poetry journal 1, 2017

ENG 552 Poetry Journal Supplement

Trevor Bashaw for Dr. Kaminski

** note: some images didnt upload and i dont wanna fix it lol


Section 1:

  • smelling by tsing and more


Learning to stretch alone again and to notice the space between my teeth:


Cerulean silks, teals, pleather. Carrie Bradshaw coat. Tobacco wool. Plastic banner. The Party’s Here! Tassel stream. Smoke alarm with a pale blue jewel on it. Off-kilter leprechaun. He looks sad. My finest string of pearl. Five gems in a chain, the largest a deep magenta. Cork name, art deco. Over Matisse, German Expressionism. Some of the largest hands. Russian crane, Hiroshima bound to Kansas. My friend, myself, and a lighter. FUCK YOU bracelet. Toulouse-Lautrec, a smirk. Bacchus, Caravaggio. Gay. Cezanne. Japanese clown. Fish and a Hiroshige ukiyo-e. Ugly ass curtain. I cant even talk about my minis

Moving out of the setting:

Massive background, Soft attack, Rain wheel bathtub, Right on track, Fifty five, Eighty ten, Life’s unpleasant Grab a number Eat the paper Floss your teeth, Don’t be careful, Eat your teeth! Market backwards Fight for sevens Dream backwards too, Louder slip-up Park your ears Don’t let it show, Much but Two girls haunt my attic, I fly to run, I cannot fly, strum strum for shrum with shrums head undone, wake up with a start, Bottom of the eyes Heavies, dries Soft skin shivers, tweeze Might there be a snack somewhere? great horn to ivory toothpicks, keratin mischief or mayhem, sharp squeeze, malleable dart must-cream shalishbary shteak


Character development:

My nose is big I have large eyes And tiny feet I cannot scream I cannot repeat I am a girl I have a tiny friend My bathing suit Is on the fence I drink ranch dressing And parlor twelve I am exhausting I have many qualms I am a teenage dragon A hunting fellow All I want Is the taste of marshmallow on my tongue.

what is a neoliberal and why don’t you like them

you from the left with your college degree and facebook persona

how can one recognize oneself as an individual, as having a static or coherent identity and not be neoliberal

can identity-politics be anti-neoliberal if it relies on the subjecthood of static identity to further itself

is saying “i overcame neoliberalism” a neoliberal act

so when I say neoliberalism has hurt me in this way – and I point out how I idealize my relationship with him that only leads to my inevitable disillusionment and disappointment when I realize he is not and cannot be my everything and he does not want to be and he does not want to touch me every time I want to touch him and he does not think about me every time I think of him and he does not want to talk to me every time I want to talk to him, I expect and maybe that’s neoliberal, in that maybe it’s heteronormativity

fear and desire and desiring fear fear desire serious desire for fear is desire fear desire fear fear fear fear desire until it feeds you fire desire and fire and fear fir furs furtive glances gropes in sleeping bags and five o’clock in the morning is not quite a feeding time


eggshell populace

distill vinegar of inclusion

lecithin recipe

progress recyclable

snack snack snack



interruption/advertisement from


live for likes foundation

live every day for likes


murkrowsacerdotgavlarsundryourthumb and malcolm.exe like this



  • live4lik3si love using social media to perform my damage as an act of overcoming that damage but then the act gets coopted by neoliberal social media platforms i post on that profit off the post and use their profits to further neoliberalism’s anti-queer/racist/classist/Bad projects that create the political precondition for violent acts to be done unto me that have substantial emotional affect and then I get caught in a never ending cycle of performativity in which nothing not even my own deeply personal emotional trauma yet alone the overcoming of it feels real anymore yet suffering within and without of myself continues and theres nothing meaningful I can do about it, as robin James says in their reading of Katy perrys Firework “you may feel like trash but if you can just light yourself on fire that trash will burn with a dazzling radiance that lights up the sky just as it lights up audiences faces” ; my own incandescence, the transformation of waste into potential has only spectacularly reproduced normativity the very thing i have tried to overcome                         
  • Like



pinkwash soapscum white to

peachy plump apricot scrub skin

they throw you off towers for sucking dick over there is what I’ve heard, is what I’ve seen the footage of online, I heard about it on CNN and saw the flames reaching toward him on the news

Jealousy inadequacy and fear of abandonment aren’t bombs. What am I really afraid of?



