Archives for March 2015

Carmina Mucronis: 7


My gift of a silver bangle to you
should balance love’s ledger, that is,
by way of legerdemain, purchasing
a part of the tenure, which ten months
will trick for you your freedom.
O, do not let that Janus-faced owner
of yours – he is neither father nor lover
and everyone knows his legal claim
is specious as his bragging prowess –
lay one shit-smutched finger
on any part of you, your purse foremost,
and least of all the hinges, so fragrant,
smelling of freshly picked lavender.

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Planctus David super Saul et Jonathan by Peter Abelard, as performed by the Augsburg Early Music Ensemble

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Dolorum solatium,
Laborum remedium,
Mihi mea cithara,
Nunc quo major dolor est,
Justiorque moeror est
Plus est necessaria.

Strages magna populi,
Regis mors et filii,
Hostium victoria,
Ducum desolatio,
Vulgi desperatio,
Luctu replent omnia.

Amalech invaluit
Israel dum corruit,
Infidelis jubilat
Dum lamentis macerat
Se Judaea.

Insultat fidelibus Infidelis populus;
In honorem maximum
Plebs adversa,
In derisum omnium
Fit divina.

Insultantes inquiunt:
“Ecce de quo garriunt,
Qualiter hos perdidit
Deus summus,
Dum a multis occidit
Dominus prostratus.”

Quem primum his praebuit,
Victus rex occubuit;
Talis est electio
Talis consecratio
Vatis magni.

Saul regum fortissime,
Virtus invicta Jonathae,
Qui vos nequit vincere,
Permissus est occidere.

Quasi non esset oleo
Consecratus dominico,
Scelestae manus gladio
Jugulatur in praelio.

Plus fratre mihi Jonatha,
In una mecum anima,
Quae peccata, quae scelera,
Nostra sciderunt viscera!

Expertes montes Gelboe,
Roris sitis et pluviae,
Nec agrorum primitiae
Vestrae succurrunt incolae.

Vae, vae tibi, madida
Tellus caede regia!
Quare te, mi Jonatha,
Manus stravit impia?

Ubi Christus Domini,
Israelque inclyti,
Morte miserabili
Sunt cum suis perditi?

Tu mihi nunc, Jonatha,
Flendus super omnia,
Inter cuncta gaudia
Perpes erit lacryma.

Planctus, Sion filiae,
Super Saul sumite,
Largo cujus munere
Vos ornabant purpurae.

Heu! cur consilio
Acquievi pessimo,
Ut tibi praesidio
Non essem in praelio?

Vel confossus pariter
Morirer feliciter,
Quum, quod amor faciat,
Majus hoc non habeat.

Et me post te vivere
Mori sit assidue,
Nec ad vitam anima
Satis est dimidia.

Vicem amicitiae
Vel unam me reddere,
Oportebat tempore
Summae tunc angustiae;

Triumphi participem
Vel ruinae comitem,
Ut te vel eriperem
Vel tecum occumberem,

Vitam pro te finiens,
Quam salvasti totiens,
Ut et mors nos jungeret
Magis quam disjungeret.

Infausta victoria
Potitus, interea,
Quam vana, quam brevia
Hic percepi gaudia!

Quam cito durissimus
Est secutus nuntius,
Quem in sua anima
Locuta est superbia!

Mortuos quos nuntiat
Illata mors aggregat,
Ut doloris nuntius
Doloris sit socius.

Do quietem fidibus:
Vellem ut et planctibus
Sic possem et fletibus!
Caesis pulsu manibus,
Raucis planctu vocibus
Deficit et spiritus.

Tractatus at a Benedictine Monastery Near Huttledorf: A Propositional Sonnet with Phenomenal Lemma

brother rabbit duck

         But primordial life, wild life striving to erupt into the open – that is lacking.

The world is everything that is the case.
    So garden shears will comprehend the axe.
    I bend at first, then kneel to ask this rose
What case exists as mere atomic facts.
    I feel the soil. The sun is kind to beat
    Upon my backside – meaning what it meant:
The logical picture of facts is thought,
And thought’s proposition, significant.
    Do roots thus know the bloom? Does eye thus see
    Itself? Does work thus play like rose with worm ?
All basic functions of veracity
Can pattern truth to serve the general form:
        Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must
        Be silent: worm to rose and light from dust.

