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tearing the rag off the bush again
The Lefka Tree & New Aural Fashions by Mark Sargent PDF E-mail
Mark Sargent, our Odysseus, wanders the world for the Corpse, to bring news of nouveau labor. We also present his technology for "aural fashions," patent pending. Now and then Derrida haunts him, so he calls Lacan to exorcise him. And when he's done, guests who won't leave show up. Mark just sent us birthday greetings and a poem we aren't supposed to show to his wife. (Hint: it'right after "The Promise not to Trackle.") That was in 2005. At the end of the year 2011, this didn't seem to matter as much as olives, mortality, and the groans of our fading generation. In 2004 (Sargent disdains chronology) the poet was in love with Blaise Cendrars, the toughnik. Blaise Cendrars, the midcentury French poet, was an adventurer, a poetic journalist (see "The Trans-Siberian Express," translated by Ron Padgett), a novelist, an opinion editorialist, a radio personality, a playful genre busters (he busted many genres, gangster-style), and a lover of many amused women. Sargent's Cendrars infatuation must have corresponded to the adventurous confession of 2005. In 2004, Cendrars wasn't the only poet Sargent was in touch with: he modelled for Kenneth Patchen (see Recent), and he took a ride in a horse-and-buggy affair with Dr. Williams.






I.  “We’re all waiting for quitting time”


The guy with a fistful of grease stroking that tractor,

those Pakistanis lugging sacks of olives outta the orchards,

even, calm, revealing nothing

they stare as you pass,

bees, sparrows, those eagles screaming through the blue

are all waiting

and Bobby Bales, how he got from that cute photo in the high

school year book to the angel of death in Kandahar is one

miserable Odyssey that couldn’t wait for quitting time,

just picked up his tools and headed south.


Mud igloos with a hook on top so you can pick them up

with a crane and move them around,

this was the idea pitched to me today.

The guy had never asked himself why one would want

to move around a mud igloo, but the kicker was

you needed 25 guys busting ass for three days to make one.

Sheeeeit, I was reaching for my check book, damn,

opportunity like that doesn’t come ‘round very often.

Oh, and they’re really waterproof.


What else?

Well, I’ve got this huge dead branch dangling

over my caravan.  I look up, way,

Oh fuck, that’s a sword of Damocles, what’s the plan?

I don’t have one, but I thought of taking a shotgun

and shooting that bit that’s holding it up.

But won’t it crash down right on yr caravan,

I mean, your permanent place of abode at this moment?

Yeah, it might, but maybe it won’t?

Okay, but I’d get the wife and children out of it first.


We watch his wife and two children drive away.

What’s with the car?

It’s the gearbox.  First and second are just about gone

and there isn’t any reverse.  My mechanic says

it can completely breakdown at any moment.



We’re dreaming big here in the old country

and improvising with what the wind blows our way.

All this stuff is going to come together

as soon as I get plan, I need a plan.

But then it was quitting time

and we got high and drank beer

and the night birds

began to sing.


2.  Wind off the sea


An ant has perished

amid the rustle of life

beneath the tree.

The Damocles branch

still dangles.

All manner of infant mammal

plod about or whimper and cry

within the curtain of muffled clatter

of leaves adjusting to wind

and still

there is no plan.

It is not future uncertainty that paralyzes

but the unrelenting sameness of the past,

for all the hubbub and motion

there are no departures or arrivals,

only the minor mathematics

of labor and commerce:

a kilo of this, five Euros of that,

fifteen hundred kilometers South

of Bucharest the tribe is bumping

against its shabby limits

and still

the chickens come home to roost

with all the exquisite design,


and lack of meaning

implied by an egg.


3.  The Kung Fu master has no ride


The branch of Damocles is done.


We waited and a man came,

an actor/acrobat who saw the problem,

he backed up to give himself room

and just ran, barefoot, at the tree and up it

to that first branch 4 meters off the ground

and up he went and detached the branch.


Damn, I missed it.


And, I’ve got a plan.


Yeah, I’m the man with the plan.

As opposed to those running the country?

Yeah.  I’m doing farm animals. 

I got three little pigs, two sheep

and I’m getting two cows.

You ever worked with animals?

No, I don’t know anything about them. 

I’ll just learn as I go.

You certainly will. 

There were three sheep but

we lost one of the them,

it got tangled in its rope and strangled itself.

