Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bolano's "The Romantic Dogs"

With "2666," Roberto Bolano is now a sensation in the United States. "2666" is a remarkable book, full of engrossing narratives; however, I find "The Romantic Dogs" in some respects more satisfying.

It is common knowledge that Bolano considered himself first and foremost a poet and I believe he is right, although his fame here in America will derive from his fiction.

Many reviewers have spent all their time talking about Bolano and Chile, as if "The Romantic Dogs" is only a political book. However, I wonder if the reviewers made it past the first poem. Yes, there are poems that make reference to political events but how can a Latin American not be political. However, politics are only a part of the soup of existence. Bolano writes about being in the sense that a philosopher writes about being.

"The Romantic Dogs" is an amazingly cohesive work. This is not a collection of poems written as one-offs. Instead, the poems hold together through various rhetorical devices: repetition of images, symbols, and themes.

The overall theme of the work is the shortness of life, the cruelty of illness, the fragility of existence, and the the beauty of poetry.

Unifying images are dreams, blackness, white worms, snow, cars, motorcycles, burros, films, detectives.

Bolano announces in the first poem of the collection that the dream of poetry opened up the void of his spirit and accompanied him through his life.

The first poem of the collection, "The Romantic Dogs," announces this theme. "I'd lost a country/but won a dream." He adumbrates the importance of poetry in the penultimate poem of the collection "Muse:" "she's the guardian angel/ of our prayers./ She's the dream that recurs."

"The Romantic Dogs" presents a brave story--because ultimately Bolano is a dramatic poet--of a dying poet fighting to remain here in being "with the romantic dogs."


to SarahA

the real
you deal
is not here

the real
I see
in my liminal
is not
your here

here I hear the deaf
and feel the blind

you feel the deaf
and hear the blind

your here
is there

our worlds
are there
in the big mind

the singular mind
revolves like a silver
within a brass wheel

guided by the north star
it turns

tick-tock, spin-spin
spin-spin, tick-tock

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


the driest salt
from her fevered brain

her projection
is her protection

but it makes
no sense
that sulphur
as salt
possesses savor
only after fault

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Working on proofs for "Cave Gossip"

My new novel "Cave Gossip," the follow-up to "Vogel and the White Bull," relies heavily on iconography--both sacred and profane--to express its meaning. Here is a sacred image from a church in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the setting for the finale of "Vogel and the White Bull."

The title--"Cave Gossip"--comes from my poem in"Petroglyhs," of the same title.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


he wanted
to be seen

but he had
not read
the rule

requires light

but light
burns skin

so he


once again

Friday, April 17, 2009

Primal Patriarch

he appeared
then her

his son died
murdered by his brother

eventually he died
from her
to the earth

it was his end
but not the end

the hierarchy
from a cut
from a yellow rose

now he ascends
and descends
toward transcendence

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fact of the Doing Thing

the job
that works
is not
the one
we waited
for in fact
the work
we do
is not
the one
we dreamed
of nor trained
for nor interviewed
with nor even
instead we do
what we do
because we
can do
no other

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


after each blow
the worm returns
to its rose
to spin silk
for lace
she makes
under the window

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Theme of Mittilagart

ein jeder engel ist schrecklich--Rilke

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Chris Roberson's "Set the Seas on Fire"

Red Rook Review has just posted its first review.

Forget La Gioconda

the hierarchy of category
begins with alpha's breath

branches off the knowing tree
and tunnels through worm mold

the rose is the snail's end
a breathless line that connects
old Adam to the castaway

categories incarnate
as each initiate contributes
a thread to the maker's lace

so all the Vermeers wait
with frail facticity

to prove omega's line
ends with lace's last design

Monday, April 06, 2009


The chow barks
a snail's portrait

its threefold
triples one round

to read its whorl
is to hear a star gasp

a frozen breath inward

to hear the whorl
is to read a sea-green sea

into a blue

Her Spring Revolt

vowel revolution
leads to noun resolution

when word-scree
blocked the pass
I brought my spoon
and cereal bowl

and when word-shards
severed the Irish trail
I fetched my fork
and Austrian plate

but when I was late
you flew North
like a headless crow

with neither caw nor care


Rousseau paints green
on the jungle canvas

his yellow parrots
parade on jagged limbs
where jaguars sleep
jade in verdant shadows

mottled leaves dry
from an afternoon rain
and sun-threads reign
over jaundiced puddles

where parrots drink
and the Paraclete
sleeps shuttered
in the jaguar's keep

Friday, April 03, 2009

Mittilagart--the Valkyries Arrive

The first chapter is finished. Eight thousand words exactly as I planned. I intend eighty days to a novel. Writing about life after death is a new one and I am trying to push the magical envelope. I am also trying to "textualize" my dialogue. Let's see if they (the very young editors) can teach an old dog new tricks.

Process D'or

Line ends
your breath

but to breathe
a four-fold
of green

so exit
and dream

but do not fall
or fail
for a bruise

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Rimbaud's Color Wheel

The center-word
does not hold
its color-sounds

they swirl
within the sun-threads
first black then white
green then blue

until the red appears
so red that we see

the danger
though is that blue
bruises black
and begins to turn

Chicago Lyre

your blue flame

so do
not blame

the coal man
who fills
the gray bin

or the red brick
that warms
your face

do not harm
your faithful cow
that kicks the trace

instead embrace
the fire-threads
that embroider
green dreams
with yellow
and the inner star
that singes
blue moons

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Beckett Beckons

curtain call
and we take
to the boards

we play Beckett
in the round
and we wait

we wait for lights
and applause

we wait
for roses
and cheering

we wait
for Beckett
on his deepest ground
as we play the round