people in a flaming basement room / a giant anteater licks an ant off a hit-and-run victim's cheek along a tree-lined road / Ed Begley Junior's face / elevator cables snap / corny sentimental explanations of changed alternate time-realities / two people hold hands, causing a drawing of a fire extinguisher to become real / dark clouds move slowly as a girl's face appears in a starry night sky.

Final fifteen minutes of Kingdom Hospital. Knowing nothing about the show, and seeing it totally out of context really liberates the images from the narrative....


Schema, Alli Warren, Housepress, 2004

Reading this chapbook, I kept finding some little nuance or charm I had missed in the previous take. My similarity-reference-needle kept wildly jumping around, one minute the poems possessed an Alan Davies-grade morphed intensity of differed eros, the next they felt like what might happen if Elizabeth Robinson started writing flarf. My conclusion: these are the early voicing of a highly distinct writer.

There are instances of sense here framed within a feeling for mental space which is allowed to remain partially distanced while also magnetizing along vectors of curiosity, humor, and warmth. The poems keep moving toward, and refracting through, different series of questions -- carefully arranged, funny, slightly inappropriate in an unpredictable way, and possessed of a charged and balanced intelligence.

& negation

here & there

your little lazy sex
immoderately expands
great pleasure from
watering the garden
with a hose

the larynx
is smaller than
& I am
to make resolutions

Warren's line can be blunt and delicate at the same time:

On the subway
trumpet sounds,
dragonflies screw
in the air above us

A correspondence inherent in the psychic energy required of word arrangement and the ability to both process sense perception and navigate a scrutiny of emotive states becomes, in her work, a poetic space of allowance with a vacillating rhythm of hiding and disclosing that connects it with the poetic tradition of Emily Dickinson. There are places where it glows with the energy of unspoken wishes and unspoken complaints fused at the moment where they manifest in a string of words.

There are some poems in Schema, where, within a certain limit of warmth they becoming almost Olson-like lyrically honed motions of perception, without losing any of the humor or oddness:

Velle non discitur
did you mean or

terra cotta I meaning
the hair in my eyes

smelling like "beer"
have you seen my dictionary

looking like "underpants"
are we the polis eyes

still awaiting fever
however subjunctive

the intention
in our starry air

naked error how to say
a sedentary peninsula

we can't go out and play
on the mainland

the surrounding area neither
yet known as phenomena

we are loaded full of fruit
I mean not conclusively.

The feelings, circumstances, and thinking are all handled with great care and verve in this work. Warren can handle both impossible and ordinary situations between people as well as situations which occur between the conflicting layers of oneself.

Glenn Branca, Lesson No. 1, AcuteRecords, 2004

Listened to the first track at the uptown Kim's listening station for about forty seconds and realized I needed to get it right away. Recorded in 1980 during the Rhys Chatham Kitchen era, this is a Pre-Sonic Youth minimalist art-rock band with Anthony Coleman playing organ. New wave/no wave/punk channeling of Terry Riley's in C with a beautiful balance of tonality, dissonance, and looping rhythms.


Metropolis 16-26, Robert Fitterman, Coach House Books, 2002

A remarkably flarfy procedural poem, Metropolis 19, entitled Dream Cuisine: Neo-Colonialism, Nouvelle Cuisine, Lewis & Clark and the Union Square Café, is a spare cut up of the journals of Lewis and Clark mixed with the menu copy from the Union Square Café in New York City.

The poem goes beyond a simple distanced ironic equating of pretentious urban dining with colonialism because the actual attraction of the food (and of the descriptive food-language) and the appeal of equating Lewis and Clark with self-exploration are both intact in the work, despite the intentionally flat arrangement/critique. This sets up funny, contradictory energies in the poem, and makes for a tone of fused lament and absurdity:

Elk skins, I was obliged
to leave my celery root

coconut chutney of self-

a fine morning bejeweled
pulsating with Mexican seasoning.

we had the trumpet sounded, and fired several shots
but he did not join us, the evening 's growing influence

of a black root; a kind of Liquirish

social fabric
croquetted wontons

the birnt hills, down the lolo trails

the lower part of the Cove, gusto

the same sleeping crepe.

Rodney Koeneke, Rouge State, Pavement Saw Press, 2003

feelin' Albigensian?

wild, friendly baroque wackiness and serious intellectual warmth.

"Mammogram the bildungsroman, induce
dingbat hexameters in the heldentenor's
yeasty Hornitos. Queen Ixnay to the E-bay
goes Braxton-Hicks on mother's bad milk day.
Computer's at last completely stewy--
picked up the bug at the honor bar. Citizen Quiggley
from the Gun and Doll Commission seeks flap
with pointillistic gabardine. Bad weekends for
two straight quarters--look inward and talk
to the polygraph: Have you grokked
Hampton Hawes today?"

Comedic/absurd virtual memoir improv riffing

"our Mordor grows more porous"

"here at the garden's hot marges
events soften into fire ants"

"in a moment of vast inattention
where everything happens together, a glimmer"

"when did the world tree, Yggdrasill, get so decorous"

"The body removed like a vacuum bag
from that chrome gleam
the dead part touches the live part and then
The whole thing, it pivots or turns."

"ego is an autopsy
at which you're a guest but also its theater"