Section 2:

Based on Ecodeviance by CA Conrad

For my somatic prompt, I followed ARBOREAL CRYSTAL ARIA, where CA Conrad suggests we talk to an inanimate object such as a tree. They use a quartz crystal to channel energy from the tree, I did not do that, instead I went to the park by the public library and sat under a tree in a small shaded area near a road and a basketball court. I sat amongst litter and leaves, a piece of an old disposable plastic water bottle, perhaps Nestle, a small green piece of plastic netting from a construction site. I tried to talk to a nearby sweetgum tree, one that grew the spiky brown balls, we used to call them gumballs in Arkansas. I talked to the tree and asked why it made them. Part of my brain said, they’re seeds. But it wasn’t the tree. Another part of my brain was like, they’re babies. Or all individual tiny brains sending thought signals down into the trunk into the roots into the earth below me, talking to the other trees and the grass curling around me. Do dead leaves ache? How far does a tree trunk bend, how does it feel to blow in the wind? None of those thoughts were the tree talking to me though, I don’t think. Maybe it’s because I didn’t use a crystal. But I did have the piece of plastic, and I did hold it and try to speak directly to it. I then did the same technique on the piece of mesh and a dead leaf. I wrote the poem that follows, after I put them in conversation. I do not know if I talked to the litter and the leaf, but I think I kind of did. I definitely could not have written the poem without their presence being there and my attuned stark attention upon them. My best friend says charging crystals infuses them with the power of demons. She might believe all spirits are demons though, therefore all spirits are malicious, and that might not be true in my opinion. I wonder if you can talk to crystals, or if you do if you’re talking with God or a demon or a spirit or energy or just the crystal. Reminds me of the indeterminancy stuff with Tsing’s Smelling and Cobb’s Public Space.


crisp leaves

the leaf to soft again

but the plastic scythe remains

petting nettle grass

like lively hair on a lover’s head



sunwarmed wormwoods

incubate in pockets of nothings

a numb root grasps


clenches and unclenches         like a body’s gasp

a gaping fish or open flesh

and the opening is good,

it is release and it is flush


to expel the mesh then to knot


Later edit of same poem… idk. I want to explore the mundane and quotidian right now because I could use a jolt of energy in my day-to-day, I want to finish my degree even though im thinking college is a SCAM!! And makes me feel even more depressed than I am when I might just be lazy or smart enough to recognize I want to be doing other things but not sticking with it. idk? Anyway I want to explore what I can do here in Lawrence kansas, so community. Which isn’t even mundane. I guess I want to explore nooks and crannies, spaces overlooked, charms unnoticed. I want to shed light there so I can enjoy them and others can to. i want to do that all the time but also with my poetry, I want to explore the way words interact with one another on the page like little friends… or enemies! I want to move with grace and ease, fluidly like water and organically like plants and spider webs, perhaps invisibly unless you really look. I want to write with power but not power over anything, just in power with others and perhaps over myself? Or in control of myself? Idk I love losin’ control!!! Yeahhh!!!!


e – lastin’

crisp leaves

the leaf to soft again

but the plastic scythe remains

petting nettle grass

like lively hair on a lover’s head


tender root grasps co-incubates

clenches, unclenches

like a body’s gasp

a gaping fish or open flesh

and the opening is good,

it is release and it is flush









Lazy kitschy and without tact, gay


natural anthem


O beautiful for onion eyes                                       (SUNG WITH PASSION AND CARE)

For green green branches, plants

For every creature’s mastery                                                  (sung with passion and care)

Over wilderness     (?)


