Sunday, August 13, 2017

Nathan Spoon's To Frivolity, A Review of Heller Levinson’s tenebraed

tenebraed, Heller Levinson (Black Widow Press, April 2017).
The book cover image by Linda Lynch is entitled Oil Drawing for 2900,
and is a detail of a larger painting in oil on plywood.  

To Frivolity, A Review of Heller Levinson’s tenebraed by Nathan Spoon 

Heller Levinson
Black Widow Press, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9971725-7-7
123 pages $15.00

The way to get at the “interior” of the poetic texts in tenebraed may well be to approach them from an “exterior” vantage. Gayatri Spivak in her Preface to Of Grammatology writes, “The text has no stable identity, no stable origin, no stable end. Each act of reading the “text” is a preface to the next. The reading of a self-professed preface is no exception to this rule.” Certainly the same applies as well to the reading of a self-professed review.


tenebraed is written to demonstrate Hinge Theory (or simply Hinge) which, according to Levinson, operates on the premise: “It’s not what it Is, but how it Behaves.” How does the language in tenebraed (and other Hinge works) behave?

Hinge writing focuses on how language is essentially morphic, in that the more language is used, the more it needs to be used. Particularly when it comes to creative expressiveness, does any of us ever truly finish saying any given thing we have to say? In relation to this, anything that is begun as a Hinge work can have more poems (or “modules”) added to it.

Hinge writing behaves morphically, as language enters the realm of:

lurch                    reel                    ricochet

rum                      in                       a



It may be helpful to contrast the work in tenebraed with “Birches” by Robert Frost. In this poem we find an example of Frost’s idea of “the sound of sense” in the following lines describing icy birch branches:

                                Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow crust -
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

And we have another example in this description of a boy climbing birches:

                                        He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.

As Tim Kendall has pointed out, this poem plays with the idea that the boy has bent the birches to the ground, when it was really the ice that did so.


At any rate, this idea of the sound of sense is Frost’s way of addressing the notion of form and content, as two fundamental aspects that are combined together in a given poem. Frost wants the form of his language to express its content and its content to fit the form. Hinge writing resembles lichen, which is a result of algae or cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) joining a symbiotic relationship with fungi filaments to become a third substance. While birches are plants, the most one can say about lichens is that they are plant-like. Lichens cannot be bent to the ground by ice or boys; or, for that matter, poets or readers or reviewers.


By contrast, Levinson (or any Hinge writer) is concerned, as noted above, with how language is behaving. The opening lines of “tenebraed to mermaid” read:

to blue algae bludgeon slur

scrape of solar scrim

two-world strider slippering through wave-lap

where do you like it best?

land? sea?

Pausing over these lines allows us to observe how the, at first, tumbling language shifts into a question about where a being living between two worlds prefers to dwell. From here Levinson’s “module” appropriates passages from Hans Peter Duerr and Clayton Eshleman, before shifting to say:


dive deep-diver



How does Mermaid figure into the hybridic-shamanic? She straddles not fence, but Surface. … She smudges the split between visible & invisible.

Levinson’s mermaid “straddles” the textual “Surface” of “no stable identity, no stable origin, no stable end.” This seemingly innocuous “Surface” is the “interior” of tenebraed and other Hinge works.


This leads to why Hinge works are referred to as “modules” rather than “poems.”

The OED defines a “poem” as, “A piece of writing in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by particular attention to diction (sometimes involving rhyme), rhythm and imagery.” By contrast a “module” is defined primarily as, “Each of a set of standardized parts or independent units that can be used to construct a more complex structure, such as an item of furniture or a building.” 

In the Frost poem cited above, we are encountering a more or less closed unit of language, with a clear beginning, a clear middle and a clear end. It is a whole comprised of various parts. As readers, we are invited to slip back, if only momentarily, into a “place” where we can re-experience the wonder and magic of a childhood activity, and not so we can leave the adult world behind forever. The backward step we are invited to take is meant to enrich and deepen our experience now.

