Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Cut and Paste

by lizard

I’ve been on vacation for the last 6 days, and tomorrow will be flying back to the “game changing” Lolo fire complex. I didn’t have any internet connectivity with my phone for some reason, which annoyed me at first, but it was actually a blessing to not have twitter and comment notification at my fingertips.

This week’s poetry post is a very interesting offering. I’m going to feature it first, then explain what’s going on after. Though I built the poem, the only original contribution I made is the title. Enjoy!



sex with an electronic bug
a coffin on wheels is now a bed
what finds no reason but receives an answer
the jasmine blinker of your breath
banking in to the Miami airport
your fingers touch me like a bird’s wing
now they vanish among the branches in the teacup
down the ladder to sleep
third possessor of the Delphic Oracle
ending the combinations
use for example the United States
people flew into themselves
flies ants bugs and busy rodents all over everything
The Past gnaws through the earth below the bed
blood bells yawn
the inner landscape is blurred
my cowardice is a beautiful dance
chopped red meats still beat and twitch
in the stupor of redward fog
she practiced, singing “two by two”
blue is an eternal color
O Saturday afternoons!
I can see the spoon in your hand
Europe around me: accents, paranoid talk
I owe nothing to the Phoenix
the ones incorporating the changes
will do the trick
cut the hair of your muse
near Spring Street
the date: April 30, 1789
he is alive in every marked deck
and my heart always follows
a boy in a cape of many colors
I thought it might be a dream
he was master of them all
go and warn every jasmine
all that has breath, all things that creep
the creature of the vents
it’s hard to keep the lid on
soon my life will be the moon
wheels in the darkness sing

What this poem is is suggested by the title. Each line has been excised from another poet’s poem, so when I say I built this poem, that’s exactly what I mean. What enabled this poem’s creation was a few trips to some great bookstores in Kansas City, so I had about a dozen books to work from. I will update this post later tonight with the book information, but for now here is a list of the poet’s:

Edward Dorn, Federico Garcia Lorca, Gunter Grass, Frank O’Hara, Campbell McGrath, James Laughlin, Louise Erdrich, Stephen Hall, Joanne Kyger, Joel Oppenheimer, Kenneth Koch, Quincy Troupe, Philip Whalen, Jack Spicer, Ted Greenwald, Dick Gallup, Jack Collom, Tom Clark, Jim Carroll, Steve Carey, Jim Brody, Ted Berrigan, Barbara Guest, Diane Di Prima, Gregory Corso, John Ashbery, Kimiko Hahn, Jean Cocteau, Tony Towle, Johnny Stanton, Patti Smith, John Godfrey, Mary Ferrari, Helen Adam.

Obviously, one of the books I got was a big anthology, which explains how I was able to use so many different poets. These names appear in the order of their line in the poem. I used only 6 poets more than once, and only Frank O’Hara—one of my favorite poets—3 times.  Regarding format, I made the first letter uniformly lower case for aesthetic purposes, but other than that, kept the original poet’s formatting.


Here are the books that provided the poetic material, starting with the anthology:

Out of this World: The Poetry Project at the St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery; Various Artists
Abhorrences; Edward Dorn (Black Sparrow Press, 1990)
Poems Retrieved; Frank O’Hara (City Lights Books, 2013)
Poems New and Selected; James Laughlin (New Directions, 1996)
Baptism of Desire ; Louise Erdrich(Harper Perennial, 1989)
Selected Poems 1956-1993; Gunter Grass (Faber and Faber, 1999)
Ode to Walt Whitman and Other Poems; Federico Garcia Lorca (City Lights Books, 1988)
Capitalism; Campbell McGrath (Wesleyan University Press, 1990)

  1. 1 Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Copyright, Plagiarism, and Litigation | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] assembling other poets lines of verse in a manner I recently experimented with, which you can read here (with proper […]

  2. 2 152 Poetry Posts to Celebrate April, National Poetry Month | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Cut and Paste […]

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