O Clump of Grass!

O Clump of Grass!

You shed your dirt on me

Take root again

And tell your friends:


Reproduction’s not destiny J


Ps (its Because The world simply cannot infinitely reproduce itself!)



Section 3:

poetry ?s and Alyse Bensel


When I think about science I think about numbers, I think about math and I think about categorizing and the scientific method. I think astrophysics is interesting. Black holes and event horizons, quantum mechanics and neutron stars. Species essentialism. That is there is no species category for it is difficult to determine universal characteristics within every member of a species, that lines get blurred and boxes erased?


Weird science shit?

The earth is round

The sun is big

The sky isn’t blue


SCENE: waitress

ummm…. Waitress? can you come over here please.

Oh, excuse me! how may I help you

Well, I found a hair… in my soup! Sitting right on top, it was.

Oh my! How embarrassing. I’ll get you a new one. its on the house.

What’s on my house??

No, I meant the soup will be free.

Oh. Well I don’t mind the hair, as long as my house is safe.

Yeah, thank god your house is safe.

While youre over here would you mind filling up my water

Im sorry were out of water. You’ve drank the last cup

Oh dear


Sometimes I don’t adapt, I pretend

Then again, I’m not sure where one begins and the other ends but

The ocean is getting warmer

The coral becoming bleached

The tuna getting fewer

And the algae blooms red.


The friction between humankind’s self-loathing and self-interest creates enough friction to disrupt the planet’s climate cycles. Will we withstand this shock to the system? Should we? Why not.












I sense, I do not see. I do not see scents, but I sense sense since I sense things out of sight. A figure does not need to be seen nor recorded to be a figure. The figure is there whether or not we know about it. Figures 1, 2, and 3




  • Rationalize
  • Play the devil’s advocate
  • Leave science up to the scientists
  • Discussion is a game and nothing more, an exercise in intellect


Economics the science of money:

Poverty is profitable

Wouldn’t it be funny if I got zika, its transmitted through cum

Some people cant taste blue raspberry – they can taste everything else but just not blue raspberry. The flavor does not exist for them, only the idea, loose signifiers. Not even dogs is color blind. Do not register statements only questions until feel recognized, appreciated but not compartmentalized


Royalty: inherited manifest destiny

Borders lies between the thighs

siny skin a shining sin

next of kin

Mercedes bins



Section 4:

Lesley Wheeler


Mish-mash of media, newspapers, internet, personal notes and accounts of things from others

  • Ways of knowing or learning, ethos of different media — oversaturation / new media emerging all the time, how does that impact our understanding and emotional digestion of events

Morbid images – mothers losing children, natural disasters




I think it’s important to show connections between the image and the text — something clear enough to be grasped, but nothing obvious. Nothing clear cut, but nothing too abstract and generic either? I like to create a network of meanings between the pieces, and when they all fit together with no loose ends it’s really satisfying but exploring the tension of a street leading nowhere or a web turning into a cycle is that these things change the more you think about them.


Attached on next page is the poem I wrote for the prompt – here are my thoughts on it. I tried to be present while I was taking a walk. I walked around outside an unused church and in an unkempt peace garden. I wore boots and I took notes until my pen stopped working. I recorded things I saw and things I thought about. Later I tried to manicure the content into desirable shapes. I think something that could help unify the poem is a ‘central thread’ of meaning that connects all the parts and is rather clear cut — but I’m not sure how to do that here and also capture the way the walk felt. I don’t really even remember how the walk felt anymore, actually. Maybe that’s the difference between poetry and reportage, maybe the final work does not have to perfectly capture the moment the original work came into conception, it can evolve into something more complex, fiction creation but based in reality. Through editing, pairing this poem with that image or shaping this stanza that way in relation to that stanza, the report becomes something bigger, meaningful in another way, a poem. The poem after a couple rounds of editing is on the page after that.



