Dada Koan #18: twin boys in ear canal


Today’s dada koan tackles the tricky problem of poor hearing.

What is a dada koan? It’s a kind of Frankenstein monster pieced together from old newspapers. Tristan Tzara, the great dadaist, is credited for inventing the cut-up technique poem.

You know, the candidates for this very fine 2016 presidential election don’t do mud-slinging. They’ve clawed past that to reach the primordial ooze and now there’s a hole in the earth and we’re all falling through.

But I digress.

Here’s the above pink on yellow dada koan cut-up poem in B&W:

robust, 75-year-old:

I feel strange essentially

twin boys in ear canal

whooped and clowned around.


coloring books.

problem may just be wax.

Just little boys horsing around with their coloring books. What a relief!

Thanks very much for stopping by.


Unrelated Addendum #1: We Speak Chicagoese, stories and poems by Chicago writers is edited by Bill Donlon and Dennis Foley. It’s hot off the presses and includes such abundance of local amazing as: “Brothers” by Sherwood Anderson, “My Brother’s Ass” by Carl Richards, “A Deal in Wheat” by Frank Norris, and “I Took the Santa Claus Job” by Beau O’Reilly.

Unrelated Addendum #2: Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet and Clarice Lispector’s Agua Viva feel more like philosophy than fiction. Reading these writers both at the same time makes me feel surreal, displaced, and uh… disquieted.

Addendum-related Addendum: Did Gregor Samsa have disquieting dreams?



Dada Koan #17: Hollywood needs big view thing


Renee Zellweger said in an interview– and I’m not sure how to dig up her exact quote. I’m a blogger not some grubby reporter. Oh, all right. Click. It’s in an article for the LA Times titled “Rene Zellweger is back to take on ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ and a world obsessed with how she looks.”

Well, first. I’m not obsessed with how Renee Zellweger looks. I’m not even sure who she is. Did John Cusack teach her to shotgun a beer in ‘The Sure Thing’? Ha, ha. No, that was somebody different, I know.

So journalist Amy Kaufman writes that Renee “developed some projects that she didn’t want to elaborate on” and Renee says,

     “I don’t want to talk about it. It’s so boring,” she insisted. “Oh, it’s so boring. I think it’s much more interesting when people do stuff.”

WelI, that’s valid. In previous blog posts, I wrote about a novel-in-progress. Renee’s right. Better to finish the project– publish, then talk. This reminds me of listening for three hours– yes– to a guy describe his mega million-character mega multi-million dollar epic screenplay. Honestly, I wasn’t listening to his plot so much as I was hypnotized and enamored by his confidence and the fact he didn’t care I hadn’t spoken once not even a single “mm-hm.” Still, when you’ve worked on something for years, boring or no, there’s a temptation to share, Daphne Zuniga. And maybe some of us do it before all the dots are eyed and all the crosses are teed.

Today’s dada #17 is a thinly veiled koan about Hollywood. Here’s the above unsightly green on brown poem in B&W:

city in dire need of a big-view thing

such as big airports

a military base


frightening “chicken things”

no one pays attention to pretty

Well, there’s a pithy indictment of LaLa land’s architecture. This is a dada koan which means I plucked words out of a Whitman’s Sampler box labeled “Surrealism.”  Then I spent time pushing phrases and words around until it made a thing. Then I glued the thing to paper so it would be preserved forever.

Renee Zellweger said this in the LA Times article too: “And I often find myself making up opinions about things I’ve never thought of before on the spot because I feel like I ought to be accommodating.”

Thanks for stopping by. Movie stars are people. Politicians are people too (sometimes).


Related Addendum 1: Cruel headline from 2014– Nothing says over forty like two spaces after a period*. After reading that on the internet, I manually corrected a chapter in my manuscript. But I’ll be back to using double spaces tomorrow because to hell with it.

Related Addendum 2: Ooh, I can’t stand the possessive for words ending in “s”. Bridget Jones’s Baby. Jesus’s Son**. The boss’s bacon– makes me cringe.

Related Addendum 3: Rosemary’s Baby is aesthetic. Thanks, Ira Levin.

*author Jennifer Gonzalez

**author Denis Johnson wrote Jesus’ Son. Apparently, depending on the stylebook– some preach that all proper names should end in ‘s for the possessive form and others instruct that while it’s fine to write Dolores’s– a classical name like Zeus or Jesus can be possessive with Zeus’, Jesus’. Another reason to despise grammar.