Hinge writing offers no such opportunity for stepping backward. In “tenebraed to reverie” we are instead offered the constant “Surface” and ongoing “frivolity” of:

fermata               cessate               launch               un

burden                                loosed from




This is poetry severely reduced to “nerve-nimbus” to “wing-frigate” to mantis-proxy.” Reading it provides a moment to delight in its:




With no clear beginning, middle or end, our world of language moves in every direction at once. Each new “module” is a part awaiting its whole (which, of course, can never arrive). Each new “module” invokes another.


In a book of conversations between George Steiner and editor Laure Adler titled A Long Saturday, Mr. Steiner reminds us:

Language admits everything. It’s an alarming truth that we hardly ever think about: we can say anything, nothing stifles us, nothing shocks us when someone says the most monstrous things. Language is infinitely servile, and language - this is the mystery - knows no ethical limits.


There is so much that remains to be said.


1 The Archeology of the Frivolous: Reading Condillac, by Jacques Derrida, Translated and with an Introduction by John P. Leavey, Jr., Bison Books, 1980

2 The Art of Robert Frost, by Tim Kendall, Yale University Press, 2012

3 A Long Saturday: Conversations, George Steiner with Laure Adler, translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan, The University of Chicago Press, 2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Eileen R. Tabios, From The Ashbery Riff-Offs

Ashbery Off-Riff, image by Irene Koronas 

From The Ashbery Riff-Offs

—where each poem begins with 1 or 1-2 lines from “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror” by John Ashbery

Witnessed in the Convex Mirror: Betrayal with Brand Names

But there is in that gaze a combination
of tenderness, amusement and regret
She does not know his first thought when
he finds her in his bed with another
lover’s hands roaming the terrain she
had promised to be his monopoly—
a country that elongates itself like
Argentina or Chile from Bolivia as it
falls from lips puffed by Sisley Hydrating
Lipstick shaped into a beveled spiral bullet
to better apply its vitamins C and E as
anti-oxidants, plus Calendula for softening
Happily, his hands had tilled that land with
Kanebo’s Sensai Premier Body Cream
crafted from Chinese Mulberry shrub
Japanese seaweed and Moon Flower
Fragrance. He shows no anger, simply
turns and leaves the room while she and
the other betrayer scramble for clothes
Dressed, she dashes from the bedroom
and, opting for offense as the best defense
charges at him, “What about ____ or ____?”
The specific names of his lovers do not
matter—what matters is the mutuality
of betrayal. Thus, he shrugs as his thoughts
turn to the Cire Trudon Odeur de Lune
Candle in his briefcase. He had looked
forward to sharing it with her that evening
to test the veracity of Maison Trudon’s claim
that it offers “a composition imagining
the scent of [a] satellite orbiting around
the earth.” Apparently, such a scent involves
sulfur, black coal and a metal infusion
When he finally speaks, she is mystified
Distantly, he observes, “It’s rare for a
product to embody its glossy marketing”

Witnessed in the Convex Mirror: A Spy Story

Of the mirror being convex, the distance increases
significantly until, unexpectedly, you are intimate
with a sailor—might as well kiss!—when minutes
earlier your gaze toward his direction snagged on
the barely there tip of a ship’s prow interrupting the
horizon. If convexity brings you someone to kiss
what’s not to like? But the sailor backed away with
a grimace before your lips could find land, remind
-ing you yet again that the speed of sight does
not always match the impulse to give everyone
the benefit of a doubt. As you efficiently (albeit
sadly) slip the wand-thin stun gun from your garter
belt designed by SiuSiu in Macau, you console
yourself with the thought: a true sailor would not
turn down a kiss. SiuSiu’s garter belts are lined
to prevent X-ray machines from revealing its
tools, of which some are crafted from plastic
polymers strong as steel but undetectable by
even the most hypersensitive metal detector
Positioned next to the stun gun are a screwdriver
lock pick and a combination hacksaw/pry bar
The clips at the dangly straps of your garter
belt conceal a button-size flashlight, a locator
beacon and 200 feet of dental-floss-thin, 250-
pound rated cord that could be used to rappel
down as much as 19 stories, a length determined
by space considerations coupled with the theory
that if exit needed to encompass more than 19
stories then you could break through a high-rise
window or find some other alternate means of
descent by the time you reach, if you will, the end
of your rope. No need to reveal what happened
after the stun gun kissed the hairy nape of the
false sailor. The moral of this story? If you wear
for disguise a dark tan and a white sailor hat
with a blue anchor embroidered nattily on
its upturned brim, never reject a kiss from
a spy wearing nothing but fishnet stockings
and scraps of black lingerie, like the strapless
bra offering up breasts more than the eyeful they
actually are, and where freckles emphasize
the skin‘s creaminess, proverbially “like buttah!”