ƒℓℓω ƒℓℓω ▬▬►                                       ℱℴℓℓωƒℓℓωɠ

a mold filament a mayo glob a dead louse a string cheese pulpy bulb may peace prevail on earth

cat-tail brisk air boots at dusk dirt beneath brick beneath asphalt with street lamp moon above a


crooked fence built for peeping peering sneaking along the other side and seeing eye to eye to              eye


am walking the dog within me and not resembling the shivering passerby their faces drenched

in gold watches leather droop scrap thinking like a mountain if the earth remains rooted below.


A kid bleats, children singing:


TY♥ тнαηкվօմ! ❀ βԼƐֆֆїɳɠֆ
❀ ρєα¢є ❀ հɑքքìղҽʂʂ ❀
ℓιgнт☆҉‿⁀☆҉ ❀
Եօ վօմ :o)

ƒℓℓω ƒℓℓω ▬▬►                                       ℱℴℓℓωƒℓℓωɠ


a mold filament a mayo glob a dead louse a string cheese pulpy bulb

cat-tails           trails                                        may peace prevail on earth

BRISK AIR boots at dusk DIRT beneath brick beneath asphalt with street lamp moon above a CROOKED FENCE built for peeping peering sneaking along the other side and seeing eye to eye to              eye


A kid bleats, children singing:





I like the way the sounds feel when they’re coming out of my mouth and maybe I could coordinate that with the shapes more so they complement one another, visually and sonically. I heard once that Gertrude Stein thought of her plays as sound landscapes, with one passage being a river of words and another being a solid mountain, and I think that’s cool and would be fun to represent formally within a poem. Concrete poetry might work or just editing the font sizes and stuff kind of like with F.T. Marinetti’s words in freedom. I also really like the meme page on FB “Sometimes I just be thinking” (ex. on next page)








Section 5:

Based on Ecodeviance


So I’m not sure exactlyyy if I did the prompt right but I definitely felt moments of presence here that I was able to record and turn into something I liked / could not have come up with minus the experience. My original experience was this and I tried to model it into something I could repeat. (the final version is handwritten in the yellow notebook – there’s also some notes about Ecodeviance)




My somatic poetry prompt was this: drink two large cups of Sunset Blush Franzia then make spaghetti, get the noodles everywhere, even under the burner, eat the spaghetti then have someone close to you buzz off a significant portion of your hair. Ball up the hair. Later, vomit up full noodles into a paper bag and fall asleep as the world spins around you and underneath you and above you. Wake up feeling pretty good. The paper bag has strained the juice from your vomit, leaving soggy noodles in the bag. The juice has mingled with your balled up hair. Seal the hairball in foil. Leave it there to fester.





it makes you feel better

red raw gag tomato paste

backed up colic cossack bayonet counter-penetrate

everything in the kitchen sink to the sewer to the crepe hair on my lip

stolen from a southeast asian yeoman

bleached stripped and dyed until it is not hers anymore

sealed away in a little plastic bag


mine ferments

in mine own juices

in a room temperature oven it curls delightfully


i smell it the way a lover would smell my head

spent in arms necks laps and fingers

keratin sticks ill take the keratin ill take the stick ill stick the keratin ill care ill rot ill stick up for you ill stick the landing





(Autumn is my friend)


Autumn’s account:



Hair everywhere

Hair in there

We’re in hair

My nose is runny

Runny runny running down to the stairs to the kitchen sink

Nailing oven mitts to the wall

Killing what I feel

Bag strained with water and vomit filled with

Slimy spaghetti uh-o’s

Seeping into the floor

No more. No more! I’m sunset


Hair is gone

Was I gone too?



