Brian LucasRandy Prunty: [to Brian] are you dreaming now or thinking? )ohn Lowther: [to Randy, sotto voce] can he hear us?
The Trustees in Spite of Themselves
Neko Buildings, San Francisco, 35 pp.
[for the purposes of this text consider that Randy Prunty, )ohn Lowther, and the Shimmering Silver Image of Brian Lucas sit evenly spaced on a circular white couch around an Obelisk of quartz or maybe glass... the edges of the room are lost in receding distance and the ceiling may be a trick of light but there are echoes uncanny of voices or strains of music we are told they originate anywhere that we might look Brian is staring abstractedly at the Obelisk]
RP: Brian, were we summoned to talk about your chapbook?
Brian Lucas: i cannot even speak of a frame
[there is the sound of gong from somewhere]
)L: i say we just go ahead with the review? seem like an ok idea to you?
RP: i was wondering about the images of 'white legions' in the poem "...Wand." you write for instance, "breathing white legions into a bulb/ bulb harnesses glint that's stored/ before one becomes the next// white legion..." are these white legions images or things that you perceive with the aid of the Obelisk?
)L: is the Obelisk a 'bulb,' i mean it looks kinda ...
BL: no appearance has consequence
)L: so we shouldn't be looking to anything like deciphering these occulted or rather occluded images?
BL: at once all was seen...
RP: "over forms cleaving to few statements/ on grace" yeah i know, i already read that, but...
)L: maybe we cd go at this another way? Brian, what are you looking at?
BL: [looking up and then slowly around him] Palm up to the sky's towering vase,/ the patterns on its surface/ wrapping cosm into a band of silent interlocutions.
[another gong sounds and the Silver Shimmering Image of Brian Lucas fades out with a smell of ginger Randy and )ohn look at each other and look around them - )ohn gets up and sits where Brian had been and looks at the Obelisk]
)L: looks about the same over here
RP: get closer
)L: [leaning quite close to the Obelisk] i'm closer ... [he places his ear on it and Randy surreptitiously taps on the other side] hey! i hear ... [but he discovers the ruse] thought you had me there, huh?
RP: maybe you have to unfocus your eyes like with those magic eye things, try that
)L: hmm ... [staring]
BL: [having mostly reappeared in the space where )ohn had been sitting seems to be facing into the wind tho otherwise the space is still] Motion is a whisper in the light of the future, never/ abstaining from gravity or aging, only desiring...
)L: i kinda feel like i'm being shut out here i mean i know, right? we're all supposed to 'construct the meaning for ourselves' or whatever but all these evocations make me feel like you're holding an experience before us like this Obelisk and you see things hear things whatever and i believe something's going on i mean your hair, your scarf they're moving in the wind but here ... [)ohn picks up a feather from the floor as if it appeared there simply for this purpose and drops it it falls in smooth arcs back down to the floor ...] no wind where i'm sitting
[Brian opens a magazine called Plural You and covering his mouth with it points at the Obelisk which whispers, in fair imitation of Brian]
Obelisk: "Half the time i'm sick of images, the other half of the time i'm sick of their absence. not that it is this black and white for me. within the grayest tone i try to set up camp, going back and forth between two rivers. i like to break open each of the poems images..."
RP: [interrupting] like wind or no-wind?
O: "... upon receiving them: let their presences speak like never before."
[the Silver Shimmering Image of Brian Lucas is now weightless on the couch his hair and clothes suggesting that he is drifting in a current of liquid surroundings he's smiling tho]
)L: hmm ...
[there is a sound of wings and a bird lands atop the Obelisk but immediately seems to falter, to crumble, and we see that it is an origami finch as it falls to Randy's feet a creased and uncrumpling sheet of paper he picks it up]
)L: well? it must be relevant
RP: it's the text of a dream i had last night after falling asleep with the tape we made of this chapbook playing
)L: it was finch right? house finch?
RP: house finches and purple finches have interbred and most ornithologists consider them the same species now
)L: and the paper being white it's hard to look for the markings but this interbreeding is sort of like the 'wind / no-wind' thing, no?
)L: read it
RP: [standing]Dream of Sensed Din
Finch winging in palm sized
and naïve, handsomely unequal to any other.
One hand holds, the other disposes
everyone comes out to dream here
Bits of night a prince of star-blank
to a meshing of senses: a silvery though
A summer of silent interlocutions
known by their shared gazes, where the
original seed was sent to learn a return.
Washes of collage lengthen the pace until patterns
enjoy the view of the world.
hull where insides are traced
Retina now shattered in the glove of snow.
Left were sounds contrived, faded
to the rind.
There is now someone at the gate. Whim in to kind,
bent shun is shaped to delineate focus
of an imageless air. Water sum from
two sprigs there
hallowed, and obvious within.
)L: i remember some of those lines particularly the 'hull where insides are traced' of course that sticks in my memory because i get a visual image to play with someone standing in the hull of a ship tracing patterns on the hull's walls but that cuts against some of the stuff say in Plural You where Brian says [)ohn reaches out his hand and Plural You appears he doesn't seem to notice this little instance of magic] "A crux where music, texture, tone, sense and beyond-sense etc. and their combinations, may mingle without any one quality being foregrounded." Brian, what do you think of the poem Randy read?
BL: i see the collage of my last days. im busy with goodbyes to Rene Char (through Albert Ayler) beginning with a letter furiously smoked. in the head of volcanoes we continue to attempt a perversity of agriculture. timelines as mercurial flint.
[the paper/poem is caught up in the wind around Brian and becomes refolded as finch. it rolls its eyes and flies away causing the hair on Randys neck to stand up. he shudders]
)L: Randy the hair on your neck is standing up and you shimmered.
RP: shimmered? it felt like a shudder.
