Monday, June 28, 2021

Two Brief Appreciations of Nico Vassilakis's Motion Detail Series

by Jefferson Hansen

For the past six days, we have featured Nico Vassilakis visual poetry films and a poetics statement by him. To understand what he is doing from his own conceptual framework, I suggest you read "The Seeseeing Platform" from June 22 on this blog. However, I did post two short pieces on Facebook to help orient viewers. Ideally, I believe the films should be approached raw, without any conceptual framing. However, I realize that some who are not familiar with visual poetry may need a little hand. If so, this post is for you. I give a few brief pointers as to what to look for. There is some redundancy, but each short piece gets at Nico's films from a slightly different angle.


From Nico's "The Seeseeing Platform": "Hello letters! - you will leave your words, will be unattached, able to drift into all new visible features of experience." You can see this freedom for the letters in the visual poetry films themselves. Why did I accept so many films from Nico? They made me question how I receive authoritative knowledge in my culture. I receive it in black and white, in two-dimensions, physically stuck. Nico shows in various ways how letters are shapes and can be multi-dimensional, layered, in color, and moving. Watching all his movies—and all the various permutations on color, layering, motion, and shape—helped me to appreciate the contours of how authoritative language is processed and packaged. It made me wonder what is left out. More importantly, it made me wonder WHO is left out. How does our conventional way of using the alphabet impoverish and reduce our world? I suspect it does a lot. Nico's films bring back some of the wonder by exposing the edges of our understanding and enticing us to see what cannot be written about in conventional language. His video poems are freeing. They allow me to begin to see in new ways. Plus, they’re fun. And occasionally funny.


In his book The WEIRDest People in the World, Joseph Henrich notes that literate peoples have a harder time remembering faces than illiterate peoples. This illustrates that literacy itself creates certain blindnesses, possibly in the very architecture of the brain. Visual poet Nico Vassilakis explores various alternative permutations for letters and literacy in his Motion Detail series of visual poetry films currently up at The Altered Scale Blog. For me, Nico uses motion, layering, color, and shapes to wrest letters from their usual black and white, stationary context. How does our relationship to such letters affect portions of our consciousness? What happens when letters and words are set free from their usual haunts? How do we then think differently? Thank you, Nico, for a great week and a half at the blog.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Nico Vassilakis 5

All videos from Motion Detail series


Vassilakis’s books include the poetry collection VOIR DIRE (2020) as well as the visual poetry book Letter Wheels (2019). He collaborated with artist Friese Undine on Orange: A Manual (1997). Vassilakis edited Clear-Cut: Anthology: A Collection of Seattle Writers (1996), co-edited The Last Vispo Anthology: Visual Poetry 1998-2008 (2012), and has served as coeditor of Sub Rosa Press. In 1994, he co-founded the Subtext Reading Series in Seattle, Washington. He currently lives in Greenville, IL, with his wife, poet Crystal Curry.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Nico Vassilakis 4

 all videos from Motion Detail series


Vassilakis’s books include the poetry collection VOIR DIRE (2020) as well as the visual poetry book Letter Wheels (2019). He collaborated with artist Friese Undine on Orange: A Manual (1997). Vassilakis edited Clear-Cut: Anthology: A Collection of Seattle Writers (1996), co-edited The Last Vispo Anthology: Visual Poetry 1998-2008 (2012), and has served as coeditor of Sub Rosa Press. In 1994, he co-founded the Subtext Reading Series in Seattle, Washington. He currently lives in Greenville, IL, with his wife, poet Crystal Curry.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Nico Vassilikas 3

all videos from Motion Detail series


Vassilakis’s books include the poetry collection VOIR DIRE (2020) as well as the visual poetry book Letter Wheels (2019). He collaborated with artist Friese Undine on Orange: A Manual (1997). Vassilakis edited Clear-Cut: Anthology: A Collection of Seattle Writers (1996), co-edited The Last Vispo Anthology: Visual Poetry 1998-2008 (2012), and has served as coeditor of Sub Rosa Press. In 1994, he co-founded the Subtext Reading Series in Seattle, Washington. He currently lives in Greenville, IL, with his wife, poet Crystal Curry.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Nico Vassilakis 2