Dada koans #16: duck breast ice cream


Invited the poets by last night. They probably just showed for the free drinks and mushroom pizza but I don’t care. “So many of us! So many of us!” Sylvia chirped to her slice.  “Take it easy there, Victoria Lucas,” I said with a wink.  Then I presented my duck breast ice cream poem to Bobby– yes, that Bobby– and right away he starts sniveling.

“It’s perfect.”

“Yup.  Free verse.  Wrote it sans net, too.”

He muttered something.

“Bobby, hope you’re not offended.  But yellow seems to me random,” Walt said, stroking his beard.  “Why not diverged in a chartreuse wood?  Or a purple with orange polka dots wood?”

Sylvia grinned, peeling her beer label.  Bobby seethed through his tears.

“Ooh, I am large.  I contain cow pies.”

“Guys, c’mon,” I said.

Opening the freezer door for more ice, I sighed.

“And, Billy, quit stealing.”

“It wasn’t me this time!”

Henry Chinaski punched Billy in the mouth and, of course, all the sweet cold plums fell out and rolled over the carpet.  Billy touched his lip and looked at his finger.

“Is there a doctor in the house?” he asked, ironically.


Here’s the above Buster-Brown and Pink poem in B&W:


grandmother’s homemade


duck breast ice cream

your boyfriend vomiting

Cat is moving

didn’t look back.

You can make a dada koan or cut-up poem with glue, a newspaper, scissors, and a box.


Thanks very much for stopping by the woods.


Related Addendum 1:…Hmm… promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.

Related Addendum 2:  I’m pretty sure this is true.  Billy Collins– as opposed to Billy Carlos Williams– was guest judge for one of those Best American Poetry books.  He automatically disqualified entries that mentioned “cicadas” or “plums”.



Dada koan #15: we are pleased to offer…


Here’s a nice dada koan poem.  It’s good to have choices.  Someone cut it oddly, though.  I guess that was me.  Glued onto weird-shaped paper.  Is it less aesthetic than if it was square?  Yes.  Looks like I just used up a scrap.  I wasn’t making deliberate artistic choices.

Choices, choices.  November is nearly here.  Speaking of.

Articles popping up on the internet saying it won’t be easy to move out of the country.  The United States will punish you and charge you double-taxes for being a traitorous ex-pat.

I don’t want to talk about the election.

This is a cut-up technique poem.  It borrows from Tristan Tzara’s method but I’ve added a few tweaks.  So.  Scissor up maybe a free travel magazine you’re getting because the person who lived in your apartment before didn’t update her subscriptions when she moved.  Then you stick words and phrases in a box.  Pull ten slips.  Push them around until there’s a poem.  Dab on the Elmer’s glue and press it to bright paper.  Yes, yes the apartment’s a pigsty and the exterminator’s due in a week.  But hey, you’ve got a poem!

Here’s the above mermaid-blood blue and Easter-egg pink poem in B&W:

We are pleased to offer you a choice

shortness of breath

or develop a serious nervous disorder

would love to do nothing but watch

cement growing


Well, let’s all keep a good thought, shall we.  Thanks for stopping by.

Sort of related, light-hearted Addendum:  I didn’t know mermaids had blue blood.  But the shop owner of Enchanting Elixirs sells mermaid’s blood on Etsy.  It comes in a little vial.  It’s actually not as dark as the paper for the dada koan.  The blood is more robin’s egg blue.

Cryptic Addendum:  Please not the guy with the super-glued toupee and the small hands.

Dada koan #14: her feet lying across cutlery


Ah, yes, it’s a cut-up technique poem.  We’re sailing here with these dada koans.  #14’s clipped a few phrases from newspaper advertisements.

This surreal poem’s pasted onto Edie-Sedgwick-’60s-color paper.  Here’s the above koan in B&W.

Kitchen novelty offer

announced by the state


should be toasty

on his lap with her feet lying across CUTLERY SETS

Vaguely feminist?


Thanks very much for stopping by.

Very Tangentially-Related Addendum #1:  Jean Stein’s Edie bio is fantastic!  Andy Warhol sounds like a child!

