Tag Archives: The Possibilities

“Dark Side of a Natural Gas Boom”

from "They Called Her Styrene"

Friends, a title is a funny animal. On one hand, it defines the piece, gives it an identity. On the other hand, it steers the meaning of the piece perhaps as much as the piece itself does. And that can be problematic. If the the two or four or eight words that comprise the title end up being as meaningful as the several hundred or thousand that follow, then perhaps the title is not just representing the story—perhaps it is eating the story. And we must be wary of having our stories eaten by themselves.

We can escape this by giving titles randomly. A random title may still draw attention in the same way. It is, after all, the first thing we see, and therefore is not initially capable of producing dissonance. It may still give an identity to the piece. But it may avoid outlining simplistic elements of the story: themes, morals, theses. (By way of example, I will mention “Life as a House,” a Kevin Kline film in which the building of a house is used to represent the rebuilding of a family. In other words, the film’s title is also its central metaphor.)
Allow me to offer you some sources of random titles.

Ed Ruscha, from "They Called Her Styrene"

1) Begin typing phrases into a google search bar. The suggested completions often make great titles.

2) This website, which in only seconds of effort provided me with the excellent phrase “Dirt Hospital,” which will almost certainly be a poem by the end of the week. Also, “Nothing Today,” “Tooth Sic,” and “Terminology Mornings.” Notice that in the sidebar there are random word, sentence, and even paragraph generators. Chances are those tools make better poems than I do. (My first try yielded this gem: “Within the war pro, consents an unexplained laughter.” Then this: “The crude girlfriend stalls under the microcomputer.” Sigh.)

3) Ed Ruscha prints. Particularly from a book called “They Called Her Styrene,” which is available online and ought to be owned by everyone.

4) Phrases that you like from everyday life.

5) Things that you read on signs.

I’d like to write a whole book of poems with titles from a restaurant menu. Each poem would be given the title of one dish: “Croque Madame,” “Eggs Benedict,” “String Beans,” etc. The title of the book would be the name of the restaurant.

Ed Ruscha, from "They Called Her Styrene"


To the world-haters (DF)

One should try not to be separated


from the beauty of the world

or what is beautiful in it

            (to be diplomatic)

            (to the world-haters)

            (who are many)

            (myself sometimes included)

for even one moment.

  Continue reading

a poem with no ideas (DF)

God Wishes To Be Expected


Cardinals, starlings

    the backyard is lush

rims of red in cups

    lipstick, dolcetto


and coffee from the morning.

The plants are hunting

inside themselves Continue reading

Notes on Dining, Part I

As we come to the close of another Restaurant Week here in New York City, I realize there are a few points that ought to be made to the general public. These points operate along the lines of getting along better with the people you come across, by accident or design, every day. They’re also designed to inculcate a deeper perspective on your own actions, however minute they might appear to be, and how they affect others, particularly those who are in your power.

I realize that this is a big city, with a long and exotic tradition of ruthlessness; that minor indignities are suffered by everyone in every job; and that one can go only so far to be gentle with the feelings of others without sacrificing the possibility of meaningful expression. All that said, however, there is far too much discourtesy shown to people in “service” industries. Everybody has his or her own equivalent to what I’m about to say, so you shouldn’t feel left out, or attacked. Instead, consider this a brief memorandum outlining a few basic ways that, without sacrificing any quality of experience, you can create quality in the lives of others.

(Deliberately omitted are childish lessons like “say please and thank you.” You know to do that. If you aren’t doing it, pay close attention to the following.)

The first is the most important, and it regards tipping. Continue reading

A Short Exploration of the Possibilities.

Sometimes I forget that I don’t have to write poetry. I can tell true stories, transcribe those phrases that are flying around my head all day, tell untrue stories, reenact important moments in history, forget history, try to forget history, get bogged down in history, or simply be paralyzed and staring at paper all day long. All of these are possible. If I want, I can write a series of words that don’t make sense. If I want, I can do that all day forever.

But that isn’t enough! One needs a sense of purpose. Something to stick to in dire times, something to keep in focus.

“But our trip was different. It was a classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the national character. It was a gross physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country-but only for those with true grit. And we were chock full of that.” (H.S.T.)

Life lived as a demonstration of life’s possibilities. Intriguing. To seek not only the novel and extreme, but also the total spectrum of insane boredom, terror, nostalgia, mysticism, and hilarity.

Confusion, the disappearance of money, the presence of money, the question and inconstant reply of money.

Do we lose our memory when we fall asleep? Do we reconstruct our lives from the clues we find in waking?

The French people in the living room. The stripped lines of rain on the window. The door cracked open, the light creeping through. Dust on the floor. A whisp of petrol in the air. Dregs of wine. The leftovers of a forgotten celebration.

Capgras’ syndrome.


These sorts of things are carefully philosophically regulated by relegation to a simple malfunction of the human system. And perhaps this is true. As a not-doctor, I am forced to examine and understand it using different methods. I must try to put myself in a Capgras mind.

Read the two paragraphs of that link.


Now, notice below, where it notes that “The person is conscious of the abnormality of these perceptions. There is no hallucination.”

In other words, this is a way of thinking that can be observed and looked at. A Capgras mind’s first impeachable offense is that it has no excuse, I suppose. It cannot rid itself of the nagging but inexplicable impression that its home, its pets, its very mother, have been replaced by identical doubles. There is no hallucination. In other words, no distorted perception. Total objectivity.

Again, as a not-doctor, I have to question sincerely if it is possible this is simply a brain malfunction. Isn’t it a philosophical malfunction as well? Or maybe not even a malfunction, if we’re speaking philosophically. And then on what level does abnormal electrical activity in the brain become abnormal philosophical activity? If this idea leads to psychotic behavior, does that make the idea incorrect?

At the other end of the spectrum are people concerned they are psychotic, but without able to summon a single reason for being thought of as such. (http://www.medhelp.org/posts/show/268200)

Let’s examine the spectrum of self-awareness in interaction with psychotic behavior. Possibilities accorded thus far by medical science and self-reported surveys:

1) The subject exhibits psychotic behavior without realizing it.

2) The subject exhibits psychotic behavior, but does realize it (Capgras’ syndrome).

3) The subject exhibits what it considers normal behavior, but others consider that behavior psychotic. (the juror)

4) The subject exhibits what others consider normal behavior, but which it itself considers psychotic. (everybody knows what I’m talking about here).

It begins to seem like the origin of “psychosis” is actually a disconnect between a person and his or her social culture.

I guess I don’t know where to take that next. It was a short exploration of the possibilities.