Dead Letter Game
July 28, 2003

you know the garland was yellow
and it came to force me, the yellow garland
turned forcibly out for summer, those quiet central months
in the quiet of summer i could rest for once
and no one came to disturb me, the lash
was longest -- long lashes like devils dancing
in the heady advance weight of summer
dancing with no one, taking some quiet time
while the months of summer passed on, forcibly
while the hot central months of summer passed on
under canopies of clouds gray and dank like gauze

verses such as these came fast to her horror-struck mind -- they came to her frequently, often in the just-past-earshot of a fire engine or the punchy silence forming in the wake of a car alarm gone finally quiet -- people were nearby, and some would have offered if given the chance, but these were options she was loath to entertain -- she loved them, but there were differences...

now, she could wince as well as she could shatter, and friends who had known her before would be surprised to learn that she was more after love and life than the gaudy darkness she had taken earlier as her target destination -- the face she'd worn in their company was more show than showing, more query than claim -- some would judge her behavior, with hindsight, as devilish ruse -- in fact, she had never meant to fool anyone, but she was that convincing, and that shorn in the gut soon thereafter

listen (apostrophe), release, then desired vowel -- she believed him when he said --- + (comma), release, then n or N + Shift -- she came to know his ways, could always trust, etc. -- she would lie some days perpendicular on his bed, her head in the crook of his elbow knees bent and feet nearly touching the floor while he slept, and nowadays the image recollected brings the ivy over her eyes

inviting high-minded verses that cling to the screen and won't close, that plug into margins and won't go away, that season her dreams too much, leaving her listless and cleaved the next day -- but listen, really, toward life and love she leans while the air fills with the scent of rain beaten through dust and power lines


love and life are most precious when the kids come home, and i mean this as both vehicle and tenor, trope and honest truth -- i could say "listen" but the sheets are still wet on the line -- so given:

IF a decision is arbitrary THEN the existentialist trap of false moves opens wide and nabs you -- but story is never arbitrary in the sense that "Festival. Engine" is, since story evokes, calls up, invades, underscores, and upgrades each and every nuanced chain of signifiers that broods defiantly behind it -- or rather, story collapses the pernicious lies of a poetics of indeterminacy and presses all of its bloated claims into a fine ripe pudding

the exact reverse of this would be to say that the fruit of noble nihilism bakes a very good pie

truly sticky stuff, so the best course of action is to return to center, go back to basics, toward life, toward the homely desexed origin of all mood and brainy dividend -- what does it mean, for example, to cook with one's hands on fire? and how might one capitalize? -- what are the finer points of management by which a troubled ward might be brought to smoother running? -- can everything written here be compared to a snow flake, and if so, to what end and to whose advantage? -- why is death, finally, easier to write about than life? -- is it because life gets too greedy when given the chance? or is it because death likes to know where it's been, shuns surprises, and holds out for the better deal?

this game, now foot-to-grave, gives no answers -- still, these letters are a kind of comfort, like the ring of orange at sunset
July 26, 2003

some like where it's going, others prefer where it's been -- many are resigned to hold out right here, stuck in the mire and the mischief

the young C., for example, contents himself with the way his garden grows straight up through the cracks in his sidewalk, a once hapless seed pronouncing life amidst the random and the rotten -- the censor, he is fond of reminding himself, can appear anytime and in any of several disguises, so while a poet of "vertical tracking" he is also bound to the piecemeal emergence of sound where substance once was

he left for the train determined to map the unexpected, returning later by bus from the realm of disbanded solids -- the smoke from his neighbor's fireplace drifted into his living room, then his kitchen, and soon into the food he had hoped would calm the rumblings in his gut -- sadly tall for someone so thin, he'd been given the word just yesterday that his habits if not changed would either kill or cripple him, so these were his choices, he noted wryly, inhaling the bitter scent of ash, then finishing the last leg of his race for survival

later, the cold day gave way to a colder night of igneous stillness -- the TV across the street held fast to one channel -- unsure, C. noted the hour, then sat back in his chair and counted the beats in his chest until the rhythm enveloped the highest numbers, confusing him

a light came on in the neighbor's back yard, and through the window C. watched the old familiar in red coat march again to his abandoned seed bed, where the earthen remnants of summer sat heaped against a splintering piece of ply board -- the neighbor looked down, his long shadow pressed abusively into the corner of the stone wall in front of him

