Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Jonathan Mulcahy-King's Resurrection Software, A Review of Eileen R. Tabios’ The Opposite of Claustrophobia

Book Cover for The Opposite of Claustrophobia, Eileen Tabios
The Knives Forks and Spoons Press, 2017 

The Opposite of Claustrophobia: Prime’s Anti-Autobiography
Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-909443-88-4
71 pages 

Resurrection Software, A Review of Eileen R. Tabios
Prime’s Anti-Autobiography

by Jonathan Mulcahy-King

The Opposite of Claustrophobia: Prime’s Anti-Autobiography is a tender blend of modernist, de-colonial and procedural code in which poet Eileen Tabios elegantly defies Plato’s prescient warning against the dangers of web-connected memory, and that relying too heavily on external memory (he was referring of course to writing at the time) would have irreversible consequences on our ability to remember.

I forgot because I thought it best to forget
everything rather than remember schemes
informed by my desire rather than what
actually transpired.

(p. 58)

Defiantly, Tabios melds the computational with the haptic to create something refreshingly unique and politically poignant. In her explanatory essay ‘Babaylan Poetics  & the MDR Poetry Generator’ (Amnesia: Somebody’s Memoir, 2016), Tabios outlines her method. This is Tabios’ sixth collection (of an impressive 40 plus book career) in which she has utilised what she refers to as the MDR, or “Murder Death Resurrection” machine. The MDR is a database of 1,146 lines Tabios created from her reading of her previously published poetry in order to present poems that are not, as she writes, a product of conscious personal preference. Here, each line begins with the phrase “I forgot”, in homage to Tom Beckett. In doing so, each line in the book is representative of a memory and the book, itself a long poem, the act of remembering.

I forgot space is difficult to depict without the
negative grid.

(p. 66)

The Opposite of Claustrophobia also hinges on what Tabios terms “Babaylan Poetics”, a poetics based on indigenous Filipino practices and culture, taken from the word for Shaman/ healer/ community leader, is an attempt to de-colonialize her Filipino roots through the manipulation of the English language and the restoration of a ‘sacred wholeness’. For Tabios, this is brought about as a result of the displacement (through cut-up) of English, the ‘enforced tongue’, and serves to relate the pre-colonial, spiritualist idea of interconnectivity—that seemingly unconnected parts have meaning as a whole. In doing so, Tabios de/reconstructs the English language as a kind of restorative Justice. This is key to understanding Tabios’ unflinching conviction that poetry can impact greatly on culture and our understanding of the world, as she writes (p.59),

I forgot Arthur Rimbaud who said the bears
are dancing but what he had wanted to do
was move the stars to pity.

Although Tabios creates an auto-affective method, she does not wish to stage her post-modern death, but be at play amongst the structural decay—while she increases the intermediate space between intention and action. It is significant to Tabios’ trajectory that she not relinquish full authorship, if such a thing is even possible (many artists and writers have attempted this, most notably Jackson Pollock, whose drip paintings have spurred much debate, as patterns form even subconsciously and as a product of muscle memory), instead, rather than a poetry of pure automaticity, Tabios’ is a meditation on what it is to remember, to be human…

I forgot we, together, formed tuning forks
longing for empathetic hits.

(p. 22)

… and what it is to be a poet staving off ennui, and does so with bold complexity, and as a result joins the strange metaphysics of the cut-up canon alongside its key architect, William Burroughs.

I forgot how one can sag into night as if night
was a lover.

(p. 22)

I forgot a poem with multiple references that
became whole through a scaffolding of jazz.

(p. 67)

The Opposite of Claustrophobia then, is a celebration of remembering, as a haptic art, and speaks to an important facet in the evolution of personal and collective memory—that there are cognitive consequences of our ever-growing reliance on external memory (Smart 2012), and in this sense is a meditation on our tendency to remember how to find that information, rather than remembering the information itself (Sparrow, Liu, & Wegner 2011).

I forgot grabbing at my fading dreams only to recall a vision of skyscrapers crumbling from
the slaps of iron balls.