—After The Ultimatum by Karen Robards (Mira Books, Ontario, 2017)

Witnessed in the Convex Mirror: For Charlie Gard

A housewife doing chores. Impossible now
to restore those properties in the silver blur
of disavowing corporations as humans, a lie
from a condition precedent of normalizing
marriage to a house. This poem does not
mean to insult the same culture that begot
lives of men as one of “quiet desperation”—
this poem simply grieves over Charlie
Gard, indisputably human though he could
not hear, see, swallow … surrounded by
stuffed bears and monkeys and clad in
a blue onesie festooned like the sky with
stars, the 11-month-old was human though
he could not cry. Such speechlessness
meant his doctors could not prove Charlie
was suffering, even as his parents could
not give up hope: Charlie suffered from
mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome
But something is missing in all of us
an absence that clarifies our humanity as
we despair, as we are unable not to hope
and as we refuse to cease searching
for redemption, accustomed as we have
become, to night collapsing before day

Witnessed in the Convex Mirror: The Lost Context

As Parmigianino did it, the right hand
bigger than the head, thrust at the viewer—
reveals the complication of grabbing
someone’s attention in the way one wants
to achieve attention. We all want to remain
the child who would draw a green dragon
or blue banana or yellow stallion and
not only receive but know to anticipate
with confidence the consistent response
“Wow! You are so talented!” Yet another
adulthood complication: the diminution of
mothering until you, who thought yourself
still a child, suddenly becomes the Mama
with the beaming smile and ready reaction
“Wow! You are so etcetera … “ Diminution—
such a diminishing experience. Thrust at
viewers in the beginning now lost in the back
-ground that is the fate of history, the hand
swerves at the foreground of the Now from
which consequences proceed. Maturity
counsels distrust in any call for recognition—
you either do or you don’t and discourse
becomes excuse, or worse, apology (who
wants pity?). Parmigianino: so much must
lurk in your heart as you fight off the growing
darkness: the fur loses its pleasing sheen as 
it becomes one more element bypassed by
a gaze exhausted with questioning itself

Witnessed in the Convex Mirror: Art Foretells Even a Typhoon

It happened while you were inside, asleep
The penguins now grieve over the escalation
of silt in their bath. A mother begs a child
“Let go. I won’t survive, but you can!” But
the child will not survive this last image
of a mother forcing a smile to lessen
the impact of her sacrifice; the smile worsened
the ordeal, of course. In his future, the child
shall weep at the sight of Parmigianino’s
Madonna—her stretched neck will evoke his
mother elongating her neck to try to breathe
above waves. Typhoon Haiyan broke families
as the largest storm ever recorded on land
That the child will sight the painting as
a reproduction will not diminish the impact
of a work designed by its artist to break
inherited conventions of “beauty.” Harmony
the moderns chided, is not the only possible
solution. The child will understand a body
depicted to emphasize what is significant
No wonder piano sonatas stuff themselves
with conspiracies, before designing
versions intended to waft through churches

—Eileen R. Tabios

Eileen R. Tabios loves books and has released about 50 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in nine countries and cyberspace. Forthcoming poetry collections include MANHATTAN: An Archaeology (2017); Love in a Time of Belligerence (2017); and HIRAETH: Tercets From the Last Archipelago (2018). Inventor of the poetry form “hay(na)ku,” she has been translated into eight languages. She also has edited, co-edited or conceptualized 12 anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays as well as served as editor or guest editor for various literary journals. More information is available at Eileen R. Tabios.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Younisos, Excerpt from Carnal Flux and Sensory Slaughters

 The Gaze of Flesh, image by Younisos 

Excerpt from Carnal Flux and Sensory Slaughters


throbbing slices of liver sliding on sidereal platinum fringes
shredding up the red way
to visceral fireworks around round asses at Sainte-Catherine street
drinking gulps of fresh blue sky
licking the blade on the fair thigh

who could snatch my liver ?


