Poetry

“Trailing the Blues” and one other poem published in Rat’s Ass Review

rats ass winter 2018

The Winter 2018 issue of Rat’s Ass Review has just been released, featuring a large assortment of poems on everyday subjects in plain language. The authors are arranged alphabetically, which is the only reason my work sits at the top; two of my poems made the cut: “Trailing the Blues” and “That Was My First Wife.” You can read them here.

I should note that while “Trailing” was based on a real person I saw in a liquor store one day (while adding to my rum collection), “First Wife” is complete fiction; for one thing, I was never in the army.

rats ass win 19 trailing

“You Need a New Heart” published in Avant Appal(achia)

avant-appal-6

Experimental poetry journal Avant Appal(achia)‘s Issue #6 went live today. Nice selection of interesting text and visual work. This one also includes my poem “You Need a New Heart,” one of a series of pieces based on the idea of an imaginary AI transactional language. You can read the piece and the whole issue here.

avan-app-6-new heart

This text forms part of a new series of experiments inspired by the Facebook AI units that recently developed their own language using English words with different syntax and meaning. The AI units were intended to carry out customer service transactions and negotiations, and the format of their language seemed to be a powerful way to confront and manipulate the continuous stream of commercial messages invading our mental space.

These texts represent an attempt to replicate a machine code constructed from an extremely limited vocabulary, often initiated by spam emails. Each piece develops by permutations, repetition, and sound/rhythm. It’s impossible for the human observer to know if the machine is analyzing or tabulating data, performing a calculation, conducting a negotiation, or making a persuasive appeal. Any of these functions is a possibility. In a way, the texts are a form of speculative fiction: looking at a machine narrative pulled from a future where AIs have been released to perform functions on their own. As in the case of the Facebook AIs, these instances show a machine or machines adapting human (English) language for their own ends. The repetition of the key words imitates a transactional language, as if a carnival barker is repeating an appeal to a potential audience. But the end result also reminds me of a magical incantation appealing to a familiar spirit.

“After the Guillotine” text and video poem published in Five-2-One

guillotine-521

Literary journal Five-2-One usually appears in print, but its daily supplement, The Sideshow, appears online. My poem “After the Guillotine” appears there starting today in text and video formats. The video features my reading of the poem, along with an electronic backing score. Warning: grim subject matter may not be appropriate for all audiences! You can view it all here.

guillotine-text-521

“Joyce in Washington” and two other poems published in Outlaw Poetry

joyce-2-outlaw

Outlaw Poetry is an online journal comprising a who’s who of outlaw poets. So I’m very pleased to appear in their pages again, this time with three poems: “Joyce in Washington,” “On a Roll,” and “Women’s Work is Never Done.” You can read them here.

The first two pieces are based on real people and events. When I was temping at the USPS headquarters many years ago, Joyce worked there as an administrative assistant. She was a real character, very unique for DC, who I couldn’t resist writing about. One detail that didn’t make the poem was the vibrating pillow she used to sit on to soothe her back.

“On a Roll” is the second of two poems I wrote, more or less transcribing one of my dad’s rants in a New Jersey hotel room after a very long day helping my sister move from her apartment. When he’s on a roll, he’s on a roll.

joyce-outlaw

Gonch in Canadian

After seeing some of my Gonch poems and images in Word for/Word journal #32, Keith Robert contacted me by Facebook with the news that “gonch” actually has a meaning in Canada! Keith writes, “‘gonch’ is a Canadian word for underwear (like tighty whiteys) it comes from the Ukrainian gatky.”

Sure enough, an Internet search for “gonch definition” immediately discovered the gonch wiktionary page, confirming this meaning and etymology. A linguistically inventive people, the Canadians also say “gotch, ginch, gitch, gonchies, gotchies, ginchies, or gitchies,” depending on which region you’re in. Other online slang dictionaries add that “gonch” often refers to threadbare undershorts.

Wiktionary helpfully supplies these usage notes for “Gonch”:

Used in British Columbia and Alberta. Gitch and gotch are variants heard east of Alberta. It is also acceptable to append -ies to any of these variants, especially when referring to the underwear of male children. The term is becoming more widespread in use as a result of the rise in popularity of Vancouver-based undergarment company GinchGonch. A gotch-pull or gonch-pull is another name for a wedgie.

Gonch-pull! I’m going to have to work that into the Gonch project somehow.

For me, “gonch” was jut a nonsense word I invented as a child. When I decided to base a poetic language from the phrase “all gonch,” I never dreamed it would have any meaning or connotation for anyone else. It was just supposed to be a Dadaistic piece of absurdity to make an oblique comment on the current American regime. With American English in ruins, a new language would one day arise to take its place. That language could be Gonch.

