Friday, October 15, 2021

At Long Last

 Coming this Spring from Thread Makes Blanket Books. Poems and Endopoems. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Poems and Endopoems

So I've been playing around with this new idea in my manuscript that I'm calling "Endopoems" where I highlight existing words in a poem to create an entirely new and different poem inside of it. It's kind of like the negative of an Erasure poem, but with the original text still present. All of the text forms the base poem and the red text forms another poem inside or on top of it. Most of these Endopoems are haiku or senryu or epigrams that use the principles of Japanese short form poetry, although a few of them are just short poems. I like the way it can be an entirely new poem with its own ideas, add an extra dimension to the base poem, or even contradict it. Below are a few examples from my current manuscript "Ideas Of Improvisation."


(a free jazz of ashes buried or scattered by a dead? cat in a different key)

These are perhaps 

some points 

on the musical taste of

The Black Raspberries,

although we thought 

the shrubs might be 

mostly petals and

it was quite a pinch 

when a light note later

the purpose of the thorns 

entered us 

for the first time

like a Pointillist painting 

of a pond that Cecil

tailored in the moment 

by pleating with 

some fate

we couldn’t 

fathom back then,

yet felt again 

and again beyond

the petaling of 

those phrases, 

in the syntax 

that arranged them,   

not ours 

to diagram

like a garden, 

but to enter in, 

and sometimes   

to venture out, 

before the feeling

seemed to

nearly inspire 

some type of 


raised up to 

the point of 

a sound science.

The Endopoem here is:

"Perhaps the light of a pond beyond the diagram but feeling nearly the point of it."


We pray mainly

in the alleys of memory.

There, shards of smiles glitter 

on the ground,

but here we wear the same name

—almost—identical scars,

though you can’t or won’t

remember what date I was born.

Something trickles

down the side

of my face.

In some versions this may be all

you have taught me:

needles are hollow lies

and collapse as many families

as veins.

Now a prisoner in death's camp,

you wither each day

until we may count your T-cells

with one hand.

When the phone beckons

and Mama’s voice begs

Please buy a dark suit to wear

I may be wrong—

but I say

don’t some of us

wear black 

all day




"We pray there but here you can't / In some versions a prisoner we may phone but don't"


(por il miglior fabbro)

probably begins

before the first Oh!

of any emotion 

to m√∂bius like the circle 

at the center of God.

Meaning inky-haired & lightheaded,

you start to dream of tracing—

in tree frog hues—

a sonic essay

that Alice or Stevie

(in Wonderland)

arranged over doubts

the black of our mouths

splay open.

And since the tint

is half the sound

your belief,

(in the feeling of faith

rather than gothic of god)

becomes more than 

mere ode or elegy

borne in a mouthpiece.

Isn’t that why

at the wheel of the warship 

of worship you vie 

for the harmony

of suspended chords 

in righteous unravel

or strive to maroon

at the bluest end 

of Duende?

Perhaps this means

certain starred charts

—once incomplete—

have now become

your guide

in a bitter suite

as incensed ropes of smoke 

muscle music from hunger. 

Splay, how “What if?”

preys to probe

the pouty mouth

of imagination—


of our interior—

to query if

it’s the lion or angel

in “Evangelion”

that extends 

the swing of most triads

or swells our

Hammond organs?

And since all great musicians 

know there are only

twelve ways to kneel

and kiss the ground,

surely the second O

of said emotion frays

to mean all things 

in modulation,

how therefore to be drawn

around a circle of fifths 

ruled by ratios—

even irrationally—

as you Picasso keys

into a piano’s grand motif.

A quasi Cubist riff—

perhaps brayed into a bridge—

to re-choir

something like

the Acknowledgement

of our father.

Maybe a relative minor

to absolve some resolve 

towards Resolution

or flip the full-hipped logic

as you Bearden the burden

of our double basis

until battered sticks shatter

and every Zildjan shivers

with symbols unseen

of the quest inside

your questions.

Because a talent

may also be a weight,

your gift gives pause—

purpling in turbulent

Pursuance of relief

—wind from a box—

spilling like

certain bottled spirits

—e pluribus unum—

until God is an American 

Sonnet Wanda worked

into the Psalms 

of our unanthemed hands.