Tangier / Salò / Interzone

Cerulean Hades

Wicked azure sings and defecates hordes of redheads whose ultra-tight ass is fucked too deep, far beyond rectum, into delighted caecum.

At Zoco Chico, streetwalkers are scarce, and overseas perverts become too courteous. — Only blue sky continues to squirt, perfectly vile and crude, oozing its jizz on the square, haloed with iridescent vaporous layers of gauzy cum and ethereal translucent plasma perceived only by the phallic Bone fitted with fluidized sensory resonances.

Tangier / Salò / Interzone

What about sensory data ?
How does it get sodomized ?

Creamy carnage

I might doze, right ? Railwaymen, brats, the sky — fuchsia bitchiness… Pissing on her thick hair and wide watery eyes. My cock cleanly cut, in the fridge. Banana spurted in the dark screaming at rectal attitude, disgorging streams of unspeakable reddened lymph, heart sap of the last laryngeal jerk. Long sausage gleaming beneath the knife. Bowel’s skin. Under the frail tangent of gutted Eros I stretch sparkling viscera along the crackling vomit of a mad alto sax. Free jazz sharpens my canines. Vaïna crawling on the lookout for poetic performances… she ended up impaled on the edge of bony glans. Ornette Coleman blessed her thigh filet sizzling on the grill. I puked two large bundles of erotic marshmallow, two milky girls sliced on the sensory block of the dying pudding. — As you like ladies, I’m always available for any ax and legs routine. Voracious. I never get enough meat for my thirsty marrow… Huge cream pies haunting the arterial roads of the day.

Put your gun on my shoulder

square bone gushes on the mangled edge of darkish spatters while smooth whores wail and writhe in the woods my TV died of testicular cancer shiny tits illusion sparkles around  synthetic mountains through the holy sleep the big toe survived the plague and now it's squirting  words of milky wisdom and black crackling cum the square jaw has come

sensual anxiety puking its fuchsia gall on the final pie of sidereal panic

slit human spleen
drowsing in a silver bag
cold lymph shower
on the back of the three dicks beast

cut off my toe NOW
it's rotten


Younisos writes what he calls "carnal experimental poetry". He is the author of Carnage Sensitif, in French; and is now looking for a publisher for his new book in English: Carnal Flux and Sensory Slaughters. He lives in Tangier.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Aad de Gids, clube four four nine & miserere

Untitled, image by Bas de Gids 

clube four four nine

clube four four nine open non-stop 24/7,weeklong. the club samples nice colours, sieved blues, topazes, white as from sautéed ice, london mists, flares and sparks as as well meteorologic as mediumnistic plateformes. a clown de luxe either, or, aphrodite, time nor space nor gender still serves as denominator all such qualifications prove remnant, atrophiated, out of order. here all sits in the athmospheres and to poetically dwell around these inbetween veils and dimmed light utensils which can also be the earths' exsudations out of its fumaroles with odeon radon neon dynamone noble gaseous presentisms so short so ephemereal embedded in an orangeade of petitgrain bigarade and l'absolu d'eau de brouts expanding as regal dispigmented shockwaves gently olphactorily along, out of these materials this world is build up and it is there as it is dismantling, such is the brittleness of a diana goddess of the forest (ok the hunt) or of a leda, she of the swannery in sussex. here the summer has begun and the evening still whirring in warmth ahaute très très dior haute plafonnière above us of compressed yet expanding air,let us call it a breathlessness of what was seen. it is a dôme of ecclesiastical brick to brick movement up like a mary quant eh mary poppins going up umbrella'd as that was the flying device she went up with. yet here a sacral figure is lending virtues and meritorious pellets to the visitors whomever it may concern and some sparks near the floorcovering (of mysts) show tendencies of appearance yet also with the curve for come-back, the possibility of the adjacent rooms as the image is borderless and seems to travel walless as well as footloose. no fee at clube four four nine.

