Bob Perelman


 Between Minsk to Pinsk


I write, therefore I have lost all claim to being

Bush brings dogs to Ghandi’s shrine. March, 2006

250 years ago Bach was asked by Frederick (‘the Great’) to improvise a six-part fugue on an especially jagged, unamiable theme. Tabloid gossip has it that C.P.E. Bach, one of F's court composers, authored the spiky, slightly poisonous shape to torment his creaky father. Frederick was a liberal, starting out: he grew the arts as Clinton might say, kept religion within its own snowglobe, opened public space to living social libido, post-anal as they would come to say, first in Vienna, later all over. Does he get a Zeitgeist halo because Mozart wrote Così Fan Tutte there and then showing how good sound could sound, but still A B A, the system at its youngest, big appetite, in HighDef like hardly ever

Libretto Libido
Tuned-up lepidopterist
Let me read you
On the lips

ears burning in warm global perspective
bodies always plural from now on


Gildersleeve’s Latin grammar
to write pastoral piece
since grammar is a pasture

Variable as the day is long
Middle C invisible
even at night
C as in
Be grammatical

Exhale. To fashion portable forms of writing

Nobody gets to live in the present. Nobody! Do you hear me? You're breaking up. You who are to be reached, to carry on the work. Yoo hoo–you, yes you

we are moving–goodbye!


I poured a reasonable amount
of maple syrup on
my blog and fried up
a couple of humanitarian sausages

Next, it was the savage white
of the cockatoo and sunny
oranges all the way down
to the ships where I slipped into my leisure suit and got a load of how much shitwork there is      to do


I left the endless latin german self-forming-process, the art machine
declensions, sit-ups, scales, thirds, octaves

(hut made entirely out of ancestors' habits
—and it smelled like it, too,

pleasant enough, if you're in the right
frame of mind,

left in such hurry I couldn't tell you
who was sitting where when the roof fell

the book of memory comes later
not here

toiling down the great long concrete slabs
of gradus ad Parnassum

Q.E.D. under my breath so no projectivist
hexes the margins

the poem thrilling gripping
grabbed hold and won't let go
forever in the rearview mirror

Nor forget William James Principles of Psychology

Baby touching flame
Even spine has will (a little)

Every little spine
shines, a little

Note the repetition
because notes repeat

That's why
all nerves have will

(They prefer, develop, learn)
Baby at end of chap learns not to touch flame

All these are neural events
not yet mind, that's a little further down the road

Flame. No. Touch
something else

Neither Plato or Aristotle

William James’s praise of habit: make your nervous system your friend
not your enemy


slipped on the slimy deck
crashed on my back
red lines in the mirror

Poets’ poetics often exactly
(too strong a word)
wrong about their poetry
Nothing to be done

It seems fairer to hear LZ as a young poet intoxicated with the work of his immediate elders and with the world (of writing) that work has opened up to him. His wisdom plays at gravitas; his strictures on poetic judgment are not so much short-sighted as backward looking at a very near past, the ongoing example of Pound (who outlives him). But his writing found an escape velocity from the crushing private gravity of that overlarge planet even if his pronouncements on poetics didn’t

H.D. crushes on her doctors, as driven along path as Pound. Writing The Sword Went Out to Sea she felt like she was holding a rattling gun, semi-automatic, say, and blasting away


struck meat often
points at hex scripts
reflecting whose pain


Rushing basic premise waiting at the gate but there were two
Too late. lines and situations bank, Amtrak busy bookkeeping
eye contact and got “If you gave a shit, you could type Seattle
the 6:13 PM. Now home, yesterday had pleasure? [check]
Big . . . what?
grocery bag rushed down
It was 5:30 rolling unzipped rather empty
Now to lock my pocket, handkerchief blocking ability
hard to undo throwing rolling
One two doors, watching slowly rachet closed
levered the key around. Shut the fuck up brilliant