)L: perhaps my eyes deceive me.
RP: hes got magic. it must be that Brian has magic. dont you see? ever since we read his chapbook were not where we were anymore. ? i mean, even the title "The Trustees In Spite of Themselves" transports the reader to "not here/not now."
)L: what do you mean about the title, but wait i know he wants magic ¾ i mean he wants a big sensuous interconnected world to flow out of his words like seaweed in the current ¾ now he might disagree tho and say that that's what he has already ¾ what we all have or perhaps what we all cd have ¾ why do i have a sense of misgiving at these words ?
RP: now you say "sensuous interconnected world to flow out" but somehow there is this disjunction. i know he feels this interconnectedness but the reader is somehow still left with a disjunction or lack of connections.
)L: well look at our situation where the fuck are we ? i mean what is this place and what's the deal with that Obelisk and why is it that Brian can come and go and drift and seemingly see thru all of this whereas we're just killing time on a sofa ?
RP: what about the title itself?
)L: i dont know what you mean exactly about the title, but every time you say the word magic Brian looks, well, sort of nervous or sick or something. Brian, are you feeling ?
[yet another change in the wind pattern and the Obelisk lights up like fire. the strange face of a strange man appears across the obelisk.]
William Cloud: dont worry about Brian, Im the Man. im the one you need to talk to, not dream boy over there.
)L: and you are ?
WC: William Cloud. and you need to be interviewing me since im the one that wrote that chapbook. at least i wrote most of it and then Smokehead there ran it through the fog machine.
RP: now im really confused.
)L: Brian, help us out here man, whats this guy talking about?
BL: [looking exasperated] i can only say that
WC: look, im trying to tell you that Brian is just my puppet. i write through him. thats the magic. he is nothing but a trustee ...
RP: in spite of himself?
)L: so ah... how did you and, ah, Brian end up working together ?
WC: [clears his throat] can you explain matters which are so strange?
RP: to what sorts of things does your poetry refer? that is when we read a line like [opens chapbook at random] "One of us keeps taking off / into the solitude of a salted / and fleeting womb" are we to imagine that these words are relating primarily to themselves? to the words in the rest of the poem? to the rest of the book? or to your visions within the world?
WC: it's an actual situation i'm speaking of, occurring in one's life. that line you just read says what it means to say. the phenomenon of desiring a bit of centeredness, and it also addresses in a way escapist desires.
)L: so Mr. Cloud, if i hear you right yr saying that poetry says what it means to say which i actually agree with or at least i'd like to say that such is the goal but what i see going down in this chapbook ¾ whether Brian's or yours ¾ isn't really illuminated by that statement ...
RP: [under his breath] understatement ... understatement
)L: ... what? yeah. this situation we're in here feels more like the situation of reading these poems than that ¾ here's Brian and you navigating and blipping in and out of this space wherever you wish, looking into the Obelisk and seeing something, seeing the events "in one's life" that hold the images and phrases together, that licenses yr combined insistence that they do hold together ¾ whereas for Randy and i and perhaps other readers as well this is all opaque, occluded, hidden
WC: being so difficult to distinguish, are those very peculiar things?
)L: well ... my hunch is, no ¾ i'm not trying to suggest that there is something wrong with this approach but simply trying to clarify it for myself and wondering at the difficulty of even listening to what you have to say about it because, as i said, you can see into the obelisk ¾ "look an elephant" ¾ "a bird with a shoe in its beak" ¾ but to me in most instances i'm very happy with those just remaining clouds
RP: the cover of the chapbook is clouds, clouds in a pink sky
BL: [rising from the couch on a current to hover loosely in front of the obelisk, recites]
One of us keeps taking off
into the solitude of a salted
and fleeting womb.
The other, parting ways for a
crystalline habit begun in
the hope of reaching within
There would be several sets
of twin suns (a trio at night)
here misplaced as if suited
to depict an archaeology of
multiple voice inflections
situated at random on the
center's disk. Whatever is
suggested in that climate
describes a calculated
undoing of the next worship.
Choices within the implosion
fan out radially striking one
set of these suns after another.
Air sounding a pitch to dancers
known by their shared gazes.
A summer of erroneous
habit until the serious thrust.
Palm up to sky's towering vase,
the patterns on its surface
wrapping cosm into a band of
RP: that's great
)L: yeah i really like it too ¾ the vatic, sumptuous grandiosity of it in the face of what feels like a social/interpersonal subtext ¾ or, scratch that, scratch subtext ¾ whatever the events that occurred in whichever of these two's lives that were the spur that got this going, the pretext for it ¾ i don't care about that
RP: right, that's not what makes this interesting
)L: is it, as Brian suggested to me once, what makes it "hold together" ? ¾ he'd said to me once that he felt that his work held together more than certain other work we're all familiar with ¾ well maybe not you Bill, can i call you Bill? ¾ some of it, Randy, yrs and mine ¾ and this poem does hold together pretty well i think ¾ but it doesn't hold together any "better" than some of the things that he was dissing in that comment ¾ and it's always troubled me in a way the ease with which he cd say of his writing that it holds together while denying that to other things which cd just as easily have the sort of license-of-personal-life-occurrences that his work does ¾ and which on top of that might not proceed in such a "veils behind veils" sort of way
WC: yes, well, my puppet is often so proud of my work, and that i allow him to be a part of it, that it's hard for him
)L: one's own personal pleasures do tend to take center stage ¾ as such i think that The Trustees In Spite of Themselves holds together on it's own terms quite well and for anyone willing to engage it on those terms it'll work its magic
[Brian who had drifted high above our heads during the last few exchanges seems to elongate and recede rapidly from view -- William Cloud, shuffles his feet a moment, coughs into a hand and disappears like a light turning off]
RP: do you see my car keys over there?
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