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Ticker Tape Sentence

A new sentence, ahoy, begins to move along the horizon, words crossing on the horizon like ticker tape, words like ships at sea, ship-sat sea, a sentence a fleet of words, but quiet, so far out, out to sea, but futile, our following them, their passage, so why not just limit the sentence to one word, a single word, stop, for example, stop these ships before it's too late, before we cross the point of no return, but no, I'm not worried about running on, I'm more concerned with running aground, so I'm running with the wind while the wind's in my sails, running with this new sentence, running with the wind, for a spell, a run-on sentence, tilting and lilting with comma splices, funny term, comma splice, like tacks, like sailing tacks, the comma splice, to cut off, pause, we learned in grade grammar elementary school while the period was a full stop pull over go to sleep, compared to the comma, where you had to leave the car running, riding the clutch (but wait, we didn't drive cars in grade school, can't use that comparison - too late), quick breath, come around, though, we got that, just enough time to glance up, look at the teacher, visage, what was she thinking, and did she have hair under her habit, she had thick bushy black eyebrows, like punctuation marks underscoring the white cardboard starched forehead, big black dashes, but that's to digress, to veer from course, deviation from planned course, stay on tack, on tact, too, and on track, for the railroad is like a run-on sentence, too, too, too, but the run-on sentence is like a chase scene, like a chase at the end of a Keystone Cops adventure, a chase that runs on and runs on, like a run-on sentence, sometimes called a comma splice run-on sentence I should caution good reader there is no end in sight to this run-on sentence, so if there's somewhere you need to be, you might want to mark where you are, just grab a piece of tape, or something, a felt marker, and make a mark on your screen, not a period though, a comma, mark your place, where you are in the sentence, mark the word just above where the little blue bubble marker is now located below this run-on sentence, mark it with a caret, like this ^ or with an upside down y or keep going no reason to stop unless you need to be somewhere but still give them a call, call in, and tell them you are in the middle of a run-on sentence you can see that we are in the middle of this run-on sentence by checking the blue bubble, if the blue bubble is in the middle of the ticker line, then we are midway through this run-on sentence you don't need to mark your screen when you get back just slide the blue bubble over to the middle of the ticker tape-like rectangular oval below the sentence nice feature that blue bubble where I got the idea actually for this run-on sentence thinking why bother having to tab down read down always down the page why not just keep moving sideways this is how new things are invented by questioning the status quo and a book could be written like this why not run the sentence to the end of the page, turn the page, continue sentence on the back side, reach the end again, continue the sentence onto the next page, not down, straight across, until you reach the end of the book, then go back to page one before you tab down to the next row, the next line, and off you go again, until the book is full what would each page read like then a complete surprise futile though the perspicacious reader will note the influence of John Cage here, here on this run-on sentence, so maybe this idea of the ticker tape run-on sentence is somewhat Cagean, but then again, maybe not, maybe Cage has nothing to do with this, but Cage embraced the futile and in doing so crossed the horizon of doubt and I keep coming back to Cage even after all these years and new things to look at and read and listen to, and reading Cage's books, "Silence," for example, or "A Year From Monday," might suggest more ideas for new forms of composition of posts, though Cage preferred the mosaic to the linear the ticker tape sentence (I think the name might stick) is certainly an exercise in linearity if nothing else for it resembles a line, a line sliding, a line of words, sliding horizontally, like ships on a horizon, words like a fleet of ships, ships though that never come any closer, and whose purpose remains, at best, ambiguous, or worse, simply silly, but it takes a long time to stop a ship, and still, there they are, out to sea, floating above the blue bubble in the long oval, and they stay on the horizon, sliding across the horizon until they are out of view and we are left to go our own way.

Rows sans end

El Porto, 1969A sentence, this one, for example (though another might do), the one you are now reading, backlit, for some purpose, presumably (your body like a house in disrepair, suit fraying, limbs sagging, glasses missing one temple, pads bent, joints crooked, hair crinkled dry moss, green going grey, a bird’s nest), late summer as the sentence gets started, lolling, dozing, without antecedent, no foreshadowing, no shadows at all, no dashes, noon, then, the beach clear, the water shipless and shapeless, but shiftless still, then suddenly awakening and rising, like a quick second wind, and just as quickly a third wind, the afternoon slop now upon the coast, the water rougher than it looked from the beach, sudden, swell upon swell following the sleepy noon lull, and you are not ready for this, each new wave an and, followed by another and, and another and, until, caught now in a riptide, a rebuttal that has the stylish lifeguards proofreading for drowning readers, and when they find one, they click on the swimmer and go, click and go, click and go, sweeping the sentence down to the water clear of this sort of thing, fragments, wave fragments, ripples from where they sit high in their tower

A row is a row is a row is a row,
a row a row a row a row.
A paddle is a paddle is a paddle is a paddle,
and we are out past the break,
out to sea,
so to speak
is to speak is to speak is to speak.

No matter      what we do (rules)      where we go (directions)
there are margins,                                            edgeswe come up against.
                        The world is flat
after all,
                  the flat earth squaring us in,
switchbacks,               zigzags              away from intuition. 
For the world wants style:
                  8 & ½ x 11, 3 hole punched,
the thin red vertical line creating a margin,    a double edge.

“Sometimes a thing is hard because you are doing it wrong” (Don DeLillo, “Point Omega, p. 27).

