Domicile in Smithereens:
Rod Smith's The Good House

By Kaplan Page Harris


notes on Rod Smith,
The Good House,
A Spectacular Book, 2001

In American literature the house without a foundation is an all too common theme. Houses tend to remain unfinished or temporary affairs, liable to break apart at any moment and leave their residents with a pile of rubble. In "The Fall of the House of Usher," Poe's narrator finds himself at a loss to name the thing that unsettles him about the Usher house: "There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart—an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime. What was it—I paused to think—what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher? It was a mystery all insoluble; nor could I grapple with the shadowy fancies that crowded upon me as I pondered. I was forced to fall back upon the unsatisfactory conclusion, that while, beyond doubt, there are combinations of very simple natural objects which have the power of thus affecting us, still the analysis of this power lies among considerations beyond our depth. It was possible, I reflected, that a mere different arrangement of the particulars of the scene, of the details of the picture, would be sufficient to modify, or perhaps to annihilate, its capacity for sorrowful impression…"1 The narrator's claim that truth lies "beyond our depth," does not keep him from imagining that a better description of the situation will release him from the power the house holds over him. The narrator needs a better story about the Usher house than he can obtain from an exterior and reflective position, so he proceeds into the house to check on its inhabitants. The famous conclusion finds the narrator, having come face to face with the unnamable "malady" of the siblings, hightailing it from the scene. "My brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder—there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters—and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the 'House of Usher.'"2 These fragments are never quite put back together again, at least not with any permanence or dependability. Somehow whatever architecture an American writer dreams up, its shelter is temporary, and it soon breaks into fragments (or smithereens, to hint at where I am going with all this). In William Dean Howells's The Rise of Silas Lapham, the protagonist's fortunes will "rise" and he will set upon building a magnificent house for himself and his family, until, with his fortune falling, he inadvertently sets the unfinished house on fire and it burns to the ground. Henry James and Toni Morrison famously draw up houses that are haunted by an unresolved past. A writer who stays inside the house comes to be viewed as pathological; Emily Dickinson continues to be categorized as an agoraphobic who is afraid to leave the security of her own home. American writers tend to value the experience of heading off for new places, being an expatriate, or being on the road.

In his latest creation The Good House, Washington, D.C. resident and late thirty-something poet Rod Smith canvasses a 21st century house with an architecture of his own design. I mention the forebears to indicate how strange it is that a long poem devoted to the house should suddenly appear, much less promise to show readers what the good house is made up of. The constructive activity that it promises not only runs headstrong against previous literary houses that fared so poorly; it also runs against the postmodern celebration of the fragmentary and the refusal of metaphysical frameworks, restrictive and exclusionary structures, and so on. But suddenly in a period populated largely by literary nomads, there comes a poem that stakes its claim on something as basic as a roof over one's head. Yet I'm also being cheeky here because The Good House never settles on an architecture that is fixed once and for all. The constructive activity derives its energy from the tonal and semantic multiplicity of the title; by iterating the "good house" or simply "good" or "house" alone (as well as further variations) the poem fans out into rhythmical fragments just as it fans out into architectural fragments. Perhaps it's less accurate to characterize this as constructive activity than to say Smith sounds out the good house:

Though the house  is willed it is also shiney — though it
spares others, some it doesn't, though it has a child,
it is clear, stolid, imperious—though it laughs at the 
waking needy, it compels grace, walks awake the named,
any of them, any & others, clear it has, clear it laughs,
house though some, house & rescue, also shiny, in the
sounds made, in the sounds created, in the sounds & 
in their laughing, it is a house to be reckoned with, built
in the mania of inaction, a still, unbuilt shining thing where
the knowing crosses into every, where you would, & the
sounds are made tame, & the sounds til, & the house
sounds, & because, & I would do the house a favor,
& fill this sounding , & would is shiney in the sounds, built
unbuilt, the laugh or child of them, the sounds, the grace,
the poetry of the house, its seeming, but it has never
seen itself sound, yet its knowing can, because there is
no false in it, again it houses as it had & has house being,
green eggs or ham, & puts Peloponnesian there, shiney,
holding the deranged oracle by the ear, making its
wishes, housing the one it loves, with a sound 

The book has a lightness due to its lyrical phrase, "the good house," which Smith varies in each poem, often in completely dissimilar ways. "In a quiet house / In a house which is very quiet / Where the brackish tandem brooks / the loons." Although I'm frequently at a loss to say what these eclectic descriptors mean when joined together, maybe that's not the point. It's more accurate to say acoustical principles govern the formal arrangement of the poem. The first line and second lines are easy enough to follow: "a quiet house," augmented by, "a house which is very quiet." Then the third and fourth lines, "brackish tandem brooks / the loons," although I hazard to guess what they mean, are nonetheless clearly intent on sounded parallels: "br," long "a," "k," "oo," and "s." Smith's insight is to connect this repetition to the protean structure of the good house itself. "Each reasonable house / & each waking motion / are votive, based on / the wiley resurgence / of awaiting worlds." Each poem is a "waking," or "wiley resurgence" that sounds out the good house once more.

