard currency shop. Snow is remarkable to one not accustomed to it. When you took out photos of a friend, a leading avant-garde theater director who models his looks after Jim Morrison and his lifestyle after Fassbinder, Hocquard and DeLuy leaned forward while Barrett squeezed back up into the corner (all this in a bedroom) trying to get distance sufficient to take a photograph. What else does the history of ideas prove than that intellectual production changes in character in proportion as material production is changed? One thing I’ve learned is how to use this notebook. A sign within the diesel’s whine. Bowling Green is our own Siberia. The acoustics of emotion. I proceed through the page like a swimmer, just below the surface. To view the whole bay from the porch was not the point but to stand there, mineral water in hand, perceiving oneself in relation to all visible lives each in the midst of a personal navigation, so that this interlude was itself a form of carrying forward, was what it meant. Much like the pine ride. This is logic. Artificial waterfall over the sculpted rocks between these two hotel towers is listed on the lobby map as Water Mall. Piss smell of eggs. Exhausted by the long night of dreaming. Revolving door! No bad disks. The gentle knocking of a sock filled with sand on my forehead. Shoes, hoes. How will I know when I make a mistake? The audience stalks not only the speaker during the question-and-answer period (visible target) but one another as well. Just the way I wrote when I was twelve years old. Paint brush with bristles cut on a slant. Garbage barge at the bridge. A priest incorrect on gospel music is an erroneous monk. Each term bares its purpose. This is a paragraph and you’re not. Throb in the wrist. Meet my bid box. Reduplication, extension, modification, addition: the form itself is a model of the city. Was ist ein Satz? Earth science. Ears are arrows, gyros, compass — I think it’s that way. Gives names to his typewriter, car, chairs. I live to see Nelson Mandela with my own eyes, a tall, frail figure at the center of this rally of 60,000. The first goal was to separate workers from the means of production — the land. After dark two women sit alone in the Chinese diner in the only chairs not turned over onto tables, each holding her legs pulled up, knee to chin, the shining, just washed linoleum floor drying under the fluorescent light. (1) Sound of an electric saw from the (temporarily) closed-off gallery, or (2) sound of a film projector rewinding. If I never bought another book, I would still never be able to read those I already own, even if I live another 60 years, but yet each new volume, in the mail or shining under top lighting in a store window, represents for me a potential of a further, vital, still-to-be-seen horizon. He bears a resemblance. First botch, best botch. Terrorism courts respect (I imagine, looking backward, that this sentence must first have been a newspaper headline). Winning is an aid to memory. A drawing of a Balinese spirit with a face in its stomach. Shrill call of the killdeer here thirty miles from the ocean, north edge of the drainage ditch. Writes better when he wears his hat. Backlit by the sun, the no-smoking decal on the lobby window casts a shadow on the blue striped carpet. Fountains of the financial district spout soft water in a hard wind, afternoon without sunlight between these tall buildings. Call Mo before the water boils. We want coherence because, as infants, it’s what we thought our parents had. Just say Yo! In a far room of the apartment I can hear music and a hammer. Hawaiian punchline. An expensive sundae carefully constructed around three mounds of French vanilla, entitled Hobo. I was on my way to meet my ex-wife for lunch. The bear flag in the black marble plaza. It’s dusk in the suburbs now — late because it’s the first week of summer — and two homeless men (one black, one white) slowly move up different sides of what passes here for the main street, checking through each concrete encased trashcan for returnable bottles, aluminum cans. Epic of doodling. One if by LAN, two if by fax. Rapid transit. Black England. The page is only the documentation (ink shadows the hand)  or the page is more, the field, resistance (in the dream Creeley wheezes “The plan is the margin, the plan is the margin, the plan ...”). The god in you isn’t going to be Zeus, it’s going to be one of those limited pantheon goddesses. How the heel rises and the ankle bends to carry the body from one stair to the next: portrait of Anna at a party. Smell of gasoline on my fingers. She was a unit in a bum space, she was a damaged child sitting in her rocker by the window. Tell a grackle from a starling by the color of its beak. The desire for coffee ultimately is not desire. Bear’s Knee. This emptying out of interiority to the benefit of its exterior signs (my book has a spine), this exhaustion of content by form, life by life, is the point, sort of. The ironing board has become a desk. The tenor sax is an add-on. Chronotrope. Carry, if you can, the proposition to its limit. You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make it thick. One is remarkable to snow accustomed to it. Cancer rots Tom Clark’s jaw. The particularly thick nail of the big toe. Two crow. She was a unit in a bum space (this is not repetition), she was a damaged child (this is not recitation), sitting in her rocker by the window. The syringe beckons as the doobie beckoned. Yellowing gauze curtains. In this city, at least, not very many people seem to work hard at their jobs but then put enormous energy into coping with problems generated by a collapsed economy (later, 10,000 mils away, Ilya says the difference of glasnost is that “we used to have time to write, but now everybody’s starting magazines, book collectives, reading series, so there’s no time, but it’s crazy because there’s hardly any paper”). The formal beauty of a back porch. The dream of phonemes. Waking, sleeping, days bleed one into the others, so that it is this unrelenting need to rest breeds discontinuity, line, cycle, circle, line. The three of us crowded under the one umbrella. I’m unable to find just the right straw hat. Katya tells me of