From Four New Messages by Joshua Cohen

I recently picked up this collection of longish short stories on the advice of a friend who noticed that David Foster Wallace was sometimes featured on this blog.

It’s very good. Or rather the first story, “Emission”, is truly excellent, and while the other three are something of a mixed bag, I think there are enough beautiful passages to justify that “very good”.

It all feels very contemporary … more than contemporary, actually, but up-to-date—the word “contemporary” describing, say, the prose style, which is in fact somewhat reminiscent of Wallace, while by “up-to-date” I mean to describe the content. Or can the two be distinguished? Here is a sample from the first page:

Take a pen, write this on a paper scrap, then when you’re near a computer, search:

Alternately, you could just keep clicking your finger on that address until this very page wears out—until you’ve wiped the ink away and accessed nothing.

And if it’s the erotics of art that you want rather than hermeneutics …

They say in this industry you need a professional name because then it’s the profession who’s guilty and not you, then the profession is at fault and not you or your parents, your schools or the way you were raised.

This professional name—and no, it can’t be as rudimentary or flippant as “Professional Name”—becomes a sort of armor or shield, speaking in newer terms a version of what this industry in its more responsible incarnations requires: protection, a prophylactic.

A condom, a condom for a name.

We’ve had that conversation here at Korrektiv before, and of course pseudonyms have been around since Kierkegaard. Long before that.

But I don’t think I’ve ever seen the connection between anonymity (pseudonymity) and eroticism and their inevitable pitfalls quite so poignantly before. Poignantly and hilariously.

Within 24 hours, one Richard Monomian, drug courier to the children of the wealthy and successful, finds the story of his most bare-assed embarrassing moment fractaling in variations all over the internet. This might mean internet hell for poor Richard, but it’s all good fun for everybody else.

Within a week a hundredplus results all replicated his name as if each letter of it (those voluble, oragenital os) were a mirror for a stranger’s snorting—reflecting everywhere the nostrils of New York, Los Angelws, Reykjavik, Seoul, as thousands cut this tale for bulk and laced with detail, tapped it into lines, and his name became a tag for abject failure, for deviant, for skank.

To pull a Monomian.
To go Monomian.
Fucking Monomial.

No one, had you asked them, would have thought he was real. Only he knew he was real. And he only knew that, he thought, by his suffering.

Art is one way, maybe the most enjoyable way, of exercizing your empathy, or at least your capacity for empathy. Not a bad thing for a Wednesday in Lent.


First Son has made a sweet study guide for the math portion of the SAT. It’s now in Beta, seeking test users. Check it out.

Ain’t too proud to beg.

Me, neither. Bat Out of Hell has broken 20% on Kickstarter. Please tell your friends, and think about donating. Thanks to everyone who has donated so far. Just 10 days to go!

Carmina Mucronis: 6


It has been nine months now since that first day: your debut
    an outstanding success among the togas and tent poles, when Linus
of the fat ass dragged you down to the Forum with him
    for all to gape and gawk. With you a veritable Galatea,
I, frozen as Parian marble where I stood, watched you take
    your mincing steps, a puppy hang-dogged and heeled in
the dreggy-dark shadow of a senator’s wide passing.
    How soon I found how the necessity of trouble is
multiplied when money’s involved; tripled when love is involved;
    quadrupled when money, love and beauty conspire to spin
like Nona, Decima, Morta: haggishly spinning, spanning,
    and spurning the bladed dross – namely ourselves daily watching
the sun and stars post their gains on the char-black stone
    of the weather-whittled stele – but never any shameful losses
are tacked on for public viewing – ourselves always the one deduction
    which our own vainglory accounts for but fails to delete.
But remember how I soon conducted things? Your onyx eyes, skittish,
    almond-shaped, precious – and plucked for me alone,
who devoured an acre of orchards but never enough, stealing away
    bushels from their owners, with nothing but figs paid in return.

