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The Unreasonable season

University of Florida Institutional Repository

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THE UNREASONABLE SEASON By MICHAEL LOUGHRAN A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF FINE ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2004

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Copyright 2004 by Michael Loughran

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To my mom, Linda; my dad, Jim; and my sister, Katie and to Noelle, with enough love to kill a horse.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Thanks go to my mom, dad, and sister for guidance that cannot be overstated, and for various newspaper clippings and dried goods; to Noelle, for taking a lengthy vacation, for her endless patience vis a vis my pseudo-unemployment, and for things large and small not otherwise hinted at in these poems. Thanks go to Sidney Wade, without whom these poems would have rambled and sung flatly, whose weekly guidance retroactively justified my move to Florida, and whose influence will remain long after I decamp from the Duck Pond. Thanks go to Michael Hofmann and William Logan for their judicious workshops and sporting friendships; and (a long overdue) thanks to Cory Brown, who was more trigger than reverse-trigger. Finally, thanks go to the other students at MFA@FLA, especially Michael Dietz, Chris Jones, and Jonathan Stern: I relish in ignoring their advice and I covet their brains. iv

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TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv ABSTRACT......................................................................................................................vii PORTRAIT OF THE ESTEEMED READER....................................................................1 THE TILTED HORSE.........................................................................................................2 MY RELATIONSHIP WITH WITH...................................................................................3 ARPEGGIO.........................................................................................................................4 8 IDEAS ABOUT SCIENCE..............................................................................................5 {. . }....................................................................................................................................6 PASTICHE WITH OCCASIONAL BOTANY AND ART................................................7 NIGHT SONGS...................................................................................................................8 THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS....................................................................11 THE HELIOS ISSUE........................................................................................................13 NOTE FROM POETRY MARINA...................................................................................14 OH! ONE OF THOSE GENTLEMEN WHO HAS DONE ALL THIS; OR, RAIN........15 ONE SCENE......................................................................................................................16 INCIDENT REPORT........................................................................................................17 MANIFESTO.....................................................................................................................18 THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL...................................................................................19 TOWARDS A WORKING DEFINITION OF SKY..........................................................20 CLOSURE.........................................................................................................................21 v

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IN RESPONSE TO YOUR LETTER,...............................................................................22 A NOVEL, WITH INTRIGUE..........................................................................................23 TEN PLAGUES.................................................................................................................24 FIRST LIST OF FEARS....................................................................................................26 CATALOG OF MY FRIENDS.........................................................................................27 HEADACHE LETTER......................................................................................................28 THE SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY THAT THE LOSS OF THE SUPPORT OF OBJECTIVELY ESTABLISHED RELIGION, THE DISSOLUTION OF THE LAST REMNANTS OF PRECAPITALISM, TOGETHER WITH THE TECHNOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL DIFFERENTIATION OR SPECIALIZATION, HAVE LED TO CULTURAL CHAOS IS DISPROVED EVERY DAY; FOR CULTURE NOW IMPRESSES THE SAME STAMP ON EVERYTHING,........................................................................................................30 GLOSS AND UNGLOSS..................................................................................................31 LEONID.............................................................................................................................32 ACTUAL CLIMATES......................................................................................................33 THE UNREASONABLE SEASON..................................................................................34 LETTERS TO NOELLE....................................................................................................35 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................39 vi

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Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts THE UNREASONABLE SEASON By Michael Loughran May 2004 Chair: Sidney Wade Major Department: English Upon moving to the state of Florida, one is told he must compose twenty four poems in order to obtain the permission to leave. This thesis is my point of egress: thirty poems about animals, rain, nudity, hack philosophy, and painting. vii

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PORTRAIT OF THE ESTEEMED READER Your name rhymes with some injurious act you have never attempted: any image breaches you tremendously. You try to paint a slinking horizon, but in your hand its line is more slim than slink; instead you paint a brick house in the foreground and call it House of Minor Consequence. Sometimes I think I see a word etched into the brick. In certain light. 1

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THE TILTED HORSE I dont think about the tilted horse anymore, or about its hooves, or the hooves inside its hooves, or how many hooves it has, or if its tilting has to do with having so many sets of hooves one inside the other. I dont wonder if the horse feels okay about itself or if it walks well though tilted. Im too busy to think about exactly how much the horse is tilted and whether the horse is fond of having so many sets of hooves. I dont imagine the sight of it charging down a country lane like a desperate old man with one shoe on and the other one off. 2

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MY RELATIONSHIP WITH WITH Again it finds my secret spot, builds rapport, begins its slow prod. Tickles on weeknights, warbles near my throat, crooning earnestly: press anything to continue; sing the songs, minstrel, to keep awake. Only then do I consider leaving this note, pursuant to the lyrics it intones. From briar & thistle I fashion a book of its demands, invent new ways to clutch it, am still unpierced, & so, again, am skeptical of the depth of whats inside me. I yank a white blanket up over my chin, raise one finger. Such blame is liquid & right, draped on my pale body. I know how one small twist can cause the world to tilt, mechanically, & spoil. 3

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ARPEGGIO Listen, hums the boy at the steps of Victoria Apartments . It is exactly noon: I am wearing my silent blue suit, seeking you among these various relocating streetwalkers, their gazes fixed on some image worth fixing on, say: white rain falling on a harp. Im seeking your grasshopper pleasure-note, your leg-tremolo, your sensory discombobulations . The boy hums, and as I practice my new walk, he stares dreamily into the noisy, horrible forest. 4

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8 IDEAS ABOUT SCIENCE for Noelle Your harbor is my permanent shape-rescue I checked: equilibrium is the desired effect Measure my capacities, map the leg contingencies This is my securement: a warming technique Huddle round the epicenter, let the workings work I try your perimeter, it issues quite a lipspell On your starbird side a sigh was heard On your port, a dusk that thickens 5

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{. . } The obstacle calls itself sky, says it wants little trouble, winks, and fills itself with unmentionables. It offers a blink-vernacular, says connect as you like: sometimes I see horse ballet, sometimes a short belt, a vessel poured or pouring. Other times a choked light pushes through the cold, cinches my line of sight between it and not-it, and I unfurl the night like dark, unlucky floss. 6

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PASTICHE WITH OCCASIONAL BOTANY AND ART Love can exist if humans are spared the night-temperature. Historians say this accounts for Miros Flame in Space and Nude Woman: it resembles a cat ingesting a raindrop version of itself. In good health, corn plants can transpire two quarts of water in a day, whereas the succulents traffic water to their fleshy parts through wide root networks, hoarding it there, sportingly. Conversely, bamboo commits suicide every 33 to 66 years. Nowadays, said Miro at 67, I rarely start a picture from a hallucination. Melvin Calvin said a single organ can perform a large number of functions: the human heart is known to migrate swiftly and without warning, like a glove tossed from the height of a tall statue. 7

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NIGHT SONGS The sky considers four trees & halves itself in red Cicadas tick like precious bombs they wind the night like bobbins Walt Whitman who won the beard contest? Walt Whitman undress but keep your hands between the lines I have half a wine and some new pants I need the human touch That character inching towards me, white of his eyes & flesh, is the new version of boy. Mouth open, fingers as strings, he hands me insect after insect. 8

