poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Jackson Mac Low was born in Chicago on September 12, 1922. He was a poet and composer, and a writer of performance pieces, essays, plays, and radio works. He was also a painter and multimedia performance artist, and often worked in collaboration with his wife, Anne Tardos. Mac Low's books include Two Plays: The Marrying Maiden and Verdurous Sanguinaria (Green Integer Books, 1999), 20 Forties (Zasterle Press, 1999), Barnesbook (1996), 42 Merzgedichte in Memoriam Kurt Schwitters (1994), Pieces o' Six: Thirty-three Poems in Prose (1992), and Twenties: 100 Poems (1991), as well as the compact disc Open Secrets (1993), comprising eight works performed by Anne Tardos, Mac Low, and seven instrumentalists.

Educated at the University of Chicago and Brooklyn College, he taught at many schools, notably the Mannes School of Music (1966) and New York University (1966-73). In has taught creative writing and lectured at SUNY-Albany, SUNY-Binghamton, Temple, UC-San Diego, Naropa Institute, Schule für Dichtung in Wien (Vienna), Bard College, and Brown University.

He was the recipient of fellowships and grants from the Creative Artists Public Service Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, PEN, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He received the the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 1999. Jackson Mac Low lived in New York City with his wife until his death on December 8, 2004.

Forties 30: Troelstrup Nightmare Flare Competition

Troelstrup nightmare risen     quiz motivátion-issue tincture reality
twélve-knit tissue crest     nést-modulation excrescence nativity
flý-by-níght trilateral tusk     tenser flagrant rag     mortal
limp insistence ancilla Detroit     tourmaline torque encarceled discography metal 
    alert     turnabout         Timorese
liquid equipment Falásha                twíce-tóld

Notice     emblematic tamper     various     mérit-badge particulars     tango anoint soporific
flicker monastic inéquity-requital     fóreigner-enactment
toast     nótion-counter ASCII fortune loris          lordosis
sole     Mon tortilla ferocity laminated klieg     Mittwoch deuce     dapple     nepotism 
    rábbit-page          Nanook alleluia
noûs capíto eastern scholia strobe

Liberá me    end of Borrómmlio fair as two trace          reply
our room     quando coeli movéndi sunt unscheduled saint in progress sticker
laboratory victim     metonymic strait     safehouse mix
ticket activity fantasy answer encyclical láff-movie Rupert in serigraph rubric telepathy sappy 
    paper sapience odds
grow     sac melography metaphor axial

Sank     drift     cyclic metaphysics amylation tocks deco_
Nostradamus income tax excerpted fa-lá     twist     cove
summarized eightfold share     appearances dance endure
atom-come-and-góne-again taking different forms     passing dream     bad tomatoes unfolding 
    into the light          no     real     self
persist in that union forever

Persia couplets Sufism section     merchant parrot sorry
zeal increasingly wary of slogans     Dallas reforms     television
Cuba's foreign trade excéss     ideological álly     sugar     oil
rationing purity earlier petrol fumes     cue          now-it's-wórse     hurt     everything'll come 
    despised     difficulties doubt
not in social prop          áptitude-depict 

Political pester to click     yeárs-execution     held for nonviolent
sentence conditions abuses admit     basically fearfully
armed economist     distant enthusiasm dense     impossible town
improve eclectic witness latest fuse     hula radio map     pole they hold     sanctions imposed on 
    violator loch installations
optimistic place resolve     shéd-jewel beat

Neither the wherewithal nor the subdominant topical speculate
involved interlocutor confident rich     wínter-par stucco
virtually key     decision slake discovery repudiate a long way off
influx of likely condemn     hostile application ripening justice labor remainder integral Münster 
    reminder provisional
meaningful change     largely invited observers

Court sforzando journalist     Irawaddy délta-area separatist
flagpole valiant local Midol pressure     immer-adorátion pasture
selfish figures cancel leísure-potential méssed-up plants
how well government harvest Albania probe across the Balkan state     chunnel critiques support 
    foreseeable sea
foreseeable Hague     flare competition



Caesural spaces = durations of silence and/or prolongations of 
final phonemes or syllables:
               4 letter spaces [    ] = 1 unstressed syllable;
8 letter spaces [        ] = 1 stressed syllable or beat; 16 letter 
spaces [                ] = 2 beats;
none occurs between typographical lines; breath pauses at verse-line 
endings ad lib.


Nonorthographic acute accents indicate stresses, not vowel qualities. 
Each hyphenated compound is read as one extended word: somewhat more 
rapidly than other words but not hurried. [ - ] indicates a 
slowed-down compound (each member, one beat). Indented typographical 
lines continue verse lines begun above them. 

From the series "154 Forties," published in 20 Forties by Zasterle Press, 1999. Copyright © 1999 by Jackson Mac Low. Reprinted with permission.

From the series "154 Forties," published in 20 Forties by Zasterle Press, 1999. Copyright © 1999 by Jackson Mac Low. Reprinted with permission.

Jackson Mac Low

Jackson Mac Low

A poet, composer, and writer of performance pieces, essays, plays, and radio works, Jackson Mac Low was born in Chicago on September 12, 1922. 

by this poet

Circulation. And long long
Mind every
Interest Some how mind and every long

Coffin about little little
Money especially
I shore, having money about especially little

Cato a little little
Me extreme
I sail have me an extreme little

Cherish and left, left, 
Myself extremest
It see hypos myself and extremest
Undergone swamp ticket   relative 
whist natural sweep   innate bicker 
flight notion  reach out tinsel reckoning 
bit  straddle  iniquitous ramble stung

Famous furniture instant paschal 
passionate Runnymede licorice 
feature departure   frequency gnash 
lance    sweat lodge rampart crow

Neck Bedlam
A feather table: reckless gratitude. 
It is that-there that means best. 

White the green grinding trimming thing! 
The disgrace, like stripes.
More selection, slighter intention. 

Rosewood stationing is use journey: curious dusty empty length. 
Winged cake: the cake, the plan that neglects to make color