Newbie Blogger, One Year Old

by lizard

I didn’t waste any time with my first post here at 4&20 Blackbirds. That was a year ago this month, which is kind of hard to believe. A lot has happened since that post.

Around the same time I announced my intention to bring poetry to these virtual pages, I started a writing project, mentioned in a recent post, titled “Z”. For you poetry nerds, the title is a nod to the crazy effort of Louis Zukofsky’s poem “A”, a magnum opus that spanned decades, and is, from cover to cover, beyond ambitious (some may say unreadable), which, for some reason, I find sort of intriguing.

Who knows, maybe it’s code. Maybe the poet tapped into something, transcribing some ethereal flotsam originating from outside his particular locus; outside our limiting experience of time.

Jack Spicer certainly did.

Jack is a poet I’m absolutely mesmerized by. The poetic alchemy he implemented; the dazzling turns of craft applied through linguistic sleight of hand makes any scrambling young poet shudder.

Jack Spicer and Louis Zukofsky have both been relegated to small circles of obscurity, and only recently have seen their works reprinted. Spicer’s collected works, the title of which comes from what Spicer supposedly said on his alcoholic death bed to poet and friend Robin Blaser: My Vocabulary Did This To Me, came out in 2008, and Zukofsky’s “A” was reprinted just this year.

So to mark a year of blogging at 4&20 Blackbirds, here is a poem from early in Spicer’s career. Enjoy.


The heart’s a sprinting thing and hammers fast.
The word is slow and rigid in its pace.
But, if they part once, they must meet at last
As when the rabbit and the tortoise race.
Words follow heartbeats, arrogant and slow
As if they had forever in their load,
As if the race were won, as if they go
To meet a dying rabbit on the road.
Then, step by step, the words become their own.
The turtle creeps ahead to win the prize.
But, ah, the sweeter touch, the quicker boon
Is lost forever when the rabbit dies.

—Jack Spicer

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