C. thought he heard weeping, but really it was his own breathing, now grown shallow as a form, he wanted to believe, of commiseration -- sleep came only in the aftermath of well-directed appeals to the contrary -- if witnessed, his dreams would have frightened almost anyone, then or now


despite appearances, there's no dialog here, no agon, no call-and-response, no dialectagogic -- worlds separated by even a single rotation cycle can nonetheless keep the stage banter-free -- the appearance of move/countermove masks the underlying path toward accrual, the move par excellence, the true move, ur-move, move beyond all moves

but paragraphs tend to carry in their trunks the dead bodies of an earlier altercation, i admit -- as well as the tools and devices needed to effect roadside repairs -- so you can see here a commitment to "the ordinary and the archaic" which, like a fan in the window on high all day, tends to neutralize potential flare-ups while still keeping the air moving

metaphors, be gone -- enter money, "accumulation and circulation" -- once you're comfortable with the tradition within which you write, you can get to work planning its resurrection and ascension -- in the meantime, one goal: "To make and to think at once." -- but there's a problem, and i am maybe the last to recognize it: what if the making (if not the thing made) in fact prevents the very thinking toward which the making tends?

imagine it as a kind of take-over, hostile and horrific but barely noticeable, a gradual shift as in weather or in the light of sunset -- not the rush of time so much as the trumping of perspective, the entrapment of strategy, and for which some secondary arrangement, some "plan b," becomes necessary -- like Ast with his broom, "a subject demonstrates a will contrary to that of the sweeper," and so "the implement must be used in a direction perpendicular to the preceding one" -- then, in turning the implement thus perpendicular, the object lodged obstinately in its cradle is worked free, swept up into the waiting dust

here lies the argumentative momentum masked in the language of gaming -- all things perpendicular, toward a form dislodged from the chaos -- move and countermove, perpendicular children of clay, freed from the torments of history
July 24, 2003

O's eyes, effusive and trapezoidal, could not see what B's ears, miniature tea cups, were hearing -- thus the sun set on their developing malaise -- he could remember in his dreams the long nose on the bridge of which her glasses sat, perched like lawn sheers on the back of a saw horse -- but these were managed fantasies, conversational inputs from "like-minded" compatriots, and in the spin of that influence he could reemerge as the truncated version of the former self (he had always wanted to be)

computers between them blocked the proper flow of words; cords entangled their respective points of view; tattered napkins, and even the coarse meandering chatter of the couple at the other table (now surprisingly cut short mid-someone's-sentence), interfered with their signals -- the truth of the mirror behind her conspired against the lies woven into the rug at his feet

the next day, they will assemble a new star system and call it "yesterday" (they are that addicted to blame and culpability) -- the lines connecting the dots that form constellations will rattle about like pixie sticks in the cavernous dawn -- two thoughts will rise flawless and crispy before them, and when B. snatches the first, O. lunges for the second, spilling the tea she had left on the nightstand

the organs of sense make the dreams come back stronger, says B., and so he ends where he begins, hopelessly true to his word

O's eyes find respite behind the monolith

now her hair, he thinks, noting the argument's subtle turn for the worse

now the air, full throttle


the shine is in the detail, but the true crime is in the take-over -- he pulls a shotgun across the sky and takes it to the nation -- he winds a ribbon around his ring-finger and plots the next invasion -- so i need help -- i need to develop a different rally point, many generations, en route, blur, and then:

"the poem is doubt itself made evident" -- i don't know -- i imagine you can build a whole career out of that kind of evidence, but check the facts -- 30% depleted, the rest on the way, inhaling the particulate punchlines of a dozen-odd suits and swashbucklers

the world of intelligence has a name for that kind of statement: easy pickins

"to practice. that is, to choose." -- alright, now we're getting somewhere, but even here we have quietly sidestepped the problem of guilt and responsibility, truth and consequence, party and party-consciousness -- the goal is to roll everything out like pastry dough on a cutting board floating on quicksand -- so the game is really somewhere else, and here you have managed only to trap its echoes and renegotiate its promises

the day that poetry passes from fashion (see BABELLEBAB) is the day i give up sunscreen

because the target, once contaminated, must become a homestead -- and a home, once bankrupt, must open out into the forest -- and the forest, now razed, must lie about in shadows, leaking its secrets

busy cells, recreational eugenics, powder genocide, all filed away for summer -- nearby, a tray of fat indulgences
July 23, 2003

