Tag Archives: poetry

Of Cats & Flowers

Cat Thought


Sonny Watching

Sonny on top shelf of records

As the cat
climbed over
the top of

the jamcloset
first the right

then the hind
stepped down

into the pit of
the empty
flower pot

Poem (As the cat) by William Carlos Williams

Blue Petunia

Petunias rock.

Kizzy & Soony

Kizzy & Sonny, hangin’ out



Fire Lilly

Lillies also evoked some FX-driven visual experiments.

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Hole ee Waters

Kenneth Warren

Now Available!

Captain Poetry’s Sucker Punch A Guide to the Homeric Punkhole, 1980–2012 Kenneth Warren

“The title of Ken Warren’s selective and provocative history of
American poets and poetry over the past thirty years comes from an
incident partially narrated in Tom Clark’s Charles Olson. The Allegory
of a Poet’s Life [318] in which Gregory Corso makes a disruptive
appearance in Olson’s afternoon seminar on myth, 1964. I say
“partially” because as a member of that class and a witness to the
events of that afternoon it seems to me Clark omits a few important
facts, e.g. that after challenging the assembled students to match him
in reciting from memory lines of Shelley (or perhaps by extension any
poet) and hearing only universal silence, Corso began pointing out
with increasing intensity that “we are all on death row” and that he
was “Captain Poetry”. Finally he turned to Olson: “Aren’t I Captain
Poetry, Charles?” “Yes,” Olson replied. “Then what should I do?”
And without missing a beat Olson said calmly and with some humor,
“report for duty.” David Posner, the Curator of the Lockwood Poetry
library, never stepped into the room – the fracas happened after Corso
had fled Olson’s class. It did not then and has never since seemed to
me that Olson asked Corso to report to him, though the exchange might
be interpreted so; rather, I took Olson to mean report to Poetry.
Certainly that’s what Olson was teaching. And it’s worth mentioning
here because Ken Warren’s work over the past three decades, both as
editor and publisher of House Organ (an occasional magazine in which
some of these pieces first appeared) and as a freelance essayist and
critic outside academic writing, constitutes the sort of discipline,
dedication, and persistence which Poetry has demanded from him, not as
a maker of poems but as a friend, an ear, a receptive mind.”

– Albert Glover, editor of Letters for Origin, 1950—1956 by Charles
Olson, (Cape Goliard, 1969)

“Kenneth Warren thinks the world through the poetry of those poets who
have thought the world through their poetry. When working on Olson,
for instance, Warren travels every path opened by this multitentacled
explorer, and goes farther, with the poet, to the places he suggested
but pursued only in part. Warren is one of the few and great readers
of American poetry who accompanies poets on their missions and takes
their work to where their “sunflower wishes to go,” serving in this
way not just Poesy, but the regions Poesy herself aims for. Warren is
the philosopher-friend of poets who imagine the sublime, a fearless
companion who serves out their sentences with vigor, aplomb, and even
delight. He is a masochist, a poet, and a star.”

– Andrei Codrescu, author of Whatever Gets You Through the Night: a
Story of Sheherezade and the Arabian Entertainments (Princeton, 2011)

“If you have any interest in poetry, the poetry that matters, Ken
Warren’s Captain Poetry’s Sucker Punch needs to be your constant
companion. It is a critical examination of the past thirty years of
poetry ( plus some film & music), and it’s a language event in itself,
a poetic mirroring of the occasion for its writing of not only what’s
new but what’s news worthy. The list of writers, essential but too
often ignored, is impressive: Kerouac, Snyder, Corso, Wakoski, Acker,
Eshleman, Doubiago, Eigner, d. a. levy, Susan Howe, Hirschman, Oppen,
Tarn, as well as cultural figures like John Cage, Simone Weil, David
Lynch, Bo Diddley, and including the major revision of the Charles
Olson and Vincent Ferrini relationship, the importance of Jack Clarke,
teacher, scholar, poet, all set in the human context (the Homeric
subtitle) that makes even the archaic contemporary.”