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9 Hello slight insomnia, TV umbilical, & various disembodied hums: tell me those loose, old stories of arousal. Hello chimaera, hello nightwalk, hello faucet. Walt Whitman I confess Ive never read your poems except at gunpoint Walt Whitman I confess Ive never been at gunpoint except in dreams Walt Whitman I confess Ive never slept Walt Whitman I love your breadth your body of work & your texts Night! Square of black night! Bugged & icy night! Roach night! Night of night! Center of night! Line of night! You are the distance between two points, & you are the points! O night, take me in your dark pocket, show me the heartmiddle of daylights dread! Night cant wrangle

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10 in that other room: it is, by proxy, unbed. It is (footsteps x starlight)/eyespeed. It wont unzip without some petting first. It outlasts all peripheries & wads its gut with smoke. While N sleeps I ghost the house, awake enough to light the furnace, to feel with my nose its blue click of air. Here, from finger-distance, with the burned end of a toothpick, I poke the curled bugs, ambassadors to their own hot tomb. O night without object, art, or dollar! O girlfriend in terry cloth nightwear, dead raspberry bush behind the porch, Peter Sellers on TV, commercial for a Kitchen Thing, white sink-light in the bathroom, used car beneath the infested palmetto, stray cat licking the front door, & road unthinking under the unbarking dog!

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THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS 1. In the shadows, between nude and quasi-nude, reclining and akimbo, genuflector and horse-mounted, sexed and semi-sexed, pony-bound and nearly bird, downright bird and Caesar-haired, junior thinker and grazing goat, L-armed waltzers and errant pony hoof, weasel and warthog, sitting and sat-upon, multi-jousted sphere and circular quadruped parade, pale, leg-splayed ostrich-positioner and inquisitive woodpecker, something happened, not yet vulgar, bodies or apocryphal never-figures lynching and unlynching the triptych. 2. They enter the eye through beeline and effluvium. When they itch, you itch the itch erratically. Its a fortunate recourse: the itch is your meaning-stick. 11

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12 3. Fuck those indulgent allusions, said Drer of Bosch, having visited the Late-Gothic embarrassment that was sixteenth-century Hertoenbosch. His stay occurred just three years after Hieronymus (later Jeroen) van Aken (later Aeden, or Aquen, or Acken) (in Spain, Geronimo Bosco or El Bosco; in Italy, Girolamo Boschi Fiamengo or Bosco di Balduc; in Flanders, simply Bos) had died. Though, in all fairness to Drer, who had just suffered a long ride on a sluggish Brabantine horse in driving rain, and was therefore foul-mooded, something semantic was surely lost in translation. 4. (Detail: The Alchemical Marriage) A couple, ensnared and post-coital, gone a-bloom or otherwise snarled in some dandelion-gone-tulip, some prickly, two-ended organ, is hand-savvy in a partially cracked sphere. Not just a bawdy picture hawked in market portals, but a small protest against technique, bodies suggesting a pungent kind of proverb that itches and keeps on itching-

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THE HELIOS ISSUE I enskied our ship along celestial trends, divined where the shoreline jutted sharpest: Helios, island with abundance of cattle. Circe foretold it: they will seem pole to pole, but if you flay them, you forfeit your return. Insatiate and tired, we shored alas: it was as if a God lay my lids in slumber. My crew thought it better to die in one wet breath; hence the slaughter, with scant libation. I confess: I ruddered the route land-wise, then slept, yes. Now alone, I whiten the water with these splinters of a ship. 13

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NOTE FROM POETRY MARINA Nobody jumps into the turbid sea. Part of a wave eats part of a wave, & this moves eight people to write six poems, each avoiding Gods Conglobation as a central theme. Again & again on the news, a family on innertubes glimmers in the wet: orange skin, red eyes, lymph nodes parahumanly swollen. Newsgentlemen to newslady: Pleasure is stored there, just south of the ear. 14

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OH! ONE OF THOSE GENTLEMEN WHO HAS DONE ALL THIS; OR, RAIN not needing sluiceway or conduit, altogether eyeless, without craving or sharp teeth, rain finds likenesses, is and is not always itself, not a loosened signifier nor strewn in a view of wetness, not indebted to dry, not whole: rains cameo: me in bed all thought and flesh: the true-blue thing, the derring-do of bones-as-dry, Im bare and svelt: rains beauty spots find residence or hide, then, in night-heat, melt, and, winking, quietly end their apprenticeship without sympathy. 15

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ONE SCENE The rain continues not being an affront. I watch as you construct your walk: everything is close, each breeze a small conspiracy--the mules blink white eyes. Obeying, you stand centerwise in the corral, an undone landscape unpainted yet. The towpath is lit barely: we contain ourselves from the greens. My teeth close down around a patch of your hair. Through a patch of grass a ranger films and follows us. His feet stirring in the dirt sound like machinery. It implies something. 16

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INCIDENT REPORT the fog delivers some movie-gloom daymoon appears hollowed railway leads to supposed lakebed of wrens wrens remain undiscovered trains unpassengered horizon affects a lusty countenance orange red some blue a dash of wet bridal party in the dusklight, commiserating groom in the groom-area, grooming behind the church: a dark pond in the pond a solo joy note: wrens slow roost groom hotfoots through woods, ears up 17

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MANIFESTO In the future, he says to me, all things will be heavy with ornamentation. I kiss the bride. Rain arrives from many directions. I continue to kiss and kiss, and grow more wet, and seem more horse-like by the minute. Within my slicker I conceal a photograph of brown horses. I use it to shim the short leg of my poem-chair. A small array of Gods necessities announce an acorn-breeze: we must look kingly, squirreling this and that into the dark, irrelevant mud. 18

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THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL In several ways he works us like a river. He looks static, shore-like, and toothy: we drift in his flyway. The arms of the homeliest among us feel somehow broken. Listen: we are flesh and noise, the inexact translation of dusk. An umber haze falls between our eyes like a scythe. Struck suddenly by the idea of sun-glare, we mingle beneath the banquet table. 19

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TOWARDS A WORKING DEFINITION OF SKY The sky is a creamed lake of light holes It has inexpert hiding qualities Occasionally it froths It asked for none of this The sky has instances of other skies It goes by many names, like Hazard and Hearsay No part of the sky moves when you poke it The sky has never heard of Joseph Turner Sometimes it holds its belly and has a laugh My head is in the belly and my belly is in the laugh The sky is a blue vault that seems to bend 20

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CLOSURE I pause before the asters, discriminate between stamen and stem, check for asterisks that may footnote a better route-the beltway, the boulevard, the unforeseen dilemma, the turning of the page or line, the returning of the liminal. I wonder whether I prefer the pond drained or flooded, the coast draped in a long yellow smock or not, her legs wrapped this way or that, and if I open the door to the porch I would expect the twilight to fall where? I wander in a blatant state, unfold libidinal topography, have little worry what a mountain means, or what it may contain . . Between the salty peaks I slip a look into your valley, wanting nothing . . Once, I stood before the urinal and missed, and kept on missing, listened cautiously to the hush & hum outside. 21

