Archive for December, 2013


Saturday, December 28th, 2013


Our morning walk in Fischerhude down the canal took us past the house Rilke built for Clara, conjuring this anecdote, read somewhere: “Here comes Clara, with her little Rilkie under her arm.”

Of Savage Stones, Wild Palms

Saturday, December 14th, 2013


In which I continue my series of concrete poems as press releases for exhibition spaces in small American cities. (See the first, “Muscles for Fabian,” at Paradise Garage, in Venice, CA, here.) This one is for Victor Costales and Julia Rometti’s beautiful show at Midway Contemporary in Minneapolis.

Botan or, Leaf of This Image

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013



The coolness of time like the coolness of leaves.

The coolness of time like the rustle of jungle. Of

Leaves. Why

Are all the artists making work about tropical

Plants. I mean

The artists I like. And some I don’t. But mostly

Why I am always reminded of Rousseau

When examining the green hand

Green face almond-shaped

Proffered by the examining artist

Jungle plants at IKEA we all buy them.

Yes: Art fair artist bar draped in them. The music is better

There. The drinks are ridiculous: orange and round like modernism.

Poets are naturally attracted to the pale-green language


That limns and dips them:

Botanical. Clicking syllabics and Latinate

Erotics, the rigor and swell of modernism, white

Concrete swerve of architectures and elephant-ear strewn

Interiors. (Lina Bo Bardi, the Pollock-Krasner Hamptons home, etc.)

I am so Western I will never escape the usual referents etc.

I am so Western I was born in California.

I once wrote in a magazine:

“ ‘Fashion has a flair for the topical, no matter where it stirs in the thickets of long ago; it is a tiger’s leap into the past,’ wrote Walter Benjamin in his vignette-studded essay ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’ (1940). Read the line quickly, add an extra letter, and suddenly the tropics are conjured. Benjamin’s ‘thickets’ become jungles, lush with almond-shaped leaves, green and waxy; through them a tiger skulks and stalks and leaps. The darkness (or lightness) of history emerges, humid and heated, between the carefully outlined leaves. Benjamin’s sentence has become a Henri Rousseau painting, as it were. Then the mind takes another leap, tiger-like, shaking the German critic’s sentence into yet another anagram, and those thickets of leaves become smaller, more domestic, but just as decorous. Now they curl from a pot, near a butterfly chair, a man’s pale, naked thigh. The fashions and fabrics filling the frame might be 1970s-era American approximations of Rousseau’s Africa – a different kind of herbarium, a later moment in history. How did this happen? You are now in a — — painting.”

This does not answer the question, though.

Why do these plants feel like politics and the absence

Of politics simultaneously? This is not poetic

Rhetoric; this is a real question.

It is about contemporary currency:

Leaves like money. Green

They said in early rap lyrics from upper Manhattan

And lower California.

The coolness of my gaze as it projects a stream of moving

Images against the green plates

Of leaves: all my typical

Allusions/abstractions/alliterations. Coolness of the climes

Where the plants sway and drip

Empty of moving pictures, of the film

Of my gaze. Green darkness of jungle, that theater.

Video green of rain forests, the florescent artists

Taking their technology

Inside its interior. And its abundant

Literature. It would seem

To be the time in this poem to venture into etymology.


Wikipedia tells me

The term “botany” comes from the Ancient Greek word βοτάνη (botane) meaning “pasture”, “grass”, or “fodder”; βοτάνη which is in turn derived from βόσκειν (boskein), “to feed” or “to graze”.[1][2][3] A person who studies plants may be called a botanist or a plant scientist […] Botany originated in prehistory as herbalism with the efforts of early humans to identify – and later cultivate – edible, medicinal and poisonous plants, making it one of the oldest branches of science. Medieval physic gardens, often attached to monasteries, contained plants of medical importance. They were forerunners of the first botanical gardens attached to universities, founded from the 1540s onwards. One of the earliest was the Padua botanical garden. These gardens facilitated the academic study of plants. Efforts to catalogue and describe their collections were the beginnings of plant taxonomy, and led in 1753 to the binomial system of Carl Linnaeus that remains in use to this day.

Ignoring the ancient Greek for now

What of the psychic garden of the jungle

Imported into our IKEAs and galleries and bars

And artist books? The psychic garden of our cultural imagination

Stirs: some wind. Come heat. It “feels like” rain.

Earth come down from the hills

Leaves from trees. Before the torrent

We scan each

Leaf with the attention of a medieval gardener

Or modernist Italian architect

Or clubgoer or critic.

We record it.

Leaf of all organisms not considered animals.

Leaf of parlor palm and Victorian.

Leaf of Philodendron.

Leaf of September and of Wednesday.

Leaf of literacy.

Leaf of photosynthesis.

Leaf of evening.

Leaf of poor copy.

Leaf of feminism.

Leaf of dialects.

Leaf of imperialism.

Leaf of the love I leave each morning.

Leaf of the kiss I leave on his green cheek.

Leaf of last night its lucidity.

Leaf of photocopy.

Leaf of participation.

Leaf of entitlement.

Leaf of her body with its plain dark sugars.

Leaf of metabolism or materiality.

Leaf of loose images and dark scanners.

Leaf of the artist at their center.

Leaf of tropical of botanical of some long artful fever.

Leaf of the bourgeoisie.

Leaf of other and that literature.

Leaf of the coolness of time, its heat.

Leaf of temperature.

Leaf of luxury.

Leaf of neoliberalism.

Leaf of global-exchange patterns.

Leaf of unassigned hunger.

Leaf of portraiture.

Leaf of morphology.

Leaf that cools me.

Leaf of this image.

Ma Books

Sunday, December 1st, 2013


Taken by a lucky friend on vacation in D.F., my books at the new Jumex Museum—