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Adoro te devote by Saint Thomas Aquinas, as sung by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of St. Maurice & St. Maur, Clevaux

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Adoro te devote, latens Deitas,
Quæ sub his figuris vere latitas;
Tibi se cor meum totum subjicit,
Quia te contemplans totum deficit.
Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur,
Sed auditu solo tuto creditur.
Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius;
Nil hoc verbo veritátis verius.
In cruce latebat sola Deitas,
At hic latet simul et Humanitas,
Ambo tamen credens atque confitens,
Peto quod petivit latro pœnitens.
Plagas, sicut Thomas, non intueor:
Deum tamen meum te confiteor.
Fac me tibi semper magis credere,
In te spem habere, te diligere.
O memoriale mortis Domini!
Panis vivus, vitam præstans homini!
Præsta meæ menti de te vívere,
Et te illi semper dulce sapere.
Pie Pelicane, Jesu Domine,
Me immundum munda tuo sanguine:
Cujus una stilla salvum facere
Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.
Jesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio,
Oro, fiat illud quod tam sitio:
Ut te revelata cernens facie,
Visu sim beátus tuæ gloriæ. Amen

Carmina Mucronis: 5


Take this two-hundred count
of donated denarii, my dear Dido
of golden Arabia. That’s two pounds
worth of purple – yes, wages enough
for two months. But this is not all.
I will return in a week’s time:
Don’t forget to leave your window
unlatched, open, inviting as usual,
with your scarf tied on, drenched
in the newly bought lavender
which my silver gift will allow you
to purchase. Then I will slip the sill
in silence and, holding my breath,
find you by your gentle panting
and the scent of your presence
awash upon the air. Meanwhile,
pocket my coins in the soft bed
of your purse: let it polish and buff
Apollo’s heads as if each were mine –
let it coddle each nude Marsyas too,
he who stands by Minerva as a vow
to share his wineskin with us two,
you and I, together – and let love make
of my sunny currency something
with a proper interest for you.

Four Short Poems About 19th Century American History

Lewis & Clark, November 3, 1805
Not very many have canoed
through such a vastitude.

On the Applegate Trail, April 10, 1845
When the Native Americans set fire
to the settlers’ covered wagon,
Zachariah tried to play flapdragon
with his own funeral pyre.

Cape Fear, Delaware, January 15, 1865: Confederate Lieutenant Colonel Ezekiel Abernathy Confronts General Robert Hoke During the Second Battle of Fort Fisher
“Snatch your saddle or pick your paddle,
but either way we’s got to skedaddle!”

The Battle of Little Big Horn, June 26, 1876
With every warrior he could muster,
Sitting Bull slaughtered General Custer.

Sappho and the New Victorians


The New Yorker, which I gave up much as a heroin addict gives up his horse, has a great piece on Sappho (since we’re all in a retrospective mood), despite the neo-Victorianism, which declares you can’t NOT have sex of all flavors and stripes and be considered normal, and the faux-sexual sophistication that starts the piece – note, in particular, the usual and tritely libelous assumptions about the Church and her understanding of sexuality.

I found this in particular of note:

Indeed, the vision of Sappho as a solitary figure pouring out her heart in the women’s quarters of a nobleman’s mansion is a sentimental anachronism—a projection, like so much of our thinking about her, of our own habits and institutions onto the past. In “Sappho and Alcaeus,” by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, a Victorian painter much given to lush re-creations of scenes from Greek antiquity, the Poetess and four diaphanously clad, flower-wreathed acolytes relax in a charming little performance space, enraptured as the male bard sings and plays, as if he were a Beat poet in a Telegraph Hill café. But Lardinois and others have argued that many, if not most, of Sappho’s poems were written to be performed by choruses on public occasions. In some lyrics, the speaker uses the first-person plural “we”; in others, she uses the plural “you” to address a group—presumably the chorus, who danced as she sang. (Even when Sappho uses the first-person singular, it doesn’t mean she was singing solo: in Greek tragedy the chorus, which numbered fifteen singers, regularly uses “I.”)

Our Sappho remains, of course, “swallowed in the wake” of her own reputation, but I think the author shows a remarkable insight about the Greek understanding of the individual as a concept which really has little currency until the coming of Christ – and that wicked Church he founded which sought to stifle the poor gal once and for all… The observation also, incidentally, may help to explain why Aristotle didn’t think to say much about lyric poetry in his Poetics.

