Sunday, June 17, 2018



“polymer codex,” a poem in Les Echiquiers Effrontes by Mark Young
(Luna Bisonte Prods, 2018)

"This is a poem about thinking"

Mark Young is a New Zealander who has lived most of his life in Australia, and he is known primarily as a poet. As a visual poet, he brings a vibrant literary sense to the text as visual object. He has arrayed phrases and individual words upon a field that takes the form of a traditional chess set, compelling the reader to construct meaning out of the various ways a string of words can be constructed. The reader can read up, down, diagonally, and even in a continuous spiral. In the end, the poem becomes a textual movie—every block upon the page a single frame in that movie—and the film flickers before us, sending our minds in different directions, exciting the retina, and teasing the mind. Meaning is not easy or certain in this visual poem. Instead, it surges toward us and swirls away, both brazen and coy. This is a poem about thinking, meaning, and the isolated and collective beauty of words.—Geof Huth

Roaming back and forth through les échiquiers effrontés (cheeky chessboards) I found myself in time lingering with the poem on page 22, "polymer codex". My first thought was "that looks like a rutabaga". I typed "rutabaga" into the google search bar and a similar image appeared. A good place to start, I reflected: 4 squares down in a 8-square vertical column, the seventh square from the left in an 8-square horizontal sequence.

felon rutabaga halo effect

halo effect, noun: the tendency for an impression created in one area to influence opinion in another area.

"Polymer Codex" (first published by Sonic Boom)

Out of the 64 squares on the page (in the poem) there are six images: line 2, square 3 has someone (not Edgar Winter) playing a handheld, shoulder-strap synthesizer; line 2, square 7 has the registered trademark symbol; line 4, square 7 has the aforementioned rutabaga; line 5, square 4 has the slashed O; line 7, square 2 has a close-up fragment of an abstract painting, or a minimalist abstract landscape, or a child's imitation of some tendencies found in Klee; line 7, square 7 has the "Tube" part of the YouTube logo.

shoulder-strap synth app

moreish registered trademark symbol

haruspex slashed O tooth paste (slashed o for the second o in tooth)

mine minimalist childlike Klee landscape talent

cyborg tube okapi

The okapi, also known as the forest giraffe, congolese giraffe or zebra giraffe, is an artiodactyl mammal native to the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Okapi are creatures that appear in The Lion King universe.

Let's begin again (and again), this time in the upper left corner, and read the first line from left to right.

polymer salsa heritage Charles Olson relapse anima = anime debut crowd

Olson 1: From the moment he ventures into FIELD COMPOSITION—puts himself in the open—he can go by no track other than the one the poem under hand declares, for itself. 

Olson 2: Observation of any kind is, like argument in prose, properly previous to the act of the poem, and, if allowed in, must be so juxtaposed, apposed, set in, that it does not, for an instant, sap the going energy of the content toward its form.

It comes to this, this whole aspect of the newer problems. (We now enter,
actually, the large area of the whole poem, into the FIELD, if you like, where all 
the syllables and all the lines must be managed in their relations to each other.) It
is a matter, finally of OBJECTS, what they are, what they are inside a poem, how
they got there, and, once there, how they are to be used.

polymer, then, as a beginning inside a beginning: a substance that has a molecular structure consisting chiefly or entirely of a large number of similar units bonded together, e.g., many synthetic organic materials used as plastics and resins.

Some polymers, like cellulose, occur naturally, while others, like nylon, are artificial.

salsa, too, a type of Latin American dance music incorporating elements of jazz and rock; (especially in Latin American cooking) a spicy tomato sauce. Its rhythms burn the tongue (a mnemonic device, or strategy).

heritage, something that is handed down from the past, as a tradition ("The Tribe of Olson")

In medicine, relapse or recidivism is a recurrence of a past condition.
In the context of drug use, relapse or reinstatement of drug-seeking behavior, is a form of spontaneous recovery that involves the recurrence of pathological drug use after a period of abstinence.
late Middle English: from Latin relaps- ‘slipped back,’ from the verb relabi, from re- ‘back’ + labi ‘to slip.’ Early senses referred to a return to heresy or wrongdoing
Olson 3: “the DISCONTINUOUS becomes the greener place.”
Olson 4: “My shift is that I take it the present is prologue, not the past. The instant, therefore. Is its own interpretation, as a dream is, and any action — a poem, for example.”

Carl Jung 1: "The realities subsumed under the concept “anima” form an extremely dramatic content of the unconscious."
Carl Jung 2: "The poet's conviction that he is creating in absolute freedom would then be an illusion: he fancies he is swimming, but in reality an unseen current sweeps him along."

..."we probably will always be crystal sets, at best." - Jack Spicer

anime, a style of animation originating in Japan that is characterized by stark colorful graphics depicting vibrant characters in action-filled plots often with fantastic or futuristic themes. 