Woke looking at a bluish yellow red and bright oblong the compact reflection of the sunrise window in the round metal shade of the bedside lamp. It was light blue on the upper two thirds, lower third a bright orange yellow brown line of emerging light

dreams performed in public
as if perception were free

Venus lovely tramp in mud time
wearing plaid if you can believe it
—fashions change so why can’t we we do anyway
handed me a parking ticket and said I could start filling it out anywhere


The aide said that guys like me
were “'in what we call the reality-based community,”
which he defined as people who “believe
that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality”

I nodded and murmured something
about enlightenment principles and empiricism
He cut me off. “That’s not the way
the world really works anymore

We’re an empire now and when we act
we create our own reality

And while you’re studying that reality
—judiciously, as you will—

we’ll act again, creating other new realities
which you can study too

and that’s how things will sort out
We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you

will be left to just study what we do”

N. B. Neocon satori, in terms of absolute provenance. But it works for avant-garde agency just about as well

1. Stein’s "everyday island living"—rong-rong (sp?), given the British Empire.
2. But on the other hand, it's true that “the atomic bomb isn’t interesting”
3. I may leave a poem in that brain of yours as a souvenir. O’Hara always retrospective


Pressing up tight against you
but when I asked
it was one of those nights
you were using ear plugs

The days go on. Tonight
for instance. It needs
something. But at least
we're both real or something

with little machines
to persuade us
toward the submergible
peaks, one orange sunset

sawing away the distance
But you always say
I'm right here, and if
there's one thing I know, it's that

and love so much

suddenly in the middle of minutes of favorite sound, waking up from William Gibson narrative haze to realize that I haven’t been listening. Familiarity floating like a rubber duckie in intensely organized sonic bath. Oops. Is that a metaphor or are you just glad to be typing?


Sentence: pragmatic
fragment: hieratic

What Maisie Knew: wonderful sentences. Then the next minute clotted with musty presumption and vague balletic inference, impassible. Ten words in, I know I don’t know what’s happening, the question then becoming: go on to the end knowing I’ll have to go back to the beginning of the sentence, which may be pivoting on a crucial word in the sentence before that, and then go back; or save time (what’s going to happen?) and go back to the beginning of the sentence now and trust that comprehension will beget momentum, although perhaps it's best thought in the other direction with a brisk pace animating the sensing mind, frisking amid the word-facts, always hoping to be riding the insinuated curves of main sense. Where the wi-fi works, so to speak. Not to forget the plot, plot the forget to not. Like the mechanical rabbit the greyhounds chase with such enviable velocity around and around, sentence after sentence, never to sink tooth into haunch, tongue never to taste the pulsing salt blood, stuck inside the muzzle

not able to pant or even
choose the font


This was the more the case as her hand had for some moments been rendered free by a marked manœuvre of both of her mother’s. One of these capricious members had fumbled with visible impatience in some backward depth of drapery and had presently reappeared, with a small article in its grasp. The act had a significance for a little person trained, in that relation, from an early age, to keep an eye on manual motions, and its possible bearing was not darkened by the memory of the handful of gold that Susan Ash would never, never believe Mrs Beale had sent back— ‘not she; she’s too false and too greedy!’—to the munificent Countess. To have guessed, none the less, that her ladyship’s purse might be the real figure of the object extracted from the rustling covert at her rear—this suspicion gave on the spot to the child’s eyes a direction carefully distant


Let the old
qwertyuiopian universal
speak truth to I have no idea how many megawatts
with Zukofsky in the background

Baghdad has again become the capital of the world

If you pay your bills, take your pills, your estate doesn't have to die
all frequencies covered like a piano’s legs in the 68th year of
Victoria’s blessed reign

Up from the gutter and twice as cute as the original


Title could be “Now This.” Not the authoritative media splice of “Now this,” but the more realistic: O fuck. Now . . . this. We had an actor president with no sense of justice outside his few dull scripts, but now we have Hoover with a twang, a sanctimonious torturer, and it's impolite to imagine the particulars