Carmina Mucronis: 4


Knowing there is no true honor
in using a slave to cuckold her master,
I take the point equally from friend or foe:
wretched Actaeon running his hounds
among the meadows and groves
would do as well to learn another
avocation than hunting for harts
when a goddess has it out for him.
Tell me, friend or foe, that you
would have resisted a peek at that waist,
those thighs, that shapely neck,
her divine body curving, arching, reaching
for that placid pool, those lucid waters…
Thus, I still hold out hope of buying out
that smart senator who proposed
the streets of Rome be kept lit: “If only,”
he said, “to allow good citizens to find
their way home after sundown.”
Little did Linus the Lazy realize
his self-serving law – written and filed
to succor his baying, fawning public –
would light me a dogged path,
bright as noon, to his midnight door.

Carmina Mucronis: 3


Your hair is flaxen dyed,
this I know, my Flavia,
as I know that you are
    an Arabian slave, dark at the root;

you, owned and controlled
in bed and out
by that fine ass
    Linus, who will never learn that

the more he speaks
out of turn the more
his bald stupidity becomes
    conspicuous to his constituents.

Listen, he farts
in the temple of Venus,
bellowing in echoes
    of bare-assed embarrassment.

But you and I, far away
from such pillared proceedings,
the gallery’s pillory,
    and Rome’s usual contumely,

we enjoy Cardea’s gentle breeze
as she wrestles the Venti
in liver and spleen, blowing
    past our bedchamber window.

Happy St Patrick’s Day








Requiem for the Croppies

The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley…
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp…
We moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people hardly marching… on the hike…
We found new tactics happening each day:
We’d cut through reins and rider with the pike
And stampede cattle into infantry,
Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
Until… on Vinegar Hill… the final conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August… the barley grew up out of our grave.

~ Seamus Heaney

Carmina Mucronis: 2


Tonight, with the aide of torches
senate-sanctioned to burn past midnight
along the capital avenues, no mere footpaths,
shining bright to honor the calendar gods,
I stumbled and swayed to your doorway,
barely able to make out my own name
etched from an earlier time with you.
Where my knife blade bit into the oak enjamb-
ment that upheld the ornate intricacies
of the lintel’s bas relief, Janus renders
scallops and scudding clouds of foam
interspersed here and here again among
entwining vines, the signal of a god who always comes,
now climbing a doomed ship’s mast,
now sprouting and staining clustered grape
among its virgin sails, while a lone lion leaps
amid a pattern of dolphin-studded waves,
these too by Janus living in the wood,
I finger the grooves of my name –
a memento momentum amoris too small except
you know where to look in the first place –
and as I kicked at the door, I forgot
the bolt was already thrown, Venus
notwithstanding. But all those hours
o my Flavia, of sweet wine with you,
had no effect on my sobriety or my regret.

While we’re at it…

Might as well call a spade a spade – or find out that we have critics in spades – and hearts – and clubs – and… Well.

Lollipop and the Liturgy

This reminds me of this.

Korrektiv announces new Latin literary find


Long thought to be a fabulous hoax played by Hugh Kenner on Ezra Pound for his 75th birthday, the “Mucorix Manscript,” as it has come to be known, has been baffling scholars for years. But now a Latinist from Finland Boj Neirbo says he has unraveled the mystery of the, until now, untranslatable document, claiming that the late Latin Classical text, a weird hybrid of Latin and Aramaic, can be sourced to a time immediately following the nadir of Roman poetry.

Looking at the subtexts, pretexts, ur-texts and contexts in the manuscript, Professor Selywn Mauberly of Puerto Rico State University and his colleague Johnathan Boy were “immediately struck by the authenticity” of the phrasing, syntax and diction.

“I think the late Mr. Kenner would be pleased to know that his little joke turned out to be something rather spectacular,” Mauberly writes in the official journal of Roman verse, Latin Poetry Yesterday – and, Yes, Today. “He must have known the world would eventually discover what he passed off as his own was in fact a long-lost manuscript from a poet who calls himself Ferrugus Mucorix – an obvious pseudonym.”

Also given the title “Carmina Mucronis” by the 9th century English monastic scholar St. Hubbins of Butterbreadbury, the enigmatic manuscript, which is dated to sometime in late winter A.D. 1-3., is filled with simple yet startling images, erotic themes and quite a bit of immature humor, Mauberly states. The centerpiece of the collection, a long didactic poem which blends epic, satire and scatological humor, is of particular note for the clues it leaves regarding other manuscript mysteries still raging in the heady world of contemporary classical scholarship.