your husband, himself a former dancer with the Kirov, ten years your senior, a “funny guy.” Listening to seals on the dark beach, not able to see them. I’d not imagined the sultry summer warmth of Frankfort. He hit the bricks, took a vacation, got rolled up, popped, as they say. Floss shreds between these rough teeth. Listening patiently, until you hear the one watch in the far corner of the room, the sound magnified, etched by the absence of others. Buildings don’t just sit there, but actively resist the pull of gravity, each roof, every wall a struggle. The fishermen’s cormorants wear rings around their necks to keep them from swallowing, to force them to surrender their catch. This is the title sentence. The plain highway raised through the flood. Watch is a man’s bracelet. She had only the slightest pubic hair, light brown and trimmed at the edges to the shape of what must have been a bathing suit. Warning: invalid semaphore sent to the kernel. Each time this path is taken, distances shift. Finally I’m wearing the right straw hat, writing in the hot sun so pen’s point traces through hand’s shadow impossible to see into against the glare of the page. We drove through fields of artichokes. Stand by your sand. We came upon the god of the starfish.  After the revolution, NPR sends Andrei back to the town of his childhood, tape recorder in hand, walking down streets dreamlike in their familiarity, speaking for one last time with an uncle who’d had to resign his post in the army for having married a Jew, his wife so old now she doesn’t even know of the revolution, Andrei’s voice cracking with emotion: “Romanian words are flooding me.” Feet, do your stuff. Boot locally, print globally. We bring to the encounter what we choose to see, so that of all the terms picked to describe the dog, only one (proper name, so-called) defines a category that has but one member yet, not knowing it, the next time we see him, we would recognize, we would greet him, we would be correct. How competitive am I as a driver? Dark brown houseboats beached at the point of low tide — men atop their cabin roofs, idle, play a dobro, a jaw’s harp, a 12-string guitar — only to float again when the sunset is reflected red-orange in the water of Richardson Bay. In a West-End Dallas Mall conspiracy theorists operate assassination theater and gift shop. White wings of a magpie. The first winter there was still food in storage and people got through in spite of the shelling and bombing; the second winter they were dying in the streets, their bodies hurried away to be buried; but by the third winter the bodies simply froze where they dropped. Frying yellow squash in the wok. How many wait states between nuance and response? Great jolt of travel. As he pulls himself from the pool, I realize that he’s missing half a leg. Write this down in a green notebook. Press space bar for more selections. At possibility’s edge occurs limit. Who will read me (who are you)? Television in the 1950s (Jay Ward’s first cartoon, Crusader Rabbit). “How was it for you?” Kit asks of the Quake. Each day as I lay here, lie, I hear her rise and wash. Those sides of me that know ambition. Silverfish, potato bugs. Armadillo ranch. Formal beauty of a back porch. Product mammal. We stopped for hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and to discuss the Sicilian Defense. I’m in a crowd. and someone introduces me tho he doesn’t know me, so it must be a reading, but I’m barefoot or rather wearing just one sock and have brought no texts as I begin to search around for them wildly. Spider bites. I imagine hours extending infinitely to years (ears’ lobes looped). A tenor sax is a weapon. A very good son is on the radio. A learned solitude, in the head looking out, constantly waking, new day. When she turns her head, the flesh on the neck folds. The Main Library was a grey weight in a white rain. I’m alone in the car in the parking lot at Coit Tower, sun to the west about to set, the last tourists hanging around in clusters, t-shirt vendor breaking down his stand, while on the radio Bill King’s voice describes Dave Steward of the Oakland A’s in Toronto pitching his way through the ninth inning of a no-hitter and I’m sobbing like an infant and cannot stop. One’s age is best seen in the back of one’s hand. Please irrigate that cornea. What I want is the grey-blue grain of Western summer. Radio and television playing at the same time, he puts a tape in the deck, saying “I like a layered effect.” Void is what’s left when the cosmos breaks down as the interesting evidence of order. The leg restraints are from the days of ether-drop anesthesiology, when there was a moment of involuntary excitement prior to rest. Subtitles lower your focus. My not drinking makes other people nervous. Sentiment is memory fused with desire. The dream beckons because it’s real. Mention sex, fruit, the nine deer we saw in the sand dunes at Asilomar. Simultaneous conversation in three languages. Mexican blue hammock to write in. The foil-wrapped pads of butter have begun to melt. Drip candles kept atop old, empty bottles of wine. Grenier reads each sentence as though it were a question. Fuchsias fall and stick to the walk. The feel of metal in the eye is abstract — I can’t quite tell where it is. The young nurse in yellow sunglasses, by a subtle redistribution of weight, gravity’s center, moves in front of the black-sweatered student of Oriental porcelain in order to more rapidly board the bus — which is in fact not a bus at all but an LRV, before all the seats are taken. Orange cat sits atop plastic bus in dawn fog. Wind chimes. The active voice invokes the passive  reader. Are pears form. The Sikh tucks his turban in at the back. That he was not brutal enough for her confused him. Don’t pick at that cold sore if you don’t want your lower lip to turn into a bloody mess. Awake but still in bed, I listen to cars pass, doors, birds, children are day’s first voices. Intuition has no conscience. Across the empty states to Chicago if at all possible. Kestrels mating. Eventually scratches become scabs. The light at the end of the eyeball. Red shingle roof. This is the topic sentence.

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