Jack Galmitz — Experiments in Languaged Obliquity
by Richard Gilbert
[W]ith one impulse of the heart we only just grazed it—and sighing left the first fruits of our spirit there and came back to the sound of our human tongue where words have beginnings and endings.
— Augustine, Confessions 9.10
I see there was something more in what he said yesterday, and why I rarely reflect on the archaeology of memory. That previous instant so suddenly distant in space and time. Moments fording words as fossils examine not fragments but abutting layers:
leave the butterflies be
mating above the field
do not post your name there
white gown, gloves, pillbox hat
and veil pivot in the air
Clarity is a topic recently presented by Don Baird at The Haiku Foundation forum (in Peter Yovu’s “Field Notes”1). It has caught fire. Jack can help here. The sense of seeing: does clarity relate to something held in view, for you? Close your eyes and touch, be touched “mating above the field / do not post your name there”; instead of a butterfly, to “veil and pivot in the air.” You have to live with the disruptions and fragmentations, Jack’s saying as he re-members her (Jackie, in pillbox).
Don writes: “The wind itself is confusion. A poet noticing the effect of wind on an ant, is clarity. The swinging of a sword is chaos; the tip of a sword is clarity.” Grandmaster Baird knows something about swords and how they express in time and space. Yet is that noticing itself a variety of wind, a chaotic movement, itself? Jack seems to infer that the winds of attention (as well as its span) are the very catalyst creating new alchemical meaning through consciousness-shift. The Galmitzean butterfly-chaos, in effect—distinctive enough stylistically that it might be so-named.
And there’s Yellow Light, a book of micro-poems (some might say haiku; blurring the lines). A useful work for inspiration, regarding mutability. Each one-line poem is centered on its page, perfectly encapsulated—though the poems bleed through each other, via idea, image, structure, image. Just below, five serial pages are presented (with apologies to the author):
under the moon we were married by the moon’s rules
on the staff the notes are birds
grandfather walked through the tides
crumpled paper music
the minah bird squawks “same to you, pal”
Some of the poem(s) has/have appeared as haiku in the Roadrunner Haiku Journal:
under the pillow lute strings slit by the minstrel
descendent of a star that co-existing
Jack utilizes strong forms of disjunction (cognitive derangement, dis-completion), incidentally challenging the haiku form, or simply presenting innovative ideas in brief poetry. Yellow Light also includes two short (single, long) paragraph prose pieces, and visual-poem selections. The genre-bending fluidity of formal structures is also tightly organized, hinting at narrative threads. But thoughts reach out merely to brush virtual worlds, whether alarmingly or disarmingly. Left to themselves: each is a page yet to be named. In the volume’s introduction Brendan Slater comments, “Looking at the world in a way that the mentally healthy may often find difficult”; those involved in “H21” haiku (the new “21st century” styles) should have little problem with the disjunctive modes Jack plies. Topics concern moments of noticing: moments of precisely-honed attention. Some lines so brief (temporally, formally) they seem to flit through the peripheral corners of sight.
The Micron stanzas such as “leave the butterflies be” play with fragmentation, as does/do the major/micro-poem(s) of Yellow Light—Anyone home does something more:
died. will final man. mythical
During and as Soshyant, the used restored
and raises as restored to
predecessors judgment judgement soul priest, metal
“Soshyant,” a variant of Saoshyant, the messianic Zoroastrian figure who is to bring about the final renewal of the world. Anyone home, dedicated to Tristan Tzara, is an alpha-through-omega poem which sings of the original woman and man, offering an idiosyncratic creation myth of cosmos, flowing through cycles of death, birth, science/tech., resurrection. A swinging—yet with its focus not on a particular, alone, but particular intersections—to remind us of the wildness of attention: the “and…as…to” of “and raises as restored to”; the redundant misspelling (depending on which side of the Pond you’re on) of “judgment judgement.”