(p. 7)

I forgot longing for a sky without horizon, but
acceding  instead to the eye’s  clamour against
the opposite of claustrophobia.

(p. 14)

Having let this book’s ideas germinate for a while, it is clear that the opposite of claustrophobia is not agoraphobia, as logic would suggest, but perhaps the comfort of being confined, an embrace of the state in which one could feel constricted by the crush of societal and neurostructural schema, and that it is this comfort—of being confined to our memories and how we embrace this reflexivity between our personal and collective/ cultural memories that differentiates us in an age of overwhelming automation.

I forgot a lake capitulating with ripples from a
stone’s impassive penetration.

(p. 23)

Sparrow, B., Liu, J., and Wegner, D. M., (2011), ‘Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips’, Science, 333(6043): 776–778.

Smart, Paul R., 2012, ‘The Web-Extended Mind’, Metaphilosophy, 43(4): 446–463.

Tabios, E., R. (2016) Amnesia: Somebody’s Memoir. Black Radish Books.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Alex Lundy, Chiasma & Theogyny

The Rise of the Subalterns, image by Daniel Y. Harris 


Like little t’s, like telephone poles, like repeated rows              of railroad sleepers, footnotes, & obsoletions, like red edits,   traffic lights on city blocks,  like long walks, strangers colliding, jawing off, & punches thrown, like B-4 shadows & target   zones, the way homes lay   broken over quiet streets, a mortared amalgam of bricks,  like two sticks twined over your plotted grave, or else, the devil’s highway, like the burning firmament slipping surrenders, like how the moon will eclipse the sun, the sun, the moon, like clasped hands beneath             a phthalo-blinking dusk, like krackenwagon, like I can see right through you, your sweet self-prescribed moonshine taken by the jug; like a sketch of redemption, your facial symmetry, like selfhood’s geometry, what Olson declared, + this, plus this, Venn brainstorms, like what’s x, or xy graphs 90x90x90, turning, like wheels, so timely.


in the calloused hands of icemen,
a walrus penis bone plays god,
breaks baby seals, & births
a host of athenas riding euphoria
that tide & trip & bark in arctic skies.

little friend, what a night to sip hot 
from this lichtenberg skull,
    & burn the fat, the hecatomb bodies;
a toast of blood to new gods
in the dark,
in reverence.

                lit at a far distance in spooky 
can you see us dancing? we, the god-
in the midst of bacchanalia;        
you, as tamino, playing
           in a grove of singing ice & still
    I must ask
in the lucubrating infancy of omnipresence
                what our seemers be?

somewhere beyond, a shadow
casts against the night veil, spectral & hollow,
its voice both dare & pardon,
        as you floe away...
o, bellower of this viridescent cascade,
                  is this hades, or oz?
        I make my discession, as you

await the stork delivery of the greek

keep a weather eye
       on the stars weaving off their great spindle
                                like dino-
silvery laps of paranormality
becoming heroes in blood-drunk
staggers of thought,
not more than fuzzy figures
who guard your doze.
little friend,
if you peer beyond your veil,
do you see the capsizing of the old guard?