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IN RESPONSE TO YOUR LETTER, we are no longer convinced of a difference between the nominal kiss and the middling kiss, and yet, while kneeling, we keep a ready supply. The newest attempts induce a song in the pants of our leader. As you know, she is made from equations, and our process has winnowed deep within her. Lights are obediently dimmed as per techniques evoked in the book-there is wiggle enough to fill a medium-sized writhing-area. To this end, we have registered the Oh and Ah sounds, and developed a stain for each weekday. The warming regards fall continuously; when they fall completely, we await the headquarters nod. 22

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A NOVEL, WITH INTRIGUE We cant count the fires but we see them out-and-out, & we circle below the circling birds, on fire, circling themselves. The fires are wordy tombs: we move through them, & you (with your never-mouth) show me past the God spot. I wear my lies like a map: here is the mansion of the governor of pride, here is the temple of the monk of pencils, here is the dojo of unusual requests, & for my final spell, I say, may I present this hatful of analogy and this greatcoat, singed at the brim & wrists, but perfect of pitch. Singing, you disappear into the chapter called Straight Reply. 23

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TEN PLAGUES Plague of Blood M said to P, we are the major players here. M dipped his staff into the river, and there was blood. M said to P, I know you know, and you know I know. P knuckled his curly scepter and grunted, M undipped the you-know. The obvious went unbloody. Plague of Frogs Frogs happened for one full day, in the troughs and the bread-areas. M said, this land is bigger than I thought. P wore just the one scarf and breathed repeatedly into his fist. P said, none of you looks qualified for this, then a frog went up his leg. Plague of Insects such as Lice or Gnats P hugged his cattle, the cattle were dirty with bugs. This angered P, who became stiff at the elbows, and slept hard for nine hours. M sat, M now carried charms in his hair, and Ms hair had grown long. His hair lapped eyeward like a hair-crest. At duskbreak, M wanted to paint everything white, and did. Plague of Insects such as Flies M and P had deja-vu. M awaited P at the bath. Bathward climbed P, nearer crept M. After some silence two fly wings erupted boisterously. Not two fly wings, but many, thought P and M together. We are of one upper, thought M and P, and ran oppositely away. Plague of Plague I have it! said M to no one, waking lightheaded. Unhappy accident, said P, aware. With cabin fever, M traipsed an O on the wood floors. Outside, carcasses meatly dotted any landscape M could conjure. P thumbed his beard. M sweated daylong, P nested in his shorts. 24

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25 Plague of Boils M woke at waterhour during a fit of rude laughter. He kneeled, causing everything to blister. At sun, P stood and scratched and scratched. This day is a crooked-tooth smile, he said. M thought twice and rekneeled, P undid his pillow-face and grinned. Plague of Hail M adjusted his arms into the sky and twisted. The thing M had called sky was newly icy, thin bits descended. P tucked his hands into the warm places. P had not dreamed for weeks. When he slept he was like a small bean growing moss in a small field. M filed copious notes in a green book called Truths. Plague of Locusts Ps attitude on hygiene was exact. M sneaked behind Ps dressing table. P scooted on slipperfoot towards the table. M awaited as P sat and applied creams. M tied Ps slipper laces together, and locusts descended. Plague of Darkness P sought his lint brush, and it was dark. M wiggled in his too-small chair, and it was dark. P uncaked his loafers, and it was dark. M frowned into an empty tumbler, and it was dark. P buttoned it asymmetrically, and it was dark. Plague of the Death of the Firstborn For weeks, P varnished all his heirlooms. In his chest, some event he could not fathom. M climbed to the top of a poplar tree. Around them, children died and died and died, and some did not.

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FIRST LIST OF FEARS Beware of men in blue suits with brown knapsacks, especially in the rain, and especially if the rain smells of almonds. Beware of the numbers fourteen and three when highlighted or underscored in a photocopy of an ancient text or religious document. Beware of certain flowers and all buses. Beware of people in white sweatshirts during any of the four seasons. Beware of any language with a word for a group of cats. Beware of several cars circling you at two am. Beware of that ringing noise the night seems to make. 26

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CATALOG OF MY FRIENDS Willoughby tinkers with broken gizmos, holds them to his eye like a sad cutter of diamonds. Vern, with sleeplessness and surgeons hands, builds toothpick maps of the South Pacific. Mamie has a single ebony braid that divides her back into east and west. Hadley is a kleptomaniac of pince-nez. He stows the earnings in Mason jars beneath his twin bed. Eugenia, a fretful alphabetic, organizes the fruit drawer: apple, boysenberry, Chilean guava. Dewey believes his electrolux is evil: its narrow tusk eats his secrets. In his cotton-coated leg brace, Nathaniel nimbles down the dark corridor, reading the brick like braille. 27

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HEADACHE LETTER You rent my inner brow & grind there: prong & barb, effete & fleshy. You invent noise, re-route happy, render the upaltitude of the me-longitude wincey, a husk of old-me, not ably speaking, loser of pleasure rights-a newly guilted whimperer: I am mostly upright, and yet, am you; un-other, you enter & ergonomically become me, pick, with your shrill baton, my gnarled pink lock, & post your message: head stiletto. Still, I am smitten to please you, await your lasso & grow wide-eyed, undisciplined. I itch the release-crave 28

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29 & position myself boyishly prone; you pretty thing, you grievers leash.

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THE SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY THAT THE LOSS OF THE SUPPORT OF OBJECTIVELY ESTABLISHED RELIGION, THE DISSOLUTION OF THE LAST REMNANTS OF PRECAPITALISM, TOGETHER WITH THE TECHNOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL DIFFERENTIATION OR SPECIALIZATION, HAVE LED TO CULTURAL CHAOS IS DISPROVED EVERY DAY; FOR CULTURE NOW IMPRESSES THE SAME STAMP ON EVERYTHING, whispers sleepy crossword man to faux energy girl, beskirted mom, newspaper head, all tooth, impossible man, sweet sweet daddy, dirty nails, pointed buckle foot, impersonal knuckle toucher, double seat taker, resolute standing man, and the drunk northbound poet w/pencil Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception, trans. John Cumming, London: Verso, 1979. 30

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GLOSS AND UNGLOSS Word-wise, gloss is the parsing of angle and animadversion, the fancied footwork of parry, fudge, or sidestep, the passing of time by wrenching newness from the nitty-gritty. It is the lapdog of verisimilitude, the ornamental huff-and-gruff of verity. Very often gloss is wrongly figured for caprice, effervescence, or kinkery, but gloss is more effort than affect, more transmogrification than morphology. To Americans, gloss is more asi asi than so-so, to Spaniards, vice-versa, but gloss is never vice, and strictly put, is wholly averse to lechery. Nevertheless, gloss is not the nipple but the tassel--the gentle reworking of finery into ur-fine, costume into bedroom. Originally, gloss was reliquary plus mimicry, the mendicant orders knifing half a knuckle and then delivering twice the mass. Then it was explanation, e.g. the ancient Mariner beholdeth a sign in the element afar off. As late it is moonroof, Doppler radar, and latex. Gloss is the theme song of gloss, the spin of spin, and, at intervals, gloss is ungloss. 31

