Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Who Cannot Count His Change. Who Wake Up and Punch the Air

The sound system in the rental I'm driving this trip to and from Ohio takes my iPod and sorts then plays all the songs by alphabetical order. That's a more than satisfactory shuffling. Unfortunately, when I turn the car off to buy gas or stop to hug Planet and load her stuff into the rental to haul home and then we take a wonderful three hour drive together just the two of us on rural Ohio backroads, it will be a day I remember the rest of my life, the sound system goes back to the start of the sequence. I'm sure I could figure it out and fix, but I've only seven more hours in the car, I've over 1700 songs, I can forward or back from the start a couple hundred songs and never get the same song twice. Once I went backwards. Talking Heads' live version of "What a Day It Was" from Stop Making Sense came on. I've always thought it one of Talking Heads' lamer songs, it lasted three bars before being skipped, though I thought to myself, Jeebus, Talking Heads has soured on me (or me them) this past couple of years. Last night I did my birthdays check, discovered today is David Byrne's birthday. David Byrne's birthday has always been an Egoslavian Holy Day, bedecked with Talking Heads songs. Can I say it's still an Egoslavian Holy Day, skip the Talking Heads songs today?

Eno and Fripp have birthdays soon. Both Egoslavian Holy Days, both usually bedecked in songs. Both probably will be again, I've listened to both in the past months (unlike Talking Heads), though this whole post is of course not about Egoslavian Holy Days but solely about bleggalgazing. As is the absence of links. Consider this fair warning of potential bleggalgazing and hiatus bluffs to come, because Fuck This bulges of a sudden with increasing intervals of incidents. Because I love you, though, because I still cannot stop myself, here, songs from the back and front of the alphabet on my iPod heard yesterday while Kensington to Frederick to Hagerstown to Hancock to Cumberland to Morgantown to Washington to Wheeling to Zanesville to Bamgier (by myself) to Howard to Danville to Jelloway to Bunker Hill to Butler to Ankenytown to Fredericktown to Sparta to Green Valley to Mt Vernon to Gambier (with Planet).