all videos from Motion Detail series


Vassilakis’s books include the poetry collection VOIR DIRE (2020) as well as the visual poetry book Letter Wheels (2019). He collaborated with artist Friese Undine on Orange: A Manual (1997). Vassilakis edited Clear-Cut: Anthology: A Collection of Seattle Writers (1996), co-edited The Last Vispo Anthology: Visual Poetry 1998-2008 (2012), and has served as coeditor of Sub Rosa Press. In 1994, he co-founded the Subtext Reading Series in Seattle, Washington. He currently lives in Greenville, IL, with his wife, poet Crystal Curry.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Nico Vassilakis 1

all videos from Motion Detail series


Vassilakis’s books include the poetry collection VOIR DIRE (2020) as well as the visual poetry book Letter Wheels (2019). He collaborated with artist Friese Undine on Orange: A Manual (1997). Vassilakis edited Clear-Cut: Anthology: A Collection of Seattle Writers (1996), co-edited The Last Vispo Anthology: Visual Poetry 1998-2008 (2012), and has served as coeditor of Sub Rosa Press. In 1994, he co-founded the Subtext Reading Series in Seattle, Washington. He currently lives in Greenville, IL, with his wife, poet Crystal Curry.


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Seeseeing Platform by Nico Vassilakis

What are you looking at when you're looking at what you're looking at? The only material is Seen. Only the material is Seen. Seen, unseen, what an eye might see. Two e's, two e's, s_ _n to be. The eye will track. The orb will float till it finds its oar and focused boat. Seeing the former left behind, a past tense of alphabets touching aqueous humor. A sequence comprised entirely of having seen and seeing it too. 

There's a word for just about everything, but there ain't a word for this. 

How to proceed...these explorations and explanations are ancillary and redundant to a singular encounter with visual poetry. A definition that undulates in water fluctuates in its own meaning. These accounts attest to failure that never concludes. 

How letters release from words and what they find themselves doing before and after forming into words.
Letters are free to arrange themselves any way they want.
For a moment they're autonomous and independent with no restrictions, so they navigate or are drawn toward one another in order to form new and unrealized results. 

My vispo tends to mimic this reflex; it strives to capture and promote this moment. 

Hello letters! - you will leave your words, will be unattached, able to drift into all new visible features of experience. 

A sequence of energy constants:
a) The discharge of a word is finally equal to the energy found in its letters.
b) Now make those same letters askew, reposition them on a page, have the letters touch other letters in unaccustomed ways - the energy is the same.
c) Then cut the letters in half and use their visual elements as the available material to construct or compose the new vispoem - the energy remains. 

Letters seek liberty from word supremacy. Will detach from word and roam the page. Will find new designs to thwart their word captor. Will unhinge entirely and emerge alongside natural formations.
Only then. 

Will the letters offer to return, to reconvene. Will reassemble. Will re enter the word template. Will be poured into WORD meaning, the slots of which letters attend. 

That time between, to draw and to write a letter. 

Drawing is a primitive expression of marking space with time. Writing, or alphabet, is a forced societal construct. 

Vispo is writing that exploded and reconvened into another form of seeing. Reading this result is openness, writing this new seeing is one way to transmogrify language. 

I see no reason to destroy word. I simply want to undo word so the letters become revealed. Letters gather in a pre word formation, free to move about and explore before they are forced to line up and take their place in a word sequence. 

I see the letters as ingredients without which words would not exist. Words are a form of convenience. They take the place of an object in language. Letters are the math that allows this equation to result in words. We wipe our memory clean of letters and allow words to fill the air. The information letters house has become lost to us. 

A visual poem is successful when it makes alternative use of writing and devalues the sequence of alphabet typically reserved for word communication and offers a visual logic to how letters can be presented. I am particularly interested in letters, but more so, I am involved in the pieces of letters that just barely hang on to recognizable form before being jettisoned into new terrain. This terrain is part of the development of language or pre/post language. How children are first asked to draw and then to write letters. It moves from free expression in drawing to rigid grid-like writing that makes everything the same. Children are forced to comply to group communication before they are ever encouraged to create their own alphabet. 

