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I Named Her--Annette Notebook

I Named Her--Annette Notebook
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Shedding Skin
Harryette Mullen, 1953
Pulling out of the old scarred skin
(old rough thing I don't need now
I strip off
slip out of
leave behind)

I slough off deadscales
flick skinflakes to the ground

Shedding toughness
peeling layers down
to vulnerable stuff

And I'm blinking off old eyelids
for a new way of seeing

By the rock I rub against
I'm going to be tender again
I Named Her--Annette Notebook
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the theory and practice of postmodernism—a manifesto [excerpt]
David Antin, 1932
         about two years ago elly and i decided we needed a new mattress 
or maybe elly decided it    because i didnt pay much attention to the 
  problem
               we had an old mattress wed had it for years and the salesman
 wed bought it from had assured us it would last us a lifetime    and it
was getting older and lumpy or lumpy in some places and hollowed out 
  in others and    i just assumed it was part of a normal process of aging
 it was getting older we were getting older and wed get used to it     but 
  eleanor has a bad back and she was getting desperate to get rid of 
this mattress     that had lived with us for such a long time and so
 lotally      that i thought i knew all its high points and low points     its
eminences and pitfalls    and i was sure    that at night my body
 worked its way carefully around the lumps    dodging the precipices
and moving to solider ground whenever it could
                                              but maybe eleanor
sleeps more heavily than i do    i have a feeling that i spent much of 
 my life at night avoiding the pitfalls of this mattress that i was used
to     and it was a skill id acquired over the ten or fifteen years of this
 mattress’ life     so I felt there was no reason to get rid of this mattress
that had been promised to us by a salesman who said it would last the
 rest of our lives     i figured we were going to live long lives i didnt  
think we were anywhere  close to dying     so neither was the mattress
  but eleanor kept waking up with backaches
          still i figured it was a good mattress and that elly just didnt have
 enough skill at avoiding the lumps      it never occurred to me that the 
mattress was at fault     so i didnt  do anything     and elly didnt do
  anything because shes not into consumer products and hates to go
 shopping    but by the end of a year elly convinced me     because she
  has a sensitive back and i dont     that she had a more accurate
  understanding of this business than i did      so I said sure eleanor  
         lets get a new mattress      were rebuilding the house       as long as
were going to have a new house      we may as well have a new mattress 
 but eleanor said how will i know its a good one     i dont want to get 
another mattress that gets hollowed and lumpy and gives me backaches
 when i wake up     how will i know how to get a good one
         i said well open the yellow pages and well look up mattresses and 
 therell be several places that sell them       and ill close my eyes and 
point a finger at one of these places      and it will be a place that has 
 lots of mattresses where we can make a choice as to what constitutes 
 a good one by lying on them
I Named Her--Annette Notebook
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The Distant Moon
Rafael Campo, 1964
   I

Admitted to the hospital again.
The second bout of pneumocystis back
In January almost killed him; then,
He'd sworn to us he'd die at home.  He baked
Us cookies, which the student wouldn't eat,
Before he left--the kitchen on 5A
Is small, but serviceable and neat.
He told me stories: Richard Gere was gay
And sleeping with a friend if his, and AIDS
Was an elaborate conspiracy
Effected by the government.  He stayed
Four months. He lost his sight to CMV.
      
   II

One day, I drew his blood, and while I did
He laughed, and said I was his girlfriend now,
His blood-brother.  "Vampire-slut," he cried,
"You'll make me live forever!" Wrinkled brows
Were all I managed in reply.  I know
I'm drowning in his blood, his purple blood.
I filled my seven tubes; the warmth was slow
To leave them, pressed inside my palm.  I'm sad
Because he doesn't see my face.  Because
I can't identify with him.  I hate
The fact that he's my age, and that across
My skin he's there, my blood-brother, my mate.
      