David Gewanter

But to whatever animal we ascribe these remains, it is certain such a one has existed in America, and that it has been the largest of all terrestrial beings. It should have sufficed to have rescued the earth it inhabited, and the atmosphere it breathed, from the imputation of impotence. . . .
—Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia
I called for armour, rose, and did not reel.
But when I thought . . .
                                      I could feel
My wound open wide.
—Thom Gunn, “The Wound”
For he can creep.
Whose doctor said his bipolar was pre-existing.
Smacked in the head by a steel cargo door,
hinges tied with a hamburger bag.
The day he blew up: a sucking silence, mouth of tar,
     story told over and over.
bump and rattle, caissons rolling.
The blacked-out school bus window is
scratched to read GHOST RECON. Street signs flash by,
“This here is Georgia. Now I see New Hampshire,
     and here’s Colorado.” What country is this city?
Gorked on pain-relief cocktails, Iraq to Landstuhl Med
to Andrews Air Force, wheelchair bus to Walter Reed.
Wounded when burning poppies, now afloat
on morphine. “As a state,” he once emailed,
     “Afghanistan is next to Mars.”
The navigator slides along a wall:
“Sir, can you show me north?”
Where the gazebo is a tank. Where the manhole covers a bomb.
Who apologize for shaving cuts. Skull plate,
     40-lb. gain from meds, big ox baby.
“Fall in,” the heart-attack sergeant tells
the legless man. “At ease,” he tells the psychotics.
They limp by drug dealers for their scoop
of Baskin-Robbins. Are told,
     “Suck it up, get used to the outside world.”
Who are saved, but die in dreams,
salute with a mechanical arm.
Beneath the marble, beneath the paper laws;
the paved boglands and legs-up taverns,
the slave-built steps of the Capitol. Winter 1898,
a sewer-man digs up a dinosaur spine,
      a nomen nudum, naked & unnamed fossil
tombed later at the Smithsonian
near Jefferson’s Mammoth tooth
that rattled his pocket, cherished knuckle-bone
and proof against the French naturalist
      who with powdered hands
wrote that New World dampness and cold
had stunted flora, animals, and Man:
the American Degeneracy
Jefferson ordered Lewis & Clark to find
      a living Mammoth,
the “animal de l’Ohio”
grazing somewhere west
of Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, and—
lest a species wither, or Nation grow small—
      brought Mammoth bones to Monticello.
“WHEREAS, the remains of a large carnivorous dinosaur,
which may be an ancestor of the Tyrannosaurus rex,
were found at First and ‘F’ Streets, SE,
OF COLUMBIA, do hereby proclaim January 28, 2001,
Anthony A. Williams
Reindeer of the herdsman Jarkov nuzzle
a tusk frozen 20,000 years. Soon,
French naturalists arrive. Radar shows
the Holy Grail of Mammoth hunters,
      a frigid bulk, twice an elephant’s size—
Timber saws cut the block. Hoisted by
military helicopter to Stalin’s
gulag caves, frozen labs for scientist-prisoners,
now re-opened. Waving hair-dryers
      to sublimate the ice, so that Discovery
can film them planting clone eggs
inside an elephant, hatching a Mammoth
American defender to split the ramparts,
show scheduled for release in 2001
      —the year, in the sci-fi film,
the monkeys learn to talk;
when Mayor Williams greets      
the Capitalsaurus and the new President Bush;
when Mohammed Atta decides he
      cannot date a waitress.
Weary headlands roll through zones of night,
red lights flash the muted streets,
crotch-of-moss draining a blue spark dawn—
We sleep, staring. Tree-shapes and stars prod us,
      the belt of Orion is a martyr’s bomb.
And the king, our godsbody, lies abed
groaning, chill spirit belaboring the flesh—
His spit and sperm are tallied; his temperature,
a weather report told by doctors. Until
      lady Securitas peers from a cloud—
her bloodlined hands, the blank, bureaucratic face!
We pray with our bodies: cold sweat, a hymn
of twitches, heart racing, shrieking dreams . . .
But fragrant Securitas has only
       come for him—
To compass him about.
Lifting out her breast.
Stoppers his mouth with a thick nipple.
Squeezing till the ichor throbs from his eyes,
      milk to make us thirsty—
Helicopters park at Forward Base EXXON;
only the sand is flying today, and it breaks
the speed limits, 50 miles an hour. Visibility zero;
the air is hot as blood, the sky is burnt amber.
      Lord keep still our hands.
In Texas, teens patrol the roads by night,
burning the body’s fuel—State Troopers pull them over.
George, fishtailing dauphin, a graceful
falldown drunk, clouds the breathalyzer:
      FELONY DUI. Daddy’s name sinks the report—
Election night, heaven staring, and Laura’s
yellowcake Chevy mows down her boyfriend:
VEHICULAR HOMICIDE: the car found guilty.
“I know this as an adult, it was crushing,”
      she recalls. Her scented, unmarked body
sweats beneath foundation garments and paste.
His unmarked body, and fructifying breath,
his stone squint chasing snakes from the sun—
They walk, O my darling, the hill of light;
      the bite of remorse teaches them to bite.
Then it rains. What falls from the sky is not water
but mud, raindrops pulling clouds of sand
into large wet globs. “It was biblical,” says
Col. Gibbs. Lights a cigarette, his back to the storm:
      “You’ve got to embrace the suck.”
From the dust, the limbs jerk up alive, stagger home
to camp. Martian: neck gators for the nose, goggles
seal off the eyes, baby wipes. WHAT DID YOU FIND THERE?
A slipper, an ear, some wire. A chemical suit.
      A map of water.
From Stalin’s cave, just bits of gristle—unreadable,
no Frankenstein DNA. They rewrite the Mammoth show.
From Walter Reed, “an aggressive campaign
to deal with the mice infestation.”
      Recovery rooms, “spit-polish clean.”
Whose mother swallows all the soldier medicine.
Who wheels himself in to play Texas Hold ‘Em.
Whose father says, “It was OK for my son
to give his body. They try in their power,
      but it reverses itself.”
Jefferson’s American Incognito
is ground up for fertilizer—
the maid said it was cow bones. Sweet heartland,
Governor Meriwether Lewis
      of Louisiana, depression pre-existing,
shoots himself in the chest and head.
Who sit by the apples and wingback chairs.
“If I had two hands, I’d order two vodkas”—
Who cannot count his change.
      Who wake up and punch the air.


  1. peace of the unseen peace of the spirit peace of iona, peace of anne's laughter , peace of earth girl's pots and art ichoke lasagna / sh' slips off the roof to the water and wild , fripp

  2. a)such interesting things appear in the blogs that crop up in your page margins (sidebars? i'm not sure of the right term) - i hope you will keep posting for many years to come even if your need for personal attention diminishes as you become olderandwiseletushope

    b)this poetry today by david gewanter is very powerful

    c)i am reminded of one time i was in walter reed army hospital with my father, who would be approaching his 101st birthday were he still alive (he's been gone for four and a half years, but who's counting?) - in the elevator was a young warrior in a wheelchair, with a young woman, presumably his wife, by his side - they were both white people - looking downward, he shielded his badly burned half of a face from our gaze with his fingerless left hand (was he a lefty, or was his right hand gone, as were both his feet? - i think it's the latter case, but maybe i am improving the story a bit - although it really doesn't need improving)

    d) this was the real walter reed, not the place in maryland now using the alias "The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), formerly known as the National Naval Medical Center and colloquially referred to as the Bethesda Naval Hospital" - i was at that place last month with colonel charley's widow, my stepmother, whose recall of her past is evaporating - i notice that her dementia is taken for granted by the health care system, rather than investigated, diagnosed, and treated (if possible)