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LEONID You wrote the directions to a farmhouse on my hand and when I got there it was around four in the morning and you were getting sick in the woods. We got under a blanket and drank scotch like regular people and I said it looks like cold fire falling and you said no no it looks like flying white eyes, and I couldnt disagree. Later, you woke me with a touch to the elbow and said uh-oh did we you-know-what and I said no no dont worry no you-know-what. You said Mike Im not wearing any pants are you and as I touched my warm legs I looked at you and said, oh 32

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ACTUAL CLIMATES the town stews in a climate of gadflies & scuttlebutt above it naps a climate of held gods when they speak, the dog barks from his inscrutable scent-climate and night sets climates of the word-feast: the table is a nonce-climate in the centerpiece a nubble: the climate of precision it drinks, renders the end-climate but sleep is a climate of rapture and rapture, a climate itself 33

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THE UNREASONABLE SEASON Stars wheel, easy and unprivate, wind does itself into the door lock, and clouds relieve themselves onto the mud with unbelievable calm. Time sits rockly, like a picture of time, airs loose equation. Against it I rub my flesh-metaphor, rehearse the new unsleep: the owl I half-dream disarranges the sky with an eye-motion I invent. Ill tell everything, he says, if youll unstuck me. 34

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LETTERS TO NOELLE There are eighty-seven hundred species of birds in the universe. I had lunch (white rice) on a bench in the square. Its all so easy: one minute the air tastes like hot sugar & were drinking coffee on your panoptical rooftop, all of Harlem in sight, & then . Just sort your documents, flatten your pleats, stabilize the laundry cycle. Anyway Im back in Florida now, what was it Fred Neil said, where the sun shines through the rain. I guess I should count my blessings but I get sick sometimes, watching these birds, their wiggy feet: I draw the shades & then I peek through. Its 9:22, the dog is licking shellac from the banister & Im measuring my spiritual health as he gallops the street looking for crotch. It takes a certain man to write a song called Coney Island Baby, & I could be that man. Nights tearing its perforated edge, revealing something slightly indiscreet. At best it can be said the streetlights are wheezing. 35

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36 Nothing to drink all morning but carrot juice extracted from a bottle. Without you the house rattles. To wit, its windy. The breeze sounds old against these windows, it blows like a bad cough. Its no metaphor to the dog, who jumps, terrified, and chews on pens all day. Painted the trim icy sherbet, ate salad, did not wash dishes, drank 1.5 bottles of beer, read sports page twice, allowed dog to chew my pants, did not wash self, muddied floor, cleaned floor halfway, put on Nick Drake, turned off Nick Drake, thought about Nick Drake, waited for mail, cleaned paint from knuckles, cut toenails, turned on Nick Drake, worked on poems, hunted for roaches, stared at recycling bin. I continue to misunderstand almost every poem until my students explain it: Pregnancy, oh, of course! I continue to misquote every lyric of Bob Dylans. I continue to not own a Bob Dylan record. I continue in my cataloging of bird movements: back-limb pirouette, feather-whirring pinafore,

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37 toebound pitter-patter with quizzical eyes through the window. Walter Pater, what a shame, didnt know an instrument. Borodin said During the winter I can only compose when I am too ill to give my lectures. So my friends, reversing the usual custom, never say to me I hope youre well, but I do hope you are ill. In the morning, his A major sounds like a small object coming to a halt on an almost flat surface. Met the neighbors new dog Chopper, paid two bills, mailed letter to Katie, got dressed up (wore real shirt (w/buttons!) & a sweater), ate a sandwich, discussed Peter Sellers and Philadelphia sports w/my dad on the phone, listened to Mahler, did not teach dog to fetch, read one paragraph of Adorno, built makeshift ottoman, ate second sandwich, used a paper towel not a plate. In this dark I hear their feet punching holes in the dry leaves, their beaks causing suck-noises as they lower themselves, hungrily, toward the black mud. Swept kitchen floor (crackers), folded four white shirts, fed and watered dog, wore sunglasses in the shower, recalled lyrics to Rocket Man,

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38 sang Rocket Man, pivoted, slipped, made thudding ding of chin-on-tub, climbed back to bed, read The Life of Lenin, on page 14 fell asleep and dreamed of a frontyard with nothing but one flower (lily?tulip?) not blowing in the breeze. Im drunk without regard, leering, clumsy, ill without reason, nostalgic, poembrave, dirty, reprised with godtalk, undone, quite nearly silent but for periodic tooth-widdle. You slip feetfirst into the prayerbook of sleep, headward into a thoughtlimp. I am the heartlump that ticks within your area: I defy any thought that cant be sung. Talked on phone with Simon about Atkins, horror films, the schemes of democracies, handshakes, love, featherbeds, writing ugly unwritable truths, mother-guilt, Valentines Day, the lack of a Harold and Maude soundtrack, Los Angeles traffic, and his script, now finished: like most art, he said, its difficult to be proud of it after a few hours.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Michael Loughran was born in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and earned a BA in English from Ithaca College. Before growing cloud weary, he worked as a video store clerk, handyman, chauffeur, and book advertiser. Currently he is sun weary, and headed for Philadelphia, city of muttering doves. 39


Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0004564/00001

Material Information

Title: The Unreasonable season
Physical Description: vii, 39 p.
Language: English
Creator: Loughran, Michael ( Dissertant )
Wade, Sidney E. ( Thesis advisor )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2004
Copyright Date: 2004

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: English thesis, M.F.A   ( local )
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- English   ( local )

Notes

Abstract: Upon moving to the state of Florida, one is told he must compose twenty four poems in order to obtain the permission to leave. This thesis is my point of egress: thirty poems about animals, rain, nudity, hack philosophy, and painting.
General Note: Title from title page of source document.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains 46 pages.
General Note: Includes vita.
Thesis: Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Florida, 2004.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0004564:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0004564/00001

Material Information

Title: The Unreasonable season
Physical Description: vii, 39 p.
Language: English
Creator: Loughran, Michael ( Dissertant )
Wade, Sidney E. ( Thesis advisor )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2004
Copyright Date: 2004

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: English thesis, M.F.A   ( local )
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- English   ( local )

Notes

Abstract: Upon moving to the state of Florida, one is told he must compose twenty four poems in order to obtain the permission to leave. This thesis is my point of egress: thirty poems about animals, rain, nudity, hack philosophy, and painting.
General Note: Title from title page of source document.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains 46 pages.
General Note: Includes vita.
Thesis: Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Florida, 2004.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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THE UNREASONABLE SEASON


By

MICHAEL LOUGHRAN















A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF FINE ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2004

































Copyright 2004

by

Michael Loughran



























To my mom, Linda; my dad, Jim; and my sister, Katie

and to Noelle, with enough love to kill a horse.















