the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




THREE WORKS
BY NICK PIOMBINO

TESSERA

"The primordial element in poetry…is divination, or the desperation of seeking to foretell dangers…"
                Harold Bloom
                                                                

What do you have to ease the pain?
(Meditation, ecology, ethics, political philosophy)
What is there to take the edge off these continuous worries?
(History of literature, astrology, nutritional analysis, chance)
How can I find an answer to these troubles?
(Pre-Socratic philosophy, numerology, Tarot, mathematics)
Does there exist any explanation for such angst?
(Dada, existentialism, Rosicrucianism, Marx)
Why do such contradictory impulses continuously plague us?
(Psychoanalysis, divination, prayer, Zen Buddhism)
What direction should I take with so many possibilities at hand?
(Zoroaster, Gestalt, endorphins, Chaos)
How can I make sense in the midst of so many social hypocrisies?
(Prayer wheel, synchronicity, fractal geometry, necromancy)
How do I survive the tumult and pain of everyday ambivalence?
(Psychic study, telepathy, levitation, visualization)
How do I avoid everyday despair and doubt?
(Philosophical speculation, religious ecstasy, tea-leaves, palmistry)
How do I resist aimless thinking, idle curiosity, boredom?
(Romantic reverie, Machiavellian manipulation, anarchy, aesthetic contemplation)
How do I overcome the constant tendency to disorganization, doubt, procrastination?
(Crystal gazing, dream book, incense, lighted candle)
How do I fight the endless weavings of tedium, little annoyances, the small resentments?
(Catastrophe theory, determinism, atheism, sorcery)
Is there any easier way to make all these hard decisions?
(I ching, poetic theory, symbolic logic, tai chi)
How can I stop rationalizing and postponing things?
(Marathon running, vitamin therapy, primal scream, feng shui)

2.

suspicion (of the writer's intent)
sustenance- to maintain the will

wept, singing
operant
loyal

to manipulate the will

the second notebook
unconsciously swerving from the first
"Tessera or completion and Antithesis"
"A poem is a poet's melancholy at this lack of priority"

out of print
leaning, learning
that is, enabled
led from the beginning
a near thesis

as of blaming
as in naming
an influence
right to be
a memorial
insignificance
forced
first

this, the seeming went away
fierce, recognition eating itself
out of away- frightened
nevertheless, pushed on

still didn't or couldn't distinguish
the background of what else it's written
on- circumstances interrupted it
with color and direction- yet another
part still retreating into its silent meaning
and herald- a stamp of time signals
it's readiness- without watching

concerned about moving so abruptly out of the dated notebook
into the undated one- leaving the teaching
post- confiding in someone in an undisciplined
way- this shadow side of unclear
motivations- this hiding

3

I grieve the unread poems of an empty age
The unshed tears, the unfelt hands
The misplaced feelings- but first
Descend through the works themselves
Shadowed by a plethora of unlived time
"Under a dark green tree, a funeral party
leaving the grave, an open blank hole"
(that from Barrett Watten's Decay)
Through all of the confusion and sadness we finally learned to
Find it everywhere: that is, quickly.
Some things were saved, others looked like
Monuments, others were taken out of the fractures
And likened to knowledge. Eventually, the
Group learned to ignore these, taking satisfaction
Out of the light and serious, picturing
It at first as mind. All of this, fitted together
Smoothly, in the grand style, is likened to grieving.
Talking meant something then- am forced to remove
A factual detail from the narrative for aesthetic,
Not historical reasons. The embarrassment was not
Because of what you think. It
Is a way of reasoning that permits a measure of meandering
That derives its energy from the intricate combining
Of the past, present and future tenses.
A run-on sentence that allows for the bumpy movement
Between today and tomorrow. The trick was to find the miraculous
In everything, to derive again and again
The conscious from the unconscious, to determine what was
Ineffable from the very facts of what we've learned to ignore.
No one applauded these decisions, a few might have noticed
Them in passing, but there was really no time
To discuss them anyway. True, this was strangely
Happening to all of us exactly in the same ways
It was happening for each of us.
Anybody could see it was about to happen
It felt (mostly in our dreams and delays)
Like we didn't have any control, when finally we had to admit
That we were completely in control. You
Are neither an actor, nor a commentator,
A comedian or a victim of a tragedy.
Things were not really as grand as this in real life,
Only by now you've several times noticed
That anyway, the idea of "real life" occurs to you more and more
Rarely, just as "that other life" and
"All those things I expected" seemed less and less applicable.
There is simply no other way to listen to all that can be said.
There would no longer be that kind of time for it
In the everyday moments- forget about perfection
No time for this clearly, better put the time into placing
Together what you have to do in order to move on,
Or so says Marcus Aurelius.