Although composed as a long poem, the modest edition now out from Spectacular Books prints a variable number of entries per page, thereby giving the entire work a foreshortened feel. Were there a whole page devoted to each of the 70+ entries then it would better illustrate the fact that each single entry is a poem in itself. The Good House in its current edition is a throwback to the small press operated out of the garage. It's dimensions are a deceptively slim 8½" by 11" page folded along the vertical center and stapled with a stiff cover. The cover's "hand-fashioned" imprint, created by artist-poet David Larson, bears the title and Smith's name in stenciled letters (a bit like a homemade protest sign), with a bird flying off to one side. The blacked-out letters use some kind of thick paint with a course texture. It reminds me of the stuff on skateboards called "grip."

At the beginning of the poem Smith appears to seek assistance from a muse, and supporting this view is the fact that he gives it thanks and bids it farewell at the end. In this sense the poem adheres to the traditional model of asking higher beings for guidance and inspiration-except that for Smith the muse is an egret. We first hear the egret in two poems placed before "The Good House" itself begins. The repetition of "egret" is like a preparation or warm-up, for it augurs the repetition of the "good house" that follows:

egret lights, they stretch, & revere, they say
i have a thing,
instruct in the new circumstance, elliptical,
tangible, to their sweet ego, in open-heart &
patagonia, go beyond shy in time they gain
& haunt, let's say
the word of the egret is
thumb, let's say thumb
as an egret prelude then, in order to correctly translate sapho, &
            think the cluster-egret… 

The business of the egret is to "instruct in the new circumstance," as for instance when the "word" of the egret is "thumb" and suddenly the poem is intoxicated by "let's say thumb." I get the impression that the egret is teaching Smith to sing, as confirmed a few lines later when these various elements draw together in a new combination, "education of sweet ego thumb." But what is a sweet ego thumb? Again, it seems that acoustics govern the lines more than semantics. Egret and ego share the same sound and thus can play off each other. For my ears the closest sounding word to egret is regret, but that word appears nowhere in the poem. Yet given later passages that dip into tones of lament (and are perhaps best characterized as a dirge), I think it's plausible to associate the egret with regret—imagine "egret" as "regret" with the "r" gulped down. It's also plausible the egret has migrated into Smith's composition from another poet's work, namely Lisa Jarnot's poetry of small animals with striking names, such as the chinchilla.

One of the pleasures of The Good House is to follow the lines as they reach back to earlier writers and then reach forward in startling transformations. At one point we read, "anything can be made out of a house," which seems to play off Williams Carlos Williams who said, "a poem can be made out of anything." In Smith's version, the availability of anything for a poem now becomes the availability of a house for anything. But consider the precarious situation Smith thus proposes. For when anything can be used, then anything can happen, and there is no guarantee the outcome will be better and not worse. The Good House promises the good but knows full well that its pursuit is uncertain and the consequences are unpredictable. It knows for instance that the authority of the "good" can be too easily claimed: "The good house gave away a certain / sincerity. It got bought up. But / the ravages of equality rack it— / not unforced, not unburied, the good house or murmur / / displays its living air / & punted, rides / the miracles, foamy—" The good house has been bought up, it has been "punted" around, but in the face of these negations ( "not unforced, not unburied"), the poem still seeks a "murmur" or "miracles."