– Joe Napora, author of Sentences and Bills—1917 (Wind, 2011)

“If Kafka is correct, when he says that impatience is mankind’s worst
sin, then the high accomplishment of Captain Poetry’s Sucker Punch can
be taken as a lesson in virtue. The divine madness that stirs at the
surface of these pages, written across a span of thirty years, recalls
Coltrane’s intent “to start in the middle… and move both directions at
once.” Here, those directions point to Olson, on one end, and to Jack
Clarke (the author’s teacher at Buffalo, along with Bob Creeley), on
the other. More than an extraordinary taikyoku that reviews certain
“avant-garde” trends in American writing—from Reagan to the Tea
Party—the present collection, arranged in a-chronological sequence and
organized along a fourfold axis, shows a mind in the process of
self-discovery—at the intersection (“hole”) of what Henry Corbin, in
his writing on Ismaili gnosis, has described as linear (“Punk”) time
and cyclical (“Homeric”) time. The effect is like reading Jung’s
recently (re-)published Red Book, and finding echoes in it of Pere
Ubu’s Datapanik in the Year Zero.”

– André Spears, author of Fragments from Mu (A Sequel) (First Intensity, 2007)

Born in New York City in 1953, Kenneth Warren is the editor of House Organ, a quarterly letter of poetry and prose. His two collections of poetry are Rock/the Boat: Book One (Oasis Press, 1998) and The Wandering Boy (Flo Press, 1979).

· Paperback: 460 pages $16

· Binding: Perfect-Bound?

· Publisher: BlazeVOX

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-063-7

I’ll have more to say about my close friend’s hot-off-the-presses opus after I wander through its lands.

The function of active imagination in Analytical Psychology provides intuitive impetus for my artistic representation of persons qualified to be those with whom I have acquired a lot of shared soulful experience. Ken qualifies. Here’s his symbolic totem.

Archetypal Totem for KW

Archetypal Totem (on a active imagination and in-sight of Ken Warren

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To Speak With Solomon

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(poems) Tim Calhoun – The Foretopman’s Vision; No Way Out

Tim Calhoun 1984

Tim and his son jesse, circa 1984

The Foretopman’s Vision

I don’t know who they are–
those two with arms
paddling through a sea of drifting wheat,

I’ve forgotten
how love tacks
against the course of passion.

Their hands collapse on faces
like falling sails.
She arches over him
a human wave.

Then dusk-shadow of the barn’s rotting hull
covers them like a cloud
as they sink in deep
predatory gulls.

The wind beats my face A
making all these metal shrouds lonely swing.

Chants For the Root Cutter (1983; Burning Press, Cleveland)

No Way Out

In the far suburbs
when windows go black
and moon brings gauze
down to the rooftops,

while strangers cruise
listening for happenings
unable to sleep
because of neon,

I saw in a vision Theseus
lost and without his gold thread
running in backyards like a burglar
while in every bed

the minotaurs slept peacefully
knowing the maze had conquered.

In the aftermath of our mother’s passing, a lot of documentation comes to the surface. Well, we’ve been going into the archives.

My late brother was a father, poet, philosopher, communitarian, street prophet, Christian, lady’s man–this is my own reckoning with his personal hierarchy. He was a ‘vertical’ personality, and was so in almost–seemingly–reaction equal and opposite to my own horizontal personality. We were fraternal virgo twins.

As a poet he was prolific and self-critical, and it is now clear enough that his opus was created from 1971 until his death in 1993. His output is, today, residing in two crates and a collection of floppy discs. I didn’t live in Cleveland between 1974 and 1991, so I learned of his stature as an artist only upon returning, and this was just a small, brighter, part of the saddened learning.

Stephen and TimothyCalhoun (1958)

Stephen & Timothy - 1958

The Calhouns of Cleveland Ohio

Tim, Crede, Carol, Jean, Stephen

The only photo I’ve seen of the five of us, taken at my brother Crede and sister-law Carol’s wedding in July 1992.

