Monday, February 27, 2006

Hi, Standard Schaefer here. Don’t know all of you too well and some not at all, but Laura invited me to blog with you guys. I’ve been thinking of Laura’s use of the “a tonalist” group. I like it. I like the idea of literary groups that don’t neccessarily become brands, that can’t really become brands because there’s nothing really at stake in “a tonalism,” no territory to claim. I’m actually pretty blog averse. I think they’ve created a level of visibility for certain poetries that leads rather intractably toward the super-jokey and exhibitionism. And while I do like to write quite silly things from time to time, it’s not where my heart is at most of the time or what I really seek out when I read poetry.

Anyway I’ve attached an excerpt from a book length manuscript I’ve written. It’s largely a response to the work of poet Dennis Phillips but happens to have been written while I was thinking about Laura’s work, and what I think she calls “lyrical correspondence” (though now I’m wondering if I didn’t encounter the phrase in Rob Kaufman’s essays). At any rate I’m offering it as an introduction to me and to what I’ve been thinking of as “a tonalism” at least for me personally.


My companion in the skies of death, a cuckoo…

A picture is formed of pictures smaller than the eye
and behaving as if

Belief is required

Thumps of shadow cancel the flim-flam

The hurly-burly of the surface faces its slit
and finds another surface
fastened to the hips of signals fading

A boy with a bat swings at a clump of shade.

And eye to eye with the rooster’s absence
receptors steady back to blare

Half the lake beneath the bottomless
against the high end of beyond
with its pineal accompaniments
an explosion of single events
nouns as huge as them rare surprises

A lyrical correspondence
carries the echo past the boundary stones


In my understanding of purgatory, it is filled with all the books you were not aware of.

There is primarily looking.

This is what brings on the talons. Ascension perhaps follows.

It is a place where dead writers from different eras go to correspond.

The clock works one bird at a time, swept out to sea—a parabola
where romance had been bald appetite.

A form of information discredited through encroachment.

It was represented by the one small bird still in place, the one with the voice of the child found beneath the pattern of stars distinct to that end of the park.


Covered in a shallow sea, unfettered static

Wet shoes against a steel mirror

Purgatory’s perimeter is limbo’s palpitations.

Something more distant than the external world
or watching the film you receive your instructions.

Even bees have a code

What escapes are the edges and folds of the skin, actually just their twittering


But you persist— there is no skin, only scrolls,
and the light an atavism

Elegies breathe through the ears
and gradually a figure along the rim of some caldera

Whereupon the book fell to sleep and the glass eye on the mantel
wobbled the length and wave of the unseasonable center of the porch—

A raging stillness there.

And yet there is an amusing neutrality rampant among even the favored catastrophes.

Long enough to go unnoticed.


I was in a meadow, but it was made of cloud forms. There was a small sun without music. So it was early later crossing the hills waltzing the elements in that classical style of bees. But they weren’t bees. They were small suns. Things were slowing down. I was coming out of the bushes where I’d been curled up until there was suddenly too much light between the covers of the book I’d been reading in my sleep.

Left foot to left square, right to etcetera


There is a ceiling, but it is no guarantee of sleep

Whatever is etched is etched in the dark.
Powder is what’s left of the dark parts

Where it had been oceanic
It is now militant, flammable.

And what had been worth traveling at night
Is now a chore borne out in tactile qualities, irrecusable enigmas.

And by other words and other arrangements
Out of earshot the sun’s scars.

How waxy the rain is
Written in the long stalk.
Spun into thread.
Against the figurative and the abstract.


A bird’s wings turn into a letter.
The field is invaded by words.
Light is its gesture.
Time is what accounts for motion.
Propellers glom the skyline.
Ruins run through it.


They endeavor to build a conspiracy on an agreed to beforehand set of “no”s.

The buildings are brushed by soft flames, leaves fall.

There is talk of it all too often being a matter of degrees.

But we, said the hostess, are not against intellectuals.

We just favor the life of the mind.

No, that is incorrect.

We wish a rich inner life.

A conjugation of the body.

An abeyance delayed.

Until you’ve come to think as much, my task remains

Pleas and temperature, numbers and pleasures doled out and abandoned to your afflicted powers.

Pleats in the weakening place.



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