So we cut it in half.

Josef held its rear legs apart

and I just went down the middle

with a chain saw.

‘Sef was covered in blood.


Once again, I missed it.


Yeah, but you can eat it,

we’re roasting it tomorrow.

And after lunch there’s a Kung Fu seminar.

Of course.


Next day we arrive midst a huddle of men

trying to diagnose a motorcycle’s illness,

something about the oil, the kickstart but

then a growl, a grumble and Takis roars up the road.


A ewe, not so pungent,

the best lamb of the year,

and there in the great shade

a dozen of us tuck in with vigor

till we are heavy with meat.


So what about the Kung Fu?

He called, he can’t make it,

the Kung Fu master has no ride.

I said, Okay, but the pot’s on boil.

Ah grasshopper, may all our cryptic utterances

squeegee away the condensation of illusion

and may the donkey of good fortune

always be tied in your orchard.


Nevermind the martial arts, we walk through the fig orchard

to the beach, the sun flashes off the churning waves washing

great stretches of empty sand and

over the hill come two fire planes roaring,

huge lumbering yellow swallows swooping over the sea to drink.

Somewhere near is burning, the planes return every ten minutes

arcing over the blue, pounding along the waves then laboring up

barely clearing the eucalyptus trees along the shore and the boys

are manic in the surf and radiant in the September light.


Life’s too short for idylls, we snatch these foaming moments

on the curl, even the children are too old for innocence.

We float in the luxury of the sea

yet always the waves push us towards the beach,

the lies we find ourselves leading,

beknotted with so many

everyone pulling in another direction

yet the rotation of things churns on:

every year the turtle people show up,

the animals breed, the tree grows,

the plans,

our gestures fall short of the fatal.


March-September 2012


“at frequencies only clothes can hear”™

 Which ain’t just for dancing, no,

yr pants be groovin’ just sitting down, y'all,

and that muthafucking shirt is pulling in Radio Mozambique

like a dog recycling the sonic geography into T-bone technology

something you can sink canines into, that tears when you twist,

I mean get yr neck into yr eating, flail & growl & do yr worst

cause yr socks are tuning in to the goddamn Crab Nebula,

the recurrence of the carrier wave can be ridden wearing these duds,

I shit you not, megahertz o mutable sensation straight from the

helium rich torus, gamma rays o joy flooding through yr knicks, oooouu

check it out, yr threads got greater fidelity than you and all you gotta do

is a little amplitude modulation and the animal in you will neutron

across the electromagnetic spectrum like teenage orgasm, yr partner’s,

a supernovaing white dwarf whose pitch you’ll never hear unless you

leave your hat on, that stocking cap is a resonating instrument, a way

to occult the nebula that only the groove gets through and there you’ll be,

free from atmospherics, pulsar winds at yr back, a cosmic radio

receiving and transmitting, big bang conduit and aurora bop



Iterability      for & after dan    


“I speak only one language and it is not my own.”          Derrida


a rain so fine it weaves thin blurs in the air a whisper really

suggestion of no matter no way to describe

pain or its antecedents

or the words used, save they are not the others,

inherited in a grid and at work within


“You can’t bear my already having said what you want to say.”      Lacan to Derrida


that slaying

in reverse

not found but

lost in a wordless contagion

not secret but moving that way


“So, prison, did you discover how it smells?”                              Genet to Derrida


BIT bomb but

no detonation, mere traces of,

there is

nothing outside of the sex

not even hunger or thirst

only penetration


not invented but

plucked from the shelf,

from a cupboard of public secrets

a way to say body and mean

air, atmosphere, the sex of

encounters, of impact with foreign history,

the word appeared before you used it

forged in the furnace of the mass.

Past the oppositions

we  re 


and fall short

of the prelinguistic mark,

its re lentless possibility

leading us on…

la fin du monde,

chaque fois unique.


2 December 2012

“And the promise never to truckle”


You let them in the door and pretty soon

they’re wearing your flip-flops, using your

toilet paper, tossing blouses over chairs

and generally wiggling into your life―

a religious man would be on his knees

offering up thanks but I just nod to the

chaos machine tossing off sparks that

leave the landscape charred but delicately fertile.

There was something in the bible about

a mustard seed, how did that one go?