My work could look like a document or field recording of my unconscious, but more than anything it is a capture shot of letters before or after they formulate into word. Letters have a life unto themselves. "...letters have a destination other than words," Isidore Isou. 

My overall concept about this is that we are on the planet to find a way to leave the planet. We are exhausting the planet's resources and so technology or the language of technology must take its necessary path, must reach a conclusion. Human beings, in their current condition, will consume the very means that sustain them. We will have no choice but to explore off-planet solutions. 

Technology is a problem we live with, a problem we absorb and adjust to as we go along. Nature is the great equalizer. Nature is an alphabet we have forgotten because convenience has made us soft and helpless. Also, the idea of generating constant profit has degraded our integrity. Being a poet, a real poet, has become near impossible in this world. Too many other concerns have made us into hybrid poets, living as poets in tangential situations. How are we able to maintain focus in this accelerated environment. 

My fascination with how letters sit beside each other and patiently wait to be freed of their word logic scrum hasn’t subsided. So I capture that alphabetic dalliance as document of some future language event. Vispo is a byproduct of one's experience with literature, with writing, reading and seeing. It’s about how you look and read your way past words and re familiarize yourself with the intentional drawing of letters. 

We called those involved The Stareists 

The first tendency of Letters, when newly released from their word bondage, is to become decorative. This is usually followed by design logic and visual pun, as well as other compositional templates. Next, Letters either proceed into new visual poetics or return to the word. We are taught to return but are seldom given an option. Yes, they said, let us go, free us. 

Vispo is a response to reading and writing language. There is a connection between seeing writing and writing reading and reading seeing. Vispoets transmogrify, they undo the word, they reveal the potential locked in the word by visually deconstructing it. They replace language with other visual language. 

Minor sources of sugar. Button shaped trees. Air pricked with negative light. Invisible chairs crossing the sea. Literature derived from art manifestoes. “Logically, the universe is absurd.” 

Thought Veranda busy in motion. A 

Open. Opent. Oh, pent up. Immersed in language, pearls loosened from the branches. Captured in a sphere. One eye accepts light for the other more demur pupil. A three-sided funnel that spells a tongue, that sees an image of hovering on the heels of dolphins cavorting. Tonight in the company of cellular division. Between two shoulders is a head in the middle. 

The scarf was strewn on the floor in the shape of the letter S. 

a full of b
abc full of d abcd full of e abcdef full of g abcdefg full of h & i & you 

“My work constitutes an attempt to immortalize fleeting moments... I must seize the very instant in which the living experience seeps on to the symbol, which in this case is the letter.” Mira Schendel, 1975 

You take lines and shapes and given possibilities and make alphabet. You use it to make sounds and you map out trajectories of thought. You make names and call your children by them. This is done everywhere. And it’s been done for thousands of years until you became bored with this method — until you have surrounded and suffocated yourself with these products of your creation. 

You go through ubiquitous, unrelenting text — you are altered by text, by its message. You’ve had to alter how you see. You are forced to alter text itself. You stare your way through words and into middles of words. You resolve the noise of your eyes. The information you see, you seek, to find another nature therein. 

It’s you viewing textual oddities askance. It’s the words, their origins, words within words, the seeds of language. It’s the symbols, signs, and icons seared into your brain. It’s you being attracted by perfect letter structures. It’s the revisiting of early alphabet education. It’s the timeframe between learning how to draw letters and how to write them. It’s you seeking to express the phenomenon of seeing language. It’s you transforming and appreciating the design and construction of alphabet. 

“Upon it draws a handwritten gnarl if thoughts untie let loose to move that twice subsumed both time and space through ink refined these letters hold and release the tiny marks remain.” 