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Thanks go to my mom, dad, and sister for guidance that cannot be overstated, and

for various newspaper clippings and dried goods; to Noelle, for taking a lengthy vacation,

for her endless patience vis a vis my pseudo-unemployment, and for things large and

small not otherwise hinted at in these poems. Thanks go to Sidney Wade, without whom

these poems would have rambled and sung flatly, whose weekly guidance retroactively

justified my move to Florida, and whose influence will remain long after I decamp from

the Duck Pond. Thanks go to Michael Hofmann and William Logan for their judicious

workshops and sporting friendships; and (a long overdue) thanks to Cory Brown, who

was more trigger than reverse-trigger. Finally, thanks go to the other students at

MFA@FLA, especially Michael Dietz, Chris Jones, and Jonathan Stem: I relish in

ignoring their advice and I covet their brains.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS



A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv

ABSTRACT ............... .......................................... vii

PORTRAIT OF THE ESTEEMED READER............................................ .................1

T H E T IL T E D H O R SE ........................................................................ ......................... 2

M Y RELA TION SH IP W ITH W ITH ...................................................................... ........3

A R PE G G IO ................................................................. 4

8 ID E A S A B O U T SC IEN CE ................................................................ ...................... 5

{ } ................................................................................. .... ..... ........... 6

PASTICHE WITH OCCASIONAL BOTANY AND ART............... .............. ...7

N IG H T SO N G S ....................................................... 8

THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS .............................. 11

THE HELIOS ISSUE ................................... .. .... ...... .. ............13

N O TE FR OM POETRY M A RIN A ...................................................................................14

OH! ONE OF THOSE GENTLEMEN WHO HAS DONE ALL THIS; OR, RAIN........ 15

O N E S C E N E ................................................................................................................. 1 6

IN C ID E N T R E P O R T .............................................................................. .....................17

M A N IF E S T O ................................................................................................................ 1 8

THE EXTERM INATING ANGEL .......................................................... .. .......... 19

TOWARDS A WORKING DEFINITION OF SKY.................. ................ 20

C L O SU R E ..............2............................2 1



v









IN RESPON SE TO YOUR LETTER,..................................................................... ... ..22

A N O V E L W ITH IN TR IG U E ............................................................... .....................23

TEN PLAGUES .................. ................................................ ............... 24

FIR ST LIST OF FEAR S............................................................................... 26

C A TA L O G O F M Y FR IEN D S ........................................ ...................... .....................27

H E A D A C H E L E T T E R ........................................................................... .....................28

"THE SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY THAT THE LOSS OF THE SUPPORT OF
OBJECTIVELY ESTABLISHED RELIGION, THE DISSOLUTION OF THE
LAST REMNANTS OF PRECAPITALISM, TOGETHER WITH THE
TECHNOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL DIFFERENTIATION OR
SPECIALIZATION, HAVE LED TO CULTURAL CHAOS IS DISPROVED
EVERY DAY; FOR CULTURE NOW IMPRESSES THE SAME STAMP ON
E V E R Y T H IN G ," ............................................................................. .. ............. 30

G L O SS A N D U N G L O SS............................................................................................ 31

L E O N ID ............. ............. ... .............. .... ... ................................ 32

A C T U A L C L IM A T E S ............................................................................ ....................33

THE UNREASONABLE SEASON ...................... ......... ........................ .... ........... 34

L E T TE R S T O N O E L L E ...................................................................... ........................35

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E TCH ..................................................................... ..................39
















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts

THE UNREASONABLE SEASON

By

Michael Loughran

May 2004

Chair: Sidney Wade
Major Department: English

Upon moving to the state of Florida, one is told he must compose twenty four

poems in order to obtain the permission to leave. This thesis is my point of egress: thirty

poems about animals, rain, nudity, hack philosophy, and painting.















PORTRAIT OF THE ESTEEMED READER

Your name rhymes with some injurious act
you have never attempted:

any image breaches you tremendously.
You try to paint a slinking horizon,

but in your hand its line is more
slim than slink; instead you paint

a brick house in the foreground and call it
House of Minor Consequence.

Sometimes I think I see a word
etched into the brick. In certain light.















THE TILTED HORSE


I don't think about the tilted horse anymore,
or about its hooves, or the hooves
inside its hooves, or how many hooves it has,
or if its tilting has to do with having so many
sets of hooves one inside the other.
I don't wonder if the horse feels okay about
itself or if it walks well though tilted. I'm too
busy to think about exactly how much the horse
is tilted and whether the horse is fond of having
so many sets of hooves. I don't imagine
the sight of it charging down a country lane
like a desperate old man with one shoe on
and the other one off.
















MY RELATIONSHIP WITH WITH


Again it finds
my secret spot, builds rapport,
begins its slow prod. Tickles on weeknights,
warbles near
my throat, crooning earnestly:

press anything
to continue; sing the songs,
minstrel, to keep awake. Only then do I
consider
leaving this note, pursuant

to the lyrics
it intones. From briar &
thistle I fashion a book of its demands,
invent
new ways to clutch it, am still unpierced,

& so, again,
am skeptical of the depth
of what's inside me. I yank a white blanket
up over
my chin, raise

one finger.
Such blame is liquid & right,
draped on my pale body. I know how one small
twist can cause
the world to tilt, mechanically, &
spoil.
















ARPEGGIO


"Listen," hums the boy
at the steps of Victoria Apartments ...

It is exactly noon:
I am wearing my silent blue suit,

seeking you among these
various relocating streetwalkers,

their gazes fixed on some
image worth fixing on, say:

white rain falling on a harp.
I'm seeking your grasshopper

pleasure-note, your leg-tremolo,
your sensory discombobulations ...

The boy hums, and as I practice my new walk,
he stares dreamily into the noisy, horrible forest.
















8 IDEAS ABOUT SCIENCE

for Noelle

Your harbor is my permanent shape-rescue




I checked: equilibrium is the desired effect




Measure my capacities, map the leg contingencies




This is my securement: a warming technique




Huddle round the epicenter, let the workings work

*


I try your perimeter, it issues quite a lipspell




On your starbird side a sigh was heard

*


On your port, a dusk that thickens


















The obstacle calls itself
sky, says
it wants little trouble,
winks,
and fills itself
with unmentionables.
It offers a blink-vernacular, says
connect as you like:
sometimes I see horse ballet,
sometimes a short belt, a vessel
poured or pouring.
Other times
a choked light
pushes through the cold,
cinches my line of sight
between it and not-it,
and I unfurl the night
like dark, unlucky floss.















PASTICHE WITH OCCASIONAL BOTANY AND ART

Love can exist if humans
are spared the night-temperature.

Historians say this accounts for Miro's
Flame in Space and Nude Woman:

it resembles a cat ingesting a raindrop
version of itself. In good health, corn plants

can transpire two quarts of water
in a day, whereas the succulents traffic

water to their fleshy parts
through wide root networks,

hoarding it there, sportingly. Conversely,
bamboo commits suicide every 33 to 66 years.

"Nowadays," said Miro at 67,
I rarely start a picture from a hallucination."

Melvin Calvin said a single organ
can perform a large number of functions:

the human heart is known to migrate swiftly
and without warning, like a glove tossed from

the height of a tall statue.
