“I’d be telling tales out of school if I said any more,” Neirbo said, speaking without even a whiff of a Swedish accent at a press conference held in the third booth on the left from the rest rooms at a Denny’s in Hoboken, NJ. “You just have to buy the book.”

According to Mauberly, at the same press conference, the work also includes a number of fragments of what appear to be a larger work.

“There are a swarm of theories swirling around the Maypole, much like those pieces of well-chewed meat that swirl around a sink drain but never seem to get to take the final plunge,” Mauberly said as he gave a sideways sneering glance to Neirbo. “But the most popular, and by far the most credible, I might add, is the belief that these fragments were actually part of a larger work attempting to celebrate the glories of the Roman sewer system such as it was at that time.”

While not at the press conference, Mauberly’s assistant, Boy, noted that it sought to do for plumbing what the renowned Roman epic poet Vergil’s Georgics did for farming.

“You might call it ‘The Cloacics’,” he said by phone from what sounded like someplace deep in a well with the constant rumble of large machinery in the background.

Also intriguing Mucorix scholars for years was the identity of Flavia, to whom many of the poems were addressed. From the text, scholars have gleaned that she was an Arabian slave with whom Mucorix has several trysts and who is owned by an individual identified as Calvus.

“As an objet de mon affection Flavia really out-Lesbias Lesbia, truly eclipses Cynthia and, in fact, indeed, decidedly, even, serves as a sort of uber-Kerouac,” Mauberly said at the same press conference between bites of warmed over bacon and cold fried eggs, alluding to Mucorix’s predecessors, the 1st century Roman poets Catullus and Sextus Propertius, and 20th century Beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg.

“But there’s a lack of originality there to Flavia which pretends to something else,” Neirbo said not quite under his breath, fixing Mauberly with a cold stare as he reacted to Mauberly’s tart reminder that Denny’s no longer has a “smoking section” by stabbing his cigarette out in the yolk of Mauberly’s third egg, which Mauberly said he “wasn’t going to eat anyway.”

Mauberly then proceeded to order a strawberry ice cream soda.

Running to a little more than 20 pages, the manuscript has been traced by Mauberly to actor Rudolph Valentino, who it is believed purchased the manuscript back in the early 1920s in Syria as the actor, an early proponent of method acting techniques, was sifting through palimpsests at a book stall in a Damascus market. It then vanished, Mauberly says, before resurfacing at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, D.C., in time for the poet Pound’s 75th birthday. It is now housed in the New Jersey State University Lou Costello Library, Exit 32.

“Can I get some more coffee?” Neirbo said, lifting his cup as he attempted to gain the attention of the waitress, who said she didn’t “have time for his shit.”

“That was the best ice cream soda I ever tasted,” added Mauberly looking up from the bits of strawberry seed collecting at the bottom of his glass.
Editor’s Note: Add another first to Korrektiv’s long list of accomplishments! After consulting with Boj Neirbo and pushing enough alcohol and tobacco in his direction, Korrektiv has acquired the first North American rights to his translation of the Mucorix Manuscript. Beginning with the introductory poem (which appears below), Korrektiv will be periodically publishing the collected works of Mucorix over the next month. I’m sure you will all be excited as the Korrektiv Kollektiv in seeing this important literary figure virtually resurrected before your eyes here at Korrektiv, where yesterday’s poets are and always remain yesterday’s poets today.

Carmina Mucronis: I

Stride on, my strident little book,
and tell the days of love and war;
stride on from noisy city avenues
to farms that lie in peaceful sunlight,
up the fields flush with wine
awaiting harvest vats and jars –
and tell Mars of your conquests,
all the while dedicated to Venus
who alone holds your shaft and shield,
mixing love and war in her bowl.
Stride on, my strident little book,
and tell the days of love and war
to the fortunate Gaius Laternium;
o, for he shall have you at last
when in his cups, clattering full
with mirthy bubbled blood
of love, that heady mixture of wine
and mellowing honey. For you,
famous scribbler of time and place,
here are some accounts of battle
given in softer measures than yours.
May Venus grant me a good vintage
in polished jars of posterity!