Tuesday, August 2, 2011


To get the most out of this poem, one should be at least somewhat familiar with what is referred to as Language Poetry. Please take a moment to read some lines from Leslie Scalapino, and then come back.

I think Scalapino's poems are prime examples of what I'm referring to in "Memo To A Language Poet." By the way, I read "Memo To A Language Poet" in a literal den of Language Poets on one occasion, knowing what I was getting into, and somewhat apprehensive about how it would be received. When I finished, a young dude got up and read something that was just as disjointed as Scalapino's lines--glancing over at me in defiance a number of times. I applauded him at the end, because I think it's important for all poets to support other matter how their work strikes us.


As a toddler you rejoiced not in stacking the blocks
but in knocking them down--
and it must have been difficult for you
when the teacher said to diagram a complete sentence
because you refused to write one.
And I understand that your favorite
game was DISCONNECT...the...dots.

Now, you say, the idea is to separate




Life has no meaning,
so why should poetry?

Imbued with ambiguity,
it's not just a poem--
it's an adventure.
But your fits and starts
are starting to give me fits--
and it would surely give me pause
if I could find one independent clause.

And it must seem like a ball
and chain, this societal expectation
to make a little sense--
for to write with coherence
would be grave interference
with your disjunctive conjunctive experience.

Now I'll admit that I've enjoyed your work--
this Chinese food of the literary world,
for three or four seconds at a time.
But I find that I'm always hungry again
when I reach the next line...
and I keep thinking that if you'd
only hold that thought for a few
syllables longer, you might at least
come up with some haiku.

In your defense, I know a guy who was on
a step ladder one day,
and stuck his head a little too close to the ceiling fan...
now he has a short attention span
and he thinks you're a genius!

But you're forgetting one thing:
Language was invented
for the purpose of COMMUNICATION--
otherwise we'd still be sitting around
the fire saying UUGHH...
and beating each other over the head
with clubs, and eating with our fingers...
otherwise you are mentally masturbating
on my eyes, so put that pen back
in your pants and get a grip
on reality this time.

Don't get me wrong--
I like to play as much as the next poet,
and I can be as cryptic as an Egyptologist


but to disconnect language
from meaning--
you might as well remove the ball and chain
from inside your toilet tank.

Either way you end up with shit.


  1. Thoroughly enjoyed your nonstop word play. Giggled all the way through.

  2. You ended up with it too...
    That's why this poem is THE SHIT! (LOL!)

  3. This is so true and ran into these ummm people a time or two. But no matter what you say they think they are soooo great and right, can't change their mind one single bit. Pull out a thought bubble or ten and randomly blurt them out. 99.99% of the time shit is what you get. To each their own though, I'm a rhyming loon what do I know..haha

  4. hahaha love that stanza about the man who got hitin the head by the ceiling fan...a delightful read and a good bit of wit as well...

  5. You, sir are so crotchedy.
    funny, but crotchedy.

  6. Fashion and poetry are such rank bedmates ... thanks for giving this one a flush. - Brendan

  7. yep - i whole-heartedly agree...i was wondering about the toilet pic in the beginning but loved how you summed it up with this...i love poems with a MEANING...and yours for sure has...smiles

  8. EVELYN,
    OWW...that one struck below the belt. Sometimes I'm more pretend crotchety than serious crotchety :)

    I hear you. To play devil's advocate, though, there is a whole philosophy attached to language poetry--fascinating in it's way.

    I'll take that as a compliment...I think!

    Thanks...I like that line too. (He said, as if he were just a casual observer and not the author.)

    Astute observation!

  9. Timoteo, we are on the same page. While I'm all for people being experimental, and trying to express things in new ways, I find that elitism can get just a little too in love with itself for me, and by making something almost incomprehensible, you may mimic the random meaningless of life, but you omit the fact that every day we each are struggling to imbue life with meaning, and when we can't, we are usually mentally ill as the result. Enjoyed the scalpel you took to the whole concept.

  10. Oh, I love it when poetry makes me laugh =) You had me the whole way!

    Thanks so much. Writing poetry...good therapy for the mentally ill.

    Wow, that's better than you had me at "hello." Thanks.

  12. I never leave from a visit here without a smile.

    I do like your open-mindedness.