—Alex Lundy

Friday, September 22, 2017


Edge of Zone, image by AC Evans 


Kick start your morning; get abducted by aliens.
So, I asked Sharon
Have you ever been abducted by aliens?
Not recently she said, spitting a cherry stone across the room.
Fast turnaround magnifico!
She lowered her suburban graces,
Grab your luxury slim-fit; check it out, rise and shine!
We met at the Edge of Zone,
On the A205 (W) somewhere near Wandsworth.
You get around?
What’s your poison?
Whatever, go for it!
Grand Tower reflective effects
Premium soul searching (lost your soul? We can find it)
Overnight service, big jackpots, new memory cards,
Flashmob groovers as seen on Mondo Bonkers,
But you always make it easy! So easy!
Lifestyle to let, please touch
There’s no stopping our minxy nudes,
Yet the signs of the times make no sense to me.
Now what?
I told you, sister: it’s Mondo Bonkers!
Every second of every day
A majestic vision of ‘life on the tiles’ haunts gorgeous Sharon
More front than Buckingham Palace
(Someday my prince will come, sigh!)
Here in Commuterland you’re just a citizen of nowhere
She muttered to no one in particular.
Hyperactive idiots, knockout shapes,
All new midnight gold standard nice in luxe leather,
Upfront moments, nails and waxing all the rage,
Dramatic and distinctive – oddball look both ways.
Prove it – but you can’t.
Flashing lights. Now what? No? Sooo mean! OK!
Useless bloke arrived, slumped down, and
Started nibbling a gluten-free Bakewell tart.
Straggly beard, baggy, short trousers
Sharon (facepalm) looked shocked:
What a gink! No thanks!
As for Sharon, well fantastico!
Wing the look, baby, like wow!
Find what makes you top notch,
Huddle in the Cold Room,
You can’t snooze, you just have to
Wing it while you wait.
Chinese tonight?
Nah we might get abducted by aliens.
The Grand Tower loomed like a giant warship on the horizon
The mannequin in the shop window
Was staring at me, and then… I saw
Nine versions of The Disquieting Muses.
Various coloured spotlights splashed the night-sky.
My x-ray skull certainly looked the part…
Lost your soul?
Tough luck.

—AC Evans

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Daniel Y. Harris & Rupert M. Loydell, Excerpts from THE RETURN OF DOOM-HEADED THREE

Doom-Headed Three, image by Daniel Y. Harris

Excerpts from 
Daniel Y. Harris & Rupert M. Loydell

It was neither Colonel Marsupial Baltrice, Mr. Marlap
nor Mrs. Merlot who stood over the dead body, broken
with glass and broken with mind. It was Jimmy Æthelstan,
thug king of the bottom two, waxing Mercian in the hood.
We heard the news from the panoptical priestess’ tweet.
#Yo J-Ecgwynn. He dead. The high school in the vinyl
town, near the Velcro border of the M-Mini-Supermarkup,
held a séance. Horror hit the latest. Went missing. Pin up.
Brunanbruth spun the beats. We’re gonna party like its 937.
They protest the Annals of Clonmacnoise. Less this race.
Is Penrith in South City? Only on Thursdays. The rest
of the week, no-fly-zones. Call this book The Skirmish
of Point Blank. There is a new voice but it’s very hard
to find through the confessional, media pricking pomp.
Make It New, Olaf. Where Ezra failed in Anglo-Saxon.
That hoary-haired warrior, bereft in the fray of the police.
Take it off the page. Slaughter ever surpass these words.
Pound it. Pound it. Pound it. Pound it. Pound it. Pound it.
It’s a golf course today. Bones of a nine iron. A staccato
for our soundscape to par. A handicap for a battlefield.
Three strokes to the trans-pennine. The brambled never
made any sense, even now where she sprained her ankle.
They can’t just glad. This octave. Tremolo. Happy sharp.
Bottoms up to Symeon of Durham, now a hack caddie
angry that Bill Murray doesn’t know of him in his time.
The greatest actor forcing all constituent parts to side in.
Our freeman status is a translated body ride to the arrest.
No tomb. A hung jury. Too much bad news bad to rate.
Only the confessor survives. Sooth Malmesbury burials.
Nothing augments Egil’s Saga, even if you’ve not heard
of him. Nobody has, like Passenger 57, lost on Netflix.
#Yo J-Ecgwynn say the near death experience too near.
Maybe her last night. Nobody see Vin Moor. In annals.
No one breathe. No one the noble stone. No one Geoffrey.
Cause all I ever have, redemption songs. A crown. First
time instead of a helmet. Thorns. Halos. Shawls of heresy.
The new ordo was influenced by the two penny ambients.
No archbishop of narration will decree a triumphalist end
to addiction’s need to create character’s in lieu of a true
self. As many as none are empty. These new voices, but.
Jimmy Æthelstan has no role. He exists only in our name.
When love dies. Accordingly. Prevails. Some are misborn.
Tropes are now everything at the head of the list of laity.
Absolutely nothing to do with preludes nor with raw 1805
beating against clocks. A generation lost in space. Youtubed.
They have no childhoods says the Cliché Counter. Pugged. 
God save the Queen’s hagiography. Jimmy Æthelstan mourns
the invasion and calls upon recruits to Pay It Forward. Many
have been made redundant and blame the Saxons. Red states.
Once we get to the Synoptic Gospels, there’s no turning back.
Free to independence and co-dependent. Only rabbinical mass
of the weight of Akiba can stable the brow. Out of left field,
Samson’s hair greys finally out of puberty. These Nazirites
and their Delilahville squint to focus more under a buck fast
food. Tolerance. Some die in Canterbury in 926. Some die
surrounded by no-weather in the Place of Oranges. Family.
They reign supreme. The last days must live beyond when.
Frankpledge, the frith-borh parody, is someone to describe
us when others won’t. Can’t resolve by easy instability. No.
This final Shut Out Night. Don’t squander The Surety Oath.
No one can hold it. Not even retort, nor literally peace-pledge
to aid the effort. Did Jimmy Æthelstan discuss his father? His
father died recently and left him nothing but many Court Leet.
We leave you to it and can’t continue. It’s killing us. Please read.
We know we can’t. Peripheral. The sick come up and bugger out.