—Aad de Gids

Untitled, image by Bas de Gids 


miserere -  a psalm in which mercy is sought, especially Psalm 51  |   this vocal complaint or lament,
a vocal then as well, as we see here, gestural, lament. miséricorde.
La miséricorde est une « forme de compassion pour la misère d'autrui »
qui, par extension, peut définir une « générosité entraînant le pardon
[a generosity following the forgiveness], l'indulgence pour un coupable
[for the indulgence in affluence], un vaincu [a victory]». Miséricorde
est aussi l'arme secondaire de Mercy/Ange dans Overwatch. [weapon]
Miserere (full title: Miserere mei, Deus, Latin for "Have mercy on me,
O God") is a setting of Psalm 51 (50) by Italian composer Gregorio
Allegri. It was composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, probably
during the 1630s, for use in the Sistine Chapel during matins, as part
of the exclusive Tenebrae service on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday
of Holy Week. Mea culpa is a Latin phrase that means "through my
fault" and is an acknowledgement of having done wrong. Grammatically,
meā culpā is in the ablative case, with an instrumental meaning.The
phrase comes from a prayer of confession of sinfulness, known as the
Confiteor, used in the Roman Rite at the beginning of Mass or when
receiving the sacrament of Penance. The expression is used also as an
admission of having made a mistake that should have been avoided,
and may be accompanied by beating the breast as in its use in a religious 
context. (A QUILT OF CITATIONS) in a poem of nonconversational
citations the warrioress-gatheresse disappears behind what dissolves
with the text and as a quilt is as flat as deeply, intricately profound, the
patches sum up to what already has been said. all is done. nothing has
to be done. in not-doing (wu-wei), we follow the path of nature, love

—Aad de Gids

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Michael Mc Aloran, excerpts from ‘all null having’...

Swarm, Oil Painting (2007), by Michael Mc Aloran 

excerpts from ‘all null having’...

…plays dead yes it is or no more foreign than foreign-else no longer in-breathe collision with given to expire dredge no longing not silently outcast of flame delivered from restoration dead tide of words eager no more to unravel…

…sharp shutter shutter down collapse fragrant as corpse-filled fields laughter long what having once no longer trace what wind outspoken no no echo chokes now upon gutter of which what given from outset useless as ever was unknown…

…as downward lack liberate what closure having in etch blade cold blunt lapse lack struck from out of cross-fire no target merely open wounds cauterized in none collapse into thy splendor utter as if to no trace without form laughter-long nothing left to…

…yet still the bleed as if to carving into null reject of sound of echo knock thrice breaking apart crack stone none siege of the biting into as if there no not haven taken from outset close the door exiting blind no pageant merely crossed up from the commence…

…as if to that was what matter if bile closure fist redeem no hope the candle blown out it was said in funeral pyre now birthed into collapse where spurious skies beckon lock to meat of sense unto given unto ever the candle resurgent the flame is wild it echos silent’s trace…

…it is said be-gone what matter as if to say from where prism dense casts light upon fragmentary silence no words for the ever-as or of closing down speech to cast like detritus upon forgettable lands where of in-tide and lapse burn and submit what words for unquantifiable night…

…less than of what will till gathering up some scattered tines no motion the extinguished sound not a trace of having been having little else but unkempt vocal scratching at the skin of some bankrupt edge the bankrupt flesh from outset silenteeism…

…there are teeth in the veins in league with sufferance a six-pence given to climb to the hilt of nowhere no further trace repetitive skyline of bleak no nothing of what the less to echo of it barren a shit-streaked latrine…

…drag of the drag of corpsal sounds breaking apart dressed in some worm-clad pelt of decay where sunlit ever pisses up where guiding light fractures ever upon photographic snare ever the whimper the force no majesty in or otherwise…

…words echoes what sense to devour blacking it out as if to that else were the given than where none’s enclave rots break stone where given in inherited blood filling the nerves where brace devoured casts a cold glance upon mirror’s redeem…

…still yet till of or yet and if or of asking of promise furtive scarred by beauty-dim in the faint light basking where words are static sands nothing closing its fist as if to say that final deflected closure of fist broken shards of glass working the bone’s exposure not a…