NIGHT SONGS


The sky considers four trees
& halves itself in red

Cicadas tick
like precious bombs

they wind the night
like bobbins



Walt Whitman
who won the beard contest?

Walt Whitman undress
but keep your hands between the lines

I have half a wine
and some new pants

I need the human touch



That character
inching towards me,

white of his eyes &
flesh, is the new version

of boy.
Mouth open,

fingers as
strings,

he hands me
insect after insect.












Hello slight insomnia,
TV umbilical, &

various disembodied hums:
tell me those loose, old stories

of arousal. Hello chimaera,
hello nightwalk, hello faucet.



Walt Whitman I confess
I've never read your poems

except at gunpoint
Walt Whitman I confess

I've never been at gunpoint
except in dreams

Walt Whitman I confess
I've never slept

Walt Whitman I love your breadth
your body of work & your texts



Night! Square of black night!
Bugged & icy night!

Roach night! Night of night!
Center of night! Line of night!

You are the distance between
two points, & you are the points!

0 night, take me in your dark pocket,
show me the heartmiddle of daylight's dread!


*


Night can't wrangle









in that other room:

it is, by proxy, unbed.
It is (footsteps x starlight)/eyespeed.

It won't unzip
without some petting first.

It outlasts all peripheries
& wads its gut with smoke.


While N sleeps
I ghost the house,

awake enough to light the furnace,
to feel with my nose its blue click of air.

Here, from finger-distance,
with the burned end of a toothpick,

I poke the curled bugs,
ambassadors to their own hot tomb.



0 night without object, art, or dollar!
0 girlfriend in terry cloth nightwear,

dead raspberry bush behind the porch,
Peter Sellers on TV,

commercial for a Kitchen Thing,
white sink-light in the bathroom,

used car beneath the infested palmetto,
stray cat licking the front door,

& road unthinking under
the unbarking dog!















THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS


1.

In the shadows, between nude

and quasi-nude, reclining and akimbo,
genuflector and horse-mounted,
sexed and semi-sexed, pony-bound

and nearly bird, downright bird
and Caesar-haired, junior thinker
and grazing goat, L-armed

waltzers and errant pony hoof,
weasel and warthog,
sitting and sat-upon, multi-jousted

sphere and circular quadruped parade,
pale, leg-splayed ostrich-positioner
and inquisitive woodpecker, something happened,

not yet vulgar, bodies
or apocryphal never-figures
lynching and unlynching the triptych.

2.

They enter the eye through
beeline and effluvium.
When they itch,

you itch the itch
erratically. It's
a fortunate recourse:

the itch is your meaning-stick.









3.

"Fuck those indulgent allusions," said Durer of Bosch, having
visited the Late-Gothic embarrassment that was sixteenth-century

Hertoenbosch. His stay occurred just three years after Hieronymus
(later Jeroen) van Aken (later Aeden, or Aquen, or Acken) (in Spain,
Geronimo Bosco or El Bosco; in Italy, Girolamo Boschi Fiamengo or

Bosco di Balduc; in Flanders, simply "Bos") had died. Though, in all
fairness to Direr, who had just suffered a long ride on a sluggish
Brabantine horse in driving rain, and was therefore foul-mooded,

something semantic was surely lost in translation.

4. (Detail: The Alchemical Marriage)

A couple, ensnared and post-coital,
gone a-bloom or otherwise snarled

in some dandelion-gone-tulip, some
prickly, two-ended organ, is hand-savvy
in a partially cracked sphere.

Not just a bawdy picture hawked
in market portals, but a small protest
against technique, bodies

suggesting a pungent kind of proverb
that itches and keeps on itching--















THE HELIOS ISSUE

I enskied our ship along celestial trends,

divined where the shoreline jutted sharpest:

Helios, island with abundance of cattle.

Circe foretold it: they will seem pole to pole,

but if you flay them, you forfeit your return.

Insatiate and tired, we shored alas:

it was as if a God lay my lids in slumber.

My crew thought it better to die in one wet breath;

hence the slaughter, with scant libation. I confess: I ruddered

the route land-wise, then slept, yes. Now alone,

I whiten the water with these splinters of a ship.















NOTE FROM POETRY MARINA


Nobody jumps
into the turbid sea. Part of a wave

eats part of a wave, & this moves
eight people to write six poems,

each avoiding God's Conglobation
as a central theme. Again & again

on the news, a family on innertubes
glimmers in the wet:

orange skin, red eyes, lymph nodes
parahumanly swollen.

Newsgentlemen to newslady:
Pleasure is stored there, just \v,,n

of the ear.
















OH! ONE OF THOSE GENTLEMEN WHO HAS DONE ALL THIS; OR, RAIN


not needing
sluiceway or conduit,
altogether eyeless,
without craving
or sharp teeth,
rain finds
likenesses,
is and is not
always itself,
not a loosened signifier
nor strewn
in a view
of wetness,
not indebted
to dry, not whole:



rain's cameo:
me in bed
all thought and flesh:
the true-blue
thing, the derring-do
of bones-as-dry,
I'm bare and svelt:
rain's beauty spots
find residence
or hide,
then, in night-heat,
melt, and, winking,
quietly end
their apprenticeship
without sympathy.
















ONE SCENE


The rain continues not being an affront.
I watch as you construct your walk:
everything is close, each breeze
a small conspiracy--the mules blink
white eyes. Obeying, you stand center-
wise in the corral, an undone landscape
unpainted yet.

The towpath is lit barely:
we contain ourselves from the greens.
My teeth close down around a patch
of your hair. Through a patch of grass
a ranger films and follows us. His feet
stirring in the dirt sound
like machinery. It implies something.















INCIDENT REPORT

the fog delivers some movie-gloom


daymoon appears hollowed


railway leads to supposed lakebed of wrens


wrens remain undiscovered


trains unpassengered


horizon affects a lusty countenance


orange red some blue a dash of wet


bridal party in the dusklight, commiserating


groom in the groom-area, grooming


behind the church: a dark pond


in the pond a solo joy note: wren's slow roost


groom hotfoots through woods, ears up
















MANIFESTO


In the future, he says to me,
all thing will be heavy i iith

ornamentation. I kiss the bride.
Rain arrives from many directions.

I continue to kiss and kiss,
and grow more wet, and seem

more horse-like by the minute.
Within my slicker I conceal

a photograph of brown horses.
I use it to shim the short leg of my poem-chair.

A small array of God's necessities
announce an acorn-breeze:

we must look kingly, squirreling this
and that into the dark, irrelevant mud.















THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL


In several ways he works us like a river.
He looks static, shore-like,
and toothy: we drift in his flyway.

The arms of the homeliest among us
feel somehow broken. Listen:

we are flesh and noise,
the inexact translation
of dusk. An umber haze

falls between our eyes
like a scythe. Struck suddenly
by the idea of sun-glare,

we mingle beneath the banquet table.