  13. UUGHHH....I enjoyed it..ha..ha..

    Thanks ~

  14. Interesting write inside the head of a poet.

  15. A rollicking blast of a write - cutting through the shit - its late here in the U.K and Im F.U.B.R'D so your write was perfecto - I ve studied Wittgenstein so language and meaning is my realm - Wittgenstein was a douche - You said it better. with skills


  16. Ahahahahahaha...loved this! wonderfully done and satisfying right down to the last flush!

  17. MAUREEN,
    Let me entertain you...let me make ya smile...

    You bring out the cave man in me!

    Always nice to see you me a beer?

    Thanks for the props, and it's great to have you on board! I wonder how Wittgenstein would break down the sentence, "Wittgenstein is a douche" to reveal its logical complexities!

  18. ..i like how this piece take me in a way different intriguing thought processes.. 'it's not just a poem.. it's an adventure'.. i for some reason agree with this co'z 'tis pretty obvious by now that i'm enjoying this adventure called poetry... it's actually more than just an adventure. tnx for the read!(:

  19. This is the best critique I've ever read. Thanks for sharing!!!

  20. Heck,I have enough trouble reading my own vanilla poetry, let alone the Quisinarted stylings of the so-called Language artists. I can't begrudge them because I have trouble following them, though. Obviously, they have a following.

    I'd just rather follow you, Timo. This is a clever, well-conceived bit of writing that I really enjoyed.

  21. that is hilarious - of course! I've come to expect nothing less from you :) my favorite was this:

    and I keep thinking that if you'd
    only hold that thought for a few
    syllables longer, you might at least
    come up with some haiku.

    That one made me laughed out loud - really loud.

    btw, you have a lot of labels - like you hardly ever write about the same thing twice. It's almost like you have a Language Blog...hmmmm...

  22. A Zen master was asked by a monk “What was the nature of the Buddha's enlightenment?” He replied “SHIT ON A STICK”.

    For whatever reason your poem reminded me of this Koan.

    Well done from number 38 of OpenLinkNight

  23. Ughh, duh, whateva, back at ya, da chit!

  24. Oh Tim, I SO love your poems! This one, as always, is extremely entertaining, fun, rollicking, and makes COMPLETE sense. I so agree! I LOVE the guy who got hit with the ceiling fan who thinks the stuff is brilliant. Hee hee. And the "grave interferance with your disjunctive conjunctive experience". Brilliant!

  25. I can tell.
    An endearing kind of crotchety.
    got it.

    Good to see you around these here parts.

    High praise. Thanks!

    Hey, you ever read your own poetry and then shake your head cuz you can't figure out what the writer is trying to say? Happens to me a lot!

    Glad you got off on the "haiku" part! Yeah, a lot of labels, as you can see. Do you think it's significant that "dog poop" shows up as one of my more oft-used topics?

    Okay, I can see why...LOL.
    By the way, I solved that most famous of koans:

    Q:What is the sound of one hand clapping?
    A:Much softer than that of one foot stomping.

    You are a true poet (a Language poet, maybe!)

    No comment thread would be complete without hearing from you. Thanks!

    GIVE ME A "B" (I'm still thinking about that one!)

    Sometimes you just gotta go with the flow!

  28. I absolutely adore what you wrote. I often feel like I'm missing the deeper meaning of what sounds to me like gibberish. You make the wonderful point that communicating is about communicating something. I like that.

  29. ARLENE,
    Thanks. Yes, we sometimes are taken in by pretense, thinking there must be a deeper meaning when it's really just pretense.

    Thank you for your support! (Bartles & James)

  30. i loved reading your poem but i think that looking too deep into things hurts my head lol so i just write and enjoy my thoughts xxjen

    I don't know if I'm deep or not...I know some people have told me "it's really getting deep around here!"

  32. Yay! This is great--I applaud you, Tim. I've run into some of these writers of which you describe--they bring me to a complete halt. For the life of me, I can't think of any response--nothing...

    Thanks for not scaring me!

  33. That's, as we say in this part fo the world, some pretty deep "Stuff". Very well done!

  34. Tim, you've said it like it is! I love this even though I enjoy words for how they sound and feel when speaking them I think I prefer it when they mean something. To each his own!!!