The Witch of the Waste barges in and is evil, big, bulging, vain, careless and malevolent. She makes the little girl old, uses her sadistically. So she becomes a powerfully alluring target for our counter-sadism. We’re happy when soon enough she is climbing those endless stairs, sweating, sagging, melting—most importantly, suffering. Sadism has its wish: she’s old, powerless, infantile. Her face is a huge moony oval, fat features. Thick bulbous nose its bottom quarter a deeply suffused pink against pasty white of the rest. Old giant baby face an overstuffed scrotum with a pulpy nose-dong danging down

What does sadism do with that image?
It ponders, restless, rubbing thumb

After twenty-five hundred years
the actors with their unintentional accents
stagger out of the cave
onto the softly blinding screen
scarred but future-proof

my country of origin
sucking so hard on the special effects
that it's hard to get anything to stick

If you haven't stuck a firecracker up a frog's butt and wanted to do it again even before you've finished the first one, then you don't have what it takes

But all in all happy
up at 3:45 anxious
death debility isolation all finally
at 6:30 happy thinking
today work still now late
night focused room hearing
raining so like it

WCW a source, along with Stein, of writing as a description of both the activity and the product the poems (but Stein said no to mimesis, description, identity, memory, whereas WCW is both origin of language and plain-spoken thingness. It’s as if canvases by the same painter were simultaneously seen as Pollocks and Hoppers

Jarrell’s “Protocols” with innocent children entering concentration camps—compare Rez’s Holocaust. The camps are the opposite of the sublime of the Bomb: they’re crammed full of human detail, each nook and cranny (of the body, of the culture, of the clothes) offering myriad spots for malevolent destruction to enter

Freud calls paper on Michaelangelo’s Moses, which he published anonymously, his “love child”

Moses’ horns “representing the radiance that visited Moses’s face after he had seen God.” Is he sitting down, having come down from the mountain with the tablets; or is he rising up, about to smash them?

“Shouting out society’s secrets, they [poets] are little better than necessary licensed gossips”


Something happened, painfully but fully, universal but you only get a thin edge. (Sharp.) Full of pain and I was emptied, no one was there, and certainly no one else. Then the future arrived, banished the past. And I was so happy. To be in time, finally, exclusively, and going to go away. But here to save the day. For my dearest one, the littlest, the first. The next. Suck now. It’s OK

445: Freud & Anna mess around with telepathy. “Much later, she reported to Ernest Jones that she and her father ‘acted out’ certain ‘superstitions’ while they were hunting for mushrooms, and that this ‘nonsense’ was ‘such good fun at the time.’ She left no doubt, though, that these experiments had to do with ‘thought transference’"

650: "Fate has been good to me, that it should have granted me the relationship to such a woman—I mean Anna, of course”


Such good fun

3. “I am I because my little dog knows me" becomes, through no fault of Stein's, "I am I because I don’t know the A Bomb.” Williams attacked it with his typical billy ram, gelding it. Yee Haw
5. Right in the center, inflict pain in the effervescent mass. Right in the center so that our friends can be ensphered in our beneficent UPC. Something else I’m missing. What? Turn off for a moment
6. Back in hideous 2005 Holderin with his underwear on the outside the albatross hobbling back and forth on deck in front of Baudelaire’s sketchpad the Delphic oracle watching her shopping cart dent the driver’s door of her Civic at the Acme
7. It’s only the present that’s hidden
9. Get the relays put down since brute transportation won't survive

If anything’s known in
poems it’s not tone
leading of vowels
but embodied tongues’
spiraling implication not
the work of the
vowels alone more like
the binary dots and
dashes the infant has
as its real toys trying
to decide which is
more to the point
the dog’s earnest bark
or the guest’s offhand guffaw


The torturing empire, trademark Free Will, not to be reproduced without written permission 
Thank goodness readers some day some where won't feel what that means

© 2008 Electronic Poetry Review