   III

He said I was too nice, and after all
If Jodie Foster was a lesbian,
Then doctors could be queer.  Residual
Guilts tingled down my spine.  "OK, I'm done,"
I said as I withdrew the needle from
His back, and pressed.  The CSF was clear;
I never answered him.  That spot was framed
In sterile, paper drapes.  He was so near
Death, telling him seemed pointless.  Then, he died.
Unrecognizable to anyone
But me, he left my needles deep inside
His joking heart.  An autopsy was done.
      
   IV

I'd read to him at night. His horoscope,
The New York Times, The Advocate;
Some lines by Richard Howard gave us hope.
A quiet hospital is infinite,
The polished, ice-white floors, the darkened halls
That lead to almost anywhere, to death
Or ghostly, lighted Coke machines.  I call
To him one night, at home, asleep.  His breath,
I dreamed, had filled my lungs--his lips, my lips
Had touched.  I felt as though I'd touched a shrine.
Not disrespectfully, but in some lapse
Of concentration.  In a mirror shines

The distant moon.
I Named Her--Annette Notebook
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Choke
Eileen Myles
Of all the ways of forgetting
not turning the pilot on is not
                             the worst

The house is intact
you are floating
in time
buckets of it streaming through
                  the windows

youth turned it up I think
or on & fell asleep

Remembering to do.
You are too intact
the dappled sunlight on the lawn
or pots of darkness
like salt instead of depths

Still once I turned it up
the popping commenced
like applause for the present
tense
the site of my sway

Larry's new car is wide & safe
a woman's voice conducts
us left & right
she's crazy he laughs
again & again

my shrink said buy it now
about the car

I told him about my phenomenal streak
of winning & when the stakes 
rose I began to bid low & 
not at all
I could have won; you choked
he said.

Woof. To not choke
is I suppose to experience
to hold it in & go forth
though you need the heat

The sun had not done more
suddenly for a while

it's like we took off our skin
and said it is hot.
It's like we sold our skin
& said where did everyone go?

when the weather's too hot for comfort
& we can't have ice-cream cones
it ain't no sin
to take off your skin
& dance around in your bones
I Named Her--Annette Notebook
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what it means to be avant-garde [excerpt]
            and i was thinking about this while i was flying
 toward iowa and thinking about how everyone was going to be
trying to locate the avant-garde      and about how almost
 everyone was going to agree that it would involve either
shocking or making it new      and and that i was supposed to be
 talking about this too      and i realized i was going to be
  confused      because practically every role classically
attributed to the avant-garde has been preempted by something
 else      and i reflected that i myself have never really had
a clear image of what it was to be avant-garde      though ive
 been thrust into the role often enough to know what it feels
 like to be avant-garde

                             a friend of mine had written a book
  marjorie perloff had written a book dealing with american
poetry as a kind of french connection      as opposed to the
 english connection which is conventionally supposed for it
  in the schools      now i personally think there are many
roots to contemporary american poetry      certainly my poetry
 and the poetry i admire      but i also know what writing a 
  book means      in a book you have to organize your ideas
 pretty much one thing at a time      if its an important thing
and you want to really get it done      and this is a book
  designed to challenge what i have always thought of as the
 anglophiliac model of american poetry that is so dominant in
 those literary strongholds east of the mississippi      or the
connecticut river      north of the monongahela      that are so
 strongly devoted to an anglican passion      that they give
  the impression of some kind of outpost in a novel by huxley
 or evelyn waugh      where the people are sitting around on a 
veranda sipping their gin slings in the shade of the local
 textile factory or integrated circuit fabricating plant
  dreaming of playing polo or cricket or rugby in the greener
 older playing fields at eton or harrow      which they may
  never have seen      being often second generation eastern
european jews from brooklyn or queens      or lithuanians from
  indiana or lutherans from wisconsin      and somehow there
  they are gathered on the veranda in new haven or manhattan
in memory of the british empire      of which they are among
 the last supports      and several columns of which this book
  is probably intended to take away
                                             or maybe more precisely
      this books is only bringing the news to these outposts
that the british empire has long since passed away      and
 that the messages from england would no longer be coming and
 had not been coming for a long time      and that there was a 
french connection as there is a russian connection and a
 spanish connection      and for many a chinese connection or
japanese connection      there are lots of connections in this
 world      but in a book you have to do one thing at a time
  the world may not happen one thing at a time but in a book
you have to tell one thing at a time
                                              and my friend was invited
 to washington to be part of a discourse with some of these
english emigres and refugees      among whom were numbered
  harold bloom and john hollander and richard howard      who
are certainly distinguished members of the refugee community