I let my brain do the thinking. I watch it think for me. There’s an enjoyment I get seeing where it goes. From one visual idea to another it makes the associations. I follow them as an observer. I look on it as an observer of my own brain’s momentum. I’m not in charge of this activity. I’m not willfully in charge. I’m not directing the seeing. My brain looks up, acquires information, and it sees for me. It goes from one enticement; let's say a capital B, then to another peripheral small case k. It makes the connection, and I am simply viewing. When this happens, I am aware of feeling detached. As a spectator I sense another consciousness at work. The brain itself is receiving stimuli and translating that information into patterns that I would normally seek. The exception here is that I’m not knowingly seeking them out. I witness my brain working. This is another consciousness. I thought of what to compare this to and it came back to staring. When you stare at one fixed point you are incorporating surrounding information and having an experience that includes that fixed point plus everything else around it. Though you might feel locked in one position your brain is doing some amazing things. So I thought, maybe my brain thinks I’m staring and is piecing the puzzle together for me. I am not actively looking. I am not engaged in staring either. My brain connects the dots before I even see what I am seeing. It is like a form of entertainment. I see my brain seeing, and it expresses itself by my following its lead. I watch where it leads me. What I watch is mostly bits of language: half-words, part phrases, single letters, shapes within a given letter, fonts, size, etc. And these, of course, are everywhere. Anywhere the printed word is displayed. 

I was startled at first by this minutia of time separation between seeing and seeing my brain see. 

Staring at letters reminds you that their visual substance is there to encompass entire human histories 

Each letter contains a history that is both personal and communal. Talking is an acceleration of letters.
A letter has no beginning and no end.
You stare for combinations that are pleasing. 

Stare your way into a word till the meaning of the word is gone then allow each letter to achieve its visual potential 

Deconstructs alphabet and so alters the message. 

Words are patterns imbued with designated meaning. Alphabets are the periodic table of talk. Letters are visual entities that hold memory and experience in place. 

“I’m looking through you, you're not the same.” 

The initial act of reading is staring. Text itself is an amalgam of units of meaning. As you stare meaning loses its hierarchy and words discorporate and the alphabet itself begins to surface. 

Shapes, space relations, visual associations emerge. Alphabetic bits or parts or snippets of letters create a visual vocabulary amidst the very text you’re reading. Atomic incursions. Noodling among the utterances. Like scuba diving in( )between letters to liberate the bonds that keep them in place. That moment before the letters arrange. I'm stuck on parts of letters floating. 

Writing as field recording device. 

How uncomfortable is it to say, "I document what thinking arranges for me." It’s a situation I observe. Where my thinking goes. Watching my thinking think. Documenting my staring. Getting ready to write for writing. For documenting. 

A momentary paralysis imbued with hyper focus. Not in charge of what to think. And now that we stare into any number of screens a day we, ourselves, are caught. 

Finding your aleatoric self among the pencils. Here. An alerted poise of tumult. With thought, with movement, with decisions over both. Mostly it is documenting. The relation between chemical interface and its effect on thinking. Hallucinating the possibilities that generate a reason to speak or to write speech. 

Staring formulates a holding pattern writing prepares for. A kind of Staring Poetics.
Staring at textpo creates the potential for vispo. 

Letters alone are typically unwanted things. They are in danger of being individual, of lacking community, of not forming into a word. Isolated. You can leave these images if you want but know that the letters remain afloat even after you’ve gone. Nothing for a change or everything changes. The quantum of alphabet. Its elements seeking adhesion, making their way to some certain molecule. And so the material changes, time changes, seeing changes. Staring your way through to another approach we seldom heed. 

To vispo; the act of looking at alphabet and seeing only its visual material. 

To vispo; the act of staring at language. The uncovering of design material used to fashion alphabet. 

To vispo; a way of liberating the letter, to read past the word toward its component parts. Creative Staring
An elongated gaze.
Vowels in the kitchen. 

Staring your way into and through the letter as object. 

These alphabet parts seek a vision to upend everything that came before. 

