(4/20/92 or 5/31/92)
   Is there a dearth of
   good poetry now?

     I don't really know.            (Delany makes the
     Probably I can't know...         point in one of the
                                      essays in "The Jewel-
                                      Hinged Jaw" that the
                                      day has long since
                                      passed when any one
                                      person could claim
                                      to be knowledgeable
                                      about published poetry.
                                      There's too much of it.)

  I've surrounded myself here
  with a few stacks of poetry
  I've been flipping through off
  and on, trying to see if
  there's anything of obvious
  goodness to point to.

     One thing that's impressed me lately is
     that there are interesting things
     happening out in the world of the San
     Francisco S&M lesbians.


     This culture has produced some things like the
     book I have in front of me _Dogs in Lingerie_
     by Danielle Willis.  The cover features the
     author posing in various shiny black vinyl
     outfits, so in many ways this work is packaged
     and sold like rock and roll: the image of the
     artist is an important part of the effect.

     From "Pigbaby":

         They say I'm strange and I wish I were
         but every time I've gone to the cemetery and
         laid my head on the earth
         listening for muffled breathing and
         the stirring of limbs
         I've heard nothing                                MONSTERS
         but beetles

     Another book, slimmer but similarly packaged from
     the Zeitgeist Press, "Where's My Wife" by Jennifer
     Blowdryer.  This is from "Why White People Are

              This thrills me.  It's been obvious for some time now
         that white people are on the decline, just like the
         British Empire once was.  To go from being on the
         decline, the dullest, least relevant, whiniest, out-of-
         touchiest; to being quaint, is more than I hoped to
         occur in my own humble generation.
             Once you're quaint, which my husband, baby and I
         will be, you can be sought after for meaning. Like
         people go to New Mexico and buy goods from
         overweight American Indians who have to coolly play up
         to their customers, a constantly flip flopping seller/buyer

     Some things from the _High Risk_ anthology.

     Pat Califia's "Heroin":

         you wrap the narrow belt
         you used to cinch up your own forearm
         around my neck and
         pull it tight as you
         fuck me from behind
         my face turns into a ceramic mask
         I cannot breathe but
         oh God I come I go
         swimming fast underwater
         like a crocodile after carrion or a mate

         and I understand what you say about
         how it makes you mean when you do a lot of it
         it is the gift that heroin brings
         to make you capable of doing
         whatever you must
         to get more of it

     And the opening line of "Butch" by Jane Delyn:

          She was so ugly I found her attractive, though of course
          I didn't want anybody to see me with her.

    "Black Russian" a song by a local band named X-Tal:

          You and me, we belong together
          Like Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky
          We can talk about our endless pain
          And the failure of our ideology
          Spill your guts all over a canvas
          And from my exile I'll fire off another tract
          We walk a thin line between faith and fate
          But right now I'd rather not talk about _that_, so...

          Pour me another Black Russian
          And put off the serious part of the discussion
          It's my downfall, it's my poison
          It's my platform, it's my position

     So: is any of this "great"?  Maybe yes, maybe no.
     These people don't really have any deep underlying
     grasp of how the world works, so they're no where near
     the level of, say, Blake's "Marriage of Heaven and
     Hell" (and maybe not even that of Ginsberg's "Howl").

     At their worst they're just paintings on a black velvet
     underground.  But at their best they have an
     uncompromising will to honesty (which they sometimes
     confuse with pessimism).  They're trying hard to speak
     the truth about their own experience (even though it
     sometimes seems to degenerate into a contest to see who
     can be the most degenerate...)  and I think it works by
     the standards of today, if not of eternity.

     And does it really need to work for an eternity?
     An obssession with "immortal" art may be besides
     the point...

     Science Fiction, for example, may be more like
     technical literature or perhaps newspaper writing, than
     a typical entry into a Norton's Anthology of whatever.

     While it lives, it performs a certain function, and
     once it's filed away as history, perhaps it can perform
     a different function, but that isn't and shouldn't be
     the point of doing it in the first place.