3.

Descend, arm in arm, with the others,
Down into the maelstrom,
Deeper into the void chasm of the mind's other eye,
To find what was not only before, but always before.
The light was good and we enjoyed the journey.
And now that it is night, light the lamp
Follow them down to the actual stairs
To find the corners, to trace their tracks, to uncover all the evidence
Of time's old textures- to cover them with words
Like a blanket- and then feel the way downward
In the hands, smells and shadows of the other stars.

Take them deeper
As far down as you can remember
Down there where a bell is the sound of the shadow of a smell,
The glimpse of a face, a slightly
Burning sensation in the mouth and the stomach
(In an idea of this, the shapes are on a table
Made out of wires, the twists and turns represent events
And patterns of events, the movement among the figures
Described by the angles of the leanings and tumbling,
These coming to signify the complexity of their many
Relationships- these coming to separate and join
The ideas of each individual as it multiplied itself
In the others.) This was dying, but dying
As a kind of time travel in which the experience
Had detached itself from its physical casement
And had come to exist in the relationship between
A set of figures sitting on a flat surface,
A series of tenses. This was a going
Backward that embraced forward movement.
This was a translation of experience from experience
A measuring that finally had more reference
To the shapes of the sequences themselves
Than what they represented.
                                It had become
                                        Clear
That the cosmos could be entirely represented
By a series of depictions, each
Representing a broad and interrelated section of reality
In an encapsulated form.
This was a returning to a
Beginning by means of coming
To an end. This was an enveloping
By means of an unwrapping,
A hand touching the face
That embraced what the eyes
Themselves could see,
Bending round to the side
The past wrapping itself around us
Like arms, the future
Mapped out on a table,
By means of shadows
Wires bent and twisted
On a table

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TEAM WORK

The decision is everything, yes. I like the material outcome of the noodling around also. The quotes don't necessarily have quotes around them- either appropriation, recommendation, accommodation or admiration. The settings are the places we go to. These are made of all the decisions we struggle with, the web which constructs- moment by moment- what the whole thing is. Now that I've done that, I want to do this. The places we go, the things we do, the people we are.
     What do we actually do? We get in touch with each other, we meet, by accident or on purpose, and we say things. These things are done and said in places. In the particular chain of sequences I have in mind, we meet in all the places, we go to work. (Think of the distinction between "work" friends and "real" friends, but don't get stuck on that either).
     At one point I decided to have friends that would challenge me. This was a decision with very good consequences.
     I could go back to the time when I sometimes chose people as friends who gladly undermined me. Sometimes the two are built into the same person.
     When all the clues are there you are prompted to proceed. What would a manifesto be if it were not addressed to the actors themselves, each of whom would have to weave some part of their actual work lives into this poem?
     It wouldn't be everybody everybody is working with. Each person would have to choose. This would be equal to what they call in psychoanalysis, the "latent content"- or might be also considered the background content.
     Each actor becomes a character made out of their own lives, each actor would "co-produce" their "team" from their past from their own work lives. Allowance is made for overlap between non-work lives and work lives.
     As always, a project is the result of a series of meditations. Only solitude can allow for this. Solitude is built in, even when it is not provided for in, in the transitions . During transitions we don't still, or don't yet, know who we are.

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SYMPATHIES

    The poem begins with an extended, rhapsodic plea for the value of understanding the point of view of others. The avoidance of habitual disappointment is singled out as one of the greatest of these values. To empathize with others leads to a continued understanding that suffering and pain are universal. Disappointment is seen as the result, for the most part, do viewing oneself as isolated and at the center of attention at the same time. Disappointment frequently brings out comparisons.
    The poet acknowledges that, on the other hand, it is hard to feel sympathetic with those who have victimized others. Thee are limits to one's ability to use sympathy in the service of forgiveness. Can judgment and blame be felt towards those we also feel sympathetic with? The poet advances this possibility by the use of an image. The image is that of the accused.
    The accused one is often hated but this hatred is often blended with fear. This fear, in turn, might be regarded as partly the product of the usually somewhat unconscious awareness that self-control is perfect in no one. "There, but for the grace of god, go I."
     It is this fear that can earn, that demands, our sympathies. Vulnerability to the possibility of feared outcomes exists for all of us. This awareness forms a natural boundary to all judgments.