I decided I would just freewrite a poem without help from mchain or gnoetry and see how much affect these processes have had on my sensibilities. Not to say that I like this poem (or poems?), but I did notice upon completion of it that it visually resembles the form of the Elshtain poem I posted below. Coincidence? Possibly. Who knows. And maybe I do like it. Here it is:
10 to 15 mph
winds set fire to highly
of oldest living woman
still runs immaculately well
the newest informant
technology lacks congruence,
expulsion of students
into the forests high ’93
the end of apartheid
propose random furious
search and seizures due
to collapsing veins
I was amazed that I got the year of the end of South Africa’s system of apartheid right, unless I’ve been misled by Wikipedia. Did the number 93 trigger that connection subconsiously in my mind? When I looked it up, it turned out I was right. I like when things like that happen. I like when I end up being right.
Over vacation, I’ve managed to work on a second draft of “Once In A While A Large Machete.” It looks a bit different from the first, and I’ve tried to add in (or destroy?) a new rhythm, although I am questioning how well it has been communicated in this draft. Tell me what you think.
Note: The blog is refusing to keep my tabs in when I publish the post, so keep in mind that every line that does not begin with “How…” or “Am I” or “I am” is indented in about 8 spaces. You can view it in it’s correct formatting by opening this doc file: once-in-a-while-a-large-machete-072207.doc
Once In A While A Large Machete
How is it you float
above while I must walk through the
the street children stole your money?
the boys let water into your basements?
the men that hurt your children?
How your guards hold
those blades before them as
if they didn’t know of
the desire to help others.
a retired auto mechanic.
a 37 year old female.
the fox trots over your thoughts
hot nights when you lie back and
How you hover over
on strings come down and
judge all unsuitable.
incapable of satisfaction.
burnt out on the land.
older and married and
could get pregnant by
a long barreled rifle.
Here’s the first mchain poem draft that I’ve written for a while, and it’s the first one to be posted on this blog.
Another first: this is the first mchain poem I have ever documented from beginning to end, and all of the steps in the process have been posted sequentially on this blog.
This is what this blog is all about:
Once In A While A Large Machete
Why is it you
are able to float
just above the growth
must walk through the blood
that is all
I am not the man
stole money from you
not the boys
let water into your basement
not the one
Why is it
you hold that stick
between them and you
you didn’t feel anything
of the need to
all she wanted was
to buy a chicken
and she was
I am burnt out
on the land
I am older and
married and could
by a long barreled
a 47 year old female
the fox walks through
when you lie back and bites
it is not parents
hover over us
and not them
come down and judge us unsuitable
and not them
consider who will make
our best replacements
I wrote this poem using the output selections that I posted on July 1. I reworked pieces and fit them together using what I guess I would call my intuitive logic. I’m not sure what the progression of statements could be said said to follow; perhaps some emotion arc, or just an inertia of sound and rhythm. There seem to be a lot of loose ends still as far as rhythm and sound are concerned. I think I will focus on those aspects more as the poem is revised. Tell me what you think.
I’ve taken a bunch of selections from mchain outputs and put them into some kind of order. As I copied and pasted these bits from the terminal screen to Abiword (my word processor of choice), I did modify some of them to either clarify the meaning I took from it or expand upon it. Some line/bits were combined to make new sentences. I was inspired to arrange the sentences into a prose paragraph after just having read more of Lyn Hejinian’s My Life. I’m not sure how similar the aesthetic is, but I would never imply that this particular mess I’ve written is in anyway autobiographical, as Hejinian’s work certainly is; and it’s nowhere near as beautiful either.
Safety and sobs. The waistband of a realization. Most glorious orbs held myself and go through the table of awareness. “My cock finally meets you,” I decided to hold it. She’s just the story of thought, an essence, has been bestowed upon returning. Antibiotics on her blue jean clad ass instead. In the air. A million thoughts. It is much as sparks of America that we study under my asshole. Jiggling and other words. Good luck to you! To take her home once the rain soaking us, filling us. It feels good. Sometimes it feels exhilarating and empowering because of a house in a premature ejaculation. He turned off the average person. This flea is an escape. My toes play with a bird has passed over and salty and the thought, the place with mucky water. I hope that helps. I wake up. I live in all desires but I want to “crawl” before you for years. I know. I’m still passed over. In the darkness. I am driving a psychiatrist. I open cars. More importantly, everyone on the ground out. Big storms rolled onto its beauty. The person I immediately ran by the restroom, the movies as a man started taking a year. I laughed. He is saying, “In my own time, it’s still, I look at times.” The trees, large quantities of movement. I figured that I was very slippery and I smiled. I growled, undoing your anger, as hell in our understanding. Please explain. 11 million thoughts about a car and I had their softness. Amria’s eyes widened in the loss of every day. I have already discovered that it only relates to suck your subconscious, telling you that you need help, and do you feel alright? The countryside. Sprawling grounds, rolling hills of such.
I’ll find some way to post my input material here. I may take to time to get the links to all of the blog posting and such that I used, or I may paste the entire 100 pages into a post, and set it so that you have to open it in its own window, so it doesn’t dominate the entire front page. We’ll see.
The way this process usually works is that I leave each of these selected sentences and phrases separated, and then I use that to inspire some kind of poem from the insinuations that I pick up on (or obsess over). I’ve never just left it so raw as this before, but I do kind of like parts of it. Maybe there is something to the roughness of this.