The play on Williams's line is an example of one of Smith's characteristic techniques, which he elsewhere describes as a "good-natured ribbing": "The spatial, unimpeded persistence of the playfully plagiarized trance-state (a good-natured ribbing)—can remark if not remake details of clever word-play (the emptiness of emptiness!) into a discovery of highly peculiar presence."3 For Smith, playing with a quotation is a double-sided gesture. It functions as both deferential act and ironic counterpoint, and interpreting these moments can be tricky. Consider another example of Barrett Watten saying "Identity is the cause of wars," which in Smith's rendition becomes a poem called, "Identity is the cause of warts."4 One effect of Smith's rendition is to make Watten's critique of identity much more memorable, and thus the playfulness could be interpreted as a supportive gesture, though admittedly a peculiar one. On the other hand, "warts" could be read as dismissing the critical purchase of any theories having to do with identity, and thus it could be interpreted as a contentious gesture. There is such a strong appeal to the idea that there should be struggles between successive "generations" of avant-garde poets, that it's possible Smith's playfulness could be taken as entirely antagonistic. What is Smith trying to say about Watten's work? A safe guess can by made by recalling that Aerial, the magazine edited by Smith, had a special issue devoted to Watten's work-which would remove any doubt that "warts" is not a friendly homage. Still, matters get more complicated if one considers that Smith acknowledges Watten's statement but does not actually acknowledge the critical apparatus that it depends on. The substitution of "warts" for "wars" takes the fire out of Watten's highly provocative line. Smith's rendition manages to be supportive while at the same time it posits a distance between them. To take a slightly different example, Smith once read a poem called "They Beat Me Over a Head With a Turtle: After Cavalcanti," which riffs on Anslem Berrigan's They Beat Me Over the Head with a Sack.5 Berrigan's title is already wry, so there is no fire to be taken out of it, (unless one takes seriously the violent image of getting hit over the head with a sack). But Smith makes the title even more wry ("the emptiness of emptiness") by transforming it into an overt piece of comedy-indeed the audience laughter can be heard loud and clear on the event recording. Here the good-natured ribbing entails a shared critical apparatus, if I can call it that, by which I mean the sharp wit that Smith and Berrigan have at their disposal.

My sense is that all of these are deferential acts, and that up until now, these acts have contributed greatly to defining the nature, as well as the appeal, of Smith's compositional style. Yet if this is the case, then consider that comedic measures are dropped down a notch in The Good House. Certainly there continue to be lines borrowed from other writers, such as the Williams quotation, and certainly there are unexpected punch lines that show Smith's wit has not diminished in the least. But Smith seems to be moving into different territory with The Good House. Here things are palpably more intimate, even tender. The good-natured ribbing, when it does occur, is aimed less at getting a laugh than at expressing gratitude toward avant-garde practitioners who make it possible to think with greater critical insight than would otherwise be conceivable. As Smith says in a piece written for a collection of recent poetics, "we do not need, but rather already have, a poetics that is a constellatory & innate reflection on the intervention, the LIFE, we embody. Affirmation of this is fact & political act" ("A Tract," 403). Thus in The Good House one finds a line standing by itself, "perhaps this is a rescue fantasy," which points the reader to the entirety of Heather Fuller's book of the same name.

It's worth noting that this practice goes both ways. If the name "Rod" pops up in a poetry book from the last few years, then Smith is sure to be the one in mind. I've stumbled across allusions to Rod in Tina Darragh's Dream Rim Instructions ("Rod Smith's Dream House"), Heather Fuller's Dovecoat ("3 Urban Legends"), Rob Fitterman's Metropolis 15-29 ("25: A National History of Popular Music and Letters, Vol. 1."), and Jean Donnelly's Anthem ("Anthem"). Lee Ann Brown, Bill Luoma, and Lisa Jarnot have collaborated with Smith on different projects. For a Philly Talks, Bruce Andrews disassembled Smith's poems in his idiosyncratic close reading practice called "Tips for Totalizers." With all these nods and hellos, it seems almost a mania for these poets that keep naming each other. But it's important to recognizes that such gestures foreground the mutually invested, even collaborative discourse within which each of the individual creations becomes intelligible.7

If one surveys Smith's career since his first works in the late eighties, it's possible to see a gradual softening of antagonism towards the larger embodiments of power, and in its place, the adoption of a more intimate vantage for critique. An earlier work such as "CIA Sentences" uses non-intentional techniques similar to work by John Cage, (who is perhaps the most important influence on Smith's work). But whereas Cage typically subjected literary texts to his procedures, Smith chose books that were purchased by the CIA from bookstores where he worked during this time. In "CIA Sentences" the results are rollickingly funny, but with a sharp edge. Over the next few years Smith would move away from procedural forms, but the humor would continue to be a dominant characteristic. What's curious, then, is that for the most part The Good House shirks away from outright humor. Granted, there are humorous moments such as one entry, "Excuse me officer, I thought / you were a shape-shifting rat," that echoes like Smith's earlier, more overt political barbs. Yet overall the feeling that I am left with after reading The Good House is one of tremendous sincerity, even intimacy. The work is visceral such that its critical energy comes from the gut. Perhaps the safest thing to say about the "the shape-shifting rat" is that it is used more effectively in the present work because it comes unexpectedly, as if we should not be too lulled by the softer lyrics that make up the majority of the poem:

the honesty of the house helps
the people to know — they can
relax & recall other houses
they have known, they become
simple & listen to each other
& to some birds, the birds right now