I still haven’t had another go around with the finalized prompt, my closest friends moved out of town for a year and autumn won’t let me shave her head and im not sure if anyone else is willing either but I guess the point is to build community so maybe ill keep asking around until someone lets me


Section 6:

Based on orogeny  by irene mathieu

When I think about the creation of the world I think of the many cosmogonies I’ve read from cultures around the world. In the Greek creation story from the Hesiod, there was Chaos before everything, described as a void or perhaps just a bunch of grey mist. Then the Titans, then the gods, then eventually humans and animals and other creatures. The Shinto creation story from Japan also begins with a similar void of nothingness before the creation of deities, eventually a brother and sister who create the world. Or then there’s the Christian creation story, Let there be Light and Adam and Eve and all that. Or the Chinese one, I remember one scene where a goddess crafts humankind from mud, but eventually it becomes too tedious so she covers a rope in mud and swings it around and everywhere it splats down a human forms, but since she put less care into those humans, them and their descendants ended up being lower class.

Anyway, there’s a lot of parallels between creation stories amongst cultures which is interesting, like what are the implications? That there is some universal human experience or essence, or at least used to be at the dawn of civilization? That there is no singular answer?


The way we conceptualize how the world came into being is like the ultimate historical debate — if where we come from shapes the way we exist in present and orient ourselves toward future, then where we came from in THE BEGINNING probably matters a lot, if not the truth of it the conceptualization of it



  • Formation of mountains
  • Explores what space does to relationships – physical geography could represent any obstacle in any relationship
  • Medical terms / scientific language to describe the natural world — does not do so in dehumanizing/devaluing way some scientific discourse does
  • Animals and landscapes as metaphor — personification? That does not privilege the human account or experience over what it is describing. No clear locus, complicates tenor/vehicle model of metaphor


“power is the opposite of love”

  • Motherly power — she shapes, guides, cares for you, parents you but not in an absolute way, in a way that nurtures and helps grow, does not restrict, selflessness, empathy — juxt. w/ patrimonial power, patriarchy, paternalism


The book

  • Pangaea as singular / universal mother figure — splits up (asexual reproduction?) into continents, mountains, seas, her children (animals, plants, us) are impacted by space
  • How does it differ from the cosmologies above I discussed — especially dominant ones here like the Biblical creation story


Worldbuilding: images, sensation… incorporate narrative slowly or add images?



peach plum mauve mustard greyish dust thick

bathed in orange light splashes

touches like chiaroscuro emerges

a flat plane of flesh

squish squeak and

cheek to cheek

leak crystal pepsi vapor

forms a crystalline choker

pink mascara a teal bandana

a light-twinkled nightclub in the sky

words ricochet off her dancing limbs

tremor side quake abalone tokyo tokyo nose control spaghetti-o we’ve never been beneath the

gentle quine correction spine catalogue the denizen supreme a banana peel swept away with the wind

air-dragon fluid rattle stick

manipulate peanut butter

shape into shapes into forms

round round winters, summers, springs

arugulas greenish ashes a

melodic samba ga

crisp tingles down dewy

dewed points melon

brown blue vapor wood dust again the

canoe water streaming hushes whisper

shelter shelter shelter shelter sheltered


stories that liberate and empower…

I think what we need to do is believe one another’s stories and histories so we can all be on the same page with what we want. communication!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is always good. I think we need a historical understanding of many perspectives including accounts of people whose histories have been erased or edited – like native folk, women and trans and queer people, black people, latinx people, people from Thailand and the bikini atoll, impoverished people, the list goes on. So as a white person I try to extend solidarity toward that person, belief or empathy or validation, to hear their story and try to understand their goals so I can help or learn.




