The space  between Eternity and loss

The space  between Eternity and loss
Shows in a long wave when someone dies
With inner eye, we see  past the abyss

With human hearts we fear whom we shall miss
Tell ourselves strange stories,even lies
Of gaps  between Eternity and loss

Our education was a mite remiss
The rules are pressed, the truth may well just fly
With inner eye, we see  past the abyss

As the life we had  come down to this,
When love rolled like the tide  in a great sigh
No gap  between Eternity and bliss

My imagination you dismiss
For as a golden horse, you lept so high
The inner eye, will see  past the abyss

So now we stumble on  without  a cry
Yet one day all mankind must say ,Goodbye
What  grace  between Eternity and loss
Shows  us how to cross the great abyss

Dirac sea

Photo0033I dreamed I rowed in a large pea green boat
Accompanied by seventeen cats.
And across the Great Lake,without a mistake
I saw mountains of gentleman’s hats.
I was making no waves in my effort to move,
The cats were discoursing on geometry.
I looked in the mirror fixed onto my boat,
The moon spoke  entrancing Theology.
“I wonder who’ll help me”I thought to myself,
When I saw an entire spectrum of men–
Dirac, Archimedes,Niels Bohr, with their theories.
I got my great inspiration just then.
I need seventeen physicists,that’s one for each cat,
All tied to my boat with a chain.
The force they exert will just compensate
For the magnetic attraction of rain.
Paul Dirac came up, and I looked into his eyes,
They were full of anxiety and pain.
“I am sorry I am unable do what you wish,
But my father never taught me to swim.”
“That is perfectly alright”,I politely replied,
“You can walk on the water instead”
So that’s how my boat and its cargo of cats
Were accompanied back to my bed.
When I awoke the next day,I was filled with dismay.
I saw that Paul Dirac was gone,
With the cats and the boat,of which I just wrote
And I was now completely alone.
I took a quick look,in my old physics book
And there was a photo of Dirac
I stared at his eyes,and I am not telling lies,
He threw me a very strange look.
I caught this strange look,it’s here in my book.
I am saving it for a special event.
When I gather more Data on Relative Quanta,
I’ll understand just what  Paul Dirac meant.



Photo0034Why is writing an email more difficult  in its etiquette than writing a letter?
For a letter it was always
Dear Mr Digge
Or Dearest Rose.
only varying this with the person and their position in  your life.~
As I wrote recently,it appears beginning an email with “Dear John” is considered wrong.Too formal.Dear no longer means anything much.
As in

Dear Mr X

Your execution has been rescheduled and will now be at 3 p,m Friday
Sorry for any inconvenience.
Yours truly

Also having a greeting at odds with the ending is always a problem

My  own dearest John
I hate you
Worst wishes ever

When you meet someone in the street it can be the same.

How are you?
I have got  brain cancer
You’re meant to say, I’m fine
I’m terribly sorry.The chemotherapy has affected my mind
Your hair looks  odd.
You’re not meant to say  that
I’m so sorry.You look great.
Excuse me , the ambulance is waiting
Don’t let me get in the way
But you are  in the way
Always moaning, aren’t you? Look on the bright side.
You are blocking the sun
I can’t help where the sun moves to.
OK.Nice to see you
See you later.
See you soon
Cheers,old boy


I used to have a heart when I first wrote

In this cubicle I sit and read
“How to live inside a little house”
Does it matter  if the heart is dead,
If I  have a new kitchen ,but no spouse?

I see a folding desk and chair beside
Floors of marbled vinyl in deep teal
Yet now inside a cubicle resides
My entire body and my soul revealed.

I used to have a heart when I first wrote
I felt it like a pressure in the chest
But now I have none,see I merely float
And go the way the current thinks is best