On Poetry

A poem is a composition, an arrangement of parts. Or a rearrangement, or a disarrangement. Poets build things, edifices, structures, often claustrophobic, and the reader must throw open the windows to breathe. But just as often the poet tears structures down. Then the poet is a demolition worker swinging a sledgehammer, pulling on a pry bar, claw hammer hanging from the tool belt.

The parts of a poem are most often words, but not only words, and sometimes no words. The spaces in between the words, the distances between lines, the s p a c e s between the letters, e v e n, are also parts, part of the composition. The reader must wear a hard hat, walking through the poem, the construction zone, and steel toe boots, and ear plugs.

Or a poem may have no words, no alphabetical features, a nonliterate composition. Concrete Poetry contains many examples of poems composed without words. Nails are periods, screws commas. Some poems are welded together, others sewn, still others hot glued. Back in the 1960s, some poets used plumber’s caulk and boiled lead and chiseled the lines together like pipes, careful to make sure the pipes fell in the run.

But a poem may not be seen, if it’s read aloud, if the poet sings. The reader may then want to wear snorkel gear. The poet is then a cotton swab. The poet wants to clean the wax from the reader’s ears. Poets are often unreasonable, and arguments break out like bar fights, the hard hat, the steel pot, now flung like a disc across the room.

Then the poet returns with flowers, a bouquet of red roses. The roses are lovely, but beneath the glossy green leaves, all up and down the long stemmed roses, hide thorns like the claws of a raptor.

Say what you see (look-and-say) sequences


1 1

2 1

1 2 1 1

1 1 1 2 2 1

Solve for row 6__________

1 a

1 1 1 a

3 1 1 a

1 3 2 1 1 a

Solve for row 6__________
a n t

1 a 1 n 1 t

1 1 1 a 1 1 1 n 1 1 1 t

3 1 1 a 3 1 1 n 3 1 1 t

1 3 2 1 1 a 1 3 2 1 1 n 1 3 2 1 1 t

Solve for row 6__________

ant ant

ant ant ant

ant ant ant ant

ant ant ant ant ant

ant ant ant ant

Solve for row 7__________
c a t

c a t ' s  u p

w h a t ' s  u p ?

catch up

Solve for row 5__________

Look-and-say sequence.

81 Snazzy Ants

  1. ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant 
  2.   ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant
  3.    ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant
  4. ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant
  5.     ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant
  6.     ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant
  7. ant  ant  ant  tan  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant
  8.   ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant
  9.    ant  nat  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant  ant

45 Embedded Ants

canto Dante phantom fantod chanteuse

slanted ranting banter gauntlet infantry

pantsuit gigantic Atlantis cilantro plantation

shanty brigantine semantic dismantling gallivanting

gallantry wanton canteen quarantine guarantee

romantic chrysanthemum fantasy haunted dilettante

pedantic consubstantiation incantation misanthropically quantified

truantry meantime cantus cantilevering bacchante

aspirants applicants aberrantly yantrill vibrantly

153 ants

ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant

ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant

ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant

ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant

ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant

ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant

ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant

ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant

ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant ant

caMels, whEN to caPITalize, & concrEte POEMS

Over at Steamboats, Caleb Crain has lately expressed a concern over the use of camel case letters.

We are not opposed to the use of camel case in a corporate logo, particularly where Concrete poetry might find a place in commerce.

We went to An Anthology of Concrete Poetry (Emmett Williams, ed., 1967, Something Else Press), remembering some camel casing there, but spacing is a more prevalent tool. Remember that most of the old Concrete poems were chiseled out on manual typewriters.

The John J. Sharkey poem, “Schoenberg” (1963), is shown in the Anthology in two versions. The first (left) was rejected “…because the publisher does not use upper-case letters in his graphic production style.”

The second version was “interpreted typographically by Simon Lord…,” and Sharkey apparently liked it less than his original.

There’s often a reason for things like spacing, capitalization, reading silently – and then the reason becomes the rule, and remains the rule, even after we’ve forgotten the reason; then we might invent a new reason to support what we now don’t want to change.

Note: The title to this post is a Concrete poem, created with camels:


Back to the Futurism – What’s new in Poetryland: Flarf, Conceptual Writing, and Concrete Poetry

An Anthology of Concrete PoetryWe cross the border into Poetryland. At the crossing the guards confiscate our miner’s helmet and swim fins, and ask the purpose of our visit. On holiday, sightseeing, see what’s new, we reply.

We head to the old haunts, and what do we find? Flarf, a portmanteau word that identifies a poem created from electronic detritus, a collage of bits of the web, a kind of Webarf, and Conceptual Writing, a back to the Futurism replay of Concrete Poetry.

While neither new form appears all that new, the infusion of humor, anti-seriousness, and wordplay are welcome (we wish a Poem Painting or two had been included). But we’re not sure if Flarf is a poetry of the Web, if the Web has found its poetic form, “…poetry that is native to that environment, written with the intention of being read there” (Crain, 17 June 2008).

A fickle subscriber for some years, our renewed subscription just arrived, and we were delighted to learn of Flarf and Conceptual poetry (July/August 2009).

Welcome back! Where have you been? the waitress at the Refugio Café asks. At the point the tide is out and the waves shoulder into the cove.

Williams, E. (Ed.). (1967). An Anthology of Concrete Poetry. Something Else Press: New York.