But just as the various meanings of “Dada” (“father,” “hobby horse, or “yes yes” depending on the language) added layers to the nonsense, I’m delighted to learn that “gonch” has some meaning far beyond anything I could have imagined. To make an absurd commentary on the Trump era, a language based on “underwear”–especially crusty old underwear–seems even more appropriate.

In an effort to be thorough in the search for extradimensional Gonch meanings, I plugged the word into Google Translate and ran it through a wide range of the language options. Nothing came up. “Gonch” means “gonch” everywhere in the world. Except in Canadian English.

ginchgonch pig

Now for a commercial message. Wiktionary refers to a Canada-based undergarment company called Ginch Gonch. Readers may be interested to know that this company still exists, and makes a wide variety of undergarments for men and women, including jockey shorts, long underwear, gogo panties, camis and more, that come in silly printed designs featuring monkeys, bananas, ambulance cars, and so on. The company’s website includes a photograph of Miley Cyrus wearing a Ginch Gonch sport bra on the street. The picture below is another clever marketing image, along with the phrase “Going Gananas!” Dadasopher’s everywhere, rejoice!

ginch gonch web

 

3 Gonch poems and 5 Gonchlog images published in Word for/Word journal

word for word32

Word for/Word is an online journal of experimental poetry that just released its issue #32. Lots of interesting text and visual poetry to check out. It includes three of my Gonch poems, “Cachallanog Agaal,” “Nagan Halloch Cohl Llonagga,” and “Llaanaganallo Hacla Chagalnach Aglacoa,” as well as five images from the Gonchlog. You can read them here; just click on my name in the far right column on the front page.

The text pieces come from a series of new works using a vocabulary limited to words invented from the nonsense phrase “All Gonch.” It’s an attempt to create a new language, imagining also the culture behind it through the shape and structure of the words, that might arise after the death of the current (American) culture and language.

The images are part of another phase of the Gonch project I call the Gonchlog. In this process, I search through consumer magazines and cut out the five letters of “gonch,” then glue them onto accounting paper. The source, its date of publication, and volume number are noted. The intention is to draw out that key nonsense word from these commercial propaganda vehicles in order to find a way forward.

cahallanog-word4word

gonchlog-word4word32

“Quasar Pulsar” video on YouTube

It’s been a while since I posted new video content, so today I uploaded the “Quasar Pulsar” video to YouTube. I’ve been placing stills from it in various journals over the past year (Otoliths, Angry Old Man, H&, etc). This one is pretty long at nearly 13 minutes, but the colors and movement may make it interesting enough to endure. Electronic soundtrack by Tone Ghosting. The text is the last stanza from my poem “Shit on a Stick Corporation”: “Quasar pulsar/beep beep/to the stars and all.” It refers to the noise pollution of televised advertising escaping into space, which some alien race light years away will have to deal with eventually. Why would aliens visit the Earth? To tell us to keep it down.

3 text pieces and five video stills in Otoliths #51

robot-poems otoliths 51

Always an event when a new issue of online experimental poetry round up Otoliths is published. Today, the journal’s 51st issue was released, marking Southern Spring (Australia), containing a who’s who from the international experimental poetry scene. Vispo, text works, hybrids, you name it.

This issue offers a selection of my work, including five stills from the video “Silenced Scribes” (view them here), and a selection of three texts from a new series tentatively called “Robot Speak”: “Cattle Check,” “Then It’s Time,” and “Ready America.” You can read them here.

These three texts form part of a new series of experiments inspired by the Facebook AI units that recently developed their own language using English words with different syntax and meaning. The AI units were intended to carry out customer service transactions and negotiations, and the format of their language seemed to be a powerful way to confront and manipulate the continuous stream of commercial messages invading our mental space.

Further, they represent an attempt to replicate a machine code constructed from an extremely limited vocabulary, often initiated by spam emails. Each piece develops by permutations, repetition, and sound/rhythm. It’s impossible for the human observer to know if the machine is analyzing or tabulating data, performing a calculation, conducting a negotiation, or making a persuasive appeal. Any of these functions is a possibility. In a way, the texts are a form of speculative fiction: looking at a machine narrative pulled from a future where AIs have been released to perform functions on their own. As in the case of the Facebook AIs, these instances show a machine or machines adapting human (English) language for their own ends. The repetition of the key words imitates a transactional language, as if a carnival barker is repeating an appeal to a potential audience. But the end result also reminds me of a magical incantation appealing to a familiar spirit.

video stills otoliths 51