Since prayer is a petition

people sign with their lips

your ongoing gaze flips 

inward to cast bated phrases

that nearly sync 

in their artful craft

bobbing about

a more Lydian theory 

of the Lyric

on modal lines 

which appear

to conflate 

or conflict

until they’re well nigh

wholly writ.

The 3 Endopoems are:

"The first dream arranged doubts our mouths half sound" / "Circle of fifths Picasso riff a logic of shivers" / "Wind spilling bottled spirits into prayer"


As a kid, Pythagoras
(my purple plush toy)
made joyful sounds

only I could hear
until a bike sprocket of logic
severed his single horn.
Newly numb,

I sought to sew together his song

and thus took up the trumpet.

Pythagoras praised music
as sacred math,
numbers raised to the highest power.
Maybe here I could raise 

how the brains of birds 

seem to beg for beauty
as they bear the seeds 

of notes in their beaks.
Maybe my school trumpet begged 

to be muted when moonlight 

flooded our shoebox apartment

as I practiced what beauty was allowed.

Some say Pythagoreans 

accounted for the lyric 

as a sine of certain numbers 

in our universe.
Perhaps the bird part of our brains 

co-signed the seeds of language
because it longed to fill our tangents
with evergreen musing about music.
Can’t the needles of a pine
and the needles of a phonograph
both sew scented air into song?
Have you ever smelled oil

in a trumpet's breath
or felt rhythm uncoil

to kill time round midnight?
Logicians claim death
has many fugues—but little logic—

and yet wasn’t death somewhere branded

with the fugitive logic of the fleur de lis?
My boy T claims this might be 

the truest thing about music:
a lyric can be a useful essay,
but an essay is a useless-ass lyric.
Sometimes I imagine lyrics 

collecting on lips as dew 

on Dogwood leaves.
Say silly you leaves your school trumpet
on a train coming home,
but that stray horn never holds it against you.
Maybe I also took up the horn 

to note something about holding Latricia Taylor
and collecting her breath
in the bowl of my collar bone.
Say after an errant elbow
knocks loose a front tooth,
you try to pick up
your horn again,
but red graffiti scrawled
in a school bathroom stall
claims a one armed man
will never play his violin.
Doesn’t every trumpeter’s mouth
resemble a red wound?
Suppose you could read sheet music
easily as your Beloved’s grocery notes,
but not read their most notable longing,
because you only knew Desire 

as a housing project
in a city famous for its trumpet players.
Some nights I think
Pythagoras merely heard music
as the grammar of sound making sentences
but, listen—who among us hasn’t

also needed to number the hoarse notes 

galloping out a bridled mouth?

The 3 Endopoems are:

"How muted moonlight practiced the lyric" / "Round midnight the Fleur De Lis the truest music" / "Violin sheet music your notable grammar"


What’s the difference between chocolate and any other pleasure darkened? And pray tell which desire registers deepest in a casino—those giant shrines to Apophenia—such that a man who wagers by probability and therefore can’t be addicted also can’t stop trying to solve this woman (who has arrived to serve him dissolved spirits) like an Incompleteness Theorem? Is it the Vagus Nerve which causes octaves of chocolate in her skin tone to French Horn into harmony in the hallways of his mouth? If you’ve ever wagered and lost it all, you might know why a choir means to gather, but what could it mean to hymn? Let us pretend that the phattest asymptotes don’t curve into forever as we query if any door besides endorphins numbs our hunger round these numbered wheels. And if said door is mascara black or lipstick red. Which shade of hymn best befalls the shadows of balls briefly brushing whatever digits he seeks? None? Is this the part of the arc where we act uncertain if Schr√∂dinger’s cat is black as a clarinet strung around Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s neck? Or the part where our gambler compounds his losses by denying the hymn of her name arranged in red is a litany he would petition dark arts to learn? Pray tell, does the darkest logic of chocolate involve merely pleasure barred — or — how sweetly it bids us swipe our debit cards in the register of longing?

The 2 Endopoems are:

"A casino a man an Incompleteness Theorem" / "Black lipstick a clarinet compounds her dark logic"

I feel like I've really only scratched the surface of what I can do with this, so it's pretty exciting to play around with it and see what all is possible. I haven't decided on what I'll do about line breaks when I print the Endopoems apart from the base poem. There are decent arguments for retaining the original breaks or for using new line breaks. Anyway, that's what I've been up to writing wise for the last year or so. I'm vaccinated so I can't wait for live poetry readings to start back up.