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Fall Foliage

Lovers of Truth- rise up!
Let us go toward heaven.
We have seen enough of this world,
It’s time to see another…

No, no- don’t stop here.
The gardens may flow with beauty
But let us go to the Gardner Himself.

Let us go,
Bowing to the ocean
like a raging torrent.

Let us go,
Riding upon the foaming waters
of the sea.

Let us travel from this desert of
Hunger and tears
To the feast of the newlyweds.

Let us change our expression
From one of saffron
To the blossoms of the Judas tree.

Our hearts beat fast
We tremble like leaves about to fall.
Let us become the immovable mountain.

There is no escape from pain for one in exile;
There is no escape from dust
For one who lives in a dustbowl.
Let us be like the birds of paradise,
That fly about drinking sweet water.

We are surrounded by the forms
of a formless creator.
Enough with these forms!
Let us go to the Formless One.

Love is our steady guide
On this road full of hardships.
Even if the king offers you his protection,
It is better to travel with the caravan.

We are the rain that falls upon
a leaky roof-
let us miss the holes
and fall smoothly down the spout.

We are crooked bows
With strings that run from our head to toes;
Soon we will be straight
like an arrow in flight.
We run like mice when we see a cat –
yet we are the lion’s roar.
Let us become that Lion.

Let our souls
mirror the love of our Master.
Let us go before Him
With a handful of gifts.

Now let us be silent
So that the Giver of Speech may speak.
Let us be silent
So we can hear Him calling us
Secretly in the night….

We are surrounded by the forms
Of a formless Creator.
Enough with these forms!
Let us go to the Formless One!

(version of Rumi by Coleman Barks)

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Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour

Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth,
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one…
How high that highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air,
In which being there together is enough.

Wallace Stevens

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Attar: What Is Not the Mystic

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One Reason

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Rumi: Flutes and Peas

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Found: Coleman Barks

Poet Coleman Barks

Several weeks ago I went searching on the net for Coleman Barks. Barks, a poet, is most well known for his versions of Rumi. In fact, to the extent Rumi is known by the English-speaking world, a lion’s share of the credit accrues to Mr. Barks and to his colleague and co-author John Moyne.

Having done this same search years ago, I knew there are numerous resources and media, but, one such resource at the CBC had been taken down, an interview with Barks and Andrew Harvey by Mary Hynes (as part of Ms. Hynes’ Tapestry Series.) I made an inquiry.

Lo and behold a few days later a nice gentleman from the CBC emailed me and asked if I would be interested in providing an introduction for this archival podcast. I jumped at the opportunity to help bring the interview back into circulation.

The podcast at the CBC is back, and listed here. (Direct download-mp3)

Coleman Barks interview at Lapham’s Quarterly. (mp3)

Video at Poetry Everywhere (PBS)


The Big Red Book is the newest exploration of Rumi by Coleman Barks. It focuses on Rumi’s relationship with Shams of Tabriz. One of the aphorisms of Shams is a touchstone for me:

Follow the perfume, not the tracks.

The following video provides a beguiling introduction to Rumi and Shams.

Jalaluddin El-Rumi & Shams El Tabriz from Raphael Rousseau Sason on Vimeo.

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Joanne Kyger – Credit Where Credit Is Due

Poet Joanne Kyger

Joanne Kyger lecture on the poet as historical investigator. (July 16, 1986) (Archive.org)


Into the party, with engraved invitations, I am bored when
I realize the champagne in the decrepit bowl is going to get
filled up a lot. Well then, on the greens in front of the
Mansion are walking Tom Clark and Ted Berrigan, what chums!
Do you think I could possibly fall in step, as they turn same
to far flung university on horizon, gleaming. You bet your
life not. The trouble, says Ted, with you Joanne, is that
you’re not intelligent enough.

reprinted from All This Every Day, Big Sky, 1975

(from Kyger at Electronic Poetry Center)

Context: To Be Jack Spicer In a Dream (Jacket magazine)

Lunch Poems, UC Berkeley.