words like build and forum, like clan and must and periwinkle

words like words and auto-philo-mystic

words like words to contemplate and condition

much like steamy Hans came new to the world, bubbling out into the francophone squalor of his mother's new orlean's digs -- but this is not entirely right, for the mother had long since passed by the time pink slippery Hans came bubbling out, and there waiting, wielding words and a crucifix, was his father -- nothing would change, so ditching his name (Hans) for another (Perl), Perl made of his father's evangelism a game through the ranks of which he would rise like the derelict star of summer -- at eight he delivered his first; by ten he had built his own flock; on the cusp of thirteen, still dizzy with the palpitations of sinful growth, he packed all houses, "laying on" with the turgid certainty of proof and passion

now, i know what you are thinking: you are thinking: nothing's changed: so why the appetite, the urgency? why the undulations under heart and heretic? why collide with matter in the first place, when everyone has made a tentative peace?

i'll tell you why: i'll make you see: early Hans could not fathom the later Perl toward which he had thrown himself, that day, when, packed with brother in his dad's red sedan, they headed east to make of Perl and his unexpected gift the first true foundling of the ministry of the Southern Ascension of Belated Angels -- he slept little, preached much, and by the age of sixteen, Perl had come to see that the devils of the mortal world were like signs on the highway: relentless, unblinking, and almost always accurate -- he fell with zeal, head-first


granted, not making much social sense today, but

start again, focus, look away, dig in -- i have already violated the first rule, but there is no 'reset' button, no putting the cards back in the deck -- much like ink: errant and indelible

i address you precisely because the odds of making contact are minimal, which protects everyone, don't you think?

over my shoulder, dialog and absorption, the lime in conversation with the dandelion -- out front, "entanglements in which an individual's writing finds itself" -- i think i might, like, make a break with my own everything, tantalized these days by the outer sheen of "other everythings"

i could begin to recount, nay catalog, the mundane objects of my immediate world, adding, with a twist of studied sophistic logic, the epigrammatic punchline by which the real becomes the social real, complete with absent hero (the worst kind)

two women behind me discuss women and guys: i need to clarify now that this (either the women or their discussion) could have been different -- but what a scam, a ruse, a plagiary, a tumble -- in "the factory and the noise" we must find "the noise particulars" underneath the machinery of being -- the wane of philosophy bolsters the wax of sociology

the chump who reads too much has never faired better -- we can ride these surpluses ad infinitum, rattling the broken chains of a failed concatenation -- how silly, how profound: your move
July 11, 2003
as for proper apologies, uttered at dusk while the neighbors tweak their post-9.11 need for familial bonding, consider:

a good deal of N. American poetry is stuck in a very weird form of ecstatic abstraction -- lines or paragraph, the same thing: desperation in a realm of coined metonyms strung like porchlight pumpkins in the quieted night -- the tease of polarities beckons, and everyone's bustling about in the clamor, torqued to the hilt, forcing revelations from very particular, personal séances into the vigils of an otherwise common prayer group

i don't see this as a bad thing, or, double-negs aside, i see this as a good thing if we all start managing our potentials for the sake of something other than the next great quaking paginated slot in the post-millennial fray -- i'm no exception (obviously), insofar as i have dreamed (when the lights go low) for some economy of praise and gratitude to come rescue me and my likes from the din of adipose invention

my fam, i should say, is hip to the digs they are daily forced to suffer at the hands of the diurnally distracted -- we love sleep around here, that space into which all failed efforts (like whispering, just named fetuses) disappear to reappear on the other side of this game of moribund missives

hey, the neighbor yells, not to me but to the guttural endstop of his, or someone close to him's, soliloquy -- wrong though it is to dwell on the misfortunes of others, i can't help but wonder: does he secretly love it, that tortured wail by which the injured child calls out for...something...attention, money, a second chance to aim the ball just right?
July 10, 2003
if it's true that we are invented by our texts, then what can we expect from this invention? -- i can't even get it off the ground, let alone point it headfirst into a strong wind -- as if 'forces' were against me, but really, i have made (if not invented) that particular mess myself and must get to work cleaning it up

