27 Dec: (Ammons) (from Tape for the Turn of the Year)


today is
      cloudy
      in several ways:
      details of pain,
causes of shivering:  but
this must be done:

    it's fairly warm,
tho--speaking now
entirely of the weather:
     may rain:
     could turn cold
enough to snow again
(none of my business)

I saw the jay
before breakfast:
     he looked a little
     grimy, gray,
like old blue snow:
     has had rough

times lately:
rough times is ordinary,
     will not make
     the news:

the sun, screened dim by
clouds, enters the room,
strikes my typewriter,
     throws shadow on
     the wall,
     just touches
the flower-tip of a 
crown-of-thorns branch:

ecology is my word: tag
   me with that:  come
   in there:
   you will find yourself
in a firmless country:
   centers & peripheries
   in motion,
   organic,
     interrelations! 

that's the door:  here's 
the key:  come in,
     celebrant,
     to one meaning
that totals my meanings:

     the circular lichen
     spotting the tree
trunk
is 
like a moral order:  there
is a center
where with threads the
lichen knits in, the
     "holding-on" point
   that gathers stability
   from bark:  and there
   is
the outward multiplication 
of forms (cells & patterns)
to an unprescribed
periphery
that marks the
moment-to-moment edge
     of growth:

the cougar, big in
     size & appetite,
ranges widely:
     he won't turn
     a square mile
     into desert:
travels out into the
country of his sustenance,
incorporating herds of
deer
within his trails
and how thin
the tissue of his going
is!  one month in
     the northwest of his
    range,
    a month in valleys,
       a month at
higher altitudes:
he's adapted to travel:
     it's not in his
     interest
     to exhaust
the deer population, as
it's not our interest
to exhaust the host earth:
     the predator
husbands his prey:

     at the center,
the predatory gathering
of energy done,
the female drops her litter,

new seeds of possibility:
     new animal-plants
     to take root,
     spread out the wide
thin tissue
of life:

tapestries!  figures
   overlapping:

   at the dwindling of green
a percentage of
aphids begins to be
born with wings:  time

to fly away &
make trials of new centers:

ecology out of balance
turns tilt into
      direction:

when the milkweed
seed
rises into the wind
on down,
the soft beauty 
means conquest:

let's establish ourselves,
send out our tokens:
     as I am I
     I will change you,
drop seeds of myself 
in your ground:
watch out for me:
I mean to prevail:

you think of yourself:
   I may welcome some
   thought of yours:  I
   may give it ground:
       or I may not yield
       to it:  I may find
it lacking,
   not able to survive
   my country,
   & cast it out
   as
   already withered
in potentiality:

the plains Indians centered
their lives
on the chase:  rooted in
   a moving herd
   of buffalo!
   a center
stabilized
in instability:

   or the reverse:  the
barnacle
on a rock, stationary,
   depends on the sea
to bring it food:

where is the center 
   that holds?
   it was the Earth, became the sun, then
the center of our
galaxy (Sagittarius?) 
  then farther & 
  farther out:
  no
imaginable center:  except
the one
that lichen makes:

my other word is
  provisional:
  we'll talk about that
  someday,
  tho you may guess
the meanings from ecology:

don't establish the 
  boundaries
  first,
  the squares, triangles,
  boxes
  of preconceived
  possibility,
  and then 
  pour
  life into them, trimming
off left-over edges,
ending potential:
  let centers
  proliferate
  from
self-justifying motions!

the box can't bend
without breaking:
  but the center-arising
  form
  adapts, tests the
  peripheries, draws in,
finds a new factor,
utilizes a new method,
  gains a new foothold,
responds to inner & outer
change: 

                            A.R. Ammons

From A Tape for the Turn of the Year

11 Dec: (Ammons)

Reading this poem for pleasure: (12 minutes 38 seconds)


they changed the forecast
today from
partly sunny to
mostly cloudy: not by
    prophecy:
    stuck their
heads out the window &
tho the instruments
didn't agree reduced
the gap between
prophecy & existent fact:
the direct 
yields abundance, while
calculation
drags upon the event:
I beg that my eyes that are
open
be opened, that the
     drives, motions,
intellections, symbologies
myths--lift,
       expose me
to direct
sight: seeing, I
color, alter, hide, accent:
but what is there, naked
   & nonhuman?
or here, deep &
terrifyingly human?
are we confined in an atom
with fiery nucleus? is
there too much room,
the ego under threat of
   dispersion?

you--who are you? how do
I feel about you?
do I hate it that I love
to be tied to you by love?
  untied, wd I be free
  or lost?

but for
your own sake: who
               are you?
can I help? is there any
thing I can do:
are things
working out
all right for you? what
are those black areas?
are they parts
       of you that can't
       fall into place,
come into light?
are they longings &
fears only dreams whisper?