    e)returning to the topic of gewanter, i see the wikipedia article on him is rather chary of details - he is an american poet who "teaches at Georgetown University, and lives in Washington, D. C., with his wife, writer Joy Young, and son James. His work has appeared in Ploughshares" - awards and publications listed - the end

    f)the magazine ploughshares is interesting - everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects, as will rogers said, and the american poetry scene is a particular focus of my own ignorance - i am struck by "In 1990, Ploughshares received the first of three large grants from the Wallace–Reader's Digest Funds, and thereafter came rapid growth, state-of-the-art computers, a new design, and aggressive marketing campaigns."

    all material in quotes from Wikipedia

    1. Yes, I know Gewanter. Not well, but by name, and he knows me by sight if not name. He wasn't in the English Dept when I was a student so all interaction I have with him is while I am a Faculty Servant. He has always been a gracious overlord.

  3. speaking of talking heads, i am extremely fond of "once in a lifetime" even though i do not specifically recall the content of its music video, which was named one of Time magazine's All-TIME Best Music Videos - i am not surprised that the song was named one of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century by NPR

    and "burning down the house" - a very powerful instantiation of the dilemma of a potentially transcendent consciousness in an inevitably deteriorating vehicle, the human body

    the one time i saw the talking heads the show opened with byrne doing a solo acoustic version of "psycho killer"

  4. They limp by drug dealers for their scoop of Baskin-Robbins

    a)yesterday afternoon i heard on my car radio at 3:30 that Häagen-Dazs were giving away ice cream cones from 4 to 8 pm at their retail locations - had i known where those were i could potentially have dropped by one - i was on my way from dulles international airport to the arlington public library, with the aim of picking up missus charley from her office after work for our return to upper gaithersburg - i would not have gotten ice cream, of course, as i try to eat in a plant-based way - but no doubt their sorbet flavors are delicious - they offer mango, orchard peach, raspberry, and zesty lemon

    b) [In 1961, brand found Reuben] Mattus invented the "Danish-sounding" "Häagen-Dazs" as a tribute to Denmark's exemplary treatment of its Jews during the Second World War, and included an outline map of Denmark on early labels. The name, however, is not Danish, which has neither an umlaut nor a digraph zs – ä is used in Finnish, Swedish, Estonian and German, but Danish uses æ for the corresponding sound (both of these are contractions of "ae"), and zs is used in Hungarian – nor does it have any meaning in any language or etymology before its creation. Mattus felt that Denmark was known for its dairy products and had a positive image in the U.S. His daughter Doris Hurley reported in the 1999 PBS documentary An Ice Cream Show that her father sat at the kitchen table for hours saying nonsensical words until he came up with a combination he liked. The reason he chose this method was so that the name would be unique and original.

    c)Conflict with Frusen Glädjé

    In 1980, Häagen-Dazs unsuccessfully sued Frusen Glädjé, an American ice cream maker founded the same year, for using similar foreign branding strategies. The phrase "frusen glädje" – without the acute accent – is Swedish for "frozen delight." In 1985, Frusen Glädjé was sold to Kraft General Foods. A Kraft spokeswoman stated that Kraft sold its Frusen Glädjé license to the Unilever corporation in 1993, but a spokesman for Unilever claimed that Frusen Glädjé was not part of the deal. The brand has since disappeared.

    [Historical information from Wikipedia]

  5. a)speaking of george w. bush, as IRAQ & TEXAS: DJINN ROADS does, admittedly without naming him - i was speaking about him to my luncheon companion and new acquaintance steve on monday

    b)several years ago steve had gone to breakfast at the white house as part of a group and had a photo taken of himself with george, but steve agreed with me that our current and former presidents should receive fair trials

    c)i mentioned that a recent op-ed in the financial times had compared bush's retirement activities favorably with that of tony blair - bush was staying home and painting, whereas blair was going around giving speeches to enrich himself and stir up trouble

    d)i quoted the song by edwin starr, "war - what is it good for? absolutely nothing" and said that actually, war does have several good results, from the perspective of those who make it - it is good for business, it makes people more afraid, and it maintains and increases political power - steve is a navy veteran but seemed to agree with my views here - he is either hip to what's going down, or very polite

    d)steve and his wife suzanne and i met at an event hosted by the marketing department of a ccrc in gaithersburg, at which roger landry, m.d., spoke to promote his recent book live long, die short - landry recommends strategies to produce and take advantage of the "compression of morbidity" available to those who age successfully - see

    e)after the lunch i spoke briefly with landry and showed him my copy of michael merzenich, ph.d.'s book soft-wired - how the new science of brain plasticity can change your life - landry said he wasn't familiar with it and wrote down the author and title