preparation as both reclamation and sanitation, and the result: patchwork, overlay, clothing -- we are dressed by our texts, and second-hand -- which is not to say that we are doomed to repetition (cf. Recycler's Handbook) or a kind of retro-goth somnambulism -- we are walking, true, but wide awake, and as in some play about a man and a woman crouched behind a prickly pear, the man's shirt and the woman's hair snagged in cactus quills; the air is oddly wet and cool for what will soon be a hot, dry day; we hold the flashlight and aren't sure what we're looking for; the couple behind the cactus have settled their breathing and feel hopeful, secure even, as if they are beyond detection, cloaked in darkness and the nocturnal shadow of the prickly pear; the light of the flashlight bounces off as if reflected, and for a moment we know for what we search and it is us

note that what i have drafted here in the midst of this surge toward readiness is not an allegory so much as a treatment for what might ultimately come out as 'play,' i.e., the game in play -- for now, alright, the fictional prose of the pre-invented, a cluster of imaginary entities if not outright lies

i am reclaiming space as a document technician if not a writer, and while the results may one day prove (like others) nihilistic and boring, the game of manufacture, assembly, keeps us entertained, and together we grow into habits of happy fabrication
July 8, 2003
stalled in the fog, light breeze off the coast, ants busy with some unidentifiable carcass, birds balanced and tree-bound, the Times in a sack on the driveway

can wait

for now i'm more interested in that beeny baby bengel tiger perched on yonder bench who stares at me, head cocked to the left -- and hoping, as only the quasi-faithful can, that the sun will not break through today -- fat chance

forgive these lines, written in paste, preparatory to a fault, sans context, bleeding with anticipation, defiantly false to equipment, nearly nostalgic, rote, stuck in their own microworld -- from now on, phasing out my obesession with caloric intake, getting on with the plan (a scant strafe of ink on the corner of some crumpled cocktail napkin), excavating the faceted space of the interstice

devoured by effects?
-- i'll say, and spit out as underworld cause -- light is to 'been there' as shadow is to 'done that' -- but now, the question: who will that please? -- of the faceless attendees whose loyalty, in turn, also prepares the way, who will find this worthy, let alone notable?

the future of writing, the exclusionary politics of poetic groups, generating emotion not from integrated form and content, but: using letter forms

even the urge to begin mired in resistance to the new distributed culture

long live the transitional subject, whose flag (colors of the rainbow) flies high over lands fairly won in combat -- not so -- fast -- having failed to account for so much in this proceeding, i must nonetheless move quickly, the sun breaks through, means business, has a different plan for the day, thwarts memory work -- even the cat has turned away callously in pursuit of her own world of jitters

each stamps down on the prior, leaves a print, but all the others underneath, heaped in desperation, leave their marks took, on this one, bleeding through, hints of outline in the fog

it's an age-old system: someone should write a book about it
July 7, 2003
mystery resides in the subtle encounter of light and shadow -- a mist on waking, some dark angel lifting -- archive of the unwilling? -- my nocturnal to your diurnal -- the setting of keys on the counter

abandoned, stalled, in transit, hovering, illegitimate, left hanging, forgotten, misfit, unclaimed -- a sense of future development should drive the reclamation project, diving in from the outskirts -- inevitably, at the crosshairs of 'play' and 'preparation,' training the eye -- waking into each other's dreams -- sensing that you have healed through the night -- writing always searching for a companion rhetoric

as in these letters, the mirroring effect -- between AM and PM: < EM >

where does it begin? (in the trumpet vines) -- core considerations: being kind to incorporated knowledge (unelectable but potentially useful to the ticket), formal pragmatism of the word (but how formal? whose word?), practical conflation of inside and outside (utilitarianism vs. onanism)

every day the choice between immersion in the moment and energy deferred for the sake of some future calling -- reading as recognition work, reconnaissance, measuring top and typologies -- research as death-defying protocol, regimen of the really willing, whose days are never numbered -- logging hours (accounting), hording currency, a mass (benign) of layered days

so you see, to replace the promise of an emerging poetics: the making good on an old promise of eternal presence -- the bomb explodes, and in the sudden absence of air the old dogs cry out, in search of an explanation -- a poetic of displaced poetics, if anything, and where the ground is still hot, smoldering, recompression around activism, a refusal to claim the field (absurd in the aftermath), daily vigilance (accounting for), steady din to silence the master work, letters and not alphabet, words and not language, diurnal before nocturnal, reading as recognition