TOWARDS A WORKING DEFINITION OF SKY


The sky is a creamed lake of light holes
It has inexpert hiding qualities
Occasionally it froths
It asked for none of this
The sky has instances of other skies
It goes by many names, like Hazard and Hearsay
No part of the sky moves when you poke it
The sky has never heard of Joseph Turner
Sometimes it holds its belly and has a laugh
My head is in the belly and my belly is in the laugh
The sky is a blue vault that seems to bend















CLOSURE


I pause before the asters,
discriminate between stamen
and stem, check for asterisks
that may footnote a better route--
the beltway, the boulevard, the
unforeseen dilemma, the turning of the page
or line, the returning of the liminal.
I wonder whether I prefer
the pond drained or flooded,
the coast draped in a long yellow smock
or not, her legs wrapped this way
or that, and if I open the door to the porch
I would expect the twilight to fall
where? I wander in a blatant state,
unfold libidinal topography,
have little worry what a mountain means,
or what it may contain .... Between the salty
peaks I slip a look into your valley,
wanting nothing .... Once,
I stood before the urinal and missed,
and kept on missing, listened cautiously
to the hush & hum outside.
















IN RESPONSE TO YOUR LETTER,

we are no longer convinced
of a difference between

the nominal kiss and
the middling kiss, and yet,

while kneeling,
we keep a ready supply.

The newest attempts induce
a song in the pants

of our leader. As you know,
she is made from equations,

and our process has
winnowed deep within her.

Lights are obediently
dimmed as per techniques

evoked in the book--
there is wiggle enough

to fill a medium-sized
writhing-area. To this end,

we have registered
the Oh and Ah sounds,

and developed a stain
for each weekday.

The warming regards
fall continuously;

when they fall completely,
we await the headquarters' nod.















A NOVEL, WITH INTRIGUE


We can't count the fires but we see them
out-and-out, & we circle below the circling
birds, on fire, circling themselves.

The fires are wordy tombs: we move through them,
& you (with your never-mouth) show me past
the God spot. I wear my lies like a map:

here is the mansion of the governor ofpride,
here is the temple of the monk ofpencils,
here is the dojo of unusual requests,

&for my final spell, I say, may I present
this hatful of analogy and this greatcoat,
singed at the brim & wrists, but perfect ofpitch.

Singing, you disappear into the chapter called
Straight Reply.















TEN PLAGUES


Plague of Blood

M said to P, we are the major players here.
M dipped his staff into the river, and there was blood.
M said to P, I know you know, and you know I know.
P knuckled his curly scepter and grunted, M undipped the you-know.
The obvious went unbloody.

Plague of Frogs

Frogs happened for one full day, in the troughs and the bread-areas.
M said, this land is bigger than I thought.
P wore just the one scarf and breathed repeatedly into his fist.
P said, none of you looks qualified for this, then a frog went up his leg.

Plague ofInsects such as Lice or Gnats

P hugged his cattle, the cattle were dirty with bugs.
This angered P, who became stiff at the elbows, and slept hard for nine hours.
M sat, M now carried charms in his hair, and M's hair had grown long.
His hair lapped eyeward like a hair-crest.
At duskbreak, M wanted to paint everything white, and did.

Plague of Insects such as Flies

M and P had deja-vu.
M awaited P at the bath. Bathward climbed P, nearer crept M.
After some silence two fly wings erupted boisterously.
Not two fly wings, but many, thought P and M together.
We are of one upper, thought M and P, and ran oppositely away.

Plague of Plague

I have it! said M to no one, waking lightheaded.
Unhappy accident, said P, aware.
With cabin fever, M traipsed an 0 on the wood floors.
Outside, carcasses meatly dotted any landscape M could conjure. P thumbed his beard.
M sweated daylong, P nested in his shorts.









Plague of Boils

M woke at waterhour during a fit of rude laughter.
He kneeled, causing everything to blister.
At sun, P stood and scratched and scratched.
This day is a crooked-tooth smile, he said.
M thought twice and rekneeled, P undid his pillow-face and grinned.

Plague of Hail

M adjusted his arms into the sky and twisted.
The thing M had called sky was newly icy, thin bits descended.
P tucked his hands into the warm places. P had not dreamed for weeks.
When he slept he was like a small bean growing moss in a small field.
M filed copious notes in a green book called "Truths."

Plague of Locusts

P's attitude on hygiene was exact.
M sneaked behind P's dressing table.
P scooted on slipperfoot towards the table.
M awaited as P sat and applied creams.
M tied P's slipper laces together, and locusts descended.

Plague of Darkness

P sought his lint brush, and it was dark.
M wiggled in his too-small chair, and it was dark.
P uncaked his loafers, and it was dark.
M frowned into an empty tumbler, and it was dark.
P buttoned it asymmetrically, and it was dark.

Plague of the Death of the Firstborn

For weeks, P varnished all his heirlooms.
In his chest, some event he could not fathom.
M climbed to the top of a poplar tree.
Around them, children died and died and died, and some did not.
















FIRST LIST OF FEARS


Beware of men in blue suits with brown
knapsacks, especially in the rain,
and especially if the rain smells of almonds.
Beware of the numbers fourteen
and three when highlighted
or underscored in a photocopy
of an ancient text or religious document.
Beware of certain flowers and all buses.
Beware of people in white sweatshirts
during any of the four seasons. Beware
of any language with a word for a group
of cats. Beware of several cars
circling you at two am.
Beware of that ringing noise the night
seems to make.















CATALOG OF MY FRIENDS


Willoughby tinkers with broken gizmos,
holds them to his eye like a sad cutter
of diamonds.



Vern, with sleeplessness
and surgeon's hands, builds
toothpick maps of the South Pacific.



Mamie has a single ebony braid that divides
her back into east and west.



Hadley is a kleptomaniac of pince-nez.
He stows the earnings in Mason jars
beneath his twin bed.



Eugenia, a fretful alphabetic,
organizes the fruit drawer:
apple, boysenberry, Chilean guava.



Dewey believes his electrolux is evil:
its narrow tusk eats his secrets.



In his cotton-coated leg brace,
Nathaniel nimbles down the dark
corridor, reading the brick like braille.
















HEADACHE LETTER


You rent
my inner brow
& grind there:
prong & barb,

effete & fleshy.
You invent noise,
re-route happy,
render the up-

altitude of the
me-longitude
wincey, a husk
of old-me, not ably

speaking, loser
of pleasure rights--
a newly guilted
whimperer: I am

mostly upright, and yet,
am you; un-other, you enter
& ergonomically
become me, pick,

with your shrill
baton, my gnarled
pink lock, & post
your message:

head stiletto.
Still, I am
smitten to please you,
await your

lasso & grow
wide-eyed,
undisciplined.
I itch the release-crave






29



& position myself
boyishly prone;
you pretty thing,
you griever's leash.
















"THE SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY THAT THE LOSS OF THE SUPPORT OF
OBJECTIVELY ESTABLISHED RELIGION, THE DISSOLUTION OF THE LAST
REMNANTS OF PRECAPITALISM, TOGETHER WITH THE TECHNOLOGICAL
AND SOCIAL DIFFERENTIATION OR SPECIALIZATION, HAVE LED TO
CULTURAL CHAOS IS DISPROVED EVERY DAY; FOR CULTURE NOW
IMPRESSES THE SAME STAMP ON EVERYTHING,"*

whispers sleepy crossword man

to faux energy girl,

beskirted mom,

newspaper head,

all tooth,

impossible man,

sweet sweet daddy,

dirty nails,

pointed buckle foot,

impersonal knuckle toucher,

double seat taker,

resolute standing man,

and the drunk

northbound poet w/pencil



* Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception, trans.
John Cumming, London: Verso, 1979.