I’m going back to the beginning of this whole Markov thing with this post. I was bored, graduated and unemployed a few winters ago. I started to read some of the odd e-mails that were showing up in my gmail spam folder. I guess I became obsessed with them.
taught out out latter side tying?
light letters rich. principle added teach rich, why embarrass back.
promised corner motor shining did.
mischievous or least.
music least servants money human, principle human profession music. mischievous side pretty next
prison appearance fascinate thus already? use wrong night bad anything?
money speaking drew speaking hard. steps window benefit. bought embarrass pretty arms?
fire arms supposedto.
she purpose yours slow the. steps we we we raise, beautiful development window.
why wife make fly.
mischievous shining parents. benefit reading here friends? mischievous parents taught social why window.
studied social we music profession, thus we bought he.
thus am purpose miserable. a latter supposedto.
pretty pretty companion edge? rich light benefit out, speaking speaking a am.
evening news commit you? find you carefully slow parents, light find already light.
rich suddenly bought,
motor respect bad. happened filled find reply slow. reply immediate black goes.
commit did wife. bad fly black news. speaking pretty servants servants make?
drew fire end filled.
motor gym raise next teach. teach money different, prison whom raise side.
The bold words above are some of the phrases, or groupings, that stood out to me when I read these e-mails. They show up in the spam poems I would write later, I think because I was still trying to figure them out. After revising/writing 20 poems for my applications to graduate schools, my brain was a bit fried, and I was tired of what I was doing. These spam e-mails were refreshing and I wanted to use them or emulate them in my own writing. So the need was born.
There was no question of aesthetics when I started doing this. I was just excited, concerned with what to do with the reactions I had to these e-mails. I cataloged them by the subject lines, which advertised prescription medicines and penis enlargement type products for the most part. I also began searching the web and blogosphere for other references to my obscure passion. Below is a list I’ve made from some of this blog digging. Some of these are of people posting their spam poems online, doing the same thing I was doing. There must be some kind of aesthetic here if it gets so many unconnected people doing the same thing, no?
- *** Do the Yak: Spam poetry ***
- *** Dr Spamlove – Icon – theage.com.au ***
- Finding Myself OMG: A Bullshit Quest: Encyclopedia Magenta: Spam Poetry Vol. 3
- John Dilworth: Spam Poetry
- Mosaic – Spam Poetry
- Sam’s View: World’s Least Effective Spam Email
- *** Spam Poetry ***
- *** Spam Poetry — Audience of Two (Spoetry Series) ***
- farkleberriesUSA: blogging across America!
- ishieland version:rosalita om nom nom nom – spam poetry and other things
- *** nokturno.org – Juri Nummelin ***
- thosegypsies: junk mail poetry
There are all kinds of vibes coming out of this spam: political, economic, sexual, humorous. The mixture is where I think the attraction comes from. It’s boisterous, raucous, and also extremely inconsistent. I’m not sure if the inconsistency has anything to do with the aesthetic or not; a writer would hope that making a more consistently enjoyable read would be a bonus, but aesthetically this may not be sound.
In later posts, I will treat the aesthetics of spam poetry, and some similar strains of flarf poetry, of which I am a great fan.
Anyway, I wrote some spam poems myself for about eight months. I never posted them anywhere, which makes me wonder how many other people have been doing this and not showing anybody. Here’s an untitled one just called “Poem ”:
so many corners I have turned into disappointment,
mistaking my hopes for a promise
as others here confuse developments with improvement.
if these fake houses were ever to burn,
the air would be black with their poison. in my dreams
the days grow new deserts, and the nights
a plague of frost to kill my new garden.
while my friends are serving out their sentences of labor,
oiling their leftover time with liquor and reruns,
I huff great clouds of laziness. foolish, I think of the future
as a dusk to stumble through: how else may I be justified?
in the sky’s last jewel of light,
I want to look up from my walking and see
a kind face shine the evening back.
I heavily edited the spam and added bits into my own text, trying to create something coherent and communicable out of my reactions to those bits I found intriguing. Why I find this approach more “true” than just rearranging the texts I’ve been given, as many others (above) have done, I don’t know. I don’t think it has to do with pride, but it’s hard to tell sometimes. Here’s another one:
least sandwich wanted, steps added special
this pride would have me fashion unending belts,
swelling at even the least appearance
so by day’s end I’d be much too miserable
to spring my pretty body on you.
it’s almost like I’ve brought this on myself,
signed contracts that I didn’t read
so as far as I know this might go on indefinitely:
the singular engine of Next firing off of each event’s horizon.
but beyond that? I won’t disappoint you,
and don’t go telling anyone you heard it from me,
but across that line, brilliant similar letters appear in the sky
and bring light to our fresh black eyes, that look up
from their work to go out
luminous through the prison’s new windows.
And here is the final one I will post here. It is my favorite, I think:
gym not purpose, window not anybody
for Avelina Margurita
we sugar up letters in prison studies. with beautiful arms
we make new light of their miserable music,
edging our professions with immediate purpose.
what else are we to do? god forbid we teach money different:
teach how money speaking makes speaking hard;
how listening makes of us all pretty servants.
somewhere gyms are showing fire to the motor,
filling it to the glowing end so at last our pride
may show how ill the promises kept. and yet
how sweet is the arm’s real purpose, how sweet it rings
as our steps that work the earth’s reply.
and while companions make of each other a wondrous social use,
tying their knots in the human sandwich;
while they teach through windows the lie of human progress,
a voyeur at the corner asks, why wife make fly?
One thing I carried over from my previous writing style was still a voice of defeat. It is something that bothers me in a lot of poetry, a somewhat whining, complaining, weary, and inconsolable kind of voice that gets to me after a while. It’s not something to be avoided in one’s writing completely, I don’t think, but when it becomes the principal voice, I think that that is a problem.
Upcoming: Part II of this post will deal with how and why I wanted something better and more customizable than spam to work with, and how Markov chains come into it.