Maria Damon & Alan Sondheim

The Today 

    Alan Sondheim 
    Alan Sondheim 

    Hello, Maria! Azure and I have just returned from a 
wonderful trip to the continent. Of course a return is never a 
return, everything seems askew and the planet is no longer in 
the same region of the sky "as ever." I also realize that life 
and death preceded us; everywhere we went, things were beginning 
and ending. We tried to stay around for them all, but with 
little success. Well, with some success. 

    Maria Damon 
    Maria Damon 

    Not sure why, but i get from your writing an image of a 
desert campfire, with "things" going 'round and 'round it. Our 
solar system? A place by the side of the road where we can bide 
a while in the quickly cooling darkness, only the barest 
profiles of our faces visible in lit silhouette like cartoon 
crescent moons. 

    Alan Sondheim 
    Alan Sondheim 

    All silhouettes are lit of course, although they try to hide 
it. And we noticed something new on our travels, that everything 
is leaning. Well, leaning somewhat. Perhaps just the slight bit, 
molecular. But leaning nonetheless. And with no preferred 
direction, perhaps the slightest preferential to a direction. 
Nothing was as it seems. And the crescent moon? I'd add ocotillo 
and creosote. Both sing to us. Well, to some extent. 

    Maria Damon 
    Maria Damon 

    Clinamen! The slightest perceptible leaning. Clinamen is 
evocative of clematis, the windy flower-vine, and clitoris, 
which leans out shyly from its sheltering pudendum. Everything 
leans, yes, toward a solar plectrum, which plucks us like 
clematis to put in the blue vase at sunset.  What did you see 
that leaned? 

    Maria Damon 
    Maria Damon 

Alan Sondheim 2:12pm Alan Sondheim
What has leaned, has been leant, on borrowed time, string theory plucked, inverted shelters, what has fallen, and over, like a man or a woman in 1877, continues to fall. Nothing is ever straightened out. What swerves, weaves, swerves back. But always almost straight. That is culture. Well, to some extent.
Maria Damon 2:16pm Maria Damon Weaving like a drunk down the street: that's the swerve. What's the swerve toward modernity (Greenblatt on Lucretius) to the clinamen? Weaving like a drunk trying to walk down the street, between the letters of "my" and "eyes," an impossible feat that nonetheless gets accomplished over and over. That is "culture" and is not. Alan Sondheim 2:18pm Alan Sondheim What gets culture? von Foerster describes negation as fundamental, the swerve a protean escape or positive trope. The swerve goes against the flow, and didn't Laurie Anderson Fenimore Cooper talk about walking as falling foward along the cannonball's furrow? That gets accomplished, it would be negation to go somewhere else. Well, to a degree. Maria Damon 2:24pm Maria Damon "The swerve goes against the flow," yes and no, yes and no. A smooth fluctuation, not a tic, not a spasm, but a nearly imperceptible arc with eventual enormous consequences. The flow is flowering all around, and to participate is simultaneously to disaggregate oneself. The curve is also a flow, the swerve is also a flow, whether or not it cuts athwart, loxodromic, a strong current. Alan Sondheim The swerve, well, to that degree, a swoon, cutting and inscribing, but closer, like the leaning itself, always ruptures, off-kilter, decentered, noise, deflowering all around, disaggregation, then leap into digital production, produce, then neither this nor that, then not both this and that, then the _bumped swerve,_ the hump that bumps, wearable weather, flux, weft. Maria Damon 2:35pm Maria Damon I see the lumps of textured parchment they are wearing as you write, Alan. I see the wide sheets of crumply tweed wrapped in a nubbly knit around the body and held close, the clouds that press on the body in a woolly hug. A swoon into a dream of dense texture, where origins are flowering in the near-frost of the edges of human habitation. Ochre jacket in a craft-store vitrine, somehow it was worn by neolithics in a welter of overwhelming weather of flux, feathers, and warp-speed swerves. Maria Damon 2:37pm Maria Damon Swerving into twill embrace Alan Sondheim 2:41pm Alan Sondheim I wanted to say something about swerves, clothing unwrapped, want as one's wont tuned to desire, cloud pressures troubling as cumulus moves to cirrus, all is nimbus, damp, the swoon a sweyven, sweyven swoon, unraveling, a good yarn, neanderthal meals and burials, all apart, flooding, feathers, feathers, feathers. and wilted embrace, feathers falling further Alan Sondheim 2:42pm Alan Sondheim flood waters feathered, receding, debris churned against the bridge of bodies, bodies' bridges Maria Damon 2:44pm Maria Damon "trailing my long wing-feathers as i fly" around the world and loosening my feathers, spilling them on the lichen-fields among the humans and their masked companions, cloudy pleasure swoon into gridded volupt, the cloud's embrace dews our hair with rivers of riptides, torn sheets of water hurling themselves over us in wanton waves Alan Sondheim 2:47pm Alan Sondheim loosening the feathers, well a long descent, tumescent masqes and masks, then the grid or raster, the cutting board, separations and waters frozen and torn, shards of water hurting ourselves roving among raves and choughs, Teut. sweyven, vacillare, nutare ; sweyver, vagus. To SWE AL, v.a. To swaddle, S. V. SWAYl. To SWEAP, v. a. To scourge, S. Isl. swipa, a scourge. Ruddiman. Maria Damon grasping at tawny straws that snap as we grab them, we drown in disintegration Alan Sondheim 2:50pm Alan Sondheim capitulation, capus: a head, captain: a cap-stain; cap-stain: an organ or a member of an organ, circuitous rout from leant swerves, nothing, they say, is upright in this world, certainly not an automobile on a curve. and what doesn't curve, what trip remains straight and thrusting? one almost forgets, well almost immediately, the lowlands and highlands, the pitching of the vehicle, not to mention the yaws, captain that Maria Damon 2:50pm Maria Damon Clinging to our reedy coracle. Swelling waves of dew, feathers and wool all around. A cloud of texture drowns us. A crow of meaning wakes us. A stab of sobbing wracks us. Alan Sondheim 2:51pm Alan Sondheim a slab or mobbing of crows wrecks us, we're in safe harbor, coracle Maria Damon 2:52pm Maria Damon The ice was in his eye, blinding the listeners. Captain Cosmos disintegrates into the elemental welter whence his fantasm emerged A starvation of ravens besetting the northern world Alan Sondheim 2:53pm Alan Sondheim well, something emerged, that's for certain. some call it an eye, or a horn of eye, some call it a coracle, or a murmuration of coracle. well, a cicatrice or name of something, for a man it's always in the middle, in the muddle, for a man it's always in the mud Maria Damon Your crown of straw is a shambles, a mirage, a miracle. Swirling in the maelstrom, a swerve collapsing on itself, a billow of rough cloth rises from the foam. Alan Sondheim 2:59pm Alan Sondheim The crown is a clown, a sham, a barrage, a muscle, a mussel. And the billow of rough cloth rises from the interior, foam inside and outside. The decoding is simple, preposterous, absurd. Men fall over themselves for it. Men fall over.

Maria Damon teaches poetry and poetics at Pratt Institute of Art. She is the author of two books of poetry scholarship; co-author of several books of poetry; and author of two cross-stitch visual poetry chapbooks.

Alan Sondheim is a multi-media artist, writer and theorist. His most recent CD is Threnody and his most recent book is Writing Under.
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