It wasn’t until the 1970s that the word “anime” first began catching on in Japan.
What you think it means
Animated media from Japan, or in a recognized "Japanese" style
What it means in Japanese
Animated media - i.e., cartoons - from any place, in any style.
Carl Jung 3: "The animus is the deposit, as it were, of all woman’s ancestral experiences of man—and not only that, he is also a creative and procreative being, not in the sense of masculine creativity, but in the sense that he brings forth something we might call the spermatic word."

debut, the first public appearance of a new product or presentation of a theatrical show.
"the shoulder-strap synth makes its world debut"

crowd, Old English crūdan ‘press, hasten,’ of Germanic origin; related to Dutch kruien ‘push in a wheelbarrow.’ In Middle English the senses ‘move by pushing’ and ‘push one's way’ arose, leading to the sense ‘congregate,’ and hence (mid 16th century) to the noun.

Julio Marzán: But from what element in "Brilliant Sad Sun" did Williams get the "red wheelbarrow"? From an imaginary translation from the Spanish. In Spanish, to know things by heart or to do something by rote can be described by the phrase de carretilla: hacer de carretilla or saber de carretilla. The image evokes carrying around the knowledge using a small cart. Colloquially, one can refer to someone's habitually prattling on about some- thing as bringing back one's carretilla. And carretilla also literally denotes "wheelbarrow." On that afternoon, Rose was prattling nostalgically de carretilla, so the carretilla was Rose's, la carretilla de Rosa, which homonymously translated also says "the red wheelbarrow."


The first of the undecoded messages read: “Popeye sits in thunder,   
Unthought of. From that shoebox of an apartment,
From livid curtain’s hue, a tangram emerges: a country.” --Ashbery

tangram, A traditional Chinese puzzle made of a square divided into seven pieces (one parallelogram, one square and five triangles) that can be arranged to match particular designs

Line six reads as follows:
politics AK-47 Brexit eclectic tensor hemp routine gun control

Line 2, square 2"
"pledge" contains "edge", explicitly in this configuration
it also contains "ledge"

Allen Ginsberg talking (teaching, at Naropa - 1980) about Pound's A B C of Reading: 
“(poetry-making) equals “to condense”
“DICHTEN = CONDENSARE” – Poetry equals Condensation, Poetics equals Condensation

star anise
Salon des Refuses

Reading diagonally, top left to bottom right:
polymer pledge &/or linkrot tooth paste hemp tube codex

Reading top left to bottom left:
polymer bullring sniper criteria specter politics mine siege

Reading the black squares, line 1 square 4 to line 8 square 3:
Charles Olson budget deficit a dream space Demerol tensor star anise chi

budget deficit: While we hear all the time the statement that “if I ran my household budget the way that the Federal Government runs its budget, I’d go broke”, followed by the claim “therefore, we need to get the government deficit under control”, MMT argues this is a false analogy. A sovereign, currency-issuing government is NOTHING like a currency-using household or firm. The sovereign government cannot become insolvent in its own currency; it can always make all payments as they come due in its own currency.
Indeed, if government spends currency into existence, it clearly does not need tax revenue before it can spend. Further, if taxpayers pay their taxes using currency, then government must first spend before taxes can be paid. Again, all of this was obvious two hundred years ago when kings literally stamped coins in order to spend, and then received their own coins in tax payment.
Another shocking truth is that a sovereign government does not need to “borrow” its own currency in order to spend. Indeed, it cannot borrow currency that it has not already spent! --L. Randall Wray

Demerol, Meperidine is used to help relieve moderate to severe pain. It belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid (narcotic) analgesics and is similar to morphine. It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.

tensor, a muscle that tightens or stretches a part of the body.
early 18th century: modern Latin, from Latin tendere ‘to stretch.’

Illicium verum is a medium-sized evergreen tree native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China. A spice commonly called star anise, staranise, star anise seed, Chinese star anise, or badiam that closely resembles anise in flavor is obtained from the star-shaped pericarps of the fruit of I. verum which are harvested just before ripening. 

Chi, also spelled qi, is life-force energy or vital life of a living being in traditional Chinese philosophy, religion and medicine. The concept is similar to prana in Hinduism and yoga philosophy. Chi means “breath” or “air” and is often translated as “energy flow,” “life force” or “matter energy.”

polymer codex
mid 19th century: from German, from Greek polumeros ‘having many parts,’ from polu- ‘many’ + meros ‘a share.’
late 16th century (denoting a collection of statutes or set of rules): from Latin, literally ‘block of wood,’ later denoting a block split into leaves or tablets for writing on, hence a book.

June 2018


Jim Leftwich is a poet who lives in Roanoke, Virginia. Recent publications include  Volumes 1 , 2  &  3  of  Rascible & Kempt (Luna Bisonte 2016, 2017, edited by John M. and C. Mehrl Bennett), Tres tresss trisss trieesss tril trilssss: Transmutations of César Vallejo (Luna Bisonte, 2018) and Sound Rituals, collaborative poems by jim leftwich & billy bob beamer (mOnocle-Lash, 2018, edited by Olchar Lindsann).