Seeing is believing that alphabets are in motion and in a moment come together to form a word. Otherwise, letters are everywhere at once, hovering in consideration. Visual poetry documents this occurrence, the individual letters that precede the making of a word. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Tom Cassidy & John Bennett May 2021 Collaboration


John M. Bennett and Tom (Thomas) Cassidy have both been on this blog many times. Type their names in the search box to see other posts.


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Jim Leftwich 2

Monday arrows large-flowered 
trillium to autonorr writes ex &
was instucomm strengths life
long masking snoweyes their
crevirtu est suit of non-prot w/
the boot-clang essence Shape

democratic texts exist for 
low-irritant cattails postst
the munic sanch begann
open-ended emergences
their squiggly may-tubes
9pm disrupt our sensese
by smell of curtain frame

surplus said parclo 
interchange mauve
& chartreuse sonic
within the task task

the blanketing crows bulrush
kaleidoscopic in the Garage
of Hidden Changes / nor
glass who nourished
ravishing mysteries / a curse
of worlds glistening on our

Hat The Albatross goldlden
macaroni-ray brain spikerush
divulges microscopic silver
estranged linguistic lingering

are variations of their dusts the
Mask of Variants screwbean 
mesquite divagations / epic
myths of unbroken trajectory,
shadows rethinking scattered
scenes & variations on a mask

somehow made dendrites undersea 
storyboard road deciduous birdfoot 
violet spikelets / defiance of glimmers 
circulating calm nights, trackless days

motives on paper loop 
ramp reedmace / resistance
to margins transmissible
soup capers on native lamp

reopening short average sedge
bloodroot / patterns of intelligence
and application of food urges
panic / opines rootless horticulture
/ bitterns, acreage and wedge

mood surges antic helium 
perianth bluets / the blue
offering fish freed calcium
periscopes truism / food
purges antique moonbeam

trash drop homilies folded diamond 
interchange bristles in shifting
diameters of a dream-compactor
folded trash in a dream-compactor

wolf roaming birthdays buttercups
papyrus / in a world of political
dread a world of religious dread
/ in a world of poetical dread a
world of a word of poetics unread

six morsel Saturday Catawba 
rhododendron nor the only
wax wall dice fragmentarily
imagines dream grifters
dialectic / reams of drifting
deem in Lithodendron Wash

sorrel traipse withering columbine Aquilegia 
canadensis refrigerated non-governable red
columbine common columbine golden colum
bine eagle eagle's claw petals spurred apart

milestones herein wherewithal blue palo 
verde since we sea against cogent
mentation defunct or twice-alert

secrets of shifting longings quailbush
the worm-inch at freely wheeled
resistance / relentlessly oxygenated

firm orange balance on the cat with 4-wing 
saltbush truant and sheer to feel we focus

our approaches to root or Galleta wind
micro-remnant tastes Curly grass identity
in a milk who is James' Galleta struggling
encroaches micro-wind in root-remnant
who is the milk of Galatea wastelands
of King James identities of a curly mind

working in devastated countings
taking its tote alkali sacaton
invigorates variants more
seaweed than drainage
more vigorous than talking / nor
walking in the vast motes of
Kali, her blue arms whirling,
full of Time and Death

shortly comparative heads
needle grama satiated pink
hued bunch grass hotspots
of fruit and written genomic
dishwashing therapies seq
sequ sequencing oil knots
confluence decreasing inst
ability and headless parrots

between hyperthriving
initiate Gramineae cut
cats are forks & dogs
are knives frozen sea
crags also change
their books / the looks
of their books between
the hives of judgement  


For more on Jim Leftwich, see this link.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Jim Leftwich 1

[Today, we feature a poetic statement by Jim Leftwich. Tomorrow, a fairly long textual poem by him will be posted here.]

A Poem Should Not Mean But Ba, Bi Bo, and Bu

by Jim Leftwich

Jed Rasula to Mike Chasar (in an exchange published online at the Boston Review website on November 28, 2012) -- "nobody’s ever going to hear about Ashley except from you."

We need more poetry, that much we can safely assume as a given. I think we need a lot more poetry, exponentially more poetry. We need so much poetry that no one can even imagine keeping up with it as it is written.