One of the most striking features of The Good House, then, is that it puts tremendous weight on its feelings, and here the poem finds an affinity with recent works that restore the place of affect to avant-garde practice. I am thinking of Stacy Doris's Paramour and Nada Gordon and Gary Sullivan's Swoon, as well as several others. In Smith's poem, affect defines the relation of subject to world. This differs from the modernist precursor whose desire to order the world entails a position of mastery and self-superiority. This differs, too, from the cerebral postmodernist whose irony keeps the world at a safe distance. In The Good House there is an intense desire to be affect-ed by the world that one inhabits—

                                … To hold
that which one loves
in the right way, with trust & lust, w/out
a certain kind of winter—
to love the one one loves
& be loved
in a good house
for a long time

Although Smith's poems have long had an affective dimension, here it takes center stage. For instance consider the following lines from a poem that was first printed in The Impercipient (1993) and later included in In Memory of My Theories, a title which is a deliberate miscue from Frank O'Hara who said "feelings" and not theories.

Are not our feelings, as it were, inscribed
on the things around us. sandwichman, promoter, publicist,
wellspring, coxswain,

last weather
and well her rendering
of that which is distant:

debris, demands, basalt, insert
everything in this one

nothing in addition.8

During a recent interview with Patrick Durgin, Smith explained his idea of a "Feeled Poem," taking a miscue from the open field poetics associated with Black Mountain: "I've not yet written my feeled poem panegyric but it's one of my favorite submodern genres, & a favored form of the more radically inclined of the new mannerist school. I suppose the feeled poetry I like best has a certain turtlist sensibility, which many think is a joke."9 Maybe The Good House is the realization of this "feeled poem panegryic." For Robert Duncan, Charles Olson and many other poets associated with Black Mountain, an open field relates to the formal composition of a poem with the idea that an open or projective form releases greater energy than a traditional closed form. For Smith, feeling allows for a peculiar interconnectivity among things in the world he inhabits. The allusion to "turtilist sensibility" is not necessarily a "joke" and even foreshadows Smith's current work, especially if one considers that a turtle carries its house on its own body. A turtle is low to the ground, close to things, not at all high and flighty, athletic or attractive. In how many children's cartoons does the comedy revolve around a turtle that is naked and exposed when its shell is stolen? Smith's poem would say the shell is always precarious, but that this is advantageous for it demonstrates the necessity of a reconnecting with world that one inhabits. Or as Smith says in "What was Turtlism," he prefers not a duality between presence and absence but rather a third term that would be "a flight back to presence."10 Here is a noteworthy conjunction with Walter Benjamin in The Arcades Project: "The original form of all dwelling is existence not in the house but in the shell. The shell bears the impression of its occupant. In the most extreme instance, the dwelling becomes a shell."11 Call The Good House the extreme instance of being a shell but then asking how to achieve contact once more.

What is remarkable is that the poem is more than willing to sacrifice its own claims, which suggests the degree of vulnerability the good house must possess. One of the most unforgettable lines reads, "If the house is just poetry / we're in trouble." Smith does not want his poem to be kidnapped by its own aesthetics, or by anyone else's, however politically attractive they might be. "The good house / summers on Long Island, reads / Debord, & rests / like a scythe…" One passage suggests the good house must be built on the memories, sounds, and words of others—

there's a barrel in the basement
that belongs to a country singer
named Nel—
there's an old wonderbread wrapper
behind the kitchen cabinet nobody
knows the story on—
there's a stack of bad news in
a box by the door—
there's a wreath in the box behind the thing
& a bauble on the windowbox above some stuff—

The passage speaks to the difficult perception of nondescript things. While "some stuff" might be seen during the course of everyday chores and while it might regularly occupy our direct line of vision, our habits are such that it does not otherwise merit attention. Sometimes one wonders about the wonderbread wrapper, sometimes one doesn't wonder about much at all. Smith definitely wonders about the nondescript things, for they indicate a social world "outside" the good house, but which the house is shot through with at every corner. They attest to the openness of the house, not its closure against whatever lies beyond its walls. In fact a "stack of bad news" gestures to the presence of Smith's own home, Washington, DC, which according to recent statistics is the U.S. city with the highest percentage of newspaper readers.

