TRANCE NOTEBOOK #21[surreptitious nookie with a large astronaut]

Literary Hub Poem of the Week

October 14, 2015  By Wayne Koestenbaum
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Like the bemusing queerness of Joe Brainard, Wayne Koestenbaum’s aesthetic contains and redefines any medium he happens to chance upon. An established poet, Koestenbaum has also left his mark on the contemporary essay for his pyrotechnic ability to praise, to pick up an author’s works, like James Schuyler’s, and find something even better than just the most astute thing to say. That is, how art makes you feel. How we desire. Sharing his many hats as poet, painter, scholar and academic, his new poem is drawn from a sequence published this month by Nightboat, The Pink Trance Notebooks. In them, as below, Koestenbaum concatenates and concentrates the world to its most monadic units of precious junk, stray memoranda, elusive and sensuous at-hand-ness. Replacing the author’s habitual diaries he had kept for three decades, these new poetic crumbs and quizzical pre-thoughts underlie as well as underline a consciousness committed to beauty, in the hypersalient form of the Barthesian punctum. Thinking is Koestenbaum’s poetry, and as such, it welcomes life’s incompletions, its messy or mottled ongoingness, our sense that art is less about formal consummation than constant interruption, hesitation, that ballsy belief that living is never enough.

Adam Fitzgerald, Poetry Editor


 

TRANCE NOTEBOOK #21

[surreptitious nookie with a large astronaut]

 
he held this pen and
therefore polluted it
______________

rubbing his finger
gay along lip as at
Castro Theater seeing
Giant

______________

                              two
penises together in photo
lead to penises together
in Winnipeg, syllogism—

______________

               starting from
Paumanok is fine but where
is Paumanok and why is
it fish-shaped?

______________

               lining up the
anti-Semites

______________

               breast of
shrink in dark near
Thai Orchid—mind
and lit obelisk or observation
scene in Rebel without a Cause

______________

smell of AIDS in Ramrod
the young poet said

______________

               hurts
wrist to shake hands with
a pervert

______________

                              is
Whitman pro-onanism
or anti-onanism? obviously
both, Whitman is
pro-bowel

______________

writing in a Greyhound bus
station in a tiny pad, doing
character sketches as warm-up
for fiction

______________

                              I took disco
dancing lessons near theater where
Airport played, Baskin-
Robbins afterward, kiss
or not kiss at the door

______________

               Warren Beatty’s big
cock as seen by sister Shirley
MacLaine

______________

               stern
urinating at airport,
a pilot shaking it out

______________

beard of cousin proclaiming
Horowitz’s “Arabeske” (Schumann)
ambrosial

______________

father’s “inner” precludes my
use of “inner,” father and son
can’t both use “inner”—

______________

               Wagner and Whitman
in cahoots vis-à-vis crowd
consciousness, Frankfurt School

______________

                              use
book covers as canvases for
structured figure/ground
experiments

______________

copycat suicides rampant
in Europe, Werther’s
Muttersprache

______________

cough cough in Munich is
racist code, they cough when
they sense difference, they
cough when they need to expel
the other, they cough when
they are uncomfortable—

______________

God stood on the mount
and said please remove
Safeway supermarket
from your memory

______________

               nightmarish
sex in cars, quick
gropes on BART

______________

underarm hair is turbulence

______________

               Idiot
epilepsy mentioned in conjunction
with élève and Spontaneous Me

______________

               gunshot wound
mentioned in jest

______________

rush is Rausch,
Rausch isn’t quite trance

______________

               ressentiment said
the admirer of Nietzsche
despite crazy son, crazy wife,
bad aortas

______________

               red Converse
sneakers as signature of
early nostalgia

______________

               Unica Zürn found
sexual stimulation in a void

______________

she told me never again to
mention vagina though she
acknowledged that by over-
mentioning vagina I was
attempting to be
a vagina projectionist

______________

pancakes as incest and trips to
SF to buy school dresses
for the weeper—

______________

Botticelli essay researched
in Jesuit library

______________

               I lean on the
sentence as if it were
a stranger’s leg or arm,
I lean upon the object of
the verb as if screwing it

______________

reading Bleak House and
Pure and the Impure on
cross-country flights, lying
to the Bible teacher

______________

anger at my son,
my non-son, my objectification

_____________

               strange insistence on
making surreptitious nookie
with a large astronaut

______________

fomerly epiphanic relation to
the vomiting episode

______________

               she
threw herself out a window
not because Hans Bellmer
tied her up or maybe yes
because Bellmer tied her up

______________

                              father’s
messy handwriting, legal pads
in conservatory library

______________

               mortadella
or turkey for 99 cents, a
roll for 25 cents, no mustard,
no lettuce, no tomato

______________

stretched Ginsberg mouth
of poet son, imbecile nose
of automatic writer

______________

make it clear to Cher
that I consider her
a trashy runner-up
with a trashy grandmother

______________

               will the
red sneakers be thrown away?
do the red sneakers require
forgiveness?

______________

my mother made bastard
chicken for supper

_____________

               stop saying “you’re
sexy” to guys who won’t reciprocate—

_____________

stop chasing epiphenomenal
forefathers, Dutch Jews
in 1612

______________

                              “—ate” words
refer to extrojection
(expectorate, regurgitate)

______________

                              “—ize” words
refer to introjection
(moisturize, internalize)

______________

               this porn photo
of skinhead is up your
alley because of menorah
frame

______________

               much
I say is fantasy but
imprisoned filmmaker
is fact

______________

English poetry has spent
1,000 years counting
to ten, then
starting all over again,
iambic pentameter
a meditation hook

______________

tomato stain on hustler’s
t-shirt

______________

he taught me about suicide
and recommended Dostoevsky
in the Rambler station wagon

_____________

Mr. Beebee taught mother to
drive the Rambler
slowly to Santa Cruz

_____________

father’s secretary pretended
to be moved by Tillie Olsen

_____________

Stonehenge transported by
Museum of Tolerance
to Ottawa

______________

               save our
ability to say “cloud,”
save our glances and cuckoldings

______________

give us strength to endure
the nonhorizontal

______________

               be ocean not cloud, be
land imminent

______________

no surface to call
dominant, no horizontal
plank to reign

______________

               L’Immoraliste
as gift, Steppenwolf as intro
to drug consciousness and literary
refinement and pubic
hair triangles

______________

               stability
achieved though we are
momentarily sideways

______________

               broken lip on Fourth of
July threshold

______________

mother’s awareness of son’s
sperm, Shabbat pride

______________

Schiele’s refined perverts
help us survive

______________

               Smucker’s jam,
rye toast, yellow eggs with
white irregular saltless lumps




Wayne Koestenbaum
Wayne Koestenbaum
Wayne Koestenbaum is a poet and cultural critic. His books include most recently The Pink Trance Notebook as well as My 1980s & Other Essays, Humiliation, The Anatomy of Harpo Marx, and the poetry collection Blue Stranger with Mosaic Background. He lives in New York City.









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