Jack’s creation myth is darkly ironic as the narrative becomes increasingly, linguistically destructive:
earth crowded Water-beetle the and
became so they the earth. suspended corners
water that up sent below.
the Eventually knowing the hang legend the
. . .
universe he and to stable,
when awoke egg and again; the died.
long one make earth his
universe Gu, that were above he fearing
within he The resolved them
Attention does not, will not rest in words, in phrases or in solidities, but in the obliquities of language, concerning creation. In Anyone home is the suspense of preparation, the feeling of a journey to a transformed consciousness, as Arthur C. Clarke describes in Childhood’s End. This poem could be a prequel or instruction manual to that novel. Yet with less naiveté:
modern-day Human the enormous up
The modern-day enslaving more is a of
the Department humans second-largest the
trade 30 is second-largest industry of Slavery
The the enormous the electronics
enslaving 30 million dealing, trafficking the billion-dollar-a-year
. . .
With “poets” begins a new stanza, putting that group into an uneasy relation with the previously mentioned enslaving Department (possibly running certain Departments of literature). Jack is here pushing my attention with tinctures of venom and I wonder, will I heal. Or perhaps healing is not the point, but rather a sharpened sense of the alchemy of contemporary reality:
plaintext) encryption however, access encryption
encryption an encryption scheme, or encrypted For
encryption unreadable ciphertext be able
or is a algorithm, For a keys.
or to Any a that
information) cannot but that scheme, to key-generation
Writing granular, in samples, digital slices, ciphers. As with working a good password, the randomized capital; non-standard repetition in key-generation. Anyone home ranges over quite a number of social topics of global scale, landing bee-like on petals to drink for a single stanza or several before moving on, sometimes to a new topic (electro-acoustic music to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch), or conversely, to the noticing of consciousness-in-language itself:
after wide painting length across the statements
flexible handle. distributing the existing
frequently handle. a is the suddenly off
a of on paintings creating
to the the surface. across suddenly contra-
Barely given time to breathe, Anyone home is a mixing of language experiment, consciousness study, social critique and a report on the state of humanity at this particular juncture. After I wrote this essay and sent it to Jack, he replied:
Anyone home (which by the way references the lack of an author in post-modernism) is a book I could never even attempt to analyze . . . Not easy to unify such diversity, particularly the intentional lack of grammar in Anyone home (based on Silliman's and Dworkin's, et al, idea that once you void the signified you have words as things (which they believe are there nature: that S/S in grammatical work destroys the word and the world appears as if there already (naturally) and for appropriation and exchange value). It is an interesting addition to Marxist critiques of writing).
Perhaps its overriding theme is that of flagrant ignorance and waste, but more, an articulation of its predominant cause. Servitude:
go. go go do. you time cards
in as you what you
serve we time cards were on top.
the go. go do. to
their go do.
Jack does not however begin or end with complaint; an insistent Hephaestian rumble is maintained, deep down. From the furnace
are emotions, definitively that dream.
emotions, in certain dreams and The dream.
during recorded dreams . . .
The poet, brewing potions. “It would not be well that all men should read the pages that are to follow; a few only may savor their bitter fruit without danger” (Lautréamont3). Words of poison that honestly kill. We do not ascend. “‘A hole is being gnawed in [my] vitals’ says Sappho. ‘You have snatched the lungs out of my chest' and ‘pierced me right through the bones’ says Archilochos.”4 Drawing on sources ancient and modern, from within the helix of global and individual misfortunes, Jack weaves all the arts, fire to fire. From Cage to Tzara, his poetry utilizes delusion and mis-chance to awaken.
1. Cf., “Reply #7” [thehaikufoundation.org/forum_sm/index.php?topic=5236].
2. Grandmaster Don Baird [http://www.kungfukarate.com/?page_id=8].
3. Maldoror (Les Chants de Maldoror), comte de Lautréamont (New Directions, 1965, 1).
4. Eros the Bittersweet, “Logic at the Edge,” Anne Carson (PUP, 1986, 32).
Jack Galmitz, books mentioned:
Anyone home (impress, 2013)
Micron (northing press, 2013)
Yellow Light (Yet To Be Named Free Press, 2013)
(There are various Galmitz titles available at Scribd, Lulu and Calameo, most are free to read.)