Friday, August 1, 2014

Jerry McGuire, Why (Not) Mediation?

When I play “Moon River,” I have before me the presence of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The sounds make me remember her and she makes me remember the sounds. . . . There are these extra-musical recollections: rainy New York streets, Audrey Hepburn’s impishness, the Hollywood romance. The song caresses these places and events and her. (David Sudnow, Talk’s Body 53)

When I was a little kid I was surrounded by music and homegrown self-taught musicians, and also by people who, in quite idiosyncratic ways, valued writing, or at least reading. I had a great reputation as a singer (not a reputation as a great singer) when I was six or seven, and had a pretty good repertoire of lyrics—especially, though not only, things by Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Webb Pierce (but he, unknown to me, was singing a song recorded in the twenties by Blind Blake—and it wasn't new with him, either), and Tennessee Ernie Ford. So it seemed natural that I’d try writing my own lyrics—though I wasn’t writing longhand yet.
My father worked in a paper mill, and there was a place where incoming loads of junk paper that would be pulped for boxboard were dumped by the truckload. Before it was taken to the “Beater Room” (I don’t know what that means, but it was a big part of my childhood), the men (they were all men there) would go through and grab things to take home—lots of comic books, mainly. But my father, though he brought home comic books for my older brothers, also brought home a variety of other stuff, including Bibles, medical journals (no doubt dating from the 19th century), novels, and even blank paper. A great prize, which he gave to me—I think I begged him for it—was what I now realize was an accounting ledger—tall yellow pages with inscrutable vertical lines. This became my first “journal”—the place where I began writing poems, which is to say, sort of a six-year-old’s version of hillbilly songs. I kept that thing with me for years before it disappeared; somehow I feel that I’d be a better writer now if I were still writing in it. It’s the first thing that ever struck me distinctively as a medium for writing, and my interest in all sorts of media has its origin, inasmuch as I can recover it, in those rough, tall, yellow, oddly-lined pages full of fragmentary childish songs. Each page provided extraordinary space—room for little pieces of writing to feel quite big in, but also room to grow.
And then one of my brothers brought home a reel-to-reel tape recorder and had me sing into it. He played it back. The rich, tuneful baritone I heard in my own head, I discovered, was the squeaky, tuneless, alien voice of a strange little boy. Yet if I was appalled, I was also fascinated, and my brother and I played with the thing for hours, making up dialogs, singing along with records, recording people when they weren’t paying attention. If it was a toy and a piece of alien technology, it was also, even to my eyes, magically transformative: everything temporary became permanent in that thing, in ways that mattered.
Just one more autobiographical detail. In my twenties, snowed in in a wicked Connecticut storm, I found myself fixated on my girlfriend’s large artist’s drawing-pad. But I’m incapable of drawing a straight line, or a circle. I can’t do a passable job of tracing my hand. So my fixation seemed to have nowhere to go, until I stumbled on her box of magic markers. I made several false starts with them, and found myself idly using different-colored markers to write and to edit my writing. Looking at this there on her easel, I felt that little flashbulb go off in me, and before I knew it, I was consciously trying to write a poem that could only take shape in that specific mediated context—large paper, several colors of magic markers, revisions a part of the process. Here’s the thing I wrote, which wound up on my refrigerator for several years. It’s a photoshop simulation—you’ll just have to imagine this, say, 24 X 36 inches with scattered coffee and butter stains (but if it were on immaculate white paper and 8½ X 11, you’d have to imagine that, as well):

So that’s the kind of thing that brought me to my interest in mediation—how the various stuff of our lives (a ten-year-old Romanian girl once told me that “stuff” was her favorite English word) affects how we produce and consume things, especially works of art. This month I’m going to use Truck to present a variety of visual and verbal (sometimes both) works that address questions of mediation. I’ll be writing introductory comments about the writing and visuals I'm uploading, not to establish any particular expertise, but to provoke interest and suggest ideas. By all means, please skip these if you're just interested in the poems and visuals themselves. But (in case anyone does read the introductions) I also encourage everyone, but especially the artists who wrote, painted, constructed, or otherwise produced these works, to respond to the works themselves, and to my comments, especially where they find those comments wrong-headed, bone-headed, pig-headed, misleading, or simply vacuous.