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To Speak With Solomon

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Perfect Sense

So, Yes
Kids probably don’t know what they’re saying,
and we, we’re one shy of all the stepchildren
it took to get here. In odder moments we’d contemplate
the swathe of water leading to the horizon
and pretend it was the grass had come full circle,
even to this sidewalk of cream and ocher brick. Those
who trespass against us slipped into rephotographed woods,
verifiable, at least for the time being.
He who stumbles at the brink of some great discovery,
perplexed, will endorse for many years
the fox and its entourage, part of some map
of life, he thinks. Emerging
from the shadow of his later career, he slides
into the contiguous states of America, all cherry trees
and floral tributes. It was right to behave as we have done,
he asserts, sending the children on their way
to school, past the graveyard. Evening’s loftiest seminars
can’t dim the force of that apostasy. So, yes,
others had to precede us, meaning we’re lost in a swamp with coevals
who like us because we like to do things with them.
The forced march makes perfect sense under such conditions.
Let’s celebrate then, let there be some refreshing change
overtaking all we were meant to achieve and didn’t.
On the practical side it looks as though their team lost
and ours failed to languish, absent a compelling reason to do so.

John Ashbery (A Worldly Country)

I love the line, really the phrase. “forced march makes perfect sense.”

Now I’ll provide a counter to Ashbery’s suburban sentiment. My colleague and friend Ken sent me a package full of goods, mostly his poetry and prose serial, House Organ. Although I am not much the poetry guy, and my naive prejudices only elevate Shakespeare, Rumi, and ee cummings, the fact is that I discovered a copy of Vincent Ferrini’s last collection, The Pleroma, had been sent in the package. I only discovered it when I was about to toss the mailer it was hiding in. ‘Wait, there’s something else!’

As it happened, Bucky had given me Ferrini’s Know Fish decades ago. I devoured it because about all I know of Ferrini is that experiencing his poetry is–simply–to be beguiled.

My favorite from Know Fish:

Tird Finga

Da words n thought
r da absurd
preamble of the turd

is like dis undergroun
ovagroun tecknishun
who spies on all
n flusha ideas down

is a mantra
clockt n evyting
trackin ezenshas
n ring a ling!

eacha passa test
by hell bent
no face
who butt da bent

is da Flog da lurch
n evey gentry
who like dis zpecshal
wa care fa you entry

Well, apologies to Ashbery, but sum ting is seeing the forced march.

from The Pleroma


black silk skin
for all dimensions

I can travel with the current

poverty of the Spirit
is the mortal
dis ease

Some march, others travel. Reminded of Shams of Tabriz, “Follow the perfume, not the tracks.”

review by Ken Warren

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I, Maximus of Gloucester, to You



There are laws, that is to say, the human universe is as discoverable as that other. And as definable.

The trouble has been, that a man stays so astonished he can triumph over his own incoherence, he settles for that, crows over it, and goes at a day again happy he at least makes a little sense. Or, if he says anything to another, he thinks it is enough–the struggle does involve such labor and some terror–to wrap it in a little mystery: ah, the way is hard but this is what you find if you go it.

The need now is a cooler one, a discrimination, and then, a shout. Der Weg stirbt, sd one. And was right, was he not? Then the question is: was ist der Weg?


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I’m so close to you that I’m far apart,

So completely merged that I’m separate,

So vastly exposed that I’m concealed,

So whole and sound that I’ll never be healed.

#1121, from Rumi’s Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi
Edited by Badiozzaman Forouzanfar (Tehran, Amir Kabir, 1988).

From translations of Rumi by Zara Houshmand

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The friend to whom flower and thorn are one,

In whose faith, Koran and Cross are the same —

Why should we worry? To him it’s all one:

The swiftest horse or a donkey that’s lame.

#454: From Rumi’s Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi
Edited by Badiozzaman Forouzanfar (Tehran, Amir Kabir, 1988).

Translated by Zara Houshmand

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