            now marjorie was giving a talk based on the
 last chapter of her most recent book      the poetics of
indeterminacy      the last chapter of which happens to deal
 with john cage and with me
                                     and whatever differences there may
  be between cage and me      and these are considerable      we
 were both obliterated by the righteous wrath of harold bloom
    who had hardly heard more than our names      when he
 denounced the proceedings as ridiculous and us as nonpoets
and stormed off the stage
                                  i was told about this performance of
  blooms and though it was wonderful and forgot about it
    but it was not long afterward that i was invited out to
 the very same place to do a talk performance on the folger 
librarys little shakespearean stage      and it happened that
 when i came to do the performance i had something serious in
  mind      because a friend of mine had died two or three days
before      after a sudden and unexpected hospitalization from
 which we had all hoped she would come out alive      and i
 wanted to make my piece a kind of homage      a mediation and
speculation on the nature of her life and death

            so in the course of things i told her story
    or what i knew of it      and i tried to consider the
 nature of the fit      between the life we lead and the death
we get      and what i wanted to think about was whether there
 was such a fit and if there was      what kind it was      and i
 did the best i could      under the circumstances      of being 
there      then      which is my image of what an artist does and
 is      somebody who does the best he can      under the
 circumstances      without worrying about making it new or
shocking      because the best you can do depends upon what you
 have to do and where      and if you have to invent something
new to do the work at hand you will      but not if you have a 
 ready-made that will work and is close at hand and you want
 to get on with the rest of the business
                                                   then youll pick up
 the tool thats there      a tool that somebody else has made
    that will work      and youll lean on it and feel grateful
when its good to you      for somebody elses work      and youll
 think of him as a friend who wold borrow as freely from you
 if he thought of it or needed to      because there is a
community of artists      who dont recognize copyrights and
 patents      or shouldnt      except under unusual circumstances
            who send each other tools in the mail or exchange them
in conversation in a bar
                              though i had a couple of friends
 from whom i got a lot of things in the mail      who got very
nervous about exchanging things with each other because they
 had ileana sonnabend looking over their shoulders      and one
of them got so distressed because he had ileana looking over
 his shoulder forbidding him to collaborate with the other
  friend      that when he wrote the text for the others
 installation performance he never put his name on it      but
this is an unusual situation      and i only mention it because
 of that
I Named Her--Annette Notebook
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Dead Horse
Thomas Lux, 1946
At the fence line, I was about to call him in when,
at two-thirds profile, head down
and away from me, he fell first
to his left front knee
and then the right, and he was down,
dead before he hit the...
My father saw him drop, too,
and a neighbor, who walked over.
He was a good horse, old,
foundered, eating grass during the day
and his oats and hay 
at night. He didn't mind
or try to boss the cows
with which he shared these acres.
My father said: "Happens." Our neighbor
walked back to his place
and was soon grinding towards us
with his new backhoe,
of which he was proud
but so far only used to dig two sump holes.
It was the knacker 
we'd usually call to haul away a cow.
A horse, a good horse, you buried
where he, or she, fell. Our neighbor
cut a trench
beside the horse
and we pushed him in.
I'd already said goodbye
before I closed his eyes.
Our neighbor returned the dirt.
In it, there were stones,
stones never, never seen before
by a human's,
nor even a worm's, eye.
Malcolm, our neighbor's name,
returned the dirt from where it came
and, with the back of a shovel,
we tamped it down
as best we could. One dumb cow
stood by.
It was a Friday, 
I remember, for supper we ate hot dogs, with beans
on buttered white bread, every Friday,
hot dogs and beans.
I Named Her--Annette Notebook
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On Quitting
Edgar Guest, 1881 - 1959
How much grit do you think you've got? 
Can you quit a thing that you like a lot? 
You may talk of pluck; it's an easy word, 
And where'er you go it is often heard; 
But can you tell to a jot or guess 
Just how much courage you now possess? 