The elephant is not in the room,
it is in the pool behind the cathedral
or marching down the high street
in black and white on a postcard.

The thing you fear the most
cannot be named but is always here,
unspoken in conversation,
mentioned in asides and footnotes.

The band we loved the most
split up and never reformed,
their music unheard for years
has never been re-released.

The three-headed monster
guards the doors to the past,
is outside the future’s portals,
can never ever be tamed.

The elephant is a rogue
who seems to live forever.
He has become part of history;
be glad you don’t live next door.

We don’t teach or learn in straight lines
We don’t understand analogies
or recognise unusual correspondences,
can’t conceptualize the anthropocosmos.

With arms outstretched we author
internal coherence and desire,
imagine reconciliation and mourn
the death of metaphysical unity.

The flowers give honey to the bee,
the bee stings predators that come
too close; when we are stung
we ache and swear and wait

for the pain to go, having built up
traces of immunity, memories
of processes along with ideas
for beeswax sculptures

we might build in the future,
when we can function as artists,
make use of heavy softness
and brute intervention.

The artist is alchemical,
the teacher a poet of realities
greater than herself. History
echoes on through time as time

expands and contracts. We live
with dreams of restoration
and rejoicing, beyond
the melancholia of angels.

I wave adieu
to Colonel Marsupial Baltrice
before the Missa
pro defunctis. Me, in death and mourning,
first entrance antiphon: accusative.
I scatter ash among muck
in the introit to appease the Patri.
No respite for this infidel. No stint in gunpowder
and lipstick. No requiem aeternam dona eis, domine.

I remain in use, audible, but hidden in italics.
            The haunt encroaches. Bacteria. Incense.
                        Flip-flops. Agnus Dei. To whom do I owe
the pleasure? It is I, the redeemer minus one. Who died?
There is no Gloria in excelsis Deo. No one. I trust you, completely.
I give myself to eternal life and panic disorder.  

We will be resurrected on a Tuesday and will flaunt
the Greek parastas
and the Slavonic opеlо.
            How can the normal be found in this death of a march?
Sack a saint and watch him deflate. No walking. The Never-Die cheer:
                        our skin-worms destroy,
                        our skin-worms destroy,
                        our skin-worms destroy the fleeth and more stay.

Where are the Seek-Succour’s? High heaven
distills twelve laborers
with sets of chops. Suffer
us not in brute fancy. The dead will die in the Lord
of Rude Conceit. Save me from the wicked stilt. Save us
from these wicked stilts holding up the eyes. Crutches. They don’t remember
the earliest surviving polyphonic setting. Call the fauxbourdon
                                    to contrast. We’ll appeal but don’t call us archaic.