No matter how hard you slap a donkey

he won’t give you any milk?  Fig trees,

lost lambs, forgiven brothers, god’s wrath

and oh, the evil ways of sodomy.


17 August 2006


“Because I am the size of what I see”[1]


I am driven to write letters that no one

will show their spouse, mad recounting

of lurid outdoor coupling, orifice after

orifice filled to capacity with human

stuff and the juice, a torrent, tsunami

of life lubricant keeping ecstatic the friction.


Nevermind what happened, who entered

where & who, what tongue reached what

nerve bundle, for I dwell in an alternative

universe charged by imagination bound only

by the finite moments of awareness crammed

into my stay on earth, foot-tapping, a drool.


My own liquid is a churn, bubbling up over

the brim and hissing as it hits the burner,

whole limbs swallowed and birthed again

out of the canal of life, the dilation elation

and the chant of approaching flight, ground

control is no control, goodbye, hello moon.


A nerve was coaxed to the water’s edge

and the urge to submerge, to penetrate

the all enveloping element and sink below,

down where the currents nudge rather than

compel, a surface of sensations wetted,

stroked like snake entwining muscle.


And supple; elastic contractions sprung

from the pitch, tone, chord of contact played

as bio-melody, bird-song suffused upon

the multi-hearted beast a swim towards

the orb, the burning planet, the promise of

fusion in the orbit of magnetic return.


And the letters will be read and refolded

and slid back into envelope, wee portal to

another world squeezing shut again.


3 January 2005

Mark Sargent



“None of my women have tears in their eyes,

you can ask ‘em about me, I swear.”     Cap’n BH


Between the rains I work the olives

thrusting a ladder up into them,

sawing away and raking, the animals

lounge beneath waiting for nothing,

snow on the mountains above      heavy

the clouds, heavy the mind,

Captain Beefheart is dead.

I tear a tongue outta the sky

smash the fruit into oil

drive a ouija disk through the entrails of the day

that curl back with the tenderness of a serpent,

keep turnin’ that wheel, mama,

I ain’t dust yet

nor done

but have my mercy dial turned down low

to make the no go faster

I chase disaster

petal to the metal in reverse

‘cause backwards is my insideout.

Give me a shout, sistah,

before I crash into my former self

where I hit that long leaning note

and let it float.


18 December 2010

[1] Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet




As Blaise Cendars once said to me,

Marc, he said, roll me a cig,

would ya?  I did,

lit it and held it

to his lips, his arm was,

at the time,

manacled to a heating pipe

that ran the length of the cellar.

He inhaled deeply.

He was French,

after all, and Spring

was long in coming.



22 Feb. 04





The historical difference betwixt

B. Cendars & B. Cendrars is that

the former lost his left arm

in a Chicago slaughter house

under auspicious circumstances

while the latter the other in the

Champagne offensive of 1915.


The former’s arm was never lost,

he carried it with him in an ornate

hand-painted wooden box stuffed

with laurel and cinnamon and bits

of love notes he had ripped apart―

he would reconstruct these messages

by pulling a scrap from the box and

shouting out whatever word or

partial word was legible:  stop…

stard…  ou… trong…  ever… 

defilement…  ig…   human hell

while the ripe arm filled the room

with a sweet waft of decay.


23 Feb. 04

"I am that he whose brains are scattered aimlessly…"
Buggy bounce and black bag hold
the night ate our motion forward.
"Bill, do you know where we're going?"
He held the reins loose in his hands,
"Oh yes, I've been there many times."
The eyes of farmhouses watched us
as we rattled past, an owl swooped
tearing the dark and time apart
limb by cloud by terrified prey
by life pushing its way out.
Opal the moon flowed through
the oaks and elms along the road,
illumined stone and fence post,
dappled and strobed our faces_
rhythm of haste and the vegetable world.
The Doctor slowed to enter an open gate,
glanced up at the rings of light
radiating about the moon and said,
"We might be late, lunar gravity alone
may have already done the trick."
I exhaled a cloud into the pale mist
and said, "Then we'll be just in time
to celebrate."  He peered at me as
a bird might examine a grub and said,
"Not yet.  Maybe never.  Stay here."
He grabbed his bag and stepped down,
light flashed across the hard earth from
a just opened door, a man motioned
him to come and he quickly strode towards
the house while adjusting his hat.
15 March 2004


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