GLOSS AND UNGLOSS


Word-wise, gloss is the parsing
of angle and animadversion, the fancied footwork
of parry, fudge, or sidestep, the passing
of time by wrenching newness from
the nitty-gritty. It is the lapdog
of verisimilitude, the ornamental
huff-and-gruff of verity. Very often

gloss is wrongly figured for
caprice, effervescence, or kinkery,
but gloss is more effort
than affect, more transmogrification
than morphology. To Americans,
gloss is more asi asi than so-so,
to Spaniards, vice-versa,
but gloss is never vice, and strictly put,

is wholly averse to lechery.
Nevertheless, gloss is not the nipple
but the tassel--the gentle reworking
of finery into ur-fine, costume
into bedroom. Originally, gloss was reliquary
plus mimicry, the mendicant orders
knifing half a knuckle and then

delivering twice the mass. Then it was
explanation, e.g. the ancient Mariner
beholdeth a sign in the element
afar off As late it is moonroof,
Doppler radar, and latex. Gloss
is the theme song of gloss,
the spin of spin, and,
at intervals, gloss is ungloss.















LEONID


You wrote the directions to a farmhouse
on my hand and when I got there
it was around four in the morning
and you were getting sick in the woods.
We got under a blanket
and drank scotch like regular people
and I said it looks like cold fire falling
and you said no no it looks like flying white eyes,
and I couldn't disagree. Later, you woke me
with a touch to the elbow and said uh-oh
did we you-know-what and I said no no
don't worry no you-know-what. You said
Mike I'm not wearing any pants are you
and as I touched my warm legs
I looked at you and said, oh















ACTUAL CLIMATES

the town stews in a climate of gadflies & scuttlebutt


above it naps a climate of held gods


when they speak, the dog barks from his inscrutable scent-climate


and night sets climates of the word-feast:


the table is a nonce-climate


in the centerpiece a nubble: the climate of precision


it drinks, renders the end-climate


but sleep is a climate of rapture


and rapture, a climate itself















THE UNREASONABLE SEASON

Stars wheel, easy and unprivate,
wind does itself into the door lock,

and clouds relieve themselves onto the mud
with unbelievable calm.

Time sits rockly,
like a picture of time,

air's loose equation. Against it
I rub my flesh-metaphor,

rehearse the new unsleep:
the owl I half-dream

disarranges the sky
with an eye-motion

I invent. I'll tell everything,
he says, ifyou 'll unstuck me.















LETTERS TO NOELLE


There are eighty-seven hundred
species of birds in the universe.
I had lunch (white rice)
on a bench in the square. It's all
so easy: one minute the air
tastes like hot sugar
& we're drinking coffee
on your panoptical
rooftop, all of Harlem in sight,
& then ...



Just sort your documents,
flatten your pleats, stabilize
the laundry cycle. Anyway
I'm back in Florida now, what
was it Fred Neil said, where the
sun shines through the rain.
I guess I should count my blessings
but I get sick sometimes, watching
these birds, their wiggy feet:
I draw the shades & then
I peek through.



It's 9:22, the dog is licking
shellac from the banister &
I'm measuring my spiritual health
as he gallops the street looking
for crotch.
It takes a certain man
to write a song called Coney Island Baby,
& I could be that man.
Night's tearing its perforated edge,
revealing something slightly indiscreet.
At best it can be said
the streetlights are wheezing.














Nothing to drink all morning
but carrot juice extracted
from a bottle. Without you
the house rattles.
To wit, it's windy.
The breeze sounds old
against these windows,
it blows like a bad cough.
It's no metaphor to the dog,
who jumps, terrified, and chews
on pens all day.



Painted the trim "icy sherbet,"
ate salad, did not wash dishes,
drank 1.5 bottles of beer,
read sports page twice,
allowed dog to chew my pants,
did not wash self,
muddied floor, cleaned floor halfway,
put on Nick Drake, turned off Nick Drake,
thought about Nick Drake,
waited for mail,
cleaned paint from knuckles,
cut toenails, turned on Nick Drake,
worked on poems, hunted for roaches,
stared at recycling bin.



I continue to misunderstand
almost every poem
until my students explain it:
"Pregnancy, oh, of course!"
I continue to misquote every lyric
of Bob Dylan's. I continue
to not own a Bob Dylan record.
I continue in my cataloging
of bird movements:
back-limb pirouette,
feather-whirring pinafore,









toebound pitter-patter with quizzical eyes
through the window.



Walter Pater, what a shame,
didn't know an instrument.
Borodin said "During the winter I can only
compose when I am too ill to give my lectures.
So my friends, reversing the usual custom,
never say to me 'I hope you're well,'
but 'I do hope you are ill.'"
In the morning, his A major sounds
like a small object coming to a halt
on an almost flat surface.



Met the neighbor's new dog "Chopper,"
paid two bills, mailed letter to Katie,
got dressed up (wore "real" shirt
(w/buttons!) & a sweater),
ate a sandwich, discussed Peter Sellers
and Philadelphia sports w/my dad
on the phone, listened
to Mahler, did not teach
dog to fetch, read one paragraph
of Adorno, built makeshift ottoman,
ate second sandwich, used a paper
towel not a plate.



In this dark I hear their feet
punching holes in the dry leaves,
their beaks causing suck-noises
as they lower themselves,
hungrily, toward the black mud.



Swept kitchen floor (crackers),
folded four white shirts,
fed and watered dog, wore
sunglasses in the shower,
recalled lyrics to "Rocket Man,'









sang "Rocket Man,"
pivoted, slipped, made
thudding ding of chin-on-tub, climbed
back to bed, read
The Life of Lenin,
on page 14 fell asleep and
dreamed of a frontyard with
nothing
but one flower (lily?tulip?)
not blowing in the breeze.



I'm drunk without regard,
leering, clumsy, ill without
reason, nostalgic, poem-
brave, dirty, reprised
with godtalk, undone,
quite nearly silent
but for periodic tooth-widdle.

You slip feetfirst into
the prayerbook of sleep,
headward into a thoughtlimp.
I am the heartlump
that ticks within your
area: I defy any thought
that can't be sung.



Talked on phone with Simon about
Atkins, horror films,
the schemes of democracies,
handshakes, love, featherbeds,
writing ugly unwritable truths,
mother-guilt,
Valentine's Day, the lack of a Harold andMaude
soundtrack, Los Angeles traffic,
and his script, now finished:
like most art, he said, it's difficult
to be proud of it after afew hours.















BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Michael Loughran was born in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and earned a BA in

English from Ithaca College. Before growing cloud weary, he worked as a video store

clerk, handyman, chauffeur, and book advertiser. Currently he is sun weary, and headed

for Philadelphia, city of muttering doves.