20 Years to Life

I'll be quarantined this weekend. I'm not allowed to go anywhere, see anyone, touch anyone. I suppose it's a good excuse to play many hours of XBox, though I should be writing.

The geiger counters will click with each step I take.


Ronald Johnson's "ARK" just arrived today. I had to buy a used copy because the local distributors can't seem to locate it.

Can you imagine working on the same poem for twenty years? I don't know if I could do it. I'm pretty sure I'd go mad, though some say I already am.

Anyway, the charming thing about this copy is the notes someone had crafted in the margins. Here's a sample of some of the scrawlings:

Be O Make

Be=Eastern Religion
OM=chant that reflects the sound of creation
Be & Make, O connects the two

--what it means to see
--disorder, yet everything works

dicotemies (sp) of vowel & constant (sp)

--human body is also this
--sense and scale

Every kind
of making
is justified
b/k it's an
attempt to
build a "ladder"
to the divine


People have asked what I meant about Rube Goldberg poetics from my interview with Kate Greenstreet. A thing about Rube Goldberg poetics that I haven't gotten a chance to answer--the goal of the machine needs to be determined at the onset, but the steps towards that goal can vary. The narrative of the poem functions as the tracks of the machine. You can throw in a lead pipe. A parrot. A man yearning for a sandwich. A mustang. A song by Neil Diamond. They're all present along the track, but they must have a sufficient transition to them in order for them to have an effect on the momentum of the Rube Goldberg machine. If one of the elements fails (is not resolved within the machinery of the narrative), the poem fails. The pipe must wake the parrot. The parrot must tug at the cracker attached to the string. The string must lower the sandwich to the man's mouth. The motion from the hands holding the sandwich to the man's mouth must set the mustang running. The motion of the horse's trot must set the needle to the record. And ultimately, Neil Diamond must sing about "Coming to America." The machine is delightfully complicated for a seemingly mundane task. The process is, thus, the most interesting aspect of the journey in these poems.


I'm going to watch a few more BSG episodes tonight. A question for you fans . . . is the population count at the opening going down, up, or a combination of the two?