We make poems to prepare ourselves to make more poems, and to assist others in preparing to make more poems.

The territory of the poem has always been a temporary autonomous zone. The rules of all the other territories do not apply. In the territory of the poem, we really can do exactly what we want to do. It is not my job to tell you otherwise.

As I read, I make a list of words that interest me. Each entry in the list is separated by four vertical spaces. After a while, maybe a few hours, maybe a few days, I return to the top of the list. I continue reading, and adding words to the words in my list.

Sometimes, I work in this manner on as many as fifteen poems at once. 

Over a period of time, hours, sometimes days, lines begin to form. I might notice the beginning of a rhythmic pattern. Maybe something I'm reading will suggest a phrase, or two. I might find myself in a certain frame of mind, inclined towards phrases rather than words, and spend an hour or so adding phrases to my fragments.

After a while, usually hours, sometimes days, the words and phrases accumulate, and begin to take shape on the page (the screen). Line-breaks are determined by the look of the lines together on the page. I often find a block-like look appealing.  At other times, I consciously resist the appeal of that block-like appearance. A left-aligned, jagged-right-edge look accentuates the visual rhythms of the word-aggregate. 

Subsyllabic rhythms are always irregular, and are always more interesting than conventional rhythmic patterns. When I am in the process of composing a poem, I think of a vocable as a neologism without a definition. A vocable, prior to the application of any sort of improvised interpretation, is a letter-string. Letter-strings have a primary visual rhythm composed of the series of shapes contained within the string. As a secondary characteristic, a letter-string will have a range or a spectrum of potential soundings. And, as a tertiary set of possibilities, a letter-string will have a set of semantic extensions, an array of plausible meanings to be attached, if at all, after the letter-string is fully formed.

Suprasyllabic rhythms are always irregular, and are always more interesting than conventional syllabic patterns. The written poem is a form of music—no one is arguing against that assertion—but it is a music for the eyes, not for the ear. Counting the number of words per line is one formal strategy for producing suprasyllabic rhythmic patterns. Breaking lines at exactly the same length is another formal way of foregrounding suprasyllabic, visual rhythmic patterns over the conventional sequential patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables.

Poems are written in the present in order to make room for more poems to be written in the future. This has always been the case. The now poem is never the new poem and the next poem is never more than partially present in the possibilities of all poems past. We must teach ourselves to be out of reach from wherever we find ourselves. The future depends on each one of us doing more than we can know.

Jim Leftwich
May 2021

For more on Jim Leftwich, see this link.

Monday, June 14, 2021

LONG HAIR: Two Jazz Poems Performed by Jefferson Hansen

Composition 409 : Long Hair

    Written in the days following first hearing Anthony Braxton's "Composition 409" and Gary Snyder                 
    reading his poem "Long Hair"

                                                            Jefferson Hansen in 1992
                                                            (photo by Tom Raworth)


    after james "blood" ulmer's album "freelancin'"


Composition 409 : "Long Hair"


    written in the days following first hearing Anthony Braxton's "Composition 409" and Gary Snyder
    reading his poem "Long Hair"


after walking alone all morning on trails in the park that meandered deep into the woods and along the river I came upon a crowd on the trail to the beach they talked excitedly and pointed through a thicket of thin-trunked spindly trees where a deer stood its flank towards us its head turned so wide eyed it could consider us maybe ten people stood on the asphalt trail pointing and exclaiming I grew concerned we made the deer nervous and turned to climb the steps up the tall escarpment I grew winded halfway up and flicked my long locks behind my shoulders to keep them out of my face panting my foot finally landed on flat ground just beyond the last step and just as it did the ground shuddered a strange light flashed as the brown-feathered hawks descended


