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rules for poems (involuntary collaborations)

first things

fear of poetry, fear of reading(s),
failing the etiquette of fridges.
an unpopular measure.
the afternoon in drag drags on
& you have gathered your vocabularies & left brisbane
following the breakfast of champions
blah blah the art the poetry the ducks
hanging like edible ornaments (not me).
And must I express the science of legendary elegies
-- for example, that tree's "compelling" structure? yep,
that's compelling all right. here's some baby photos,
there's a plateau without an edge (a heightened plane?)
ironically, i went to brisbane in a car
& came back greyhound intolerant.

little causal ode

triggering the wind that fills my empty head
is like a bet without a grammar --
my life as i lead it --
embarrassed by money where ideas
are the cartoon soundtrack of
the bodies of my days
, part of which i spend in a cafe
with michelle & lili.
here. i don't have to slide down
into the booth we shared last night & don't,
just in case that's a little creepy. am i creepy?
maybe. not interested in sex, not interested
in all those reams of poetry, i invest
your money in nachos & soon i will return.

preferred metric size

at the entrance to the labyrinth you cough
        & shake your head.
Dreams and systems lapse
/ the tv flickers on.
shoplifters wish you happy birthday then
snap: lyric marinates the air; the p.a. system
gets relentless & decorative,
their congealing warmth carpets
the ludicrous pageant
& we shuffle, waiting to be accused.
a personal life? be my guest.
"The frozen countenance of the perversions," etc.
your fingers seek you out, then the symptoms
        drifting up the stairs.

the prosecution case

dolphins say the crystals
tint your amber eyes but grab another glass
and all the snagging germs of thought subside
-- before the clean up crew arrives we'll head home
through the day-glo night, ignoring
that fatigued old eliot drone,
that taxi weaving down enmore road.
you believe in souls & the sanctity of life?
well, gosh!
                i thought the last album struggled
as media theorists played silent prima donnas
but don't forget your inner life isn't art,
        performance anxiety or no.
see the stars crawl up the moribund sky.

ars poetica

reproductions of surrealist paintings forge
        a manual of love.
The rest is dreck, a slump
your shoulders ease into like a hammock.
can you smell that riverbank?
doll land where every day's a groove
& the fish are yearning for the catch?
don't get metaphysical on me.
from the helpless beauty of the pale orange sky
something lodges in your eye -- today's
gift to you, complex & random
as a reflex. your coffee arrives.
authority figures. your mouth yawns
        like the harbour.

the asymptotes

fucked up & central no attention span no reverence
that's the ticket -- you're a trouper.
the city's trim horror you praise like a servant
holds you close as atmosphere.
your t-shirt flutters ironically.
you have the art gallery's large postcard
        & a few spare hours.
it's something you can practise 'til
Peace is so laconic she looks as if
disjunction saves her, as if she needs saving
(from himself). the day swings
you round like a film star,
your heart puckers & goes for light relief.
woohoo! i'm a lap dancing monkey!

the sublime considered as a species of pig's ear

always borrow from your friends
& write nonsensical titles.
pleasantly ridiculous.
steal towels. this awful reading
chills the awful night.
in every way now we are equal. except one.
(on any day we film a sequel, just begun?
mysterious time passes. ineffably.)
now that our hero has come back to us
the movie can begin again. a dull man
hates a woman & so writes.
the sublime considered as a species of pig's ear.
shut up shut up shut up.
some applaud but some respond.


i lose your book & find it again
like a game to play with bodies
-- perhaps I would cross the road with more conviction
if the road would once cross me
or a t-shirt stall collapses. what?
he never listened while friends talked.
frightful epitaph!
                        not even zombies
frighten me more than you
, thought of life bereft. hello! hello?
they are kicking poetry in the head, yes
in the streets & in the halls
(dire interminable documentaries)
but we are changing channels.


These involuntary collaborations are based on an adaption of a loose sonnet form. Each poem in the sequence is structured around three quoted lines (the third, sixth and ninth). The sources of the borrowed lines are:

first things
        "Bill Hayden Ode" by Ken Bolton
        "American Express" by Ted Berrigan
        "Second Avenue" by Frank O'Hara

little causal ode
        "Where Are We, Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going" by Ken Bolton
        "Tambourine Life" by Ted Berrigan
        "A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island" by Frank O'Hara

ars poetica
        "Pure and Applied" by Gig Ryan
        "neighbourhood watch" by joanne burns
        "This Is All" by Pam Brown

the asymptotes
        "Night and Day" by Gig Ryan
        "so far so good" by joanne burns
        "The Long Years" by Pam Brown

preferred metric size
        "Rostra" by Gig Ryan
        "marinations" by joanne burns
        "Front" by Pam Brown

the prosecution case
        "Fog (1)" by Gig Ryan
        "mere anarchy" by joanne burns
        "Lit Crit" by Pam Brown

the sublime considered as a species of pig's ear
        "Now" by Ken Bolton
        "Sonnet LXXXIV" by Ted Berrigan
        "On Seeing Larry Rivers' Washington Crossing the Delaware at the Museum of Modern Art" by Frank O'Hara

        "The Artists" by Ken Bolton
        "Chicago English Afternoon" by Ted Berrigan
        "The Critic" by Frank O'Hara

The poems also contain a number of hints & allusions to poems written by friends.


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ted@magicdog.com -- 21 December 2000