And we’re off . . . (JM)

Anny Ballardini, untitled

Anny Ballardini’s emails come packaged with an extremely Nietzschean quotation from Nietzsche: “I Tell You: One must still have chaos in one to give birth to a dancing star!” There’d seem to be a lot of slogging between that one and the equally wonderful quotation from C. S. Peirce that underpins this visual piece she’s sent. But to my eye, each “mode” CSP mentions is a mediation, and the way that displaces the “I” talks straight back to Nietzsche (as a brother-in-arms) to say, Man, you’re hilarious!

Anny Ballardini recently completed her PhD (2013) at the University of Verona with a thesis that explores the philosophical writings of Charles Sanders Peirce in relation to contemporary American Poetry. Her MFA (2008) at the University of New Orleans was earned with a specialization in poetry. She has published two collections of poetry: Ghost Dance in 33 Movements (Otoliths, 2009) and Opening and Closing Numbers (Moria, 2005). In addition, her writing appears in several online collections: Instruments of Change (Lavender Ink, 2007); Blogging as the sharing of knowledge: Poetry (Lavender Ink, 2006); Architecting Fate: Arakawa and Gins: Architecture and Philosophy (AG3: 2010).
As a literary editor, she is the founder and editor of the Poets’ Corner (2004-present). She has translated Henry Gould’s In RI (2010), and several contemporary poets from English into Italian, including the work of Dennis Barone, Landis Everson, Ruth Fainlight, James Finnegan, Fan Ogilvie, Ann Fisher-Wirth, and others.  She has also translated writings from Italian into English, including the work of Michele Pierri and Arturo Onofri, among others. As a contributing editor she appeared in Ekleksographia, with a special section on translation:
Ballardini presently works as a translator and interpreter having gained a degree as a simultaneous and consecutive translator and interpreter, and she teaches English in Bolzano, South Tyrol, where she resides.

Michael Basinski, A Visual and Eight Poems

We can’t forget (but we do, sometimes) that (whatever this means) one of the media we work in is language—whether we’re thinking of sound, of printed matter, of performance. It’s specially interesting to think about the massage of this medium—that is, touching and being touched by it—when the various resistances of language are brought to the front. Mike Basinski clearly likes to get his hands (and mind? and tongue?) dirty, as he variously squeezes, chokes, smacks around, pets, and tickles his materials, graphic, phonological, semantic, syntactic. Freud said that play is the work of the child, and it begins with some object that we can’t keep and can’t let go of—and thus the work turns into works. (JM)

     Trailer Endings

ol love
will not turn to you
on Wednesday

the headlights wont come off
handcuffed to cup
insert takes
singly cut cop

her one tuber
not prune hard

a robin hands up
off the robin blue egg cup
yanking at the grassy
worm dick Jesus

up those of
a slipper
in pur with crimson
strong scented Sleipnir
or pineapple and
I forget

forgot about Ishtar
soft hungover pig
now dance the
jackoff jig

shrub rib

    Rerun of Some Trailer Endings

dirty white
heart-shaped ship slip climb up her leg
too ripe the shade

wash rather
lather the
branching heads
dishes washed
the wash he washed
her delicate
monkey puzzles

I don’t understand
what you are saying
as if it wernt
everyday vigorous hoop
a poetry in Rihanna's dress

tubes tied

     Moo V Trailer Endings

deciduous fire hydrant
coldsore or
small tree beer
Iroquois in Buffalo bees is
bumble bum bum
Bumble Bee tuna
I love Bumble Bee
best kept a night negligee nightingale Niagara secret
jar china white pink in cream
shades of lilac lipstick whipped
it is important Severn
to take out old heads
as soon as I die
among the slivers
infected and oily
as a slumbering ghost
the pie is o poem
the birds sang opo
for the funeral of dawn announced
to the divine tavern keeper
Siduri. she said, “You will not live forever,
wove, a mountain of vines
who causes thieves
to burn to burn
the oral grapes
to burn ripe
trouble birds
at the burning dawn
of bakeries
wreck wrung
who wore a thin ceiling fans
in so many words
viaduct, Sanka, fig wasp,
in the sea seed
rolls open o poem to the accompaniment of music
return toast wilt
blossom blouse
to your toes
your burn”

     Trailer EndDings: What’s a SASE?

for the poet
each is the last day
you just sent some poems to
The Parish Review
and Jacket 2 too