                                                      before describing

                                                      what happened next

                                                      I must say

                                                      I felt no pain

                                                      the bloody dismemberment

                                                      I describe happened

                                                      in some strange dimension

                                                      within what we call


                                                      that reveals more

                                                      than any sensations

                                                      or conceptions


                                    a hawk perched

                                    on my chest

                                    talons digging 

                                    through shirt

                                    into skin

                                    it reared back

                                    its head

                                    eyes fierce

                                    and jammed its

                                    beak into my right eye

                                    plucking it out

                                    I felt no pain 

                                    so this was no normal



                  feeling blood flow

                  down my right cheek

                  I watched

                  with my left eye

                  as the hawk again

                  reared back

                  and crashed its open beak

                  into my left eye

                  again I felt no pain

                  the hawk said

                  "I'm chewing"

                  and I could not



                                    a hawk landed

                                    on my right shoulder

                                    another on my left

                                    I could feel each

                                    poking at my ear canal

                                    with some stick-like

                                    tool finally

                                    they jammed it in

                                    piercing my ear drum

                                    again I felt no pain

                                    but sensed the blood

                                    flowing down to my jaw

                                    beneath my ears


I walked stumbling down the asphalt trail somehow I knew to keep moving some strange sense kept me on the trail going somehow straight I never stepped off the asphalt I had been reduced to pure nerve and my nerve said to keep moving in my blindness in my deafness when another hawk I could feel landed on my chest talons digging in again I sensed a strange swoop and it grabbed my nose in its beak and painlessly wrenched it off in this strange dismemberment beyond all usual bodies



                  I smelled through blood

                  I saw through blood

                  I heard through blood


                                                      the hawks had eaten

                                                      me senseless


                                    while walking on

                                    I touched my hand

                                    to my face

                                    felt the sticky blood

                                    in my beard

                                    wondered if I were

                                    ever to be whole



through the blood of my ears I could amazedly hear a creature who identified itself as a hawk say "we have eaten your senses you are in us now and see through us and hear through us and smell through us you are the hawk man though we are not hawks we are microbes gone grown up and all rogue in our roguishness we have bequeathed to you the possibility of new sight new hearing new smelling we have given you the possibility of a whole new world we do it for we do it just as the leaf falls from the tree for no reason and the water etches its way for no reason into granite over the eons"


                  the soles of my feet

                  touched asphalt

                  touched the pebbles there

                  felt the strange cracks

                  and crevices 

                  I realized I had

                  lost my shoes on feet that

                  never came close

                  to veering off

                  the asphalt

                  guided by a strange sense

                  was it hawk sense


                                                      my long hair

                                                      I felt

                                                      brushed against

                                                      my shoulder blades

                                                      I touched my chest hair

                                                      realized I wore no



                                    I felt for my shorts

                                    and touched only skin

                                    I realized

                                    I was naked

                                    bloody naked

                                    eyeless earless and noseless

                                    walking endlessly down 

                                    the asphalt


slowly I heard things other than the hawk voice I heard other birds twittering and tweeting I heard their foreign songs through the bloodied ears time suddenly slipped through an unknown knot and uncurled before me into the wormholes of spacetime and became a circle as I became a circle too all around me birds sang I heard them through the blood I heard their sound circling in spacetime I heard through death the death of my ears


                                                      walking on

                                                      I began to see pink

                                                      through the blood

                                                      all was tinted


                                                      and the pink gave way

                                                      to a light green which

                                                      grew denser and thicker

                                                      and became a dark dark

                                                      luxuriant green

                                                      and I saw


                                                      the leaves on the trees

                                                      through my blood eyes

                                                      through my hawk eyes


                                    the leaves looked

                                    a succulent green

                                    a green more vivid

                                    than any I had ever

                                    seen before


                  a branch hung low

                  over the trail

                  as I ducked under it

                  I pulled off a leaf

                  stuck it in my mouth

                  and chewed away

                  I still had no nose


oh, the leaf tasted bitter but it was a good bitter it was the bitter of green the green I knew somehow somewhere I needed to have I chewed and chewed its bitterness and broke it to pieces in my mouth some of it spindly after swallowing some bits I realized I was a microbe gone grown up and gone all rogue in my roguishness I smelled manure from somewhere unknown and I knew I smelled it hawkish through the blood of some stylized dismemberment swallowing more bits of leaf