…it has been uttered now acclimatize where lung’s pageant coagulated in given stream of null again nullity all having all nothing blind-sighted a reckless overture the illusive blood’s shearing drought collapse unspoken till restive senseless in a…

…meat speaks none accorded silenteeism and the breathless corpus smiles where bled from lock of sound all having been yet seeing none more cut to bone having in in dislocate where foreign ever abounds how as if to what matter the hour where speech treads nullity capacity…

…yet still to vent as if the cadaver ever listened blood shit cum and piss into vortices through nocturnes of blind white heat given to expire seeks solace in ever where none is ever-long given to rot in day after dissent what matter…

…as if to/ zero bone what other than collision with untold unquantifiable exist the bones raking up the leaves for what further purpose as it all falls down given to expound upon nothing to expire through echo-null…

…a-bask in skull what head exigent nullity spoken of as was before breaking apart dense light carving up the dawn disclosure expiration traceless given no taken nor taken given no echo-dim traces speech-dead recollect a-breathe in sickness scuttling throughout…

…passage lack lacking trace cold shadow of pelt wrung out voiceless after was in all no the persist of onward into nothing to behold ever the disclosure silent as what stun not a/ lack/ vocal tread throughout misgiving taken from what edge collapse sun dead foreign eye in a…

…all lapse till dense what held echo tremolo escapade shadow-bite in rip nothing gained nor taken from cold weight cast off breakage of bone skinned of flesh of never having never wishing to of ever-lung trace till unto desire lack close the wound it…

…yet the laughter of of the course for dead shadowings as if to say that was in or of what as if to close coloured it screams silently never once having paces the boundary until final never of in spoken of unspoken silent from the commence ever the outset…

…as all what once to the footstep taken upon moist earth sink sunk dead weight collision ever-in/ in/ mocking the body broken the burst dam of blood in the body broken circulating throughout mire’s outreaching fingers...

…breaking from fever sensed through wind abandonment closure of the sky folding in origami soundless breakage of faint light through a cracked sun leaking nothing more than was from outset words cascading into voidal nothing left ever onward unto what…

…the fevered tongue of jackal devouring in night close the door it will liquefy seek solace in headless abandon clasp the heart that leaks blind chalice the cup over-floweth distances non-distance all unsung…

…as was desolate commence not a sound breaking the cold chamber where whittled purpose seeks solace throughout the blind air the skinned parameter of blood nestling in meat’s absurd-closed lightless pageantry ever unto where from it was once said…

…it is taken from selective ashen drought from outset being nothing seeing less than other than throughout until what once once tread syllabus evacuating from dread mis-speech walls implode a shearing of fragrant a bone to pick away the scars that amass…

…and all along as if to final were once closed the fingers searching in drought’s pale elixir breaking apart the catacombs of having once where there never was sickness to dredge from some point of departure until until…

…until silenced beyond longing cold weight of distance coiling its way back in to choke-stone exigency nullity of devourment escapade none where lapse drinks of the wounds that trace hence unsaid never to be in cylinders of blind bitten struck out collapse unstepped not a bleeding out unto…

…endless of the once spat out from disclosure lack words dissipating of their never once in the hands that crumble also till dust departed flowers upon gutter’s tongue silences that gather in their transparent children mocking the anguish of settling shadows that never once…

…better then the garrote the cold tears the erasure of self-non-self in tragedia no motion unto waste a clear fragment cascading into blind weight lapse no directly striking the vein’s cold chalice where abort if blessed nullity taken from vocal echo-dim…

…the eye struck out erased not a solace in the irredeemable lack weightless psychosis gathering up the charred milk teeth of having once been solace of collision reckless flesh stripped away cold colours in blight stone abandonment taken as of given no not a…

…and of yet yes of the tread back inwardly from nothing clamour of sharded lights shattered the pulse of nocturne given to speech’s reclamation no nothing there in the faint light echoing veranda of skins shed flayed bone the tissue spent yet ever resurgent from outset solace not a trace nothing ever/ of a…

—Michael Mc Aloran