Unrelated Addendum #2:  Five facts from the Armond Fields bio Maude Adams, Idol of American Theater, 1872-1953:

  1.  An over-worked Maude had nervous breakdowns.
  2.  Young Maudie, playing the role of Adele, appeared with her mother in Jane Eyre.  A critic wrote her mom performed Mrs. Reed “with quiet but very mean cruelty.”
  3. In the New York Herald, 1901, Sarah Bernhardt announced she’d “play Romeo for one hundred nights in America to Maude Adams’ Juliet.”  Not to be.
  4.  John Alexander designed Maude’s costume with its world’s first “Peter Pan collar”.  Peter Pan opened at the Empire Theater, New York City, November 6, 1905.
  5. Advice to Maude from top theater impresario Charles Frohman:  “You are not to be interviewed.  You are not to be quoted.  People will wonder at you, yearn for details of your private life.  Let them.  It will only spur their interest and their desire for you.”  The internet disagrees.


Dada koan (#unlucky): a billionaire who makes Republicans swoon


Yes, this dada koan has a political bent. Bound to happen. Such a strange surreal year. In fact, so bizarro I heard it predicted the Cubs could win. “God, can you imagine if they finally did? They’d burn this town to the ground,” said a Chicagoan. “Would that be so bad?” his morose friend said.

Politically, it feels– not so much that the world’s off its axis– but like someone has picked up the world and thrown it like a Frisbee.  I’m referring, of course, to the !@%?#??!!! 2016 presidential election.


Here’s another– thirteenth to be exact– example of a cut-up technique poem.  I’ve razored out words and phrases from news articles, horoscopes, and tantalizing life insurance coupons.  Then I shake ’em up in a box and blindly pick ten.

Here’s the above bananas and bluebells poem in B&W:

a billionaire who claims

“I am combative.”

and stole a jacket

100% Silk

makes Republicans swoon.

has not been charged with

driving onto a packed sidewalk

Work-related travel.

Thanks for stopping by. Just think.  In another eight years there’ll be a new election*.  With an even more stomach-churning reactionary candidate and we’ll say– “Wow, never thought I’d hear myself say this– but it makes you long for the days of Trump.”  Hard to picture that happening though.  This is rock bottom’s bottom.


Related Addendum #1:  (sigh)

Related Addendum #2: Tarot cards used to be called carte da trionfi or trump cards.

*Yes, I know the national election cycle’s every four years.  But incumbents don’t feel “new”.  Is ol’ leftover Hillary Clinton “new”?  Yup, she still counts!

Dada koan #12: when Krempot was a mime


Yep. Mimes.
This is an example of the cut-up technique poem. Fragments cut from newspapers, an AARP magazine, and possibly an old “Are You Going to Hell?” pamphlet that a smiling young man handed me.

Here’s the above green poem and it’s that shade of green– a beloved shade– that few people are able to pull off– I bet Edie Sedgwick could with white go-go boots– anyway, here it is in classic B&W:

When Krempot

was a mime

walking backward

syndrome type 2


Internal neglect

no sense at the Center

he might Reinvent


So a little story about Krempot the mime.  (The “might” came from the Biblical pamphlet.)  So you know– “no sense at the Center” was glued to the green paper all jumpy and uneven on purpose.

Thanks very much for stopping by.  After chewing great quantities of Bachelorette Cheese Sandwiches, have felt very tired this week.


Unrelated Addendum #1:  In Aleister Crowley’s autohagiography (p. 74), he states, “I am uniformly kind to animals.”  Then in the next paragraph he describes how he tortured a cat.  I guess that’s the old comic twist but it made me pretty sick and I’ve put this book aside.  I just wanted to know what the damn “Golden Dawn” was.  Anyway, Crowley wasn’t only a Satan Worshipper, but a big jerk.  Surprise, surprise, surprise as Gomer Pyle would say.

Unrelated Addendum #2:  Reading five books at once now– never a good sign.  A  bio of Madame Blavatsky by Marion Meade, Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon by Peter Washington, Edie by Jean Stein, Maude Adams by Armond Fields, and The Vegetarian by Han Kang.  Recently finished this last one– an extremely well-written and unsettling novel.  The first line made me laugh.  “Before my wife turned vegetarian, I’d always thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way.”  The author’s been compared to Kafka which seems right.

Here’s an observation from Mr. Truman Capote from the Edie Sedgwick bio:  “Andy Warhol would like to have been Edie Sedgwick.  He would like to have been a charming, well-born debutante from Boston.  He would like to have been anybody except Andy Warhol.”

Unrelated Addendum #3: Marion Meade has an upcoming bio of Nathanael West and his wife Eileen (of My Sister Eileen fame).  Can’t wait!