The main thing that vexes any conception of the "good" or of the "house" (or dwelling, inhabitation, or related philosophical formulations) is the inevitability of exclusion. Can the fact that the good house has been given a dizzying array of provisional and open-ended descriptions avoid granting the advantage to some, while sending others out into the cold? By invoking its very name, the good house skates dangerously close to the "good life," and no theory of the latter has ever been successful in negotiating the ambiguity between life with a big L and life with a little l. Invariably an empowered class enjoys the former, while all the rest are consigned to the latter. Perhaps it's precisely this ambiguity that leads Smith to construct a house that is never finished, that is perpetually exposed and open. In the expository section of his manifesto, "A Tract," Smith writes, "I am clearly arguing for a privileging of the site of cognition…. A location of/as process which is areal (rather than surreal). Arreal because no context is finite, whether internal or external. It seems to me that when one places such an emphasis, the contingency, & constructedness of the thought process becomes, well, 'clear' / Or say any context is finite due only to our own limitations, our cognitive limits—inherently, however, any context is infinite… " ("A Tract," 401). Smith never says what the house ultimately is, because that would be to purify it of whatever is not yet housed under its roof, which according to "A Tract," must always be infinite, therefore uncontainable. The problem then becomes whether the good house succeeds in making itself not a question of being but rather of infinity. My hunch is to answer this by looking for moments in the poem that speak to awakening, waiting, exposure, or even vulnerability—moments of transformation or becoming. These moments, some of which have been mentioned above, are what I am left contemplating after reading the poem. To give one more example, Smith's use of the word "house" continually destabilizes itself by using both its noun and verb form. The very first poem reads, "The good houses the parts, calls to / them, & wakens—." And a later poem reads, "the house seems / to be a verb though it dislikes / the term 'housing'…" The objection to "housing" is that it transforms a verb into a noun; Smith wants it the other way around, from noun to active verb.

The good house tells us that its nature rests not so much in one fixed structure that has been suffocated by the multiple layers and glosses of essentially the same thing, but rather the good house is up for ongoing reconstruction. "There are 8 houses in the heart,/ there should be 9." By locating the house "in the heart," Smith circumscribes the barrenness of a finite interiority. The favored punctuation mark is the abbreviated "&" which suggests accumulative as opposed to synthetic activity. Instead of a unifying perspective on the house, the poem grants the reader an outlook of "attentions multiplied." This is Smith's goal, as he writes elsewhere, "The crush of Only Capitalism throws us back on ourselves, meaning each other. The horror of that it has created us & the possibility of a being other than it rests within attentions multiplied—the measures escaped into 'harmony,' unlistened (im)penetrant amaterial sense mechanism of the several sharing cares, forwarded or lent-out. The personal as overstructure—" ("A Tract," 403). Perhaps the "overstructure" of the good house can only be truly — if it is never closed. The house is never finished, because it knows that current historical circumstances mitigate against any roof that could accommodate everyone who would live in it. Thus one line declares, "time is a housed reputable beginner // thirty more are needed." The good house is contingent on hard-won moments that force it to seek a new active form, hard-won because it must keep discovering a way out from its habitual forms.

This house was that house
to many—& to many there was no
house there because they hadn't
noticed—there was one who
noticed & was wanted, was loved
this gave the house hope
this gave the house no hope
this gave the house hope
it alternated.  sometimes house, sometimes home


Kaplan Page Harris
March '02, rev. August '02



I want to thank Tom Orange and Chris Nealon for their generous feedback on my reading of The Good House.