for the tree, the trumpet vine, where the humming bird catches nectar -- abrupt, exigent, unfazed, partial, devilish, punctual, on task
July 4, 2003
smiling, busy with baggage, working 24-7 to purge the clot, anxious, weathering, not-so-patient, clinging to debt, forthright, daily questioning, less-than-honest, drug-punchy, cleaning bugs from the windows, holding out, melancholic, bristling, out from the shade, committed, derived, encumbered,

i keep everything in the air less like the proverbial juggler than the flame-thrower low on fuel

sounding the discordant note, lessening the effect of the discord

a tie to the future, definitely, and wanting to be in some dedicated space looking both outside and in, sampling the fictive

consider the archive: a promise of down-time, long life, the world's definitive soft sell

everything : each word, the scaling of agenda, timing good and bad, trips, flits and punctures, the taste of dry heat, comfort zones, pie charts, noting where the tide steps in, custom, habit, affectation : all open to question


we have a case of a perfectly open examination -- nothing promised in the writing, no collisions with print, diaphanous, on demand, a done deed and done again

we want to have an impact on social matters...to write for the highest common denominator -- i.e., the work's force

we stand to make knowledge by the truckload

but where the pen stops, group membership begins, right? -- with that i am almost giddy with the prospect of buying stamps

hardly 'rational,' which means, let's face it, a bit over the top even while deliciously smart -- i mean, who else would even DARE confront the master inside his own milky den?

Belonging and non-porous: what I don't much like.

meanwhile, i am out at dusk in a chair under la uña de dios captioning my breath with courageous thoughts -- i want to make this my own, to win at all costs, critics and crazies be damned

naysayers at the feet of the narcissist just don't get it -- or maybe their fortunes are buried elsewhere -- but they bleed in pursuit of their riches, all the same, so please, enough, move on, read back to your precious beginnings and readjust

as if helping people jettison what they already have was ever anything but a messing with the raw materials of enculturation

colossal noon-day sun, kids hard at work on their lessons, preparing
July 1, 2003
nearing play time, anxiety builds almost to the point of defeating the purpose -- seriously, the pressure's on to produce (i can blame only myself for that) but in a different, perhaps reformed, way

the obvious dumps like a bucket of bricks but i'll point it out anyway: why different? what reform? -- i'll admit i've been close to the issue for a while now, this hesitancy to name the game for what it is: the issue, i mean, is hesitation, deferring the inevitable, equipment assessment as convenient distraction

but perhaps all is not lost: imagine vital alliances between the given record (these entries, as proceedings) and future endeavors perceived as fresh and unmarked, untainted -- maybe the equipment has been there (available, ready) all along, and i have simply failed to pick it up and use it -- more hesitation, deferral

these alliances, then, as truces, pacts, whose rules of conduct in a sense make playing the game possible

the eyes of the dead stare resoutely forward, even while closed lids shield us from that eventuality -- these letters, a kind of shielding disguised as whimsy, preclude their own outcome -- that's the best i can do, i'm afraid, in trying to describe how the very act of writing can be its own equipment, its own arsenal against all forms of invasion, corruption, and competition (the strategies of life requiring tactical responses)

one gets to a point (at least i have) and, in effect, throws a fit of hopelessly exaggerated proportions -- i think i have managed, though, and despite all this waffling, to get the pieces lined up in preparation for play -- let's put it this way, in italics: the letter-writer revisits his own writing with a healthier attitude, which in itself is an unexpected accomplishment

what remains least discussed so far is the utter honesty with which i have elected to tell this tale -- i have 'come out in the wash,' so to speak, and am therefore equipped, i.e. ready, for anything
Round One: Ex Nihilo [06.05.03 - 08.22.03]

Round Two: Futures [09.30.03 - 12.27.03]

Decom(press/posit)ion [01.01.04 -

Flip the Page: the body of the assassin {blog}

06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 / 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 / 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 / 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 / 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 / 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 / 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 /

An experiment in memory excavation and obsessive existentialist detailing, Dead Letter Game is ideal for one or more players ages 12 and up. The game once started plays indefinitely. Players will soon recognize that the end is in sight but ever receding on a horizon replete with potential outcomes. This is not a continuous present so much as a persistent continuum. To stop and start again is to play the same game only differently. Do not be startled if patterns emerge, which is normal under ideal playing conditions. The game as played here is neither the all nor the part of it. Down to the very letter as well as out beyond its margins you will find the dead letter game, whole and in progress. An open-source document, DLG automatically self-absorbs upon completion, returning to the epistolary commons from which it came.

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