  I love you the best
    I know how:
    encounter me with
belief:

are you getting yours?
   getting & giving
yours, mine, & ours,
are we resolving most of
the areas, are we touching
   on elation
   enough?
do I love you mostly, or
the thought of us
        together?

are you hoping that
giving will make up for
not getting? that wd
be the course of saints:
   get, too: get it
   from me: I have it
   and having
   it for you, I get mine:

who are you, deeper?
have I sounded you? was
that
bottom I struck? but oh
up in the heart & around
your breasts
   and to speak of the deep
   in your eyes, have
   I come into your
          measure? are
you getting yours? have
you been had?
You've had me: I float:
  every cell
  comes to this:
          you are
beautiful: you are
just beautiful:
beautiful: thank you:

11:16 a.m: a blur of light
     just came into
the room,
lived a few seconds, then
died away:
my crown-of-thorns,
waiting, got the benefit,
struck across the middle:
     the instruments were
     right in a way:
emphasis distinguishes
partly sunny from mostly
cloudy: if it don't
    snow it's gonna miss
    a good chancet: I'll
say that:
lagging behind the event:
running to catch up: to
    be at the
    crest's break, the
    running crest,
event becoming word:

anti-art & non-classical:
in art, we do not run
to keep up with random
moments, we select
& create
the moment
occurring forever:
     timelessness held
     at the peak of time:
(just went to take a leak:
jay on the back lawn,
hopping, looking around,
   turning leaves)

but this may turn back on
itself, motion by motion,
a continum, held in
  timelessness
  racing with time,,,,like
a napkin
burnt in the ashtray, red
beads, flameless, racing
around, splitting, dying,
turning fiber into ash:
  held activity:

let's have faith to go
   ahead & see if anything
will happen:
maybe the tape will run out:

(looks a long way off:
   Muse! Muse! fiery
   woman, what
   you got to tell me?
   tell me:
   I feel weak so
much tape remains:
my back's getting sore:
I don't sleep good
with this going on--slept
   pretty good last night:
   woke up once
   into a country of dreams:
wanted to remember them:
but mostly cloudy was
   too bright, even,
   for them: it was
a country, I think: great
many people: & no news
of my book at the pstffce
again this morn:  so I 
      don't feel
      strong about
      things: I
      need plenty of help:
      the crusty world
      takes no notice:
      Muse, what must we
      do to hit the top:
      it'd better
be good: give a little,
will you, please?) (I'm
                   bushed:)
but you can do worse
than be a singer of verses:

(I'm the biggest
fool that ever was--
   assertion's not the 
   way to the top, you're
   a little round fool--
to follow you off into
these woods:  who are you
anyhow?  some kind of a 
prickteaser?)

    & so & so & so & 
    so & so
    &
    so & so & so & so so

(some kinuva sans merci?)

lunch: hot dogs and baked
  beans again: swell:
  2/23: 11 cents a can: cheap:
  hotdogs run you around--
    oh let's see:
  this morning's coffee &
  a chocolate fudge cookie:
  maybe 30 cents altogether:
  & all
  that energy
turned into verse
will bring
you 
about
four condemnations:

  transformations!
   metamorphoses!
    mitachondria!
     hell's bells!

how my back hurts: even
by concentrating, I can't 
feel any presence
to my balls: missing:

wd it be masturbatory if
I if I
  touched the area
briefly
just to make sure?

two cool tight weights!
    thank you:
thank you very much:

if I had a flute: wdn't 
if be fine
to see this long thin
poem
rise out of the waste-
                 basket:
the charmed erection,
stiffening, uncoiling?

anyways, that wastebasket
is coiled full: wonder if
I should stomp
         in it?

in & out: weaving in & 
         out: a
tapestry, looking for all
the world
as if it were alive:

(break we that watch up)
just took a ride out
to the refuge: 100,000
birds: mallards, grebes, 
teals, herons, Canada
               geese &
two excellent flyers
  from which there is
     no refuge:
one, the short-necked,
long-tailed red hawk: he
browses the marshes &
for the little bird,
little bird
he is carefully looking:
& way overhead, turning, 
the quiet, black
vulture:
two avenues flesh
can take: the tight red
& the loose dark meat:
   red ambulance
     & black hearse,
brazen reminders: and the 
birds fly among, regarding
& regardless:

the trash collectors came 
while I was gone & 
          took the
week's waste away: we
   are purged: even
a house has the incoming & 
outgoing energies
& losses by which it
  is maintained:
the garbage truck
says on the back
  "We aim to serve,
      not disturb":
sophisticated
assonance

