Wednesday, December 15, 2004

on Jack Spicer

--via EPC, SUNY Buffalo, Spicer author page, and (second image) Jacket magazine # 7, Peter Gizzi article, "Textual Mirroring." (& I will add that I especially like this photo because the fire extinguisher is colorized.
An additional significant influence on contemporary poetry is that of Jack Spicer (1925-1965), in terms, especially, of west coast poetics. Next time I do the course, we will have a section on Spicer. Here's something from his text, The Heads of the Town * :


--A human love object is untrue.
Screw you.
--A divine love object is unfair
Define the air
It walks in.

The old human argument goes on with the rhymes to show that it still goes on. A stiffening in time as puns are a stiffening in meaning.

The old human argument that goes ahead with our clothes off or our clothes on. Even when we are talking of ghosts.

--A human love object is untrue.
Screw you.

--a divine love object is unfair
Define the air
It walks in.

Imagine this as lyric poetry.


"Esstoneish me," the words say that hide behind my alarm clock or my dresser drawer or my pillow. "Etonnez moi," even the Word says.

It is up to us to astonish them and Him. To draw forth answers deep from the caverns of objects

or from the Word Himself. Whatever that is.

What That is is not aplay on words but a play between words, meaning come down to hang on a little cross for a while. In play.

And the stony words that are left down with us greet him mutely almost rudely casting their own shadows. For example, the shadow the cross cast.

No, now he is the Lowghost when He is pinned down to words.


St. Elmo's Fire. Or why this will be a textbook concerning poetry for 20,999 years. Almost a lifetime.

I chicken out at the edges of it and what doesn't come through to me at the edges of it isn't as if angels met singing or any of that business.

We are all alone and we don not need poetry to tell us how alone we are. Time's winged chariot is as near as the next landmark or busstation. We need a lamp (a lump, spoken or unspoken) that is even above love.

St. Elmo's Fire was what was above the ships as they sailed the unspoken seas. It was a fire that was neither a glow or a direction. But the business of it was fire.

* Jack Spicer, The Collected Poems of Jack Spicer. Robin Blaser, ed. Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1996. 177-181.

~~~~~~~~~~~~poems copyright of Jack Spicer Estate~~~~~~~~~~~ o~o/