Gallery 9: Poetry—Basinski, Rooney & Gabbert, Folz

Two Poems by Michael Basinski

(Click on photos once to sharpen, twice to enlarge. Use your computer’s back button to return.)


Three Prose Poems by Kathleen Rooney & Elisa Gabbert


A bartender walks into a bar. The irony is palpable. Just beneath his exterior ennui, he is hysterically happy to be here. A perfect piece of sky, a perfect piece of ass—the bartender will drink to whatever’s available. We get what we get and we don’t get upset is the bartender’s motto, or at least it’s one of them. When in Rome is another, so it’s time for some urban anthropology. How to parse the dome, the chandelier, and the troubling smells? In the end, a bar is a bar is a bar, is it not? Whenever he drinks, the bartender realizes: he has a regrettable lack of regrets. That’s why they call it happy hour, he says to himself; the irony is palpable.


A male nurse walks into a bar. Saturday nights, people drink even harder, in anticipation of Sunday’s penance. The male nurse nurses a Long Island Iced Tea. He doesn’t think of his life as being “about” gender, but to everyone else, it is. His every gesture gently exposes his own naïveté. If you like the big dumb teddybear type, he’s your type. He would never think to touch your arm lightly when speaking to you. Given the uptight, litigious atmosphere, this might be for the best. He laughs, but it’s a mirthless laugh. He’s tired of complaining to his girl friends about not having a girlfriend. He always thinks it’s rude when people ask when he’s going to start having kids; he never asks when they’re going to stop having them.


A raven walks into a bar. Or rather hurtles through the swinging doors like an asteroid. Ravens are so excitable. He orders a round of Coca-Colas for everyone. When he speaks, it’s the creepiest thing in the world. It’s like someone playing a recording backwards. Still, he’s obviously shooting more for “adorable” than for “threatening.” He’s just failing the way he failed at his first and second marriages. But this monotonous introspection does not interest the raven. The raven doesn’t have interests, per se, just priorities. Spooky, right?


Three Untitled Poems by Terrence Folz

Gone full throttle
empty on an hour
of sleep.
Every second is new.
Three pints of Hamms
at the Bad Waitress Cafe.
Two glasses of
at the Tibet Kitchen.
I cannot help my friends.
I cannot help my self.
I cannot help what is.
It just is.
And always was
as it is.
Never more than now.
And never less.
Spicy cabbage eggroll dream on fire.
I thank the Gods.
A sensualist I am.
And I owe it to eternity’s lawgiver/gatekeepers.
—In the ratty
thick of it.
They know.
And do not compromise.
Or spill the secrets.
Where would that lead.
Forget even the supposition.
And study, reclined, the imperceptible
‘what-is’ format.
Wide-open thick.
It accounts for most of what you know.
Rely on it.
And post a question every fire-breathing
Time will reward.
I am drunk with sin.
Purple wine.
In endless flow, black night.
Change and substance parry
and stake eternal friendship.
The gods of war claim another chapter
in the storefront prayerbook library.
I eat.
And drink.
And think.
And write.
And sin.
And plot.
And know.
And curse, devise, resent, regard, and implement.
Gone wide in the thick of it.
The sweet aberrant
hot parity of knowledge.
Time’s staple.
Nature’s improvise.
Page and station blurs.
A segue-way to
the future.
There is nothing left to control.
Or bow to.
And real.
Banquet steel knowledge.
Gone cold blue.
Seek sad reverent.
Nominal post.
—-A natural.
Winding cold.
Soft, patent-dead.
Nothing but exercise of ritual prayer.
In solid everyday.
A fire burns within.
Horsehair chasm.
Kept math prayerbooks.
I am sold, wild.
Careen-black solid.
Drunk as a patent skunk reservoir.
Blood in a wide rimmed chalice.
Thieves and card players congregate.
There is nothing left.
Form, concise on the page.
Rabid-force dialect.
The blood colored flesh of angry clowns.
Flower gardens die.
There IS nothing
marks on a chalkboard.
And nothing left to describe.
Or demean.
Or emphasize.
Just solid-cold angry shadowpictures on a sky
without horizon.
Definition of night.
Nothing left.
I take my leave.
My paintbrush.
My computer.
My pictures of a long ago childhood.
And the symbols of house and street.
Circus and moviehouse.
Saturday afternoon brothel.
Gods and mimics.
And all who insinuate.
And create.
Chalk sidewalk
of what they think that is.
When they stopped a moment
in the gray evening traffic.
Puzzle emblems.
Hard fought.
By those who couldn’t buy their way out.
They know.
And insist.
And resist patent formula.
Technicolor landscapes
no one can recognize.
It’s here.
In front of you.
For the taking.
Make a promise.
Cut the deck.
And put your money on the song that
you know by heart.
It’s more than this.
What we see.
I’m drunk on the
A collection of voices
in the restaurant.
I have no idea what they say.
But know their voices.
Bright and cold.
The definition of color.
All that came before us in the
primitive, pretty lives of kings
and sailors.
Left to their own devices.
And addicted to the flesh.
Pretty myths that hang on cathedral walls.
They came before us.
And will come after.
Posterity as reason.
Perpetual growth.
I am nothing
but a clown.
Back to basics.
Back to basics.
I’m going back to basics.
Back to basics.
Back to back.
And head to head.
Live and let learn.


I settle in at the
with my copy of The
Great Gatsby.
Order the fried egg sandwich.
And a large Depth Charge
with milk and sugar.
The barista looks like
Ann Hathaway,
the actress.
I would tell her this.
But she’d think it’s just
another line.
Which it’s not.
A line, that is.
She looks like Ann Hathaway
is all.
I return to my book
and my sandwich.


Drained spirit.
Collected spirit, pools.
The crick in the neck.
Intelligence in the strings of
In shreds of bus conversation.
In the moments before and after
The strained ear compensates.
Collected Emerson, clothbound.
The cover a dust colored red.
Earbud passenger before me, sits miles
from here.
This pinpoint instant the only
recognized intelligence.
The rain stops.
Umbrella and eyeshade separated by minutes.
Flesh cognizant.
Truth in numeric function.
Her news-shred existence.
He, on the soiled corner
knows what he knows.
Boardroom and box-office.
Hats and abbreviations.
It all comes down to individual pictures.
Boredom as substance.
Loud silent pain reverberates.
It all comes down to individual pictures.

Gallery 10

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