       & & & & & & &  

intellections are
   scaffolds, trellises
we wish some vine of
     feeling would take to
& possess
completely:
      spider build
      a circle
hung in
the squares of: bird
light on & sing from
the top of:
     we build them even
for the windsong's
tenuous life:
chance
  a vine will ramble up it
busting into leaves & roses,
giving the robin a place
& making all the air
  around
  fragrant: we build these
structures because we
have hope, at least:
              we're
  flat & lifeless, 
  but these erections,
they have hollow spaces,
room: we mean
  to change--that is,
a spouting is going 
to go on: good, bad, & 
indifferent are gonna 
clutter up all around,
   rise through the 
   lattices
   of held space
   and sing all
together, rose,
   thorn,
   smear of birdshit:
   gonna rise
right up out of the
               ground
where the dreams wait
and be red & gold
and laughing to beat the
                   band:

intellections are
bowls we hope to fill:
motions on the
prowl:
don't
cut them
down or bust them up so
    the water spills
    & the vine hunts
aimlessly over the ground:

do
not be impatient with us:
we're coming along &
      meantime
entertain yourselves with
the dry beauty of our 
  joists & timbers, slats
& designs:
if nothing ever breaks
into leaf
still we 
meant to encourage
    the vine: we like
    the call of the 
robin & his early visit &
the color of his hen's 
eggs & 
the way he stands on the
      lawn, erect--
   dressed for a wedding:

intellections have a use,
don't think they don't:
if the vine couldn't 
find a natural tree, what 
  would become of it? if
structure without life is
meaningless, so is
   life without structure:
we're going to make a 
dense, tangled trellis so
   lovely & complicated that
every kind of variety will
find a place in it or on
it: you just be
        surprised: &
        forgive us:
        who mean song
  direct & fierce:

(this day
  ended
   in spite of all
    mostly sunny)

a dark night of stars
ensuing:

help me:
I have this & 
     no other comfort:
     the song,
the slight, inner
unmistakable song you 
give me
and nothing else! what
      are you,
some kind of strumpet?
will you pull out on me?
look: I have faith: I 
have faith: come or go:
I'll always love you:
I have nothing else:
I have nothing else besides you:
will you tear me 
    to pieces?  I'll go
on without you, until
you come again:
               then
  in the flare of song
we'll make a common flame:

if it ain't one fantasy 
it's anothern:  where
  are you, reality?
  come out of there:
you drift around in the
background, drooping
like a suckegg dog:
probably I'd like you
   all right
if I could get up close 
enough to know you:
are you pieces of things
not quite fastened?
what's your face like?
     frowns &
     bitters?
     witchy?
     scrawny?
     warty?
     withery?
maybe I've given you a 
horrible mask
and behind that you're 
  beautiful: or
is this another dream,
reality's dream?
  then, is reality to be
free of fantasies, those
I hang between us,
  those I cast on you?

fact is, I'm having
this conversation with a
piece of paper!
  and "you" are a figment
of imagination and "you"
have no mask
& if you did
no face
wd be behind it:
all this is just coming
out of my head:
the factory of fantasies:
some beautiful, some
terrifying,
some this, some that--but
all, paper & thin air!
  a hundred dragons
and furies, satyrs & 
centaurs--and one
Muse!
     get food:
     get water:
     get sex:
bank account, nice car,
good address, retirement
plan, investment portfolio,
country-club membership,
monogrammed shirts, summer
home, cabin cruiser, big
living room (furnished
modern)
     Money
     Power
     Food
     Water
     Sex--and who needs
paper conversations,
words revved up in a 
fine motion and a headful
of dragons?

reality, I've got a feeling
you can be awful nice! but
if the only reality
I can get is a spare,
   hard-bought one, why
turn on the fantasies and
let there be gorgeousness,
color & motion,
red & gold fabrics
and fine illusioning silks!

the man with bills to pay
dreams with a Muse!

reality is
knowing what you want
and how
to get it:

                    (A.R. Ammons)

This is an excerpt from the book Tape for the Turn of the Year

Context: He was typing on a roll of adding machine paper. It is a book length poem. He typed nearly daily until he ran out of tape. It was 1963.