You may stand to trouble and keep your grin, 
But have you tackled self-discipline? 
Have you ever issued commands to you 
To quit the things that you like to do, 
And then, when tempted and sorely swayed, 
Those rigid orders have you obeyed? 


Don't boast of your grit till you've tried it out, 
Nor prate to men of your courage stout, 
For it's easy enough to retain a grin 
In the face of a fight there's a chance to win, 
But the sort of grit that is good to own 
Is the stuff you need when you're all alone. 


How much grit do you think you've got? 
Can you turn from joys that you like a lot? 
Have you ever tested yourself to know 
How far with yourself your will can go? 
If you want to know if you have grit, 
Just pick out a joy that you like, and quit. 


It's bully sport and it's open fight; 
It will keep you busy both day and night; 
For the toughest kind of a game you'll find 
Is to make your body obey your mind. 
And you never will know what is meant by grit 
Unless there's something you've tried to quit.
I Named Her--Annette Notebook
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Daddy
Sylvia Plath, 1932 - 1963
You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time--
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You-- 

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not 
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephone's off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through.

If I've killed one man, I've killed two--
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.

12 October 1962

I Named Her--Annette Notebook
next
Wolf Cento
Simone Muench

Very quick. Very intense, like a wolf
at a live heart, the sun breaks down.
What is important is to avoid
the time allotted for disavowels
as the livid wound
leaves a trace      leaves an abscess
takes its contraction for those clouds
that dip thunder & vanish
like rose leaves in closed jars.
Age approaches, slowly. But it cannot
crystal bone into thin air.
The small hours open their wounds for me.
This is a woman's confession:
I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me.



Sources: [Anne Sexton, Dylan Thomas, Larry Levis, Ingeborg Bachmann, Octavio Paz, Henri Michaux, Agnes Nemes Nagy, Joyce Mansour, William Burroughs, Meret Oppenheim, Mary Low, Adrienne Rich, Carl Sandburg]

I Named Her--Annette Notebook
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Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour
Wallace Stevens, 1879 - 1955
Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous. 
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth, 
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole, 
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one... 
How high that highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind, 
We make a dwelling in the evening air, 
In which being there together is enough.
I Named Her--Annette Notebook
next
The High-Toned Old Christian Woman
Wallace Stevens, 1879 - 1955
Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the moral law and make a nave of it
And from the nave build haunted heaven.  Thus,
The conscience is converted into palms,
Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.
We agree in principle.  That's clear.  But take
The opposing law and make a peristyle,
And from the peristyle project a masque
Beyond the planets.  Thus, our bawdiness,
Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,
Is equally converted into palms,
Squiggling like saxophones.  And palm for palm,
Madame, we are where we began.  Allow,
Therefore, that in the planetary scene
Your disaffected flagellants, well-stuffed,
Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade,
Proud of such novelties of the sublime,
Such tink and tank and tunk-a-tunk-tunk,
May, merely may, madame, whip from themselves
A jovial hullabaloo among the spheres.
This will make widows wince.  But fictive things
Wink as they will.  Wink most when widows wince.
I Named Her--Annette Notebook
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Ivory Black [BLACK breathing BLACK at the window]
Myriam Moscona
BLACK breathing BLACK at the window
		Simultaneous
The interior eye     Opposite watching's touch
	  In what is black white
Is by accident		The eye detaches
As it slips from itself
What is black		Like sky

In its scream		Glassed   
Spins			In a straight line
Draws along		In a spiral

	Explodes
     Isn't it your dream to be visible?
A luster spins		Atop another
Grows			In buds
		Pierces
The change of season comes
In clarities		        Lifts
Airborne		        High and low
Like the light		In our touch
	Angelizes
Burnished
		   The dark light that skies in whites
And in prayer the refrain repeats
Between nude walls			        Hangs
Window against the emanation:		Open