Clearing the Dust for Good

i’m thinking of ending things


This blog is a parrot. Or perhaps it’s the pet shop.

(Whatever it is, it’s not going away, just like the other one didn’t.)


This blog is Dick Laurent at the start of the film (which is its end) and at the end (which is its start).


rip it up and start again


this is here, but where is there?

there is here: see you t/there

Aphorisms from Mark Leidner, whose Beauty Was The Case That They Gave Me I loved.


This month, poet and old friend of THERMOS Mark Leidner has published a book of aphorisms, called The Angel in the Dream of Our Hangover. Put out by Sator Press— a self-made pay-what-you-will indie publisher— the book is available right now. Go get it! Here’s a selection of work from inside:

the purpose of love is to gain so much of one person’s trust, that when they are dying you can tell them it will be okay, and they will believe you

the period of time beginning halfway into the previous second, and ending halfway through the next, is what is known as the “fiscal second”

early on in his career, the poet sold his soul; he then spent the rest of his life trying to redeem it; as a result, he was highly motivated, and all of his ambition was sincere

missing someone is like what the…

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BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog


Bad news, Brevity fans.  You aren’t going to win the lottery**, a fact made clear in Eric LeMay’s addictive essay in Diagram 11.5 and in Hannah Ensor’s appreciation of LeMay’s essay found on the Essay Daily Advent Calendar.  Here is Ensor on LeMay’s essay (which is indeed a Flash essay, but of a different kind):

LOSING THE LOTTERY … does some fancy interactive computer stuff alongside more classic essay things. It starts by asking you to choose six numbers from among floating gray lottery balls. Once you do, you enter the essay: split into two parts, the essay sections (49 in all and, besides the first, randomly presented) on the left and on the right a computer-generated simulation of lottery results: using the six numbers you chose, it simulates winnings and costs based on buying a hundred $1 Ohio Classic Lotto tickets every second. Which, for the record, would be a lot…

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Is this my favorite Michael Robbins poem? It’s hard to say because I pretty much like all of them. But this is probably what I’d recommend to first-time readers, even if it’s the last poem in his collection.

This month for Poetry 365 we’re highlighting Michael Robbins’ defiantly inventive debut  Alien vs. Predator.  Described as “equal parts hip-hop, John Berryman, and capitalism seeking death and not finding it,” these 55 strange, darkly funny poems are as impressive for their formal precision as they are for their frenzied name checking of everyone from Auden, Frost, and Yeats to Nirvana, Star Wars, and M*A*S*H.  So check out this University of Chicago grad’s brave new collection, sample a poem below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.

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On first listening to Dylan, and the poem that followed.


Oh, Bob Dylan. Where to begin? The great artistic love of my life, my musical paramour. My cohort. The guide to all of those heart-wrenching songs I’d cleanly tear out of me with such regularity, with such ease, under the counsel of those implicit directives. My companion ever since I stumbled upon him on that fateful July day in Israel.

Bob Dylan discovering a cavity, circa 1966.

I remember it well. It was the summer of 2004. I was in Israel for six weeks on Mach Hach Ba’Aretz, which was in essence a continuation of the urgent Zionism the B’nei Akiva youth movement stressed in their summer camp in Pennsylvania, the main difference being that this one was on the actual land they’d extol with such ferocity. It was only about a week into the trip and I was already miserable. My so-called friends who I’d been relying upon…

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My favorite bit: “it’s a strange, primal kind of magic, the way sound and rhythm turns words into not-quite-music but not-quite-just-words anymore”

Beak & Wave

When was the last time you read Wallace Stevens’ “The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words?” If the answer is “not recently,” or (worse!) “never”, get thee to a library or your preferred book retailer (or the one that will send you stuff in two days?) and fix it! Fix it fix it fix it! 

For me, sound is the deal-breaker in poetry, as it seems to have been for Stevens (“…above all else, poetry is words; and that words, above all else, are, in poetry, sounds”):

The deepening need for words to express our thoughts and feelings which, we are sure, are all the truth that we shall ever experience, having no illusions, makes us listen to words when we hear them, loving them and feeling them, makes us search the sound of them, for a finality, a perfection, an unalterable vibration, which is only within the…

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the end-stopped line

I’ve noticed a number of searches on caesuras, enjambment and end-stopped lines.

Fortunately, these are easy to recognize. When English poets first began writing blank verse (unrhymed Iambic Pentameter) one gets the feeling they had their hands full just counting syllables. Their efforts were stiff, wooden, inflexible. The example I always like to use is Gorboduc, by Thomas Norton andThomas Sackville. The play was written in 1561, 3 years before Shakespeare’s birth. For all its limitations, the play was the first (as far as we know) to have been written using blank verse and stands as a template for all the great verse plays to follow, including Shakespeare’s. Two features that make the verse feel wooden, by modern standards, is the strict Iambic beat on one hand (there are practically no variant feet) and the heavily end-stopped lines. End-stopped lines simply means that ones thought ends…

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