I’ve handed in my notice,I am done
A cubicle is not  the place  for fun


The poetics of disobedience, Alice Notley



It’s possible that my biggest act of disobedience has consistently, since I was an adolescent, been against the idea that all truth comes from books, really other people’s books. I hate the fact that whatever I say or write, someone reading or listening will try to find something out of their reading I “sound like.” ‘You sound just like…,’ ‘you remind me of…,’ ‘have you read…?’ I read all the time and I often believe what I read while I’m reading it, especially if it’s some trashy story; intense involvement in theories as well as stories seems difficult without temporary belief, but then it burns out. I’ve been trying to train myself for thirty or forty years not to believe anything anyone tells me. Not believing, then, became the crux of Disobedience, which is my most recent completed book. Not believing and telling the truth as it comes up. One of the main elements in the poem is an ongoing fantasy in which the I, who is pretty much I, keeps company and converses with a man very much like the actor Robert Mitchum and that of course is not strictly believable. On the other hand it’s fun, and it stands for something a sort of truth, about how we do have stories going on in our consciousness and unconsciousness all the time and about how we’re always talking to some “you” mentally. I wouldn’t expect you to take this book as the truth, I would expect you to go with it, given that you like to read. I find the act of reading puzzling at the moment, since in a book I’ve been working on since Disobedience I ask the reader to read despite the fact that I’m not really entertaining the reader or being clear in any of the traditional ways I can think of. I think books may imply a readership that simply likes to read, which may sound obvious but it’s something I myself have only just thought of. But back to Disobedience. It asks the reader to read a lot of pages, about 230 A 4 pages in verse, but it’s fairly easy to read and it makes a lot of jokes. It’s very feminist but men seem to enjoy it a lot, it possibly contains a rather virile approach to things riding roughshod and shooting at every little duck that seems to pop up. As I implied earlier, Disobediencedidn’t exactly set out to be disobedient; it set out actually to try to do the kinds of things I’d previously done in different poems all in the same poem, that is tell a story, interact with the so-called visible or phenomenal the despised daily, and explore the unconscious. But it got more and more pissed off as it confronted the political from an international vantage, dealt with being a woman in France, with turning fifty and being a poet and thus seemingly despised or at least ignored. The title popped up in a dream I had towards the end of writing the work, in connection with a comic poet I know: it was the title of his book in the dream and I realized later that there was probably nothing more disobedient than being a comic poet, since no one’s ever sure if that’s good enough, particularly the academy unless you’ve been dead since the 14th century or unless you’ve also written a lot of tragedies. I myself wouldn’t want the limitation of being only one kind of poet, but I realize this comic business is something to think about. But more and more as I wrote Disobedience I discovered I couldn’t go along, with the government or governments, with radicals and certainly not with conservatives or centrists, with radical poetics and certainly not with other poetics, with other women’s feminisms, with any fucking thing at all; belonging to any of it was not only an infringement on my liberty but a veil over clear thinking.

It’s necessary to maintain a state of disobedience against…everything. One must remain somehow, though how, open to any subject or form in principle, open to the possibility of liking, open to the possibility of using. I try to maintain no continuous restrictions in my poetics except with regard to particular works, since writing at all means making some sort of choices. But NO DOCTRINES. Rather I tend to maintain a sense that a particular form or set of rules at a certain point might serve me for a while. Like many writers I feel ambivalent about words, I know they don’t work, I know they aren’t it. I don’t in the least feel that everything is language. I have a sense that there has been language from the beginning, that it isn’t fundamentally an invention. These are contradictory positions but positions are just words. I don’t believe that the best poems are just words, I think they’re the same as reality; I tend to think reality is poetry, and that it isn’t words. But words are one way to get at reality/poetry, what we’re in all the time. I think words are among us and everywhere else, mingling, fusing with, backing off from us and everything else.

Since Disobedience, I’ve been working on this other thing which isn’t as friendly as Dis is, though it isn’t meant to be unfriendly. It’s just hard to read, in that you have to decide to sit down and read it word by word giving each word the rhythm and weight it requires. That sounds like poetry but this one tends to be in long blowy sentences all down the page. I am going at several ideas at once: one is that the world is intensely telepathic, infused with the past and continual thought of all the living and all the dead. I started out with that idea and with the idea of a Byzantine church as a sort of head, mine, full of icons and mosaics on ever expanding and shifting walls. But the church or head got bigger and bigger and more and more full of images and words until it expanded into a city. So at the moment, on page one hundred and something, I’m dealing with the idea that there are two cities or worlds at the same time, an ideal crystalline one and the supposedly real one. Generally I’m neither all the way in one nor the other, though sometimes it seems as if I’m nowhere near the crystal one and its reasonable opulence so I start beating hard at all the doors I can find in my mind. Then sometimes it seems as if the supposedly real world just isn’t there or here at all though I know if I stop typing and go outside it will get me. This work is also very disobedient, in a way it picks up where Disobedience left off; but it doesn’t lecture as much or shake its fist so, is less interested in the so-called real than in denying its existence in favor of the real real. You can’t fly unless you’re not on the ground and this one really flies sometimes.