Section 7:


In Orogeny, it seems like Mathieu is able to tell the story of a collective through a single speaker, Pangaea, by unifying the voices of the collective, or rather bringing them all together in conversation with one another in a way that privileges voices that are spoken over in dominant historical narratives. Voices from humans oppressed by social systems like racism, voices given to non-human animals and plants and even the landscape–or at least, voices talk about these things, they may not be able to find a voice in the same way people can but their accounts are still important. Some references are explicit in titles like “the political is personal” and “love poem in the time of climate change”

  • Inversion of famous feminist piece — also includes environment/encounter as political mechanisms that shape our decisionmaking processes / way of being and interacting in the world. Complicates notion of ‘subject’ and ‘individual’ and political affect of devastations like police brutality and national mournings of police murders of trayvon, sandra bland, castile, etc. as well as even more abstract hard to grasp ones like deforestation, overconsumption, 6th mass extinction event, etc – play between numbness and extreme despair and paralysis, questions of agency/what can I do to help without making the problem worse?


For example —


Orishas spend a day as human

  • Orishas = minor Nigerian Gods
  • Oya = goddess of winds and gates of death – in poem she sits among other women at a mine
  • Eleggua = sort-of bridge/messenger between human and spirit realms – in poem, beggar boy by the road
  • Chango = lightning, thunder, drums, dance, wit, virility = in poem, leans over counter and gives women gum to dance


I like how this poem personifies these spirits into very concise portraits or vignettes – gives me easy to understand image of the character. Also love the implication that anyone around you could me a manifestation of something larger, some spiritual force with great meaning and power. Whether taken literally or not it definitely reorients the way I’d interact with strangers, animals, and even objects around me in a way that would make me more cognizant of encounter, of otherness, and more respectful and present.



Theory of multiple theories

  • I like how this poem shows the pluralism of love — something that cannot be pinned down by a singular definition, but is still a phenomenon that seems to occur in a variety of contexts (unless im just projecting lol)
  • Robin dancing around dead mate, parents watching their daughter die from cancer, personal or not
    • Understood or not –> still tangible consequences and effects
    • Potentiality of becoming- (image of ceramics, holding water)
    • Instead of static vision of self as unchanging / fitting in with rigid blocks of others and systems



  • Pays homage to diversity of means of communication
  • Limits conversation to two people
  • Plays on absurdity / opposites / dichotomies — deconstruction/queerness
  • References to animals, non-organic matter — otherness




Last section when did you get so?

  • ‘a metaphor walks into a bar
    • A bit more playful and self-referential, breaks fourth wall more so to speak
    • Feels more personal more ‘me’ and ‘I’ and individual concrete experiences I can identify with


‘the other side’

  • Utopia / envisioning progress or telos?





  • Inclusion of multiple viewpoints
  • Images and accounts of ‘nature’ – don’t attempt to speak for, but to highlight or translate or amplify other voices
  • Complicate notion of me as author / subject capable of providing coherent analysis of anything outside my own experience and even then im only one of the many ‘experiencers’ in what I just did – but my account is still valid in that I think that it happened to me so I might as well share it and explore it, especially with others and their accounts of their experiences as well. And it would be thoughtful/empathetic of me to imagine what it would be like to experience things as another person, organism, or being




In the beginning there was nothing

Then there was something, and that something stayed

And it took many forms – good and bad, beautiful and ugly and everything in between

And it’s all impossible to understand because it used to be one thing and now it’s fragmented and it’s impossible for one person to put all the pieces back together to understand it

It’s futile but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try – a lot depends on your reason for searching as well

Feelings and thoughts were created too, and happened to people and other beings too

Now what are we going to do, now what are we going to do?

The possibilities are endless but that doesn’t mean they’re not narrow. The potentiality is present but who knows if you can execute it, transform it into kinetic, into growth or just motion and change. So then there’s trying, attempting, and maybe it will work, creation.

Mountain-line, creation of a line of sight for one eye and another. A fresh set of eyes might see something different. Something different is magnificent! Routine is the boss of me and I will form a worker’s union against it. I will become more than myself. I will ask and I will receive. I will give and I will be given. I will remain transient in some regard for the entirety of this life cycle. I will circle the bugs as an interception.

If the creation were watched it would be quite different

There is a lot eyes can do, can expect, can shape without touching

But manifesting, committing, communicating with shimmer and pupillary wiggle



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