Saturday, September 11, 2010

half-way point

It's been a very long time since I've posted any original poetry on Culture Industry, but perhaps reaching the half-way mark on a long-term project calls for a bit of celebration. Over the past couple of years I've been working on a longish project in the mode of what Ted Pearson once called (describing his own work) "a long poem with very few words."

The title of the sequence as a whole is "Torture Garden: Naked City Pastorelles." I've shamelessly borrowed the designator pastorelle – "pastoral song" – from John Taggart's brilliant 2004 Flood Editions collection. The poems take their titles from the tunes of the 1989 Torture Garden collection (itself titled after Octave Mirbeau's 1899 Les jardin des supplices), by John Zorn's hardcore thrash jazz ensemble Naked City (Zorn sax, Fred Frith bass, Bill Frisell guitar, Wayne Horvitz keyboards, Joey Baron drums, Yamatsuka Eye vocals). Torture Garden collects 9 "miniature" pieces from Naked City's first eponymous album (1989), adding 33 more that would appear on its second record, Grand Guignol (1992). Its 42 tracks make an extraordinarily intense 25 minutes of music, a speedcore roller coaster comparable to Hüsker Dü's Land Speed Record (1982) or Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime (1984).

Each poem is what I think of as a "half sonnet": seven lines, each line an LZ-esque five words. Almost all of the actual language of the poems is appropriated, borrowed from books, the conversation around me, the songs running thru my head.

And now I'm halfway thru. Here's the twenty-first, with smatterings of Hegel, L'Allegro, an old familiar hymn, & the chatter of yesterday's department meeting:
21. Sack of Shit

Another question couched at hand
is this intellectual labor is
this does it produce does
virtue wash it all pure
spent grace fully trusting washed
absolute freedom mountain nymph sweet
terror soiled so tainted question.


Anonymous said...

question able crooks

and question strains caught on lye

combed suites – pure glisten, pure tread -

minus gathering threads

minus footholds awash in numbers

tangents phatic before

free fall in the imminent frame

notes swung as though coats

torn from the attic

only to land

in quarters, in the white pile of spin


Sisyphus said...

Oh my gosh, that picture! It's like Hieronymous Bosch meets Bacon meets Barbarella! (Or maybe Valley of the Dolls, hmm.)