I think I conceive of myself as disobeying my readership a lot. I began the new work in fact denying their existence; it seemed to me I needed most at this point to work on my own existence so I couldn’t afford to cater to them if they got in the way of my finding out things. But this is a work of mine, it should be published sometime. I’m now in a predicament I can’t get out of, a form I can’t manage for the reader, which just keeps leading me on and leading me on. It’s predicated on leaving in as much mind fuzz as possible, that is being open to all that is out there in all telepathy–not a very organizable entity, the entity. Too wordy too long; and I’ve allowed in a lot of notions from my dreams again, have allowed odd images to take on the weight of truth; and I’m stubbornly involved again in what you might call mystical conceptions, but aren’t those a nono? except in icky New Age territory, yuck. The reader likes you to tell her/him what she/he already knows in a familiar form whether in mainstreamese or avant-gardese, but then there is the individual reader who is often not like that at all, who prefers poems to talking about them and has strange individual experiences with them. That’s a very scary idea. It’s possible that the reader, or maybe the ideal reader, is a very disobedient person a head/church/city entity her/himself full of soaring icons and the words of all the living and all the dead, who sees and listens to it all and never lets on that there’s all this beautiful almost undifferentiation inside, everything equal and almost undemarcated in the light of fundamental justice. And poker-faced puts up with the outer forms. As I do a lot of the time but not so much when I’m writing.


Alice Notley, “The Poetics of Disobedience.” Copyright © 1998 by Alice Notley. Reprinted by permission of the author.
Originally Published: February 15th, 2010

Alice Notley has become one of America’s greatest living poets. She has long written in narrative and epic and genre-bending modes to discover new ways to explore the nature of the self and the social and cultural importance of disobedience. The artist Rudy Burckhardt once wrote that Notley may be..

Poetry and logic

Town centre



It was a poem
men took because it said ovary
didn’t take my
political poems
they took the one that said ovary
Are you sure it was because it
           said ovary?
Yes, for them that’s logical.
Destroy another
is war for? So
you’ll go down
each of you does. dies in
each of you who does, dies
for the pain you experience
         Just that
and nothing is established
Because I am a woman
Cutting as many cords
as tie you to me. this isn’t
it isn’t anything you
           could name
You’re still here
without ties?
because they were logical.
Dance little asshole dance
oh he gets elected, like a Calvinist
He says, I have these guts
Men, I have these guts.
Having dedicated whole
regions to the destruction
          you inspire, the
logic will be to go on doing it
doing it. Having proceeded by
the logic
         of your per-
sonal vaccuum
you will perceive your continued
as an excuse to go on. having
gone on
as you have. And so one continues.
Lead the boy out of
          the building on fire
his head twisted
all fucked
What else is there to
       know if
one has gotten
twisted up
all fucked
he is a screaming fire
In the explanations
of our lives’ experience
they’ve left out this wild moment
the long mirror on the right-hand wall of the
corridor suddenly shattered
I can’t see myself anymore.
I repeat that I am not frightened
          and why not
I don’t know
what my reactions
are supposed to be.
        “Please tell me something
with which I’m familiar.”
isn’t there another part of now
Alice Notley, “Logic” from Songs and Stories of the Ghouls. Copyright © 2011 by Alice Notley.  Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Source: Songs and Stories of the Ghouls (Wesleyan University Press, 2011)
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Good evening


I heard there was a sacred horde and they teased the Lord. Eliezer a Cohen
You don’t really stare at Newsnight
I said text me, not vex me.
Missing you like I miss the cat’s claws.
Do not prebake me,oh,my darling.
I shall forsake all mothers for you,
With all my tart I feed you
I’ll never regret your apple jumbles
Please deport me or let me flee.
Your memory will always be a dessert for me,
With my body,i flee worship,
I never desired any lover less than you.It was hard both coming and going,
Never invite me to share your dread again.
Please pre-decease me or I shall go run away
Nobody we grow will love me quite like you,Eliza.
How are lead fillings with you these days?
I took you to be my awful,dreaded husband.
With all my worldly grubs,I thee endow.also my rods and tackle,
Come from the heartache to me
There’ll be blue words over,the ravines round Dover,
Scarlet ribbons for her heirs.
God never made those little stone Chapels
Like a bird on the fire,like the junk in the Cathedral choir.I applied  one fine day to be free