1. Edgar Allan Poe, "The Fall of the House of Usher," in The Portable Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Philip Van Doren Stern (Penguin: New York, 1977), p. 245.
2. Ibid, p. 268.
3. Rod Smith, "A Tract," in Telling It Slant: Avant-Garde Poetics of the 1990s, edited by Mark Wallace and Steven Marks (Tuscaloosa: U Alabama P, 2001), p. 402.
4. Rod Smith, "Identity is the Cause of Warts," in non #2 (1998). The poem can be retrieved online:
5. Berrigan's book (1999) is published by Edge Books, Smith's press that has published many seminal works of avant-garde poetry in the last few years.
6. Rod Smith, Bruce Andrews, PhillyTalks #8, Available online,
7. One might also here stress the importance of Smith's efforts in the distribution of poetry and related materials through his regular announcements of new titles to the Buffalo Poetics List. These are issued from Bridge Street Books, the bookstore that Smith manages in D.C. It's central location aside (right in the nation's center of power), the emails provide an indispensable service for the increasingly global readership of small presses, and an incomparable service in allowing access to those works beyond the insular locales of major cities on the U.S. coasts or a bare handful of universities. Each new book or magazine is listed with one quotation or a brief comment, and these snippets are frequently all the marketing it will get. Unless it already has a reputation, the book is left in Smith's hands to generate wider interest. If ever there were a redemptive form of advertising, I suppose this one—stemming from an alternative purchasing community—would qualify. The emails might be even be understood as an extension of the poet's radio show (think Pound, Creeley, S. Howe, Bernstein, Andrews, Goldsmith, and probably more I am forgetting) in which the poet creates space for alternative networks of exchange, but in which the poet has a direct hand in programming. In the very first email Smith described the inception of the idea, "It was suggested to me that I periodically select 5 or 10 new books from Bridge Street Books to offer to the list. Hopefully this will be of use for browsers as well as shoppers, simply as a bit of 'what's new.' The suggestion (in fact it was from Charles Bernstein) has grown over the years, and each monthly email now far exceeds the original number of 5-10. It's also worth adding that aside from announcements by authors and publishers, Bridge Street is the only bookstore on the Buffalo list that does announcements (and does them still). But I mention the emails because although they might appear marginal to Smith's poetry, his quotations or comments on each book afford a glimpse into some of the motivations in his work. Here are some more interesting or oddball posts:

Some Other Kind of Mission by Lisa Jarnot - Lisa's long-awaited excellent tome. Here comes the Brooklyn Renaissance.
The Marginalization of Poetry, Bob Perelman - "Making the sentence the basic unit of composition separates the writer from three widely held positions."
Funk Lore, Amiri Baraka, "All that is is funky"
Quill, Solitary Apparition by Barbara Guest - "marked: the logic (of no other place); if // in the game --------- (a wild king is drawn)". This may be my favorite Guest book.
Aesthetic Ideology, Paul de Man - "But things are not quite so simple."
Imagination Verses, Jennifer Moxley - Moxley manages a genuinely public poetry without sacrificing the cognitive and emotional dissonance that is our tired lot here, in monogamy capitalism….You should not only have this book, you should read it.
Deconstruction and Pragmatism, ed. Chantal Mouffe. - Rorty charges Derrideans with "an unfortunate over-philosophication of leftist political debate" which has led to "a self-involved academic left which has become increasingly irrelevant to substantive political discussion." Hmmm.
I-VI, John Cage - "someThing / mAy here / Type / socIety / tO die / aNd / capItal / coMposed of / tIme is / abouT / A dozen people' / i was aroused by having To / to devise a fOrm of events' / there Is no / phenoMenon / Increased / and souTh"
Selected Letters of Charles Reznikoff 1917-1976 - "By the way, I never said a word to Zukofsky about you: so don't worry about Oscar."
Mysteries of Small Houses, Alice Notley - "What's the name of the larger island? / Why am I still on the smaller one? / I'm not a story or life: if I / say that, I'm suddenly here / terror in this real poem"
Bomb, Clark Coolidge - "We will have a nice bomb now"
Dream Rim Instructions, Tina Darragh - "Martine INSISTS on taking it from the top."
Chomsky on Miseducation, Noam Chomsky, - "While I am speaking, 1,000 children will die from easily preventable disease, and almost twice that many women will die or suffer serious disability in pregnancy or childbirth for lack of simple remedies and care. UNICEF estimates that to overcome such tragedies, and to ensure basic social services, would require a quarter of the annual military spending of the 'developing countries,' about 10 percent of U.S. military spending. It is against the background of such realities as these that any serious discussion of human freedom should proceed."
amounts. to., P. Inman, (signed copies) - "struct. nch."
The Origin of the World, Lewis Warsh - "They boarded the ark in pairs: two breasts, two penises"
The Monstrous Failure of Contemplation & Aquifer, Mark Wallace & Kaia Sand -"Some events cannot be contemplated."
Dead Carnival, Mark Wallace - "In the carnival, the dead are dancing. Whose dead are they? Who must help them die?"

8. Rod Smith, "The Latest Attempt," The Impercipient #4 (1993) p, 14-15.
9. Patrick Durgin, "Rod Smith Interview," Readme #2 (2000). Available online,
10. See Rod Smith, "What is Turtlism," Anomaly 1 (Spring/Summer 2002), p. 42.
11. Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eilan and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard UP), p. 221