I could have kicked myself in the ass

     Trailer Endings

as meteorologist of the poets
Autumn Lewandowski has noted:
“We have setting skies”

or up ever red
red small in up
to in across fruit
dark red perish
red heavy close
after all a small
early often
oven which

lowewer up to
low upper
fufts small
but clusters
toothed striped
mon naughty

deep yellow
ripening fete
but bulb
smooth blue
blue star
large blue
seed red
open in baked
are other red

has six stamens
all the king’s horses

constant coe nymph
in with a
influffy thumb

thicket of sockers
see see
white sails
cherry red
two lipped spider
and is in that both

a wall ir yo ti
yellow centre
fruit glubose yellow
hard Astarte ije
with beneath
bell singly
on short beautiful
wet by a bad

that she drowned
without a gown
sneeze weed
Asia araia all
ito in or obo
in wold
but much less in
cult in
pendulous rub

    Little Eye Yellow Lies

cutting appear less
in bed china
China in a

Alilac lie of flowers
foulers conjoined
howler monkeys
in the precinct of night pervfewm
my sin in your pins
heart and mine
pinned to wings cut          a cut
                          reproduced by
                          connected insects
jelly snap thee wings in cup
freight by a thin
rim of her train
white robe rob
robbed apressed whose his name where
charged of his skin
cut off his fingers
cut off from civilization
will remain as a memory
while spying his rosary
red red red red
red red roses ghost
red red red red
and then ghosts

Refrain Most of the Time I Can’t Understand What
You’re Saying But I like to Listen

touch a time         lettuce
summum mim
some nood moon wedding
under water
night disguessed pantails
luxury thing
Mimer’s well of
foam white
froth dance
frosting blue
sea thieving frosting on
thriving doughnuts
panic parade police car
blue type
trumpet blue in
a restricted blue

Michael Basinski is the Curator of the Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo. He performs his work as a solo poet and in ensemble with BuffFluxus. Among his recent books of poetry are Piglittuce (Propolis Press - 2013), Learning Poem About Learning About Being A Poet (Press Board Press - 2012) and Trailers (BlazeVox - 2011). His poems and other works have appeared in many magazines including DandelionBoxKiteAntennaeOpen LetterDeluxe Rubber Chicken, First Offense, Terrible Work, Kenning, Lungfull, Tinfish, Score, Unarmed, Rampike, House Organ, Ferrum Wheel, End Note, Ur Vox, Damn the Caesars, Pilot, 1913, Filling Station, fhole, Public Illumination, Eccolinguistics, Western Humanities Review, Big Bridge, Mimeo Mimeo, Nerve Lantern, Vanitas, Talisman, Yellow Field, Staging Ground, and Poetry. Recent visual opems (yes, opems) located in:

Truck's new driver/editor for August 2014

Many thanks to Edgar Gabriel Silex for seeing us through July.

Truck's new driver/editor for August will be Jerry McGuire. The keys are over the sun-visor, Jerry.

Truck's driver/editors past, present and future as of Aug. 1, 2014


Jerry McGuire


Sept. 2014 -- Karri Kokko
Oct. 2014 -- Márton Koppány
Nov. 2014 -- Burt Kimmelman
Dec. 2014 -- Chris Lott


Apr. 2011 -- Kate Schapira

May 2011 -- Wendy Battin
June 2011 -- Frank Parker
July 2011 --  Skip Fox
Aug. 2011 -- Ken Wolman
Sept. 2011 -- Michael Tod Edgerton
Oct. 2011 -- Kelly Cherry
Nov. 2011 -- Andrew Burke
Dec. 2011 -- Lewis LaCook

Jan. 2012 --  Larissa Shmailo

Feb. 2012 -- Gerald Schwartz
Mar. 2012 -- Jukka-Pekka Kervinen
Apr. 2012 -- Lynda Schor
May 2012 -- David Graham
June 2012 -- Lars Palm
July 2012 --  Elizabeth Switaj
Aug. 2012 --  rob mclennan
Sept. 2012 -- Georgios Tsangaris
Oct. 2012 -- Douglas Barbour
Nov. 2012 -- Dirk Vekemans 
Dec. 2012 -- Erik Rzepka

Jan. 2013 -- Alan Britt
Feb. 2013 -- Mark Weiss
Mar. 2013-- Mary Kasimor
Apr. 2013-- John M. Bennett
May 2013--Orchid Tierney
June 2013--Victoria Marinelli
July 2013 -- Volodymyr Bilyk
Aug. 2013 -- David Howard
Sept. 2013 -- Philip Meersman
Oct. 2013 -- Chris Lott
Nov. 2013 -- Alexander Cigale
Dec. 2013 -- Catherine Daly