                                    suddenly finding myself

                                    naked and knee deep

                                    in a roiling rapids

                                    a fully dressed man

                                    in waders and gloves

                                    and big hat

                                    fly fished 

                                    with his back 

                                    toward me


                  I called to him

                  he slowly turned

                  his head

                  under his hat

                  was a face

                  of white white 



                                                      I waded away

                                                      from him

                                                      and walked

                                                      down a beach

                                                      naked and bloody

                                                      and noseless

                                                      hearing rapids

                                                      crashing into rocks


wading back into the edge of the rapids I dunked my head of long hair into the cool water I heard underwater the gurgling of the rapids I wiped the caked blood from my jaws and cheeks and face after noticing my nose had returned and I was whole once again I lifted my wet hair out of the water and snapped my head back to make the hair slap against my shoulder blades I saw above me the mirage of blue that is the sky and realized it was my friend and that the trees too were my friends and they awaited patiently my words which came with no effort 


                  "deathlife is 

                  long hair yesterday

                  long hair today

                  long hair forevermore"


                                    with that declaration

                                    I realized the strange lesson

                                    the brown-feathered hawks

                                    had so brutally bequeathed me

                                    that I am the living dead

                                    that I see partly with dead cells

                                    hear partly with dead cells

                                    that I touch through layers

                                    of dead skin cells

                                    I know only through death


                                                      there is no life

                                                      there is no death

                                                      there is only lifedeath

                                                      inextricably one

                                                      like spacetime



                                                                        the only way to know

                                                                        is to be shocked

                                                                        into it

                                                                        sometimes by brutality



my words echoed back repeatedly between the mirage of sky and the rapids I waded in the words curled up and shot away in strange trajectories action at a distance and through knowledge denied to conventional cognition but open to the paradoxical ecstatic embrace that is total somatic response to the eternal flux of things and processes blending and dissolving bleeding and abling and disabling I sensed my words had arrived action at a distance through wormholes to odd nooks and crannies weird eddies both churning and turning gently to resound or peep as the case may be even unto parallel universes


                  in all these offbeat

                  faraway hidden places

                  these words resounded








            after james “blood” ulmer’s album “freelancin’”


“Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.”   —Chuang Tzu, (369 BC-286 BC)


the ghost of chuang tzu

came to me last night

to say the universe

is infinitely wise

wise beyond all

human conception of wisdom

the distance of alpha centauri

from earth


to respond to this wisdom 

he said we must go local

attune ourselves to the polyrhythms there

hear the big beats and little beats

the shuffling and sharp ones

the brushed and sticked ones

and shake it on down

until the dirt feels the rub of the butt


chuang tzu told me that, yeah,

he’s a jazzer

he’s always been a jazzer

even in 300 BC China

because the blood reaches

back that far

reaches back and forward

in its electric shock

its electric shout

its shumble and stumble


chuang tzu said he came back

as charlie christian

who dazzled that benny goodman band

with electric Taoism

all the way to the coal-burning electric plants

of the 30s


and now chuang tzu is blood

and blood never ceases

the moon is blood

and the sun is blood

and every blade of grass stretches toward the sun

because of blood

the age of blood

knows no bounds




a photon traveling at the speed of light

knows no time

according to einstein

it travels space in no elapsed time

so to it there is no spacetime

all is absolutely here absolutely now


what is more real

light years based in human perception

or the perception of a photon

there is no reason

to put human perception

at any center


so time is not what we think

and photons scurry through blood

and the blood reaches forward

reaches backward

through time and culture


and this is how chuang tzu

is a ghost and not a ghost

is blood and not blood

is freelancin’ his way through

the collision of centuries

from the perspective of gluons

amid electric guitar buzz

skittering runs down the fretboard


we are always/




Gary Snyder can be seen reading "Long Hair" at Wang Ping's YouTube Page.

Anthony Braxton's "Composition 409" is on this boxed set.

Terrence Folz Reading From "Bunt Burke"

  Terrence Folz's chapbook  Bunt Burke will appear from The Circulatory Press in August 2021. The above film features him reading some o...