19 Dec (Ammons) (from Tape for the Turn of the Year) (1963)



this ole world could be
       one
    if it wusn't
for hate
    bustin it apart,
    keeps
    crackin it
into little pieces:

love, I mean, could
    rise up there love
and make all the 
children dance
    shaking breasts & hips,
pelvis
shooting in & out
and all kine of sanging
going on:

summer coming back just
like it hadn't been
    nowhere:

and the bees
    bumbling
in the hollyhocks:

calves kicking up their
heels &
the spring roosters 
crashing into crows:

in Praxagora"s perfect
world, tho,
the maiden could be had
only after the hag
    was served:

and what would we do with 
our hate?
turning hate outward, we
keep dense & pure
our inward love:

can we incorporate our
enemies?
can we maintain a high
degree of difference
    within unity's cluster?

give room, latitude, widen
the band
    of acceptance:  we live
in strictures of hate
& suspicion, intolerance
    & doubt:

absorb the margins:
enlarge the range:
give life room:


                   (A.R. Ammons)

18 Dec (Ammons) (from Tape for the Turn of the Year)



today
broke as if under water:
horizons & dome diffused
with completely increased cloudiness:

a set of four thumb-size
birds
flicker in the sumac
grove:
the sun's a sliver bead
behind the clouds:
flurries expected:

Christmas trees come
stout, stubby, tall, lean,
bunchy, lopsided, scrawny--
besides the kinds--cedar,
   pine, fir:
my wife & I diverge
   at scrawny-bunchy: she
likes bunchy ones (even a
   little stubby): I like
   scrawny, open trees:
like to get inside the 
tree
and hang it full of 
     ornaments:
     I
     don't
     like
those bunchy ones that
thurst you out, accept only
peripheral trim:

chacun a chacun, tho: that
is, the devil with it:
    husband & wife hold
    each other off
    by digging
chasms of difference:
then they have a hell of a
time bridging them: it's
important that a male be
different from a female--
the greater the difference
the higher the charge--
     but if the
difference gets too wide,
the two halves
drift off into alienations:

ever noticed how
dark it is
inside those bunchy trees?
they hover-in the
dark, withholding, secret, 
mysterious:
what? have a system of 
              darkness
standing in the living 
room, recalcitrant,
impenetrable? the devil
take it!

        --or--

I cd think of it as
protected darkness,
   boundaried by
ornament & light:

maybe that's a deeper 
response

than my fully exhausted
     open tree:

everybody to his own taste,
said the old man as
  he kissed the cow: (and
every little bit helps,
said the old lady as
  she peed in the ocean)

10:29 a.m:  the bead's done:

12:48 pm:  everything white:

3:20 pm:  still snowing: I
     went to the
cleaner's, egg-lady's 
& mailbox & just got in:
trucks are whirling red
gravel over the roads:
the snow is holding,
packing down: tires aren't 
breaking through:

the children, let out of 
school, run testing
mounds that look all
snow but are only surfaced,
  scraping up handfuls--
     not yet enough
     snow for
     huge
     crunchy handfuls--

muffled, the highway's 
stopped burning:

9:41 pm: we've just come 
   in from being out:
it's a wicked white
    icy night:
cars slipping, wheels
     spinning: bushes
sparkle in the headlights:

imagine being out
for a night
restless & wakeful with
cold, some child
coughing--or crying 
with fever:

      who are we
      on this globe?
      how & at what cost
      have we survived? 

deer & birds:
are they cold?

      maybe one way of
      coming home is
      into silence,

restfulness from words,
freedom from the mill
that grinds 
reality into sound:

why do I need to throw
this structure 
against the flow
  which I cannot stop?
is there something 
unyielding in me that
   can't accept
   the passing away of days
and birds
flowers & leaves?
it's always never return
for them:
that way, day by day, for 
me & you:

acquiescence, acceptance:
the silent passage into
the stream, going along,
not holding back:

I try to transfigure these
days
so you'll want to keep
them:
come back to them: from
where?
  from the running honey
  of reality & life?
come back:

I hold these days aloft,
empty boxes
you can exist in: but
when you live in them
you hurry out of your own
life:
    if my meaning is
    to befriend you,
    must I turn you
              away?

I stop to fasten, and
currents
swirl around, over
me, wearing my 
structures away, teaching
me not to grasp, not to
try to keep:

why does a man sit alone 
and question
the answerless air where
no blood stirs
and no lips move?

this love, fashioned
   into acts,
   might bring a lonely
   person
   purpose enough:
      what's the nature
of this carrying-on?

generations to come: are
they more precious,
   estimable, than these
   that are?
   can a lip quiever with
   more need
   then than now?

I have a notion to be
wordless, but
   active with immediate
   deed, open
   with the glance of my 
   need, direct,
      humble in my going,
glad
as the thoughtless are:

are we creators in fact
or collectors of relics:
   do we make grow
   or cast into stone?

  

                    (A.R. Ammons)
                    (1963)