Jan. 2014 -- Maria Damon
Feb. 2014 -- John Oughton
Mar. 2014 -- Colin Morton and MaryLee Bragg
Apr. 2014 -- Alan Sondheim
May 2014 -- Glenn Bach
June 2014 -- Bill Pearlman
July 2014 -- Edgar Gabriel Silex

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Jena Strong: Gestation


On my mind.
Name changes.
Circuitous history.
The weight of gold.
Single hawk soaring.
Road trip honeymoon.
Sweet-smelling babies.
Early morning bloodwork.
Mystery of the next moment.
Fragility and strength as one.
Euphoria induced by caffeine.
Gratitude for sleep embrace.
Not waiting for another day.
Saying hello to old friends.
Gestures of commitment.
Erring on the side of yes.
Embodied and ethereal.
Symbolic and physical.
Not turning my cheek.
Not wasting my time.
All the way here.
As it happens.
Loving life.

Jena Strong is the author of two collections of poetry and prose, Don’t Miss This and The Inside of Out. A 2013 Goodreads Newsletter contest winner and long-time blogger, her work has appeared widely both online and in print. She works as a career counselor and creativity consultant in Amherst, MA, where she lives with her fiancée and two daughters.

Tony Brown: Exam Questions For The Next World

Exam Questions For The Next World

Section One:

Explain intersectionality
as it relates to
systemic oppression.
Include in your essay
the following terms:

blood dugout.
pitted bone.
rape shop.
sharpened stone.

Section Two:

If you are assigned
the role scapegoat,
how will you survive
your turn in the wilderness?

Show your work.

Section Three:

What five words
ought to be erased or respelled
in order to lift their magic?
Defend your choices

without attacking others.

Section Four:

Define a process
for removing
the history
in your own eye.

Secton Five:

Will there be any room for any mercy
in the next world
that has not already been shown
in the present one?


Tony Brown is from Worcester MA. A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee. He front the poetry and music group Duende Project; a chapbook "The Embers" will be published by Tired Hearts Press in the fall.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Linda Saccoccio: Grit and Love

Grit and Love

Your black curly hair
was too dark
Your curls defiant
wiry springs that
recoiled in the fog
full, standing taller
than your confidence
small face
eyes like focused arrows
shaded under spirited locks
It was enough trouble
this shrub-like ebony halo
Not light, not straight
not preferred
Then year by year
white lines appeared
turning this crown silver
In the mirror
In photos blanched in sunglow
curls obscured
unstoppable loss of blackness
Is it okay for a woman
to sport a silver cloud?
Are you fading into oblivion?
Where is the comfort in being alive?
Can you be saved by pigments?
Do you join the club?
Bond with women who color?
Will it improve?
Will it heighten the quality?
Are you serious?
Do they think so?
This new color in your hair?
This flattening of curls
This culture delivers
whatever you want
In a salon named Harlot
in Venice Beach
You name it
Sure you’re at their mercy
Sure you haven’t a clue
What do you want?
You pay with time
You pay with surrender
You pay big bucks
For needle straight hair
Glowing red brown
A sister of Raggedy Ann
Yet you are no doll
Your hair grows
determined as bamboo
Defying the promises of restored youth
truly an uphill climb
When once the black reigned sovereign
Now the glistening silver obstinate
as any weed
Reminds you life is maintenance
Beauty is a burden
And women whose roots don’t show
are either more fortunate than you
Or they bow to a
different goddess

Linda Saccoccio is a visual artist and writer with a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in NYC. She lives and works in CA, exhibiting painting in art fairs. Her inaugural book of paintings and poems is "Transitions and Translations", it is available at:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Alysse Kathleen McCanna: Chicago


He took a vow of
silence, chastity;
then the fall of man
to ecstasy: wine.

My father, the atheist,
likes a good scotch
after work, and steak
medium-rare, and eggs

Too much theology
can drive a man from God,
from brothers, to the ends
of the earth. Or at least
to Chicago.

I was brought up to trust
my heart and not a book;
my gut and not a preacher;
my strength and luck and
not someone’s benediction;

but on Thanksgiving
and Christmas
my father, the atheist,
still blesses the wine.

Alysse Kathleen McCanna was born and raised in the Midwest. She graduated from Smith College in 2007 and now lives between the mountains and the plains in sunny Colorada