A Trend-Setter objects. No surprise. Have we arranged
the reliquaries? Not likely,
nor have we performed an a cappella.
This is serious. No omissions. No resolve nor dirge for Colonel
Baltrice. The bandit is dead. This is his oratorio of persuasion.
It’s non-flammable.

Frankly, I’m relieved and listen to October crickets crack
silence with their broken rhythms.
I hate nature. I’m unnatural. If only the salvator mundi would throw me a bone,
but I twitch with a luz bone instead of a spine. No throw
is forthcoming. If I could only sleep.
We sleep in jest: this Month’s Mind. Life-Cliché speaks: die already. The people
are board and resent having to work this hard. Your point? It’s pixilated
with critical acclaim. The real new: step less on the pattern. I won’t cut
my hair. I won’t breathe as much. I’ll drink less water, riding
a ghost bike through its Dries Irae. The triptych locks
now that we are close. Very close. I’m scared. No joke,
Sardonic-Empire, close. Have a mummification. Toast,
and spare no remorse for suffering.
Suffer the angelicum and rip the rib: this day
of judgment: this farce of selfhooded-we-in-one thwart.  
Happy the children who inherit.
Happy bliss.
The encore.
Pack a camera.
We’re exciting. Tuba mirum
spargens sonum. Are you on board?

This caper. These accomplices.
A random malapropism,
say as Officer Dogsbody,
but I translate you for brain.
Why be obtuse when you can be abstruse?
A tidy sum, wouldn’t you agree?
No, we’re after pure liberation
with a tad of libertine. That’s why we demure
to Mr. Probity. It takes two: double and alias,
shadow and avatar, to cast the perfect
artificial anthropoid. It’s blind mockery,
that deference to William Archibald
Spooner with terruffic striggles.
We’ll refrain from those annoying
morphemes. Was that belly
jean pepped in stew? Simply
due to the smell of sulphur? Never
mind, I’ll smell it with me pint,
hypodeemic nerdle and concede
it’s dangerous, and we’re frivolous
with dizzy beans of the apocalypse. 

“Mountains house the gods,
caves are entrances to the underworld,
sacred rivers wash away sins
and ferry crossings are places of transition”,
says Philip Marsden in his new book,
which is clearer than your twisted gospel
and bunch of random facts.

But Professor Marlap is more inclined
towards a hell on earth, a system
that condemns us all to life eternal.
And as for Pozzo? I prefer pizza:
margaritas with some olives on top.
Pozzibly one of the worst jokes
in this arcane delusion of a text.

Scared or sacred? Both if the nephilim
are roused. Angels on the earth?
Something’s amiss, there’s prophecy
and trouble afoot; things interfered with
and misdirected. Crossed wires,
misunderstandings and misery.
Theological knots and contortions

that will take centuries of torture
and war to forget. My sacred river’s
mostly a mudflat, the cave I found
a dead end full of high tide debris.
I refuse to pay the ferry charge,
prefer to drive the long way round.
How did we get there from here?

In the global republic we count for nothing,
are a footnote in a chronicle of soldiering
and musical asides. Ley lines spread
from everywhere and anywhere else
to meet where we currently are.

Some wear leather, some prefer lace,
others are anonymous in city clothes
or outfits for a hard day’s work.
Nothing but the venue has changed,
although it is tempting to despair.

Cosmopolitan desire drives us
to distant countries and other ways
of thinking. Panic disorder is a state
of mind, a Kantian transposition
of power, silence and emotion,

but also something reassuring
because it’s always there.
I have an inability to choose,
a desire for chaos and chance.
Each poet founds his own club

and this is mine, this my creed:
If you don’t then it isn’t, if you
disagree then you are wrong,
and things once said cannot be

taken back. If we are in the wrong
city then let us perform impromptu
in the street. I have the metabolism
of a hyperactive sloth, the constitution
of the colonel, a sixth sense about it all.